The Black Superhero has been drawn, dismissed, revived and discussed for decades. Many names are familiar but the current generation of comic book fans might not recognize some of the names from the past, names that meant so much to so many. With that in mind, we decided to give you the Top 20 Illest Black Superheroes in history, starting today with numbers 16 - 20. So enjoy, take notes, discuss and share. "Sweet Christmas!" It's on!
Created by Dwayne McDuffie and M.D. Bright for Milestone Comics, Icon is an alien who crash landed in the American South during slavery. He mimics the first life form he sees, that being a slave named Miriam. He assumes the identity of Augustus Freeman and hides his identity for over a century. His powers are super strength, invulnerability, a healing factor, energy generation, and all kinds of other abilities. He is the technical equal of Superman. He may even be stronger. But since Milestone was absorbed by DC Comics back in 1997, Icon has gone underutilized and has been MIA in the New 52 universe. A waste of a great character for years.
I didn’t appreciate Vixen for a very long time. I was like ‘How come she gotta be from Africa? Sounds a lot like Storm”, “Why she gotta be dressed in animal prints, looking like my Aunt Alice”, “Why is her power animalistic in nature? D’ats racist!” and “A supermodel superhero? Girl, bye!” But that was a long, long time ago. I have since come to appreciate the intricacies of the character and some of her feats against some pretty high-caliber DC Comics villains Lex Luthor, Amazo, Joker, Gorilla Grodd, and others, have shown just how bad-ass she can be. Also, the manner in which her powers were manifested in the now-defunct Justice League Unlimited series was pretty fly. She is definitely deserving of this list. Vixen first appearance was in Action Comics back in 1981. Vixen received her own animated series which debuted August 25th on streaming network CW Seed.
18. Misty Knight
I always believed Misty Knight was one bad mother-shut-yo-mouth. Afro, attitude and cybernetic arm designed by Tony Starks, Knight has been on the periphery of Marvel superhero-dom ever since she was boo-ed up with Iron Fist back in the day, then later as a teammate of Colleen Wing in Daughters of the Dragon. She’s a trained martial artist who uses her robot arm to great effect. She appears in other people’s books from time-to-time, but I would love to see her more often. At least we get see the character up on the small screen sometime soon as Simone Missick has been cast to play Misty Knight in the upcoming Luke Cage Netflix series. Misty Knight's first appearance was in Marvel Premiere #21 in 1975.
Some characters are on this list for the sake of design, others for their unmatched power set, and others still for their position as pop culture forefathers. But I must ask readers to forgive any misogyny that may, or may not, be inherent in this statement, but Bumblebee is here because she’s cute. Not in any amorous sense (you weirdos), but the design and artistic interpretation of her really pop. To be certain, a sister in a bee costume could easily be written off as lazy and corny. Energy blasts, flight and intelligence, Bumblebee works. I don’t know exactly why, but she does. Bumblebee made her first appearance in Teen Titans #48 in 1977.
Val-Zod is more than just the Black Superman of Earth 2. Yes, he possess all the talent and ability of your boy Kal-El, but he appears to be far more conscientious when it comes to exercising his abilities. In fact, he’s very much a pacifist. Where Kal-El would pound away at a problem, Val-Zod only uses force as a final solution after exhausting all others. On Earth 2, Val-Zod was kept locked away in a secret cell beneath Arkham Asylum for most of his time on Earth. Because of that it is said that he prefers closed spaces. A superpowered flower child isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I like it when he gets all Superman-ish and lets loose. A pretty descent character all the same.
Tune in next week for the continuation of our ongoing survey of Black superheroes who save the day, in a "melaninated" kind of way.