History is written by the victors. That means not everything that happens gets talked about or how they actually went down. Isaiah Bradley is a major part of the Captain America legacy that was often swept under the rug. So glossed over was he that even Steve Rogers didn’t know about him for far too long. So who is Isaiah Bradley and what’s he got to do with Captain America? Let’s find out.
Isaiah Bradley was born and raised in New York City with the understanding that all of humanity is equal. As Isaiah grew up in the 1920s and 1930s, he would still believe this and grow frustrated with seeing that many around him did not believe this. He would go on to meet Faith Shabazz and the two would eventually marry. When Pearl Harbor is bombed, Isaiah is shipped off for military training, leaving behind a pregnant Faith back home.
Now in the Army, Isaiah and several hundred other black soldiers were forced into tests to recreate the Super Soldier Serum that created Captain America. To help keep this all secret, Faith and many others received letters alerting them that the men involved with the tests had died. Sadly, the letters would mostly go from fiction to fact as most of the men died from the experimentation.
Only a few men survived, though many deformed, Isaiah survived and didn’t seem to have any physical deformities. They were a covert black ops team frequently sent on dangerous missions, leaving only three left. During a mission one super soldier, Maurice Canfield, learned that the letter sent to his parents about his falsified death lead to them committing a murder-suicide. Enraged with this news along with the imbalances of his serum, Maurice would get himself and other soldiers killed, leaving Isaiah and another soldier badly injured.
After recovering, Isaiah was sent on a suicide mission to stop the German Super Soldier Serum and shut down a Nazi death camp. He would end up taking the Captain America suit and shield for his mission. While he would be successful in stopping the serum and stopping the camp, he was captured and presented to Hitler. Tell Hitler to shove it, Isaiah would be rescued by German freedom fighters and eventually make his way back to the U.S.
Upon being brought home, Isaiah was court marshaled and imprisoned for 17 years for stealing the Captain America uniform and shield. It was Faith’s perseverance, sending letters continuously for years to the president of the United States. Finally released, Isaiah and Faith are sworn to secrecy about who Isaiah is and what he is capable of. Sadly, his serum wasn’t just as Steve Rogers’ and over the years of imprisonment, Isaiah’s mind and body had deteriorated to varying degrees.
Like any secret, word got out in the black community of who Isaiah was. He would be a legend and hero to many. While outside this community Isaiah remained unknown until only recently. Isaiah and Faith had two children, their daughter Sara was from before his time in the military, and their son Josiah X, who is a bit more complicated. Josiah was an experiment by the government who had taken samples from both Isaiah and Faith, without their knowledge or consent, and carried his father’s Super Soldier Serum in his veins. Faith had to give him away to keep him safe from the government and eventually Josiah would grow up as his own vigilante. His serum not degenerating him like his father. He would find his family and visit on occasion.
Being a legend meant that Isaiah would inspire many influential and famous people in history such as Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Richard Pryor, and Colin Powell to name a few, even the Black Panther is a fan. While his story lived in the cracks of history, his family would continue to be heroes. Isaiah’s grandson, Eli, would become the hero Patriot and gain powers thanks to a blood transfusion from Isaiah. Isaiah and Faith are still happily married with Faith taking care of her grandchildren and her husband.
There you have it folks, Isaiah’s story isn’t a happy one but it does have a nice ending, somewhat. His story was quite groundbreaking when it came out and still is. He isn’t really talked about in current comics nor is his grandson Eli, but hopefully they are brought back some time soon. The Bradley’s deserve the spotlight on both the comics page and in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, hopefully some day.
Truth: Red, White, and Black