The Price of Being an Icon in Captain America: Sam Wilson 24

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

As Falcon, Sam Wilson was free to be Sam Wilson. Falcon no doubt meant quite a bit to many people, but it was still a very personal identity for Sam. Captain America, though…Captain America is an icon, and what Sam does as Captain America automatically means more to the public, for better or for worse, than anything he ever did as Falcon. Captain America is a responsibility, Captain America means something. I don’t think Sam ever fully understood that, or was ever fully prepared to shoulder that awesome responsibility, until now.

Nick Spencer, Donny Cates, and Joe Bennett’s Captain America: Sam Wilson 24 looks behind the scenes of Secret Empire 7 and the decisions that led up to its climatic final page reveal, doing so mainly through three conversations. I’m going to focus on the final, between Sam and the new Patriot, Rayshaun Lucas, because Shaun does most of the heavy lifting. Sam’s argument for quitting was that he needed time for himself, and more significantly, that the American people who embraced Hydra no longer deserved his time and effort. It’s hard to fault Sam for feeling that way, but Shaun points out that, by abandoning his post and leaving America without a Cap, he’s not helping anyone. In fact, he’s hurting people who need him more than ever.

What does America stand for in 2017? It’s a hopeless question — we’re a fractured nation, with a million different interpretations of what it means to be Americans. Steve Rogers, Hydra, the “alt-right,” they’ve claimed America as a place of bigotry, cruelty, and toxic strength, and it’s easy to see why Sam doesn’t want to stand for that. But as Captain America, he has the ability to make America mean something different, to stand up for the oppressed, to lead and inspire those looking to fight back and reclaim America for everyone. That’s a power Falcon wouldn’t have had, but it never would have been his responsibility either. As Captain America, Sam no longer has the luxury of taking time to himself to figure things out, because he has people who need his help, who only he can champion. That’s the honor, the responsibility, and the price of being an icon. At least Sam’s finally learning to find joy in the role.

The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?

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One comment on “The Price of Being an Icon in Captain America: Sam Wilson 24

  1. The difficult thing about this issue is that by virtue of existing in the margins of Secret Empire, it has to do everything outside of the plot. Just Sam in the desert, using flashbacks and conversations to tell the story, instead of dramatising this through action via Steve Rogers and HYDRA. NOt perfect, but would be much more justifiable if the main Secret Empire didn’t throw out all the pages that were supposed to show that stuff to have the exact same arc with the white guy in a dream that undercuts the thematics.

    Which is the big problem with this issue. I read it, knowing that it should be better. There is another version fo Sam Wilson’s Secret EMpre story, a better version, that qutie simply hasn’t been written. In some respects, this is a tie in to a story that doesn’t exist.

    Which isn’t to say the issue is bad. Unlike this week’s Steve ROgers, which was a bit of a disaster in how it didn’t come together, the conversations are all cleverly connected.
    Gideon discusses the importance of Sam keepign his fundamental Sam Wilsonness, regardless of decision
    Misty discusses the importance of Captain America as a symbol, in these times of trouble
    And Rayshaun brings it all together, reconciling everything. Addresses the fundamental problem. Sam gave up being Captain AMerica because he couldn’t be Sam and be Captain America. Rayshaun tells him how. Acknowledging the disconnect of what it means for a black man to represent America today. It is a powerful sentiment, and shows exactly why Sam Wilson as Captain America is so important, both from a watsonian and doyalist perspective. A Captain America that acknowledges that America is currently failing, and yet stands up for the best values. Fighting for the country that America could be, in a way that no one else can

    And it does a great job with Rayshaun, finally finding something to do. Rayshaun’s origin was massively bungled by his awful Brave New World story, but back in SPencer’s hands, you havethe seeds of what could be a compelling character. Ultimately, it will all come down to what is done after this. If Rayshaun is going to uscceed, he needs to be more than just a random member of the vox populi who talks to Sam, but there is potential (also, got to say, I like Eli working voter registration in Arizona. Always liked ELi, but if Rayshaun grows into a good character, I think that could be a good enough epilogue to his story)

    A god issue. It just suffers from the fact that it is built what what is supposed to be Secret EMpire’s sturdiest foundations, yet is actually its shakiest. Everythign with Sam and Rayshaun should be the beating heart of Secret EMpire. And yet, they’ve been so poorly served so far, you can’t help but imagine what this issue would be if the surrounding context was stronger

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