Comic Book Review: Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #3


Who would have thought that life would be this tough living in Cleveland. You have the usual terror of villains popping up, you have dangerously hi-tech weapons on the streets, cops who treat their heroes like villains, and their own brand of discrimination. You take away most of that and it sounds like any other city grounded in our world. A sad fact, but another reason to appreciate a book like Black Lightning.

I must say that what came next for this family after the deadly shooting was heartbreaking. Like I said, you strip away most of the extraordinary stuff, and this is no different from the experience in our own world. Which means that things happen that can easily be avoided. From the start of this issue you had to question why the description of it mentioned that these were two kids orphaned and on the run. The truth was painful from start to finish, especially when it came to how this disaster was explained by the people who were meant to protect this family. From there you feel nothing but sympathy for these two boys because they stepped into a world that is unforgiving or caring for their age. Being labelled armed and dangerous meant that the police were not their friends, being targeted by Tobias Whale to cut off a lose end made a dire situation even worse.

Preparing to save these boys was where things got interesting because it felt like a true introduction to team lightning for someone new such as myself. These are people with a real history with one another even if there are still details that can catch some of guard in the moment. I’m just glad that this isn’t one of those things where there is drama between them or the usual cliche that you might run into these days. The humor from them knowing each other so intimately was welcoming as well. With that said, it was cool to see how they all have adjusted to this new situation they face with the gangs and police working against them.

When the time came for the kids to be caught, how things played out couldn’t have gone better. There was only one worse case scenario, and I like that they did try to avoid what would have been cringeworthy. Black Lightning is a hero to root for because he is educated in what goes on around him and in this world. That helps him make the right call when it matters most.

What is also a fine appealing factor for this book is the focus on community. Personally I appreciate that stronger focus than just talking about a city. When you are talking about a community, you are taking a step further to get to know the people around you. The people you are protecting and seeing how they feel about the events unfolding around them. That is how you truly engage readers in a story like this, and particularly during a situation like this.

Yet another great issue for Clayton Henry and Pete Pantazis on art. This time around they captivate us for their approach to what terror and fear looks like. The kind that can throw a family into panic, that will make a fearful police officer suddenly trigger happy, and a community grieve facing another loss. These all looked and felt like real people and real world situations that we could relate to. Some of the things that happened here were best done in detail whether you can stomach that kind of tragedy or not. Things got creative when it came to team Lightning adjusting to their current position. Mainly in terms of Black Lightning’s suit that went through some cool changes. They were all resourceful and it was through one of the changes that for a second I almost thought I was looking at the live-action version for a second, just for the color. Speaking for the colors, that is what makes the art pop out most. A lot of the detail in the art comes from the depth that Pantazis brings out through a lot of tone and variation. The best he does so far has to be the intensity of the lightning. Adding the blur effect to it makes a big difference as well.

Things got real in Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #3 whether we are talking about what actually happens, what could have happened, or the stories told of where things did go wrong. This issue was all about the horrors of past tragedies and trying your best to make sure that history does not repeat itself.

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