Shoot The Breeze Comics Exclusive: Interview with Falcon’s Rodney Barnes
Sam Wilson has taken on many adventures in his time, from being a partner to the United States hero, Captain America, to becoming an Avengers alongside him, working alongside groups such as Heroes for hire and S.H.I.E.L.D, to then becoming the bearer of the flag himself as Captain America. Now with Marvel Legacy upon us, Sam flies high once more, returning to the identity of Falcon and creating a legacy that he himself can be proud of.
With Falcon #1 having released October 11th, 2017 long time screenwriter and producer Rodney Barnes takes his first shot at an ongoing series telling the continuing adventures of Sam Wilson and his new protege Rayshaun Lucas, The Patriot. Barnes has had a long history of work including writing and producing shows such as Damon Wayans show My Wife and Kids, Chris Rock’s Everybody hates Chris, and even the smash hit animated series The Boondocks. Now with this new challenge before him writing a comic book series, I got the opportunity to speak with Mr Barnes about Falcon as well as the changes of diversity within the Marvel ever changing landscape.
Q: So to start off. From what we’ve been able to find, this is your first time writing a comic book. After all your work in television and other media, how is it for you to tackle this new area, especially one with such a long running history?
A: It’s actually the second. I introduced Rayshaun Lucas as the new Patriot in Secret Empire “Brave New World” #2. But to your point it’s my first ongoing series.
It’s exciting and slightly anxiety building. I grew up knowing the Falcon character via his relationship to Captain America but never thought I’d be fortunate enough to be a part of his story. As far as it relating to television and such, it’s all story. Different exercise for sure but ultimately the same muscle doing the work. Certainly more fun though.
Q: Well that’s greatly ironic because I did want to touch on Rayshaun as we move forward but for Falcon specifically, especially with how Rayshaun views him in issue 1, do you feel that with this new start Sam can finally stand out on his own separate from Captain America, and be a kind of major hero and role model for the Marvel Universe?
A: Most definitely. I’m just working to build off of Nick Spencer’s great work on him. Sam’s already moving in a direction that’s light years ahead of the Falcon I grew up with. No reason why that won’t continue. I think it’s a matter of seeing him work solo in tough scenarios and watching him figure out the rough patches without having to factor in other points of view.
Q: Now in your mentioning of Nick Spencer and the progress you’re making with Sam, some fans have seemed hurt by the idea that Sam is no longer Captain America while some have wanted him out of the role due to him existing while Steve Rogers was in relation to Hydra. Can you say anything in regards to the lose of Sam as this icon but also share your feelings as to the people who disliked Sam wearing the flag?
A: It’s subjective. And we live in a world where politics influence how we view narratives. I enjoyed Sam’s role as Cap. It elevated him as a leader. Anything that brings out more of his personality in the heat of battle and leadership I co-sign on. In regards to the different sides of the argument? I tend to stay away from commenting on the opinions of others because it’s distracting.
Q: Alright no problem. We’ll move right along. So let’s talk a little bit about Patriot and then we’ll move on to the issue itself. What went into creating Rayshaun? Also what made you create a new character rather than bring back the original Patriot, Elijah Bradley?
A: I was given the assignment. I wanted Rayshaun to be very much of this generation. His motivations were the typical superhero ones, but viewed through the mindset of today’s world. I wanted to give him a certain nuance that I hadn’t seen before.
Q: So obviously he’s only a few issues into his career as a superhero but especially with the Dynamic switch with falcon being the mentor to the flag wearing superhero, can you share any of the plans for Rayshaun? Maybe even joining the Champions?
A: Only as it pertains to his role in this book. He’s going to have a fully developed arc. Meaning he’ll end at a different place on the hero spectrum than where he began. My hope is that there’s a more honest relationship between him and Sam than the typical Mentor/sidekick dynamic. In the old days the senior pontificates as the junior walks in step. Shaun pushes back. I think that’s a more accurate view of his generation’s mindset—to not just do without questioning the “why” behind the doing.
Q: That sounds very exciting. I can’t wait to see where this goes. Now moving on to the issue itself and some of the things said within it, one thing Rayshaun points out is characters like Brother Voodoo, Luke Cage, and Black Panther, characters that have had trouble finding their footing in terms of mainstream culture but he still idolizes them. Do you feel with Luke Cage now approaching his second season, the Black Panther movie nearing release, and now Sam and Rayshaun, as well as Luke and T’Challa having their own titles, that black superheroes are finally finding their place?
A: Definitely! I think that’s happening in all areas of media and entertainment. I chalk it up to more accurate and nuanced depictions of characters of color. In the superhero realm we see characters sound and behave in a way that is closer to reality which makes them more relatable. Great times we’re in.
Q: I totally agree. Growing up one of my first books ever was Captain America and Falcon and the ability to see someone with my skin color working with Captain America was life changing for me. Then to see him become him just doubled my appreciation for Sam.
Issue 1 left me seeing a different Sam though. Especially with Generations: Captain America, he seems changed. Like he’s being his own hero. Is that what you were going for? Falcon being able to create his own Legacy?
A: That’s the only place left for him to go. Between the films and books he’s at a height that positions him to be a major player in the MCU. I certainly wouldn’t want to be the guy that relegated him to a lesser role. My goal is to add dimension and nuance to his personality. Hopefully it’ll go well.
Q: Oh most definitely. Now for anyone who’s read the first issue, the villain revealed at the end of it was Black Heart, son of Mephisto, who was the Mayor of Chicago. Are you worried about it being seen as a cliche that the politician is the devil? Also with this type of situation, with issue 3 showing Sam being arrested, how will this differ from the “Sam Wilson Captain America” arc with the Americops?
A: I can’t give it all away!! Lol. Yes, some have made that association between Mayor/Blackheart. But it wasn’t my intention to make a political statement. It was all in the name of story. I think you’ll see that the arrest and Mayor of it all gives way to a direction far different than the aforementioned storyline.
Q: Haha alright. There was a specific page I wanted to get your view on which was the page in which Sam explains his feelings of betrayal towards Steve and how he’s seen by the public as associated with a traitor. Are you to explain how Sam could go from the amazing journey he did in Generations and appreciating the history of Steve and giving him the shield back so he could start anew- to then hating the fact that his best friend was a traitor in issue 1? It’s hard to decipher this especially with the timeline Being so different because of Kobik.
A: Yes! Glad you asked that question. It’s part of the storyline. I’ve had Folks point that out and without saying how and when you’ll get the answer I can just say that it will be answered.
Q: Excellent. Now for some loose ends. Specifically the newer Falcon Joaquin Torres, and Misty Knight. Misty was at least mentioned in issue 1, but do you expect any of these characters to make a return especially Joaquin who kinda got the shove off stage since Sam has resumed duty as Falcon?
A: If I were a betting man I’d say you’ll see both before my time is up.
Q: That sounds like a good bet! We are definitely looking forward to what you have planned for Falcon and hopefully this series is long term and can be a staple of the universe. Now that you’ve stepped into the world of comics after being involved in both animation and live action media, do you see yourself tackling any other heroes?
A: I do. I’m in talks for another major title and there are some creator owned things in the works. But for now I’ve got tunnel vision on all things Sam Wilson!
Alright well thank you for taking the time to talk to me Mr Barnes, I can tell you that every issue of Falcon will be reviewed by us here at Shoot The Breeze Comics so know you will definitely have support from us.
I truly appreciate it! Thank you
Falcon #2 releases Wednesday, November 8 at your local comic book store, or online through digital release. Check out this week’s reviews releasing tomorrow, right here at Shoot The Breeze Comics.