Comic Book Review: Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #5


The events of Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #4 were memorable for all the ways that things can go wrong when crime like this disaster with the kids either comes knocking or plots from the shadows. Tobias Whale has made his presence known, and now comes the time where you look forward to what happens when Black Lightning acts in response. Fear can do more to the average person than some of these bigger superhero stories are willing to show, so this is a great time to experience this corner of the world through a more grounded hero.

For a book like this, the time take to explore the aftermath of that disaster was appreciated. Again when you have a grounded story like this, it is important that every little thing matters. The processing of events, the grieving of the lost, even the coverage of said event by the media. Personally I enjoyed the progression that has taken place in terms of trust in Black Lightning. You wouldn’t expect everything to now be easy for him, but to see that there is progress makes a big difference. Some might think that because this is a miniseries, there’s little time to waste on these things. However, there is no point in doing the story at all if there will be no moments where the substance rises above the action.

One of the strongest developments for this book is the way the city of Cleveland has been written a its own entity. This city pretty much becomes a character of its own when talking about the way the community comes together, heals, and fights to take back their safety from these kids and their alien guns.

With that said, the big thing here was what would happen once Tobias Whale decided to take matters into his own hands. This version of Whale I do tend to like more because he has the imposing stature, he has the raw power on his side, not to mention he is the kind of villain who has no problem with getting his hands dirty. I was more impressed how much further they took the idea that Whale is the kind of guy to think steps ahead. Not the kind of villain to underestimate for his size alone. I’m sure that most readers find it more welcoming to follow a villain who is well-rounded, rather than one who is good in one area and weak in the other. That tends to create too many predictable outcomes. That aside, I think we all knew that Black Lightning would find himself in a jam taking on Whale, though it was how he would save himself that stands out most. The suspense is killer, but worth it building up to the climax.

It also goes without saying that I’m enjoying seeing the differences in the Black Lightning from the books in comparison to the show. We all knew the show would be doing things differently from the books, but if you aren’t fully aware of those things then it can be wondrous to discover them on your own. Especially such things like who this Lynn Stewart is. It was delightful to see that even in the books she is a strong woman in her position.

Overall great artwork for this issue. This art team consistently strikes a good balance between the perspective of these every day people and the action of Black Lightning. For this issue in particular it was the action that popped most. Seeing Tobias What take on Black Lightning was a treat because the expectation was that he would use brute strength to beat him, but there was a surprise to every trick he had up his sleeve to keep up. For a trap, the tools he had at his disposal were both simple and creative in a pinch. I enjoyed the texture used for the armor more than anything else. I was only a bit thrown off by the slight change in artists in the middle of the issue. It wasn’t as if we went from one art style into the next. There was an abrupt change, and then back again. A bold move if you ask me and one they should be weary of in the future when such changes can become a distraction. Now this isn’t to say that Yvel Guichet didn’t do good work, because he did. It’s just a simple matter of risk versus reward which fortunately wasn’t a problem.

Black Lightning and Tobias Whale coming face to face for the first time was well worth the wait. This is what happens when you pit two enemies against each other, and with real determination to take the other down. Is this the trap to end Black Lightning once and for all? That much we’ll have to wait for, but Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #5 was exciting for the execution of that moment and everything leading up to it.

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