Black Lightning: A Comics Reading Guide for the TV Fan

With the new TV series arriving on the CW, we have a guide to Black Lightning comics for those of you who want to dig deeper into history!

Like so many classic DC heroes before him, Black Lightning is on his way to the CW. If the other Greg Berlanti produced DC super shows are any indication, Black Lightning should be another hit for the DC factory over at CW. And really, Black Lightning is such a worthy hero to be considered for television consideration. Black Lightning was the very first black superhero to star in his own DC title and has remained an important part of the DC Universe ever since. 

We are so excited to see Jefferson Pierce and his family come to life that we dove into our collections to check out some important reads in Black Lightning history.

Join us as we proudly present a Black Lightning reading guide to get you charged up for the series debut of CW’s latest DC superhero TV show!

Black Lightning Year One 

In 2009, writer Jen Van Meter and artist Cully Hamner presented a modern retelling of Black Lightning’s origin in Black Lightning Year One. Tony Isabella and Trevor Von Eeden’s original origin story was repurposed for a new audience.

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In Black Lightning: Year One, Jefferson Pierce returns to Suicide Slum and takes on his old foes the 100 and Tobias Whale. Along the way, the story explores what drives Pierce to take to the streets and clean up some of the worst neighborhoods in the DC Universe. This is a no frills series that will give new readers great insight into what makes Black Lightning tick.

Read Black Lightning: Year One

Justice League of America 

When famed novelist Brad Meltzer took over writing duties on Justice League America, he brought Black Lightning with him. Black Lightning may not have been a Leaguer for long, but while he was part of the ranks of the JLA, the hero fit right in with the other iconic heroes of the DCU. During his tenure as a JLAer, Lightning helped the League rebuild Red Tornado and participated in an epic team-up with the Justice Society and the Legion of Super Heroes.

These stories proved that Jefferson Pierce belonged in the big time and presented some of the most epic stories involving this important DC character. As big as these stories are, Pierce never lost his connection to his people or his roots and became a perfect everyman sort of super hero.

Read Justice League of America Vol. 1: The Tornado’s Path

Black Lightning: Cold, Dead Hands

Black Lightning co-creator Tony Isabella is back to guide Jefferson Pierce through another adventure.

Isabella hasn’t missed a beat and has the Rebirth-era Jefferson Pierce cleaning up the streets of the city he grew up in. Cold Dead Hands proves you can go home again and presents the perfect Black Lightning adventure for those who want a ground floor read if you’re looking to get into comics after catching the TV show.

Read Black Lightning: Cold, Dead Hands

Want to dig a little deeper into Black Lightning history? We can help you out with that, too!

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Black Lightning Vol. 1 (1977)

In the first volume of Black Lightning, Isabella co-creator Trevor Von Eeden introduced the world to Jefferson Pierce, an Olympic level triathlete, a brilliant physicist, and a nurturing school teacher. Jefferson returns to teach at his alma mater Garfield High and quickly wins respect from his students. He soon falls afoul of a drug gang known as the 100. After the death of a student at the hands of the gang, Pierce dons the Black Lightning suit for the first time.

At first, Pierce uses a belt to enhance his strength and give him control of electricity. Soon, things would be retconned so Pierce had meta-human powers of his own, but through all the power changes Pierce had undergone, it was his heart and determination to protect his students from corruption that marked Pierce as a great addition to the DC Universe. A lot of the dialogue is pretty dated, and modern readers may have a tough time getting past that, but we had to include the stories where the legend began. 

Read Black Lightning Vol. 1

Batman and the Outsiders

After the cancellation of his own series, Black Lightning popped around the DC Universe. He, along with Katana, Metamorpho, Halo, Geo-Force, and Looker, eventually landed in a new Batman formed team known as the Outsiders.

Read Batman and the Outsiders

Black Lightning quickly became the heart of the team and was looked to by Batman to teach the inexperienced members of the Outsiders how to be heroes. The former teacher easily fell back into the role of mentor and educator and served as a staunch member of the Outsiders for many years. The Outsiders was the book that truly integrated Black Lightning into the overall tapestry of the DC Universe, and hopefully the Black Lightning TV series will eventually incorporate some of the other members of the team.