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20 Great Black Comic Book Characters

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It’s no secret that white male leads have dominated comic books since — well forever. In the ’60s, Marvel and DC finally started to put a change to that with the addition of super-powered people of color, which led to some of today’s biggest names in comics. But it still wasn’t enough. Eventually the lack of diversity led to the onset of Milestone Media in the ’90s, where Dwayne McDuffie, Denys Cowan, Michael Davis, and Derek T. Dingle crafted several intriguing characters. With an increasingly active black nerd, or blerd, community, new black characters are being created every day — primarily through independent publishers, though Marvel has also kickstarted a focus on one of its most notable black characters — but more on that later.

To celebrate Black History Month, ComicsAlliance is running down our list of 20 Great Black Comic Book Characters. Our list considers old staples as well as some new favorites, including a certain katana wielding badass, space explorers and of course, plenty of superheroes.






Other Name: Albert Francis “Al” Simmons
First Appearance: Spawn #1 (1992)
Created By: Todd McFarlane
Publisher: Image Comics

Bursting onto the comic book scene in 1992, Spawn became an instant hit. (The first issue sold 1.7 million copies.) The anti-hero, created by Todd McFarlane, earned his powers from Malebolgia, one of the rulers of hell, for the price of his soul. Now, armed with superstrength and regenerative powers, Spawn takes on everyday bad guys as well as highpowered villains. All while donning his signature skulls, chains and spikes. And lest we forget, he was the star of the popular 1997 film starring Michael Jai White.







Other Name:  Karen Beecher
First Appearance: Teen Titans #45 (1976)
Created By: Bob Rozakis & Irv Novick
Publisher: DC Comics

The cute buzzing Bumblebee is DC’s first African-American female superhero. Without any superpowers, Bumblebee makes up for it with her scientific mind, which allowed her to create her own special suit. The high tech armor empowers her with super-strength, speed, endurance and agility. A member of both Teen Titans and Doom Patrol, Bumblebee is also one of the featured student heros in DC Super Hero Girls.




Kamau Kogo



Other Name: Kam
First Appearance: Bitch Planet #1 (2014)
Created By: Kelly Sue DeConnick & Valentine De Landro
Publisher: Image Comics

She’s smart — and ready to fight. Kamau Kogo admirably works to defends her fellow prison inmates in Bitch Planet. In what’s billed as a feminist dystopia with an influence of ’60s and ’70s women in prison movies, Kogo definitely brings the punch. With a set of martial arts skills, she heads the megaton sports team (similar to rugby) in hopes to make her escape from the dangerous prison planet.




Amanda Waller



Other Name: N/A
First Appearance: Legends #1
Created By: John Byrne, Len Wein, John Ostrander
Publisher: DC Comics

Appearing in just about every DC Comic series, Waller is a staple in the universe. Without any superpowers, the government official still proves to be an incredible antagonist. And we certainly can’t wait for Viola Davis to portray the heartless foe (and sometimes ally) in Suicide Squad.




Adrienne Ashe



Other Name: N/A
First Appearance: Princeless (2011)
Created By: Jeremy Whitley & M. Goodwin
Publisher: Action Lab Entertainment

Princeless creator Jeremy Whitley challenges traditional princess roles inside and outside of the comic as the main character, Adrienne Ashe, notes plot holes in fairy tales with happily ever afters. With her adorable dragon sidekick, Sparky, Adrienne continuously braves dangerous missions — all while throwing in a few tongue-in-cheek jokes. ComicsAlliance interviewed the latest artists to bring Princeless to the panels. Check it out here.




Lunella Lafayette



Other Name: Moon Girl
First Appearance: Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #1
Created By: Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare, Natacha Bustos, Emily Shaw & Mark Paniccia
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Lunella is young, curious, and an Inhuman. The little genius picked up her mantle from Moon Boy when she joins Devil Dinosaur as his new companion in adventuring. When she’s not occupied with one of her science experiments, she’s braving bullies at school. Her sense of self is also out the roof. With two issues under her belt, we’re curious to see what Moon Girl does next.




Misty Knight



Other Name: Mercedes Knight
First Appearance: Marvel Premiere #20 (1975)
Created By: Arvell Jones, Ross Andru, Tony Isabella & Roy Thomas
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Bad. Ass. Misty Knight, who was created in the ’70s, clearly draws influence from black exploitation films. But the young detective, with nearly impeccable gun aim, is also skilled in martial arts. She’ll soon come to the screen in the Luke Cage Netflix series, played by Simone Missick.







Other Name: Mari Jiwe McCabe
First Appearance: Cancelled Comic Cavalcade #2 (1978)
Created By: Curt Swan, Bob Oksner & Gerry Conway
Publisher: DC Comics

With the powers of the animal kingdom passed down with a totem through generations, Vixen became a crimefighter. Not to mention she was DC’s first African female superhero to star in her own series. Whether it’s poachers or supervillains, Vixen usually emerges victorious.




Joseph “Robbie” Robertson



Other Name: N/A
First Appearance: The Amazing Spider-Man #51 (1967)
Created By: Stan Lee & John Romtia Sr.
Publisher: Marvel Comics

While J. Jonah Jameson was often hasty and audacious, Joseph “Robbie” Robertson acted as a voice of reason — especially when it came to vilifying Spider-Man. The Harlem native is not only The Daily Bugle’s editor-in-chief, but also one of J. Jonah Jameson’s closest confidants.







Other Name: Virgil Hawkins
First Appearance: Static #1
Created By: Dwayne McDuffie, Denys Cowan, Derek Dingle & Michael Davis
Publisher: Milestone Media / DC Comics

For many black millennials, Static Shock holds a special place in their heart. Although Static debuted in 1993 under Milestone Media, it’s the character’s cartoon series that he’s well known for. He was a superhero for the everyday high school student — with the powers of electromagnetic powers. Fun fact: Hawkins is named after the first African American to go to law school in the U.S.




Gwendolyn (Saga)



Other Name: N/A
First Appearance: Saga #8
Created By: Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
Publisher: Image Comics

Okay, so technically Gwendolyn is horned woman from Wreath, but there’s no doubt some melanin in her system. As a high-ranking officer of Wreath’s High Command, the space traveler is after her ex-husband, Marko, who married Wreath’s enemy, a Landfallian named Alana. But that doesn’t stop her from getting into a few adventures of her own — including saving Slave Girl.




Miles Morales



Other Name: Spider-Man
First Appearance: Ultimate Fallout #4 (2011)
Created By: Brian Michael Bendis & Sara Pichelli
Publisher: Marvel Comics

When the news broke that there would be a half-Black, half-Puerto Rican Spider-Man, it was hard not to be excited at the possibilities for Miles Morales. Armed with the similar web-slinging and spidey-senses abilities as Peter Parker, Morales also stands as a character on his own. The Brooklyn native also has two new moves, spider-camouflage and a paralyzing attack called venom strike. His first comic hit the shelves last Wednesday (Feb. 3).







Other Name: Eric Brooks
First Appearance: The Tomb of Dracula (1973)
Created By: Marv Wolfman & Gene Colan
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Blade is definitely one of our favorite vampire slayers. While he wielded a wooden dagger in the comics, we were happy to see the half-human and half-vampire upgrade to a double edged sword in the late 90s (to early 2000s) film series. With Wesley Snipes as the title character, it was also one of the biggest comic book movies of the ’90s.







Other Name: N/A
First Appearance: The Walking Dead #19 (2005)
Created By: Robert Kirkman & Charlie Adlard
Publisher: Image Comics

Michionne’s katana has been the talk of comics since her debut in 2005 in the post-apocalyptic series. She’s certainly an exceptional survivalist, but she’s also known for her merciless killing of zombies. Above all else, she’s just really, really cool.







Other Name: Victor Stone
First Appearance: DC Presents #26 (1980)
Created By: Marv Wolfman & George Perez
Publisher: DC Comics

The half man, half machine is another one of our favorites. As an original member of Teen Titans, Cyborg uses his intellects and ability to communicate with machines to defeat foes with the team. Lately he’s been running with the big boys as a member of the Justice League.







Other Name: Ororo Munroe
First Appearance: Giant Sized X-Men #1 (1975)
Created By: Len Wein & Dave Cockrum
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Any list of great superheroes would be incomplete without this weather wielder. Armed with the ability to bring strong winds, lightning, and tornadoes at will, Storm is one of the X-Men’s greatest heroes and leaders.




Sam Wilson



Other Name: Falcon / Captain America
First Appearance: Captain America #117 (1969)
Created By: Stan Lee & Gene Colan
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Sam Wilson held the moniker Falcon for decades. Regarded as one of the first mainstream African-American comic book heroes, it’s no wonder Wilson was chosen to take over the mantle of Captain America during Steve Rogers’ short-lived retirement. Anthony Mackie has made the mechanical-winged hero a movie star in Captain America: Winter Soldier.




John Stewart



Other Name: Green Lantern
First Appearance: Green Lantern Vol 2. #87 (1971)
Created By: Denny O’Neil & Neal Adams
Publisher: DC Comics

The green power-ringed hero is the first African-American to star in his own DC Comic. Known for his serious demeanor, Stewart acts as Earth’s representative in the Green Lantern Corps. He also plays an integral role in The Justice League.





Luke Cage



Other Name: Power Man
First Appearance: Luke Cage: Hero for Hire #1 (1972)
Created By: Archie Goodwin & John Romita Sr.
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Unbreakable skin and superhuman strength? Needless to say Power Man has a pretty great set of abilities. Often teaming up with his wife, Jessica Jones, and best buddy Iron Fist, Cage fights crime in New York City. Originally a superhero born out of blaxploitation, Cage was redesigned to fit a more modern comic book world. After a lengthy role in Marvel’s Jessica Jones, the super-powered hero is set to star in his own Netflix series later this year as well.




Black Panther



Other Name: T’Challa
First Appearance: Fantastic Four #52 (1966)
Created By: Stan Lee & Jack Kirby
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Black Panther is one of the most innovative characters ever. Hailing from the fictional kingdom of Wakanda, T’Challa rules as king. He’s not only a warrior but a master strategist with catlike grace that makes him a threat to everyone who crosses his path. Needless to say, we can’t help geeking out as the resurgence of Black Panther. Between author Ta-Nehisi Coates taking the helm for the comics this year and a debut in the highly anticipated film Captain America: Civil War, it seems the T’Challa is finally getting his due.


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