Whenever anybody asks about black women in comics, the immediate response is to bring up Storm. But Storm isn't the only black woman to rock superpowers and a costume. Here are 20 other black female characters in superhero comics who deserve more love and attention.
Monica Rambeau (codename: Spectrum) was a lieutenant in the New Orleans Harbor patrol of the Coast Guard when she was bombarded with rays from space which gave her the ability to turn into any form of energy, and shoot energy at people. The first of a few peace officers to appear on this list — because for some reason a not insignificant number of these black women characters either come from law enforcement or the sciences. It would be interesting to see if this was simply to avoid the idea of stereotypes, or if their creation correlated with higher instances of black women going into law enforcement and science-focused careers.
Monica is one of my favorite heroes, mainly because of her snarky, take-no-bullshit attitude, a trait she has in common with a quite a few other women on this list. She has a long history in comics including a stint as the leader of the Avengers.
Fierce and powerful, she's been forced to change her name a number of times because people keep taking hers — she's gone from Captain Marvel to Photon to Pulsar to Spectrum. She originally changed her name from Captain Marvel to Photon so that Captain Marvel's son Genis-Vell could use the codename. Only to run into Genis-Vell a little later and find out that he had performed a name change of his own... to Photon. She was not happy. But that's how cool she is, everybody wants to bite her style.
She also had a friendly/caustic conversation with Carol Danvers when she decides to transfer from using Miss Marvel to Captain Marvel. My only wish is that they would go back to her original afro hairstyle, which was awesome.
ARC TO READ: Check her out in the Nextwave a 12-issue Limited Series written by Warren Ellis. It's a biting satire of superheroes, and teams where everyone is likeable exactly because they are so unlikable. Keep an eye out for the scene where Monica's remembers what being on the Avengers was like.
CURRENTLY? Leading the Mighty Avengers field team.
Anissa & Jennifer Pierce (codenames: Thunder & Lightning respectively) are the daughters of famous hero Jefferson Pierce (codename: Black Lightning), who really did not want his daughters to follow in his footsteps. He made them promise to graduate from college before they used their powers to become heroes. Anissa graduates with a pre-med degree, and later that same day her father walks in on her trying on her costume. Becoming a hero with no parental support led to a hard road and a number of near-fatal injuries for Anissa.
Jefferson sees this and to make sure his younger daughter Jennifer actually has guidance, and signs her up for the Justice Society of America as a teenager.
Even though they're sisters, their powers could not be more different. Anissa controls her density to the point of making herself invulnerable and creating shockwaves by stomping her feet or clapping her hands. She ran with The Outsiders for years, and eventually ended up in a steady loving relationship with Grace Choi (another of my favorite characters), which her father had some issues accepting at first.
Jennifer, meanwhile, can turn herself into a being of sentient energy allowing herself to fly and shoot powerful bolts of electricity. The sisters rarely interact with one another, Jennifer was busy dealing with learning how to control her powers and Anissa's initial storyline revolved around her dad's disapproval of her choices and tension on the team with Grace (who she originally hated).
Both girls are rather unique in being black second generation heroes. Rarely did black supers of their father's generation get a relationship that lasted long enough to produce children. Their interactions are an interesting insight in black superfamilies which you don't get a lot of outside of old Milestone comics.
ARC TO READ: Catch Anissa in the One Year Later arc where the Outsiders are presumed dead. It starts with Outsiders vol. 3 #34 and reveals Anissa's relationship with Grace. Or catch the angry sibling beatdown between the two sisters as one defends their father and the other tries to arrest him which starts in Outsiders vol. 4 #32
BONUS ARC TO WATCH: The 2 DC Nation shorts featuring Thunder as a teenager and Lightning as a tween both ready to be heroes already are some of the better animation DC has done. You can see them on Youtube.
CURRENTLY? In limbo. Since both The Outsiders & JSA currently don't have regular books coming out.
Amanda Waller (codename: N/A) is a BAMF, period. And I mean the old-school Amanda Waller of size, accept no substitutes. Waller fought her way out of the Caprini-Green projects after the murders of her husband and daughter. A completely normal human, if completely normal humans have a titanium will and a cunning political mind, she chose to get into politics to change the world. With her "by any means" attitude she quickly rose through the ranks and transitioned into the shadow government. She is known as The Wall, and while it might have started as a fatphobic joke it stuck and became a point of pride because there is no one, literally no one (even Batman), who can work around or through Waller when she puts her mind to it. This is not to say she hasn't been tricked before but it happens rarely and she always, ALWAYS has a contingency plan.
The 2011 reboot of DC slimmed her way down and came under heavy fire from fans not only because most of the character redesigns were pale copies of the originals but also because people saw her as one of the few characters of size in comics that wasn't defined by it.
She is sort of the Nick Fury-analogue in of DC, except willing to do much darker deeds for what she considers the greater good. This has caused some to view her as a villain, in fact she ranks on a few "greatest comic villains of all time" lists but in reality The Wall is only always doing what she thinks is best. She's one of the better, if not the best, morally ambiguous characters in the DC Universe.
ARC TO READ: Suicide Squad vol. 1, the original late 80's run with The Wall in total command. You can also see a lot of slick, determined Waller in Checkmate! vol. 2
CURRENTLY? In limbo. The new volume of Suicide Squad premieres this month but it seems unknown whether it will feature Waller or not.
Charlotte "Charly" Beck (codename: Friction) was part of the Marvel Imprint - New Universe in the late 80s. In New Universe people were spontaneously developing abilities and many voluntarily checked themselves into clinics devoted to helping them...supposedly. Charly was in a college ballet class when suddenly she suffered an intense migraine and everyone around her started slipping and sliding. She had developed the ability to control friction, eliminating it entirely or allowing her to stick things to each other. She checked herself into the Center for Paranormal Research and was assigned a therapy group with other people who had suddenly developed powers - DP7 (also the title of the comic).
The thing I loved about Charly and DP7 was that it was a super comic in that there were uncontrollable powers, shadowy conspiracies, and fighting for what was right but it also wasn't a traditional super comic in that none of their emotional/non-super problems went away or got shoved to a backburner because of they suddenly had powers. In fact often having the powers exacerbated the issues they were already having.
For example, Charly's attempt at romance with a member of her therapy group who couldn't see himself with a black woman. This leads to a short stint in a militant black therapy group dedicated to fighting the racism present at the institute. The portrayal is not very nuanced but it was an interesting attempt at trying to talk about race in comics.
DP7 also dealt with issues of domestic abuse, self-sacrifice, families of choice and emotional betrayal. I was actually a huge fan of a lot of the comics under the New Universe imprint, there was a revival called newuniversal in 2007 but it didn't last very long and to be completely honest lost some of the humanity that shone in the originals.
ARC TO READ: Just start at DP7 #1 and read it all the way through.
CURRENTLY? In limbo. DP7 was cancelled in '89 as was most of the New Universe creations however an alternate universe version of Charly did make an appearance in the Marvel title Exiles in 2006 so there might be some hope for her.
Celia Windward (codename: Jet) is chosen alongside nine other people by the Guardians of the Universe (yes, the same ones who created the Green Lantern Corps) to be the next variation of their race, the New Guardians (which they take as their team name). They were granted immortality and each has power over certain fundamental forces of the universe. Celia was able to control electromagnetic energy.
It's easy to dismiss her and her team, especially after they fought Hemo-Globin the "AIDS vampire" (yeah there's no excuse, none) and he infected Celia and Gregorio, the only openly gay member of the team (and arguably DC comics first gay hero). So yeah, that's some messed up BS, no one is arguing different but the team also actually dealt with some pretty heavy moral issues.
They discussed how to achieve peace if you use force, they even flirted with the idea of giving up violence/fighting for good. It was also one of the more diverse teams in DC comics and they actually tried to deal with how people from such disparate backgrounds live and work together. So yeah there's a lot to recommend the series...if you can get past the whole 'AIDS vampire' thing which admittedly is a pretty high hurdle
ARC TO READ: Millenium #1, the initial appearance of the New Guardians for sure.
CURRENTLY? She died in New Guardians but since DC comics destroyed their long company history and recreated everyone she's been shown alive as leader of the Global Guardians. Which means maybe Gregorio will make a reappearance as well but the one great thing about the DC reboot - no more 'AIDS vampire' *poof* he never was!
Philippus (codename: N/A) is an Amazon and over 3,000 years old. Queen Hippolyta's most trusted advisor. She was one of Wonder Woman's main trainers growing up and loves Diana like a daughter. She has held the title of Regent and Queen of the Amazons multiple times previously - when Hippolyta has stepped down or been stripped of her title.
Phillipus is one of the most knowledgeable warriors in the world due to her extended age and training. Intensely loyal to Hippolyta and later (after Hippolyta's death, which is all kinds of dead potential lesbian wrong) admits to being in love with the queen for most of her life.
She not only shows us that not all the amazons are white but is also devoted to the Amazon nation, going so far as asking permission of Hippolyta to injure Wonder Woman in training, to teach her a lesson in humility so she would be a better leader in the future.
Sadly after Gail Simone left the Wonder Woman series the Amazons Attack miniseries happened (and the less said about it the better) and the Amazons began to be written as man-hating, antisocial sneaks. Sigh.
ARC TO READ: Unfortunately Philippus has never been a main character but "Stoned" starting with Wonder Woman vol. 2 #206 is I believe when she becomes co-leader of the Amazons. Also any Wonder Woman run that Gail Simone wrote is guaranteed to be awesome and probably has Philippus being badass and terrifying, just like I like her.
CURRENTLY? Deceased. :) Unfortunately there was a general de-powering/de-awesomeing of the Amazons before her death so it was a pretty ignominious/shameful death for a character with such a long history.
Mari Jiwe McCabe (codename: Vixen) is originally from the African comic book nation of Zambesi. After the death of both her parents Mari takes the Tantu Totem that her family has always protected, which gives her the ability to mimic the powers of any animal that has ever existed on earth. The source of her powers has been played with and revamped a number of times, from being alien in nature to mystical. My personal favorite origin is the one that links her and Animal Man to the West African god Anansi.
She became a model by day and superhero by night (modelhero? supermodelhero?). One of the most iconic moments in her history for me is when she's on a photo shoot on an island, goes on a swim and surfaces to find all her friends and co-workers killed. She goes on a full on rampage and kills the drug kingpin who murdered her friends in vengeance becoming afraid she's losing herself to the animals she channels she joins Suicide Squad for a while. This means she was under the leadership of another woman on this list, Amanda Waller.
Vixen should get a special place in history because thanks to the source of her powers and his weakness toward magic she is one of the few beings in the universe who has cut Superman.
ARC TO READ: Start with Justice League of America vol. 2 #1 and check out her plotline as her powers change completely and she's no longer able to take power from animals but instead steals the abilities of her fellow metahumans instead. Also the miniseries Vixen: Return of the Lion which is about Mari returning to her home village for the first time since she left to find and punish her parents killers.
CURRENTLY? In limbo. She was a member of The New 52 Justice League for a short while until she was injured and became comatose. We've at least gotten confirmation she's not in the coma anymore.
Martha Washington (codename: N/A) is the creation of Frank Miller.
WAIT, don't skip the entry!
Because I don't think I'm exaggerating at all by saying she is the most well rounded (perhaps only well rounded) female character Miller has ever created. She has emotions, drive, strength, the story allows her to be a hero and the conflict feels vibrant and real - the things that Miller often receives praise for.
Like another woman on this list, Amanda Waller, she grew up in Caprini-Green though in the future and escapes it by joining the military. Martha Washington's life is a map in fucked up shit. Finding out that the powers that be truly don't care for anyone but themselves, facing multiple betrayals, becoming a hero, simply surviving, everything has been a struggle. The core of her story is about being a person who actually cares for others, who still has compassion and going up against a world that has mostly forgotten how to be a community or care for one another.
Martha is that soldier who actually joined up to help others and her nuanced view of the world means she often has problems with the things she's asked to do and often goes off book. Most arcs will make you cry at one point or another but all of the despair and sadness is buoyed by the hope Martha brings. No matter how dark the situation Martha will not give up and it inspires others to do the same.
I adore Martha, in fact I named my first Mass Effect player character Martha and altered her to look like her as well. When I think good, thrilling military science fiction she's one of the first characters to come to mind. Martha Washington is not really a superhero comic as much as a military-science fiction hero comic.
Martha's stories are told in a number of limited series and one shots from 1990 - 2007
ARC TO READ: The first 4 issue miniseries, 'Give Me Liberty'. See how Martha grew up and joined the military. I pretty much guarantee you won't be able to stop with just the one miniseries.
CURRENTLY? She's dead but unlike most of the women on this list it was after living to 100 and inspiring others to keep fighting for the freedom of others. So a rare "happy" death.
Dr. Cecilia Reyes (codename: N/A) never had a codename because she's a doctor dammit! Cecelia was recruited into the X-men though very reluctant to join she turned them down a couple times first. Even after she joined she used her medical skills more than her power, which is a psionic shielding that protects her whenever she feels threatened.
Dr. Reyes doesn't have great control over her powers in the beginning mostly because she really has no interest in training with them being much more focused on healing others on the team. Although this might also have to do with the fact that the shielding is psionic so she feels all the hits she takes even if there's no physical effect. This seems like a pretty fucked up consequence of a power, I mean sure you survive but you still feel all the pain. That's sucktastic!
In many ways I love her because she's the first X-men team member whose powers doesn't form the majority of their identity/personality. She doesn't deny she's a mutant but it doesn't form the whole of her perception of who she is which is a perspective continually lacking in the X-men. Unfortunately Marvel didn't really know what to do with her and the more they shied away from her ambiguous attitude towards heroics and her focus on medicine and kept trying to make her into a warrior the more they lost what had made her unique.
ARC TO READ: "End of Days" X-Men vol. 2 #100, Cecelia uses her powers in a way that changes her forever.
CURRENTLY? In limbo. She returned to help the X-Men find the first five new mutants born after M-Day and has popped up here and there but hasn't had many prominent storylines in the last few years.
Mercedes "Misty" Knight (codename: N/A) retired from the police force after she lost her arm trying to disarm a bomb and get it away from the crowd. Refusing a desk job she started a detective agency with fellow former officer Colleen Wing. They became known as the Daughters of the Dragon both for their ferociousness and their training in martial arts. At some point Misty gets a bionic arm. It's never really clear who gave her the original but every scientist in the Marvel Universe has taken a turn improving or replacing it including - Dr. Reed Richards and Tony Stark.
Misty has long had an on-again off-again relationship with Danny Rand a.k.a. Iron Fist for years which has led to the Daughters of the Dragon teaming up with Heroes for Hire a number of times. In fact later on Misty took over Heroes for Hire, increased the roster and took on a management role.
One of the reasons Misty is badass and interesting is that she is completely human, yes she has the bionic arm but it doesn't shoot plasma or give her magnetic powers, she's a former policewoman running with A-class heroes and able to hold her own.
I choose to ignore the time her hair was drawn as an afro with straightened bangs and spit curls. Any artist who plans to draw a black woman's hair, please do some research! Ask a black woman. Anything!
ARC TO READ: World War Hulk Aftersmash #1 in which Misty deals with the decisions she made during World War Hulk, the guilt and the repercussions.
CURRENTLY? In limbo. Recently Misty Knight was part of the Fearless Defenders but unfortunately the book was cancelled in December 2013.
Raquel Ervin (codename: Rocket) was a poor black girl who dreamed of being the next Toni Morrison. Unfortunately she didn't believe that she had the talent so instead she got involved with crime. It was while robbing a house with a group of friends that her life turned around.
She realizes that the man who owns the house is an alien and convinces him to become the superhero Icon and take her on as his sidekick Rocket. He gives her a belt which allows her to control and direct kinetic energy, this grants her a number of abilities including flight, super strength, a forcefield and more.
Originally she was a part of Milestone Comics which featured African-American heroes and freely discussed race. Raquel dealt with a lot of issues that poor of color communities deal with all the time. This includes becoming arguably the first teenaged mom superhero and helping her friend Flashback kick her drug addiction. There was very little stigma attached to either of these moments, the focus being how to deal with problems and overcome them rather than the 'suffering porn' so evident when many characters of color are given such storylines.
Soon after becoming Rocket, Raquel discovers she's pregnant with her ex-boyfriends child. And while she does retires for a time while pregnant she returns to being Rocket again after giving birth to the child, Amistad Augustus Ervin - named after the famous slave-trading ship and her heroing partners' human alias.
Since the Milestone universe has been folded into the main DC universe nothing much has been done with her but we do know she is still Icon's sidekick and has teamed up with the Justice League when needed.
ARC TO READ: Start with Icon #1. I was going to recommend the whole pregnancy storyline but that starts at #3 so why not just start from the beginning?
CURRENTLY? In limbo. She's made appearances in the mainstream continuity but no one seems to have done anything with her in quite a while.
Ce'athauna Asira Davin aka Chante Giovanni Brown (codename: Queen Divine Justice) thought she was just a normal girl living in Chicago with her grandmother. In actuality she was heir to the leadership of the Jabari tribe which Black Panther had outlawed years ago because of their support/sheltering of the White Gorilla cult. She was recruited to become one of Black Panther's bodyguards/ceremonial wives, only then did she learn she was Wakandan by birth. She has no powers to speak of but has been trained in Wakandan fighting styles and has boots with vibranium soles that allow her to stick to walls and other feats.
Eventually Man-Ape, Black Panther's old enemy tells her the truth about herself and her origins. Man-Ape introduces her to what remains of the Jabari clan, who view her as queen and tells her of Black Panther's role in her early life. She even learns that her grandmother isn't her grandmother at all but a trusted agent of Black Panther meant to keep watch over her.
Normally this would be an excuse to turn a hero into a villain, luckily Queen is a nuanced enough character that this doesn't make her Black Panther's enemy. She does leave his service though and go to confront the woman who raised her. She knows nothing is black & white. Also the issue where she talks Hulk down and then talks to him about disenfranchisement and not smashing the property of the poor is perfection.
ARC TO READ: "Seduction of the Innocent" & "Gorilla Warfare" in Black Panther vol. 3 #31 - 35. Queen learns the truth and confronts the liars in her life.
CURRENTLY? In Limbo. She is still chief of the Jabari tribe as far as I can tell but her appearances have been almost non-existent for the past few years.
Jelene Anderson (codename: Adept) is from Strikeforce Morituri, an alternate universe with the Marvel continuity in which an alien menace known as The Horde is attacking Earth and winning. The Morituri process is invented which will grant great powers to those biologically compatible with the process, enough to fight the aliens but it's also guaranteed to kill the subject within the year.
One of the things that sets Jelene apart on this list and in comics in general is her strong belief in/connection with God. Jelene, in fact volunteers because of her strong religious convictions and maintains that conviction throughout her life. Unlike many stereotypes of christian characters, especially black christians, she was open-minded, friendly, non-judgmental and formed bonds with many of her teammates who don't share her values. The Morituri process granted her the ability to analyze any given situation and figure out the the needed neutralizing countermeasures even to the point of her own body producing chemical compounds to counteract poison.
Her ability was one that looked like it might turn the tide in the war as she was able to analyze schematics of the Horde and after a little time understand them perfectly.
During a raid in which a fellow Morituri, Marathon with whom she had been forming a romantic bomb used his own death to slow down her pursuers her own death finally caught up with her. The Morituri process killed by ramping up the individuals powers to the Nth degree. For Jelene this meant she started to exhibit actual full on cosmic awareness before going peacefully, content with what she had done in her time on earth.
ARC TO READ: I want to recommend that people just read the entire run of Strikeforce Morituri because it's fantastic but at least read the first 13 issues.
CURRENTLY? Deceased :(
Victoria Ngengi (codename: Flint) is probably the toughest one on this list, and I mean sheer physical ability to take punishment. She's been burned by Xenomorph blood and survived, hell she got burned with the blood because she burst one apart - With. One. Punch. And yes those are the Xenomorphs from Aliens.
She's invulnerable, the Xenomorph blood was the first thing to hurt her in years, and she has super speed but only in terms of reaction time and personal movement, so she can dress and undress so fast no one sees but can't run at the speed of sound. She became a part of Stormwatch young, after losing her parents to violence in Kenya and years as a ward of the Kenyan state.
Unlike many of her Stormwatch compatriots Victoria did not have a darker outlook on life, she was an idealist through and through, working to make the world a better place. Stormwatch was based on a space station and when they notice an asteroid heading for earth they intercept. That's when they run into the Xenomorphs. Almost the entirety of her team is killed by Xenomorphs and originally everyone believes she was the only one to survive. She gives testimony as to what happened on the space station in front of the senate. She only survives because when the Xenomorph blood burns her she becomes disoriented and fell back into a lifepod which activated. She feels intense guilt about this but channels it into her work.
She joins the mostly unpowered Stormwatch Achilles and tries to improve the world, eventually falling in love, marrying and then divorcing the team leader. She then rejoins Stormwatch Prime and then the whole world goes to shit with "World's End".
ARC TO READ: There's a ton of Stormwatch you could read but I'm actually gonna recommend the wildC.A.T.s/Aliens one shot where Stormwatch gets taken down and the entire run of Stormwatch Achilles where she really shines.
CURRENTLY? In limbo. I don't think anyone has seen Flint since Authority: World's End but that was previous to Wildstorm being folded wholesale into the DC main universe so there's hope she'll turn up again!
Destiny Ajaye (codename: N/A) is the newest girl on this list. Some of us have been waiting for this miniseries for six years. The book Genius was one of two winners of Top Cow's Pilot Season back in 2008. The original Issue #0 had with the support of comic book heavies like Warren Ellis who wrote a whole blog urging people to vote for Genius.
After much delay the entire 5-issue mini-series was released this past August.
Destiny's power? She the best military mind of our generation. Genius presupposes that every generation has a military genius born into it: Alexander the Great, Hannibal, Napoleon, and now a 17 year old black girl in South Central Los Angeles. She's had the ability to think/see many steps ahead since she was a child and she's grown up seeing the injustice all around her. Finally Destiny decides to do something about it.
Tired of police brutality, racism and corruption Destiny unites the gangs active in her neighborhood and secedes the three blocks they live in from the United States. One of the most interesting series to come out in the last few years, trust me you want to read this.
ARC TO READ: Just read the whole Genius limited series, it's only 5 issues.
CURRENTLY? Renewed for a second limited series, YAY!
Karen Beecher (codename: Bumblebee) initially dressed in costume to provide an anonymous villain to provoke the Teen Titans because she believed they were taking her boyfriend, a member, for granted. When she finally revealed the ruse she was asked to join the team herself. While at first Karen was a more support character to her boyfriend Mal she slowly grew into a hero in her own right. And in my opinion a MUCH better here too, in my opinion. Admittedly I like Karen a little more than her presence merits because Teen Titans were my team growing up.
She's most closely aligned with the Titans oft-restarted and never really successful west coast division (the stint where the entirety of the The Titans moved wholesale to San Francisco doesn't count, 'cause that was the main branch). A scientist, originally her powers stemmed from a suit she created which allowed her to fly and fire energy blasts but thanks to some random space energy (Note: if you didn't know randomly space energy can do anything - kill, grant powers, steal powers, mutate someone, revive someone - it all seems to depend on the color and made up name of the energy) has gained the ability to shoot energy blasts and fly without the aid of her suit. The downside is she's also been shrunk down to six inches tall and is stuck at that size. She has to take a daily medication to make sure her heart does not fail because of her tiny size.
She eventually leaves The Titans and joins Doom Patrol, with her now husband Mal. The leader of Doom Patrol, the Chief, is working on growing her and she gained an inch and now stands at seven inches.
ARC TO READ: It's hard with Karen because she so rarely got a main storyline but I would say the 22 issues of Doom Patrol vol. 5 is when she really shines, and also divorces her deadweight husband.
CURRENTLY? In limbo. With Doom Patrol canceled in 2011 Karen is MIA. Is she now eight inches tall? Inquiring minds want to know!
Dr. Beth Chapel (codename: Dr. Midnight) was a simple a medical student, whose mentor happened to be a doctor and a superhero - Dr. Charles MacNider aka Dr. Mid-Nite. After MacNider's death Beth is blinded by an oxygen explosion in her hospital and discovers she has the same ability as MacNider, in darkness she can see in with perfect clarity though she's blind in light. I don't think the question of why an ordinary oxygen explosion would have this effect is brought up beyond *shh, it's comics*, which is good enough for me!
She tried out for the team Infinity Inc., along with Yolanda Montez (codename: Wildcat). The interesting part of Infinity Inc. is it was mostly made up of legacy heroes, the children (biological and adopted) of silver age heroes like Hawkman, Green Lantern, Hourman, Wildcat and more. Beth is different from most of them because the connection she has with her predecessor, Dr. Charles MacNider aka Dr. Mid-Nite, is a caring mentor-student one rather than parental.
Unlike the other doctor on this list, Dr. Cecilia Reyes, Beth wanted to be a hero but she also continued in her profession as a doctor wearing special lenses that allowed her to see in sunlight to do both.
She pretty much exemplifies the complaints of disabilities being used for show or power without any actual thought to disabled people and how they live every day lives. Characters are rarely shown living with their disabilities and in fact their powers allow some work around so it's like they have no disability at all. And yeah...that's Beth.
I enjoyed her time on Infinity Inc. though. She was often the voice of reason and the one who tried to talk her teammates out of rash and really just stupid decisions. Her interracial relationship with Hourman is also of note not only because it's a bit of a rarity in comics when it comes to black superheroes who are often just paired with the nearest other black hero (for example: Black Panther & Storm) but also because the interracial nature of their relationship was acknowledged but not focused upon as the only thing about their relationship. This makes her subsequent death all the more disheartening. Along with Yolanda Montez (again), she and a number of other heroes were recruited to fight Eclipso. They were all killed by the villain.
ARC TO READ: You can just read the whole run of Infinity Inc. which is awesome or if you want the death arc go for Eclipso vol. 1 #11 - 14
CURRENTLY? Deceased :( This was before the DC reboot though, so the death probably isn't canon anymore...hopefully.
The final two entries are questionable because the fact they are black is not definitive.
Priscilla Kitaen (codename: Voodoo), in so many ways she is the most stereotypical character on this list - the teenage sexpot stripper with a heart of gold who loves to wear revealing clothing and seduce men for information. Now none of those things are objectively bad but it's a default when it comes to women in comics. It's unfortunate because the moments when she is just a character in her own right are amazing.
Priscilla came into her power when it was discovered she had Kheran ancestry. Recruited onto a team of other full and partial Kheran people stranded on earth she fought in a shadow war against the Kherans historic enemies - the Daemonites, also stranded. The Daemonites can possess everyday people easily and Priscilla has the power to not only see beyond the surface but also to exercise a Daemonite from its host.
The reason she's in the questionable section of this list is because the fact that she is part African-American is only brought up when they need to justify something like her learning/dealing with the religion of Vodun and almost completely ignored otherwise. There's also an unfortunate coincidence (I'm giving them the benefit of a doubt) that in addition to being the only part brown person on the team she's also the only one who is part Daemonite.
Okay so if there's all these negatives why is she on this list?
Priscilla is actually - if you tally all of her powers or potential powers from her Kheran ancestry, her Daemonite ancestry, her psychic abilities, her military training and her vodun training - potentially one of the most powerful heroes in the DC universe. They very rarely acknowledge her powerful nature long term but she's basically and immortal, psychic, warrior-vodun priestess which is kinda awesome.
Also because at the hands of talented writers she becomes an amazing character.
When she discovers the cause she's been fighting for all this time is false and the Kherans back home are pretty much racist and privileged. She's the first to rebel, even against people she considered friends and mentors. This marks her departure from the wildC.A.T.s, unable to trust most of them again and though she's returned a couple times since it's never permanent.
Priscilla is one of those characters you love for her moments of awesome and because of what she could be.
ARC TO READ: WildC.A.T.s vol. 1 #21-#27 The storyline where they return to Khera, some deep moments of politics, betrayal, friendship and tradition.
CURRENTLY? Since Wildstorm has been folded into the main DC universe she had her own series that lasted 12 issues and has been popping up here and there in other comics.
Pantha (codename: N/A) was an experiment by the Wildebeest Society. In an attempt to create host bodies strong enough to host the evil spirits who possessed their leader, Jericho (it's a long unsatisfying story, just go with it). Pantha was the only experiment to survive initially. She had no memory of her past even had no idea if she had started as a human or a panther which is I hesitate to put her on the list at all. However a number of other sources list her as a black woman which I hope is based on an alternate version of Pantha we meet in Booster Gold named Rosabelle Mendez, who was a vet student kidnapped and sold to the Wildebeest Society by Max Lord. Though this can probably be taken as her canon origin I'm a purist and if it's in an alternate world it's always questionable.
Either way Pantha was an awesome character, completely antisocial and violent she was more interested in discovering what was done to her and clawing the responsible parties eyes out than making friends. The draw of her character was seeing her grow and change while never losing her edge. She came to care for a couple of people but overall was disdainful of company and thought people were betrayers and a waste of time. by the hands of crazy superboy.
One of her biggest changes came with the last Wildebeest experiment they managed to save Baby Wildebeest, who was a child but when angered could grow to tremendous size and strength, imprinted on Pantha as Mama. Though she wasn't happy with it she eventually came to care for Baby and formed a relationship with russian superhero Red Star. She eventually moved to Russia with him and Baby. Then her and Baby died :(
ARC TO READ: The New Titans #109 -111 the search for who she really is continues
CURRENTLY? Deceased :( (along with Baby Wildebeest) :(((( This is the death I'm saddest about because both of their deaths were such throwaways. You know how every comic fan has that one ignored character that if they ever got to write for comics they would choose to write? Mine is Pantha.
So final sign off is this: #BringPanthaAndBabyWildebeestBack!