Captain America is the ultimate soldier. The recipient of the super soldier serum, Steve Rogers fights as the Sentinel of Liberty at the peak level of human strength, agility, and endurance. He has proven himself as an Avenger and is known for fighting alongside Earth’s Mightiest Heroes using little more than his fighting spirit, tactical intelligence, and his trademark shield.
There have been a few times, however, when Cap’s physical abilities failed him and he had to rely on more than his shield. Luckily, his teammate Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, was around to provide the Captain with an armored suit of his own.
In the stories of the mid-90s, the super soldier serum in Cap’s body started deteriorating his body from within. What started off as muscle seizures evolved into a debilitating condition that caused Captain America to lose control of his body during a fight with Mr. Hyde and Serpent Society member King Cobra. Fortunately, Cap was able to use his battle vest to fell the villains, but when he attempted to move Cobra out of the way of harm, he overexerted himself and suffered a heart attack that left his body 95 percent paralyzed.
A mere six hours after his diagnosis, Captain America was back in the fight thanks to an exoskeleton provided to him by Tony Stark. Debuting in Captain America #438, the armor literally took the Star-Spangled Avenger to new heights by not only allowing him to move freely again, but also — for the first time — enabling him to fly. A true product of the man responsible for the creation of the Iron Man armor, the exoskeleton was equipped with a number of non-lethal armaments including Mylex Shrouds capable of entrapping opponents, a distortion beam capable of disorienting foes, a compressed air cannon, telescopic vision and electromagnetic gauntlets used to house Cap’s shield.
Cap wore the exoskeleton until issue #443, when it was revealed to him by the Black Crow that although the suit enabled him to move, it did nothing to increase the functioning of his heart. The mysterious hero then gave Cap the ominous prediction that in 24 hours, the serum’s deterioration would stop his heart and he would die.
Expecting the prediction to be accurate, Captain America spent his last day visiting friends and enemies, making peace where he could. During his final hours, Cap resigned to Avengers Mansion, where he had a friendly conversation with his old enemy Batroc before lying down on his bed in exhausted acceptance of his fate. Jarvis discovered his body and contacted the other Avengers, but by the time they arrived, the body of Steve Rogers was gone and the exoskeleton was left behind.
The next issue revealed Cap’s body was spirited away by agents of the Red Skull, who was able to keep Cap alive by placing him in suspended animation before giving him a blood and bone marrow transplant from his body, which was at that time a clone of Cap himself.
Captain America’s exoskeleton was not seen again until the 2014 Axis event, where many of the Marvel’s heroes and villains were inverted due to a spell cast by Doctor Doom and the Scarlet Witch. In Avengers & X-Men: Axis #8, Steve Rogers, aging and no longer benefiting from the effects of the super soldier serum, donned the suit in an effort to protect the White Skull (an inverted version of the Red Skull) from several Avengers who had been turned evil. The suit was damaged when Steve battled his old partner, the Falcon, and has not been seen since.
With or without the armor bestowed upon him by Tony Stark, Steve Rogers is a hero. Whatever the situation or stakes, Rogers is always ready to do whatever it takes to protect life as we know it, with or without the use of any powers save that of an indomitable human spirit.
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When Captain America's body failed him, Tony Stark created a suit of armor for his Avengers teammate. What happened to it?