Marvel-ous! Issue #12: Top 10 Black Superheroes in Marvel Comics

Marvel Comics has been known and renowned for their progressive views and treatment of characters in their comics. Marvel began introducing black characters into their comics in the 1960s, right in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement. What is striking to me, is how Marvel introduced these characters without any self-righteous fanfare about their progressive attitudes, but rather, introduced them just as they would with any other character. While this doesn't seem like much now, at the time it was a clear statement that black people are no different than any other person on the planet.

In North America, February is recognized as Black History Month. I was trying to decide how I should honor this month, and decided that the best way was to celebrate the incredible black superheroes that we know and love in Marvel Comics.

As with any of my lists, this is my personal list, based on my readings of the characters, and my personal connection to them. This in no way is a comprehensive list, so if you have others you want to see on the list, feel free to talk about them in the comments! Without further ado, let's get started!

#10: Cloak (Tyrone Johnson)

Cloak was first introduced in 1982 in Spectatular Spider-Man. As a child, Tyrone witnessed a great deal of violence and injustice, including the murder of his best friend at the hand of a police officer. This course of events lead him to be very hardened and merciless against crime and evil. Cloak's super power allows him to absorb things into another realm known as the "Darkforce Dimension". Currently, Cloak is a street level hero with his partner Dagger. Admittedly, I have a soft spot for anti-heroes, and this has made Cloak a beloved character of mine. His tragic past, coupled with his attitude towards crime is extremely compelling, and I look forward to every issue he appears in.

#9 Deathlok (Michael Collins)

Deathlok was first introduced in his own title in 1990. Originally, Michael Collins was a computer programer for Roxxon Oil, a subsidiary of Roxxon Energy, the go-to evil corporation of the Marvel Universe. His main focus was creating artificial limbs, thinking they were intended to help handicapped individuals. Unfortunately, this was not the case, and Collins discovered that his work was being used for the "Deathlok Project" and complained to his boss and perceived friend, Harlan Ryker. Ryker responded by having Collins' brain removed from his body and placed into the deadly cyborg. It took Deathlok time to take control of his new body, but when he did he got revenge on his former friend, and became a superhero. It took me a while to become attached to Deathlok, as he is very cold and dry (much like Vision). However, reading more Deathlok has lead me enjoy his dry humor and calculating approach to situations.

#8 Darwin (Armando Muñoz)

Darwin was first introduced in X-Men: Deadly Genesis #2 in 2006. Born with abnormal physical attributes, he was abandoned by his father, abused by children, and rejected by his mother. After attempting to commit suicide, Armando was sent to Moira McTaggart, which lead to him being recruited by Professor X. Darwin's power is the ability to "evolve" to whatever situation he finds himself in. This has included night-vision, gills, fire-proof skin, increased intelligence, converting himself to pure energy, no longer requiring oxygen, and understanding languages instantly. I firmly believe that Darwin is one of the most underused X-Men in the comics. I love the idea of being able to adapt to anything, and his backstory is deep and interesting. And as a sidenote, the fact that Darwin was the only X-Man to die in X-Men: First Class, pisses me off to no end.

#7: Power Man (Luke Cage)

Cage was first introduced in Hero for Hire in 1972. Born Carl Lucas, the boy who would become Power Man, was involved in several gangs in the Harlem area. Lucas would take part in small time crime, until realizing that his actions were hurting his loved ones, he left his gang and went on attempting to better himself. This, as well as some drama over a girl, lead Lucas' gangmate to frame him for drug possession, and land him in prison. After serving his time, Lucas would sign on with scientist Noah Burnstein, taking part in Super-Serum experiments, which ultimately gave he superhuman strength and durability. He would legally change his name to Luke Cage, and launched the company "Hero for Hire" where he would provide superhero services for a price. Cage often teams up with Iron Fist, and the two have shared many adventures. Cage is a successful businessman, and doesn't need to rely on his strength to solve problems. Cage was huge for the black community, as he was the first black character to have his own self-titled series.

#6: Falcon/Captain America (Sam Wilson)

Sam Wilson first appeared in Captain America #117 in 1969. Wilson, like our last entry, grew up in Harlem. He was the son of a minister, who was killed trying to break up a fight in the streets, and his mother was killed by a mugger a mere two years later. Wilson turned to a life of crime as a way of dealing with his anger and grief, working for the mob. The rest of his origin is impossible for me to describe in my own words, so this is the description direct from the Marvel database: "After an assignment in Rio de Janeiro, Sam's plane crashed in a remote Caribbean island where the Red Skull and his henchmen, the Exiles, were hiding out... He used a Cosmic Cube to... give Sam the ability to telepathically communicate with birds, especially a bird that Wilson had bought named Redwing. Sam helped Captain America defeat the Skull and did indeed become his partner as the Falcon." Recently, Wilson has taken over the mantle of Captain America, and is currently leader of the Avengers. As an unrelated note, Wilson's nephew Jim was formerly a sidekick to the Hulk, and was the first openly HIV positive character in comics.

#5: Oya (Idie Okonkwo)

Idie Okonkwo was first introduced in Uncanny X-Men #528 in 2010. I was first introduced to her as a student of the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning, and have been fascinated with her ever since. Idie is a mutant with the power of pyrokinesis, meaning she can control the temperature around her. Sadly, following the events of M-Day which caused her powers to manifest, her lack of control caused her to burn down her Nigerian village, killing her parents and sister. This has caused her to have a very somber and bleak outlook on the world, which greatly juxtaposes her age. Her affectionate approach toward Broo (one of my favorite characters ever) allows her to show a softer more vulnerable side, which is beautiful and wonderful to see. I can not wait to see what else they do with her character in the future.

#4: Storm (Ororo Monroe)

Storm was first introduced in Giant Sized X-Men #1 in 1975. Ororo Monroe is the latest in a long line of African priestesses with the ability to wield magic. Her mother was a Kenyan princess, and her father was an American photojournalist. When Ororo was six months old, she and her parents moved to Cairo, Egypt and, at the age of five, a plane crash destroyed their home. Ororo's parents were killed, but she survived, buried under rubble near her mother's body. This traumatizing effect left Ororo with the severe claustrophobia that still afflicts her today. For those who don't know, Storm has the ability to control the weather around her. Storm has lead the X-Men for many years, and is one of the most powerful mutants in existance. She is also the only character in the main Marvel universe to be a member of the X-Men, Avengers, and Fantastic Four.

#3: Nick Fury

The Nick Fury that I am referring to is that of the Ultimate Universe, and he first appeared in Ultimate Marvel Team Up #1 in 2001. This is the Nick Fury that Samuel L. Jackson's character is based off of. Fury was born in the early 20th century and fought for the US Military in World War I. This was where he first met Wolverine, who was a very close friend until his death. Fury was injected with a serum giving him super human strength, as well as heightened senses. Fury is now the directer of S.H.I.E.L.D. A careful observer may notices that while this version of Fury is black, the mainstream version is white. This is a big concept to explain, so please follow this link to a video that explains it better than I ever could.

#2: T'Challa (Black Panther)

T'Challa was first introduced in Fantastic Four #52 in 1966. T'Challa is the first son of King T'Chaka of the nation of Wakanda in Africa. His mother, N'Yami, died on the birth and his adopted older brother, Hunter, blamed him for her death. His second mother, Ramonda, left the family when T'Challa was only eight, and when he was in his teens, his father T'Chaka was murdered by Klaw over the rare metal Vibranium . He started training himself with one purpose in mind, to take revenge. Klaw was later driven away after almost being killed by T’Challa, though Mr. Fantastic prevented him from doing so. T'Challa then defeated the then current Black Panther and consumed a Heart-Shaped Herb to link him to Bast, the Panther God. The herb gave him the knowledge of all prior Black Panthers, superhuman acute senses, superhuman strength and speed, and superhuman healing.

#1: Spider-Man (Miles Morales)

Miles was introduced in Ultimate Comics Fallout #4 in 2011. Miles, a young kid from Brooklyn visited his uncle Aaron Davis against his parents' wishes, because of his criminal past, after being awarded the final spot in a charter school lottery. After being bitten by a genetically enhanced spider, which emerged from Aaron's bag, Miles discovered he received super-human abilities like camouflage, increased agility, and some sort of stunning blast. After revealing his newly found powers to his best friend, both ended in the conclusion he had power similar to Spider-Man's, including wall-crawling.But Miles reacted negatively, as he just wanted to be normal, deciding to leave the heroism to the actual Spider-Man. However, months after this, the Ultimate Universe's Peter Parker was killed by the Green Goblin, and Miles took over the mantle of Spider-Man.

Like I said, this list was very difficult for me to narrow down, and in the end it came down to my own personal preference. What do you think? Who is your favourite black superhero? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time, True Believers,