Or, the first time Sam Wilson was Captain America. While this was published in the late 90s, the story actually takes place in Sam’s early days as the Falcon – no wings, still wearing the green costume from Exile Island. This would seem to put it somewhere between Captain America vol 1 #134 to #143, in the period where the comic is titled Captain America and the Falcon but before the cover art switches to the new white and red design for him. But really it could be set at practically any time in the last 50 years. This is an issue that isn’t going anywhere fast, and that’s one of the things that sadly helps the weird Marvel stretch time work. Comics that were published in the 60s become “a few years ago” in the 80s; at the moment I’m saying that Sam and Steve have been working together for about 15 years.
1971. Racial tensions are high. The Sons of the Serpent are now branding themselves the Sons of the Shield and they’ve got a plan: set up a mob of black people to seemingly murder Captain America and turn him into a martyr for their white supremacist cause. This panel features magnificent side-eye from both Steve and Sam, especially the latter. Look at it. Just look.
Is anyone really surprised that Steve “doesn’t see race”?
At least he gets it here, as they debrief after a chat with some of the other Harlem community leaders. Anyway, there’s this whole thing that starts with the one black guy who’s being paid by the Sons of the Shield firebombing a church and ends with a rioter accidentally shooting Steve dead. (We’re supposed to assume, of course, but we all know he’s coming back somehow.) As for Sam, up with this he will not put!
Oh yeah. Though I think I actually like the earlier one better. Anyway, Sam is… a bit more rough and tumble than Steve is.
But damn, he even has the speechifying down.
As we all knew, Steve isn’t really dead, but got teleported and had his brain taken over electronically. Sam rips off all the wiring and happily does not short circuit his buddy’s brain, then goes to try to shut down the gas that’s designed to target only black men.
Hey, Sam. On your left.