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Author Topic: Black Lightning: Superman Family?  (Read 2329 times)
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JulianPerez
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« on: May 12, 2006, 03:08:18 AM »

The character of Black Lightning is deeply associated with Batman ever since the Mike W. Barr BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS period, where Batman's prodding has Black Lightning acquire his temporarily lost powers, whose loss was psychological in nature.

(Incidentally, the idea that power loss is psychological in nature is an easy way for writers to get around the idea of depowered characters. Nicieza did it with NEW WARRIORS member Nova, and note the recent regaining of She-Hulk's ability to change back to her "puny Jen Walters" form in the Dan Slott run. Usually, the the best explanations for this involve the "loss" occurring at or near a severe blow - for instance, with Black Lightning it was explained as being related to the death of Trina Shelton.)

However, this was not always true.

The Batman connection only came about because of a Paul Kupperberg-written issues of DETECTIVE where Black Lightning guest-starred. The truth is, Black Lightning could have been a member of the Superman allies, right up there with guys like Vartox and Valdemar.

Jefferson Pierce was born and raised in Metropolis's Suicide Slum. In his first few issues, there were frequent guest-stars by Metropolis personae like Jimmy Olsen, Inspector William Henderson, and Superman himself. A regular character, officer Jim Corrigan (no relation to the Spectre) appeared, who first showed up in early episodes of the Jimmy Olsen 1970s television show.

In fact, BL later appeared in WORLD'S FINEST #260, as a part of the Superman cast, and later on, as well as a Dennis O'Neil Superman/Black Lightning team-up in DC COMICS PRESENTS #16.

Would Black Lightning have made a decent Superman supporting cast member? Who knows? But he could have been.
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Permanus
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« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2006, 02:16:35 PM »

I first encountered Black Lightning in the DCCP issue you mention. It was pretty awful, but I liked the character and didn't understand why he and Superman didn't get together more often, seeing as they lived in the same city and all. He could certainly have opened Superman's character up a bit. It might have been a bit like Captain America and the Falcon, which I was to discover shortly afterwards.

I suppose a lot of people thought of him as a rip-off of Luke Cage (or indeed the Falcon), but I thought he was a clearly different character, more level-headed and certainly less of a stereotype than the Hero for Hire: an Olympic medalist and an English teacher, he wasn't the average Afro-American comic book character. Well, except for the fact that he lived in Da Ghetto. He's a really well-fleshed out character, and I don't know why they don't make more use of him rather than continuously introduce new Metropolis characters like Gangbuster et alii.

Did Black Lightning ever cross paths with Rose and the Thorn? It would have made sense since they both battled the 100 gang.

And, er, did you say there was a 1970s Jimmy Olsen TV show???
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2006, 09:35:31 PM »

Quote from: "Permanus"
I first encountered Black Lightning in the DCCP issue you mention. It was pretty awful, but I liked the character and didn't understand why he and Superman didn't get together more often, seeing as they lived in the same city and all.


After a certain point, like I said, he was associated with Batman; come OUTSIDERS, he was teaching in Gotham City and not Metropolis, for instance. The window to bring Black Lightning into the Superman Orbit closed and that DCCP issue was one of the few where he was actually part of the extended Superman Family.

In fact, nearly all the Outsiders came into Batman's orbit somehow; the Outsiders reminded me to an extent of Wings, with Batman as Paul McCartney.

Quote from: "Permanus"
I suppose a lot of people thought of him as a rip-off of Luke Cage (or indeed the Falcon), but I thought he was a clearly different character, more level-headed and certainly less of a stereotype than the Hero for Hire: an Olympic medalist and an English teacher, he wasn't the average Afro-American comic book character.


Black Lightning really bucks the trend here. Usually when DC apes a Marvel-originated trend you get something painfully uncool and derivative: e.g. RICHARD DRAGON, which did not have one tenth the coolness and weirdness of IRON FIST.And whle Marvel had the license for CONAN THE BARBARIAN and KING KULL, DC was left with (ugh) WARLORD under the always awful Mike Grell, and ARAK, SON OF THUNDER (which actually was surprisingly cool and historically accurate - welll as historically accurate as a book about an Indian running around Charlemagne's Europe with a Satyr sidekick gets, in no small part due to the guy that was putting out CONAN, Roy the Boy Thomas himself).

Black Lightning was not your usual black hero in a few ways: 1) he was white-collar and educated, and the whole afro and jive talk was a part of his secret identity; 2) he was not a sidekick to a white hero; he can't be compared to Bill Foster (Black Goliath) or the Falcon (who was a great character that served a great purpose, but still).

Quote from: "Permanus"
Well, except for the fact that he lived in Da Ghetto.


Oh, not just ANY ghetto - Suicide Slum. Tony Isabella was very, very big on the shared DC Unverse, and so he put Black Lightning in Suicide Slum, which apart from the SUPERMAN'S PAL, JIMMY OLSEN issues, to the best of my knowledge was the first time that Suicide Slum was brought up in a non-Newsboy Legion context.
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"Wait, folks...in a startling new development, Black Goliath has ripped Stilt-Man's leg off, and appears to be beating him with it!"
       - Reporter, Champions #15 (1978)
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