Reading List: The Ten Essential Captain America Stories
The original Captain America was the creation of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, first appearing in March 1941's Captain America Comics #1 from Timely Comics, the company that would later become Marvel Comics. The book made waves from day one by featuring the title character punching Adolf Hitler over a year before the United States declared war on the Axis powers.
Since that time, Steve Rogers has had an illustrious career as the Avengers' most famous leader, but also as something like the moral center of the Marvel universe. In the best Captain America stories, it is clear that Steve Rogers is not by any means a puppet of the American government or mouthpiece for jingoism. Indeed, in several of his most notable stories (some of which are on this list), Rogers shows that he would rather abandon his identity as the star-spangled Avenger than sully the American dream with political corruption. He is not an unquestioning soldier of American propaganda, but rather the embodiment of the ideals of the American dream.
One story that fits that theme precisely is the classic What If vol 1 #44, “What If Captain America Were Revived Today?” by Peter B. Gillis and Sal Buscema, which is, in many ways, like a thesis statement on Captain America, but which just falls short of making this list solely for the fact that it's a non-canonical What If story, and there are too many good in-continuity stories to ditch any from the top ten.
Captain America has had the benefit of numerous excellent creative teams, several of which had lengthy runs, meaning that Cap has one of the highest good-comic-to-bad-comic ratios of any superhero. If you just grab a random issue of Captain America, you're almost more likely to pick a good one than a bad one (as long as it's not from the early 2000s).
That said, if you're looking for somewhere to get into the Sentinel of Liberty, here are ten Steve Rogers stories that can help you let freedom ring.