Thursday, February 1, 2018

Voodah: the first black jungle hero and another candidate for first black superhero


Voodah...
...was a jungle character featured in Crown Comics. In his first adventure, he saves his tribe, N’risi, and his girl, Jano, from an escaped prisoner named Blake and his albino monkey, Deem.
If you think a jungle hero is a superhero, Voodah wins the title of first black superhero. He appeared a year before Lion-Man.

You can read his first story here. The art is by the great Matt Baker. Voodah's opponent is a white guy. The only way the story would be better for its time would be if Voodah's girlfriend got to be more than the damsel in distress.

Undoubtedly for commercial reasons, Voodah becomes white as the series continues. Two issues after his first appearance in the comic, he is white on the cover, though in the story inside, he is still the same color as the Africans. But in his following adventures, he is as pale as Tarzan, except for one (in #10) in which his skin is golden, halfway between the brown of the Africans and the beige of the Europeans.

Perhaps amusingly, an inversion of ism-logic occurs: when he become a pale guy with a pale girlfriend, she becomes sufficiently capable to save him when he's trapped.

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