Comic book superheroes have always worn very colorful costumes, but it was only in the 1960’s that the first superheroes of color made their cartoon debuts.
The world was changing, and the superheroes responsible for protecting it had to change too. Real life heroes who fought for the rights of African-American, Native American and women’s rights deserved to have counterparts in the comic world.
While you may never have heard of them before, the following superheroes broke new ground. They had different colored skin, different heritages, different beliefs, and different languages.
The following list details the lives and times of the first African-American superhero, the first African-American female superhero, and the first Native American superhero. These were the men and women whose bravery and selflessness proved that the heart of a hero is what really counts - not the color of his or her skin.
1. Black Panther
The first black superhero, Marvel Comics created Black Panther in the late 1960’s. With super-human senses, incredible strength and the ability to grow razor-sharp claws, Black Panther is the ruler of a fictional African country called Wakanda. After leading his people to great economic power, Black Panther began to travel back and forth between the United States of America and his home country, fighting injustice wherever it raised it’s ugly head.
Although Black Panther is not as well-known as Marvel Comics’ other classic heroes, he might hit mainstream media soon. According to unconfirmed reports, Marvel Studios has hired a writer to work on the screenplay for a Black Panther movie.
Superheroes who followed: Several kick-butt black superheroes have followed in Black Panther’s footsteps, including: Falcon, a Harlem native who escapes a life of crime to become Captain America’s greatest ally and a member of the Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D., Defenders, etc., and Green Lantern John Stewart, who proved himself as one of the toughest men to ever wear the green ring.
Most people may immediately think of Vixen as the first black female superhero. Ten years before Vixen appeared in ink, however, Skywald Publications created Butterfly. A Las Vegas entertainer in her spare time, Butterfly was really a butt-kicking superhero who brought law and order to Sin City.
While Butterfly does not seem to have any powers besides her impressive combat skills, her ingenuity and her bravery, she has some pretty awesome gadgets to help her take down the bad guys. Equipped with a skimpy outfit, an anti-gravity device that allows her to fly and blinding strobe lights embedded in her cape, Butterfly meant business.
Superheroes who followed: After Butterfly came a wave of black female superheroes, including: Storm, the white-haired, blue-eyed magical African princess who was a member of the X-Men, and Bumblebee, who has been a member of the Teen Titans since 1977.
3. Red Wolf
The first Native American superhero, Red Wolf possessed superhuman strength and the ability to call for both his coup stick and his wolf companion, Lobo, at will. Red Wolf is also an excellent tracker and has no fear of heights.
After leaving his people, Red Wolf initially believed that the spirit of Owayodata was cursing him for abandoning his home and moving to the city. After his first good deed, however, Red Wolf realizes that the spirits were actually encouraging him to fight crime and lawlessness.
Superheroes who came after: While Native Americans may still be one of the lest-represented minorities in the superhero realm, some amazing heroes came to follow the same path of righteousness as Red Wolf, including: Forge, a member of the Cheyenne tribe who was frequently connected with the X-Men, and Jason Strongbow, a member of the Navajo tribe who was known as American Eagle.