Black superheroes and other notable Black characters are listed below by the year of their first appearance. This is done to provide a unique perspective on the development of positive Black characters over the years.
In the 1940s, Black characters either reflected unfortunate stereotypes like Captain Marvel’s Steamboat or actual villains, like the Voodoo Man. By the 1950s, the few featured Black heroes were relegated to the African Jungle like Waku, Prince of the Bantu, and the otherwise progressive Brothers of the Spear. Comic book stories of Jackie Robinson, the real life Black baseball star, and Tiny, a funny little kid character who just happened to be Black, were the shining stars of the decade.
The sixties saw several Black supporting characters appearing, but few in starring roles. Lobo, a short-lived Black cowboy title was the first Black character to earn his own comic book. 1966 saw the debut of Marvel’s Black Panther, but it wasn’t until the seventies that Black superheroes began to appear with some regularity, typically as a member of an integrated superhero team. Storm, Vixen and Misty Knight were the first Black heroines in comic books.
The 1980s started a pattern that has persisted to this day: taking established superhero “names” and reassigning them to characters of color. The 1980s saw the introductions of a Black Iron Man, Captain America, and Amazing-Man. More notable was the introduction a Black woman who both a badass and not the usual heroine body type. Amanda Waller has been portrayed as a character with considerable shadings of moral ambiguity. Sometimes she’s been portrayed as an outright villain.
The New Millennium has seen the introductions of a Black Firestorm, Nick Fury, Spider-Man, Kid Flash and Aqualad. This practice of taking established iconic names and giving them over to heroes of color has generated considerable controversy on the internet among comic book fans. Some readers applaud the effort at diversifying the heroes featured in today’s comic books. Others see this as political correctness run amok and argue that if companies want more diverse heroes they should introduce new heroes with those characteristics. The problem is that new characters with new names have a much harder time succeeding in today’s market.
It seems critical that everyone should have comic book heroes with whom they can identify. It is the one of the purposes of this website to help readers find those heroes who may be more plentiful than imagined at first glance.
Black Superheroes and Other Characters of the 1940s
Steamboat, Captain Marvel’s Valet
The Dove, Grey Mask’s Sidekick
Black Superheroes and Other Characters of the 1950s
Natongo of Brothers of the Spear
Tiny, Little Audrey’s Friend
Waku, Prince of the Bantu
Black Superheroes and Other Characters of the 1960s
Jackie Johnson of Sgt. Rock’s Easy Company
Gabe Jones of Sgt. Fury’s Howling Commandos
Robbie Robertson, Spider-Man’s Friend
Black Superheroes and Other Characters of the 1970s
Mal Duncan of the Teen Titans
Black Racer of the New Gods
Chuck Clayton, Archie’s Friend
John Stewart, a Green Lantern
Luke Cage, Hero for Hire
Nancy Woods, Chuck Clayton’s Girl Friend
Gravedigger, World War II Hero
James Rhodes, Iron Man’s Friend
Lucius Fox, Batman’s Associate
Black Superheroes of the 1980s
Monica Rambeau as Captain Marvel
Will Everett as Amazing-Man of the All-Star Squadron
James Rhodes as Iron Man
Amanda Waller of Suicide Squad
Black Superheroes of the 1990s
Rage of the Avengers
Icon and Rocket
Hero Cruz of Superboy and the Ravers
Michael Holt, Mr. Terrific
Tesla Strong, Tom Strong’s Daughter
Black Superheroes of the New Millennium
Crispus Allen, Gotham City Detective
Nick Fury of the Ultimate Universe
Josiah Power of The Power Company
Thunder, Black Lightning’s Daughter
Crispus Allen as the Spectre
Black Superheroes of the 2010s
Jackson Hyde, Aqualad
Mile Morales, Spider-Man
Nick Fury, Jr.
Lucas Fox, Batwing
Wally West, Kid Flash in DC’s Rebirth