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 Anissa, ultimately heroes “Thunder” and “Lightning”. Check out the list below and see if you knew all of these:
- Black Lightning Was Originally Drawn 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 anddrawn by an African-American at either DC or Marvel. Artist Trevor Von Eeden was the artist on the entire first run of Black Lightning at only 17 years old, 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, he and Dwayne McDuffie did decide to briefly highlight the ridiculous character under the moniker The Brown Bomber.
DC Comics/Justice League of America #26 McDuffie/Isabella
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 (or, at least Uncle) as is demonstrated in this clip from Young Justice from 2016.
Young Justice, 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 Decathlete, which means in addition to the metagene and a suit that helps him control and direct his powers, he also has some trained talent as well in terms of speed and agility, as well as some fight training from Batman.
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. (similar 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 was not originally Part of the Arrowverse – (Edit: 4/1/2020): The CW “Arrowverse” was originally comprised of Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow. With Black Lighting sitting outside of that world in the city of Freeland all on it’s own. Although premiering on the same network, showrunners Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil originally stated that they did not want Black Lightning to share the universe and began the show with no crossover plans. However, during the Arroverse Crisis on Infinite Earths Saga that began in December of 2019 and ended in January 2020,. Jefferson Pierce did join the Arrowverse and was introduced as a member of what appeared to be a new live-action JLA at the end of “CrisisPart 4.”
9. Thunder is a Lesbian Superhero – Created by Judd Winick · Tom Raney Jefferson’s eldest daughter Annissa Pierce (aka Thunder) is one of the few lesbian superheroes in comics and had a long-term relationship with Grace Choi. Choi, a bisexual Amazon (the comics), is also a superhero in the comics and along with Annissa 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 superhero couple 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. [a]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.
Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below. Black Lightning airs on Tuesdays at 8pm/EST.