Black Lightning was the first Black superhero written into the DC Universe, but most people don’t give him enough credit as one of DC’s most powerful superheroes. When it comes to superhuman abilities, Black Lightning is stronger than the typical hero with electrical abilities.
His powers are the equivalent to Zeus’ thunder. Ever since he developed powers, Jefferson Pierce learned to control his superpowers with the help of his mentor, Peter Gambi. He began crime fighting after one of his students was murried. Since then he sought out the gang The 100 as well as Tobias Whale.
Although his solo series discontinued (twice), Black Lightning continued fighting crime as a member of The Outsiders and eventually even joined the Justice League's reserved list.
However, Black Lightning had a lot going on between his original series and his appearance in the New 52. For example, he and Batman formed The Outsiders and he served as Secretary of Education under President Lex Luthor, believing that he could reform the current system. The Justice League also extended their membership to him twice.
Here are the 15 Things You Never Knew About Black Lightning!
15 He Was Trained By Batman
Since Black Lightning and Batman founded The Outsiders together, it may come as no surprise to fans that Batman actually trained Black Lightning. As a member of Batman’s squad, Black Lightning learned martial arts, as well as boxing from Wildcat.
Originally, Batman found Pierce after Pierce had decided to abandon his alter ego and crime-fighting ways. His trauma suppressed his metahuman abilities and thus he couldn’t continue his work, choosing instead to give up. Batman decided to help Pierce regain his power by training him.
However, Batman and Black Lighting had actually met before this. Wayne Enterprise took notice of Peirce’s policies on education and invited him to reform the schools in undeveloped communities. Pierce accepted the invitation and the rest is history.
14 He Has No Real Weakness
When we think of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, we know their weaknesses. However, when we consider Black Lightning, he doesn't actually have any weaknesses.
The only weaknesses he really has are human limitations, such as age, physical strength, and sustenance. Black Lightning has no real weakness that is comparable to Kryptonite.
While he doesn’t have the strength of Superman, Black Lightning can use his electrokinesis powers to manipulate his surrounding area. His electric powers are even powerful enough to shock someone to death, and he can easily manipulate energy in his cells in order to recharge himself. He’s strong enough to obliterate his enemies if he so chooses to.
If he’s injured, Black Lightning can heal himself at a faster rate than the average human.
13 His Family Knows About His Vigilante Work And Supports Him
Pierce accepted his duty as the Black Lightning and decided to continuing living with this alter ego. He accepted that being Black Lightning was a huge part of his life.
However, his family eventually learn about his powers and abilities. Though they're shocked to learn that he has superpowers, overall, his family accepts him for who he is and are glad that he trusted them enough to keep his identity a secret.
Originally, Pierce revealed his powers to his ex-wife Lynn Stewart by accident, while his two daughters discovered his alter ego when they developed powers of their own. Being a superhero thus became a side profession for the Pierce family.
They treat their vigilante work and superpowers as if it's normal and a part of their day-to-day lives. This level of openness within a family is unique to the comic book world, and thus created an entirely new setting for Black Lightning to grow in.
12 He Used To Have A Power Belt That Helped Him Use His Abilities
In order to become Black Lightning, Pierce had to learn how to harness his electric powers. Peter Gambi, Pierce's friend and costume designer, created an electric powered belt for Pierce that could become his backup if his electric charge ever got out of hand.
The belt was used in the early comic series as an accessory and in order to magnetically pull Pierce's powers. During his first few years as Black Lightning, Pierce used the belt to control his powers, drawing electrical energy from it. (In the early issues, Black Lightning used his belt to generate electric powers to send bolts of lighting at people. However, this was retconned in later issues.)
As he became Black Lightning, Pierce’s powers grew so much that the belt was no longer needed. He eventually abandoned the utility belt altogether once his powers were strong enough.
11 He Appeared As Black Vulcan In Super Friends
Black Lightning has appeared in various DC animated shows and movies. His first non-canon appearance was as Black Vulcan in the Justice League America original series, Super Friends. Super Friends was an animated show about the Justice League that was based on the original comics.
Black Vulcan has electric powers and can make his jet travel as fast as the speed of light. His costume was black with some yellow, which looked lightning-shaped. It was very similar to Black Lightning's original costume design.
DC Animation didn’t have the rights to Black Lightning at the time, so they were forced to create Black Vulcan, who was almost an exact replica of the original character.
Since there were many characters that the show couldn't use due to copy restrictions, the animators decided to create lookalike characters. Because of this, these characters, including Black Vulcan, had no origin stories of their own.
10 He Is Often Mistaken As Static’s Dad In The DC Universe
Because the DC universe is so large and includes so many characters, fans often confuse one character for another, or think that two characters are related when they aren't. In fact, Black Lightning often faces this problem, as many fans constantly mistake him for Static's father.
He confirmed this in Justice League of America vol 2 issue 27. Virgil Hawkins, aka Static, isn’t related to Black Lightning at all. However, he sees Black Lightning as a mentor figure, and thus often looks up to him. In Young Justice, Black Lightning took Static under his wing and taught him about his powers.
Despite the fact that they both have powers revolving around electricity, Black Lightning is arguably stronger than Static because of his vast experience and raw power.
While Static controls electricity and magnetism, Black Lightning controls bioenergy at a cellular level. Over the years, Black Lightning’s electric abilities have been amplified and have expanded, allowing him to heal and even destroy an entire city.
9 He Has Never Ended A Life
Though many people believe that he killed Trina Shelton, a bystander who witnessed a robbery gone wrong, Black Lightning has never actually killed anyone. In the instance of Trina, it was a stray bullet that ended her life, not Black Lightning.
However, given the fact that Black Lightning is so powerful, many fans have assumed that he's probably killed at least one or two bystanders by accident, but this is not the case.
There was one moment when he was close, though. After he discovered that his niece was killed by Martin Somers, Black Lightning confronted Somers and tried to scare him off. However, Black Lightning used more powers than he wanted to and an electric jolt landed a direct hit on the villain.
At first Black Lighting believed that he had killed Somers, but he later learned that Deathstroke had thrown a poison dart right before he could send out his jolt.
Although his powers are strong enough to kill, Black Lightning has trained himself and is thus able to control his abilities.
8 CW's Black Lightning Disguise is Equivalent to Clark Kent’s Glasses
DC superheroes often hide their faces with masks or completely change their voices in order to keep their real identities a secret, and Black Lightning is no different.In the new Black Lightning series, he is seen concealing his identity with a pair of blue glasses.
In fact, even his daughters don't recognize him when he rescues them. Given the fact that citizens within the DC universe can't figure out Wonder Woman and Superman's disguises, it is thus no surprise that Black Lightning is able to conceal himself just as easily.
However, the comic book series did provide an explanation. Pierce chose to wear an afro wig when he was disguised as Black Lightning so that authorities would have no idea who he truly was.
Black Lightning can also dim lights and attack his pursuers without having to fight them directly. Like Batman, he often uses the darkness to his advantage.
7 His Daughters Became Superheroes Against His Wishes
Pierce's daughters also have superpowers, which allows them to also fight crime. However, with great powers comes many problems. Pierce initially didn’t approve of his daughters crime fighting hobbies, and like any other protective father, he forbade his two daughters from following in his footsteps.
His eldest daughter, Anissa, developed her powers pretty early on. However, Pierce and his wife talked to Anissa and convinced her not to use her new abilities. They struck a bargain: no vigilante justice until Anissa finished medical school.
Anissa kept her promise, and on the day of graduation, she became started her crime-fighting night job. Her little sister eventually also discovered her own powers.
This happened by accident when Anissa was in a coma. This time, Pierce decided to try a different approach and let her join The Justice Service of America (JSA).
6 He Is Pretty Much Immortal
Although some fans may have not noticed, Black Lightning is arguably immortal. He is able to manipulate not only the energy of his own cells, but also the cells of other people. He's so powerful, in fact, that he can manipulate the cells of others when they're far away from him.
His powers are also capable of healing his damaged cells at an insanely fast rate. The energy he uses could even be used to restart Superman's heart. Black Lightning has shown that he's able to heal others with extreme ease.
In his electric form, Black Lightning is unaffected by bacteria or any form of disease. In this state, he also doesn’t require oxygen.
His ionization ability makes it possible for him to form energy out of thin air, causing positive energy charges. With such incredibly powers, it may even be possible for Black Lightning to prevent his cells from aging through energy manipulation.
5 It Would Take A Couple of Decades Before His Next Solo Issue
Though his original solo series ended, it wasn't the last we saw of Black Lightning. In fact he came back later, in another solo series. In 1995, DC added to his solo series, including a second volume that consisted of thirteen fresh new issues.
After this, Black Lightning: Year One in 2009 was created. In it, DC recounted his origin story, but also completely changed and refined certain aspects of Pierce's character.
The New 52 version would continue to revisit the origin stories of older superheroes, but it also provided new storylines and plot devices. For example, the new Black Lightning series focused on Pierce as a high school teacher in Los Angeles.
In it, he pairs up with Blue Devil to stop Tobias Whale and the 100. However, the two initially didn’t work well as a team. In fact, they even went as far as fistfighting until they settled their differences.
4 DC Discontinued His Series... But Then Brought Him Back
One of the main reasons why there is such a small Black Lightning series is due to DC reassessing its comic book properties. In 1978, DC made the decision to reform its comic book pipeline, deciding which comic superheroes should get scrapped and which should be spared.
Notable titles like Detective Comics were eliminated. Black Lightning, unfortunately got cut from the main superhero lineup due to less than average sales. However, writers rediscovered him again later and decided to include him in superhero groups as a side character.
They expanded his past in The Outsiders and provided more in-depth reasons for his sudden disappearance. He remained as a member of both the Justice League and The Outsiders.
During this time, Black Lightning starred in several animated series, including Batman: Brave and the Bold and Young Justice. He also cameoed in Static Shock. Eventually Black Lightning received his own CW show.
3 He Appeared As Soul Power in Static Shock
Because he and Static share similar powers and abilities, Black Lightning was introduced in the Static Shock animated series. Similar to his appearance as Black Vulcan, the animated series didn’t have the rights to the character. Therefore the creators of the show changed his name to Morrison Grant, aka Soul Power.
However, many fans knew that he was Black Lightning due to his design, which referenced his 1978 look.
Despite their similar design, though, Morrison's origin story differs quite a bit compared to Black Lightning's. He obtained his powers when he was struck by lightning. From then on, he had electric abilities.
Morrison decided to use his powers for good, choosing to fight crime and protect civilians. Morrison and his sidekick Sparky team up with Static in order to stop his arch nemesis, Professor Menace. Once Professor Menace was defeated, Grant retired.
2 His Powers Are Limitless
Black Lightning’s powers grow stronger as time passes, so it’s hard to gauge just how powerful he really is. He can travel at the speed of light in his electric form and fly on par with the other heroes.
He can also shock enemies with powers equivalent to Zeus-- he has the ability to quickly and easily end their lives. Natural disasters don't phase him, as he can use storms to charge up his powers. Additionally, his black lightning form is far more powerful than average lightning.
Black Lightning can manipulate cells inside his and other people's bodies, causing them to burst if he so desires. Additionally, his super speed can slow time, which allows him to attack his enemies at the speed of light.
1 DC Almost Published Black Bomber Instead of Black Lightning
By the mid 20th century, comics were beginning to include black superheroes in their lineups. Marvel brought in Luke Cage, Black Panther, and Falcon as part of their lineup of superheroes.
In order to remain in competition with their counterpart, DC created the first black superhero: Black Bomber. Originally, one of the editors decided to create a racist character with the ability to transform into a black person when under a lot of stress.
Writer Dwayne McDuffie brought this character back in Justice League of America in order to show how ridiculous he was and question why the DC thought it was acceptable to create Black Bomber in the first place.
Thankfully, DC was talked out of brining Black Bomber back and scrapped the project altogether. Black Lightning was later created and was a far better character, with a unique set of skills and powers.
Can you think of any other interesting facts about Black Lightning? Sound off in the comment section!