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Black Lightning Makes Fun of the Whole 'Black Vulcan' Situation

In Meta-Messages, I explore the context behind (using reader danjack's term) "meta-messages." A meta-message is where a comic book creator comments on/references the work of another comic book/comic book creator (or sometimes even themselves) in their comic. Each time around, I'll give you the context behind one such "meta-message." This time around, we look at how Tony Isabella dealt with the whole "Black Vulcan" situation in the final issue of Isabella's original run on his creation, Black Lightning!

In 1977, Tony Isabella, who had already gained some experience at Marvel Comics working on both Luke Cage and the short-lived Black Goliath series, was given the chance at DC Comics to come work on a new black hero that they were planning on launching. Isabella had been working on ideas for a black superhero of his own, so he soon convinced DC to drop their idea (which was a really offensive character character that Robert Kanigher had come up with that basically revolved around the idea, "What if Archie Bunker turned into a black superhero at night?") and instead do the new character that Isabella had come up with.

The new hero (which was created by Isabella with artist Trevor Von Eeden, that credit is the specific way to credit the creation "Black Lightning was created by Tony Isabella with Trevor Von Eeden") debuted in Black Lightning #1 in very early 1977...

The character was a very personal creation for Isabella and he was very proud of Black Lightning. As he mentioned once, “In a very real sense, he was my Superman and I had hoped he would have a place with DC’s other superstars.”

That sure seemed to be the case, as Black Lightning was very well received when it came out. So well received that, well, something weird happened in the fall of that year.

You see, in 1973, a new animated TV series called Super Friends came out. It was canceled after just one season. However, the show (which was produced by Hanna-Barbera) continued to air in re-runs and was a popular enough show that they kept airing the first season over and over again. Meanwhile, the popularity of the Wonder Woman TV series was leading to a boom in superhero TV programming period, so 1977 saw the introduction of a couple of other new superhero TV shows, Amazing Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk.

RELATED: The 15 Most Bizarre Super Friends Episodes

So Hanna-Barbera and DC decided to bring the Super Friends back. They launched a new series called The All-New Super Friends...

Besides replacing Marvin and Wendy with the Wonder Twins, the show also saw the Super Friends team up with a bunch of other DC superheroes, as well as some brand-new characters meant to add some diversity to the team. Naturally, Black Lightning would be a PERFECT addition to the team. Except, here's the problem - if Black Lightning was used on the show, Isabella would get paid a fee from him appearing on TV. DC was supposed to pay it, but they decided to pass the fee along to Hanna-Barbera. Hanna-Barbera, for their part, did not want to do that, so they instead just invented a Black Lightning KNOCK-OFF called Black Vulcan...

Isabella was naturally displeased, and in his last issue of Black Lightning (he noted that he left the series because “I quit due to my dissatisfaction with DC’s failure to live up to the spirit of their agreements with me on a number of occasions"), he left one heck of a parting shot!

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