By Andy KhouriRepeating the formula from its highly bloggable Batman: The Animated Series Rises video, The Hub has enlisted the original voice cast of Superman: The Animated Series to help recreate the Man of Steel theatrical trailer almost shot for shot using clips from the classic cartoon. In the video below, Tim Daly and Dana Delany return to their fan favorite roles as Superman and Lois Lane, respectively, to perform in their own styles such lines as “How do you find someone who has spent a lifetime covering his tracks?” and “It’s not an ‘S.’ On my world, it means ‘hope.’”
Here’s another infographic I did for HalloweenCostumes.com, this time illustrating the history of the emblem on Superman’s chest.
Until I researched this, I had no idea just how many variations the shield went through in its first five years, before they settled on the classic design that went mostly unchanged for over five decades.
My previous infographic (illustrating the evolution of Iron Man’s armor) can be seen here.
Submission by : Oppositeoffaith.tumblr.com
Milestone Media is a company known for creating and securing an unheard of publishing and distribution deal with DC Comics and the Static Shock cartoon series.
Founded in 93’ by African-American artists and writers: Dwyane McDuffie, Denys Cowan, Michael Davis and Derek T. Dingle. They believed minorities were severely underrepresented in American Comics. Milestone Media was their attempt to correct this imbalance.
You can read more about this here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milestone_Comics
By Andy Khouri
We make a regular practice at ComicsAlliance of spotlighting particular artists or specific bodies of work, but because cartoonists, illustrators and their fans share countless numbers of great images on sites like Flickr, Tumblr, DeviantArt and seemingly infinite art blogs that we’ve created Best Art Ever (This Week), a weekly depository for just some of the pieces of especially compelling artwork that we come across in our regular travels across the Web. Some of it’s new, some of it’s old, some of it’s created by working professionals, some of it’s created by future stars, some of it’s created by talented fans, and some of it’s endearingly silly. All of it’s awesome.
This week, in honor of the 75th anniversary of the first appearance of Superman, a compilation of some of the coolest portraits of the Man of Steel that we’ve highlighted over the last few years.
Check out this week’s Best Art Ever on ComicsAlliance!
ABOVE: Superman, by Vincent Carrozza
It was announced today that John Stewart has been slated for death by DC Editorial, causing the new writer of Green Lantern Corps to leave the title before any of his issues have even seen print.
John Stewart is, without a doubt, my favorite comic book character. I’ve been working on a post for months about how poorly I feel he’s been treated and perceived the past few years, but now it seems pointless. It doesn’t get worse than this. DC seems to care so little about representation that they give little thought to benching even their highest profile POC characters, regardless of how their fans feel about them, on top of their female and queer characters. It’s appalling and embarrassing. DC Editorial doesn’t even respect their employees enough to let them try to put, or even keep, these characters in the forefront.
I can already see people defending these choices by pointing out that Katana (Tatsu Yamashiro) and Vibe (Francisco Ramon) have received their own titles recently, but this is during the same periond that David Zavimbe is being replaced as Batwing because they “felt Batwing was missing a direct and important connection to the Bat Family” and John Stewart is condemned to death in a book he’s been a part of for 4 years. You’re not excused from eliminating two POC because you added two more.
Where are Virgil Hawkins, Michael Holt, Celine Patterson, and Lucien Gates? What happened to Kiran Singh (I know she’s in TT, but not even close to the character she used to be)? What happened to the various international characters in Batman Inc and why did Grant Morrison make them look so inept: El Gaucho (Santiago Vargas), Nightrunner (Bilal Asselah), Little Raven, and Mr. Unknown (Jiro Osamu)?
It’s truly a shame that there aren’t more people speaking out against this sort of thing, and that the people that are seem to be largely ignored by the people who make decisions at DC.
I don’t mean to ignore many women and queer characters DC has been treating poorly or erased. I’m just not as familiar with them at present.
“Don’t Mess With The S”
Seriously, don’t. The sheer power of the 90s will come down on you so hard.
With the recent announcement of the decision to cast Jamie Foxx, an African American as the (traditionally Caucasian) character ‘Electro’ in an upcoming Spider-Man movie, the internet has been asking questions.
First of all, I applaud any attempt to diversify Marvel and DC’s line of predominantly white characters with the more progressive form of race-bending. Look how well it worked with Nick Fury! Everyone loved that character already, but can anyone honestly say they wouldn’t rather see Samuel L. Jackson in the role? I’m also a Miles Morales fan (even though I feel he’s yet to meet his potential as the new Ultimate Spider-Man). I’m also a firm believer that if you cast Donald Glover or Steven Yeun as Peter Parker, there is exactly NO story in the long history of Spider-Man that you would need to alter in any significant way to tell. Peter Parker’s life is somewhat tied to the setting of New York City, but race doesn’t really seem to enter into it.
That said I do think there are occasions where it wouldn’t work as well in terms of retelling the stories that are already laid down. I remember hearing about intentions to cast Will Smith as Captain America and where I didn’t care enough about staying close to the comics to be actually worried by it (like some people seemed to be), I did believe that the period part of the story would need to change to accommodate the shift in his race. Racial tensions and prejudices in the era would have made it hard for America to accept a black man as their poster child for the war effort. That was in actuality the primary theme of a book Marvel already published called ‘Truth: Red, White and Black.’
In my opinion though, Electro, being relatively free of personality to begin with, is damn lucky to be cast as Jamie Foxx. He’s a good actor and he is likely to finally breathe a little life into the character.
But the real question on every fans lips right now is; ‘really? Another Electric Black guy?!’
To the uninitiated (and to the casting directors in Hollywood), I’m sure this is an odd question, but most hardcore comic fans can real off a list of at least four of the following Black superheroes with Electric powers (and there may be more than I have listed here):
And as of now; Electro
Now it has undoubtedly become a stereotype, but it’s a thoroughly confusing one because (and I’m really not one to judge this), it doesn’t seem offensive. Generally stereotypes are a result of some kind of cultural prejudice, be it deliberate or ingrained… but this one is a bit of a riddle.
For a better example of a potentially offensive super-power, take Luke Cage’s bulletproof skin. He’s a street-level black super-hero and he has bulletproof skin. I mean, I sincerely doubt it was intentional, but I think if you asked a room full of racist white people what superpowers a black man might most benefit from, bullet-proof skin might be somewhere near the top of the list. That’s not to say I think the character is necessarily harmful (I personally like Luke Cage for whatever that is worth), it’s just an observation that my wife made when I explained the character to her some years back. However, if suddenly seven other black characters popped up with bulletproof skin, it’d seem more than a little suspect. Lightning powers though? I mean… where is the correlation?
So I did some digging… and this is where we get to the heart of my post; I intend to examine the history of black electric characters and try to figure out just why this has become such a trope.
1: STORM (’75)
The first black character with electric powers (that I have found) was Storm from the X-Men, debuting in ’75. Now personally, I’m not sure she counts towards this trope, because her power is all-around weather manipulation and control over lightning is just one aspect of that. She gets a mention here, because of how iconic she is, but she is the only character on the list that doesn’t specialize exclusively in lightning powers.
Verdict: Doesn’t count!
2: BLACK LIGHTNING (’77)
The trope really started with ‘Black Lightning’ two years later, created by Tony Isabella for DC comics. Now if that name sounds a little… iffy, it’s worth pointing out that (and I hate saying this) ‘it was a different time’. The creator Tony Isabella, a white writer for Marvel and DC, is famous for two things; diversifying Marvel and DC’s character rosters by including some beloved & sorely-needed black characters in otherwise white-washed comic book universes aaand putting the word ‘black’ in front of their names just so that there was no confusion.
Although early Black Lightning falls neatly into the category of ‘blacksploitation’, to be entirely fair to Isabella, he protected audiences from far, far worse.
DC’s original idea for the first prominent black character was going to be a bigoted white man who utilized a magic word to turn himself into a black superhero called ‘The Black Bomber’. Tony Isabella, to his eternal credit, called bullshit on that and turned in Black Lightning as a replacement… and thank fuck he did! Tony Isabella, I for one salute you for it.
3: BLACK VULCAN (Late 70s or early 80s)
I looked around and I couldn’t find a date for Black Vulcan’s first appearance, but I did find out that he followed Black Lightning. See, Black Vulcan never really appeared in the comics, he was created for the Super Friends cartoon series. If it seems odd that they would decide to create their own almost identical superhero for the cartoon series, rather than use the one they already had, then you’ve probably already figured out where this one is going…
Apparently they originally intended to use Black Lightning in the show, but due to some sort of ownership dispute with Tony Isabella, they decided instead to create their own totally 100% original character to replace him.
So the second electrical black guy was a knock-off of the first. It’s starting to make sense now, isn’t it? The first two were essentially the same one.
Verdict: Plagiarism of Black Lightning
4: STATIC (’93)
There were only two electric black superheroes for a decade or so, but the late, great, Dwayne McDuffie introduced the third in 1993 with the character ‘Static’. This is a weird one; on the one hand he’s probably the most beloved electrical superhero out there, but on the other, he’s often considered to be ‘that weird made-for-TV superhero who was sort of part of the DC animated universe and sort of not’. Well, that’s part right anyway.
Many people missed the original Static comic series. It was published through Milestone comics, rather than DC, and Static wasn’t a DC character at all (until recently). His cartoon series was created independently of the DC animated line, but it did cross over on several occasions. I’m one of those many who always assumed he was an original animated character for DC Animated, to my nerd-shame.
As a teen superhero, Static was very different from the previous entries on the list. I don’t think Dwayne McDuffie consciously decided to reference Black Lightning/Vulcan, I think he just selected a generic power set that happened to coincide. If anything it seems like the character is more closely based on the Spider-Man teen-hero archetype…
So then there were THREE (but remember, two of those were essentially the same one). A pattern started to emerge…
*Bonus Fact:* Static is the only character on this list created by a black writer.
5: LIGHTNING (‘96)
This one actually makes a lot of sense. In 1996, DC comics released an amazingly detailed book written by Mark Waid and illustrated by Alex Ross. The book was set in a future of the DC universe where the 90s style heroes had come along and ruined it all for everyone. It was called Kingdom Come.
Like a kid doodling in the margins of his notebook (if the kid’s doodles were photo-realistic paintings), Alex Ross filled every blank space in that book with interesting new characters, all of whom referenced pre-existing titles in some way or another. The best part of all was that every last one of them had a whole back-story, even though they were rarely ever mentioned in the pages book itself.
One of those characters was Lightning, Black Lightning’s daughter, continuing her father’s crime-fighting legacy. It’s an old comics trope that powers can be passed on vertically from parent to child, so this one really isn’t that far out there.
Verdict: Extension of the Black Lightning mythos.
6: COLDCAST (‘01)
All was quiet until 2001, when Warren Ellis’s book ‘The Authority’ (a fantastic book about a superhero team consisting of what were essentially fascists) had already captured the imaginations of comic-reading audiences. Many people reading the Authority believed that this is how real superheroes would act, or even how they should act and it was in DC’s answer to that comic where we find our next point of interest.
In 2001, Superman fought a team of thinly veiled parodies called ‘the Elite’ in a clever tale designed to explain just why superman operates the way he does, rather than asserting his power in the Authority fashion. The team was similar in numerous ways to The Authority, but the powers, races and genders of the characters were altered or mixed up to avoid copyright infringement. One of those characters, of course, was a black man with Jenny Sparks’s electrical powers called ‘Coldcast’ for some odd reason.
I believe Coldcast was intended to be a throwaway character (as parodies often are), but he and other members of the Elite were eventually picked up and took on a life of their own (as parodies often do).
Verdict: Coincidence, a parody of different characters.
7: Volt (‘09)
Volt appears in the Boom! series ‘Irredeemable’ and its sister titles. This is another one of Mark Waid’s brainchildren and perhaps the most interesting one on the list, so it’s the perfect place to end it!
First of all, Irredeemable is a book centering around the concept of Superman, or rather, ‘the Plutonian’ finally snapping from his life’s pressures and turning completely, irredeemably evil. Like the Plutonian, most of the characters in the book are obvious parodies of existing DC characters.
Volt is one such character, but what makes him so interesting is that he isn’t a parody of Black Lightning specifically, he is a parody of the black-electricity-powered superhero archetype in general. This perhaps marks the first time this was ever acknowledged to be an actual trope within the pages of a comic book… to the point where Volt even talks about being a stereotype, and gets quite cynical about the whole thing in general.
I believe that Volt is actually the first fully intentional use of this archetype and as such he represents the point of awareness, in comics at least, where writers, artists and above all, the fans can no longer ignore that the archetype exists.
Verdict: Parody & acknowledgement of the archetype
Now before I leave you all, it’s probably worth noting that there are probably more white electric superheroes and villains as there are black ones. I can think of several off of the top of my head (Electro, Lightning Lad, Lightning Lass, Livewire, Bolt, Thor and Captain Marvel also count as much as Storm does), without delving into a bunch of wiki articles and compiling a huge article about it. What’s weird is that no other power set is more commonly given to black characters… it’d be like making most Asian characters fire-powered, or most Irish characters telepaths.
Is it harmful? I don’t think so, not really. I mean, I don’t know for sure, as a white man, I know I’m in no position to judge, but at this point I believe that it all came about largely by coincidence, rather than malicious intent as I stated above. Hey, if I’m wrong, by all means tell me!
You know, I wonder if this could actually be seen as a step in the right direction. The archetypal Lightning power set is probably the only common power set out there that has been attributed to almost as many black characters as it has to white characters, in an industry where black people are still under-represented.
Look at how many human torch types there have been and they have almost all been white. Hell, I could reel off a list right now of all of the characters I know with the exact same weird powers as Superman, and that list is overwhelmingly white. I could, but I’ll spare you.
What I’m getting at is that maybe the goal shouldn’t be to have less black lightning guys, so much as it should be to have just as much of everything else.
Anyway, as always, please leave a like, a comment, or feel free to ask me a question/challenge me about this entry if you’re so inclined.
I agree that this trend isn’t really problematic. The fact that there are so few notable black comic characters is what makes the coincidence really stick out.
had to do this
I want more of this.
Ooh, Thunder and Lightning clip for Cartoon Network’s DC Nation.
“I’m not doing anything. You must be in a dead zone.”
Subtle truth there, ladies.