Real Name: Dr. Abraham Erskine
Identity/Class: Normal human (World War II era)
Occupation: World famous biologist and physicist, inventor of Super Soldier serum
Group Membership: Operation Rebirth/Project Super Soldier/Project: Rebirth (see comments), the United States military
Affiliations: Dr. Murray Anderson,
Captain America (Rogers), Albert Einstein, Colonel Ellis, Dr. Ernst
Fleischer, Lieutenant Colonel James Fletcher,
Dominic Fortune (Duvid Fortunov), Nicholas "Nick" Fury, Lieutenant
Cynthia Glass, Red Hargrove, General
Richard Chester Phillips, Project: Rebirth (Dr. Crawford, Mr. Hayworth,
Dr. Morris, General Max Saunders, General Shaw, Congressman Simpson,
others), Lieutenant Sam Sawyer;
formerly Professor Hans Bruder, Heinrich Himmler, Adolf Hitler, Rascher, Baron Heinrich Zemo, unidentified Nazi scientists
Enemies: Adolf Hitler, Major Albrecht Kerfoot, Heinz Kruger, unidentified Nazi soldiers
Known Relatives: Esme Erskine-Paxton (daughter), Tyler Paxton (son-in-law), Professor Jacob Erskine (grandson, legally deceased), Brian Van Patrick (grandson), unidentified granddaughter-in-law, Michael Van Patrick (great-grandson, deceased)
Aliases: Professor Josef Reinstein
Base of Operations: Project:
Rebirth, under the Antiques and Collectibles Curios shop, Washington,
formerly a lab in Frankfurt, Germany;
formerly Castle Zemo, Bavaria, Germany
First Appearance: Captain America Comics#1 (March, 1941)
Powers/Abilities: Abraham Erskine was a biochemist and physicist, renowned for his expertise and role in the creation of the coveted Super Soldier serum. A humanitarian by nature, Erskine abhorred the testing and mistreatment of human subjects. Erskine is fluent in English and German.
(Avengers: The Initiative Annual#1/4 (fb) - BTS) - World renowned biochemist and physicist Dr. Abraham Erskine spent years researching the key to creating the perfect physical specimen through a revolutionary diet and the ultimate exercise regimen.
(Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier#1 (fb) - BTS) - Erskine had a daughter, Esme. For unrevealed reasons, the two became estranged.
(Captain America Comics#1/Captain America I#109 (fb) - BTS) - Erskine developed a "Super Soldier Serum" and the Vita-Rays.
(Captain America Theater of War: Operation Zero-Point#1 (fb) - BTS) - Erskine met Dr. Fleischer at a conference in Vienna and told him about his formula and the Vita-Rays.
(Captain America Reborn#1 (fb) - BTS) - Erskine befriended Dr. Albert Einstein.
(Thunderbolts Presents: Zemo - Born Better#4/Marvels Project#1 (fb) - BTS) - Despite his reservations, Erskine began working for the Nazis.
(Thunderbolts Presents: Zemo - Born Better#4) - Erskine watched Baron Heinrich Zemo and Adolf Hitler test a "death ray" on a human test subject against the good doctor's objections. Tolerated by Hitler for his expertise, Erskine saw to the surviving human subject, telling Hitler that it was "more noble to enhance the human physique to match its unconquerable spirit" than to build death rays.
(Marvels Project#2 (fb) - BTS) - Erskine examined the body of Private John Steele, an American soldier captured near the end of the first World War and kept in suspended animation. Erskine was unable to determine the source of Steele's enhanced strength and durability.
(Marvels Project#1) - Presented with a Daily Bugle newspaper detailing the creation of the android Human Torch by his colleague Hans Bruder, Erskine quietly replied to his remark that if the Torch is real they're going to be under pressure from the S.S. to match it. Telling Erskine that a recent attempt to capture Atlantean "seas creatures" was thwarted by Namor, the Submariner, Bruder offhandedly threatened him to provide a breakthrough.
(Thunderbolts Presents: Zemo - Born Better#4/Marvels Project#1/Marvels Project#2 (fb) - BTS) - Erskine contacted the United States, expressing his desire to defect and offer his services to the US. A plan was formed with Colonel Ellis and Lt. Sawyer of the armed forces, and independent special operatives Nick Fury and Red Hargrove to extract Erskine during a trip to confer with Heinrich Himmler in Luxembourg.
(Marvels Project#2) - In February 1940, Erskine
discussed Steele with Bruder who was tasked with mapping his biological
structure. Erskine wished him luck, reminding him of his own failure to
understand Steele's physiology previously, and departed for the
While en route, Erskine's convoy was ambushed by Fury and Hargrove, who tore through Erskine's guard detail and left with Erskine.
(Thunderbolts Presents: Zemo - Born Better#4) - Erskine was brought to the United States.
(Giant Size Invaders#1/Captain America I#255/Marvels Project#2 (fb) - BTS) - In the spring of 1940, news spread that Erskine died during the car crash surrounding his extraction. Erskine used the rumors of his demise to go by the name "Reinstein."
(Avengers: The Initiative Annual#1/4 (fb) - BTS) - Erskine offered his research into diet and exercise to the military, but they turned it down in favor of research with more immediate results.
(Marvels Project#3 - BTS) - Erskine's assistance was a boon to the US war effort, while the Nazis thought of him as a traitor.
(Marvels Project#3) - Erskine recreated his "super-soldier serum".
(Marvel Superheroes III#3) - In late 1940, Erskine and his colleague, Dr. Anderson, met with Duvid Fortunov, better known as adventurer Dominic Fortune, to check his availability as a candidate for Project: Rebirth. Accepting the offer, Fortunov underwent a series of tests overseen by Erskine, but was later dismissed.
(Young Men#24/Captain America I#109/Captain America I#255/Marvel Superheroes II#3/Marvel Universe#1) - On November 14, 1940, Steve Rogers was brought to the Project: Rebirth facilities and introduced to Erskine and Anderson. Recognizing Erskine and recalling his reported death last spring, Anderson told Rogers of the faked accident and remarked that Erskine was too recognizable for a codename to work. Erskine warned Rogers that the coming experiments might kill him, but Rogers offered his willingness to continue.
(Adventures of Captain
America#1) - On
the morning of November 15, 1940, Erskine addressed the Project:
Rebirth candidates, telling them in a few words the purpose of the
experiments. As the candidates trained, Erskine continued his research.
On December 27, 1940, Lt. Col. Fletcher asked Erskine his opinion on Project: Rebirth candidate Gilmore "Goose" Hodge. They agreed that Hodge was, in their opinion, both dangerous and ignorant and thus unfit, and that Steve Rogers, the final candidate was better suited for the project. Erskine joined Fletcher and Lt. Glass in telling Rogers he was selected.
(Captain America I#255/The Adventures of Captain America#1/Marvels Project#4) - Over two months, Rogers underwent a difficult training regime. Unidentified injections were administered under Erskine's supervision.
(Marvels Project#4) - Erskine's preparations for Project: Rebirth were unknowingly tracked by Nazi saboteurs Major Albrecht Kerfoot (alias Professor Hamilton) and Heinz Kruger (who gained limited access to Project: Rebirth posing as Special Agent for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Frederick Clemson).
(Adventures of Captain America#1) - On January 28, 1941, Erskine arranged a secret meeting with Fletcher at the Lincoln memorial. Believing the project may be compromised, Erskine gave Fletcher the formula for his Vita-Rays to use should anything happen to him.
(Captain America Annual 2000) - On March 9, 1941, Erskine discussed the selection of Steve Rogers for Project: Rebirth with General Phillips, General Saunders and other military officials.
(Captain America Reborn#1) - On March 10, 1941, Erskine drew blood from Rogers during his final preparations for Project: Rebirth. Asked by Rogers about the concept of time travel and going back to kill Hitler before the war, Erskine cautioned about the dangers of altering the future in such a fashion, but added that since he's not an expert on the subject he would find better conversation with his friend Albert Einstein.
(Captain America Comics#1/Captain
Comics#59/Young Men#24/Tales of Suspense I#63/Captain America
I#109/Captain America I#176/Captain America I#215/Giant Size
Invaders#1/Captain America I#255/The Adventures of Captain
Universe#1/Captain America V#25/Captain America V#50/2/Captain America
Reborn#1/Marvels Project#5/Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier#1) - Before an
audience of government and military officials, Erskine introduced
himself and began the process of turning Steve Rogers into a Super
Soldier. As with Rogers, some officials recognized Erskine, wondering
how he survived his allegedly fatal car crash.
Erskine brought Rogers into his lab, sitting him on a gurney. He filled a hypodermic needle with the serum, injecting Rogers with it, and provided another sample for Rogers to drink. Strapping Rogers to the gurney, Erskine and his associates powered the Vita-Rays, bathing Rogers in its glow. The project proved successful with immediate results, and Erskine unveiled the enhanced Steve Rogers to the audience. Moments later, Kruger fired at Erskine through the glass barrier. Erskine died within seconds.
(Marvels Project#5 (fb) - BTS) - News of Erskine's murder broke, and was covered in the Daily Bugle.
(Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier#1 (fb) - BTS) - Esme Erskine attended her father's memorial service, meeting Project: Rebirth test subject Tyler Paxton. The two eventually married and had a son, Jacob. (see comments)
(Avengers: The Initiative Annual#1 (fb) - BTS) - Erskine's research into food and exercise was left unclassified by the military and passed on to another grandson, Brian, after his death. (see comments)
Comments: Created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby
Erskine's project is first referred to as Operation: Rebirth in Tales of Suspense I#63, then Project Super Soldier in Captain America I#109, before the names are combined as Project: Rebirth in Marvel Super-Heroes Fall Special II#3. For the sake of simplicity, the latter name has been used in this profile. Perhaps mistakenly, the project is referred to as Project Reborn in Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier#3; it is otherwise referred to as Project: Rebirth in that series.
The brief retelling of the origin from Captain America I#448 is not included here because, aside from the fact it diverges with Cap saving Erskine's life, it was a Cosmic Cube recreation of the event from Cap's memories and therefore unreliable.
Contrary to the main image, Erskine is generally depicted with a full head of hair. While it's possible he wears a hairpiece to cover up his receding hairline, the aforementioned appearance can probably be chalked up to artistic license.
With the exception of Tales of Suspense I#63 and Captain America I#109, all versions of the origin through Giant Size Invaders#1 had Erskine introduce the name Captain America in his pronouncement of the experiment's success. This element has since been dropped from retellings post-Giant Size Invaders I#1.
Erskine's Jewish background, first mentioned in What If II#29, was confirmed as being true of his 616 counterpart in the Marvel Atlas handbook. Thanks to John McDonagh for noting the What If issue.
For anyone keeping track, Vita-Rays were introduced to the origin in Captain America I#109, and the explanation for the Reinstein codename was first used in Giant Size Invaders#1.
As with any origin retold multiple times, inconsistencies appear. In the case of Erskine's death, the more common elements from each retelling are noted above, although they might not apply to each version. Variations had Kruger firing through a door into the lab, firing more than once, changing where Erskine was shot, and how long it took him to die and whether or not he said something to Steve Rogers before dying. In Captain America Reborn#1 the events of the experiment and Erskine's death are said to have occurred in 1940.
Jacob Paxton later apparently changed his name to Erskine as a selling point to lure investors for his company, Nextin Pharmaceuticals. Alleging to have recreated his grandfather's super-soldier serum, the younger Erskine's claim and subsequent assassination appear to have been a ruse to obtain a sample of Steve Roger's blood to properly recreate the serum. Jacob Erskine's marriage to a woman named Anita is also questionable given her status as an android double of Project: Rebirth's Lt. Cynthia Glass constructed by the Machinesmith.
Erskine's grandson Brian and great-grandson Michael were introduced in Avengers: The Initiative#1. Michael Van Patrick, was accepted into the 50-state Initiative for his natural super-human status, created through the implementation of his great-grandfather's research decades earlier. It's unrevealed if Esme Erskine is Brian's mother (in that case presumably having remarried a man named Van Patrick), or if he is descended from another of Erskine's children (it's noted in Steve Rogers: Super-Solider I#1 that Erskine doesn't have any sons, but that doesn't preclude him from having more than one daughter).
Empire State University later came into possession of the Erskine Manuscripts, as seen in Spectacular Spider-Man I#9-10. The content of the Erskine Manuscripts was not revealed, but they were described as a point of interest for incoming students.
When I read the origin of the Terror and saw that Dr. John Storm gave Laslo Pevely both a serum and "high radio frequency waves" it reminded me of the addition of the Vita rays to Captain America's origin in Captain America I#109 (January, 1969). Dr. John Storm could've been added to Cap's origin as the creator or co-creator of the Vita Ray Machine and Professor Steve Jordan/Captain Wonder as an assistant to Professor Reinstein (Abraham Erskine) in Cap's origin and his Wonder Fluid as an improvement on Cap's Super Soldier Serum.
Profile by G Morrow.
Abraham Erskine has no known connections to
The Adventures of Captain America#1, p29, pan1 (main image)
Captain America Comics#1, p5, pan5 (full body)
Thunderbolts Presents: Zemo - Born Better#4, p3, pan3 (head shot)
Captain America Reborn#1, p25, pan1 (death)
Captain America Comics#1 (March, 1941) - Joe Simon (writer), Jack Kirby (pencils), Al Liederman (inks), Joe Simon (editor)
Captain America Comics#59 (November, 1946) - Alan Sulamn (writer), Syd Shores (pencils), Stan Lee (editor)
Young Men#24 (December, 1953) - John Romita (artist), Stan Lee (editor)
Tales of Suspense I#63 (March, 1965) - Stan Lee (writer/editor), Jack Kirby (pencils), Jack Giacoia (inks)
Captain America I#109 (January, 1969) - Stan Lee (writer/editor), Jack Kirby (pencils), Syd Shores (inks)
Captain America I#176 (August, 1974) - Steve Englehart (writer), Sal Buscema (pencils), Vince Colletta (inks), Roy Thomas (editor)
Giant-Size Invaders#1 (July, 1975) - Roy Thomas (writer/editor), Frank Robbins (pencils), Vince Colletta (inks)
Captain America I#215 (November, 1977) - Roy Thomas (writer/editor), George Tuska (pencils), Pablo Marcos (inks)
Captain America I#255 (March, 1981) - Roger Stern (writer), John Byrne (pencils), Joe Rubinstein (inks), Jim Salicrup (editor)
Marvel Super-Heroes Fall Special III#3 (September, 1990) - Danny Fingeroth (writer), Gary Hartle (pencils), Tony DeZuniga (inks), Mark Gruenwald (editor)
The Adventures of Captain America#1 (September, 1991) - Fabian Nicieza and Kevin Maguire (storytellers), Joe Rubenstein (inks), Mike Rockwitz (editor)
Marvel Universe#1 (June, 1998) - Roger Stern (writer), Steve Epting (pencils), Al Williamson (inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Captain America Annual 2000 (2000) - Bill Rosemann (writer), Scott Eaton (pencils), Bud LaRosa (inks), Bobbie Chase (editor)
Captain America V#25 (April, 2007) - Ed Brubaker (writer), Steve Epting (pencils and inks), Frank D'Armata (colors), Lazer, Sitterson & Breevort (editors)
Thunderbolts Presents: Zemo - Born Better#4 (July, 2007) - Fabian Nicieza (writer), Tom Grummett (pencils), Gary Erskine (inks), Molly Lazer (editor)
Avengers: The Initiative Annual#1 (January, 2008) - Dan Slott and Christos Gage (writers), Tom Feister & Carmine Di Giandomenico (artists), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Captain America Theater of War: Operation Zero-Point#1 (December, 2008) - Charles & David Knauf (writers), Mitch Breitweiser (artist), Jeanine Schaefer (editor)
Captain America V#50 (July, 2009) - Ed Brubaker and Marcos Martin and Fred Hembeck (writers), Luke Ross (pencils), Rick Maygar & Luke Ross (inks), Marcos Martin and Fred Hembeck (artists), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Captain America Reborn#1 (October, 2009) - Ed Brubaker (writer), Bryan Hitch (pencils), Butch Guice (inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Marvels Project#1 (October, 2009) - Ed Brubaker (writer), Steve Epting (artist), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Marvels Project#2 (November, 2009) - Ed Brubaker (writer), Steve Epting (artist), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Marvels Project#3 (December, 2009) - Ed Brubaker (writer), Steve Epting (artist), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Marvels Project#4 (February, 2010) - Ed Brubaker (writer), Steve Epting (artist), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Marvels Project#5 (March, 2010) - Ed Brubaker (writer), Steve Epting (artist), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier#1 (September, 2010) - Ed Brubaker (writer), Dale Eaglesham (artist), Tom Brevoort (editor)
First Posted: 12/20/2007
Last updated: 11/02/2010
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
Non-Marvel Copyright info
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