Cover date: March 2009
"Black Lightning, Year One - Part 2"
Writer: Jen Van Meter
Penciller: Cully Hamner
Inker: Cully Hamner
Reviewed by: Neal Bailey
Black Lightning tries to find the person who murdered Earl Clifford, crashing a gang party. They give him no answers. He takes them to prison.
The next day, Superman is on the paper's front page shaking hands with Bill Henderson, while Black Lightning is listed as wanted deeper in, with an artist sketch depicting him as a white man.
Jefferson drops his daughter off at the Elementary school, then goes to his job at the high school, where he wrangles kids who threaten to drop out and girls who work as strippers before running into Clark Kent, there to examine "school conditions" but in reality working as Superman undercover to examine Black Lightning's motives.
Jefferson implies that someone has to stand up for a community that has few heroes, and Clark indicates that Superman feels weak whenever he comes around Suicide Slums, at least, according to Lois.
Clark admires Pierce's work over the course of a day, and promises to put Earl's story in the papers and bring attention to the school.
Pierce goes out, seeking information on Earl's murder, and meets an ambush. The ambushers shoot at him, grazing him several times before Black Lightning makes a lucky escape.
On Thanksgiving, Pierce decides to tell his family what he's been up to. They surprise him with a suit, realizing who their father is and understanding his motivations. Now he can fight with a grounding belt and out in the open, so people don't think it's an outsider who came in to save them.
Black Lightning makes a debut, allowing Jimmy Olsen a photograph. At an undisclosed location, a stark white hand points at the picture the next day and demands Black Lightning be eliminated.
Story - 5: Another awesome character story with a great philosophical bent, but now with a goodly chunk of action as well. It's the story of one man against the odds, which I really dig, and it's working because he has a solid family that works as a supporting cast, coupled with a problem that you can really relate to. Everybody (or at least anyone I want to know) feels compelled to stand up for all of the kids who have no one to stand up for them, to smack the drug dealers and pimps off the streets. I also admire the excuse/rationale for Superman not being there. It makes sense, because Superman WOULD go there, but there's something holding him back he can't figure out. That would give the outward appearance of apathy without making Superman finkish.
Beyond that, the family moment with the suit was great, as was the "fountain" moment where he has a student and instead of coddling them he tells him that he has the choice to become a bad person or a good person, and by his example in leading, Pierce leads the student to greatness.
There are so many ideas here that usually aren't present in limited series, which tend to focus on novelty. From kids who don't know what Thanksgiving to the barbing interaction between Clark and Jefferson, to the white guy as Black Lightning in the paper, this book is just great, through and through.
Art - 5: Again the art shines, giving a human face to the concepts explored. Characters are distinctive, the action is very vivid, and the style, while bordering more flexible than real at times, plays to the material in incredible ways. It's just about a perfect match for the story.
Cover Art - 4: Awesome pose, great drawing. I think the coloring draws this image off a bit. I know, I know, it's lightning, but the bright blue takes a lot of the flair out of what makes the piece good for me. Still, a very strong image, representative of what's going on in the book, and much better than the last one.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2009.