Inspired by the excellent The OTHER HISTORY of the DC Universe, I decided to re-read some of my Black Lightning comics. (I don't have that many so this won't take long.) I haven't read any of his original series, and passed on the tpb which reprinted it a few years ago. Although I have do have Justice League of America #173, I haven't read it in many years. I have an extensive run of Batman & the Outsiders, most of which I acquired as backissues and have read little of it. that brings me up to the 1994 series by Tony Isabella and Eddie Newell.

Other History #1 brings the story right up to this point, so I thought this would be a good time to re-read it. Issue #1 is done-in-one, which I like in a first issue. I hate buying the first issue of a new (or returning) series that is "part one of six" or whatever. the only thing I would have liked more is if there had been an editorial introducing the creative team and outlining the vision. 

Jefferson Pierce (Black Lightning) is a schoolteacher at an inner-city school in Brick City.He is liked and respected in the community. His love interest is Gail Harris, whose nephew, one of Pierce's students, is being courted by rival gangs. Jackson Perry is the crooked mayor. Black Lightning's activities are drawing attention away from his "Operation: city Storm." Police Chief Latimer and Detective Tommy Colavito are Black  Lightning's allies.

Issues #2-4 comprise a two-parter in which the meta-human Painkiller is brought in by one of the gangs to deal with black Lightning. #4 ends with a surprise attack by a "new student" which kills one teacher and grievously wounds Jeff Pierce. Issue #5, "Requiem," is largely a flashback tale which takes place in the hospital while Pierce is recuperating. It is drawn in two distinctive styles, and I remember it to have been one of the best comics I read that year (1995). That's as far as I read this morning.

The next story is a three-perter, #6-8. the last issue I bought was #7, and the last Isabella wrote was #8. The series itself was cancelled with #13. I do not remember why I stopped buying this book. I don't think it was a conscious decision; I think I just missed an issue and never looked back. I used to read "Tony's Tips" in CBG. I remember he promised to tell the story of why he left Black Lightning in the next issue, but I don't remember reading that explanation even though I was anticipating it.

Years later, I remember he took a dim view of something that had been done with the character (in a story I didn't care much for, either). I remember agreeing with him on this board, and I remember being shot down. Now I'm left wondering: why did Isabella leave (or why was he taken off)? I did a brief internet search and found some vitriolic comments about DC, not at all what I would have expected from "The World's Most Beloved Comic Book Writer." 

I'm going to stake out this thread for further discussion of future issues of The OTHER HISTORY of the DC Universe but, in the meantime, let's hear your thoughts on any of the character's previous series of appearances. Also, why did Isabella leave the mid '90s series (or why was he taken off)? The floor is open. 

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“Brown Bomber” might ring a bell because it was Joe Louis’ nickname.


Reply by Philip Portelli yesterday

I do have the 2016 Black Lightning collection where Tony Isabella wrote the forward, once again telling us that Jefferson Pierce is his greatest creation. 

The strange thing is that the title page lists both Isabella and Trevor Von Eeeden as the creators of Black Lightning yet the splash pages of the original series only have Isabella as the creator. DC might, and I say again might, have included Van Eeden to lessen Isabella's claim to Black Lightning as the TV series was in pre-production.

We know that Isabella convinced DC not to publish the ill-conceived Black Bomber(which for some reason, I recall as the Brown Bomber) in favor of Black Lightning which he was supposed to get royalties on. This led to Black Lightning not being included in Super Friends, replaced by the similarly powered Black Vulcan. Apparently the same thing happened on Static Shock. Indeed the Ebon Bolt was left out of Justice League Unlimited as well.

The late Dwayne McDuffie actually put this character -- calling him The Brown Bomber -- in Justice League of America (Volume 2) #26 (December 2008).

Some background here, from The Vault: "GREAT MOMENTS IN COMICS: THE BLACK BOMBER"

The Vault said:

If that last sequence doesn't seem to make sense, it's because DC editorial erased some of the dialogue from the last panel in post-production; the Brown Bomber is supposed to be asking Vixen if it's okay for him to use the N-word when he's in his black identity. It's too bad that they axed the line, because it is both funny and sharp commentary, but it at least proves that, 35 years later, DC editorial has at least learned some of their lesson from the debacle that almost was The Black Bomber.

According to Tony Isabella when he and DC did the new deal on Black Lightning before the TV show came out, it was his idea to have the credits,"created by Tony Isabella with Trevor Von Eeden". This was to put a little bit of money in Trevor's pocket.

He goes into it, in an article over here. It gets into a quite a bit of the Black Lightning stuff, as well as his displeasure with Trevor posting a copy of a check he got from DC for Black Lightning.

Philip Portelli said:

I do have the 2016 Black Lightning collection where Tony Isabella wrote the forward, once again telling us that Jefferson Pierce is his greatest creation. 

The strange thing is that the title page lists both Isabella and Trevor Von Eeeden as the creators of Black Lightning yet the splash pages of the original series only have Isabella as the creator. DC might, and I say again might, have included Van Eeden to lessen Isabella's claim to Black Lightning as the TV series was in pre-production.

We know that Isabella convinced DC not to publish the ill-conceived Black Bomber (which for some reason, I recall as the Brown Bomber) in favor of Black Lightning which he was supposed to get royalties on. This led to Black Lightning not being included in Super Friends, replaced by the similarly powered Black Vulcan. Apparently the same thing happened on Static Shock. Indeed the Ebon Bolt was left out of Justice League Unlimited as well.

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