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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Change comes in all colors, superheroes

Illustration+by+Tj+Favela%2FThe+Collegian
Illustration by Tj Favela/The Collegian

XAVIER BOATNER
campus editor
xavier.boatner@my.tccd.edu

The demand for Black superheroes has increased exponentially over the years, and to celebrate Black History Month, we’ve decided to rank the best of the best. 

But first, like all things, we must start at the beginning. 

Traditional mainstream superheroes as we know them got their start in American comic books. The title of first traditional American superhero is often attributed to Superman, and the character’s heroic hijinks have since gone on to inspire countless artists to create similar superhuman heroes, villains, antiheroes, etc. 

The American comic book industry began to grow as fresh faces hit the scene over the coming years. Icons such as Batman, Captain America, Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, Aquaman and Spider-Man exploded in popularity in the 20th century, each character with compelling characteristics, abilities and stories that appealed to hundreds of thousands of readers. 

However, while these characters were relishing their much-deserved success, it seemed the comic industry still had room to branch out into previously unexplored demographics. The characters listed above were all white heroes, which isn’t a problem, but there was potential to expand by positioning minority heroes as leads in their own books.  

Marvel was the first to bite at the opportunity, introducing the globe – or America at least – to Black Panther, a black superhero lead inspired by the political party of the same name. The character is particularly notable because he was the first traditional “mainstream superhero” — but black! Inspired by the increasing racial tensions and civil rights movements of the 60s, Black Panther co-creators and comic book legends Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created the character as a direct response to the lack of Black superheroes in mainstream American comics. 

Following in the Black Panther’s footsteps came many other unique and memorable Black superheroes and villains such as Cyborg, Storm, Vixen, Blade, John Stewart’s Green Lantern, Prowler, etc., many of which are still active to this day. 

In honor of iconic Black superheroes everywhere, here are the picks for the Top 5 Black superheroes in ascending order. 

1. Cyborg

Creator(s): Marv Wolfman (Writer) and George Pérez (Artist) 

First Appearance: DC Comics Presents #26 (1980) 

First Adaptation: The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians (1985) 

Notable Adaptation: Teen Titans animated series (2003) 

Cyborg is one of DCs most prolific creations and one of, if not their most popular Black superhero, especially among younger generations thanks in no small part to the character’s animated interpretations. Inspired by NFL star Jim Brown and obscure Marvel character Deathlok, the half-man, half-machine hero has starred in numerous comics, TV series and movies, both animated and live action. The character has been a staple in DCs lineup since his inception in 1980 and has been on multiple superhero teams such as the Justice League, DOOM Patrol and most notable – the Teen Titans. 

2. T’Challa

Creator(s): Stan Lee (Writer) and Jack Kirby (Artist) 

First Appearance: Fantastic Four #52 (1966) 

First Adaptation: Fantastic Four: The Animated Series (1994) 

Notable Adaptation: Black Panther film (2018) 

How could you make a list of the best Black superheroes with the Black Panther? The first mainstream Black superhero. His legacy is unrivalled and without him, who knows where the state of Black superheroes would be. A timeless symbol of Black culture and representation thanks to his colorful cast of warrior allies and his now pop culture defining homeland of Wakanda. The character was faithfully brought to life thanks to the talent of various superstars such as Keith David, Djimon Hounson and the late Chadwick Boseman. 

3. Storm

Creator(s): Dave Cockrum (Co-Writer + Artist) and Len Wein (Co-Writer) 

First Appearance: Giant Size X-Men #1 (1975) 

First Adaptation: Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends (1981) 

Notable Adaptation: X-Men: The Animated Series (1992) 

Created as a part of the then extremely popular X-Men series, Storm, while not the first Black female superhero, is immensely powerful in-universe as well as a little underrated compared to other Marvel heroines. This is due to being out of the public conscious for so long, but with a new X-Men movie on the horizon and Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine making his rebooted on-screen debut in the upcoming Deadpool 3, the chances of seeing the goddess of lightning return in a mainstream capacity is higher now than in previous years. As it stands, Storm has been featured in multiple stories and films, in the 90s and 2000s, respectively. She is a powerful character with oodles of potential that has yet to be explored. 

4. Blade

Creator(s): Marv Wolfman (Writer) and Gene Colan (Artist) 

First Appearance: The Tomb of Dracula #10 (1973) 

First Adaptation: Spider-Man: The Animated Series (1994) 

Notable Adaptation: Blade film (1998) 

Latest Adaptation: Blade film (2025) 

The living vampire is one of Marvel’s more underrated heroes, but that seems like it’s going to change soon with both an upcoming big budget video game and Marvel Cinematic Universe film. The character’s starred in good stories both on the page and on the screen, be it in special comic book events, animated episodes of other Marvel series or even an anime, being one of the few Marvel characters with their dedicated anime adaptation. Many people growing up in the 90s and early 2000s remember Blade as Wesley Snipes, who helped bring the character from the page to the screen, predating even Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man. Blade is a cool vampire with a sword and that alone is enough of a reason to earn a spot here. 

5. Miles Morales

Creator(s): Brian Michael Bendis (Writer) and Sara Pichelli (Artist) 

First Appearance: Ultimate Fallout #4 (2011) 

First Adaptation: Ultimate Spider-Man animated series (2012) 

Notable Adaptation: Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse/Spider-Man Across the Spider-Verse 

The most recent addition to this list is Marvel’s breakout hit Miles Morales, aka Spider-Man (of Earth-1610 anyway). The character made his debut in 2011 following the death off Peter Parker and election of Barack Obama. Put two and two together and you get a black Spider-Man. The character has been the subject of debate since his inception, but over the years that has become ingrained in his identity and has grown into a meta-motivation for the character in the stories he’s been in. Personal gripes aside, there’s no denying that Miles has struck a chord with so many people beyond skin color. Miles, particularly in the Spider-Verse duology, is expertly written with a unique voice and style that separates him from recent iterations of Peter Parker (for the most part). Miles has become this generation’s Spider-Man, and no one can take that away from him. He absolutely is on his way up the Marvel ladder and deserves a spot on the list. 

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