Here’s What Tony Isabella Was Thinking When DC Pitched Black Bomber In The 70s

'Black Lightning' is coming to The CW in 2017. DC

If you follow Tony Isabella and are a fan of Black Lightning, you know this story. Before Isabella created Black Lightning with Trevor Von Eeden, DC had another character in mind: Black Bomber. For those looking forward to the new CW series who don’t know much about Black Lightning from the comics, the details of this axed character will make you cringe. Here’s the description of Black Bomber in Isabella’s words from a blog post in 2012.

“DC was planning to launch a book called Black Bomber, featuring a white racist who turned into a black superhero without either of his identities being aware of the other.  It was easily one of the most offensive concepts I’d ever seen...and DC had already bought two really awful scripts for this character.  The company wanted me to rewrite those scripts and then continue writing the series.  On reading the scripts and seeing the basketball uniform costume which had been designed for the Bomber, I declined.  Indeed, I begged DC to write off those scripts and go with a new hero of my creation.”

READ: New Details About CW's 'Black Lightning'

This last weekend at ECBACC, I asked Isabella to expand on the moment he was asked to further develop Black Bomber and explain what was going through his head when he stepped up and said, “No.”

“I never thought of myself as stepping up or anything, I thought of it as, this is a really bad idea. It will not work well for DC. I don't want to be a part of it. I appreciate that they want to do a superhero of color, it was just as talking as fast as I can to convince them not to do the Black Bomber character. It took about a week or so, because we were arguing about it constantly, then I said, ‘Do you really want your first black superhero to be white racist?’ Then they said, ‘Well what are we going to do?’ And I said, ‘I’ll create a new character for you.’ They only gave me like three weeks to do it. So I went back to Cleveland and got everything settled and while I was in Cleveland, I made Black Lighting.”

Isabella developed Black Lightning conscious of racist stereotypes. He also made sure to create a character distinct from other popular black superheroes.

“I had written a lot of black heroes at Marvel and I loved them. But I looked at Black Panther– African king, not that relatable. Great character, but not relatable. Luke Cage was an ex-con. I didn't want to do ex-cons. Even the Black Goliath character, he was a scientist. He was closer to what I wanted but again he's a scientist. So Welcome Back, Kotte r gave me the idea of making Jefferson Pierce a school teacher.”

Isabella added that he created Black Lightning's powerset last because he wanted to piece together the character’s personal details first.

“When I created Black Lightning, the superpowered stuff was the last thing I created with the character. I built Jefferson Pierce brick by brick until I knew him as well as I knew any living person.”

Isabella said his passion to create black characters during a time where few existed stemmed from experiences during his childhood.

“My first black friends were comic book fans and as a teenager, I just thought that was really  unfair. So when I actually had the opportunity to work on black characters, to create black characters, to add black characters to other books, whenever I could, I did it because it just seemed like the right thing to do and that’s now become really, and I'm happy about this, pretty much the defining thing about my career. I'm a supporter of diversity and I try to include it in my stories whenever possible.”

For more on how Black Lightning was created, check out Isabella’s blog.

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