Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Face-Off: Bucky or the Falcon (Hey, What About Hawkeye?)

Doug:  We've run a few Captain America-themed posts already this month, so why not add one more?  Today's Face-Off pits Cap's Golden Age (and beyond -- the kid won't stay dead, will he?) partner, Bucky Barnes, against his Silver/Bronze Ages partner, the Falcon.  And I thought -- what the heck -- let's do a "What If?" and muse on the possibilities of a run of Cap's book under the title Captain America and Hawkeye.  Now that would have been extremely cool to Lil' Dougie back in grade school!

Doug:  I think we can all find favorite stories involving each of today's suggested combatants alongside the Star-Spangled Avenger.  First, for me when I think of Bucky is Avengers #56 (complete with a great John Buscema floating heads cover).  It's a tender tale, yet packed with action.  In the whole scheme of that era of Avengering the story really serves merely as a launching point to that summer's Annual.  But I enjoy it nonetheless, and laid next to Avengers #277 really gives us some insight into the private world of Captain America.  Over in the pages of the Invaders and Marvel Premiere, I especially enjoyed the Liberty Legion 4-parter; Bucky's leadership showed that he'd learned well the lessons Cap had taught him.

Doug:  As to the Falcon, I just generally enjoyed his run with Cap in both of his costumes -- Falc was in the book when I read it off and on as a kid, and of course he was pivotal in the Henry Gyrich line-up changes in the Avengers of the late 1970's.  I recall a solo Falcon tale in Marvel Premiere that was good -- more of that would have been welcome -- but he always seemed at home alongside Cap.  The image below was rendered by Jazzy Johnny Romita; personally I prefer Sal Buscema on Sam Wilson.


Doug:  But what of ol' Hawkeye?  I think we'd all agree that in his own abrasive way he idolized Cap during the Kooky Quartet days, and if he'd ever been able to close his big mouth long enough he might have become Cap's partner in the solo book.  As much as Cap bristled at Hawk's attitude, I think the two of them really meshed in that era.  Who knows what might have been (hey, that's your job today!)?


Humanbelly said...

What. . . no love- not even a mention?- for perennial itinerant side-kicker Rick Jones?? Oh, where is the justice. . . the respect?

Enh. Okay, I'm already over it.

As a youngster, I always had a full appreciation and respect for Bucky as a for-real, no-foolin', we-mean-it, deceased character. It was certainly milked repeatedly- but very effectively- as a motivational device for Cap, and it provided him with that one, tragic "failure" (self-perceived) that gave his boy-scout persona a lot more depth. Heck, I remember suffering right along with Cap during the Silver Age, wishing "Oh, if only Bucky hadn't died--". Avengers #56 really pulled at my heart-strings as well.

But that's really how Buck functioned best to me. And once the whole 50's Cap Imposter storyline rolled around, I really had no interest in ever, EVER seeing Bucky revived-- he functioned best at that point simply as a plot/character device.

The whole deal w/ Rick being a spittin' image of Bucky, and then dressing up in his uniform, was creepy to me even before I had any idea WHY it would be creepy to me. It's kind of like someone slipping a gothic romantic thriller convention right into the heart of a superhero story. "Here, Laura used to wear this gown. I'd like for you to wear it. . . tonight. . . " (something like that-- *shudder*)

Always liked Sam, although I wasn't buying the title too much during his time in the book. I think the anchor he provided Steve to modern, everyday society was crucial, considering Cap's man-out-of-time status, AND the fact that Cap was a rural country-boy before becoming a super-soldier-on-the-go before becoming a popsicle. There was nothing in Cap's life ever to prepare him for living a normal life in the Big Apple, as it were.

Cap & Hawkeye? Ha! You'd never get Clint to agree to 2nd billing! But a series devoted to the two of them (more of a Power Man/Iron Fist model, say) would be a hoot. Among their many bonds, the fact that they're the least super-powered guys on the block would always ensure a challenging conflict. Say-- you could really add the Falcon right into that scenario, couldn't you? I mean, he flies and talks to his bird. That's it. And it's a great blend of personalities. Yep, that's my vote. Cap, Hawkeye & the Falcon: "We Don't Need No Stinkin' Powers-!"

Edo Bosnar said...

Hmmm, I also noted the absense of Rick Jones in the original post - it just goes to show how strong an impression those three seminal Steranko issues created in my mind. But, yes, all in all, the Rick Jones angle was a bit forced.
As for Cap & Hawkeye, I like HB's suggestion for a PM/IF type buddy series, or a trio with the Falcon as well.
Now that I think of it, it seems Marvel missed an opportunity by not having a sort of odd couple series (or at least mini-series) featuring Falcon and Hawkeye, set right around the time when Falcon left the Avengers and Hawkeye hadn't rejoined - you know, when Clint absolutely hated Falcon. It would have been easy enough to figure out some sort of pretext to have them work together, and it could have been a potentially hilarious anti-buddy story (wherein they bury the hatchet, or poison-tipped arrow, by the end). In fact, add Mockingbird, and you have the germ of a low-power team. Another member could have been El Aguila (sticking with the bird theme), who also had a brief run-in with Hawkeye in an early issue of Marvel Fanfare. I think I'll stop now before this turns into major thread-drift...

david_b said...

Much agreed with HB on this regarding Bucky. Bucky was always used best when used as the perverbial 'source of loss and anquish' for Cap in the current mag, nothing more, nothing less. It kept Cap comfortably in the MU realm as Hulk's tranformation, Spidey's Uncle Ben, Ben Grimm's grim monster lamenting, you name it.

I found Avengers 56 interesting for the action and brief revisitation, but it was a concept best not milked too often, like in CA ish 131/132.

When I found him becoming 'Winter Soldier', it once again reminded us that even Marvel isn't without faults, once AGAIN we have the Gwen-Clone saga.. I liked the emotional weight of loved ones being deceased, it always made Marvel all the more real to us as readers. When a beloved character's brought back (not villain), regardless of storyline window-dressin', it always seemed like a 'cheap parlor trick' of an idea. Sort of like slapping the reader for even investing the emotional 'sense of loss' in the first place.

Sam Wilson on the other hand was nurtured under clear, sympathetic writing namely by Englehart and others. HB's again spot on with anchoring Cap in today's world. At times bumpy, preachy, perhaps heavy-handedly, but Steve E. did bring Cap into the urban early 70s realm quite comfortably, not ignoring it as how Kirby might have dealt with it. We all grew to love Sam's anxiety over Cap's super strength, his coming of age with wings, unveiling new stories and exploring emotional partner bonds Bucky (or Rick) would EVER have done.

Hawkeye, nope a terrible idea. He was best used as an occasional foil to Cap's leadership, with the wise-cracks, etc.. Hawk was best used in varied formats, MTUs, Defenders, Avengers, etc. With someone like Clint, you wouldn't have wanted him tied down to one title like PM/IF.. too denegrating.

I did enjoy the growth Hawkeye had in his Limited Series, meeting Steve Rogers on the subway. THAT was an excellent and essential maturing point for Clint.

Rick..? Nah, would have simply been a retred of Bucky, and as Stan often lamented, 'I never liked sidekicks'. Steve E. replied to one of my emails once, saying he never wrote Sam as a sidekick, having never liked sidekicks either.

Nope y'all, Sam Wilson all the way.

david_b said...

Edo, a Clint/Sam team-up concept..?

Now THAT'S a clever idea..!! As you mentioned, the timing would have been pretty neat.

Inkstained Wretch said...

I gotta go with the Falcon too. It's an effective and nicely balanced partnership. In fact, I don't think think it ever got quite the exploration it deserved even in the Englehart run.

Hawkeye as Cap's partner? Hmm, not a bad idea. They were half of the Avengers for a while after all. In fact Cap & Hawkeye have probably appeared in more stories together in the Avengers than there have been Cap/Falcon stories or Cap/Bucky stories.

As for Bucky... No, just no. I've never liked the idea of superheroes having teen sidekicks. It is an awkward anachronism from the early days when writers thought the sidekick was needed to give readers somebody to identify with. That's no longer the case and frankly the idea of a grown adult bringing a teen into a potentially life-threatening situation smacks of reckless, irresponsible behavior. Leave Bucky in the past, I say

Dougie said...

I agree: Bucky was best left as a tragic loss. Interestingly, the Bucky in The First Avenger is clearly not a teenager but rather a young man (mid-to-late twenties). That, to me, is the best way to portray wartime Bucky.

I think Falcon was a great foil for Cap, although the moment he got the wings he lost his own USP. Marvel already had plenty of flying heroes. Kirby's costume-sans wings- would be a simple, powerful visual.

With the introduction of the Falcon, it seems that the Black Panther's "Luke Charles" persona and teaching role was quietly retired.

Anonymous said...

Diamondback! No, wait...

I'd have to go with Falcon; he and Cap worked really well together. Bucky always seemed more like a sidekick than a partner (which I guess he was), whereas Falcon was treated like an equal. I like Winter Soldier much better than Bucky anyway.

Mike W.

Garett said...

I'll go with Falcon over Bucky or Hawkeye. That image by Romita makes me happy. I wanna be back in the '70s slurping a slurpee with this image on it!

After reading Tales of Suspense recently--I know it's probably old hat to everyone here-- I loved Cap spying and adventuring with Agent 13, before he knew her real name. I'd pick her as a partner more than any of the others. Covers with the 2 of them could be like DD/Black Widow.

I enjoyed the recent Winter Soldier story, partly for the art by Epting, but also it was a good modern story.

Fred W. Hill said...

Even as a kid, I never was too keen on the idea of kid sidekicks, or sidekicks at all. Actually, I'd guess it was an idea that didn't really fit with the more mature style of storytelling that Marvel developed over the course of the 1960s. When even superhero comics were more, well, comical, with no real sense of danger to the heroes or their supporting cast, it didn't really matter that the adult hero was taking a kid along with him into dangerous situations -- with such Golden Age stories as one I read in a '70s reprint where the original Human Torch flies to Jupiter and back in a matter of hours under his own power, there was a greater sense of absurdity than of danger. It was too ridiculous to take seriously and having a kid in there doesn't affect it much. But when Betty Brant's brother is killed by a stray bullet, or the Swordsman is killed trying to protect his estranged love, the stakes seem much more serious and having adult heroes allow kids to join them totally screws up the tone.
Anyhow, the Falcon worked for me as Cap's partner. I am curious as to what direction Englehart would have taken with their partnership after the revelation that the Sam Wilson persona had been created by the Red Skull. Seems he had some definite plans but left without seeing them to fruition. Might've been a brilliant tale if we'd gotten the whole thing but as it was, it was just bizarre. As to Hawkeye, somehow I don't really see him lasting as part of a duo with Cap. I like him best as part of a team. One of the fun aspects of those Silver Age Avengers issues is watching Clint's development as a character -- until his departure after ish 109, he had the longest continuous run as a part of the team, and matured quite a bit while still retaining his cocky attitude. Re-reading those issues where Hand & Jan re-joined the team, Hawkeye's reaction was interesting -- it was bad enough for him to have to take a back seat and orders from Cap, but to suddenly have another of the "old-timers" rejoin was another punch to Clint's esteem. But he managed to put the team over his ego. Neither Stan nor Roy made a big thing of Clint's commitment to the Avengers, but it was there nevertheless.
BTW, anyone notice that Rick Jones tenure as the Avengers' sidekick essentially came to an end with Avengers #16, as the old guard left and Cap was left wtih members who weren't that much older than Rick? Of course, Rick had rejoined the cast of the revived Hulk series. Stan must have figured Rick no longer fit in with the changed dynamic of the team that was no longer chock full of season pros but now was 3/4 reformed villains who had a lot to learn about effective teamwork.

Karen said...

I recall reading in more than one place that Stan Lee was not fond of sidekicks, which explains why Bucky was not a part of the Cap revival.

I was a big fan of the Falcon as a kid. He was already co-star of the title when I began reading it (around ish 138 I think). This was in his pre-wings days. For some reason I really empathized with his frustration with being in Cap's shadow. He respected and liked Cap, but he wanted to prove he was his own man. The wings were a brilliant way to symbolize him gaining that freedom.

Rip Jagger said...

For me, despite all the Winter Soldier stuff I mostly haven't read, Bucky will remain the dead former partner. They've done a lot with him over the years, I especially liked him during The Invaders years.

Hawkeye's a great character, and a good friend, and would make a good partner. But he's not my fave.

For a Cap partner, I have to put my money on the Falcon. The Falcon brought out the best in Cap, grounding him, connecting him to the "real world". All of the Falcon-feels-diminished stories which resulted in him get some actual wings didn't necessarily ring true to me, as Sam Wilson was a stable reliable guy. The Snap Wilson stuff was a real low point in characterization, turning a good character into a stereotype. I also liked that the Falcon never wanted much to do with the Avengers, it was at once true to his nature and set him apart from other heroes. The whole don't-call-me-I'll-call-you thing was refreshing.

Rip Off

Anonymous said...

Cap & Falc!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tony said...

I always liked the Falcon, besides that he's wearing that awesome 70's disco uniform!!

Anonymous said...

Put me down for the Falcon. I was always impressed with the respect that Cap exhibited towards Sam, basically empowering the Falcon to function as a partner, rather than a sidekick. Their friendship always felt natural to me, never forced, which made the periodic tensions between them feel realistic.

I was definitely onboard when he gained his wings, as a result of becoming friends with the Black Panther. It seemed natural to me that they would get along. And not just because of skin color. T'challa was also a friend of Cap's, as established in The Avengers. And as a non-super powered superhero, and a reasonable sober-minded type with scientific know-how, it just makes sense that he would bond with Sam and come up with a gimmick for him. That's just how the Panther I knew rolled.

I thought it made sense for the Falcon to have a tour of duty in the Avengers, too. He'd proven that he was a team player many times over already.

Was The Falcon the first African-American superhero at Marvel or DC? I know he was one of the first.

James Chatterton

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