Join us as we count down the top 10 black super heroes.
First Appearance – Captain America #117 (Sept. 1969)
Coming in at #10, Sam Wilson aka Falcon. Falcon was the first comic book hero to experience racism. He actually quit The Avengers during his first tenure after the learning he was only recruited to make the team racially diverse. No token blackness found here. Falcon has the ability to flight using mechanical wings in most incarnations, and avian telepathy given to him by the Red Skull. He’s technically the Aquaman of Marvel Comics, but never appeared as such. Falcon is low on the list, but has seen increased popularity in recent years, starting with his portrayal by Anthony Mackie in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and his current stint as the All-New Captain America in Marvel Comics .
First Appearance – The Ultimates #1 (2002) / Battle Scars #1 (2011)
This incarnation of Nick Fury, heavily inspired by Samuel L. Jackson, was first seen in Marvel’s Ultimate Comics imprint. Nick Fury’s character was largely the same, only this time you read everything he said in Jackson voice and may or may not quoted Julius Winfield in between panels. Due to his immense popularity, Marvel introduced the new Nick Fury to it’s main 616 Universe. Jackson would later portray Nick Fury in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, making his first on-screen appearance in Iron Man (2011). Nick Fury has appeared in a number of animated Marvel shows since 2009, including that weird Marvel/Phineas & Ferb crossover.
First Appearance – Icon #1, May 1993
Gifted with Immortality and some crazy Alien Physiology, Icon was probably the firstblack superhero to go toe-2-toe with Superman. Originally born Arnus, from the planet Terminia, Icon was previously an intergalactic Lawyer of sorts. All of that changes once your spaceship crash lands on a plantation in 1839. He was instrumental in the creation of The Underground Railroad, therefore he stayed Republican. Icon hails from the Dakotaverse of Milestone Comics, but his universe was merged with DC’s universe during the events of Final Crisis. He’s largely forgotten in favor of his Milestone/DC mate, Static. Icon would however inspire DC Comic’s current Black Supermen, President Calvin Ellis of Multiveristy and Val-Zod of Earth 2.
First Appearance – The Tomb of Dracula #10 (July 1973)
What’s cooler than a street wise vampire armed with a Katana? Nothing. If I compiled a list of the most underrated Black superheroes in history, Blade would probably be #1. Blade’s popularity didn’t increase until the late-90’s with the release of Blade (1998) starring Wesley Snipes. While there was a number of Batman Live-Action media and mediocre superhero adaptations throughout the decade, this film would go on to start the comic book movie boom you see today. Writer, David Goyer, whom penned the Blade Trilogy, later wrote The Dark Knight Trilogy, and the upcoming DC Comics Cinematic Universe starting with Man Of Steel. Unfortunately his ties with Blade were severed after Wesley reportedly tried to choke him on the set of Blade: Trinity.
First Appearance – Ultimate Fallout #4, August 2011
Miles Morales is a 13 yo prodigy who served as Peter Parker’s replacement after his death in Marvel’s Ultimate Comics imprint. No one anticipated him sticking around as long as he did, moving from one story arc to another across both The 616 and The Ultimate continuity – becoming the fastest growing Superhero in recent years by popular vote. From merchandise, to video games and TV, there is no shortage of Black Spider-Man. He shares a close relationship with Donald Glover of Community/Childish Gambino fame. Donald Glover found himself spearheading the #DonaldGlover4Spiderman campaign in 2011 during the pre-production of The Amazing Spider-man. The campaign was notably supported by both Stan Lee, and creator of Miles Morales, Brian Micheal Bendis. Unfortunately Andrew Garfield got the part, but it wasn’t long before Donald Glover would voice “Miles Morales” in Season 3 of Ultimate Spider-Man. Glover has yet again found himself in the midst of live-action Spider-Man talks due to the announcement of Marvel’s partnership with Sony that will bring Spider-Man into the MCCU.
First Appearance – Green Lantern vol. 2 #87 (December 1971)
To kick off the Top 5 is none other than John Stewart. It’s subjective whether or not John Stewart is best Green Lantern, but there’s no doubt he’s has been favored in mainstream media throughout the years. John Stewart is one of DC’s earliest black superheroes and had served as backup to both Hal Jordan during the majority of his run. What makes John Stewart better than Hal Jordan is his Marine background and degree in Architecture, making his lantern constructs far more efficient. His popularity didn’t increase until Cartoon Network’s Justice League and Justice League Unlimited saw John Stewart as the Primary Green Lantern. Here, he was voiced by Phil LaMarr and in 2013, LaMarr repised his role as John Stewart in the Netherrealm fighting game, Injustice: Gods Among Us. Like Harley Quinn before him, many of his attributes and background carried over back into the comics, making him better than he was before thanks to writer and animator, Bruce Timm.
First Appearance – Fantastic Four #52 (July 1966)
Black Panther, obviously named after the Black Nationalist group created to defend minorities against the police and government factions, was not initially called..Black Panther, strangely enough. His name was actually Coal Tiger, but Black Panther is just too perfect too ignore. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby back in 1966, T’Challa was the first African Superhero in comics. Black Panther saw most of his success during Reginald Hudlin’s run of the character. Hudlin is probably best known for his directorial work on films such as House Party and Boomerang, also serving as president BET and producer on a number of films and TV works. From 2005-2008, Hudlin wrote some of Black Panthers memorable moments including “The Bride of The Panther” in 2006. An animated series based on Hudlin’s work aired in 2011 which featured an ensemble cast, starring Kerry Washington, Alfre Woodard and Djimon Hounsou as T’Challa. Marvel has announced that actor Chadwick Boseman has been cast as Black Panther in the 2016 Captain America: Civil War and Black Panther slated for November 2017. A lot is in store for the King of Wakanda.
First Appearance – DC Comics Presents #26 (1980)
If you’re wondering why War Machine hasn’t showed up on this list yet, here’s why. Cyborg will eat his soul. While Tony Stark was trying to decide which Armor to wear to the dinner party, Victor Stone was busy transforming into a fighter jet. Combat ready, computer interfacing, technological connection to everything that has a pulse and/or usb outlet; there really isn’t much that Cyborg cannot do. Cyborg was originally a member of the Teen Titans. Like most of the heroes listed here, he found most of his popularity outside of comics, starting with Galactic Guardians in 1985 where he was voiced by Ernie Hudson. Fans will probably remember the Khary Payton voiced version best from the Teen Titans animated series in the early 2000s. Since the cancellation of Teen Titans, Cyborg has not only found new life on a new animated show (Teen Titans GO!), but also as a founding member of the Justice League. This version of Cyborg had never joined the Teen Titans and instead founded the Justice League after Darkseid’s invasion when DC comics launched their New 52 line of comics in 2011. Cyborg was played by the late Lee Thompson Young in the later seasons of Smallville. Cyborg is expected to make his silver-screen debut alongside the Justice League in the Zack Snyder directed, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice due March 2016 and again in Justice League Part I & II slated for 2017 and 2019 respectively. Here, Victor Stone will be portrayed by Ray Fisher.
First Appearance – Spawn #1 (1992)
On the heels of illustrating some of the greatest Spider-Man covers of all time, Todd McFarlane gives us Spawn. Al Simmons was once a CIA operative who gets sent to hell after being ambushed by his former comrades only to be resurrected as a powerful demon hellspawn.Think Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance meets Venom, McFarlane was instrumental in the stylization of both. Everything pretty much goes to hell and the back from there. Spawn single-handedly carried the 1990s and Image comics imprint for that matter. This was during the time where Anti-Heroes reigned supreme and characters like Batman, Preacher, and Wolverine, garnered more attention than their boy-scout counterparts. For the first time in forever, big 2 imprints had a competitor that was as marketable as The X-Men and Death of Superman. There were video games, articulate action figures that were beautifully sculpted and would stab you if you weren’t careful, and most importantly, a Spawn/Batman crossover written by Frank Miller and Todd McFarlane. Not to mention the HBO animated series which ran from 1997-99 and the 1997 live-action film starring Michael Jai White. Luckily for fans, Spawn is returning to comics, TV, and film beginning with Spawn Resurrection #1 in March 2015.
First Appearance – Giant-Size X-Men #1 (May 1975)
if you guessed it, you were right. Ororo Munroe is the best and most influential black super-heroine of all time, in my honest opinion. Serving as the leader of the X-Men, diplomatic relations for Wakanda during her marriage to Black Panther, even becoming the Goddess of Thunder for a short time. Storm is literally the Beyonce of comics. In a world of overpowered masculinity, she’s the only one that keeps her head, rarely will anything corrupt her. If you’re a fan of the X-Men film franchise where she is played by actress Halle Berry, you wouldn’t think so, as she is usually a supporting character – but that’s not the point! The point is: Storm is #1 because many black superheroes were either supporting team members or lone wolves, very few have led a team like the X-Men and led them well. It was writer, Chris Claremont that decided to put a leather clad African woman sporting a white mohawk in charge back in 1986. She defeated Cyclops for the titled of “Leader”…without her powers. In the past 2 decades, she was prominent on the X-Men Animated series, she fought Wonder Woman, merged with Woman Woman, Married a Wakadan Prince, and formed the ever popular all-female X-Men team in 2013. Storm will return to the silver screen in Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Apocalypse due 2016, portrayed by Alexandria Shipp.