There are many who take inspiration from real life public figures, while many find it in the immortal and larger than life fictional characters too. Comic books and Superheroes have influenced the pop culture for decades and still continue to do so. They are the embodiment of many good ideas, thoughts, and expressions, a number of people represented through them, throughout these years.

The debut of black heroes in comic books, also paved way for a number of black creators to come out and make their own heroes. And the stories they told through them, brought a perspective and acknowledgment of the diverse life that surrounds us. Today these characters are expanded across the comic books, movies and television in a great capacity. And to honor The Black History Month, here are some of the most influential black heroes of all time.

6. Black Lightning

Black lightning

Black Lightning is known to be one of the first black superheroes of DC comics. Debuting in 1977, Black Lightning has the power to generate and manipulate electricity using various methods. Although mostly known for working solo, he has also been the part of Justice League and various other team ups.

Going by the name of Jefferson Pierce, he is also the principal at several schools. He embraced the Black Lightning persona, after his activist father was killed when he tried to blow the whistle on local con man, Tobias Whale. That pushed Jefferson to the edge and ultimately the quote “Justice–Like Lightning– Should Ever Appear to Some Men Hope, To Other Men, Fear” led him to start his superhero career. He is also an Olympic decathlete and father of two daughters.

5. Blade

Blade is the most popular vampire hunter in comic books. The character got even more popular after Wesley Snipes’ Blade trilogy, that ran through 1998 to 2004. He boasts of being a human-vampire hybrid himself, but with none of the weakness that vampires have. He has dedicated his life on uprooting the occult world of vampires and has achieved a lot of victories over supernatural forces as well.

Blade debuted in comics in July 1973. Fighting crime in his 70s, Blade looks nothing more than a guy in his late 20s. Thanks to his powers that make him look much younger.

4. John Stewart

John Stewart is officially the first African American character of DC comics and the first black Green Lantern. He debuted in 1971 alongside the prime Green Lantern, Hal Jordan. But in 1980s when Hal turned rogue under the influence of villain Parallax, John took the mantle of Green Lantern full-time.

He has been notable about his anger against racism and his earlier adventures explored a lot of themes about the same, with one notable story arc being about a racist politician. Like any Green Lantern, John can create anything from his ring using his imagination. He was also a former social activist and a part of U.S Marine sniper.

3. Luke Cage

Luke Cage, also known as Power-man, possesses superstrength and is built of skin more powerful than Titanium. No wonder he is bullet proof. Debuting in 1972, Luke was born and raised in the slums of Harlem, which is also a major African-American residential, cultural and business center. He was wrongly convicted of a crime and forced to volunteer in a failed prison experiment that granted him his power. He has never stopped fighting crime since then.

Luke Cage was recently adapted for a Netflix live action series, where Mike Colter played the character. Luke Cage is set for a superhero crossover in upcoming Netflix series ‘The Defenders.’

2. Cyborg

Victor Stone was always passionate about pursuing his athletic interests, but the thing that always bothered him was his parents taking more interest in their scientific work as opposed to him, being the Star labs scientists that they were. During a meet, in lab with his parents, an experiment accidently leaked protoplasmic creature into the lab. The creature slew his mother and severely injured Victor before his father managed to send it back. To save Victor, his father used cybernetic enhancements that turned him into half-man and half-machine.

Cyborg can manipulate and interface with almost all forms of technology. He is also a founding member and an important team member of Justice League. Cyborg will debut on big screen with the release of Justice League in November 2017.

1. Black Panther

Black Panther(T’challa) is the first black superhero in mainstream comics. He debuted in 1966, on a Fantastic Four issue. T’challa is the king of Wakanda, which has an abundance of the costliest metal ever, called Vibranium. Wakanda is technologically very advanced and T’challa is probably the richest superhero among all. He has top intellect and is skilled in Martial arts. Black Panther has been a notable member of Avengers and Illuminati.

Black Panther was brought to life with is debut in film ‘Captain America: Civil War.’ A solo movie is also being filmed, scheduled for release next year. Black Panther will only continue to grow in pop culture from this point.