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Black Lightning in the Comics

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Pierce aka Black Lightning was one of DC Comics’ first major African American superheroes, making his debut in 1977. In the books, Jefferson has two daughters, both of whom have followed in his superhero footsteps — Anissa Pierce aka Thunder, who is a member of the Outsiders, and Jennifer Pierce, aka Lightning, recruited by the Justice Society of America.



Black Lightning, created by Tony Isabella and Trevor Von Eeden, made his first appearance in 1977’s “Black Lightning” #1. The story follows Jefferson Pierce, a former Olympian, who was secretly born with the ability to create and manipulate electromagnetic fields. Although he had abandoned his hometown in Metropolis’ Suicide Slum after the murder of his father, Pierce returns there with his wife and daughter, taking a job as a high school principal. It is after losing one of his students to the gang violence that threatens the city that Pierce decides to take advantage of his powers. Adopting the identity Black Lightning, he becomes a costumed superhero who goes on to serve as team member of both the Outsiders and the Justice League.


Who Is Black Lightning? - #DCTV:

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I read a trade paperback from the library covering Black Lightning's first adventures. Nice of the show to insert Thomas Randolph's "Justice, Like Lightning" quote in the beginning of the pilot. Also, that poem was used for Marvel's Thunderbolts in the mid-Nineties. Anyway, I think the stories hold up well. I'm wondering if the CW version will take after the original, in the sense that the electric stuff was part of his costume (the belt, I think), and he somehow managed to replicate that on his own. One thing that won't make the transition: Jefferson putting on a wig and talking more "street" as Black Lightning.

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Preview of Detective Comics #983:


Detective Comics #983

Written by Bryan Hill

“On The Outside” part one! Duke Thomas. Cassandra Cain. They and other young heroes don’t intend to stand down, no matter what Batman thinks is best. Who can Batman trust to guide them? They need a teacher…and Black Lightning fits the bill!

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Black Lightning Kicks Off The Other History of the DC Universe:


On January 30, 2019, the brilliant writer behind both of them, John Ridley, returns to DC with the debut issue of THE OTHER HISTORY OF THE DC UNIVERSE, a highly original new series that will be published under DC Black Label.

The Other History of the DC Universe isn’t comics as usual. In fact, it’s a largely prose-driven series that will be supplemented with breathtaking illustrations by a rotating team of star artists. The Other History of the DC Universe will look at notable events from DC Universe history through a different perspective, telling the equally vital stories of heroes who have been there throughout the DCU’s past, but come from different disenfranchised groups.

The first issue will focus on none other than Black Lightning, with cover and interior illustrations by Alex Dos Diaz.



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IIRC, Black Lightning's hair was shown to be a wig at least once in the Outsiders comic—Jefferson's civilian look was a shorter cut. I'm not sure what Larsen was going for there, but at least it's not Jheri curls?

The whole Manhunters twist with Dr. Jace was pretty sudden, but she was always a clinical if not cold personality, even with the Markovs.

I can't believe the random details I recall from 30, 35-year-old comics when I couldn't tell you what I had for lunch on Friday. (Wasn't turkey, though.)

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The Other History of the DC Universe, featuring stories with Black Lightning and Thunder, debuts in November. DC press release:


This November, fans who have been awaiting award-winning screenwriter John Ridley’s (12 Years a Slave, Guerrilla, American Crime) The Other History of the DC Universe haven’t much longer to wait, as DC announced today that the five-issue miniseries will debut on Tuesday, November 24. Joining Ridley on this series are artists Giuseppe “Cammo” Camuncoli, Andrea Cucchi, and colorist José Villarrubia, with covers by Camuncoli (with Marco Mastrazzo) and Jamal Campbell (Far Sector, Naomi).


This five-issue series reframes iconic moments from DC history, exploring them through the eyes of DC Super Heroes representing traditionally disenfranchised groups. The series centers around the perspectives of Jefferson Pierce, a.k.a. Black Lightning; his daughter Anissa, also known as Thunder; Mal Duncan (Herald) and his wife, Karen Beecher (Bumblebee); Renee Montoya (the Question); and Tatsu Yamashiro (Katana).


And an interview with writer John Ridley about the project:


When Black Lightning came out, I remember, as a younger person, how that felt to have a series that was led by a man of color, who in his regular identity was a teacher. Like I said, my mom was a teacher. It was a comic book that really, for me, for the first time, I felt like, "Oh, okay, this is for us as much as anybody else. The book, the universe, all of those things, you know, this is for us." If I ever had at an age felt like, "Oh, I want to be a writer, I want to be a creator, I want to be a storyteller, I want to deal in the fantastic," certainly when Black Lightning came out, it was a moment that galvanized that feeling.


... So who are you going to go with? Absolutely, yes, Black Lightning, for what he meant to me — what he meant to the DC universe: the first character of color in the DC universe to topline a book. Most definitely, he was the character that I wanted to kick the series off with.

... Rounding out the book is Anissa Pierce, who I thought was a great way to close out the series. Here you have the daughter of a longtime hero, but they see the world differently, and see moments even in Jefferson Pierce's narrative [differently]. When you see her, when you read her story, there are moments that you will see from Jefferson's story that she sees very differently. It’s important seeing Anissa as a young adult appreciating what her father has done, but still needing to have her own voice to be her own person to be her own hero. As a young person, a young woman, a young woman of color, a young woman from a LGBTQ community, I could not think of a better person to really bookend the series.



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Another interview with John Ridley about The Other History of the DC Universe, etc.



Polygon: Black Lightning is a fascinating character, and in a lot of places right now. He’s coming up in The Other History, he’s got his own TV show, and he’s in the current Batman and the Outsiders series, just like he was in the original one. But what I find interesting about Black Lightning is that he kind of skipped a generation of readers. If you ask a millennial to name the most famous Black DC superhero, they’re probably going to say John Stewart/Green Lantern, and if you ask them about a Black superhero who has lightning powers, they’re probably going to say Static. What made him the first focal point that you wanted to go to in The Other History?

John Ridley: It’s interesting, you talk about skipping a generation. And I think sometimes that’s the truth, other than obviously, the Trinity — Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman. In general, there are heroes who rise and fall depending on their sales, and depending on what’s going on with the readership. Particularly with characters of color, in fits and starts, there’ve been efforts to both try to elevate some of these heroes, integrate some of these heroes. But in terms of characters that have a lot of cultural density, unfortunately a lot of the characters of color never quite got there.

Even Black Panther — certainly when you saw what happened with the film there was this ... people just got behind that character in a way, but he was a character that was around for a long time. Unfortunately, with a lot of characters of color, women, LGBTQ [characters], they become in some ways, like ethnic or gender or [sexual] orientation theater. Rather than people looking at them as Oh, no, these are characters that are just like any other character in the prevailing culture.

So for me personally, when I was a kid Black Lightning was the first character of color that I was not only aware of [having], but in the DC Universe, that had his own series. And to have a character that looked like me, to have a character who was a teacher, like the way that my mother was a teacher; to have a character that, in his personal life, was just a teacher trying to make a difference, a street level hero, who initially had a power belt and then had his own powers? It was just a really interesting experience for me to finally have a hero that had something different about him. That was actually, for me, not different.

So, for me when it came time to do The Other History; yeah, John Stewart predated Jefferson Pierce, but there were things about Jefferson Pierce that were powerful to me when I first read the comics. There were things about him as a father; as a guy who was, in some ways, maybe a little bit more conservative as a Black man, in terms of some of his values — that made him really interesting. So he felt like the absolute right character with which to begin this story.

And also, and I don’t want to jump ahead with some of your questions, but you alluded to treating these characters as though they occupy a real historical space. And so if I was going to try to take The Other History and really treat it as though it were a real document, [as if] it really were these oral histories from these characters, that was the place to start. Yes, I could have gone back a few more years with John Stewart, but for me, emotionally as a storyteller, in terms of the way these stories were going to play out, Jefferson Pierce was the absolute right character with which to begin the series.


Edited by Trini
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BTW there will be a panel for The Other History of the DC Universe at FanDome on Sept. 12:


John Ridley and The Other History of the DC Universe

Saturday, Sep 12 - 1:00 PM - Sunday, Sep 13 - 1:00 PM

Join Oscar®-winning writer John Ridley and artist Giuseppe Camuncoli for an inside look at the November 2020 miniseries The Other History of the DC Universe, which presents an alternate look at the DC Universe through the eyes of its Super Heroes of color.

20 min


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The Other History of the DC Universe #1, featuring Black Lightning, was nominated for an Eisner Award:


The nominees for the 2021 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards were announced today, and DC has earned 17 nominations! Heralded as “the Oscars of the comics world,” for over three decades the prestigious Eisner Awards have celebrated the industry’s very best releases and talent.

Chosen by a highly lauded panel of judges and voted on by industry professionals, the winners will be announced in an online ceremony during Comic-Con@Home on July 23.

DC’s titles and creators are represented among the elite with the following nominations:


Best Single Issue: The Other History of the DC Universe #1, by John Ridley and Giuseppe Camuncoli (DC)


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Anissa Pierce featured in part five of The Other History of the DC Universe; preview:



The Groundbreaking Limited Series from Award-Winning Writer John Ridley and Artists Giuseppe Camuncoli and Andrea Cucchi Spotlights Thunder in its Final Issue!

Since its 2020 debut, the five-issue limited series The Other History of the DC Universe has received critical and fan acclaim for its examination of the DC Universe through the eyes of super heroes outside the prevailing culture, and against the backdrop of real-world events.

The first issue of this unique series focused on Jefferson Pierce, a.k.a. Black Lightning as he finds his path to heroism as Olympic gold medalist, teacher, neighborhood activist and finally, super hero. It’s only fitting that The Other History of the DC Universe conclude with a spotlight of his super-powered offspring, Thunder.

Being a superhero runs in Anissa Pierce’s family. It’s been a part of her life in one way or another since her father, Jefferson Pierce, first started to fight crime as Black Lightning. Despite what her parents tell her, despite what the world tells her, Anissa knows that she has the same calling as her father. But as Anissa takes on the mantle of Thunder, she must grapple with a very different world than the one that her father first patrolled.

Written by JOHN RIDLEY



Variant cover by JAMAL CAMPBELL

48 Pages/$6.99

The final issue of this one-of-a-kind series arrives in comic book stores and on participating digital platforms on Tuesday, July 27, 2021. The complete five-issue series will also be available as a hardcover collected edition on Tuesday, November 9, 2021.



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'Standing Up: Five of DC's Boldest Black Female Heroes and Storylines'



Storyline: 2021’s The Other History of the DC Universe #5

The daughter of Black Lightning, Anissa Pierce made a promise to her father that upon graduating college, she would use her inherited electric superpowers to fight crime. That promise was kept the night of her graduation, and soon after, she joined with the newest incarnation of her father’s old group, the Outsiders. Of course, things would only get more complicated from then on, and Anissa suffered near-death experiences, heartache, love and loss throughout her time on the team. These events can be found across the two Outsiders titles, but to specifically get into her head, one need look no further than the recent The Other History of the DC Universe #5, which features Anissa’s perspective on her life and career. 

The Other History of the DC Universe hones in on the intersectionality of Anissa’s identity as a woman, Black woman and eventually, a queer woman. With a superhero for a father, Anissa had troubled understandings of both superheroes and the police. Her father, a strict teacher who taught respectability politics, lived as both an ideal to strive for and a cautionary example to avoid when operating as a Black hero in public. Working with the government on the Outsiders caused its share of problems, but the personality clashes of several members, specifically Grace Choi, was a source of tension. Yet it was Grace with whom Anissa fell in love.

Of the six characters presented in The Other History of the DC Universe, Anissa Pierce is the youngest, both in character age and creation. Her short but volatile career forced her to grow up in difficult circumstances, but also adds to the examples that make her a compelling and memorable standout in the DC roster of heroes.


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