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Sam Wilson, Where Did You Go?

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The recording starts, and it's as if we are outside:

The music rises slowly, there is a low chant of 'give back the shield, give back the shield,' over and over. The music stays muted, but the chanting gets louder and louder, then all of a sudden it stops, and there's silence. The music rises again, there's very clearly a single voice:

YOUNG WOMAN

Take it back, Sam.

The music continues to rise, and then it falls again. A recording plays:

SAM WILSON

When it was my turn to fill some big shoes, I could call back to Rhodey's example and I could say, yeah--maybe I could do that too. He continues to inspire us to never give up on the mission, and to hold close your friends, no matter what might be trying to tear you apart-- To show whoever comes next the way forward, to show them what being a hero really means.

Another click, and then another recording:

HARRY HAUSER

The reality is that this new Captain America has been a disaster. It's time for him to go! He has a radical, highly partisan, and frankly, Anti-American agenda. It's time we took a stand against the political-correctness that now permeates the avengers. Sam Wilson--it's time to Give Back the Shield!

Another click, another recording:

TOM HERALD

I call upon Sam Wilson to resign as Captain America. Even as someone who has often been critical of Sam Wilson's behavior, I am willing to commend him on his deeply flawed efforts to protect our country if he does the right thing now, because even he must see, it's time this nation had a captain america that unites us again.

Another click:

SAM WILSON

I'm getting nonstop messages from folks accusing the Americops of

profiling and excessive violence. I can't ignore that--I won't.

STEVE ROGERS

I'll say it again...I stand with Sam Wilson.

HARRY HAUSER

Sam Wilson has been a disgrace to this country, and he's dishonored the legacy of Captain America with these ideological crusades. He's divided people with his extremism at every turn.

Another click:

SAM WILSON

But I am still working for you. That's why we've set up the Hotline. If you see injustice in your community--if you see a wrong that needs to be righted--send us a video message, a voicemail, or a social media post--and we'll respond. We're in this together. Be the one in your neighborhood, on your street, that takes a stand.

The music continues and then fades again.

MARGOT

Welcome back listeners, today is the third day of our report on the controversy and conversation that has resulted because of Sam Wilson's resignation.

RIKKI

Again, we want to thank everyone who called in, wrote notes, and left us messages. We've been through almost all of them, and we're going to try to respond to some of you privately, or we'll get in touch later today.

MARGOT

One more time, thanks to our marvelous producer, Sage. She pulled an all-nighter yesterday helping us sort through everything.

RIKKI

We never expected this, and the conversations we've had with people both on and off the air have been incredible.

MARGOT

Sad, enlightening, hopeful, angry, galvanized. Everyone we speak to has been affected by this, and it's so important that this sort of discourse is shared and experienced.

RIKKI

Now, we won't be taking listener calls or reading emails. At least, not for the first part of the show.

MARGOT

And we have a very good reason for that.

RIKKI

Do you want to tell them?

MARGOT

Yes, so badly.

RIKKI

Margot, why are you so excited?

MARGOT

Because today we have one of Sam Wilson's closest friends, strongest supporters, and one of the original heroes-for-hire, Misty Knight in the studio with us!

MISTY

(amused)

Good morning.

RIKKI

Misty, we are so thrilled and honored to have you on the show today. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

MISTY

Of course. I used to be a cop, I worked the Harlem beat for a while before I got promoted--detective, if you're wondering--There was a lot of bureaucratic shit going down in the precinct that I didn't like, and after an accident that cost me my arm, I left.

I formed the Heroes for Hire with my friend Colleen Wing, and we worked odd jobs here and there. Bail bondsmen, PI's, bodyguards... anything that required some street cred or a sword, we were there. After we disbanded, I went undercover in Bagalia, and when Sam Wilson showed up with Crossbones on his tail, looking like he'd just gone ten rounds with a meat grinder, I stepped in to save his ass.

Been helping him out ever since.

MARGOT

And how long has it been?

MISTY

About five years now.

RIKKI

That's a long time. Did he tell you about his decision to resign? Did you two talk about it?

MISTY

Unfortunately I was about as surprised as you all were when I found out. He had been dealing the riots and the fallout after Elvin's death...It was a lot to handle, and he didn't have a lot of support. Even his friends were distancing themselves from him.

RIKKI

Which friends?

MISTY

A lot of the Avengers, the A-Force, Alpha Flight. They all came together after Rhodey's death but most wounds won't heal over a eulogy. Then the issue with KOBIK and Steve Rogers...It's just not a good time to start making amends in the Superhero community.

MARGOT

I always assumed that you all sort of had each other's backs?

MISTY

Well, when it comes to big picture conflict, Sam is one those big-name heroes. But he stepped back from all that when he went solo. Not a demotion exactly, but...a little less prestige.

And people like me? I'm street level. I deal with assholes like Humbug and Warrior Woman. It's not exactly world-destroying stuff. I got a whole can of kung-fu moves, enough attitude to power a Manhattan block, and a bionic arm. I'm not about to stop a Chitauri invasion, you follow?

Stark tower might dominate the skyline, but Iron Man ain't about to drop into Queens to back up Sam.

MARGOT

Sam wanted that right? I mean...he made the decision to focus on smaller issues.

MISTY

Absolutely. He loved it. Saw the way people appreciated what he did. Helping people in their day to day lives was always his goal.

MARGOT

He never gave any indication that he was thinking about giving up the shield?

MISTY

He mentioned how hard it was, being at odds with Maria Hill and S.H.I.E.L.D., no longer leading the Avengers. That's something a lot of people forget; that he led the Avengers after Steve Rogers stepped down.

And look, flying solo is hard. Not just personally, but because of the nature of this work. You need a support team, a clean up crew, PR, technicians, engineers, lawyers, producers. Being a superhero isn't as easy as putting on a uniform and fighting for truth and justice. He was used to working in a well-funded, well-manned team, and when he was on his own, well...it was a challenge.

MARGOT

Was he ever discouraged by that?

MISTY

Maybe a little. But Joaquin came onto the scene pretty early, and I decided the man needed me, and between the three of us we managed alright.

We were never trying to save the world. Just trying to do our part.

RIKKI

Sam Wilson has been divisive during his entire run as a solo hero. Did you ever see him falter in his convictions?

MISTY

No. No, he had a strong backbone. A real moral code. He knew right from wrong in an instant. Took him all of two seconds to take a stand against Captain Marvel.

There are some times when he...he has to consider all the angles. He always had that in the back of his mind, you know? What the press would say, what his brother would say, what the public would say. He and Gideon prayed together. Not often, he wasn't much for church, but it was always a form of intense reflection.

The decision to release footage of Elvin--that was when it all started to collapse for him. The reaction to that video, the aftermath, it was...I think that's what did it.

RIKKI

Elvin Halliday, for our listeners who might not know, was a young black man with superstrength,who was also known as Rage. Elvin was brutally beaten by the Americops and taken into police custody. He was found guilty even after evidence provided by Sam Wilson indicated he did not commit any crimes. This evidence was ruled inadmissible and was not considered by the Jury. He later received additional injuries while in prison, presumably from gang violence. These injuries proved fatal soon after.

MISTY

He mentioned it in the video he sent out. That he couldn't wear the flag while the justice system failed Black people so completely. For him, Elvin was a vision of every single Black person in the country.

It was even more traumatic for him, he felt that this was personal. He had told me before, if a few things had been different...He saw himself in Elvin. Very, very clearly.

And it tore him up. Seeing all that go down. He felt guilty for it, he felt...like everything that happened to Elvin could have happened to him! To anyone! And he wouldn't be able to help. And when he couldn't save just...this one young boy. I think it broke him.

RIKKI

Have you heard from him at all?

MISTY

No, and Sam ain't going to come out until he's good and ready. Until he's found his purpose again.

MARGOT

How do you think he defines his purpose?

MISTY

He always told me that he wanted to help people. To serve them. It seems ridiculous that people were complaining about his lack of formal military service when he was driven by a sense of duty every single day. Service occupied his mind at all times, it kept him up at night. He wanted nothing more than to help people.

RIKKI

What did he think of the people like Harry Hauser? All the politicians and the media personalities who spoke out against him?

MISTY

He always knew he was going to upset people. He said...that he underestimated the sheer amount of hatred he would get. Honestly, it didn't come as much of a surprise. He was expecting backlash, but by the time Steve Rogers was zapped back to fighting health, he felt that he had lost his fight for public opinion. Any kind of momentum he had, any kind of progress he made, it was all stripped away when Steve came back. At that point...Sam said he felt like he was just in the way.

MARGOT

So many people loved him though! I know that he got a lot of support from so many people... On the street, liberal media, a lot of immigrant and black and younger communities...

MISTY

It wasn't that he didn't care. He knew he had people on his side. It just...I can't really explain it well.

At the end of the day, even though he was engaging with average people, on the street, in their homes, it was always about the bigger picture for him. He fought these small injustices, found these quick ways to deal with wrongdoing, but he was also looking at the larger system surrounding him. It seemed too much, like he was taking on something for the sake of everyone. And he had all that systematic injustice reflecting back on him, all the negativity, all the bad press, and it can lead you into a very dark place.

 

I think that's what happened. He turned one way and saw a lot of wrong happening and he couldn't look away. It just got too dark.

RIKKI

Do you think he let what happened to Elvin define his entire career?

MISTY

In a way, it did. It was the tipping point.

Now, I don't think he'll be remembered as the man who let Elvin Halliday die in the prison system, but he will remember himself that way.

I know we haven't heard the last of Sam Wilson.

MARGOT

Did he give any indication of what he was doing? Where he was going?

MISTY

Look, even if I knew I wouldn't tell you. No offense, you girls seem alright, but Sam deserves a break, no matter how he goes about getting it.

MARGOT

Have you been in touch with him at all?

MISTY

(Incredibly sad, vulnerable.)

No. He left a letter, but...No.

There's a beat before RIKKI speaks again:

RIKKI

(Comforting)

I think we only have a few more questions.

MISTY

I'm good. What's on your mind?

RIKKI

One of the big debates we've had on our show is the purpose and place of superheroes in our society. We've talked about vigilantism, hero-worship, and the decline of self-reliance. We've also talked about individual justice and protection, the power of representation and the moral action that can come from individuals who don't have to deal with politics to do the right thing.

So, to start off with a big question: Do you think the world needs superheroes?

MISTY

That's a loaded question.

RIKKI

I know.

MISTY

(sighs)

I think the world has superheroes. I think a lot of what the world has is problems. And superheroes...They make the world a hell of a lot more complicated.

MARGOT

You don't think superheroes are effective?

MISTY

I'm not saying that superheroes don't get the job done. Alien invasion? Call up Captain Marvel. A new breed of robots destroying Chicago? Stark's on it. Got a ninja problem? Daredevil can handle it.

But despite that, superheroes get away with a lot of shit us regular folk ain't never got a pass for. And a lot of these problems superheroes start in the first place. It's all connected. There are some people...mutants, inhumans, aliens, who can't help that their strengths and gifts are so much more impressive or expansive than other people. Then there are people like Stark, or Banner, or Hawkeye, or even me, you know? Regular people who had extraordinary things happen to them, or did extraordinary things. And a lot of pride is tied up in it. A lot of complex identity politics and delusions of grandeur and self-aggrandizing.

So look, at the end of the day, the world may not need superheroes, it may not want them, but we got them. And the world is just going to have to deal with that.

MARGOT

Do you consider yourself a superhero?

MISTY

(laughs)

God, I don't know. I haven't kept it a secret about what I can do. I ain't no sidekick either.

Maybe? I'm not about to go into space though. That seems to be the measure of whether or not you're a superhero. Space travel and a secret identity.

RIKKI

That's right, you've never had a superhero alias!

MISTY

Never needed one. Been undercover a few times, but I don't think that counts.

MARGOT

What would your superhero name be?

MISTY

(laughs again)

Oh lord, I don't know. I respond to any calls for Backup.

RIKKI

You know how some little girls dream of their wedding day?

MARGOT

In theory.

RIKKI

I day dreamed of my superhero identity.

MARGOT

Oh my god.

RIKKI

I wanted to be Gollem Girl.

MARGOT

What.

MISTY

Gollem like... Andy Serkis in Lord of the Rings?

RIKKI

Yes.

MARGOT

I need more information.

RIKKI

Nope.

MARGOT

Alright, well my big goal as a five year old was to obtain the power of flight. I dressed in white and called myself Sunstar, because at five years old, I knew that the sun was a star and wanted to prove how smart I was to everyone who met me.

MISTY

Sunstar is a respectable name.

RIKKI

I liked Daughters of the Dragon when that was in use. It sounded suitably badass.

MISTY

(laughing)

Yeah, because I knew some passable kung fu and my partner was a born holding a damn katana. It was ridiculous.

MARGOT

So we're getting a lot of calls in, and we want to give our listeners a chance to talk to you directly, but I have one last question for you.

MISTY

Yeah, shoot.

MARGOT

If you could change one thing. Make something better or do something different, what would you have done?

MISTY

A lot of things, I think. But...as far as that question relates to Sam Wilson...I'm at a loss. A lot of what happened was out of our control.

I think that I could have spoken out more against the people who were spreading hatred. Sam and I both did our best to just ignore all of it, but looking back, I think that if we had spoken up it would have been a better example, and it might have shown Sam that he wasn't as alone as he thought. Or as unsupported, or...whatever he was thinking.

It's hard. I'm trying not to blame myself for what he did, but I'll admit...I still don't understand why he didn't ask for help.

MARGOT

Thank you Misty. If you don't mind, I'd like to go to the phone lines now.

MISTY

Of course.

MARGOT

Thomas, you're on the air.

THOMAS

Oh, great, thanks. Hi Misty!

MISTY

Hi Thomas. You got a question?

THOMAS

Yeah, I wanted to know if you thought that Sam Wilson ever thought that being Captain America was a burden. Not just...not just if he thought it was hard, but if he thought of it like a roadblock.

MISTY

I know that the girls mentioned it last episode, but yeah. He was constantly measuring himself against other people. He was constantly asking himself what Steve Rogers would do.

Being Captain America gave him a lot of power, but it hurt him too. He felt like he wasn't good enough, like he wasn't doing enough. In the end, it was a vicious cycle, and it hurt him enough to make him leave.

THOMAS

Do you think people's expectations made him leave?

MISTY

I think in the end it was his own expectations. He had high standards for himself, and he judged himself very harshly. He was prepared to be a new kind of Captain America, but to him, nobody seemed to jive with his ideals.

THOMAS

Yeah, okay. One more question.

MISTY

Go for it.

THOMAS

Would you be willing to take up the shield?

MISTY

(a little uneasy, hesitant)

Are you asking me to be Captain America?

THOMAS

I'm asking if you would do it.

MISTY

Honestly, probably not. It's not a matter of if I'm qualified or not...but no. I'm not ready to settle into a role like that. It's not my style.

RIKKI

Thanks Thomas! Next we have Andrea...you're on the air!

ANDREA

Thank you! Hi Misty, I've been thinking a lot about superheroes and our justice system, and I want to know how you think superheroes fit into our current structure.

MISTY

I've never been much of a save-the-world kind of girl. I got my own problems on my block to sort out. I feel like my kind of superhero, who I am, is sort of an adjunct to the police force and the detectives and the enforcers. There are some problems that the NYPD can't handle, or...even won't handle, and that's where I step up. When my job is over, I call the police, I let them handle it. That's my role. Helping the system iron out the wrinkles.

ANDREA

So...do you think that has to do with your own experience with police corruption?

MISTY

That's part of it. I'm not getting paid off, I don't draw a salary from the government, and I'm not involved in office politics. So yeah, sometimes you need an outside hire to get the job done.

RIKKI

Do you think that's the best option? Personally, when I hear that, I immediately think of vigilantism.

ANDREA

Right, I'm wondering if you work directly with the police in order to help them, or if you just take things into your own hands.

MISTY

(sighs)

Look, I understand those sorts of reservations. I get it. But in my opinion, right now, this is the best option. Maybe in the future it will be different, but for right now, I got a whole lot of martial arts training and an arm that's almost indestructible and it would be a shame to waste that on a desk job.

RIKKI

Thanks for reaching out. Next we have Asun, who actually called into our first show.

ASUN

Hola, Misty! Thank you girls for putting me through.

RIKKI

Of course! Asun, what's your question for Misty?

ASUN

Yes, I want to know if she will continue to operate the Hotline, and if she will continue to help in the city.

MISTY

Oh, Lord. I really don't know. I kind of got my own thing going on...I can't say I haven't thought about it...

ASUN

I haven't stopped calling the Hotline. People around here, you know, they don't call nine-one-one anymore, they call Sam Wilson.

MISTY

Well Joaquin has been helping out, I know that he's answered a few calls.

ASUN

There are checkpoints. I'm asked to show my papers. I've been a citizen for seven years! My family has green cards. We are being discriminated for our skin, our language. Joaquin is a good boy, but we need help. It can't be just us.

MISTY

I'm just not sure...

ASUN

(insistent)

We still need help. The Americops are still on our streets. We are getting run out of our neighborhood. The churches are turning people away. Businesses are hurting. We took a lot of damage during the protests, and then the police raids afterwards-

MISTY

Where are you Asun?

ASUN

(Upset)

Sunset Park. Americops have broken into my brother's home, they said they needed to talk to his son. They started visiting Mr. Barakat's restaurant every day, intimidating his customers, and after the protests he was gone! My cousin is in the hospital, but he is undocumented-

MISTY

Asun, listen. I'm going to help you.

ASUN

You will?

MISTY

Yeah. Yeah. Right now.

There's some rustling, a chair is pushed back.

It's been nice talking to you two. I've got some business to take care of.

Hey, Asun?

ASUN

Yes?

MISTY

I'm not going anywhere. I got stuff to do.

The following lines are muffled, on top of each other

MARGOT

Thank you so much,

RIKKI

Thank you,

MISTY

I'll be around. Call me.

There are steps and then the sound of a door opening and closing.

ASUN

...Thank you.

MARGOT

Asun, thanks for calling in.

Music rises slowly.

RIKKI

And we've...well we've run out of time. To everyone listening, thank you for tuning in, and we'll be back after these messages.

MARGOT

This is Margot Dalton and Rikki Barnes for The Breakout Hour. Stay safe.

Music rises, again and then fades.


 

This show was written by Linda Codega for the Sam Wilson Birthday Bang.

Full transcripts can be found on Archive of our Own. Sam Wilson, Misty Knight, Harry Hauser, Tom Herald, and Steve Rogers are all property of Marvel INC, used here for the purpose of parody and transformation.

Our Cast is Linda Codega as Rikki Barnes, August Brown as Margot, Jo as Misty Knight, Eric Williams as Sam Wilson, Lou Codega as Steve Rogers, Darryl L Jackson, Sr. as Harry Hauser, Davis as Tom Herald

Special thanks to William Lett as Thomas, Mandy Szewchzuk as Andrea and L.W. Salinas as Asun.

Full music and production credits can be found on the Archive.