A Firestorm Problem?

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I’ve made it clear several times that my all time favorite superhero is Firestorm. This stems from my days as a early comic book collector in the early 1980’s. Over the years I’ve come to look at this character, that resides in the DC universe, as the runt of the litter. The most powerful character to always get the worst hand in the deck. Please bare with me as I kidnap take you on a journey. (Warning: Spoilers lay ahead)

Firestorm_v.1_01Firestorm was created in 1978 by Al Milgrom and Gerry Conway as the answer to the Marvel problem DC was having. They wanted a superhero that was young and flashy. Something that was eye catching and had a science fiction feel to it. So, this duo came up with Firestorm: The Nuclear Man. Back then, the cold war was real and there always seemed to be some terrorist looking to get there hands on a nuclear weapon. Firestorm was created by a nuclear accident that fused two people into one, Ronald Raymond (High School Jock) and Dr. Martin Stein (Physicist).

While the first volume ended after 5 issues in 1978, the second volume began again in 1982 and lasted 100 issues. Firestorm’s popularity grew as he became a member of the Justice League of America which also lead to a animated role in the Super Powers cartoon. I remember getting the toy and thinking it wouldn’t get any better than that. After he played a critical role in Crisis on Infinite Earths, the readership for DC in general began to decline and multi book crossover became the norm. Firestorm was losing steam after Conway left the book in 1986.

This lead to a different writer (Ostrander) and different people who controlled the Firestorm matrix. This is where everything becomes dicey. Stein “dies” and Ronald shares the matrix with Mikhail Arkadin. Then after a few years of that crap, Stein comes back and takes over as the true “Elemental” Firestorm and the series ends at 100. From here, in different books, we find out the Ronald has leukemia and is cured by Stein (who has been living in space) which allows him to be the original Firestorm again without Stein.

COLD!!!!Years later Ronald’s Firestorm dies in action and his power is somehow absorbed by Jason Rusch, a young brilliant African American student, who takes over the the matrix alone. This starts volume 3 of Firestorm which does not last long. Before the New 52 starts we find out the Jason and Stein end up merging to become a stable version of Firestorm.

Then everything is reset during the new 52 where Ronald and Jason are separate Firestorms created by Stein and his God Particle. They can also merge to become an ultimate form. This book also didn’t last.

Again, runt of the litter consumed with bad ideas and bad concepts. He had a tendency to shine in books that were not his own. I liked Jason Rusch because he was so smart that there was no need for Stein in his version of Firestorm.

Why am I saying all this? Well, this brings me to current times. DC’s highly anticipated, Legends of Tomorrow debut last night with considerable hype. One of the main characters is Firestorm whom we saw in The Flash television series.

So let’s play some catch up with that. Firestorm in The Flash was Ronald Raymond (scientist) and Dr. Martin Stein (Physicist). In season one, we spend most of the season figuring out who and what Firestorm is. There is a real clever mystery about it too and we even see Jason Rush (Stein’s student) for like an episode. At this point I’m thinking, I know what’s going to happen, if they kill off Raymond, then Jason will be the next person in line just like the comics. Let me be clear, the writing on this show has been superb.

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So what happens? (Spoilers from here on out)

They kill off Raymond and the next person in line is Jefferson Jackson in Season two. Who? Jefferson was a character in the early run of Firestorm as Ronald’s best friend. A fellow High School basketball player (with an afro too). In The Flash, Jefferson is a star quarterback that gets injured by the particle accelerator explosion and somehow becomes a viable option to merge with Stein in the matrix. The problem with this, for me, was that they used a typical black story trope of an athlete kid that lost all his options and cant go to college now instead of using the genius black kid in Jason Rush that we rarely ever see in any television show (outside of Urkel in Family Matters).

Jax (what they call him) is a stereotypical black kid, much like the new Wally West in The Flash. So when we talk about how people of color are portrayed in Television, Film, and books, you can see why this is a little disconcerting.

Ok, last night. In Legends of Tomorrow we see that Time Master, Rip Hunter selects eight people to hunt down Vandal Savage and he awaits for their answer. Stein is down to go and Jax isn’t. Understand that Firestorm doesn’t exist if both of them are not involved. Dr. Martin Stein drugs Jax (via roofie in his drink) and kidnaps him in order to make the quest. First of all, this is uncharacteristic of Stein. Secondly, the white man – black man dynamic of the former kidnapping the latter to go on a voyage is NOT GOOD WRITING.

It further proves my point that Firestorm is the runt of the litter and with writing like this, the character will never get any respect. Also, this move reduces Jax to sidekick status to Stein. The power dynamic is now reversed even though Jax ultimately controls the matrix they share. Have I confused you? Good. Because this shit is confusing.

I should’ve changed the title of this entry to, How to Destroy a Perfectly Good Character in Less Than a Thousand Words.

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Visibility & the Black Superhero at #NYCC

After all the lights have been powered down, the boxes packed and shipped, the curtains folded, the pipe and drapes put away, and the carpets have been rolled up, I thought it was a good time for me to reflect on my day at The New York City Comic Con.

In the beginning, I debated about going. I was only able to get a ticket for one day and after the debacle with the ticket fiasco, I was convinced that no one at the NYCC really cared about us and our need to share our love of comic books and nerdom in general. Perhaps it’s the New Yorker in me that sees that the real motivation behind everything is the all mighty dollar. The commercialization of childhoods gets played out on a grand scale at these events.

I almost didn’t go.

But something funny happened along the way to the NY Comic Con. I began to feel the pull of representation. Last year, I made it my business to visit comic book creators and artists of color because I know how hard it is to create something that you want people to see or read. I know how hard the hustle is to push a book that no one knows about onto the masses. So I met people from Vexed Comics and I met the creator of A Reason To Smile and I realized that this comic con may not be just solely about the big companies trying to get rich off of our imaginations. All this to say, I knew that I should give this year’s NYCC a shot.

That is when I heard about Afrofuturefest.

Let’s pause here for some context. There has been a growing number of Facebook groups, hashtags, podcasts, and twitter accounts that have been exploring the growing visibility of “blerds.” You can call it either black nerds or nerds of color but one thing that’s for sure, this is a movement. The thing about this movement is that its goes far beyond Miles Morales, Black Panther, and Cyborg. This movement is about characters we’ve never hear of like The Mantamaji, Luca, or T.A.S.K. (to name a few) because these are the stories created for us by us. Podcasts like Black Comics Chat and Facebook groups like CNOC (Comic Nerds of Color) always seem to remind me that the “Big 2” are simply pandering to us.

So if you follow twitter accounts like @BlackGirlNerds and @theblerdgurl you would know that this movement isn’t a new thing. However, there’s a feeling that all of this is just starting to explode. Just knowing that these ladies who (dedicate their time to promote everything black superhero and beyond) would be at NYCC made me realize that I had to show support. I knew that I had to visit the Women in Comics table, I knew I had to visit every table @theblerdgurl posted on Tumblr, and I knew I had to meet Jamie Broadnax (Black Girl Nerds).

Which brings me to Afrofuturefest.

I’ve already went on record saying that the best part of NYCC this past weekend was the Afrofuturefest booth. It was a very large set up of tables solely comprised of creators of color with a huge banner and feeling of welcomed arrival. To explain what this is all about is simply pulling their description from the website:

A group of African-American Artists, Gamers, Filmmakers, Animators and Writers will be coming together on the MAIN FLOOR of the Jacob Javitz Center to showcase their work, meet fans, conduct interviews and celebrate all of those who love fantasy, sci-fi, horror, superheroes and pop culture.

As a writer I felt at home chatting it up. I met people. I bought books. I got signatures. I became a fan of the con again and all because I saw myself. I finally saw what it’s like to actually be visible in a industry that panders to us.

The beautiful thing about this is that this is just the beginning.

By the way, I should get a press pass huh?

The Crisis of Comic Book Nerds

tumblr_nabpamQG2B1rsex6lo1_1280It must be hard to be a nerd these days. Look what’s happening in the not real world! Captain America is now Black, Thor is now a woman, Wally West is Black (one of the many version of the Flash), there are two Black Supermen flying around, a  Muslim Green Lantern, and the crux of this whole thing is that damn Miles Morales, the Ultimate Spider-Man. Who said it was OK to have all this diversity in comic books?

Wait. Let me fix the first sentence. It must be hard to be a white nerd these days.

The socially awkward have a problem with the broad brush stroke of diversity that also includes feminism. These are big words that get thrown around in the comic book worlds because (surprise, surprise!) current comic book audience includes women and men of all races. So it would only make sense that Marvel and DC would make books (or at least characters) to address their changing readership.

Before I even go any further. I need to point out that I’m not addressing how well or poorly these companies actually represent people of color. I’m not going to address how horribly these companies portray women in their porn like renditions of variant covers or how they contribute to overall debate on standards of beauty when in reality most these fans boys just want to fantasize and masturbate to some form of super heroine.

Justice-League-of-America-Vol.-1-200-1982This is more about the nerds who are used to the norm. They are used to the role playing games in which they imagine a world of trolls and elves in which everyone is white (thank you Peter Jackson for the reinforcement). Do you know how hard it is to find a picture of a Black woman, Ranger class? If it exists then I wouldn’t know about it. These fan boys are used to a world where the the only diverse version of the Justice League of America is when Martian Manhunter was on the team.

So why are they up in arms? Their world is crashing in around them. The “minorities” are taking over their space. They are used to the one Black friend. Do you know what I’m talking about? Let me list the one Black friend in comics and beyond: James Rhodes (Iron Man), The Falcon (Captain America), Lando Calrissian (Star Wars), Cyborg (Teen Titans/Justice League), and John Stewart (Justice League/Green Lantern). Those just from the top of my head. Please notice that Cyborg and John Stewart are rarely on the same team at the same time.

comics-the-multiversity-1But now, we have books like Multiversity that depicts worlds of black superheros (I will not mention the plethora of independent books that have entire worlds dedicated black superheros…or maybe I will) and we have Marvel that is pushing the envelope in their cinematic universe as well as comic books. People are losing their minds in comment sections all over the internet that is reserved for them. Donald Glover is the voice of Miles Morales in the 3rd season of Ultimate Spider-Man. Just one episode and the fans boys have lost their 20 sided dice.

Why is this important to them? It is that impossible to see a diverse face in a comic? Neither comic book company has really scratched the surface. Latinos, Asians, and Native Americans are barely represented. Women are still portrayed with huge boobs and impossible outfits to fight crime. But you dare put pants on Wonder Woman? You dare make Green Lantern gay? You have the nerve to have Michael B Jordan play the Human Torch? You’ve just ruined comics forever.

I call it progress. Although real progress has already occurred.

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Title image by John Jennings

Diversity Isn’t Pandering: Notes For the Next Era in Media

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When I think about having a discussion about comic books, I know that I just don’t stop at the books themselves. The conversation can easily turn into a debate about animation as well. Often times comic books are the inspiration for animation. In either case, diversity is always an issue. Next up on the guest blogger list: Carrie Tupper.

“You’ve got a pretty colorful crowd here. Did you check off a list or something?”

“Where are all the white people?”

This is a pretty normal response we get when people see our pitch for Kamikaze, a TV show concept that my husband, Alan and I created. See, the majority of our characters aren’t white. In fact, our core cast only has one white person in it, who also happens to be female (but that’s another discussion entirely). Because of this lack of white people we sometimes get ‘The Rainbow Coalition’ question. Did we really create our entire cast and world to simply pander to non-white audiences?

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Now I do have a few confessions to make before I go any further, especially when I’m given the privilege of taking the podium here at Volume 2. You see, Alan and I are a little different from the other creators who’ve blogged this month by a few factors.

  1. the-kamikaze-team-behind-the-scenesWe’re animators, and fairly new to the comic world
  2. We’re a husband and wife team
  3. We’re ‘sun-reflecting-off-our-skin-will-blind-you’ white
  4. The only PoC on our team is the lovely Havana, who is amazingly talented and adored by all.

In the 1980’s and 1990’s the Rainbow Coalition of Diversity took a forefront to the TV animated world. It was like suddenly there was this checklist that had to be filled out planeteersbefore anything could get the green light. The one I remember most vividly was the gang ofPlaneteers from Captain Planet, and that’s probably for good reason – they were the ones that got people talking. Every representation you could want for a racially diverse cast was there. And yet I remember being a kid and hearing adults talk so much smack about the show. “This PC crap has got to go!” Or the best one, “Real life isn’t like that!”

The kneejerk reactions against Rainbow Coalitions are founded on two perspectives. EP-Razors-EdgeThemost often complaint is in the vein of “Political Correctness Sucks.” People who say this are simply reacting against the idea of change, acting on bigotry so deeply ingrained they don’t realize (usually) what they’re saying is harmful. The other side of this coin is the reaction that these characters are frankly mere shadows of what they could be. There’s reason to be frustrated with the concept of Rainbow Coalitions. They’re often used as shorthand vocabulary for stand ins of true diversity in any kind of media looking for an effortless way to expand their audience base and brand. Basically it’s lazy.

There’s a fine line between the Rainbow Coalition Diversity and genuine diversity. Rainbow Coalitions bring us characters who look like the part, but can’t act like it; they’re cardboard cutouts of tired tropes and stereotypes in a world of 3D white characters who get to think, have feelings and emote them. Meanwhile genuine diversity allows for characters who are diverse in a myriad of ways while still being thinking feeling and emoting beings. Genuine diversity also stems from the world your characters inhabit.

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When we created the world of Kamikaze, we created a world still rebuilding itself in the aftermath of a global catastrophe. Our world is a diverse world because it can’t afford not to be. There’s a reason behind our world being populated with a diverse amount of people, which is why our cast has to reflect that.

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Does that mean that we pandered for the sake of diversity?

We don’t think so.

According to the Miriam Webster Online dictionary Pandering is defined as such: “To do or provide what someone wants or demands even though it is not proper, good or reasonable,” OR “to provide gratification for others’ desires.” Demanding the world be represented as diverse as we know it to be isn’t an unreasonable request. Demanding it remain a space devoid of diversity is unreasonable. If the team behind Kamikaze has been providing for anyone’s gratification, it’s been our own. With very few exceptions Kamikaze’s characters came out of the box as diverse as they are. The end goal has always been telling a compelling story with a cast of complex and vivid characters. No checklists needed.

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The thing is genuine diversity isn’t something limited just to race. It encompasses sexuality, gender or lack thereof, ability, body type and a host of other constantly evolving considerations. True diversity means embracing all the complexities of the world, not just the cliff notes.

Yes, there are people who do pander using the Rainbow Coalition model, but we shouldn’t let that distract us from the fact that genuine diversity isn’t pandering – it’s the path to better storytelling.

new years imgeTo find out more about Kamikaze:

Our Website: http://kamikazeanimated.com/
Our Tumblr: http://kamikazeanimated.tumblr.com/
Our Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KamikazeAnimated

The Unlikey Muse: Bigotry in Comic Books

1912229_10202493266268143_1977853857_n“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet,
then you must write it.” ―Toni Morrison

The one thing that I’m personally learning this month is that there are a plethora of people who feel the need to create work because there is absence of something or because there is a void that needs to be filled. With that being said, here is today’s guest blogger, Denny Upkins:

They say necessity is the mother of all invention and by extension, creativity. As a storyteller I’ve certainly found that to be true for the narratives I penned.

As a queer geek of color, I’ve learned early on that geek culture is for white people for a number of reasons, and to be a PoC or an LGBTQ means to be treated like a pariah.

More than that, countless marginalized characters are endlessly undercut and buried due to the rampant bigotry that pervades the media. Extraordinary characters such as Storm (the First Lady of Marvel), Renee Montoya, Regina Mills, Freedom Ring, Midnighter, Cassandra Cain and countless others who have been lightning rods for racism, misogyny, and/or homophobia by fandom and the industry alike.

But as any artist will tell you, inspiration can often come in the unlikeliest of forms.

My online better half and partner in crime, playwright Shawn Harris and I were having a discussion one day about how bigotry can often be the best muse. We’re often empowered to tell the tales that white supremacy, homophobia, and patriarchy refuses to acknowledge. For example, if the comic book world is hellbent on not giving the proper shine to Cassandra Cain and Midnighter, then I would simply have to pen an original adventure honoring the spirit of these heroes and hopefully in the process educate, entertain, and empower neglected and marginalized audiences.

Make no mistake, this is about power. It always has been. Not only is there power in the narrative but power in controlling the narrative. Why do you think so many whites work tirelessly to block us out of spec fiction or the media in general? Power. Case in point, there’s a reason why even though the m/m slash romance genre for and about queer males, it is dominated and run by cis-gendered white women. It’s difficult to be heterosexist, homophobic and fetishistic about queer males in a genre where we’re empowered to share our truths. This is why harassment, stalking and death threats of queer males is the norm with these sociopaths in that genre. See how it intersects?

Ask yourself this. Even though X-Men is based on the Civil Rights struggle of blacks (ie OUR STORY), how many black writers have actually written for Marvel’s flagship title? For that matter, how many writers of color? Again, power.

And while their bigotry has paid off for a season, it will ultimately prove to be media’s undoing. Insiders can’t understand why Hollywood continues to hemorrhage money while Kickstarters, web series and other online media initiatives continue to gain ground. To quote Jack Harkness, it’s the 21st century, everything changes. The internet allows us to exchange ideas, information, and other resources to circumvent a crumbling and corrupt image(1)industry. We get to share our stories our way and connect with our audiences on our terms. In other words, we take our power back and excel in the face of adversity as people of color tend to do.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have another epic adventure to write.

And they say there’s no new tale to tell.

Black Independent Comics: Ultra Supreme

ULTRASUPREMEContinuing where we last left off, I’ve noticed that there is a lot of buzz this month about Black Superheroes, which is awesome. I think that many of us have had the same ideas at the same time. It’s time to show this industry that the lack of diversity in comics is unacceptable and it time to create our own. Now, here is today’s guest blogger…

I’m Derek Mason, creator, writer, cartoonist and Publisher at Mason D Entertainment. I’ve been a life-long comics fan, mostly of Independents, but just recently got into (and out of) comic books from the big 2.

ultrasupremecolorGrowing up, my favorite comic book was Eastman & Laird’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I didn’t get into superheroes, particularly BLACK super heroes until after seeing Robert Townsend’s Meteor Man and buying Milestone and ANIA comics, which all seemed to debut at the same time. Those comic books came and went so I got into reading Marvel and DC. Due to the lack of credible minorities and the lack of black female super heroes,(tired of Storm only getting recognized) I decided to create my own team: Ultra Supreme.

Based in Atlanta, Ultra Supreme consists of Keyo Keyz (warrior angel), Panther Huey (mutant revolutionary), Mecha-X (Japanese student with alien armor/robot), and 3 BLACK FEMALE Heroes; E.G (immortal goddess), Mz. Unstoppable (super strong/fast alien ), and Lady Gunz ( soldier/sharp shooter).

My goal is to hopefully inspire other black creators like Mr. Townsend and Mr. McDuffie inspired me to create their own Independent comics and to add more black female superheroes to the pop culture super hero mythos.

Ultra Supreme will be the first of 3 titles to be released from Mason D Entertainment.  A “Mason D Universe” source-book is also in the works and should be released by April. The first issue of Ultra Supreme will drop by mid September with art done by character designers O.C. Taylor and Oliver Banks. I don’t have a website as of yet, but you can follow Mason D Entertainment on Facebook.

Black Independent Comics: The Horsemen

oyaclovenAs promised, this month I will have several guest bloggers that will promote their work in the independent comic book industry. It is imperative to understand that there are great writers of color out there doing good work by creating characters that are appealing to everyone. With no further ado..

Hello!

My name is Jiba Molei Anderson, owner of Griot Enterprises and I will be your guest blogger today. I am also the creator its flagship title, The Horsemen.

What is The Horsemen, you ask? Well, The Horsemen is the story of seven ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances, as the gods of ancient Africa possess them. They have been chosen to protect humanity from themselves…whether humanity wants them to or not. They have been chosen to combat those who control the fate of the planet. Through their actions, the world would never be the same.

Since 2002, there have been three Horsemen series… Let me break it down for you…

HORSEMENDIVINEINTERVENTION_2002The Horsemen: Divine Intervention
The Orisha emerged from a deep slumber. Seeing that their mission had been perverted, they had set about to free us…whether we wanted them to or not. The Horsemen returned. And their presence will change the world.

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The Orisha emerged from a deep slumber. Seeing that their mission had been perverted, they had set about to free us. But, what if there were others not Orisha, not Deitis, not Human, but something more, a new Race? What side would they choose in the coming war?

And, who truly controls the Eight Immortals but the number seven?

HORSEMEN(Cloven)The Horsemen: Mark of the Cloven
Africa is now the new frontier and a beacon of hope for the rest of the world…

However, controlling the world is a family business… And the bastard children of the Deitis want in.

The entire Horsemen series is available in print and download through IndyPlanet, Drive Thru Comics and Amazon. Become a part of the New Mythology… Cheers!

The (lack of) Black Experience in Comic Books

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This journey that I have taken as a writer sometimes makes me think about my past. In my high school days I created an entire universe filled with characters. My friend and I created so many super powered heros and villains that the list stretches for pages. Neither of us could draw very well so the focus was very much on the characters themselves.  I was very proud to come up with back stories and histories along with story arcs. The name of my favorite hero was Supernova aka Philip Maldonado.

I bring this up because, as I look back at it, there was a need for me to see myself in the super hero genre. Growing up all the comic books I read were of white men saving the neighborhood or the world. If I was lucky enough I would get to see a person of color being drawn or even in costume. In any case, I never thought I was bothered by this. I just collected comic books for the sake of reading about my favorite super heros like Firestorm, Spider-Man, The X-Men, and the Justice League to name a few. Yet with hindsight being 20/20, I realize now that I created an outlet for myself with the understanding that if it was up to me, whatever universe I create would be filled with heros and villains of all colors, genders, and creed.

This brings me to the Big Two (Marvel and DC) and how there is a serious lack of black luke-fox-asks-if-hes-batwing-because-hes-blackexperience in their characters. This points to the lack of diversity in both companies. I’m quite sure there is a thought that all heros are cut from the same cloth and are some how homogeneous. So someone like Mr. Terrific could act like someone resembling Tony Stark but there is no sense of the baggage the comes from being an African American. It is not ok for Batman to assign the Luke Fox (The new Batwing) to Africa simply because he’s black (the first Batwing was African) without much push back from that character (and laugh about it when it is brought up).

The point is many of these Black/Latino characters are one dimensional because of the lack of diversity from the Big Two. While it can be a good thing for Marvel to have a few books featuring black characters as the lead (The Mighty Avengers, Fearless Defenders), the characters themselves become bland because there is no real depth to them. That lack of depth shows in sales which ultimately leads to the cancellation of books like Mr. Terrific, Static Shock, and Blue Beetle. The only book that has been the exception to all this has been Miles Morales (the Ultimate Spider-Man) and that is because he is getting the complete backing of Marvel to be the hero for that comic line.

1298402248When it comes down to it, the Big Two have no idea what do with theses characters besides using them as a market tool. I tend to use DC in these examples because they seem to fail the most in just about everything except animation, which brings me to my other point. Cartoons like Justice League and Young Justice has done very well with a broad audience and for the most part, that has to do with the late Dwayne McDuffie. It was his development of John Stewart and Hawkgirl that really made the show what it was and by extension Young Justice’s diversity is linked to Milestone Comics, which he was one for the founders of, but I will circle back to that.

There is no way for us to expect any less from the Big Two or any other comic book company that follows the exact same formula. Sure you can create a Black super hero but then what? Do you de-power them or never use them to their full potential? I love how Cyborg has the potential to like Brainiac but will never get there because that would make him a little too powerful. Or we can talk about how DC has a virtual pantheon of characters from their “deal” with Milestone that they are willing to use for a cartoon to draw us in but never use them in the books. That is why it becomes imperative to join a new movement of independent titles created by people of color.

Generally when I think about black comic books, my thoughts revert to Milestone and how those individuals lived the dream of doing it themselves. Their success is a reflection that there is an audience for this but we need to be prepared to support each other. That is why for this month I have invited some independent comic book creators to appear on this blog and talk about their work. It is time show everyone that there are alternatives to the mainstream comics books out there. We deserve better.

Michonne: The Ultimate Black Heroine?

Let me tell you what I am grateful for. The woman called Michonne. Even if you do not watch The Walking Dead, you should recognize what is going on here. We are seeing the birth of the most unorthodox and most unlikely of heroines on Cable Television. A sword wielding Black Woman that kicks ass and takes names.

We live in a time where we see plenty of White women play a that hero role which breaks all kinds of barriers and gender roles. I can name countless movies like Aliens, Prometheus, The Hunger Games, and the Underworld movies just to name a few, yet can you name a real movie when that same person was a Black Woman? While my thoughts go to Pam Greer in Foxy Brown back in the seventies…  most roles for African American women, in particular, are usually neatly carved out as maids, hoes, and single parent mothers trying to make it (and that is just in Tyler Perry films).

But, seemingly, out of now where comes this dark skinned woman in a world where you “fight the dead, and fear the living.” Most people seemed to taken by surprise how good this all looks. Can you imagine if a Black Woman was allowed to take out her “post racial” frustration on the living dead? What would that look like? I can tell you that reading the comic book, she is a survivor that takes no chances and trusts few people and that translation has worked well on screen down to her long dreads.

Which brings me to my next point. She is in a comic book! Can anyone tell me the last time a black woman was a major character in a comic book (that is not Storm from X-Men)? I immediately think about Captain Marvel from the Avengers books in the 1980s. But perhaps Milestone Comics had the most recent Black woman character with “Rocket” from the Icon series which came out in the nineties. I will just just answer my own question and just say that Amanda Waller in DC comics Suicide Squad is the only other MAJOR character in a comic book that I know of currently.

This raises a lot of questions for me. Is there some sort of thought that perhaps Black Woman are not seen as the hero types? I know plenty of strong Black Women that do not need a sword or the power of the Gods to fight crime. This is why seeing Michonne on The Walking Dead is refreshing. I knew about her for a long time by just reading the book (in which she is still alive). Her recent fame is only the tip of the ice berg when it come to her character and over all development in the psyche of the United States when it come to Black Women. She is a well developed character that is no laughing matter unlike Hally Berry’s Catwoman that might have set back African American woman back a few decades.

I challenge anyone who can find me an African American comic/movie/television hero that may have a stronger impact than Michonne. I think anyone will have trouble finding this fictitious person. Please do not include Storm in your searches because she is African. I wish you good luck and read The Walking Dead.

Grammar School

A few weeks ago when I was in NYC, I met up with some of my old friends from grammar school. Thanks to Facebook, we were all able to reconnect and set a meeting in the Bronx. I had a great time and we all talked about the past and what happened to this person to that person. I made me think of so many things, both good and bad.

One could argue about how happy I was during my childhood, between watching my parents marriage crumble and the constant thought in my head that I was never good enough. I had always thought I was the ugliest one in class. I was mad short. My teeth were messed up. Getting braces was just another problem. I got picked by both boys and girls. So, grammar school wasn’t all that fun in my opinion. On the other hand, I learned to defend myself with words. I learn how to be sarcastic and cruel when I needed to be. But, in the end. I think we all just took it for what it was worth. I mean, we were kids after all.

My reflection, however is based on the fact that I feel that people (and I use the term people loosely because I am not sure it is based on anything more than a feeling) thought I would not amount to much. I generally got that sense. I remember thinking about one of the girls in my class that I had a crush on for many years. She was one of the popular was in class and all the good looking boys liked and for the most part she gave them their attention. Well to make a long story short, she belittled me more than one. She also belittled my friends too. I remember thinking that I will not let her do that to me again. I will never give another girl or woman the opportunity be make me feel that I was not good enough.

Even through High School, I would see her every so often and she would kindly wave as she walked by. I am always the nice person, I waved back (although I wanted to throw a rock at her). But, still the feeling was that I will make sure that I am better than she ever thought I would be. This is a feeling that I began to develop over time, not just for her, but for anyone that felt I could not do something. I am not blaming her for this drive I have to be better because again we were just kids. But, it is always a thought in my head.

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Black Super Hero Profile: Mr. Terrific

At a young age, Michael Holt showed remarkable intelligence, reading and assimilating the works of Bohr, Einstein, Planck, and Feynman, the pantheon of theoretical physics, at the age of six. He studied advanced science, space, and time “while other children struggled through Sesame Street. Holt displayed “a natural aptitude for having natural aptitudes”, as he called it, easily picking up and retaining complex skills and abilities that other men spent their entire lives perfecting. Before he began his career as a superhero, he already possessed 14 Ph.D’s (two in Engineering and Physics — including doctorates and masters degrees in Law, Psychology, Chemistry, Political science, and Mathematics) and was a self-made multi-millionaire with a high tech firm called Cyberwear (subsequently sold to Waynetech) and was a Gold medal winning Olympic decathlete. (taken from wikipedia)

I like personally like Mr. Terrific because he is by far the smartest Black Superhero. He has no powers other than his brain. He is the Chairman of a Super Hero group called the Justice Society of America. His trademarks are the T-Spheres that follow him everywhere. The are made of nanites the he created. To my knowledge he is one of the few Black Superheroes that have encountered open racism in his tenure with the JSA.

I give him a 4 of 5 because to me he is definitely on of the better superheroes that exist.