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January 17, 2018

Black Lightning Ep 1: The Resurrection Review

Title: Black Lightning
Creators:  Mara Brock-Akil, Salim Akil
Director: Salim Akil
Writer: Salim Akil
Starring: Cress Williams, Nafessa Williams, China Anne McClain, Gregg Henry, Christine Adams, William Catlett, James Remar, Marvin ‘Krondon’ Jones III
Original Air Date: January 16, 2018
Episode: The Resurrection

Just to get this out of the way just know that this review may contain spoilers so proceed at your own risk if you haven’t seen this episode.

When it was announced that Black Lightning would be coming to the CW there was some worry and skepticism on my part due to the CW’s track record with how their Black characters in their superhero shows have been handled and the character’s own shaky comic book history. However, all of that was put to rest after roughly 5 minutes into the premier episode of Black Lightning! It was in these moments that we hear Nina Simone’s Strange Fruit as we are introduced to Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) and his daughters Anissa (Nafessa Williams) and Stephanie (China Anne McClaine) at the Freeland Police Station. The family is soon pulled over because Jefferson “fit the description” and after an all too familiar exchange we see a glimpse of the retired superhero’s powers and a Black father’s frustration at having to hold back for the safety of his family.

Cress Williams knocks it out the park in both roles of Jefferson Pierce and Black Lightning. As the principal of Garfield High he comes across as Joe Clark-lite but you can see that he’s a hero to those kids and just as dedicated. His frustration and love for his daughters is a high point of the show and kudos to the writers for making their interactions actually mean something. There were many times where Williams and McClain just steal the show and the fact that they have so much agency in the premiere episode is refreshing. We don’t have to wait for the women in Black Lightning to get their shine because it’s established from the beginning that you should take notice. The on-screen chemistry between Williams and Christine Adams who plays his ex-wife, Lynn is tense, frustrating, and endearing. And without a doubt she’s the type of woman you hang up the tights and domino mask for. She’s also the one that puts that extra pep in your step when your daughters are kidnapped and tells you to “Bring them home.”.

Nafessa Williams as Anissa Pierce – Image via CW

When it comes to the villains of the show Tobias Whale is that man whom you don’t play with. Black Lightning’s longtime foe is played by Marvin “Krondon” Jones III and though our time with him is brief this episode he delivers one of the most impactful moments on TV. We all know that a good villain is hard to find in some of these shows so keep your fingers crossed that Tobias Whale holds up and remains the baddest of the bad. The show spends a lot of time establishing The 100 who are the local gang terrorizing Freeland at the command of Tobias. However it’s his man, Latavious aka Lala (William Catlett) who is in direct conflict with Pierce. He’s a former graduate of Garfield High and at times you can see how he’s twisted the lessons taught to him by Pierce to further The 100’s grip on the city.

When it comes to the actual superhero action the fights are well choreographed though The 100 members are totally outmatched going up against Black Lightning. There were a couple of the stunts that didn’t come off well but for the most part it’s right up there with the other CW fight sequences. The special effects are also on point so power displays are worth watching in every scene. When it comes to the costume we get to see both a classic version and the upgraded one made in the show by Gambi (James Remar).  The new costume hasn’t won me over completely but it does outdo some of the others we’ve seen on the CW.

Cress Williams as Jefferson Pierce/Black Lightning – Image via CW

Black Lightning in no way shies away from relevant social issues, race, or community, and does it in a way that is unapologetically Black but still relatable to everyone. The story doesn’t beat you over the head with it’s commentary but amidst all the superhero action you don’t miss that it has something to say. What Black Lightning thankfully avoids is the repetitive superhero origin story that has been the norm for years and to be honest we’ve seen enough of those so this is definitely a breath of fresh air. Just like seeing all of this beautiful melanin on the TV screen in a show where we aren’t watered down to tropes and background set pieces. This is but one of several elements that helps it to stand out from the other CW superhero shows and it not being connected to them doesn’t hurt it one bit. Actually it might just make this first season stronger as we’re introduced to the world of Jefferson Pierce but we’ll have to wait and see what happens down the line. Since the first episode is just this good you’ll want to add Black Lightning to your watch list of CW superhero shows.

For more on Black Lighting click here!

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2 Comments


  1. JayAre SimOn

    Damn good article bro!!!! Hit it on the head…..!!!!! #ShinobiUp



    • Thanks for coming through!



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