Who's Who in the Superman Comics

Black Lightning

Destined to make an impact on society and the world, Jefferson Pierce began with the humblest of origins. He was born in the infamous Suicide Slum section of Metropolis, where he observed his parents struggling to make a better way through life. Tragically, young Jefferson's father was shot to death, and he and his mother found themselves taken in by Peter Gambi, who operated a tailor shop beneath their apartment.

Jefferson Pierce strived to find a way out of his impoverished background, and soon found his niche as a successful athlete. His hard work, and continuous strides towards physical perfection and athletics paid off, as he earned a gold medal for the decathlon at the Summer Olympics. He also received a teaching degree from Kent State, and taught high school English in New Carthage, a community just outside of Gotham City.

When his mother died, Jefferson Pierce returned to Metropolis, and specifically - Suicide Slum. He saw that the conditions did not improve, and decided to stay there, and become a living beacon for progress within the community. However, the evil organization known as The 100 proved to have greater impact upon Suicide Slum, as its claws grabbed the young people into a violent world of drugs, gunplay, and robbery. After seeing several of his students die via the violent life exalted by The 100, Pierce teamed up with Peter Gambi - who had designed a costume and electronic power belt of black lightning. Indeed, it was Mr. Gambi who fostered Jefferson Pierce into becoming the heroic vigilante Black Lightning. Using his Black Lightning persona as a human dynamo of justice, Jefferson became a sore thorn in the side of The 100. But little did Black Lightning realize that Peter Gambi, the man who inspired him to become a super hero, was compelled beyond mere altruism: Gambi's brother Paul was an infamous tailor in Central City, who earned extra income on the side by stitching and refitting the notorious members of The Flash's Rogues Gallery. Peter Gambi used his esteem to form Black Lightning as not only a crime fighter, but as a living atonement for the sinister deeds his brother committed.

Black Lightning proved so effective in demolishing the forces of The 100, that he found himself confronting the crime syndicate's master - Tobias Whale. A massive kingpin of crime, the albino Whale was Black Lightning's greatest nemesis, until he was defeated personally by Lightning. His defeat of The 100 and its leader brought considerable attention to Black Lightning. It also didn't hurt that he was one of a handful of Black American super-heroes, during a time when black super heroes were scarce. Black Lightning was so prominent that the Justice League of America offered him membership into its hallowed ranks - only to see Lightning reject joining the League. When a little girl was inadvertantly killed as a result of his actions, Black Lightning went into exile.

Time passed, and Jefferson Pierce landed in Gotham City... a member of The Outsiders, a tight brigade of crime fighters which was led by Batman. At the time, The Dark Knight Detective found himself at odds with the Justice League of America. He left the organization disenchanted, and decided to form a smaller, tight-knit squad of heroes, who were more focused on saving America and the Earth, moreso than interstellar adventures. Batman started the team with Black Lightning and Metamorpho the Element Man - two proven veterans of super-heroism - and teamed them with brand new heroes. The Outsiders proved to be successful, and gave new life and vigor to the legendary Black Lightning. Even after the team relocated to Los Angeles, away from their founder, Black Lightning and his teammates became an honored group of champions, fighting for justice around the globe. But as many good things come to an end, The Outsiders disbanded, and Black Lightning found himself in the midwestern urban area known as Brick City, which was the downtown district of a larger metropolis. Once more, Black Lightning proved to the world that he was a super hero to be reckoned with. And surprisingly, Jefferson Pierce found that he now internalized his electromagnetic powers, no longer needing the original costume. Now he was a true human dynamo, capable of far more feats of heroics.

In the meantime, the man who is Black Lightning was also accomplishing and achieving gigantic success as Jefferson Pierce. The onetime school teacher was now a premiere advocate of education and achievement. This led Pierce to the attention of Lex Luthor - a dominating business tycoon who became President of the United States. Luthor appointed Jefferson Pierce to a cabinet position. Now a major statesman, Jefferson Pierce has found his way back to his Metropolis roots. Despite the fact that he is a national celebrity, Pierce still finds time to become Black Lightning, and recently returned to Metropolis to contend with ambitious drug dealers in Suicide Slum (see Superman: Metropolis #4). The public is unaware that Black Lightning and Jefferson Pierce are one-and-the-same, but the hero has left an indelible mark on the city of Metropolis, and he has gained the respect and admiration of two of the world's finest heroes: Batman and Superman.

First Appearance: Black Lightning #1

Who's Who in the Superman Comics


This is a listing of many of the notable characters and a few places that have appeared in the Superman comics from the 1986 revamp up until around 2008.

NOTE: A new, and more current version of the Who's Who is currently being worked on and can be accessed by clicking here.

Although Superman often appears in other DC Comics, this text's information is limited mainly to what has occurred in the regular Superman comics.

Many thanks to Scotty V, Derrick Lyle Coleman, Dean Vanek, Genevieve Clemens and Benjamin Grose who all helped out at one time or another with writing and updating these Who's Who descriptions.

The listings are displayed as follows:

  • Surname, Firstname - Text describing the character, place, object, etc...

Relevant issues of the Superman comics are listed as such:
  • SUP = Superman
  • MOS = Man of Steel
  • AOS = Adventures of Superman
  • ACT = Action Comics
  • MOT = Man of Tomorrow

The Issue Number for each of these titles is written in this manner: “#000”. (e.g. SUP #123)

“First Appearance” refers to the issue since 1986 unless otherwise noted.