Black Lightning / Hong Kong Phooey Special #1

DC and Hanna-Barbara are back with yet another crossover special. This time they are taking us back to 1976 to bring together a character I have no recollection of before his current CW series (which I actually thought was a Netflix exclusive, just to show how much attention I’ve paid) and a character I recognize, grew up around, but also have no recollection watching or reading. This should be interesting.

So my memory may not be amazing, but my Google-Fu is decent. Black Lightning was developed by Tony Isabella, after his work on Marvel’s Luke Cage. He became DC’s second African American superhero, and their first to be featured on television. He first appeared in 1977, a year after this story takes place, which amuses me to no end. Hong Kong Phooey, on the other hand, was Hanna-Barbera’s answer to the kung fu craze of the time. Clumsy, inept, and only lasting 16 episodes, his image has somehow managed to last 45 years later.

History lesson over, back to the story. It’s a fairly standard team-up story. Professor Presto has recruited Cheshire and Bronze Tiger into helping him track down three pieces of a scroll that contains the secret of the God Fist, a martial arts technique so powerful that it could only be taught by a demon. After Black Lightning fails to stop them from gaining the second piece (not yet knowing that was their goal), he seeks out assistance from Penry Pooch, aka Hong Kong Phooey. Penry reveals the history of the scroll, and that he was the holder of the third segment. Battles happen. Magic happens. More battles happen. It wasn’t revolutionary, but it was a fun romp.

Bryan Hill gave us a great story, for what it was, and a much deeper feeling version of the formerly inept Hong Kong Phooey. Denys Cowan’s art isn’t my personal favorite, but it worked well enough for the more serious tone of the characters in this one.

The issue is closed with a short story featuring The Funky Phantom, examining the modern gun regulation debate, from the viewpoint of someone who lived before the constitution was ever written. Writer Jeff Parker and Artist Scott Kolins make their point exceedingly well, regardless of whether or not you agree with that point. In keeping with Geekorama’s policy of staying largely apolitical, that’s all I’ll say about that.

This was an all-around fun book to read, and even not knowing the characters well, it felt very natural. 4 out of 5, pick this up.

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