Recently black comic book readers were titillated by the announcement of the new “Mighty Avengers” series due out in September. The line-up boast such Black Heroes as Luke Cage, Monica Rambeau; now known as “Spectrum”, Blue Marvel, Falcon, and Black/Hispanic Victor Alvarez; the new Powerman. Finishing out the team are the Superior Spider Man, She-Hulk, White Tiger (Ava Ayala), and a new Ronin (Alexei Shostakov). Although a “Black” Avengers team was talked about, the powers that be didn’t want to put together an all-black cast, which executive editor, Tom Brevoort said would be ghettoizing (his words) and artificial. He went on to say that putting an all-black team together would feel “fake” because it keeps them away from other characters. Finally, he says that the late Dwayne McDuffie was a major influence in the creation of the team. McDuffie wanted a team that was 50% non-white and non-male. All in all, a team with a good racial and gender mix. But does this warrant the team being called the Black Avengers?
In the whole of Avengers history, including the New Avengers, Secret Avengers, Uncanny Avengers, Young Avengers, and the Avengers Resistance, there have only been 19 Black men and women on the roster. Of the 19, only 4 are women, and only one of those is currently active, and another one slated to see action this year. Of the 15 men, 5 are active, with another 5 due to see service this year. With all these characters to choose from, I asked myself, if a real Black Avengers team could have been chosen.
It should be noted that this isn’t the first time the title “Black Avengers” has been thrown around. Writer Christopher Priest is quoted as saying his limited series, “The Crew” flirted with the name “Black Avengers” at one point, and writer Reginald Hudlin, during his run on Black Panther, teamed a group of black heroes together, which included Luke Cage and Photon, that had the makings of an all-black team, and even in later issues, included Luke Cage speaking to his wife about a Black Avengers team. These earlier jabs at the idea seem to have kept the fires stoked for a team with a predominate make-up of Black Heroes.
To their credit, two characters that started strong, Blue Marvel and Powerman have been brought back, and after a long hiatus, we see the reemergence of Monica Rambeau, now called Spectrum. All can be considered pleasant surprises to be sure. The one addition that seems forced would be the Falcon, who seems to show up everywhere. But even with their inclusion, this may qualify them as black, but as Avengers?
During the Dark Reign period, as Norman Osborn contemplated his “Dark Avengers” squad, he, with the help of Ares, figured out the “formula” for putting together the perfect Avengers team. That formula consisted of positions labeled the Knight and the Soldier. Or rather the symbolism; represented by Captain America and Iron Man; that they stood for. This was the motivating factor behind his “Iron Patriot” persona and him trying to make his son into the next Captain America, called “American Son”. Using Norman’s formula, could we have come up with a different team?
It should be noted that of all the teams to call themselves “Avengers”, the Resistance squad boasted the largest number of active blacks on its squad (4). The new team of Avengers will boast 5. The relevance of this comes in the fact that between 1960 and 2000, there were only 6 black members total. From that we can glean that maybe times are changing. Maybe. And if times are changing, maybe an all-black squad isn’t so fake or ghetto after all.
Here is the complete list of Black Heroes that have called themselves “Avengers”. As you browse this list, see if you can put together your own team. Who knows, you may come up with a better one.
List of Black Avengers
Black Panther– joined in the 60’s- currently member of New Avengers/Illuminati
The Falcon– joined in the 70’s- Mighty Avengers 2013
Captain Marvel/Photon– joined in the 80’s- Mighty Avengers 2013
War Machine/Iron Patriot/Iron Man– joined West Coast Avengers in the 80’s- currently member of Secret Avengers
Rage– joined in 90’s, membership revoked, joined Avengers Resistance 2008
Triathlon/3-D Man– joined in 2000- currently with Agents of Atlas
Luke Cage– joined in 2005- New Avengers- joined Mighty Avengers 2013
The Patriot– founding member Young Avengers- 2005
Night Thrasher II/Bandit- Avengers Resistance- 2008
Debrii– Avengers Resistance- 2008
The Gauntlet– Avengers Resistance- 2009
Storm– joined in 2011 during the Shattered Heroes story line
Captain Universe– Uncanny Avengers 2012
Sunspot– Uncanny Avengers- 2012
Eden Fesi– Uncanny Avengers- 2012
Nick Fury Jr– Secret Avengers- 2012
Prodigy– Young Avengers 2013
Blue Marvel– Mighty Avengers 2013
Power Man– Mighty Avengers 2013