7. ULTIMATES VOLUME: 1 (THE ULTIMATES #1-12, 2002-2004)
In 2000, Marvel Comics created the Ultimate Universe; a concept that updated the company’s most popular characters for the new millennium. Mark Millar’s first volume of The Ultimates saw the creation of the world’s first superhero team led by a more modern depiction of Captain America and run by S.H.I.E.L.D.
This version of Cap was more aggressive than the classic ‘60s interpretation, as he had no qualms about indiscriminately killing his enemies. He was viewed as the perfect solider that would serve his country no matter what the price, and would often spout racial epithets without thinking twice about it. He was hard hitting, completely out of touch with the modern world, and quickly shed the “boy scout” image that previously plagued the character. He was everything a modern audience wanted from their heroes in a world that was increasingly painted with shades of gray.
The story itself revolved around Marvel staples such as Cap, Thor, Iron Man, and Hulk as they tried to quell an impending invasion of shape shifting aliens. The shocking violence and grit of the comic was only accentuated by the cinematic artwork by Bryan Hitch. The story questioned the role of a superhero in the modern world and depicted them as a deeply flawed group of people who perhaps shouldn’t be trusted with humanity’s safety. It may not be classic Cap, but it's thought-provoking Cap.