Have you ever said out loud, “Why do black superheroes have electric powers?” It is a valid question, as many of our favorite melanin-infused meta-heroes generate countless joules of electricity. But why?
Why do black superheroes have electric powers?
Why do so many Black superheroes have electricity powers? I have scoured and searched but can’t find a clear reason. The short answer is I don’t know. The long answer is no one knows. It’s a trope that has existed for decades, starting as far back as Black Lighting in the 1970s.
It isn’t a bad thing, but it is ubiquitous. You can’t turn around twice without tripping over an electricity-powered Black superhero. Much like the “Black characters with metal limbs” trope. It simply exists as a crutch when writers need powers for a character. That being said, electricity powers are awesome, and some of the best superheroes wield the mighty power of Zeus.
Storm – Marvel’s X-Men
Ororo Munroe, a.k.a Storm, is one of the most powerful mutants in the X-Men universe. The weather goddess is imbued with the ability to bend and control the elements to her will. She can generate lightning, create windstorms, and even manipulate our Earth’s climate. Storm’s electricity powers are particularly potent, and she can use them to create devastating lightning bolts, short circuit a toaster oven or two, and superheat metal, which comes in handy when those annoying Sentinels show up.
Storm harnesses the Earth’s electromagnetic field to generate her lightning powers. This allows her to control the energy flow through the atmosphere, creating her weather effects. The Queen of Wakanda’s powers are so strong that she can generate enough electricity to power a city while also making a TicTik. Who are we kidding? She has no time for that.
Static – Milestone Comics / DC Comics
Virgil Hawkins is Static, a superhero from the Milestone Comics Dakotaverse. After the cataclysmic Big Bang, he and numerous other characters in Milestone were imbued with powers. They are called Bang Babies. Thought you’d like to know that. Static was lucky enough to escape major harm and come out the other end with immense electrical abilities. Static’s powers allow him to control and manipulate electromagnetism. That offers him a great deal of flexibility regarding whooping on criminals.
Armed with his trusty Static Saucer, Static can fly through the air like Kit from Tail Spin. Does anyone get that reference? His myriad of static-based and electromagnetic powers, not to mention his gadgets and intellect, makes Vigil one of the most potent electricity-based heroes around. Not to mention, Static is a very popular superhero among young people and Black culture. Static and Milestone Comics, in its entirety, are praised for their positive representation of African-American youth and heroes.
Thunderer of Earth 7 – DC Comics
Thunderer is the multiversal weather god of Earth 7. He is a member of Earth-7’s Justice League and one of the most powerful weather deities in the multiverse.
Thunderer’s divine nature grants him the power of electricity and weather manipulation. He can generate localized lightning storms and channel his divine current through his battle axe for devastating results. If that wasn’t enough, Thunderer also has superhuman strength, durability, and speed. In case you forgot, he’s basically a god. He is also a skilled hand-to-hand combatant and a master of martial arts. DC really knows how to stack on the powers. Because Thunderer is such an incredible force of power, he is the last survivor of Earth-7. Not the last surviving hero or person with powers. He was the last damn living person on the whole stupid planet and kept fighting.
Miles Morales – Marvel
Who doesn’t love Spider-Man? Who doesn’t love Miles Morales? This generation’s favorite Spidey continues the tradition of getting too close to genetically enhanced spiders and paying for it with superhuman powers. It seems unfair, given all the spiders in my house just giving me the heebie geebies. Oddly enough, Miles can generate and release bio-electricity, which he calls “venom Blasts.” Why does a Spider-Man have electricity powers? Hell, if I know.
Thankfully, Miles’ Venom Blasts are a powerful weapon used to stun and incapacitate his enemies. He can fire them from his hands or fingertips, which travel a short distance. The strength of his venom blasts varies depending on how much power he puts into them. This ability also allows him to absorb a certain amount of electricity since he is some kind of Spider-electrical conduit. Seriously, why does he have these powers?
In the incredible Spider-Man: Across the Spier-verse, Miles uses his electric-based abilities to escape capture, which kicks off one of the best chase scenes in animation history. Luckily, he had electricity powers, I guess.
Black Lightning – DC Comics
President Jefferson Pierce, a.k.a Black Lightning, is one of the most well-known, if not the most, electricity-based superheroes. He’s a metahuman superhero from the pages of DC Comics. Black Lightning can generate and control electricity. It’s right there in the name. He didn’t think too hard about what to call himself. I should say the writers didn’t. His electricity powers allow him to create lightning bolts, superheat metal, and short-circuit electronic devices. Black Lightning is the template for Black electric super people.
Black Lightning has great success outside the pges of DC Comics. His titular TV show ran for four successful seasons and introduced the masses to the worlds most popular Black lightining-based superhero. The character also appeared in the amazing Injustice 2 video game. He was, like others, relegated to a skin for other characters, but you take what you can get.
Black Vulcan – Hanna-Barbera
Black Vulcan is a fictional superhero created by Hanna-Barbera for the animated television series Super Friends. He is a Black superhero with rather similar abilities to another electricity-based fella with Black in their name. It’s Black Lightning. He can generate lightning bolts from his hands, fly at superhuman speeds, and create force fields.
What’s fun about Black Vulcan is the origin of his creation. The Super Friends cartoon had the big three heroes of DC Comics on the team and wanted some “diversity” in the cast. Black Lightning was a no-brainer as an obvious token addition. Unfortunately, Hanna-Barbera was unable to use the Black Lightning character due to a dispute between DC Comics and Black Lightning’s creator Tony Isabella. So instead, they created their own version, slapped some lightning bolts on his head, called Buster Jones to voice him, and Black Vulcan was born.
Black Vulcan’s electricity powers were originally derived from a lightning strike. However, in later stories, his powers were retconned to result from genetic engineering. Black Vulcan is a founding member of the Super Friends and has fought alongside Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and the other team members on many occasions.
Bumblebee – DC Comics
Founding member of the Teen Titans and former member of the Doom Patrol, Bumblebee, is a brilliant scientist who gave herself a super suit. The suit gives her the gift of flight, stinging electric blasts, and disabling goo she calls “honey”. Because DC likes to retcon their own characters origins, she is also a metahuman in other canons. Her mutation gives her the ability to control electricity. She uses her gifts to create powerful blasts, fly, and even shrink a la Atom or Ant Man.
Who did we miss?
Look, we missed a lot. Hopefully this brief look at Black superheroes with electric powers gives you some insight into how a trope can lead to great characters. Let us know who we should add to the list. Also give the metal limbs and Black as and adjective pieces we have on the site. We would especially love to add indie characters to give them their shine. In the meantime, support the podcast, our Youtube channel, and each other.