Nama doesn’t just focus on African-American superheroes; he focuses on race relations in comic books and between comic book characters. His analysis of race as a plot device used to address larger political issues – like drugs, crime within a contextual framework makes a strong point that comic books aren’t just for kids.
Nama credits Dennis O’Neil’s and Neal Adams’ Green Lantern co-starring Green Arrow as a comic book series that “dramatically recast superheroes, and shaped the superhero comic book as a space where acute social issues were engaged,” including racism.
In the Green Lantern co-starring Green Arrow inaugural issue (#76, 1979) titled “No Evil Shall Escape My Sight,” the superheroes confront American racism. Across several panels an elderly black man is depicted questioning Green Lantern’s commitment to racial justice: The elderly man says, “I been readin’ about you…How you work for the Blue Skins…and how on a planet someplace you helped out the Orange Skins…and you done considerable for the Purple Skins. Only there’s skins you never bothered with! The Black skins!” Then the man asks, “I want to know…how come? Answer me that, Mr. Green Lantern!”
According to Nama, “Their conversation forever changed the boundaries of the superhero genre. Superheroes were no longer constrained to fighting imaginary creatures, intergalactic aliens, or Nazis from a distant past. Now they would grapple with some of the most toxic real-world social issues that America had to offer,” like racism.
Super Black is on sale and can be found on Amazon here: http://amzn.to/19rFG2F