Jack Monroe may not be Marvel’s most iconic hero, but he’s well known to friends and foes alike as one of the oldest of them all. First Appearance of Jack All the Way Back from Don Rico, John Romita, and Mort Lawrence “Back from the Dead” from the pages of 1953 Young #24 finds him fighting alongside Captain America William Burnside against a similar alternate Red Skull, Albert Malik. This classic story is as overtly indicative of its era as almost any other 1950s comic, as the heroes seem to come back from the dead to confront their old foes. For those who might have read the issue when it was hot out of the press at the time, there probably wasn’t anything to get excited about besides being a generally fresh comic. For readers nearly two decades later, it was the crux of a whole new adventure.
Captain America’s Other Bucky was the most tragic of Marvel’s Retcons
1972 captain America #153 (written by Steve Englehart and Sal Buscema) introduces Monroe and Burnside for the first time, recreating nearly a dozen of Cap and Bucky’s early adventures in visceral fashion. This change, made with input from legendary comics creator and editor Roy Thomas, gave Marvel the space it needed to distance the real Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes from its many previously problematic anti-communist stories. It also left Marvel with a handful of characters in desperate need of a reincarnation. This meant explaining their short-lived career in the 1950s with botched super-soldier serums and forced cryogenic suspension at the hands of the government, and the circumstances for their return were no better.
Initially, Burnside and Monroe are freed from their confinement by an overzealous janitor with anti-communist leanings, beginning what may be a long series of confrontations with their ancestors. Ultimately, Burnside and Monroe would fulfill their villainous turns as Chief Boss and Scourge and would suffer subsequent defeats before being expunged from the comic book page in their own tragic ways. While Burnside was able to actually retire albeit after suffering life-changing injuries, 2005 captain America #3 (by Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting, and Michael Lark) saw a drunk and despondent Monroe shot and killed in a parking lot by the Winter Soldier so he could be made a scapegoat for his killer’s other crimes.
The other Captain America Bucky wasn’t even supposed to exist
Bucky killing the other while the original was a villain returning on his own was a good fit for the Winter Soldier story, but it left Monroe on one of the worst notes imaginable. After decades of suffering and being completely forgotten, his time with Nomad has become something of a joke if not remembered. Even worse, Monroe never got a chance to deal with fate better no matter where his story went, and all because he was never created to have a destiny in the first place.
Monroe and Burnside were more necessary producers than anything else. This isn’t to say that there wasn’t a creative aspect to shaping or crafting the characters, but rather that they simply weren’t made to stand out on their own. Instead, they are written as tools to use to make someone else’s story run smoother. As interesting as they might have been, it was not because they were inherently interesting in any way, even if the history around them was a bit much.