Freedom Fighters Pt. 20: Black Lightning #11
As mentioned last week, DC’s “Explosion” turned into an “Implosion” that resulted in a mass cancellation of titles. Therefore, we never got to see the Freedom Fighters continue their hunt for the Silver Ghost so they could prove their innocence to the world. (This would have appeared in The Secret Society of Super-Villains #16.)
We did, however, get to see the beginning of the promised backup feature for the Ray in the pages of Black Lightning. I say, “beginning,” because Black Lightning was a victim of the Implosion after issue #11, and we therefore got only one chapter of his solo adventures.
Based on dialogue in this chapter (The Rise & Fall of the Ray,) we can glean what happened in the Secret Society story:
Long hours before, he had blazed a trail here to Metropolis -- hoping to capture the elusive Silver Ghost… and prove once and for all his worth to the Freedom Fighters… to Sandra Knight, the Phantom Lady… and to himself.
But instead of returning the conquering hero, he was the victim of a ruthless and unexpected attack by Quakemaster and Killer Moth… and all but left for dead.
That’s the one-panel recap at the bottom of page 1 of the story. In the panel above, we see Happy Terrill awaken in an alley, bruised, beaten, and disgusted…
I never asked to be a super-hero in the first place… it isn’t worth all the grief… ‘cause there’s got to be a better way to spend a lifetime.
He is a hero, though, and when there’s an explosion at a nearby chemical processing plant, his true nature prevails and he saves the lives of many.
Of course, this isn’t the end for Happy Terrill… yet. When he performs one more heroic act…
In the context of this story, we’ll never know the answer to the question: life or death? However, the Ray next appears in DC Comics Presents #62 with his other teammates. We’ll learn in a couple weeks whether this is a new standalone story or a continuation of this story.
It’s a little abrupt for Happy Terrill to suddenly be so down on the super-hero business at the beginning of the story, but knowing about the love triangle among him, Phantom Lady, and the Human Bomb, it makes sense that he’s being ruled by his heart rather than his head.
I like that the Ray lands in Metropolis where references are made to Superman. The creators may also be trying to beef up his image. Speaking of beef, as in beefcake, check out this panel with Happy dressed only in his birthday suit when he ditches his costume:
I don’t want to harp on the failure of the DC Explosion, but I do want to include a page that appeared after the Ray story in Black Lightning #11. I think it’s really cool that “the Answer Man” provided this list of where to find your favorite heroes:
Title: Black Lightning
Issue #: 11
Cover Date: Sept./Oct., 1978
On Sale Date: June 22, 1978
Writer: Roger McKenzie
Plotter/Penciller: John M. Fuller
Inker: Bob Wiacek
Editor: Jack C. Harris