Writer: Rodney Barnes / Artist: Joshua Cassara / Marvel Comics
After having Sam Wilson serve as Captain America for more than a year, Marvel placed itself in a difficult spot following a decision to return him to his former role as Falcon. The story was that he wasn’t being demoted but just returning to his roots with some newfound perspective. Unfortunately, Falcon #1 fumbles the handoff.
In an attempt to regain the trust of the people, Sam takes it upon himself to travel to Chicago to single-handedly take on gang violence. Barnes clearly did at least a little homework in regards to bringing some of Chicago’s reality of gang violence to the page. Sadly, the dialogue leaves a lot to be desired. Teenagers sound like they were ripped out of an awkward YouTube sketch and the adults sometimes talk like they’re straight out of a Blacksploitation flick.
Prime example: “Woo! Look at you go! Boy, America picked the right Negro to give wings!”
The most common themes of the last title — dealing with racial injustices and political corruption – remain true in Falcon. However, the stakes are downsized. Prime example, instead of a corrupt government, we’ve got an evil mayor who’s later revealed to be an out-of-place villain.
Before we move on to the biggest issue, let’s take a small detour. Now that Sam’s got a sidekick that’s a symbol of the American spirit, what’s going to happen to his old sidekick? Y’know, Joaquin Torres, a.k.a. the guy who was going by Falcon after being biologically melded with an actual falcon? It would be an absolute shame for him to go to waste.
Now, the biggest issue. It may be unfair for me to look to Sam Wilson as a beacon of what it means to be a politically aware and unapologetically Black character. But I do. Blame issue #10 of Captain America: Sam Wilson for that. In Falcon, Sam comes off as more pretentious than anything. As a matter of fact, he sounds like an old head that used to be down for the cause but got old and chose to lean on respectability politics instead. In other words, he’s less work and more “resting his eyes.”
Falcon definitely has the potential to be something good, but it’s not there yet.