I’m nose deep in a book called Super Black by Adilifu Nama. The book is an examination of black superheroes in Marvel and DC comics. I’ve not finished it, but am so far very impressed with Nama’s in-depth and refreshing examinations.
The author works hard to avoid what he calls “superficial critiques”. He asserts that his text “calls attention to black superheroes as a fascinating racial phenomenon and a powerful source of racial meaning, narrative, and imagination in American society…” So far, I’ve learned about the Green Lantern Co-Starring Green Arrow series, which “dramatically recast superheroes, and shaped the superhero comic book as a space where acute social issues were engaged” by featuring white superheroes battling racial inequality, and Black Lightning-a series featuring a brotha who according to Nama, “symbolically stressed self-reliance, critiqued tokenism and most importantly symbolized how African Americans were simultaneously insiders and outsiders in American society.”
As a former comic book junkie who happens to love black people (heh) and superheroes and has strong feelings about representations of black people in the mainstream being often neither super nor heroic, these sorts of analysis greatly appeal to me. Mr. Nama eloquently states that “…these black figures frequently challenged conventional and preconceived notions concerning black racial identity by offering a futuristic and fantastic vision of blackness that transcended and potentially shattered calcified notions of blackness as a radical category and source of cultural meaning.” Love. ‘Cause I am ever seeking to do these things with my work as a theatre artist/poet/songwriting lady.
Go get this book.