Spirit of '76
The Spirit of '76 first came to prominence during the early 1940's as a costumed adventurer who fought against Nazi espionage in the United States. Presumably he adopted his patriotic costume and name in imitation of the original Captain America.
The Spirit of '76 left America in 1942 and took up residence in Great Britain to serve as a member of the Crusaders, a British team of superhumanly powerful champions who intended to battle Nazis. The Spirit of '76 was the sole American member of the team and the only one who lacked superhuman abilities. The Crusaders had been recruited and organized by a man known as Alfie, whom they believed to be a representative of the British government or military. In fact, however, "Alfie" was an agent of Germany who had organized the Crusaders in order to discredit the Invaders, another team of superhuman champions opposing the Nazis. He also was plotting assassinate King George VI of Great Britain at the christening of a new British battleship. "Alfie" convinced the Crusaders that the Invaders were actually Nazi agents, and the two groups clashed at the christening. However, the Invaders exposed and thwarted the assassination plot, and the Crusaders realized they had been duped. The Crusaders broke up as a team.
After the break up of the Crusaders, Spirit of '76 continued to fight for the Allies during the war. His activities during most of this period is unrecorded.
In December of 1943, time displaced American soldier Paul Anselm returned from the future with the Cosmic Cube in order to restore to life his dead friends who were gunned down by Nazis in Italy. However, the Cube ended up in the hands of the Red Skull who used it to reshape reality so that the Nazis ruled to the world. The Spirit of '76 was among many heroes who were slain by the Skull and impaled on a massive wall of dead heroes. The Skull was later opposed by the Invaders and the time travelling New Avengers and Mighty Avengers. During the course of the battle, the Cube returned to the hands of Paul Anselm who used it to resurrect Nasland and all the other fallen heroes who then attacked the Skull. With the Skull defeated, reality was restored to normal and William's memories of the event were erased.
Spirit of '76 resurfaced again in the spring of 1945, joining Captain America, and the Patriot on a mission to sneak inside Berlin during Allied air raids in order to capture Hitler's secret lock box. They were joined by the original Red Guardian, whom the Spirit was at odds due to their differences in political ideologies. Despite this, the quartet of heroes chased after the Red Skull to stop him from escaping with the lock box. While Spirit, Patriot, and Red Guardian kept back Nazi forces, Cap and Red Skull battled it out in a bunker while bombs dropped from above. Cap managed to escape with the lock box, while the Skull was seemingly killed.
When the original Captain America and Bucky were seemingly killed in the spring of 1945, President Truman sought to keep the legend of Captain America alive. He recruited William as the new Captain America. William was teamed up with New York Yankees' bat-boy Fred Davis who was taking over the role of Bucky. Following their appointment, Truman called in the Invaders to announce the original Captain America and Bucky's "deaths" and introduce them to their replacements. William fought faithfully with the Invaders along with Fred as the new Captain America and Bucky.
During one of these early missions with the Invaders, Nasland was downed by an enemy tank. Suddenly, William was pulled forward in time by the Contemplator who brought together the future version of Steve Rogers, who was alive after all and revived from suspended animation in the modern age, as well as William's future successors: the modern era version of Jeffrey Mace, formally the Patriot, who was destined to take William's place in the future; as well as William Burnside, who was the Captain America of the 1950s. Learning that Mace was suffering from terminal cancer, both Nasland and Burnside agreed to join Rogers and work together on Mace's final adventure. The Contemplator then transported the four Captain America's to a world that was conquered by the android Adam-II. Upon the heroes defeat of Adam II, William was returned to his own time, his memories of the adventure erased, and no idea that a version of Adam-II would play an integral part in his future. One of William's first major missions as Captain America was to lead a super-hero invasion on Berlin on April 25, 1945, which ultimately led to the Nazi's surrender and the eventual death of Adolf Hitler.
Returning home to the United States, Captain America and Bucky were invited to the home town of a fellow soldier they fought with in Germany. They soon found the town being whipped up into racial prejudice and rioting. Investigating Cap and Bucky uncovered a nationwide plot to destabilize America by the League of Hate, Nazi's hand picked by Hitler to infiltrate America under the guise of wounded American soldiers. After shutting down the local cell of spies, Captain America addressed the entire nation, exposing the plot and leading to the League's capture. Travelling to New York, William and Fred got involved in the strange murder of Wall Street money carriers. These murders were carried out by a mobster named Diavolo who used organ grinders to conceal his silenced weapons. Travelling to Washington, the pair also exposed the crime lord known simply as the Boss who operated as the the local district attorney as a cover from his criminal activities.
In their civilian guises, William and Fred were put on guard duty of a freighter ship that was to transfer works of art that were transferred to America for safe keeping during the war in Europe. Their ship was attacked by the Evil Knight who clashed with Captain America and Bucky. The pair followed the Knight back to his castle where they were captured. Freeing themselves, they prevented the Knight from robbing the Arco Produce Company, handing the villain a humiliating defeat by trapping him with a junkyard's magnetic crane. Also during this time, the pair rescued millionaire Stephen Bellows from "Knucks" Connors and his gang.
William and Fred next investigated sightings of the so-called Walking Dead in a nearby town. As Captain America and Bucky, they learn that the "Walking Dead" were really Imperial Japanese spies attempting to unearth the body of John Porter, a scientist who created a deadly biological weapon and had it hidden with his body in the nearby cemetery. Cap and Bucky stop the spies and destroy the biological weapon to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. Next the pair clashed with the Leopard who used specially made electric guns to commit his daring robberies. Deployed to India shortly thereafter, Captain America and Bucky soon clashed with the Japanese spy known as Genrami who used the element Trelite in mirrors in order to blind American soldiers. This clash ended with Genrami's death.
In July of 1945, William -- as Captain America -- joined President Truman in attendance at the Postdam Conference to discuss the future of Germany and Europe. There he was reunited with the Sub-Mariner and the Red Guardian. Still unable to tolerate the Russian super-soldier due to his Communist ideals, Cap and the Guardian almost came to blows before Namor broke them up. Despite their differences, the trio prevented General Brinkhaus from empowering himself and murdering President Truman, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Russian leader Joseph Stalin. However, even in victory Cap could still not reconcile with the Red Guardian, much to Namor's chagrin. After the Postdam incident, Captain America rejoined the Invaders and clashed with Japanese forces in the South Pacific, as well as domestic threats on the home front.
Later that month, William and Fred were once more in their civilian guises as they were deployed by the military to assist in clearing a Pacific island recently liberated by the United States. There they discovered Japanese scientist Sico Rudo had invented a new volatile explosive called "Atom Water". Clashing with Rudo and his men ultimately led to Rudo's death, and Cap and Bucky managed to collect a sample of the explosive for American scientists. However, when they turned it over to the military they soon learned the United States had just finished developing an even more powerful weapon: the atomic bomb. Returning to their civilian guises, the pair returned to an American base where American actress Fluffy Flair was to put on a performance as part of a USO show. Upon Flair's arrival she was kidnapped by Japanese agents under the command of Captain Catti. Captain America and Bucky rescued Fluffy, and prevented an impostor from using interpretative dance to signal the location of the American gun battlements were located. Returning to the United States, William and Fred became involved in investigating how the "Fraternity for Fat Fellows" sudden dissolution. They soon discovered that it was all a ruse to get portly mortician Jonathan Mortimer to leave his morgue for an expended period of time. As the two heroes uncovered, Mortimer's business partner was secretly a criminal calling himself the Chameleon and he his gang to dig a tunnel from the morgue into the bank next door. Discovering this, Cap and Bucky shut down their operation and unmasked the Chameleon.
In 1946, William and Fred were invited to the wedding of Philip Carreaux by one of their fellow soldiers. There they learned of an ancient family curse involving an ancient wizard and witch. The pair failed to save Philip from the supposed curse, but uncovered the "wizard" to be Frank Lavalle a jealous lover who wished to marry Philip's bride and resorted to murder to try and win her over. In one of their more bizarre cases, Captain America and Bucky clashed with a creature called Am, a creature that was brought to life through a "telepathic typewriter" created and controlled by writer Allan Slake. With the aid of Daily Globe reporter Dorothy Roberts, Cap and Bucky stopped Am by using the typewriter to write the creature's death and later destroying the device. Captain America and Bucky next came to the aid of reclusive artist Hugo Pergody from having his valuable works of art claimed by crooks who were seeking to trick him into turning over ownership to them. Next, Captain America and Bucky stopped a nationwide crime spree orchestrated by the Robe, a criminal who found the long lost mystical artifact called the "Cloak of Evil". They destroyed the cloak after the Robe and his empire was defeated. They also stopped Ivan the Sculptor who used a complicated voodoo themed ruse to kill his victims, leaving them to believe that by carving a bust of them, he could kill them through mystical means.
Captain America and Bucky's next case led to a clash with the diminutive criminal called the Big Guy. Although they stopped the crook stealing a shipment of silver, Big Guy and his girlfriend managed to escape. They were next drawn to the set of "The Death of Scarface" where a real murder mystery was being perpetuated by horribly scarred actor Bel Cummings. Cap and Bucky stopped him before he could kill all his intended victims. The military then dispatched William and Fred to survey the volcano on Oka Sama Island which had apparently become active again. However, as Captain America and Bucky they exposed a plot by Dr. Weerd to drive the locals away so they could claim the gold deposits in the area. Returning to the United States, the two heroes stopped the crime spree of Sensitivo a criminal with delicate hands that allowed him to pull off his crimes. They next stopped a gang of thieves who were stealing the vaccine for a serious illness, and stopped the murder spree of yet another deranged actor Myron Delasco who believed himself to be the character "the Merry Widow Maker" after suffering a head injury.
Captain America and Bucky were next sent on a mission by the military to Algiers to investigate the theft of war relief supplies being shipped to Europe. There they exposed a plot to steal the supplies by Miguel Juan Gonzales Lopez-Iruil who was obsessed with American culture. Back in the United States, the duo helped protect boxer Rocky Norris from a gambling racket, and shut down money counterfeiters trying to proliferate their phony money at Cumulus College with the aid of absent minded Professor Squiggins. The pair were invited on a cruise aboard the SS Tranquility, where they stopped an attempt to spring Harriet "Harry" Hawkins from escaping Seaside Prison. Captain America and Bucky then assisted the San Francisco Police Department in apprehending the Silk Stocking Strangler who terrorized the area for months. Captain America and Bucky also clashed with a criminal impersonating the Crooner a popular musician, convinced law abiding citizen Bill Summers that a curse on a monkey statue is all in his head, and helped rescue travelling salesman Doc Spiel's son from Jug Baker and his gang. After, they stopped disgruntled wood carver the Statue of Death, and sports gambler the Sportsman. In another bizarre case, Captain America and Bucky found themselves in the so-called House of Hate a building that caused those inside to become violent. For a brief moment Cap and Bucky succumbed to the influence of the house and fought each other until they fought off its control. When the house was set ablaze, the two heroes helped get everyone to safety.
Reuniting with the All-Winners Squad, Captain America and Bucky were informed by the Human Torch about a challenge by a criminal calling himself Isbisa who had plotted a number of crimes based on the various ages of man. Captain America and Bucky were given a clue to a crime involving the Bronze Age. They went to an art museum where they clashed with a mobster named Piggy and his gang, and prevented them from stealing a valuable painting. They later reunited with the rest of the All-Winners Squad and deduced that Isbisa was distracting the heroes so that he could steal an atomic bomb. The group then worked together to stop Isbisa, and captured him in the act of trying to steal the bomb.
In 1946 the All-Winners Squad learned that Adam II, a malevolent android creation of Prof. Phineas T. Horton, intended to substitute a robot double for a Boston congressional candidate. Captain America and Bucky found Adam II and learned that the candidate Adam II intended to replace was John F. Kennedy. The two adventurers battled Adam II and other robots. Bucky was knocked unconscious, and Captain America went to Boston's Old North Church to summon the other members of the All-Winners Squad. One of Adam II's superhumanly strong robots caught Captain America and crushed him in its grip, fatally injuring him. The dying hero managed to use a flare device to render the robot inactive, simultaneously providing the signal that summoned the other members of the All-Winners to Kennedy's rescue.
Another costumed adventurer, the Patriot, found Captain America just before he died. Inspired by the second Captain America's noble sacrifice, the Patriot donned a spare Captain America costume he found in the nearby flagship of the Sub-Mariner. Trying to revive Nasland with the equipment on board the ship, the Patriot soon discovered that William's injuries were fatal and there was no chance for his survival. Before he died, William revealed his identity to the Patriot, and asked him to take on the mantle of Captain America. Thus the Patriot became the next man to take the identity of Captain America. He and other members of the All-Winners Squad, summoned by William's signal, prevented Adam II from killing Kennedy and replacing him with an android.
The United States later sanctioned the Patriot to continue acting as Captain America, covering up the death of William Nasland, much like they covered up the apparent death of Steve Rogers years earlier. Jeff Mace remained active as Captain America until he retired from the role in the early 1950s after a series of souring experiences working for the US government. Mace was succeeded by William Burnside who took over the mantle of Captain America from 1953 until 1955 when his unstable Super-Soldier Serum made Burnside mentally unstable forcing the US government to place him in suspended animation. Eventually the identities of every man who ever acted as Captain America was released to the public. The legacy of Nasland and the other men who became Captain America and their legacies are part of an exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. Eventually, Steve Rogers was discovered in the modern age by the Avengers, and subsequently renewed his role as the original Captain America.
Powers and Abilities
Nasland was a brilliant all-round athlete and a superb hand-to-hand combatant.
Nasland possessed the normal human strength of a man of his age, height, and build who engaged in intensive regular exercise.
- Bullet Proof Cloak: The Spirit of '76 wore a cloak that was made of an unknown material that was both bulletproof and flameproof.
- Shield: Captain America carried a shield resembling the one carried by the previous Captain America. However, this shield was constructed of ordinary steel and hence was not virtually indestructible like his predecessor's. He learned to duplicate the original Captain America's skills with the shield, although he was not quite as accomplished.
- Captain America's Uniform
The plot device wherein the Spirit of '76 became Captain America in 1945 was developed thanks to some continuity issues created between the original run of Captain America Comics during the 1940s and 1950s and the revival of Captain America in the 1960s. During its initial run, Captain America Comics always intended to feature Steve Rogers as Captain America and his partner as James Barnes. As they were referred to up until the series ended in the 1950s. With the revival of Captain America in Avengers #4, it was stated that Rogers and Barnes were seemingly killed in 1945. When Marvel began reprinting old Captain America stories from the 1940s and 50s, the premise of "replacement" Captain Americas was later introduced in What If? #4 to explain how Captain America was still active after Steve Rogers was put in suspended animation in 1945.
- The Spirit of '76 was conceived as a counterpart to Quality Comics (later, DC Comics) character, Uncle Sam. He also bears a resemblance to the public domain Nedor Comics character The Fighting Yank, in both appearance and powers (bullet-proof cloak).
- 48 appearance(s) of William Nasland (Earth-616)
- 7 minor appearance(s) of William Nasland (Earth-616)
- 6 mention(s) of William Nasland (Earth-616)
- 7 image(s) of William Nasland (Earth-616)
- 2 quotation(s) by or about William Nasland (Earth-616)
Links and References