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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comics – Day 78

Here is the latest in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work, an ongoing comic or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!

Today we take a look at Tony Isabella and Eddie Newell’s run on Black Lightning…


The second Black Lightning series debuted at the end of 1994, and very quickly, writer Tony Isabella (who created Black Lightning about twenty years earlier) quickly established that this Black Lightning comic book would be a lot different than most other superhero comics on the shelf.

In the issue, Jefferson Pierce has moved to a new city, Brick City, and he is debating how best he can help people – as a teacher? as a superhero? as a fellow with some (Bruce Wayne supplied) money?

Ultimately, he decides that he is going to try to make some fundamental changes to the drug trafficking system in Brick City, beginning with a dramatic “hello” to the neighborhood in #1…

Isabella also slowly populated the supporting cast with various students and teachers at Jefferson’s new school.

Early on, though, Isabella threw a total curveball when, at the end of #4, a member of a gang bursts into a room where Jefferson and another teacher (Walter Kasko, a guy who seemed to be cut in the “Steve Lombard” mold) were with a teen who had spurned a gang (through their help). She opened fire, and Walter shielded the boy with his body, thereby getting riddled with bullets (Jefferson also suffered terrible gunshot injuries).

That led to the absolutely brilliant #5, which was one of the most critically acclaimed issues of 1995, but sadly, since it has not been reprinted, a lot of people have forgotten how excellent of an issue it was (although I featured it during the Year of Cool Comic Book Moments, so you might be familiar with it by now!).

The issue shows Jefferson recuperating, and mostly feeling sorry for himself and mourning Walter’s death.

There’s a great touch when Jefferson’s ex-wife visits, and he talks about where he was when Superman died…

Then we get a stunning sequence when a man (who had stared at Jefferson when he first came into the hospital) comes by again…

Beautiful, huh?

That doesn’t even fully give you the appreciation of how good #5 is – do yourself a favor and find yourself a copy!

There’s a good story arc in #7 and 8 involving Gangbuster, but sadly, that’s as far as Isabella ever went. Even before #1 had come out, Isabella had already been fired, with #8 being his last issue.

And after he left, the book quickly fell apart and only last four more issues (which really paled in comparison to Isabella’s run).

But that eight-issue run by Isabella and Newell remains a wonderful read. Be sure to check it out and maybe someday DC will put together a trade collection of the run (although I’m not holding my breath)!


Thanks for showcasing this. i don’t think that i bought this series, as i hear that Isabella had been fired before #1 came out, so i didn’t want to ‘waste’ my $ for a series that would be disrailed so quickly. Now i wished i did get these issues. i really like the art, as its like Denys Cowan, but not as scratchy [which i don’t like very much].
Good stuff!

I bought Isabella and Newell’s BLACK LIGHTNING run after you featured part of issue #5 in your year of great moments. What a great run. “His kind of courage is the only hope we have” indeed.

a worthy moment for remember how shocked when black lighting was unable to prevent walter from dieing for it showed that even a normal guy like walter was can be a hero in his own right.. plus black lighting deciding to honor his memory by contiuing the fight as for dc ever reprinting it . given dc and tony do not have any relationship at all. doubt ful dc will reprint this story mostly because they would not want to admit tony knew what he was doing with his own creation and they were wrong to fire him. do not see a trade of black lighting ever. by dc

I can’t thank you enough for your continued support of my work.

Not long ago, a DC Comics executive, while making the usual excuses for the company not honoring their agreements with me, said he couldn’t understand why I still wanted to write Black Lightning “given all the pain the character has caused (me).” He didn’t get it.

Writing Black Lightning has been one of the greatest joys of my career. Knowing my work has meant so much to so many people has also brought me great joy.

The only pain associated with the character for me is entirely DC’s doing.

The creation, the writing, the reader response…those brought me joy and, in the case of the last, continue to bring me joy.

Again, my thanks for this column. I wish my readers were running DC.

GIve us about 20 years, Mr. Isabella, and we will!

Man, those excerpts are absolutely spectacular! It’s rare to find a writer who can create a character that both fits into a preexisting shared universe but also stands on their own really well. I’m going to have to try and hunt down those issues.

Shame this series isnt collected. Those expcerpts was very impressive writing wise.

I really hope i can find the single issues no matter i live in europe.

I read it when it first came out, and recommended it to a number of my friends. I’ve read the series about three times since then. Lots of great bits in there, all of which contribute to a ‘sum greater than the parts’ feel to the whole run.

This was powerful stuff. It seems to have gotten lost in the DC tableau, though.
Stories being told by writers who have stories to tell is so rare in this “event” driven, crossover riddled time we are going through.
Isabella is a better writer than Mark Millar can hope to be. He used a horrible death in a meaningful way. Not a gratuitous way.
Kudos to Tony Isabella.
Sorry I missed this one.
I’ll be looking for the back issues.

Put me down in the “will try and hunt down those back issues” category. I’ll be on a trip this April and will have multiple comic shops I can hit up.

Beautiful, indeed. Mature writing (as in depth of story and character, not the usual tale of some muscle-bound guy in tights), and wonderful handling of a gay relationship in a matter-of-fact way, especially in a culture where being gay is even harder than for people of European descent. Thank you, Tony, for handling so many subjects (gangs, ethnicity, different cultures, love, courage, life and death) so elegantly and beautifully. I’d like to find those special eight issues myself. And I’m glad that writing this gave you such great joy, and thank you for sharing that joy with us. It means a very great deal. I wish only the best for you.

Pax, Nemo

(sigh) I knew I missed something special when I didn’t pick up this book.

Issue #5 is the only one I have. Maybe I’ll go back and find the others..

Hey Brian, just letting you know that the link to #77 for Super Human Resources comes up as PAGE NOT FOUND.

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