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for Friday, February 19, 2010

Black Lightning Year One

Black Lightning and Misty Knight, two comic-book characters I created, are reflected in the nominations for the 2010 Glyph Comics Awards, which "recognize the best in comics made by, for, and about people of color from the preceding calendar year." But, since you doubtless read yesterday's TOT, you already know that.

In today's TOT, I'm going to answer frequently-asked questions about these characters with the intent being to answer them just as briefly as I can manage. Let's see how that goes.

I created Black Lightning. Trevor Von Eeden, the artist on my original series, was the primary designer of the original costume. That costume, it should be noted, is eerily similar to one worn by Richard Roundtree in the movie Earthquake.

For the first year or so of Black Lightning's existence, I was listed as the solo creator of the character. That changed when I asked about buying out DC's interest in my creation and that's when DC started listing Trevor as a co-creator and giving him half of my creator's money.

Black Lightning was not a work-for-hire creation. I entered into a partnership with DC Comics. It's my position that they have failed to live up to that agreement ever since. Alas, I lack the financial means to take them to task for that.

I have not read the nominated Black Lightning Year One and have absolutely no intention of reading it until I have a good reason for doing so. The only good reason I can think of is if I were writing a new Black Lightning story featuring what I assume is the altered continuity portrayed in the series.

Make no mistake about this. I was angry when I was not asked to write the series and I remain so. DC Senior VP Executive Editor Dan DiDio decreed I not be offered the assignment, tried to keep my creator credit off it, and let the first three issues go out with the wrong creator credit. It was a bad business decision then and one of the biggest personal insults in the long and sad history of DC disrespecting, even insulting, me and my work. Sadly, it seems unlikely anyone at DC will ever do right by me. And I can't think of any reason I should accept or like that.

I have been asked to sign copies of Black Lightning Year One. I respectfully decline. I will only sign Black Lightning comic books I have written or Black Lightning items for which I've been paid. If you have a specific question about whether I'll sign a specific Black Lightning comic book or item, e-mail and I'll let you know its status. That e-mail address is:

I will sign comic books and other items by mail. There is no charge for this, but you must include a self-addressed and stamped envelope. Do not expect a rapid turnaround on this. I can't get to the post office as easily as I once did.

If you really must have your Black Lightning Year One trade paperback signed, I'll accommodate your request for a charge of $50 per copy. Half of that will go to the Hero Initiative and I'll pocket the rest.

Yes, I am serious about this offer. But just think how rare Isabella-signed copies of that book will be.

I am honored and pleased by the continuing interest in Black Lightning. I'd be even more honored and pleased if I were writing the character myself.

Immortal Iron Fist

Keen detective that I am, I figured out Misty Knight might be up for a Glyph Award when Rich Watson started asking me questions about her creation...

I wrote Iron Fist in Marvel Premiere #20-22. I can't remember if I was originally supposed to continue writing him after those three issues, but my personal mission in the three issues was to tie up the then-current storyline.

I created Misty Knight in issue #21 [March, 1975] on account of I wanted Danny Rand to have a non-romantic partner he could talk to. I also wanted to lost those freaking second-person captions. Stuff like:

"You are Iron Fist, but you probably already knew that."

I was inspired by actress Pam Grier and the tough lady roles she played in so many action movies. I think the only description I gave artist Arvell Jones was that Misty should look as much like Greer as possible.

Some confusion about Misty's creation surfaced when someone, either Chris Claremont or John Byrne or both, decided Misty was the woman rescued by Spider-Man and the Human Torch in Marvel Team-Up #1, which came out three years before Misty's appearance in my story. Of course, the woman in the earlier story doesn't act or sound like Misty. The only similarity between the two is that they both had Afros.

Which means it was probably Byrne's idea. After all, he once decided that Norman Osborn and the Sandman must be related because they both had bad Steve Ditko hair. Sheesh!

That said, I give major props to Claremont for developing my creation far beyond what I did in her initial appearances. He and Byrne did some mighty fine work on the Iron Fist series. I would recommend it to any comics reader without hesitation.

However, my admiration notwithstanding, it was yours truly who first brought Misty to the dance. Okay, she traded up, but I knew she was a smart lady from the moment I created her.

Thanks for spending a part of your day with me. I'll be back on Monday with more stuff.

Tony Isabella

<< 02/18/2010 | 02/19/2010 | 02/22/2010 >>

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Zero Tonys
ZERO: Burn your money before buying any comic receiving this rating. It doesn't *necessarily* mean there's absolutely nothing of value here - though it *could* - but whatever value it might possess shrinks into insignificance before its overall awfulness.

ONE: Buy something else. Maybe I found something which wasn't completely dreadful in the item, but not enough for me to recommend it when there are better comics available. I only want what's best for you, my children.

TWO: Basic judgment call. I found some value, but not enough to recommend it. My review should give you enough info to decide if you want to take a chance on it. Are you feeling lucky today, punk? Well, are you?

THREE: This denotes something I find perfectly respectable. There are better books out there, but I wouldn't regret buying this item. Based on my review, you should be able to determine if it's of interest to you. Let the Force guide you.

FOUR: I recommend anything earning this rating. Unless you don't like the genre, subject matter, or past work of the creators, I believe you'll enjoy this item. Isn't it uncanny how I can look right into your soul that way?

FIVE: Anything getting this rating is among the best comicdom has to offer. You should buy/read this, even if the genre/subject matter doesn't appeal to you. It's for your own good. Me, I live for comics and books this good...but not in a pathetic "Comic-Book Guy" sort of way.

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