Written by Lee Gordon
It isn’t breaking news, it’s everywhere and it started on the Colbert Report. The Falcon has been announced as the next Captain America. He isn’t the first to take the mantle over and I’m sure Steve Rogers will be back. After all, the Winter Soldier more recently accepted the shield after the “death” of Rogers, and in the eighties when Steve was “fired”, the US Agent had the title and the shield and yet Steve still returned, but what makes Sam Wilson worthy this time around?
The Falcon was first introduced in Captain America #117 (Sept. of ’69), which makes him slightly older than me, becoming the first (Marvel) black “American Super Hero” (remember the Black Panther is African). It wasn’t until the following issue that we found out The Falcon was Sam Wilson. Throughout the years Sam was a trusted partner of Steve Rogers, and his portrayal by Anthony Mackie was nothing short of phenomenal in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The Falcon wasn’t some sidekick. He was a partner and a friend, which makes me wonder, was this the reasoning behind Marvel’s recent decision to update their Golden Age creation?
In the eighties, Marvel tested the waters with a mini-series by Jim Owsley starring Captain America’s most trusted sidekick. This was originally their way to get feedback on whether a regular series should start. If the four-issue limited sold out then the Falcon would fly solo. This never happened and the Falcon continued to be a B-list hero. Sam has proven over and over again that he is true and loyal. Not since Bucky in World War II did someone have Steve Rogers back as well as Sam did.
In the Ultimate Universe his credentials rival the smartest of Marvel’s characters, but back in the 616 universe, Marvel Now started Captain America all over again with new creative teams; beginning with issue one. I tried collecting the title after this new beginning and I quit reading after issue #2. I felt uninspired to continue reading. And now, a few years later, we have Captain America, a 70+ year iconic creation that needs new life.
I can not think of any character other than Sam Wilson more worthy of the mantle, but I question how able he is. No one can throw a shield better than Steve and catch it after knocking out his enemy. Their is a certain Je’ ne sais quoi about reverberating an adamantium shield off of someone’s skull and having it return to sender.
Of course, some questions remain. Why is Marvel changing the guard? Are they so desperate for new readers that they hope changing Thor into being a woman will garnish more new readers than alienate old ones? Do they think throngs of little girls will decide to pick up a comic book? With Sam Wilson becoming Captain America, will a larger black audience walk into comic shops asking to read the latest adventures? And now I’m waiting for Jean Paul from Alpha Flight to join the pages of Iron Man so we can find out Tony is bisexual for a larger gay audience.
My biggest beef with Marvel is not the changing of iconic characters. I’m ok with that. I’m even looking forward to seeing them move in this direction, provided each title is story driven. What I don’t like is that even though Sam Wilson is taking over as Captain America, he’s not taking over the title. We will have to wait until November 2014 before the “All New Captain America” #1 is released, which is way different than when Tales of Suspense was changed to Captain America with issue #100 instead of issue #1 way back in 1968.
I don’t plan on asking how Sam Wilson is worthy of being Captain America because I can’t think of any other character who is. But I will ask this….
Who is worthy of being The Falcon?