Day 35: Vykin the Black!

Vykin, somber member of The Forever People, is a “Finder,” one who “has the power to trace and reconstruct atomic patterns,” meaning, I reckon, the guy can sense where things have previously been and is able to detect such earlier presences by zapping beams out of his eyes which create a trace image. Like Mark Moonrider, Vykin also has a latent ability that doesn’t appear until late in the series: Magna-Power, which he uses without so much as a howdy-do against a gunman: it’s a kind of reverse-magnetism force field that repels metal and those that wield same… akin to Magneto, I guess.

Most of all though, Vykin is the loyal protector of the team’s beloved Mother Box (we’ll get to her), a kind of sentient computer that exhibits emotions (via pings) and endowed with the ability to call into this dimension a wonderful, spectacular, immensely powerful being… Fear not, friend, soon you will learn all…

Vykin is also a language major and possesses in his helmet an indicator connected to Mother Box, saying his “mind is so attuned to her waves,” but Vykin can also hear her without the helmet (which also, by the way, contains probing circuits that can detect gold).

The name description: Is Jack really being that blatant, relaying the obvious — Vykin has black skin — or might it be more subtle wordplay off the character’s name, an apparent derivation of “Viking”? I mean, like there’s Erik the Red, Thorstein the Red, The Red Viking (or did I make up that last one as my own comic book character?)… I imagine there’s not too many “…the Blacks” in Norse myth or history…

“Token” black characters were appearing all over network teevee at the time: Bill Cosby in I Spy, Nichelle Nichols’ “Uhura” in Star Trek, The Mod Squad‘s Linc Hayes, a nod by Hollywood towards the civil rights movement, with their otherwise lily-white fantasy world. So, why not comics?

But it’s important to note Jack created the first mainstream black comic book super-hero in this country — The Black Panther in the pages of The Fantastic Four — and he’d go on, in the very pages of The Forever People, to debut the first U.S. Asian super-hero, Sonny Sumo.

Gratuitous? Maybe. I’m more inclined to give J.K. the benefit of the doubt and believe the allusion of color with Vykin the Black is less due to skin pigmentation and more that he was a subterranean dweller on New Genesis before joining the team, from a black world, so to speak. But then, I’m a Kirbyhead, so whaddaya want!

2 thoughts on “Day 35: Vykin the Black!

  1. Richard Bensam

    That line about Vykin being “so attuned to her waves” that he hears Mother Box without his helmet comes in the Sonny Sumo story, when Sonny is amplifying it with his own mental powers — but Vykin doesn’t know about Sonny yet, so he doesn’t realize that’s why it’s happening. It’s not clear whether he would still need the helmet otherwise.

    Yes, I have thought about this at great length ever since 1971. Tremble before me.

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