Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #4 – Tony Isabella, Writer; Clayton Henry, Yvel Guichet, Artists; Pete Pantizis, Colorist
Ray – 8.5/10
Corrina: City-Wide Conflict
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #4 is one of the most action-packed issues of Tony Isabella’s revival of his most iconic character, but it also manages to use that action better than most series, fueling a city-wide conflict that brings out both the best and worst in the civilians and law enforcement officials. When the issue kicks off, Black Lightning is trying to both take down the ruthless alien bounty hunter White Thunder and protect the two kids who were caught up in the alien weapon attack that’s thrown the city into turmoil. The action scenes right from the start are chaotic, with attacks coming from the sky as the people on the ground desperately try to stay alive. The police are written with some good nuance, as well – you see some who definitely rely too much on force, but by and large, they’re decent public servants trying to keep people alive.
One thing that’s always occurred to me is that Jeff Pierce has the potential to be one of the DCU’s most powerful heroes if his control over the electric grid is as strong as it has the potential to be. Isabella starts poking at that this issue, as we see him use his powers in new and creative ways. I was also very excited to see the genesis of some powers in Jeff’s nieces, although it seems less likely that they would have gotten the same powers now that they’re not his daughters. I’m still always going to be a bit annoyed that we’re not allowed to have older, seasoned heroes anymore, because Jeff’s story is so much stronger as the veteran educator, but this run is almost as strong as I could expect any featuring the young Black Lightning to be. And although he only appears in a few scenes this issue, Tobias Whale and his reach over the city makes him one of the best villains in DC Comics right now.
Corrina: This story has been building the pieces for the first three issues and it all clicks into place with an intense issue for readers.
Jeff wants to protect everyone. The police, most of them, want to do the right thing but they’re sometimes led by those who don’t. Whale wants control of everyone. The kids, the kids only want to be safe after what’s happened to them. All these wants collide until Jefferson finally gets a victory, albeit one that leaves him Whale’s target.
Yes, it is an obvious statement when a hero named Black Lightning is the good guy in a fight with a villain named White Thunder but clothing the villain in white also brings to mind the Klan’s white robes and makes it an excellent symbolic choice for a super-villain facing a black man. (And, in the end, White Thunder turns out to be a snake-lizard man, which is also interesting, symbolically.)
But this is not just Jeff’s story, it’s the story of Denise and the other police officers and Jeff’s friends, and it looks increasingly like his cousins will play a part. They seem to be the equivalent of his daughters from before the reboot. Like Ray, I’m uncertain why the girls had to be his cousins and not his daughters or why this Jefferson has to be the younger version, especially with the older one on television, but it works well inside this miniseries. I also like the small touches, such as “McBain’s” being the name of the police bar and the joke about “It’s raining men.”
Can I hope this becomes a series, rather than a miniseries?
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.