14. CAPTAIN AMERICA/U.S. AGENT
John Walker began his hero career as the Super Patriot in “Captain America” #323 (November 1986), speaking at rallies arguing that Captain America and his ideals were out of touch. A plot by the Red Skull caused Captain America to be called before the Commission on Superhuman Activities and told he would be obligated to obey the Commission’s directives because the concept and colors of Captain America belong to the U.S. government. Instead, Steve Rogers resigned as Captain America, and Walker was tapped by the Commission to take on the role. Walker’s ex-partners revealed his secret identity during his debut as the new Captain America, so a group called the Watchdogs murdered his parents. Walker took violent revenge on his ex-partners and the Watchdogs. Ultimately, the Red Skull engineered a battle between Walker and Rogers, now in the guise of The Captain. Rogers beats Walker, but the Red Skull escapes. The Commission strips Walker of the Captain America identity and offers it back to Rogers.
However, a Commission member staged Walker’s murder to give him a new superhero identity, the US Agent, in “Captain America” #354, written by Mark Gruenwald, penciled by Kieron Dwyer and inked by Al Milgrom.
Robbie Baldwin gained kinetic energy powers while witnessing an experiment into extra-dimensional energy gone bad and took the name Speedball. He first appeared in “Amazing Spider-Man Annual” #22 (January 1988), written by Tom DeFalco and drawn by Steve Ditko. Soon after, Speedball became a happy-go-lucky member of the New Warriors.
Things took a bad turn when the New Warriors tried to apprehend the villain Nitro in Stamford, Conn., while being followed by a camera crew for a reality TV series, in “Civil War” #1 (July 2006), written by Mark Millar, penciled by Steve McNiven and inked by Dexter Vines. Nitro triggered an explosion that killed 612 people, including 60 children. This led to federal action requiring superheroes to register with the government, precipitating “Civil War.” Baldwin survives, adopts the persona Penance and is assigned to the Thunderbolts. His armored costume was covered with 612 spikes, representing the lives lost at Stamford. More recently, he has returned to being Speedball.