Monday, February 21, 2011

Luke Cage - The First Black Hero To Have His Own Series

First Appearance Hero for Hire #1 (1972)

 Art by Declan Shalvey

After years of being miscast as a street thug, Luke Cage has finally come into his own. Thanks in large part to writer Brian Michael Bendis' work on the character over the last 5 years or so. He single-handedly resurrected Luke Cage and made him relevant. I would say relevant again but I'm not so sure he ever has been. Personally, I always thought of him as a joke. Who wears an afro with a head band, a yellow shirt with a butterfly collar, green pants and a chain for a belt? Um, no F-ing one that's who. The only thing worse that that would be if they gave him a gold tooth, made him speak Ebonics, disrespect women, and abuse his power.....oh wait, they did that too. Sorry, got upset there for a moment but I digress. Bendis has taken Cage from the side show freak pimp suit hero for hire to the legitimate leader of New Avengers and a loving husband and father. Recently Steve Rogers (Formerly Captain America) asked Luke run the Thunderbolts program. As the leader of the Thunderbolts Cage is in charge of a team of powerful villains, that includes The Juggernaut, Crossbones, and Moonstone, all who agreed to work with the Thunderbolts program in exchange for leniency, early release, or just to get out of their cell at the Raft (Marvel's super villain prison). They constantly test him yet he remains cool and in control. Cage is finally a well rounded character who readers can enjoy whether he is busting heads with his teammates or having a casual conversation with his wife. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Black Panther - The First Mainstream Black Hero

Art by Juan Doe

      I thought it would be fun to post a little something about black superheroes in comics. It's true that we have been seriously underrepresented over the years. What's worse though is the misrepresentation. With proportionally so few characters of African origin in comics it is appalling that so many have of them have gone through periods where they were terribly written. Artist have clearly had trouble representing brothas and sistas as well. They don't know what to do with black hair. It's funny, while I was researching some characters for this blog entry I ran across a forum entry from a Caucasian man stating that it is impossible to create a black superhero without being stereotypical. He referenced Luke Cage as an example. I thought his statement was both funny and sad. Funny, because so many black characters have gone through periods in which talentless or uninformed writers have totally mis-written them. Sad, because so many black characters have gone through periods in which talentless or uninformed writers have totally mis-written them. So, I will be posting a series of short profiles of some of my favorite black charcters for the rest of the month. First up, the king of Wakanda himself, The Black Panther!

Art by Simon Bianchi

     Created by writer Stan Lee and penciller Jack Kirby, he first appeared in Fantastic Four #52 in July 1966, T'Challa aka The Black Panther, holds the distinction of being the first mainstream black superhero.  Aside from Storm he is probably the most recognizable black character in comics today. As the chieftain of the fictional African nation of Wakanda the Black Panther is one of the most powerful men in the world. Thanks to the nation’s vast stores of the rare metal Vibranium, Wakanda is one of the richest most tech savvy countries in the Marvel universe. The Panthers suit is made of a vibranium mesh that absorbs impact and allows him to move in silence. Through the consumption of a heart shaped herb that grows only in Wakanda the Black Panther is granted enhanced strength, speed, agility, and senses.

Art by Frank Cho

     Although, Reggie Hudlin’s run as writer of the Black Panther Series has gotten the most media attention, largely due to his marrige of the Black Panther and Storm (Still shaking my head at that one), it was Christopher Priests time on the title that truly gave the character new life. Priest took the Panther from simply being the token black Avenger and gave him depth. His T’Challa was a brilliant strategist, scholar, and business man. He has matched political wits with Dr. Doom and battled Tony Starks’ (aka Iron Man) in the boardroom where he succeeded in a hostile corporate takeover of Stark Enterprises. His version of the Black Panther was always a step ahead of the competition. Right were he should be.

      Currently, the Black Panther can be found protecting Daredevil's former haunt, Hells Kitchen. I can't say that I like the idea much but I will give it a chance, just one. The current issues backwards ass portrayal of Luke Cage as a street tough homeboy did not sit well with me. Yeah, we know where Luke came from but we have also watched him grow into a major league superhero as the leader of both the New Avengers and The Thunderbolts. But I digress, the art in the current Panther series is also a little weak. It looks like a cheap immitation of Tim Sales work. My hopes are that it will improve as the artist becomes more comfortable with the characters. As an artist myself I certainly understand the difficulties that lie in portraying a character as iconic as the Black Panther but I think Marvel should have chosen someone else.

Monday, February 7, 2011

It's Black History Month!!!!

I hear so many people complain during Black history month that it's not fair that we get the shortest month of the year to recognize our contributions and that we should celebrate our heritage all year long not just during one month. To the first statement I say so what, lets make it the best month for our people that we can. I don't believe that complaining helps anything. I much rather use the time to learn and empower myself. As for the second statement, I say let's do it.  No one is stopping you from picking up that book and learning. No one is stopping you from sharing your knowledge of black history with the less informed folk in your circle. Don't think for a second that someone else is going to do it for you because their not.

The schools teach the same rehashed messages about black history to our kids every year. Yeah, I know we invented the cotton gin, the traffic light, MLK was assassinated, white people abused us, we get it. There is so much more though that never gets touched on. Why was I never told about the Tuskegee Airmen, the Tuskegee experiments, the Buffalo Soldiers? What about the Black Panthers? I would have loved to hear about the skill and bravery of black pilots in spite of their abuse and mistreatment. How they endured so much to simply prove that we are equal.

We need to hear these stories. We need to know that we are capable of more than simply catching a ball or reciting catchy phases over a banging beat. We are a people capable of changing the world.

Each one teach one,

Serious Black

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


I was sitting here wandering what to do with the little bit of extra cash that I will have availble soon and it hit me, Elliptical! It's perfect. I already have a good weight lifting routine but I don't have a solid cardio plan. Investing in me is the perfect solution.

I wonder if I will be this excited after my first go on this beast? Probably not.