Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Black Superheroes: Intro

John Stewart: The Other, Other Green Lantern
February is Black History Month.  Please spare me you opinion of the validity of the month, that is not the topic for today.  No, I want to discuss my favorite subject, comics, mixed with my most personal topic, my race.  That’s right; I’m going to rant to you all about Black Superheroes.  Now I knew I wanted to get my thoughts on this broad topic sooner or later and I figured that this month would be a pretty a appropriate place to do so.
As an African-American comic book fan I tend to be on a look out for relatable characters.  Sure I like Batman as much as the next guy, but rich white dude isn’t really a character I feel speaks to me all that much.  I like to see black superheroes and I’m not going to apologize for it.  Don Cheadle once mentioned that, as a comic fan and an actor, he’d always wanted to play a superhero in a movie but lamented the lack of black characters.  Well that’s not 100% accurate: there’re actually tons of black superheroes in comic books.  The problem is that the vast majority of them are completely useless.  Like all forms of media comic book creators tend to create minority characters on a whim for the sake of covering their asses diversity-wise.  That’s all well and good but a lot for the times said character isn’t all that fleshed out and tends to be something between “token black teammate” and “offensive stereotype” (Thankfully the latter isn’t nearly as bad as it used to be).  The number of decent and/or memorable black superheroes is relatively low (The number of female black superheroes is sadly much, much lower), but the number of superfluous two-dimensional character is pretty staggering.  And honestly even a lot of the good ones fall far under the radar of modern pop culture.
Icon and his sidekick Rocket
Characters you've probably never heard of
Specifically I would like to talk about some of the characters I feel are historically important, criminally underused or in general provoke some kind of emotional response from me…whether it’s positive or negative.  For the next month I’m going to write several profiles for these characters over the next month, giving brief histories and stating my onions in traditional “Beta Style” rants.  I’m no comic historian so expect the profiles to be far more angry than accurate.  Also note that my goal is to at least get one profile per week, but I’m actively trying to write two a week at the minimum.
Couldn't think of a catchier name, eh Cyborg?
Later this week we’ll start things off with one of the most well known and beloved heroes in Marvel Comics history.


  1. I totally agree. I watched this segment on the history channell on comics and the evolution of comics and there was section they talked about the introduction of black superheroes and it was startling how recent blacks were accepted into the noteworhty superhero categories. As a BLACK woman and a comic enthusiast I tottaly find it sad that the only black superheroes I can idolize I can count in one hand (and some of them are black cuz they can't be white, not cuz they are black) anyways. I really like this blog. AS an art student, i try to research my own race in the arts and its very sad to see such a low rate of blacks in not just comics but manga/anime as well. I'm trying to draw more black people and put the pics out there.

  2. Hopefully more and more artists will follow suit and do the same.


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