#S4MBlerds Celebrates Women’s History Month: Bumblebee the OG
March 29, 2016 at 3:46 am
In honor of the hashtag #BlackWomenHistoryMonth, we've been celebrating our favorite black heroines and villains.Last, but not least in any capactiy is Bumblebee. This is a space in which I often preach about representation for PoC and women in an industry that is predominantly run by white men. Because of the importance of this month for Black women and the necessity that they be seen, heard, and uplifted in comic books, film, and television, it is a personal honor to me that my Blavity fam, Alex, is taking over the column to tell you about this Black woman hero, and what she means to her. - Ira
Greetings, Blavity Fam. It’s been awhile since I have been around in a writing capacity and I assume you’re wondering what brings me back to these writing skreets. Bumblebee is the answer.
Who is Bumblebee?Bumblebee aka Karen Beecher is one of DC comics few Black heroines. Like most great Black superheroes, Bumblebee’s inception can be traced back to the 70s (specifically 1976), right smack-dab in the middle of the Blaxploitation film era. Many comic book nerds and Blerds alike argue that she was DC’s first Black heroine, but that’s a bit hard to say when Nubia was created just three years earlier. There’s more to Bumblebee however than arguably being the first. Bumblebee is also known as scientist Karen Beecher and didn’t get sucked into the superhero life until coming to the rescue of her boyfriend the Herald (also known as Mal Duncan). To explain, the Herald needed a little assistance impressing the folks over in the Teen Titans squad and Bumblebee had no qualms about helping her bae accomplish that. So, since she’s a freakin’ genius, she built a super-suit for herself and attacked the Teen Titans. Then, because she’s smooth as all get out, escaped unscathed without blowing her cover. Of course, she’d eventually come clean to Mal and the Teen Titans later, but because everyone was so impressed with her, she eventually got drafted onto the squad. After that, she and her bae Mal moved to San Francisco and became apart of the newly established Teen Titans West team. They would end up retiring for the hottest of minutes due to Teen Titan HQ troubles and in this time Bumblebee and Mal would get married and Bumblebee would get a job with famous S.T.A.R. Labs and develop key non-lethal weaponry. So, think a cooler version of Ant-Man (or maybe even Janet Van Dyne’s Wasp) without all the egotism and abuse (on Hank Pym’s part) and the buffoonery and con artistry (on Scott Lang’s part).
What gives the Bee her sting?My mentioning of Ant-Man brings me to my next segway--Bumblebee’s super-suit. So, here’s the thing. We can’t really talk about Bumblebee’s powers before parsing her suit first. To start off, Bumblebee’s suit is what we would call a high-tech battle suit that has multiple parts, parcels, and pieces:
- Her Cybernetic Helmet - Attached to Bumblebee’s mind and spin, this helmet empowers Bumblebee by granting her access to electricity through solar power.
- Her Eyepieces - In some iteration of Bumblebee, Bumblebee is wearing goggles within her cybernetic helmet and within these goggles are these “eyepieces” that are actually quartz prisms that discharge energy similar to that of a bee sting.
- Her Exoskeleton - AKA her wings. They allow ya girl Bumblebee to fly, inhance her movement and agility, and grant her some serious vibration abilities that allow her to disrupt sound (sonic disruption). These bad boys also act as much-needed body armor. She can also produce very powerful hypersonic blasts.