Tony Isabella

Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands 1 (January 2018)

Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #1Black Lightning is back. Both in the series and as a hero. He’s returned to Cleveland to bury his father. He still narrates the book talking to his father, but whatever. Writer (and Black Lightning creator) Tony Isabella has a lot of exposition to get out. Including one-liners name-dropping other heroes. Though only two of them are big time. The others… well, whatever.

Isabella doesn’t lay out the ground situation straightforward, he tries to bake information into the scene, which sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t. Artist Clayton Henry doesn’t have the right visual pacing for the script. He doesn’t do well with a lot of dialogue (and there’s often a lot of it).

Some of the series is ostensibly going to have to do with cops not liking vigilantes and especially black ones (or women, the white male cops don’t like women either). It’s nearly ambitious. Then the issue ends with Black Lightning framed for murder and on the run. Giving the cops an excuse.

There’s no character stuff for Black Lightning past the talking to dead dad.

There doesn’t seem to be much point to Cold Dead Hands, except maybe to have a Black Lightning comic out when the TV show premieres.


Ready To Do It All Over; writer, Tony Isabella; artist, Clayton Henry; colorist, Pete Pantazis; letterer, Josh Reed; editors, Rob Levin, Harvey Richards, and Jim Chadwick; publisher, DC Comics.

Marvel Team-Up 145 (September 1984)

I guess the Bob Layton inks–on the cover–make all the difference. If only Esposito made LaRocque look a tenth as good as those Layton inks do on the cover….

Anyway, that opening is misleading. This response is a positive one. The issue is a great day in the life story. Peter Parker is in Cleveland on a crap assignment after pissing off Jonah, Iron Man (Jim Rhodes) is there trying to sell some technology company and retired supervillain Blacklash (or Whiplash–I wasn’t aware there was a name change until I read this issue).

It’s a funny, sad issue. Blacklash’s back in his home town after a public defeat, in miserable psychological shape, unable to rehabilitate and ends up battling the two superheroes.

Isabella does some fantastic scripting here–if only the art were better, it’d be something special. But still, it’s great writing.

I love this issue.


Hometown Boy; writer, Tony Isabella; penciller, Greg LaRocque; inker, Mike Esposito; colorist, Bob Sharen; letterer, Diana Albers; editors, Bob DeNatale and Danny Fingeroth; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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