Warning: The following article contains spoilers from recent issues of Tech-On Avengers, on sale now from Marvel Comics.
When the Red Skull removes all super-human abilities from the heroes of the Marvel Universe in the Tech-On: Avengers series (by Jim Zub, Jeffrey Cruz, and Travis Lanham), Captain America reverts back to his pre-super-soldier serum state as a diminutive Steve Rogers. The threat of Red Skull still looming, Tony Stark develops unique armor for each of the heroes, Rogers included. The new suit replicates all the original powers of Captain America with a caveat - the more the suit is used, the likely it is to kill its wearer.
Holding shards of the Infinity Stones, the Red Skull changed all of reality by eliminating powers throughout the world. Rogers, reduced to his pre-serum physique, is dwarfed by the costume he has been wearing. Stark’s response is to create custom-made battle suits for the team he’s assembled. Announced by Stark as the Iron Avengers, each person’s suit mimics their former abilities. Designed by the artist of the Ultraman manga, Eiichi Shimizu, Captain America’s armor is stream-lined and echoes more recent Iron Man designs with the classic and unmistakable red, white, and blue aesthetic of his regular costume. Even his shield is upgraded, able to change trajectory in mid-flight.
This new suit is powered by the same infinity shard’s that empowered Red Skull, reduced to a capsule form called IMSs (Infinity Mirror Shards) that endangers the life of everyone who uses them. In other words, the armor is powered by completely unpredictable cosmic-level energy that has the power to vaporize their users in an instant. The IMS capsules only last ten minutes, with overuse threatening to destroy both the suit and its wearer.
This is not the first time Stark has made a suit of armor for Captain America. Back in Captain America #437 (by Mark Gruenwald, Dave Hoover, Danny Bulanadi, George Roussos, and Joe Rosen), the effects of the super-soldier serum deteriorated, bringing Rogers to the point of a heart attack. With his friend and fellow Avenger paralyzed, Stark created an exo-skeleton armor that mimicked Rogers’ abilities. The armor was designed to mimic Rogers’ unusable muscles, but it wasn't able to prevent the imminent threat of his heart giving out.
Sadly, Stark's armor was unable to prevent Rogers from dying in the end. While it allowed him do things he never could before, it could not stop his heart from failing. After a whirlwind race to visit old friends and enemies, Rogers finally willfully laid down in his bed still wearing the armor and died.
Years later, after being resurrected, Steve Rogers donned the armor again, this time to save the Red Skull during the "AXIS" crossover event (by Rick Remender, Adam Kubert, Leinil Francis Yu, Terry Dodson, and Jim Cheung). Remorseful for his past atrocities, the Red Skull (then known as the White Skull) held the secret to returning the world to normal. An elderly Rogers, drained of all his super-soldier abilities, helped the Skull in restoring the world to its previous state.
At his regular power levels, Captain America has little need for Stark's armor. The times that he has worn Tony's creations stemmed from a loss of his own abilities. He died in the armor the first time he wore it, as it failed to provide protection for his heart. In Tech-on: Avengers, the stakes are equally high, as continued use of the suit increases his chances of being vaporized. Nevertheless, Rogers continues his fight, once again throwing concerns of his own safety to the wind while working to ensure the safety of so many others alongside his new team of Iron Avengers.
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