Black Lightning Season 1 Review: The Superheroes We Need - GMonsterTV

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Black Lightning Season 1 Review: The Superheroes We Need

"Black Lightning" finished it's 13 episode run and is currently available on NetFlix. Sure the show is about a superhero. But it's also about social awareness, family and community. Plus it's a ton of fun to watch. 

Throughout the season we learn more about Black Lightning's mythology. Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) got his superpowers from a vaccine that was administered to the unknowing children of Freeland by a secret government program (the ASA). The idea was to make the population docile and complaint. Instead it created metahumans (when the ASA then tried to round up to experiment on). Luckily Jefferson escaped this fate. Unfortunately his father Alvin was murdered by Tobias Whale for exposing the conspiracy. 

Typically Marvel characters are the ones that struggle with what it means to be a superhero. Jessica Jones is a prime example. "Black Lightning" is one of the few DC shows to delve into the topic. When the story begins, Black Lightning has retired from crime fighting for some time. But things are getting bad in Freetown again thanks to a new potent drug called Green Light. Jefferson feels he much do what he can to protect the community. Ex wife Lynn knows what effect this work has on him. She begs Jefferson to give up his suit. First, she reminds him he could lose his life (and his family needs him). Next, she compares what he does to an addiction. That's an interesting way of looking at superpowers. Despite this, Jefferson decides to again become Black Lightning. The decision will continue to put a strain on their relationship. 

In a shocking twist, we learn that Peter Gambi (he's comparable to what Alfred is to Batman) worked for the ASA program years ago but later saw the error of his ways. His old coworker, Marton Procter, is still at it though. The problem is many of the kids he has in pods keep dying. He wants to experiment on Black Lightening's body instead.  Procter hopes to use metahumans to create super soldiers.

The awakening powers of Anissa (Nafessa Williams) who later becomes Thunder and Jennifer are handled well. She is also the first openly lesbian African American superhero. I appreciate how the show handles her sexual identity. She's definitely a role model for the LGBTQ community. Her family continues to love and support her. This is a great change from the typical "kill your gays" trope. Jennifer on the other hand doesnt want her powers and asks her mother to help get rid of them. That is before she saves her father's life. Looks like we now have three superheros in the family.  

The villains in "Black Lightning" are some of the best around. Tobias Whale (portrayed by Marvin "Krondon" Jones III) is an ex-politician and current head of drug dealing gang known as the One Hundred.  Whale is ruthless, super strong and has albinism. He's a very interesting character. I also enjoyed seeing Jill Scott as Lady Eve. She is "technically" Tobias' boss. Unfortunately she was gone far too soon. There's also "Lala" (Latavius) who works for Whale. He is also known as the Tattooed Man (because the ghosts of people he has killed appear on his body and occasionally speak to him). 

Interestingly, many of the "baddies" on the show are killed off at one point-- only to later return from the dead. This applies to Tobias and Lala.  Jennifer's boyfriend Khalil joins the group. Whale healed Khalil of his paralysis and is now collecting on his debt. As Whale so eloquently puts it "legs for loyalty". 

"Black Lightning" has a lot to say about the current state of race relations. Jefferson is pulled over numerous times by the police. Of course he's not the criminal they are looking for but that doesnt stop the cops from harassing him. His car is searched and he's arrested while at work. He is subjected to a humiliating strip search at the police station. He reminds his girls and the kids at his school to remain calm in the face of such injustice. What other superhero has to deal with these issues?

In the finale, the conflict with Procter is resolved but Tobias is still alive and kicking. I'm glad. He's much too good a villain to be killed off. We're also not sure of Lala's status. I assume he survived the explosion but who knows. The finale scene is a great callback to the premiere. Jefferson is again jogging down the street and is joined by his daughters. They head home and relax on the front steps with Lynn. A lot has changed in 13 episodes but the one thing that hasnt is that all these people love each other-- and, because of that, they can weather any storm.   

Grade: 4 3/4 Monsters (out of 5). "Black Lighning" is one of my favorite superhero shows. I love watching this always caring family try to adjust to their second jobs. The show has great fight sequences. I also enjoy the on point and often humorous dialogue. "Black Lightning" is socially aware while being fun at the same time. 

On a completely unrelated side note, I have often wondered why no one recognizes Black Lightning (as the principal of Garfield High School) since his mask consists of a pair of tinted goggles. One of the producers provided a plausible explanation. The mask projects some sort of a magnetic field that obstructs his face from view. That along with his voice modulator does the trick. OK, I'll accept it.

CW announced 'Black Lightning's" renewal in April. If its anything like season 1, it's going to be a great ride.   

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TV: Heavy On Sci Fi, Horror & Adventure; Light On Reality

May 6, 2018

Black Lightning Season 1 Review: The Superheroes We Need Reviewed by GMonsterTV on 4:47 PM Rating: 5 "Black Lightning" finished it's 13 episode run and is currently available on NetFlix.  Sure the show is about a superhero....

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