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10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Black Lightning

The CW‘s Black Lightning, the new show based on the DC comic book character of the same name is actually an icon in the comic book world in that Jefferson Pierce was one of the first black comic book characters created by DC comics. I decided to explore “10 more Things You Might Not Know” about him and his daughters Jennifer and Annisa, ultimately heroes “Thunder” and “Lightning”.

Check out the list below and see if you knew all of these:

  1. Black Lightning Was Co-Created by A Black Man – I’m not quite sure why this fact is rarely mentioned, but in 1977, Black Lightning was the first black comic book character actually co-created by an African-American. Artist Trevor Von Eden, who is African-American was the artist on the entire first run of Black Lightning which was written by Tony Isabella.
  2. Black Lightning was Originally a Racist Character Called Black Bomber – Seriously, he was a white racist, who would turn into a Black man when under stress. Isabella is actually the person who convinced DC Comics NOT to go that route. However, in 2008, Dwayne McDuffie did decide to briefly highlight the ridiculous character under the moniker The Brown Bomber.
  3. Black Lightning Originally Had No Innate Powers – Kind of like Tony Stark, Pierce’s powers instead came from his suit. His belt, created by his friend, mentor and tech-tailor, Peter Gambi, (kind of like James Bond’s “Q”) could generate and channel force fields and he often used it like a whip.
  4. “Suicide Slum” vs Freedland – In the comics, Pierce’s neighborhood is located on the Southside of Metropolis in an area called “Suicide Slum”. An area that I don’t think Superman ever visited. This neighborhood has been changed for the CW version to the fictional area of Freedland. But it is not clear whether Freedland is still within Metropolis or just near it.
  5. Black Lightning is NOT an Adult Static Shock – While Jefferson Pierce and Virgil Hawkins (Static) both do have the ability to manipulate electricity and yes, their suits look similar they have slightly different powers. Pierce internally pulls electricity from his body and can direct it in the forms of lightning bolts. In a heightened state he can also turn into pure electricity itself. However, Virgil pulls electricity out of the air around him, and also has the ability to manipulate metal. Pierce also is old enough to be Virgil’s father as is demonstrated in this clip from Young Justice from 2016.
  6. He is an Athlete Turned Superhero – Like Cyborg and Mosaic, who all were athletes before they gave it all up to fight crime, Black Lightning was once an Olympic Decathalete, which means in addition to the metagene, and a suit that lets him control his powers, he also has some trained talent as well in terms of speed and agility.
  7. Tobias Whale Might Have Been Immortal in the Comics – In DC Comics lore, the 100 or El Ciento, were a group of humans who had achieved a type of immortality through alchemy and science in Spain and then spread out across the world with different factions, later being called the assassins group The 1000. (Simliar to Marvel’s The Hand). Tobias Whale was an original 100 member who made Metropolis his base, which means technically, he might have been immortal as well at some point in BL/Batman lore. The CW actually stuck to canon here, by casting an albino rapper turned actor Krondon as Black Lightning’s nemesis Whale. The only thing that is different, is that the character is no longer obese, although he does have incredible strength and they did keep his weapon of choice, a harpoon.
  8. Black Lightning is Not Part of the Arrowverse – The CW “Arrowverse” is basically made of up the shows, Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow. Although premiering on the same network, showrunners Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil say that Black Lightning does not share their universe and currently has no crossover plans. I can see why. The Pierce’s were all born with their powers, whereas Barry Allen (The Flash) and other metahumans on the show gained theirs through a suspicious electrical storm.
  9. Thunder is a Lesbian Superhero -Thunder was created by Judd Winick and Tom Raney, and she first appeared in Outsiders #1, August 2003. As Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Anissa Pierce is also one of the few lesbian superheroes in comics and had a long-term relationship with Grace Choi. Choi, a bisexual Amazon (in the comics), is also a superhero and along with Anissa is a part of Batman’s vigilante Outsiders. The CW has cast Canadian-Vietnamese actress Chantal Thuy as Choi so it looks like they will be bringing Anissa’s comic book relationship to life onscreen as well. This means that the CW is bringing the first queer representation to primetime that includes women of color.
  10. Lightning Was a JSA Member – In the comics, Annisa Pierce was forbidden to use her powers and to fight crime until she graduated from college. Ignoring her father she ends up in a coma after a fight. To avoid the same rebellion in his younger daughter Jennifer (a.k.a.- Lightning), Jefferson allows Jennifer to join the Justice Society of America so that at least she will be part of a team and have some protection.

Processed with MOLDIV

Processed with MOLDIV

Karama Horne is on a mission to shine a light on indie, female and comic artists of color and highlights them and their work on her blog theblerdgurl. She also is a freelance producer for SYFYWire and is a regular guest on SYFYWire’s Who Won the Week Podcast. She’s always on twitter, but you can find her hanging out on facebook, instagram,  tumblr  , youtube and soundcloud on her own podcast as well.



Sheena Queen of the Jungle Reboot in the Works

There is a Sheena Queen of the Jungle Reboot in the works through Millenium Pictures. The movie is based on the comic of the same name and the character created by Will Eisner and ‎Jerry Iger. Sheena first appeared in 1937 in British comic magazine Wags, but her real claim to fame came state side when in 1942 Sheena became the first female comic book character to have her own titled series in Fiction Comics. Just months before Wonder Woman would debut with her own title.

Sheena has been a TV series in the 50s, a film in the 80s and was rebooted again in 2000 in another series starring Gena Lee Nolin. And on August 16, the comic got a reboot through imprint Dynamite Comics with DC Comics Bombshells’ writer Marguerite Bennett, Christina Trujillo and artist Moritat.

Thank God Bennet et, al. are updating the story. In the original, Sheena was raised in the jungle, could talk to animals, had superior fighting skills and was fearless but promptly reverted to a damsel in distress the moment she met a white man for the first time. Because 1947.

So what do you think? Have you read the comic? Can Millenium take Sheena and make her into as big of a blockbuster hit as Wonder Woman? Sheena Queen of the Jungle is set to release in the summer of 2018.

LeSean Thomas Children of Ether Comes to Crunchyroll

Children of Ether, Crunchyroll’s first ever original short, written and directed by LeSean Thomas (Boondocks, Cannon Busters) dropped on the Crunchyroll site exclusively for subscribers. Children of Ether follows Rhonda, a woman with mysterious powers and a supernatural connection who is in search of her past while trying to stay alive in a dystopian future run by rival gangs, warring factions, and magical unknown elements.

First announced at New York Comic Con 2016, Thomas teamed up with several anime heavy hitters such as character designer Hiroshi Shimizu (Michiko and Hatchin), storyboard director Shingo Natsume (One Punch Man), animation director Yûichi Takahashi (Gatchaman Crowds Insight) and animator Mitsuo Iso (Neon Genesis Evangelion) to produce Children of Ether. The animated short along with exclusive behind-the-scenes creation footage will screen before the first full-length episode of The Ancient Magus’ Bride. Written by Aya Takaha (Psycho Pass) and directed by Nohiro Naganuma (Yowamushi Pedal, Death Note).

What I think makes Thomas’ Children of Ether so significant is that not only is he an African-American artist and director who worked exclusively with a Japanese team to create Children of Ether, the main character, Rhonda, is also woman of color, a rare image in the world of anime. In addition, Children of Ether could be considered Thomas’ official anime directorial debut. Although in 2015 Thomas successfully funded a Kickstarter for the pilot of another series, Cannon Busters, and created a trailer for the series, only backers have been given access to the pilot for the show and at the time of this writing, the animated pilot has not been announced yet as a full series.lesean thomas, children of ether, crunchyroll, anime, theblerdgurl

screen-shot-2016-01-14-at-6-47-27-pm@theblerdgurl is a commercial video editor by day and comic book reading, anime watching, TV live tweeting,  K-Pop listening, blog writing, geek gurl by night. She is on a mission to shine a light on indie, female and comic artists of color and highlights them and their work on her blog theblerdgurl. She currently lives in a century old brownstone in Brooklyn with 2 cats who plot her demise daily. You can also find her on twitter, facebook, instagram,  tumblr  , youtube and soundcloud.

Gurren Lagan 10th Anniversary Event Coming to Otakon

Remember Gurren Lagan? Well in honor of the 10th anniversary of the awesome anime series, Aniplex of America is planning a special event at Otakon in D.C. this month. The event will feature the voiceover talent from the English language dub of the show as well as a special gift box set re-release of the series.

Aniplex of America sent out a survey earlier this year asking fans what their favorite GL scenes and episodes were and compiled that info to come up with the best episodes/scenes to screen at the event. Also, Aniplex of America will also be releasing a complete Blu-ray Disc Box of Gurren Lagan available on August 8th, which includes all 27 episodes of the TV series and both feature length movies –Childhood’s End- and –The Lights in the Sky Are Stars. 

For those of you who don’t already know, Otakon is an annual convention held at the Washington Convention Center in Washington DC to celebrate all things Asian pop culture. Anime, manga, music, video games, cosplay everything! (And the Otaku Dance Rave is also one of the biggest convention dance parties around). So Aniplex America definitely chose the right venue to announce what looks like it’s going to be one of the biggest celebrations of the Gurren Lagan franchise ever!

For more info on how to get a hold of the box set CLICK HERE.

Gurren LAgan, aniplex anime, theblerdgurlIf you’re interested in attending, check it out at Otakon on Saturday, August 12, 7:30pm @ Panel 7  at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center Washington, DC.

So About That Epic Rant About Diverse Comics…

Some of you may already have heard about this, but late Friday night, on June 30, I basically got fed up with the whole discussion over whether or not diversity in comics sells, why Black Panther World of Wakanda, as well as Black Panther and the Crew, got canceled (among other titles). I had had a pretty long week of work and the #wellactually cadets were out in full force. So I do what I always do when I’m stressed about something. I research.

So I pulled up over 30 comics that I knew off the top of my head that had diverse characters or creators. African, African-American, Latinx, East Asian, Southeast Asian, Sikh, Muslim, LGTBQ and more. I posted that list pretty fast on twitter. So fast in fact, I completely forgot to give it a hashtag to find it.

It kinda went viral anyway.

theblerdgurl, twitter,So I took some time and storified my original tweets as well as a few more that replied. But trust me this list isn’t exhaustive. It’s a sample. It’s proof. Proof that diversity sells and that people of different backgrounds/ethnicities/sexual orientations/religions have the ability to write good stories. Even if you’ve never heard of them. And if you don’t see that many Marvel or DC titles, that’s on purpose. I also wanted to show that there are more than two comic book companies in the US (more worldwide) and that independent creators make good work as well. There are links to all of the titles listed. So go buy them. Like now. Enjoy!

screen-shot-2016-01-14-at-6-47-27-pm@theblerdgurl is a commercial film/video editor by day and comic book reading, anime watching, TV live tweeting,  K-Pop listening, blog writing, geek gurl by night. She is on a mission to shine a light on indie, female and comic artists of color and highlights them and their work on her blog theblerdgurl. She currently lives in a century old brownstone in Brooklyn with 2 cats who plot her demise daily. You can also find her on twitter, facebook, instagram,  tumblr  , youtube and soundcloud.

Afropunks and Blerds FULL #NYCC Panel

On Oct.6, 2016 at the Jacob Javitz Convention Center The Blerd Gurl a panel for New York Comic Con entitled “Afropunks and Blerds:The Black Nerd Renaissance“. The panelists included David F. Walker (Power Man and Iron Fist/Marvel), Vernon Reid (Living Colour/band), Corey Glover (Living Colour/Band), Ytasha Womack (Afrofuturuism: The World of Black SciFi and Fantasy culture), Dr. Sheena Howard (Black Comics: The Politics of Race and Representation), John I. Jennings (Blue Hand Mojo/Kindred: The Graphic Novel) and Jamie Broadnax (Black Girl Nerds).

Black Enterprise’s Black Comics Roundtable

On October 16, Black Enterprise invited a group of comic book creators including Micheline Hess, Regine Sawyer, N. Steven Harris, Naseed Gifted, Tim Fielder, Dilettante J. Bass, George Carmona, Joseph P. Illidge, and Roye Okupe, to the BR headquarters in Manhattan to have a round table discussion about Black comic and Black comic book creators.The Blerd Gurl has posted up the live Periscope recording on her YouTube channel. You should check out the almost 30 minute video which is a fantastic group of individuals to hear talk comics.

Review: E.X.O. The Legend of Wale Williams Part 2

E.X.O-coverpgThe second volume of E.X.O. The Legend of Wale Willams dropped on August 24, 2016. This issue should be called E.X.O. “Revelations” because ALL of the questions from Volume 1 and even how the suit works are all answered in this book. Instead of releasing a series of 22 page comics, Roye Okupe once again gives us a 152 page volume (paid for from his second successful Kickstarter) covering Chapters 8-15. Wale’s character grows in this book with the help of Fury, the mysterious woman who appeared at the end of Volume 1. (And she kicks some serious ass in this book guys seriously). We also find out what actually happened to Wale’s father and what the E.X.O. suit was originally intended for.


Wale Williams is still after his nemesis Oniku who we find out is not just trying to destroy Lagoon City but to control most of Western Africa. Wale realizes with the help of Zahra (Fury’s real name) and her scientist father, that not only was Wale previously mentally unprepared to battle Oniku, he has not been utilizing the E.X.O. suit to its full potential. This go round, instead of taking on Oniku alone out of anger and revenge (that’s still simmering beneath the surface), Wale is more tactical and goes through extensive training in the suit and plans his attack with the help of a team. Scientist and medical doctor, Dr. Martins, Zahra, his cousin Benji and G.A.I., the interface within the suit. (Think African J.A.R.V.I.S.)

Oniku’s origin story is also revealed and as with most supervillians actually parallel’s Wale’s own need for revenge very closely.They are really two sides of the same coin in that Wale is out to save his own people and Oniku is beyond doesn’t think the people from Lagoon City are worth saving. Therefore he wants to destroy everything and rebuild “from the ashes” to save what he feels is the future of the country itself.

This volume actually concludes the First ARC of the E.X.O. storyline and introduces a new character that we will see in the future of another story tied to this universe.

What I think

Okupe’s writing here is more in depth this time around, however, at times, the story does get a bit dialogue heavy, but for the most part I enjoyed the character’s discussions, development and banter.

I LOVE Godwin Akpan’s cover work as well as the interior work by Sunkanmi Akinboye and Raphael Kazeem. Faces and colors stayed consistent throughout but there were a couple of times I felt some of the physiology was a bit off. That being said the fight scenes were AMAZING! The choreography, depth of field and angles were executed with exceptional detail and I was VERY impressed with how Wale’s interaction with the suit development was depicted. Many splash pages were also included of fan art of the book which I think was a wonderful homage to E.X.O. fans and a great way to showcase the work of otherwise unknown African talent.

I really enjoyed how the story played out and especially liked the use of the Yoruba language mixed into the English dialogue. One of my only criticism is that some of the practice/training sessions went on a little too long. I am also a big fan of “humanizing” the villain and making him look like the flip side of the hero, this was also executed well in this story. I absolutely LOVED Fury’s fight scenes and her character, but I wish we got to see more of her development and her drive and focus, at times I think she kind of came off as a 2-dimensional character for Wale to respond to. His cousin Benji was used well as the “everyman” plot device, helping to provide backstory and lightening up otherwise heavy moments in the book.

One thing that Okupe does very well is write cliffhanger endings, I actually read the entire book in one sitting because he kept ending each chapter with questions that I HAD to know the answers to. I was very surprised at the traumatic event (there’s two actually) that happened to Oniku because it is not one we often see here in the States, especially in a comic book, which is why I would really only recommend this volume to kids ages 12 and up.

This volume is a fun ride and definitely worth checking out. (Apparently, the Washington Post agrees)


print: $14.99

digital: $7.99


amazon (print)
amazon (digital)
iBooks (digital)


Writer: Roye Okupe

Penciler: Sunkanmi Akinboye

Inker: Sunkanmi Akinboye

Colorist: Raphael Kazeem

Cover Art: Godwin Akpan

Editor: Ayodele Elegba

NOTE: This is a high-quality indie TPB. The first African comic I’ve ever heard of Diamond distributing. If we want to see more books like this in comic book stores, then we have to pre-order them! Don’t know how to pre-order? Well I happen to have this handy guide right here.

Indie Publisher Crowdfunding Comic to Teach Kids S.T.E.M.

header-art-rev_kickOn Monday, Independent comic book publisher PBS Media, headed by writer, creator and New Jersey robotics and math teacher Naseed Gifted, launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to raise $8,500 for the production of the next comic book in its series. One of the unique stretch goals is a donation to a robotics camp for kids in Newark, NJ that teaches kids S.T.E.M.

Within 72 hours of launch, he  reached over 50% of his goal.

P.B.Soldier is a science fiction adventure that follows covert operative Nat Cummings, a skilled computer hacker using his skills to help pay for college tuition when his activities are discovered and he becomes listed as an International Terror Threat – code red. The newly formed government/paramilitary organization called The Establishment, gives him a simple choice, either work with them to become a highly-trained assassin or be terminated.  

The goal of the Kickstarter is to raise money for the production of the sixth installment of a thirteen book arc. Funds will go towards payment to line artist and colorist Abel Garcia (Bad Puppy, Nancy in Hell ,Drums, all through Image Comics) and actual production of the book, including printing and distribution. In addition, some of the proceeds are being donated to the Central High School Pre-Engineering Academy in Newark, NJ. – a program that Gifted has taught and led for the past 13 years.

S.T.E.M. or Science, Technology Engineering and Math Programs are often the lowest funded and the lowest graduated in urban areas and Gifted is working hard to change those statistics by using his own graphic novel, traveling the country speaking at schools, comic book conventions and after-school programs, introducing young African-Americans and Latinos to the world of P.B.Soldier one comic book at a time.

“These stories aren’t just about a group of assassins, but rather about the consequences of human choices made in the midst of impossible situations.” –  Naseed Gifted, PBS Media

Naseed Gifted is a two-time Glyph Comic Awards and Urban Action Showcase nominee, an educator, engineer, and writer. A New Jersey native, he is also a graduate of the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He is also the founder of New Jersey’s Black Comic Book Festival “Khem Comic Fest” and travels across the country as a panelist for Full Spectrum: Why Color in Comics Matters and Using Comics to teach STEM.

P.B.Soldier titles are available at the P.B.Soldier website, Amazon, Itunes and PeepGame Comix.

To contribute to the P.B.Soldier Kickstarter Campaign go to


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