Black Lightning Premiere Season Now on Blu-ray

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Black Lightning Season 1

BLACK LIGHTNING is a CW show that differs from the rest of the DC Comics' based Arrowverse, and not just because it's completely separate from it. CRESS WILLIAMS plays the titular superhero, Black Lightning, aka high school principal Jefferson Pierce. As Pierce, he's a legend in the city of Freeland for his record with getting students into college. But he's legendary for another reason as well -- several years ago he cleaned up the community as the electrically-charged vigilante, Black Lightning. But he went into retirement, and the city of Freeland has gone steadily downhill ever since.

Now Pierce is a family man, with two daughters, Anissa (NAFESSA WILLIAMS) and Jennifer (CHINA ANNE MCCLAIN), and an ex-wife Lynn (CHRISTINE ADAMS) who still comes over for family dinner so that the four can remain a unit. Jefferson is even working on a reconciliation with Lynn -- one that is spoiled when he is convinced to go back out as Black Lightning once again. Black Lightning was the reason they split up in the first place, because Lynn wasn't cut out for staying home and worrying about Jeff's life every night.

The reason for his coming out of retirement is Tobias Whale (MARVIN JONES III), a highly placed leader of The 100 gang that sells drugs on the streets of Freeland. Oh, he's also the guy who killed Jefferson's father decades ago, and he hasn't aged a day since! But this time when Black Lightning goes out, he won't quite be alone. His elder daughter has developed super-strength, taking her on a quest to discover why that leads to a mystery her grandpa was investigating. Old conspiracies become new again, as a shady organization that once sought to subjugate the black community by making them passive with vaccines now seeks to harness the side-effect of that vaccine to develop an army of metahumans -- this time distributing the chemical through a street drug called Greenlight.

BLACK LIGHTNING differs from the other CW shows in that the hero is so much older. This isn't a "Year One" story of a neophyte hero learning the ropes. This is THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, with Jefferson feeling the effects of his age -- not that he's very old, but he's not a millennial either.

However, while it differs from the Arrowverse heroes in this respect, it has a lot in common with one of the shows, SUPERGIRL, in that it is a very politically charged story. If there's a racism trope to be had, it exists in this first season. Anissa is a medical professional, but also a protester and marcher who uses her super powers to destroy a confederate monument. Jefferson gets arrested while unarmed and not resisting by white racist cops. Jennifer is hated on by other black girls in her class because she's smart and successful and has the "good hair." Jefferson is helped by Peter Gambi (JAMES REMAR) who acts out of white guilt and tries to make reparations. And the secret organization using drugs to find meta-reactive kids is headed by a blowhard who literally utters the words that he wants to "Make America Great Again!" Any of these make for great story elements, but having all of them, condensed into the microcosm of a 13-episode freshman season, makes it tiresome. I'm hoping that the second season can be a bit less racially-centric and more focused on being a man who is a hero, and who is also black.

This Blu-ray release includes a fifteen minute segment recorded at the 2017 Comic-Con that introduced the cast and producers to the attendees there.

Episode Listing:

1. The Resurrection
2. The Book of Hope
3. The Book of Burial
4. Black Jesus
5. The Book of Green Light
6. The Book of Thunder
7. The Book of Fate
8. Revelations
9. The Book of Little Black Lies
10. The Book of Redemption
11. The Book of Crucifixion
12. The Book of Pain
13. The Book of War

3.5 / 5.0