25 Reasons Why We Need More Persons of Color in Comics

It’s been a long, strange few weeks for comics. With questions surrounding race and representation swirling around several recent issues, the announcement of Milestone Comics’ return to the halls of DC, and the arrival of one of the most anticipated comics featuring a character of color this week, there’s definitely more than one reason to look around and take note of the landscape.

And with the release of Cyborg’s long awaited solo ongoing series this week, we see DC Comics’ most prominent African-American hero helmed by an African-American writer, David F. Walker. To celebrate — and to recognize all the amazing work produced by non-white creators on characters reflecting their own background and cultures — the staff at Comicosity has compiled 25 comic titles that show exactly why we need to see more persons of color reflected on the stands and in the credits.

Black Panther (1998/2005)

Written by Christopher Priest and Reginald Hudlin
Published by Marvel Comics

Marvel’s premier Black super-hero is an African king. You don’t get much higher profile than that. And when Christopher Priest wrote him, everyone sat up and took notice. In later years, under the pen of Reginald Hudlin, the king found his queen in X-Man Storm, and we all squee-ed. But alas, it was not meant to be.



Bitch Planet (2014)

Illustrated by Valentine De Landro
Published by Image Comics

A prison planet full of women society has deemed non-compliant? They’re women of all shapes, sizes, races, and backgrounds, whose only commonality is that the men of Earth decided they were not fit to stay. And they’re angry.



American Born Chinese (2006)

Written by Gene Luen Yang
Published by First Second Books

Three stories of Chinese-American young men, struggling with identity and their place in the American racial landscape, American Born Chinese not only won the Eisner award in 2007, but also has gone on to win multiple awards across the publishing industry. Today, you can follow Yang into the pages of Superman at DC Comics.



Firestorm (2004)

Illustrated by Jamal Igle
Published by DC Comics

A brand new era began once upon a time with a brand new Nuclear Man: African-American student Jason Rusch. Today, Jason is still one half of the equation of Firestorm, but this is where he first donned the flaming hair and boots of red.



Shaft (2014)

Written by David Walker
Published by Dynamite Entertainment

Who’s the black private dick that’s a sex machine to all the chicks? Shaft! Who is the man that would risk his neck for his brother man? Shaft! Can ya dig it? He’s a complicated man, but no one understands him but his woman. John Shaft.



Prince of Power (2010)

Written by Greg Pak
Published by Marvel Comics

While writing the Incredible Hulk, Greg Pak created a brand new hero: young genius Amadeus Cho. Able to discern quantum probabilities in a heartbeat, Cho received his own mini-series with the arrival of the Heroic Age at Marvel, and may very well be showing up soon again!



Ghost Rider (2014)

Written and illustrated by Felipe Smith
Published by Marvel Comics

What do you do with a character so tied to a culture so far out of vogue that it’s nearly embarrassing? Take him fast and make him furious. This young Latino hero may drive a car instead of the Ghost Rider’s trademark motorcycle, but he’s every bit as hard core exciting.



We Are… Robin! (2015)

Illustrated by Jorge Corona and Khary Randolph
Published by DC Comics

One of the many new books to arrive from the DC You campaign, We Are… Robin! features a fully multi-ethnic cast and art team. Led by Duke Thomas, the young Black kid who helped the Batman during Zero Year (and had the favor returned in End Game), this cast proves you don’t have to be son of the Bat to be heroes.



Birth of a Nation: A Comic Novel (2005)

Written by Aaron McGruder and Reginald Hudlin
Illustrated by Kyle Baker
Published by Three Rivers Press

A brilliant satire from the minds that created The Boondocks and Why I Hate Saturn, Birth of a Nation depicts the city of East St. Louis seceding from the United States in the wake of massive racial inequality. Dubbed “Blackland,” the new republic becomes a money-laundering center and object of the US Military’s ire.



Ms. Marvel (2013)

Edited by Sana Amanat
Published by Marvel Comics

Ms. Marvel isn’t just the brainchild of writer G. Willow Wilson. The book also gets a great deal of its vision, support, and flair from the usually invisible part of the creative team: their editor. Amanat’s own experiences as a Muslim woman of color factor into the book’s development in a big way.



Quantum and Woody (1997)

Written by Christopher Priest
Illustrated by M.D. Bright
Published by Valiant Entertainment

Dubbed “The World’s Worst Super-Hero Team,” Quantum and Woody are adopted brothers who were accidentally bathed in the energy of their father’s reactor and gained super-powers. Also, there is a goat.



Teen Titans (2010)

Written by Felicia Henderson
Published by DC Comics

With the long-awaited arrival of Static Shock to DC’s premier teen super-hero group, so too came writer Felicia Henderson to bring Dwayne McDuffie’s vision to a fully integrated DC Universe.



Secret Six (2014)

Illustrated by Ken Lashley
Published by DC Comics

Secret Six isn’t just the paragon of LGBTA diversity — it also features two African-American members of the team: Porcelain, the gender fluid anti-hero with the ability to make things brittle, and Strix, a mute victim of the Court of Owls who spent her childhood stunted in the circus.



Brotherman (1990)

Written by Dawud Anyabwile and Guy Sims
Illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile and Brian McGee
Published by Big City Entertainment

Considered an important indie influence for African-American comic writers and artists that came after, Brotherman is a rare (but well worth it to seek out) graphic novel that combined humor, cultural awareness, and self-esteem to lift up a brand new super-hero for a brand new world.



El Diablo (2008)

Written by Jai Nitz
Published by DC Comics

Introduced as a legacy character to the original El Diablo, this Latino gang leader became an unlikely Robin Hood of sorts, and eventually a member of the Suicide Squad on the side of almost-angels. He makes his big screen debut next year in the Suicide Squad film.



March: Book One (2013)

Written by Congressman John Lewis
Published by Top Shelf Productions

An autobiographical graphic novel about the struggle for civil rights from the point of view of a man who lived through it all, Book One covers John Lewis’ youth in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr., the birth of the Nashville Student Movement, and their battle to tear down segregation through nonviolent lunch counter sit-ins, building to a stunning climax on the steps of City Hall.



Persepolis (2000)

Written and illustrated by Marjane Satrapi
Published by Pantheon Books

Another autobiographical graphic novel, Persepolis has oddly enough been subject to recent calls for censorship, for its frank depiction of Iran in the wake of the Islamic revolution. Its sometimes funny, always sincere take on Satrapi’s childhood makes it one of the most acclaimed comics of the last two decades.



Steel (1997)

Written by Christopher Priest
Illustrated by Denys Cowan
Published by DC Comics

In the aftermath of Superman’s death, John Henry Irons stood up, donned a suit of armor, and filled the role as best he could. Years later, with two of the most prominent African-American creators taking over his title, the hero hit new heights and became one of DC’s longest running books featuring a character of color.



Genius (2014)

Written by Marc Bernadin
Illustrated by Afua Richardson
Published by Top Cow/Image Comics

The greatest military mind of the 21st century, Destiny Ajaye, is born in strife, surrounded by violence and combat since birth. It’s up to her to unite the gangs of South Central into a killer army and declare war on the LAPD.



Black Lightning (1977)

Illustrated by Trevor Von Eeden
Published by DC Comics

DC’s first leading African-American hero, Black Lightning’s initial appearance may feel a little dated today, but his moral code and importance to the history of representation for non-white characters cannot be oversold.



And… last, but not least… the work of Milestone Media.


Static (1993)

Written by Dwayne McDuffie and Robert L. Washington III
Published by Milestone Media/DC Comics

In 1993, Milestone Media burst onto the scene and Static was their leading hero from the start. Teenage Black kid able to ride the wave of electricity, Static went on to become one of the most recognizable African-American super-heroes ever.



Icon (1993)

Written by Dwayne McDuffie
Illustrated by M.D. Bright
Published by Milestone Media/DC Comics

A play on Superman, Icon arrived on Earth from an alien world as a baby in 1839 and mimicked the form of the first being he encountered: a Black slave woman in the South. Over 150 years later, that alien has ceased to age and became the super-powered being known as Icon, joined in his mission by his sidekick Raquel Ervin, Rocket.



Hardware (1993)

Written by Dwayne McDuffie
Illustrated by Denys Cowan
Published by Milestone Media/DC Comics

A genius inventor and child prodigy, Curtis Metcalf assumed the identity of Hardware to fight organized crime. Hardware was a key character for Milestone, interacting with all the other characters frequently, as well as Superman and Steel in the DC Universe.



Blood Syndicate (1993)

Written by Dwayne McDuffie and Ivan Velez, Jr.
Illustrated by Denys Cowan and Trevor Von Eeden
Published by Milestone Media/DC Comics

Not a team, but a super-powered gang, the Blood Syndicate is truly a multicultural group of super-humans who decided to use their powers toward the greater good. That is, if they can stop infighting.



Justice League of America (2007)

Written by Dwayne McDuffie
Published by DC Comics

Dwayne McDuffie left a brilliant legacy of comics and animation work behind when he passed away suddenly in 2011. One of his last projects, the Justice League of America comic was a bittersweet project to be sure, but harkened back to his magnificent work on the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited cartoons. It also marked a period for the League where they had a team completely made up of persons of color, with Vixen, John Stewart, Doctor Light, Firestorm, and Icon ultimately standing against the forces of evil.


Editor’s note: this list is far from exhaustive, and only narrows in on creators of color working on characters from their own ethnic backgrounds. Please feel free to add in combinations we missed (or POC creators working on POC characters not of the same race or ethnicity) in the comments below!




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  1. Matt SantoriGriffith said:

    Good to know! What’s Doc Bright’s background?

  2. NJB said:

    He’s African American. In case you didn’t know, both Priest and Bright returned for a Q2 mini with the new Valiant

  3. Keith Callbeck said:

    Christopher Priest could be a whole list himself! As well as what’s noted, as Jim Owsley he also wrote the 1983 Falcon mini and Power Man & Iron Fist.

  4. Matt SantoriGriffith said:

    Awesome! I did not know that! Added Mark to both Quantum and Woody and Icon!! Thanks so much!

  5. Matt SantoriGriffith said:

    It was a tough choice. Quantum and Woody and Black Panther screamed out at me, but it could have been SO MANY different things.

  6. Matt SantoriGriffith said:

    By the way, the Shaft series from Dynamite also has a brilliant person of color artist in Bilquis Evely, who hails from Brazil! #footnote

  7. Greg Espinoza said:

    Jimmie Robinson needs to be on this list.

  8. Matt SantoriGriffith said:

    What’s your favorite work by him? 🙂

  9. Greg Espinoza said:

    Jimmie has been fighting the good fight as an indie creator for years now, with Cyberzone, Amanda and Gunn, Evil & Malice, Code Blue, Bomb Queen, Five Weapons, and The Empty. I love the brutal over-the-top satire of Bomb Queen.

  10. Terreece Clarke said:

    Don’t forget Legend of the Mantamaji by TV director Eric Dean Seaton. It even has a live action short coming out in August. The trilogy is multicultural with Af Am male & female leads. LegendoftheMantamaji.com

    Also Kid Code by co-written by John Jennings is excellent as well.

  11. David said:

    Five Weapons is amazingly good. Looks and reads like Jimmie could be that good in his sleep.

  12. David said:

    That Shaft series is excellent. I mean seriously. a REAlly good book. Art and story.

  13. David said:

    I love Owsley/Priest’s run on PowerMan & Iron Fist. Damn, dude wrote A LOT of stories for Marvel. The Falcon Mini is my fave of the Marvel 80s Minis.

  14. David said:

    I missed out on almost all of the Milestone titles. Anyone know if they’ve been collected?

  15. jpooch said:

    I know Kyle Baker made the list already, but I want to mention his doing the art on Truth: Red White & Black from 2003.

    That series (written by Robert Morales) dealt with a lot of difficult topics, including black men being experimented on. It combined real world issues with superheroes in a way that hadn’t been seen very much at all in Big 2,comics.

    It’s also notable to me was the outrage about the very concept of the mini series that would fit right in with a lot of what we see today. Goes to show that not a whole lot seems to have changed in 12 years ago. There was a lot of worrying about a black Captain America and tarnishing Steve Rogers’ legacy. I enjoyed the series itself, but it felt more important than great in a lot of ways.

    I I was 16 when it came out & it opened up my eyes about real life history, and for that alone I found it worth mentioning

  16. jpooch said:

    Also, really cool list Matt. I hope one day you can update it with books published from 2015 on!

    I notice you mentioning McDuffie’s JLA, so I’d like to throw his short but sweet Fantastic Four run. In my opinion he was successful where many writers fail when he replaced two of the original members. Seeing a happily married Storm and Black Panther team up with Ben & Johnny was always cool to me

  17. jpooch said:

    I’d also be remiss not to mention Eric Jerome Dickey’s Storm mini. It might not fit in with this list, as the critical reception wasn’t great, but IF I remember correctly he was the first African-American to write a Storm series

  18. Matt SantoriGriffith said:

    Great additions! What are your favorite works by them?

  19. Matt SantoriGriffith said:

    I think Icon has had two collections, but I would be shocked if DC doesn’t start re-collecting all the early stuff next year, now that the relationship is re-signed.

  20. Said in Los Angeles said:

    African-American artist Steve Hughes on Lady Death. First African-American on Wizards top-10 artists.