Michael Davis: The Top 10 Black Superheroes…
…Created By White Guys and Louise Simonson
My sincere thanks to Grace Randolph
Created by Tony Isabella
What can I say about Black Lightning except for the fake Afro wig (decades before Steve Harvey’s BTW… wait… y’all didn’t know that was a wig? Oops, sorry Steve, my bad) but like I was saying-except for the wig I loved this character the moment I saw him. Yeah, there were some stereotypical thing to him like his real first name, Jefferson but his last name was Pierce and Jefferson Pierce sounded so cool I can give Jefferson a pass.
Created By Todd McFarlane
Little know story: when I was the CEO of Motown Animation & Filmworks I started a comic book imprint called Machineworks. We were all set to do a publishing deal with Marvel Comics which would have given Marvel its very own Milestone like imprint. Think about that for a second: Marvel’s very own Milestone with the clout of Motown Records behind it.
But… the more meetings I had with Marvel and the closer we got to a deal the less secure I felt about being in business with them. So I took a meeting with the Image guys in their hotel suite at 3:30 in the morning during San Diego Comic Con.
Understand this was not an impromptu meeting this was the time the meeting was scheduled for. My Chief Operating Officer was a major Hollywood playa at the time and he hated the Image guys, especially Todd. I mean hated Todd with a passion. I knew all the Image guys for a while by then so it didn’t bug me in the least that the meeting was at 3:30 in the morning in the Image suite… in the master bedroom.
A master bedroom where Todd McFarland, Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, Eric Larson, Marc Silvestri and Jim Valentino were all sitting or laying on a king size bed and that’s where the meeting took place.
My COO almost busted a blood vessel, he was so pissed.
I loved it and at that moment the Marvel deal was dead and we were in business with Image comics.
What does this have to do with Spawn being number 9 on my Top Ten Black Superheroes Created By White Guys and Louise Simonson?
Todd’s Spawn is not a typical black superhero; he’s not even really a hero. He’s a spawn of Hell who when he was alive just happened to be black. Spawn’s alter ego-Al Simmons was named after Todd’s real life friend of the same name.
Just like that Image meeting all those years ago Todd has an “I don’t give a shit” attitude about what people think and he created a black superhero that transcends what you may think it should be.
Created by Marv Wolfman & George Pérez
Another little-known story. I stopped reading comics all together when I entered high school. I went (yes here it comes, again) to the greatest high school in the history of the world, the High School Of Art & Design. Yeah, yeah. I’m a broken record…
When I applied to A & D I wanted more than anything to be a cartoonist and draw comic books. After I was admitted and it was time to choose my major, my cousin who’s an artist (and before you dismiss him as a guy who just likes to draw bear in mind his work sells for upwards of seven figures and I’m not joking, he’s that kind of artist) told me if I majored in comics I would stave and die.
So I majored in illustration and stopped reading comics cold turkey. Just like that I gave up comics and as luck would have it I discovered the Society Of Illustrators and met master painter Ernie Barnes the summer before I entered A & D so by the time I was in A&D I loved the world of illustration. I went all trough undergrad and graduate school with nary a comic.
Of all places I was a an Elton John concert at Madison Square Garden and the guy sitting next to me was reading a copy of Frank Miller’s Daredevil while we waited for the show to start. One thing led to another and the next day I’m at the greatest book store on the planet called, of all things, Forbidden Planet, buying Miller’s complete run of Daredevil. While at checkout I heard these kids talking about the Teen Titans and George Pérez’s artwork. I asked to see what they were reading promptly got out of line and went to pick up all the back issues of the New Teen Titans.
I loved those books and OMG…Cyborg, at that time, was the best freaking Black character…ever.
Cyborg’s alter ego is Victor Stone, the son of Silas and Elinore Stone, a pair of scientists… a pair of scientists?
Oh no, Marv did-ant!!!!
Oh yes, Marv did.
What’s not to love about Cyborg? His parents were Black and a pair of scientists!!
A pair of black scientists who don’t become drug dealers like Tyrone Cash…go figure.
Created by Len Wien and Dave Cockrum
Storm like Cyborg and Spawn were part of a new breed of black characters created by white boys (or Louise Simonson) these characters did not need “black” in their names because they worked with or without race being a major factor. Black Lightning works that way also but let’s face it, Black Lighting is a cool ass name.
Storm’s not just a black character, she’s a major playa in the power department at Marvel comics and she’s a woman. How cool is that? I read somewhere that Storm is not black; she’s made up of a bunch of different races.
OK, how can I put this diplomatically? I know…
What did someone decide because she was one of the most powerful characters in comics she couldn’t be black?
Nope. Fans old and new think of Storm as a strong black woman and that means if you want to date her you best have a job.
6. Miles Morales
Created By Brian Michael Bendis
A half black and half Latino Spider-Man. Just how on earth could I not love this? I give Marvel shit about some of the black characters in their universe, but man do they get well-deserved props for Miles Morales. Another little known fact: Milestone was named after (equal parts) Miles Cowan, Denys Cowan’s son, and Miles Davis. I can’t help but think (I may be wrong I was once…she sure looked like a man) that Miles Morales gives a nod to Milestone as Static gave a nod to Spider-Man.
Created By Marv Wolfman & Gene Colan
I went to the opening of the first Blade movie at the Magic Johnson Theater in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles. I was there with my then-girlfriend and one of my best friends who also happened to be white. Except for those two the only other white people in the theater were in the movie.
The credits rolled and up came “Blade, created by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan.” I could NOT contain myself so I started clapping like a madman and yelling “yeah.”
But no one else did. Everyone and their mother were staring at me.
This huge gang banging looking dude turns in his seat and says to me, “Are they brothers?” I answered truthfully. “Marv’s my brother.” He said, “Cool” and didn’t shoot me.
I must admit when I was a kid I brought every comic book I saw a Black character in. I hated horror books but Blade was in Tomb Of Dracula so I brought it. One of the best comic book decisions I’ve ever made.
4. Mal Ducan
Created By Robert Kaniger
Who the Hell is Mal Ducan?
Mal was the first black official member of the original Teen Titans. He was an average guy with only boxing skills and I loved that character. Later on DC tried giving him a bunch of powers and that was stupid. I like good old unpowered Mal because as a kid he was me.
I saw myself as Mal, I couldn’t fly I had no utility belt no super speed but I knew I could be a hero just like Mal.
3. The Black Racer
Created By Jack Kirby
The Black Racer is was Sgt. Willie Walker, paralyzed during the Vietnam War. Walker was contacted by the Source when Darkseid first brought the war of the gods to Earth, and told it was his responsibility to take on the role and yada, yada, yada…
OK, the Black Racer was Kirby’s answer at DC to the Silver Suffer character he co-created with Stan Lee at Marvel.
There were about a zillion things wrong with the character. The first is that black people don’t ski.
I didn’t give a shit what was wrong with that character. Jack ‘“King” Kirby had created another badass black character and all was right with the world! Truth be told, Kirby could have created the “Black Player” as a super powered black hockey player and I would have been all in. The Black Racer is still badass for my money today.
2. The Black Panther
Created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby
The Black Panther was created at the height of the civil rights movement in the 60s.
The Black Panther party was a black revolutionary socialist organization active in the United States from the 60’s to the 80’s.
Now-how bad ass do you have to be to name a Black character the same as that party and make that character not only an hero but a king of a African nation that was tectonically eons ahead of the United States Of America?
Created by Louise Simonson & Jon Bogdanove
I could go on and on why this is number one on my list, but that’s another article in and of its self. I’ll just say this: Louise was gangsta enough, talented enough and bold enough to put the ‘S’ on a black man.
WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold
THURSDAY MORNING: Dennis O’Neil