(this post was first posted on tumblr)
The 2014 re-incarnation of Sam Wilson as Captain America is not the first time Falcon has picked up the shield. In the comic book verse Sam has been Captain America before. Also, there has been an argument going around the web since then that Isaiah Bradley, not Sam Wilson was the first Black Captain America in the comic verse. Actually, that is both true and false. In terms of publication, yes, Sam was revealed as Captain America about 5 years before Isaiah in the Sentinel of Liberty Series (1998) But in terms of timeline, Isaiah’s storyline in Truth: Red, White and Black (2003) which begins back in World War 2 , predates Sam Wilsons’, whose storyline starts in the ‘70s’ and for most African-Americans Isaiah’s story was more meaningful.
Before I go any further, I just want to point out that yes, I give credit to Marvel for Sam Wilson’s Falcon being the first Black Comic Book character printed in a major publication. And I am not discrediting that fact. What I’m discussing here is the impact of the archetype of “Black Captain America” and why I feel Isaiah’s character is more important. (more after the jump)
Sam Wilson was sort of the “sidekick” to Steve Rogers’ Cap (who could speak to his spirit animal Redwing telepathically, who was actually a falcon), and stepped up when Cap was down. However, Isaiah Bradley was unwittingly injected with the the Super Soldier serum while he was a soldier in a program that paralleled the true life story of the Tuskegee Experiment. Someone had a “bastard copy” of Erkine’s experiment, and they decided to test it on African-American soldiers at that time, being that they were considered less valuable (read: “less than human”) anyway. click to read