While every comic book company likes to connect to minorities, it seems that black superheroes in DC Comics are used better than most. DC Comics is filled with some of the greatest characters in history. Moreover, the brand has been ahead of a lot for years, especially when it concerns equality. This is proven with multiple characters being used from all walks of life.
The brand cares enough to make sure every reader can find a character worth loving.
However, DC does a great job when writing their content to never write a character or even put ar together that belittles a culture. On top of this, they do not write to pander. They do not put their characters together just to have a representative of a group somehow involved. Rather, they make them awesome.
DC Comics does this so often that we do not even think about the affiliation they have with a group or culture. This is a very good thing to see. The main reason for this is that DC does not want to force someone or something onto their readers. They want things to come organically.
Representation is very important, but it’s completely dead in the water if it’s forced onto people. It is a delicate balance, but one DC seems to always succeed with.
Due to this, we thought it might be cool to show you some of these amazing black superheroes in DC Comics today. Some of them you may be very familiar with while others might be new. Either way, you’ll find them all to be completely awesome!
- First Appearance: Firestorm the Nuclear Man #1 (March 1978)
- Characters Who Were Firestorm: Ronald Raymond, Jefferson Davis, Jason Thomas Rusch, Denisovitch Arkadin, Dr. Martin Stein, Dr.Mikhail
- Power Set: Nucleokinesis, Nucleo Pyrokinesis
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While the Arrowverse originally began using a white actor to play the Firestorm character, this was eventually changed relatively soon in for comic book accuracy. This led to Franz Drameh coming on board to play another version of the character, but one that had the look many of us grew attached to from the comics.
The Firestorm character takes two people in order to work. While Ronnie Raymond and Dr. Martin Stein initially did not realize they’d be forced to work together, they eventually were capable of handling this and enjoyed it. Whenever Firestorm was needed, the two would bond together by touching to result in the character coming about.
Even when they were not together, they technically were. They could feel what the other one felt, from their emotions to their overall pain. This makes them like brothers essentially. While Ronnie or Jefferson’s body was on the line for all of their Firestorm adventures, Professor Stein was in his head helping to guide him.
This is why Firestorm as a character was always a lot harder to handle. He could not be easily manipulated nor could he not understand how to use his power, as a genius is inside his head at all times. Sure, Firestorm could fly and shoot fireballs whenever he wanted. Yet he could also break things down to their atomic level and make them into something else too.
Firestorm is certainly one of the best black superheroes in DC Comics. However, we could also say that he is one of the best superheroes in all of comics too.
- First Appearance: Icon #1 (May 1993)
- Icon Aliases: Arnus, August Freeman
- Power Set: Regeneration, Flight, Super Speed, Super Strength, Extreme Intelligence, Nigh-Invulnerability
Icon was first published by Milestone Media, a group within DC Comics that are in a different world and continuity. The Icon character became their big-time headliner throughout the 90s.
Under the name Arnus, Icon happens to be an alien from Terminus.
His starliner malfunctioned and exploded as a child. Luckily, he was able to get out in a life-pod before things got bad. However, he landed on Earth in a cotton field in the American South….in 1839. In order to settle into the environment he was in, the pod changed Arnus’ appearance into the first sentient lifeform nearby.
A black woman named Mariam found him and took him in as her own son. As a result of this, Arnus became black as well. Due to not really aging, he’s had to take on the identity of his own son and grandchild to keep from being found out. Eventually, he began going by the name August Freeman IV, the late great-grandson of his original human identity.
His powers allow him to consistently alter or maintain his physical appearance. This includes healing and regeneration of various limbs and digits. He can also fly, has superhuman strength, speed, agility, and reflexes. He’s also a skilled hand to hand fighter, likely due to his excelled mental perception.
He only did small acts of charity for others, but one day, a woman witnessed him use his powers during a break-in at his home. She forms a friendship with the Arnus and convinces him to become a superhero, resulting in “Icon” being born. She herself becomes one too, named Rocket.
13. Mister Terrific
- First Appearance: Spectre [Vol. 3] #54 (June 1997)
- Mr. Terrific Alias: Michael Holt (new generation), Terry Sloane (Golden Era)
- Power Set: Genius-Level Intellect
First and foremost, we should mention that there are two different Mister Terrific characters in DC Comics. The person we are using here is the Michael Holt version. Mentioning that there are two is pretty crucial.
Ever since he was young, Michael Holt seemed to be vastly intelligent. He once said that he “has a natural aptitude for having natural aptitudes.” This allowed him to pick up extremely difficult and complex skills and abilities easily. He ends up earning 14 different Ph.D.’s, including two in engineering and physics. This also includes masters or doctorate degrees in law, psychology, chemistry, political science, and mathematics.
As a result, he uses his knowledge to become a self-made millionaire. If that was not enough, he even has a gold medal from the Olympic Games he won as a decathlete.
Sadly, he loses his wife and unborn child in a horrible accident. He considers himself responsible for it, making him feel suicide is the only answer. However, right before he takes his own life, the Spectre appears.
He tells Michael of Terry Sloane, the Golden Age superhero known as Mister Terrific. Inspired, Holt takes the “Mister Terrific” name as his own and even joins the Justice Society of America. He would go on to serve as its chairman too.
Skilled as a fighter, he uses some of his hand to hand fighting ability when fighting crime. Yet he also develops technology to use in the field that assists him greatly. Due to his genius-level intellect, he is also a skilled tactician and incredibly creative, both critical to his leadership.
12. Bronze Tiger
- First Appearance: Richard Dragon, Kung Fu Fighter (May 1975)
- Bronze Tiger Alias: Benjamin Turner
- Power Set: Fast Reflexes & Tremendous Stamina. (Non-Metahuman)
Needing to channel his rage, Benjamin Turner decided martial arts was the best outlet for him. He traveled to the Far East eventually where he trained under O-Sensei and studied alongside Richard Dragon.
Turner eventually joined the Global Organization of Organized Defense after being approached by Barney Ling, a man who is secretly a villain. Ling brainwashes Turner, making him into a bad guy. Turner manages to get out of this thanks to Dragon, but then the two join the Central Bureau of Intelligence or C.B.I. for short.
Turner’s fiancee is killed by the League of Assassins, whom he and Dragon are tasked to take down by C.B.I. Sadly, they brainwash him too. Turner channeled all his hate and rage into the identity of the masked assassin, Bronze Tiger. His identity was kept secret by League, and Tiger became their most feared assassin.
Learning of his true identity, Rick Flagg and Nightshade track him down. Turner would be deprogrammed by Amanda Waller, who would eventually use Turner in the Suicide Squad. He remained a centerpiece for the Squad, often leading the group.
He later leaves the group and works as a trainer mostly.
Turner has mastered most fighting styles. This makes him near impossible to defeat in combat. He has fought Richard Dragon and Batman to a standstill and is one of the few Lady Shiva considers to be equal to her. Ben is a literal lethal weapon and one of the best black superheroes in DC Comics history.
- First Appearance: Action Comics #521 (July 1981)
- Vixen Alias: Mari Jiwe McCabe
- Power Set: Animal Imitation (w/abilities from said animals)
Vixen is a tremendous character that ranks as one of the top black superheroes in DC Comics due to her abilities and massive popularity with fans. This popularity likely comes from the Justice League animated shows and her multiple-form use in The CW’s Arrowverse.
To understand who Vixen is, you must know where her power comes from. In an Ancient Ghana, a great warrior named Tantu asked a being named Anansi the Spider to create a totem that gave the wearer all of the powers from the animal kingdom. However, the one and only rule is that the powers MUST be used to protect the innocent.
The Totem eventually passed down in her family each generation until it reached Mari. Growing up in Zambesi, her mother told her of the Totem legend. She always sought to know more but sadly, her mother was killed by poachers. Her father, the village priest, was later killed himself. His half-brother and Mari’s uncle, General Maksai, killed him over the Totem.
Mari quickly moved to America where she became a model, going by the name Mari McCabe. With her new wealth, she traveled back to her African village and took the Tantu Totem from her uncle.
Upon returning, she decided to become a reluctant superhero named Vixen. She was quickly inducted into the Justice League that was recently reformed by Aquaman at the time. She’d also serve as a member of the Suicide Squad. While still very much a consistent team player, she has managed to work solo a lot more as of late in the comics.
- First Appearance: [Zavimbe]-Batman Incorporated #5 (May 2011), [Fox]-Batwing #19 (June 2013)
- Batwing Alias: David Zavimbe, Lucas Fox
- Power Set: Several Abilities Via Power Suit (flying, weapons, tech)
There are technically two different Batwing characters. The first was David Zavimbe, an African man who joined up with the Bat-Family when Batman Incorporated began in the 2010s. He remained in the role for a few years until an incident occurred that resulted in his home nation of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Zavimbe rushed back to help with the ordeal, which apparently was led by his brainwashed older brother.
Zavimbe, despite not doing so during his time with Batman Inc., decided to use lethal force to stop the issue in the Congo. He did so but would leave Batman, Inc. for the Dead Heroes Club. Gone from the Batwing role, someone else had to eventually take it on. It just so happens that longtime Batman tech-maker, Lucius Fox, had a son named Luke.
Luke Fox has an MMA background and had been Bruce’s first choice for the Batwing role anyway. Since becoming Batwing, Fox has become one of the best black superheroes in DC Comics today!
The redesigned suit often gets connections to that of Marvel’s Iron Man. It does have some similar features, however, it differs in a few areas. First and foremost, Iron Man’s suit cannot have cuts or removals and then randomly regenerate like Batwing’s can.
The suit can also become invisible, possesses detective vision, a full-body hologram interface, and it’s fully voice-controlled. It can even change appearances, making the user capable of technically taking on multiple identities.
- First Appearance: Icon #1 (May 1993)
- Rocket Alias: Raquel Ervin
- Power Set: Possesses Inertia Belt (Includes Kinetic Energy Control, Flight, & Force Fields)
Rocket has risen in popularity, likely due to her use in DC’s Young Justice animated show. She is known mostly as the sidekick to Icon, but she is much better than this. As the person who persuaded Icon to even become a hero, to begin with, she has already proven her value. Yet Raquel had to find a way she could do some good too.
The coolest thing about the Icon series of comics is that Icon is actually not the star of them, funny enough. Ervin is the actual main protagonist of the series, resulting in the series surrounding the events she takes part in. Even without Icon, her role is the highlight of the series and that has been a pretty compelling journey to watch.
In order to be Icon’s sidekick, Icon made a belt out of inertia winder from his escape pod. This allows her to control and manipulate various forms of kinetic energy. While a very useful partner to Icon, she is was no pushover alone. Now known as Rocket, she is one of the best black superheroes in DC Comics history.
Rocket is often around with Icon as well as others from the mainline world they are both a part of, the Dakotaverse, in her most notable work.
Rocket has been used in Justice League as well as Teen Titans content, whether animated or comic book driven. She is still used off and on in solo work but her main use is typically in team-based content.
8. Azrael (Michael Lane)
- First Appearance: [Jean-Paul] Batman: Sword of Azrael #1 (October 1992), [Lane] Azrael: Death’s Dark Knight (2009)
- Azrael Alias: Jean-Paul Valley, Michael Washington Lane
- Power Set: Inhuman Physical Abilities (strength, speed, agility, etc.), Can Handle Severe Bouts Of Pain
In the comics, there are two people who held down the Azrael role. The first is a man by the name of Jean-Paul Valley and the other is Michael Lane.
In the comics, Doctor Hurt decided to make a new Azrael. This time with an ex-police officer, Michael Lane. The Order of Purity approaches him to become the new Azrael, resulting in Lane taking on the role and even fighting Talia al Ghul on his first night.
Ra’s al Ghul tries to manipulate Lane into destroying Gotham. Due to the issues the Bat-Family are connected to, Ra’s knew he could force Azrael to take down the family and Gotham together. Azrael already must judge Batman, Catwoman, and Red Robin for their past sins to see if Gotham should be spared or saved.
Lane is manipulated into believing that they failed their tests by Ra’s. Batman reveals what Ra’s tried to do to stop Lane. After this, they team up to take down al Ghul and his metahuman helper, Fireball. He has been on the side of the angels ever since.
Overall, Azrael is mostly used as a judge and jury of others. This is an issue for the Bat-Family, as they do not like to kill whereas Azrael prefers this with those who have done evil. He is a tough out as well, having numerous physical enhancements as well as top tier martial arts skills and great swordsmanship.
- First Appearance: The Adventures of Superman #500 (June 1993)
- Steel’s Alias: John Henry Irons
- Power Set: Genius, Possesses Super-Powered Armor That Gives Him Super Strength, Durability, Flight, etc.
There are a few different Steel characters in DC Comics, but the version involving John Henry Irons seems to be the most popular among them. The reason for this is that might very be due to how he made his debut and the use of him since. Irons made his debut, officially, in the Death of Superman comic series. This story-arc is among the most popular in comic book history.
Irons played a version of Superman that was made out of Steel. Unlike others that were alien, happened to be cybernetic, or grown in a lab…Irons was the only true human to become a new Superman. This made him valuable to Metropolis.
When Superman, Kal-El, came back to the land of the living, Irons knew he could no longer be a Superman figure. Yet he still wanted to be of use. Thus, “Steel” was born and he remained in his super-powered, cybernetic-steel suit. He never needed the suit to be of help, as Irons is an incredible mind.
In his solo run, Irons ventured out from Metropolis to his hometown of Washington, D.C. where he became the area’s top hero. Irons was eventually recruited to be in the Justice League. As a genius and former weapons maker for AmerTek Industries, Batman felt he could be a huge asset to the league.
Steel, when portrayed by John Henry Irons, is among the best black superheroes in DC Comics. He is everything you want in a hero, and more.
6. Black Lightning
- First Appearance: Black Lightning #1 (April 1977)
- Black Lightning Alias: Jefferson Pierce
- Power Set: Metahuman Electrical Manipulation & Energy, Peak Physical Athleticism, Great Hand-To-Hand Fighter
Black Lightning is often made out to be the older and more experienced of any team he is on. Usually, there is a separation between his earlier work and the work he does as a hero when he ages. In his younger years, he was an Olympic Gold Medal-winning decathlete who was able to escape the horrors of his hometown due to his skills.
However, he still wanted to make a difference in his hometown.
After having to take down crooked politicians like Tobias Whale, Jefferson jumped into politics himself. He wanted to make things better for the area he was in as well as further out. As an educator, it made sense to do this through education. Eventually, he became the U.S. Secretary of Education.
By this point, his electrical powers had begun to disappear. Originally, he could manipulate electricity in multiple ways, making him extremely powerful. As Secretary of Education, Pierce used his political power to access critical information for superheroes. Thus allowing him to remain a hero even without his powers.
Eventually, his powers returned and he was recruited to numerous teams such as The Outsiders and even the Justice League. While now ultimately synonymous with The Outsiders group, recent use of him in comics and media have him being a critical member of the JLA.
Overall, Black Lightning wanted to make a difference with or without powers and did just that. This makes him one of the best black superheroes in DC Comics history.
5. Aqualad (Kaldur)
- First Appearance: [TV] Young Justice EP1: Independence Day (January 2011), [Comics] Brightest Day (August 2010)
- Aqualad Alias: Kaldur’ahm
- Power Set: Hard Water Abilities, Water Manipulation, Hydro-Electric Manipulation, Super Strength, Speed, Agility
The original Aqualad and often still in use for multiple comic books is Garth. Of course, Aqualad is the sidekick of Aquaman who is eventually able to step out on his own. However, The New 52 saw a change where all of DC Entertainment was altered a bit. This is why we have multiple changes to characters.
In this area, the Young Justice television show came about where Aqualad was no longer Garth. Instead, they used his friend Kaldur’ahm in the role. Garth still appears in the show and is seen as a major threat in his own right. However, Kaldur happens to be a critical player who fans fell in love with on the show.
This caused some changes in the comics but not enough to completely remove Garth. Kaldur’s powers are relatively similar to Garth but slightly more enhanced. He has super strength, speed, agility, etc. He can also breathe both on land and in the water. On top of this, he has mystical abilities that allow him to manipulate the water.
He is also notable for his hydro-electric manipulation as well. He learned to hone his mystical powers under Aquaman’s wife, Mera. Then when Aquaman “retired” within the YJ Universe, Kaldur even becomes the new Aquaman and the head of the Justice League along with Wonder Woman.
Ultimately, Kaldur has proven to be one of the best black superheroes in DC Comics history when we expand out the entire universe across all media.
- First Appearance: DC Comics Presents #26 (October 1980)
- Cyborg Alias: Victor Stone
- Power Set: Cybernetic Enhancements, Superior Intellect, Technopathy, Advanced Sensory Systems, Data Manipulation, etc.
Cyborg is one of the most popular black superheroes in DC Comics history. This is most likely due to his time as a major member of two major teams in DC Comics. While originally a member of the Doom Patrol, which he led…Cyborg eventually joined up with the Teen Titans and finally the Justice League.
His popularity soared in the late 90s and early 2000s despite having been in play for DC Comics since the 80s. Although his appearance has changed a great deal since the 1980s, his origin has remained pretty consistent.
The original story goes that Victor Stone, a star athlete for his school, was upset that his parents seemed to miss time with him. His parents, Silus & Elinore Stone, were brilliant scientists for S.T.A.R Labs. One day, Victor came in upset yet again with his parents.
At the time, his parents were working on an inter-dimensional access machine when an alien stepped in and killed Elinoire but mutilated Victor. Unable to save Victor on his own, Silus used a Mother Box to help. Eventually, the alien technology helped Victor but it made him at least half a machine. The tech gave him cybernetic enhancements but also gave him ultimate tech power.
Combined with his own genius and physical abilities, the enhancements only kept getting bigger and better. This made him a huge threat to everyone, but also a person that needed mentorship. That, of course, led to numerous team-ups and eventually some solo work.
- First Appearance: Static #1 (June 1993)
- Static Alias: Virgil Hawkins
- Power Set: Electromagnetic Ability & Manipulation, Psionic Immunity, Technopathy, Electrostatic Abilities
Another creation from Milestone Comics and part of the Dakotaverse, Static was actually created originally for Marvel Comics. They actually passed and it resulted in the connection with DC Comics later. He made his debut in 1993 and eventually, a great animated television show came to be in 1997 when Milestone stopped publishing comics on their own.
His origin is pretty interesting and the entire Dakotaverse is pretty much based around him now. He first gained his electromagnetic powers due to seeking revenge on a local gang who had been bullying him. Police arrive shortly before things go anywhere and use tear gas with what they assumed was a harmless radioactive marker that prevented any gang member from escaping.
Sadly, the police did not know that the gas had been spiked with Quantum Juice. This is an experimental mutagen that resulted in what they called the “Big Bang.” It was the time people gained their metahuman abilities. The agency behind the juice try to capture Virgil, but he fights back and realizes he has the power to manipulate, generate, and even control electromagnetism.
This leads Hawkins to become a superhero that he names, simply, “Static.”
He then tries to take down those with special abilities that are doing harm to his city of Dakota, while also taking down random gangs and other evildoers.
Static is one of the best black superheroes in DC Comics history simply due to how he connects to people. Similar to how Spider-Man did for Marvel, he is originally a kid that we all could find common ground with. We watched him grow as we grew. That’s awesome!
2. Martian Manhunter
- First Appearance: Detective Comics #225 (November 1955)
- Manhunter Alias: J’onn J’onzz, John Jones
- Power Set: Telekinesis, Telepathy, Shapeshifting, Invisibility, Flight, Regenerative Healing, Genius-Level Intellect
It’s slightly cheating to put the Martian Manhunter on the list. However, despite all the faces that J’onn J’onzz could have been on Earth, he chose the face of a black man. He could literally be anyone he wanted to be, yet chose to be black. To us, that is a pretty compelling argument when considering people who can be called black or not.
In his origin, J’onn finds himself on Earth after an experimental teleportation issue causes him to be transported from Mars. Sadly, he cannot be teleported back as the technology is not up to par on either side. Thus, he decides to stick around and help to fight against evildoers here on Earth as a detective named “John Jones.”
There are a few changes throughout either comic book or televised media with his origin. While the random Earth change is part of the origin in some way, he also makes us aware that he is the last of his kind and that he has no more family left. Yet we see other green and white Martians in the comics later on. Meanwhile, others never mention him being the last.
It really just depends on what is canon for DC at the time.
He is a legit threat as a solo act due to his power set. Yet due to his major intellect, he is often used as a peacemaker whenever possible and ends up being a top member in the Justice League. While he may not be originally black, we still consider him to be among the best black superheroes in DC Comics today.
1. Green Lantern (John Stewart)
- First Appearance: Green Lantern #87 (December 1971)
- Green Lantern Alias: John Stewart (among other Lanterns)
- Power Set: Power Ring Allows Him To Manipulate Energy Into Whatever He Wants
While there were other Green Lanterns before John Stewart came along, John Stewart might be considered the best of them all. People like Hal Jordan were popular as well, making them often active at the same time. Whether it was the same mainline universe or in another. Stewart’s jump to being a Lantern happened similar to Hal.
Like Hal, he had an Armed Forces background being a former U.S. Marine. Though this is the retconned origin, as he was an architect before this. He was selected by the Guardians as a back-up for Hal just in case he was ever injured or unable to be Green Lantern for some reason.
This resulted in Stewart often filling in for Jordan when a Green Lantern was needed but unavailable. While he was often involved in solo situations where the Earth needed to be protected as well as the galaxy, he was often used in Justice League missions too. Once Jordan gave up his Green Lantern ring, Stewart became the official, full-time Green Lantern for the sector.
Jordan has returned but today the two are often used as great friends, as close as brothers. They have fought and had major altercations but always put things behind them. The use of John was big for DC Comics, as it allowed them to use stories involving Stewart’s skin color. This allowed them to use stories around racial issues and give DC a major black superhero.
Today, most call Stewart one of the best black superheroes in DC Comics history. To us, however, he may very well be the greatest.