ON CAPTAIN AMERICA, THE FALCON AND AN AFRICAN AMERICA CAPTAIN AMERICA

NOTE: MILD SPOILERS FOR RICK REMENDER’S RUN ON CAPTAIN AMERICA

Yesterday the world was introduced to the new Thor, whose gender will have to get a rewrite on the Mjolnir incantation “if HE be worthy.” Not twenty-four hours from that announcement, it looks like we’ll be hearing soon about who will take up the mantle of Captain America. A news article on The Mary Sue website indicates that Marvel will once again disclose some information on one of their classic heroes on tonight’s episode of the Colbert Report:

fem thor

“Marvel is excited to announce that on Wednesday, July 16th, at 11:30 p.m. ET/PT, Marvel’s Joe Quesada will be announcing an all-new comic book title and all-new era for one of Marvel’s most classic Super Heroes on the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central.”

Though it isn’t specifically stated in the news article, it can safely be assumed that the announcement is regarding Captain America because first of all, Colbert is a HUGE fan of the character, and was even given his trademark shield by Marvel after Steve Rogers “died” back in 2007. Secondly, Marvel has been teasing a status quo change for the character for quite some time. Initially with a cover from an upcoming issue of Avengers that hints at what the team will look like in the not too distant future, showing a frail Steve Rogers and an African America Captain America with flight goggles. One of the predictions in this cover, Thor brandishing the Jarnborjn axe introduced in Jason Aaron’s Thor: God of Thunder series, lines up with him not being worthy to wield Mjolnir, and thus the new female Thor.

avengers falcon captain america

If you’ve been following the ongoing Captain America book since it relaunched in 2012, the writing has been on the wall that there’ll be a new Captain America lately as well. Upon taking out the combined forces of…sigh…Dr. Mindbubble…okay, I’m sorry, look at this guy, he’s ridiculous, even in a world with Batroc the Leaper and Squirrel Girl.

dr mindbubble

Ahem, moving right along, and the Iron Nail. The latter who drained Steve Rogers Super Soldier serum from him (bold new stories from the house of ideas, folks!,) leaving him without his strength and greatly aging him. Given what’s happening in the pages of Cap, and the Avengers cover, the clear candidate seems to be Sam Wilson, otherwise known as the Falcon, who has been one of the most stalwart friends and companions of Captain America.

How do I feel about this development? Well, I’m both for and against the idea. Marvel already introduced a new Captain America in Ed Brubaker’s phenomenal run in the series, with Bucky Barnes taking up the mantle. I’m assuming the decision was made to put Rogers back in the stars and stripes was due to the launch of 2011’s Captain America: The first Avenger from Marvel studios, and not because stories featuring Bucky had run their course. Having Remender introduce a new Captain America just makes it seem like writers are out of ideas with the Steve Rogers character, and thus are falling back on already established story lines like losing the super soldier serum and putting a new character in the costume.

What makes me excited is Marvel’s willingness to diversify their characters for a more progressive age. Two of my favorite regular series to read are Brian Michael Bendis’ Miles Morales: Ultimate Comcis Spider-Man and the new Ms. Marvel introduced this year. Both feature non-white characters in traditionally white roles that are such rich characters they you don’t want them to return to how they normally were. To have an African-American Captain America standing next to a female Thor in an Avengers line up is such a great idea to introduce people to comics who may have ignoring them for reasons of not being able to relate to these larger than life super heroes.

I’m less excited about Falcon taking up the role of Captain America than I was yesterday after the unveiling of the female Thor, possibly that I’ve never been that much of a Thor fan, but also because I’ve never really liked Falcon that much. I liked Anthony Mackie’s take on the character in The Winter Soldier this year sure, but I’ve never really taken to the character in the comics that much, simply because I don’t find him that interesting. I’ve read issues of Captain America and The Avengers that featured the character, but I can’t think of one moment off the top of my head where I though “oh man, did you see that part with the Falcon!.” I believe one of the ideas before Brubaker chose the Winter Soldier to become Captain America was to have Sam Wilson take up the mantle, which would’ve made sense in that story, but I don’t think it would’ve made me as curious to read the book. It made sense for Bucky to become the character in Brubaker’s run as it was such a big deal to have Cap’s long time, let’s face it, ridiculously dressed sidekick brought back in a way that made him one of the most dangerous characters in the Marvel Universe.

bucky cap

A better candidate, and one I thought Remender would’ve pushed for given that the first ten issues of his run was dedicated to his development, was Steve Rogers adopted son, Ian. For those who haven’t been following the pages of Captain America since the Marvel NOW relaunch, Steve Roger was transferred to Dimension Z where he was captured and experimented on by his long time arch nemesis, Arnim Zola. During his escape from the lab, Cap escaped with a new-born baby who was created by the mad scientist. Time in Dimension Z passed faster than in earth such that what felt like ten years to Steve and Ian was only mere moments passed back on earth. During his liberation from the odd world and return to earth, Ian supposedly perished, but an epilogue in issue ten showed that he may have survived, under one of Rogers’ old aliases, Nomad.

Ian Zola Nomad

While not as headline grabbing as having an African-American Captain America, having Ian take up the role does reinforce another aspect of the American dream: that people from other countries can come leave their homes and obtain wealth, prosperity and happiness in the US. Okay, it’s not fair to compare Ian Zola, a test tube creation entering earth to some immigrating into the US to obtain their dreams, but it’s really no different from say, the X-Men being an allegory for how the world treats those who are different.

What worries me is potential fallout over people like me saying they don’t like the character of Falcon as Cap to be twisted into thinking I’m racist, given how sensitive the world is today. Look at the #firerickremender controversy that’s probably still fresh in people’s minds stemming from Captain America #22. In that issue, the alleged new Captain America got drunk and slept with another of Arnim Zola’s genetically altered children, his daughter Jet Black. Though the character stated in the issue that she was twenty-three years of age, and also grown in an alien dimension, Twitter exploded to have Remender fired from Marvel for not only turning Sam Wilson into a rapist, but more importantly implying rape in the first place. How does Johnny McDoesntReadComics going to feel about someone categorized as a rapist draping themselves in the red, white and blue? Tune into FOX news at at 11!!!

In the end one can assume that like most identity changes: Bucky as Cap, Doc Ock as Spider-Man (sniff…,) female Thor and whoever becomes Captain America will all be temporary changes. I can wager a hefty sum I don’t have that Steve Rogers will get his powers restored by the time either Avengers: Age of Ultron or Captain America 3 rolls into theaters. I applaud Marvel for their bold changes to their long-established characters, as in the end it’s only going to create a new batch of readers who may not have picked up comics before. I still can’t say I’m not a little weary of the potential land mine certain fans will set off when discussing the potential new Star Spangled Avenger.

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