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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Black Lightning TV Show? Really?

While most of you know already and while I was doing a Deathstroke key issues list because of his big screen, live action confirmation, it seems like a pretty obscure comic character has been confirmed for their very own TV show.

The winner of their very own show - Black Lightning? Yep, Black Lightning!

Looks like Greg Berlanti somehow convinced those at FOX to help produce a show for this character. Must admit that when I first heard the news, I was like, huh? Why?

With Luke Cage soon to be headlining his own Netflix TV show and Black Panther scheduled to kick some ass in his first silver screen movie, is this a move to keep up with diversity for the DC camp? I'm sorry but I do have to question that as Black Lightning isn't the most popular hero or anywhere near that realm. Don't care if the character is White, Black, Asian, Latino, Indian, Native American, etc, but if he's popular or not so popular, I'm always gonna think about that.

When you take a look at more popular and well-known DC Comics characters like John Constantine and Supergirl and how their shows didn't exactly do stellar, I do admit that I'm confused when it comes to these decisions, and it seems like a pretty hard gamble to me. Sure, Supergirl is still going but CBS didn't renew it after only one season while Hellblazer was cancelled completely after one season.

Once again, I admit and am surprised. Teen Titans, a definitely more high profile comic with a much bigger fan base, was given the axe by TNT before any kind of production seemed to be underway. Now, a character like Black Lightning is going to be the breakout hit for DC TV? Maybe, but in my mind, it's not a very strong maybe.

So, Black Lightning is one of DC's first major African American superheroes in their line of comics. I don't know about the major part, but I think he's the 1st DC African American superhero to headline his own comic series which was short-lived and lasted only 10 issues.

Black Lightning #1 came out in 1977, five years after Marvel's Luke Cage Hero for Hire #1. Black Racer and his human form of Sgt. Willie Walker was DC's 1st Black super-powered character and came out in 1971, five years or so after Marvel's Black Panther. 

Anyway, Black Lightning #1 holds the 1st appearance and origin of the character. He is Jefferson Pierce, a high-school teacher and former Olympic athlete who becomes the masked crime fighter on the streets of Suicide Slum.

Another African American character in the ghetto and cleaning up his hood. Boy, if that story hasn't been done to death already.

Actually, we'll see it in a few days in Luke Cage, but let's look at connections this hero has and why it's plausible in Berlanti-Land.

In the Black Lightning comic series, he often goes up against a little-known criminal group called The 100, who have appeared as foils to other characters as well. The 100 first appeared in Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #105 in 1970.

In Black Lightning's comics, The 100 are drug pushers and have a stranglehold on the streets of Suicide Slum. The major villain within The 100 in the Black Lightning comics is Tobias Whale, an albino African American who worked his way up to become the head of the Metropolis branch of The 100. 

Tobias Whale first appeared in a cameo in issue #1, but shows up in a 1st full appearance in issue #3. The 3rd issue is also the villains 1st cover appearance as well.

That is him shooting Black Lightning on the cover and he reminds me of Marvel's Kingpin. If a show happens, I expect him to a big bad.

No, this organized crime group really doesn't connect Black Lightning to what Greg Bertlanti has going on with his TV shows, but Suicide Slum actually does. So, let's talk a bit about Suicide Slum.

Well, the place was originally in New York City or a place with the same name was referred to as such in Star-Spangled Comics #7 back in the Golden Age of comics. However, Black Lightning's Suicide Slum is in the south side of Metropolis in the Black Lightning comics.

Metropolis - key word here. Metropolis brings in quite a bit of characters in DC Comics. The most obvious is Superman and both he and Jimmy Olsen do guest-star quite a bit in the 1st Black Lightning comic series. 

Superman and Jimmy Olsen? Both characters are in the Supergirl TV show, although Supergirl is in National City and the character of Jimmy Olsen also resides in that city instead of Metropolis. Superman does make appearances from time to time.

Although it's already been established in season two of The Flash that he and Supergirl are from alternate Earths, Metropolis is in fact on the same Earth as where Supergirl is. Of course, these aren't the only DC characters connected to Suicide Slum.

Willie Walker, the human personification of Black Racer, lives in the Suicide Slum area of Metropolis, also known as the Simon Project. Another vigilante superhero that operates in this area is Jose Delgado, known as Gangbuster.

Jose Delgado first appeared as himself in Adventures of Superman #428. Like Jefferson Pierce, he is also a school teacher. Jose Delgado first appeared as Gangbuster in Adventures of Superman #434. If the show goes through, I could see this character in the series. Wouldn't be hard to make Jefferson Pierce and Delgado both teachers at the same school in the show. Would be another great way to introduce another obscure or little-known DC character to the small screen.

Adventures of Superman #428 & #434

Supporting characters for Black Lightning personally? Well, there's Peter Gambi. He's a tailor and a former mob hit man. Actually, in the comics, he is responsible for the death of Jefferson's father, but befriended him as a kid and became a positive father figure in Jefferson's life. He first appeared in issue #1 of Black Lightning.

Pete Gambi is the brother of Paul Gambi, and his brother is also a tailor that operates out of Central City, home of the Flash. We have a connection to the Flash here.

Paul is well-known as the designer and tailor for many of the Rogue's costumes. The actual comics do have connections to Bertlanti's TV shows, but whether they're actually used is another story though. Just saying the possibility is definitely there.

Another personal supporting character for Jefferson Pierce is his ex-wife, Lynn Stewart. No connection to John Stewart, I believe. She first appeared in Black Lightning #3 in a 3 panel cameo on 2 pages. She shows up again in another 3 panel cameo on one page in the next issue #4. Her next minor appearance is in issue #6 (4 panels on one page), but that issue reveals they were married and now divorced. Issue #6 also explains how Peter Gambi became a friend of the family after Jefferson's father was shot and killed, so it provides more of an origin back story to Black Lightning's mythos.

Lynn eventually discovers that her ex-hubby is the masked vigilante saving the day in Suicide Slum in issue #9 of the comic series. After all, not every female comic character is as easily fooled by a pair of glasses and a mask. Lynn can tell it's her ex-hubby behind that funny mask, and I believe that issue #9 could also be considered Lynn Stewart's 1st full appearance as she shows up in 8 panels on 2 pages. 

Who knows about 1st full appearances of characters though. Overstreet doesn't even bother noting it and I'm pretty sure it's under the radar for CGC as well. Probably would be a more than likely chance her character will be in the show, though.

Jefferson and Lynn have two daughters in the comics. The first is Anissa Pierce who first appeared as Thunder in the comic the Outsiders #1 volume 3.

The 2nd of the Pierce gals is Jennifer Pierce. She is known as the superhero Lightning and first appeared as the super heroine in Justice Society of America #12 volume 3. 

Outsiders #1 volume 4 & Justice Society of America #12 volume 3

The two show up in much later comics, so I have no idea if they'll get their superhero on in the live-action show. Would be kind of cool if they did, but that would mean, ole Jefferson Pierce would have to be a bit older in the TV series. Since Legends of Tomorrow is a time-traveling show, perhaps one of his daughters will pop up from the future. Who knows?

Oh, yes, and the character of Merlyn is a foe in issue #2 of the Black Lightning first comic series, so we have an Arrow TV connection there in Bertlanti-Land. When it comes to villains for Black Lightning or the show, I can only think Tobias Whale and The 100 are good contenders from the actual Black Lightning comics.

I'm thinking the show will be like Supergirl and just pull a bunch of different villains from a variety of comics and have them go up against Black Lightning here and there. Trying to speculate on those would be a massive under-taking. 

After all, after his original series was cancelled, the character was shuttled into the pages of Batman and the Outsiders and he was a supporting member of the team. He had another comic series that lasted only 13 issues. 

We will have to see about this show. Doesn't mean FOX can't pull the plug like TNT did with the Titans, or that a Black Lightning show will live past season one. Like I said, I think the show is a hard gamble, but we'll see. 

For me, I continued to be amazed with these decisions. A lot of comic book based TV shows and movies are being thrown out there, and with even more well-known comic characters like John Constantine and Supergirl struggling for viewers, it perplexes me as to why studios want to gamble on even lesser known characters with even less of a fan base?

What's the magic thinking that has them believe that lesser fan-favorite comic characters have a good or better chance of being a viable hit? I sure would love to know the answer.

However, despite my not-so humble opinion, I'd love to see every comic movie and TV show be good or great. After all, I'm definitely one of those people who doesn't want comic book based shows and movies to fail.

Some of the choices, however, makes me do wonder.


  1. Yeah man don't know about this one. DC should just stick to flash and green arrow for tv. JW

    1. We'll have to see, JW. I'll give the show a try, and hopefully I'll be eating these words after watching it.

  2. In the show synopsis that's floating around the net (I have no idea if it's official) it mentions that he has to keep an eye on his daughter who has superpowers too. So either Outsiders #1 or Justice Society of America #12 could be significant keys. It also implies that it could be an older version of Jefferson Pearce.

    1. Awesome! Well, at least, there's a different twist that could make it a bit more interesting. Thanks for droppin' the 411 on that.

  3. I think you're right, this show is a reach. But what happened with Supergirl? What was the reason CBS dropped it? Is the CW a better home for a show like that? I thought it was a good show for its audience. My daughter absolutely loved it. To me it's more watchable than Gotham and it's crazy ass story lines.

    1. I'm also an avid watcher of Supergirl, so high-five to your daughter! I think the ratings weren't impressive enough for CBS, and I think the CW would be a better home for the show. Supergirl was pretty expensive and that might another factor for CBS. They surely did not skimp out on the special effects when it came to that show.

      As for Black Lightning, I just hope it's something a bit different and I do hope they connect it with shows like Arrow, Flash, and Supergirl. I'll give the show a try for sure as I do watch the Flash and Supergirl religiously. Actually, I also watch Legends religiously also.

      For me, I just don't want to see another Luke Cage type deal since us comic fans are already getting that pretty soon. However, Jason Shaw's comment above does give the show a bit of a twist and my interest level just went up a notch.

  4. Hey you. Psst, yes you. I got a secret for you. Wanna know the next female breakout character a la Harley Quinn? Wanna know it before anybody else knows? Forget that black lightnin' lad. Here goes: here name is Lazara. She can summon fire and raise the dead. She' s the wife of Mr. Freeze and first appeared in Batman Mr. Freeze 1 (1997). Her first appearance as Lazara is in Batgirl 70. Please don't tell anyone. Not yet. Im gonna buy all copies first.

    Max Rebo

  5. I think it' s a character by Paul Dini, true. But Harley Quinn? Nah, DC52 isn't using her in a way that this could happen. If you got 5 spare bucks ok, invest. But don' t expect a payback in 5 years.