by Terrence Sage* | AfroPunk
The following is a list of comics either ongoing or releasing this year. It is focused on either Black creative teams penning the adventures of superheroes, or comics that star Black superheroes in a prominent light!
1. Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands (DC Comics) = Writer: Tony Isabella, Artist: Clayton Henry, Colorist: Pete Pantazis, Letterer: Josh Reed
Black Lightning aka Jefferson Pierce returns to the spotlight in a six-issue miniseries that gives Cleveland a hero to cheer for. During the day, Jefferson is a high school teacher who protects his students any way he knows how. Sometimes that involves becoming Black Lightning, who is not a fan favorite with the Police Department, even though he’s the only defense against the gangs, intergalactic weapons and supervillains.
Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands features its original creator who absolutely has something to say about a 21st century Black superhero trying to do the right thing at every turn. Topics include police shootings, the pain that comes along with the destruction of the Black community, and real-world parallels that pack an emotional punch in between Jefferson being a hero to all.
With Black Lightning getting ready for his live-action debut on the CW on January 16, this miniseries acts as a preview for the character and his corner of the DCU while retaining newfound energy of being updated for the times we’re in.
2. Batman and The Signal (DC Comics) = Story: Scott Snyder and Tony Patrick, Writer: Tony Patrick, Artist: Cully Hamner, Colorist: Laura Martin, Letterer: Deron Bennett
Gotham City is a terrible place, that much is certain. We’re all well acquainted with Gotham at night… but in this new series we’re going to see a hero save Gotham during the day! Duke Thomas is The Signal, and it’s been a long journey for him since 2013. He’s an original character that played a significant role in the Batman New 52 event Zero Year, and has remained in the peripheral of several Batman titles since. He has been featured in several Batman New 52 arcs, been a main cast member in We Are Robin, and has graduated into a hero of his own design in DC Rebirth Batman and All-Star Batman backup stories.
Duke has only existed for almost five years, and in that relatively short time he’s climbed the ranks of the Bat Family. His three-issue miniseries takes everything we’ve come to know about the character and continues to progress his arc and give him his own identity by differentiating him from the other members of the family with a mystery all his own.
Cully Hamner and Laura Martin on art help sell the book on its brighter persona and style. If you’re looking for a relatively new character with an easy to follow backlog that continues to impress, Batman and The Signal is a book for you!
3. Motor Crush (Image Comics) = Writers: Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, and Babs Tarr, Artist: Babs Tarr and Cameron Stewart, Letterer: Aditya Bidikar
Do you like racing? Do you like kick ass female protagonists? If you answered yes to both or one of those questions, then Motor Crush is the series for you! Motor Crush stars Domino Swift as one of the best up and comers in a worldwide motorcycle racing league during the day. At night, she ups the ante as a racer that participates in back alley races to get some Crush, a “machine narcotic” that she needs to survive.
Motor Crush is an eye popping, lush, technology-heavy world filled with gorgeous art from Babs Tarr and Cameron Stewart. This world is compiled of vistas and dangerous streets, and as issues pass a mystery is introduced that changes the course of the series and Domino’s whole reality! If you’re looking for a series that’s off the beaten path of superheroes, look no further!
4. Luke Cage (Marvel Comics) = Writer: David Walker, Artist: Nelson Blake II, Colorist: Marcio Menyz, Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Fresh off the recent Marvel Netflix push of its Street Level Avengers comes another Luke Cage series! This time with a twist of location and purpose. David Walker takes Luke to New Orleans for a funeral and so much pops off from there! “Mysterious billionaires, a woman with a secret, amped-up gangs and a shadowy figure all lead Luke to the conclusion that there’s more to his father-figure’s death than meets the eye.”
5. Falcon (Marvel Comics) = Writer: Rodney Barnes, Artist: Joshua Cassara, Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg, Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Sam Wilson has had a hectic few months in the wake of the Marvel Event Secret Empire which saw Steve Rogers become Supreme Leader of Hydra, thanks to Cosmic Cube meddling (later revealed to be a weird twisted version of him, that is also the same Steve…. yeah it was weird) in the aftermath of the event, Sam hung up the shield for good, and with his new partner Patriot, he fights the good fight across America.
The introductory adventure sets the duo to Chicago to help quell some local gang violence. While it doesn’t always hit the right notes dialogue wise, the book’s art from Cassara is rough around the edges and gritty enough to supplement the darker parts of the title, helping sell the magical threat of Blackheart on the city.
6. Black Panther (Marvel Comics) = Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates, Artist: Brian Stelfreeze, Colorist: Laura Martin,Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
The latest iteration of the Black Panther run got a major overhaul with Ta-Nehisi Coates penning the adventures of T’Challa and company. From the deconstruction of Wakandian Ideals, to bringing up threats in the form of homegrown enemies and old-school Black Panther threats made new again, this Black Panther has a newfound focus and spotlight.
Coates takes T’Challa, his sister Shuri, and more allies and villains on different paths that develop their character into something more cultivated and worthwhile. The long-term storytelling may turn some readers off of the book, but once the story and politics of the great Wakanda get rolling, it turns into a great character-driven drama.
Marvel is releasing a lot of Black Panther related content in the coming months to prepare for the upcoming film, and this main series is just the first of many Black Panther related-titles. Notably, two other Panther comics involving Coates were canceled.
7. Rise of the Black Panther (Marvel Comics) = Writers: Evan Narcisse and Ta-Nehisi Coates, Artist: Paul Renard, Colorist: Stephane Paitreau, Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
In anticipation for the Black Panther film, revisit the origin of the Black Panther with this six-issue miniseries that highlights T’Challa and his family’s place among the Marvel Universe’s history. From io9 writer Evan Narcisse, with Ta-Nehisi Coates consulting, ROTBP takes us back into the life and times of King T’Chaka and the path that will inevitably start his son off on his own journey as the next in line to be Black Panther.
ROTBP adds to the already well-documented Wakanda mythos, and increases the usage we only hear about in the past tense in the present-day books.
8. Black Panther: Long Live The King (Marvel Comics) = Writer: Nnedi Okorafor, Artist: André Lima Araújo, Colorist: Chris O’Halloran, Letterer: ComiCraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
Part of the comiXology Originals line of exclusive digital content only available on comiXology and Kindle.
If you ever wanted to see a story where Black Panther takes on a gigantic monster over the course of six issues, here you go! Synopsis: “As the nation rebuilds in the wake of revolution, T’Challa finds his people besieged by a massive monster tearing through the country, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake!” This digital-only Black Panther is a nice breather from the political and intricate narrative in the main title. Sometimes a Panther just wants to fight giant monsters.
9. The Wild Storm: Michel Cray (DC Comics) = Writer: Bryan Hill, Artist: N. Steven Harris, Colorist: Steve Buccellato, Letterer: Simon Bowland
The first spinoff book from the newly redone Wildstorm Imprint is about one of the most bad ass Black spies around, Michael Cray. Cray is one of the many Wildstorm characters getting a new lease on life thanks to Warren Ellis reviving and methodically setting up characters for continued adventures in their own titles.
Michael Cray is a man with a brain tumor, he’s dying, or so it appears. With a countdown clock to death hanging over him, he wants to do something purposeful, and that involves killing people for good reasons. Michael Cray as a title is a character-driven thrill ride that puts its characters first and the weird world of both DC characters and new age Wild Storm weirdness second. With smart dialogue, nuanced characters, and a protagonist that continues to captivate and evolve as the twelve-issue series continues, Michael Cray is a book that scratches a murderous itch.
10. The Wicked + The Divine (Image Comics) = Writer: Kieron Gillen, Artist: Jamie McKelvie, Colorist: Matthew Wilson, Letterer: Clayton Cowles
The story of The Wicked and The Divine goes like this, “Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead.” The series stars Laura Wilson, a fan-girl of the Pantheon of God’s. By either luck or destiny she becomes a player to help solve the mystery of who framed a God for murder.
The series quickly progresses into something much more deep and terrible (for readers) because of the cast. Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson have delivered on a book that has amazed with the eye-popping art, stunned with the style and experimental issues, wowed with the size and time we get to observe this cast of God’s, and made people everywhere scream about the twists that leave us on edge for months…. only for them to do it all again with a new arc.
11. Noble (Lion Forge Comics) = Writer: Brandon Thomas, Artist: Roger Robinson, Colorist: Juan Fernandez, Letterer: Saida Temofonte
One of the newer comic book companies on the block, Lion Forge is in its infancy with Catalyst Prime, and Nobleis one of the leading titles. The story is described thusly: “One year after ‘The Event,’ missing astronaut David Powell has resurfaced! With dangerous new abilities and no memory of the man he once was. While desperately trying to regain his identity David quickly finds himself a man on the run from shadowy forces as well as his forgotten past.”
The title is a clean cut, action-packed ride that requires no prior knowledge except the free Comic Book Day issue that kicked off the universe last year.
12. Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur (Marvel Comics) = Writers: Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder, Artist: Natacha Bustos, Colorist: Tamra Bonvillain, Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
A fourth grader is the smartest person in the Marvel Universe, let’s get that out of the way. Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur is one of the most feel-good and light-hearted reads from Marvel in recent memory. It stars Lunella Lafayette, a nine-year-old Inhuman with her power being her intellect!
Things go awry when a device brings Devil Dinosaur to Lunella’s door and the two are forced to become a duo. What’s a young girl to do with a thirty foot tall partner? Beat bad guys and solve crimes in New York City. The art and coloring of this comic makes Lunella’s world all the more inviting for younger readers, and it’s perfect for them. The smartest hero in the Marvel Universe is a Black girl.
13. Spider-Man (Marvel Comics) = Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Artist: Sara Pichelli, Colorist: Justin Ponsor, Lettering: VC’s Cory Petit
Miles Morales gets a new lease on life. With the Ultimate Universe dead (recently brought back) he’s living it up in the main Marvel Universe handling school, girls, and being an Avenger! As the ‘Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man,’ the years have been a battle for Miles. From the death and reviving of his mother, the multiverse collapse of reality, to meeting our Peter Parker, Miles has been slowly elevated to big-time status, taking on the huge task of being Spider-Man.
Bendis and Sara created Miles in 2011, and since then he’s went from a young kid wrapped up in a Spider-Man mystery to becoming his own man, and even questioning what he wants to be. The series has a few low points thanks to his involvement with Civil War 2, but in the wake of Marvel Legacy, Miles has gotten better and even more dark as things get more entangled and involved in his Spider-Life.
14. Invincible Iron Man (Marvel Comics) = Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Artist: Stefano Caselli, Colorist: Marte Gracia, Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Tony Stark is out of commission, but the world still needs an Iron Man to protect it. Riri Williams has been in the rear-view of the Iron Man title for a few months prior to her debut as Ironheart. Riri hails from Chicago and through adversity, tragedy, and her intellect she gets the notice of Tony Stark. Being 15 at MIT and building your own Iron Man in your dorm can raise some eyebrows.
In the Civil War 2 aftermath, Tony Stark could no longer handle the task, and Riri was chosen to take on the role or the new Iron-clad protector. In her short time as Ironheart, she’s made her way around the Marvel Universe and although she doesn’t know it… another Iron Man is on a collision course with her and it just so happens to be Doctor Doom!
15. Abbott (BOOM! Studios) = Writer: Saladin Ahmed, Artist: Sami Kivela
Discover a supernatural crime thriller about a Black female journalist in 1970s Detroit named Elena Abbott who investigates grisly crimes. Those very crimes are the work of a dark magical force—the same force that murdered her husband 10 years ago.
Taking the case, Abbott finds herself in the cross-hairs of a mysterious power out to kill, all while navigating a harsh social environment that’s designed to protect the powerful, and prevent access to change. It’s a brand sew series that arrives in two weeks, and based on the premise, it sounds like a hard-hitting mystery that people should give a shot.
16. Superb (Lion Forge Comics) = Writer: David Walker and Sheena C. Howard, Artist: Ray Anthony-Height, Colorist: Veronica Gandini, Letterer: AW’s Tom Napolitano
Another title part of the Catalyst Prime line. Earth was saved from an asteroid, but a meteor shower changed the world forever! Synopsis: “Youngstown, Ohio, became a Level 5 impact zone, and teenagers are emerging with new superpowers! Kayla Tate has returned to Youngstown and reunited with her childhood friend, Jonah Watkins, a young man with Down syndrome. Together, they’ll uncover the mystery of the superhero and Internet sensation ‘Cosmosis’ and his nighttime battle against the supposedly-benevolent corporation known as Foresight.”
Catalyst Prime prides themselves on the diverse content, made by creators of color for a diverse fanbase, and Superb exemplifies just that.
17. Bingo Love (Image Comics) = Writer: Tee Franklin, Artist: Jenn St-Onge, Colorist: Joy San. Letterer: Cardinal Rae
Straight from the synopsis on the website:
“Bingo Love is a LGBTQ romance story that spans over 60 years. A chance meeting at church bingo in 1963 brings Hazel Johnson and Mari McCray together. Through their formative years, these two women develop feelings for each other and finally profess their love for one another. Unfortunately, these young lovebirds end up separated, as they are caught kissing by Mari’s grandmother. Being forbidden from seeing each other isn’t punishment enough as both Mari and Hazel are forced into marriages with men whom they do not love. But fate had another plan. Decades later, now in their mid-’60s, Hazel and Mari reunite again at a church bingo hall. Realizing their love for each other is still alive, what these grandmothers do next takes absolute strength and courage.”
Come on! With a plot like that how could you not want to read it?
18. Eternity (Valiant Comics) = Writer: Matt Kindt, Artist: Trevor Hairsine, Colorist: David Baron Letterer: A Larger World Studios
The Soviet Union, determined to win the Space Race, sent a man farther into the cosmos than anyone has gone before or since. Lost in the stars, he encountered something unknown. Earth is about to meet a new god, and he’s a communist.
Abram Adams is a god, and also a father. How does one deal with parenthood when forces halfway across the universe plot to usurp your happiness? Godhood and parenthood collide when Earth’s resident Russian god does any and everything to protect his legacy and discover something beyond our galaxy in this mind-bending reality warp of a series.
19. The Terrifics (DC Comics) = Writer: Jeff Lemire, Artist: Ivan Reis, Colorist: Marcelo Maiolo
DC’s third smartestmMan is back and better than ever! One of the titles in the “New Age of DC Heroes” has Michael Holt aka Mister Terrific leading an all new team of Heroes bound together by fate and destiny. Mister Terrific, Metamorpho, Phantom Girl, and Plastic Man are The Terrifics. In the wake of the DC Event Metal, these four heroes will have to rely on themselves to save the day and each other all the while solving mysteries that come their way.
After Marvel shipped the Fantastic Four First Family off to reconstruct the Multiverse, it’s a swift and hilarious move by DC to create their own answer while the Marvel group has been sidelined. With a Black Man leading a team of heroes, the world is in good hands.
20. Silencer (DC Comics) = Writer: Dan Abnett, Artist: John Romita Jr., Letterer: Tom Napolitano
Another title in the “New Age of DC Heroes” line of comics is about a Black mom who is one of the DC Universe’s deadliest assassins… that you’ve never heard of. Super-strong, highly trained, and armed with fighting prowess and meta-human abilities, the Silencer is nearly invincible in battle.
After decades as Leviathan’s chief assassin, Honor Guest did her time as a warrior and got out. Now she lives a normal life with a normal baby boy in a normal house on a normal street. The past isn’t as kind as her new life though, as her old one has returned in need of her old services and a new mission… and Talia Al Ghul demands it.
BONUS 1. The American Way: TAATB (DC Comics) = Writer: John Ridley, Artist: Georges Jeanty, Colorist: Nick Filardi, Letterer: Travis Lanham
John Ridley, a legendary director and writer (Oscar-winning screenwriter of 12 Years a Slave and creator of TV’s American Crime) tries his hand in comic books once more, charting the sequel to the story this creative team began in 2011. The American Way is a story of an American at war with superheroes caught in the middle and doing what they do best.
Synopsis: “It’s been a decade since the Civil Defense Corps was exposed as a fraud created by the U.S. Government for propaganda purposes. While most of the heroes who survived the catastrophe have retired or disappeared, the New American still carries on, trying to keep communities safe amid the social turmoil of the 1970s. But with the nation split in two over civil rights and the changing political landscape, this isn’t easy.”
This miniseries continues with the same amount of realism and politically charged energy the first one brought on and more. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
BONUS 2. Milestone Comics Revival (DC Comics) = Milestone Comics is making a comeback this year and while the details of the launch remain under wraps other than “Spring 2018” a press release from DC Comics does shine some light on the nature on some of the titles that will be happening under the Milestone Imprint
The launch book will be titled MILESTONE, and will create the foundation and over-arching storyline for future Earth M titles. The series, from writer Reginald Hudlin and artist Ken Lashley, will focus on Icon and Rocket, and will feature other classic Dakota Universe characters from the ‘90s:
STATIC SHOCK, an ongoing series from Hudlin and Kyle Baker, focusing on 14-year-old Virgil Hawkins, a kid with a love of comics and science who develops dazzling, electric superpowers.
DUO, a new Earth M miniseries written by Greg Pak, introducing the twisted story of a couple sharing one body for eternity.
LOVE ARMY, a miniseries with story by Hudlin, about a secret army of women with amazing abilities and super-strength, sworn to protect the planet.
EARTH M, an anthology featuring a mysterious new vigilante character.
This has been a breakdown of some of the biggest and brightest Black comic books that are ongoing or will be coming out this year! I hope readers find something new to pick up among the list.
This post is in partnership with BlackYouthProject.
*Terrence Sage is a writer who talks about everything from the artistic, music, and creative. Dabbles in pop culture on the weekends and a life long reader of comic books.