Power in the Shaded Cells: The Top 5 Black Superheroes in Comics

We can all look back to my recent Skyman rant to know that the suspicious lack of diverse superheroes in comic books really gets under my skin. So now, I’d like to take the time to exalt the amazing black superheroes who have been delivering powerful punches throughout the recent years.

5. Mari Jiwe Mccabe (Vixen)

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Model-turned-awesome butt-kickin’ mistress of the wild! Once the sacred family totem (bestowed by Anansi the Spider to her great ancestor Tantu the warrior) reached her hands, she took command of it like magma takes command of the Earth. Mari uses her big, beautiful mind to connect with the Earth’s morphogenetic field (yes, the Earth has one of those?) and takes on the abilities of whatever part of the animal kingdom tickles her fancy. She can soar like a falcon, climb like a squirrel, run like a cheetah, and even focus her concentration on specific animals. She’s a BEAST (that’s right, Animal Man, go fly a kite). She’s a bit of a “tough guy” loner, but she fulfills the Tantu totem’s code of only being used to protect the innocent.

4. Anissa Pierce (Thunder)

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HOLY. YES. THUNDER. This fantastic woman is the daughter of Black Lightning. Her strength and heroics are friggin’ LEGACY.  But, of course, being a responsible parent and all, Jefferson Pierce told her no crime fighting until she was out of school, and boy, did Anissa jump all over that when she graduated from college. The cool thing about Thunder is that while her father has the power of lightning, she has the BOOM. Thunder has the ability to change her density. So, as she changes her mass without changing her size, she can reach a state of invulnerability that’s rivaled by Kyptonian genetics. But, again, the BOOM. Thunder’s signature move is stomping her feet and creating crazy immobilizing shock waves with her greatly increased density. All evil-doers quake before her!

3. Miles Morales (Ultimate Spider-Man)

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Bitten by a radioactive spider more or less identical to the one that sank its fangs into Peter Parker, Miles Morales gained his arachnid powers while he was still in elementary school. Talk about precocious. But when Pete bit the dust, someone had to step into his shoes, and Miles was more than up for the challenge. His spidey-sense is vast; he can camouflage into his surroundings, scale buildings, and he has venom. A venom blast, to be exact. Not only does Miles overcome so much as a young boy struggling to come into his own, he faces enemies, tragedies, and his own fears (heights, for example; imagine being Spider-Man and being terrified of heights). He even knocks out alternate universe Peter Parker. That’s right. We had Spider-Man vs. Spider-Man, and Miles won. Kids these days = awesome.

2. Ororo Munroe (Storm)

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I’ve spoken rapturous of Storm before, and I don’t want to bore you all by doing it again, but the woman deserves it. So, let’s review her incredible origin story that hardly ever gets spoken about:

Her mother was a decedent of a long line of African priestesses who married a photojournalist. After Storm was born, they moved to Cairo, Egypt, where her parents were killed shortly after when their house got bombed in the Arab-Israeli conflict. A terrified orphan, Ororo was trained as a thief by a gritty, Egyptian Fagin. Years later, Ororo went south and accepted a ride from a stranger who tried to rape her, and while she was defending herself, Ororo accidently took his life. In her pain, remorse, and fear, Ororo swore to never again take the life of another human being and nearly killed herself by walking across the Sahara desert. However, her elemental powers broke free and brought her the sweet, soothing rain. Once reaching her ancestral home in Kenya, a wise woman teaches Ororo to control her powers, and the surrounding tribes worship her as a GODDESS. How’s that for a freakin’ origin story? Afterward, Storm moves on to command the X-Men. In my opinion, we should all worship her as a goddess.

1. Virgil Ovid Hawkins (Static Shock)

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Super heroooooo Static Shock! Virgil is, hands down, one of the all-time best superheroes ever. Caught up in gang violence after school, Virgil gets doused by an experimental mutagen that was mixed up in the tear gas of the police. As a result, he and everyone present became part of the “Big Bang,” i.e. genetically altered and given strange powers (bang babies, ya’ll). Virgil suddenly finds himself a super conductor of electro-magnetism, able to blast electromagnetic energy from his body, hold enemies off with static cling, use his electromagnetism to lift himself up on manholes, fly around the city, and drain power from any electrical source available. He’s fun, powerful, and quippy, but Virgil also addresses the reality of gangs, delves deep into racial tolerance, and even has an openly gay character as his best friend.

I love Static Shock for all of these reasons, but of course adore the fact that he’s a total nerd on top of everything else. He’s all about table top, pop culture, sci-fi, and comic books. He’s an earnest hero and a relatable one. He’ll put a shock into your system!

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