Art by Stuart Immonen
A man who grew up on the streets of Harlem, Sam Wilson’s minister father was killed while trying to stop a gang war, and his mother was killed in a mugging a few years later. Sam Wilson, disillusioned with his life, turned to crime. After an assignment went wrong he was brainwashed by the Red Skull with a Cosmic Cube to fight Steve Rogers, Captain America. The Skull also gave Sam the ability to telepathically communicate with birds with the Cube. No kidding.
Cap helped Sam break free of the Skull’s control, and the two defeated him. Sam Wilson, with a wing harness created by none other than T’Challa the Black Panther himself, became the crime-fighting partner of Captain America known as the Falcon.
Through battles against the Red Skull, Baron Zemo, and the Secret Empire, the Falcon fought bravely alongside Captain America. He was brought aboard the Avengers by Henry Gyrich to fill a needed quota for black super heroes. Angered by this, Sam soon quit the team.
He later rejoined the Avengers under different circumstances. He was present during the self-destruction called Avengers: Disassemble. After that, he helped Cap track down his former partner Bucky Barnes, then the Russian-programmed assassin known as the Winter Soldier. He helped Cap undo what the Russians had done to his mind. Shortly after, the Civil War between Captain America and Iron Man broke out. Sam stood beside Cap until the end, when Steve Rogers was killed by Crossbones and a brainwashed Sharon Carter.
Bucky Barnes replaced Steve as Captain America. Sam continued working as his partner. Steve Rogers was later revived, ironically, by his old foe the Red Skull in an attempt to hijack his body (Skull didn’t have one at the time, long story). Bucky went back to working underground as the Winter Soldier, and Steve Rogers returned to the role of Captain America. Sam Wilson continued as his most trusted ally. He also worked with Misty Knight’s Heroes for Hire operation on the side.
When the Super Soldier Serum within Steve Rogers mysteriously deactivated, Steve Rogers was aged and weakened. Needing someone else to take up the shield once again, Steve appointed Sam Wilson as the new Captain America.
Sam subsequently rejoined the Avengers as well as Luke Cage’s Mighty Avengers team.
After the recent Secret Wars event, Sam joined up with a new and smaller Avengers lineup along with Iron Man, Vision, Nova, the Ultimate Spider-Man, the new Ms. Marvel, and the new Thor.
His tenure as the Sentinel of Liberty has been rocky. He became a Captain America who made his political opinions known, and the public has rejected him for it. He made enemies of S.H.I.E.L.D by cooperating with the hacktivist known as the Whisperer, later revealed to be Rick Jones.
Even with Steve Rogers regaining his youth and strength thanks to the Kobik, Sam has continued his service as Captain America with Steve’s endorsement.
Sam Wilson is among the most loyal partners ever to grace the page of a comic. He has fought alongside Captain America through good times and bad. However, he trusts his own instincts and judgement just as much, having shunned the Avengers for recruiting him as a token and distrusting Maria Hill and S.H.I.E.L.D. He is no mere sidekick. He has proven just as effective on his own and in positions of leadership. These qualities have earned him his spot at the Number 10 slot of my favorite Marvel Heroes of all time.
Come back tomorrow for Number 9!