The Black Racer is a fictional character, a deity and avatar of Death in DC Comics universe. The character first appears in New Gods (vol. 1) #3 (July 1971) and was created by Jack Kirby.
Fictional character biography
The Black Racer's corporeal form is that of the otherwise bedridden Sgt. Willie Walker
, who was paralyzed during the Vietnam War
. Walker was contacted by the Source when Darkseid
first brought the war of the gods to Earth, and told it was his responsibility to take on the role.
The Racer makes use of what appear to be skis as his means of transport, much like how the Silver Surfer
, another Kirby creation, uses a surfboard. New Gods are collected by the Racer at the moment of their deaths, and taken to Hadis (the Fourth World version of Hades
According to Captain Atom #42 the Black Racer represents "death as inevitability", whereas Death of the Endless represents "death as compassionate release". This has been contested by Neil Gaiman, who says that Death of the Endless is the ultimate incarnation of death in the DC Universe.
During the Our Worlds at War crossover, he came to harvest Steel's soul, but Superman talked him out of it. In the Darkseid Vs. Galactus crossover, Silver Surfer talked the Racer from claiming Orion. This was a highly unusual occurrence; the Black Racer is usually implacable.
In Grant Morrison
's miniseries Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle
, the Black Racer appears as a wheelchair-bound man (probably not
Willie Walker, as he appears Caucasian), following the destruction of Apokolips
and New Genesis
. He has a bet with Metron
as to whether Mister Miracle will be successful in saving the New Gods.
This version of the Black Racer will make an appearance in Final Crisis where he will go up against the Flash.
Death of the New Gods
Willie Walker was killed in the first issue of the eight-part Death of the New Gods
mini-series. He was killed by Infinity-Man
who tore his heart out. Serifan of the Forever People
was seen exiting the room after his death.
The Black Racer makes an appearance in Issue #1, present at the death of Orion. As with the other New Gods
, his appearance has been redesigned; he now wears a sleeker armor only faintly resembling his classic appearance (his skis now appear to be highly stylized boots), and his poles appear much like scythes. The Final Crisis Sketchbook states that J.G. Jones and Grant Morrison decided to play up the Black Knight aspect of the character in this new design.
The Black Racer also appears at the end of Issue #2, pursuing Barry Allen/The Flash and the God-bullet that has been fired backwards through time.
- Doorman from the Marvel comic Great Lakes Avengers becomes a personification of Death and flies using skis in reference to Black Racer.
- The Black Racer is shown in an alternate future in the JLA story arc "Rock of Ages", although little seems changed about him in this alternate timeline.