Captain America: Sam Wilson #5 Spoiler-full Review

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Yup, I’ve decided to give up on hiding spoilers this time out since, well, the cover of Captain America: Sam Wilson #5 kinda does the same thing. Right from the first glance you get told “Introducing the New Falcon” and, if you’ve been following the comic at all, you can pretty much piece together who it is. And even then, on the off chance you hadn’t guessed it already, the first page of this issue comes right out and, via narration, tells you “My name is Joaquin Torres, and I’m going to be the new Falcon.”

Writer Nick Spencer does a good job of making us like this new Falcon right from the get-go, too. We get some of his backstory- Joaquin is a seventeen year old kid from Arizona and a self-proclaimed good Samaritan who helps border crossers by supplying them with food and water. He sums up his experience which started Cap on this wacky adventure, explaining that he was kidnapped by the Sons of the Serpent and shipped to Dr. Malus, which, as we learned last issue, was all part of a plot by the newly re-invigorated Serpent Society. We also learned in that same issue that while Cap, who is currently a giant werewolf, is suffering from a temporary condition, Joaquin’s half-bird gig is more permanent. This has something to do with his DNA being mixed with Redwing, Cap’s partner in flight, who just happens to be a vampire. Or something. Yeah, I know. Just roll with it.

Anyway, Joaquin narrates us through his frustrations with being locked up in a hospital room and being looked after by D-Man (poor Dennis is criminally misused once again) when all he wants to do is soar free. And he means that literally- his half-birdness comes complete with a set of organic wings.

We move from learning about Joaquin to a flashback informing us as to why Rachel ended up in the situation she was in last issue. Just like last month, Rachel (AKA Diamondback, one of Steve Rogers’ old flames) breaks our hearts. Poor girl, she just can not catch a break. I’ve been detached from most of the Marvel Universe outside of Captain America, so I don’t know if this is a recent development or not, but it turns out that she was engaged to former SHIELD agent-turned-villain, Constrictor. Ol’ Connie (yup, that’s what I’m calling him) is sick and it sure looks like he dies three pages into the flashback. With the rent overdue and no way of making money, our beloved Diamondback starts stripping, which is where she meets up with the sinister (though incredibly enjoyable) Jordan Stryke, AKA Viper. He offers her the opportunity to “get her life back on track” by joining back up with her old running crew. All she needs to do is help the Society take out Cap. So, you know, no biggie.

That finally gets us caught back up to where we were last issue. Cap, still in his werewolf form, is tied to a chair in the Serpent Society HQ. He’s been zapped by one of Asp’s “Venom Bolts”, leaving him paralyzed for the rest of this issue. For those keeping track, this means that the first half of this issue had no Cap in it, and the second half of this issue has a Cap that can’t do anything. While this does a lot to help establish Viper as a smooth-talking, venom filled mastermind, it means our titular character has a grand total of 10 word bubbles, four of which are only one word. Now I’m not saying this isn’t a good issue, I’m just saying that between last issue and this one we seem to using Cap as more of a prop than a character. He gets a fun exchange with Viper, but just like last month, this book is owned by the bad guy. I love the Serpent Society as much as the next guy (probably more, honestly) but seeing as this is the start of a new comic with a new Cap, I’d like to see more of him.

During Viper’s sleazy monologuing, Misty Knight, who you probably forgot all about by this point, gets to have some ass-kicking fun, complete with one of the best lines in the book (“I’m here to fight the Serpent Society”, she tells the receptionist while checking in). She’s on her way to save Cap, but while she’s occupied downstairs with the Sons of the Serpent, Viper finishes up his posturing and throws Cap out a window. Yup, just like that.

To finish up this month’s book we jump back to Joaquin and his narration. Seems his new Falcon powers also come complete with Redwing’s mental link to Cap, allowing him to know that Cap is in danger and in need of help. He escapes from the hospital and swoops in at the last minute to catch Cap before he hits the ground, saving the day. Somehow, in the 20 seconds it took Sam to fall from the top floor, the entire Serpent Society was able to make it downstairs and across the street to meet our heroes for next month’s final confrontation.

A rather entertaining, though scattered, start for the new Falcon. Spencer gives us a lot of good reasons to like Joaquin- he’s a typical American teen, but clearly has a respect for Captain America which should make him a strong sidekick. I get more of an early Bucky vibe from him than a Falcon vibe, but that should match well since our current Cap is already providing us our dosage of Falcon.

My major complaint this issue, again, was the lack of Captain America in a Captain America comic. It was still a solid story, and I’m really enjoying the return of the Serpents, but introducing a new character into Sam’s team while under-utilizing the current members seems like an odd choice.

Issue 6 will finish up Spencer’s first story arc on the book and I’m curious to see how he pulls everything together before we head into “Avengers: Standoff” and the return of Steve Rogers.

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