While Luke Cage was Marvel’s first African-American to headline his own solo book, Falcon was Marvel’s first African-America superhero. Over the years, he would be known as Captain America’s prominent best friend and partner.
Sam Wilson was born in Harlem to loving parents, his father being a minister. Sam also grew a love for birds and trained pigeons while holding the biggest pigeon coup in Harlem. At the age of 16, he felt his parents’ religious faith to be ignorant and refused to go to church. Surprisingly, his decision was supported by his parents as they gave him various books to study different theories and religions. Sadly, the following night Sam’s father was killed trying to break up a fight while his mother was killed two years later by a mugger. Pissed off at the world, Sam went down the path of crime, becoming a professional gang banger and pimp by the name of “Snap“ Wilson. One day on a flight to a big score, his plane crashed down on Exile Island, a once-peaceful island which was then being run by Nazi villain, The Red Skull. On this island is where Sam befriends his trusty falcon, Redwing.
The Red Skull used the Cosmic Cube, a device used to alter reality, to fuse Sam and Redwing’s mind, creating a special mental link between them. Through time and practice, Sam would eventually link his mind with other birds, using this ability to see through the eyes of various birds and also communicate and control them. Through use of the Cube, Skull would also remove Sam’s history as Snap and rewrite his past this time as a uplifting and cheerful social worker who would eventually organize the natives of Exile Island to raise against Red Skull and his forces and fight for their freedom. At this point, Sam met and fought alongside Captain America Steve Rogers and was given advice to become a superhero. He would become Roger’s partner in crime fighting as The Falcon. Rogers would also train Sam in gymnastics and hand-to-hand combat. Shortly afterwards, he was given harness wings as a gift from T’Challa, the Black Panther, allowing Falcon to fly.
As time passed, Red Skull eventually used the Cosmic Cube to reveal Sam’s past history as Snap in hopes of brainwashing him to kill Captain America. The plan was not a success as Falcon fought against him and continued being a hero, eventually becoming head of the Super Agents unit of S.H.I.E.L.D. He would also join the Avengers after initially rejecting them after learning he was originally asked to join the team to fill a racial quota. Years later, the Scarlet Witch would go insane, putting the Avengers through their greatest trials and tragedies. She altered Sam’s mind back to the persona of Snap Wilson. At this point the Falcon would become a much harder and stubborn character, carry guns with him. He also assaulted his ex’s new boyfriend and strained his relationship with Captain America, driving them apart. It wasn’t until the shock of seeing his best friend take a bullet for him and almost die that Falcon decides to take some time off and reevaluate his life. He eventually re-unites with Captain America in support of the opposition of registration during the Civil War but reluctantly registers after Captain America gives himself up. He has also been a regular cast member in the Captain America series searching and investigating the murder of Steve Rogers when he is killed by the Red Skull.
The Falcon has also been appearing regularly in Cartoon Network’s Super Hero Squad and it’s comic tie-in in embarrassingly but humorous fashion.
Falcon Adventures can be found:
Captain America (current volume) #13-current
The Death of Captain America
The Falcon mini-series (1983)
Captain America and Falcon #1-13
Captain America and Falcon: Two Americas
Captain America and Falcon: Brothers and Keepers
The Avengers Vol. 1 #183-345
Captain America and Falcon: The Swine
Super Hero Squad