May 10, 2018
Black Lightning is Back
That's the premise of the new Netflix series based on an obscure DC comics character from the 1970s. The only problem is, Black Lightning has never appeared on screen before, so the constant references to past incidents and situations are all immensely confusing. It's like coming in during the third act of a play, except there were no first two acts.
But apparently about ten years ago, mild-mannered school principal Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) became Black Lightning, lowering his voice and putting on an electricity-funneling suit, in order to kill a bad guy who killed his father. Being a superhero caused too much tension in his family (and family is everything), so he retired. But now he's back, a superhero vigilante who literally does nothing but beat up bad guys and people he thinks are bad guys.
But as Black Lightning, he's a throwback to the 1970s "violent thug" era: all of these problems are caused by a gang, the 100, led by big bad Lala (William Katlett, seen here in the play Heat and Hostility, about two porn stars comparing endowments).
But it turns out that Tobias has a boss, Lady Eve (Jill Scott).
And Lady Eve has a boss, Martin Proctor (Greg Henry).
And there are probably a few more big bads in the hierarchy. I haven't gotten to the end of the series yet, but who wants to bet that the Biggest Bad is the school lunch lady?
1. Elderly tailor Peter Gambi (James Remar; photo from a few years ago), who designed the suit and has a secret connection to the hierarchy of evil;
2. Ex-wife Christine (Lynn Stewart), who divorced him a few years ago for no apparent reason other than to reconcile now.
Other characters include:
1. Anissa (Natessa Williams), Jeff's daughter, a medical student and high school science teacher, a lesbian, and a superhero named Thunder. She's out to her parents as a lesbian but not as a superhero, which leads to her father thinking she's a villain and beating her up.
2. Jennifer (China Anne McClain), Jeff's other daughter, a high school student and party girl, who has superpowers of her own but hasn't settled on a superhero identity yet.