Blackheart Takes Center Stage in Falcon 2

by Drew Baumgartner

Falcon 2

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

The Marvel Universe is full of odd little corners that don’t always interact. I mean, sure, the X-Men will show up for the big summer crossover series, and Wolverine shows up in everything (even when he was still ostensibly dead), but they largely exist in a world separate from Spider-Man or Thor. Likewise, Spider-Man and Thor occupy worlds separate from each other. This obviously falls out of some practical concerns — plans for certain characters may not facilitate their appearances elsewhere — but there are also important aesthetic ones, as well. Chief among them is concerns of “fit” — while it might be fun to see a cosmic-level hero take a side adventure into some street-level action (or vice versa), it’s not exactly what fans of their series signed up for. So: team-ups between, say, Silver Surfer and Hawkeye are few and far between. I found myself thinking a great deal about fit as Falcon 2 emphasizes the demonic threat Sam is up against.

I’m probably in the minority of folks wanting to see Sam mired in a crime procedural, but I was hoping leaving New York behind meant this series was stepping away from the mustache-twirling villains that tend to inhabit it. More importantly, that first issue tilted at some villains that few series ever actually address, villains like political systems, police tactics, and cultures of violence. It’s heady stuff for a superhero comic, but Rodney Barnes and Joshua Cassara pulled it off beautifully, reminding me more of an episode of The Wire than anything with tights and a cape. But this issue veers hard into the magical villain Sam is battling, ultimately focusing on stakes entirely different from gang violence in Chicago.

I appreciate that Barnes is taking Sam out of his comfort zone, but since Sam’s comfort zone is already so unique, I kind of wish we could just watch him struggle with implementing new solutions to old problems. As it is, there’s not much room for Sam or his problems — this issue devotes several pages to Blackheart, Doctor Voodoo, and Blackheart fighting Doctor Voodoo — so things like mentoring Rayshaun or grappling with Steve’s legacy or struggling with city politics all feel crammed in at the margins.

Winter in America

By the end of the issue, the focus is back on topical subject matter — check out that militarized police force — but it’s no longer clear which is the cart and which is the horse. Will Sam’s battle with militarized police amount to more than a literal fight? I’m no longer sure.

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

4 comments on “Blackheart Takes Center Stage in Falcon 2

    • Shaun’s slang definitely felt a little forced to me, but that’s the only thing I really noticed about the dialogue. What was it that bugged you about it?

      • I mean, yeah, Shaun’s was definitely the worst of it (I kinda wanted to gouge my eyes out throughout that entire sequence??), but I felt like most of the issue was filled with characters throwing out these really strained analogies that I think were supposed to be funny but just kind of made me groan. Again, just felt like Cassara was trying way too hard to be clever and falling very short.

  1. Honestly, Blackheart was a big reason why I didn’t pick this book up. When it was first announced, I heard the discussion about Blackheart and everything sounded like it was going to have this exact problem you guys state. Though the true reason I didn’t pick it up was the truly terrible origin for Rayshaun that Barnes wrote. It was a story so poor that I had no wish to read more, and everything I saw of the first issue makes me think this book is not an improvement

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