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365 Reasons to Love Comics #37

Thirty-seven. Thirty-seven columns. Thirty-seven!

“In a row?”

Ahem. Welcome to another Black History Month profile. This one’s about a big guy with a big heart who everybody forgot about (except Dan Slott) and who is no longer with us. Those of you reading a certain huge mega-event of cataclysmic proportions probably know who I’m talking about.

2/6/07

37. Black Goliath

Black Goliath 1.jpg

Bill Foster was one of many African-American superheroes whose codename began with “Black.” He was not the first, nor was he the last. He was also the second Giant-Man and the fourth Goliath. He’s the only Black Goliath, though. Ol’ Hank Pym’s running out of identities, though, so maybe he’ll take too many bronzing pills after watching Soul Man one night and have Jan make him a new costume.

Our buddy Bill started as Pym’s lab assistant and ended up a superhero, just like every other Marvel scientist. He eventually spun into his own series, seen above, started by Tony Isabella and George Tuska and finished by Chris Claremont and Keith Pollard. It only lasted five issues, back in the mid-70’s. That was still enough time for him to fight Stilt-Man, though!

Black Goliath 4.jpg

I love Stilt-Man.

Bill ended up fading into obscurity, popping up occasionally as a supporting character or guest star. He gave up his superhero identity once or twice and turned back to his first love, science. No one heard from him for a long time. He showed up in Dan Slott’s short-lived Thing series, but that was it.

Until Civil War. There was that whole nasty business with Clone Thor, and, of course, someone had to die in order for the event to have “meaning.” Bill drew the short straw.

Black Goliath in chains.jpg
Chains? OMG SYMBOLISM

Hence, we lost an underappreciated and underused character who could’ve been very cool. It was easier to kill him off, I guess. I bet he isn’t popular enough to ever be resurrected, either.

Black Goliath wasn’t the best superhero. He struggled with his crimefighting career. He made some blunders and he had some victories. Still, he tried. There’s where his character lies: a good man at heart, a scientist trying to do the right thing. He was a noble man, that Black Goliath, and now he’s gone, and will quickly be forgotten. It’s a damn shame. I totally would’ve put him on the Avengers if I wrote it.

For more on Black Goliath, check out Scott Tipton’s Comics 101 piece on him, or Bahlactus’ look at the first issue of Black Goliath. They offer up better views, background, and cool scans than I can.

16 Comments

Yeah, I liked him too, and it sucks that “important” events are always used to cull less popular characters like that. I was actually touched by his farewell in Civil War tho.

I assume the cover to issue 4 is just a very good faux Kirby, yes?

I’m going by childhood memories here, but didn’t Black Goliath die once already? In an issue of Marvel Two-In-One in the early 80’s? I remember Spider-Woman was the guest star that issue…

Not to disrespect the dead, but what was with his costume? Why the rectangular opening over his abs?

Hey, if you work hard perfecting your giant abs you’re going to want to show them off.

I’m going by childhood memories here, but didn’t Black Goliath die once already? In an issue of Marvel Two-In-One in the early 80’s? I remember Spider-Woman was the guest star that issue…

He was dying of radiation poisoning, but a blood transfusion from Spider-Woman saved him.

Man, i love the Black Goliath. He was always one of my favorite C-list heroes for some reason… I even hunted down all five issues of the comic on ebay a while back.

And man, the punk way Millar killed him in Civil War is reason #201,023 why that comic sucks goat testes.

In case anyone hasn’t noticed all the adult, old school heroes are being slowly replaced by teen-agers. Marvel appears to be infusing a Legacy Character aspect to their universe like DC did. Bill Foster’s young relation is working on the Pym Formula, Young Avengers all over the place, Runaways are the Defenders, etc.

Replacing standard characters with new versions with their own story might be a better idea than rebooting to year One every decade or so.

Elijah…
No…that cover was “The King”…
In the 70’s, he was one of the two predominant cover artists at Marvel. The other being Gil Kane.
It’s almost like Marvel knew what they were doing back then…

Bill Foster returns in Attack of the 50 Ft. Zombie!

A Black Goliath profile and no mention of The Champions or Marvel Two-in-One #76?

You’re slipping, Mr. Bill.

Hey, here’s a question: Was Jack Kirby involved in the cover art for Black Goliath No. 4 up there? It looks unmistakably Kirby. Too Kirby to be the work of any of the carefully-trained imitators Marvel employed throughout the 1970s, if you ask me. I know Kirby came back to Marvel for a spell in that period, to create Devil Dinosaur and Machine Man (Two great suggestions for this list at some point, by the way) and the idea he didn’t scratch out a cover or two while he was around isn’t out of the question. But in the time before it was taboo for cover artists to hide their name in a corner somewhere, is there any real way to know for sure?

Comics.org credits Kirby with the cover pencils, yeah.

What a shock, Dan Slott remembers him, but the fact that Hudlin used him is completly ignored.

I have literally zero interest in Hudlin’s Black Panther series. He’s used every black Marvel hero so far, hasn’t he?

FunkyGreenJerusalem

February 9, 2007 at 8:53 pm

“Yeah, I liked him too, and it sucks that “important” events are always used to cull less popular characters like that. I was actually touched by his farewell in Civil War tho.”

I liked in The Sentry where it mentions a hero dying, but it isn’t shown on panel, and no name is given.
You get the drama of life and death, without a character going to waste.

The Kirbydotter

March 10, 2007 at 1:01 pm

I remember buying BLACK GOLIATH #1 the first time I went into a specialized comicbook store (in the late 70’s).

I might have picked up number two later, but didn’t go further with the series. It wasn’t a bad character as I remember it. I think I was put off by the art of George Tuska (probably, once again, horribly inked by Vince Coletta)

I sure dig that Kirby cover with Stiltman!

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