Saturday, April 21, 2018


Howdy, fellow Questers!!

    Welcome back to a very special episode of TEX'S Back-Issue Quest, where you can find all that comic book knowledge that you can't get in any college!

    Today marks the second anniversary of the death of one of the GREATEST, most prolific musicians to ever walk the planet: Prince Rogers Nelson, better known to the world as...PRINCE!! The perspicacious pop star from Minneapolis, MN., burst onto the music scene in the late 70s with his sensual showmanship and a profound musical genius that guided him in creating a new sound - a new sound that drew inspiration from diverse genres of music like R&B, Funk, Soul, New Wave, and Rock. The multi-platinum artist was an extremely gifted music writer, producer, singer, and performer, who was known to be able to play several instruments with amazing skill. He earned great success with legendary hits like "When Doves Cry," "I Wanna Be Your Lover," "Batdance," "Cream," and the incomparable "Purple Rain" - a song which thrust Prince into a new level of stardom after being featured on his hit film of the same title, released in 1984.

    Sadly, the genius that was Prince passed away on April 21, 2017, at the young age of 57. It's lucky for us that he blessed us with musical and cinematic works that will make him live on in our hearts. Oh, and there are a few comic books that featured The Purple One as well. Today, we'll talk about this one:

    Feast your hungry eyes on my copy of Prince and The New Power Generation: Three Chains of Gold from Piranha Music! In this comic, Prince and the NPG are on tour in a fictional Middle Eastern country when the beautiful princess, Mayte, takes an intimate interest in The Purple One. But before Prince has the chance to make ALL her doves cry, the princess' father is murdered by his own power-hungry brother who then sets his eye on Princess Mayte as he looks to possess the Three Chains of Gold, the symbol of absolute rulership of the country. However, unbeknownst to her evil uncle, Mayte has given her chain to Prince who is safe and sound at his home, Paisley Park, in Minneapolis. Or is he?

   Not at all.

   Soon, the Purple One and The NPG will have to face blood-thirsty assassins, rescue an alluring princess from the clutches of her murderous uncle, and save an entire country from total ruin. I guess it's just a day in the life the mighty musician from Minneapolis!

   Fabled comic book writer, Dwayne McDuffie, absolutely killed it on the writing on this story! Sure, it's a story about a superstar-turned-superhero, but McDuffie keeps the cheesiness to a minimum, the action to a maximum, and the humor set nicely on "stun." I don't know if McDuffie actually met Prince, or just used what he saw of him in movies, interviews, and music videos, but he really makes Prince's personality larger-than-life, extremely lovable, and a bit naughty - just as one might expect from the supremely talented, super-sexy, diminutive Don Juan:

I like to refer to this as the "Lake Minnetonka Moment" (Purple Rain fans will get it). 

Here, Prince gets down to butt-kicking business, with a bit of humor as a chaser.

Oh, Prince! You Sexy MF!

    Three artists put some heat on their pencils and made this comic smoke: David Williams, Deryl Skelton, and Steve Carr! 

    The representation of Prince in the latter is simply amazing...And a bit haunting. 

    If you're a fan of The Purple One, whether you're into comic books or not, you should probably have Prince and The New Power Generation: Three Chains of Gold in your collection of Prince memorabilia. It's a fun read, a real collector's item, and a great way to drift off down Memory Lane with one of the greatest music artists to ever grace the stage: the artist FOREVER known as...PRINCE!!!! On to the Fun Facts!!

FUN FACT 1 - Prince and The New Power Generation: Three Chains of Gold accompanied Prince's 1994 direct-to-video movie, "3 Chains O' Gold," featuring songs from Prince's "Love Symbol Album." While I don't have access to the film, I can hook you up with the music videos on YouTube: Love Symbol Album.

FUN FACT 2 - Writer, Dwayne McDuffie, was one of the most prolific and respected African American comic book creators of all time. Sadly, he passed away in 2011, several years before Prince. McDuffie co-created The Dakotaverse, and such amazing characters as Static, and Icon, wrote legendary runs for comic book several characters and groups, like The Justice League, and Deathlok, and branched out into writing, story editing, and production of TV shows like Ben 10, Static Shock, Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited. McDuffie also wrote several films in the DC Animated Universe, including "Justice League: Doom," and "All-Star Superman."

FUN FACT 3 - Kirstie Alley appears in both the film and the comic as snoopy, dauntless reporter, Vanessa Bartholemew.

FUN FACT 4 - The Middle Eastern princess, Mayte, was portrayed by Mayte Garcia in the film (and her likeness was used in the comic). She is actually an American actress, dancer and singer of Puerto Rican ancestry. Eventually, she would marry Prince, and bear his only child, Amir, who passed away just six short days after his birth.

    I hope that you have enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it. Prince was absolutely one of my favorite music artists of all time, and it was a bittersweet honor to take a bit of time to remember him today. May he rest in eternal peace. Thanks for visiting! Here is a little something to take you on home:

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Sunday, April 15, 2018

Pull List Potpourri April 15, 2018

It's TEX!!

   Back again with another rousing episode of...PULL LIST POTPOURRI!!

   Don't you just love comics? I do. Very much. Unfortunately, I can't buy them all, but I can share with you a few standouts from my pull list that really get my motor running - or not. Let's start with not:

1. Normandy Gold #5 - Normandy Gold is a hard-nosed sheriff from a rural town who has been barreling through corruption on the mean streets of 1970s Washington, D.C. - from pimps to pushers to politicians, Normandy's been kicking the hornet's nest trying to smoke out those responsible for the murder of her younger sister. But now, Normandy just may have gone from being the hunter to becoming the prey when she finds that the men behind the death of her sister, a high-priced escort, are far more powerful and connected than she ever could have dreamed. Will Normandy get with the program and stay alive, or try to burn it all down for the sake of justice?

   I was really looking forward to an earth-shattering finale from this series. Since issue #1, Megan Abbott and Allison Gaylin have written a tight, gripping, and gritty revenge story full of interesting characters with an explosive protagonist reminiscent of the popular female heroes of the bygone blaxploitation age. Abbott and Gaylin wrap it all up in a nice, neat, but unsatisfying package in issue #5 that is just painful, quite frankly. The final issue has little action, and an antagonist who was way too easy to kill - this series embodies the proverbial bang and whimper. 

RATING: 6 out of 10.

2. Spider-Man (vol 1) #237-239 - Miles Morales is really having a tough go of it. His mom has found out his secret and isn't talking to him or his father, he's developing new powers, the loose-lipped Ganke may have just revealed his secret identity to the wrong person, and a mystery man known as Cable wants Miles to work for him in some sort of international spy group. Well, it's really about to hit the fan. Someone new is wearing the Iron Spider armor, and he's gathered a group of baddies (Sandman, Hobgoblin, The Spot, Ceres, and Bombshell) to perform the heist of the century - a drydocked S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier! Worst of all, this new Iron Spider knows Miles, and his family, intimately. If Miles tries to stop him, it could spell doom for him and everyone he loves. 

   Brian Michael Bendis is in great form in his work on this book. He has made Miles one of the most dramatic and interesting characters in Marvel's line-up, and he is quite possibly looking to move Miles out of Spidey's shadow into a different line of adventures. How will Miles react when he realizes that his most trusted friend just might not be so trustworthy? And just wait until you see who is under the mask of the Iron Spider! I see a big painful shake-up coming in Miles' future, a world where he may have to leave behind his childhood and everything he loves. Oscar Bazaldua's art is clean, precise, and uncomplicated - just the right balance between serious and cartoony. Great series. Too bad Bendis has signed an exclusive contract with DC. I wonder how the series will play out without him. 

RATING: 8 out of 10

3. The Falcon (vol 2) - Sam Wilson is really on the ropes. He watched his best friend, mentor, and brother, Steve Rogers take over the world as a Hydra agent, he suffered hatred and was reviled as Captain America,  he broke up with the love of his life, Misty Knight, and he's trying to regain his identity as Sam Wilson and as The Falcon. Oh, and the supernatural mayhem-maker, Blackheart, has just ripped Sam's soul from his body and cast it into Hell where it's being held prisoner by none other than Mephisto himself. Sam Wilson just can't catch a break. Somehow, Sam must find a way to claw his way out of hell and stop Blackheart from consuming the world, starting with Chicago, which Blackheart has turned into a powderkeg of violence and unrest using a supernatural artifact, and the already preexisting social tensions. In order to face down Mephisto and Blackheart, Sam Wilson will first have to face down the worst parts of himself. Lucky for him, Doctor Voodoo, The Patriot, and Joaquin (former Falcon) have his back...As well as a new player who just happens to be the half-human spawn of the devil himself. 

 Oh, by the way...Here come the vampires!! YES!!!

    Rodney Barnes is writing Sam Wilson like he's never been written before, putting Sam in some deep waters that I just didn't think he'd be equipped to face. Barnes has got Sam doing a bunch of soul-searching, stepping out to face the unknown, and facing down supernatural threats way out of his league. AND IT WORKS! Sam Wilson is doing great battling the supernatural, and it's attracted a great cast of young heroes in Patriot and Joaquin, as well as staunch supernatural allies like Doctor Voodoo, and the new guy (who shall not be named - no spoilers!). I never thought someone could put the Falcon - not Sam Wilson as Captain America, but THE FALCON - in the limelight and make him shine so brightly. Jay Anacleto and Romulo Fajardo, Jr. are bringing hot fire to these AMAZING covers, while Joshua Cassara is rocking the moody, action-packed, REALLY busy pencils on the interiors. Barnes' Falcon brings the social commentary, psychological thrills, and the supernatural chills that put this book at the top of my superhero pull list. 

RATING 10 out of 10. 

    Thanks for reading!!

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Friday, April 6, 2018

Terrifics #1 and #2 Review

The Terrifics from DC Comics -

     Mr. Terrific, AKA Multi-billionaire, Michael Holt, is one of the smartest humans who has ever existed. His brilliance has driven him to be not only one of the world's greatest tech wizards, but it has motivated him to push himself in every area of his life: he is an Olympic Gold Medalist, master of several martial arts disciplines and languages, a daring costumed adventurer, and a wildly successful tech giant. Well, he was a wildly successful tech giant, until he went on a multi-dimensional crusade to save the universe. He's returned to find that the villainous scientist, Simon Stagg, has taken over his corporation and opened a door to a dark universe that threatens to destroy our own - and, of course, Stagg has no idea how to close it. Mr. Terrific has to embark on a journey so perilous that even he won't be able to make it all alone (even though he'd like to think so). Enter the shape-shifting, elemental powerhouse, Metamorpho, who himself has fallen victim to Stagg's diabolical plans; Plastic Man, the endlessly pliable, stretchable, and durable shape-shifting wizard, and ex-criminal turned hero; and Linnya Wazzo, denizen of the planet, BGZTL, where everyone has the power to phase through matter in phantom-like forms. These four terrific travelers will soon be thrust into a dangerous struggle for their lives, and their universe, when they stumble across an alien artifact in the dark universe, an artifact that imparts a message from a forgotten, mighty adventurer: "If you are seeing this recording, it means I am probably already DEAD...That means it is up to YOU to save the universe..."

    One of today's greatest comics artists, Ivan Reis, teams up with one comics' quirkiest storytellers, Jeff Lemire, to create this universes-spanning sci-fi superhero team-up, The Terrifics! And what an oddball, offbeat group they've put into the mix: the awe-inspiring, supremely gifted and self-sufficient polymath, Mr. Terrific; the immortal, lovable, indestructible dunce, Plastic-Man; the adventurous master of transmutation, Metamorpho; and the original icon of intangibility, Linnya Wazzo (better known to long-time fans as The Legion of Super-Heroes' Phantom Girl). From about the second page, the action is hot and heavy, fast and furious. The team is gathered fairly quickly in the pages of the first issue, and their personalities shine through as they stumble and bumble through their first challenges together, getting on each others' LAST nerve in the process. These issues are a lot of fun, especially the Johnny Storm/Ben Grimm-esque tension between Plastic Man and Metamorpho which lends a few good chuckles to the fast-paced, wild ride of a story that Lemire has cooked up. And poor Phantom Girl ends up with a really bad problem with her phasing powers, that Mr. Terrific promises to do his best to fix. Yeah...This book is in some ways very similar to Marvel's Fantastic Four - but that in no way makes the book any less fun or engaging. The only concerns I had were with the characterization of Mr. Terrific, who seems more than a bit aloof, with very little of his prodigious problem-solving skills and tech wizardry showing through, also the team lacks any real ties that would serve to create a solid team dynamic. However, since we're only two issues in, there is plenty of time to correct/develop Mr. Terrific, the entire team and its dynamic. For all its faults, I really enjoyed the first two issues of The Terrifics, and I am excited for what's to come; with a team so unique and versatile, and with a writer like Lemire, there is no limit to what this team could become to the DCU. Ivan Reis' pencils are, as usual, GORGEOUS - from the heroes to the often elaborate backgrounds to the action-heavy panels, Reis is in top form backed up by inker, Joe Prado, and colorist, Marcelo Maiolo, who make this book a feast for the eyes, panel after panel. I am really stoked to see these powerful, but under-rated, under-used heroes get to take the reigns and get some shine. I signed up for this book months ago, and I am so glad that I did. Don't sleep on The Terrifics!

RATING: 9 out 10.

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Monday, April 2, 2018

Abbott #1 Review

Abbott #1 from BOOM! Studios - 

        Detroit, 1972 - a city on the edge. And no one can wire-walk like the city's most diligent, hard-nosed, and controversial reporter, Elena Abbott. She moves like silk, smells like Heaven, cigarettes, and brandy, and is as tough as nails with a nose for news. From illegal drugs, to government corruption, to police brutality, Abbott is known to be out for only one thing: the truth. When a police horse is horribly dismembered, the police want ot blame it on black radicals in the city; however, Aboott is not convinced. Not at all. The next corpse the cops find is so hatefully destroyed, it leaves even the world-weary Abbott more than shaken up. These murders look familiar. Too familiar...Reminding her of a lost love, a murder unsolved, a monstruous, supernatural killer...Stirring up a rage she's never been able to shake. No one believed her all those years ago, but this time, Elena Abbott will not stop until she knows the truth, and finds justice...Even if it kills her.

     Saladin Ahmed pens this atmospheric supernatural, mystery-crime thriller that's just as cool and slick as you please. But it's even more than that - this comic is a sublime mash-up of so many genres, it like a smorgasbord of genre-bending goodness! Start with a seemingly Friday Foster-inspired protagonist in Detroit in 1972, throw in some blaxploitation elements, a heinous killer - and then make that killer possibly/probably supernatural, and you've got a blaxploitation/crime-mystery/horror comic that has really got some legs! The protagonist, Abbott is calm, cool, collected, smart, sexy, sassy, and brave. She's got a righteous bent that endeared her to me from the first page - she's all about the truth, and she's not about to hold that back for anyone, or anything, even if it costs her everything. And one gets the sense that it has cost her everything before. I love a righteous protagonist. Abbott has got the world against her - a corrupt force of cops, newspaper owners who are racist and sexist, and a supernatural killer that wants to cook her goose. She's got it rough, but she's got a stellar supporting cast that rounds out the book nicely, filling out Abbott's personality nicely as she interacts with each one. From her put-upon, high-strung, Armenian editor who's always trying to look out for her, standing between Abbott and the owners who want her gone, to the owner of the local diner who's always got his ear to the ground, and who's got a young son with the full-blown hots for Abbott, to Abbott's ex-husband, a tougher-than-leather, honest cop who's got to keep one eye on the streets, and one on the partly corrupt and racist force that's supposed to have his back. This book is just full of great characters, and atmosphere wound tightly into Saladin Ahmed's engrossing plot. Sami Kivelä, previously unknown to me, rocks the pencils out perfectly for the story. His art has got a laid back feel, yet it's very precise and quirky - a bit like jazz music. I simply cannot wait to see where this story goes. Abbott is defintely headed out of The Motor City and straight to my pull list.

RATING: 10 out of 10.

You know what? How about I leave you a little taste of the PERFECT Pam Grier as Friday Foster?

Now, I KNOW you can dig that.

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Sunday, March 18, 2018


Hello, Fellow Questers!!

    Have I got something GREAT for you today!!

    Who's the most offbeat hero ever created? Who's the most powerful adventurer that you've never heard of? Who makes the ladies swoon and sends the bad guys to their ignominious doom? Why, it's none other than...

(My copy of Herbie #1, printed by ACG in April of 1964)


   ...And you're thinking, "What's a Herbie Popnecker?"

    Herbie Popnecker is the universe's greatest, weirdest, and coolest hero. Below, you see my copy of his very first appearance in the now-defunct American Comics Group's (ACG) fun title, Forbidden Worlds, in issue #73 printed in December of 1958. Herbie Popnecker was created by Richard E. Hughes (using the pseudonym, Shane O'Shea), and comics genius, Ogden Whitney, an amazing creator, equally as cool, tragic, and forgotten and his creation, Herbie.

    Herbie Popnecker is a FAR cry from your average hero. He is short, bespectacled, fat, and dead-faced, and unlike many superheroes of the early Silver Age, Herbie was quite young. From what I can tell, he derived his superpowers from his deliciously dangerous lollipops, which gave him magnificent powers and abilities, such as superhuman strength and speed, flight-walking (Herbie is the ORIGINAL sky-walker), hypnosis, the ability to communicate in all languages (even with animals), time-travel, invisibility, and invulnerability. In this, his first adventure in Forbidden Worlds #73, Herbie catches a lot of grief from his dad for his lack of motivation and abnormality, not knowing that the son he looks down upon so much is a super-powered being who just saved the planet from an alien invasion, and found an important U.S. Senator who was thought dead but merely lost at sea.

   Herbie's coolness and relevance resonate down through the decades, especially with the marginalized, disenfranchised, and the social outcasts. Ahead of its time, Herbie's stories in Forbidden Worlds tackle difficult themes like masculinity, productivity, bullying, and self-image in a time when these issues were rarely up for any discussion. Herbie's father, Pincus, thinks of him as a "fat little nothing." Herbie is bullied and teased by his peers, and most people ignore him, denigrate him, or ignore his presence altogether. He's got all the makings of a grand super-villain, but never once does Herbie complain, or strike back at those whose minds are just too small to comprehend him. He just keeps walking through the world unnoticed, and unloved (except for by his sweet mother), all the while stopping disaster after disaster, saving lives, the planet and the universe. He is both tragic and triumphant - a character with all the trappings of an anti-hero, who, to me, is probably one of the purest forms of a superhero ever published in comics. Herbie gains nothing at all from his powers. Nothing. He is entirely and completely altruistic. And if you think about it, it makes perfect sense: what would a godlike creature, confident in its abilities and powers, actually need from humans? What would it benefit by ruling or saving them? So, then, it would have to have only its own internal source of motivation which we know only in our binary terms of good and evil. Lucky for the Herbie-verse, Herbie is truly good for absolutely no reason at all but his own...Which absolutely makes him one of my most beloved comic book characters. People can learn a lot from Herbie: words cannot hurt you unless you give them the power to do so - the power that only resides deep within the universe of your very own soul. We are all Herbie.

  Can you dig it, man?

 On to the fun facts!!

FUN FACT 1 - Herbie Popnecker's powers come from his deliciously dangerous lollipops, given to him by the enigmatic Unknown. He could often defeat his enemies by smacking them with one of his strangely strong sweets. He often leveled this hilarious, yet very serious threat at villains: "...gonna bop you with this here lollipop...".

FUN FACT 2: The most powerful of Herbie's lollipops (and the most difficult to find) was the cinnamon-flavored kind.

FUN FACT 3: Herbie's co-creator, Ogden Whitney, was a tragic character in his own right. He was an alcoholic that after passing his Golden Age and Silver Age heydays, worked less and less, depending on his wife as the primary bread-winner of the household. He tried to break into advertising when his comics career dried up, but sadly he ended up dying alone in a nursing home suffering from a mental breakdown after the death of his beloved wife. However, in 2007, he was finally inducted into The Will Eisner Award Hall Of Fame.

FUN FACT: Would you believe it? Herbie Popnecker is Alan Moore's, favorite superhero! In an interview with TwoMorrows Publishing, the legendary comics writer once stated that Herbie was, "one of his all-time passions."

FUN FACT 5: Herbie received the Alley Award for "Best Humorous Comic Book" award in 1964 and 1965.

FUN FACT 6: Herbie got his own comic in 1964 (see my copy of Herbie #1 above), and as was the custom of the Silver Age (even with Archie, Reggie, and Jughead), Herbie got into the cape-and-tights game in issue #8, becoming the Fat Fury!!

Herbie #8 (I don't own one of these...Yet). 

    I agree with Alan Moore: Herbie is awesome. The world could benefit from a bit of Herbie, nowadays. Thanks for reading! Feel free to let me know how you feel about Herbie in the comments. And as a gift from me to you (actually from to all of us), you can read Herbie's earliest adventure here! is so AMAZING!! And, if you're so inclined, check out this wild, cool video by Robert Martens:

Thanks for reading!

If you like these articles, PLEASE HIT THE +1 BUTTON below. We are on Google+, follow us and we'll follow you back.  We're also on Facebook and Twitter (Tex's Comic Quest). Like our page, and share us with your friends! Help me win one million readers over to the awesome world of comics!

Friday, March 2, 2018

TEX'S Variants, Autographs and Oddities Episode 7 (Spawn 150)

Hello fellow Questers!!!

    Welcome back to another episode of...TEX'S Variants, Autographs, and Oddities!! I hope that your weekend is looking swell! Mine is looking to be really busy - but you know what they say: " Better busy than broke." LOL!

    Now, I know that you can dig that.

    Today, I hit you with a bit of that much beloved Todd McFarlane creation...SPAWN!!!

Spawn #150 (sketch variant) front cover 

Spawn #150 (sketch variant) back cover

   Isn't she lovely? It's my copy of the sketch variant of Spawn #150! It's one of the rarer covers, all done up by Jim Lee. But besides the cool cover, it's also the third part of an insanely cool story called "Random Patterns," penned by Brian Holguin and Todd McFarlane, in which we see Spawn defeated by Heaven's champion, The Disciple, and from a piece of his shredded carcass arises a child-Spawn. This new Spawn is taken under the wing of an enigmatic, universally powerful being who wishes to use him for his own plans.

  All that's nice, but why do I REALLY love this book? Simple. It's the first full appearance of...The Man of Miracles!! YEAH!!!

   Man of Miracles (M.o.M.) is basically the Mother of Existence. Bear with me here. You see, M.o.M. is the genderless, omniscient, omnipotent parent of both god and the devil, both of whom were given the Earth and wrestle for kingship over the planet. It seems the god created man (with M.o.M.'s energies), but the devil gave man free will, so they both believe they have the right to claim man as their own. Their plans were thwarted, however, when M.o.M. fell in love with mankind, seeing it as a new, unique thing in the universe. To save mankind, M.o.M. banished both god and the devil to the far reaches of the unknown universe, and then took a human form (let's just call this form, J.C.) to come down to mankind and preach a gospel of love and peace...Which mankind, of course, corrupted, leading M.o.M. train this new Spawn for his role in the coming Armageddon. The souls of M.o.M.'s 12 earthy followers became Heaven's mightiest warriors, The Disciples (the most powerful of these is the one who defeated Spawn).

   Does that name sound familiar? Man of Miracles? It should because Man of Miracles = Miracleman/Marvelman!! At least, it was supposed to anyway. You see, when Todd McFarlane purchased Eclipse Comics' creative assets back in 1996, he thought he bought the rights to Miracleman, which the previous writer and (owner of the rights), Neil Gaiman, disputed. McFarlane went ahead and introduced Mike Moran, the alter-ego of Miracleman/Marvelman, into Spawn's universe, and eventually even finished a Miracleman statue and M.o.M. action figures - some of which I own (of course):

Coolness, right?

   The action figures are sweet, and the story is a nutty, wild, fascinating thrill-ride of an adventure. You should check it out! 

On to the FUN FACTS!

FUN FACT 1 - Man of Miracles' appearance changes according to who is perceiving her.

FUN FACT 2 - Since Alan Moore first penned the first true superhero deconstruction story starring Miracleman in the pages of Warrior, Marvelman/Miracleman has garnered a hardcore fanbase, Yours truly being one of them.

FUN FACT 3 - In 2009, it was revealed that Mick Anglo, the creator of Marvelman, still owned the rights to the character...And Marvel Comics promptly bought the rights to the character from him. Sadly, Mick passed away in 2011. 

I hope you all enjoy reading these articles as much as I do writing them! I'm not a professional writer, just a guy who really loves comics. You are always welcome to let me know what you think in the comments, positive or negative. I appreciate your readership! 

If you like these articles, PLEASE HIT THE +1 BUTTON below. We are on Google+, follow us and we'll follow you back.  We're also on Facebook and Twitter (Tex's Comic Quest). Like our page, and share us with your friends! Help me win one million readers over to the awesome world of comics!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

TEX'S Back-Issue Quest Episode 64 (Black Lightning)

Hello, there fellow Questers!!

     It's T to tha E to tha X back one more time to blow your comicbook-absorbed minds! I hope that life is treating you all, and the ones you love, GREAT! Me and mine are doing more than fine!

    It's no secret that Black Panther has shocked the world, breaking box office records left and right, and pulling in more than $450 million worldwide within the first 5 days after its opening! Well, yours truly has seen Black Panther four times, and I have calculated that my family combined has spent close to $300 enjoying Black Panther in the last week. It's easily my favorite Marvel film, unseating Captain America: The Winter Soldier in my heart as Marvel's most thought-provoking, relevant film. 

   But we're not here to talk about Black Panther.

   While Marvel is the king of films, DC rules the small screen with fun, action-packed shows like Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl. Constantine was a stellar show that was part of the Arrowverse as well; unfortunately, it did not last past one season. Well, in keeping step with MCU's first film starring a black superhero (the Blade films are not in the MCU proper), DC/Warner launched a television show on January 16, 2018, called Black Lightning! So far, the series has received excellent ratings and it has garnered praise for being relevant, powerful, entertaining and intelligent. But just who is Black Lightning? Check it:

   Above, you can see my pristine copy of Black Lightning, vol 1, #1, printed in April of 1977. It features the first appearances of Jefferson Pierce, AKA Black Lightning, his nemesis, Tobias Whale (an albino of African-American descent), and Tobias' gang, the 100. Jefferson Pierce is a high school teacher and former Olympic Gold Medal decathlete, returning to Suicide Slum, his home neighborhood, to teach at Garfield High School. Suicide Slum is a high-crime, high-poverty section of Metropolis that rarely seemed to get much attention from the Last Son of Krypton. Not long after returning, Jefferson finds himself in direct conflict with the 100's agenda, and soon a young, promising athlete who aided Jefferson in his confrontation with the 100 ends up dead. This is when Jefferson heads out to see his old friend and father-figure, Peter Gambi, a local tailor and tech wizard, who joins him in his fight against the 100 and their leader Tobias Whale. Gambi provides Jefferson with a costume, wig, mask, and the Electric Power Belt - a powerful weapon that not only generates a personal force-field but it also allows Jefferson to generate lightning bolts! And so was born...Black Lightning!!

   Black Lightning was created by comics legend, Tony Isabella (who has signed several comics for me - Thanks, Tone!), and amazing penciller, Trevor von Eden. Isabella, widely recognized for his stellar run on Marvel's first black superhero in his own title, Luke Cage, was recruited by DC to help them launch their first black superhero title. The series ran for eleven great issues...Until the storied DC Implosion erased the series from DC's publishing line-up. The series has been both praised for its relevance, grittiness, and depth, and it has been criticized for the over-the-top stereotypical behavior of some of the characters. Love it, or hate it, Black Lightning, vol 1, was jam-packed with amazing, expressive art done by a black artist, and tight, emotionally powerful writing inspired by the waning genre of blaxploitation, which was already in its death throes.

  Wanna see more great covers? Well, I have the entire series, but let's see what's already scanned to my computer to feed your need...A-HA!! Feast your eyes on Black Lightning #s 4 thru 10:

Ain't they pretty?

   On to the fun facts!!!

FUN FACT 1 - You ain't gonna even BELIEVE this one. DC's first black headlining superhero was supposed to be called The Black Bomber. If that isn't scary enough (and terrorist-y), check out the plot: The Black Bomber was a white, bigoted Vietnam vet, who after taking part in camouflage experimentation (to help white soldiers blend into the jungle better), gains the power (?) to change into a black superhero...Who saves blacks, but still hates blacks, even while he is black. Bruh.

I can't make this stuff up. Click here and let famous Fred Hembeck tell ya about it.

FUN FACT 2 - Neither Black Lightning nor Luke Cage was the first black superhero in their comicbook company; however, they both first appeared in their own titles that they were specifically created to lead.

FUN FACT 3 - Tony Isabella wrote Black Lighting until issue #10 when Denny O'Neil took over.

FUN FACT 4 - Black Lightning originally had no powers, and relied on his wits, raw athleticism and Gambi's Electric Power Belt to beat the bad guys. However, after Gambi's murder in Black Lightning, vol 1, #7, Jefferson's rage reveals that he has somehow internalized and amplified the powers of the Power Belt. It has been speculated that Jefferson was born with a latent meta-gene that was activated by the Power Belt.

FUN FACT 5 - It seems like the TV series is a mash-up of Black Lightning, vol 1, and Black Lightning: Year One, published in 2009, written by Jen Van Meter and pencilled by Cully Hammer.

FUN FACT 6 - Black Lightning fathered two daughters, Anissa and Jennifer, who both have an activated meta-gene which led to the development of superhuman powers:

Anissa became the superhero called Thunder.

Jennifer became the superhero, Lightning.

FUN FACT 7 - Black Lightning (in vol 1) as a character has caught a lot of flack due to the fact that he A: wears an afro wig, and B: speaks in an exaggerated Harlem jive to help hide his identity as Jefferson Pierce AND conceal the fact that he is an educated man. 

FUN FACT 8 - I love Black Lightning, the character, and the TV show. The TV series is awesome. It's timely, pulls few punches, showcases pretty solid writing, and a great cast with Cress Williams in the titular role. He struggles in his role as a father of two headstrong daughters in a tough inner-city area, a principal trying to give at-risk kids a future, a husband trying to win back his estranged wife, and a superhero trying to make his city a better place. 

FUN FACT 8 - Tony Isabella is a talented writer, an often overlooked comicbook treasure, and an all-around stand-up guy. You can catch up with him here at his blog. You can even converse with him. He usually replies to your comments or questions as he finds the time. 

FUN FACT 9- Black Lightning was set to appear in everyone's favorite childhood superhero show (over 40), Super Friends. However, due to disputes between DC and Tony Isabella, he could not be used. So, we got the cool knock-off, Black Vulcan instead:

FUN FACT 10 - Black Lightning has developed into a powerful superhero and a tireless, brilliant educator. He has been a member of the Justice League, The Outsiders, and he was even a member of Lex Luthor's Cabinet when he was President of the United States serving as Luthor's Secretary of Education. 

   Well, that's all for today! Are you digging the Black Lightning TV series? Are you not digging it? Do love or hate Black Lightning? Let me know in the comments!

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