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‘Black Lightning/Hong Kong Phooey Special #1’ (review)

Written by Bryan Hill / Jeff Parker
Illustrated by Bill Sienkiewicz,
Denys Cowan / Scott Kolins
Published by DC Comics

Black Lightning and Hong Kong Phooey seem like an inexplicable pair–and they are, but DC Comics has been doing these cartoon crossovers with their corporate Warner Bros. and Hanna-Barbera cousins, so here we are.

Bryan Hill and Denys Cowan, with Bill Sienkiewicz on inks, deliver a martial arts throwback set in 1976, where Black Lightning runs afoul of Phooey’s old foe Professor Presto, along with DC villains Bronze Tiger and Cheshire.

The three baddies are searching for ancient scrolls that will teach them the unstoppable “God Fist” technique. Lightning and Phooey, along with Phooey’s ally Rosemary (an assistant instructor at his dojo, as opposed to the telephone operator of the cartoon), have to knuckle up and thwart Presto’s plans.

It’s a slight little story that has some fun casting Penrod Pooch as a grizzled warrior opposite Jefferson Pierce’s more light-hearted skeptic.

Cowan’s art is fine, and Sienkiewicz’s heavy inks create a gritty mood, but they’re at times a little too heavy to suit the martial arts action.

Fans of Hong Kong Phooey and Black Lightning will likely dig it. Past that, there isn’t much else to recommend it.

In the backup tale, Jason Blood summons the Funky Phantom for a debate on gun control. While I appreciate his stance, Jeff Parker’s script is extremely on the nose and not particularly entertaining. A first page flashback allows Scott Kolins the opportunity to create a wonderfully moody atmosphere, but the rest of the story is mostly talking heads in a park. Kolins does what he can, but he can’t rescue this middling, overly earnest piece.

 

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