Marvel Comics has made headlines by replacing their Ultimate version of Peter Parker with a new half Black, half Latino Spider-Man named Miles Morales. A lot of fans got in a huff about it, but this is hardly the first time someone of African descent has replaced a Caucasian comic book superhero. In the past several decades, this has almost become a comic book tradition, and these are some prominent examples.
It's unfortunate that the "Black superhero" isn't more commonplace, but these Black Marvel characters and Black DC characters are a step in the right direction.
Which optic white superheroes will be re-born as Black superheroes and given a new lease on life? Only time will tell.
This isn't the first time the Captain America role has been filled by someone other than Steve Rogers. After saving the world (again), Steve lost the Super Soldier serum causing his actual age to catch up with him and being unable to continue fighting the good fight.
Sam Wilson, aka The Falcon, is prepared to step up to the plate and become Captain America. Having fought alongside Steve for several years, Sam has the experience to pull it off.
Back in 1992, DC Comics "killed" Superman, and it made national headlines. Within four months of course, Superman was back… well, sort of. Four different characters laid claim to the name and legacy of Kal-El, and one of them was African-American steel worker John Henry Irons. Irons crafted an Iron Man like suit of armor with a big "S" shield on it, and declared himself the new Man of Steel.
It was only a few months before the real Superman returned from the grave of course, but John Henry Irons stuck around, and changed his name to Steel.
He has since become a mainstay of the DC Universe, and a member of the Justice League in good standing. The character was popular enough that he even got a movie starring Shaquille O’Neal back in 1997, but let’s not hold that travesty against him.
After Peter Parker was wiped out in Marvel's sealed off Ultimate reboot continuity, the mantle of Spider-Man was taken up by Miles Morales, a teenager who received nearly identical powers from a spider bite. Many, including original Spidey co-creator Stan Lee, lauded the Black Hispanic character, who quickly grew in popularity.
His popularity grew so much, in fact, that when Marvel shut down its Ultimate imprint and universe, Miles Morales joined the primary 616 universe. So while he hasn't totally taken over the still-active Peter Parker in the main Marvel continuity, Morales now slings webs alongside the original wallcrawler.
Quite possibly the first instance of an African-American character replacing a more well known white one in comic book history, Green Lantern John Stewart is pretty significant.
First appearing in 1972 as Hal Jordan’s replacement whenever he was incapacitated, Stewart was the typical early 70’s depiction of the "angry Black man" with a giant chip on his shoulder.
Over the years though, he has become less stereotype and more a well rounded character, and even replaced Hal Jordan on a permanent basis for several years during the 1980's. During the 90's he was given his own series, Green Lantern: Mosaic, and was even chosen as the Green Lantern for the Justice League animated series. Meaning for a whole generation of kids and teens, John Stewart isn't some replacement Lantern, he is the Green Lantern, period.