Why Black Superheroes Succeed - and Fail

However, Milestone's books did not sell well and the company folded in 1997. Some critics and readers could not relate to the comics because they thought characters were too black. Some thought the characters weren't black enough. But others say Milestone's poor sales should be blamed on the overall state of the industry at the time.

"I'd say what happened had more to do with business reasons than with the characters and the product," said Quesada. "Because some of their stories were highly enjoyable. … The bottom was falling out in the industry at the time."

Some believe the books were not marketed properly.

"I don't think the books were sold where the audience was," said Mark Davis, co-creator of Blokhedz. "There are no comic book shops where most black people live."

An Upcoming Renaissance?

Milestone's books can still be found in the bins of comic specialty shops. Its most popular hero, Static, can be seen daily on the WB cartoon series Static Shock. Its influence also lives on in today's comic book creators.

"A lot of things you see in Blokhedz reflect some things my brother and I experienced growing up and some of the Saturday morning cartoons and comic books we used to enjoy," Mark Davis said. "With [Milestone's] Icon and Static — they were like our Spider-Man and Batman."

Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons has distributed Blokhedz at his Hip Hop Summit Action Network's events. According to the Blokhedz team, some barbershops have also sold the books, and they have received inquiries from some schools, guidance counselor offices and churches. The Davis brothers hope that ultimately, Blokhedz could be made into a feature film.

Meanwhile, Marvel Comics is planning to relaunch Black Panther in a new comic book series either at the end of this year or early next year.

Maybe this will be the start of a renaissance for Black Panther. And perhaps he — along with Luke Cage — will someday join Spider-Man, the X-Men and Blade in the movie blockbuster club.

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