Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Black Superheroes: Outro


First of all I apologize that this Outro didn’t actually occur in February.  A combination of being sick and being really, really busy has severely disrupted my update schedule.  It’s time to play catch-up now that things have settled down.
Mr. Terrific: An awesome character who I'm saving for a later blog
Just look at him!  He's amazing!
Anyway as I mentioned last month there are a ton of black superheroes, but a lot of them are under the radar.  I learned a lot during the research for these articles and I hope you did as well.  There’s certainly a lot of messed up stuff associated with characters of color but there’ s a lot of potential there as well.
Before we wrap this project up I wanted to briefly talk about few characters.  I may one day revisit these guys in greater detail but for now let’s take a brief look at a few characters I wanted to profile but was unable to due to time restraints.
Click below for more.

Static
Bah!  Without dreads I can't respect this version of Static
You can go ahead and use this as a placeholder for all of Milestone Comics characters, really.  Long story short a coalition of black comic writers and artists got together when they decided that there weren’t enough black superheroes in the medium and did a whole “For Us, By Us” sort of thing.  The net result was Milestone Comics, an imprint of DC Comics that introduced lot of new black characters during the 1990s that most people probably never heard of.  However most people have heard of Static.  Likely the most successful character from the company Static was revived years after Milestone went under in the cartoon Static Shock.  This popular show greatly increased his notoriety in pop culture.  Eventually DC tried to capitalize on this by integrating the character into their comic book universe…several years after the show ended.  Good job striking while the iron was hot, DC.  Anyway the entire Milestone continuity was added into DC’s shortly after the Final Crisis event in 2009, integrating all those characters time forgot.
Sadly Static’s creator Dwayne McDuffie very recently passed away.  I’ll have more to say about this very soon, as I was unable to post anything earlier due to illness.  On a happier note Static is flagged to star in his first ongoing series in a long while sometime this year (2011) so it’s not all bad news.
Spawn
An oddly subtle image of Todd McFarlane's Spawn
Okay seriously: screw this guy.  My dislike of Spawn stems from the fact that he is the poster child for the Dark Age of Comics, the most frustrating, backwards, and overindulgent era in comic book history.  The flagship character of Image Comics this character helped make his creator, Todd McFarlane, one of the wealthiest people in comics.  It’s not really obvious that he’s black, him being basically a rotting zombie and all, but during the 90s it may well be that he was the highest profile African America comic book character around.  Considering all the money that was made off him and the fact that his series is still running today (Coming up on twenty years) there actually might a strong argument for him being the most successful African American comic book character in history.
That said he’s an Antihero so he’s not really same archetype as most of the character profiled here.  I’m not interested in him, nor do I know much about him. 
The Falcon
Pictured: The Falcon
Not Pictured: His due respect
Closely associated with Captain America and a former member of the Avengers The Falcon is yet another black character that Marvel Comics underutilizes.  According to Wikipedia he is Marvel’s first African America superhero, as Black Panther isn’t American.  He certainly deserves his own personal profile but I would like to point out that during the 1970s Marvel apparently could not allow themselves to  have an African American hero who didn’t have a criminal past and changed Falcon’s back-story.  As far as retcons go it was pretty goddamn stupid too as it involved the COSMIC CUBE having apparently altered Falcon’s memories so he only thought he used to be a social worker but instead he was actually a gang banger and a pimp.  This change was never reversed, as I far as  know, since I guess current editors at Marvel are probably saying to themselves “I don’t understand the problem.  Isn’t that new back-story more compelling?” Sigh.
Anyway Falcon doesn’t do all that much in Marvel these days aside from appearing in Captain America.  Seriously, Marvel’s first African American superhero and he’s little more than “Steve Roger’s Black Friend”.  Although once when he was an Avenger he quit because he felt he was being used as a token.  Good for him.
Doctor Midnight
Okay, admittedly this costume is damned awful
Not to be confused with the original Golden Age Doctor Mid-Nite, this version as I mentioned in the War Machine blog is an example of a minority replacement/legacy character.  In retrospect Beth Chapel was a pretty interesting character.  A medical doctor superhero, which even today is kind of uncommon, whose family was supportive of her activities; that’s a pretty unqiue package. Unfortunately she was killed by Eclipso sometime later and never got used to her full potential.  A funny (But not funny “HaHa”) side note about this: the second Hourman, a white male character who debuted damn near the same time and in the same comic as Beth and was like her a Golden Age legacy character (And her lover at some point), is alive and well today operating as the current Hourman and married to the white and blonde superhero (Add her to the pile) Jesse Quick.  The implications are unfortunate, I say!
Rage
He makes Luke Cage look like Martin Luther King, Jr.
Yeah, I’m not touching this one at all.  Maybe sometime in the future.

So yeah, Black History Month is over but let’s try to remember what a serious problem the lack of high profile black superheroes is.  If you agree that there’s a problem and it needs to be changed don’t stay silent; the only way things will get better will be if Marvel and DC and any other publication are made aware that the fans are unhappy with the status quo (Although if those fans don’t impact the sales all that much I don’t expect change to ever actually happen).  In the meantime check out BLACKSUPERHEROES.COM for tons of info about black heroes in comics.

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