Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #2 – Tony Isabella, Writer; Clayton Henry, Artist; Pete Pantazis, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: Bring In the Supporting Cast
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW!
Ray: Tony Isabella’s revival of Black Lightning continues to bring the character back to his roots, splitting the story between his superhero life – which is getting more complicated by the day – and his personal life as a teacher. The issue opens with an action segment, showing how he’s under fire from both criminal elements and the police – who think he was behind a murder at the end of last issue. The issue does a good job of addressing issues of police brutality and trigger-happy shootings without being over-the-top. No one comes across as a caricatured murderous villain, but it’s clear that things are so amped up to the point that it puts innocent people in danger. Black Lightning works diligently to protect life on both sides, and that’s what makes the character work. Isabella also surrounds him with an intriguing supporting cast, including former villain Amberjack as his trainer.
I’m still not a big fan of Pierce being so young, especially given that the upcoming TV series has him as a middle-aged dad. However, I was glad to see Anissa Pierce make a comeback here as his niece. She’s one of the few people who know his secret life, and she serves as a liaison for the information she learns at school. His efforts to keep the school safe from drugs and guns make for a compelling hook, but Tobias Whale continues to lurk in the background and stir the pot. It all builds to an explosive, tragic conclusion. Topical comics often feel forced, but this one deftly addresses the spread of guns, police brutality, and the struggles inner-city schools face without becoming a caricature. Some writers can step back into a character after decades with ease, and Isabella’s return makes it feel like he and his most iconic character never left.
Corrina: The first Black Lightning series was an urban tale with a protector concerned with his specific neighborhood, in which the good people were being silenced, bullied and killed. This updated Jefferson Pierce has stepped into the same kind of story but updated with a modern, sleeker look and a familiar but subtly changed supporting cast.
I’m enjoying the action sequences a great deal, especially Lightning’s uneasy relationship with the police and the community, and the reactions that further complicate his efforts to help him protect the city. This Jefferson is very much a classic hero: if he has any flaw, it’s that he believes he can fix anything. Here’s hoping he at least fixes his corner of the world before this miniseries is finished.
I found the supporting cast welcome, if subtly changed. Lynn’s appearance means that we might, for the first time, see the romance grow between her and Jefferson, whereas before we saw her either after a divorce or after years of marriage. I’m looking forward to the romance arc and her character being fleshed out. The downside is, as Ray said, it’s odd to see Jefferson as a new hero, rather than a veteran.
So far, this series has met my high expectations.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.