- Falcon (comics)
Art by Joe Bennett
real_name=Samuel Thomas "Sam" Wilson
debut="Captain America" #117 (Sept. 1969)
Stan Lee Gene Colan
powers=Empathic link with pet falcon
Ability to see through the eyes of nearby birds
Skilled martial artist and gymnast
The Falcon (Sam "Snap" Wilson) is a fictional
comic book superheroin the Marvel Comicsuniverse who first appearedin " Captain America" #117 (Sept. 1969). Created by writer-editor Stan Leeand artist Gene Colan, the Falcon most frequently works with Captain America, and became a member of the superhero team the Avengers.
The Falcon is mainstream comics' first
African Americansuperhero; Marvel's previously introduced Black Panther is an Africannative. The Falcon follows the company's first African-American co-starring character, the non-superpowered World War IIsoldier Gabe Jones, and first regular supporting character, " The Amazing Spider-Man"'s Joe Robertson. The Falcon debuted nearly three years before Luke Cage, Marvel's first African-American series star, six years before Storm, and is also the first superhero of African descent not to have the word "black" as part of his superhero name, preceding the John Stewart Green Lanternby over two years. (The first black starring character in comics is Dell Comics' Old West gunfighterLobo, introduced in 1965.)
The Falcon's deceased nephew was the
Incredible Hulk's sometime-sidekick Jim Wilson, one of the first openly HIV-positivecomic-book characters. Jim Wilson's father Gideon Wilson would go on to join the Gamma Corps. Gideon would presumably be Sam's older brother.
Fictional character biography
Samuel Thomas Wilson was born in
Harlem, New York City, to Darlene Wilson, and Paul Wilson, a prominent minister. Wilson has a happy childhood and finds he has a natural affinity for birds. He takes up training pigeons, and has the largest pigeon coop in Harlem [Lee, Stan "Captain America" #117-119 (Sept.-Nov. 1969)] . In his teens, however, encounters with racism leave him jaded. [Englehart, Steve. Captain America 186] When he is 16, Wilson refuses to join the church, believing his deeply religious parents to be ignorant for their faith. To his surprise, rather than put up a fight, his parents provide him with books on different religions and comparative theology. The next night, however, Sam's father is killed trying to break up a neighborhood fight. Two years later, his mother is shot and killed by a mugger one block from their apartment. Consumed by grief and "angry at the world" Sam turns his back on his past as a respected community volunteer. He moves to Los Angelesand creates a new persona: "Snap" Wilson, a professional criminal, gang member, and pimp. [Johns, Geoff. Avengers volume 3, #64] [Priest, Christopher J. Captain America and the Falcon, #7]
While "Snap" is on his way to "a big score in
Rio de Janeiro", his plane crashes on Exile Island (years later, he would say "I actually loved this place quite a bit. It's where I met my two best friends," referring to Captain America and Redwing) [Priest, Christopher J. Captain America and the Falcon, #11] . The once-peaceful island had been taken over by the Exiles, a group of would-be world conquerors who had collaborated with the Nazi supervillainthe Red Skullduring World War II. More recently, they had been betrayed by the Red Skull, and were forced to remain in hiding on the island, enslaving the natives. Wilson finds and befriends Redwing, a falcon which he feels a remarkably strong bond with.
Becoming the Falcon
The Red Skull uses the
Cosmic Cube, a creation that allows its user to alter reality, to mentally fuse Wilson with Redwing, creating a "super-normal mental link" that would, with time and concentration, give Wilson broad powers over all birds. [Englehart, Steve. "Captain America" #186 (June 1975).] [Johns, Geoff. "The Avengers" #475 / vol. 3, #60 (Jan. 2003).] Next, the Skull uses the Cube to rewrite the past and remove the years Wilson had spent angrily living as "Snap". In this new history, Wilson was an upright and cheerful social workerwho is eventually lured to the Exiles' island and organizes the natives to fight for their freedom. Steve Rogers (Captain America) befriends him there and convinces Wilson to adopt a persona to inspire the natives in their rebellion. The two create the costumed persona the Falcon, and train together extensively before attacking and defeating the Exiles and the Red Skull. [Lee, Stan "Captain America" #117-119 (Sept.-Nov. 1969)] The Falcon becomes Captain America's regular partner in crime-fighting, ["Captain America" #133] and briefly even takes on the Captain America costume and identity when Rogers is believed to have been killed. ["" #8-9 (April-May 1999)]
Later, again as the Falcon, Wilson receives help from the Black Panther, who creates a harness for Wilson, allowing him to fly. [Englehart, Steve, and Mike Friedrich. "Captain America" #170 (Feb. 1974)] When Rogers briefly abandons his Captain America identity, others attempt to take up the mantle, including a young man named Roscoe whom the Falcon mentors. When the Red Skull eventually kills Roscoe, Rogers again becomes Captain America. [Englehart, Steve. "Captain America" #181-183 (Jan.-March 1975)] .
Soon afterward, the Red Skull reveals the Falcon's true past as "Snap" Wilson, and unsuccessfully attempts to use the Cosmic Cube to make the Falcon kill Captain America. [Englehart, Steve, and John Warner. "Captain America" #186 (June 1975) ] Now aware of his past but deciding to continue as a hero, the Falcon is eventually named head of the Super Agents at the
espionageagency S.H.I.E.L.D.. [Glut, Donald F. "Captain America" #218 (Feb. 1978)]
US government superhero liaison
Henry Peter Gyrichthen recruits the Falcon, one of the few active African-American superheroes, to fill a mandated racial quota for the venerable team the Avengers. ["Avengers" vol. 1 #184 (June 1979)] Resentful of being a "token", the Falcon quits at the first opportunity. He debuts a new costume when he fights the supervillain Taskmaster. ["Captain America Annual" #11]
Eventually, a new team of Avengers is assembled to fight the international menace Scorpio. Afterwards, the United Nations offers to make this new team of Avengers an international peacekeeping agency. Having been called on for his talent, and not for the color of his skin, Falcon decides to stay as a member of this Avengers team. By this point, Falcon had discovered that he could extend his telepathic bond with Redwing, allowing him to control other birds and "see" through their eyes. He uses this ability to spy on Henry Gyrich (now the Avengers' liaison with the United Nations) and discovers that the United States' Secretary of Defense, Senator Dell Rusk, has been pressuring Gyrich to spy on the Avengers and turn over their secrets. Although initially hostile to one another, Falcon convinces Gyrich to help the Avengers spy on Rusk, feeding him false information while gathering evidence to expose him. They discover that Rusk is actually the Red Skull, who has launched a biological weapon attack on America, intending to use the ensuing panic to gain control over America's government and start a war with other countries. Falcon is instrumental in defeating the Red Skull [Johns, Geoff. Avengers, Volume 3, #57-70] .
It is around this period of time that, a new "Captain America" secretly created by the
Office of Naval Intelligence(O.N.I.) goes rogue and begins eliminating anything and anyone he sees as a source of terrorism. To draw this agent (dubbed "The Anti-Cap") out, O.N.I. leaks information about their involvement in a biological weaponsproject with the notorious Rivas Family, powerful Cuban druglords. Reporter and Social Activist Leila Taylor investigates this rumor and attempts to smuggle a sample of the virus into America, but she is arrested by U.S. forces in Cuba. Falcon, who is a friend of Taylor, breaks her out of prison and investigates her claims, destroying the Rivas Family's biological weapons lab and obtaining a sample of the mysterious virus they were developing for O.N.I. Falcon is able to fly Leila back to America (although his flying harness is destroyed in a hurricane) while Captain America follows Falcon's directions and retrieves the virus sample. The Anti-Cap kills the head of the Rivas family, and pursues Leila, Falcon, and Cap, intent on obtaining the virus sample. After reuniting, Falcon and Captain America are able to barely defeat the Anti-Cap. Realizing that O.N.I.'s goal was to draw out their rogue agent to execute him, Captain America arranges to have the Anti-Cap be secretly imprisoned in the Wakandian embassy, until O.N.I. agrees not to kill him.
Since Captain America and Falcon now possess both O.N.I.'s rogue agent and the last remaining sample of O.N.I.'s virus, O.N.I. begins to put increasing amounts of pressure on the heroes. Falcon is especially targeted - he had broken Leila out of Federal Custody, and his criminal history makes it easier for O.N.I. to create further false charges against him. Falcon soon finds himself on the run from O.N.I.
Meanwhile the superheroine the
Scarlet Witch, having gone insane, begins using her powers to recreate many of the Avengers' greatest trials and tragedies. She destabilizes the Falcon's mind, causing him to act increasingly like his "Snap" persona. He begins carrying a gun, keeps secrets from his friends, assaults Leela's boyfriend Norman when he protests they go into hiding, and uses a high power rifle to shoot at his friend Joseph "Robbie" Robertson(to fool Robbie into thinking O.N.I. was threatening to kill him). Although they succeed in exposing the illegal activities of O.N.I. and clear Wilson's name, Sam's methods cause his relationship with Captain America to become strained. Cap confronts Falcon about his recent actions, and Falcon, angered at what he sees as an "Ultimatum" terminates their partnership. As they are walking away, Norman (who blames Falcon for the end of his relationship with Leila) appears and shoots at Falcon. Captain America is seriously injured by the stray bullets, and even appears to die. The shock of watching his best friend seemingly die because of his actions has a powerful affect on Sam, who briefly gives up being Falcon and reexamines his life. [Priest, Christopher J. Captain America and the Falcon, #1-14]
Sam Wilson reappeared as Falcon without explanation, ["
House of M" #1, "Captain America" vol. 5, #12, "Civil War" #1] and supports Captain America against the Superhuman Registration Act. When the Captain becomes incapacitated, Falcon temporarily assumes leadership of the "Secret Avengers" rebel group. ["Civil War #4"] . Following Captain America's assassination by the machinations of the Red Skull, the Falcon registers with the government and is made responsible for Harlem, although he continues to be in contact with the underground New Avengers. Falcon is one of the pallbearers carrying Captain America's coffin, and gives an inspirational speech at the funeral. ["Fallen Son: Death of Captain America"] Afterward, S.H.I.E.L.D. recruits the Falcon and agent Sharon Carterto investigate the Captain's assassination by locating the Winter Soldier and tracking down the Red Skull.
Powers, abilities, and equipment
In his earliest appearances Falcon exhibits a close bond with his bird Redwing, which in Captain America 174
Professor Xconfirms as being a paranormal empathic link. The Red Skulllater reveals that he had used the Cosmic Cubeto create a "super-normal mental link" between Sam Wilson and Redwing. [Englehart, Steve. "Captain America #186". Marvel Comics, 1975] Falcon later recalled the experience, stating "Hurt like "hell". Being mentally "fused" with that falcon. Able to "see" through "his" eyes." [Johns, Geoff. "Avengers volume 3 #60". Marvel Comics, 2003]
Recently, Falcon revealed that he has been able to extend this empathic link. "I'm always psychically connected with Redwing, but through concentration I've recently tapped into another ability -- I'm able to link-up with other birds. ... I have over six "billion" pairs of eyes in the United States alone." He used this ability to quickly search New York City when the criminal Scarecrow kidnapped two children [Johns, Geoff. "Avengers volume 3 #64". Marvel Comics, 2003] , as well as to spy on Senator Dell Rusk (actually the Red Skull in disguise) and Henry Peter Gyrich [Johns, Geoff. "Avengers volume 3 #61-69". Marvel Comics, 2003-2004] . He is also apparently able to access the memories of birds, and see things they had witnessed in the past (although birds have a different concept of the passage of time, which makes it difficult for him to know when any events they witnessed occurred). [Brubaker, Ed. "Captain America volume 5 #35". Marvel Comics, 2008]
Falcon has shown some ability to apparently control birds, as shown when he enlisted their aid in attacking Scarecrow, and when (badly injured and manacled to a wall) he telepathically summoned a large number of different birds from the surrounding area to smash through a window and attack the Red Skull.
Uniform and flight harness
The Falcon's original wing harness featured detachable jet-powered glider wings made of lightweight titanium ribbing and Mylar. The wings were covered with wafer-thin solar power receptors that convert sunlight into electricity to power miniature high-speed electric turbine fans in his uniform and boots. The wings detached and reattached to his uniform cybernetically. The harness was destroyed in "
Captain America and the Falcon" #2 (2004). The uniform was made of synthetic stretch fabric lined with a steel-alloy mesh.Fact|date=June 2008.
After the original flying harness's destruction, [Priest, Christopher "Captain America and the Falcon #2", Marvel Comics (2004)] the Black Panther supplied Falcon with a new costume and wings. An emitter array on Falcon's back creates holographic "hard light" wings with a maximum wingspan of up to 50 feet. Controlled by a cybernetic link, the wings can be instantly reconfigured into "dozens of different cruise configurations". A "magnetic drive", in turn, provides the thrust needed to get Falcon airborne. The emitter also possesses GPS Jamming Devices that prevent
satellitetracking, while the hard-light wings interfere with infra-red tracking. A Vibraniummicroweave was added to the costume itself, making Falcon resistant to small arms fire. [Priest, Christopher "Captain America and the Falcon #6", Marvel Comics (2004)] The entire system is controlled mentally through cybernetic circuitry in the Falcon's mask. The costume has in the past featured a hidden "talon," a cybernetically controlled grappling line built into the gauntlets of his costume which he uses to entangle opponents, hook objects, or for swinging and climbing when his wings are detached. The costume's visors come equipped with various capabilities, including infrared lenses, giving him the ability to see objects by their infrared signature at night, magnification capabilities, and remote imaging sensors that allow a full 360 degree of vision when activated. The cowl also has a wide band receiver and transmitter with an unspecified range. The suit was originally built by Wakandan scientists, with costume modifications by Desmond Burrell. Fact|date=June 2008
The Falcon is an excellent trainer of wild birds, and has been trained in gymnastics and hand-to-hand combat by Captain America.
Redwing is a highly trained hunting falcon who responds to the Falcon's verbal and mental commands and joins him in battle against his adversaries.
At one point, a Sentinel chased him, believing him to be a mutant, but this was later debunked and the Sentinel is presumed to have been malfunctioning.issue
Spider-Girl" #7 Falcon was revealed to be dead. However, the Ladyhawktwins wear attire strikingly similar to his first costume (Before he got his wings).
Samuel Wilson is an explorer, adventurer, and scientist who uses a backpack with high-tech folding wings to fly. Wilson first appeared in "Ultimate Nightmare" and then worked on the Vision, demonstrating a high level of technological understanding. He is an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. rather than an official member of the Ultimates or Reserves. Not much is known about the Ultimate version of Falcon, except that he appears to have an entirely different origin than the original Falcon, has served with or under General Nick Fury. Wilson was a member of the armed forces but quit. This version appears to be an accomplished combatant, especially when using the sharp edge of the metal wings he wears as a weapon. His wings are controlled through the help of
nanotechnologywith which he can communicate and which can also send and retrieve computer information.
Ultimate Falcon also appears in the second
Ultimatesannual, where he teams up with Captain America, and in the Ultimate Visionminiseries.
"U. S. War Machine"
In Marvel's MAX
imprintseries "U.S. War Machine", Falcon appeared alongside Captain Americaand Hawkeye; he and Hawkeye served as Captain America's backup and wore no costumes, only being addressed by their real names. In this reality, Captain Americawas actually Buckywearing the Captain's uniform as here the Captain had died in World War IIin his stead.
In the 2006 comic "What If Captain America had fought in the Civil War?", the
Earth-717version of Wilson was an orphan raised by a Shawnee medicine man, and grew up to fight in the American Civil Waras part of an Indian volunteer regiment. He performs a ritual to give Steven Rogers the power of We-Pi-Ahk, the Eagle Spirit, and has a red eagle painted on his chest for this ceremony. He is killed by Colonel Barnes, the White Skull.
The Falcon (along with his bird Redwing) appeared as a member of the Avengers in the television series "" voiced by
Falcon appears in the "
Robot Chicken" episode "The Deep End" voiced by Seth Green. He is seen in the segment called "The Real World: Metropolis."
List of S.H.I.E.L.D. members
List of African-American firsts
* [http://www.marvel.com/universe/Falcon_%28Sam_Wilson%29 Falcon] at Marvel.com
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
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