After dying her hair Magic Marker blue, whacking it off in true Grace Jones fashion and having no success in transforming her into a black woman with a watercolor set, it was obvious my Sheera action figure had seen her last days.
During the summer of 1989, she was finally laid to rest in my mother’s flowerbed.
This summer, I had to fight an urge to do it all over again.
My 4-year-old nephew had just dozed off after mumbling dialogue from his “Spider-man 2 bootleg.” He was decked out in Spider-man underpants and PJ’s with the biggest smile plastered on his face.
It was kind of sweet.
But his craze about Marvel’s friendly neighborhood web slinger had suddenly struck something within me. After trying to pry the action figure from his grip, it became obvious that unless I woke him up, there would be no burial that night.
So do I have a thing for torturing miniature plastic toys? No, I’m not some weirdo. And it’s not because he’s warped it into something the manufacturers would have never thought possible. This thing is in mint condition, especially since he has five.
I just couldn’t help wondering why his idol didn’t have the same chestnut complexion as him. What if this Spider-man character was black or Hispanic or Asian? Is the country ready for such an anomaly to their cookie-cutter pop culture?
It’s obvious that the superhero spectrum is lacking in ethnic variety. However, the nation’s comic book counterculture has been attempting to fill this void since the 1960s, unsuccessfully that is.
Black superheros have come and gone. Some fall to untimely deaths, a few maybe “too black” for the tastes of some, and still others are not quite black enough.
Consequently, none have gathered the same fanfare as their white a-likes. So I won’t ask where the black action flicks with a thriving merchandise following are.
But I will ask what happened to community and industry leaders of the eighties and early nineties who had problems with whitewashed toy shelves and Saturday morning cartoons. Where are you guys?
Is it that black America has been sucked into this nouveau caste of multiculturalism, making it no longer necessary to ask for and support our images in the mainstream? If so, it seems that we have stretched ourselves to accommodate those who have a problem with this sort of questioning.
Nevertheless, at least there are modern, black crime-fighting comic book legends in the making from the Blokheadz title.Hopefully they’ll have the ability to see their creation combating the forces that are on the silver screen.
Till then, my nephew will have to settle for Spider-man, with which I don’t think he has a problem.