Wild Cards Wiki
Black Eagle
Biographical Information
Real Name Earl Sanderson
Aliases Black Eagle
Gender Male
Class Ace
Wild Card Traits Flight, force field
Social Information
Place of Birth USA
Citizenship Citizen of the United States, deceased
Occupation Political activist, revolutionary, WWII fighter pilot
Affiliations Four Aces, Communist Party U.S.A. (renounced 1939)
Relatives Lillian Abbott (wife)
First Appearance Wild Cards
Final Appearance Wild Cards
Creator Walter Jon Williams

Black Eagle (Earl Sanderson, Jr.) is a fictional character from the Wild Cards anthology series. He was created by Walter Jon Williams, and first appeared in the story "Witness" in the first book of the series, Wild Cards.


Earl Sanderson, Jr. was a pilot of the 332d Fighter Group (the Tuskegee Airmen) during World War II. He was also a member of the American Communist Party, hoping to create a more equitable society for black and white people alike. During the first outbreak of the Wild Card virus on September 15, 1946, Earl was one of the lucky few who was neither killed nor deformed by the disease, instead gaining fantastic powers to become an ace. He joined the Four Aces, and helped capture Nazi war criminals and topple tyrants. He even saved Gandhi from a fanatic's bullet, but back at home the political climate of America was changing. The Four Aces found themselves called before the dreaded HUAC (the House Un-American Activities Committee) where the former Communist Sanderson was torn to shreds on the stand by racist congressmen. After the trial he escaped prison and fled the country.

"America's Four Aces"

He remained out of America for the rest of his life, despite receiving a pardon from President John F. Kennedy. He died in France in 1979 of a cerebral hemorrhage. Aces Abroad notes that even after his death, Sanderson is revered in India for saving Gandhi's life, and a statue of him in an almost deific pose stands in a Calcutta shrine.

Wild Card Traits[]

Black Eagle had the ability to telekinetically levitate himself and fly at speeds of up to 500 miles per hour. He also generated an invisible telekinetic force shield, which could resist machine-gun fire, and which he used as a battering ram while flying. Earl could also project a wall of force, which could break down barriers and throw man-sized objects up to a hundred feet in the air.


Sanderson is about average height, well-built. He is black with fairly dark skin coloring. When flying or in combat he wears a black leather flier's jacket, white silk scarf, black leather flying helmet with goggles, and black-jac boots. Under the jacket he usually wears tan Air Corps officers' fatigues with the insignia removed. He carries a beret stuffed in a pocket, and dons it after landing. His jacket has the 332nd Fighter Group patch on the shoulder.


Earl was an astute man, well learned in left wing politics and had Marxist leanings. He spent much of his early life standing up for causes, most notably concerning the rights and well being of ethnic minorities. He was often quick to understand complex situations and was frequently the person explaining them to his team mate, Golden Boy. After the HUAC trials Earl was consumed by a deep sense of betrayal by his former friend and although he consented to interviews he would only participate on the proviso that he would not be asked about him.


  • In the Wild Cards universe, the Black Panthers of the 1960-1970s modeled their appearance on Black Eagle's.
  • Was able to speak English, Russian, French, and Italian.


Selected Reading[]

Wild Cards Book I: Wild Cards


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