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The Red Skull is a name shared by several fictional characters, all supervillain from the Marvel Comics universe. All incarnations of the character are enemies of Captain America, other superhero, and the United States in general. The first two Red Skulls are Nazi agents and the third is a Communist. The Red Skull was first introduced in Captain America Comics #1 in 1941. The first Red Skull (George Maxon) was an American industrialist turned Nazi saboteur. The second Red Skull (Johann Schmidt) is the original and current Red Skull, considered (according to S.H.I.E.L.D.) as one of the greatest threats to humanity, and a long-time enemy of Captain America. The third Red Skull (Albert Malik) is best known for causing the deaths of the parents of Peter Parker, and thus orphaning the boy who would become Spider-Man. The Red Skull was ranked number 21 on Wizard Magazine's Top 100 Greatest Villains Ever list and was also ranked as IGN's 14th Greatest Comic Book Villain of All Time.
The Red Skull, Johann Schmidt (sometimes spelled Shmidt), was a former Nazi general officer and confidant of Adolf Hitler. He has been closely affiliated with HYDRA and is an enemy of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Avengers, and the interests of the United States and the free world in general. He was physically augmented by having his mind placed into the body of a clone of Captain America, the pinnacle of human perfection. He has been seemingly killed in the past, only to return time and time again to plague the world with schemes of world domination and genocide.
Chronologically by publication date, the first Red Skull to appear in the 1940s comics was George John Maxon, an American businessman and Nazi agent who led a ring of spies and saboteurs. He faced Captain America during two of the latter's first missions. A formidable opponent in his own right, Maxon was thought killed during the last encounter, though he would reappear for one last encounter with Captain America in the Silver Age. Maxon was later revealed to be the agent of Johann Schmidt, the true Red Skull.
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