10 of The Greatest Black Superheroes Of All Time

Growing up Black and watching Saturday morning cartoons, watching sci-fi and superhero movies was oftentimes frustrating due to the lack of identification with the characters. Often we did not see ourselves portrayed as the superhero. Image is very important to children, and by not seeing superheroes who look like them and always being portrayed as white men has an effect on a child’s self-esteem.

However, to me it seemed that comic books were always a little more progressive than mainstream media. In fact, you can trace the rise of modern Black superheroes to the civil rights movement. For example, the X-Men characters of Professor Xavier and Magneto have even been compared to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. While comics have not been a bastion of diversity, they have offered us some great superheroes to identify with as young Black children, which in turn helped to inspire the next generation of artists to create even more Black superheroes. Today, there are literally hundreds of Black superheroes and heroines across all mediums with the most iterations coming in the form of comics. Here is a list of my top 10 superheroes.


10. Spawn (Al Simmons)

Spawn first appeared in 1992. A CIA agent devoted to black ops. Once there, he began to question the morality of what his agency was doing. Murdered by his partner in a blazing inferno, Simmons’ soul was sent to hell because he had knowingly killed innocents during his days in the CIA. Simmons made a deal to sell his soul in order to avenge his murder and see his wife. Spawn is ranked 60th on Wizard magazine’s list of the “Top 200 Comic Book Characters of All Time,” 50th on Empire magazine’s list of “The 50 Greatest Comic Book Characters” and 36th on IGN’s 2011 “Top 100 Comic Book Heroes.” Spawn was featured in an animated HBO series, a feature film and several video games.


9. Spider-Man (Miles Morales)

He first appeared as Spider-Man in August 2011. The inspiration for the character was taken from both U.S. President Barack Obama and American actor Donald Glover. Following the death of Peter Parker, a teenager of Black Hispanic descent, Morales, is the second Spider-Man in the Ultimate Marvel Universe. However Morales isn’t the character used for the Disney XD show Ultimate SpiderMan. However, he does appear in a third season storyline in which Parker travels through various parallel universes and encounters those dimensions’ versions of Spider-Man, including Morales, who is voiced by rapper/actor Glover. “Spider-Man” writer Brian Michael Bendis has stated that he favors incorporating Morales into the Spider-Man feature films. Miles Morales appears as a playable character in Marvel Super Hero Squad Online, Spider-Man Unlimited and Lego Marvel Super Heroes.

5 Superheroes You May Not Have Known Were Based on Ancient Egyptian Symbols and Names

White culture has been hesitant to allow too many Black heroes and Black superheroes into mainstream media, but mainstream media have not been without Black heroes/superheroes. In fact, the very term “hero” actually derives from an ancient Black deity by the name of Heru, son of Isis and Osiris.

Yes, the ancient Egyptians were Black; check Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop for further explanation and “10 Arguments That Prove Ancient Egyptians Were Black” — Atlanta Blackstar

So with the very term hero being based on a Black deity, you could actually say that all superheroes are essentially Black and just being drawn and marketed in a form that is easily digested and accepted by the dominant culture. Whether you think they are again appropriating Black culture or paying homage to our ancient ancestors, the fact is there are actually many popular superheroes that use ancient Egyptian names and symbols as their source of superpower.


Green Lantern

The Green Lantern Corps uses a power ring with two ancient Egyptian Shen Symbols, which mean eternal protection. The character is rumored to be featured in the upcoming Justice League live action movie set for 2017.

15 Greatest Black Female Superheroes (Who Aren’t Storm)

Black, female superheroes are plentiful with brawn, sass and class that comes alive far beyond the comic book pages. Here is the list of the 15 Greatest Black Female Superheroes, according to io9.


Monica Rambeau (codename: Spectrum)

Monica Rambeau was a lieutenant in the New Orleans Harbor patrol of the Coast Guard when she was bombarded with rays from space, which gave her the ability to turn into any form of energy and shoot energy at people.

She is the first of a few peace officers to appear on this list — Black women characters were heavily associated with law enforcement or the sciences.

Monica is a favorite hero for many because of her assertive, no-nonsense demeanor. She has a long history in comics including a stint as the leader of the Avengers.


Anissa & Jennifer Pierce (codenames: Thunder & Lightning respectively)

Anissa & Jennifer Pierce are the daughters of famous hero Jefferson Pierce (codename: Black Lightning), who really did not want his daughters to follow in his footsteps. He made them promise to graduate from college before they used their powers to become heroes.

Even though they’re sisters, their powers could not be more different. Anissa controls her density to the point of making herself invulnerable and creating shockwaves by stomping her feet or clapping her hands. Jennifer, meanwhile, can turn herself into a being of sentient energy allowing herself to fly and shoot powerful bolts of electricity.


Amanda Waller (codename: N/A)

Amanda Waller fought her way out of the Cabrini Green Projects after the murders of her husband and daughter. She has a titanium will and a cunning political mind; she chose to get into politics to change the world. With her “by any means” attitude she quickly rose through the ranks and transitioned into the shadow government. She is known as The Wall, and while it might have started as a fatphobic joke, it stuck and became a point of pride because there is no one, literally no one (even Batman), who can work around or through Waller when she puts her mind to it.

8 Black Superheroes You Didn’t Know Were African

Black superheroes, though not often seen in the movies, are alive and well on the pages of DC and Marvel comics. Here are eight Black superheroes you should know, as cited by Comic Vine and Buzzfeed.


Vixen (Mari Jiwe McCabe)

Vixen, also known as Mari Jiwe McCabe, is an African superhero from DC Comics. She’s from the Zambesi tribe. After she came to America, she became a successful supermodel and went on to study psychiatry. She used her beauty and education to travel the world and became the superhero we know as Vixen. She could mimic any animal in the wild. Her power was channeled from the god Anansi. She used her abilities to fight poachers and became a member of the Justice League.



Nubia is an Amazonian warrior from DC Universe who kicks butt — using her strength and intellect. She’s immortal and has superhuman strength, stamina and agility. She’s also considered to be Wonder Woman’s twin and the only one with the power to destroy her.

8 Books of Critical Analysis and Essays on Black Speculative, Science Fiction, Superheroes and Horror

Books of critical analysis and essays on Black speculative, science fiction, superheroes and horror:

1. Black Comics: Politics of Race and Representation edited by Sheena C. Howard and Ronald L. Jackson II (2013) is an analytic history of the diverse contributions of Black artists to the medium of comics. Covering comic books, superhero comics, graphic novels and cartoon strips from the early 20th century to the present, the book explores the ways in which Black comic artists have grappled with such themes as the Black experience, gender identity, politics and social media.

2. Black Space: Imagining Race in Science Fiction Film by Adilifu Nama (2008) is the first book-length study of African-American representation in science fiction film. Black Space demonstrates that science fiction cinema has become an important field of racial analysis, a site where definitions of race can be contested and post-civil rights race relations (re)imagined.

3. Race in American Science Fiction by Isiah Lavender III (2011) offers a systematic classification of ways that race appears and how it is silenced in science fiction, while developing a critical vocabulary designed to focus attention on often-overlooked racial implications. These focused readings of science fiction contextualize race within the genre’s better-known master narratives and agendas.

4. Horror Noire: Blacks in American Horror Films from 1890s to Present by Robin Means Coleman (2011) presents a unique social history of blacks in America through changing images in horror films. Throughout the text, the reader is encouraged to unpack the genre’s racialized imagery, as well as the narratives that make up popular culture’s commentary on race. Offering a comprehensive chronological survey of the genre, this book addresses a full range of black horror films, including mainstream Hollywood fare, as well as art-house films, Blaxploitation films, direct-to-DVD films, and the emerging U.S./hip-hop culture-inspired Nigerian “Nollywood” Black horror films.