BLACK LIGHTENING: First Impressions

I liked it! It’s grittier then the other CW Superhero shows. There are gangs, drug dealers, human trafficking, and bad cops, instead of magic and meta-humans. But there are also good people fighting the good fight. And at the top of that list is Black Lightening, Jefferson Pierce, a crime fighter who hung up his tights to be an inspirational high school principal, a real-life hero. Pierce’s private school, Garfield High, is an educational oasis, a shining beacon in the community. But when the darkness comes into the lives of his family and threatens his school, the superhero is reborn. And Black Lightening is electrifying!

This is the pilot and they had to cram a lot of things in it to get the story going, which makes it a bit clunky. But overall it’s solid, with a lot of great characters. Jefferson Pierce is the divorced father of two girls. But he’s still in love with his beautiful ex-wife, hoping for an eventual reconciliation. She divorced him because of his alter ego. Stressed out by the brutal life of a superhero vigilante, she split, but there’s still love there. And when The 100, the local street gang, kidnaps their girls, she reluctantly approves as Black Lightening recharges, coming to the rescue.

Pierce’s daughters are Anissa and Jennifer. Anissa, a med-student and student teacher at Garfield, is the levelheaded activist. While Jennifer is the student-athlete at Garfield High that’s forced to live in her dad’s shadow. She’s is a rebellious teen that makes some monumentally bad choices. Jennifer, acting grown, goes to a thumping club that’s run by The 100. And flirting with a gang member, she gets herself into a heap of trouble that her dad has to get her out of. But that’s not the end of it. The gang member shows up at Garfield with a gun, and ends up kidnapping Jennifer and Anissa. Oh no he didn’t!

The big bad of the series appears to be Tobias Whale, the menacing crime boss that runs The 100. We don’t see much of him in the pilot. But we do see Whale harpoon his number one lackey, Lala, as punishment for Black Lightening’s apparent resurrection. But Lala isn’t dead, it’s a shoulder wound. Though Whale promises to finish the job if he doesn’t finish off Black Lightening. Lala is a former Garfield student who went bad. Jefferson Pierce does say that 99% of Garfield graduates go to college. So Lala must be the 1%. Apparently, Pierce had an agreement with Lala to keep gang activity out of Garfield, for old times’ sake. But that deal appears to be no longer in place, which is another reason Pierce brings back Black Lightening.

The friendly neighborhood tailor, the only white dude in the mix,  is the one person, other than Jefferson’s ex-wife, who knows Pierce is Black Lightening. He’s a mentor and friend, and he made Black Lightening’s old funky blue and yellow suit, which we see in flashbacks. And I really liked it. But the tailor makes a new bulletproof suit for Lightening that’s a little too CW for my taste. It’s black and leathery, just like all the other costumes on the CW. And his fighting style is also the CW norm, which is disappointing, since the rest of the show is so different from the rest of the Arrow-verse.

Speaking of the Arrow-verse, this show might be a part of that Universe after all. In a televised news report,  it’s revealed that other cities have superhero vigilantes.   Though they don’t mention which cities or which superheroes. Maybe Oliver Queen and Diggle will pass through town, or Barry will super speed over for a visit once he gets out of prison.  But I’m not looking forward to that anytime soon.  I think the show should remain more grounded than those shows, at least for now.   Of course Black Lightning saves Anissa and Jennifer from Lala.  And while Jefferson’s ex-wife tolerates the hero’s temporary return, what if he’s back for good? The city really needs a hero, but Jefferson Pierce wants his family back. So we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. STAY TUNED!!!!

LAST WORDS: Black Lightning is a meta-human, so it’s no big surprise that Anissa, the oldest daughter, develops powers of her own. At the end of the episode, her new powers flare up and she breaks the bathroom sink. In the comics she is bulletproof and can create shockwaves. Her hero name is THUNDER. Anissa is pretty confused by it all, since she doesn’t know her father’s secret. But let’s hope that she confides in dear old dad and discovers the truth real soon… (In the comics, Jennifer develops super powers too, but I think that’ll happen further along in the series, if at all)

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