With 70 years of history in the books, Marvel has created some of the most iconic and memorable characters that have inspired generations of children and adults alike.
To commemorate Black History Month, we've asked Marvel writers, artist, and editors to reflect on their favorite black character in the Marvel Universe and tell us what made these heroes so great.
It's Friday, so kick back, relax and enjoy.
****News Flash!**** Marvel tops the list of Top 10 Black Super heroes as ranked by the Washington Post! Check out the Top 10 Black Superheroes
list and find out how your favorite Marvel heroes fare!
KEVIN GREVIOUX (writer of ADAM: LEGEND OF THE BLUE MARVEL):
I'd have to say Luke Cage. He was the first black super hero that I was aware of as a kid. Even though I grew up in suburbia, it was a character I could identify with because of all the racial problems we had during that time. Cage was tough and street smart, and had to fend for himself as a hero in a world that had very few black heroes. But despite his criminal past, Cage learned from his mistakes, and became honest to a fault. He cared about all people despite the fact there were those who didn't respect or understand him. And lastly, he didn't take any guff from anybody. Archie Goodwin and Roy Thomas really gave Marvel something special when they created Cage.
TONY ISABELLA (writer):
Two characters come to mind. The first is Joe Robertson of the Daily Bugle. Taking nothing away from great characters like the Black Panther or Luke Cage, Robertson was someone to whom I could relate. He wasn't an African king or unjustly convicted ex-con, but a man with a real job who conducted himself with decency and pride. Now that I think about it, he was one of my influences when I created Black Lightning at DC.
The second is the Rocket Racer, mostly because I got such a kick out of writing a quartert of short stories starring him in the 1990s. These ran in the back of Spider-Man annuals and Marvel Tales. No one but me probably remembers them. But he was a fun character to write and I relished the challenge of telling entertaining stories in a handful of pages.
JIM MCCANN (writer of NEW AVENGERS: THE REUNION):
Storm is easily my pick. She is quite possibly our most recognizable female character, regardless of race, in addition to being one of the most powerful. Plus, NO ONE can rock a Mohawk like her. Man, I miss that look...
MICHAEL HORWITZ (Marvel Assistant Editor):
Maybe not the most influential character, but Cecilia Reyes is probably one of the most unique supporting characters in comics, black OR white. Whereas the other X-women were psychic ninjas or exotic weather goddesses, Cecilia was a real person with a real life made all the more complicated because of her mutant powers. Her choice to hang up her X-uniform felt organic, natural and earned: you WANTED her to have a normal life. I think her appearance in NYX: NO WAY HOME made it clear why she's a dynamic character in the classic Marvel mold.
FRED VAN LENTE (writer of INCREDIBLE HERCULES):
Not too many people realize this, but underneath his mummy wrappings, N'Kantu the Living Mummy is black. Assuming he still has skin under there. That is to say, if he had skin, it would be black.
Regardless of his current dermatological situation, the Living Mummy kicks ass. A mighty tribal king who dared defy the pharaohs and was sentenced to eternal undeath! He is a personal favorite...We will have to work him into MARVEL ZOMBIES somewhere...
MIKE CAREY (writer of X-MEN: LEGACY):
Well in terms of influence, I have to say Black Panther. There's just no contest, really. It's hard to exaggerate the significance (back in 1965, or whenever it was) of the portrayal of Wakanda as a super advanced technocracy - turning a whole bunch of racist stereotypes effortlessly on their heads. I think I read somewhere that the Black Panther movement came later, but the "Black Panther" tank battalion - a segregated military unit in WW2 - certainly didn't. It was a powerful, provocative choice of name, and he was a powerful and compelling figure from the start.
REGGIE HUDLIN (writer of BLACK PANTHER):
The greatest black character in the Marvel Universe is...do I have to pick one? Because let's be real, that isn't happening. I'll name my top three.
First is the Black Panther. An African king of a scientifically advanced nation. A man of class, elegance and moral fortitude...Built to played by Sidney Poitier.
Second is Storm...Goddess, leader, a woman's woman. She's as awesome as he is. Which is why they are the perfect couple.
Third is Robbie Robertson. No powers, but the classiest, smartest guy at the Daily Bugle.
But just as important, I was never embarrassed by a black character at Marvel. Well, when Falcon went from being a social worker to a hood named "Snap" Wilson, that was a bad move. But Christopher Priest even made that work.
WILLIAM A.K.A "WILD BILL" MESSNER-LOEBS (former writer of THOR):
I've spoken before about my affection for Luke Cage. He's one of the few characters in comics (besides Denny Colt) who seemed to know what everyday life was about. But I think I liked him because I figured the only way I personally would be a super hero would be if I was framed by a corrupt government and forced to take a secret serum. Does this mean there will be a ton of super heroes strolling out of Gitmo?
PAUL CORNELL (writer of CAPTAIN BRITAIN & MI:13):
As a kid, I always loved the Black Panther's appearances in The Avengers. It was his costume and lack of powers that made him cool. Growing up deep in the British countryside I didn't meet anyone from a different race until I was ten, but years before that, I wanted to be T'Challa!
DUANE SWIERCZYNSKI (write of CABLE):
I know this is going to sound like shameless self-promotion, but I do think Bishop -- future cop and former X-Man -- is utterly fascinating. It's one thing to be a hero and face seemingly impossible odds. It's quite another to have everyone you've ever known -- your former friends and family -- think you're a bad guy whose actions will doom them all to extinction. Talk about a noir situation...
KYLE HOLTZ (artist of DARK REIGN: THE HOOD):
Black Panther because I was like seven when I first saw him in an issue of Captain America and thought he was the coolest thing since Batman (Can I mention Batman in a Marvel.com thing? -- Editor's Note: Sure, Kyle. But just this once!) Also Falcon, because he was the coolest looking Mego and I could never find him. Anyone who wants to donate a Falcon Mego to the charitable cause of Kyle Hotz can do so care of Marvel comics. Oh, and Brother Voodoo because of his costume and he's always got the scary stories and, well, just because he's called Brother Voodoo and that's pretty cool, too. I don't know if that really answers the question of why they were influential, but they were influential to me.
CHRISTOS GAGE (writer of AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE):
I think the Black Panther has to be the most influential, because he was the first. And Stan and Jack did it in such a classy way, without making a big deal out of "Marvel's first Black super hero!" They just introduced an awesome character, and let the fans fall in love with him.
JOHN ROMITA JUNIOR (artist of BLACK PANTHER & AMAZING SPIDER-MAN):
Okay, I'll pick two! One is Black Panther, the other is Joe Robertson from Spider Man.
I chose BP for selfish reasons, but truthfully, it is because of the class and elegance he was given by Stan and Jack back in a very turbulent time in our history. The character has always spoken for itself. A super hero, an African King super hero, created when there was no such character.
I chose Joe Robertson because my father first drew him in Spider-Man and explained to me what type of character he was. The race of Joe Robertson was never broached. Just his "character." A testament to the creators of the character, John R. and Stan, and to the character itself. A classy, working class "Joe". As an impressionable kid, I felt that my father imbued Joe Robertson with his own personality. 'Nuff said.
MIKE PERKINS (artist of THE STAND):
I always liked The Falcon as he was hardly ever perceived as being "a black guy" - simply a great and trusted friend.
AXEL ALONSO (Marvel Executive Editor):
Black Panther is the first and still most compelling black character. Besides sporting the best costume of any super hero (can't go wrong with black), he's a cat who has to rely on his smarts to survive and prosper. Which, of course, makes him relatable -- because last time I checked, I didn't have any superpowers either.
JEFF PARKER (writer of AGENTS OF ATLAS):
A character I have a soft spot for is S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Derek Khanata, who first appeared in Fred Van Lente's SCORPION stories and then figured in big in the original AGENTS OF ATLAS miniseries. We got some glimpses of his past in Wakanda and that he balances the world of espionage with being a family man. In fact, I miss Khanata and think he's going to have to return in our ongoing Atlas series!
MARC SUMERAK (writer of POWER PACK):
The Bradley family has had a long history of heroics. Back in the 1940's, Isaiah Bradley received a version of the super-soldier serum that created Captain America. Now Isaiah's grandson, Elijah, proudly honors his heritage as Patriot -- the leader of the Young Avengers! If that wasn't enough, Isaiah's son (and Elijah's uncle) Josiah even got in on the hero game for a while as a member of The Crew. Talk about a family business!
BILL ROSEMANN (Marvel Editor):
While T'Challa clearly was the trailblazer, I like to think that the Mohawk-era Storm firmly planted the idea into impressionable readers' minds that the X-Men--or any group--could be led by a woman, who also happened to be black...and who also happened to do it during the time she didn't even have her mutant powers!
RALPH MACCHIO (Marvel Senior Editor):
My favorite of the black characters at Marvel has always been T'Challa, the Black Panther. What was so fascinating about him was that without emphasizing that he was black Lee and Kirby made him the equal of Reed Richards himself. He was the king of an African country more technologically advanced than any on the planet. What a concept! His nobility and bearing also elevated his status. No other black character comes close to T'Challa in terms of influence or lasting significance in the Marvel Universe. His creation was a true work of genius.
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