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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- “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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.