Steamboat, Billy Batson’s friend and valet, was a stereotypical African American character who appeared in Fawcett’s comic books until 1945, when a group of New York City middle school students visited Captain Marvel editor Will Lieberson. Those students, all part of a program called Youthbuilders, Inc., successfully argued for the character’s removal. Drawing on the work of Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, and George Yancy, this chapter studies the character and his similarities to other racial caricatures in U. S. popular culture of the era. It also provides a short history of the Youthbuilders, an organization created by social worker Sabra Holbrook. The chapter concludes with a discussion of Alan Moore’s Evelyn Cream, a black character who appears in the 1980s series Miracleman. Although not directly based on Steamboat, Moore’s character was an attempt to address racial stereotypes in superhero comic books, figures that have their origins in the narratives of the 1930s and 1940s.
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