Friday, May 29, 2009
1983 - The Falcon
Falcon (4 issue miniseries)
November 1983 – February 1984
Writer: Jim Owsley
Artists: Paul Smith/Vince Colletta, Mark Bright/Mike Gustovich
I was first attracted to this miniseries because of the wonderful Paul Smith cover. And then when I saw that he was doing the interior art as well, I was sold. Unfortunately, Smith’s art was heavily inked by Vince Colletta which smothered Smith’s great pencils.
This miniseries was written by Jim Owsley, the man who would go on to be known as (Christopher) Priest. In 1983, he was also the first published African American comic book writer.
The first issue focused on the Falcon’s alter ego, Sam Wilson, and his role as a social worker in the ghetto dealing with low-income housing and gang violence. Owsley does a solid job with the script and pulls off a relevant story that as applicable today as it was in 1983.
This story was written years before the other three issues and circulated around the Marvel Comics offices for quite some time. The first issue was then originally slated for Marvel Fanfare, but Jim Shooter wanted to push new idea of limited series, and decided that a Falcon limited series would be a perfect fit.
Since Paul Smith was already committed to the Uncanny X-Men, the other three issues’s pencils were handled by Mark Bright, Owsley’s partner-in-crime for many other future work, like Quantum and Woody and Power Man & Iron Fist.
The Falcon miniseries introduced Police Sergeant Turk who would become a popular secondary character in the Marvel Universe.
Issue #2 revealed that the Falcon is a mutant as he spends the issue fending off a Sentinel. He’s able to destroy the Sentinel, but he’s unable to stop a gang war and loses the trust of a gang leader. Both the story and art work surprisingly well in this issue. There several great action sequences juxtaposed with the gang war bubbling over. Good pacing establishes the story’s tension and really makes you feel how the Falcon is pulled in both directions.
In issue #3, the Falcon dealt with last issue’s fallout and was reminded of his days as “Snap” Wilson when he sold drugs, ran numbers, and operated ‘protection’ operations. And for the record, Snap Wilson did go on trial and was released into Captain America’s custody.
Issue #4 had the Falcon trying to rescue the President of the United States of America who’s being held hostage by a street gang and runs into Electro. The Falcon, a former Captain America sidekick, has matured as a hero able to stand on his own and he's comfortable with putting some distance between himself and Captain America. Captain America co-stars in this issue, but doesn’t take the spotlight from the Falcon. The Falcon actually comes to Captain America’s rescue and even convinces the gang leaders to release the President and start up a dialog about improving their ghetto’s conditions.
Issues #3 and #4 are bit weaker than the initial two issues. The idea that some street gang could kidnap the President of the United States didn’t sit right with me. Neither did the marshmellowy ending where Reagan sits down with the gang leaders for a chat.
The Falcon is next seen in a backup feature running through Captain America that details his run for a Congress seat.