It’s February and while people are rummaging for loose change underneath the couch cushions to get their significant other some pajamagram, day-old chocolates, or daisies, there are other things happening this month.
Most importantly among them: Black History Month.
If you want, we can go into Carter G. Woodson‘s bold and brave vision behind the need, importance, and dedication for this month. (And trust, we could go there.) That said, we are going to use this month–and next month for Women’s History, if this goes well–to highlight black history in nerd.
Or, as we have now called it: Blerd.
The mission, should we choose to accept it, is to highlight a character in comics that have a place among the Pantheon of black history. Some have been in movies. Others are known for TV shows. And then, there are a few that shamelessly haven’t been considered for broadcasts.
The one thing they all have in common is they share a piece of fabric. A thread in the woven tapestry of our culture. They connect us–geeks, nerds, cinephiles one and all. We love the adventure, the fantasy, the imagination it takes to come up with these characters of comic lore.
Some of them mean more than others for different reasons. During this month, we will explore what some of the most underrated characters mean to millions during Black History Month.
We will start with the O.G. of cinematic black CBM heroes…
Name: Eric Brooks
Creators: Marv Wolfman (writer), Gene Colan (artist), Marvel (comic)
1st Appearance: The Tomb of Dracula #10 (1973)
Backstory: Born in a SOHO whorehouse outside of London, Eric’s mom was victimized by her “doctor” — a vampire named Deacon Frost who masked himself as a physician. During her pregnancy, he feasted on her neck, she died, but not before Eric was born. This was also the birth of his powers to defend others against vampires.
Powers: Quasi-vampiric. Sense supernatural, prolonged lifespan, mastery expert in knives/swords (Bushido) and hand-to-hand combat.
Medium: Following comics with Doctor Strange, Nightstalkers, Spider-Man (where he used to run with and later fought Morbius), Blade was introduced as the first-ever black superhero in film. In 1999, the Blade trilogy began, starring Wesley Snipes.
There is an entire generation of CBM fans who see movies, watch the extended universes evolve, and even blog about the movies seen in theaters. These people, these aware and woke people, swear until they are blue in the face that Chadwick Boseman–aka Black Panther–is the standard bearer for all black superheroes in modern film.
Yeah, no. That is Wesley Snipes.
At the time, he was the action star. He was versatile in drama, action, and comedy. He is a legitimate badass with a 5th dan (degree) black in Shotokan karate and a 2nd dan in Hapkido. He is smart (when he pays his taxes), excellent at what he does, and was the perfect selection to play Blade.
Impact: You enjoy Black Panther? Do you appreciate Black Lightning? Were you one of the people who signed the ‘Bring back Luke Cage‘ petition? Say thank you to Blade. Whether it’s in your heart or tweeting @WesleySnipes, say thank you. Twenty years before Marvel thought about the Avengers or DC considered copying that with a league of their own, there was Wesley believing he could do something different. It’s different from his previous drama. Different from the laughs he got. This was a bold decision he knew it would outlast him. It did.
Culture: That movie was more than bold because of the story matter, it was brave because of the subject matter. Hollywood wasn’t sure about taking a chance on a black superhero. They did and Hollywood has been thanking Wesley Snipes ever since. Maybe not verbally, but there is no way they film TV and movie February or any other month without the influence Snipes provided, with or without his blade.