Black Lightning (2018 TV series)

Started by riddler, Fri, 16 Feb 2018, 16:54

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I recently read the first run of DC's first black superhero from 1977-79 to prepare for this series. Looking back I maybe shouldn't have.

There is no origin story here. This series picks up 9 years after Jefferson has abandoned the Black Lightning mantle. I guess this is so that the show doesn't need to get bogged down with an origin story and can have the hero show up in costume sooner, rather than later. The problem is that the reluctant hero concept is drawn out over the first few episodes. Jefferson takes a long time to decide to take up the mantle. His butler wants him to come out of retirement, his ex wife doesn't. This is an interesting enough conflict but I thought it was long drawn out considering that we know which decision he will eventually make.

Three episodes in and the basic premise has yet to be explained; exactly how Jefferson can control lightning. The fight scenes in itself are decently shot.

Now in reading the initial comic, it did seem like elements of Power Man, Daredevil, Batman, and Superman were all present. As with the TV show, the main character lives in the slums of Metropolis, a corrupt suburb which is a haven for crime. The villains are the 100, a secret crime organization run by the White Whale who's comic counterpart strongly resembles the Kingpin: he's a powerful, rich, fat white dude who can handle himself physically. For the TV show, this character is altered. He's no longer obese. I'm not sure what to make of this, it is a departure from the comics but at the same time, the character had to be altered to avoid coming off as a replication of the Kingpin. Jefferson is similar to Matt Murdock in the sense that he uses his day job as a high school principal to mold the world he wants to see.

Another complaint is the writing of the two daughters. Sometimes they come off as responsible young ladies, other times they are reckless brats. I don't like that they keep ending up the damsels in distress, that is clichee and makes Jefferson come across as selfish when he only dons the Black Lightning mantle to save victims he has a connection with after sitting idly by for 9 years while corruption takes over his city.

I don't think this is a terrible show, it's not nearly as bad as the Iron Fist but suffers from similar problems (concepts way too drawn out, very little of the Hero in early episodes). If you're longing for the solo hero as opposed to DC/WB's shows which all seem to need to be ensemble casts instead of a hero acting alone, you may get it here although the butler is present.

This show has promise after three episodes.