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The politics of political comics fantasy

David Horne

By David L. Horne

Last week in San Diego, for those deeply invested in the digital gaming and comic book world, eyes were glistening and active attention-spans were constantly switching gears as the Comic-Con fair and expose’ was presented live for the first time in two years, due to COVID-19.

For many in the Black community who continually seek some respite from the daily depravities of race, events like Comic-con and comic books/graphic books in general are a major coping mechanism.

Already there has been a constant buzz in the Black community (worldwide, actually) about whether the Wakanda Marvel comics universe would continue after the untimely death of the charismatic Chadwick Boseman, the King T’Challa -Black Panther character from Wakanda.

The worldwide impact of the comic book series and the first Black Panther movie a few years ago have had millions of fans waiting breathlessly for more or at least for news of when more was coming. Well-known authors in other realms, like Ta-Nehisi Coates for instance, have even entered the fray by authoring new Black Panther books and graphic novels.

And news of Black Panther: “Wakanda Forever,” the new movie, was gratefully provided to that hungry public. The movie—minus Mr. Boseman or any replacement for him—was nearly in the can, and the first big trailer of the coming film was shown publicly last weekend. It is still expected to premiere before the end of 2022, as promised.

But another important announcement for Black comic-heads—for DC Comics that is, Marvel’s (and the Black Panther fandom’s) main rival—was also made. There’s another Black hero, well, anti-hero on the horizon. In the DC comics world, that character is called (Teth-Adam) Black Adam and in the movie which presents his origin story, he is played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Black Adam is presented as a Black super-hero figure from Egypt who was once a slave and a prisoner (for 5,000 years), and who now, liberated from bondage, is a god-like figure (similar to Thor) with enormous strength, agility and moxie. He takes vengeance on the world of people that enslaved him, punishing both the bad guys and the good ones who irritate him, and basically moves through the planet and the universe free to do whatever he wants.

He is the character many Black youth wanted the Black Panther to be. Someone to pay Whites back for their long-term hostility against Black people, and to fly away unscathed after the Big Payback. What good is Wakanda’s Vibranium miracle, many of them mused both silently and loudly, if you can’t use it to punish the wicked and dropkick the KKK?

So if fantasy retribution is your thing, Comic-Con just announced the imminent arrival of the new movie, “Black Adam,” starting in October.  Clearly, we should all see it. We should all see the new Black Panther film too. It seems between the two we’ll get a depiction of reasoned problem-solving and strength-through-diplomacy involving Black over White issues in the new Black Panther flick, and a devil-may-care beat down by Black Adam of all who try to stand against him, rightly or wrongly.

“Black Adam” will be the new hip hop-style hero, championing whoever he pleases, and f-u if you don’t like it.

Black art and artistry are supposed to lead us to higher ground, and maybe even to the promised land. Hopefully, that is what will happen here.

Short of seeing Trump and his minions marched off to prison, the new comic-based movies will just have to do.

Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.

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