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?