Writer: Rodney Barnes
Artist: Joshua Cassara
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenburg
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Release Date: October 11, 2017
It’s a new era for Sam Wilson. For the past 2 years or so, walking in the footsteps and carrying the mantle of Captain America for his best friend, Steve Rogers, Sam has proved that there is more than one way to represent the dream of America. His run with Nick Spencer was a tale of struggle, holding to idealistic values, and finding oneself. And outside of that run, Sam has never been more developed. However, time moves on, and people like Sam are called on for new missions elsewhere, under old titles.
Plot: In Falcon #1, Sam Wilson has dropped the name and symbol of Captain America, and traded in the colors of the flag for black and red. Having realized that his calling required his focus in more local urban venues, he set his sights to Chicago. There he sought out the two most largely established gangs, and with the help of his new sidekick, Patriot, gained the attention of the leaders for long enough to convince them to meet to talk about creating a truce and lower violence. All things seem to be running smoothly, but of course, there is always a danger amid high tensions, especially among those are naturally attuned to violence. While it shouldn’t have been a surprise that it happened, it wasn’t expected that super natural forces would be at work, and unbeknownst to this time to Falcon, that these forces were powered by Blackheart, parading around as Chicago’s Mayor.
Story: Nick Spencer had a strong run with Sam Wilson as Captain America, which gave me a little apprehension about whoever would write him after. Strong black characters are so rare, and so important in Marvel comics, especially since when one falls, a sizable percentage of the population goes with them (Black Goliath, Night Thrasher, War Machine, etc.). Sam was a notable character before, but Spencer gave him life and true dimension. Mr. Rodney Barnes did not let that banner waver or fall in the slightest. He picked Sam Wilson up and has continued with him on a new daring path that will further develop and challenge the airborne hero.
The decision to return to more local missions was a good one. This isn’t to imply that a black man can’t fight at a higher level, or for the country as a whole, but there is a certain cause that we (I speak for myself as well) feel compelled to fight for. Things that others may overlook. It’s why Luke Cage always returns to his home in Harlem between leading teams like The Thunderbolts or The Avengers. There are issues that people of color have in the south sides of cities that people call “The hood” that The Falcon wants to fix. The struggle is that in a systematically oppressive nation, this is a very real challenge.
In Falcon #1, Sam and Shaun (Patriot) speak to each of the gang leaders to get them to come to a parley. While I like the idea, I also found highly, highly unlikely that it would actually work, or that either of them would agree to it. Granted, neither of them did until after each gang tried to kill them first, but for the scene of them actually meeting in the park where the gangs knew there would cameras and police, I had grant myself some suspension of disbelief. And Regardless, if a few members agreed to the meetup there would likely be others that agreed just to follow their crew, so it wasn’t impossible. Still, it was funny to imagine that happening in Chicago in the parts of town I grew up in. Sans the violence that happened afterwards in that scene, it would have been nice.
The cultural references in Falcon are strong. Sam and Shaun’s dialogue is natural and familiar and it was a treat to see the two of them go to a Hip Hop concert together. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that in Marvel comic before, myself. I also like that the rapper on stage was Prodigy. This made me think of the member of Mobb Deep, who passed away earlier this year, and I’d like to believe that this scene was a homage to him and his legacy as a Hip Hop artist, which, if this was the case, something I really appreciated seeing on my comic pages.
Art: With a new writer for Sam, also comes new art. Between Joshua Cassara on pencils/inks and Rachelle Ronsenburg on colorist, I am most impressed. Cassara loves his dark edged lines and detailed expressions, and it does well for this book. Body definition and anatomy is near flawless and glamor shots, such as Falcon with his wings spread on page one, are beautiful. Meanwhile Rosenburg’s colors match the tone of the story, and are in keeping with the dark hues, that go well with the inks and the heavy shadowing that Cassara employs.
Jesus on the cover art gives us a detailed image of Falcon with the breaking shield to signify his parting from the role of Captain America, very symbolic and absolutely astounding art. It’s also important to note Falcon’s new costume. The wing design is something akin to angelic, despite their crimson shade, and the black with red on the fabric is a nice change from the classic white and red of his older suit. I also like that his wing pack is similar to what he had as Captain America. Add the bird-esque shades, and we’ve got a great design.
Verdict: I’m very impressed with Falcon #1, and it’s set a good precedent for what I expect see going forward. The introduction as Blackheart as their adversary has me very hype indeed. I’m happy to see Falcon’s legacy continue forward, not as a sidekick of Captain America, but a well-represented hero in his own right. Go to your local comic shop and list this book as soon as you can. You will not want to miss out.