DC Comics has set a record time race-swapping, as just one month after his last appearance as a white man, the publisher’s Captain America homage, American Crusader, has been replaced by an apparent black successor.
First introduced by Grant Morrison in his aptly titled guide to DC’s 52-Earth multiverse The Multiversity: Guidebook, American Crusader hails from the Marvel-inspired Earth-8, a world where “great power comes with great responsibility, and heroes often pay a high price for their dedication to justice.”
An obvious tribute to Captain America, American Crusader was originally conceived as a white-man clad in an outfit reminiscent of those worn by the Knights Templar and wielding a hard-light shield.
Making his first full appearance since his introduction in the November 30th issue of Justice League Incarnate Vol. 1 #1, American Crusader is sadly seen falling in battle to the Earth-8 version of Thanos, Tartarus.
Cradling the dead hero in his arms as Batman approaches to offer medical assistance, Earth-8’s version of The Falcon pushes him away, confirming, “He’s dead now too, you $#@!”
However, the character would undergo a drastic change ala Sam Wilson’s run as the Star-Spangled Avenger just one month later.
In January 4th’s Suicide Squad vol. 7 #11, an apparent new version of American Crusader debuts when the Retaliators respond to the sudden appearance of the Suicide Squad inside of a bank vault on Earth-8, wielding a similar hard-light shield and Knights Templar-themed costumed to his predecessor, but possessing a drastically darker skin tone.
Though the race swapping of American Crusader appears to be intentional, there’s also a chance that the discrepancy in his appearance is the result of an editorial failure.
This theory is based on the fact that both Machinehead (albeit in green armor) and Behemoth appear alongside the Retaliators in battle against the Suicide Squad, despite the fact that they were previously killed – rather explicitly, in fact – by Tatarus and Darkseid, respectively.
While it’s possible that there may be an in-universe explanation forthcoming, such as the mantles of American Crusader, Machinehead, and Behemoth being taken on by other individuals in the wake of their deaths, as of writing, there has been no indication in any DC book that such a passing-of-the-torch has occurred.
In the case of American Crusader, the man underneath the mask may be the Silver Falcon, seen above cradling the first American Crusader’s body. However, due to stylistic differences in coloring, it’s unclear if DC’s version of The Falcon is also black or just tanned-skin.
What do you make of DC’s apparent race swap of American Crusader? Let us know your thoughts on social media or in the comments down below!