Episode 168: A Look at Black Lightning prior to his CWification

With the upcoming premiere of the long awaited and much hyped Black Panther movie, there have been a lot of debates as to who exactly is the first African/African American superhero style character to make it big. One of the first ones to come to mind with all my years of paying attention to super hero based media was Black Lightning, the token dark character in the super old school version of the Super Friends cartoon. In the cartoon version he was named Black Vulcan due to licensing issues but he was the de facto electric centered character who helped the rest of the core heroes saving the day and such. The portrayal of Vulcan, alongside Samurai, and Apache Chief was an attempt to make the show more inclusive but wow does it look bad with hindsight. Here’s Harvey Birdman attorney at law clip spoofing just that.

The character itself was okay but it left much to be desired, especially when compared to Static Shock, who is basically the contemporary teenage version of Black Lightning. While many of the subtexts were about specific problems faced in predominantly black schools and neighborhoods, the show did its best to stay in the middle lane and not push boundaries too far, especially when considering that it was a kid’s show for Saturday mornings. Still, Black Lightning himself would remain non existent within the DC animated universe save for minimal cameo moments even as he existed within the actual comics.

A few years ago, DC decided to release some animated shorts regarding lesser known characters from their super roster. Black Lightning returned as a family man for these shorts, balancing being a dad and a hero in a vibe reminiscent of The Incredibles. With two young daughters who sometimes exhibit their own metahuman abilities, Black Lightning cleans up the streets while trying to keep a tight ship at home. Here’s one such clip:


The girls would later come back in a mini webisode of DC Super Hero Girls as the duo of Thunder and Lightning as seen here:

However, Black Lightning isn’t here. Which is why I was intrigued when I heard that this electric superhero would be getting his own CW series. It currently does not coincide with the rest of the Flarrowverse but I’m sure some sort of crossover event will manifest entirely. My initial reaction was that this would be Luke Cage meets older Static Shock. I have only seen a few episodes but I will explain more of my early thoughts on the show in tomorrow’s entry.


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