Black Superheroes Past And Present

Table of Contents

It’s been 75 years since what is commonly recognized as the first Black superhero debuted (it’s not Black Panther). To celebrate, let’s walk through a timeline of Black heroes, from 1947 to today.

Lion Man: The first-ever Black superhero in US comics.


All-Negro Comics / Pictorial Press / Alamy

Creator: Geo. J. Evans Jr.

First AppearanceAll-Negro Comics #1 (1947)

Powers/Skills: Strength, intellect, agility, stamina

Black Panther (T’Challa)


Robyn Beck / AFP via Getty Images

Creators: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

First AppearanceFantastic Four #52 (1966)

Powers/Skills: Can harness the knowledge, strength, and experience of every previous Black Panther. Super strength, enhanced senses, expert martial artist, genius-level intellect, strategist, inventor.  Vibranium suit gives T’Challa near indestructibility.

Goliath (William Foster)


Marvel

Creators: Stan Lee and Don Heck

First Appearance (Bill Foster): Avengers #32 (1966)

First Appearance (Black Goliath): (1975)

Powers/Skills: Size manipulation, super strength based on size.

Falcon (Sam Wilson)


Disney Xd / Getty Images

Creators: Stan Lee and Gene Colan

First AppearanceCaptain America #117 (1969)

Powers/Skills: Expert bird trainer, empathic and telepathic link with all birds advanced hand-to-hand combat, martial arts, aerialist, acrobat, flight (with suit), tactical strategizing

Power Man (Luke Cage)


Terrence Antonio James / Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Creators: Archie Goodwin, George Tuska, Roy Thomas, and John Romita Sr.

First AppearanceLuke Cage, Hero for Hire #1 (1972)

Powers/Skills: Super strength, unbreakable skin, hand-to-hand combat, accelerated healing.

Green Lantern (John Stewart)


DC

Creators: Dennis O’Neil and Neal Adams

First AppearanceGreen Lantern #87 (1972)

Powers/Skills: Using his power ring, Green Lantern can fly, create objects out of light, generate force fields, and translate languages

Nubia / Nu’Bia


DC

Creators: Robert Kanigher and Don Heck

First AppearanceWonder Woman #204 (1973)

Powers/Skills: Flight, super strength, speed, “cold sight,” magic armor, able to open portals. Nubia also possessed a magic sword, created by Mars, which was the only weapon that could go against Wonder Woman’s lasso. Lastly, she could heal herself by becoming one with the Earth’s soil, then reforming her body.

Blade (Eric Cross Brooks)


Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Creators: Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan

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

Powers/Skills: Master martial artist, swordsman, marksman, vampire expert, super strength and speed, enhanced senses, regenerative healing, immunity to vampires, decelerated aging, ability to sense supernatural creatures.

Doctor Voodoo (Jericho Drumm)


Marvel

Creators: Len Wein and Gene Colan

First Appearance: Strange Tales #169 (1973)

Powers/Skills: Magical mastery including teleportation, transmutation, time manipulation, intangibility, flight, holographic projection, enhanced healing, energy resistance, energy projection, force field creation, animal manipulation, control of the elements, possession, necromancy, telekinesis, telepathy, soul manipulation.

Misty Knight


Marvel / Via youtube.com

Creators: Tony Isabella and Arvell Jones

First AppearanceMarvel Premiere #21 (1975)

Powers/Skills: Martial arts, bionic arm gives her near-perfect aim, super strength, technopathy, can control magnets, emits concussive blasts

Storm (Ororo Munroe)


Marvel / Alamy

Creators: Len Wein and Dave Cockrum

First AppearanceGiant-Size X-Men #1 (1975)  

Powers/Skills: Weather manipulation (on Earth and other planets), including earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Flight, breathing underwater, telepathic resistance, can survive extreme weather conditions, night vision, magic, and an empathetic link with the Earth and all living things. Oh, and godhood.

Black Lightning (Jeff Pierce)


Paras Griffin / Getty Images for SCAD aTVfest 2018

Creators: Tony Isabella and Trevor Von Eeden

First AppearanceBlack Lightning #1 (1977)

Powers/Skills: Can manipulate electricity and magnetism, absorb energy, generate force fields, heal with electricity. Advanced hand-to-hand combat, super strength and durability, Olympic-level athlete.

War Machine (James Rhodes)


Ollie Millington / Getty Images

Creators: David Michelinie, John Byrne, and Bob Layton

First Appearance (James Rhodes)Iron Man #118 (1979) 

First Appearance (as War Machine)Avengers West Coast #94 (1993) 

Powers/Skills: Experienced Marine, weapons proficiency, martial artist, pilot, aviation engineering. Armored suit gives him super strength, speed, durability, flight, weapons, and life support.

Cyborg (Victor Stone)


DC / Alamy

Creators: Marv Wolfman and George Pérez

First AppearanceDC Comics Presents #26 (1980)

Powers/Skills: Genius, super strength, durability, technopathy, regenerative health, flight, data manipulation.

Captain Marvel/Photon/Pulsar/Spectrum (Monica Rambeau)


Marvel / Via youtube.com

Creators: Roger Stern and John Romita Jr.

First Appearance (Captain Marvel): The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #16 (1982)

First Appearance (Photon)Avengers Unplugged #5 (1996)

First Appearance (Pulsar)New Thunderbolts #9 (2005)

First Appearance (Spectrum): Mighty Avengers #1 (2013)

Powers/Skills: Able to generate, manipulate, and absorb energy, travel at the speed of light, turn into a form of energy on the electromagnetic spectrum, travel through the vacuum of space, intangibility.

Cloak (Tyrone Johnson)


Marvel / Via youtube.com

Creators:  Bill Mantlo and Ed Hannigan

First AppearancePeter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #64 (1982)

Powers/Skills: Teleportation, intangibility, can link to the Darkforce dimension, martial arts

Amazing Man I-IV (Will Everett I-II, Markus Clay, Rocker Bonn)


DC

Creators:  Roy Thomas, Jerry Ordway, Dan Vado, Marc Campos, Geoff Johns, Dale Eaglesham, Dan DiDio, and Keith Giffen

First Appearance:  All-Star Squadron #23 (1983)

Powers/Skills: Can mimic any element he touches.

Bloodsport (Robert DuBois)


DC / Alamy

Creators: John Byrne

First Appearance: Superman #4 (1987)

Powers/Skills: Expert (and ambidextrous) marksman with every conceivable weapon, impressive strength. His reflexes and senses are so sharp he scared Superman. 

Bishop (Lucas Bishop)


Marvel / Via youtube.com

Creators: Whilce Portacio and John Byrne

First AppearanceUncanny X-Men #282 (1991)

Powers/Skills: Can absorb and redirect energy, superhuman strength, hand-to-hand combat, automatically knows his geographical location.

Spawn (Al Simmons)


Pacific Press / LightRocket via Getty Images

Creators: Todd McFarlane

First Appearance: Spawn #1 (1992)

Powers/Skills: Demonic abilities, martial arts, soldier and assassin

Steel (John Henry Irons)


DC / Alamy

Creators: Louise Simonson and Jon Bogdanove

First AppearanceThe Adventures of Superman #500 (1993)

Powers/Skills: Genius engineer and inventor, armor gives him super strength, durability, endurance, flight, weapons, enhanced senses. Previously, he was made of living steel, bulletproof, and able to turn into fluid molten steel. He uses a sledgehammer that is seemingly indestructible.

Static (Virgil Ovid Hawkins)


DC

Creators: Dwayne McDuffie, Denys Cowan, Michael Davis, and Derek T. Dingle

First AppearanceStatic #1 (1993)

Powers/Skills: Able to control electromagnetism, subatomic particles, lightning, and data. Can generate electrostatic force-fields and absorb/redirect energy. Flight, scientist, strategist, technopathy, regenerative healing, psionic immunity, 

Synch (Everett Thomas)


Marvel / Via youtube.com

Creators: Scott Lobdell and Chris Bachalo

First Appearance: X-Men #36 (1994)  

Powers/Skills: Can mimic and master others’ powers, sense and track superpowered beings

M/Penance (Monet St. Croix)


Marvel / Via youtube.com

Creators: Scott Lobdell and Chris Bachalo

First Appearance (as Penance): Generation X #1(1994)

First Appearance (as Monet)Generation X #40 (1998)

Powers/Skills (as Monet): Superhuman strength, speed, reflexes, enhanced senses like night vision, super hearing, the ability to process information incredibly quickly, flight, telepathy, telekinesis, shape-shifting (into Penance)

Powers/Skills (as Penance): Dense skin, telepathic resistance, razor claws

Lightning (Jennifer Pierce)


The CW / Via youtube.com

Creators: Mark Waid, Alex Ross, Geoff Johns, and Dale Eaglesham

First AppearanceKingdom Come #1 (1996)  

Powers/Skills: Flight, can manipulate/generate electricity, light, and plasma.

Nick Fury (Ultimate)


Disney Xd / Disney XD via Getty Images

Creators: Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Allred (based on the original character by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby)  

First AppearanceUltimate Marvel Team-Up #5 (2001)  

Powers/Skills: Genius-level strategist, extremely slow aging, skilled with weapons, advanced hand-to-hand combat, superhuman strength, speed, and agility.

Batman (Jace Fox)


DC

Creators: Stan Lee and Joe Kubert

First AppearanceJust Imagine: Batman #1 (2001)

Powers/Skills: Wrestling, disguises, athletics, and strength. Also sewing.

Captain America (Isaiah Bradley)


Disney / Marvel Studios / Courtesy Everett Collection

Creators: Robert Morales and Kyle Baker

First Appearance: Truth: Red, White & Black #1 (2002)

Powers/Skills: Super strength, perfect reflexes, enhanced senses, superhuman agility, peak stamina, enhanced healing, hand-to-hand combat, slowed aging.

Shuri


Disney Xd / Disney XD via Getty Images

Creators: Reginald Hudlin and John Romita Jr.

First AppearanceBlack Panther Vol. 4 #2 (2005)  

Powers/Skills: Genius-level IQ, engineer, advanced hand-to-hand combat, necromancy, super speed, durability, vibranium suit and weapons give her enhanced abilities.

Patriot (Eli Bradley)


Disney / Marvel

Creators: Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung

First Appearance: Young Avengers #1 (2005)

Powers/Skills: Super strength and agility, immunity to disease and poison, peak stamina, enhanced healing, hand-to-hand combat, slowed aging.

Hancock (John Hancock)


Sony / Alamy

Creators: Vy Vincent Ngo and Vince Gilligan

First Appearance: Hancock (film) (2008)

Powers/Skills: Flight, invulnerability, superhuman strength.

Blue Marvel (Adam Bernard Brashear)


Marvel / Via youtube.com

Creators: Kevin Grevioux and Mat Broome

First Appearance: Adam: Legend of the Blue Marvel #1 (2008)

Powers/Skills: Superhuman strength, speed, intelligence, near-invulnerability, flight, military combat, engineer, physicist. Blue Marvel can also manpipulate, generate, absorb, and project energy. This includes molecules, light, and even anti-matter.

Aqualad (Kaldur’ahm / Jackson Hyde)


DC

Creators: Brandon Vietti, Greg Weisman, and Phil Bourassa (based on the original character by Robert Bernstein and Ramona Fradon).

First AppearanceBrightest Day #4 (2010)

Powers/Skills: Can breathe underwater, swim at superspeed, survive at extreme underwater pressure, and has super strength.

Batwing (David Zavimbe, later Luke Fox)


Katie Yu / ©The CW / Courtesy Everett Collection

Creators (David Zavimbe): Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham

Creators (Luke Fox): Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, and Eduardo Pansica

First Appearance (David Zavimbe)Batman Incorporated #5 (2011)

First Appearance (Luke Fox): Batwing #19 (2013)  

Powers/Skills (David Zavimbe): Flight (with suit), high-tech weapons and gadgets, skilled detective  

Powers/Skills (Luke Fox): Intellect, disguise, martial arts, engineering, tactical analysis

Spider-Man (Miles Morales)


Dia Dipasupil / Getty Images for ReedPOP

Creators: Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli

First AppearanceUltimate Fallout #4 (2011)

Powers/Skills: All the powers of Peter Parker’s Spider-Man, plus invisibility, venom strike, venom blast, bio-electricity, intellect.

Human Torch (Johnny Storm)


Marvel / Via youtube.com

Creators: Jeremy Slater, Simon Kinberg, and Josh Trank (based on the original character by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby)

First Appearance: Fantastic Four (movie) (2015)

Powers/Skills: Can control and generate fire, flight, energy absorption, resistance to heat (obviously).

Iron Heart (Riri Williams)


Marvel / Via youtube.com

Creators: Brian Michael Bendis, Mike Deodato, Eve Ewing and Kevin Libranda

First AppearanceInvincible Iron Man Vol. 2 #9 (2016)  

Powers/Skills: Genius inventor and engineer.

Sister Night (Angela Abar)


Filmmagic / FilmMagic for HBO

Creators: Damon Lindelof  

First AppearanceWatchmen (TV show), “It’s Summer and We’re Running Out of Ice” (2019)

Powers/Skills: Investigation, interrogation, advanced hand-to-hand combat, firearms, tactical analysis

Hooded Justice (Will Reeves)


HBO / Via youtube.com

Creators: Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons, and Damon Lindelof

First Appearance: Watchmen (TV show), “It’s Summer and We’re Running Out of Ice” (2019)

Powers/Skills: Advanced hand-to-hand combat and tactical analysis

[🚨SPOILER ALERT🚨 FOR WATCHMEN (2019)] If you have not seen the HBO TV show and plan to, I strongly suggest skipping the next character! You’ve been warned…

Doctor Manhattan (Cal Abar, formerly Calvin Jelani)


HBO / Via youtube.com

Creators:  Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons, and Damon Lindelof

First AppearanceWatchmen (TV show), “It’s Summer and We’re Running Out of Ice” (2019)

Powers/Skills: Teleportation, flight/levitation, manipulation of matter, perception of past, present, and future simultaneously, immortality. 

Of course, there are several other Black superheroes that have graced comic book pages, TV shows, and movie screens. Who did I leave off this list that you would like to add? Let me know in the comments below!

Make sure to head right here for more of BuzzFeed’s Black History Month coverage.

https://www.buzzfeed.com/williambarrios/a-chronological-look-at-the-most-popular-black-superheroes