There are all kinds of strange and unusual characters in the DC Comics universe, but the weirdest – and definitely the most offensive – has to be The Black Bomber.
The controversial figure came about when DC Comics tried to respond to the US civil rights movement in the late 60’s and 70s, and he’s arguably the worst comic book character ever concieved.
The Black Bomber made his almost-debut in the late 70’s; the character was a white racist who unknowingly became a black superhero when he was stressed out – like a poorly thought out, racially insensitive Bruce Banner.
He also had no idea the transformation even happened, and each incarnation was given its own racially appropriate girlfriend. The whole thing is just totally insane, and Black Bomber was later described by comics historian Don Markstein as “an insult to practically everybody with any point of view at all.”
According to the first drafts by DC, he acquired this condition thanks to a military experiment gone wrong; they were apparently testing a ‘camouflage chemical’ on him. This blackface solution was created to allow white troops to blend into the Vietnamese jungle and the natives. Holy crap…
Tony Isabella, the writer who changed DC’s mind, deserves a medal. After helping create Marvel’s Luke Cage, he was tasked with turning the Black Bomber into a viable comic script way back when, something he dreaded after hearing the pitch. He writes in a 2000 column, “To add final insult, the Bomber’s costume was little more than a glorified basketball uniform.”
He eventually argued that such a character had no place in society. “Do you REALLY want DC’s first black super-hero to be a white bigot?” he told the bosses at DC. The script and idea was thankfully scrapped.
Instead, he created Black Lighting – DC’s first African American superhero that ran for 11 issues between 1977 and 1978. Now it’s being made into a TV series by DC, and its frequent collaborator the CW, the man in the costume is actor Cress Williams, and so far he’s looking perfect.
Since Isabella shut down the idea of the Black Bomber, the character hasn’t been seen since, save for an easter egg in one issue of Justice League where the late, great African-American writer Dwayne McDuffie drew him in as a joke for hardcore comic fans.
However, in this resurgence, he’s called the Brown Bomber and comes to life when he shouts “Black Power!” It’s all kinds of wrong, and despite being a giant satire, it still leaves a bad taste in your mouth, especially considering such a concept almost became an enormous reality.
We’re glad DC came to its senses and hopefully it’ll never make the same stupid mistake again – good riddance Black Bomber.