Who Is Captain America Sans Star-Spangled Shield? Enter: NOMAD
Before the war with Thanos (aka, “The Infinity War’), Steve Rogers (aka, “Captain America”) voluntarily separated himself from The Avengers, and ultimately, the United States of America. Because he disagreed with a United Nations’ mandate demanding oversight, and the indemnifying evidence implicating his best friend’s acts of terror, Steve left behind his shield and willingly embraced the life of an expatriate.
Steve’s apparent dismissal of the Captain America role – although certainly a jarring, emotional occasion in 'Civil War' – wasn’t completely unexpected, nor was it a self-blemishing character betrayal. In fact, any Captain America comic book aficionado will proudly impart tales of Cap’s disillusionment with both his role and government – tales where a world-renowned patriot abandoned his star spangled super-suit and assumed the name and mantle of a freedom-fighting wanderer.
And that wanderer? That fighting former Avenger without a home, country, or on-call Quinjet? They called him… Nomad.
In 'Captain America' # 180 (1974), Captain America became extremely disillusioned with the United States Government. Why? Because a high-ranking government official – presumably President Richard Nixon – was the leader of a terrorist organization called the Secret Empire. No, not Cobra – the Secret Empire.
So disgusted by this revelation – and by a government who remained casually complicit during the corrupt official’s tenure – Steve Rogers forsook the role of Captain America.
However, after a confrontation with Hawkeye (disguised as the Golden Archer), Cap realized he could maintain his vow of heroism with less patriotic vestments. Wearing a dark blue costume with yellow highlights – and yes, a cape – Cap assumed the “Nomad” identity.
The word “nomad” literally translates to “a member of a people having no permanent abode.” This was fitting, considering Steve Rogers was officially a man without a country – a man without a home.
While flexing the “Nomad” persona, Cap teamed up with Sub-Mariner to combat the evil machinations of Madame Hydra and her doom-ushering Serpent Society. Yes, it seems Madame Hydra and her Atlantean ally Krang attempted to utilize the ancient and powerful Serpent Crown. While fighting -- and handily defeating -- Hydra and Krang, Nomad accidentally tripped over his cape. Fortunately, that minor bit of slapstick wasn’t enough to deter Cap’s meaningful costume change.
Alas, as all things must come to end, Steve Rogers availed himself of the “Nomad” moniker at the end of 'Captain America' #184 (1975). After a rather savage exchange with the Red Skull, Steve embraced his Captain America identity. You see, Steve reasoned that he could still represent America’s ideals – the real power behind America – without blindly servicing its occasionally questionable government.
Good on you, Steve.
Although Steve Rogers availed himself of the Nomad persona, other heroes took on the role to champion (or undermine) freedom in their own inimitable ways:
Nomad Mark II—Edward Ferbel
Introduced in 'Captain America' #261 (1981), the Red Skull gifted Ferbel with weapons and the Nomad costume to dress up as, and discredit, Captain America.
He was later killed by the “Ameridroid”, an agent of the Red Skull, in 'Captain America' #263.
Nomad Mark III – Jack Munroe
Introduced in 'Captain America' # 153 (1972), Jack Munroe was the third hero to assume the mantle of Cap’s sidekick, Bucky.
Although Cap and the original Bucky “passed on” in the 1940s, two individuals assumed the identities of Cap and Bucky during the 1950s – and yes, Jack Munroe was indeed the 1950s Bucky.
Placed in suspended animation for several decades, Munroe awakened in the 1980s. Given the Nomad identity by Rogers in 'Captain America' #282 (1983), Nomad became Cap’s side-kick for the next two years of published Cap comics.
Eventually separating from Cap, Nomad went about his own adventures, occasionally popping up in Cap’s title and starring in his very own four-issue limited series.
Nomad Mark IV – Rikki Barnes
Remember “Onslaught?” Don’t be coy – I’m quite sure you remember Onslaught and the whole “Heroes Reborn” event/debacle. Well, the female Bucky Barnes from the Heroes Reborn universe – Rikki Barnes -- was thrust into the mainstream Marvel universe during “Onslaught Reborn,” a four-issue miniseries celebrating the 10th anniversary of 'Heroes Reborn'.
In 2009, she took on the identity of Nomad in her very first (and only ) miniseries, 'Nomad: A Girl Without a World'.
Nomad Mark V – Ian Rogers
So, Cap spent some time in the Arnim Zola-constructed world/nightmare known as “Dimension Z.” During his struggles inside this confoundingly dire dimension, Cap rescued Leopold, Arnim’s infant son. Because Cap is, well, Cap, he named the child “Ian” and kept him out of Zola’s mechanized clutches for eleven years. Before Cap finally escaped Dimension Z, Ian was presumably, and accidentally, shot and killed by Sharon Carter. After Cap’s harrowing escape, he learned his adoptive son was indeed alive – with a shield and Cap-like costume, Ian took the name Nomad and continued to fight the good fight in Dimension Z.
So, even when Captain America isn’t actually calling himself Captain America, he’s still very much Captain America. Oh, and he still has a knack for inspiring everyone around him to be just like Captain America.