13 superheroes that rock red, white, and blue costumes

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The Spirit of ’76 (Image via Marvel)

5. The Spirit of ‘76

First appearing in 1977, the Spirit of ‘76 was in part inspired by the bicentennial celebration of the United States only a year earlier. Unsurprisingly, he was also directly inspired by Captain America, to the point where he even took over that superhero title for a short time.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The story of the Spirit of ‘76 starts with William Naslund, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He comes of age during World War II and, like many young men featured in comics at that time wants to help the Allies in their fight. He practices Captain America’s moves with a discus and actually gets pretty good.

Naslund becomes well known enough that a mysterious man named “Alfie” recruits him for a team called the Crusaders. However, it’s soon revealed that Alfie is actually a German agent and the Crusaders have been coerced into fighting their Allied compatriots. Once they discover the ruse, all of the Crusaders but Naslund leave the superhero business.

When Captain America goes missing in action, President Truman recruits Naslund to become the replacement Cap. He does good work but, unfortunately, is killed in action in 1946. If it makes you feel any better, he dies while fighting a robot. Also, unlike Captain America, Naslund does all of this work without any scientific or chemical assistance.