Black Lightning – DC Comics’ 1st Major Black Character

In honor of African-American History Month, DC Comics News presents the characters, artists, writers and actors of color that helped to shape the DC Universe. Staff Writer Kevin Gunn gives us a look into the making of the character Black Lightning.

Black Lightning 1Black Lightning was DC Comics’ first major African-American character to get his own self-titled series in Black Lightning #1 (April 1977). He was created by Tony Isabella (writer) and Trevor Von Eeden (artist). Originally, DC Comics’ first headlining black character was to be called The Black Bomber, a white racist who turned into a black superhero under stress. But it was never published because the editor at the time left DC Comics. Isabella was approached to revamp the character. He just finished a stint at Marvel writing for Ghost Rider and another black superhero, Luke Cage.

Black Lightning had two series in the 70’s and 80’s in which Isabella wrote for. In 1983, he was teamed with Batman and other heroes for the first run of Batman and the Outsiders. Isabella was brought back to write a new Black Lightning series in 1995, but was fired after the eighth issue. In 2009, Black Lightning was featured in a six-issue mini series titled Black Lightning: Year One. This series was nominated for Glyph Awards in 2010.

Origin

Jefferson Michael Pierce, former Olympic Gold Medal-winning decathlete, returns to his childhood neighborhood to take a job as an educator at his former high school. When an organized syndicate called the 100 try to take over, he becomes Black Lightning to remove the criminal element.

Media Appearances

Batman: The Brave and the Bold
Thunder and Lightning (part of DC Nation shorts)
Young Justice: Invasion
Superman/Batman: Public Enemies

Sources: Comicvine and Wikipedia

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Kevin Gunn

Kevin is married with 4 children and 4 grandchildren. He lives in Louisville, KY. He loves all things related to DC Comics, even movies that get a bad rep like "Batman & Robin" and "Catwoman". Kevin began writing for the site in 2015 as a Staff Writer. His passion for writing stories caught the eye of the editorial staff, and earned him a position as Assistant Editor. He has a degree in Communication from the University of Louisville. His favourite DC hero and villain are Black Lightning and Black Manta respectively. Kevin tries to exemplify being a hero everyday by helping others. Something interesting about him: he was a contestant on "Wheel of Fortune". - Follow him on Twitter - @captsigma
  • Samuel Sobral

    Just let me thak this amazing initiative 😀
    I’ll share this article to all my friends who stay saying that “black carachters in the comics just are there to prevent trials for racism”. Yeah, I know there still a lot of hate around the world, but characters like Cyborg (one of my favorites) and Jason Rursch (love his solo CB during “Identity Crisis”) proof that black people are well represented in comics.
    P.S.: Black characters and electric powers have a amazing love story, huh?
    P.S.S.: Sorry for the poor English.

    • Captain Sigma

      Thanks, Samuel! Please check out our other stories. I interviewed Khary “Cyborg” Payton last week! And look for my interview with Phil LaMarr (Static of “Static Shock”, John Stewart of “Justice League” and Aquaman of “Young Justice”) coming soon!