Black Lightning: How true will it stay to the comic books?

Poster for Black Lightning on The CW
The poster for Black Lightning on The CW. But how true will it stay to the original?

Last week fans got their first dose of Black Lightning on The CW. The new series, which is an urban superhero show, focuses on Jefferson Pierce, otherwise known as Black Lightning.

The opening episode saw Pierce come out of retirement as Black Lightning when his daughters were taken by one of the many gangs that his city has to contend with.

One thing the producers of Black Lightning have said from the outset is that the show is not likely to cross over with either Flash, Arrow or Supergirl. This is understandable given the more serious tone of Black Lightning, but it doesn’t mean that we’ll not find the occasional Easter Egg in there. This could always change in the future, but season one of Black Lightning will be all self contained within its own universe.

In this new show, the streets are ran by the 100 Gang, which has absolutely no connection to The 100 TV show on CW. The 100 Gang is taken directly from the comic books. In the show the 100 Gang are pretty much running the city and have alliances with corrupt city officials. There was a deal struck that declared the city’s main High School — where Jefferson Pierce is principal — a no go zone, which is breached in the episode and sees Pierce return as Black Lightning after having hung up his costume 10 years ago.

The real twist of the premiere episode, which will make things fun as the show progresses, is the fact that Jefferson’s daughters are developing similar powers to what he has. The tail end of last week’s show saw one of his daughters destroy a bathroom sink when she began to shoot sparks of lightning from her hands.

Thus far we’ve only seen one of his daughters develop powers. It will be fun to see how this develops in future episodes because it’s been established that neither of his daughters knows that Jefferson Pierce is Black Lightning. The only people who know are his ex-wife and of course the designer of the Black Lightning suit, Peter Gambi.

In the comics, the older sister Anissa adopts the crime-fighting name of Thunder while her younger sister Jennifer will go by the name of Lightning. At present we do not have a timeline on when Jennifer will develop her powers. Thunder’s powers allow her to alter her molecular density so when she broke that sink she was making herself super dense.

This could be kind of funny as the show moves forward and makes her quite similar to Marvel’s Luke Cage character. That said, Luke Cage is way stronger than Anissa who as Thunder will have impenetrable skin and be strong, but she’ll walk around as an ordinary person.

The younger sister Lightning is different again. We haven’t seen her powers on the series yet, but in the comics she pretty much glows with energy. She can fly and can shoot lightning bolts, but it is not clear if that will be toned down for the series. For that we’ll have to wait and see.

Thus far this series is looking pretty good. The characters are appealing and the show uses music in a much better way than the other DC series. It will be interesting to see how Black Lightning and his daughters finally end up working together and how the story unfolds.

As a friend said, this series is really how Arrow should be in terms of its character beats and so forth. It’s not as soap-operaish as the other DC shows have become. Hopefully it will continue that way.

Black Lightning airs every Tuesday evening at 9/8c on The CW.

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