Representation is real and very important. It's been proven before with Blade back in 1998 and it's being proven all over again with Black Panther just days away from completely taking over the box office. Over the course of the last few weeks, I've noticed that the hype for T'Challa's story seems to have people forgetting not just that he's not the first Black hero with their own movie, but that there are plenty of other Black comic characters who also deserve their time in the sun. 

We spend a lot of time talking about wanting to see different perspectives, but don't put our money where our mouths are. Ta-nehisi Coates and Roxane Gay's Black Panther & The Crew being cancelled after only six issues when the Black Panther trailer was doing numbers online is alarming. It's great to see T'Challa, Shuri, Killmonger, and Wakanda up on the big screen after all these years, but this shouldn't be the end. The first time I ever saw characters like Bishop from X-Men or Blade while digging through old crates of comics, I was amazed to see characters that looked like me. I've found 12 more characters, past and present, who give me that same warmth that also deserve to find their way to the big or small screen.     


1. Blue Marvel

undefined

I'm surprised that we haven't seen more of Blue Marvel outside of the comics. Born Adam Brashear, Marvel is a Korean War vet and physics professor who was exposed to anti-matter and gained super strength, speed, flight, and nigh invulnerability, on top of having hand-to-hand combat training and a genius intellect. He was forced into an early retirement back in the 60s when his mask came off and revealed to the world that he was African-American, but he came back stronger than ever and even lead a few different versions of The Avengers. 

Especially given the success of a middle-aged hero as seen on Black Lightning, it'd be something to see an Omega level hero the likes of Brashear in the MCU.   


2. Kareem Jenkins ('Black')

undefined

Kwanza Osajyefo created his comic book Black with one question in mind: what if Black people were the only people in the world with superpowers? A novel approach, especially when mixed with the story of Kareem, a Black boy who's gunned down by police and comes to realize that he's always had powers beyond his imagination.  

Nevermind the fact that the concept of "Black people are the only ones with superpowers" was enough to fuel a $93K Kickstarter campaign, Kareem is a well-drawn out and intriguing character in his own right who could probably address some of the weird respectability politics that Luke Cage expected us to just gloss over on his otherwise very good Netflix show. 


3. Riri Williams (Iron Man)


undefined 

Iron Man has some pretty big shoes to fill, but Riri Williams has managed exceedingly well. An engineering student who designed an Ironheart suit made from parts salvaged from a nearby university, Riri has been approached by both Tony Stark and Pepper Pots because she's just too good at this whole hero thing. 

Riri was introduced in 2016 as another retooling of a classic hero in the mold of Jane Foster as Thor, Amadeus Chao as the Hulk, or Kamala Khan as Ms. Marvel. I remember seeing the huge reactions she created online and on line at comic shops and knew that Marvel had a hit character on their hands. Based on that alone, I'm surprised that she hasn't been added into any of Marvel's shows, animated or otherwise. 



4. Lunella Lafayette (Moon Girl) 


undefined 

Yet another Black girl genius in Marvel's backlogue. Lunella is not only considered one of the smartest characters in the Marvel Universe (dubbed by Amaedus Chao, no less), but as an Inhuman, she's also formed a mental bond with Devil Dinosaur, even stronger than that of the original Moon Boy. Watching her build gadgets and even switch consciousness with Devil Dinosaur on the fly is a thrilling experience and part of the reason why she's still becoming one of the most popular characters since her debut in 2016.  

Much like Riri, I've seen the wonder in children's eyes as they pick up issues of Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur and see someone who looks like them on the cover. Lunella is so much more than just an add-on to a revival of a decades old character or a revamped version of someone more well established, and seeing her pop up in an animated series executive produced by Laurence Fishburne would only further solidify her legacy.    


5. Isaiah Bradley  

undefined

The Bradley family is tied to the Marvel universe through war and heartbreak. Isaiah Bradley was one of the 300 Black soldiers that the U.S. government injected with a bootleg Super Soldier serum in the hopes of re-creating the now one-of-a-kind Captain America. Bradley was one of five survivors who fought bravely in World War II but wound up thrown under the bus by the government in thanks. And that's before his body began to deteriorate from the bootleg serum. 

Bradley became known as the Black Captain America, but there's so much more to him. His story led me to discover the real Tuskegee Syphilus Experiment that inspired Truth: Red, White & BlackHe was a badass Super Soldier who had more than his fair share of hero moments. He was survived by a son in Josiah X and a grandson in Elijah Bradley aka The Patriot of the Young Avengers. He more than deserves his own Captain America: The First Avenger style origin. 


6. Alana (Saga)

undefined

I feel confident in saying that Saga is the best comic you're not reading. A story about an interspecies war that takes place across multiple galaxies filled with love and action and tasty lewd humor. And Alana is at the center of all of it. She's a native of the planet Landfall and a soldier in the war between Landfallians and Wreathers, which of course leads to her meeting her Wreath husband Marko. Their relationship - and narration from their daughter Hazel - is the core of Saga's narrative, and it's very compelling.  

Alana is a complex and interesting character: strong, flawed, but always ready to hold her ground for what's right. Actress Tessa Thompson is already on board to play her in whatever adaptation is coming down the pike and I'm all for it.   


7. Deathblow (Michael Cray)


Black Comic Characters Who Deserve Their Own Movies Or TV Shows 

Deathstroke and Deadshot tend to dominate the conversation of DC Comics assassins, but Deathblow has been carving his own path in the margins. His parents were killed by terrorists when he was a child, and it inspired him to join the Navy SEALs before being picked up to be a part of Team 7, a special forces unit outfitted with powers. His didn't manifest until years later when what he thought was cancer turned out to be a healing factor and psionic shields.

So yes, he's basically The Punisher with a healing factor, doing wetwork as an assassin and bodyguard. If The Punisher can get a whole boring Netflix series, where's Cray's TV show?


8. Elena Abbott 


undefined

Detective stories are nothing new in the world of comics, but there was still something special about journalist Elena Abbott when her comic was announced last October. Her book Abbott follows her journey solving supernatural crimes that the Detroit Police Department gave up on, crimes just like the one that killed her husband. 

The comic, penned by Saladin Ahmed and illustrated by Sami Kivelä, is only one issue in so far, but Elena has already proven to be a sturdy and intriguing spin on the well-worn detective story. The general setup of supernatural investigation is the kind of thing I can imagine watching weekly on CBS, and if Abbott can keep the quality stories coming, I can see Elena on either a big or small screen in the future.  

   


9. Mr. Teriffic (Michael Holt) 

undefined

Michael Holt is basically a super-learner, someone who is as skilled in engineering and different languages as he is in the martial arts. He's also smart enough to build weapons and a high-tech suit that make him invisible to machines and gives him Rick Sanchez levels of outer body protection. He's second in intelligence in the DC universe right behind Batman and he's also led a few different versions of the Justice League. How's that for Terrific? 

Holt has made a handful of appearances in DC shows, most notably being played by Hannibal Buress on Justice League: Action and by Echo Kellum on ArrowBut here's hoping he'll be given the keys to his own solo show sometime in the future.     


10. Honor Guest (Silencer)


undefined 

Honor Guest left the mercenary game for some peace and quiet with her family. She's a former member of Talia al Ghul's Leviathan, and a power struggle within their ranks has her donning her Silencer suit (which literally lets her create cones of silence in order to get the drop on enemies) once more. 

Batman's rogues gallery is infamously stacked, but it might be nice to shake things up in the villain department. SIlencer's series debuted at DC just last month, and I can already see Silencer popping up in the net big Batman game or even finding room for her as a supporting character on Gotham.   


11. Agent 355 (Y: The Last Man)

undefined

The first time I read through Brian K. Vaughn's Y: The Last Man, I had a lot to obsess over. I got lost in the story of a world where (almost) every creature on Earth with a Y chromosome drops dead and the journey that Yorick Brown and his monkey Ampersand take to get to the bottom of what killed all the men. But it was Agent 355 who kept me reading past the first few issues. An agent with the elusive Culper Ring with total recall memory and badass fighting skills, she also went a long way to keep the series grounded and funny, her chemistry with the rest of the cast shining bright. I had also started growing dreadlocs of my own and her short twists made me even more comfortable about mine.  

Word of a TV show and/or a movie version of Y: The Last Man pops up every now and again, and someone may finally be pulling the trigger on FX. We needed the wisdom, humor, and skills of Agent 355 yesterday. 

   


12. Brother Voodoo (Jerico Drumm)  

undefined

Only a handful of people have taken on the title of Sorcerer Supreme, and Brother Voodoo, real name Jerico Drumm, is one of them. He's a psychiatrist from Haiti who returns to see his brother Daniel is dying from a spell cast by a houngan (voodoo priest). Jerico decides to take on the art of voodoo and eventually bonds with his now dead brother's soul, becoming Brother Voodoo. 

I had seen him on the margins of comics before, but really fell into the character once he became the new Sorcorer Supreme. The Eye of Agamatto chose him after Doctor Strange left the New Avengers, and his brief run as the most powerful sorcorer on Earth is an underrated series. Marvel's Doctor Strange movie turned Stephen Strange into Tony Stark with magic powers, so I'm more excited to see a world where Drumm puts his spin on Marvel magic.