Time for the first entry in 2012 for the “minorities in cartoons” series. And yes, I’ve renamed the series since “minorities in cartoons” sounds shorter/less awkward than “minorities in comics and animation.”
This week’s entry is Amazing-Man, a name used by several superheroes (most of them related to each other) in various DC Comics.
The original Amazing-Man was Will Everett, who first appeared in “All-Star Squadron” #23 in 1983. Roy Thomas and Jerry Ordway created Will.
Will was an African-American athlete who participated in the 1936 Olympics. Once his Olympic career ended, Will found himself facing the usual lack of opportunities for Black Americans of his era. While working as a janitor in a mad scientist’s lab, Will was caught in an accident that gave him the power to absorb the properties of any material he touched.
At first, Will worked for the Ultra-Humanite (an early Golden Age Superman nemesis) as a henchman. However, he soon switched to the good guys’ side, and eventually served with the wartime-only All-Star Squadron.
Post-Crisis stories showed Will’s participation in the civil rights movement. Will was last seen dying of cancer in a hospital.
However, two of Will’s grandchildren took up the Amazing-Man mantle (having similar powers to their grandfather’s). One grandson, Will Everett III, served a stint with several of the 90s JLA spin-off teams, before being killed by the villainous Mist.
Another grandson, Markus Clay (Will Everett III’s cousin), took up the Amazing-Man mantle. He joined the Justice Society for a time, before returning to his native New Orleans.
With the 2011 “New 52″/DCNU reboot, once again the JSA and JLA live on separate Earths. The “OMAC’ series reveals the main Earth has its own Amazing-Man. However, he’s unrelated to the Everett family.
Will Everett, Sr. has the distinction (retroactively) of being Earth-2’s first high-profile African-American superhero. Earth-1’s first major Black superheroes, in comparison, include Mal Duncan (of the Teen Titans), John Stewart, Nubia, Bumblebee, and Black Lightning. (I’ll ignore the 30th century-based Tyroc, though he was created during the 1970s as well.) As far as I know, there was never a pre-Crisis crossover between Amazing-Man and the above Earth-1 heroes.