Posted by:
Byron Brewer

Brew's Crew: The Black Racer



For a time, there were almost no African-American characters in comics, unless they were stereotypes we would rather forget.

Then came the Black Panther, the Falcon and the 1970s. They were coming outta the woodwork!

A forgotten one? Jack “King” Kirby’s Fourth World Black Racer.

The Black Racer's corporeal form is that of the otherwise bedridden Sgt. Willie Walker, who was paralyzed during the Vietnam War. Walker was contacted by the Source when Darkseid first brought the war of the gods to Earth, and told it was his responsibility to take on the role.

The Racer makes use of what appear to be skis as his means of transport, much like how the Silver Surfer, another Kirby creation, uses a surfboard. New Gods are collected by the Racer at the moment of their deaths, and taken to Hadis (the Fourth World version of Hades).

According to Captain Atom #42, the Black Racer represents "death as inevitability", whereas Death of the Endless represents "death as compassionate release". Nekron meanwhile represents "Death as the Ultimate Opponent." This has been contested by Neil Gaiman, who had said that Death of the Endless is the ultimate incarnation of death in the DCU.

During the “Our Worlds at War” crossover, the Racer came to harvest Steel’s soul, but Superman talked him out of it. Young Justice came across him while he was moving Steel to Apokolips and pursued him by initiative of Lobo and Superboy, even if Robin disagreed. In the Darkseid vs. Galactus crossover, the Silver Surfer was able to delay the Racer when it came to claim Orion, giving Orion's Mother Box time to heal his injuries.

Willie Walker was killed in the first issue of the eight-part Death of the New Gods mini-series. He was killed by Infinity-Man who tore his heart out. Serifan of the Forever People was seen exiting the room after his death.

The Black Racer makes an appearance in issue #1 of Final Crisis, present at the death of Orion. As with the other New Gods, his appearance was redesigned; he wore a sleeker armor only faintly resembling his classic appearance (his skis appeared to be highly stylized boots), and his poles appeared much like scythes.

The Black Racer also appears at the end of Final Crisis #2, pursuing Barry Allen/The Flash and the God-bullet that has been fired backwards through time. In #6, Wally West suggests that the Black Racer and the Black Flash are one and the same. In The Flash: Rebirth #2 this idea is mentioned once again. In Final Crisis #7, Barry and West, chased by the Black Racer, bring him to a mortally-wounded Darkseid, whom he decides to take in their place.

Speed characters are some of my favorites, and among them is definitely this ebony cosmic Kirby speedster.