May 10, 2018

Black Lightning is Back

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.

As principal, Jeff promotes a "respect yourself" and "make positive life decisions" philosophy to help his students overcome the drugs, crime, and racism of their society, especially police targeting of young black men (this is definitely the Black Lives Matter era).

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).

No, Lala has a boss, Tobias (Marvin "Krondon" Jones), the "albino" big bad who Black Lightning thought he had killed.  An albino in real life, Krondon tries to ensure that the show gives factual information about albinism, and doesn't suggest that it is responsible for Tobias being evil.

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?

Anyone can see that Black Lighting is Jeff in a mask, yet he manages to keep his identity secret from all of his friends, allies, and family.    The only two people who know are:

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.

3. Jennifer's ex-boyfriend Khalil Payne, who is paralyzed by a bullet meant for Black Lightning and becomes a cyborg super-villain named Painkiller.

Well, basically everyone is wandering around with superpowers, except for Billy (Damon Gupton), Jeff's friend on the police force, and I'm sure he'll get some soon.


  1. 1) The show is on The CW and has been renewed for its second season.

    2) Black Lightning isn't exactly "obscure" as he's been a major DC Comics character since his debut.

    1. The only major DC characters are Batman, Robin, Superman, and Wonder Woman.

  2. I assume he's the inspiration for Black Vulcan, who had pointy ears, but I can't remember how emotional he was.


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