Wednesday, July 11, 2018


Marvel Comics, specifically the comic books written and drawn by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Don Heck and Dick Ayers were what made me want a career in comic books. In 1972, Roy Thomas, himself one of my inspirations, offered me a job with the company. The rest, as they say, is history.

While writing Power Man (Luke Cage) in the 1970s and in need of an opponent who could challenge Luke’s super-strength, I took Doctor Bill Foster, an old supporting character who had not been seen for a while, and gave him the ability to grow to giant size. Thanks to Luke, Bill and a foxy fighter name of Misty Knight, I would travel to New York City and Los Angeles within the space of seven days. Add that to a growing list of things I never expected to happen in my lifetime.

Marvel has always been pretty good to me. Over the years, while I might have had issues with an individual or two, I was appreciative that Marvel always kept its agreements with me. I never once had to chase Marvel for money it owed me. I was paid for any reprints of my work in a timely fashion. When Marvel sought an agreement that would cover my myriad contributions to the company, it was as easy a legal process as I could have hoped for.

In recent years, Marvel has truly made me feel part of the Marvel family. I’ve written a number of introductions to handsome volumes featuring reprints of my work. In 2016, they brought me to Harlem for the premiere of Luke Cage on Netflix where I got to meet, among others, Simone Messick who plays Misty Knight on that and other series. In 2017, they brought me to the city again, this time for a special screening of The Defenders.

In 2018, Marvel flew me to Brooklyn to be interviewed on camera for a massive project honoring the creators who have contributed to Marvel’s comic books and the various movies, TV shows and cartoons that have come from our work on the comic books. I was treated like an elder member of the family, recounting old stories in front of a fireplace. Except the fireplace was a director and a camera and I talked for close to two hours without taking a break. Marvel has often brought out the best in me.

Recently, Marvel made me feel like a favorite uncle. They brought me to New York for a special screening of the first two episodes of Luke Cage’s second season and then, just three days later, sent me to Los Angeles for the world premiere of Ant-Man and the Wasp. It was a dizzying several days and I’m going to share them with you. Because you’re my family.
June 26 was my son Ed’s 30th birthday, so I invited him to come to New York with me for Marvel’s special screening of Luke Cage Season Two on June 22. We flew in on Thursday, June 21. Once again, I had booked a room at the Econo Lodge Times Square on West 47th Street and Eighth Avenue. Our room was small - though not as small as the single-bed rooms of my previous stays - but I feel comfortable in what ia essentially my old neighborhood from when I lived in NYC and worked for Marvel Comics.

That evening, we had dinner with my goddaughter Kara and her mother Sandie, neither of whom we see often enough. We ate at Ristorante Amarone, which had great food and less-than-perfect service. After bringing us our checks, the waiter didn’t come back. Fortunately, we were able to pay cash and not wait for him.

From there, we took the subway to Kara’s apartment. She lives in a sixth-floor walk-up not far from the Cooper School of Art. I’m not gonna say walking up six flights of stairs wasn’t a bit more than I was prepared for, but it is a nice apartment. For desert, we went to the famous Veniero’s on East 11th. Whatever calories I might’ve burned walking up and down six flights of stairs, I put right back on via a most delicious piece of cake.

When we got back to the Times Square area, Ed and I went to Midtown Comics. This is one of the coolest comics stores of them all. Two stories of comics and other incredible items. I bought a copy of the Black Lightning/Hong Kong Fooey Special, thinking I might read it that evening or on our flight home. As it turned out, I somehow never got around to reading it until earlier this week. As per requests from several of my bloggy readers, I will be writing about it in the next installment of “Black Lightning Beat.”

I’d hoped Midtown would have copies of Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #1-4, all of which are sold out from DC Comics. They didn't have any of the six issues. The first issue sold out quickly, though, inexplicably, DC never went back to press on it. I suspect that decision hurt sales on the remaining issues of the series. Sigh.

Friday morning. Ed and I took a cab to the ABC building on West 66th for Marvel’s special screening of the first two episodes of Luke Cage Season Two. Our hosts - David Bogart, Tom Brevoort and Brian Overton - could not have been more gracious. They had a nice spread of coffee and pastries waiting for us. Introducing the two episodes, Brevoort talked about how we were all part of the Marvel family and, you know, I was feeling it.

I was also feeling pretty warm inside because of the other family there. Don and Marsha McGregor. Marcus McLaurin and his family. The families of Billy Graham, Archie Goodwin and George Tuska. This was a nice thing Marvel was doing for all of us.

We were shown the first two episodes of Luke Cage Season Two. Mike Colter’s played a Luke struggling with his new celebrity and some unresolved anger issues. Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temple struggles to understand and help the man she loves. Alfie Woodard and Theo Rossi are deliciously evil A.F. in their roles as Mariah Dillard and “Shades” Alverez. However, although I might be a bit biased here, Simone Messick as Misty Knight just dominated the screen in her every scene.

Misty lost an arm in The Defenders. We all know she will be getting a way cool bionic arm before the end of this season of Luke Cage. But I’m so glad the series is taking its time getting to that  moment. Misty dealing with her loss and trying to get back on the job has been riveting.

Kudos must also go to showrunner and writer Cheo Hodari Coker and Lucy Liu, who directed the first episode. With new characters and new situations, Luke Cage Season Two is shaping up to even better than its incredible first season.

After the screening, Ed and I went back to the Econo Lodge. We had a fantastic lunch at the Dim Sum Palace near our hotel. We walked over to 42nd Street and the Regal Cinema theater for a showing of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. I’ll be reviewing that very soon, perhaps as soon as tomorrow.

We ended our New York birthday bash by taking the subway to Queens and Citi Park. The New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The stadium has a real baseball stadium feel. Our seats were amazing. While we were disappointed that the Mets lost, we did see a grand-slam homer. After the game, we spent a few moments at the stadium’s wonderful memorial to Jackie Robinson.

We flew back to Cleveland on Saturday morning, arriving back home in Medina a little after noon. It had been a great trip, but I had another adventure to look forward. On Monday, Saintly Wife Barb and I would be flying to Los Angeles to see the world premiere of Ant-Man and the Wasp. I’ll tell you about that soon.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.
© 2018 Tony Isabella

1 comment:

  1. Tony, what a wonderful trip and opportunity for you and your son! I'm glad to hear that Marvel continues to treat you well. Comic fans around the globe love your stories and deeply appreciate all the contributions you've made to the genre.

    Having read the entire Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands series (with Issue 1 autographed by you at Akron Comicon!) and enjoying it so much, I can only hope that DC or Marvel asks you to do more!

    Best Wishes
    Ed Gosney