Dec 6, 2010

Still Only 25¢: Captain America #193

Disclaimer: Part of an on-going series of blog posts about comic-books, the mid-70's and a wee boy named Earl. Or not really. You know my name isn't really Earl, right? - Earl

The 70's were are weird time for Captain America. He had to deal with the supposed death of his sidekick, Bucky. He fought against our own government in Marvel's version of Watergate. He took on another young man as a sidekick (Rick Jones), but hesitated to let him don the Bucky uniform. He rejected the Captain America persona for a little while...becoming Nomad before ultimately deciding that America was worth fighting for. And he spent most of the decade in a partnership with a man whose only apparent super-power was a psychic link with a bird.

The Falcon was the first African-American superhero in mainstream comics. As a black superhero, he was preceded by the Black Panther by a few years, but the man behind the mask for that character was actually from a fictional country in Africa. Sam "Snap" Wilson was the very first black superhero from the United States. And his (controversially ret-conned) origins were straight out of that particular period's depiction of African-Americans. He was born in Harlem (of course), the son of a minister (naturally), a former social worker (solid!) and a former criminal, gang member and...pimp (there it is!). His "super-power", if you could call it that, is an extremely close and paranormal bond with his bird friend; a falcon named Redwing. He wasn't super-strong nor could he fly. He just was really good friends with a bird. Sure, his abilities later grew so that he could establish psychic links with any bird or any number of birds at the same time, but in the 1970's all he could do was be really good friends with this one bird. And wear a snazzy outfit.

OK, so Cap trained him in martial arts and gymnastics (hehe), but really...this is about the lamest super-power ever invented. Another clear case of the Man keeping a proud black man down.

I don't have any lasting particular memories about this issue of Captain America. I know that it was the first time that Jack Kirby returned to the series as the main artist since his Silver Age work on the character in the 1960's. It was a nice throwback touch, and Kirby tried to get Cap into his iconic fist/shield pose as often as he could. With the Falcon lurking somewhere in the background, of course. But as for what's inside? Nah..I don't really recall.

I do have one distinct memory of Cap and the Falcon from this time period though. Like the geeky kid that I was, I had several cheesy comic-book related t-shirts. One of them was a crusty yellow thing with a terrible silk screening of the good Captain and his buddy. And it clearly said "Captain America and the Falcon" right above the picture of the two heroes. But, for some reason, there was a family friend of ours who couldn't wrap her brain around which one was which. Even though the Falcon was dressed in a bird costume and Captain America looked...well, like Captain America!

So every time she saw me for around a year or so after I first wore the shirt, she would tuck her hands into her armpits, mimicking a flying bird and she would yell "Captain America....CAW, CAW!!!" I never quite understood why she did that, and it took me a long time to finally ask her exactly why she did. She told me that it was because of that dumb shirt I wore where Captain America wore an even dumber bird costume. So she saw the words "Captain America" and the guy dressed like the bird, and somehow that's all that got processed in her teen-aged brain. I told her she was confusing the Falcon's costume with the star-spangled hero's name, yet she insisted that it was just one guy on the shirt...and he was dressed like a fucking bird.

The butt of a misinformed joke from a family friend. Probably serves me right for wearing a truly awful t-shirt like that.


RW said...

I always wondered what the Falcon needed all that bulk for. Must have had a big bird...

Verdant Earl said...

RW - Cap liked his male partners beefy. Or as slim young boys.

sybil law said...

Now I know how I'll greet you when I meet you!
Haha - that's funny.

Slyde said...

So when did the Falcon learn to fly with his suit? As far back as i can remember, he was always able to fly.

p.s. you're friend says "caw caw" when she greets ANYBODY. I'm pretty sure she's retarded.

Verdant Earl said...

Sybil - :)

Slyde - His costume over the years changed a bit. When I was reading Cap, he could only glide a bit using the wings that were part of his costume. But later on he could fly, but it wasn't a superpower. It was all the suit.