First Appearance: Captain America #117 (1969)
History: Samuel “Sam” Wilson grew up in Harlem. As a boy he found he had an affinity for birds and thus he raised pigeons. As an adult he became a social worker, trying to give back to his community. One day Sam found himself at a place called “Exile Island” and soon discovers the island has been taken over by a rogue group of Nazis who are forcing the locals into servitude. He also meets a falcon who he forms a strong bond with; he names it Redwing. Soon Sam and Redwing are at odds with the Red Skull, the leader (or ex-leader, rather) of the Exiles who uses the reality warping power of the Cosmic Cube to create a mental link between the two new friends. Eventually Wilson meets Steve Rogers, who he later learns is Captain America, who offers to train him and help him create a costumed persona to inspire a rebellion among the locals. To that end Sam Wilson becomes The Falcon and defeats the Nazis on the island. He soon leaves and, armed with a harness that allows him to fly, he becomes Captain America’s longtime crime fighting partner, an Avenger and even an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Beta Says: Ah, Falcon. Created by Stan Lee and Gene Colan he is Marvel Comics’ first African-American superhero (Black Panther isn’t American). A social worker from Harlem sounds like a pretty good choice for a background for an early attempt at diversity. It’s shockingly inoffensive when you consider the type of racist garbage creators threw or tried to throw at us in the ensuing years. Yup, I’d say that Falcon was probably the best conceived major African-American hero of the Silver Age/Bronze Age.
Oh right, I forgot; writer Steve Englehart retconned (i.e. retroactively altered) Falcon’s origin in 1975, years after the fact. It turned out that apparently the in addition to using the Cosmic Cube to give Falcon and Redwing a mental link with each other he also used it to erase parts of Sam’s memory. Why? Because…um...er…SCIENCE!! (Actually why would he give super powers to a random dude for that matter?) So Sam Wilson’s “new old” background? Why a mob connected pimp and drug dealer named “Snap” Wilson, of course!
|You know it's hard out here for a pimp|
When he tryin to get this money for the rent
More rage after the jump.
NOPE! Not only has Marvel never displayed any inclination to change the origin, like in a retelling or something, but they’ve since written Falcon as if he suffers from some form of dissociative identity disorder and has a separate Snap Wilson personality that periodically takes over. I will repeat this: sometimes the “Snap Wilson” personality, who is a vicious pimp, takes over the mind of The Flacon, their first African-American costumed hero. But…the retcon…racist…what…?
DOES NO ONE AT MARVEL UNDERSTAND THAT THIS IS CRAZY?!?!? It HAS to be changed because it’s insane that the first African-American superhero at Marvel Comics is a racist stereotype, and even worse that he was turned into one after his creation! Change him back to a social worker, make him a gardener, make him a teacher like Black Lightning, hell, make him a porn kingpin (at least that’s legal); just don’t keep him as a criminal just because you thought it was fashionable in the f**king 70s!
Phew. Okay, that was about 600 words of pure ranting. Let’s talk about Falcon as a character, shall we?
Since early in his first appearance Falcon has been an ally of Captain America. In fact, much like War Machine to Iron Man, it wouldn’t be a stretched to refer to him as “Captain America’s Black Friend” in a sarcastic tone. Still they were depicted as partners in their war on crime and Cap’s book was even retitled “Captain America and The Falcon”. Also Falcon is kind of awesome. He’s only power, aside from his flying harness, was basically his link with Redwing but over time writers have further developed it as a link with all birds…at once. He can see through birds through concentration, which pretty much means he has eyes all over the city (making it difficult for criminals to escape him), and even the power to control birds. Which, you know, could result in untold destruction if he wasn’t such a great guy. The Falcon is shockingly powerful if he uses these powers carefully and cleverly. Add to the fact that he’s a great fighter (everyone trained by Captain America apparently become super fighters, not unlike everyone trained by Richard Dragon in the DC Universe) Falcon is a pretty badass dude.
|Pictured: Falcon, Redwing, and their white friend|
Also Falcon will be appearing in the main cast in the upcoming cartoon Avengers Assemble…but I don’t wanna talk about that.
|Despite everything, he's still pretty cool|
Redwing's not bad either
That’s it for this year’s look at the many black superheroes in comic books. Since I didn’t do an intro I see little point in doing an outro. I feel I screwed up last year by only doing three posts but I think I’m comfortable with the amount this year. I hope you enjoyed it too.