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Sam Wilson, Where Did You Go?

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It starts out with the sound of protests on the street, It's as if we're listening to reporters live at the scene:

BERENGER

It seems to me that, uh, we've been left in a bit of a mess.

ELLIS

Americops fatalities have jumped in nearly all major cities where the forces have been deployed--Chicago, New York City and Atlanta have been especially fraught.

RUIZ

Liberal lobbyists have dropped out of contention for a major court restructuring bill, allowing populist conservative politicians to move forward--

The protests die down and instead there's the sound of people moving and talking, like an office.

MCBRIDE

Stark Industries is on a semi-permanent hiatus--

BERENGER

We've received word that S.H.I.E.L.D. is currently under review by the NSA, CIA, and the UN. Maria Hill could not be reached for comment, and said that her congressional hearing next week would be enlightening-

RUIZ

For the third quarter in a row, the Young Avengers have not received any funding, and are under pressure to either return to the Avengers purview or disband.

The sound of traffic in the background. Outside, birds, a very normal, almost domestic scene.

ELLIS

Fires, protests, and riots have finally stopped in Harlem-

MCBRIDE

New York City boroughs brought to order.

Slowly music rises, and then takes over the sound. It plays and then fades, and then the show starts.

MARGOT

Good morning listeners, you're here with Margot and Rikki during the Breakout Hour, your source for Superhero News and local cataclysmic events.

RIKKI

Let's start off with the big news of the day.

MARGOT

I'm so thrilled.

RIKKI

Misty Knight, ex-detective, former hero for hire, and possibly one of the most intelligent, kind, and badass women I have ever met, has re-opened the Hotline established by Sam Wilson, former Captain America.

MARGOT

On this show Misty heard and responded to one of our callers; she has since announced that she will continue to serve the five boroughs and possibly New Jersey, if Ms. Marvel ever needed to call for backup.

RIKKI

She has solicited the help of Joaquin, and the re-reformed Diamondback to become a part of her team.

MARGOT

We'll keep you up to date as she takes on the challenge, but we're excited and frankly, extremely grateful that Misty Knight has stepped up despite everything that's going on.

RIKKI

We have news reports coming in the wake protests and marches that started after the conviction of Elvin Halliday. A scholarship fund has been set up in his name, and an anonymous donor has announced that an abandoned Harlem building will be converted into a youth center.

MARGOT

All this is great, Rik, but you know what I want to talk about?

RIKKI

Misty Knight's shoulders?

MARGOT

No.

RIKKI

Her boots, maybe.

MARGOT

Nope.

RIKKI

Do you want to talk about our voice mailbox?

MARGOT

You bet.

RIKKI

Listeners, we have to thank you again. Once more we have received an incredible amount of support, hate, information, and stories of resistance and resilience.

MARGOT

Sage has done a great job protecting this show from becoming a soap box or a megaphone, but today we're going to talk to some of the people who have critiques and criticism for superheroes, Sam Wilson, the Hotline, our politics, our justice system, and even us.

RIKKI

Our opinions? Up for debate?

MARGOT

It's a brave new world.

RIKKI

Who's first, Margot?

MARGOT

We've got a voicemail from Rowan, asking about violence. Let's roll that.

A click;

ROWAN

So we all know that superheroes are basically experts at punching people really hard, but it seems like there's a lot of issues surrounding violence and protest. Sam Wilson spoke out about the protests surrounding Rage's death, but sort of...didn't talk about where the violence came from. It seems hypoctrical that he can preach peaceful protest, when his response to a problem is usually 'just punch it until it's not an issue anymore.' How can he justify saying that people shouldn't be violent, while also resorting to violence himself?

MARGOT

This is a pretty tough question.

RIKKI

I don't think so. He's asking how superheroes are allowed to take the law into their own hands.

MARGOT

No, no. This is more specific.

RIKKI

You don't think Rowan is talking about vigilantism?

MARGOT

This is a question of respectability politics. Rowan is asking how Sam Wilson can want peace and still enact violence.

RIKKI

I mean, that seems fair.

MARGOT

It isn't. Black people have been faced with societal violence, police violence, and lawful institutional violence during our entire tenure in the United States. To turn our desire for peace into a active restriction makes Black people passive victims of the system, which is something we are not.

RIKKI

I wasn't trying to imply that.

MARGOT

Yeah, I know. Look...This question taps into a really complicated and, yeah, sometimes violent history of resistance. But I think at the end of the day we just need to step back and ask if we're holding other superheroes to this standard. And if we aren't, why are you singling out a Black man for this kind of critique.

RIKKI

I don't think anyone ever really wants to resort to violence. Especially at a protest.

MARGOT

Right. Hopefully people aren't out there just looking for an excuse to blow up a car.

RIKKI

It's hard to judge what people do in the heat of the moment especially during something like a protest, where people are often trying to defend their basic human rights or demand respect. What we can say is that if violence occurs at protests and marches, it should be examined and critiqued through the lens of history and with a huge amount of compassion and understanding, especially if you are not a part of the people who are marching.

MARGOT

(very touched, but also sceptical)

Oh my god.

Music rises slowly.

RIKKI

What?

MARGOT

You're so naive. How do you live in NYC?

RIKKI

I've been here ten years.

Music rises, Margot and Rikki can't be heard. the music stops and then there are sounds of traffic, heavy, and ambulances and police sirens. It's not as chaotic as the first scene, but it's on the edge.

RUIZ

Local businesses opened without walls or windows.

ELLIS

The school teachers taught in central park north when the school was closed.

RUIZ

Groups of young men and women helped clean up the streets in the wake of police-instigated violence.

BERENGER

Shelters booked to capacity have inspired local sports clubs and lounges to open their spaces to displaced communities.

ELLIS

Free meals served after many restaurants were hurt by counter-protesters.

The background noise dies down, and the same music comes back and rises for a few seconds before Margot and Rikki come back.

RIKKI

We have a letter here from Kartik, who writes:

"You know, I really don't like how you always seem to bring race into the conversation. I know that Sam Wilson is Black. Why do you keep mentioning it? I don't want to hear another conversation framed around race. It seems like it doesn't help."

MARGOT

Kartik, trust me, if I could have a single conversation about Sam Wilson, Captain America, superhero, and all-around genuine good dude, without talking about race I would literally throw a parade.

RIKKI

Unfortunately a lot of the stuff we talk about in regards to Sam Wilson is influenced by the fact that he has evoked a vocal, racist response from a loud portion of the public. Not by any fault of his own, but just because he exists in a position of power.

MARGOT

Yeah, and he's a Black man, and he's got his own point of view and lived experiences, you know? It's a part of him.

RIKKI

I don't really think Kartik's tone hits the right note, but yeah. If we, as a society, could move past race, that would be super awesome.

MARGOT

Yeah, I mean. If I could talk about Captain America without having to think about his race, or even contextualize him within that paradigm I would literally shit a chicken.

RIKKI

Margot, what the hell?

MARGOT

It's an expression.

RIKKI

Where?

MARGOT

Queens.

RIKKI

That sort of explains it, but I still feel really confused.

MARGOT

Why don't we listen to the next voice mail?

RIKKI

Yes, anything but this.

MARGOT

This is from Chelsea:

CHELSEA

Something that I've always had an issue with is the way that superheroes flaunt the law while claiming to maintain peace and justice. It's just not fair! The justice system is flawed, but we should be focusing on fixing that rather than supporting vigilantes! I'm incredibly uncomfortable with superheroes as a police force, and I'm also upset by the privatization of urban police forces! I didn't ask for Americops and I didn't ask for Sam Wilson, so why are these guys trying to tell me what to do?

RIKKI

Another comrade!

MARGOT

Easy, tiger.

RIKKI

So I think that Chelsea and I are in the same boat. We desperately want order and we desperately want to believe in a government that is self-contained and resilient.

MARGOT

But our government is terrible.

RIKKI

I am not arguing, our government is pretty unilaterally terrible.

MARGOT

But you still want a government?

RIKKI

I'm not an anarchist. I want us to...radically revolutionize certain parts of our government. But I mean...the national parks service is pretty great.

MARGOT

Chelsea, getting back to your statement, I think that you're looking at your ideal version of the country, and looking at what we have, and seeing two vastly different pictures.

RIKKI

I also agree with you, a privately run justice system is deeply flawed.

MARGOT

There's a lot of stuff out there that we need to fix. We need more oversight of superheroes, absolutely. We need to abolish the Americops. But we can't expect that to heal itself. And I think in the meantime superheroes might be a good stopgap.

RIKKI

I understand why Chelsea is upset. It feels like a lot of the things that make up our democratic process are being taken away because some people were born with incredible abilities or have built a fancy flight suit. It feels like our ability to self-determine our own method of justice, government, and laws is being thrown in the gutter for the sake of something that I would argue is the easy way out.

MARGOT

Do you think that this reaction is because of a lack of control, or a lack of self-determination?

RIKKI

I think there's a lot of bad feeling because so many people think that there is no more public control over what happens to the public, and in the public sector. You know...We can't vote out superheroes.

MARGOT

Taking into account the current state of our public justice system, and our government, what would you like to see as a middle ground?

RIKKI

The public needs a way to control superheroes. The Avengers, the World Security Council, something. We just have too many of them, we can't control them, and we need to.

MARGOT

A lot of people would argue that a superhero's ability to make decisions immediately and with authority is exactly what makes them effective.

RIKKI

But when they make a wrong decision, when they do something wrong, or morally questionable, or when they serve another purpose other than helping the public, what then?

MARGOT

I mean...

RIKKI

Oversight. It's just...If there's no other option there's got to be some kind of a system in place. If superheroes are going to stick around, we need better oversight, and we need some kind of safeguard.

Music rises slowly.

MARGOT

And the government would come up with this?

RIKKI

Maybe? Maybe there's another UN or something that could do it.

MARGOT

(teasing)

You seemed to have all the answers earlier.

RIKKI

Dammit, Margot I'm an amateur radio personality, not a diplomat!

The music continues to rise, and then there's sounds of light traffic, birds, people in the street. A calm, urban setting.

MCBRIDE

All over the city, citizens and neighborhoods are banding together and working even harder to establish a safe haven.

BERENGER

Solidarity unites immigrant families and communities in Queens and Brooklyn, and a memorial festival is already being planned in Prospect Park.

RUIZ

It seems as if, once again, New York City has become stronger despite the adversity it has suffered.

MCBRIDE

Black, Latino, Chinese and Indian communities have formed a massive inter-generational, and inter-faith action workshop, and they will be attending Town Hall meetings and calls for representation across the city.

ELLIS

Misty Knight has reopened her Heroes-for-Hire business, taking over the Hotline, and is currently answering calls in all five boroughs and has been accompanied by Miss Marvel, who will establish her own branch of Heroes in Newark.

The traffic sounds fade, music rises, and we hear Margot and Rikki again.

RIKKI

We have another caller who left a voicemail for us. Let's hear what Sean has to say:

SEAN

One of the things that really gets me about superheroes is the fact that so many of them just make the rest of us 'normal people' nervous! They always talk about...big changes, and the need for superhuman strength and perseverance and at the end of the day...I feel like they want us to be afraid! I feel like superheroes benefit when we're afraid of a world without them in it. I don't think Sam is exempt from this either! He made himself the oversight when there were reports of Americops gone bad, and I felt like that only increased the tensions. Like things were so bad we needed a superhero to step in? Man, it just...it felt like...I mean, it's not just him, but superheroes are the ones that profit when everyone else is afraid. It's fearmongering. We should call it that.

RIKKI

You know I never thought of it that way...

MARGOT

It's certainly interesting. I'm just wondering where the source of fear is coming from.

RIKKI

Usually not the superheroes, that's true. But he makes a good point; sometimes superheroes make things worse for people without powers.

MARGOT

Like in Sean's example, the AMericops are the issue, not Sam.

RIKKI

But he has a point. Sam's statement escalated tensions. Everyone was waiting for something to happen.

MARGOT

Yeah, I guess I just have an issue with calling this sort of situation and response 'fearmongering'.

RIKKI

That term is harsh, but maybe something along those lines.

MARGOT

Fear heightening?

RIKKI

I don't like that.

MARGOT

I don't think that fear is ever something that superheroes want to incite, or want to benefit from. I think that superheroes feel that they've done their job when people feel safe.

RIKKI

But you see that sometimes superheroes make things worse.

MARGOT

I feel like anyone who has any authority to declare a kind of emergency or a kind of state of unsafety will, inevitably, end up scaring some people. I just want to say one more thing and then let's move on.

RIKKI

What's that?

MARGOT

In this case, Sam Wilson was warning us against a threat. I know that he did not want us to be scared; he wanted us to be vigilant, and ready. His intentions are important.

RIKKI

Definitely something to consider. We have an email here from Marion. She writes: "I'm just opening up a new business, and you would not believe the kind of insurance I have on 'Superhero-related damages'. It's absolutely insane. All because I have this storefront in a certain part of New York City. It's incredibly upsetting that these people are causing so much damage that they're actually hurting the public. What happens when public parks are destroyed? Or public buildings? Are my taxes going into paying for their mistakes? Am I funding these people without ever getting a say in what they do? I'm starting to do some more research and it looks like Steve Rogers was on a government salary for a long time. That's crazy. It feels like all these superheroes are taking advantage of the system."

MARGOT

Honestly, I'd like to see Tony Stark's tax returns.

RIKKI

He's a private citizen.

MARGOT

Sort of.

RIKKI

Alright, sort of a private citizen.

MARGOT

I mean, superheroes fall in between public service and private citizen. They're not doing it for the money, it's not really something you can be appointed to or whatever.

RIKKI

Superhero damage insurance...I think that's included in my rental coverage.

MARGOT

Davidson insurance, two blocks over? They only do superhero insurance. For big businesses and skycrapers.

RIKKI

Shit, skyscrapers. The Event a few years ago destroyed the skyline.

MARGOT

It was such a tragedy.

RIKKI

I mean thinking about the monetary cost of something in the wake of the death of thousands of people seems harsh, but it's certainly a reality.

MARGOT

That day had a lot of lasting, permanent effects.

RIKKI

It does seems like great deaths always occur around these sorts of people.

MARGOT

That's not really fair. Imagine what would have happened if superheroes hadn't been there to help out?

RIKKI

I guess. We're starting to get away from Marion's points though.

MARGOT

Honestly, it's just hard to put a price tag on everything that superheroes do.

RIKKI

I'm not sure how to talk about this, to be honest, it seems really complicated and I'm not exactly familiar--

She gets cut off

SAGE

Hey, you need to pick up this caller.

MARGOT

What?

SAGE

Pick it up.

The door shuts.

RIKKI

I guess we're taking the call?

(laughs, almost nervous)

Caller, you're on the air.

SAM WILSON

Good morning girls. Hope you don't mind me calling in unannounced.

MARGOT

Is this...

SAM WILSON

Sorry, should have introduced myself. I'm Sam Wilson. I think y'all know me.

RIKKI

Mr. Wilson, it's an honor to be speaking to you-

SAM WILSON

Just Sam, please.

RIKKI

Sam. Thank you for calling in.

SAM WILSON

My pleasure. I had to track down some streaming links to listen to you two. You've been talking a lot about me.

MARGOT

Yeah, well...we had a lot of questions.

SAM WILSON

I can see that. It's one of the reasons I called. I wanted to talk to you all, and all your listeners about some of the things that have been going on. First, though, I wanted to apologize to Margot.

MARGOT

Me?

SAM WILSON

I wanted to be that person you thought I was. I wanted to show people what it could be like. Now, I know...I ain't always done the best job. But I tried. And I'm sorry I let you down.

MARGOT

Oh, it's..

SAM WILSON

No, no, don't say nothing. Just know that all that anger, all that sadness, and hurt. I get it. I'm sorry for it.

MARGOT

Thank you.

SAM WILSON

You're welcome.

RIKKI

Sam, if you don't mind me asking, What made you call in?

SAM WILSON

I wanted to weigh in. Stand up for myself a little bit.

RIKKI

Do you think we were unfair?

SAM WILSON

No, I think you were honest. Brutally honest, sometimes, but honest. It wasn't like I didn't have it coming.

MARGOT

Are you here to answer some questions?

SAM WILSON

I think I know which ones you're going to ask. I'm not sure if I've got all the answers, even now, but I can try.

MARGOT

Why did you give up the shield?

SAM WILSON

Yeah...there it is.

(deep breath)

At the end of the day, I felt like I wasn't doing much good. I felt trapped by expectations, I felt like I wasn't even meeting my own standard for service. I just...I lost my way. I'll admit that leaving everything like I did, maybe I shouldn't have done that. I just needed a change. I needed people to see that change.

MARGOT

Are you going to come back?

SAM WILSON

I don't know. Not like...I don't think I'll be Captain America again, but I'm not done helping people. I got too much on-the-job experience to waste. I'm not ready to write a memoir either.

RIKKI

So...what's next?

SAM WILSON

I'm around. I've got plans. There's a lot of shady politics happening. A lot of stuff I'm not comfortable airing out on your station. But just know that I'm still working. I'm out there.

RIKKI

Will we see you back in New York?

SAM WILSON

Not for a while. But I've got a lot of faith in Misty and Joaquin. Those two can handle it.

MARGOT

What can we do?

SAM WILSON

Excuse me?

MARGOT

What can we do? You said you were dealing with some dangerous people. We want to help.

RIKKI

Anything you need, we'll do it.

SAM WILSON

I...girls, that's kind of you. But this is a risky situation. Just...

MARGOT

We got your back.

RIKKI

Yeah. We're here.

SAM WILSON

Thanks. That might be enough. I got to run, but listen, you girls keep this up. People are listening. You could do some damage if you keep this sort of conversation going.

MARGOT

Thank you, that means so much.

RIKKI

Wherever you are, be safe.

MARGOT

Yeah. You got friends in New York, Sam. We'll be here.

SAM WILSON

I look forward to meeting you two. Keep up the fight, alright? Stand up tall when you meet injustice, speak up when you hear hate, resist when they tell you to comply. Do not let them use your backs to make themselves taller.

MARGOT

Thank you...thank you for everything you're doing.

SAM WILSON

Hey, we're doing this together, aren't we?

MARGOT

I...yeah. We are. All of us.

RIKKI

All of us.

SAM WILSON

Remember that. I'll see you girls around.

A click, and then silence. Music starts.

MARGOT

Holy shit.

RIKKI

I'm not crying.

MARGOT

You're crying.

RIKKI

We just spoke to Sam Wilson on the phone, how are you not crying?

MARGOT

Listeners. We'll be right back. I hope everyone takes what Sam Wilson said and learns from it. We're in this together.

RIKKI

This is Rikki and Margot for SP-NYC, The Breakout Hour. Thanks for listening.

The music rises.


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 and Tony Stark are 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, Eric Williams as Sam Wilson. The reporters are Greg Tilton as Ellis, Carter as Berenger, Edgar Retana as Ruiz, and Rachel A. Goddard as McBride. The callers are James Codega as Rowan, AsreWrites as Sean, Honey McKenna as Chelsea and Ashton Keel as Sage.

Special thanks to the many people who helped support this project, including the moderators of the Sam Wilson Birthday Bang, Mona, Kayla, and Mandy. Without your encouragement, this wouldn’t have happened.

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

Thank you for listening. Stay Safe.