Tuesday, December 12, 2017


The big news this time around is that I have now seen the premiere episode of the Black Lightning TV series. I don’t have the words to express the emotions that went through me as I watched my favorite creation brought to life. Early in the episode, there’s voice-over dialogue that made my heart swell with pride. Obviously, I can’t reveal plot details from the episode. What I saw was the not-quite-finished version. It was the entire episode, but without the title and credits. It was an amazing experience.

After I watched it, I wrote Salim Akil, the director of the episode and the show runner of the series:

The show looks great. I love the writing and the performances. It is everything I could have hoped for and more. I turn 66 on the 22nd, but seeing this has made this the best birthday/Christmas of my life. My thanks to everyone involved in the show.
Cress Williams is Jefferson Pierce and, even when he’s operating as Black Lightning, he’s Jefferson. Even in the first trailer, China Anne McClain and Nafessa Williams as Jennifer and Anissa Pierce had won me over and convinced me I had to find a way to include those characters (albeit not as Jeff’s daughter) in my comic-book series. Christine Adams as Lynn (Stewart) Pierce has also had an effect on how I write the character in my comic-book stories.

When I visited with the Black Lightning writers in Burbank, Salim joked that I should play Peter Gambi. I think James Remar is a much better choice. Indeed, there isn’t a false note in the casting of this show.

After seeing this episode, I am more confident than ever that Black Lightning will be a huge success. My own involvement with the show has been limited and long distance, but, at every step of the way, I saw dedication, imagination and determination from every one who is working on the series. If my career never gets better than this, I will have had a career more fulfilling and successful than I ever dreamed possible.

I hope you will join me in watching the official premiere of Black Lightning on Tuesday, January 16, at 9:00 pm, on the CW. I will be watching with my family and a few friends.


One of my friends at the CW asked me about Peter Gambi, who hasn’t been seen in Black Lightning comic books since my 1970s series and, in other media, has only appeared in one of the fun Black Lightning animated shorts done by my friend Lynell Hakim Forestall. This is what I told her:

Peter Gambi is another character I created. I don't know if the TV series will use all of his background from my 1970s Black Lightning comic books, but the writers asked a lot of questions about him. Comics-wise...

Peter is the brother of Paul Gambi, who made the costumes for the Flash's villains. Paul was the tailor to super-villains. They all came to him for their costumes.

Peter was a gangster who made bad choices in his life and accidentally shot and killed Jefferson's father. Jefferson did not learn this until several issues into my original series.

Peter left the mob and devoted the rest of his life to taking care of Jefferson and his mother. He was a second father to Jeff. Though no longer a gangster, he knew gangsters and other criminals.

Ultimately, Peter sacrificed his life to save Black Lightning from Tobias Whale. He left behind a letter for Jefferson, which Jefferson received at Peter's graveside funeral.

Jeff never read the letter. He figured Peter's life after he left the mob and his sacrifice of that life to save Jeff spoke more truly of the man than his criminal past. It'll be interesting to see how much of this makes it into the TV show.


As usual, there are more Black Lightning articles online than I can possibly cover in enough detail. But I can at least give you links to some of the better ones.

Pierre Arnette of Comic Book Corps gave a very favorable review to Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #2. You can read it here.

D. Ivester gave the issue an even more favorable review at the Geek WorldWide website. You can read that one here.

Jideobi Odunze of Geeked Out Nation reviewed Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #2 for that website. You can the review here.

In writing about the Black Lightning trailer for The Mary Sue site, Marykate Jasper focused on the “superhero dad” aspect of the show. As someone who has long put forth that superhero parents can be as exciting as any other superheroes, I applaud her position. You can read her article here.

At SYFYWIRE, a Josh Weiss article has several photos from the Black Lightning TV series. Unfortunately, it also has a whopping error of fact. For the record, DC Comics did not hire me to develop the character of Black Lightning. They hired me to write multiple assignments. Among those assignments was punching up the two Black Bomber scripts they had bought and then taking over as the title’s writer with the third issue. I refused because these were the two most offensive comic-book scripts I’d ever seen. I talked them into dumping their plans, promising to bring them a new black super-hero of my own creation. I wasn’t hired to develop Black Lightning for the simple reason Black Lightning didn’t exist until I brought him to DC Comics.

You can read the Weiss article here.

Jacquelyn Byrd of the Newburgh Gazette wrote about the CW’s newest Black Lightning trailers - there are a few of them - and should be commended for getting the actual creator credits correct. For those of you just joining us - and for the dullards at Bleeding Cool and Comic Book Resources who have apparently made it policy to always run incorrect credits - that official creator credit reads “Black Lightning created by Tony Isabella with Trevor von Eeden.” You can read Byrd’s article here.

If you’re not as tired of the sound of my voice as I am, head over to YouTube where you can see Kiku of Neek! The Podcast interviewing me at Pensacon 2016. This interview was filmed before we knew the new Black Lightning comic-book series and the TV series were going to happen. You can view the interview here.

Allen Thomas of Comicosity wrote the most favorable review of Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #2 to date. It’s so gratifying to see a reader recognize and appreciate the hard work all of us working the comic book are putting into it. Read the review here.

Lucas Fashina wrote on Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #2 for Geekery. It wasn’t a completely favorable review, but it did make me think about a couple of elements of my story. Though I might not agree with all Fashina’s comments, I’m not going to complain about any review that makes me think a little harder about what I’m doing in this series. You can read his review here.

That’s all for this edition of “Black Lightning Beat.” When I next post one of these, assuming I don’t have big news to announce, I’ll start the annotations to Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #2. The bloggy readers have asked for more, so I’ll do my best to give them more. That’s just how I roll.

Come back tomorrow for another fast-shooting, hard-riding edition of “Rawhide Kid Wednesdays.” See you then.

© 2017 Tony Isabella


  1. Jennifer and Anissa might be Jefferson's daughters from a future timeline. If you don't like that but want to maintain a family connection, they might be his nieces or even young cousins.

    If Black Vulcan is still part of DC's comics continuity (ironically, since I've always thought of him as a BL rip-off) then maybe Jennifer and Anissa could be his daughters?

    - Andrew Laubacher

  2. In Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands, Anissa is Jeff's cousin. Jennifer shows up in issue #4.

    Black Vulcan will NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER appear in any comic book I write.

  3. "Black Vulcan will NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER appear in any comic book I write."

    I certainly can't blame you for feeling that way, Tony. I was thinking that Black Vulcan was perhaps dead and that his daughters were trying to honor his legacy. But never mind, forget I mentioned it!

    - A.L.

  4. Tony is a wonderful writing who I have enjoyed for several decades. One of the things he does so well is to understand, develop and represents the essence of the character. He understands them so well.

    While re-imagining characters, especially when they enter a different medium has always been with us, it has become increasing more frequent. The Flash, of course, in 1956, was the beginning of the reimagining the DC Universe. And now it’s a bit to common.

    Tony Introduced Jefferson Pierce in 1976 and created an important character, DC’s first major African American Hero. But Jefferson was not a hero just because he was powerful, but because who he was. His integrity, his basic nature, his feeling of humanity, community and family made him a hero.

    Tony was given an opportunity that from a major comic company was rare. That is, 20 years later, Tony was brought back to re-introduce Black Lightning. In fact, I think only Jack Kirby had a similar opportunity when he was able to redo Captain America for the Marvel Age 20 years after he created him, with Joe Simon.

    This was one of Tony’s best works. Although the character was now in a different time, with different ways of using his powers, Tony kept the integrity and the essence of the character. He was still Jefferson Pierce. I loved this series.

    And now another twenty years passes and Tony is brought back to reintroduce Jefferson to a new generation. I’ve only read two issues. His environment, his family and his artwork is different, but this is still the Jefferson Pierce I have come to admire. Tony is able to place his characters in a brave new world and not corrupt them.

    Thanx, Tony! (PS: next time make it a weekly so I don’t have to wait between issues!)

  5. Hello Tony, is it possible, that we will see Tobias Whale, in this book? He has not been used in a very long time in the DC Universe. I think he's one of the biggest and best villains ever to appear in comics. One could say, he's Black Lighting’s “Marvel’s Kingpin”.

    1. Tobias Whale appears in Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #1 and, if I remember correctly, all of the following issues of this six-issue series.

  6. When will we see these issues collected in a softcover or hardcover:Black Lightning v2, #1, Eddy Newell

    1. My second Black Lightning run will be collected in early 2019, sooner if the demand for Black Lightning material increases with the presumed success of the TV series (and my new comic-book series). Cold Dead Hands will likely be collected after it concludes.