My girlfriend is always complaining about how female comic characters are a bunch of top-heavy dingbats. Normally I grunt an indignant response and continue watching football, eating beer and passing gas while she cleans the kitchen... but I started wondering. Shoulder to shoulder, who has the most curves where it counts, regardless of who is penciling. Also, IS there a penciler out there who might have a proclivity towards separating the girls from the women, so to speak... turing girls INTO women? It was this pic of an unknown Green Lantern (?Lysandra?) that got me thinking.
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Not to put too fine a point on it, but Storm is not African American. Black, yes, but she has what somehow seems to serve as an ennobling point to her back story in that she, like T'Challa/Black Panther, is originally from Africa. She's not forced to deal with the "typical" race boundaries or questions of how she came up. It seems creators feel that if some "overcome" or "triumph over adversary" element is lacking in an African American hero's backstory that it is somehow a cop out. This is not UNIVERSALLY true, but in-the-main, yes. Can anyone name a AA character who came from a wealthy/affluent/Bruce Wayne background? Black Panther was a king, Storm a minor goddess... but if you're born in America? What? It has to be the tough lessons of the streets a la Luke Cage?
There was something legit about the Falcon. Cyborg, too, I’ll admit--but both are apositives to the points I’m about to make. For now let’s focus on the former; amongst a sea of half-baked, fill-a-need negro heroes, the Falcon as Marvel’s first African-American (1969) was not portrayed as stiltedly "funky" or "soulful." Although often put up as a sidekick, he was not “Uncle Tom-ed” in any way; laboring with grim vigor alongside legendary white-breads like Captain America and Moon Knight, his detective work was insight-driven and could easily have stolen top billing from lesser mainstays.
The idea of needing to incorporate “soul,” funkiness, a love of voodoo or an outright stamp of the word “black” as all-around moniker prefix is at best apologist and at worst sardonic. Either way it smells—of fear. You don’t hear Yellow Sunfire, Yellow Psylocke, Captain Shinto or Mistress Zen.
DC Comics seems to have the greatest antebellum tendencies, populating their fields with Black Lightening, Black Racer, Black Spider, Black Vulcan, Blackwing, Black Thunder, Black Eagle, Pantha, Muhammad X, Harlem Hammer—ad infinitum. Marvel, Image and the rest of the lads follow trend with offerings such as Black Samson, Black Goliath, Black Panther, Midnight Sun, Night Thrasher, Nightwatch, Blacklight, Nighthawk, Black Badge, Black Rapier; Darkhorse’s… crack urban justice squad the Homeboys (led by Sistah’ Voodoo) is where things seem to get obviously debasive.
Creators seem to run into the same conundrum ad infinitum. Too much funk/soul or too little power and it comes as a slag—a short-dreaded, weak-willed hippity-hoppin’ Static is always getting smashed. Too much mojo and it’s rejected by readers as unrealistic—imagine a black Superman or Captain Marvel. No… Black Adam is… white.
I don’t think creators are ready to quit trying, and I know balanced characters are out there. My question to you is: Who are they? Who are the African super heroes who don’t come off stylistically ridiculous and whose powers seem credible. Which are likeable and which will endure? Which are paying lip-service to the man and which are marking the path for their own legends?
Orpheus Nine von Megakrieger.