Friday, February 23, 2007

Favorite Fictional Black Characters

For Black History Month I thought I would do something completely silly and list some of my favorite fictional black characters. These guys and gals made an impression on me and shaped my view of African Americans for good or ill. Just to be clear, I’m choosing Sci-Fi and Fantasy types of characters otherwise the whole list would be taken up by roles played Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington and Pam Grier. I know I’m missing plenty folks but seeing as how I want to get this out before the end of the month… In no particular order.
Punk Storm: the first X-men comic I read was Uncanny X-men #173. In it Ororo flips out shaves her head into a Mohawk. I grew up with the wild, punk Storm, that’s how I always picture her.

Sinbad’s Black Lightening: On a Saturday Night Live skit mocking the death of superman, Sinbad played Black Lightening, who crashes the solemn dignified ceremony. “I’m Black Lightning. Me and Superman were like that” as he hangs back around the food table eating Buffalo wings. As a college kid I thought, finally somebody gets it. “Man, I’m Black Lightening” (I wish I could find a clip or picture of this of this)

Uhura: OK this is obvious; of course a geeky guy like me would find her memorable duh!

Dr. M’Benga: since we’re on Star Trek, I should mention the good doctor M’Benga. He only appeared on two episodes of Star Trek but I really liked this guy for some reason. Maybe because he was a normal, well-spoken, intelligent Blackman, I remembered him. There weren’t that many on TV back in the day.

Fat Albert: Hey hey hey, this was the animated character that taught the other Cosby kids and me that there is nothing wrong with being bi-racial. What great message for a 7yearold!

John Stewart Green Lantern: long before the Justice league cartoon I was a big fan of this guy from the comics. He’s my favorite Green Lantern, ‘cause John gets the job done and gets the girl without all the angst stuff that the other GLs spew.

Zula: In some ways the opposite of Conan, who he adventured with in Marvel Comics’ Conan the Barbarian, Zula was of Royal blood and reluctantly educated in the ways of sorcery. He was the equal of Conan in battle and was the last of his tribe. Plus, he had a cool Mohawk. (I’m seeing a theme here).

Zoe: Firefly and Serenity created many memorable characters but none more memorable than rip-roaring; ex-career military turned privateer Zoe Washburne. She’s Tough as nails, cool as ice, and gave many a nerdy white guy hope.

The Duke of New York, “What did I teach you…?” If you don’t know this pre-chef role by Isaac Hayes, shame on you.

Mr. Glass, We always have folks teaching us how to be heroes. Well, now finally we have someone who really gave us a lesson in what it means to be the ultimate villain.

More than Honorable Mention:

Static Shock: good superheroic fun

Blade: the first successful Marvel Comics movie franchise.

Dr. Stephen Franklin: My favorite character on Babylon 5

Foxy Love: She makes me laugh… a lot

Geordi La Forge: I always rooted for this guy to get laid

Lando Calrissian: for the hilarious pseudo rant in Chasing Amy.

M’Shulla : 1st interracial kiss (and relationship?) in a mainstream color comic

Teal'c: Large and in charge

Frozone: everything about the Incredibles was awesome including Frozone



Dean Wormer said...


This post is great and one of the reasons I really like reading your blog.

I love the cross of pop culture, comics and observations about society.

I second Uhura who I had a major crush on as a kid (okay, still do) and throw in one of my own: Ossie Davis who, in his last work, absolutely stole the show in Bubba Ho Tep.

Swinebread said...

Thanks man, I was thinking of Ossie too after I posted. There are just too many to list... which is great.

Hypatia said...

Mr. Glass! Who could forget that character! In fact, I think it's the only one of M. Shamalan's pictures I've actually seen.

I remember Punk Storm too, I thought she was cool! I remember they didn't seem to use Lando in Star Wars too much, and I remember thinking it was a shame, he probably had a really interesting back-story and alot more to add to the movie.

What about Chris Rock in Dogma? I liked his part in that too.


I'm gonna throw Black Santa Claus and Bagger Vance into the mix.

Overdroid said...

Don't forget Buckwheat.

Pandabonium said...

I'm feeling culture gap, partly due to age, partly because I was only tangentally connected to American culture even living there.

Uhura was great. First interracial kiss on American TV.

I liked Bill Cosby in the 60's series "I Spy". Denzel Washington's character in "Crimson Tide" was great.

Most of my reading is non-fiction, but I still find it interesting that I can't think of single black hero in the fiction I have read.

Swinebread said...

panda Yeah, the characters I mention are fantasy/pop types. But I think it is an interesting exercise to think about the identities of the fictional people you enjoy.

Don Snabulus said...

Isaac Hayes, then and now...don't forget South Park's Chef or you won't get any salty chocolate balls.

Swinebread said...

I was thinking that I forgot Martha Washington from the Give Me Liberty by Dark Horse comics and Agent 355 from Y: the Last Man by DC comics...

Joel Bryan said...

Great list. Yeah, you have to root for Geordi. Super smart, super nice guy. And Levar Burton directed the one or two good episodes of "Enterprise," too.

Swinebread said...

Geordi always struck me as Trekkie type character meaning he actually was like the fans of the show.