40 Superheroes of Color that Michelle Rodriguez has never heard of (Part 1)
Happy Tuesday Fanbros. If you haven’t yet, find your way over to Soundcloud or iTunes and check out the latest episode of the FanBros Show Special Delivery. I wonder what television shows Chico Leo and Kimsonian are reviewing for us?(Hint; It’s The Walking Dead. And maybe Gotham. But definitely The Walking Dead.)
Normally I come to you bearing fruit from the world of animation. However, it’s the duty of FanBros to shine a light for people of color in the entertainment industry. And since our very own DJ Benhameen verbally gut punched Michelle Rodriguez into the streets last week, it’s time that we remind ourselves that there are superheroes of color in abundance. If this ever reaches Michelle Rodriguez I hope she takes the time to look up every single character on this list and learn something. Not only are these characters here, most often they are written by people who do the work to understand the context of what makes this hero. G. Willow Wilson writes Kamala Khan with greatest of respect for Pakistani-Americans, and people of the Muslim faith. And you could’ve learned all of that from keeping quiet and finding your way to google. So here’s the beginning of a 4 part list for Michelle Rodriguez to digest. 40 superheroes of color that Michelle Rodriguez has never heard of.
Since Michelle Rodriguez tends to get type cast as the latina who kicks ass first and asks questions later, it seems appropriate that we start with another latina who does the same. Miss America Chavez. Brought to life by Joe Casey and Nick Dragotta in the pages of Vengeance as one of the leaders of the Teen Brigade, but refined by Kieron Gillen and Jamie Mckelvie in the hit series Young Avengers. Miss America was the talk of the 2013 comics world and we wish that the Gillen/McKelvie/Wilson team continued to bring her back into our lives. Alas, she’s in limbo waiting for a writer to notice her badassery to let her grace the pages of a book once more. And Michelle, if ever you were going to portray a comic book character in a film, this. is. it. Right down to the lady love.
Required Reading: Young Avengers Vol 2.
Paras Gavaskar. Indra. The purple boy who becomes a purple suit of armor. Indra initially appeared in New X-men: Academy X, created by Nunzio DeFillippis and Cristina Weir. Let’s be honest for a second; Indra began his fictional life as a glorified extra in a book about people who were far more developed then he had ever been. All we knew was that his advisor was Northstar(The original Canadian bad bitch,) he was from India, and that he was at the top of his class. However that all changed with the Marvel crossover event, House of M. An event which dwindled the mutant population in the Marvel universe from millions to little over 200. With only 42 students left at the Xavier Institute of Higher learning, Indra was pushed from page filler to a supporting character. Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost took over the New X-men book and really made an effort to give bit players like Indra a chance at proper characterization. In the face of extinction the young cast of New X-Men: Childhood’s End were given a chance to react and deal with the repercussions of the world around them. Eventually he reappeared in X-Men Legacy, written by Mike Carey. This was a blessing in disguise as Carey was able to produce a story that respectfully addressed Indra’s Indian heritage and his spirituality as a member of the Jain Shasan faith. Indra now resides in the pages of Spider-Man and the X-Men(Formerly Wolverine & The X-men.) as well as the adjective-less X-Men.
Required Reading: New X-men Vol. 2, X-Men: Legacy.
Chances are when you hear the words ‘Young Justice’ in 2015, you’re going to think of the cartoon that was cancelled in it’s prime. However, long before the curse of Greg Weisman took down one of the best DC Animated series to ever bless a television screen, Young Justice was a comic book written by Peter David. Remember his name, he’s going to show up a lot as we touch on these characters for the rest of the week. Empress was created as a rival to existing character, and alleged daughter of Green Arrow, Arrowette( man, they really thought hard about that name.) Empress was actually inspired to become a superhero after previously seeing Arrowette, who chose to retire from the vigilante lifestyle, in action. Once the initial awkward tension between the two characters was broken, Empress became a member of the Young Justice team. Anita Fite‘s Haitian heritage was almost always large part of story arcs in Young Justice. Her power were derived from Haitian vodou, and training from her secret agent father prepared her for a budding superhero career. Though her story took a turn for the dark, she continued to be an integral member of the Young Justice team. It’s a crime she wasn’t brought to life in the Young Justice animated series.
Required Reading: Young Justice Vol. 1, Wonder-Girl 2007 Mini-Series
Writing a character who is fiercely dedicated to their faith is blessing and curse. A blessing because, as a writer, you have the chance to educate those who are unfamiliar with a particular denomination. And a curse because if you get it wrong, that screw up is going to follow you for the rest of your career. Or at least until another writer or artist does something just as bad, or worse. Luckily no writer approached the character of Sooraya Qadir without anything less then the utmost respect. Created by Grant Morrison during his run on New X-men, Dust’s history was not refined until Nunzio DeFillippis and Cristina Weir’s run on New X-Men: Academy X. She is a devout Sunni Muslim from Afghanistan, but struggles daily to cope with her status as a mutant, and how she should use her powers according to her faith. In almost every story arc she’s in, Dust manages to shine. This paragraph isn’t going to do her justice, so I implore you to continue to learn more about this amazing character by reading the book’s she’s been featured in.
Required Reading: New X-Men: Academy X, New X-Men: Childhood’s End, Young X-Men.
I’m going to be completely transparent here; outside of the Young Justice cartoon I’m not very familiar with the Jamie Reyes incarnation of Blue Beetle. Outside of the fact that his name is pronounced HI-MAY, and that he’s constantly battling the more savage nature of the blue scarab attached to his spine. However I can confidently say that this is the one instance where the person of color carrying the mantle of the hero is more popular then his caucasian counterpart.
Required Reading: Infinite Crisis, Blue Beetle Vol. 8
Michael Holt is a bit of a snob. Ok that’s a lie, I don’t know anything about Mister Terrific outside of he was on Justice League Unlimited. He replaced the Martian Manhunter as the dispatcher of the Watchtower. And he has T-Spheres. Terrific. But! There’s this magical thing Michelle, it’s called google, and it can tell you where to start about learning more about a character.
Required Reading: JSA Vol. 1, Mister Terrific Vol. 1
Jericho Drumm. Currently Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme. Once Brother Voodoo, now Doctor Voodoo. Like the above character Empress, Jericho Drumm is a Haitian Voodoo Practitioner.(I’m going to go out on a limb and say the spelling makes a difference. But for now, shh…) Unlike Empress however, his role in the Marvel Universe is much more significant. After receiving his training in the mystic arts, Drumm rose to become the Supreme Hougan of Haiti. Eventually leaving the country to find a new home in New Orleans, Louisiana. It wasn’t long before he was the known protector of the city( take that Gambit.) Since his adventures in the states began he has fought alongisde the Avengers, and S.H.I.E.L.D. Most recently taking up a role in The Avengers Unity Divison, also known as, The Uncanny Avengers.
Required Reading: Strange Tales #169, Doctor Voodoo: Avenger Of The Supernatural
Marvel Comics announced that an all new character would be taking up the mantle of Ms. Marvel back in November of 2013. Kamala Khan was the product of Black Bolt releasing the Terrigen Mist throughout the earth. Due to her Inhuman lineage she was transformed into a polymorph that now patrols the streets of Jersey City fighting crime. But the thrill of Kamala Khan’s Ms. Marvel book isn’t in the heroics, it’s in the details. Kamala is a first generation Pakistani-American girl trying to figure out what it means to be a minority in America. She doesn’t think she measures up the western standard of beauty, and her interests in “nerd” culture clash with her family’s expectations of her. Kamala sounds like the average American teenager and that’s what makes her so special. Outside of the superhuman factor, she’s an everyman. Even more so because she represents the countless non-white, and non-male, readers of comic books who so badly want to see their skin color amongst the ranks of characters like Captain America or Wolverine. Everyone should be reading her book, and judging by the sales, everyone is. Representation works, right Michelle?
Required Reading: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3
I don’t have much to say about Vibe. Noting outside of the idea that he deserves his own feature film that’s a period piece set in the early 1990s at the height of the New Jack Swing era of R&B. Think about it. The R. Kelly song She’s Got That Vibe plays in the background as Francisco “Paco” Ramon struts down the streets of Detroit Saturday Night Fever style. Superpowered breakdance battles!! But back to reality, at least comics reality. Vibe was created by Gerry Conway and Chuck Patton after the disbandment and then reformation of the Justice League. He was a new recruit at their Detroit headquarters. Vibe’s career as member of a the JLA was shortlived as he was killed only 4 years after his creation. However he has sinced been resurrected and retconned multiple times as a mainstay of DC Comics. Best of all he’s was brought to life by Warner Bros. Animation in all of his 1980s breakdancing glory. Not to mention Francisco Ramone appears as a supporting character on the current television hit, The Flash. He isn’t Vibe… yet.
Required reading: Justice League of America Vol 1. Annual #2, Justice League of America Vol. 2 #39 & #40
Peter Milligan’s X-Force, and eventual X-Statix, are treasures amongst modern comic book storytelling. And one of the gems amongst the treasure was The Anarchist. For those of you unfamiliar, X-Force/X-Statix was superhero team of mutants who wanted more celebrity from their powers than anything else. They saved the world on occaison, but usually they made celebrity appearances, did reality shows, and found ways to merchandise their fame. It was a book far ahead of it’s time. Even in the development of characters. Tike Alicar played the role of the bad boy advocate for civil rights on the team, appealing to their teen girl fans within the pages of the book. However behind the facade of this so-called “Anarchist,” was a child struggling with the ramifications of racism and trans-racial adoption. Tike was adopted by caucasian parents, his insecurity with his own skin color caused him to obsessively wash his hands to “clean the dirt off.” He eventually works through his insecurities to return as a valuable member of his team. But then how valuable is the team?
Required Reading: X-Force Vol 1. #116 – Onward, X-Statix
Did you learn something new today Michelle? I hope so, because you’ve got three more days of this coming to you and 30 more super heroes of color to learn about.