Monday, November 24, 2008

The Amazing-Man

The Amazing-Man should be one of my favorite Black Superheroes. The DC Comics character, the original Amazing Man, William Blake Everett, made his debut in comics in 1982. The character's story took place during WWII. He was an Olympic athlete even before he gained is powers though he was unable to find anything more than menial work afterward. It was in his job as a janitor that he was kidnapped and experimented upon by the Super-Villain, the Ultra-Humainte. To protect his family, Will agreed to work for the Ultra-Humanite but not trusting him to keep his word, he ultimately choose to join the side of justice and the superhero group the All-Star Squadron to defeat the villain. Will gained the power to absorb the properties of any inorganic matter he touched. For example, if he touched steel, which he often did, then his body became solid, (yet somehow movable), steel with the strength and properties of that substance. This is similar to the Absorbing Man character in Marvel Comics.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Black / Brown Bomber

Back in the 70's, the world almost saw a super powered character called the Black Bomber. He was supposed to be a white racist that, in times of stress, turned into an African-American superhero. This was due to chemical camouflage experiments he participated in as a Vietnam soldier. In some of the scripts for this character, he was actually appalled after having risked his life to save some Black people and even made racial slurs. The whole idea of this character was absurd and thankfully, the character never actually saw print. What we got instead was the DC Comics character called Black Lightning. You can read more about this here.

Just recently, in the pages of the Justice League comic (#26 dated Dec, 08) the earth went through and out of a quick revision. In that new universe that lasted for half of two issues, a new character appeared called the Brown Bomber. He is apparently a Caucasian that upon shouting the phrase "Black Power!" becomes an African-American (hero?) complete with afro, gold chain, and medallion. He makes a couple of racial remarks and explains that his powers last for only an hour which is not unlike the character Hourman. The writer, Dwayne McDuffie, is himself and African-American, and has had a big role in the creation of African-American superheroes including Static. I have to say it was interesting to see this character in print but I hope not to ever see him again.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Super President

Not to make light of those who paved the way but if there is one Black superhero that deserves to be in a comic book, it's Barack Obama. With the power to become President of the United States while still being Black among his many abilities, I for one am looking forward to his continuing adventures. Comic books of late have been straying farther and farther away from the reality of our universe but are now poised to stray back in our direction as our real President Elect will be showing up in the comic books we know and love. Maybe they have also come to realize it's time for a change.

Is he a superhero? Well Barack has already likened himself to Superman. In fact the web is littered with images making the comparison. You gotta love the poses. There is actually an official Barack Obama comic book that contains the President Elect's biography. (There's one for McCain too.) You can get it at among other places. Over in the Marvel comic book universe Obama had to beat out Stephen Colbert to win the Presidency.You may even recall Barack receiving an endorsement from a rather well know superhero earlier this year. They share the cover of issue 137 of the Savage Dragon.

What impact will Barack Obama have over the various comic book universes? He's already got a big mess to clean up over in this one. Only time will tell but until then, at least for the next eight years, make mine Obama!

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Falcon

The Falcon (Sam "Snap" Wilson) is a Marvel Comics character that has been pretty much every kind of token African American character needed. He's been the angry Black man, the near powerless street fighter, and the token sidekick. He's been forced onto the Avengers super team because of their lack of minority members. Can anyone say Affirmative Action? He's even worked for the mob and been a pimp but that was all before he met Captain America.

Sam was brainwashed and planted for Captain America to find and befriend by the Red Skull. After that, he took the name Falcon and spent his time between the cleaning up the streets of Harlem and playing attache to Captain America. Through the relationship with Captain America, he went on to playing a bigger role in the heroic community including joining America's premier superteam, the Avengers, and working with S.H.I.E.L.D. on many occasions. Because he was brainwashed into becoming a good guy, the memories of his former life have come to the surface more than once but he remains a hero in good standing.

His abilities are that of an highly trained, gymnastic athlete with two exceptions. He has the ability to mentally communicate with birds, a bond that is strongest with his bird companion Redwing. He also has a complicated retractable flying apparatus that provides him with a variety of aerial combat capabilities besides just flying. The latest set was provided by fellow hero and benefactor, the Black Panther.

This character has little obvious impact on the Marvel Comicbook Universe but he has been around since late 1969. He is trustyworthy, caring, and quite heroic but ultimately uninteresting. His abilities are limited but I guess flight added to the ability to kick ass is enough. Considering the era this character was introduced credit does have to be given to the fact that he has stood the test of time. There are action figures of his likeness out there and he even made it to the Marvel animated universe during the short-lived Avengers: United They Stand animated series. Here's a look: