We never, ever got first issues in our home town of Haverhill in the '70's. Whenever Marvel came out with a new comic, we'd scour the Bullpen Bulletins, eagerly awaiting the arrival of a great ( or sometimes not so great ) new character, and knowing damn well that collectors item, pulse-pounding premiere issue wouldn't come anywhere near our newsagents'. Which is why I'm always weirdly nostalgic about 2nd issues of comics -to me they're actually the first issue.
And sure enough, that's how it went with Black Goliath, one of the most freakishly short-lived series of the Bronze Age ( 5 issues and out. Whoosh. What was that? That was Black Goliath, did you enjoy it? )
I think even the most generous fan would struggle to call Black Goliath anything more than a 3rd, or even 4th division character. But at least he was brand new and didn't have tons of back story to catch up on.
Well, sort of. Black Goliath was Bill Foster, a minor back-up character from Roy Thomas' run on The Avengers, best friend and lab buddy of Hank Pym.
That week, Hapless Henry was bouncing around The Defenders in his Yellowjacket guise ( think I've got the chronology right there ), and as there seems to be some kind of unwritten law that Mighty Marvel must have at least one giant hero in place at all times, Big Bill was promoted to size-changing superhero, by virtue of basically messing around with Pym's original formula in the lab one night.
Saddled with such a derivative origin, Black Goliath never really stood a chance. I mean, couldn't he just have been a brand new character rather than warmed up leftovers? And why was he wearing Iron Fist's unfeasibly large collar and a belly button revealing T-Shirt?
Still, in it's bizarre 5 issue run ( even Skull The Slayer got a longer crack of the whip ) there is some primo Bronze Age fun to be had, and in this 2nd outing, sure, there's the really clumsy introduction of the rent-a-supporting-cast and the obligatory flashback to the origin, but George Tuska and the much maligned Vince Colletta make a really good art team ( there, I said it ), plus BG gets some hot blaxploitation chick action, presumably without taking his mask off, so y'know, swings and roundabouts.