Day 20 of 28 Days of Black Super Heroes, today’s hero is the Marvel Comics’ character The Falcon.
The Falcon is one of those characters that I traditionally looked down on, but on further examination, my disdain wasn’t really warranted.
WHO IS THE FALCON?
The Falcon is Sam “Snap” Wilson, a former social worker from Harlem who ended up getting involved with one of Captain America‘s many tangles with the Red Skull.
Falcon’s been around for a loooong time, but I only started reading about him in the early 80’s. At that time, his origin consisted of Sam giving up on social work, then becoming a drug-runner and pimp known as “Snap” Wilson (it was usually played as if “Snap” is a separate persona than Sam, or at least a completely different mindset).
He was on his way overseas to capitalize on a big score when his plane crash-landed on an uncharted island called Exile Island. Once there he ended up in the middle of one of the Red Skull’s many plots.
Apparently the Skull thought he could have Sam get close to Captain America, then eventually use him against Cap. To that end he used the Cosmic Cube to change him back to his “Sam” persona, then gave him the ability to communicate with a Falcon native to the island. Sam named the Falcon “Redwing”.
Sounds kind of convoluted, but this is a comic book after all.
From reading the Wikipedia entry, it says that the pimp and drug-runner origin is deprecated, but looking at the Falcon Marvel Wiki entry it now says he was into racketeering. I guess it’s better than the pimp game…
Anyway, after Cap and Sam stopped the Skull on that occasion, Sam ended up becoming The Falcon, teaming up with Cap and essentially becoming his partner.
Here’s some fast facts from the Wikipedia entry (that I did not know):
- The Falcon debuted in 1969, nearly three years before Luke Cage
- He appeared almost six years before Storm
- He was the first superhero of African descent not to have the word “black” as part of his superhero name
- He preceded the John Stewart Green Lantern by over two years
WHAT DOES HE DO?
Well, here’s where things go left a bit. If you break it down to the bare nuts and bolts, all the Falcon can really do is communicate with his Falcon, Redwing.
Aside from that he has no real powers.
His ability to fly comes from a technological get-up that he wears, controlling it with circuitry in his mask.
They used to be actual physical wings, but I noticed from recent appearances he seems to have some kind of energy-wings that disappear when he’s not flying. Movin’ on up in the world, I guess.
Also, Sam has been trained in hand to hand combat by Captain America, and since Cap is considered to be one of the, if not the best hand-to-hand combatant in the Marvel Universe, you can bet Falcon knows how to kick some ass.
Reading on the Marvel.com entry, it says he has extensive gymnastics training. I guess if you got into a fight with him, that mofo might just bust out a backflip or two, give you the old razzle-dazzle before punching you out.
Anyway, I always knew he could talk to his bird Redwing, but apparently now he can kind of link up with all birds, seeing through their eyes when necessary. That kind of ability isn’t earth-shattering, but it could have its advantages.
IN THE AVENGERS
Instead, he was literally brought in to fill an affirmative action quota so the Avengers could keep their government-sanctioned status:
I remember bursting out laughing when Hawkeye said “The…what?!?”
But then I got upset. I liked Hawkeye a lot, and now the affirmative action draft pick was kicking him off the team! Man, was I pissed. Hawkeye always had something stupid to say so he was very entertaining.
I also didn’t like the way the team kind of treated him like garbage for being forced on the team. I didn’t like some of those Ms. Marvel cracks during the whole Chthon ordeal they went through shortly after.
So after a few adventures with the team, Sam said straight to Hell with this and bounced. I had to give him much respect at that time because he didn’t want to be the token black on the team:
THE WRAP UP – BAD TASTE FOR NO REASON?
I have to admit, I usually dismissed the Falcon as a weak, kind of embarrassing hero. All he can do is fly and blah blah blah. Kind of like Angel from the X-Men.
Even though when I read about him, he’s actually pretty tough. Especially these days in the current Ed Brubaker written Captain America series, Falcon is a mainstay who’s really shown to be kind of a bad-ass.
He has the trust and respect of other extreme bad-ass characters like the Black Widow and Bucky/Winter Soldier/Captain America
Yeah he doesn’t have heavyweight powers but neither do characters like Captain America or Batman. I think I need to give The Falcon a bit more respect in this game.
I’d encourage those of you looking to see what’s going on with the Falcon to pick up the current Captain America comic. Man, I have my issues with the character of Captain America, but I can’t deny that this comic is extremely well done. Fans of action and espionage shouldn’t miss it.
So to complete this article, here’s the pencil art of the Falcon! Be back tomorrow for the next hero!
Oh yeah, some of these images came from a great site I found called Scans Daily. You gotta check them out, and make sure to block out some time because it’s addictive!