Discovered many years ago, the Black Hero Origin Algorithm (for major publishers) is a disturbing spotlight on the sheer lack of creativity that has happened in terms of Black characters. There are four core tropes to the Algorithm …
- They were raised in poverty
- They have been in the Olympics
- They have a criminal background
- They have been inspired by white heroes
… and an alarming propensity of Black superheroes have at least one element in their character. We’ve since updated it (on our webcast) with the following …
- The Tony Isabella Corollary: the character has electrical powers
- The X-Men Exception: In that so many X-Men are inspired by Charles Xavier’s dream, they could be said to be inspired by a white “hero,” but we’re gonna call that some wiggle room (noted by a tilda = ~).
- The John Stewart Impurity: Black greater weaknesses of character (physical, emotional, mental or spiritual) than their white counterparts. Prone to mind control (Falcon), religious fanaticism (Triathalon), madness (Cyborg), colossal blunders (trope namer John Stewart) and death (too many to mention). These characters will be noted by a “^” icon
There is a very small number of heroes who don’t fall under this Algorithm …
- Kid Quantum (DC, Legion of Super Heroes, henceforth LSH)
- Tyroc (DC, LSH)
- Joto (DC, Teen Titans)
- Bloodwynd (DC, JLA reserves)
- Dr. Mist^ (DC, Global Guardians)
- M (Marvel)
- Synch^ (Marvel)
- Deathlok III* (Marvel)
- Black Panther^ (Marvel)
- Hardware (Milestone)
* = In that this character had multiple incarnations, we weren’t sure how to rule.
** = The Dwayne McDuffie exception, which we allow due to McDuffie declaring that slavery in poverty didn’t count since Icon was really from another world.
*** = even though the brother’s a birdman … it is what it is.
Characters are scored on a scale of one to five Ebony Whites, himself the most egregiously bad Black comics character we could think up that everybody would know, based on how many of the Algorithm’s elements the character has. We’ve given a Gungan slogan to each level in order to reinforce the tragedy. Examples are as follows:
- One Ebony = “Whosa dis?” (Monica Rambeau)
- Two Ebonies = “How wude!” (Luke Cage, Spectre [Crispus Allen version], Black Lightning, Brother Voodoo, Coldcast, Tattooed Man, Steel, Crimson Avenger)
- Three Ebonies = “Dellow felegates … mesa proposes … granting emergency powers to the Supreme Chancellor …” (John Stewart, Bishop/Shard~, Blade, Storm~, Bedlam, Jakeem Thunder, Cyborg)
- Four Ebonies = “yousa all bombad” (Falcon, Amazing Man, current Aqualad)
- Five Ebonies = “wesa all gonna die!” (Triathalon, who makes it even sadder by wearing red, black, green and gold)
We’re keeping our eyes on the mainstream to see where this happens, but feel free to play along at home with whatever characters you discover falling under the influence of the Algorithm.
In June, to run concurrent to the Glyph Awards, we will present The Ebony Awards in an awards ceremony on The Geekweek Network.