After Steve Rogers’ participation in Project: Rebirth, the U.S. Army tested the early version of the Super Soldier Serum on 300 black soldiers. A married man and father to a newborn girl, Isaiah Bradley was an infantryman at Camp Cathcart, Mississippi in 1942, during the first year of the United States involvement in World War II. Typical of the time, many in Bradley's unit were subjected to violence and racism within the Army. When Dr. Wilfred Nagel defected to the United States, he brought a crude version of the super soldier serum with him, and was given the codename Joseph Reinstein, a slight variation on the alias Josef Reinstein previously used by the late Abraham Erskine, whose more refined formula had empowered Steve Rogers, only for its secrets to be lost when Erskine was assassinated. To help Dr. "Reinstein" along, the Army decided to test the serum on its black soldiers; deeming them less valuable than their white soldiers. Bradley's platoon was among the 300 test subjects that were randomly chosen from the two of the all black battalions are Cathcart which were murdered after the 300 left for Project Super Soldier. Barbaric medical practices were performed on the subjects, even such an instance as several test subjects were injected with the same amount of serum to verify whether it had been a genetic rejection or overdose that killed the subjects. Eventually the correct dosage was found and given to the remaining test subjects of whom there were seven. The surviving seven were sent forward to Europe, one of their numbers dying on the boat ride to complications with the serum. The remaining six entered the war in July 1942.
During a covert mission, the remaining six soldiers would have their numbers thinned again, leaving only Bradley, fellow soldier Maurice "Faunti'roy" Canfield and their sergeant Lucas Evans. Bradley is the first to question the reasons for their experimentation when he happens upon the very first Captain America comic that just so happened to be released a full year beforehand. Sgt. Evans suggests he not pay any attention to a "fictional" comic book, that if the Army wanted a Steve Rogers and a Super Soldier Project they would "move heaven and hell to get one" (a hint that Evans may have realized their connection to Rogers). It is at this time that Bradley and Evans are joined by Canfield and project assistant supervisor Lieutenant Merritt. Merritt begins to berate the trio over Canfield's comments against Steve Rogers, who has become the public face of Project: Rebirth and America's only known Super Solider. The ensuing disagreement turns violent; Bradley is injured by Canfield; Evans and Canfield are killed in the fight and Merritt is hospitalized.
Upon awakening in the hospital, Bradley is ordered to complete the now suicide mission alone, the promise of his family's continued well-being being used to coerce his involvement. Bradley accepts the assignment and parachutes down to Schwarzebitte, Germany in October 1942 to eliminate the threat of the Nazi Super Soldier Project (SSP). He begins his mission clad in the spare Captain America uniform that was intended for Steve Rogers and a unpainted edged shield, Maurice Canfield's Double V for Victory crest drawn onto it.
Upon executing his mission, Bradley made short work of the Nazi SSP chief Dr. Koch, the base commander and set fire all project files. He set the explosives and made his way into the laboratory where he came face to face with the victims of the Nazi Super Soldier Project., Schwarzbitte's prisoners. Identifying with those who were abused and murdered, Bradley with tears in his eyes, destroys the lab and fights his way through the camp. Seeing the camp guards shuffling a group of nude women around, Bradley breaks into the guards and begins to attempt a non-mission rescue. In trying to protect the women, Bradley has them enter a fortified room that is more than it appears. The women thinking the Nazi's are trying to toy with them before they die, attack Bradley misunderstanding his intentions. The Nazi's begin to release acid through the shower heads catching Bradley between the locked door and the attacking female prisoners. As the women die, Bradley is trapped underneath them and loses consciousness. He is captured by the Germans and taken to be interrogated.
Bradley awakens to the sound of an American propaganda newsreel showing Captain America, Steve Rogers, fighting the Japanese and capturing Dr. Reinstein’s murderer. Bradley looks surprised to hear that Reinstein is dead and even more so that Bradley is now face to face with his interrogator, Adolf Hitler. Hitler and Goebbels attempt to sway Bradley to their side against America and the Allies. Replying that Bradley’s wife would kill him if he did, Hitler orders the guards to beat Bradley while Hitler and Goebbels try to figure out what to do with him. Goebbels mentions to Hitler that Bradley can be sent to Dr. Mengele to be dismembered and used as a demoralization tool against the Allies. Hitler loves the idea and tells Bradley that he is simply going to be sent to the doctor to have his wounds looked at. On the ride to Auschwitz, Bradley’s transport is attacked by the German Resistance led by Afro-German Klaus Spinrad. The German Resistance hides Bradley for five months, feeding and clothing him from within Nazi Germany. He was eventually passed on to the Belgian Underground which had ties to the Red Ball Express, an Army supply route run by black G.I.’s. The Red Ball Express was able to smuggle Bradley back from behind enemy lines. When Bradley reported into command he was arrested and court martialed, receiving a life sentence for stealing Captain America’s spare uniform.
Bradley was convicted in April 1943 and spent seventeen years in solitary confinement at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He would not be released until outgoing president Dwight D. Eisenhower pardoned him on the day of President John F. Kennedy. It was later revealed that the serum Bradley and his platoon were given caused him to become sterile. His years in confinement with minimal medical care allowed the damage to affect his brain, slowly deteriorating it, turning the once strong, proud man into an almost mute man-child. Steve Rogers, Captain America, was the man to piece together Isaiah Bradley’s story and on behalf of the country and himself, apologized to Isaiah for everything that he and his family was put through.
Bradley became an underground legend amongst the Black community, their Captain America. During his years after confinement he met many famous people including Malcolm X, Richard Pryor, Gen. Colin Powell and many others. His celebrity even reached across the ocean as T'Challa, King of Wakanda, secretly invited Bradley and his wife to attend T'Challa's wedding to Ororo Munroe, Storm of the X-Men. Even Luke Cage acknowledge Bradley's history explaining to the Avengers in attendance; as Luke had undergone similar experiments to gain his own powers.
Isaiah Bradley lives with his wife Faith and their grandchildren through their daughter Sarah Gail. Isaiah also has a biological son with Faith that is the product of artificial insemination and surrogate pregnancy named Josiah X, who's a member of Crew.
He has a grandson from Sarah Gail, Eli Bradley or Patriot, who's the leader of Young Avengers. Patriot gained his abilities initially when he was taking the illegal drug MGH or mutant growth hormone which he bought from Mister Hyde. He eventually gave up the drug and was encouraged to rely on his own innate skills and strength. Later, during a battle between the Kree and Skrulls over New York City, Eli Bradley was gravely injured. He was rushed to a hospital where he was given a blood transfusion from his grandfather Isaiah, the results of which endowed him with Super Soldier abilities.
Thanks to the super-soldier formula Isaiah gained peak human strength, agility, speed, endurance and reflexes. All superior to those of Olympic athletes since his body eliminates any excess of fatigue poisons. He is also immune to most diseases. His aging process was also slowed down dramatically, increasing his longevity. He was trained in close quarters combat by the United States Army. However, the super soldier serum given to Bradley lacked some of the components of the one previously used on Steve Rogers. Being cruder than the one Rogers was given, it has had more debilitating side effects to Bradley's virility, making him sterile, and mental state, causing him to slip ever further backward into childhood.
The storyline of Truth - Red, White and Black is inspired by the truth behind the Tuskegee Experiments. A historically real and unethical project where hundreds of African-American men from Tuskegee, AL. were told they would be receiving free medical care from the government and were unwitting injected instead with syphilis. The government authorized and sponsored project was used to determine how syphilis naturally progresses in the body, its long term effects and its lethality. The project went on for decades, denying the men release from their illness even after a cure was found. This project spanned 40 years, from 1932 until it was leaked to the press in 1972. 399 impoverish sharecroppers were inducted into the study, of these 28 died of syphilis and 100 died from related complications. 40 of the wives contracted syphilis and 19 of their children were born with congenital syphilis. Only 74 of the original 399 survived until the end of the study.
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier
Isaiah makes his live-action debut in the second episode of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. The character is played by actor Carl Lumbly. Bucky introduces Sam to Isaiah having fought him before. Sam continues to visit Isaiah for guidance in taking up the mantle of Captain America