This discussion will focus on DC's character Black Lighting. For this project, I'll be reading the following comics:

Black Lightning 1-11
World's Finest 256-261
Dc Comics Presents 16
Justice League of America 173-174
Brave and the Bold 163
Detective Comics 490-491, 494-495

Hopefully, I'll be able to do these in order.

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Yes, I remember the revival of Mr. Action during the mid-to-late 1970's from Superman Family. I found it pretty enjoyable at the time.

Luke Blanchard said:

Jimmy often fought criminals in this period.

I did it.

I bought the digital collection.

I'm ready !!

Excellent. One of us now.

Richard Mantle said:

I did it.

I bought the digital collection.

I'm ready !!

That is a lot of subplots for BL #3.  I'm guessing Talia Al Ghul showing up last issue was a one-time thing, otherwise that's even more going on, on the side.

I wonder if Von Eeden was considered too slow to pull off a cover and the interiors too.  It's not like Buckler was a superstar in that era (at least I don't think so?), and his covers are unremarkable.

You pointed it out, Randy, and I agree that Tobias Whale comes off as a poor man's Kingpin.

Buckler was a former Marvel guy, and he did a fair number of covers for DC in the period. He also worked at the DC offices at some point.

Luke, the last few years of Lois Lane's solo book were interesting for the behind-the-scenes turbulence.

The book ended in #137, being effectively absorved into Superman Family (which inherited Jimmy Olsen's book's numbering) then.  Up until #104 it was a very traditional book, perceived as a Lois and Lana vehicle.  

Then in late 1970, roughly at the same time as Jack Kirby took Jimmy Olsen's book (and released the other Fourth World books), it introduced the 1970s Thorn in #105.  The book's letter column actually adjusted its name from "Letters to Lois and Lana" to "Letters to Lois and Rose" to showcase the change in perspective.  

Thorn's feature lasted until #130 and the 100 were a constant enemy for both her and Lois for the whole period, even factoring into Lucy Lane's plot in #120.  

The very short Dorothy Woolfolk period began in #121 and, among other changes, had Lois pursuing the 100 on her own.  The cliffhanger from #122 turned out in #123 to be a computerized robot's revelation to Lois and Superman that the 100 were organized in ten thematic divisions, presumably "self-perpetuating" (shades of H.Y.D.R.A. and perhaps S.P.E.C.T.R.E.) and with such colorful names as "The Space Raiders" and "The Mind-Benders", conveniently serving as previews of potential future plots.  #123 itself was dedicated to Lois fighting the Space Raiders and seemingly defeating them (with Superman's help) as of the end of her half of the issue.

One really gets the sense that they tried hard to get out of their confort zone, not always succesfully.

They tried to make her modern and independent, but she still needed Superman to bail her out all the time. My recollection is it was only in The Superman Family that Lois became, for a time, an action hero who might fight the crooks herself. Although I remember she does fight the Space Raiders in Lois Lane #123.

To my mind, it was the Silver Age Lois who was more determined and capable. She was reckless and Superman-obsessed, but she knew what she wanted!

In the Silver Age Superboy, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen were top-ten titles. According to Comichron's list even in 1969 Lois Lane was the fourth-top selling reporting title and the top-selling one with a female lead, just ahead of Betty and VeronicaWonder Woman was 44th and had less than half the sales.

Black Lightning #4 - "Every Hand Against Him!"
Cover Date: July 1977
Writer: Tony Isabella
Artist: Trevor Von Eeden

Black Lightning is escaping from the police after having stopped a 100 drug smuggling operation. He sees no other recourse but to attack them, but while he's doing so he wonders how they know where he's going to attack the 100, and theorizes that someone must be tipping them off. After knocking back the police shooting at him, he's told to stop in his tracks by none other than Superman's Pal, Mr. Action Jimmy Olsen.

Thinking that Olsen is the one tipping off the police to his whereabouts, Black Lightning attacks him only to be rebuffed, as Mr. Action isn't so easily dealt with. He knocks Jimmy down with a punch to the gut, then escapes before the police can recover. As he escapes, he gives Jimmy a warning that he's not going to stop whether he's tipping off the police or not. Jimmy realizes that Black Lightning really thinks that he's setting him up. One of the police officers checks up on Jimmy, and also wonders where he's seen Black Lightning before.

Watching the whole scene unfold is Tobias Whale. When his men comment that he doesn't seem to be too upset about losing the drug shipment, he tells them that the bulk of the shipment was sent to a much less congested area. One of his men tells him that he could have easily taken care of Lightning and the police, but Whale tells Creegan  that he's saving him for battles against both Black Lightning and Superman, and now isn't the time. One of his men jokes that sending him against Superman and Black Lightning is like attacking King Kong with a can of Raid­. Creegan takes offense, and then reveals himself to be the Cyclotronic Man, who fought Batman once upon a time. A team of the 100's scientists improved his powers, and he can now burn a newspaper in his bare hands.

Elsewhere, Black Lightning has found a place to rest and is contemplating his current situation. He laments that he's fighting the police as much as the 100, He starts thinking that perhaps Jimmy Olsen isn't the one doing the tipping off, as it just doesn't seem to be his style. Thinking it through, he realizes that Jimmy couldn't have known about his activities of the evening beforehand, and that it must be either Two-Bits Tanner or Peter Gambi that's giving out the information. He goes to see Gambi but can't find him at the store. He thinks Gambi's just away, but we see his broken glasses on the floor.

At a hospital, Jimmy Olsen is talking things over with Inspector Henderson. Henderson reveals that they found out about the drug shipment through police work and not through a tip, and also reveals that there was a lot less heroin in the shipment than expected. Henderson doesn't understand why Lightning has taken such a dislike to Jimmy, as he doesn't seem the type (wha???)

As Jimmy leaves the hospital, he's spotted by the Cyclotronic Man. He flies down and snatches Jimmy off of the street in order to lure Superman. Jimmy thinks to himself that he's used to being bait, but he's also aware that Superman is out of town on some JLA mission.

Jimmy is spotted by Jefferson Pierce while he's at school. He plans to go investigate as Black Lightning, but Lynn Stewart enters the scene and wants to talk to him. He gives her the cold shoulder and walks away, but she vows to have it out with him next time, as it's obvious they have a prior relationship.

Pierce changes to Black Lightning and attacks the Cyclotronic Man. Realizing Creegan can't carry both himself and Olsen, he forces him down among some abandoned buildings. Olsen thanks him for the rescue but wonders why he's suddenly getting help from someone who hates him, and Lightning explains that maybe he's being duped by someone.

Creegan has recovered himself and attacks. He misses and Lightning and Olsen decide to team up. However, Creegan creates a force field around himself to keep them from attacking, then knocks out Olsen. However, Black Lightning realizes that he has to drop his shield to attack and uses that moment to counter. Creegan uses his abilities to artificially agae the roof under Lightning's feet until it crumbles beneath him, but the superhero is saved by Jimmy Olsen before he falls. He manages to pull Lightning back up to the roof, but then the two of them are ensnared by electronic fields. He then smashes Jimmy into a chimney. He then plans to force Black Lightning over the roof's edge. However, the neophyte superhero realizes that perhaps his belt can counter the effects of Creegan's powers. He manages to do so, then knocks out Creegan.

He goes to check on Jimmy when a voice tells him to back away. It's Superman, and he's ticked off.

To be continued...

My rating: 5/10

Oh great. We're going to get the old "two heroes meet and have to fight because of a misunderstanding" trope. Oh well, it is an oldie but a goodie, I suppose.

Anyway, I think this is another case of squandered potential. The Cyclotronic Man is built up and torn down in less time than it takes to say "hey Forbush man!" If the 100 really felt he could take on Superman, they're a bunch of idiots.

The story has a number of additional faults as well. Black Lightning's attitude towards Jimmy (and vice-versa) flip-flops so quickly that one could never tell they disliked one another. Even more glaring is Inspector Henderson; in the previous issue, it's plainly obvious that he really has it out for Black Lightning but in this issue it seems as if he's ready to bury the hatchet for no apparent reason. I mean, Black Lightning is attacking police officers--that shouldn't be forgiven without very good reason. Add on another subplot, and this is turning into a bit of a mess.

On the plus side, Trevor Von Eeden finally gets the cover, and it's a decent one. Nicely composed, and it even has a scene from the story within.

As - quote - "One Of Us" - I'm joining in (!)

I agree with you Randy about the ease of changing opinions. I do not feel like I have found our hero's voice yet.

I liked the issue well enough though.

I do not understand why a hero called Black LIGHTNING has no electric-like power (yet).

'Every Hand Against Him' is a dull title and we haven't seen enough villainous hands against him to make a combination much of a threat.

Like you Randy, I do like the cover - familiar but well done.

I thank you.  :-)

He does have those powers, but they're artificial. He will internalize them at some point.

Richard Mantle said:

I do not understand why a hero called Black LIGHTNING has no electric-like power (yet).

It feels like Isabella has too many ideas he wants to cram in.  There was already a lot going on and now new subplots have been added.  I think at this point it was hurting the main story.  BL shouldn't have defeated the Cyclotronic Man so quickly and easily after the verbal buildup Tobias Whale gave his henchman.  The pacing of that feels off.

Very nice cover by Trevor von Eeden, though.

Black Lightning #5 - "Nobody Beats a Superman!"
Cover Date: August 1977
Writer: Tony Isabella
Artist: Trevor Von Eeden

Superman finds Black Lightning standing over an unconscious Jimmy Olsen and threatens him. There's a quick recap then Black Lightning has to figure out what to do. Jimmy mutters something causing Superman to realize he's alive. As Superman charges forward to check on his friend, Black Lightning thinks he's attacking and responds with his own attack. He manages to knock Superman down since the Man of Steel was "off-balance". In tried and true superhero fashion "It appears Black Lightning is quite a bit stronger than earler reports indicated", "So much for my super-strength! That guy must eat Titanium girders for breakfast!" Yes, each has surprised the other with their prowess.

Superman attacks again, hoping to make short work of Black Lightning, but our hero ducks and lands another punch on Superman. Of course, it has zero effect, and Superman quickly knocks him off the roof with a flick of his finger. Thinking the fall will take the fight out of him, Superman goes to catch him but is surprised once again by Black Lightning.

Meanwhile, the Cyclotronic Man (remember him?) is regaining consciousness as the two heroes have their tiff. He realizes that he can let Superman take out Black Lightning, then he can kill Superman.

Superman and Black Lightning continue to fight. Superman has Lightning pretty much beaten when he's distracted by a noise--Jimmy Olsen's signal watch. As Superman goes to check on Jimmy, Creegan chooses this moment to attack him from behind. Apparently the Cyclotronic Man actually can do something to Superman, as he tells him that he's speeding up his atomic particles. And he'd get away with it too if it weren't for that meddling Black Lightning.

Our hero stops the Cyclotronic Man from scattering Superman's atoms all over Metropolis, but Creegan doesn't take it well, and begins to destroy the building they're standing on.

Meanwhile, Inspector Henderson is released from the hospital. His doctor tells him to take it easy as his heart attack wasn't just caused by his rumble with Black Lightning, but that he's not a young man anymore. Henderson tells him that he's not going to stop until he's stopped the 100.

Back at the fight, the Cyclotronic Man is watching the building crumble, and thinking that he's become the man who killed Superman. Of course, one panel later Superman flies out of the rubble with Jimmy Olsen and Black Lightning in tow.

Creegan hightails it out of there, and Black Lightning wants to pursue, but Superman stops him. He tells Black Lightning that since he's wanted by the police, he has to turn him in. Black Lightning refuses, and tells Superman that the neighborhood needs him, as the 100 just hides from Superman. As for the murder of Joey Toledo, he tells Superman that Merlyn killed him and to check the evidence if he doesn't believe him. Superman does, and confirms Lightning's story, making him wonder why Inspector Henderson put out an APB for his arrest. Lightning doesn't know, but wants to know what happened to Creegan. Superman tracks him to a warehouse, but tells Lightning he'll never get there in time. Lightning tells him that he can if he  has Superman's help. He asks Superman to throw him there, and Superman obliges.

At the currently empty warehouse, Creegan is wondering where everyone is. He's talking to a masked guy who apparently is Whale's right hand and also has some ability to learn the plans of the police and keep the 100 a step ahead. He tells Creegan that since he's failed he was supposed to be eliminated, but the masked man talked Whale out of it.

At this point our hero--in true superhero fashion--crashes through the wall. He's ready to go after Creegan, but the Cyclotronic Man tells him that the masked guy is the one who's been leading him into traps by disguising himself as Jimmy Olsen and giving his stoolie bad information.

As Lightning turns to face the masked man, Creegan atacks him from behind. However, this doesn't work, and Lightning charges at him, knocking them both through a window. Creegan is afraid, but they're over the river and fall in, which negates Creegan's powers and allows Lightning to knock him out.

Superman shows up to see if he needs a hand, but he's got it all handled. He hands Creegan over to Superman to turn over to the police and asks after Jimmy's health. Superman tells him that Jimmy's fine, then inquires after Black Lightning's health. Lightning tells him taht he's fine, and only wondering when the 100 will send their next killer after him.

The masked man has escaped and gone home. He removes his mask before he's interrupted. He goes to see who it is, and it's Inspector Henderson, who refers to him as "his son".

My rating: 4/10

Let's begin with the cover. I know I've been kvetching throughout this reading project that Trevor Von Eeden wasn't getting the covers and I'm happy to see that now he is. However, this one's pretty...pedestrian. It's got some nice composition, but it doesn't really grab me. If I'm a Superman fan who saw this on the news stand, I'd find it really difficult to believe that he was in any danger from the Cyclotronic Man, and even worse, nobody--not even the titular hero--is doing anything about the situation other than standing around like a Greek Chorus.

So, on to the story. The fight between Superman and Black Lightning was unsurprisingly pointless other than to fill space and I guess establish that Black Lightning could last longer than five seconds against Superman. The bits with Creegan fighting Superman--I kept expecting Kal-El to suddenly say "Psyche!" and knock the Cyclotronic Man's block off. As has been said many a time, "that dog don't hunt."

Probably the most interesting part of this comic was the discovery of who the masked man is, although I think they could have done a better job of establishing just who he is well before this issue--not so much in being Henderson's son, but what he was specifically doing for the 100.

Anyway, I just felt this was a lackluster, uninspired issue. I'm hoping for better soon.

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