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365 Reasons to Love Comics #54

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s… wait, it’s a bird. Sort of.

Our hero for today is a fun character who always gets the short straw. Funny how that’s been working out with most of the characters we’ve looked at, huh? You’d think there’s a hidden theme or something.

Also, Black History Month will be wrapping up next week, so while I’ve got the chance, I’m opening the place for suggestions. Do you have a favorite black character or creator who hasn’t been spotlighted yet? If so, speak up! I need to know if I’ve forgotten anyone important. There are a few I’ve left out purposefully because they’re just not cool enough, but it’s very easy for you to convince me otherwise, so give it a shot. And if you’ve got suggestions for future themes or random awesome one-offs, drop on by the suggestion thread on our forum. I’d love to see your ideas.

2/23/07

54. Falcon

Falcon 2.jpg

You can click that to increase the wingspread, so to speak. (It’s the cover of an issue of the quickly-cancelled Captain America & The Falcon series from a couple years back.)

The Falcon, aka Sam Wilson, was Marvel’s first African-American (remember, Black Panther isn’t American) super-character, debuting in Captain America in 1969. I’m also told he’s the first black superhero to not have the word “Black” in his codename. Zany. And he’s the uncle of Jim Wilson, noted Hulk supporting character! I had no idea. Even I learn things while writing this column!

For instance, I didn’t know Falcon’s origin was so weird. He was a thug called “Snap” empowered by the cosmic cube to become the perfect partner for Captain America? It was all part of Red Skull’s evil plan and backfired, giving Falcon his superhero career? Weird.

Falcon 1.jpg

Falcon didn’t have the whole flying gimmick going for him, yet, but he did have his “empathic connection” to Redwing, his, er, falcon. Eventually, our pal the Black Panther built a flying harness for him, and the rest is history.

Like a lot of the African-American heroes we’ve looked at this week, Falcon was one of those “streetwise” superheroes who was big on the community. In his civilian identity, Sam works as a social worker. I think this is a pretty cool and unique thing in the superhero realm. Even if it’s silly that almost all the black guys had to be racially and socially “relevant” just ’cause they were the black guys, the concept of a superhero social worker is brilliant, and a lot could be done with it. I love potential.

Falcon 4.jpg

Falcon continued appearing in Cap’s book, even sharing the headline with him. Kirby did a run with him! I think all of it’s in trade by now, maybe. It’s probably so awesome that you will lose control of your bowels. I haven’t read it yet, no, but I will have to one day to complete my Kirby collection. I’ll need to buy some adult diapers first.

Falc got phased out of the book, but eventually got a mini, and joined the Avengers, and then shared another book with Cap, the aforementioned Priest-penned series. None of these stints lasted very long, though. Why isn’t the Falcon popular? He could be, man. He could be. I hear he had a decent role in Civil War. And I know he’s shown up in the Ultimate books. Let’s have more of that. No. Let’s have more than that.

Falcon 3.jpg

Yeah, all these cool black superheroes have had a lot of adversity to conquer– and that adversity manifests in poor sales or just plain bad luck with publishing. I mean, I know Falcon is one of a long list of guys who are “neighborhood heroes”– but something should be done with them aside from trotting them out every other crossover.

We know Falcon is cool. He’s a social worker into ornithology. That’s awesome! So, okay, his only “power” is flying and talking to birds. So is he Aquaman in the air? If only! (Aquaman is one of the coolest dudes ever. You know it’s true.) He could be, though. Marvel doesn’t have too many characters who excel in flying. Let’s have that be Falcon. In air, he should be unstoppable. On land, he should be a good fighter. He should always be a smart individual who wants to help people out. That could be the focus of a Falcon series– helping out people in need who he meets in his civilian identity. It’s not a perfect premise, but it works, and it gives him a genre to live in. Human interest stories, with crimefighting. And the occasional super-villain.

There’s no reason why any character couldn’t hold his own series if you use them properly. Falcon is yet another example of that.

18 Comments

Suggestions:

Steel — The best of the Superman replacements

Blade — Although he might work better for October/Halloween

Cloak (& Dagger) — Ditto

Jackson King — Because he runs StormWatch

G.W. Bridge — Remember when he was as synonymous with SHIELD as Fury?

Black Samson and Bulletproof — Image is not getting enough coverage here

Vox and Bumblebee — Teen Titans’ best couple

Doorman — He’ll be the death of us (chuckle, chuckle)

Cyborg — Science, that’s why

Hot Spot / Joto — Because there’s a good story there

Hybrid — The hero symbiote

Jakeem Thunder — Penmanship is an overlooked skill

Maggott — Well, I liked him…

Manhattan Guardian — Or save him for the inevitable 7 Soldiers week

Shilo Norman — Same

War Machine — He’s in the movie!

Prowler — Man’s got skills

Triathalon — Ha, just kidding

and, of course, Blankman

Glad to see the Falcon get some props. Those Englehart Caps are among my favorite books, and Sam’s in there every step of the way.

As for the Prowler, I’m worried that he got poisoned and blown up by the Punisher …

I agree with many of Ian’s suggestions for future entries. I would also add a number of characters from the Milestone line (Icon/Rocket and Hardware come to mind). The Milestone line just rocked (though I never really connected with Static like other people do).

BTW Bill, I was one of the initial whiners about this this feature. But I have enjoyed nearly every one since the 1st week or so. You’re doing very well and I check in every day to see the next reason to love comics. Keep it up, bro. I’ll resist the urge to be negative in the future.

Priest

Christopher Priest definitely deserves a spotlight.

And hell, maybe Mr. Bones or Josiah Powers. Mr. Bones is just cool, and Josiah Powers has much cool potential, plus he’s one of the few black gay heroes in superhero comics ever (Anissa Pierce has been more whiny than interesting).

Or hell, Skyrocket.

Who is responsible for that bitchin’ red ‘n’ white costume after that horrible green and orange monstrosity?

And is that Paul Smith doing that mini series cover? *Awesome*, as always. Where is he today?

Oh, and if you’re taking requests, somehow I ended up with the impression that Keith Pollard is black. Where is *HE* today? He was awesome, too!

A second vote for Mr. Bones and Christopher Priest, along with the ever-talented ChrisCross (one of my favorite artists) and I think there’s definitely room for a post on Isaiah Bradley and his family (Josiah X and Patriot). And XS! XS for crissake! Or Kid Quantum II! It’s the end of February and have we had a Legion of Super-Heroes mention yet? That’s just wrong!

Has the Falcon ever gotten to play the role of Captain America? That really needs to happen at some point.

Its strange that Falcon is such a natural for a story like civil war, but on a regular basis he is almost totally unseen. He needs to show up in New Avengers.

Talking about being trotted out only for crossovers lately, Cloak has had it better/worse than Falcon.

Hey there’s a whole bunch of us doing something significant, let’s use Cloak to get around. And give him four….no, three lines.

Thanks, Da Fug. Great name, dude.

Has the Falcon ever gotten to play the role of Captain America? That really needs to happen at some point.

Actually, yeah! There was a two-part story in the short-lived Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty book which told a bunch of stories that fit into Cap’s past. There was one where Cap had “died” and Falcon took up the mantle.

Maybe we’ll get to see history repeat itself soon.

Unless Sam decides to quit, too.

Most importantly, The Falcon is (I believe) the first black superhero to get his own Mego action figure!

http://www.megomuseum.com/wgsh/falcon.html

Take that, Luke Cage!

Okay, so they used Planet of the Apes hands on him, but otherwise that’s so cool.

(And I owned one!)

The Engelhart origin retcon was loathsome and vile.

Just gotta point that out every time the Falcon’s brought up.

But I love the Falcon. If not my favorite Marvel Hero certainly in the top 3-4. I’d buy any comic with the Falcon in it unless it’s drawn by the guy who drew that last Captain America and the Falcon series.

SanctumSanctorumComix

February 25, 2007 at 12:18 pm

Falcon could be the guy who helps save people…uh…in the air.

Skydiving and your ‘chute won’t deploy?
FALCON!

Window-washer and your scaffolding gave way?
FALCON!

A big hunk of “blue ice” from a backed up john in a passing 747 gonna hit your crib?
FALCON!

Fell out of a window and gonna be street-pizza?
FALCON!

Actually, he’s the ONE black superhero who would’ve sounded MUCH cooler with the work “Black” in front of his name:

BLACK FALCON!
Now, how cool is that?

As for suggestions for black heroes, you GOTTA give it to…

BROTHER VOODOO!

THAT is one great character…er…yeah.
At least he is when HEMBECK touches him.

Anyway, I do like “The Lord of the Living Loa”… he chillaxes in New Orleans, hangs out with zombies and ghosts and is in a similar line of work as DR. STRANGE and BLADE.

Oh, yeah.
Give BLADE some face time too.

~P~
P-TOR

Brother Voodoo showed up fairly early in the month. Sorry for a lack of proper archiving. But yeah, Voodoo is awesome, and I definitely want to write an ongoing series for him.

We might hold off on Blade until sometime later in the year.

SanctumSanctorumComix

February 27, 2007 at 9:56 am

Oh!

I found it.

# 34.

How’d I MISS that the 1st go-round?

ThanX!

~P~

The Kirbydotter

March 10, 2007 at 3:40 pm

70′s Marvel is not always regarded as it’s best period, althought it when it started to dominate DC in sales and market shares.

I remember fondly this period of team-ups.
Aside from MARVEL TEAM-UP and MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE, we had DAREDEVIL AND BLACK WIDOW, POWERMAN AND IRONFIST, and of course, CAPTAIN AMERICA AND THE FALCON. And what a cool team-up for America at the time, USA’S flagbearer best pal was a black hero back when blacks where still fighting for basic civil rights. I was proud of Marvel at the time.

They was a cool and polically heavy run by Steve Englehart, but my favorite run, you must have guessed from my name, was Kirby’s return to the character he co-created (with Joe Simon and not Stan Lee as some books were credited). Again, Jack exploded with bold ideas and concepts on his Captain America run; his longuest run on a single title after he came back at Marvel (23 issues plus 2 annuals).

As for suggestions, Black History month is over by the time I jumped on your series but still I would like to go on record by voting for:

- JSA’s Mr. Terrific (Michael Holt)

- Spidey’s Prowler (just cool looking Romita creation that was always a favorite of mine)

- Teen Titan’s Cyborg (because he was one of the main characters of DC’S hottest selling title and most critically acclaimed series of the early 80′s)

- Cloak (of Cloak And Dagger, Bill Mantlo’s greatest contribution to the Marvel mythology)

And at the Top is my vote for DOORMAN!
Just kiddin’! Althought I’m a huge fan of the Great Lakes Avengers (or whatever they call themselves this month) since Byrne introduced them in West Coast Avengers.
No, top of the list has to be: BLADE.
Just how many black comic book heroes has 3 movies done about him? Does he still have hair?

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