Introducing Brotherman: Dictator of Discipline.
(AfroGamers.com) In talking to the proprietor of AfroGamers, I was asked “How do you find these old school Black comics?” Mind you, those weren’t his exact words, but the question was the same. While I answered his question, the short, more immediate answer is Peep Game Comix. Tons of modern and cult independent comics by Black writers and artists in one location.
So, in keeping with the initial question, I here’s a cult classic in Black comics. This is one that if you hadn’t heard of it, don’t be stunned. Brotherman: Dictator of Discipline was created by the brotherly trio of Dawud Anyabwile, Jason Sims, and Guy A. Sims in 1989 and first published in 1990.
Of the three, Anyabwile (formerly known as David Sims) will be the most recognizable as he worked for Cartoon Network on the show Level Up and Viacom on The Wild Thornberrys, Daria, and Rugrats–among other shows. Guy Sims is an accomplished author who does a variety of genres. Of note, personally, is the Duke Denim detective series.
Brotherman: The Dictator of Discipline
The series was in its creative stages in 1989. The three Sims brothers saw there were just the same couple of Black superheroes in mainstream comics and decided to create their own. By the time that the 1990 New York Black Expo rolled around, they had everything in print.
Brotherman detailed a lawyer-by-day, vigilante-by-night named Antonio Valor. He believes his work as a lawyer is work that is making a difference but Big City is grimy, crime-ridden place where hope pretty much goes to die. I would liken to Gotham City with a large Black population.
Crime and corruption are the order of the day and it really wears on Valor’s feeling that his legit work is making a dent. As Brotherman, Valor dispenses justice. If I were to explain him off the top of my head, I’d say Brotherman is Batman without the bank roll and the gadgets. He uses his strong hand-to-hand skills and logic. That’s it. No Brotherangs, Brothergas, Brothermobile–none of that.
“Okay, cool. So does he have powers?” He has hand-to-hand skills and his mind is quick. Honestly, he could’ve been a detective like the district attorney he works under, Duke Denim, was at one time. He leans closer to comic book legend The Spirit than mainstream heroes.
The Legacy of Brotherman
While it wasn’t the first time Black siblings created their own comic book and characters, it is the first time that it spawned into a series. That said, it didn’t run for long throughout the 1990s thanks to numerous problems when it came to marketing and getting the comic on shelves. Brotherman is a great comic that served as social commentary as well.
The series was recently inducted into the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. It also served as both the torch for the 2000s Black comic movement and as a giant what if. What would have become of Big City Comics if it had the capital at the time? Personally, I feel as though it would’ve spun off into several series in a shared universe.
Today, it has pretty much done that with Brotherman: Revelations comic and the Duke Denim novels–both prequels. That said, I’m sure there’s more stories to tell across Big City because there will always be a need for Brotherman. As a matter of fact, an aging Brotherman or a newly trained Brotherman in a Big City facing today’s threats would be great.
Staff Writer; M. Swift
This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.