By eiderglast 16 Comments
Not too many characters of color become renowned by their own merit. Most of the times they were either sidekicks (like the Falcon) or borrowed/inherited another characters identity (Dr.Light). A lot of times, their names/codenames are labeled with colors that represent their ethnicity (Black Lightning).
But there are a number of characters that can be noted to be set apart from these usual stereotypes. One good example is Storm. Although most depictions of her image make her look more caucassian than her true ethnic roots (pun intended). White long hair being a big departure from what we are more familiar with. I am not as acquainted with her bloodline so that is just probably a minor setback as far as her design is concerned. Bishop is also a great character to take note of, as well as Luke Cage. Although there was a time when Luke Cage was written like a blaxploitation movie character.
The more recent character of color that I would like to focus on is Static. Both his Milestone depiction and his celebrated cartoon persona (Static Shock). Among all characters mentioned above, his run on the cartoon series has left a mark on the public. And he wasn't exactly depicted as a white guy with dark skin either.
He didn't fall prey to racial stereotypes as well. Creators Dwayne Mcduffie, Robert l. Washington, and John Paul Leon has made a character that can be proudly considered a great role model not just for people of color but for all.
His abilities are quite unique as well, electromagnetic powers. Not unlike Magneto's but somehow surpassing it in how it is used. Hopefully, if handled well, Static can have his own title back (written and drawn by people of color may work).
Why should it be done by people of color? From what I've seen from other colored characters, they were hardly done right, or designed rather almost humorously. One example is Cyborg. His old cybernetic design looked so much like a lingerie of sorts. I have respect for George perez as an artist, but sometimes, they just don't work for me.
The current Cyborg design is ok, but somehow it would have worked if he can still fit in normal clothes. (you'd think comic book technology could easily streamline armor design, but no, big is always cool). There's an article here in the forums regarding re- designing Cyborg's exterior look. And I do agree with his points.
One more quip about colored superheroes: either they show too much skin (almost ridiculously), or they cover them up so much you can't tell who's inside it.
Here's Tyroc from the Legion of Supperheroes before his re-design:
A lot has improved... but it does makes you ask the question: have our sensibilities as humans progressed, or racism is more careful these days?