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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I can't speak directly as to why Tony Isabella was pulled from the '90s series. Apparently, he was in a very contentious relationship with DC over the rights of Black Lightning. They claim it was a work-for-hire deal. Isabella claimed otherwise. Once, the show was about to premiere DC and Tony Isabella reached a new agreement. Most people assumed that mean he and Trevor Von Eeden would receive  co-creator credits. Isabella denies that Von Eeden was a co-creator, and that, he Isabella, is the sole  creator of Black Lightning.

I always thought that Tony Isabella sued DC, but that never happened. Once, I read about what happened, I kind inf thought Tony Isabella was a jerk, and was kind of giving Trevor Von Eeden the short shrift on his involvement into the character, 

I have no specific knowledge of Tony Isabella's dealings with DC, but I have seen him complain frequently over any article about Black Lightning that doesn't cite him as creator. Which is kind of silly; does every article about any other character or TV show cite the creator? 

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.

I think with Static the situation might have been different. Black Vulcan was obviously meant as a stand In for Black Lightning, but by the time Justice League Unlimited rolled around Static was a well established and very popular character in his own right. Not to mention he was already crossing over with the Justice League in his own cartoon which was considered part of the Tim-verse (it probably helped that Dwayne McDuffie was writing both). 

Philip Portelli said:

Apparently the same thing happened on Static Shock. Indeed the Ebon Bolt was left out of Justice League Unlimited as well.

I was thinking about Soul Power, a hero with electrical powers who Static met in his third season episode "Blast From the Past!". He was a combination of Black Lightning and the 60s TV Batman.

And don't get me started on how DC/Warner Brothers purposely never merchandised Static Shock despite being on the air for years just to deny creators their royalties!

Randy Jackson said:

I think with Static the situation might have been different. Black Vulcan was obviously meant as a stand In for Black Lightning, but by the time Justice League Unlimited rolled around Static was a well established and very popular character in his own right. Not to mention he was already crossing over with the Justice League in his own cartoon which was considered part of the Tim-verse (it probably helped that Dwayne McDuffie was writing both). 

Philip Portelli said:

Apparently the same thing happened on Static Shock. Indeed the Ebon Bolt was left out of Justice League Unlimited as well.

Uh, I think you mean Kane and Finger unless you starting another "Who Really Created Batman" movement.

The first nine issues of Black Lightning credit Isabella as "creator/writer" and Von Eeden as "artist", never as co-creator. #11 was written by Denny O'Neil with Von Eeden still listed as "artist".

Von Eeden was pretty young when all this happened and perhaps did not know how much credit he truly deserved. There are five pages of costume designs at the back of the volume but we have no idea how much or how little input Isabella had on the artwork.

Philip Portelli said:

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.

IIRC, the practice back then (1977), if creator credit was given at all, was to list only the original writer as the creator. After the groundswell of support for Siegel and Shuster the fashion became to list the original writer and original artist as the co-creators. This is why the 1977 comic only lists Isabella while the collection lists both as creators.

I reposted my comment, quoting Philip instead of Jeff.

Siegel and Shuster were always known to be the creators of Superman. That was never in doubt.

Whatever the practice was in 1977, Tony Isabella considered himself the sole creator of Black Lightning. Had DC thought otherwise, I'm sure that Trevor Von Eeden would have gotten credit. And if he was being "cheated", then surely the other writers and artists would have made a big deal out of it.

Richard Willis said:

I reposted my comment, quoting Philip instead of Jeff.

If Tony Isabella had a contract that spelled out his entitlements, either it wasn't reviewed by his lawyer or he had a lousy lawyer. Using Black Vulcan instead of Black Lightning for the TV show probably means they would have had to pay him (but why isn't it the same for the live action show?). Using Black Lightning in the comics, with or without Tony writing it, may mean that a profit threshold had to be met before he would be paid. 

Why did they feel they had to name black characters "Black ----------"?

IIRC, DCs purpose in creating the "Black Bomber" was because they recognized the lack of diversity in the DCU(at the time, IIRC there was the rarely seen John Stewart, Mal Duncan, Tyroc and Bumblebee) .

Presumably by using the adjective "black" in the name, they were hoping to signal to the public that "hey, DCs got a Black superhero headlining his own comic, and he's really Black, like from the ghetto and everything, and he's going to deal with Black issues, so we call him Black ___ just so everyone will understand how Black he is. Black." 

I'm not giving DC much credit for being progressive, am I? 

Richard Willis said:

Why did they feel they had to name black characters "Black ----------"?

Richard Willis said:

Why did they feel they had to name black characters "Black ----------"?

A few months ago in the UK, BBC Radio 4 broadcast a comedy sketch show "The Lenny Henry Show".  The first show of the series opens with a sketch (described here on Bleeding Cool) in which Lenny Henry plays a super-hero called "The Comet".  The only problem is that everyone insists on calling him "Black Comet" because, well, he's black.  Not unreasonably, this really irritates him.  As he points out, no-one goes around talking about "Caucasian Iron Man".

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