Monday, February 21, 2011

Heroes and Villains of the Spectrum - Black

I don't know if it's because black goes with everything, or it looks tough, or what, but black is definitely the color choice for character names. Settle back and enjoy this extra-long list...

Black Bolt

This silent leader of the Inhumans and member of the Illuminati has been around since the 60's. His slightest whisper can obliterate mountains. And yet he doesn't shoot any kind of bolts, nor are any of his powers black. So where'd he get the name?

Relegated pretty much to guest-star status in most comics after a very brief dual-branded comic title in the 60's, Black Bolt led the Inhumans for years as they protected themselves from one attack after another. Even moving to the moon didn't save them.

In the recent "War of Kings" storyline, Black Bolt was killed. His wife, Medusa, now rules in his stead. You and I both know he's coming back at some point in the future though.  

Black Panther

This character made it onto one of my earlier lists as one of those pretty-much useless guys who can't carry a title for squat. Still, he deserves a place on the list. He was an Avenger, after all.

Formerly the ruling king of Wakanda, he now patrols Hell's Kitchen for Daredevil while Matt's off getting his mind straight. After that, he'll disappear again for a while until some other writer thinks, "Hey, who could we bring into this title so we can sell two or three extra copies?" 

Black Canary

The eternal girlfriend of Green Arrow, this lady is one tough woman. She's an expert hand-to-hand fighter, and even though she's no Black Bolt, when she screams at you, you know you've been screamed at!

Dinah took over the role of Black Canary from her mother. Her past is pretty much crazy to try and follow, and her relationship with Green Arrow is equally frustrating (she even made out with Batman in the "All Star Batman and Robin" series). For now though, she's been an active member of the Birds of Prey since their inception and even pops up on "Smallville" every once in a while.

Black Goliath

Seen here fighting the most fearsome of all Marvel villains, Stilt Man, Black Goliath was a character who never really took off in the 70's. 

He got his ability to grow from Hank Pym, and made a lot of guest appearances in the 70's in comics like The Champions and others. It wouldn't be until the 80's that he would get a necessary reboot and a new name (as Giant Man).

His death during the Civil War storyline was the catalyst for the support momentum turning to Captain America's team over Iron Man's. Now he's on his way back thanks to Hank Pym and Ant Man.

Black Lightning

Another 70's hero who never took off no matter how hard they tried, Jefferson Pierce finally found footing as a member of the Batman and the Outsiders. He stuck around for the whole run of the original title.

Much later, Pierce would become a member of President Luthor's cabinet and a trusted adviser. He considered himself undercover trying to help the heroes, but the position did lead him to a showdown with Batman and Superman in the "Public Enemies" storyline (and cartoon!). He lost.

Black Manta

Aquaman's arch-enemy and constant foil, this villain has resurfaced (ha! Get it?) recently thanks to his son becoming the new Aqualad.

Initially, he started out as the standard bad guy that Aquaman would have to face. When the 70's brought us the cartoon "The Challenge of the Superfriends", Manta managed to beat out Ocean Master to be the resident "water guy" for Lex Luthor's Legion of Doom.

As they do with all characters today, DC brought him back as a darker version of himself now, killing without remorse and out to destroy Aquaman (again) in Brightest Day.

Black Beetle 

This mysterious villain has been in and out of the Booster Gold comics for a long time. His identity and true motivations remain an enigma for now.

Initially, he presented himself as a hero from the future out to save Ted Kord by reuniting all the Blue Beetles, but that was just a lie. He fought the newest Blue Beetle and attempted to convince him that he was a future version of himself, but I highly doubt that. More likely he will probably be revealed as either some multiple universe version of Ted Kord or Dan Garrett (the first Blue Beetle).

Black Knight

Dane Whitman is the latest man to hold the title (after his uncle was a villain named "Black Knight"). He's had a pretty eventful life for a guy with no superpowers other than his ebony blade.

He was a member of the Avengers for years, holding many roles. Throughout their many cosmic adventures he was able to hold his own. Not as smart as Hank Pym (who is?), he is still a brilliant tactician and scientist. Just recently he joined MI-13 with Captain Britain.

Black Adam

This "black sheep" (ha! Get it!) of the Shazam family has a twisted history. He was a hero in ancient Egypt who became a villain...who became a member of the JSA before becoming a tyrannical ruler of his own nation again...then a bad guy...then a, who knows?

He's been able to hold his own against Superman thanks to his magic-based abilities, but he has a mean streak that you wouldn't like to be around. This is the guy who started off the "52" maxi-series by ripping a guy in half (long before Sentry thought of doing that to Ares).

Black Hand

A pretty much obscure Green Lantern villain, Black Hand somehow became the key player in the "Blackest Night" miniseries. Geoff Johns was able to take a character who never really got much respect and turned him into a major hitter for a little while. The most interesting turn is where he is now in the stories (a Purple Lantern controlled by least he is at the time I'm writing this).

He definitely wins as the most painful moment in the "Green Lantern:Rebirth" miniseries. While trying to steal a GL ring and being stopped by Green Arrow, Hal Jordan shows up as the Spectre to punish him for his sins. The punishment: his right hand is turned to coal and crumbles off so he becomes his name sake...a black hand. Ouch!

Honorable Mention: Obsidian

Another tragic hero-turned-villain, Obsidian is Jade's brother and the son of Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern. He found his way to Infinity Inc with Jade, but eventually the dark side of his powers became too much for him to deal with.

After a brief stint as a villain, he's now pretty much an ambiguous figure in the DC world. He does have an awesome action figure out now though!

Next week, we look at the leftovers. We'll take a look at all the colors who just had a couple of guys in there and didn't warrant an entire list of their own. White, yellow, orange, purple, and the rest are waiting for their turn!


Anonymous said...

Don't forget about Black Mask, one of Batman's rogues! He tangled with Jason ("Red Hood") Todd, and killed Stephanie ("Spoiler") Brown, though of course she later turns out to have faked her death. He turns Gotham against Batman for a while. A pretty wicked adversary (though he's eventually killed by Catwoman). Recently there was another Black Mask, who turned out to be Jeremy Arkham, head honcho at Arkham Asylum.


Brian Reaves said...

Thanks, Doc! I forgot all about him!

Anonymous said...

Doh! Just remembered the Black Terror!! Never heard of him until Dynamite's Project Superpowers (which made him interesting, but not interesting enough for me to keep buying the comic).


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