2017 New York Comic Con - Day 2
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Non-DC/Marvel Comics: 15 Black Superheroes You Should Know

For those anxious to see Black Panther, here are a few black superheroes who might not be in a movie anytime soon but you should meet anyway.

When asked to name black superheroes, you'll probably refer to the core four: Luke Cage, Storm, Blade and now Ryan Coogler's reboot of the Black Panther. But the world of superheroes is far more diverse than is reflected by mainstream media. As you may have guessed, a lot of these superheroes are just under the radar and not televised. Black superheroes go back a long way.

As many of the issues plaguing black people are structural and more complex than a simple plot could cater to, visual stories have helped to give out a message and entertain at the same time.

The first black superhero, Lothar, an African would-have-been prince, was actually introduced in 1934. It wasn't said overtly but the implication is that he was a slave to Mandrake. Later, the character was revamped as an equal. In fact, a lot of black comic books included slavery as a contrasting point for progress. Using political discourse to drive the narratives, authors drew and continue to draw from their environments.

For those anxious to see Black Panther, here are a few black superheroes who might not be in a new movie anytime soon but you should meet anyway.

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1. Spawn

Powers/Abilities: Regeneration, shape-shifting, super strength

In Volume 1 of Spawn (1992), Albert Simmons is introduced as the world’s greatest soldier and assassin, escaping deathly battles unscathed and eliminating targets without a trace. He was even called on to protect the president from outside forces and after his success, he proudly joined the U.S. Task Force. As it turns out, Al knew too many government evils and secrets so he was killed—sent to Hell to burn eternally for the assassinations of innocent people. He trades his soul with an evil force in exchange for the freedom to see his wife on Earth again. The demon he makes the deal with disfigures his body so when he returns to Earth, an anti-hero, he fights on the side of humans.

Todd McFarlane, who worked on The Amazing Spider-Man and the original Spawn, is expected to bring Spawn to television again.

2. Bulletproof

Powers/Abilities: Damage resistance, pain suppression

The superhero was born Zandale Randolph, identical twin to Tyrone Randolph. As the point of display for Tyrone's scientific abilities, Zandale was given superpowers. Tyrone was enamored with super dominion so he conducted a project in which he could impart them to someone with his DNA. Zandale was the test subject, but in the process, Tyrone was killed. His brother then adopts the name Bulletproof and takes on a duty to the people after learning to hone his powers. Bulletproof was first seen standing in for Invincible in the comic book after the same name.

3. Marsha Bradley

Powers/Abilities: Harnessing electrostatic energy

When the world was under attack, Marsha Bradley rose to the task, using her ability to manipulate electric currents and emit energy for protection. Her mother, Rapture, was killed when she was just a child and she lived with her father. Shortly after, she loses her father to the fire lords. They then attempted to kill Marsha but Malcolm, the Savage Dragon came to her rescue.

Initially, she thought him to be a villain but Malcolm, her half-brother, confessed this detail to her. Once the two learned that they were allies, they were able to defeat the fire lords and return home. Later, she met Thunder Head, another black superhero. They all battled together to defeat Mr. Glum, a well-known terror to the city.

4. Lothar

Powers/Abilities: Super stamina, super strength, manmade weapon resistant

The hero first appeared alongside Mandrake the Magician in 1934, fitting the description of a manservant and some even went as far as calling him a slave. He wore small shorts, leopard skin and a red fez. Initially, Lothar’s dialog was minimal and if there was any, it was unintelligible. He was brawny and couldn’t speak English well, fitting the Mandingo stereotype. His loyalty was one of subservience as he was the “Prince of Seven Nations” in Africa but he opted, instead, to travel with Mandrake and fight evil (or whatever Mandrake told him was evil). In 1965, Lothar was reinvented by Fred Fredericks and made to be equal.

5. Lady Sentinel

Powers/Abilities: Supreme technological proficiency

Lady Sentinel appears in the comic book, Youngblood. She’s the sister of the tech wiz, Sentinel, and has similar abilities. She crafted her own exoskeleton and, in the comic book, is recognized by Obama’s administration. She joins the campaign trail to contribute to the administration’s appeal and protection.

6. Michonne

Powers/Abilities: Sword fighting, fencing

You may recognize this character from the television show The Walking Dead. The show is actually based on the 2005 comic book. Michonne fenced as a hobby as a child but when the undead return, she revisits the sword to cut the jaws and limbs off of her boyfriend and his friend after they’re infected. To ward off any other zombies, she drags them around in chains. After fleeing to safety and watching a new boyfriend get murdered by a governor, Michonne relocates to a territory where there is no undead.

7. Elijah Jones

Powers/Abilities: Armed combat

In line with Michonne, Elijah Jones is a former slave with remaining anger. He channels that anger to battle the undead that seems to be crawling from all four corners. Elijah is representative of the surreality of immediate immersion after sustained trauma. In many ways, those "undead" are symbols of the demons or memories that remain in the subconscious after the conditions of slavery.

8. Ebon

Powers/Abilities: Super strength, super speed, flight

Valentine Jones is the descendant of Jom, a man who came to live amongst earthlings generations before him. His ancestor came to Earth to look after mankind eons earlier but died around the time that they “learned” war. Valentine felt lost after the death of his mother but Oju, a black man from another planet, tells Valentine that he is the ancestor of Jom and gives him access to his powers that are similar to Superman’s own. Valentine rechristens himself "Ebon" and continues the work of his ancestor. Ebon is considered the first independent black superhero and was the first comic book to be written by an all-black team.

9. Megaton

Powers/Abilities: Recuperative powers, super stamina, superhuman strength

Megaton is the namesake comic book of the Megaton Comics company. The main character, Matthew Scott, was born with myriad irregularities including two hearts and a hyperactive circulatory system, though they never posed any health risks. He toured with circuses and spent most of his childhood performing. But his hearts began to beat out of sync. A scientist proposed to help him and others like him and when he was the only subject to come out of the experiment alive, he became a superhero.

10. Brotherman: Dictator of Discipline

Powers/Abilities: Street fighting skills, thorough knowledge of law

Antonio Valor follows in the footsteps of his father. Presented with opportunities to navigate the political system, he opts instead to protect the world by his own hands. Valor decides against monetary rewards for the sake of the greater good. His powers aren’t supernatural but they are necessary. Brotherman Comics artwork and memorabilia are on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture. His character was meant to promote knowledge as a strategy for protection.

11. Icon

Powers/Abilities: Superhuman strength, unlimited stamina

Icon’s alien ship crash-landed on Earth during American slavery on a cotton plantation. Alien in form, his life pod duplicated the DNA of the closest lifeform, the woman who’d become his Earth mother. He grew to love her and his siblings. Because he was young when he arrived, he was not entirely cognizant of his powers but when he learned that he had them, he used them to lighten the loads of the slaves.

Icon is immortal and has lived through all of the major American events such as the Civil War, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Harlem Renaissance. He was active in them all. He acquired wealth and grew distant from society, watching his loved ones die off but amid the Harlem Renaissance, he fell in love with Estelle Jackson, another superhero, and had a child. As a superhero, his duty was to protect the rights and safety of blacks.

12. Rapture

Powers/Abilities: Harnessing electrostatic energy

Sharona Jones was a normal woman, kidnapped by Dr. Nirvana, who was trying to create superpowers similar to those possessed by Mighty Man and used the homeless as guinea pigs. All of the test subjects died, but Sharona lived. And the experiment, instead, left Nirvana in critical condition. She became Rapture and her power was generating electricity. She later joined the police force.

13. Spirit

Powers/Abilities: Flight, martial arts, astral projection

Hey Everyone! I want to say from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for supporting my comic book. I recently introduce my comic book character “Spirit” the first female Haitian superhero. I am blessed to have made it this far. To everyone who has been asking how to purchase a book. Please click on the link in my bio. Much Love thanks #RedBand #SpiritBoy #Haiti #Haitian #spiritsdestinycomics #comics #comicbooks #animation #blacksuperhero #comic #comicbooks #comicarts #comicpanel #sequentialart #spiritsdestiny #spiritsdestinycomics #superhero #superheroes #superherione #superheroine #blacksuperhero #blacksuperheroes #comicfan #comicbookfan #haitiansuperhero #indiecomics #toonboom #cartoons #2danimation #haitian #haitiansuperhero #haitiansuperheroine #ShortFuseRedBand

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Destiny Mitsu Jean is just another troubled teen to the rest of the world. She's distant and can be lethargic but it's all a response to childhood abuse. She withholds the information from her mother and grandmother for a long time but she tells them, eventually. She's close to her grandmother, the matriarch, but her relationship with her mother is cleaved. Still, Destiny's mother, a Navy SEAL, nearly beat them to death, and her grandmother cast a spell on them. On an unsupervised and forbidden trip to her mother's lab, Destiny has an accident and chemicals leave her altered irreversibly. Grateful for having lived and now able to communicate with the spirit realm, she uses that connection to rid her community of injustice.

14. June X11

Powers/Abilities: Teleportation, telepathy, super strength, invisibility

June doesn’t have any true origin story. All people know is that he’s from Nigeria. His only mission is to bring peace wherever there is turmoil. Not exactly defined as a superhero, he’s on a continued quest for equality and brings about justice when he finds that it's disrupted. The hero's theme of unity is very likely borrowed from the June 12 election of President MKO Abiola in Nigeria. For the first time in a decade, the people voted together, no matter their region and no matter their tribe, to protest the lengthy military coup. June XII is a reminder that the country is a democracy. For that reason, the hero is, himself, a physical manifestation of Justice.

15. Wise Son

Powers/Abilities: Super intelligence, injury resistance

As a member of the Blood Syndicate of Dakota City, Wise Son planned to meet with fellow gang members and opposition for a final war called the “Big Bang,” but police came to stop the battle before it could begin. Gangs were sprayed with a tear gas made with Quantum Juice, killing many and giving powers to the surviving few. Wise Son went down almost immediately but when he woke up, he saw and heard the cops so he ran. Eventually, he bumped into those cops and thought that was it. But their van blew up and he found himself underneath it, unharmed. He then realized that he was indestructible and decided to count his blessings and protect the city. Eventually, he partners with Icon.

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CIRCA 1980: Photo of Bill Withers
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Bill Withers' Greatest Hits: Remixed, Sampled And Covered

The recent loss of legends in jazz, soul and classical music have saddened the music industry and reminded us of their touching gifts to music. The passing of Manu Dibango, Krzysztof Penderecki, Ellis Marsalis Jr., Bucky Pizzarelli and Alan Merrill brought endless tributes from peers and fans with the recent loss of soul singer-songwriter Bill Withers doing the same.

With a mirage of hits, the iconic songwriter left his mark on music with the release of his debut album Just As I Am in 1971. "Ain't No Sunshine" put a spotlight on his songwriting while 1977's "Lovely Day" reminded the industry of his signature vocals. Withers released eight studio albums, one live album and garnered three Grammys for his powerful songs that gave hope and love to fans to this day.

Hip-hop and R&B have gained the most from Withers as his music went on to inspire records like "No Diggity" by BLACKStreet, "Roses" by Kanye West and other songs from UGK, Dr. Dre, Jill Scott and more.

Take a look at some of Withers' finest tunes covered, remixed and sampled below.

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8. “Lovely Day” | Menagerie (1977)

Sampled On: T.W.D.Y., “Player’s Holiday” | Derty Werk (1999) LunchMoneyLewis - “It's Gonna Be A Lovely Day” feat. Aminè | Pets 2 Soundtrack (2019) Swizz Beatz - “Take A Picture” |One Man Band (2007)

Standout: T.W.D.Y., “Player’s Holiday” | Derty Werk (1999)

Short for "The Whole Damn Yay," the group used Withers' sample while throwing a splash of The Bay's laid back flavor. With cameos from future legends like E-40 and Ray Luv, the single already embodied the best of R&B and hip-hop with guest verses from Too Short, Mac Mall and Otis & Shug. The mimosas and yacht are also a great touch.

Covered By: Jill Scott, The Original Jill Scott from the Vault Vol. 1 (2011) Alt-J, This Is All Yours (2014) Robert Glasper Experiment, Black Radio 2 (2013) Kirk Franklin, The Nu Nation Project (1998)

Standout: Kirk Franklin, The Nu Nation Project (1998)

Who was going to beat a chorus singing to the lordt? Franklin's take on the classic gives us stirring gospel and appreciation for Withers and God. There are plenty of covers that have lifted the same vocals as Withers, but the ones listed have put their unique spin on the track.

7. “Ain't No Sunshine” | Just As I Am (1971)

Sampled On: DMX - “No Sunshine” | Exit Wounds Soundtrack (2001) Lil B - “Up And Down” | Based Jam (2012) 2Pac- "Soulja's Story" |  2Pacalypse Now (1991)

Standout: DMX - “No Sunshine” | Exit Wounds Soundtrack (2001)

"No Sunshine" served as the only single from DMX's film alongside Steven Seagal, which gave everyone the perfect backdrop to the movie and X's intricate storytelling. Both the original and flipped version points out the dark elements of our lives. Withers penned the song after watching the film 1962 movie Days of Wine and Roses, he pondered over the toxicity in his life. "Sometimes you miss things that weren't particularly good for you," he said in 2004 to SongFacts. "It's just something that crossed my mind from watching that movie, and probably something else that happened in my life that I'm not aware of."

Covered By: Soul For Real | Candy Rain (1994) Michael Jackson | Got to Be There (1972) The Boris Gardiner Happening | Is What's Happening (1973) The Temptations | Solid Rock (1972)

Standout: Michael Jackson | Got to Be There (1972)

At 14, the future King of Pop gave a riveting cover of Withers' hit for his debut album, Got To Be There. From his vocal control throughout the track to the instrumentation, his cover takes the song to another level of heartbreak.

6. "Grandma's Hands” | Just As I Am (1971)

Sampled On: BLACKstreet - “No Diggity” feat. Dr. Dre and Queen Pen | Another Level (1996) Big K.R.I.T. - “I Gotta Stay” | K.R.I.T. Wuz Here (2010) Brother Ali - “Waheedah's Hands” | Champion (2004)

Standout: BLACKstreet - “No Diggity” feat. Dr. Dre and Queen Pen | Another Level (1996)

R&B heads are well aware of BLACKstreet's neverending ballads and the genius of Teddy Riley. But the pivot of their sound for their sophomore album Another Level was due to Withers and the William “Stylez” Stewart. Speaking to Fact Mag in 2017, the creator of New Jack Swing gave credit to Stylez for bringing him the sample of "Grandma's Hands."

“If he hadn’t played that sample for me, there would never be a ‘No Diggity’ And if he didn’t write it according to the melody I gave him so it would sound that way because I wanted it to sound funky,” he said. “I wanted it to be appealing to everyone, but mostly to women. I wanted every woman to feel like they were the ‘No Diggity’ girl and that song was about them and it came across. And now, still, today, that song plays and people are on that dancefloor.”

Covered By: Gil Scott-Heron, Reflections (1981) Merry Clayton, Merry Clayton (1971) Barbra Streisand, Butterfly (1974)

Standout: Gil Scott-Heron, Reflections (1981)

Gil Scott-Heron's version of the soul classic reminded us of his versatile talents. From spoken word to his vocal abilities, the Godfather of rap music always came through with his own sound and style. Reflections was one of four albums the late artist dropped in the 80s with critics looking to it as one of his finest projects. Other cuts from the album included "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)" and "B Love."

5. "Use Me" | Still Bill (1972)

Sampled On: Kendrick Lamar - “Sing About Me, I'm Dying Of Thirst"  | Good kid, Maad City (2012) J. Cole- "Dollar And A Dream II" | The Warm-Up (2009) Leela James - “So Good" | Fall For You (2014) UGK - "Use Me Up" | The Southern Way (1992)

Standout: Kendrick Lamar - “Sing About Me, I'm Dying Of Thirst"  | Good kid, Maad City (2012)

Lamar's take on "Use Me" blended right into the themes of his debut album, Good kid, Maad City allowing the artist to create another world on the project. To make things even better, Lamar also sampled Al Green's "I'm Glad You're Mine" for the track.

Covered By: Grace Jones, Indigo Nights, Live (2008) Mick Jagger feat. Lenny Kravitz, Wandering Spirit  (2004) Issac Hayes, Dr. Dolittle Soundtrack (1998)

Standout: Mick Jagger feat. Lenny Kravitz, Wandering Spirit (2004)

On his third solo album, Jagger linked with Rick Rubin to test his creative energy, allowing him to work with Lenny Kravitz on their version of "Use Me." Colliding worlds was one thing but to hear Kravitz's vocals come in on the bridge, set the track apart from the rest.

4. “Kissing My Love” | Still Bill (1972)

Sampled On: J. Cole - “The Cut Off" featuring kiLL Edward  | KOD (2018) Dr. Dre - "Let Me Ride" featuring Snoop Dogg, RC and Jewell | The Chronic (1992) Masta Ace- "Movin On" | Take A Look Around (1990) Master P- "Bastard Child" | The Ghettos Tryin To Kill Me! | 1994

Standout: Dr. Dre - "Let Me Ride" featuring Snoop Dogg, RC and Jewell | The Chronic (1992)

"Kissing My Love" is one of most sampled from Withers catalog, thanks to its feverish drums. It's also why it fits into Dr. Dre's single and the G-funk era.

3. Grover Washington's “Just The Two of Us” featuring Bill Withers | Winelight (1981)

Sampled/Covered On:  Will Smith - “Just The Two of Us” | Big Willie Style (1997) Eminem- "Just The Two of Us" | Slim Shady EP (1997) Keri Hilson- "Pretty Girl Rock" | No Boys Allowed (2010)

Standout: Will Smith - “Just The Two of Us” | Big Willie Style (1997)

Touching and soulful, Smith's dedication to his eldest son Trey is just too cute for words.

2. “Let It Be” | Just As I Am  (1967)

The Original: The Beatles - “Let It Be” | Let It Be (1968)

"Let It Be" is a pretty special record. Aretha Franklin recorded a version a year before the release of The Beatles' version and Withers gave his take on the record in the 70s. Slightly faster, his upbeat take on "Let It Be" just hits different.

1. “Rosie” | Menagerie Re-Issue (1977)

Sampled On: Kanye West - “Roses” |  Late Registration (2005)

As the somber part of Late Registration, "Roses" brings us into Kanye's world where he contemplates the mortality of a loved one. It's a sentimental take on the sample and one of the artist's most underrated songs. It's also a hidden gem for Withers as it isn't featured on Menagerie's LP. It was added as a bonus track on

Enjoy the jams in playlist form below.

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Remain Calm: 5 Ways To Curve Negative Effects Of Coronavirus Isolation

Self-isolation during the coronavirus outbreak seems to be best practice in keeping our families and peers safe but it's also a shift in our normal social behavior. As millions of families around the country get adjusted to self-isolation, the state of our mental health and how our bodies react to the practice are changing by the day, especially lower-income and marginalized groups.

Speaking with Wired, John Vincent, a clinical psychologist at the University of Houston, shared how apathetic behavior can rise to the forefront, making space for anxiety and depression.

“People start getting lethargic when they don’t have positive inputs into their small worlds,” Vincent says. “We can expect depression to kick in, and depression and anxiety are kissing cousins.”

But the biggest reason behind the uneasiness isn't the self-isolation but just how long it will last. Details of COVID-19 are changing by the day with the most cases now coming out of New York. Yet, there's still little to no information on what happens next.

“Open, transparent, consistent communication is the most important thing governments and organizations can do: Make sure people understand why they are being quarantined first and foremost, how long it is expected to last,” Samantha Brooks of King’s College London told the outlet. “A huge factor in the negative psychological impact seems to be confusion about what's going on, not having clear guidelines, or getting different messages from different organizations.”

Uncertainty hitting low income and marginalized groups is also a problem within itself. As virtual parties and celebrities opening up on social media happen on a daily, there are people who might not access fun distractions on the web.

“Some people have posited technology as a means of connecting people, but lower-income groups might not even have FaceTime or Skype or minutes on their phone,” Thomas Cudjoe, a geriatrician researching the intersection of social connections and aging at Johns Hopkins University says. “People take that for granted, using their devices can be a strain on people’s incomes.”

To make self-isolation less than a bore or a daunting task, experts suggest creating a schedule to dictate control in your home.

1. Work It Out

Gyms are closed, but your home can be transformed into a personal training center. Use heavy bags for weights and if you can, create a playlist of workouts on YouTube. For those who have memberships for Blink or Peloton, the platforms have streamed their workouts on apps.

2. Mindful Meditation

Meditation isn't about dumping your thoughts, it's about staying aware and mindful. AQUA has developed online that leverages the power of "Mindful Meditation and Mobility Movements" for flexibility and fluidity in the body. Classes are free of charge but feel free to donate.

3. Take It Back To High School

Give your friends a call or indulge in a FaceTime party. Feel free to use the Wifi in your home to reduce the amount of data used on your phone. Lala Anthony held a too-cute FT birthday party for writer Kiyonna Anthony with a 70s theme. You can also find creative ways to hop on the phone with friends and family instead of constantly chatting about 'rona.

 

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We made the best out of our quarantine situation🎉‼️FACETIME 70s Party💃🏽🎉HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY NIECE @kiyonnathewriter ❤️❤️💃🏽💃🏽SHOUT OUT TO ALL MY ARIES ♈️ MAKE THE BEST OF IT!!!😘

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4. Start A Journal

Journals just aren't for kids. The practice not only gives you something to do, but it fuels creativity and a new level of self-awareness. Former First Lady Michelle Obama recently developed Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice, with over 150 inspiring questions and quotes that connect to key themes in her memoir. The journal will also help bring readers to terms with the importance of family and personal reflections as well as the goals they'd like to make a reality.

5. Have a Dance Party or Enjoy Lo-Fi Beats To Quarantine To

If you don't have data or battery power to watch a virtual DJ party, make your own. If you have to pull out your record player, do it! You can also hop on your favorite streaming service and create a playlist all your own.

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From Teen Sensation To Vocal Bible: Brandy's 15 Best Songs

September 27, 2019 marked the 25th anniversary of the multiplatinum self-titled debut album by one of R&B’s greatest voices, Brandy Rayana Norwood, or simply Brandy. She was already well on her way to stardom prior to her debut as a background vocalist for Immature and one of the stars of the short-lived ABC series, Thea. However, it was the album Brandy that set her on the path to tremendous success.

Since officially bursting onto the scene in 1994 sporting her well-known braided crown of glory, she has been a force to be reckoned with. She was handpicked by her idol, the late Whitney Houston, to portray the role of the first Black Cinderella in the 1997 film Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella. Her show Moesha was one of the longest-running black sitcoms. Brandy was also a CoverGirl in 1999 and became a friend of Barbie that same year when Mattel released the Brandy Doll. In music, she’s released six studio albums, sold more than 40 million records worldwide, headlined three world tours, and won more than 30 awards including seven Billboard Music Awards, a Grammy and the Soul Train Lady of Soul Award. Brandy deserves her flowers.

Let’s check out the top 15 songs that helped solidify Brandy as your favorite singer’s favorite singer (just ask Solange) and earned her the title of the “Vocal Bible.”

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