Thursday, January 23, 2020

One of the cool things about the WB's Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover is that--mild spoiler alert--Black Lightning has a seat at the table with...the Super Friends, or whatever their team is going to be, since I sincerely doubt they'll get to use the Justice League name. I think his series still has to act like he couldn't get Flash or Supergirl to help out in Freeland; but it's still far better treatment than this issue! From 1979, Justice League of America #173, "Testing of a Hero!" Written by Gerry Conway, pencils by Dick Dillin, inks by Frank McLaughlin. (I don't usually post the cover, but this was a coverless copy; so I need the reminder so I don't grab it again!)

The JLA's Superman, Flash, Green Lantern, and Zatanna join Green Arrow in observing a new hero: Black Lightning! While he's impressive, Flash makes a comment about accepting a "token black" on the team, and Ollie jumps down his throat. Flash explains they shouldn't take him as a token, and he wasn't sure if he agreed with Ollie's assessment of Lightning. Green Lantern defends his old friend as not being himself, since he had lost his wife fairly recently. To settle the issue, Superman suggests they test Lightning; which they set out to do...which is kind of dicked up, but nobody asked.

For his part, Black Lightning is visiting his police contact, Inspector Henderson; who mentions the Metropolis city council was considering an ordinance against vigilantes. (Henderson's a white guy here; he's black on the show.) Perhaps over-optimistically, Lightning laughs that off, since he thinks there's no way they would pass a law that would affect Superman. Still, leaving the police station, he's jumped by ape-woman Primak and the glowing Human Starburst! While he defeats them quickly, the cops give him the hassle as becoming "a target for weirdoes!" But the cops notice something about Primak and the Starburst that you may have already guessed.

While a rat-controlling villain attacks a S.T.A.R. Labs, Black Lightning is himself attacked by the ghostly Trans-Visible Man, who runs circles around him...perhaps literally. Frustrated, Lightning takes it out on his next foe, the Swashbuckler; but stops himself from killing him. Revealing himself as Green Arrow, he apologizes and explains how they tested him; with Zatanna playing against type as Primak, GL as the Human Starburst, and the Flash as the Trans-Visible Man. Although he had passed, Lightning may be less than thrilled, and declines membership, saying he had too much to do in Suicide Slum. Disappointed, the JLA wonders if they would see him again, and they would--the next issue! Then probably next on the cover of Batman and the Outsiders #1, where he would join Batman's new team with another longtime JLA holdout, Metamorpho. They'd both sign eventually.


Mr. Morbid's House Of Fun said...

I remember that try-out for Metamorpho too, and that, combined with this, sure doesn't help them from not looking like dicks all the way around.
I'm trying to remember so maybe you know, since Rex passed on joining the JLA because he didn't do the team thing, and here BL says he's too busy patrolling his city, why then did they both join the Outsiders? I know Batman can be really persuasive, but what did he offer them that the JLA couldn't? A paycheck? time away to fight crime on their own?

H said...

They worked together well when they got trapped in Markovia so why not, I guess?

Still can't get over Black Lightning calling them jive turkeys. Not cool, Jeff.