DC Comics kicked off Black History Month with DC Power: A Celebration #1, an anthology series highlighting some of DC’s well-known and not-so-well-known heroes of color.
February is Black History month in the United States. During this time, companies of all types come up with ways to commemorate the occasion in some form or another. This is the case for the comic book industry as well. In years past, we have seen comic publishers do their part to commemorate the cause. DC Comics did so last week when they released DC Power: A Celebration #1, an anthology of stories spotlight some of DC’s past and present heroes of color. The anthology would have been presented as one of our top picks for that week had we posted a list. That inclusion is rightfully deserved as the comic review of DC Power will show. The issue contained some strong writing paired with some impeccable art.
DC Power: A Celebration #1 consists of 9 stories, all written and drawn by Black people. What’s also interesting is that some of the individuals participating in the issue were recent participants in the first class of the Milestone Initiative, a program sponsored by DC Comics and Milestone Media to expose independent BIPOC comic book creators to the industry. Members of the first class have already been at work at DC, but their skills have really been highlighted here.
While this comic review of DC Power: A Celebration won’t cover all of the stories within the collection, you’ll get the gist of how good it is by the time I am done. The heroes covered in the collection of stories are:
- Amazing Man
- Black Lightning, Thunder, and Lightning
- Nubia and Bumblebee
- Green Lantern (John Stewart)
- Aquaman (Jackson Hyde) and Kid Flash (Wallace West)
- Vixen and Batwing
- Batman (Jace Fox)
- And Green Lantern (Jo Mullein)
Honoring the Past
DC Power kicks off with a story starring Amazing Man, a member of the JSA who made his name fighting villains at home and abroad. The story, written by Evan Narcisse, is the saddest of the collection. After returning home to Detroit at the end of the war, Will Everett – Amazing Man – finds himself fighting two battles. The first is against a violation from his past. While he was able to defeat this opponent, his second battle – against the city of Detroit – proved more difficult. Narcisse does a great job in telling the story of the gentrification of the Black community in which Everett lived all in the name of progress – in this instance, the development of the growing interstate system.
As a student of history, I appreciated seeing Narcisse’s work in tying historical event into his story as I put this comic review of DC Power together. This is particularly true when looking at the development of the interstate. As a native of New Orleans, I researched the events that resulted in the building of Interstate 10 along North Claiborne Avenue through the Tremé neighborhood. The negative effects exit today and in many instances were exacerbated after events search as Hurricane Katrina. As with the community in Detroit, the natives of New Orleans moved on, but held strong in spite of.
The art from Darryl Banks, with colors from Hi-Fi, is nothing short of phenomenal. Hi-Fi’s abilities to use the colors to distinguish the past and the present really help to keep the time frame in perspective. Even in the present, you could get the feel that you were reading an old-style comic book.
Keep Team Nubia Together
I have been a fan of the creative team of Stephanie Williams, Alitha Martinez, and Mark Morales ever since the I picked up Nubia and the Amazons back at the end of 2021. The trio just do a wonderful job of presenting the beloved Amazonian character to life. When first re-introduced to the DC Universe, Williams did an absolute wonderful job of integrating Nubia’s history – and Amazonian history for that matter – into the mainstream to weave through everything we got in Trial of the Amazons. Now, with Nubia fully ingrained as the Amazonian queen, Williams has been able to tell some rich stories for both new and old fans.
Nubia’s team-up with Bumblebee in DC Power is such a story. The queen is as always confident, but she is still trying to find he way through man’s world in her new diplomatic role. But, as we see by the end of the story, she is a true warrior at heart. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough context with Karen, but the art truly presents her in a different way than I have seen in the past (admittedly, that has been on TV only and in Vixen’s webtoon). It leaves me wanting to see more her.
For me, the Cyborg story is the weakest in the anthology. Granted, I will admit that my dislike of the character probably lends a lot to this. However, the art from Valentine De Landro doesn’t do much to help ease that dislike. The story, written by Morgan Hampton, who was recently announced as the new writer for the upcoming Cyborg series, on its face doesn’t provide a story to leads to what we might get with the new series. The story, another taking place in Detroit, is just there.
A Relationship I Didn’t Know I Needed
If anyone at any time told me that I would enjoy a story enjoying Batwing, I would have told that person they were out of their mind. However, after reading the story from veteran writer Chuck Brown with art from Petterson Oliveira, consider me a believer. Brown, much like Brandon Thomas (whose Aquaman/Kid Flash story was just as good), just has a great grasp on whatever character he writes. He really took me by surprise with his run on John Carter of Mars and the impressive work continues here. Despite being a duo with little interaction in the past, Brown succeeds in creating a truly nature connection between the two. This is apparent in the way Brown had them communicating with one another and in how they fought.
The odd couple teamed up with an odd villain in Black Manta and his Manta Men. The battle was short, but it was fun. with Mantra getting away, it leaves the door open for this conflict to continue, especially considering the last panel states that it would continue in Dawn of DC. And wherever in Dawn of DC this story picks up, I’m there for it.
So, let’s talk about the kiss. Simply put… YES!!! And I say yes for several reasons. One, it’s just cute. Of all the men Mari could find herself in a relationship with, Luke Fox is the absolute last one I envision being that guy. Secondly, this hopefully kills any chance of ever reliving that very brief Batgirl/Batwing fling of ever happening again (Tom Taylor wouldn’t do that to us right? RIGHT?).
An Ending That Should Have Been Better
The worst part of DC Power comes towards the end. When DC Comics put these collected anthologies together, they establish a certain page count to justify the cover price, in this case $9.99. But sometimes DC gets lazy, and they add fluff to the issue just so that they can get to their desired page count. Unfortunately, this happens here as well.
After telling very strong, original stories, the collection closes out by reprinting two stories that DC published in recent years. First was a reprint of a Jace Fox Batman story that appeared in Batman: Black and White, written by John Ridley. The other was a reprinted preview of N.K. Jemisin’s Far Sector. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed each of these stories when DC first published them, especially Far Sector. But they are needed here. The inclusion truly brings down the quality of some strong, original stories. It’s unfortunate, and unfortunately it won’t be the last time that DC does this.
But this comic review of DC Power won’t be ruined by this faux pas from the publisher. I truly enjoyed all of the original pieces & I look forward to those stories DC promises follow-up on. Yes, I need more of Vixen and Batwing. If you haven’t picked up this collection of stories, I strongly suggest you do.