IGN has launched a mini-site dedicated to DC’s Green Lantern event, Blackest Night. The main villain of Geoff John’s epic is Black Hand, who is actually a white guy called William Hand.
That got me thinking, after watching a recent DVD purchase. I grew up watching Super Friends, and then Super Powers, so nostalgia led me to Amazon. On the Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show DVD there’s a neato feature on the ethnicity of the new characters they introduced. That would be Samurai, El Dorado, Apache Chief and Black Vulcan. They were all original characters created for the cartoon series and were unfortunately quite stereotypical.
There’s a lot of African, or African-American comic characters who have the word Black in their name. Black Panther, Black Lightning, Black Manta and many more. On the flip side of the coin, there’s also many characters who have colours in their names that aren’t related to their race. Green (Lantern, Arrow), Blue (Beetle) and Crimson (Dynamo) are just a few examples. However, there’s not many Black-named characters who aren’t black. I can only think of three – Black Hand and Marvel’s Black Bolt, and Black Tom Cassidy. Come to think of it comics’ first well known character, Yellow Kid was Caucasian, so perhaps there’s some historical reasoning. I’m not trying to make a statement, but as evidenced by this DC Comics survey from 1970 asking if readers would be interested in stories about “black people,” comics really are a reflection of their times, for better or worse. Oh, and thanks to Brain Cronin (who I interviewed here) for pointing the survey out in his latest Comic Book Legends Revealed column. Actually I can’t remember the last time a Black-named character was created. Those that do exist were created in more un-PC days. It’s just an interesting thought.