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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Just a bit off topic, but related: a Black Lightning TV pilot has been commissioned. Not sure of the network though. I'll have to look it up.

I've heard about that. Right now, it's on Fox: http://variety.com/2016/tv/news/black-lightning-fox-show-greg-berla...

Randy Jackson said:

Black Lightning #7 - "The Conscience of the Killer!"

Cover Date: March 1978 Writer: Tony Isabella
Artist: Trevor Von Eeden

My rating:6/10

This is much better than recent issues, likely because it's much more focused. At the same time, it was also pretty unsatisfying as well.

I appreciated Syonide taking a stance on killing Black Lightning, as it was a nice change of pace from today's comics where pretty much every villain is completely bloodthirsty. Also, it was nice to get some resolution between Peter and Jefferson.

That being said, it seemed more questions were left unanswered than were answered. What were the circumstances of Peter killing Jefferson's father? What's the name of the nameless guy? What happened to Inspector Henderson's son? How do the police have the evidence to make charges against Whale, et al stick? 

Where was the editor?  He should have made Isabella explain this, at least some of it.

It's all very, very unclear and fairly annoying as well. Also, one was hoping for a really great showdown between Black Lightning and Tobias Whale, and Lightning takes him out in one panel. Just very unsatisfying.

Agreed.

I'm not even going to complain about the dull cover by Rich Buckler, as it's not worth the effort. Between the covers, Von Eeden's pencils are solid.

Agreed times two.

Editor for these comics is Jack C. Harris.

John Dunbar (the mod of maple) said:


Where was the editor?  He should have made Isabella explain this, at least some of it.



Black Lightning #8 - "Deadly Aftermath!"
Cover Date: April 1978
Writer: Tony Isabella
Artist: Trevor Von Eeden

Tobias Whale is fighting police officers at the courthouse, telling them they can't hold him against his will. He's ticked off that they wouldn't give him bail. Inspector Henderson and a couple of his men enter the scene, and Henderson tells his men to surround the building as running amok isn't Whale's style, so this must be a diversion. Whale confirms this just as his men crash through the window on one of those nifty flying platform things that are so abundant in a superhero comics universe. As Whale and his men escape, they grab Henderson as a hostage.

At a nameless cemetery, Peter Gambi is being laid to rest. Pierce is there thinking over recent events. Lynn Stewart comes up to him and gives him a hug. Pierce attempts to apologize for his recent behavior towards her, but she says that they can talk about that later. She tells him Principal Chapin says that she can take over his classes for the rest of the week, then leaves.

Two-Bits Tanner shows up and asks Pierce if he's heard about the breakout, which he has (and when did Tanner learn that Black Lightning and Jefferson Pierce were the same man?).He asks Two-Bits if he has any leads. Tanner tells him he's got a couple of leads. Pierce is ready to leave when Tanner hands him an envelope that he was told to give to Pierce if Gambi died. It's from Gambi, but Pierce rips it up and refuses to read the letter.

At one of the 100's many abandoned warehouses, Whale and his men have Henderson tied up. Whale is interrogating Henderson (why, I don't know) and getting nowhere. Henderson tells him that the handful of men he has left aren't enough, and that the 100 is finished in Metropolis. Whale blusters angrily, telling Henderson that while it's true that Black Lightning has crippled his organization, he hasn't destroyed it.

On the roof near a skylight are Black Lightning and Tanner observing the scene. They've heard the entire conversation, and Lightning asks to be reminded of how many men Whale has left, and Tanner tells him 8 or 9 minus the three he's kayoed on the roof. Lightning figures that since he sees three more around Henderson, the others must be spread around the building. Lightning tells Tanner to sit tight while he takes care of a few odds and ends, and tells Tanner to contact Jimmy Olsen if anything goes wrong. He then pulls a Batman on Tanner.

Lightning easily takes care of the rest of Whale's goons but knows the racket has alerted Whale, so he enters the room through the door--knocking it down in the process. He enters to see Whale's men pointing guns at Inspector Henderson. Lightning tells Whale that it's between the two of them, and Whale responds that that is so, but if Lightning seems to be gaining the upper hand, his men will kill the Inspector.

They fight, and since Lightning can't fight back, Whale is taking him apart. While he's beating Lightning, he reveals that Henderson's son had been helping him but betrayed him during the raid in the previous issue. Henderson--who's tied to a chair--tosses over the information of his son's misdeeds over in his mind before deciding to act. He pushes himself back in the chair, causing him to fall to the floor and the gunmen who have him surruonded to shoot one another. Lightning is able to fight back now.

One of Whale's men who isn't injured is grabbing for a gun, but he's interrupted by Tanner who grabbed one of  the other goons guns and has him covered. Lightning proceeds to open up a can of whoopass on Whale and drops him pretty quickly.

Using a couple of nearby harpoons, Lightning fashions some heavy duty cuffs for Whale while the Inspector apologizes to him. Lightning says they're square--just like that. Henderson tells him that he's been fighting the 100 for years, and he can't believe it's over. He asks Lightning what's next for him, and Lightning tells him that he initially thought he could take off the uniform and give up the heroics when the 100 was defeated, but he realizes that there are lots of innocents out there that need protecting, so he'll continue. They shake hands. Henderson gets the gun from Tanner, who looks for Lightning, only to find he's done another Batman.

My rating: 3/10

So here's the big showdown between Lightning and Whale and it's pretty--anti-climactic. How does Whale go from someone who's willing to throw his weight around quite happily at the beginning of the series, and someone who has no problem beating up several police officers at the beginning of this issue to someone pulling a classic cowardly heel move like the one he pulls here? Perhaps I'm naive in expecting some sort of Pier 6 brawl, but this was just weak.

Actually, for an organized crime institution, the 100 is pretty weak. They couldn't keep Whale out of jail, they couldn't get him bail, and Black Lightning's pet stoolie is running around all over the place despite the fact that they know who he is. What kind of organization is this? The Boy Scouts are put together better.

Another boring Rich Buckler cover. I don't have more to say about it than that. The interior artwork is fine.

Black Lightning #9 - "Fear and Loathing at Garfield High!"
Cover Date: May 1978
Writer: Tony Isabella
Artist: Trevor Von Eeden

Our hero is felled by a blast from a gun from a costumed creep calling himself the Annihilist. Said baddie has taken hostages, and threatens to kill one because of Black Lightning's interference. Oh, and I guess they're on the roof of something, because Lightning falls to the street. Inspector Henderson orders some EMT's to help him out, but they don't want to go as they fear the Annihilist's men. He threatens to shoot them, and they reluctantly retrieve our wounded hero.

Back on the rooftop, the Annihilist has one of Jefferson Pierce's students hostage, and says that if his demands aren't met by 12 o'clock, she'll die. With the current deadline being less than an hour away, Lightning wonders what to do, as Henderson confirms that the Annihilist has killed before.

Earlier in the day, Pierce is discussing his recent triumph over Tobias Whale and the 100 with Two-Bits Tanner. Tanner suggests that he might want to join the Justice League, but Pierce insists that Suicide Slum needs him more than the Justice League does. Tanner spots a large contingent of police outside of Garfield High. Black Lightning decides to investigate.

Outside the school, Inspector Henderson is speaking with a police officer named Corrigan (a different one), with the two men discussing the lack of need for an Organized Crime unit since Black Lightning broke up the 100 (I guess Intergang wasn't doing anything that week). Henderson muses that he wishes Black Lightning was there right now, and Lightning makes his entrance. However, Corrigan immediately pulls his service weapon and orders Lightning to freeze, as he plans to arrest Lightning. Henderson orders Corrigan--who's first name is Jim, or all things--to put the weapon away. As Corrigan sulks away, Henderson gives Lightning the lowdown on the Annihilist. Henderson brings him up to speed, and lets him know the Annihilist is holding a classroom of students hostage on the 3rd floor. Lightning has an idea of how to enter the school without the Annihilist's knowledge, and with the help of the police, he makes his move. Unfortunately, he's discovered, and now we're back to where this comic started.

Corrigan has been talking to the principal of the school, and thinks he's found a way inside. As it turns out, he went to the school himself, and is aware of an entry into a sub-basement. Lightning wants to go after the Annihilist himself, but Corrigan insists on being the man. After a brief squabble, Henderson tells them to team up, and they do so, albeit reluctantly.

The two men enter, but quickly encounter the Annihilist and his men. A fight begins, and Corrigan and Lightning quickly realize they're fighting robots. Black Lightning destroys the robots, but in the fight Corrigan is downed. Lightning wants to take him to get medical assistance, but the Annihilist's robots remind him that the deadline is in 10 minutes and he can't save both. Lightning doesn't know what to do when Corrigan tells him to go after the Annihilist. The Annihilist--who's been listening in (I guess he's got receivers on the robots--sends more robots after our hero.

Meanwhile, in the classroom upstairs, Lynn Stewart is attempting to console her students while the Annihilist crows about defeating Black Lightning. At this point, our titular hero enters the classroom and he and the Annihilist brawl. With some help from the students (they throw erasers at the Annihilist--apparently those were his Kryptonite), Lightning defeats the Annihilist. Afterwards, we find out that Lynn has discovered that Jefferson Pierce and Black Ligtning are one and the same.

My rating: 5/10

Not a whole lot to say about this one. It's a by the numbers superhero tale, and it works well enough in that I suppose. However, the story could have been told much better in my opinion--perhaps something I never noticed the first time I read this story.  I think that having read so many similar stories that my mind automatically filled in or glossed over missing details or logical inconsistencies. For instance, the Annhilist was supposed to be an International terrorist--so why in the world would he take a high school hostage? Sure it draws a little attention, but an airplane or an airport or a skyscraper would likely have been a more appopriate target. Also, what's his agenda? Usually terrorists are fighting for some sort of cause. Finally, where the heck did he get the money to acquire so many robots? They can't be cheap, especially since they're all in his likeness.

It's really not that big of a deal, as the Annihilist is a pretty boring villain who was never used again.

The other thing that really makes me wonder is why the heck the cop is called Jim Corrigan?  He bears zero resemblance to the Spectre Jim Corrigan, and to the best of my knowledge he isn't used again either.

Anyway, it's a mediocre story in a mediocre comic with a mediocre cover.  Not much else to say.

A black patrolman called Jim Corrigan appeared in a handful of Jimmy Olsen stories in the first half of the 70s. Presumably this one was the same character.

I did not know that. Probably the same.

Luke Blanchard said:

A black patrolman called Jim Corrigan appeared in a handful of Jimmy Olsen stories in the first half of the 70s. Presumably this one was the same character.

That's another one I could never get my head around the pronounciation of --

Annihilist - Ann Hill eye ist ?

I'd say either ann-eye-hill-list or ann-eel-hill-list

Richard Mantle said:

That's another one I could never get my head around the pronounciation of --

Annihilist - Ann Hill eye ist ?

Black Lightning #10 - "The Other Black Lightning!"
Cover Date: August 1978
Writer: Tony Isabella
Artist: Trevor Von Eeden

The Trickster makes a mid-air escape from a couple of officers extraditing him to California.Using a projected image of himself running through air, he's actually bailed out. After landing and locating his spare costume and other gear, he decides that things in Central City are too hot for him right now, so of course, he heads to Metropolis, as a circus is opening up there shortly, and he plans to get an honest job there.

Switching scenes to Metropolis, guess who's planning on taking some students to circus (I can't recall a single field trip to a circus when I was in high school--maybe when I was a younger lad, but in high school it was all about high culture like watching people murder one another in a power struggle(Macbeth) or something similar). If you said Jefferson Pierce, you get a banana sticker! Lynn asks him how he's going to be in two places at once, and Pierce looks at the advertisement for the circus, and notices that none other than Black Lightning is supposed to appear--news to Mr. Pierce. Lynn offers to take the kids to the circus so that the real Black Lightning can check things out.

Meanwhile, something is afoot at the docks (although I think it's a plotline that was dropped when Isabella left the series).

Backstage at the circus, in yet another amazing contrivance, the owner of the circus is safekeeping a priceless diamond on loan from a sultan. Surely no one would try to steal it, right? Anyhow, he's hired a detective agency to watch over the diamond. The owner of the agency is the one who's hired Black Lightning to protect the diamond.

After the owner leaves, Black Lightning talks to his boss. He's not sure he's doing the right thing in impersonating Black Lightning. As it turns out, he's a washed up football player she hired for this gig. However, she's also pulling the wool over his eyes, as she tells him the real Black Lightning hand picked him for this job. Jocko--the football player's name--is heartened by this and goes off to give the best show he can. Of  course, he doesn't realize his boss plans to steal the diamond.

As the show begins, Black Lightning (the real McCoy) is watching from the wings. He's going to leave, but then he spots the Trickster, who's working as an acrobat. He's spotted the diamond and being the opportunistic crook that he is, he plans to steal it himself. He lets go of the trapeze and seems to be falling to his death when he uses his anti-gravity shoes to stop his fall and steal the diamond. However, our hero is on the case and tackles him. Black Lightning quickly gets the upper hand, but is distracted by the circus' owner going after the diamond. Lightning is then tackled by the ersatz Lightning who thins Pierce is trying to steal the diamond. In the confusion, Trickster ends up with the diamond again. The owner of the detective agency sends her men after the Trickster, since no one is going to steal that diamond but her.

Another interlude to the dropped plot line.

Back at the circus, Lightning fights off Jocko and the rest of the detectives, then goes after the Trickster. The Trickster has issues of his own--the previous skirmish with our hero damaged his jet boots and he's having a hard time taking off. He drops a special powder that turns into glue, stopping Black Lightning in his tracks. He then uses some firecrackers to spook the circus elephants, causing another distraction. They stampede towards Black Lightning, and it looks like this is the end for our hero.

But wait! It's Jocko's music! OH MY GOD KING, THEY'VE BROKEN HIM IN HALF! Jocko, being basically a good sort if perhaps not terribly intelligent, shields Black Lightning's body with his own and prevents him from getting harmed. Black Lightning frees himself as the elephant handlers calm their charges down and goes to check on Jocko, expecting a corpse. However, since this is comics, he's only lightly stunned and pining for the fjords. He then grabs Jocko's shield(did I forget to mention he carried a shield?) and doing his best Captain Ameri--, er, making his best discus throw, he knocks the diamond out of the Trickster's hands.

The diamond falls straight into the hands of Hanna, the owner of the detective agency. However, she's immediately detained for questioning by Inspector Henderson. Trickster is caught by the police as well.

Black Lightning goes to help Jocko, who agrees to stop impersonating him. After a pep talk, they go for a steak dinner.

One more bit of interlude, as Lynn Stewart seems to be involved somehow.

My rating: 6/10

On the one hand, I do want to like this. It's simple and easy enough to follow and understand, and things are pretty straightforward, all things being equal.

Where this loses points, however, is in the contrivances used to bring all of the pieces in place to make the plot work. I'm not saying things couldn't happen that way, just that it seems really farfetched. Despite the reasons given, there's no good reason for the circus to have the diamond in possession, and everything falls apart right there. Add in the contrivance of the Trickster being there and Black Lightning having free reign to investigate, and this plot has more holes than the ones required to fill Albert Hall.

Black Lightning #11 - "All They Will Call You Will Be...Deportee!"
Cover Date: October 1978
Writer: Denny O'Neil
Artist: Trevor Von Eeden

As we open, Black Lightning is surprising a bunch of thugs in a junkyard. They're roughing up a teen and an old man, and our hero doesn't take kindly to that. One open can of whoop ass later, and the thugs are defeated.

Black Lightning knows the teen--one Paco--and asks him what's going on, but Paco won't tell him. His uncle is too busy steadying his nerves with alcohol to be of much help either. Lightning leaves, allowing the police to mop things up.

Inspector Henderson hits the scene and can tell that Paco is hiding something, but Paco won't tell and his uncle--who's narrating this story, by the way--is too busy getting drunk.

After the police leave, Paco talks to his uncle. He tells the old man that they have to go see him and convince him to leave them alone. His uncle says this cannot happen, at which point Jefferson Pierce enters the scene. He wants to know what's going on with Paco and why he's missed three weeks of school. Paco is particularly missed as he's a member of both the basketball and debate teams. Paco tells him he's been helping his uncle run the junkyard.

As Paco's uncle wanders the junkyard, he spots Pierce changing into Black Lightning. Paco then drags him away from the junkyard.

As they walk the streets a car attempts to run them down. Black Lightning intervenes, saving the two. Paco grabs his uncle and runs towards a fast food restaurant that the uncle does not wish to enter.

Inside the restaurant, Paco tells the waitress Inez that they have to see him. he tells them that it's dangerous, but Paco insists. They go into the back, where they encounter him--the owner of this chain of restaurants, one Major Corpo. He asks the purpose of their visit, and Paco accuses him of attempting to have his uncle killed. Corpo says that isn't true, but if it were he'd have it coming. As it turns out, the uncle is supposed to persuade his countrymen to work for Corpo, which he apparently hasn't been doing. Paco says he hasn't been keeping his promises. Apparently Corpo promised housing for the workers which is never provided, and if they quit they're reported to INS. Corpo tells him that's how he turns a profit and that his uncle is a dead man--unless he persuades a boatload of new arrivals that evening to work for him. The uncle agrees, as he's the only family Paco has. Unbeknownst to all, Black Lightning has watched the entire exchange. Corpo drags the three of them to the waterfront to meet the boat.

When they arrive at the waterfront, the uncle sees a white owl, apparently a signal of death in his culture. Then Black Lightning shows up. Corpo tells his men to attack, but you can guess how that goes. After dealing with Corpo's goons, our hero approaches the Major, who orders the crates lowered. The crates crash into the docks, and they're full of people. Obviously, Corpo is smuggling in illegals. Corpo then orders the illegals to attack Black Lightning.

Paco tries to tell his uncle to get them to stop fighting, but he's too busy getting drunk. When his uncle won't help, Paco jumps into the fray. He talks about how once upon a time his uncle was a great man respected by his people, but now he's nothing more than a drunk.

Meanwhile, Corpo is grabbing a rifle. The uncle comes to his senses and attempts to stop him. They struggle, and the rifle discharges. The uncle gets it away from him, and Corpo orders the illegals to kill him. However, when the rifle discharged, Inez was hit, and she dies. The uncle owns up to his misdeeds, and Corpo is apprehended by Black Lightning.

My rating: 6/10

It feels and reads like an inventory story, and sadly not a very good one. It's not bad--everything makes sense, more or less--it's just not terribly exciting. Extremely run of the mill, and quite frankly a tad boring.

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