Sam Wilson, most commonly known as Marvel’s Falcon through the years, is one of the best heroes to emerge as partners to early Marvel icons. Rather than merely stand-in as Captain America’s sidekick, Falcon asserted himself early on as an equally capable hero, even claiming a rightful spot in the comic book title with Captain America and the Falcon.
In more recent years, Sam has taken on the mantle of Captain America and become a core fixture with the Avengers. It’s an absolutely fascinating career arc, and Sam brings plenty to the Captain America title that Steve Rogers never could.
Below you’ll find a complete reading order for the hero formerly known as Falcon. As always, let’s hear your thoughts in the comments, and enjoy the comics!
Sam Wilson, Captain America and Falcon Comics Reading Order
The Coming of the Falcon
Collects: Tales Of Suspense (1959) 97-99; Captain America (1968) 100-119
Sam Wilson, The Falcon, is introduced in a classic showdown versus the Red Skull.
Captain America #117 to #119 detail “The Coming of the Falcon.”
Collects: Captain America #125 To #136, Avengers #88
Cap’s solo series actually became Captain America and the Falcon from issues #134 to #222. From this point forward in Marvel history Sam Wilson is inextricably tied to the Captain America series.
Collects: Captain America (1968) #137-148
Collects: Captain America (1968) 149-159
Collects: Captain America (1968) 160-175
Collects: Captain America And The Falcon #169-176
Marvel’s 2017 summer event, Secret Empire, actually started as an eight issue stretch of Captain America comics in the 1970s. There are a number of Marvel Cap stories that sneakily skewer sitting U.S. presidents, and Secret Empire is certainly one of the top.
Collects: Captain America (1968) 176-192
Jack Kirby Captain America & The Falcon
Collects: Defenders #62 To #64
Sam spends a very brief stint joining the Defenders.
Collects: Captain America #193-200
Jack Kirby takes over on Captain America and the Falcon, with the classic “Madbomb” storyline. Kirby’s Cap is all enthusiasm and mad sci-fi, and Sam Wilson plays a crucial early role in the narrative.
Collects: Captain America #201-205 And Bicentennial Battles #1
Collects: Captain America #206-214, Annual 3-4
Falcon Joins the Avengers and Fights With Cap (The 1980’s)
Collects: Avengers #183 To #189
Sam’s longest stint with the Avengers to date comes at the hands of a diversity mandate by Avengers government liaison Henry Peter Gyrich. Although the rationale won’t sit well with Sam, it does get Falcon in some major Avengers stories from the early 1980s.
Collects: Avengers (1963) 188-196, Annual 9
Collects: Falcon #1 To #4
Solo miniseries from Chris Priest, win which it’s declared that Sam Wilson is… a mutant?!
Collects: Captain America (1968) 290-301
Sam plays a peripheral role in this classic showdown between Captain America and the Red Skull.
Collects: Amazing Spider-Man #284 To #288
Falcon joins Spidey and Daredevil in stopping a Gang War.
Collects: Captain America #332-350, Iron Man #228
This lengthy look at Cap’s crisis of conscience in the American Dream – by longtime Captain America writer Mark Gruenwald – features Falcon as a key supporting player. Definitely one of my favorite 20th century Captain America stories.
Falcon Through Marvel Comics In The 1990’s
Collects: Captain America Annual #11
Sam gets a costume for the 90’s.
Collects: Avengers #329 To #342
Early 1990’s Avengers by Tom Defalco
Collects: Galactic Storm event
Sam Wilson is still largely hanging around the Avengers during the oft-forgotten (perhaps rightfully so) Operation Galactic Storm event.
Collects: Incredible Hulk #232, #388, #420
Sam Wilson’s nephew, Jim Wilson, became friends with Bruce Banner and the Hulk. These core issues of Hulk explain his connection to Sam, as well as his tragic end in Marvel Comics in the early 90s.
Collects: Captain America #408 To #421
Collects: Black Panther #16 To #17
Priest run on Black Panther brings in Falcon
Collects: Captain America: Sentinel Of Liberty #1 To #12
Foreshadowing Sam’s role in filling in for Cap when he’s unable.
Collects: Captain America #25 To #50
Jurgens late 90’s to early 2000’s run
Captain America And Falcon Enter The 2000’s
Collects: Avengers Annual 2001
That strangely lingering question about whether Sam’s a mutant gets answered, by Jarvis the Butler of all people.
Collects: #57 To #63
Geoff Johns Run on Avengers gives Sam Wilson a far more prominent role on the team.
Collects: Captain America And The Falcon (2004) 1-14
Chris Priest takes on a short-lived Cap and Falcon run, that quickly dives in to Avengers Disassembled tie-ins with issues #5 to #7.
Collects: Avengers Disassembled event.
Falcon in Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting’s Captain America Run
Collects: Captain America (2004) #1-7
Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting’s modern classic on Captain America is certainly more essential for Steve Rogers and the Winter Soldier. Nonetheless, Falcon plays a role throughout, and these comics set the stage for Captain America throughout the 2000’s.
Collects: Captain America (2004) #8-9 & #11-14
Collects: House Of M #1 To #8
Sam has an interesting cameo role in the alternate reality of Marvel’s House of M. You can see the full reading order, in Comic Book Herald’s House of M reading order.
Collects: Captain America (2004) #15-21
Collects: Civil War #1 To #7
Falcon plays a major role assisting Captain America in his side of Marvel’s Civil War. You can see the whole event in Comic Book Herald’s Civil War reading order.
Collects: Captain America (2004) #22-24 And The Winter Soldier: Winter Kills One-Shot
Collects: Captain America (2004) #25-30
Collects: Civil War: Fallen Son #1 To #5
Sam reacts to the Death of Captain America.
Collects: Captain America (2004) #31-36
Collects: Captain America #37-42
Collects: Captain America #43-48
Collects: Captain America #49-50 And #600-601
Collects: Captain America: Reborn #1-6
Collects: New Avengers Annual 3, Dark Reign: The List – Avengers, New Avengers #61-64 & New Avengers Finale
Collects: Captain America Reborn: Who Will Wield The Shield? & Captain America 602-605
Collects: Shadowland event.
Collects: Heroes For Hire (2011) 1-12; Spider-Island: Heroes For Hire 1; Villains For Hire 0.1, 1-4
Falcon is one of many Marvel heroes helping out with a new Heroes for Hire from the all-time great Guardians of the Galaxy creative team of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning.
Marvel Now Falcon and All-New Captain America
Collects: Captain America 16-21
Following Rick Remender’s Marvel NOW! run on Captain America, in which Steve Rogers is sent to Arnim Zola’s Dimension Z, Steve Rogers returns to Earth-616 and Sam is by his side to deal with a major transformation. The events that lead to Sam Wilson, Captain America all begin here!
Collects: Captain America 22-25
After proving his heroic bonafides yet again, Sam Wilson officially transitions to Captain America.
Collects: All -New Captain America Fear Him 1-4, Captain America (1968) 280, Avengers (1998) 64
This Marvel Infinite comics collects Sam’s first official storyline as Cap.
Collects: Axis event reading order.
The 2014 Rick Remender Marvel event quickly turns Sam Wilson, Captain America into the worst version of himself.
Collects: Captain America & The Mighty Avengers 1-7
The new Captain America heads up his own Avengers unit.
Collects: All -New Captain America 1-6
Rick Remender set the stage for Sam-Cap, and writes one full arc with Sam, Steve, and the new Nomad taking down Hydra.
Collects: Captain America & The Mighty Avengers 8-9, Captain Britain & The Mighty Defenders 1-2, Avengers Assemble 15Au
The final Captain America and The Mighty Avengers story before Marvel plunges into Secret Wars.
Nick Spencer’s All-New All-Different Captain America Saga
Collects: Captain America (2012) 25, All-New Captain America: Fear Him (2015) 1-4, All-New Captain America (2014) 1-6, Amazing Spiderman Special (2015) 1, Inhuman Special (2015) 1, All-New Captain America Special (2015) 1, Captain America: Sam Wilson (2015) 1-6
There are two “Complete Collection” volumes of Sam’s time as Captain America, that you could read together in sequence for the easiest streamlined version of Sam Wilson, Captain America. I’ve italicized these volumes to emphasize that they fit a bit differently into the reading order. Otherwise, I’ve filled in all the details of Sam’s time as an Avenger, and various events like Avengers Standoff and Secret Empire below.
Collects: Captain America: Sam Wilson 1-6
Nick Spencer takes over writing duties across the Captain America franchise, starting with the ongoing Captain America: Sam Wilson.
It’s an interesting take on Cap during the current political climate. Whereas Steve Rogers has pretty effectively stayed above the political fray (with plenty of classic exceptions, including the original Secret Empire and nearly running for President), Sam decides he can’t stay silent about political issues he strongly believes in.
Naturally this results in the most polarizing Captain America of our time, judged more as politician than traditional superhero.
Collects: All-New Avengers #1 to #6
Mark Waid’s new run on Avengers sets ups a team of Iron Man, Thor, Sam Wilson as Captain America, Ms. Marvel, Spider-Man (Miles Morales), and Nova. Needless to say, it’s not your grandfather’s Avengers!
Collects: Captain America: Sam Wilson (2015) #7-24, Captain America (2017) #25, Generations: Sam Wilson Captain America & Steve Rogers Captain America (2017) #1
Collects: Avengers Standoff reading order
The Nick Spencer led Standoff event is absolutely essential reading for the state of Captain America, with major ramifications for Sam Wilson, Steve Rogers, and Bucky Barnes.
Collects: Captain America: Sam Wilson 7-8, Assault On Pleasant Hill Alpha, Assault On Pleasant Hill Omega
Collects: All-New All-Different Avengers #7 to #12
Collects: Civil War 2 reading order.
Note that Captain America Sam Wilson #9 can be read prior to Civil War 2 kicking off.
Collects: Captain America: Sam Wilson 9-13
Collects: All-New All-Different Avengers #13 to #15, Annual #1
Collects: Captain America: Sam Wilson 14-18
Collects: Avengers #1 to #6
Collects: Captain America: Sam Wilson 19-21
Collects: Secret Empire event reading order.
Collects: Captain America: Sam Wilson #22 to #24
Collects: Falcon #1 to #5
Collects: Falcon & Winter Soldier (2020) 1-5
Collects: Captain America #20 to #25
Very strong Cap issue, starring Winter Soldier and Falcon! Part of Marvel’s King in Black event.