Sunday, February 18, 2007

Black Lightning

Ok I can't ignore the elephant in the room anymore. I have been holding back on this one but no more. To me the best black urban superhero is Black Lightning. The character was created by writer Tony Isabella and the first person to draw the characters adventures was artist Trevor Von Eden. What ever happened to Mr. Von Eden anyway? Black Lightning was first published in his own self-titled book in 1977. The first 10 issues were written by Tony then it was given to Denny O’Neil. After that the book was canceled and was part of what was infamously called the DC Implosion. Issue 12 and other books that were not published that year did see a limited run in the in office only of DC Comics in the Cancelled Comic Cavalcade.
DC kept Black Lightning around by having him make guest appearances in other books and giving him membership in the Justice League and the Outsiders. In 1995 he was given his own title again with Tony Isabella as the writer. Around the 8th issue Mr. Isabella left the series and another writer took over. After that the second series only last 5 more issues.
Black Lightning is really high school teacher Jefferson Pierce. He is a former Olympic athlete who is returning to the slums of Metropolis to give back to the community he was raised in. However, he sees that things have gotten worse since the criminal gang the 100 have moved in. With the help of a family friend, local tailor Peter Gambi, Jefferson was able to design a suit with an electrical power belt and he became Black Lightning. The belt originally gave him the power to control electricity and throw lightning bolts from his hands. After the belt was destroyed he found that the power from the belt had become injected into him and he no longer needed the belt. At one point he lost his powers but kept fighting crime without them. He got them back when he found out that it was a mental block that caused him to not use them for fear he would hurt innocent bystanders. In 2000 President Luthor appointed Jefferson to Secretary of Education. He had to resign when it was told that he was Black Lightning and as BL he had killed a CEO of a corporation who was up to criminal interest. Pete Ross later became President and pardoned Jefferson Pierce.
Black Lightning has had many adventures over the years on his own or with others and is an asset to the superhero and comic book community. I have never seen him on any animated series but I have heard he was in Static Shock and an episode of Justice League Unlimited. He was almost part of the SuperFriends. A contract dispute stopped this and a new character was created for the team named Black Vulcan who had similar electrical powers. However, Black Vulcan could fly and Black Lightning could not.
More may be in store for BL as I have heard rumors that a new mini-series is on the way and he has renewed his membership in the JLA.

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