With the freshman season of the newest DC Comics adaptation to the CW now at an end, there is a lot to unravel from this great new series and a lot to look forward to in the future. Black Lightning has truly become one of the best comic book adaptations to come to the small screen. From it’s action, the villain, it’s diverse cast and story, to it’s importance in today’s golden age of superhero content, this series stands out as a new standard for how great these superhero adaptations can be.
Not only is this series an overall well done superhero program, it is also a family drama dealing with many real life issues that can reach so many different people. By having the focus on an African-American family in 2018 and not just the usual costumed heroics of most superhero shows, it allows the show to tell more real stories that reflect our current political and social climate. The superhero aspects of this series are great, there’s no doubt about that. Much like the Disney/Pixar film The Incredibles, the family dynamics shown here make the characters feel that much more real and tangible. Seeing these characters go through real emotions and traumas that normal people go through, adds that relatability.
One of the shows many successes comes from the lack of the typical “villain-of-the-week” that fans have been accustomed to seeing on previous DC shows on the CW. The format of this show really has felt more like one single story stretched out over 13 episodes with each episode dealing with different issues but still feeling like one cohesive story. This series never once felt like it was dragging or had an episode that felt pointless or unneeded. While the finale did wrap up a little too quickly for my own taste, I still felt satisfied as an audience member that the show kept at the pace it did.
The main villain of this series, Tobias Whale, was probably the best villain of any of the DC CW shows since the first incarnation of the Reverse-Flash in the first season of The Flash. Tobias was the smoothest yet most fearsome villain that any of the CW heroes have had to face. Rapper Marvin “Krondon” Jones III did a fantastic job of portraying the character in a way that made him so fierce and yet so dynamic. His character could have been portrayed as just another gangster looking to spread his empire. But Tobias Whale felt like so much more than that. By having an albino African-American character, something we’ve never seen in a live action comic book series let alone in other forms of media, it brings a new level of depth to the show to have a character who doesn’t fit the norm.
One of the shows’ many highlights was its cast. The chemistry between each character felt genuine and the intimate moments between each of them really sold me on the show. I was already excited to see a different DC character take the spotlight but as soon as the first teaser for the series dropped back in May of 2017, I was instantly hooked. Each character seemed interesting and different from the types of characters we see on other comic book shows. Whether it was Jefferson himself, Gambi, Lynn, Anissa, or Jennifer, each character in this series felt like a genuine person.
Speaking of Anissa, I think her character was one of the biggest standouts of the series. Going in I knew Black Lightning was already going to tackle some real world issues. By having having a gay character, who is also a woman of color, in a leading role in a series like this really made me happy. Anissa’s sexuality was addressed but the writers never felt the need to stereotype her in any way or treat her like just a sidekick of the main hero. She had a journey all on her own that began in the first episode. Nafessa Williams really brought out a real warmth to the character in a way that made you feel like Anissa was gonna be there to help you. Anissa was already a hero at the start of the series, but by the end of the season she truly felt like a real superhero.
Now my favorite part of this series was the almost father-son relationship between Gambi and Jefferson. From the beginning you knew there was a bond between the two that Jefferson didn’t have with any other character at that point. Lynn was still against him being Black Lightning for the sake of their daughters and himself. But with Gambi, he always knew Jefferson was meant to be the hero Freeland needed. He never forced Jefferson to put the suit back on, but once his family was in danger Gambi knew he had to be their for his friend. As the series progressed, their relationship definitely hit some roadblocks but at the end of the day the two of them were in this fight for Freeland together.
Overall I think Black Lightning was a great new comic book series that felt new and exciting in this modern age of superhero media. Each character in the series brought something different to the series that made it that much better. From the action, to the story, to the drama, this series had everything I could have wanted and more. From start to finish this series was one long ride through Freeland that I can’t wait to once again get back on. I had very few issues with the series but overall I highly recommend giving Black Lightning a shot.
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