INDIE BLACK COMIC-BOOKS

ORIGINAL MAN #1

The above image is from a picture I had to take of my copy, as this issue is extremely hard to find, and I couldn’t even find a decent image of it online. First, I can’t help but note the “All-New Collector’s Item Issue!” tagline on the cover. This was the beginning of the 90’s speculator boom, and everything was a “collectors item.”

There is no exact date of publication given, other than the year 1992, so I don’t know how long it was since the release of Original Man #0 that this was published. On the inside of the front cover, there is an editorial called “Original Manuscripts,” written by Tony Jappa, who, despite not being credited anyone in #0, identifies himself here as the creator of Original Man. Specifically he says he created the character in 1987, due to his life-long love of comic-books, but desiring to see my Black superheroes who weren’t sidekicks. On the first page of the story he’s listed as Tony Wayne Jappa, and it says “Written, illustrated, and created by” him. In the next page it lists the Omega 7 Comics staff, where Alonzo L. Washington is “Publisher/Co-writer” and Tony Jappa is “Artist/Writer”.

I’ve checked, and found a Tony Jappa on Facebook, although he doesn’t appear to be very active, and as Anthony Jappa on Twitter, currently only used on once in 2012, but a creation of his called Panda Oki has accounts on Twitter and Facebook. That appears to be the same man.

This is a 22 page story, which begins with Original Man arriving from the future into the then-present of 1992, in what we later learn is Kansas City, MO.  Upon arriving he immediately stops two armed White men from trying to rape a Black woman. He subdues them and them up to leave them for the police. And then he confronts a bunch of Black gangbangers, who are about to shoot another young Black man, because he’s wearing the wrong color in their neighborhood. The moralizing is a little heavy-handed here, since as Original Man arrives on the scene, even though the youths are in the process of attempting cold-blooded murder, he thinks to himself “These boys aren’t really bad, it’s the system that’s making them act this way. For that very reason I’m not going to hurt them unless it’s absolutely necessary.” He then destroys their guns with his bare hands, and says to the would-be shooter (who is wearing a Malcolm X t-shirt) “If I didn’t fully understand what this world had done to you, I’d rip your head off!” When the punk shouts back “Look, man, a nigga comes inta my hood with the wrong colors, he gets whacked. It’s as simple as that!” To which Original Man replies “Young brother, let me break something down to you. In this world, they don’t care what colors we’re wearing, where we come from, or even how much education we have. We are still Black and they want us dead! And you’re helping them! Every time we kill one another with a gun, or with drugs, we’re aiding our enemy in our own genocide. As powerful as I am, I can’t stop you from killing each other. All I can do is ask. Please brothers, stop killing each other!! Peace.” He then flies off, presumably having helped them see the error of their ways (at least hopefully for their would-be victim’s sake, as even without the gun they could still kill him now).

It turns out that Original Man has traveled to this time to seek out members of an alien race called The Khul, who have traveled to this past for nefarious reasons. We meet two of the Khul, one name Iblis (the devil’s name in the Q’uran), and the other named Lucifer (Jappa wasn’t going for subtlety here).  We see them conspiring with some rich White businessman, whom they’ve been giving advanced technology to, when they discover that Original Man has traced them to this time-period, the businessman sends two White supervillains to kill him.

First, there’s The Enslaver (“Ben Taylor, ex-cop and bigot. Suspended for excessive force against minorities”) and then there’s The Aryan Avenger (“Carl Cragg. Raised in a house where the word ‘nigger’ was an everyday slur”). Both have powers strong enough to hurt Original Man, but he won’t give. He repeatedly beats the Aryan Avenger, demanding to know who sent him. But the Aryan Avenger refuses to betray his race, and basically dares Original Man to kill him. So, eventually, Original Man does just that, by picking up the Aryan Avenger, and throwing him straight up into orbit, where I assume he suffocates to death. Original Man then turns to The Enslaver and tries to talk him out of his racist ideology, asking him “What have the so-called minorities done to you to make them hate you so?” And the Enslaver appears to begin to waver, as he can’t think of anything, he’s teleported away, and one of the Khul appears before Original Man. He tells them they’ve come to the 20th century, because the future is too “boring”, with it’s lack of crime and its universal peace (I guess the Cryogians have already been defeated again). So they’re going to make sure the 20th Century turns out differently. And then they disappear.

We end in the skyscraper of the White businessman we saw before, his name is Corbin, and even though the other villian fails, he introduces a new genetically-engineered supervillain, The Venturian, whom he swears has the power to kill Original Man. TO BE CONTINUED. . .

Storywise, this is another decent issue, it’s very 90’s flavored in its non-stop action, and the use of captions to explain whom characters are. As I said, some of the moralizing in the dialog is a bit heavy handed, but I understand what Jappa was going for. The biggest flaw being that it doesn’t flow directly from the story set-up in the zero issue. The art is pretty good too, although this issue is black and white, not in color like the first one.

This is the hardest issue to find out of the few that were published, but it’s worth it if you can.

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