Spawn is arguably my favorite African-American superhero. Created by legendary comic writer/artist Todd McFarlane in 1992 for Image Comics, Spawn was an anti-hero and one of the most popular characters in the 1990s. In fact, he was the number one selling comic book during its heyday. His look: the spiked black/white costume, the long slightly ripped red cape, and chains is one of the most iconic ever. The character’s name was Al Simmons, a Marine sentenced to Hell but sent back as a Hellspawn to do the bidding of demon Malebolgia. He possesses a vast array of supernatural powers. Michael Jai White starred as Spawn in the 1997 supernatural superhero film.
Storm is the gorgeous African-American goddess of the popular mutant team of superheroes known as the X-Men. She was one of the first black comic book characters, and the first black female, to play either a major or a supporting role in Marvel Comics. Created by writer Len Wein and artist Dave Cockrum in 1975, Storm has the mutant power to control the weather. Her swag, natural looks, and power made her a favorite among young readers. She really stood out in the stories. Storm is one of the strongest females and black characters in the comic book genre. Academy Award winner Halle Berry portrayed her in the X-Men film series.
Black Panther is the first black superhero in mainstream American comics and a pioneer in the genre. Created by writer-editor Stan Lee and penciler-co-plotter Jack Kirby in 1966, Black Panther (T’Challa) is the heir to the throne of the African nation of Wakanda and the powers of the sacred panther totem. Black Panther is a skilled hunter, tracker, strategist, politician, inventor, and scientist. Also, a rigorously trained gymnast and acrobat and is a master in various African martial arts as well as contemporary martial arts and fighting styles that belong to no known disciplines. Black Panther has a Ph.D. in Physics from Oxford University, which makes him one of the eight smartest people on the planet. Chadwick Boseman will play the Black Panther in several films as a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
ShadowHawk is a vigilante anti-hero from Harlem, New York. Created by Jim Valentino for Image Comics in 1992, ShadowHawk was cool and dangerous. Clad in an exoskeleton suit of armor, ShadowHawk would catch violent criminals in the act and break their spines, leaving them to be discovered by police with no indication that he had attacked them other than hearsay from the criminals. This led to ShadowHawk garnering a reputation as an urban legend as well as being hunted by both criminals and law enforcement alike. ShadowHawk is the first hero I read about that had HIV/AIDS, which was ahead of its time in a genre known for fantasy. Despite the invulnerable aura of a hero, ShadowHawk’s illness was never far from his mind. His costume even contained compartments for his pills. The disease would eventually end his life.
Power Man is another hero from Harlem and a popular African-American character in the Marvel Universe. Created by Archie Goodwin and John Romita, Sr. in 1972, Power Man reminded me of a superhero straight from blaxploitation films. Framed for a crime he did not commit, Power Man (Luke Cage) volunteered to be a guinea pig in a scientific experiment in order to win his release from prison. The test gave him superhuman strength and impervious steel-hard skin. He became a “Hero for Hire” hoping to profit from his super powers. Power Man wore a yellow jacket that was as durable as his skin. He was an exceptional street fighter and a gifted athlete. Mike Colter will play the character in A.K.A. Jessica Jones, a live-action television series set to premiere in 2015, before headlining his own series.
By Shamarie Knight, 27th Feb 2015