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Black Hole: Why Aren't There More Black Super Heroes?

At the 2008 San Diego Comic-Con, a T-shirt was released with an image of then Sen. Barack Obama in a pose of superheroic proportions. The image, by renowned comic book artist Alex Ross, had Obama tearing off his shirt and revealing a large "O" emblazoned on the chest of a superhero costume underneath. Instantly recognizable as the iconic pose associated with Superman and his mild-mannered alter ego, Clark Kent, Ross’ painting helped introduce a new superhero to the world of comics, Super Obama.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the massive San Diego Convention Center, the annual "black panel" was taking place. A regular fixture among the workshops and panels at Comic-Con, it featured a lineup of creators, most of them black, discussing the current state of affairs in the comic industry as it related to both black creators and black characters. The conversation was pretty much the same one that had been taking place for years, with nothing of significance being said. There was, however, a bitter irony in the fact that, as Super Obama was making his way throughout the Convention Center and America was on the verge of electing its first black president, very little had changed in the world of comics as far as black superheroes were concerned.

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