THE FALCON #1 By Rodney Barnes, Joshua Cassara, and Rachelle Rosenberg
THE FALCON #1 is a powerful start to this Sam Wilson series. Rodney Barnes does a great job establishing this character in Marvel Legacy without his stripes and shield.
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Marvel Legacy is in full swing now with new series and events coming around every corner. THE FALCON #1 marks the first ongoing series within Marvel Legacy. The comic is a great representation of what Marvel should do with some of its “legacy characters” post-legacy.

THE FALCON #1 pg. 3. Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

For the most part, I think this issue terrifically ushers forward a new age for Sam Wilson’s The Falcon. The character development in this issue, written by Rodney Barnes, is supremely rich. Meanwhile, the art by Joshua Cassara and Rachelle Rosenberg is top quality. However, for fans who are vexed that Marvel has discontinued Sam Wilson’s role as Captain America, this issue doesn’t give the proper answers. Still, overall, I found this comic to be the right step and tone for Marvel Legacy to take in the future.

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Giving Up The Shield

I am an unabashedly huge fan of Sam Wilson. While I enjoy Bucky Barnes quite a bit, I have always found Sam Wilson to be Steve Rogers’ most impressive, interesting, and heroic partner. The works by Rick Remender and Nick Spencer with Sam Wilson as Captain America were nothing short of phenomenal. That is why it is more than a little irritating that Marvel has decided to remove him as Captain America.

I would have no problem with Sam Wilson returning to his Falcon roots if it served the story. It just feels like Marvel mandated Steve Rogers’ return as Captain America. Therefore, they forced their writers to come up with a reasoning for Sam to quit as Cap. To be fair, Rodney Barnes does the best he can with the material he is given. In fact, he makes Sam Wilson’s disillusionment with the ideals of his country quite interesting. After the events of SECRET EMPIRE, it is understandable that Sam would feel some guilt and question everything he knows. THE FALCON #1 serves to return Sam to his roots by having him focus once again on street-level intercity problems.

THE FALCON #1 pg. 16. Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

In the divided America we live in today, it’s great to read about superheroes working on a local level to make their country a better place. Nevertheless, I just can’t shake the fact that it was so powerful for Sam Wilson to stand for these progressive issues as the Star-Spangled Avenger. Whereas Steve Rogers represents traditional American values, Sam Wilson represents the forward-looking version of the U.S.A. I think it’s incredibly important to have both sides of this coin. This is why they should allow both Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson to wield the shield. With Sam Wilson back as The Falcon, I fear that Marvel will relegate this amazing character to a supporting role once again.


While I think it was important to discuss Sam’s transition back to The Falcon, I don’t believe that that should serve as a major criticism of this issue. As the beginning to a new Falcon series, Rodney Barnes does a splendid job establishing this character’s position. At least for this first arc, that position seems to be in Chicago. Falcon and his sidekick, the Patriot, are trying to make peace between two rival gangs, the Kings and the Rangers. Falcon is aware that these gangs are filled with young African-Americans drawn into this life by desperation. He realizes that they don’t deserve to spend their life in a jail cell. He’s trying to find a way to minimize casualties and help these young men improve their lives.

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It’s great to see a superhero who acknowledges the socio-economic conditions that may have caused young men to join crime. It’s much better than beating up or crippling these men only to have them suffer through extended prison sentences (*cough*Batman*cough*). It really helps that Marvel hired Rodney Barnes, a distinguished African-American screenwriter and Howard University alumnus, to add his own unique flavor to this comic. I think part of this flavor came from the focus on Chicago. Barnes isn’t afraid to mention the troubling, long history of racial conflict in the Windy City. This doesn’t only expand the plot, but it also further develops Falcon’s motivations. Having a crime-ridden city like Chicago, which suffers from vast amounts of corruption and systemic racism, as our setting could make a fine perching ground for the Falcon.

Art in THE FALCON #1

As this was the beginning of a new series, it was imperative that artists Joshua Cassara and Rachelle Rosenberg establish a style for their upcoming issues. THE FALCON exists somewhere in between the bright, large-scale stories of the Avengers and the gritty realism of the Defenders. It was essential that Cassara and Rosenberg’s art reflected this. I’d say that THE FALCON definitely leans more towards the dark realism of DAREDEVIL or PUNISHER. When Falcon fights a gang, they make sure to show the brutal force of his actions. You can see the shrapnel cutting into a grunt’s arms or the force of his boots against another’s face. While there is some room for the color and wonder of an earlier Falcon story, this harsher art definitely sets the course for a new angle on Falcon.

THE FALCON #1 pg. 8. Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

The other big indicator of the changes this comic wants to make is in the suit redesign. Comics legend Alex Ross originally designed the black and red look for the Falcon. For the most part, I’m a pretty big fan of that suit. It looks much more practical and sleek.  I definitely appreciated the iconic nature of Falcon’s signature white and red look. Nonetheless, I think this costume does a solid job of bringing the character into modernity. My one critique would be that the red wings drawn on his abs do look plain silly. However, I think this is a great costume that can become as synonymous with Falcon as his first suit was.


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Final Thoughts

THE FALCON #1 is a terrific start to this ongoing series. I hope people read it so that the Falcon continues to have a central role in the Marvel Universe. Sam Wilson is a character who isn’t afraid to tackle the issues plaguing this country and the world. It’s essential that, along with the characters that fight robot armies, we have characters who can deal with our deepest social anxieties.

I have full confidence that Rodney Barnes and artists Joshua Cassara and Rachelle Rosenberg will craft an interesting new series that will effectively utilize Sam Wilson. For many people, Sam Wilson is their Captain America, and it’s important for them to see him in awesome comics like this. It’s crucial that Marvel Comics does not abandon its progressive legacy characters just because they don’t sell as well as they would have hoped. Just as Marvel Legacy returns us to the past, Marvel cannot forget that they must also push forward. Hopefully, THE FALCON #1 shows us that Marvel has not forgotten the future.

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