Marvel: “Hire Some Actual Black People”

LOL! That was my snarky comment to the LA Times concerning Sam Wilson taking over as Cap. Here is the broader context of my remarks:

“…what do you think publishers can do to better engage a diverse audience that will produce new comics storytellers?”

Hire some actual black people.

Sam Wilson, as I understand him, would never take on the Cap role: it’s not who he is. He *might* do it to honor Steve Rogers, but Sam, as I understand him, would realize the Captain America symbol is so much bigger than the man; it is the embodiment of an ideal, one that Sam, as I understand him, cannot wholly and unflinchingly embrace the way Steve did. As such, Sam, as I understand him, would have more integrity than to assume the identity at anything less than full investment in what Steve stood for–not 85% or wherever he might be in terms of how Sam, as I understand him, sees the world.

Assure me that (1) Sam is in character and that he has somehow gained the 15% necessary to even want to do this, and (2) that this change is permanent and irrevocable, and then maybe, possibly, I could get in the zone with this.

Sam is or was a social worker. They may have retconned that out, but that was his original profession. Do you have any idea what a crappy job that is? You go into housing projects and report people who have a new iron or too many TVs in the house. Your caseload is a mile high and your heart breaks every single day. Now, to be a social worker in New York City, you have to have an MSW. Every time I read Sam or Falcon “talking jive,” I want to throw up. Sam, as I understand him, has a MSW, which you cannot earn if you cannot articulate the language.

He’s a guy who had a heart for the disenfranchised, for the least among us, which makes him something of an evangelical. He’s seen both the good and the terrible things government can do. Steve Rogers is unique among all human beings not because of the Super Soldier serum but because of his unapologetic commitment to the promise of America, his belief in moral absolutes, something most of us would consider somewhat naive. It works for Steve because Steve is 110 years old. Sam—or, frankly, you or I—are simply not capable of seeing the world the way Steve Rogers does or living out that level of commitment. We’ve seen too much; even our best idealism has been tainted by gross disappointment. That stuff just rolls off of Steve Rogers in a way it never could roll off of Sam Wilson.

Sam, as I understand him, has, however, become infected not necessarily with Steve’s patriotism but with Steve’s integrity. If Sam could not commit 100% to the ideal of Captain America, he would not wear the uniform. Sam is not a patriot in the same sense of the word as Steve, but he’d honor both Steve and the Captain America uniform by not draping himself in that legacy if he couldn’t be what Steve was. At best, he’d modify the suit and call himself something else, which would be fine with me, but I personally don’t see Sam taking on the Captain America role unless Marvel has retcionned him somehow or the Red Skull is mucking with his personality again.


  1. Dave Van Domelen says:

    Oh, it gets “better”. In the first issue of the new Captain America comic out this week, Sam is basically the sort of guy the original Anti-Cap wanted to be. “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear,” and “You may feel the impulse to summon medical attention for the criminals, please resist that impulse,” sort of stuff. Because of fallout from Red Skull using Professor X’s brain to unleash a hate wave yadda yadda yadda. The next several months will all be heroes being unheroic ethically-flipped versions of themselves. Which, you know, is perfect for a brand new #1 comic featuring Sam Wilson as Captain America. Because no one breaks into reading comics by picking up a #1 anymore.

    • Priest Priest says:

      LOL! Well, *I* had Sam behaving badly but he took responsibility for it (after Cap “died”). And, yes, this is, comically (pun intended) the very essence of my “Anti-Cap,” the Navy SEAL version of Captain America. “And, not to put too fine a point on it, I’m a *Naval* captain. I outrank you.” Ha! I do not know the new Cap writer, but I really do hope he gets a fighting chance to do good with the character and the book outside of the limits imposed by the line event. It’s tough to be saddled with external events that affect your character’s psyche right out of the box.

  2. circ says:

    This is one of the main reasons I find it tough to argue this or read much on the recent comics front. This is the same thing WWE has been ‘struggling’ (lol) with for years.

    I’ve never seen a money-whore directive make room for anything that doesn’t massage itself. Somewhere, somehow… someone thought this was a ‘good’ idea. Somebody(s) will buy it. Game over.

    I used to find this stuff enjoyable when it was under the What If/Elseworlds banner. Once that infected the main ‘line’, it got incredibly boring. With no chance of recovery, I had to find better uses of my time.

    It’s so bad that Nocenti and Waid have become unreadable. Out of the top five people who’s work I enjoyed the most (Priest, Kelly, Stern included), that is depressing.

    Unless you are going to wrestle D1zn3y for the rights, what can you do? I miss talented hires instead of name, gender, race, sex pref, bubblegum left-side chewers, etc…

    Also, it could be I am just aging like a dog. Whatever passes for cool and good these days flies over my head like a drone.

  3. Cthulhudrew says:

    I definitely agree with you vis a vis Sam taking over for Cap. This is the guy who quit the Avengers rather than be the token on the team (despite that I’m sure he really wanted to be an Avenger).

    To my knowledge, they haven’t retconned his social worker status though (thankfully) I believe they’ve retconned the “Snap” persona (and in a way that it probably should have been done ages ago, by turning the Red Skull’s “cosmic cube manipulation” back on itself).

    I did really enjoy Anthony Mackie as Falcon in Winter Soldier, though. A different take on the character, but a pretty solid job by actor and writers alike. Winter Soldier remains my favorite Marvel film so far.

  4. Ty says:

    For what its worth, although your comments are correct concerning Sam Wilson and Marvel hiring Blacks, I have to give them some credit for trying and seemingly breaking through glass ceilings in their portrayals of non-whites in comics as of late. I think the real breakthrough was Luke Cage leading the Avengers for a while. Since then, more Blacks and non-whites are being featured. I don’t know about the diversity of the writers though. But after Quesada’s efforts to push you and BP, then giving Hudlin carte blanche with his Panther, it seems like he is making strides now. I’ll give him that much credit.

  5. I’m jazzed at the idea of Sam becoming Falcon America, however long it lasts. Current writer Rick Remender has also mentioned that he intends to reverse the “pimp career” retcon of Sam as being an elaborate Cosmic Cube manipulation by the Red Skull. We’ll see how this goes. I think the fan reception has been affected by the “Axis” crossover which is warping a bunch of characters’ personalities. I’d like to see Sam more proactive on certain global crises, and I’d like to see team-ups with characters like Black Panther, Luke Cage and Spider-Man.

    side note: Say, Priest- did you know that the Fantastic Four comic series is apparently being put on hiatus as of next year? There’s no official word from Marvel (Brevoort) on a new series yet. I think you’d make an awesome writer of the FF. Had you ever written them before?

    • Priest Priest says:

      Me on FF? Christopher, seriously: say no to drugs 🙂 I’ve _never_ been offered a mainstream title (other than JLA, which was quickly rescinded when Grant Morrison became available). I doubt I ever will. Seriously: it’s been 36 years, it ain’t never gonna happen. Also, might be helpful to remind new Cap writer: “Snap” WIlson/cosmic cube thingy: that’s already in the canon, or did he mean something else…? Wasn’t it already established that “Snap” was caused by Red SKull/CC?

      In any case, I was not pleased that Luke Cage was a (wrongfully convicted) ex-con or Falcon a “racketeer,” whatever that means, but I am loathe to meddle with established continuity just because the character is black and/or out of some liberal agenda to go back and fix questionable 1970’s judgment. Changes and evolution for characters should come out of story and be organic to the character rather than even well-meaning agenda on the part of the writer. In general, I bristle at white liberals (I do not know Rick and am not accusing him) attempting to defend black folk. Black folk really don’t need defending. I’m fine with “Snap,” “Snap” isn’t the problem with Falcon. The main problem with Falcon is no one’s really had a strong enough vision for the character to make him fly on his own. Now, instead of tagging along with Cap, he’s abandoning his own identity to Cap and, if I understand you folks correctly, the new writer is also being burdened by some crossover event that is tinkering with Sam’s personality– which we already did back in CAF.

      I’d be much more jazzed if someone had a real *idea* about what o do with The Falcon as The Falcon, and if that person was given a chance to pursue their own ideas without outside marketing initiatives intruding so early in th process. Make Sam Wilson interesting, and his book will sell.

  6. Nick says:

    Man, I was psyched for Cap Falcon until I read all this. Your argument is a good one, but not one I’d mentally constructed myself having not spent too much time thinking about it beyond “cool, a character I like getting more spotlight.” But you’re right.

    And then the “badass” stuff and the “magic influenced personality” stuff just has me totally soured on the idea.

    And, Priest, never say never. Every now and then they seem to throw somebody we haven’t heard much from in a while randomly onto a book just to see what happens. Not saying you’re likely to be offered FF, but give yourself some credit, man; a smart, ballsy editor might offer it- or something like it- to you, especially (/sadly) since, with the movie rights over at Fox, FF is no longer an “A List” property in Marvel’s eyes the way it used to be. They might be willing to take more chances with it, especially after (IMO) a pretty lackluster decade for the book.

    Do you have any back-pocket FF ideas just in case we turn out to be living in the best possible timeline, or is it a book you’ve never thought too much about?

    Me? I’m still holding out hope that the Panther movie spikes interest in- or even reprints of- your old run and gets your phone ringing again. I for one miss reading comics from you on a regular basis, and I can’t imagine I’m the only one.

    • Priest Priest says:

      Nick: oh, you dear, sweet, naive man. 🙂 Never gonna happen.

      No back-pocket, no front-pocket ideas for FF. I don’t waste time even thinking about stuff that’s just never going to happen, and I don’t write pitches anymore because more than twice I’ve been ripped off; my idea executed by another creative team. The *idea* does not matter, the publishers are only interested in the *name* attached to it.

      Marvel is, allegedly, reprinting my entire run next year… assuming they don’t read this thread and get pissed. 🙂 Phone rings plenty, just not with anything I want to do, and (so far) publishers have not been excited about the things I *would* like to do.

  7. Will says:

    I also think Sam isn’t the best fit to be Captain America, though I’m kind of keeping an eye on things. Though, with the setup that they have, Steve is still around, just as the brains of the operation, while Sam does all the field work.

  8. Mario Di Giacomo says:

    So, Priest… any comment on the Milestone revival? It looks like mostly Denys Cowan & Reginald Hudlin are involved (although Michael Davis is being his usual coy self), and I thought you might have gotten a call.

Leave a Reply