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CSBG Archive

The Abandoned An’ Forsaked – The Falcon is a Mutant?!

All throughout December, we will be examining comic book stories and ideas that were not only abandoned, but also had the stories/plots specifically “overturned” by a later writer (as if they were a legal precedent). Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of The Abandoned An’ Forsaked.

Today we look at Falcon and his candidacy for X-Men membership…

Enjoy!

In Captain America #174, Professor X suggests that the connection that the Falcon had between he and his bird, Redwing, might be a telepathic bond – perhaps even a MUTANT one….

Christopher Priest pursued that thought in the 1980s Falcon mini-series, when a Sentinel identified him as a mutant…

and the Falcon even thinks about it himself…

However, it never really was followed up and in the Avengers 2001 Annual, Kurt Busiek had Jarvis officially explained away as a malfunctioning Sentinel…

51 Comments

As far as cop outs go, an elegant one by Busiek.

This seems like one that isn’t terribly important either way. He’s got the ability, so it really doesn’t matter either way if it’s one or the other.

Has Bru done much with Falcon’s link with Redwing?

What a cop out! Funny that it’s done in that style.

And then Geoff John’s went and did a story that said that the Falcon WAS a mutant during his run in the Avengers.

Travis:

Yes, you’re right, the source of the power is not really important. What’s important is that he has the power. But you have to remember back then that was when the X-Men were dominating all competition so badly, even the intra-company competition, that people were desperate to cash in on the mutant bandwagon. This led to later attempts like trying to turn Cloak and Dagger into mutants and naming their series “The Mutant Misadventures of Cloak and Dagger” to really drive the point home. Such ploys never worked.

Now Marvel has other viable franchises so such desperate ploys don’t make as much sense anymore, although I guess people can now argue that Marvel still does the same ploy, except by giving less popular Avengers ties now.

This is the first time I’ve heard that Falcon might be a mutant. Hearing that made him momentarily semi-interesting.

I can’t act like Falcon is a great character, but I read him in the Bucky Cap issues of Captain America, and he was really put to good use in that series. Having a bird partner comes in real handy as well.

not tsurprised marvel would if they decided that falcon is not a mutant they would go with the sentinal malfunctioning and tampering by out side forces to make people think falcone is a mutant ala the red skull.

Two Points:

1. Wasn’t it actually issue 174 of Captain America that this encounter with Professor X occurred?

2. T., The X-Men didn’t even have their own current title as of June 1974 when that meeting between Professor X and the Falcon took place. So why did they even introduce the idea? Just as a plot advancer? I suppose that makes the most sense.

The climate was definitely as you described it when the Falcon limited series came out. Who can forget the original X-Force debuting in Cloak and Dagger? Or Power Pack and its continual ties to the New Mutants or the Firestar limited series…

I remember an “episode” of “Twisted Toyfare Theatre” where Falcon came to a party hosted by the X-Men, explaining his power to Cyclops. In response, Cyke blasted Redwing, turning him into a mini-roasted turkey. Cyclops: “Now your power sucks.”

Yes, I know Cyclops’ power is concussive, not heat-related. Doesn’t make it less funny.

Captain Librarian

December 12, 2011 at 7:40 am

Travis:

I can recall a couple of instances of Bru using Redwing, quite practically in fact. He used Redwing to follow Sharon when she was brainwashed by Faustus for instance. I see to recall a few other times he used him for recon duties, even asking other birds for info. Bru also delved into the problems of Redwing not being human, as feedback Falcon gets from him according to Bru is mostly visual, and can be difficult to decipher, since time apparently is perceived differently by them.

I think it would be funny if Redwing was a mutant and that’s why the Sentinel acted the way it did.

Re the earliest panels, the context needs to be slightly tweaked. In the first few years of the Falcon’s existence, there was no suggestion the Falcon had a telepathic bond with Redwing. There was nothing paranormal suggested about it, just the usual comic book exaggeration of human/animal communication. (“What’s that, Redwing? You say Timmy has fallen into a well?” “Skreeek!!”) We were led to believe that it was all down to Sam Wilson’s purported years of experience training birds; earlier Cap writers certainly never hinted at any unstated connection with the Cosmic Cube.

When Englehart wrote that scene with Professor X, it was part of laying the groundwork for his eventual reveal that Falcon’s brain was not normal — but almost certainly, the mutant angle was always meant to be a red herring. It was a fakeout to get the readers thinking about one possibility so they’d be even more surprised when the real explanation came out that he was actually a creation of the Red Skull.

(I always had very serious problems with that story. Maybe “the Falcon is a mindwiped former cynical, streetwise pimp and petty thug” should be another entry in this series?)

Mark, I should have specified but I was referring to the Falcon miniseries that made it “official.”

Mark, good example with Power Pack by the way. They did try a lot to tie them to the mutant world. Didnt remember X-force debuting in cloak and dagger though. Interesting.

The X-Force from Cloak and Dagger had no relation to the later team.

I know he’s just answering email, but I love how much Jarvis comes off as a message board troll here.

“For the first few five years or so as a character, Falcon’s telepathic bond with his bird, Redwing, seemed pretty clearly to just be due to something Red Skull did with the Cosmic Cube.”

No, Richard is correct, you’ve got this backwards. Professor X’s line came first, foreshadowing the eventual revelation that Falcon’s power (and good-guy personality) were creations of the Red Skull. The idea that the Falcon was a complete fiction — an unwitting sleeper agent created by the Skull to get close to Cap and then betray him at the right moment — was a hell of a plot twist, but it kinda ruined the Falcon as a character.

T.,
Yeah, sorry about that. I understood about halfway through my response what you were saying and I agree.
Who can forget the Mutant Report in Marvel Age every month? I am still puzzled why the original idea of the Falcon being a mutant was introduced. Maybe just to show that it wasn’t just X-Men and their villains who were mutants or maybe it was just something to advance the plot.

The original X-Force: http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix/xforce1.htm

It just seemed like a blatant attempt to shoehorn in some (however tangentially related) X-Men content into Cloak and Dagger.

I am still puzzled why the original idea of the Falcon being a mutant was introduced. Maybe just to show that it wasn’t just X-Men and their villains who were mutants or maybe it was just something to advance the plot.

Can’t say, as I never read those issues, but Richard’s comment above definitely gives a plausible theory about it being meant as a red herring.

God, I’d forgotten about Sam’s “Snap” Wilson thug phase, that whole other identity seemed roughly shoehorned into the story at the time, and I hope it’s been largely ignored since, if not completely abandoned an’ forsaked! Was it just an attempt to make Sam seem more streetwise, grim and gritty, less of a milquetoast Uncle Tom social worker, or what? Didn’t work (likely written by old white dudes anyway). Shee-oot!

“I love how much Jarvis comes off as a message board troll here”

Wouldn’t the troll be someone knowing how annoying the topic is to Jarvis and asking again just to get him going?

Yeah, I am upset by the invocation of this retcon by Busiek simply because I wanted ‘the Falcon used to be a pimp’ to be front and center in the Abandoned and Forsake’d list.

Yeah, I don’t get why someone hasn’t changed that one yet.

If only Ed Brubaker had a little more Dan Slott in him- it would have been gone by now.

I always just assumed the reason Power Pack kept tying in with the mutant books was because it was written by Louise Simonson. She’d been editor of X-Men before that and I gather she had a good relationship with Claremont. And then she became the writer of X-Factor and then New Mutants, as well. So crossovers were pretty easy for her. (You may recall that Thor was involved in the Mutant Massacre storyline, as well. I believe Louise had a fairly close relationship with that writer, too.)

I’ve seen a few recent stories that showed the Falcon communicating with other birds, too– not just Redwing. When did that ability appear?

As Richard notes, the bit Steve Englehart did with Professor X was foreshadowing for the reveal that the mental link was a creation of the Cosmic Cube, not a genetic mutation.

Apparently, Jim Owsley saw the set-up but missed the pay-off — but not everyone did, because the text pages in that FALCON mini-series pointed out that his power came from the Cube. I forget who first pointed out that the Sentinel that attacked him must have simply been malfunctioning (it may have even been in a later text page in that FLACON mini), but it wasn’t me.

Most of that AVENGERS ANNUAL backup wasn’t new information — all the stuff about Cap’s shield and the Falcon had been previously established. It was only the stuff about what happened to Teen Tony that was new.

kdb

Anyway, that wasn’t an abandoned idea, since Englehart set it up and paid it off during his run on CAP.

It may be the reverse — an idea people just won’t let go of, even after it’s been revealed to be false.

kdb

“However, it never really was followed up and in the Avengers 2001 Annual, Kurt Busiek had Jarvis officially explained away as a malfunctioning Sentinel…”

So when I read this the first three times, I wondered why and how a Sentinel would be masquerading as Jarvis…

This rules. Thanks Mr. Busiek. And thanks Brian!

IIRC, J.M. DeMatteis did his best to fix the whole “Snap Wilson” thing during his run on Captain America. In this version, Sam Wilson started out as a fine, upstanding guy, but the death of his father caused him to have a mental breakdown, turning him into the nasty street thug “Snap”. So when the Red Skull grabbed him and messed with his mind, he was actually bringing Sam’s original good-guy persona back to the surface. Kind of contrived, but at least it reset things so that Falcon’s heroism wasn’t a complete sham. So, not really “abandoned”, so much as “mercifully forgotten”.

J. Kevin- Did forget that JMD tried to fix the Snap Wilson thing. Another reason I love JMD. Just wish it had taken a little more.

And yes. This does rule. If I had know Kurt was going to come by and answer questions, I would have thought of some better ones.

Mr M- the Sentinel was actually a Skrull with genetically modified sentinel impersonating powers. Thanks for answering that before it was asked.

Aren’t they killing Falcon off next week?

Ouch. ‘No More Mutant’ Falcon… or otherwise.

They are killing off the Falcon? Crap, I had better hurry up and care, that means there is only like four months before they bring him back. Heck, I actually had time to notice the Human Torch was dead before they brought him back, are they slipping?

I’m glad they changed that. I know the X-Men are popular, but Marvel doesn’t have to make EVERYONE a mutant.

And now, for a random off-topic discussion, in DC Comics, are those with a “metagene” the same thing as a mutant? Does DC even continue to use that “metagene” stuff?

>> I’m glad they changed that.>>

Since the Falcon was never a mutant, they didn’t exactly change it. They brought it up as a possibility as a red herring and as foreshadowing of a different revelation.

>> And now, for a random off-topic discussion, in DC Comics, are those with a “metagene” the same thing as a mutant?>>

Not unless the metagene arose through genetic mutation.

Of course, Marvel’s mutants aren’t mutants at all any more, since they established that the Celestials stuck an “x-factor” gene into humanity, meaning that being a mutant is a matter of heredity, and not mutation. One of the silliest bits of non-science ever, up there with declaring adamantium, a steel alloy, to be an element.

At least that last one got roundly ignored…

If I recall the “Invasion!” miniseries correctly ( that’s the first place I heard of it), the people were genetically disposed to have superpowers, but the powers sometimes only manifested themselves in times of great stress. But again, I don’t know if that was adhered to later. I do seem to recall the term “metahuman” stuck around for some time.

Kurt, in fairness there is a thing called a “mutator gene” in real life — as I understand it, these can either be genes that increase the frequency of spontaneous mutation, or genes that are meant to perform error checking on DNA replication but are damaged and let more errors through. So there can be such a thing as a mutation brought about by an inherited gene that causes mutation.

That said, the definition of “mutant” at Marvel is so mangled and removed from any real world meaning of the term I was glad this specific “mutant gene” concept was introduced, simply because it added some level of consistency to things that have really never made sense. For instance, the idea that Professor Xavier can have a device that “detects mutants” is kind of insane. ALL mutants? Having Cerebro detect carriers of a specific mutation-inducing chromosome is at least not totally insane.

Well, Marvel mutants are all “Children of the Atom” to begin with. I guess Ray Palmer was quite busy during that time he was missing.

With the post-Flashpoint world, who knows if metagene talk would come around again.

I remember that there was a bit of a kerfuffle (or maybe it was a brou-ha-ha) around the time of Heroes Reborn because if Falcon was a mutant, he couldn’t have gone on to Heroes Reborn World. So that pretty much ended that several years before Busiek.

I remember that there was a bit of a kerfuffle (or maybe it was a brou-ha-ha) around the time of Heroes Reborn because if Falcon was a mutant, he couldn’t have gone on to Heroes Reborn World. So that pretty much ended that several years before Busiek.

Except Namor went to Heroes Reborn world and he was a mutant.

True, true, but Atlantean-Human Hybrid Mutants are different from Former Pimp Sleeper Agent Telepathic Bird Mutants.

Duh.

Someone tell Kurt Busiek that Senators ARE Congressmen…

“I think it would be funny if Redwing was a mutant and that’s why the Sentinel acted the way it did.”–Now that right there is a hell of a good idea.

“So when I read this the first three times, I wondered why and how a Sentinel would be masquerading as Jarvis…”–Me too.

“They are killing off the Falcon? Crap, I had better hurry up and care, that means there is only like four months before they bring him back. Heck, I actually had time to notice the Human Torch was dead before they brought him back, are they slipping?”–What a completely creatively bankrupt company Marvel is.

“I guess Ray Palmer was quite busy during that time he was missing.”–The Search for Ray Palmer indeed. Coming up on Maury, right after this.

>> Someone tell Kurt Busiek that Senators ARE Congressmen…>>

Of course they are, but that’s not how we generally use the word in that context. When someone is called a “Congressman,” they’re almost always a member of the House. If they were in the Senate, they’d be called a Senator instead.

That’s the usual usage, and how Jarvis is using the term as well.

Jono- perhaps this is sad, but if I was in Marvel’s shoes I’m not sure I wouldn’t be doing the same thing.

The marketplace is messed up. As poor as I am, I can’t buy most of the new issues. By the time I decide which issues I want to buy, the companies have passed the point of deciding which are worth printing. I don’t think I am alone on this. Probably this will get solved right after they figure out how to make money out of online publishing.

@T: good point about Marvel wanting to tie everything in to mutants. I even remember that Spidey was billed as the “non-mutant” superhero (maybe a nod to 7Up being the Un-cola?)

@Captain Librarian: I wasn’t clear enough, I guess. I have read the bits you brought up about Falcon and Redwing, but I was attempting to ask if Bru’s done much with the “why” of Falcon’s link with Redwing (mutation or Cosmic Cube finagling). Given that a lot of his run dealt with the Cosmic Cube and Red Skull stuff, it seems that it would have been something to delve into a bit.

@buttler: Man, if “Children of the Atom” weren’t so linked with the XMen, I’d come up with a proposal for DC with that title…

“Twisted Toy Fare Theater” nailed this one years ago! In one of their strips, Mego Falcon shows up to join the Mego X-Men. Falcon introduces himself to Cyclops by saying, “In some long-forgotten crevice of Marvel continutity, it was suggesteed that my telepathic link with Redwing here was, in fact a mutant power!” Cyclops optic blasts the bird into a pile of burned feathers and says, “Now your power sucks”. Spider-man says to Wolverine, “Hey! Your buddy just fried that guy’s bird!” and Wolverine replies, “Make it X-tra crispy!” Spidey remarks, “No wonder humanity hates you guys.” Roll on snare drum.

I’m with those that say it doesn’t matter why he can, just that he can. Of course now there needs to be a specific explanation of exactly how/why. He’s got a special connection to the bird. Well normal people can’t do that, so how can he? Well he’s not just a normal person, he’s a normal person in a comic book. Sometimes they can just do things that normal people in the real world can’t. I remember when there was some talk about whether Bullseye was a mutant. No he’s just incredibly skilled. Well yes, the most masterfully skilled person in the world could really do the things that he can. But again he’s a comic book character and comic book exceptionally skilled people are more incredible than exceptionally skilled people in the real world. Falcon could be the same with no further explanation. Well in fact he was for awhile til they felt the need to explain it.

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