Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #3 – Tony Isabella, Writer; Clayton Henry, Artist; Pete Pantazis, Colorist
Ray – 7.5/10
Corrina: New Suit! (Note: I Like This Much Better Than Ray)
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: Black Lighting: Cold Dead Hands #3, brings the overall plot into clearer light, as things go from bad to worse. But at the same time, it’s got some elements that don’t quite work – namely, bringing some genuinely bizarre elements into a plot that’s very down to earth previously. Introducing a new villain called White Thunder that’s targeting Jefferson’s interests, the issue starts with a brutal segment set off by the villain and exacerbated by poor police training. The family whose sons accidentally set off the tragedy at the end o the last issue are under arrest, but when their convoy is attacked, the father is shot by police in the chaos and the mother is caught in the crossfire. That leaves two scared little boys with a deadly alien weapon on the run, with police convinced they’re a massive threat. News of this breaks in the memorial service for the victims last issue.
This issue is easily the most topical one yet, with clear references to the shooting of Tamir Rice as Jefferson not only tries to bring the weapon in safely, but to keep the children holding it alive in the middle of the panic.
Where the issue falls flat, though, is with the villains. Tobias Whale is an intriguing new take on the Kingpin, but I’m puzzled by why the series abandoned his albino nature – the TV series is going with it. His henchmen, including White Thunder, being low-level alien gangsters, though, is strange. It adds a surreal comic-book feel to the issue in an out of place way that takes away from the real-world overtones that Black Lightning is fighting against. But the issue rebounds nicely with a tense final showdown as Black Panther stands between the boys and the police, and may just be able to keep everyone alive in the process. There’s a great character at the fore, and a great comic here, but it needs to get out of its own way a bit.
Corrina: Jefferson Pierce has always been a topical character, with his origins in wanting to protect his one area of Metropolis, and especially his students, from harm in a place that the police and Superman seemed to ignore.
In Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands, Isabella is setting up a choice similar to the opening plot in the excellent The American Way comic series. The choice is between supporting the black community by adhering to the laws and the system or giving up on the system. That’s why this Tobias Whale works, to show this dichotomy between the two choices. The story stacks the decks on Jefferson’s side of the divide, as it’s clear that Whale has no care at all for citizens–he just wants to keep running his Empire. But it’s also clear that the police are more like Whale, with their corruption and their distrust, than they are like Jefferson, save for the few who are helping our hero.
This choice is also the choice the community faces between Luke Cage and Cottonmouth in the Luke Cage televised series–the idealistic versus the cynical. It doesn’t work as a mirror image of a community in crisis if Whale is simply another white interloper.
The children in this issue are the physical and figurative center of this struggle, holding a weapon that can get them killed while Whale makes money and scared police officers search for them, trigger happy. Jefferson is their only hope. It’s a brutal story but one that definitely makes a reader reflect on current events.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.