DC’s first headlining black superhero, Black Lightning, made his comics debut in 1977’s Black Lightning #1—and he’ll be making history again as the first black lead in the DC/CW world. The trailer for the highly anticipated self-titled show dropped Thursday at the CW’s Upfronts event, and it seems to be taking very heavily from 2009’s Black Lightning: Year One series whilst still recognizing the classic origin of this unique hero.
In the original 11-issue series by Tony Isabella and Trevor Von Eeden, Jefferson Pierce is a teacher at Garfield High School who creates an electronic belt which he uses to fight crime in his impoverished Southside community in Metropolis. The trailer seems to reflect back on this version by showing us Jefferson in 2005, an active hero, constantly putting his life at risk to save his unnamed city. After a near death experience he decides to retire and focus on his life as a father and his career as a Garfield High principal.
The second half of the trailer appears to take more from the Year One miniseries by Jen Van Meter and Cully Hamner, where Jefferson is reinvented as an Olympic gold medallist who returns to his hometown to be a teacher. He’s driven to use his powers to save his community from a gang syndicate called The 100. The trailer also seems to hint that his daughter shares his powers, which is an incredibly exciting addition taken directly from the Black Lightning comics canon.
Black Lightning’s artistic co-creator is as exciting as the character himself. Trevor Von Eeden was a black high school student in New York City (via Guyana), still in school when he began drawing the the character’s historic first appearance. Von Eeden went on to pencil some of comics biggest titles including Batman, Spider-Woman, and Power Man and Iron Fist.
The inclusion of Black Lightning in DC’s live action TV shows couldn’t come at a better time, hot on the heels of last year’s Netflix premiere of Marvel’s Luke Cage. Superhero fans are desperate for more inclusive representation in their beloved properties and the fact that Black Lightning is focused around an established black hero, a black family, and will also introduce us to a new black female superhero makes the show’s potential even greater.
Though the show will air on CW, it’s strangely been announced that Black Lightning isn’t part of the network’s Arrowverse and is unlikely to crossover with the network’s other superheroes. This seems an odd choice at a time when fans are beginning to tire of the CW universe and would likely respond very well to a much needed new face, especially as Black Lightning has existed in the comics as an active part of Superman and Supergirl’s Metropolis.
Maybe Black Lightning will begin a new phase? Maybe the Arrowverse will be replaced by the Lightningverse? Could this be the beginning of a new era for the CW? Who would be your dream deep cut DC additions to the CW world? Fly into the comments and let us know!
Image Credit: DC/The CW