For most collectors it’s because it’s the first appearance of Man-Thing, but for me this book has a much greater significance to it. Savage Tales 1, 1971, is also the first and only appearance of Joshua, aka “Black Brother”. Joshua was the governor of Orbia, a newly formed province in Africa. The story focuses on Joshua’s fight for Orbia’s freedom against inside corruption and outside exploitation. The artwork resembles some of the blaxploitation themes from 70’s comic heroes such as Luke Cage, Black Lightning, Misty Knight, and others. But what makes this comic story so refreshing is that it traveled in the opposite direction of the early traditional 70’s black story-telling. The writing was completely void of some of the mild racist and stereotypical tropes and banter commonly introduced by many of our Bronze Age heroes. Perhaps many black collectors overlooked those 70’s patterns because it was a progressive maneuver from some of the more overt and blatant racist and stereotypical imagery and narratives that were more common during the Golden Age, but most importantly, black characters took on the form as powerful superheroes. But Joshua was not a superhero. He was a regular human being, a black man who’s only superpower was his integrity and a man who was willing to fight and die for his people and his province. Joshua’s fight for freedom resulted in a conspiracy to ruin his reputation, causing him to become exiled after avoiding an assassination attempt on his life. Although the story ended with the perfect setup for a second installment, there was never a second issue or another appearance of Black Brother in comics.
This is the excerpt from the “behind the scenes” prologue from Savage Tales 1”, 1971:
“This tale may offend someone whose political education ended with “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”. But it isn’t designed to offend. Not anybody. It’s simply a story–or at least, the beginning of a story–that we thought ought to be told. And, to the best of our humble ability, it tells it like it is. The heroes are real– because they are fallible. The villains live and breathe– because they don’t really think they are villains at all, you see. But if each team has God on its side– then who will be left to referee?”