Saturday, May 11, 2019


This is what started things on Twitter. I posted this in reference to the new Batman and the Outsiders title:

Don't try to put a silver lining on DC reducing Black Lightning to Batman's support negro. It's insulting to the character, his fans and the creator with whom he wouldn't exist. For authentic Black Lightning, read Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands and watch the brilliant TV show.

Well, that brought the Batman fanatics, Comicsgate clowns, Isabella haters and just plain racists out in droves. Some falsely accused me of using the “N” word. Of course, though “negro” starts with an “n,” but it’s not the “N” word and the phrase I used it in is one common in film criticism.

Some mocked the sales of Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands, which, as I have said, were less than I’d hoped for. On the other hand, DC didn’t go back to print on the first issue when it sold out rather quickly. As it routinely does for other comics.

Nor did it allow more than one variant cover during the entire six-issue Cold Dead Hands series. Every issue of the Detective Comics arc introducing the new BATO had two. The first issue of this new BATO series had three.

Factor in that DC set the new BATO in motion before Cold Dead Hands came out and one could suspect DC editorial had no interest in my reboot of Black Lightning being successful. I suppose it’s decidedly inconvenient for the creator of the company’s most iconic black super-hero to still be alive. How inconsiderate of me.

I’m not planning to spend weeks refuting all the inaccuracies and outright lies of the Twitter trolls or the stories on biased comics gossip sites. But, having a few free moments on my hands in the wee hours of this day, I posted this on Facebook:

Over on Twitter, now-blocked trolls have been trotting out the false narrative that I hate the thought of anyone other than me writing Black Lightning. To be honest, I wish I could write Black Lightning until the day I die. But here's some facts of which the trolls are likely unaware, not that they would note them if they were aware of them.

1. I praised Gerry Conway recognizing that Black Lightning would not join the Justice League in a story he wrote.

2. I praised Mike W. Barr's writing of Black Lightning in the original Batman and the Outsiders.

3. Over the years I have praised the Black Lightning writing of Brad Meltzer, Dwayne McDuffie, Grant Morrison, Adam Beechen and Sholly Fisch in various Justice League and other titles.

4. Among the people I have told they should pitch a Black Lightning project have been McDuffie, Gail Simone, and, in a moment of foolishness on my part, Trevor von Eeden. That was before I learned Trevor had a much worse relationship with DC than I did and was, to be kind, mercurial. There have probably been others, but I never knew there would be a quiz.

5. I praised the Black Lightning shorts written and created by my friend Lynell Hakim Forestall.

6. I believe I praised the Black Lightning appearance in the former incarnation of Young Justice.

7. I have regularly praised the Black Lightning TV series writers. Because they are amazing.

8. One of the many Black Lightning projects I pitched to DC was Black Lightning: Freeland, which would have been set in the TV series universe and mostly written by the writers of the TV series.

9. At various conventions in the past I have said that, if the time came when I couldn't write Black Lightning (a time which, despite DC being stupid, has not yet arrived), and if I could choose my successor, I would seek to find a writer of color, male or female, that I felt would honor the core values I instilled in my creation.

10. I can't think of a "10." This is a terrible click-bait list.

None of the above will sway the minds of those who attempt to hurt me on Twitter and elsewhere. I’ll be called a SJW. I’ll be called a racist. I’ll be called a bitter old has-been who was never a good writer. The venom has been spectacular, though not surprising in the least. None of that works.

You see, I know my true character. I know my talent. I know my true worth. I know the truth of Tony Isabella. So do the many thousands of fans and readers who write to me. I’m not going anywhere and neither are those wonderful fans and readers.

You lose, fools and haters and liars. You will ultimately always lose. Wallow in your venom. It’s where you belong.  

I’m working on my garage sales and a lot of other cool stuff. I’ll be back here as soon as possible.

Have a great Mother’s Day weekend.

© 2019 Tony Isabella


  1. I'm still waiting for my Black Lightning/ Misty Knight crossover. 😁😁

  2. Tony:

    Whomever is in charge of future projects at DC probably has zero clue of your storied history, not only with Black Lightning, but with other characters, and the marketing suits are only interested in what's trending with today's readers. Those same marketing suits don't get the appeal that Black Lightning has with today's readers via the TV show (which will return for a 3rd season). I would venture to guess that the marketing suits are likely way younger than you and me.

  3. Tony, I hope you don't mind a dumb question.

    You wrote that DC would not do variant covers for BL. Does that increase sales? Do collectors then buy two hoping the price would go up on the comic? I would just buy one comic with the cover I liked most.

  4. It's not that a dumb of a question, old friend. DC and Marvel and other companies wouldn't do variant covers if they didn't increase sales. They wouldn't do them just for the fun of it. I don't think collectors necessarily buy them because they think it will raise the value of the comics. I think they buy them for many reasons. I bought the Marvel variant cosplay covers a few years back because I thought they were fun. Most of the titles were not titles I was buying regularly. I only bought those issues for the cosplay covers. The bottom line is: yes, such variant covers do increase sales and therefor the profitability of the titles. That's why, besides having Batman as its lead title character, Batman and the Outsiders has an edge on Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands. BATO #1 has three covers and subsequent issues have two. I had one fairly generic variant cover and only on the first issue. Which was a shame on a sales level and on a creative level. I could have gotten some truly amazing artists with some fun concepts. And, as I said, CDH was hurt by DC's refusal to do a second printing after the first issue sold out quickly. That impacted sales of all subsequent issues.

  5. You may have covered it, but what did you think of the Black Lightning crossover with Hong Kong Phooey? I thought it was very enjoyable and one of the better ones which came out of that round of books.

    1. I think I was expecting more than I got. I love the idea of such crossovers. They don't take place in the main universe and they can be and often are fun. But I thought that one was little more than a generic issue of DC Comics Presents or Marvel Team-Up from the 1970s. It wasn't funny, not even in the sense of the dark humor seen in the other DC cartoon character and super-hero crossovers. There was an issue of Scooby-Doo Team-Up featuring Hong Kong Phooey and it was hilarious.

  6. I'm sorry people are saying bad things to you. I wish I could meet you one day and give a hug, a solid hand shake, get a pic with you, and have you sign some of my B.L. Comics.

  7. Hang in there, Tony. I've enjoyed your writing for years (even IT! The Living Colossus in the early '70's). These days I don't read much in the comics world as I think modern writers have broken most of the characters to the point where they are neither heroic or even recognizable beyond the costumes. Even so, I'd love to read your take on Black Lightning and Hawkman once (or twice, or even thrice) again.

  8. Hey, Tony. I just, "Discovered," Black Lightning a couple months ago. Interestingly, it wasn't your issues that I first bought. It was the hardcover collections of Batman and the Outsiders. Then I ran across Volume 2 for the TPB of BL - the backup story era. After reading that I knew I had to go back to the beginning, and MAN was I impressed with the original Black Lightning run. I didn't like Trevor Von Eeden's work on Power Man and Iron Fist AT ALL, but his work on Black Lightning was pretty good. Especially the issues inked by Vince Colletta. (So, one of my least favorite pencil artists inked by one of my least favorite inkers makes for a pretty good art team? Could the inspiration of a great character and great stories have anything to do with that? Maybe...) While the art is always hugely important in comics, if you don't have good writing, it doesn't matter. And the writing on thoes BL issues was VERY good, indeed. I loved the characters, and the stories were original and compelling. And the dialogue was always well written.

    So then I ran across Cold Dead Hands and bought that. WOW! Despite feeling like it was, maybe, forceably jam packed with inclusive characters and left leaning messages (at times coming across maybe just a little like they were there to be inclusive and sending those messages more than being there organically) those issues (which I bought in the trade collection) were some of the best I've read in a long time. Don't get me wrong, I'm not critizing the inclusiveness of those issues. It just seemed like the ONLY aspect of that run that wasn't hit out of the park. You merely got a single when it comes to that aspect of those issues. Other than that, the writing was outstanding. It was entertaining while presenting a story about people who are underrepresented in comics. Plot, character development, dialogue - all fantastic!

    To me, Black Lightning is an important title and character. One that should be more of a priority for DC. I'm glad you had the chance to revisit the character. Oh, and the art in Cold Dead Hands was fantastic!

    After being blown away by that one, despite not being a big fan of the art style I had seen in the Brick City Blues samples on Amazon (I'm not a fan of the scratchier style that became popular in the 80's and 90's) I knew I HAD to give it a shot. And, again, I was blown away. Your writing in those first 8 issues was simply phenomenal. It actually served as something of a bridge between the 70's issues and the Cold Head Hands issues. The character development was among the best I've ever read in a comic book, and the plots? Fantastic. You hit it out of the park. And it turned out that I loved the art by Eddy Newell, after all. There was a certain Neal Adams meets Frank Miller kind of look to it, and it worked beautifully!

    The way I see it, your writing on Black Lightning just keeps getting better and better, and it's a shame that DC hasn't gotten behind this character more than they have. This is a character that has so much depth, and is so entertaining at the same time - it seems like something that they should give time to find an audience. I wish I were in charge - I would give you a two year run to seee if you could find that audience, and I'd give you some significant promotion to give you a fair shot.

    Sadly, I'm not in charge at DC, nor am I likely to be. If you're never given another opportunity to write new Black Lightning stories, at least we've got some fantastic stuff from three different decades that you have written for this amazing character.

    I know I'm late in getting into Black Lightning ("Welcome to the party, Pal!) Better late than never.

  9. Von E and Vinnie the C were a phenomenal art team that conveyed the narrative well.

    1. Yes, surpsingly well. I've never been a fan of either Trevor Von Eeden or Vince Colletta, and yet when they worked together on Black Lightning the results were really pretty good - and as you said, they conveyed the narrative well. I tend to think it was a case of their styles meshing well, and also having some REALLY good material to work from.