SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for “Captain America: Sam Wilson” #17, which is on sale now.
Over the course of its run, Nick Spencer’s “Captain America: Sam Wilson” series has amassed quite a supporting cast. In addition to starring Sam Wilson in his role as the high-flying Captain America, the series also features his partner-in-crime-fighting Misty Knight, the wrestler-turned-hero D-Man and the all-new Falcon Joaquin Torres. The series has also brought the former Avenger and New Warrior Rage back into the spotlight for the first time in years, although his relationship with Sam Wilson has been fractured at best. After two back-to-back issues focusing squarely on Misty Knight and D-Man, “Sam Wilson” #17 turns its attention to the new Falcon — and also Rage.
The issue, written by Spencer with art by Paul Renaud, focuses on the reaction the conservative news media is having to Captain America’s new sidekick — a sidekick that they claim is an illegal immigrant. An author and pundit named Ariella Conner initiates the discussion about Falcon’s citizenship in the media, which only serves to make Joaquin angry. Captain America tries to calm Falcon down, reminding the sidekick that people say upsetting things about him all the time. Plus, Falcon’s citizenship is protected under the DREAM act since he came to the States as a child — at least that’s what Falcon thinks (Misty’s gonna check with her lawyer pal Matt Murdock just in case).
But a talking to from Cap doesn’t calm Falcon down. Conner’s speaking at Empire State University that night, and the hotheaded young Falcon wants to confront her. Joaquin knows he shouldn’t go after Conner alone, so he turns to the one guy that’s closer to him in spirit: Rage.
Falcon says they should show solidarity for each other’s causes — and Rage reminds Falcon of his previous conflicts of interest with Sam Wilson. Still, Rage reasons, Conner’s also said some “offensive @#$! in my general direction as well.” The two strike a pose, team-up and head to ESU — where they already find a bunch of protestors.
It turns out Conner’s anti-immigrant stance doesn’t sit too well with the college crowd, and Falcon and Rage aren’t alone in wanting to have a word with the author. Falcon confronts Conner on stage during her speech, detailing where he’s coming from:
“I was five years old when I came to this country. My mother had to study English every night with me, while she worked two jobs to keep a roof over our heads. People treat us like criminals for wanting a better life, while we do a bunch of jobs no one else is willing to do — it ain’t right.”
But Falcon’s one-on-one convo with Conner is happening in an auditorium — and someone from the audience chucks a grenade onstage. A trio of college students called the Bombshells attack Conner with grenades, causing Rage and Falcon to protect the speaker from a group of college students that they pretty much agree with.
While Rage and Falcon definitely don’t side with Ariella Conner, they also don’t want to see her get blown to bits. The heroes subdue the Bombshells and keep anyone else from getting hurt. When the smoke clears, Sam Wilson shows up, having seen the entire events play out from far away via his new power upgrade. Captain America says the two of them did a great job considering how complicated the situation was. Then Captain America pulls Rage back for a one-on-one, the very superhero that he previously clashed with.
The ex-Falcon and Rage have a heart-to-heart, with Sam actually thanking Rage for his actions during their clash with the Americops in a previous arc. In that story, Rage said that he thought having a black man as Captain America would really change the system. But after Wilson stopped Rage from fighting the Americops from using profiling techniques in Brooklyn, the young hero felt that the new Cap wasn’t doing anything differently than the old one. Hearing that from Rage spurred Cap to action, and he got a power upgrade in the form of Tony Stark, one that lets him keep an eye on all Americop activity.
Here, Sam thanks Rage for that stern talking to, since it spurred him to action.
But things don’t end on a high note. Later that night, Rage comes across a pawn shop that’s been broken into by two supervillains (Speed Demon and Man Mountain Marko) looking for “mystical artifact thingies.” Rage intervenes and tries to stop the robbery.
Unfortunately for Rage, Man Mountain and Speed Demon get the drop on the hero. But before they can finish the job, Speed Demon notices something and they flee the scene, leaving Rage behind. Turns out Speed Demon heard the Americops coming. With no villains present, the Americops find Rage laying in the middle of a wrecked Pawn Shop.
Things were looking up for Rage before, and now it looks like he’ll need the help of his new ally Captain America sooner rather than later.
“Captain America: Sam Wilson” #18 arrives in stores on January 18.
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