Longboxing While Black will be a platform for Black Characters to speak on their experiences fighting alongside or against icons of the Superhero/Super-villain communities. In the first installment, we are catching up with Black Vulcan.
LBWB: Well first, Black Vulcan I would like to thank you for being our co-pilot for testing out this new format.
BV: No sweat! I’m honored that you asked.
LBWB: So. Black Vulcan How did you get your powers?
BV: Back when I was in college, I was walking to class and got struck with a bolt of Magic Lightning. I thought it was a freak accident y’know? I just recently found out that some old White wizard named Shazam really hated Black people. One day he was drinking with Nabu and ranting about the “Good Old Days”, apparently he forgot that Nabu was black, said the wrong thing and Nabu slapped the taste out of his mouth. That slap generated a bunch of magic lightning bolts that struck a bunch of Black folks world wide, jump-starting our metagenes.
LBWB: Wow! That’s huge! They never mentioned that in the history books! You would think a story about a bunch of Black people being struck by lightning would be a big deal.
BV: You would think…right? But you know what that’s about Brotha.
LBWB: So tell me about your life before applying for the Superfriends.
BV: Well to be clear, they recruited me.
LBWB: Oh my fault. The Wiki says you applied. I would love to hear about their recruiting process but first, what was your life before they recruited you.
BV: Well after discovering my powers, I went straight to the streets. Black Electrical Meta’s were all the rage that summer and I wanted to get my name out there as quickly as possible. My first costume was a custom blue Velour Jumpsuit with a “BV” log on the front and back. I had some lightning bolt gazelle frames too. I wanted to be the freshest hero on the block. I landed an endorsement deal with Puma for the Black Vulcan Brand.
LBWB: Endorsement Deal?
BV: Yeah. Superheroing is expensive. I’m not sure what kind of jobs these other cats have, but the cost of uniform replacement monthly is more than a lot of people’s take-home pay. We all can’t crypto-fascist billionaires with our own armories.
LBWB: Point taken. What was life like before the Super Friends for you?
BV: It was really cool. After graduation, I moved to Dakota City. I was a consultant for their corrections department. They asked me to help design cells to contain super-powered villains. I told them I would do it if they also funded a rehabilitation center for super-powered folks with mental health issues. It was the first program of its type and a lot of people got help. Then the Reagan Years happened….guess which was the first program to get cut? Anyway, I made some connections in Dakota City and was even playing with the idea of running mayor. That’s when the Super Friends contacted me.
LBWB: What did they say?
BV: Their in-house PR firm contacted me. Wendy and Marvin needed work after the Wonder Dog / Dynomutt fiasco so the Super Friends put them on the payroll. I found out later that they helped keep a few class-action lawsuits against Batman out of the courts.
LBWB: Class Action Suits? Let’s NOT get into that. What can you tell us about your time with the Super Friends? Let’s start with Batman.
BV: I couldn’t figure him out. Here’s a guy who is supposed to be the smartest guy in the room..ya know? Eidetic memory and all that. He never got my name right. He always called me ‘Black Lightning’. I would correct him each and every time and he always got it wrong. At first, I thought it was accidental because he worked closely with Black Lightning on a few cases, but the more I was around the guy, the less I believed it. I really started to question it when he started quoting crime statistics at me.
LBWB: Crime Statistics?
BV: Yep. But he only did it after we got done fighting Black Manta or Solomon Grundy.
LBWB: I know where you are going with this, but why Solomon Grundy?
BV: He swore up and down that Solomon Grundy was Black.
LBWB: In what context would he quote those statistics to you? I imagine it was awkward.
BV: Hell yes it was awkward! He would say something like “On average, Black kids commit their first act of super-villainy by the time they hit six, so I broke six of Black Manta’s ribs to send the message that crime doesn’t pay.”
LBWB: Wait! What?
BV: Yeah. I was hipped to the fact that Batman was a bit off early on. I mean look at how he dressed Robin. Batman would go into battle with a high tech suit of body armor while Robin was out here dressed like a one-man synchronized swimming team. I was glad that Robin eventually broke off and did his own thing. He was a good kid. But Batman loses one Robin, he replaces them with another. He even dresses them the same. It’s really weird.
LBWB: Speaking of costumes, what was the story behind your Costume during the Super Friends? It was a radical departure from the Velour Tracksuit.
BV: So for some reason, it was decided that my costume violated some bylaw against endorsement deals. They had one of their designers do up a uniform for me. I found out later that Wonder Woman had a lot of input on the uniform.
LBWB: Wonder Woman?
BV: Yep. They said it was some kind of enchanted cloth from Themyscira. I think it was BS. As soon as I started wearing that suit, she started making comments about how toned my legs were. Apache Chief and Samurai got the same treatment. They had Apache Chief in a loincloth! Dig that? He grows to 50 feet tall! Every battle was a peep show nobody wanted to see. It was even funnier when he told me that he went commando on purpose…Said it was his form of protest.
LBWB: Did you complain about the costumes?
BV: We did, but that’s when the lawyers got involved. Apparently, they hid a clause about “approved uniforms” in our membership contract. So Sam and I were stuck with our battle onesies and AC was stuck with his loincloth.
LBWB: That seems like a pretty hostile work environment.
BV: I wouldn’t say it was hostile. It was just really awkward at times.
LBWB: Awkward how?
BV: You ever have to work with a bunch of White Folks who are trying to damn hard on both sides?
LBWB: Say no more.
BV: I got used to Batman’s nonsense, I’ve worked with many Law Enforcement agencies, Batman just sounded a bunch of those Good Ol Boys, Superman on the other hand…
LBWB: Tell me about Superman
BV: So here’s a cat who’s can fly, is infinitely strong, infinitely fast, indestructible…you know invincible. Dude’s persecution complex is infinite too…
Next time on Behind the Cape with Black Vulcan: Kryptonian Privilege