LET'S STOP FORGETTING BLACK SUPERHEROES IN COMICS
By Rashad Flemings
As we’re all hype for the black comic extravaganza that will be Black Panther in 2018, trust and believe me when I say I’ll be in that theatre in all of my finest black excellence. I grew up reading about him and other black superheroes, and to see a movie centered on a character that I grew up adoring makes my black comic nerd heart burst with joy.
Despite the excitement, I learned recently that some people may not know about the plethora of black superheroes that exist in the comic book universe, so I decided it would only be fair to share some others with the world. It’s important that we uplift and share the superheros and characters of the comic world that are total badasses, yet never get the shine they deserve.
Prodigy (David Alleyne) New Mutants vol.2 #4 (Oct 2003)
Gifted with the power of predicting attacks and mimicking the physical and mental abilities of anyone he’s close to, it was only a matter of time before he became the leader of the New Mutants - Marvel’s newest addition to the X-Men film series lineup. After Decimation, an event that leaves most mutants powerless, he is given the opportunity to regain all of the knowledge that he lost, but cannot gain new knowledge. While still technically being powerless, he builds the Danger Cave, a training ground for the powerless mutants to keep up their skills and the headquarters for the New Mutants. He is currently a substitute teacher when the the X-Men are away and recently came out as bisexual!
Being armed with guns and knowledge from the future isn’t the only thing Lucas Bishop has in his arsenal. He can also channel kinetic and other types of energy and use them increase his strength, healing, and other things needed to stay alive. Basically, he’s tough as fuck to kill. So tough, he’s lived through mutant internment camps, dealing with his sister being transformed into a hologram to stay alive, having his arm shot off and cauterizing the wound on a guy made from fire, and gaining a time-travelling, cybernetic arm which he uses to go and try to kill the guy who shot off his first arm. Chances are you have seen this OG on the big screen in X-Men: Days of Future Past.
Bloodwynd (Freddy Widmer)
The Blood Gem has been in Freddy’s family for generations, created when his slave ancestors channeled their rage, sorrow, and misery into the gem and used it to kill and imprison their slave master’s soul. With his necromantic powers, Bloodwynd was a member of the Justice for a short period of time but left due to irreconcilable differences. He’s still out there, making wrongdoers feel the pain of their victims by simply staring at them. (Republicans beware.)
Batwing (David Zavimbe/Luke Fox)
The current Batwing is Luke Fox, son of Lucius Fox. Luke took the role after the first Batwing, David Zavimbe from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), resigned. (There was actually an African Batman, y’all.) Like everyone else associated with the mantle of the Bat, David is no stranger to an adverse life. He was a child soldier in the DRC after his parents died of HIV/AIDS, then became a police officer, leading Bruce Wayne to eventually approach him, drafting him to be the Batman of Tinasha. Though he was ready for the challenge, it proved to be too great for him; he resigned and eventually passes the mantle to Luke Fox, son of Lucius Fox, the business manager at Wayne Enterprises. I know, it’s LIT, y’all.
First appeared July 1981 in Action Comics #521. Vixen gets her powers an ancient Ghanian totem, passed down from a powerful warrior. She uses the totem to draw on the talents of any animal that has ever existed and she can also shapeshift into animals if she wishes, so she’s like Beast Boy but more bad ass. She’s made appearances on Justice League: Unlimited.
Bumblebee (June 1977 in Teen Titans #48)
I hope you already know who Bumblebee is, but I’m going to tell you about her anyways because she’s dope. She literally became a superhero by pretending to be a villain, all to make her boyfriend look good in front of the Teen Titans. Seriously not making that up. The Teen Titans ended up liking her so much, they asked her to join. AND she was DC’s first African-American female superhero! #blackgirlmagic
Black Lightning (April 1977 in Black Lightning #1)
He was one of the first African-American comic character DC created, not to be confused with Static Shock who was later inspired by his character. Black Lightning can generate his own force fields and electrical bolts. What’s interesting is that no one knows the limit to his powers, but he did restart Superman’s heart once, so there’s that.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of black superheroes; there are tons of them out there, and I encourage you to find them and share them. These are simply a few of my favorite superheros that I hope to see on the big screen one day. Everyone who enjoys superhero stories deserves to know about them, no matter how old they are, and every Black child deserves to know that they, too, can see themselves as heroes.
The black superhero movement may have surged with Black Panther, but it doesn’t have to end there. We can hope that these dope Black heroes keep becoming more and more mainstream until they are not underneath the white superhero characters, but right beside them leading their own movies and television series. I’m looking forward to a future filled with a possible Static Shock movie, or my dream of a Storm origin film, or dare I say another Catwoman film one day with Eartha Kitt level of legendary Black woman badassery?!