The Comics 8 Ball 2.17.14: Top 8 Black Comic Book Characters
Posted by Anthony Kennedy on 02.17.2014
From Storm and Cyborg, to Agent 355 and Luke Cage. 411's Anthony Kennedy discusses the Top 8 Black comic book characters!
Welcome back to the Comic 8 Ball in the Movie Zone one and all! With it being Black History Month, I wanted to take the time to acknowledge some of the great characters that we as comic fans have been graced with over the years. I truly believe that their depictions in the pages of some of our favorite books has helped with breaking stereotypes and foster understanding of the type of people that make up my Black community and our history. Well await no further and check out this week's Comics 8 Ball.
But first….READER FEEDBACK!!!
Weezard: Lots of great parts on the list, but I don't know how Glenn's demise only made an Honorable Mention. I would rank it ahead of or behind Michonne's Torture by the Governor. It really set the tone for what has been the Walking Dead's biggest story arc.
While sad, the grotesque brutality far outweighed the poignant moment of losing one of the longest running characters in the book for me. I was more disgusted by the drawn mess of brains left after this scene that feeling great loss to Glenn's death.
Craig L: Great article. For me the stand out moment was when Rick caught Thomas in the prison and beat the crap out of him. I remember feeling like that I was feeling every punch. Also on a different note I had a letter to the staff published in issue 21!
One of the great moments that lead to another moral argument amongst our survivors. Definitely worth an honorable mention.
Ace Stephens: In general, I don't think it's the nature of what it is - as in I don't imagine most people are clamoring for rape scenes in themselves. I imagine most arguing that are just "huge fans" of the comic book and would prefer if everything is translated as closely as possible. With the more brutal/violent/etc. moments being those which often left the biggest impression on them (as well as being those they're prone to imagining a network would avoid, whether relevant to the story or not - which is something fans of horror tend to resent..."sanitized" versions) and, therefore, are those which they feel are priorities for the show.
I don't agree with that framework as a method of adaptation (that everything should be the exact same, to overgeneralize) but I think it has less to do with, "Do a rape scene!" and more to do with "fan ownership" mentalities regarding being "purists" about the show's narrative being as close as possible, particularly regarding "the big stuff," to "as it was originally written."
Thank you for understanding. To clarify, I am not some sexist masochist who advocates for nor wants to see the raping of women. My disappointment was how they choose not to depict that brutality and evil the Governor was capable of and instead wanted to keep the shades of grey going of is he a good guy or not. Plus, ultimately, Michonne hatred was not shown rationally to viewers in comparison to this incident happening and we can understand why she deserts the group to exact revenge.
robert: i never leave comments, but FU!!! I can't eblieve you would show a huge spoiler like Carl being killed Assclown!!!
Well damn, I did warn of spoilers AND he wasn't killed!!!! (Were you being funny tho?)
That's all for this week, now on to the countdown!
This week's list is a little more personal to me, so I hope all that read are respectful with their comments when challenging me on my selections and placements on my list. As an Black Male, I do not feel it is non-Black creatives responsibility to create Black comic role models. However when they so choose to do so, I have to pay respect to looking beyond the surface, cursory knowledge of the culture and background that said character is coming from to depict them in a positive light to young children of all ethnic background, specifically young black children so as to have a hero they can relate to beyond skin color. Didn't mean to get so political and I'll be stepping off my soap box now. With that said, on to this week's 8-Ball!
Top 8 Black Characters in Comics
Blade, The Tomb of Dracula #10 (1973): Great original character, best immortalized in ‘TWO' awesome films.
Bishop, Uncanny X-Men #282 (1991): One of the most enduring, time traveling mutants.
Falcon, Captain America #117 (1969): Cap's second most known sidekick.
The Fox, Wanted #1 (2003): A great character criminally portrayed in a bad film adaptation.
Joe Robertson, The Amazing Spider-Man #51 (1967): One of the all-time great supporting Spidey characters.
John Stewart, Green Lantern #87 (1971): If he was portrayed half as great as he was in the Justice League cartoons, he'd be an easy top 8, still pivotal selection.
Miles Morales, Ultimate Spider-Man (2011): Risky move replacing the popular Ultimate Petey for what many feel was pandering due to the ascension of President Obama.
Nick Fury, Ultimate Marvel Team-Up (2001): Once and for all, this was not PC B.S., it was a creative decision that the film team decided to adapt for their Marvel Universe.
Steel, The Adventures of Superman #500 (1993): Easily the best of the replacement Supermen and a valued character since his creation.
War Machine, Iron Man #118 (1979): Rhodey has come a long way from being Tony's sidekick and replacement.
#8 Static Static
First Appearance:Static #1 (1993) Defining Moment: Being turned into a Saturday Morning cartoon and looked awesome in that one JLU time travelling episode.
Created by the late Dwayne McDuffie, Static was the breakout hero from DC's Milestone Comics that focused on minority characters. Unique compared to today's world where they're choosing to do color and sexuality swapping of existing heroes instead of creating great all-new ones.
#7 Cyborg Teen Titans/JLA
First Appearance:DC Comics Presents #26 (1980) Defining Moment: Being a cornerstone member of the NEW Teen Titans.
Cyborg became one of DC's most popular heroes outside of the Justice League during the 80's with his futuristic half-man, half machine design. Despite the ultra cool cybernetics backstory, his social struggles are what kept most readers engaged and remains one of the few Black mainstay characters of DC.
#6 Agent 355 Y: The Last Man
First Appearance:Y: The Last Man #1 (2002) Defining Moment:Bittersweet moment of professing her love to Yorrick, finally after 60+ issues, only to be struck down by a bullet to the head.
What Halle Berry's Jinx should have been in Die Another Day, a badass super agent capable of handling any and all situations thrown at her. Her growth and journey came to be just as important as Yorrick's as we tried to find out what was going on and how to set everything right.
#5 Luke Cage Heroes for Hire/The Avengers
First Appearance:Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #1 (1972) Defining Moment: Defiance against Iron Man during Civil War story arc.
Considering he got his start in 1972 from the blaxploitation era of films, Cage has broken away from his coonish roots to be iconic Marvel Superhero. One of a few characters to be a member of both the Avengers and Fantastic Four which hopefully speaks to creators' genuine fondness and respect for the character. To Black comic readers such as myself, it's another thing that the character can escape it's initial creation to have a solid impact on the larger comic Universe.
#4 Spawn Spawn
First Appearance:Malibu Sun #13 (1992) Defining Moment: 1.7 million copies sold for his series first issue and displacing Malebolgia as ruler of hell!
Al Simmons transformation into the Hellspawn and torment it yielded him all to see his wife Wanda one more time, is one of the most unique and badass character origins that comics had not seen in while. Part Ghost Rider, part Batman, the mythology Todd McFarlane created was sick and for a generation of Black readers, it was all the more satisfying that it was Black Marine unleashing hell on earth.
#3 Black Panther The Avengers/Fantastic Four
First Appearance:Fantastic Four #52 (1966) Defining Moment: Creating comic royalty with the BET covered marriage to Storm.
Even if I throw a little shade at Stan Lee for taking all the credit for the Marvel 616, I must show him immense respect, along with Jack Kirby, for creating such a bold, nuanced Black superhero in T'Challa. A brilliant ruler of an advanced African nation that exuded nobility while showing that he could go toe-to-toe with the likes of Captain America was unfathomable. The fact he was created in the 60's is an even greater testament to creating a character with such a lush mythology and an enduring fanbase.
#2 Storm X-books
First Appearance:Giant Size X-Men #1 (1975) Defining Moment: Defeating Cyclops in a duel for leadership of the X-Men. That and the defiant "I am Storm, leader of the X-Men" as she callously threatened to kill N'astirh.
For a generation of comic readers she will be remembered as the leader of the top selling coming book of the 80's. And during that time I heard no outcry among readers having an issue that she was black, let alone a woman. That's a testament to Chris Claremont's writing that he Storm exhibited no atypical stereotypes and instead crafting a character that showcased strength and leadership. No denying, her heritage is what makes her unique among Marvel's merry mutants but to the many x-scribes credit, they've treated that aspect of her character with respect and dignity.
#1 Michonne The Walking Dead
First Appearance:The Walking Dead #19 (2005) Defining Moment: Defiantly proclaiming she feels sorry for what she will do to the Governor after during multiple brutal rapings by him.
This is not bowing to the The Walking Dead television juggernaut. Michonne is a complex character that still exhibits having a tortured soul from surviving the zombie apocalypse. She was a lawyer for god sake, and somehow metamorphosed into this survivalist capable of merc'ing a field of walkers or enemy combatants on her own.
Well that's my list. What Black character resonated with you most? Let me know! Join me next week for another edition of the 8-Ball! Have a great week and don't forget to read the many other great columns, news articles and more here at 411mania.com! I'm done.