Sam Wilson will soon make history when he picks up the star-spangled shield and becomes the titular character in this fall's ALL-NEW CAPTAIN AMERICA #1, a fitting development for a character that's been busting through barriers and redefining roles since his debut. As the first ever African American super hero, Falcon has acted as an inspiration for civilians in both the Marvel Universe and our own universe thanks to his heroic efforts as Captain America's partner, solo hero of Harlem, and card carrying Avenger.
Falcon first appeared 45 years ago this month in CAPTAIN AMERICA #117 by Stan Lee and Gene Colan. When the issue starts, the evil Red Skull has switched bodies with Captain America—leaving Steve Rogers a prisoner inside the form of his archenemy! Making matters worse, Cap Skull drops Red Rogers on a remote island filled with a group of criminal masterminds called the Exiles. The pack of villains also has a deep hatred for the Red Skull, which causes them to mercilessly attack Steve since he possesses the Nazi's visage. Thankfully Exile Island has another castaway on her shores—one with real morals and a go get 'em attitude.
Sam Wilson's falcon Redwing assists the beleaguered Rogers, saving his life from the Exiles. Before tracing the path of the mysterious helping bird, Steve trades the Red Skull's mask for a new disguise out of clay. Who would have guessed that Steve has potentially Academy Award winning makeup skills at his disposal? While in disguise, Cap finally introduces himself to the man that would go on to become one of his closest allies and best friends.
After giving the clay-covered Cap shelter and providing him with a meal, Sam Wilson starts detailing just how a man from Harlem made it all the way out to Exile island. The story starts, of course, with a pigeon coop.
While on vacation in Rio, Wilson's interest in birds went to the next level when he purchased his first falcon—Redwing. As one of the few guys around with a bird of prey, Wilson got involved with the Exiles when they posted an ad about hiring a hunting falcon. But as soon as Sam saw the Exiles' true selves and witnessed their horrible treatment of the island's inhabitants, he severed all ties with the criminals. Instead, he now wants to unite the people of the island against the Exiles!
Clay-covered Cap convinces Falcon that in order to really inspire the local people to band together, he should use a mask, costume, and a symbol. Falcon's the most obvious choice, of course.
The Falcon makes his costumed debut on the issue's last page, without his trademark wings or even his regular red and white color scheme. Still, this early iteration of the Falcon possessed the confidence—and winning smile—that has come to be synonymous with the fan favorite super hero!
Sam Wilson becomes Captain America this October in ALL-NEW CAPTAIN AMERICA #1!