Get Ready! Silver Surfer: Ghost Light is here to teach you lesson

by 03.13.2023

Black Marvel superhero Ghost Light tackles race, social division

There’s a new Black superhero in the extensive Marvel universe, but he’s a ghost from the past that some fervent comic book fanatics may recognize.

His name is Ghost Light. He’s a friend to one of the most celebrated characters, Silver Surfer, and his debut is “54 years in the making.”

UC Riverside Media and Cultural Studies Professor John Jennings worked with comic book artist Valentine De Landro to bring one of Marvel’s first Black characters back to life as Ghost Light in the new five-book miniseries, “Silver Surfer: Ghost Light.” The second issue drops today.

Jennings, an acclaimed graphic novelist, talks about re-envisioning the character, reflecting on the Black experience in America, and diversifying the comic book industry.

Why do you want to bring diversity to the comic book industry?

It’s really important for people from various backgrounds to see themselves reflected in society and in the media that they produce.

There is this term that was created in the 1970s called symbolic annihilation that I’ve been obsessed with since I learned about it. The idea is that you can … metaphorically destroy someone by erasing their images from the media or from society. There’s no wonder why when people are conquered, the first thing that [the conqueror does] is burn their books, destroy all of their artwork, and destroy all of their images.

[That’s] because they want to erase the fact that [the conquered] actually made anything on Earth. In response to that, we want to create very powerful images that respond directly to people’s needs and wants. The superhero is inherently a power fantasy. So up until fairly recently, most of the people that have been … superheroes are straight white men. That has been very limiting. … Everybody should be superheroes, right?

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