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Tony Isabella Speaks Out About DC Comics' Treatment of Black Lightning

Tony Isabella is a longstanding comic book writer, editor and journalist, working in the comics industry since the seventies, including long stints at Marvel and DC Comics. He may be best known for creating the Black Lightning character with Trevor Von Eeden.

Tony Isabella Speaks Out About DC Comics' Treatment of Black Lightning.
Tony Isabella Speaks Out About DC Comics' Treatment of Black Lightning. Art from DC.

But Isabella is not that keen on the character's current portrayal in the current Batman And The Outsiders series. He has already expressed displeasure at the portrayal and use Black Lightning, Jefferson Pierce, playing second fiddle to Batman in the comic, even as he has his own TV series. Isabella has had a chequered relationship with DC Comics in recent years although for one period it did improve and led to Isabella writing a Black Lightning series again.

Tony Isabella Speaks Out About DC Comics' Treatment of Black Lightning.
Tony Isabella Speaks Out About DC Comics' Treatment of Black Lightning. Art from DC.

But it seems like Black Lightning being portrayed as a divorced man, with the possibility of other relationships, does not sit well.

Tony Isabella Speaks Out About DC Comics' Treatment of Black Lightning.
Tony Isabella Speaks Out About DC Comics' Treatment of Black Lightning. Art from DC.

Isabella posted to Facebook, saying (with slight edits for language)


Other comics creators replied with their own take on the situation. Jo Duffy said "and this is why I shy away from reading anything on a work for hire gig after even the greatest writer has replaced me. Before me and during my tenure is real. Afterwards? Dicey fan fiction!"

Don McGregor replied saying "I have never read any Black Panther or Killraven books after I left. If you live with the characters day in and day out for years, I don't believe one can come to them with any objectivity. And pain, because you know what you intended to do and will never get to do. It's not fair to the other talent and you don't find yourself on the grill when asked your thoughts on other creators' work. They have a right to do whatever they want. Anyhow, I'll be involved in the books that I am doing at the time, and there isn't much spare time to invest in seeing what other people are doing. When I came back to PANTHER'S QUEST it was with the stipulation that I did not have to read anything that had been done in between PANTHER VS. THE KLAN and the new series."

In response, Tony posted "F-CK BEING FAIR TO THE OTHER "TALENT" IN THIS CASE. I CREATED BLACK LIGHTNING TO STAY FOR SOMETHING. IF THE TV SERIES CAN HONOR AND RESPECT MY CORE VALUES FOR MY CREATION, DC COMICS CAN DO THE SAME. YOU KNOW i LOVE YOUR BLACK PANTHER WORK, BUT YOU DIDN'T CREATE THE CHARACTER. THERE WOULD STILL BE A BLACK PANTHER WITHOUT YOU. IT WOULDN'T BE AS GOOD AS WHAT YOU DID WITH THE CHARACTER, BUT IT WOULD BE THERE. THERE IS ONLY ONE PERSON IN THE WORLD WITHOUT WHOM BLACK LIGHTNING WOULD NOT EXIST…AND THAT'S ME." Later adding without the caps lock, "And, just to add this, I *have* commented and commented favorably to comics that followed my run on characters. I'm a critic and reviewer and that kind of fairness is part of the job. This new BATO would be a horrible book even if it didn't f-ck with my creation. Indeed, I'm planning to write a favorable review of a comic written by someone I think is a jerk and who has put forth an utterly false story of how I created Black Lightning. I can and, if I decide to keep reviewing comics, will be objective."

Tom Beland told his own tale as a comic book reader. "I used to love Gwen Stacy. She was beautiful, she loved Peter Parker and I figured one day they'd get married. She was his perfect partner. When they killed her off, it devastated me. My mom let me mail a letter to Marvel Comics and all it said was F-CK YOU in red crayon. And then they hooked Peter up with Mary Jane Watson. I thought it was stupid and if they wanted him with a woman, why not Gwen?? She was perfect. Years later, I get asked to write a Valentine's Day Spidey story. In the story, I decided to examine why he was still with MJ. As I did, I actually convinced myself that Mary Jane is a much better fit than Gwen ever was. Gwen was a high school crush that always needed saving. Mary Jane was independent and fought back against her father and a stalker. There's a scene where Peter's in the shower going over the differences between her and Gwen and that's actually the moment that flipped me to being a MJ fan. Sometimes what seems like a horrible decision can make sense later on… if the stories are compelling enough."

Adam Vega commented "can't understand for the life of me why they don't have you write him continuously like Claremont did for the X-Men" to Tony's response "because they're f-cking bastards and morons."

Tony later stated to all that "I'm taking the next couple days off from the Internet. I figure I'll miss at least some of the clueless trolls who think the creator of an iconic character should just shut the f-ck up when he and the character are disrespected by others. I think I'm done with comics and maybe with any kind of online presence. UPDATE: I'm taking the weekend to think about what I want to do going forward. Right now, I'm considering throwing in the towel. There's got to be better things I can do with my energy, passion and talent."

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Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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