In the previous two posts about the Falcon, I pointed out how the Falcon is so intimately tied to Captain America's stories. This makes sense, of course, because he was designed to be a supporting character. And the issue only becomes a "problem" if you try to leverage the Falcon as his own unique property. And, really, it would be a shame to NOT capitalize on all of the Falcon's uniqueness that he already has.
Despite the lack of citation, Wikipedia points out that the Falcon is "mainstream comics' first African American superhero" by virtue of the fact that "Black Panther is African, a native of the fictional country Wakanda" and Marvel's "first African-American co-starring character [was] the non-superpowered World War II soldier Gabe Jones." It further explains that the Falcon debuted in 1969, while Power Man (Luke Cage) debuted in 1972, Storm ("the first black female") in 1975, and DC Comics' Black Lightning was in 1977. And, true, the force of history/tradition isn't necessarily a reason in and of itself to spotlight the Falcon or allow him to be a breakout star, but it shouldn't prevent us from taking a second look. A point in his favor is still a point, right?
And what's more, the Falcon *has* been presented as a hero-- AND as one separate from Cap-stories. He's arguably a lead character in The Super Hero Squad tv show, with more than a few A-plot level stories under his lead. This is similar to his appearance in the animated program Avengers: United They Stand, although that show has more in common with Power Rangers than Avengers. Note, too, the Falcon's also taken point in the Captain America and the Falcon 2004 mini-series, despite Cap's involvement, and was a featured character and prominent player in Geoff Johns' Avengers 2003-2004 storyline (#61-69), Red Zone, recently collected into trade paperback, despite the villain being Cap's archenemy.
More importantly, he's been in stories that, like his television appearances, have little or no bearing on/use for defining an origin for him, which allows him to be completely separate from Captain America entirely. I'd point to his appearance in Ultimate "universe" (Ultimate Nightmare, 2004-2005,) where he was a hero in his own right-- and a scientist/engineer and SHIELD agent to boot.
Still, we have problems. The Red Zone featured a re-definition of the Falcon's powers, which once again draws attention to the fact that he must be re-defined in order to stand out on his own. The Ultimates changed the Falcon so much that he ended up being little more than Just Another Character, drawing attention that, as a character, he wasn't really germane to the plot at all. After all, once there are so *many* changes to a character, it could be argued that he's *really* not the same character at all.
Finally, in the next post, we can answer all the problems we've been exploring so far. What *might* it take to really have the Falcon break out into a starring role of his very own?