Help me catalog black superheroes (and villains) prior to the 1960s

In real life, the first black superhero in comic books was Marvel Comics’ T’Challa, the Black Panther (1966), followed shortly by Luke Cage, Power Man (1972) and five years later, Black Lightning at DC.

But retconn storytelling pushes the debut of black superheroes further back. When Milestone Comics introduced Icon, he was presented as an alien child crashlanded on Earth and brought up as the child of a slave in the 1860s.

In The All-Star Squadron (DC Comics), Roy Thomas retroactively created Amazing Man and posits his debut in around 1944.

Christopher Priest in Black Panther wrote about a WWII meeting between Captain America and T’Chaka, T’Challa’s father.

Astro City posits the debut of a black cop, secretly called the Black Badge who was active in the 1950s.

Depending whether or not your understanding of the ancient Egyptians allows for Afrocentric interpretation, Captain Marvel villain Black Adam is technically the oldest black villain in comics having debuted in comics in 1943 and having his origins in ancient Egypt.

Any others I’m missing?

Marvel’s WW2 minor character, the Human Top. A member of the Kid Commandos.

http://www.vortex.bridgwater.ac.uk/mtlg/humantop.htm

To simplify the OP:

Black Adam (Captain Marvel) dynastic Egypt
Ebony White (syndicated) 1940
T’Chaka of the Wakandas (Marvel) 1945
Black Badge (Astro City) 1950s
Black Panther (Marvel) 1966
Power Man (Marvel) 1972
Black Lightning (DC) 1977

I’ve stricken Milestone’s Icon from the list – simply because while it’s true he was born in the 1860s, he didn’t don a costume to fight crime until the 1990s.

I added the Spirit’s sidekick, Ebony White.

Yup, in the best mini-series DC’s done in at least a decade, New Frontiers, there’s “John Henry”–th’ action woulda taken place ooooohhh…about 1955 or so.

Also, Dr. Mist from the Global Guardians is either immortal or pert near, so he’s been around since pre-history…

Did I mention that that NEW FRONTIERS was an awsome series?

Dr. Mist (DC) pre-history
Black Adam (Captain Marvel) dynastic Egypt
Ebony White (syndicated) 1940
**Human Top ** (1940s-WWII)
T’Chaka of the Wakandas (Marvel) 1945
Black Badge (Astro City) 1950s
John Henry (DC) 1959
Black Panther (Marvel) 1966
Power Man (Marvel) 1972
**Black Lightning ** (DC) 1977

Added Bosda’s Human Top and Fenris’ John Henry and Dr. Mist.
Grabbed my complete set of NEW FRONTIERs to pin the exact date for John Henry’s three month timeline, Fen. I’m just waiting for a quiet winter evening to re-read this series cover to cover.

Per your line about the Egyptians and afrocentrism, what about Apocalypse? Is his birth name ever given? Could he possibly be a black African?

How about The Living Mummy?

Where does Marvel’s Falcon fall on the list?

Well if you’re going to have black Adam you may as well include “The Sphinx” (FF Villain) - dynastic Egypt

See also

Coloring the Comic Books

And if you’re counting Black Lightning from 1977, you also have to count John Stewart, who first made his appearance as an alternate Green Lantern in 1972.

Also Black Goliath (1975).

And Blade the Vampire Hunter (1973).

Whew. This thread got busy when I went out.

We can count Apocalypse. He fits the geographic parameters, even if he does have that nebulous shade of melanin that can go with both light-skinned brothers and white guys with tans. His real name is Arabic and his ficticious “clan” is African sounding enough to let it slide. Here’s a bit of backstory.

The Living Mummy is perfect, spoke-. Thank you.

As for John Stewart’s Green Lantern, Black Goliath and Blade – well – uh, see, what it was was, see, I kinda just threw them in there for versamilitude 'n stuff, seeing as how they had their own titles and whatnot and that’s generally the three I think of when I think of “first black superheroes in comics.” Researching this tonight, I was surprised the gap between Black Lightning and Black Panther was 11 years. I mean, DAMN. 11 years? And I clean fogot about Black Goliath, because, well, he’s freaking lame.

But right’s right, spoke – and the facts are on your side and I did list them. So ignoring the title of this thread entirely we DO have a wider selection when we include the mid-70s. But let’s not get stuck in the 70s – I’ll add these and any others people find, but no execeptions of black villains and heroes past Black Lightning’s debut issue. (So unless Tobias Whale is depicted or mentioned in that issue, no fat albino drug lords.)

REVISED LIST
Dr. Mist (DC) pre-history
Black Adam (Captain Marvel) dynastic Egypt
Living Mummy 1,000BC, Egypt
Ebony White (syndicated) 1940
**Human Top ** (1940s-WWII)
T’Chaka of the Wakandas (Marvel) 1945
Black Badge (Astro City) 1950s
John Henry (DC) 1959
Black Panther (Marvel) 1966

SEVENTIES GRAVY TRAIN
Power Man (Marvel) 1972
John Stewart, Green Lantern (DC) 1972
Blade, Vampire Hunter (Marvel) 1973
Unless i misremember the Falcon (Marvel) should be here, timewise.
Black Goliath (Marvel) 1975
Black Lightning (DC) 1977

Can we expand this search outside of Marvel? Dare we consider Mandrake’s assistant Lothar? Underground comics characters?

Hey, astro – when I click your link, I get THIS THREAD. It’s hurtin’ my brain!

Coloring the Comic Books

Marvel again, but didn’t they once run a storyline in which the Super Soldier serum was tested on a black man before it was given to Steve Rogers?

From amazon.com Truth: Red, White & Black

Amazing-Man- Black superhero, active in the '40s, created by Roy Thomas, Rick Hoberg, and Jerry Ordway in the '80s. Powers similar to Marvel’s Absorbing Man.

Man, is that embarassing. I swear I read the OP earlier, then forgot it had mentioned Amazing-Man when I looked at the thread later.

Thanks to everybody who has joined this discussion so far.

I just stumbled across an old website I had visited a few years back and had forgotten about: The Museum of Black Superheroes. Back when when I visited, there was hardly anything to this site: now, miraculously, it has dozens and dozens of entries regarding black superheroes. So I’ll be adding a much longer list at some point in the near future but I wanted to post the link to anyone curious enough to explore the site.

Expando. Oh, yes. Isaiah Bradley, aka “Black Cap.” I should have posted that one myself.

astro. Feh, I dunno who Reed Elsvier is, but that’s an awfully simplistic review of THE TRUTH: RED, WHITE AND BLACK. What Morales did was to critically examine the Captain America mythos from a real world standpoint: if America had actually succeeded in creating a chemical Aryan superman, how might this creation come about in the framework of established Marvel continuity and given America’s institutionalized racism and documented medical mistreatment of blacks in the 1930s and 1940s? There were several other aspects of the story I found more far-fetched and straining credulity than the idea that the American military would conduct experiments on black men in the 1940s. (A quick two: ONE: the illogic of destroying the Army base to hide the fact that so many black men disappeared – particularly the manner it was done, with public gunshot executions – and TWO: the idea that any amount of prison time could destroy the mind of any man whose body was given the Super Soldier Serum. While a poignant end, in storytelling terms I still think this is a major cop-out.)

Fans may not like Morales’ storytelling or the fact that Marvel decided to add this backstory-- fine, as long as they didn’t dismiss the idea out of hand-- but the idea and its execution were perfectly plausible, fit historical facts and really does nothing to alter Steve Rogers’ heroism. What happened to create the serum were acts he had nothing to do with, knowledge of, or would ever condone. That he sought out the lone survivor of those trials to honor his sacrifice speaks volumes in Rogers’ favor. This is a badly unappreciated story.

I sure hope nobody’s gonna overlook Black Vulcan, and no he ain’t Tim Russ. He’s a superhero, certainly, though only in the Super Friends cartoons of the seventies.

Joking aside, one surprisingly overlooked character in this thread is Cyborg. (1980)

Black Vulcan’s just Black Lightning with the serial numbers filed off to avoid legal troubles.

In my pants.