Comic Book Review: Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #1


This just so happened to be one of the recent few mini series by DC that I couldn’t help but jump right into. Characters like Black Lightning I will admit that I don’t have the strongest awareness of and this was the right time to correct that mistake. The CW live-action series is coming and I for one was excited that we would finally have one involving starring someone who isn’t white or the stereotypical hero like the others in the Arrowverse. These are the heroes who have a foot on the ground that you don’t want to overlook.

Off the bat I enjoyed that this was welcoming for someone new to this character. They were quick to giving us an idea of who we are dealing with. There are some stories out there that unfortunately will throw you right into a story with little foundation to step from. You could probably also know the character and be confused as to the direction they are taking and from where. This creative team addresses the fact that Black Lightning isn’t like most heroes and keeps his ears to the ground as both a hero and a teacher. An origin story wasn’t necessary, but the overview was all that we needed. The sense of wonder that his first actions caused was one shared between us and the world around Black Lightning. They chose a good time where he was coming back to heroics and there wasn’t too much reason to need to know why he hasn’t been a hero up to this point. For me it was satisfying just knowing who he is now and his direction moving forward.

Something else you enjoy about the opportunity to experience a hero like Black Lightning is the street-level approach. That is something you never take for granted when so many popular heroes are out there worrying about the next extinction-level event or end of the world situation. Not every hero has to be like that and the little things do matter. In other words worrying about the civilians you protect, your neighbors, your students in Jefferson Pierce’s case, and the real-world issues that we all deal with every day when we step outside of our houses. Just the focus on tensions with the law was enough for this first issue. That is something we all can agree with being present and how wrong things can go between them, civilians and their own.

As far as archenemies go, Tobias Whale had a cool introduction. I couldn’t help but also see that similarity to Wilson Fisk like others, but the guy breaks from the mold with the line he is willing to cross at a moment’ notice. It was smart to make the statement in what kind of villain we are dealing with.

Clayton Henry and Pete Pantazis make a perfect art team for this book. The only fear I ever had at first when they announced this book was the quality of artists that they would have onboard. It goes without saying that what can kill a book like Black Lightning is not having that balance of good visuals and storytelling. This first issue had the best of both worlds and I expected nothing less from Clayton Henry who is no stranger to fast-paced stories like this. He has a certain level of energy that he puts into his characters, their actions and the world around them. It’s all lively, but never anything over the top. Immediately what I enjoyed about this book was the design of Black Lightning’s costume. It wasn’t too much spandex, it had a creative design to it involving the lightning, though the best improvement was seeing a bit more color to it. And speaking of color, the way he uses his powers throughout this issue added appeal to him as someone who uses such a basic elemental power. Whether it was his application of the lightning or the way it flowed around him to varying effects, he felt like someone doing his own thing.

Real-world issues in a super-hero world. I don’t think there is ever a better string of words to put together to grab a reader’s attention today. We like to see real heroes dealing with the things that matter to us in the world that we live in. Black Lightning is the genuine article and Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands is not a story to sleep on for that bit of truth.

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