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Comic Books Don't Care About Black People [Repost]

This week, we're reposting some of our favorite articles from the past that you may not have seen. This one is from 09/12/2009, written by Maurice Mitchell.

Last year, DC announced that they were merging the Milestone Dakotaverse into the world of Superman. This is sad. Milestone truly lived up to it's name in comic book history as the first attempt - make that only attempt - to create a truly diversified comic book world made up of complex characters.

In 1993, during the heyday of independent comic book companies, a group of African-American artists and writers set out to create a series that would redefine minorities in comic books. While it was published by DC, the comics were completely independent. I fondly remember reading the first issues and it opened my eyes to the restrictive view of minorities in the medium. It spoke to me as an African-American in ways no one else had, and I was sad to hear of it's eventual demise in 1997. Static (renamed "Static Shock") came back briefly as an animated show in 2000 for four years, but then disappeared again.

While it's nice to think of the characters coming to life again, it's virtually impossible for them to retain their soul. Why? Because mainstream comic books are written and marketed to American audiences and there's no marketing value in minority superheros. In comic books, minorities are treated like novelties because there's no money in it.  Minorities are usually reboots of failed white characters (ex. Mr Terrific, Firestorm) or sidekicks (ex. Falcon, Battlestar) and grateful to get any work at all. For now it looks like characters like Icon and Static will just be joining existing superhero teams like "Teen Titans" and "Justice League" and probably won't get their own series.

Maybe it will get better, but the fact that the only honest African-American superheroes are being bused into a larger comic book world to survive says something.
[Image from kevingarcia.livejournal.com]


  1. It is a great shame what happened to those characters in the recent years. John Stewart appears to be the only Black character that has any sense of continuity and support. Maybe in time, more characters will appear in comics.

  2. I was thinking about that yesterday Colin. Would you say that the number of prominent black characters has decreased in the Marvel and DC universe?

  3. Definitely in the DC Universe. I mean as Marvel progresses there seems to be an integration of more Black characters, look at the new Spider-man for example.


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