I don't know if the readers demanded it but they got it anyway. In the 1970s, Marvel and DC put out a lot of titles, trying to see what would sell. Many weren't around for long like Man-Bat (two issues) and a few lasted out of the decade like The Warlord, The Defenders and Star Wars. One such attempt was BLACK GOLIATH, who already had a history attached to him. William (Bill) Foster first appeared in The Avengers #32 as a biochemist sent by Tony Stark to assist Henry Pym, the first Goliath when he was trapped at ten feet tall. He was one of Marvel's first African-American supporting cast though he wasn't around for long.

He returned years later in Power Man #24-25 (Ap-Ju'75), contacting his ex-wife, Claire Temple, telling her that while experimenting with Pym's growth serum, he was trapped at fifteen-feet high. He was "hiding" at a travelling circus when Claire arrived with her new boy-friend Luke Cage! Sweet Christmas! The two battled as Marvel heroes are wont to do until they joined forces because the circus was really the Circus of Crime (because every Marvel hero HAS to fight the Circus of Crime at least once in their careers)! Afterwards, Black Goliath has a confession to make: he's NOT trapped at giant-size! It was a ploy to get Claire back and leaves abashed.

Despite the less-than-ideal motivation, the next year saw Black Goliath #1 (F'76) on the stands, a feat Henry Pym never did in any of his identities. Written by Tony Isabella and drawn by George Tuska and Vince Coletta, it opens with Foster walking around Los Angeles, his hometown, where his reminiscences are interrupted by three street thugs who get a BIG surprise! Later he receives an encouraging phone call from Henry and Jan Pym (sadly their only appearance in the series) which causes him to relive his origin and rethink his future.

The next day, he arrives at the LA branch of Stark Industries which he runs and supervises the "Whiz Kids": the overweight Herbert Bell, the acerbic Dale West and the sultry Talia Kruma who are working on a force field vest with mixed results. The also have to worry about a string of lab robberies with radium as the loot.

That night, a gang of criminals break into Stark LA's warehouse led by ATOM-SMASHER who possesses incredible energy powers. They are confronted by Black Goliath who makes short work of the gang but is immobilized by Atom-Smasher's blasts, about to be vaporized!

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  • I know that many have criticized Vince Colletta's inking but he works well with George Tuska.
  • A nice touch is having Bill Foster think through the process of should he become a super-hero but he already has the costume, the name, the origin and the book!
  • It was different to base him in Los Angeles but it kept him away from the mainstream Marvel Universe, especially the Avengers.
  • Apparently he improved Pym's serum as he gave him greater strength as a giant!
  • As for Stark LA, would any of us work at a place where the mandatory dress code is skin-tight outfits?!?
  • And Dale West is a sexual harassment suit waiting to happen!
  • Their personal force field idea was revisited in Squadron Supreme. (Somewhere Brainiac is laughing!)
  • One thing that did bother me was the coloring. The lines for Black Goliath's sleeves were visible but colored as his skin in several places.
  • The "Bigger-Target" complaint was addressed by stating that the sight of a giant was so unnerving that crooks can't shoot straight!
  • Unfortunately they never did a Yellowjacket/Wasp/Ant-Man II/Black Goliath story!

Black Goliath had an unnecessary name and an impractical costume (bare stomach? super high collar?) but he was a great combination of brains and brawn who could have been a major character in the Marvel Universe. He had the connections and an unique position as a new hero with gravitas. For all his height, he lacked longevity.

Any of you remember Black Goliath fondly?

NEXT: It's Just a Flesh Wound or Hero Hook-Up!

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 Kirby drew the cover of #4. 
Figserello said:

Did the Black Goliath series have Kirby covers, or just pseudo-Kirby covers?

Well, that's something, at least.

Sock it to 'em, JK!

I'm surprised no one's ever used Captain Noah.

Captain Comics said:

Hmmm, good point. When I become a superhero, I'm going to be Captain Methuselah or Major Lazarus. Only because Immortal man is already taken.

Figserello said:

He renamed himself Goliath in The Thing #1 in 2006, several months before he was killed off in Civil War.

Maybe he should have picked a more propitious name ....

I do miss the 25 cent price.

I first met Bill in his Champions appearances, rescuing the team from their own misbehaving ship before facing Stiltman during the saga of the Nullifying Bomb.

I hoped to find further stories with him for a long time after.

I will write about #2 tomorrow night hopefully!

#1's cover was by Rich Buckler so yeah, pseudo-Kirby!

I wonder why none of these size-changers dubbed themselves GULLIVER which would have fit Henry Pym to a 'T' during his first run with the Avengers.

Then again there wasn't that many famous, heroic giants at the time as they were usually the bad guy of the story.

btw, on a Biblical tangent, there was a theory that Goliath was a descendent of Samson which would account for his size and strength.

Also, there's the glass-jaw and the renowned Achilles' heel but no one talk about Goliath's forehead! LOL!

btw (II), the trash talk on this cover nearly came true!

Is it required of all giant characters that they refer to their opponents as "little man"? I bet it's a union thing.

Seems more likely they'd call them "shorty."

The only other giant named in the Bible was Og, the king of Bashan. The Adventures of Og doesn't sound too exciting, does it?

BLACK GOLIATH #2 (Ap'76) White Fire, Atomic Death! by Chris Claremont (replacing Tony Isabella), George Tuska and Vince Colletta.

At the Stark LA warehouse, Black Goliath's first case is in serious jeopardy of being his last one! After recapping his premiere issue, the Towering Tyro barely avoids a killing blast from Atom-Smasher. Each energy bolt seems to be getting weaker but so is Black Goliath who keeps getting struck. Atom-Smasher seems uncatchable in his energy form but accidently causes a massive explosion that expels the Good Giant into a nearby drainage ditch! Thinking his new adversary dead, Atom-Smasher and his men escape in a weird plane, without the radium they were after. Atom-Smasher regrets Goliath's "demise" as a waste.

As firemen battle the horrific inferno, a deluge of water floods the drainage ditch, awakening the King-Size Crusader who struggles to get to dry land and collapses in front of an approaching car. Hours later he comes to in the house of Celia Jackson, a senior flight attendant of Trans-National Airways and combination Good Samaritan/Florence Nightingale. She prevents him from leaving until he recovers. She used to live in New York City and was once saved by a super-hero (it would have been cool if it were Giant-Man/Goliath I) and is "paying it forward", so to speak. The two make an immediate connection and "later" Black Goliath leaves, somewhat reluctantly but promises to return. (And why wouldn't he?)

He goes back to his apartment for a shower and to regroup. We learn that he didn't tell Celia his real name and that he's not impressed with his super-hero career so far. He returns to Stark LA where he finds the "Whiz Kids" hovering over a mysterious box that Tony Stark sent them with instructions that it is not to be opened without his permission. Not caring about that, Bill has his team work on an energy sensor to track down Atom-Smasher, without informing them that he moonlights as a fifteen foot high giant, of course! After some frustration from Talia Kruma whose dealing with some personal tragedy, they succeed.

That night, he follows the sensor, unaware that a sniper is following him! He tracks down Atom-Smasher's lair/laboratory and smashes his way in. By constantly returning to his normal height then growing again, he is able to disorient and outflank the costumed gang. He uses the same tactic to elude Atom-Smasher and capture him with an energy absorbing graphite shield.

However, the sniper relays Atom-Smasher's defeat to his hidden employer: a bald, fat man who states that his "operation must remain secret, whatever the measures, whatever the cost. And anyone who threatens that security...friend or foe...combatant or innocent bystander...must be killed without mercy!"

And Black Goliath is in the scope of a rifle!

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  • Chris Claremont takes over the scripting for the rest of the series but it doesn't save it as his writing didn't save Iron Fist or Ms. Marvel either.
  • SPOILER ALERT: Obviously it was during his first battle with Atom-Smasher that Black Goliath got his near-fatal radiation poisoning.
  • Black Goliath's "interlude" with Celia Jackson was something of a first with the hint of physical intimacy.
  • Whoever was behind Atom-Smasher was never revealed but it sure looked like THE KINGPIN to me!
  • Bill Foster still had some self-doubt about his role as a super-hero.

Next: Hell's Vulcans or the LAPD Welcomes Black Goliath!

The Whiz Kids (Herbert Bell, Dale West and Talia Kruma) and the lovely Celia Jackson.

So it's only his second appearance as a superhero, and already he's got the cancer that's going to end his already going nowhere career? He never finds out who sent Atom-Smasher, or the guy about to shoot him at the end of the issue? This series just started and already we're getting dangling plotlines that will never be reolved?

Is the guy with glasses also a giant or is the other one a midget?

Was Marvel just starting series at random without thinking about whether they'd have a chance or not? This seems like it should have been in one of those Marvel Premiere, Marvel Spotlight, etc. series, considering how quickly it got cancelled.

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