With so much dope new TV shows on the horizon for 2018, it's always great to see a network develop a program featuring a diverse cast and when that diversity means a black superhero, it's even more lit. Tomorrow (Tuesday, January 16,) The CW is adding another DC property to its programming slate. And while Black Lightning isn't a part of their overarching Arrowverse (yet?), the series is already breaking ground.
Black Lightning is The CW's first superhero series led by an all-black cast, with Cress Williams (Living Single, Hart of Dixie) taking on the role of Jefferson Pierce and his alter-ego, Black Lightning. Executive produced by Salim and Mara Brock Akil (the duo behind series like Girlfriends and The Game), Black Lightning doesn't shy away from the issues troubling black America today, especially the community's long-running issues with the police and gang violence.
For those of you looking to get some backstory on Black Lightning before the show's premiere tomorrow, we've got you covered. Here's everything you need to know about Black Lightning.
Black Lightning was DC Comics' first black superhero series
Making his debut with Black Lightning #1 in April of 1977, Black Lightning was indeed DC's first black superhero series. That's about 11 years after Marvel introduced Black Panther, five years after Luke Cage's debut, and roughly six years after John Stewart was introduced in Green Lantern. DC did holler at Tony Isabella, who worked on some Luke Cage (as Power Man) issues and created Black Goliath, to pen their first black superhero, giving him his own series (again, another first for DC).
Black Lightning was born Jefferson Pierce, and grew up in the Southside of Metropolis (which just sounds crazy in 2018) in a section known as Suicide Slum (jeez). He originally had no powers, with his abilities being given to him through a special belt he wore. It was later written that Black Lightning was indeed a metahuman with the power to control electricity. He could even turn himself into electricity, causing him to be nearly invincible, and has the power of absorbing energy to heal himself, as well as make himself stronger.
For a while, though, Pierce didn't want to be a superhero. He was a gold medal-winning Olympic decathlete, who wanted to make the Southside better for his wife (Lynn) and his daughter (Anissa; more on her later). Pierce became the principal of Garfield High School, bent on making change from the inside of a city where his father, Alvin Pierce, was murdered. On the outside, gangs like The 100 were wreaking havoc on the Southside, as were politicians like Tobias Whale (an albino who ends up becoming Black Lightning's arch nemesis).
Pierce decided that using his powers for good was the answer, becoming Black Lightning and fighting crime within the Southside.
Black Lightning was almost a part of the Justice League
Due to all of the ass he was kicking on the Southside of Metropolis, Black Lightning developed quite the name for himself, impressing the likes of Superman and Green Arrow, ultimately being offered a position with the Justice League. Pierce's aim wasn't that high, and he ultimately rejected the offer. He did end up joining the Outsiders, which was a squad that Batman formed during a time when he wasn't really cool with the League. Black Lightning did end up joining the Justice League of America some time later.
His family has abilities, too
As per usual with the offspring of superheroes, Black Lightning's daughters developed powers of their own. The aforementioned Anissa became Thunder, who has the ability to control her density, allowing her to not only create shockwaves by stomping on the ground, but rendering herself bulletproof. It had been known that she had superpowers for some time, but she made a promise to Jefferson and her mother that she wouldn't embark on a life of crime-fighting until she finished college, which is exactly what she did. Following in her father's footsteps, she too became a member of the Outsiders.
Her younger sister, Jennifer, also had abilities and was instructed to not start crime-fighting until she finished school as well. Jennifer has similar abilities to her father, but she was unable to control them as well. Taking on the name Lightning, Jennifer was enlisted by the Justice Society of America, allowing her to train under seasoned superhero veterans to properly control her powers.
He is NOT the father
And for those who are wondering, no, Black Lightning is NOT the father of Static Shock. We know, they are both black and are two of many black superheroes with electricity powers, but they are not related, although Static is revealed to have been a fan of Black Lightning.
With Black Lightning not being a part of the Arrowverse, it'll be interesting to see how much of Jefferson Pierce's comic book story becomes a part of the CW series, but either way, this is an exciting foundation to build an electrifying new character on. Be sure to tune in when it premieres tomorrow (Tuesday, January 16) on The CW at 9PM.