There’s way more Black Girl Magic in the comic book world for Black Nerds to enjoy than you thought!
Quick! Name the first five superheroes that come to your mind. Were they mostly White? Were most of them men? There’s a good chance that you probably answered yes to both.
Aside from Storm, most nerdy Black girls would have a hard time naming heroes that look like them. Comics started out as a man’s game–and in many ways, it still is.
It’s been years since a female-led hero movie has been released, and it was huge news that Wonder Woman was finally getting her own feature film. She made her first appearance back in 1941, so this has been a long time coming! Let’s not even get started on Black Widow’s absence from the vast majority of merchandising and marketing for the Avengers.
However, we’re pleased to be able to tell you that there is more representation for Brown girls in the world of comic books than a glance at the current landscape might lead you to believe. Here are just a few stories that might quickly be added to your must-read list.
Niobe (Stranger Comics)
Amandla Stenberg is (apparently) a bit of a Blerd, and she’s used her influence to help create a comic called Niobe: She Is Life. The nine-issue story arc focus on a Black elf that must find a way to unite her world against the Devil himself.
Moon Girl And Devil Dinosaur (Marvel)
We fell in love with Moon Girl before she was ever published. With her afro puffs and glasses, how could we not? But now that the comic Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur is out, readers are getting pulled into an entertaining story that’s a good read for all ages. The comic follows a hyper-intelligent Black girl named Lunella Lafayette, who has landed in the middle of a conflict over a powerful artifact. Somehow, she’s acquired a T-Rex as a pet. A situation that could be overwhelming for most is nothing more ti Lunella than an obstacle that’s getting between her and her research. The girl even has a secret laboratory inside her school!
Gotham Academy (DC)
Olive Silverlock is entering another year at Gotham Academy, where she is watched over by none other than Bruce Wayne (AKA Batman himself) from a distance. She’s not much different from any other student, but she can’t remember even a moment of what happened to her over the summer and her mother is locked up in Arkham. Oh, and she appears to have these explosive powers that manifest themselves, often putting her life in danger.
Princeless (Action Lab)
Sometimes a girl has just got to save herself…and then her sisters. Princeless, which is written by a White man for his biracial daughter, centers on a Black royal family. In an effort to ensure that his daughters marry only the most valiant suitors, a king locks each of his girls in their own separate towers that are guarded by a fire-breathing dragons. When Adrienne has had enough of waiting for her prince to come, she decides to bust out on her own and save her sisters. The nice thing here is that Black women are represented in a number of different ways with very unique personalities and ways of thinking.
Saga (Image Comics)
Set during a time of civil war, Saga follows the struggle of two people from opposing sides trying to hold their relationship and their family together while on the run from the military, a bounty hunter, and a very disgruntled ex. This is all told from the perspective of the main couple’s daughter, who is very clear about the drama surrounding her family. With its gritty and graphic scenes (neither the writers nor the artists shy away from sex scenes) this is definitely a read for more-mature audiences.
The Ultimates (Marvel)
Think of The Ultimates like the fixers of the Marvel Universe. Led by Blue Marvel, the team literally handles the biggest problems in existence. But with a lineup comprised of Black Panther, Ms. America Chavez, Captain Marvel and Spectrum, there’s nothing that they can’t solve. Olivia Pope might be able to learn something from these guys. After the handling of Spectrum’s character over the years, we hope she’ll really get a chance to take center stage and shine here. If you don’t know what we’re talking about, do your Googles and look up Monica Rambeau.
Jem (IDW Publishing)
So, the Jem and The Holograms movie was a trainwreck. It was a disaster that was yanked from theaters in less than a month. Thankfully, the team behind the Jem comic book has done a way better job of staying true to the source material while updating it for the current times. A big part of that has been the unspoken commitment to body positivity and the realistic depiction of lgbt relationships. The book is heavy on representation for all kinds of people and pop culture references. And, as a bonus, the writers have added some great plot twists and character development for the villains. After all these years, Jem is still truly outrageous, and I can’t stop reading it!
HONORABLE MENTION: Infinity Gauntlent (2015, Marvel)
Marvel just wrapped up Secret Wars, but one of the comics published during the event was an update of the Infinity Gauntlet limited series. The 2015 version centered on a Black family fighting to survive in the days after a catastrophic event. The story opens with a father and his two daughters making their way across a wasteland, and their mother is missing in action since she has joined The Nova Corps. Just when things look their bleakest, she returns to save the surviving members and together they take on the biggest big bad in the Marvel Universe, Thanos, all while trying to capture as many of the infinity stones as possible before they can be used for evil.