Captain America’s fight against the Outer Circle has introduced some of the most exciting new villains that the Marvel Universe has ever seen. From the seemingly unbreakable Redacted to the various members of the Outer Circle, the story so far has been replete with all manner of thrilling characters. Of course, these new faces aren’t the only ones who have taken the opportunity to make a name for themselves. In fact, some of Marvel’s oldest heroes have seized the moment to do the same all over again, though none more so than Marvel’s first gay hero himself – The Destroyer.
Despite having only begun coming to terms with the latest developments regarding Bucky’s newfound position within the Outer Circle, Captain America is already being plagued by yet another ominous threat. Much like the discovery of the Outer Circle, Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty #6 (by Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly, Carmen Carnero, and VC’s Joe Caramagna) sees one of the titular hero’s oldest allies alerting him to the danger lurking in the shadows. Even more surprising than Roger Aubrey having stumbled upon the beginnings of A.I.M.’s latest plot, however, is the fact that he is still willing to take to the battlefield after nearly seventy years away from it.
Despite a retcon rewriting his introduction to 1943’s All Winners Comics #8, Roger Aubrey, aka the Destroyer, made his first proper appearance back in 1976’s Invaders #14 (by Roy Thomas and Frank Robbins). Much like his romantic and heroic partner Brian Falsworth, better known as the second Union Jack (and first Destroyer), Roger became a prisoner of the Nazi regime in Germany during the height of World War II. As the subject of various experiments, Roger was imbued with the unique ability to shrink down to a barely one-foot-tall version of himself, all while maintaining his full strength. This coupled with Roger’s later exposure to a variant of the Super-Soldier Serum that created Captain America made him a powerful force in the fight against evil.
Following the war, Roger continued on with his superhero career alongside Brian as a founding member of V-Battalion. Though their relationship and the culture of the era made it impossible for Roger to take up Brian’s mantle in the wake of his death, he did lead the group they had founded through some truly trying times. Roger even fought alongside the Invaders after stepping down from his place within V-Battalion, more so out of an innate sense of responsibility than any official duty. If anything, this stands as a stark reminder of just how much Roger has dedicated himself to protecting the legacies of those who paved the way for modern heroes. Now, taking back his old mantle is just another way of doing exactly that.
Considering the Outer Circle already brought Brian back to life as the Destroyer only to turn him into a ticking time bomb, Roger has every reason to reclaim that mantle for himself, and for the man he loved. Hitting back at the Outer Circle is one thing, but carrying a name that meant so much to both him and Brian adds a personal touch to the proceedings. It’s a rare kind of moment even for the Marvel Universe.
It also stands as a poignant sign of everything that Roger and Brian accomplished, no matter how unsung their victories might be today. Seeing Steve continue to carry his iconic shield into battle is one thing, but the legacy of Captain America is far from the only one of its era. If anyone is going to be fighting to keep those other legacies from falling into total obscurity, Roger Aubrey’s Destroyer really is the best person for the job.