Episode 121, “Elegy”

X-Men #138, October 1980
Written by Chris Claremont, Pencils by John Byrne, Inks by Terry Austin, Lettered by Tom Orzechowski, Colors by Glynis Wein, Edited by Louise Jones, Editor-In-Chief Jim Shooter.

Once You Go Black Panther…

In Which We Discover That Shi’Ar Culture May Overvalue Their Novelty Snow Globes, That Scott Now Has Both Rose Colored Glasses And Boots Made For Walking, And That One Can Not Underestimate The Value of A Well Placed Jacket Flap To Get Around The Comics’ Code!

Wait, Remind Me. Exactly Which Stage Of Grief Is The Supervillain Montage?


The first mainstream black superhero was Marvel‘s The Black Panther, the leader of the African nation of Wakanda, who premiered in Fantastic Four #52 in 1966. He had to wait until 1973 to get his own comic, when he took over Jungle Action at issue 5 (above left). The first African-American superhero was The Falcon, who started in Captain America #117 in 1969 (above right). By 1971 the Falcon had become popular enough to earn a co-billing on the Captain America book, which he held until 1978.


The first black character to head his own comic was Luke Cage, whose comic Luke Cage: Hero For Hire started publication in 1972. A clear attempt to borrow from the Blaxploitation heroes popular at the time (Shaft, Superfly, etc.), Cage’s original comic would run for 15 years (although he had to eventually take on Iron Fist as a co-star to last that long). Since then his character has continued to evolve and be re-designed, dropping the 70’s-style Blaxploitation affectations, temporarily veering toward a hip hop look, before landing on essentially an anti-superhero costume: t-shirt and jeans. Today’s Cage is a mature adult black man, slightly embarrassed by his tiara wearing past, but unable to stop helping people in need.


DC Comics was a bit slower to bring black characters to the forefront of their books. Their first real attempt was Black Lightning, whose solo comic appeared in 1977 (above left). Still done in the open shirted, large-afro’ed blaxploitation style that also birthed Luke Cage (5 years earlier), Black Lightning’s strangest design element was his afro that was built into his mask (above right). This had the effect of making the hero “blacker” when he fought crime than he was in his daily life. Despite some airplay as part of the cartoon Superfriends show, Black Lightning did not really catch on and remains a minor character to this day.


DC Comics first breakout black character was Cyborg, who appeared in 1980. Cyborg was a core member of Wolfman and Perez’s New Teen Titans, which became one of DC’s best selling titles. Cyborg has only grown with popularity over time, with multiple versions of Teen Titans cartoons, a core place on the present Justice League, and a DC big budget movie planned for a 2020 release. The X-Men‘s Storm was the fist big female black superhero (1975), while Vixen (1981, above right) was DC Comics earliest substantial entry. A knock against the Vixen and Storm character designs is that both are grounded in exotic sex appeal. Both have “primitive” African-based power sets and neither wears a lot of clothes. Of course, women in comics have generally been objectified since its early days, so Storm and Vixen are in good company.


Wait a second.. Is that Yoko Ono in the back? 1980 was a really rough year for her.

Cyclops always has some crazy Vape-O-Matic Super Bong, but the Professor prefers to just keep it simple with his pipe.

He who lives in a glass house should not throw stones.

At the Juggernaut.

Or properly transcribed:

“Mmfhmhfmhmff…. Mhfhmfhmfmf…Mf…Mf… Mhfthhmmdmty”

“Mrmmht, you, Mhmnmhhtmm!”

Listen, in this state he is really up for anything. Anything.

Krakoa had to pay extra for the Apache in his crotch.

None shall top the Zales Dazzling Diamond-Pa-Looza!

Tonight, live at the forum… Ka-Zar, Sauron, Alpha Flight, and Earth, Wind, & Fire!

Jean Grey died and all I got was this lousy snowglobe.

ITCHY? BITCOIN? CITGO? Or… Is it all just a ruse to distract from the hideous pink naval cap? Hmmm…

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