How Marvel Rewrote Peggy Carter’s Place in the Universe – Before the MCU Rewrote it Again

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Today, we look at how Peggy Carter’s connection to Sharon Carter and her whole place in the Marvel Universe was changed, right before the impact of her Marvel Cinematic Universe appearances forced things to change once more.

In Abandoned an’ Forsaked, we examine comic book stories and ideas that were not only abandoned, but also had the stories/plots specifically “overturned” by a later writer (as if they were a legal precedent).

When Captain America first received his ongoing feature in Tales of Suspense, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby quickly decided that the book should be set during World War II, so that fans could read modern stories with Captain America in the Avengers and then classic World War II tales with Captain America and Bucky set in World War II. That did not last too long and soon, Captain America’s stories were set in the present and boy, they were MOPEY. I mean, it’s perfectly understandable (Cap was stuck in the present, having lost years of his life to suspended animation and his best friend seemingly died in the same incident that left Cap stuck in time), but still, Cap was not a happy camper in those days.

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Our story begins in Tales of Suspense #75 (by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers and John Tartaglione), as Cap laments all the people he lost from the war, including, for the first time, a revelation of a gal left behind…

Later in the issue, Cap notices a girl…

He doesn’t know it, but she is a SHIELD agent. When they part, there is an interesting moment where the SHIELD agent notes that she recognizes Steve Rogers, as well…

The next issue Cap learns that she is Agent 13. He saves her life.

The following issue (by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, John Romita and Frank Giacoia) is a flashback telling us the history between Cap and his gal. Here, Stan Lee pulls out a mini-Abandoned An’ Forsaked. The girl mentioned that her sister’s beau was Steve Rogers. Here, though, it is clear that her sister knew Cap as Cap and specifically NOT as Steve Rogers (unless we were doing some Hal Jordan/Green Lantern/Carol Ferris love triangle type stuff)…

She, of course, runs right into and danger and she ends up in a prison camp. Cap leads an attack to save her. She, meanwhile, is not waiting to be saved and she breaks free from the camp, but losing her memory in the process..

Yes, tragically, they were so close to each other and yet so far away!

From this point on, Stan Lee basically just drops the whole sister angle. Agent 13 and Cap begin to date and finally, in Captain America #103 (by Jack Kirby, Stan Lee and Syd Shores) (so nearly 20 issues after she debuted) we learn that her name is Sharon Carter…

Cap and Sharon date for the next sixty issues or until Captain America #161 by Steve Englehart, Sal Buscema and John Verpoorten, where Englehart decides to pick up the dangling sister plotline in a big way.

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First, he has Sharon leave Cap…

Meanwhile, Sharon is holed up in some creepy hospital where she runs into her parents…

Who is this mysterious “she”??!

The following issue, we learn that it is PEGGY Carter, the gal from Cap’s past! Englehart explains all…

Here is Cap’s big reunion with Peggy…

Later, after the bad guys are all defeated. So that was the set-up for years. Peggy was Sharon’s older sister and Peggy became a supporting character in Cap’s book and in the Avengers. She served as a SHIELD agent had a relationship with Gabe Jones (an interracial relationship – impressive, Marvel!) and she eventually worked as a support staff for the Avengers.

Here she is being supportive of Cap going out on a date with Diamondback in Captain America #371 (by Mark Gruenwald, Ron Lim and Danny Bulanadi)…

It was not a major issue when Sharon Carter was presumed dead, but when she came back and was still the same age as Cap, it got to be kind of weird when we were now fifty, sixty and seventy years away from World War II.

The way it was handled for years was by just not using Peggy Carter. She sort of just vanished after Sharon returned. She was not used from the mid-90s until Ed Brubaker started writing Captain America. He deftly abandoned an’ forsaked the whole sister angle in Captain America #25 (by Brubaker, Steve Epting and Frank D’Armata) and the two were now niece and aunt…

Brubaker later showed Peggy suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, likely explaining where she disappeared to for all those years.

Of course, the presumption is that while Sharon is calling her “aunt” she is really Sharon’s GRAND-Aunt, as July 2011‘s Captain America #1 by Brubaker, Steve McNiven, Mark Morales and Justin Ponsor shows us Cap reflecting on how it is sometimes easy to forget that he is a man from the past until, of course, one of his old friends dies. Here, Peggy passes away as a 91-year-old….

So the odds are that Sharon was too young to have a 91-year-old aunt. More likely she was Sharon’s grand-aunt (it is possible that this was not an additional retcon, of course, and Brubaker could have intended her to always be a grand-aunt as soon as he introduced the aunt retcon).

However, while Peggy was being written out of the comic books, she similarly becoming a bigger deal in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, to the point where her death in the Marvel Universe really didn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense, especially not with every other World War II character still running around, so the MCU influence eventually led to Peggy’s return, but that’s a story for another day.

If you have a suggestion for a future Abandoned an’ Forsaked, e-mail me at brianc@cbr..com

KEEP READING: How Suicide Squad Turned Rick Flag’s Entire Life Into a Lie

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