There's never been a better time to be a fan of Black Lightning, aka Jefferson Williams. Not only is DC's first black superhero getting his own Greg Berlanti produced TV show (starring Cress Williams of Friday Night Lights), but one of the original writers of the character is returning for a new comic event that will begin this Wednesday.
Titled Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands, the new six-issue series will join writer Tony Isabella (who created the character with Trevor Von Eden in 1977) with artist Clayton Henry (of Harbinger fame), for a brand new story that will bring the classic electrokinetic superhero to the modern age.
The comic will feature Jefferson Pierce at 28, the youngest he's ever been portrayed. He's teaching in Cleveland, but of course, also fighting crime. Chief among Jefferson's problems will be his old foe Tobias White, who has been updated as well. Formerly portrayed as a fat man with albinism, this iteration of the villain will give him a more muscular build as well as a greater amount of pigment.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Tony Isabella talks about how the new series will tackle social issues: "My idea for the series was, 'Real world problems in a superhero universe.' So, we’re dealing with gun violence, but, of course, in a superhero world that gets invaded every other week, this is super weapons. We’re dealing with police violence. We’re dealing with crime. We’re dealing with education. We’re dealing with racism. All of those are part of the story. They enrich the story without making the comic books all about the issues."
When asked about how the upcoming TV show was affecting the comic, Clayton Henry spoke of the character's new look, and said, "It looks great, but I’d be insane to want to draw that every page. So, we had to sort of base a design [off of it that] I could draw panel after panel without absolutely wanting to pull out my hair. It was based on the television design, which I guess in turn was based on the comics to begin with anyway, and then we basically came full circle and simplified the design for comics again."
The new comic will not be beholden to previous comic continuity with the character, and will not be bound by what the new show is doing either-- for example, Jefferson will not have two daughters. What the authors say will remain a constant however are the core values of this teacher-turned-vigilante.
"Black Lightning is a guise he takes on — is a reluctant hero. Given his druthers, he would be very content being a great teacher, working with kids, helping them succeed, helping them get the foundation for good lives, but he’s a responsible man, a man of faith, and knowing he has these powers and that there are menaces out there far beyond the scope of a school teacher, he reluctantly puts on the suit to also help his city and community as Black Lightning," Isabella said. "That’s the core value. He’s a very moral man who would rather not be this vigilante, but does so because there’s a need for him."
Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands will be available tomorrow, and the non-Arrowverse (yet Berlanti created) TV show will be out next year.