“Winter in America—Take Flight, Part Two” (Falcon #2 Review)

Falcon and Patriot fight to stop a gang war in Chicago! What they don’t know is that the instigator of the war is Blackheart, demonic son of Mephisto! Can the 2 heroes bring an end to the violence and save the city…or will dark magic ultimately destroy both them and everyone on Earth?

Falcon # 2
Writers:  Rodney Barnes
Artist:  Joshua Cassara
Colorist:  Rachelle Rosenberg
Cover Artist:  Jesus Saiz
Publisher:  Marvel Comics

What You Need to Know:

Sam Wilson gave up being Captain America to build his own legacy as The Falcon.  And he’s taken on a sidekick—Rayshaun Lucas AKA the new Patriot.  Together, they fly to Chicago to try to stop the gang war between the Spanish Kings and the Southstone Rangers by getting them to meet up and call a truce.  Unbeknownst to them, Mephisto’s son, Blackheart, has disguised himself as the Mayor of Chicago and is deliberately escalating the violence.  When the gang leaders meet in public, Dray of the Rangers uses Blackheart’s magic to paralyze Falcon as he shoots and kills the leader of the Kings.  Now war has broken out…

What You’ll Find Out:

The first 4 pages are Patriot and Falcon racing around trying to stem the violence and save innocent lives.  Falcon waxes poetic as he recounts things his father said as well as a dumb joke involving Captain America, STDs, and penicillin…

Falcon 2_page 3

With no factual evidence at all, Falcon assumes that the power Dray used to paralyze him must be magic.  Although that guess is correct, it’s also all too convenient.  How does Falcon know it wasn’t telepathy or a force field or maybe Dray is a mutant?  No explanation is given.  This sequence ends with yet another dumb joke about Wu-Tang Clan and Earth, Wind & Fire.  It’s supposed to be a comment on their age difference, but it falls flat and hard.

As Falcon and Patriot head downtown to stop looters, we cut to Dray and Blackheart on a rooftop watching the carnage…

Falcon 2_page 5

This scene makes no sense.  If Blackheart approached Dray to help him with his evil plan, is the assumption here that Dray said yes without insisting on something in return?  Or did the hardened criminal who is the shot-caller for one of the biggest gangs in Chicago agree to work for a demon from the pits of Hell figuring he might ask for something later if he felt like it?  Did Blackheart never ask Dray what his price was in the first place?

I do wonder where Blackheart was going to get cash in the first place. There are no banks and ATMs in Hell.  From any angle in terms of internal story logic, none of this works as written.

This is followed by Blackheart taking Dray along with him via astral projection into outer space. As he leaves his corporeal body behind on Earth, we get a “comedic” complaint from Dray about him not wanting to leave his body behind because someone could rob him or touch him.  I found that last remark to be vaguely homophobic, but it’s just one of many of this issue’s numerous faults.

For reasons never explained, Blackheart wants Dray to understand his motivations.  How this helps Blackheart is also never explained.  But this leads to yet another confusing scene…

Falcon 2_page 7-panel 1

Falcon 2_page 7-panel 2

While on the surface having powerful cosmic entities in the Marvel Universe gathering every year sounds cool, the character’s writer Rodney Barnes has chosen for this scene make no sense.  The Stranger is an avowed opponent of Thanos.  Galactus is only interested in eating worlds, not dominating them.  The In-Betweener once tried to kill Galactus.  And what is Death doing there?  Being the dutiful wife or girlfriend at Thanos’ side?  None of these entities has any reason to hang out and shoot the breeze every year—especially when at various times they’ve tried to control or kill each other on multiple occasions.

The concept looks cool and sounds cool, but is completely illogical.  Adding to this illogical situation is Blackheart’s statement that what none of them had accomplished was “domination of the planet Earth.”  In-Betweener is interested in balancing cosmic opposites of chaos and order.  Galactus wants to devour Earth, not conquer it.  Thanos has many motivations—primarily courting Death as a lover—but has never expressed a desire to take over Earth.  Mephisto is interested in only corrupting or buying souls.

Barnes has created an annual gathering of cosmic beings who hate or want to destroy each other, so they’d never “hang out” together.  And the idea that Blackheart thinks the one thing that would impress them is world domination is just plain stupid because none of the characters seated at that table have any interest in doing that.  None of this makes sense, not one bit.

Blackheart then takes Dray to the depths of Hell (again, for no reason) and gives him a bracelet of power he cannot fathom.  If Dray can’t understand it, how is he supposed to use it? More importantly, Dray already told Blackheart all he wants is money to get paid.  Like the characters populating Barnes’ yearly cosmic gathering, Dray has no interest in world domination.

We now get 2 pages of Patriot at a shoe store trying to stop looters and Falcon having to save him. Why?  No reason—at least, none that adds anything at all to the story.  The police show up and order Falcon to City Hall.  Falcon’s rhetorical observation is the world is falling apart and the one person who can fix it is called on the carpet.  No, the whole world is not falling apart and no, Falcon is not the only person who can fix it.  But in a story that is making little if any sense, to begin with, why start using logic and reason now?

Falcon goes to City Hall and gets a lecture from the Mayor (Blackheart) about how he’s a hypocrite and probably just as arrogant as Steve Rogers, then orders him to leave or he’ll be arrested.  Next, we see Falcon out of costume as Sam Wilson when Jericho Drumm AKA Brother Voodoo appears in a burst of light.  Another series of bad jokes ensue.  Then Falcon explains that Dray is using magic to keep the riots going on.  Again, how does Falcon know this?  No evidence is proffered.  It makes zero sense.

The bad jokes continue.  Brother Voodoo says this Dray may be in disguise so he’ll follow the trail of magic.  Another bad joke follows.  Sam expresses guilt about not stopping what Steve Rogers did in Secret Empire which Voodoo chastises him for by pointing out he couldn’t have done anything in that case.  Then Voodoo launches into a morale-boosting speech about how symbols matter and that Sam has to “Show them the power of The Falcon!”  It’s as ludicrous as it sounds.  This all ends with Sam in his Falcon costume radio-ing Patriot to meet him to help stop the hordes looting and fighting.  The dumb jokes fly back and forth, none of them ever being the least bit funny.

Voodoo follows the trail of magic and finds Blackheart. That leads to Barnes having Voodoo repeat one of the dumbest jokes in this issue…

Falcon 2_page 17

That’s right, Barnes tells the exact same dumb joke twice by 2 different characters in the exact same issue.  Because telling a bad joke that wasn’t funny one time wasn’t enough.

Blackheart beats Voodoo and says he’ll kill him later.  Why? Who knows and who cares? Then we get an interior monologue from Blackheart about how “Earth will fall on this day and I will bathe in its tears.”  Though there is absolutely no explanation about how a gang war destroying Chicago will lead to the fall of the entire planet.  The last page shows Falcon and Patriot surrounded by cops as Falcon’s interior monologue says, “Winters are cold.  Winters are mean. This is winter. Winter in America.”

Just in case you did not already know that winters are cold and mean, especially in America.  Take that, Antarctica!

What Just Happened?

A whole lot of nothing.

This entire plotline is a mess.  Blackheart’s evil plan is contradictory and irrational.  Falcon is arrogant, stubborn, bull-headed and a bad comedian to boot.  Patriot could be removed from this issue entirely and it wouldn’t matter.  He does nothing of any importance in the story.

I’m sure Barnes wants to write a coherent narrative with insightful characterization, ingenious concepts and formidable villains posing a lethal threat.  Unfortunately, he fails miserably on all counts.

The cleverest idea he brings to the table—a yearly gathering of cosmic entities to brag about victory or commiserate on defeat—falls apart under closer examination.  Putting aside the fact that most of the members of this gathering are enemies who have tried to control or kill one another multiple times for years, it’s preposterous that the likes of Thanos, Galactus and Mephisto would want to sit down to tell everyone how they failed and got the pants beat off of them by Earth’s heroes for the one-thousandth time.  Their narcissism and megalomania alone would preclude them even admitting they failed to themselves, let alone publicly announcing their failures and losses to their most hated rivals.

And those jokes!  If Barnes is truly funny, there’s no proof of it here.  All the jokes are stale and lame and the way he writes the characters’ delivery of those jokes is just as bad—if not worse.

Also, did we really need to have a straight male character loudly proclaiming his fear that someone is going to touch his body while he’s traveling to another world as an astral projection?  There is no good reason to even go there except for homophobia in my view.

The only good thing I can say about this book is that Joshua Cassara shows real promise as a storyteller and his art is stronger in this issue than it was in the last.

Rating:  5 / 10

Final ThoughtThe Falcon as written by Rodney Barnes is easily one of Marvel’s most poorly written books.  The hero’s motivations are paper-thin and he has no complex characterization. The villain’s dastardly plot is rife with gaps in logic and will not in any way lead to him taking over the earth.  The gang members are toxic stereotypes.  And all of the jokes are painfully unfunny.

Please save your money and don’t buy the floppies.  If you really want to read this tripe, wait for the trade.  It’ll be cheaper and a better use of your time.


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