Archive for February 3rd, 2011

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Black Superhero Month: Black Goliath

February 3, 2011

Black Goliath. Sigh.

One of the more fascinating aspects of the Marvel universe is the existence of Pym Particles, some kind of chemical science thing that allows people to either shrink to tiny sizes or shoot up to giant heights. The particles are not user-specific, meaning there can be any number of insect-oriented superheroes fighting alongside towering monoliths. Henry Pym, Clint Barton, Scott Lang, Eric O’Grady, some girl version of Yellowjacket … many people have snorted Pyms over the years.

One of them, however, decided he also had to wear a crop top and show off his belly.

Bill Foster took over for Henry Pym (Giant-Man/Goliath) after Pym decided to stay tiny, for complex reasons I will pretend to not understand. And, just in case you don’t get it, he changed his name to Black Goliath.

This wasn’t Bill’s fault, of course. In those shaftastic days of the ’70s, it was, for some reason, important to tack “Black” in front of superheroes’ names to point out the obvious. We’ll visit with some of those characters over the course of February, but today, I thought it was important to start with the biggest … and the stupidest.

Black Goliath had his own title for a brief period, but it was cancelled after children recoiled in fear while browsing the racks at the drugstore. “Mommy, I can see that negro’s tummy bumps!” was a common complaint. Later, after Marvel wisely stitched some fabric over Bill’s belly, he made brief appearances here and there, usually drifting away whenever Henry Pym decided to biggen up again. Eventually, Bill became just Goliath, which didn’t matter, because he was eventually killed by a clone of Thor during the superhero civil war, and if you don’t read comics, you can be forgiven for thinking I just made that part up.

I have always had difficulty with the concept of gigantic superheroes. Twenty feet tall? Okay, that might be handy in a fight. But a 200-foot dude? Where’s he going to go? Unless you’re fighting a tornado on the prairie, the collateral damage caused by just walking around would outweigh any do-gooderisms. The public would be more terrified of Big Bulgy than the villain. Especially when all they can see is a giant pair of abs.

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