Marvel Legacy has had something of an odd start. While the initial kickoff of the Marvel Legacy one-shot proper was a good jumping on point, it and this week’s issues had to deal with the fallout of Secret Empire. One of the biggest comics impacted by that prior event being the first issue of Falcon. Sam Wilson as a character has had something of a rough go of it these last few years. While debuting to acclaim in a major motion picture and ascending as Captain America would normally mean a marked improvement in visibility, Sam as a character seemed to suffer within the role of Captain America. Part of that seemed to stem from a lack of an overarching vision when Rick Remender was still writing the book, part of that came from Nick Spencer’s controversial run on the character which ended with Secret Empire, as well as the perceived backlash on Marvel’s recent spin with legacy characters. Either way though, Sam never quite recovered long enough to have a more definitive impact akin to when Ed Brubaker was writing Bucky as Captain America. All of this going in would seem to be points against a potential Falcon comic. After all, what more would a return to being the nominal sidekick mean when the character couldn’t succeed as Captain America?
Surprisingly, Rodney Barnes manages to introduce those concerns and more in his first issue. While the comic can’t fully ditch the yoke of what just happened with Secret Empire, neither can Sam. It also serves as a reasonable context for why Sam no longer wants to be Captain America: both a lack of faith in the identity that betrayed him and a desire to get back to his roots as a social worker. There’s a hefty acknowledgement of Sam’s own feelings in that regard, it also leads to the book’s premise with Sam and his new protege Rayshaun Lucas aka Patriot attempting to do good in Chicago. Unlike the prior Sam Wilson book however, he’s allowed to be competent as a hero and as an agent of change. As far as a new direction goes, it’s fitting that Sam opts to fix communities and with the next generation by his side. It also works as a notable inversion of the classic Cap/Falcon dynamic with the shield-wielding hero as his sidekick.
The art team is top notch too. Joshua Cassara’s pencils and Rachelle Rosenberg’s colors work to create a pretty kinetic comic in both the action-packed scenes and in the smaller moments. It works as a complement to the tightrope story that Barnes constructs around Sam and Rayshaun. All things considered though, it’s a promising debut for a comic like this. It works as a complement to the politics that have made books like Ta-Nehisi Coates’ run on Black Panther and the recent Nighthawk book (which was also set in Chicago ironically) work so well. It solves the problem superhero comics often have with politics by generalizing it and addresses the social issues inherent in dealing with Chicago, much less ones that Marvel has tackled in the past. If you’re looking for a good jumping on point, much less an intelligent comic, you’re in for a treat here.
4 Shields out of 5