White Guy Comics

I’m not the first person to notice that most African-American super-powered individuals have “Black” in their name somewhere (you never see “White Superman” or “White Flash” or “Pink Green Lantern”; for some reason it’s only dark-skinned people that need to have their melanin level slapped onto their super identity). But I do think I’ve found what is either the a) lamest b) most egregiously offensive or c) funniest example to date:

Black Mass

Since he’s got dark skin, by law “Black” must be part of his name. And his other defining attribute is that he’s really really big, so naturally you get the phenomenally creative moniker of “Black Mass”. I assume they first came up with “Big Black Fatty Fatty”, but decided it was just too exhausting to letter.

I mean, seriously, this is the best the creative minds at DC could do? I’ve not mentioned “Black Lightning” or “Black Panther” or “Black Racer” or any of the other dozens of ham-handed names crafted by white comics publishers for their dark-skinned characters, but … “Black Mass”?! I stand humbled before the awesome lack of creative energy that went into coming up with such an uninspiring name, and the unutterable lack of self-awareness that let them think “Wow, that rocks, we should definitely publish that.”

I only wish Marvel had caught on to how easy this super-hero naming business is, so we’d have “White Strong Guy” instead of “Juggernaut” or “Hairy Pasty Claw Man” instead of “Wolverine”. Because surely, I thought, “Black Mass” was the result of creative laziness, and not a (doubtlessly subconscious) example of subtle racism.

But then I noticed that “Black Mass” is part of a team (“The Cadre”) of super-villains. And that the name of the leader (or “boss” if you will) of this super-team is a white guy named — I am not making this up — “Overmaster”:

Black Mass and Overmaster

Seriously. “Overmaster” commands “Black Mass”. I’d write more, but my brain just exploded.

About Jeff Hebert

Jeff is a 44 year old city boy who has somehow found himself located in Colorado, fulfilling his lifetime dream of making a living drawing super-heroes all day.

8 Responses to White Guy Comics

  1. You’re forgetting that several white characters wear black and, therefore, have black in their name, eg Black Knight, Black Cat, Black Bolt, Blacklash and Black Canary, while White Tiger I (Hector Ayala) is Puerto Rican and his niece Angela Del Toro (White Tiger II aka La Tigressa Blanco) is Hispanic. Oh yes, and Austin Grossman has a white male character called Black Wolf in his novel Soon I Will Be Invincible.

  2. Ashton Jakobson

    Overmaster commands black mass….who writes these comics???? Hitler?

  3. Interesting…

    I do recall one comic where this kind of logic was challenged, although it’s been a while since I read it, and that was in one of those huge bound collections.

    During one of the Marvel ‘Two-in-one’ comics, the Thing was helping out at a scientific test where Bill Foster (aka ‘Black Goliath’) was working. Later on in the strip, Ben suggested that Foster change his codename, on the grounds (paraphrased) ‘everyone can see you’re black, and wasn’t Goliath one of the bad guys?’.

    Sadly, that’s the only counterargument I’ve ever heard of to your point…

  4. “Black Mass”… isn’t that also a name for a Satanic ritual?

  5. Yes. Yes, it is.

  6. Why is the one guy rubbing his nipple with a grin? And what’s in his mouth that his cheek is puffed like it is?

  7. What happens in The Cadre, stays in The Cadre.

  8. Ahem, the Overmaster is clearly asian.