Superhero Comics by Black Writers, Artists, and Editors
February 15, 2022 to March 10, 2022
Virgil Hawkins first adopts the costume worn by his superhero alter ego, Static Shock
Static Shock: Rebirth of the Cool #1 was published a year after its titular character began starring in Kids’ WB’s Static Stock (2000-2004). The show made Virgil Hawkins the first African American superhero to headline an animated series. In this issue, the comics version of the character adopts the costume worn by the one on television. Appearing in it on the last page, Hawkins says, “—the name’s: Static! If you don’t start none, there won’t be none!” (Rare Book - Richard Wright PN6728.S73 R43)

You might know Marvel and DC’s first Black and African American superheroes, Black Panther and John Stewart respectively, but did you know that neither was the first to appear in comic books?

Nearly twenty years before T’Challa debuted in the pages of Fantastic Four #52*, Lion Man appeared in All-Negro Comics #1. Nearly five decades after Lion Man, Milestone Media brought even more Black superheroes to comics, some of whom you can see here.

*Fantastic Four #52, along with Green Lantern #87, will be on exhibit in On and Off the Page: Representations of Black People in American Comic Books later this year.


These comics are from the Richard Wright Collection of Graphic Images of African Americans, which holds more than 1,500 comics along with material in other formats. Published between 1937 and 2001, the comics span decades and genres: romance, sports, war, science fiction, Western, educational, jungle, fantasy, horror, humor, funny animal, children’s, teen, and superhero. Read more about the comics in the collection in Adrienne's blog post, New Exhibit, "Milestones: Superhero Comics by Black Writers, Artists, and Editors." The Wright Collection is still being cataloged, but check the library catalog for what is currently available from the collection.

Curation: Adrienne Resha, Ph.D. Candidate in American Studies and 2021-2022 Special Collections Exhibits Apprentice

Design: Jennie Davy, Exhibits Manager; exhibit background modified from

Fabrication and Installation: Adrienne Resha and Jennie Davy