Stan Lee’s first superhero, Destroyer, was similar to Captain America until Walking Dead’s Robert Kirkman made him more brutal than John Walker.
Long before characters such as John Walker took inspiration from Captain America, Stan Lee’s first superhero was a Cap pastiche named Destroyer. Though the character did enjoy a brief time in the spotlight of Marvel’s early heroes, he quickly faded into obscurity. Still, his legacy as Lee’s very first superhero has always piqued the interest of comic creators who grew up in Lee’s shadow. The most radical departure came from Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, who turned Destroyer into an absolutely brutal hero.
Created in 1941 by Stan Lee and Jack Binder for Mystic Comics #6, Destroyer is the secret identity of Kevin Marlow. Marlow was a journalist in pre-World War II America who jumped at the chance to investigate Nazi atrocities when their existence was still controversial. He was quickly captured and stuffed into a cell with a Nazi scientist who was working on a super-soldier serum. The scientist sees Marlow’s good nature and gives him the serum so he can break out. Marlow then becomes the superhero Destroyer, fighter of dictators worldwide. Several other characters would later take up Destroyer’s mantle, with some even retconning Marlow out of existence. In 2009 though, he was brought back in a way that nobody expected.