Thursday, August 28, 2008

Black Vulcan

There's a lot to be said about this short-lived hero. His first appearance was on the Super Friends cartoon in the 70's as they expanded their lineup to create diversity. Black Vulcan is among those Black Superheroes that has the word Black in his name for no reason other than the color of his skin. When he showed up in the Super Friends many comic book fans cried foul as he was obviously a take off on Black Lightning who actually did exist in the DC Comics Universe. Apparently there were challenges with the creator of Black Lightning (money issues), so Black Vulcan was invented. Other than the color of his skin or the sound of his voice there was little "Black" or even interesting about him. He was never more than the Black token hero who never even raised the bar to the level of stereotype. Basically he was able to produce lightning and fly. His powers, while always lightning based, seemed to change episode to episode defying all logic and common sense as his lightning bolts would turn into whatever he needed, and even allow him to travel through time. His contribution to the Super Friends was minimal yet as a child I watched week to week waiting in vain for him to do something amazing. He never did. The only thing I can say positively about him is that he as a Black Superhero that appeared on TV while I was growing up.
Multiple action figures were made of the character but he never achieved a fan base and he never crossed over into the comics. Black Vulcan continued his career on the Super Friends cartoon until they revamped the show yet again and replaced him with another Black Superhero, Cyborg. The character disappeared into obscurity until 2004 and 2005 when he showed up years later as a parody of himself in the Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law show. Here's an episode of the Superfriends Black Vulcan wasn't overly terrible in:


J said...

I actually liked Black Vulcan. He was the most exciting of the colorized adventures of the Superfriends. Samurai was lame, and APACHE CHief beyond him clapping his hands and saying "Inyuk-chuk" was lame too. Black Vulcan was the only one with cool powers. I mean he could fly and shoot lightning bolts up your ass.

Plus he was voiced by Buster Jones, who also did voices for Blaster from Transformers, Doc, from Gi Joe and Winston from Ghostbusters.

Urban Mac User said...
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Urban Mac User said...

Black Vulcan, was for kids in 1976, 1977, and 1978,
the only role model we had as a hero on TV.
He remains my second favorite "Super-Friend"
(sorry Batman is first), and his powers, at least didn't
suck like Apache Chief or El Dorado ( the Latin Super-Friend).

Although he was always teamed with Aquaman for some reason, he managed to save the day by zapping the villians with a few well placed lightning bolts.

and for the record, I liked the long pants version over the short pants version.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if it matters (or if it even offends) but I am a white guy who grew up loving the Superfriends and Black Vulcan was by far my favorite. It's great to see someone talking about him. I completely relate to your description, and, like you, feel very cheated he was not given more of a role on the show. He had very cool powers, and I thought it especially cool when his legs disappeared into a giant lightning bolt when he flew.

In His Pants said...

In all honesty, you have to give props to Harvey Birdman. Just giving Black Vulcan the catchphrase of ' my pants...' is worthy enough. It's a satire of the pointless tokenism of what Vulcan was given in the first place by the corporate ruling class in the 70s.