The CW is loaded with middling DC Comics superhero fare like Arrow, Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, and even iZombie. Yet among this bloat of spandex Black Lightning stands out. The show is about Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) coming out of retirement as the electricity slinging hero Black Lightning to fight The 100 street gang. Tobias Whale (Marvin “Krondon” Jones III), the former senator who killed his father, is back in Freeland and running The 100 as he did 10 years ago. As Black Lightning returns, Jefferson’s older daughter Anissa (Nafessa Williams) stumbles upon her own powers to make herself bullet proof and strong enough to run through a wall. Behind The 100 is a shadowy government organization known as the ASA who are supplying the gang with Greenlight, a new drug that is a derivative of the same vaccine that gave Jefferson his powers.
Jefferson Pierce is a family man who cares about his two daughter and his ex wife. He isn’t a 25 year old in the prime of his physicality without a care in the world. He is an old man whose body aches after every patrol. And unlike most CW shows the drama is less about who is dating who and more about things that matter, such as the ever-widening racial divide in this country. For example, Thunder (Anissa) uses her superpowers to destroy a confederate statue on her college campus. Likewise, Black Lightning elects not to call the cops on a low-tier drug dealer to avoid sending him to jail for 30 year. The show’s villains also deserve mention. Both Whale and Jill Scott’s Lady Eve bring fear in completely different ways. Whale can crush a person’s throat with his bare hands while Lady Eve holds a conversation while dissecting a live body. Overall Black Lightning is just a well written show that goes the extra mile in a genre that often seems to be resting on blockbuster laurels. Black Lightning currently airs on Tuesdays at 9 pm. Season 1 wraps up April 17th. — RICHARD SUPLEE