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Monday, 22 August 2011

Characters of Colour in superhero comics: the women (part 3) and a Spider-man

And so we come to the final entry in the our characters of colour in comics series, looping back to focus on women again..  We hope that we've showcased characters that interests you and we hope that you've been intrigued enough to search out some books.  There seem to be a lot more superhero men than women around, part of this is, I think, because there are more male superheroes than female ones, which is a pity.  Another thing I think we've learnt is that ongoing superhero series tend to feature white people, not characters of colour.  The only way this will change is if people buy more comics with characters of colour in them, showing the publishers that there is a demand.  So please, if you like the sound of any of these characters, buy a copy of the book!

To recap, the previous entries in our series can be found here:

Women (part one), women (part two), the X (wo)men, men (part one), men (part two), men (part three), men (part four), men (part five) and non-superhero comics.

And now, on with the women.

White Tiger is the code name of Angela Del Toro.  Angela is Puerto Rican and the fourth person to bear the name of White Tiger and the niece of the first White Tiger.  She uses the Jade Tiger amulets to give her enhanced strength, speed, stamina, agility and dexterity.  When she's in costume the amulets also provide camouflage, allowing her to blend in with her surroundings and go about unseen.  Before she gained the amulets she was an FBI agent, so she's pretty darn clever too.

Tamora Pierce wrote a White Tiger mini series, details here, titled A Hero's Compulsion.
EDITED 3/01/2013 to add - I have finally read this trade and it's really rather good!

Black Panther is another Marvel heroine, who is also a legacy hero (someone who has taken the codename of another hero and is continuing their work).  Shuri is the sister of T'Challa, both of whom are African royalty (we wrote about T'Challa here).  When Shuri became the Black Panther she also became ruler of Wakanda, the African nation her and T'Challa are from.  The Panther spirit is the local God, and the King is considered to be the God's living Avatar.  As such, the Black Panther identity is a rank of office, giving the post holder access to magical artifacts to improve strength, speed, stamina and agility.  You can read about how Shuri became the Black Panther in The Deadliest of the Species.
EDITED 3/01/2013 to add - I have now read a couple of Black Panther trades and it's a really powerful story.  Wakanda is a nation that has never been conquered.  The subjects live wealthy, healthy lives and are technologically far more advanced than a lot of other nations.  They retain their traditional customs and dress whilst being better than every other nation.  This is a really powerful and positive message.

Sticking with Marvel comics, we now move on to Sabra.  Also known as Ruth Bat-Seraph, she is Israeli with superhuman levels of strength, speed, agility, reflexes, endurance, and stamina.  She can also transfer her power to other people, helping them heal from grievous wounds.  She was brought up in an Israeli kibbutz and worked for the Mossad, (Israeli Secret Service).  She has fought powerhouses like the Hulk and survived.  She is a mutant, i.e. like the X-Men she is a member of homo superior not homo sapiens.  Sadly she's not had any solo series or headlined many series arcs, but you can find a list of her appearances here.

Now to a couple of other heroines.  We have previously reviewed Planetary by Warren Ellis.  Planetary is an organisation determined to discover the world's secret history andone of the team members characters in this book is Jakita Wagner, a woman with a British father and African mother who was raised in Germany. She is a powerhouse possessed of a low tolerance for boredom and a voracious curiosity.  To read about her, you simply have to buy a Planetary book!

And lastly, we have Detective Enki Sunrise from the Powers series.  Powers is an independent ongoing series focusing on two cops who's job it is to investigate superhuman crimes.  It is in no way related to DC or Marvel.  It's also pretty damn great.  Enki first turned up in issue 25, collected in volume 6 the Sellouts, replacing a white character in the police force.  You can read a short interview with the creator here where they discuss her introduction.

OK, so maybe Ms Sunrise isn't the last one.  Big news was made a few weeks ago when Marvel revealed that they now have a biracial Spider-man!  This isn't in the main universe, it's in the Ultimate universe, where the major stories are being retold in a more modern fashion.  In this universe, Peter Parker has been killed and young Miles Morales takes up the Spider-man identity.  This was revealed in a very short segment of the issue Ultimate Fallout #4.  This issue was about how various people reacted to Peter's death, so young Miles was never going to get a big feature.  But in future issues this half Black, half Hispanic kid will be Spider-man!  How cool is that?  We'll keep you updated as to what trades he appears in, but for the moment, it's a pretty safe bet that he'll be in Ultimate Spider-man.  if you fancy reading about fan reaction to this news and background about the event try this link post from When Fangirls Attack!.

And that's it from us, at least until we get some more heroes to write about.  We will be reviewing books with these characters in so please stick around, or, if you want more brain food I can recommend the blog Comic Books for Coloured Folks.  At New readers.. we firmly believe that everybody should be able to read about people like them.  I hope that this series of posts has proved that there are diverse characters out there for people of every skin colour.  There may not be enough, they may not have headline titles, but they are there and well written about.  It's s start, let's hope it gets better.

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