This week, Marvel announced a Secret Empire tie-in one-shot entitled Secret Empire: Underground by writer Jeremy Whitley and artist Eric Koba. The story focuses on a team of heroes including Mockingbird, Quicksilver, Hercules, Iron Man, Ant-Man - and Sam Wilson, but not as Captain America. Instead, Sam's wearing what looks like Falcon get-up that closely resembles his movie costume. This is the second image to feature Sam in this gear, counting the solicited cover of May 31's Captain America: Sam Wilson #22.
Marvel declined Newsarama's request for comment on Sam's Secret Empire status, but the clues are starting to surface as to whether Sam will wield the shield when all is said and done with Steve's Hydra ambitions - and, spoiler alert, it's looking like he may be going back to his old winged self.
Upcoming issues of Captain America: Sam Wilson have Same echoing Steve Rogers' one-time declaration of being "Captain America no more," but where Steve temporarily became Nomad before becoming Cap again, it looks like Sam's temporary time as Cap may be ending.
So why hasn't Marvel addressed Sam's changing identity? For starters, it's not impossible there's a twist up their sleeve. Or, maybe more succinctly, they'd like the question of who will actually be Captain America when the Secret Empire dust clears to remain unanswered for now.
But more answers may lie in recent comments from Marvel senior VP of Print, Sales, & Marketing, David Gabriel, who said at the recent ComicsPro retailer-only event that many Marvel characters would be returning to their classic roles in the coming months with stories that he said will make longtime fans repeat Marvel's vintage catchphrase "Make mine Marvel."
All of that sure sounds a lot like Steve Rogers will be Captain America - sans Hydra brainwashing - and Sam will be the Falcon again. And the key to how they'll all get there may lie with Marvel's "Generations" - whatever that turns out to be - that looks to solidify the place of Marvel's classic heroes alongside their younger counterparts, and specifically involves Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson.
The specifics of both Secret Empire and "Generations" remain to be seen - especially since the latter hasn't even been officially solicited - so there may be a big twist in store for Sam and Steve yet.
Interestingly, Marvel's "Generations" preview art features both Steve and Sam as Captain America - although Steve is with the group of older heroes in their classic attire.
Secret Empire starts with Secret Empire #0, on shelves April 19.
Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified Marvel Publisher Dan Buckley as the speaker at Marvel's ComicsPro presentation.