The Falcon Sets Black Superheroes Back 40 Years
Man, the Falcon looked like he was going to be the exception for black superheroes. He wasn't a former slave or drug dealer and, hell, he didn't even have "black" in his name. He debuted in the pages of Captain America #117 in 1969, and represented a giant leap forward in the treatment of minorities to that time. Falcon was even granted the ultimate tribute of being among the very first ever "comic book action figures" before that term even really existed.
They were dolls. Deal with it!
Falc was, almost immediately, Captain America's straight-up partner, sharing equal billing on the cover for years. They both relied on each other and were both extremely qualified superheroes working together. Truly, Marvel didn't need to do anything else to make this character inoffensive and not insulting or condescending. All they had to do was not screw it up.
So, How'd That Go?
Enter issue #186. With absolutely zero build up or foreshadowing, writer Steve Englehart revealed a heretofore unknown past life of Sam Wilson, aka The Falcon,
Aka "Snap" Wilson, super pimp.
"Weren't green no more?" Have these writers ever even seen a black guy before? All at once, with no prior indication that he had ever been anything but an average guy who could talk to birds, we find out that the stalwart Falcon was originally a Gangsta from da Hood or what-the-hell-ever, mind-fucked by Captain America's archnemesis, The Red Skull, into a dupe in a very long drawn-out scheme to kill Cap.
You're a total chode, Red Skull.
It couldn't have turned out that Sam was just an ordinary guy, or a hero like Cap who just wanted to do the right thing; he had to be under mind control. And even so, it couldn't have turned out that Sam was, in a past life, a cop or accountant or, frigging, anything; he had to be a thug. A superfly thug.
Bang up job, Englehart.
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