There aren’t a lot of Black female superheroes and comic characters out there. I can probably count all of the ones I know on all the fingers of both hands.
The Second Crimson Avenger
Nancy from Archie
Valerie from Josie and the Pussycats
Yeah, there are probably a few that I’m probably missing. But There’s a big problem with the most popular Black female superheroines like Storm and Vixen: They technichally aren't African-American.
Storm and Vixen are African. And they immigrated to America. So their experience is completely different than that of an African-American woman who was born in America.
Unfortunately, that distinction isn’t depicted in heroines of color in most comics. There’s a BIG difference between being an African and an African-American. And that distinction really isn’t seen in most Black superheorines. Almost all of them come off the same assembly line as the White female characters.
A shame. Especially when there are clear distinctions between Black women and White women in the world. And even moreso when readers understand that there are clear distinctions between Black men and Black women in the world. There’s a wealth of stories to be told about a Black heroine as she relates to the superhero community and the Black experience. But most creators in the comic book industry have barely scratched the surface.
When it comes to Black superheroines, we never see any of them participating in Black culture or presenting readers with a balanced picture of the Black experience. Outside of being supporting characters in team books filled with mostly White characters and ancillary background characters in event storylines, we don’t see Black women really representing what it means to be a Black woman in a comic book or the fantasy genre.
Interesting when you consider that the Black woman is supposed to be the transmitter of culture. And as she goes, so goes the race.
And if the race can’t rise any higher than the position of its women, when it comes to Black female heroines it’s not like they rise very far in the comic book industry. Because Black female characters are practically INVISIBLE in the White male dominated comic book industry.
When one takes a closer look at the Black heroines in comics Most Black heroines don’t do most of the things Black women do. This is why many don’t relate to or identify with a Black superheroine or a Black heroine in a comic. Many get next to NO character development or are allowed to truly carry a story or even a series on their own to show how great they truly are or what makes them stand out as characters.
Yeah, Monica Rambeau, Misty Knight, Rocket have a lot of flash, but for the most part they have very little substance. They’ve never had that ONE defining story to solidify who they truly are in readers’ eyes that makes them distinct. Heck, even Storm and Vixen haven’t had that one story to put a concrete image of who they truly are in readers’ minds.
Because Most Black heroines have never carried their own title, they have next to no backstory. And it’s backstory that gives a character the depth and complexity that would give readers an insight into Black culture and what it means to be a Black woman.
Because most Black heroines don’t participate in Black culture readers never get an insight into what’s great about being a Black woman or what truly makes a Black woman a hero. The Black female side of Black culture is rich and unique and filled with great stories readers of all races can identify and relate with. Sistas have a strength of character and resolve that’s never really been shown in the pages in a comic book or a fantasy story.
For the most part when a Black heroine is featured in a story meant to reflect the Black culture from a Black woman’s perspective it’s often stereotypical. For example Rocket had all her potential as a character sucked out of her by being put on a road to single motherhood. What could have been one of the greatest pairings in comic book history was pretty much lost in the last panel of the second issue of Icon.
I find it odd that I never see a Black superheroine in a serious relationship with a Black man in a comic or genre fiction like fantasy. Most Black heroines will date every nonblack and White man out there but won’t ever be pursued by a Black man or even consider dating on. For example Storm has dated Forge, Wolverine, and a whole bunch of White dudes. And Misty Knight had been dating Iron Fist for a kajillion years until recently.
Yeah, Storm married Black Panther…But the less said about that marriage the better off we all are. And Vixen and John Stewart were daiting in the JLU…We all know how that ends in Batman Beyond.
But as for a Black-on-Black relationship between a Black heroine and a Black man…I haven’t seen it in a comic or a television show in my lifetime. A story of Black-on-Black love is something the comic book industry desperately needs to show in between the pages and panels of a comic.
Moreover, readers need to see a complex, multidimensional depiction of a Black woman in comics and genre fiction. There’s a lot readers can relate to and identify with a Black female character…If someone would just take the time to tell her story in the fantasy and comic genres.
I believe Black heroines have a lot to offer readers of all races. Unfortunately, in genre fiction and in comics creators have barely scratched the surface. This is what motivates me to write books like those in the Isis series and the E’steem series. I want to give readers that balanced picture of what the Black female experience is in the fantasy and comic genre. I want readers to move past the color of their skin and get to know the content of what makes the characters like Isis and E’steem great.
To get readers into the adventures of Black heroines, I’m offering the Isis/E’steem crossover on Kindle Unlimited and in paperback this summer. In both stories readers will see what makes Black heroines great and what makes their stories distinct. And I’m planning a major story in the Isis series that will be completely immersive in Black culture and the Black experience. Something I think will get readers to think about what’s truly distinct about the experiences of Black women in genre fiction and comics.