More What The @#$%* Moments in Comics
You all know black superheroes are pretty hard to come by....sadly tho when they are portrayed, they are done with ignorance and stereotypes (not always meant to be racist). Ironically when they are done properly they usually have sales problems. Now before you start thinking I'm coming down on the industry for being racist, please understand I'm realistic and aware that it might not be like that, (although I'm sure there's racism cause its everywhere) I just have made a few observations in my 30 plus years of comic reading.
So enter Tyroc. Appearing a year before Black Lightning he is basically one of DC's first black superheroes. If you picked up any issue of The Legion of Superheroes pre-1976, you would never have seen not one black person (they had green and orange people), not even in the background people. So DC made a black superhero to counter this. Before 1960 Jim Shooter had wanted a black hero but had been stopped from doing it. He said".....I always wanted to have a character who was African-American, and years later, when they did that, they did it in the worst way possible....instead of just incidentally having a character who happens to be black....they made a big fuss about it. He's a racial separatist.....I just found it pathetic and appalling."
What was so racist and appalling you may say? Well hold on to your seats and hold onto your jaw before it drops to the floor......Tyroc's story goes like this: Remember how above I said there were NO black folk in the pages of Legion of Superheroes, well in what I can only assume is a way to explain where the black people went (cause we're like everywhere) they came up with the genius idea that....now get this....all black people are on an island , Marzal, that disappears for several year at a time (think Brigadoon). They are descendants of slaves that inhabit an island that comes around every 200 years. Doesn't really sound that racist to you? Well imagine if you hate black people and wish they weren't around, then the idea of them being on an island sounds pretty "ACES". But let the island disappear for a year or 200 at a time? You would probably start crying like a German at a Hasselhoff concert. What was the cause of all of this? Well it seems to be the work of Murray Boltinoff. David Johnson of Cracked.com explains it pretty well:
"To really understand this move, and everything else about Tyroc, you need to understand Murray Boltinoff, the editor of Legion at the time. We don't want to say anything as libelous as "Murray Boltinoff is a racist," but he's the reason no black people ever made it to a Legion comic and he once ordered the colorists to change a black background character into a white character for no stated reason. And it was because of Boltinoff that Tyroc couldn't be a hero who happened to be black; he needed to be a former slave turned racial segregationist. Also, the disappearing island thing? Because Blotinoff is OK with theidea of black people, as long as they stick to their island that is totally unreachable."
Pretty good explanation if you ask me.
I should mention that Tyroc has a better representation now-a-days, he's in the DC new 52 book Legion Lost and has never looked better. But considering where he came from. that may be an understatement. Still when I first read about the story of Tyroc and saw his costume and his design, I completely went in my mind "what the @#$%*". Usually emabrassments like this one disappear never to be seen again. But DC really turned it around (at least thats what I gather from looking at the new pics of him....I haven't read much else with him in it.) Which makes me wonder.....can I forgive a "Chicken George operation" like this one just to have more black characters out there in a certain medium? Well, I did watch BET, UPN, and the WB for years....
Recent Tyroc...doesn't look as cheesy as the original
Tyroc in the Leion Lost
Well however your take on Tyroc, either as another racist hatchet job or a misguided effort for the right thing, one thing is for certain we all can agree with.....that first costume would win a What the @#$%* award alone. PEACE!!!