Race and Comics
The article also documents the rise of African American sidekicks -- Captain America's trusted Falcon (1969) -- while interracial justice leagues began appearing in the 1970s.
The Shadow League chronicles comic stereotypes, from Harlem as the hometown of every African American superhero to the use of the descriptor "black" in superhero names; think "Black Lightning, Black Vulcan, Black Goliath, Black Racer, the Black Spider, Black Manta and so on."
The most recent addition to the black pantheon of superheroes would be Nick Fury - who apparently underwent a race change in 2002's "The Ultimates #1" -- from a white World War II army hero to, I mean let's just say it, Samuel L. Jackson. Can you imagine anyone else being Nick Fury? I can't, but Jackson himself was stunned.
“It was kind of weird,” Jackson said. “I just happened to be in a comic store, and I picked up the comic because I saw my face. And I was like, ‘Wait a minute, I’m not sure I remember giving somebody permission to use my image.’”
The comic itself even noted the likeness in a panel in which the Ultimates discuss who would portray them in a hypothetical movie. Fury answers, “Why, Mister Samuel L. Jackson, of course. That’s not even open to debate.”
Stunned, Jackson approached Marvel.
“They were kind of like, ‘Yeah, we are planning on making movies, and we do hope you’ll be a part of them,’” Hero Complex reports.Hope, indeed. Thankfully, he took them up on the deal.
The Shadow League closes "Black Heroism Illustrated" by saying, "while publishers were making an active effort to court and engage black readers, their ideas regarding [black] culture were still boxed and stereotypical . . . Comic Books and race in America go hand in hand."
As a product of pop culture, comics are a reflection of our national and community beliefs. Do you see more superheroes of color? Who is your favorite? What franchise needs more heroes of color? What other white superhero would you like to see make a race change?