Anyway, tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day, so I'll do a two-parter. Today is African American heroes. I was actually thinking about this because of the Justice League Unlimited episode "The Great Brain Robbery". Mr. Terrific's a fun character, and I never would've guessed they'd adapt him to the DCAU (especially after I made that joke so many years ago during "Where's Terry?"). Anyway, like I was saying, it's cool to see Mr. Terrific and Green Lantern together, two black heroes on a team. Heck, even Steel was in that episode!
These days it seems pretty custom to have one black member, just to have one. They've been doing it since the 1970's. I think Green Arrow said it best when he nominated Black Lightning for membership in the JLA:
With the notable and obvious exception of Fantastic Four (who actually had Luke Cage on their roster), each team usually has one black member at a time. Examples from current (RE: Pre-Infinite Crisis) rosters:
The Avengers - Luke Cage
The X-Men - Storm
The Thunderbolts - MACH III. Oh, wait...
Young Avengers - Patriot
The Ultimates - Nick Fury
The JLA - Green Lantern
The Teen Titans - Cyborg
The JSA - Mr. Terrific
The Outsiders - Thunder
Now, I know what you're thinking, "What about Bishop, Charcoal, and Jakeem Thunder"? Well children don't count, and isn't Bishop a descendant of an aboriginee? DOESN'T. COUNT.
My point is, it's sort of like this:
::Falcon flies into Avengers mansion::
FALCON - Hey T'Challa, what are you doing here?
BLACK PANTHER - The Avengers are working on a case involving Wakanda, I'm doing a guest spot.
FALCON - But I'm supposed to be the only black member on active duty!
Eh, okay, it's been a while since I've seen Not Another Teen movie, but you catch my drift, right? Some teams, like Runaways for example, covers their minority bases in other ways, but my point is, a lot of the time, a superhero team will have a minority character, it'll be a black guy (or girl), and he'll be criticized for being a stereotype. Or, he'll have the trouble with overcoming the stereotype. I can only think of poor Triathalon on Avengers.
Apply this to superhero cartoons. Before JLU, there was only one black member per team, and usually every team had one. Again, not The Fantastic Four, but in the past ten years, X-Men had Storm, Iron Man/Force Works had War Machine, Avengers had Falcon (Worst. Protrayal. Ever.), Justice League had Green Lantern, and Teen Titans had Cyborg. The only exception was X-Men Evolution, but not only was Spyke written off during the last season, but again I remind you KIDS DON'T COUNT. Not even on a show with a team full of teenagers. Cyborg doesn't even count. Forget I said anything.
Where was I? Oh yeah, Mr. Terrific! Anyway, I just liked seeing both him and Green Lantern in the episode because whenever I see a team with only one black member, I feel like they're there just to be the minority character. But when it comes to JLU, there's so much diversity, you don't really notice. Now if only every superhero team could have more than 50 members...