Black Comic book characters: BlackjackPosted: June 5, 2005
For those of you who have been reading this blog since the beginning, my reasons for making a post, or series of posts even, on blacks in comic books will not be hard to understand. For the rest of you, take a look here. Incidentally, there will also be similar posts concerning science fiction and I still need to address the entire ‘white male power fantasy’ issue.
The subject of today’s post is the gentleman in the picture above carrying a rather large gun, which he uses rather frequently throughout the book. He’s Aaron Day, otherwise known as Blackjack. A soldier of fortune and explorer in the same pulp vein as Indiana Jones and Alan Quartermain, except he’s also an educated, wealthy black man in the 1930’s, with all the problems that brings. I own several Blackjack comic books but today we’ll restrict ourselves to the ‘Blood and Honor’ graphic novel since, as far as I know, its the only one that’s easily available.
In this book, Blackjack and his Chinese indentured servant(yep, you read that right) head to Japan and then China to protect the life of a Japanese minister against the more militant elements of his own government. In the middle of all the predictable violence. Aaron must also come to terms with the fact that he effectively owns another human being. There are several other subtexts to the book which I can’t reveal without spoiling the book. I’ll just assure you that it is action packed, really well drawn and deals with a lot of issues you will rarely ever find in comic books. If you get a chance, pick it up. you won’t be disappointed.
Sidenote: Blackjack’s writer, Alex Simmons, was responsible for the creation of Orpheus, the first compelling take I saw of a black character in a Batman book since Steven Barnes’ ‘Underground Railroad’ story arc. Unfortunately every subsequent batman writer had no idea what to do with him so he was depowered, shuffled aside and then killed off. An action that brought to an end my support of all bat-related titles besides Gotham Central and Gail Simone’s run on Birds of Prey