January 18, 2022

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Falcon: Take Flight – An Under-appreciated Comic

Marvel Legacy’s Falcon series finally showed Sam as he should have been during his time as Captain America: Bold, Principled, and unapologetically black.

After Secret Empire, the Marvel Universe seemed all too willing to up and forget all about Sam Wilson’s tenure as Captain America and get back to the ‘good old days’ of Steve Rogers wielding the shield. Despite retaining leadership of the Avengers, Sam’s return to the role of Falcon felt more like a demotion than anything.

It was the final blow to a saga of disappointment, frustrations and cliché. Nick Spencer’s treatment of the character was bizarrely apologetic. Sam was the Captain no one wanted, and he seemed to spend all his time trying to make up for the fact that he wasn’t Steve Rogers instead of leading the ‘All-New, All-Different’ Marvel into a brighter tomorrow.

After the rushed resolution of Secret Empire and the event within an event; Generations, it felt like we were just going to get an obligatory tip of the hat to Sam’s service and that would be it. Then this book came out, and everything changed. Or at least they would have, it had been given any substantive support.

Marvel Legacy’s solo Falcon series was short, but welcome breath of fresh air. We finally saw Sam as he should have been during his time as Captain America. Bold, Principled, and unapologetically black. The stumbling meta narrative that plagued Nick Spencer’s “Sam Wilson: Captain America” from the get-go was nowhere to be found in this book.

There was no more eye-roll “take it to the hotline” in jokes, no bumbling through contextless, hollow storylines meant to evoke ‘Woke’ culture without bringing anything substantive to the table. Instead, those lucky enough to read it found themselves faced with a story that was an exceedingly reflective take on the internal strife and external conflicts that plague the African American community and America as a whole.

Finally we saw Sam reaching out to the people who need him, not just the star spangled figure head. After decades in print, Falcon was finally free of the cringe inducing jive talk and featureless dialogue that made him bland and unimpressive as a character for so long. Rodney Barnes wrote Sam with a level of integrity that radiated off the page. It was simultaneously engaging and frustrating. On one hand, we finally had an authentic story for one of Marvel’s most senior legacy characters. On the other hand, why had it taken so long for us to actually get that story?

Admittedly, the book stumbles through its second and final arc. A typical and unfortunate death sputter for a title that Marvel puts out without actually marketing. While the final issues are not perfect by any means, the first storyline of the book is something that every Marvel fan owes it to themselves to read.

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