Who's Blackrock?

Who's This? An evil TV transmission.
The facts: Created by Elliot S. Maggin and Curt Swan to fight Superman in Action Comics #458 (April 1976), in the world, he was the creation of inventor Peter Silverstone as a hero/mascot for his employer, a television network. He hypnotized the owner and then his nephew to wear the costume and use the "blackrock" (or originally, a TV antenna), a technological artifact with various TV-inspired powers (the rock became a symbiotic life-form in the post-Crisis era to explain how it kept changing hands). A male and female Blackrock were introduced in 2005, where the blackrock was integrated into their chests.
How you could have heard of him: In the New52, Blackrock is a big armored guy who looks like a Green Lantern for some reason, and who was a reality TV star (keeping that connection) about the life of a supervillain.
Example story: Superman #315 (September 1977) "Good Evening, Superman - I'm Clark Kent... and You're Not!" by Martin Pasko, Curt Swan and Dan Adkins
With all the possible Blackrocks running around in the Bronze Age, I'm not sure which one this is, coming out of a broadcast antenna and ambushing Superman during a SKULL-related adventure already in progress. And the Man of Steel isn't sure either.
Supes tries to peer behind the mask, but his X-ray vision can't penetrate its lead lining. Going through the blackrock, however, causes a bit of a Red K effect, looks like (with Kryptonite mostly gone in this era, the writers have to find other ways of doing these kinds of stories).
Superman takes a nose-dive and Blackrock, motivated by wanting to replace him as Metropolis' #1 hero, turns in the SKULL agents himself. The next day, after a 22-hour nap at the bottom of Metropolis Bay, Clark Kent is babysitting Pete Ross' kid (who knows he's Superman). Meanwhile, at WGBS's rival station (owned by the former Blackrock) television host Les Vegas is late for a show. He's the boss' nephew (okay, so it's THAT Blackrock), which Silverstone has chosen to be the next iteration of the station-sponsored hero. But something's wrong with ol' Les.
If the old man doesn't think something's off, it's because it's a comedy show and Les Vegas does a lot of impressions. It certainly captures Jon Ross's interest. Things get weirder when the real Clark Kent starts doing impressions - Les Vegas's old act -  while Vegas on TV is doing a straight news broadcast... before ripping his shirt off and revealing he's Superman (wait, he had that costume on hand too?). The real Clark, just as out of it, thinks he's Blackrock.
Being face to face kind of makes them snap out of it. All they need is proof of which is which. The powers and gadgets tell the tale.
They fight on the set of a game show called Monte Carlo - can you guess what the theme is?
And that's the end of the second Blackrock, and apparently, because of his "heroic" intent, Superman can't bring anyone up on charges. Because hypnotizing TV stars to turn them into other people is fine.

In a universe where people can commit crimes based on practical jokes, calendar dates and cowboy tropes, a villain (or anti-hero) with a television theme certainly fits. I'm just not sure Blackrock is it. He can travel the waves, has a secret identity that works in television, and in this instance, there's even a fight in a studio, but otherwise? Especially with the loss of the TV antenna prop, he could be just another energy blaster. A valiant attempt stemming from an era when Clark Kent was a television anchor, but I don't think they really made him specific enough.

Who's Next? A former addict.

3 comments:

Jeremy Patrick said...

It's kinda amazing how many comic book characters are a color followed by a thing. Green Lantern, Red Hood, Black Hood, Blue Shield, Green Hornet, Red Tornado, etc., etc. You just need a d20 of colors in Column A and a d100 of objects/animals in Column B, and you've got an instant super character name generator.

Siskoid said...

Pretty much.

Bradley Walker said...

From Inferior 5 #6 (the real series): Bridwell: "I feel we'll have a colorful issue -- The Inferior 5 battles the Blue Beagle, the Scarlet Wench, the Green Hairnet and the Black Belt!" (And, of course, we never see them.)

 

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