Marvel Comics announced tonight on The Colbert Report that Sam Wilson -- a.k.a. Captain America's longtime partner The Falcon -- will don the iconic costume vacated by a currently-depowered Steve Rogers.
Marvel had teased the news back on July 4 in a tweet, embedded below.
"Steve had to hand the mantle over," Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada told Stephen Colbert tonight, adding that the new Cap is Wilson.
He hastened to say that it was "strictly in the comics," presumably to curtail talk that Anthony Mackie might get Chris Evans' job.
Colbert, though, was jokingly offered the job as the new Falcon -- an image of which you can see at left.
Falcon will take on the job in October's Captain America #25 and will serve as the full-time Captain America and star of that title for the foreseeable future. While there have been other replacements for Rogers before, Wilson will be the first person of color to appear as the title lead in the monthly Captain America comic.
Steve Rogers recently had the Super-Soldier Serum drained from his system as part of an attack by the Iron Nail, causing his body to rapidly begin to resemble its biological age.
Captain America's story mirrors somewhat the story of his fellow World War II hero Nick Fury, who was recently replaced by his illegitimate son. Fury, like Cap, has been kept artificially youthful via a chemical coursing through his system and has recently aged rapidly as a result of that chemical's ineffectiveness. Fury's son, an African-American as well, was seemingly introduced in order to keep pace with the movies, where Samuel L. Jackson plays Fury (in the movies, the idea of having previously had a white Fury and the whole familial relationship is not utilized). The Marvel Studios movies star Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/The Falcon; he first appeared in April's Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
While Wilson will be the first African-American to lead the Captain America title, he isn't the first black man to wear the costume and have the powers. Isaiah Bradley, whose story was told in a stand-alone miniseries, paralleled the Tuskegee syphilis study. Isaiah is also the grandfather of Elijah Bradley, Patriot of the Young Avengers.
A number of other Marvel characters have stepped in to briefly act as Captain America during absences or crises for Steve Rogers, including Bucky Barnes (The Winter Soldier) and US Agent. Following Rogers' apparent death during World War II, the government created additional super soldiers -- none as effective as Rogers -- to fill the role as well.
Sam Wilson was one of a number of characters to step in as Captain America's sidekick or partner following the apparent death of Bucky. He is the only such character to have his name on the cover ("Captain America and Falcon") for a significant stretch of time. A miniseries by Christopher Priest and a number of high-profile artists bearing the same title was published years later.
Wilson has actually been Captain America before, as well -- as seen above in art by Dougie Braithwaite. In that story, Captain America was put out of commission and seemingly killed, leading Wilson to don a costume-shop version of Cap's suit. That story, told in Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty #8 and #9 by Mark Waid, Braithwaite and Cully Hamner, saw Wilson squaring off against white supremacists who had brainwashed Steve Rogers.