Some time ago, some Wikipedia user or another noticed that there were quite a few fictional black African-American DC animated superheroes with the power to manipulate electricity, indeed a surprising amount, so he or she decided to create a category to list them. "Too specific!" some cried. "No room for growth!" said another. "Obviously a joke." complained a third. Alas, they were too quick to judge and didn't realize the astounding size of this category, made all the more amazing by how very specific it is. And so it was relegated to Wikipedia's deleted articles with freaky titles section.
From this ghetto I do rescue thee, Fictional Black African-American DC animated Superheroes with the power to manipulate electricity, and give you the recognition that you deserve. But first, let's break down this lengthy title word-by-word so we know just what exactly we're getting ourselves into.
- Fictional: Obviously superheroes of all sorts are fictional, but Wikipedia insists that all entries regarding fictional entities be labeled as such to avoid confusion. A prudent move, perhaps, in cases such as Sweeney Todd, but rather redundant in this case.
- Black: Although by stereotype, many Westerners would think that "black African-American" is redundant, not everyone living in Africa or descended from those living there, is black. For example, such a large portion of South Africa is white that the term "South African" will typically refer to the whites who live there.
- African-American: Descended from Africans, now living in America, typically the United States thereof. This is to differentiate them not only from Africans living in other continents (e.g. Europe), but also of course from Africans who are still living in Africa, such as Marvel's Black Panther.
- DC: No Marvel Comics superheroes allowed! Or those other comics, Image, Dark Horse, etc.
- Animated: Just about anyone can appear in a comic book, but it takes someone special to attain the recognition necessary to get the full animated treatment. Notable DC Animation projects include Hanna-Barbera's various Superfriends incarnations and Bruce Timm's internally-consistent DC Animated Universe.
- Superheroes with the power to manipulate electricity: There aren't all that many superheroes whose primary ability is to manipulate electricity. Some, such as Marvel's Thor, do so as a side-effect of their primary powers. Others, such as Marvel's Electro and DC's Livewire, are supervillains. Of those superheroes who do, a truly surprising number are black African-American and DC animated.
Storm should perhaps receive honorable mention as a fictional black African-American Marvel animated Superhero with powers that include as a side-effect the ability to manipulate electricity to a limited degree.
- Black Lightning
- To the best of my knowledge, chronologically the first black African-American DC superhero with the ability to manipulate electricity. Black Lightning was once portrayed by comedian Sinbad in an episode of Saturday Night Live as such an intentionally obscure character that none of the other superheroes in the sketch knew who he was. He finally saw animated form in 2008's Batman: The Brave and the Bold.
- Black Vulcan
- Following close on the heels of Black Lightning, Black Vulcan was added to the Superfriends series in one of its later incarnations, along with three other racially diverse heroes, in an attempt to bring the Superfriends' all-white cast out of the 1950s. Due to the non-violent nature of the show, his lightning bolts did odd things like tie up villains rather than shock them. He could also fly by turning the lower half of his body into a lightning bolt.
- Static is a young hero featured most prominently in the animated cartoon Static Shock. His powers are electricity-based, including electrical blasts and the ability to manipulate metal magnetically. He frequently uses this power to "fly", standing on manhole covers which he levitates. The inherent dangers of thereby leaving open manholes are left unaddressed.
- Soul Power
- Soul Power is another character from Static Shock, also a black African-American superhero. Although retired in the timeline of the show, he teams up with Static in the episode A Blast from the Past. His powers are nearly identical to Static's but his methods are not.
- Soul Power's obligatory teenage sidekick had a high-tech costume that duplicated his mentor's powers.
- As a wink and a nod to Hanna-Barbera's Superfriends, Bruce Timm's Justice League Unlimited introduced several characters based on the Superfriends' original creations as a team called the Ultimen. Juice was based on Black Vulcan (El Dorado, sadly, was not represented). Originally under the control of the shady government organization Project Cadmus, they eventually rebelled and were defeated by the Justice League.
- Juice (mass-produced clone)
- That's not the end of the Ultimen, however, because Project Cadmus later believed that the Justice League had gone rogue and had to be stopped. To this end, they created mass-produced versions of the Ultimen, led by a clone of Supergirl (herself a reference to Power Girl), to fight the Justice League. Multiple copies of Juice were present as they were soundly defeated by the combined Justice League members. Although filling an antagonistic role, since the clones were working as government operatives I'm going to shamelessly pad the list by including them as superheroes.