Hello, groovy people, and welcome back to the vault. I gotta tell ya, it’s good to be among the living. As many of you know, I broke my pelvis and spent last month in the hospital. While I was lying there recuperating, for some unfathomable reason I began to mentally take stock of some of the old mini-series that I’d read back in the day. Suddenly, I remembered that I currently didn’t have one of my favorites in my collection. As luck (or bad luck) would have it, I was supposed to be shilling my novels at a local comic con that was going on the very weekend I found myself with a hankering to reread that old story. Word went out that I was looking for these books, and my good buddy Remington picked them up and brought them to me. Thank you, Remington! All of this leads us to this month’s retro review as we take to the skies with The Falcon #1-4!
Complete Arc: (#1) – “Winners and Losers”, (#2) – “Legion”, (#3) – “Faith!”, (#4) – “Resurrection”
Year Released: 1983-84
Creative Team: Jim Owsley AKA Christopher Priest (Writer) Paul Smith/Mark Bright (Artist)
Heroes: Falcon, Captain America, and Cyclops (cameo – flashback)
Villains: Nemesis, a Sentinel, and Electro
Notable Quotable: Police Sergeant Tork to Captain America: “Look, Major Victory, or whatever…you keep pulling dumb stunts like that an’ somebody’s gonna blow those silly looking wings off your hat. I mean, that Frisbee of yours looks nice and all…but it sure ain’t bullet proof.”
Sam Wilson, now a well-respected social worker in Harlem, is as passionate about helping the local youth rise above the ghetto as he is at cleaning up the streets as The Falcon. In issue one, our winged wonder and his “buddy” Police Sergeant Tork must find the perpetrator of some high profile vandalism while trying to save a young street kid named Migel from the dangers of his own poor decisions. From there we learn that The Falcon has convinced the local gang called Legion to stop their criminal activity and begin to act as a neighborhood watch. Xeon, the Legion head, asks Falcon to let the police know that they had planned a solidarity march through the neighborhood. On his way to arrange approval, Falc. is attacked by a junked sentinel that reforms itself after sensing that the hero is actually a mutant. The mutant hunter keeps our hero busy just long enough for the unwitting police to try to disburse the peaceful march. A nervous rookie ends up shooting and killing a gang member. Mayhem ensues but is dispersed when Falcon finally makes the scene. Understandably angry, Xeon leads his gang to kidnap President Ronal Regan as his motorcade rolls through on a fact finding mission. Meanwhile, a paranoid Electro confronts the Falcon as Captain America comes looking for the President! I’ll not give away the ending, but I will say that it’s a nail-biter and a little unbelievable.
Writer: Jim Owsley AKA Christopher Priest (Spiderman vs Wolverine, Deathstroke) is not only a prolific comic book writer but was the industry’s first black editor and an accomplished singer/songwriter. In the early 80’s he’d come up with an idea for a single issue Falcon story that he tried to get published for quite a while. Originally slated for an issue of Marvel Fanfare the never materialized, Jim Shooter asked Owsley to use the already finished tale as a lead in to a Falcon Mini. When I originally read this series years ago it really hit home, and it still does. Not only is it an excellent, action-packed plot that makes you love its characters, but its narrative touched on some interesting social issues that we are still dealing with to this day. While full of unbelievable and hokey street slang and posing an implausible ending, it is a wonderfully executed ride that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Artists: Paul Smith (American Flagg!, Uncanny X-Men) did the art for the first issue of this series, as it was initially to be a stand-alone story. As always, his visuals are crisp, with clean, beautiful lines. He captures the rundown feel of the inner city perfectly with his urban blight filled backgrounds. His panel layouts are simply fantastic and his pacing is right on the mark. By the time the stand alone was slated to be expanded into a full-fledged mini-series, Smith was working on the X-Men, so Marvel turned to new artist Mark Bright (Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn, Iron Man) to flesh out the final three issues. In my opinion, his work was outshined by Smith’s. Bright’s lines are a bit less defined and his panels much more traditional. That being said, it still was a treat and didn’t take away from the experience at all.
It was so amazing to be able to re-read these books after all these years. The adventure was both fresh and familiar, and it still held all the same thrills as my original pass. I think this book is a lost gem and a very important book in the Marvel Mythos. It cements The Falcon as his own hero AND establishes him as a mutant (a fact that has been retconned since). I’m not going to call it a must read, but you will not be sorry if you pick it up!
Well, that’s it for today, Katz and Kittenz! Join me next time as we look at something I wouldn’t normally consider for this article. Peace be with you! CAN YOU DIG IT!!!???
Chris Swartzlander is the author of the Tripping Over Reality Sci-Fi series.