This is it, our 100th review on the site! I know, 100 reviews, by some standards, isn’t a ton, but when we launched the site in mid-2020, I wasn’t sure where it’d go. At that time, The Dispatch was just me, with moral support from TYR. But, I bought the domain, built a website, and started posting! Now, 99 reviews, 20+ articles, and countless interviews later… here we are! Our 100th review! We’re still growing, and we have a lot planned, but I felt it appreciate to pause and give recognition to this moment and recognize a historical indie comic that doesn’t get near the attention it deserves!
For our 100th review, we’ll be looking at Ebon by Larry Fuller!
Released in January 1970, Ebon is widely considered to be the first modern indie comic about a Black superhero and produced by a black creative. In fact, Ebon is considered by most to be the first Black superhero to have his own title. Yet, when black superheroes come to mind, most think of Black Panther, Luke Cage, Black Lightning, and The Falcon. Ebon is largely overlooked due to its independent and limited publication (it’s thought that less than 100 copies were printed).
Larry Fuller brought Ebon to life in a single issue in late 1969. “After moving to the San Francisco area after serving in the U.S. Air Force in the 1960s, Fuller wanted to create a comic featuring an “authentic” African-American superhero. He just had one problem: he couldn’t find anyone to draw it for him, despite being in the hotbed of the underground comix industry. So in true do-it-yourself fashion, he used his G.I. Bill funding to learn how to draw and created Ebon himself.” (Ohio State University)
The story revolves around Valentine Jones, a black man who recently lost his mother, and his encounter with the alien Oju. Oju is searching for an earthman who bears the Heartmark of Jom, a sign of alien lineage and great power. Oju finds Valentine and gifts him the Heart of Jom, transforming Valentine into Ebon. “He learns about Jom, his ancestor, who came to Earth and fell in love with these plucky humans, but fell into despair as human nature turned to aggression. Jom eventually passed away but told his people to watch over Earth, hoping that humankind would find peace, but ordering intervention should they continue on a path of violence and hatred.” (ShelfDust)
At a time when black representation was nowhere to be found in comics, Ebon gave us the story of an average, American black man speaking everyday slang and receiving superpowers! Though the end of issue 1 promised a second issue, it never materialized.
I spoke with Fuller recently via Facebook messenger; after Ebon, he produced more underground and indie comics through the early ‘’90s. He is amazed that something he created is still sought after and commands very high prices for one of the few remaining copies.
With so many new, black indie creators coming on the scene and the massively successful Kickstarter Campaigns coming from black indie creators, we need to take more time to remember the book that all this was built upon, Ebon. Before Luke Cage, before Brotherman, there was Ebon. That is why Ebon is our 100th review. No, there’s no star rating for this book because how do you properly rate a book that is so integral to the current black indie comic movement? Who am I to rank it? I can’t, but I can say that everyone interested in black indie comics and black comics, in general, should learn about Valentine Jones, Oju, and the incredible hero Ebon!
While original copies of Ebon are near impossible to come by, I have yet to add one to my personal collection; you can read the book in its entirety online in several places. If you’ve never read it, I encourage you to take the time and read a bit of history. You can also read a recent interview By Fuller on First Comic News.