2020 struck hard but these creatives struck back.
2020 hasn’t been kind, especially to Black folk. Between the racial tensions, COVID, and the election, we’re exhausted. Despite all of this, several Black creatives managed to shine in 2020. As a creative myself, their recent accomplishments in the Comic Book world have inspired and motivated me to keep pushing. I figured it’d be cool showcase these writers in hopes that their accolades may spark a fire in you for 2021.
Bryan Edward Hill:
Bryan Hill’s catalog is pretty diverse, as he’s written comics/TV shows for DC Comics, Marvel, and BOOM. One of his strongest attributes is how he’s able to put an introspective spin on individual characters as well as showcasing strong team dynamics (see Angel and Batman and The Outsiders).
Sadly 2020 saw the end of his Batman and the Outsiders series. This book did a killer job of highlighting and evolving several marginalized characters that were criminally underused. Losing this title was unfortunate for fans of Black Lightning, Katana, Orphan, and The Signal. However, this was just a precursor for amazing things to come. Two weeks after the final issue of Batman and the Outsiders, news broke that Bryan Hill is writing Hasbro’s upcoming Power Rangers Movie. As a fan of Hill’s and Power Rangers, this news was major. The franchise has needed some fresh blood pumped into it for a very long time. If there’s one person who can provide that, especially on the big screen, its him.
2020 was a breakout year for John Ridley. First, after a two year delay, his Mature Limited Series: The Other History Of the DC Universe was finally set to release. The series was the retelling of key DC Comic moments through the lens of under represented heroes such as: Black Lightning, Katana, Thunder, Herald, and Bumblebee. The first issue dropped in November 2020, and it shook the Comic Book Community. Ridley’s unapologetic and jarring narration displayed Black Lightning’s difficult but powerful journey as DC’s first Black Superhero.
Ridley also contributed to Joker War, the summer Batman event that spun out of James Tynion’s current run. His chapter in the event was a strategic precursor to his 2021 Future State: The Next Batman Series, where in a potential future, the main Batman is a person of color. It is definitely worth checking out as the first two issues sold out, went into second printing and is getting a continuation. Ridley ‘s work showcases a strong push for Black characters and writers. It would be awesome to see more of this kind of diversity in 2021 by Comic Book publishers.
One of the biggest curve balls in 2020 was the departure of Scott Lobdell, longtime writer of Red Hood. Lobdell left some big shoes to fill and this was a challenge that Shawn Martinbrough was up to take. It was announced that he would be taking over the title, making him the first African American writer to write Jason Todd. With that said, Martinbrough is no stranger to Comics. As an artist, he’s graced DC, Marvel, and Dark Horse with his talents and is the creator of 2007’s How to Draw Noir Comics.
In his two issue run, Martinbrough throws Red Hood into a historic (but forgotten) part of Gotham that’s struggling with Gang violence and gentrification. This provided for a more grounded story with a touch of soul, breathing new life into the series. Readers enjoyed this fresh take on the character and have expressed strong interest in seeing him continue writing Red Hood. We’ve yet to hear any news of future issues but the series has NOT been cancelled and current DC Architect Joshua Williamson has teased plans for the Anti-Hero. We can only hope that Shawn Martinbrough will be a part of said plans. There’s definitely a place for his style in DC’s upcoming initiative.
If there’s one word to describe the success of all three men, its perseverance. I have no idea how the events of 2020 effected all three men. But I can imagine like many African Americans, it took some kind of toll on them. Pushing through all of that and excelling how they did is inspiring and is worth the recognition. Whenever I’ve needed a push for inspiration last year, these were three individuals who I’d look up to. Please consider following all three on their social media profiles. If there’s any other Black creators in 2020 who you think deserve praise, let me know who they are in the comments!