Author and Psychologist
Black Superheroes: A Brief History and Timeline

Black Superheroes: A Brief History and Timeline

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

1940

Voodoo Man

1941

1942

Steamboat, Captain Marvel’s Valet

1943

The Dove, Grey Mask’s Sidekick

1944

Black Superheroes-Voodah1945

Voodah

1946

Black Superheroes--Ace Harlem1947

Ace Harlem

Lion Man

1948

1949

Misc. African Heroes of the 1940s

Misc. African American Heroes of the 1940s

Black Superheroes and Other Characters of the 1950s

1950

Jackie Robinson

Black Superheroes1951

Natongo of Brothers of the Spear

1952

1953

Tiny, Little Audrey’s Friend

1954

Waku, Prince of the Bantu

1955

1956

1957

1958

1959

Black Superheroes and Other Characters of the 1960s

1960

1961

Jackie Johnson of Sgt. Rock’s Easy Company

1962

1963

Gabe Jones of Sgt. Fury’s Howling Commandos

1964

Black Superheroes-Lobo1965

Lobo

1966

Black Panther

1967

Robbie Robertson, Spider-Man’s Friend

1968

 

1969

The Falcon

Black Superheroes and Other Characters of the 1970s

1970

Mal Duncan of the Teen Titans

1971

Black Racer of the New Gods

Chuck Clayton, Archie’s Friend

John Stewart, a Green Lantern

Black Superheroes-Luke Cage1972

Luke Cage, Hero for Hire

1973

Blade

Brother Voodoo

1974

Deathlok

 

1975

Misty Knight

Storm

1976

Nancy Woods, Chuck Clayton’s Girl Friend

Black Superheroes-Black Lightning1977

Black Lightning

Bumblebee

Gravedigger, World War II Hero

1978

Sabre

 

 

1979

James Rhodes, Iron Man’s Friend

Lucius Fox, Batman’s Associate

Black Superheroes of the 1980s

1980

Cyborg

Black Superheroes-Vixen1981

Vixen

1982

The Cloak

Monica Rambeau as Captain Marvel

1983

Will Everett as Amazing-Man of the All-Star Squadron

James Rhodes as Iron Man

1984

1985

1986

Amanda Waller of Suicide Squad

1987

1988

1989

Black Superheroes of the 1990s

1990

Rage of the Avengers

1991

Bishop

1992

Shadowman

Spawn

War Machine

1993

Static

Steel

Icon and Rocket

1994

1995

1996

Hero Cruz of Superboy and the Ravers

 

1997

Michael Holt, Mr. Terrific

1998

1999

Tesla Strong, Tom Strong’s Daughter

Black Superheroes of the New Millennium

2000

Crispus Allen, Gotham City Detective

2001

Nick Fury of the Ultimate Universe

Black Superheroes-Josiah Power2002

Josiah Power of The Power Company

2003

Thunder, Black Lightning’s Daughter

2004

New Firestorm

2005

2006

Crispus Allen as the Spectre

2007

2008

2009

Black Superheroes of the 2010s

2010

Jackson Hyde, Aqualad

2011

Mile Morales, Spider-Man

2012Black Superheroes-Nick Fury, Jr.

Nick Fury, Jr.

2013

Lucas Fox, Batwing

2014

Wally West, Kid Flash in DC’s Rebirth

2015

2016

2017

Mark Carlson-Ghost

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