Friday, March 18, 2011

Early Black Comic Book Heroes: Butterfly (II)

Tucked away in the interior of Skywald's Hell-Rider 2 (Oct 1971) is an 11-page complete story that is the second and last appearance of The Butterfly, the first ever African American super-heroine in comics. Written by Gary Friedrich, with plot and art by Rich Buckler, whose concept Butterfly was, we read the tale of "The Butterfly Against the Brothers of the Crimson Cross". We are introduced to Tony Morris, FBI special investigator, who looks like he was going to be the romantic interest for Marian Michaels, alias The Butterfly, but the corporate power of the big guys in the comic book industry at the time made sure Skywald would fold, so we never found out. In this issue Butterfly's opponents are a Ku Klux Klan-type white supremacist secret society with a leader who's penetrated the upper levels of power in Washington. The mission of the Brothers of the Crimson Cross is nothing less than the total eradication of non-white races in America - Nazi racism reborn in the USA. 11 pages wasn't a lot to tell this tale, but Friedrich and Buckler manage it, even if it is a little succinct in places, especially towards the end. So here it is:


Marian and Tony don't fit any negative stereotypes. They've each made a decent career for themselves in their own spheres of activity. Both are really upstanding, principled people, from what we've managed to learn about them. It's a really positive image of African Americans, but their mere presence in the comic wasn't achieved without some difficulty. BrittReid connected me with an interview on another blog, with Rich Buckler, that reveals just how front line this Butterfly character was, even in 1971 - it's well worth a read. As for Hell-Rider 2, just need to say that the great painted cover was again by Harry Rosenbaum. Readers whose letters were published in issue 2 raved about the mag, and one rightly identified Hell-Rider as a new type of hero that was going to change comics - well he did, conceptually, but as Ghost Rider in Marvel!

Many thanks again to Jodyanimator for the scans. BrittReid has also presented the Butterfly stories from Hell-Rider 1 & 2, with more of the Hell-Rider pages from issue 1 than have been provided here on Out Of This World. So if you'd like to take a look at BrittReid's Blog, and check out his shop with Butterfly products, here's some links:

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