Everything You Need To Know About Isaiah Bradley, The Black Captain America
Here's a quick history lesson.
For fans less versed in wider Marvel comics lore, one of the biggest surprises in Falcon And The Winter Soldier's second episode, 'The Star-Spangled Man, was the introduction of Isaiah Bradley, a black super-soldier activated sometime after Steve Rogers. Isaiah had once battled and defeated the Winter Soldier, before being imprisoned and experimented on after the end of the Korean War.
In the comics, Isaiah's story was first told in the seven-issue special story Truth: Red, White And Black, in 2003, which explored the history of Isaiah and other previously unknown black super-soldiers. Here's everything you need to know about Isaiah Bradley.
As a young man, Isaiah Bradley met and fell in love with Faith Shabazz. Shortly after Isaiah and Faith married, the attack on Pearl Harbour drew the U.S.A into World War II. Isaiah enlisted in the Army, leaving behind a pregnant Faith. Faith eventually gave birth to a daughter, Sarah Gail Bradley, while Isaiah was at War.
Sarah would one day become the Mother of Isaiah's Grandson, Eli, aka Patriot, a founding member of the Young Avengers.
After losing the formula for the super soldier serum following the death of Dr. Abraham Erskine, the U.S Army were desperate to recreate it. Three hundred African-American soldiers, including Isaiah Bradley, were forcibly recruited to be test subjects for a new version of the serum. Wanting to keep the experiments a secret, and anticipating the likelihood that many of the soldiers would die, their families were sent letters claiming that they were already dead. Faith did not believe the news, but there was nothing she could do about it at the time.
Of the three hundred test subjects, only a handful survived. The survivors became a covert Black-Ops team, sent to carry out the most dangerous missions of the war. Soon, only Isaiah remained.
The Last Mission, Imprisonment, and more experiments.
Isaiah's last mission was intended to be a suicide mission, to prevent German scientists from completing their version of the super-soldier serum, and destroy a Nazi death camp. Prior to departing on the mission, Isaiah took a Captain America costume. The mission was successful, and Isaiah survived, thanks to a last minute rescue by German freedom fighters. Unfortunately, upon returning to the U.S, Isaiah was arrested for treason for stealing the Captain America uniform, and sentenced to life in prison.
It soon became apparent that the real reason behind Isaiah's imprisonment was both to keep the experiments a secret, and to continue experimenting. Still wishing to create more super-soldiers, the Government used DNA taken from Isaiah, as well as eggs secretly harvested from Faith, to create a child with super-soldier genes. After thirty-eight failures, Isaiah's son, Josiah, was born. Upon learning the government's plans for the baby boy, Josiah's surrogate Mother attempted to return him to Faith, but for herself and Sarah's safety, Faith was forced to give him up. Josiah eventually followed in his Father's footsteps, serving in the U.S Army during the Vietnam War.
An Icon For Black Superheroes
Throughout Isaiah Bradley's imprisonment, his wife, Faith, never stopped campaigning for his release. Finally, seventeen years after he was first sentenced, Isaiah was given a full pardon by newly sworn in President John F Kennedy, though was sworn to secrecy regarding the super soldier experiments, and his missions. To the general public, most of Isaiah's story remained unknown, but his story eventually spread throughout the Black community, with Isaiah receiving many visits from well-known black celebrities, and Civil Rights activists.
In a similar vein, while Isaiah Bradley became a beloved role model to many young black heroes, few in the wider hero community are aware of his story. This is seen when a wheelchair-bound Isaiah appears as a special guest at the wedding of T'Challa and Storm. While Goliath and Monica Rambeau are starstruck by Isaiah, Wolverine, who also fought in WWII, has absolutely no idea who he is.
When Steve Rogers learns the full story of the African-American super-soldiers after Isaiah's stolen Captain America suit resurfaces, Steve visits Isaiah in the hope of making amends. Unfortunately, unlike Steve, Isaiah's inferior super soldier serum is ravaging his body and mind as it breaks down, leaving his mind in a childlike state. After spending some time speaking with Faith Bradley, Steve returns the old Cap suit to Isaiah, and takes a photo with him for his wall of celebrities.
Sometime later, when Isaiah's grandson Eli/Patriot is seriously injured while shielding Steve from gunfire, Steve rushes to the hospital to offer a blood transfusion to save Eli's life, only to find that Isaiah, with Faith's permission, is already donating blood.
From the looks of things, Isaiah Bradley's story is playing out a little differently in the MCU. We'll have to keep watching Falcon And The Winter Soldier to see how things unfold.