Wednesday, November 21, 2007

1970's Flashback: Black Lightning

Black Lightning was the first black superhero that starred in his own DC Comics series. He debuted in Black Lightning #1 (April 1977), by Tony Isabella and Trevor Von Eeden. The series was cancelled (with #11) in 1978 as part of a general large-scale pruning of the company's superhero titles known as the DC Implosion (which also cancelled the pending debut of Vixen, which would have been DC's first title starring a black female superhero).

A gold medal-winning Olympic decathlete, Jefferson Pierce returned to his old neighborhood (the notorious Suicide Slum in the proud city of Metropolis) to become a high school teacher. Appalled by the violence he saw, Pierce tried to intervene on behalf of his students, but quickly learned that "the 100", the local criminal organization, objected violently to any such interference. Peter Gambi, a family friend and tailor, designed the costume and electronic power belt of Black Lightning. Pierce donned a mask, an Afro wig, a hip way of talking, and Gambi's outfit to become Black Lightning, defender of the poor and underprivileged. Black Lightning's belt was later destroyed while he was imprisoned by his enemies, but Pierce discovered that he had internalized the electrical power and no longer needed the belt.

Black Lightning played a major role in the first Batman and the Outsiders series and is currently a member of the Justice League of America.

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