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The Future Looks Black – DC Comics’ 10 year Stride Towards New Black Superheroes

Silencer. Image credit DC Comics.

Silencer

Real Name: Honor Guest

Created By: Dan Abnett & John Romita Jr.

First Appearance: The Silencer #1 (2018)

Powers/Abilities: Expert assassin; Proficiency with firearms and other weaponry; Skilled tactician; Can create a “sphere of influence” that negates all sound

Future Prospects: Moderate

With the (pun-intended) tagline “the greatest assassin you’ve never heard of”, Honor Guest was a surprise during the utterly shameful Marvel-aping “New Age of Heroes” line that gave us Spider-man-esque “Sideways”, Hulk clone “Damage” , Fantastic Four rip-off “The Terrifics” and Ghost Rider inspired “Brimstone”. Her comic basically drew on the John Wick motif of a retired super-assassin living a normal life, drawn back into the game by some catalyst. The series also has some of that Kill Bill vibe, skating the line of over the top in its assassination shenanigans. She was a minor character on CW’s “Arrow” even though she was barely a few issues old at the time. I can definitely see her in the same DC grab-bag of premier super-killers like Deadshot, Scandal Savage, Lady Shiva and Deathstroke. But here’s hoping her generic outfit (which looks like a mummy-ninja with occasional excessive-pouch-syndrome) gets a revamp – reminds me of Mack the Knife from that old beat’em up game “Captain Commando”. Regardless, no matter when she comes back, you’ll definitely not hear her coming.

Shilo Norman a.k.a Mister Miracle. Image credit DC Comics.

Mister Miracle

Real Name: Shilo Norman

Created By: Jack Kirby

First Appearance: Sideways #7 (2018)

Powers/Abilities: Exceptional escape artist; Possesses a sentient computer called a “Motherboxxx” that provides reality-warping properties, teleportation and a nigh-omniscient database; Zoom pads for flight

Future Prospects: Moderate

The idea of a Black Mister Miracle is nothing quite as novel, as the original Shilo Norman appearing way back in “Mister Miracle #15” (1973). Shilo was the protégé of the original Mr. Miracle/Scott Free. While I much prefer Scott Free under the gold-green-red mask, I’m willing to give Shilo a shot; even though on face value his power set seems too gimmicky for a sustainable multi-arc run. You can peek at the new Mr. Miracle in the backup stories of “Future State: Superman of Metropolis” alongside another African-American character. If DC can tie him into the “Fourth World” then maybe we may have a really viable character/story.

Naomi. Image credit DC Comics.

Naomi

Real Name: Naomi McDuffie

Created By: Brain Michael Bendis, David F Walker & Jamal Campbell

First Appearance: Naomi #1 (2019)

Powers/Abilities: Vast light-based energy projection; Self-propelled flight; Super strength and durability

Future Prospects: High

Given free rein with “Wonder Comics”, “Naomi” was to be Brian Michael Bendis’ tent-pole character. A normal kid who may secretly have a superhero origin she’s unaware of. It’s safe to say her suspicions panned out, and by the end of her comic’s run was rubbing shoulders with Superman and Batman. Her last name is also a homage to the late great Dwayne McDuffie. There are a lot of similarities between her and Duke Thomas in terms of purpose as McGuffins by their respective creators and their use in subsequent stories. After her time on the recent “Young Justice”, Naomi’s currently slated to be on the new Justice League lineup this month! So this rising star is really on the move.

Sojourner “Jo” Mullein a.k.a Green Lantern. Image credit DC Comics.

Green Lantern

Real Name: Sojourner “Jo” Mullein

Created By: N K Jemisin & Jamal Campbell

First Appearance: Far Sector #1 (2020)

Powers/Abilities: Green Lantern power ring and battery allow Jo to conjure solid light emerald constructs from her imagination, fueled by her willpower; Skilled detective; Military training

Future Prospects: High

The long overdue 12-issue series starring Sojourner Mullein was introduced over a year ago. A brand new Earthling Green Lantern, the 2nd female too, Jo was having her own adventures in the farthest reaches of space away from DCU proper to solve a murder mystery with socio-political ramification. I’ve already covered the first 6 issues here and am impatiently waiting for the final issue to drop to conclude my analysis of Ms Mullein. Created by acclaimed and award-winning author N. K. Jemisin (whom you can read a little more of here), Jo fits the mold of who you would expect a Green Lantern to be. For those who fell in love with her, you can see much more of Jo in “Future State: Justice League” where she’s the de facto GL of the team. While I find her character interesting, frankly, the Green Lantern mythos is overly saturated as it is. As with Jessica Cruz (the 1st Earth woman GL), DC seems smitten with Jemisin’s character; so here’s looking forward to three ladies of emerald light on comic book stands.

Next Batman. Image credit DC Comics.

Next Batman

Real Name: Timothy “Jace” Fox

Created By: Len Wein & Irv Novick

First Appearance: Batman Vol 3 #101 (2020)

Powers/Abilities: Skilled combatant with military training; Bat-costume provided heightened durability; utility belt affords a variety of offensive and defensive tools, weapons and gadgets

Future Prospects: High

I’ve already spoken at length about the “Next Batman”, in my reviews of the 4-issue “Future State” series, and stand by the fact that there were many other worthy contenders to the mantle like Luke Fox, Duke Thomas, Michael Lane and even Charles Bullock. It should be noted the character of “Timothy Fox” originated from an issue of “Batman #313” (1979) and seems to infer the current “bad blood” and his estranged relationship with his family maybe tied to that story. The character hasn’t really clicked for me as those others I‘ve mentioned. However, DC has doubled down on Jace Fox being the “Next Batman” with the all-new series “Next Batman: Second Son” hitting shelves this month to continue that storyline; even affirming him of sorts as THE Batman of the future in “Future State: Justice League”.

Kid Quick. Image credit DC Comics.

Kid Quick / The Flash

Real Name: Jess Chambers

Created By: Ivan Cohen & Eleonora Carlinin

First Appearance: DC’s Very Merry Multiverse #21 (2021)

Powers/Abilities: Through an auditory meta-formula, Jess is connection to the “Speed Force”, allowing them to move and think at incredible (potentially trans-luminous) speeds.

Future Prospects: Moderate

Promoted as DC’s first gender-fluid character, Kid Quick/The Flash/Jess Chamber is a refuge from Earth 11 (the gender-swap universe).Only appearing in a Christmas one-shot and in the two-issue “Future State: Justice League”, it is hard to tell how they will resonate with readers later on. In any event, DC will definitely be keeping their eyes and ears on feedback to gauge whether to invest effort into having Jess become more integral to the overall narrative of the main DCU.

Nubia. Image credit DC Comics.

Wonder Woman

Real Name: Nubia

Created By: Robert Kanigher & Don Heck

First Appearance: Future State: Immortal Wonder Woman #1 (2021)

Powers/Abilities: Amazonian physiology grants physical acumen above and beyond normal human limits; Skilled combatant; Lasso of Truth is an unbreakable enchanted golden lariat that can compel people to tell/see the truth; Bracers of submission are indestructible armbands that can deflect any projectile physical or energy-based; Crown of Oshun a tiara with mystical properties

Future Prospects: Low

The idea of a Black Wonder Woman named Nubia dates back all the way to 1973 in Wonder Woman #204, where she was ostensibly Diana’s equal and literal twin sister. While Black Supermen and Batmen have popped up sporadically, Nubia as a concept was often just background dressing. Thanks to Grant Morrison’s “Final Crisis” (2008-2009) Nubia returned to the fore as the Wonder Woman of President Superman’s Earth (Earth 23). But again she faded quickly into obscurity. Robert Kanigher tried his hand at writing Diana’s successor (again there have been at least three other candidates– Donny Troy, Cassandra Sandsmark and Artemis). Sadly, despite an admirable effort, Nubia’s time to shine seems to have already been cut short. With the return of Diana from the astral ether and Yara Flor being promoted as the de facto future Wonder Woman, the most we can expect from Nubia is a little more time in the spotlight before she is once again shelved. It is heartbreaking to see such an avant garde character nearly 50 years old, a Black female superhero who predated Marvel’s Storm by 2 years, be neglected as much as Nubia. Perhaps one day she will have an enduring legacy all her own.

Manhattan Guardian. Image credit DC Comics.

Manhattan Guardian

Real Name: Jake Jordan

Created By: Grant Morrison & Cameron Stewart

First Appearance: Seven Soldiers: Manhattan Guardian #1 (2005)

Powers/Abilities: Peak physical acumen; Reinforced tactile armor; Highly durable golden “Guardian” shield; Skilled combatant

Future Prospects: Moderate

“The Guardian” is a Golden Age Captain America template (co-created by Jack Kirby) named Jim Harper, a beat cop who has since been cloned and recycled here and there. The “Black” variant (Jake Jordan) was distinguished as being “Manhattan Guardian”, who pretty much has an identical origin and motif. Funny enough, Mal Duncan became the character outright in the acclaimed animated show “Young Justice” as a tertiary character in its later seasons, and was even translated to the small screen on CW’s “Supergirl” where Jimmy Olsen was under the heavily armored get-up.

I really don’t see a viable prospect in MG, as he pretty much occupies a city protected exclusively by Superman, and on occasion Supergirl and Steel. He’s basically just a guy running around in golden SWAT armor and a nifty shield. There are frankly too many cookie-cutter vigilantes for him to truly stand out and persevere in the forefront of DC comics. Having recently appeared in the backup stories of “Future State: Superman of Metropolis” (alongside Mister Miracle), DC will really have to pull a Hail Mary script to get me invested in him.

In totality there have been 15 new Black characters (Batwing counted twice) added to DC Comics since 2011; 9 of which heralded their own comic book. This is in addition to mainstays John Stewart, Cyborg, Black Lightning and Mister Terrific, as well as the resurgence or “rebirth” of the Milestone properties later this year. There have also been a few revisions and debuts of LGBTQ characters like the original Green Lantern Alan Scott, the prospective new Batwoman, Bunker, Yara Flor and Jenny Hex, and Latino heroes such as (again) Bunker and Yara Flor, plus Sideways, Jessica Cruz and Teen Lantern/ Keli Quintela within that same decade timeframe. While many of these ideas have since been discontinued and a handful has only recently been introduced, the future definitely looks Black for DC as they continue to stumble and progress towards more diversity and inclusivity within their own ever-expanding pantheon.


Hailing from the eastern-most Caribbean island of Barbados, Fabian Wood has long since been fascinated by the power of storytelling to inspire and invoke emotions – whether in film, comics, or videogames. No longer content to be just an avid comic book reader and videogamer, he’s eager to exercise his literary acumen as an aspiring writer and reviewer.

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