TV Review: Black Lightning S1E1 The Resurrection

Retired vigilante Jefferson Pierce gets pulled back into fighting crime as his alter ego Black Lightning.

If there’s been one comic television property this season I’ve been excited and counting down to, it’s Black Lightning, the latest entry into the world of DCTV on the CW. Created by Tony Isabella and Trevor Von Eeden, the character debuted 1977 in Black Lightning #1 and featured a former Olympian returning home to teach at a school and dispense justice against a local gang called the 100.

With some small tweaks, the show so far has taken the basic building blocks of the original character and updated him. And that update, is an impressive one taking on today’s socio-political issues head on. Black Lightning’s greatest strength may be the fact at how unflinching it is at speaking the truth. The episode makes that apparent in its first few sequences with Jefferson Pierce and his kids being pulled over by police who have “mistaken” Pierce for a recent robber, at least that’s the excuse they give him. Police harassment and brutality isn’t a topic many television shows are willing to tackle but this one isn’t pulling punches.

At the recent “DC in D.C.” event co-creator Mara Brock Akil said the series was developed in a moment of what was happening in Black communities and that’s apparent from the first episode. But it’s the way that it’s done which is fascinating. While Pierce is battling for his community by creating a safe zone in his school, he’s dragged by his politicized daughter. And then pulled fully in due to activity of the gang. It’s a clash of generations in many ways and how this dynamic is explored going forward will be interesting.

How the show differs itself from the other DC Comics shows is fascinating as well. The use of music, the direction, the show’s style sets itself apart. It’s telling a unique story in a unique style compared to its sibling shows. The violence too differs with the prevalence of guns and the impact of those bullets. The show is willing to push things in interesting ways when it comes to its lead too. One particular scene has Pierce in a shower with the camera panning down delivering a sexy moment for the viewers.

The cast is fantastic with Cress Williams leading the show in the title role and coming off as a father and adult who’s of a different time and way. Again, the generational is emphasized as in how he conducts himself compared to his daughters. Everyone though is solid in their roles and hopefully everyone gets their moments as the series plays out.

The first episode is a solid one planting a flag and making a statement that’s clear as to what we can expect from it. This isn’t your typical comic adaptation, it has something to say and isn’t afraid to do so. A socially and politically aware debut that entertains as much as it gets you to think and take notice.

Overall Rating: 9.0