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Black Romance in Comics: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Written by Greg Anderson-Elysee on Monday, February 13 2017 and posted in Columns

Black Romance in Comics: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

In celebration of Black History Month and Valentine's Day, the Griotvine looks at the Good, the Bad, and Ugly of Black romance representation in comics (mainstream and indie)



February is Black History Month and this week many people will be celebrating Valentine's Day. While I'm an advocate for love of all colors and genders, growing up as a Black reader looking for more representation, it always made me feel good to see actual Black couples in comics... because to be honest, they're really far and in between and hard to find... Like a lot of these Black couples on this list. Without getting into too much of the politics, this list will showcase Black love from various books, from Marvel, DC, and some indie books. The good, the bad, and the unfortunate ugly. Fair warning, some of my commentary will show up because quite frankly... this IS the Griotvine, and that also being said, as one of my objectives with the Griotvine is to showcase indie creators and books, I'll be providing links to where some can purchase and support such books... Let's jump right in...

 

VoodooMonica

BROTHER/DOCTOR VOODOO & MONICA RAMBEAU (CAPTAIN MARVEL/SPECTRUM - MARVEL COMICS

Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, the romance between Doctor Voodoo and former Captain Marvel Monica Rambeau was short lived but very fun to watch. In his stories, Jericho Drumm have always had a weird history with women, but here his weirdness helped add some dimensions and hilarity between him and Monica. Monica and Jericho met working together to help victims and survivors of Hurricane Katrina, a devastating event that affected their hometown of New Orleans. After spending time helping their town, they would eventually have dinner and sleep with each other. Voodoo's quick growing feelings would swiftly scare Monica away. Voodoo would then travel to New York City, Monica's then current place of residence, for business reasons, but not without sending Monica a Vodou love poppet and zombies delivering flowers at her doorsteps. Despite her constantly pushing Voodoo away, Monica and Voodoo found it hard to resist each other and frequently found themselves succumbing to their feelings. The two haven't been seen together since nor have we seen Monica's reaction to when Voodoo briefly passed away but who knows what the future holds now that Voodoo has been back as a member of Uncanny Avengers... but Monica seems to be getting rather cozy with her Ultimates team mate, Blue Marvel... hmm...

 

Dusu

DUSU AND IDANYA - STRANGER COMICS

In the land of Asunda created by Sebastian A. Jones and Christopher Garner, a human child was born of a woman. That child would be found in the arms of his dead mother by a group of wild elves called the Galemren and raised as their own and be named Dusu. He would be adopted by the chieftain of Galemren and trained to hunt and worship as the Galemren, despite growing up feeling like an outsider and constantly being pushed around and insulted by his adoptive brother, Waso. Despite being unable to move and hunt as an elf, something was different inside of Dusu. Dusu possesses a spirit of a beast that once unleashes becomes dangerous, both seen as curse and a gift by the deity the Galemren worships, Powisienne. One day, upon hunting with his brother, Waso, Dusu saves a beautiful young woman, named Idanya, and her little brother. It is the first time he has met a human woman and he is drawn by her, finally people of his kind. The curiosity would lead to him traveling to her land and would lead to a love and understanding between the two that feels natural despite their differences in world, background, and upbringing. So much so that Idanya is unphased when she learns about this dangerous spiritual beast inside of Dusu... her only instinct is to care and love him and be there for his return when he departs to understand his purpose, and she will wait for him with their child to come.

http://www.strangercomics.com/product/dusu-1/

 

CYBORG Sarah

CYBORG AND SARAH CHARLES - DC COMICS

Sarah Charles came into Cyborg's life when his cybernetic parts were replaced with plastic and was his active and tough physical therapist. Despite her being tough on Cyborg, their attraction was undeniable and that attraction would grow into full out romance. Throughout their union, the couple would face many hardships, such as the typical long distance relationship when Sarah is offered a scientist position at a separate S.T.A.R. Labs on the West Coast and but when Cyborg's body and soul was fused with the Technis, technological aliens that came to Earth, who turned him into a new being called Cyberion, he would leave Sarah devastated when he decided to go with them. When Cyborg returned to Earth, he was devastated to find out that Sarah had connected with a new man, DeShaun, another fellow scientist. Avoiding the cliche "assholish new boyfriend," DeShaun would prove to be a charming and wonderful guy, so much so that when DeShaun and Sarah would eventually marry, Cyborg was his best man.

With the reboot of the Nu52, Sarah was a scientist working with Silas Stone, Cyborg's father, turning Victor into Cyborg and helped him cope with his depression and figuring out his new body. The two would continue to blossom their friendship and the potential for romance was undeniable. It's especially interesting seeing what could possibly be done with Cyborg's depression and if he has "the parts" to please Sarah... but at some point, thanks to writer David Walker, Cyborg discovers an ability to shift into a human form. Currently in John Semper Jr.'s run, Cyborg and Sarah aren't together, but he is currently with Variant, a former CIA agent who was victim to a bomb and was rebuilt with the same parts and the same procedures as Cyborg.

 

monetsynch

MONET AND SYNCH - MARVEL COMICS

Monet and Synch represented the definition of the belief that "opposites attract." Everett Thomas, aka Synch, was the charismatic but level headed and mature member of Generation X while Monet St. Croix was the rich, popular, and rather snobby member who gave headmaster Emma Frost a run for her money. Not many can say that. Skipping through convoluted story arcs behind Monet (rivaling Psylocke's annoying body swapping arc), she would eventually reveal her feelings to Synch after her back and forth rivalry with Jubilee, who also had a crush on our boy, Everett. It seem Jubilee and Synch would be the couple to be, even being married in a possible alternate future (this is X-Men, people) but Monet would be the one to steal his affections, which would show even more dimensions and personality from Monet, including a romantic softer side. Unfortunately their romance would be cut short when Emma Frost's sister, Adrienne, would target her school, planting bombs as revenge against her. Heroic Synch would find himself saving a group of innocent children, covering a bomb and injuring himself in the process. Monet, being a few seconds too late to reach him, held a dying Synch in her arms.

(Laughs) C'mon, guys, he's a Black male mutant in an X-Men book. Even Deadpool could have told Monet our boy, Everett, wasn't gonna last.

 

EXO

E.X.O. AND FURY - YOUNEEK STUDIOS

In the book E.X.O - The Legend Of Wale Williams by Roye Okupe, E.X.O. (Wale Williams) and Fury (Zahra Martins) are the ultimate on again, off again of superhero couples. But as shaky as their long lasting relationship has been, their devotion towards the protection of Lagoon City, their home, always seems to be the glue that ultimately seals their bond. After all, the only thing stronger than their love for one another, is a constant desire to keep their city and to a larger extent country safe.

http://youneekstudios.com/exo/

 

Storm TchallaBLACK PANTHER AND STORM - MARVEL COMICS

Probably the most beloved, most popular, and most controversial of all the couples on this list. T'Challa and Storm first met as children when T'Challa was traveling Africa as part of his training to become king of his country, Wakanda. After getting into some trouble, Storm and T'Challa traveled together until separating and reuniting as adults. By then T'Challa became the Black Panther and King of Wakanda and Ororo became Storm of the X-Men. Despite not seeing each other as often as fans would like, the two were showcased as a caring and mature relationship under Christopher Priest's run on Black Panther and were quickly engaged in Reginald Hudlin's run. The marriage became the highest profile Black romance in comic books and despite some solid writing from other writers like Dwayne McDuffie, Chris Yost, and David Liss, there were some not so stellar stuff written by Jason Aaron and Warren Ellis concerning their romance. Eventually, due to Marvel's constant need to remove Storm from the X-books to be with T'Challa, Marvel would eventually divorce the couple after pitting them against each other into a childish-like, domestic violence inspired scene in front of all their Black citizens of the country they ruled over.

Regardless of how the pairing broke up, for a time many Black readers found a power couple actually living out Xavier's dream of human/mutant co-existence.

 

nancyandchuck

NANCY WOODS AND CHUCK CLAYTON - ARCHIE COMICS

Chuck and Nancy are the prominent Black couple of Archie comics. Chuck and Nancy were created to add some diversity to Riverdale. Chuck is one of the star football players of Riverdale High, his father being the Coach, while Nancy is the popular cheerleader with an interest for shopping and hanging out with her girls, Veronica and Betty. The two would eventually become boyfriend and girlfriend and unlike their friends who were hooking up and breaking up as traditional and constant regularity, Chuck and Nancy have remained devoted to each other (although in the earlier books it was due to the controversy of having any interracial pairings). Despite their devotion to each other, the pairing isn't without their issues (like any romance). Chuck's love for the arts and cartooning has often led him to forget dates and fights with Nancy, which I'm sure a lot of artists can relate to. Despite this, he would try to find time to spend with her to make their relationship work while Nancy herself would be understanding in his passion for arts, her being an aspiring fashion designer with her own interest for the arts.

 

MalBumblebee

MAL DUNCAN AND BUMBLEBEE - DC COMICS

Mal Duncan joined the Teen Titans after helping them against a street gang. Feeling rather worthless due to being on a superhero team without any superpowers, his brainy girlfriend, Karen Beecher, would create a power suit and become the Bumblebee. As Bumblebee, she would attack the Teen Titans as a way of proving Mal's worthiness of the team. Weird plan, if you ask me, but it not only worked to help Mal overcome his inferiority, but it would also cement Bumblebee as a member of the team after impressing the Titans. The two would continue their romance on the team and eventually leave the group, run a business together, and to top it all off: marry. After some rough patches and growing distant overtime, the two would eventually divorce, but luckily for us readers, not for long. In the recent Rebirth continuity, the two would reunite, reconcile and remarry, and have a child. Yaaay!

 

Ayo Aneka

AYO AND ANEKA - MARVEL COMICS

Picture this... it's 2016 and we are introduced to the first Black lesbian couple in mainstream comics... And good luck finding a Black gay male couple in mainstream books... Enough about that.

Last year Ta'Nehisi Coates became the writer of what would soon be a critical hit but a divisive Black Panther run among fans. Within the comics itself, we meet Ayo and Aneka. Aneka was once a lead commander and combat instructor of the Dora Milaje, a female army of the Wakandan government, many of them acting as bodyguards for Black Panther and were even potential wives. The Doras as a whole were women from different tribes in Wakanda and served as political tools for peace and unity among Wakandans. Aneka, unfortunately gets imprisoned and tried due to attempting to protect powerless women and girls from being abused and raped, killing a man who preyed on these women. Ayo, also a Dora Milaje, argued all she could to the royal family, but the decision was made: Aneka was set to be punished. Ayo, driven by anger and love, took a prototype suit and went to save her sister in arms, breaking her out of prison and revealing to us the love and romance between the two. The couple would team up and become the Midnight Angels, roaming through Wakanda as defenders for women while continually questioning T'Challa and his council and their decisions, or lack rather the lack of order and justice concerning the women in their country.

As stated above, while this run has been rather divisive... I can't help but at least be happy to see such a strong, ride-or-die queer Black pairing in a critically acclaimed "Black book."

 

virgil kiss page

VIRGIL AND ERWAN - IMAGE COMICS

Another queer romance. I mentioned in the last entry above about the difficulty in finding a Black queer male romance in mainstream comics, here's a pretty solid one from the indie scene. Written by Midnighter's Steve Orlando, Virgil is a essential a standard bad-ass tale of a man going on a rampage looking to save his lover who was kidnapped. The plot, as stated, is standard and has been done before... but how often has it been done when it's a male fighting tooth and nails and hell and back for his boyfriend? The story takes place in Jamaica, a country where sadly toxic masculinity runs rampant and in that, homophobia. Jamaica is reportedly known as one of the most homophobic countries in the world, death being seen as a constant "solution" to anything considered queer. In this story, our protagonist, Virgil, is a cop who hides his sexuality and has to be with his lover, Erwan, in secret. Unfortunately, accidentally leaving his phone on his desk, his co-worker learns the truth and outs Virgil. This leads to the death of important people in Virgil's life and the kidnapping of Erwan. The book follows Virgil in a violent journey, going all through out Jamaica looking for his boyfriend and in a country that hates his kind.

While the general main plot is nothing new, I'm sure many queer readers would find some of this book rather cathartic and refreshing to read. It's not often you get a story of this caliber with a gay male lead... a Black one at that.

Amazon

 

Myth Smith

MYTH SMITH AND MAKENA ANI - MYTHWORLDE MEDIA

Myth Smith was born at a nexus point between the "real" world and Next Door -- the place magic comes from. As a result, he's been tasked with maintaining the necessary balance between these two realms and bounces back and forth between them on his many madcap escapades. Makeba Ani hails from one of the innumerable subsections of Next Door. She uses her hereditary powers to aid her in her quest to reunite her scattered family and reclaim her stolen Queendom. Her fierceness on the battlefield has earned her the nickname Makeba the Unconquerable.

Though their chemistry and mutual attraction are undeniable, their obligations keep them from being in a more permanent relationship (that and the fact they are rarely on the same plane of existence). For now they've agreed to a "VERY long distance friends-with-benefits" arrangement.

https://www.facebook.com/MythworldeMedia/

 

Stealth

STEALTH AND ASHLEY - STUDIO EFX

When the story of Stealth by William Satterwhite starts, our protagonist Allen and Ashley are friends. While Allen harbors secret feelings for her, Ashley is unfortunately dating one of Allen's friends until she discovers her boyfriend cheating on her right before her birthday. Despite continuing to be friends, Ashley regularly shows frustration when Allen has to secretly rush off to superhero business or arrive late at their meetings and get togethers. Even when Allen starts to show interest in another girl, Ashley shows support but deep down she reveals to be rather jealous of the pairing. When Allen is forced to deal with an assassination attempt on Mayoral candidate Antonio Anderson at the Super Scholars luncheon, he is assisted by another speedster in a similar (but not identical) suit as his and is shocked to see him also using a freeze blast... this speedster would be revealed to be Allen and Ashley's son from the future.

In the Heroes Ignited timeline that takes place five years down the line, Ashley is shown to still be a part of Allen's life, though the full extent of which is as yet unrevealed.

http://www.indyplanet.us/product/132974/

Peep Game Comix - Digital

 

 

Spawn and Wanda

SPAWN (AL SIMMONS, WANDA BLAKE, TERRY FITZGERALD) - IMAGE COMICS

Wooo boy! This one's a bit of a doozy. Now yes, there are three names involved there, and no, it's not a polyamorous relationship (although... that would have been an interesting angle). As most readers who know much about Spawn knows, the classic tale goes that Al Simmons was a ruthless and immoral member of the CIA under his boss, Jason Wynn, written and created by Todd McFarlane. Wynn would eventually betray Simmons, sending his soul to Hell. Wishing only to be reunited with his wife, Wanda, Al made a deal to lead Malebolgia's army if he would be returned to Earth to his wife... And so he did... only his body was burnt, making him completely unrecognizable, and to make matters worse, 5 years had past and Wanda was now married to Al's best friend, Terry Fitzgerald, also with a adorable baby girl, Cyan, a child Al couldn't give Wanda. The majority of Spawn's run had Al consistently pining over his love for Wanda, attempting to move on while having to fight against the forces of Heaven and Hell and everything in between... All the while, everything constantly fell back to Al's love and devotion for Wanda and his conflicting feelings concerning his best friend now being married to her. All the while, Terry had to deal with his best friend being back from the dead and feeling like he'd never match up to Wanda's love for Al.

There's so much drama in the story of Spawn, Wanda, and Terry. At one point, new writer at the time David Hine, revealed that Al and Wanda were in fact destined to be together, but that is due to Mammon, a manipulative agent of Hell, putting Wanda and Al together, Wanda's ancestor being a Hellspawn; Al being revealed as an abusive husband who killed his child when Wanda was pregnant, that child being used by Mammon to become a powerful evil Hellspawn with Al's and Wanda's Hellspawn bloodline; Terry and Wanda's twins initially being portrayed as demonic only to to be revealed to be God and Satan cursed into the twins bodies due to their constant bickering and warring... Sheesh... A love to conquer Heaven and Hell, y'all! That was a fun run with all those reveals, though!

 

Route3

SEAN ANDERSON AND SAMIE TOWNS - ROUTE 3

Sometimes that special someone comes along when you least expect it. The same rings true for Samie Towns and Sean Anderson of Route 3 by Robert Jeffrey. Sean is the quiet, nerdy guy who often keeps to himself while Samie is introduced as his brainy and more socially adept classmate who felt just as much at home perusing the aisles of a comic book shop as checking out the latest high school basketball game. While some saw a loner who withdrew further into himself by the death of his mother, Samie saw a friend in need, a nice guy who needed a friend, or heck, maybe even more. Too bad some pesky super abilities and world saving prophecies had to get in the way of a burgeoning romance. Samie and Sean are written as the famous "What If?" or "What Will Be..." of Route 3.

http://peepgamecomix.com/product/route-3-1/

 

John and Fatality

JOHN STEWART (GREEN LANTERN) AND FATALITY - DC COMICS

Yrra Cynril was the eldest daughter of the the ruling royal family of the planet Xanshi, a planet that was under the protection of Green Lantern, John Stewart. At the time, Stewart was very arrogant, his arrogance causing him to accidentally cause the destruction of Xanshi. This plot line would eventually further develop John Stewart complexity, humbling him and making him the moral and upstanding character he is today (despite DC having some issues through various periods seemingly not knowing what to do with him). At the time, Yrra was in another world, Okaara, training and educating herself to become a warrior and upon hearing her planet was destroyed by a Green Lantern, she made it her duty and life mission to make the Green Lanterns pay. She was a prominent enemy of Kyle Raynor, the last Green Lantern at the time, and she would eventually learn it was John Stewart who destroyed Xanshi. At the time of Stewart being handicapped and in a wheelchair, she would find and torture John and his girlfriend at the time and continue to torment John further. Among her time as a villain, she would have her own power ring, become a Yellow Lantern, and would eventually become a member of the Star Sapphire Corp, a corp that used the power of Love. Upon joining their ranks, she pursued John and forgave him for the destruction of her home and traveled and spent time with him. Despite their rocky past as sworn enemies, the two developed a love and support for each other, Yrra continuing telling John to forgive himself for his past errors and mistakes. Despite their time together, growing and bonding, Yrra would eventually lose her Sapphire power ring... Prepare yourself... Yrra stabs John in the heart (literally and figuratively) and reveals that she never truly loved John, but it was the ring that made her act against her will, now making her not only an enemy of John again, but now of the Star Sapphires.

Ouch. As a reader, while the T'Challa and Storm break up made me angry, this break up literally broke my heart reading after growing so in love with how well written this pairing was. Damn you, writer Van Jensen!

 

Vescell

MAURICE BARRINO, MACHI, AND AVERY - IMAGE COMICS

I'm all for seeing some non-traditional pairings that reflect the diversity of what we have in reality. The comic book Vescell, written by Enrique Carrion, showcased one that isn't common in books, especially in Black led comics. Along with a Black Latino male lead surrounded in a world of magic and science fiction, Vescell followed versatile supernatural Secret Agent Mauricio Barrino in a polygamist relationship, a union that in reality is seen as taboo despite many people practicing it (though not always open about it due to traditional societal norms). Mauricio is a man always in love and in danger. His love, Machi, is a winged fairy-angel and his heart's tribulation is Avery, a bodiless spirit who must posses others' bodies since her's is lost. The love triad creates quite an open relationship of love and trust, but also intrigue and danger as they get tangled in the missions of Mauricio's employers.

https://www.comixology.co.uk/Vescell-1/digital-comic/14333

 

SAM AND miSTY

MISTY KNIGHT AND SAM WILSON (FALCON, CAPTAIN AMERICA) - MARVEL COMICS

I'll be honest... this pairing scares me. But before I can really get into that, as many of us know, Sam Wilson, most famously known as the Falcon, Captain America Steve Roger's best friend and partner (often seen as "sidekick"), has taken the mantle of Captain America, shield and all. Upon his mission to stop Hydra with their 103254124th evil plan, Misty Knight, everyone's favorite Black female badass, is undercover and teams up with Sam to help him stop New Hydra's plan. This would be the beginning of their partnership, Knight helping Sam with no only his missions but his self doubts concerning his being the new Captain America. Knight is continually being his voice of reason and that kick in the butt to get him up in the morning and do his duties when he's feeling down while constantly having to remind him and readers that she is no one's sidekick and she will check Sam when he needs to be checked... which she does on a constant basis.

Misty and Sam are the current Black It couple in mainstream comic books. Quite frankly, I love this pairing. I really do. But can you blame me for being scared of this pairing after reading this list and seeing the history of Black romances in the Big 2 books? I'm still traumatized by Storm/T'Challa and John/Fatality. What happens when Nick Spencer stops writing these two together and when new audiences catches wind of Misty and Iron Fist's romance in the upcoming Netflix crossovers? Nah, Big 2, y'all not catching me this time...

 

OKAY... I need something positive to end this with... let's see what positive Black love I have left... of course, a nice Indie one...

 

Bouncer and Ife

THE BOUNCER AND IFE - RAT RONIN

Written and drawn by Chuck Collins, Bounce is a web series turned print about a bouncer (known only as The Bouncer) who loves whiskey and spouts philosophical ideology and quotes while having to deal with idiotic customers, many of them drunks and bigots and sometimes even demons.

After not liking each other initially, The Bouncer and Ife would eventually discover that they had a lot in common, from obscure movie references to drinking the same whiskey to their cynicism and hatred for stupidity. The real connection between them, though, would be hope, balance, and love, the three things that seem unattainable in this world. The Bouncer would prove his love for Ife after meeting her abusive ex-boyfriend, Max Maelstrom. After being defeated by Max, the Bouncer sought after and accepted the power from Ogoun, the God of War, defeating Max but not without nearly being taken over by the immense power. Ife's love would reveal to be powerful enough to bring the Bouncer back to her.

http://www.bouncethecomic.com/store/

 

So what are your thoughts on this list of representation of Black romances? What are your thoughts on representation of Black romances as a whole, especially pertaining to mainstream comics vs Indie comics? Any particular favorites, least favorites? Any you would have liked to see included? 

 





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About the Author - Greg Anderson-Elysee


Gregory Anderson-Elysee is a Brooklyn born and based filmmaker (director and editor), playwright, comic book writer, model, and part time actor. He was one of the first writers and interviewers of The Outhouse. He is the writer and creator of the upcoming book Is'nana the Were-Spider. He can be found on Twitter and Facebook.


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