Comic Book Review: Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #2
Like I said with the first issue of Black Lightning, I appreciate that DC and this creative team are giving some of us this opportunity to get to know this hero before his appearance in a live-action tv show. It is safe to assume that he isn’t a hero most people are familiar with. Especially when you have someone like Static Shock out there whose powers share the same element and has had bigger exposure through a successful animated series.
The first issue got the ball rolling fast as we come to understand what the plot of this miniseries will center around. What bigger move can your arch-enemy make against you than to ruin your reputation? This was already a place where the law doesn’t put their trust in capes, just not welcoming at all, and now they were given all the ammo they would need to push back. His emotional response to this came naturally when this is not someone who wants to have to hide while civilians and kids are being put in danger by a deadly arsenal of high-tech weapons roaming the streets of Cleveland. It also goes without saying that you do bring your attention to his intelligence more than anything else. What could have hurt this story is if he turned out to be another hero who blindly runs into the fire, but he thinks about the outcome of his actions and the consequences. That’s a lot to process, though it gives him the fire he needs.
As Jefferson Pierce it was good that they found balance between crime fighting and his day job as a teacher. We really do take for granted the heroes we can have who work normal jobs. Being a teacher is a big contrast for most since that is not a job you neglect, especially for the students you connect with. I enjoyed the exploration here because we know what he fights for as Black Lightning, but you gain new respect for what he fights for as Jefferson. Well not exactly what he fights for, but what he proves to be knowledgeable of and aware of when it comes to the kind of schools he works at.
I enjoyed that this series doesn’t stray from addressing what the life of a superhero can be like as a POC. Everything you do as a superhero is under a microscope, but as a POC you are more prone to being torn apart for the smallest misstep. Black Lightning is learning that the hard way when being slammed by the media, and being given a hard time by people who think they can take the law into their own hands. I actually chuckled a bit at the idiocy that does tend to happen when they think they are playing hero. Maybe just a little more when it came to the police showing struggles with priorities. With that said, it even mattered as much to get into the head of Jefferson on the topic of equality. Some will roll their eyes, but not every arrest will go down the same and unfortunately a number of factors will go into that moment of confrontation.
Still Clayton Henry and Pete Pantazis make a great art team for this book. There are some books out there that benefit from being flashy, bold and in your face. Black Lightning is one of those books which they make clear every time he springs into action. When I first heard of Black Lightning I had my assumptions that it would be a lot of “pew pew” like with most heroes who have his powerset. I’m glad that this art team proves that wrong through a creative use of his powers. Enhanced strength, shields, just the way the lightning in general flows around him. The effect of the lightning in general is more than a flash or blocky as well, it has more life put into it. It also helps to have the clashing of blues and reds from those high-tech guns constantly being fired at him. What I liked most visually from this issue was the way that they were able to match the tone of the story in terms of the way these people live. The bigotry, fear, hate, all of it you could see through the way these people interact with one another.
Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #2 continues to prove why this is a must read for a miniseries. Nothing is really off limits here and this is not a book you should sleep on if you want one that is unapologetic towards addressing the corruption and bigotry in the world. There are some comic fans out there who just don’t get it, and think these stories aren’t meant for comics, but hopefully there are enough out there who see that this is one to shine a light on.