For most of their existence, superhero comics haven't exactly been diverse reflections of the world we live in. Marvel had Luke Cage and Black Panther, among others, while DC brought Black Lightning and Green Lantern John Stewart to the forefront.
But these characters' stories were primarily told by creators who didn't share their ethnicity. It also meant that their respective comics lacked a sense of authenticity.
In 1993, four prominent African-American comic creators decided to do something about that.
Denys Cowan, Michael Davis, Derek T. Dingle, and the late Dwayne McDuffie formed Milestone Media and launched Milestone Comics through DC Comics. For the first time, African-American creators were able to truly tackle challenging subjects of race, generational conflicts, teenage sexuality, and more. They also introduce some truly unforgettable characters, including Static, Icon, Rocket, Hardware, and the Blood Syndicate.
Static's love for science and knack for quips led to Spider-Man comparisons, and he went on to star in his own animated TV series. Static also arguably paved the way for other teenage heroes like Miles Morales, Kamala Khan, and Riri Williams. As for Icon, he may have looked similar to Superman, but his experience as an alien living on Earth was vastly different because of the color of his skin. Ultimately, it was Rocket, Icon's partner, who convinced him that he could become an inspiring symbol while navigating her own heroic path.
Unfortunately, Milestone didn't always mesh closely with DC. Although the two sides published a Worlds Collide crossover between the two lines, tensions mounted between McDuffie and DC publisher Paul Levitz over a Static cover that featured the young hero kissing his girlfriend on a bed with condoms nearby. That creative clash came back to haunt Milestone, but the company's story was far from over.
For more details about Milestone's rise and influence over comics, check out Part 1 of SYFY WIRE's latest episode of Behind the Panel!