Despite being one of DC's first and more prominent African American superheroes, Jefferson Pierce a.k.a. Black Lightning had mostly faded into obscurity by 2016. It seemed that the character's dwindling popularity and the original creator, Tony Isabella's jaundiced relationship with DC spelled doom for Black Lightning — until now. It seems Fox is helping to develop a live-action show that will bring one of DC's biggest African American superheroes to network television.
A potential Black Lightning TV series is an excellent opportunity to not only bring the characters back to the mainstream but to also re- introduce more obscure African American superheroes. So without further delay, Let's take a look at six black DC characters that we want to see in the new Black Lightning TV series and whom could feasibly appear in it (so sorry Green Lantern's John Stewart).
Originating from Milestone Comics before being drafted into the DC Universe, Raquel Ervin (The Rocket), was the longtime sidekick of fellow Milestone superhero, Icon (who, spoiler alert, did not make it onto the list). While Icon was an extraterrestrial being with more or less the same powers of Superman, Rocket was a single mother living in Dakota who, after a chance encounter with Icon, persuaded him to become a hero and take her as his sidekick.
Despite having no innate powers of her own, Rocket uses a device belonging to Icon called the Inertia belt, which allows her to fly at high speeds, create force fields and absorb kinetic energy, among other abilities.
Both Rocket and Icon have since disappeared from comic pages ever since DC’s New 52 event relaunched the franchise. In fact, their whereabouts are still currently a mystery. Fortunately, Rocket was propelled back into the limelight after making regular appearances in the short-lived TV series Young Justice, mostly acting independently from Icon and carving out her own future superhero career.
The world could easily do with more black female, Superhero role models and there is nowhere better to help break new ground than introducing Rocket into the mainstream DC media.
5. Mr. Terrific
Deemed the third smartest man in the DC universe, Michael Holt, better known as Mr. Terrific, was initially a key member of the Justice Society, alongside the likes of Hourman, Power Girl, and Sandman. Despite being a child prodigy, Terrific’s early life was marred by tragedy with the death of his older brother, wife and unborn child in an accident.
Regardless, Terrific persevered, utilizing his vast intellect to create his own equipment, the most recognizable being his T-spheres — two levitating balls with abilities that change depending on whoever is writing that particular comic (seriously, these things have pulled off some deus ex machina-level feats of convenience). Another piece of iconic equipment is the T-mask, which is not just an unfortunate fashion statement — it is also functional nanotech woven mask which, like his T-spheres, houses a range of different features.
It’s also very worth noting that a live-action iteration of Mr. Terrific already exists in the form of Curtis Holt (played by Echo Kellum) in the live-action TV show, Arrow. In the show, Curtis is a much looser interpretation of the character, acting as team Arrow's resident genius. Despite the change in name, the Terrific moniker is alluded to several times throughout the season, priming audiences for the upcoming fifth season of Arrow, where the role will be fully embraced.
Now, because Arrow lives on the CW network (alongside The Flash and Supergirl) and Black Lightning is being produced by Fox, it is unlikely that we will see a Curtis Holt version of Mr. Terrific in Black Lightning (if any at all). However, it is not impossible as prior non-CW network shows such as Supergirl, eventually moved to CW, allowing for crossover episodes. Still, it would be good to see an all new version of the character that matches the original Mr. Terrific more closely.
4. Jakeem Thunder
Orphaned at a young age, the former latchkey kid turned foul-mouth teen, Jakeem Williams, unwittingly found himself in control of the genie Yz (also known as Thunderbolt), after receiving it in a pen gifted by Jay Garrick (the latter was unaware of the genie's presence within the pen). With that, Jakeem became the second master of the genie Yz, with his predecessor (Johnny Thunder) having hidden Yz in a pen in an attempt to battle his ailing mental health. Like his predecessor, Jakeem hesitantly joined the Justice Society, quickly befriending Hourman and Stargirl.
With no powers of his own Jakeem relied mostly on Yz's limitless magic, who as you can probably guess, had the power to grant any wish that Jakeem made (sometimes with dire consequences). Yz would eventually merge with the original Johnny Thunder, saving him from the brink of death and become Jakeem's new genie avatar named Johnny Thunderbolt.
For what is now becoming a recurring theme in this article, Jakeem has been more or less entirely absent since the New 52 relaunch along with most of the Justice Society roster. While Jakeem was never quite the most popular character, his vibrant personality and strange dynamic with Yz made him stick in the hearts and minds of many Justice Society comic book readers (myself included).
Originally, Karen was a gifted scientist as well as the girlfriend of the superhero and Teen Titans member, Herald. Seeking to make her boyfriend look good in front of the other Titans, Karen used her knowledge of physics and engineering to make a super suit. Using the suit (which allowed her to fly, shoot lasers and eventually alter her size), she launched a faux attack on the Titans.
In short, events did not plan out exactly as she expected and instead found herself using her intellect and suit as a member of the Teen Titans. Karen would also go on to join other superhero groups such as Doom Patrol before retiring with Herald. Currently, in the ongoing DC Rebirth series, both Mal and Karen have returned to the limelight with some changes (mainly that Karen has actual powers rather than relying on the super suit).
With a skill set like that, no one could blame you for making comparisons to Marvel's character, The Wasp, who debuted around a decade before Bumblebee. Still, Bumblebee has grown into her own and has arguably become one of the more recognizable DC characters outside of the Justice League. If there was ever a chance to bring a black female role model into the mainstream superhero world, look no further than the Bumblebee, the superhero, super scientist. It would be a great shame to not see her appear in some form or another in a Black Lightning series.
2. Thunder & Lightning
Anissa and Jennifer Pierce — the super powered daughters of Black Lightning — against their father's wishes, used their powers to follow in his footsteps, with each becoming reputable superheroes in their own right. Anissa, the eldest sister, has the ability to change her density, becoming heavier or lighter at will, while Jennifer has powers that resemble Black Lightnings own, with the added handicap of not being able to touch anything that is electrical.
During the sisters' superhero careers, Lightning would become a member of the Justice Society and Thunder, a member of the Nightwing-lead team, Outsiders. During this time, Thunder would become romantically involved with her fellow teammate and Amazon, Grace.
Typically as superhero families tend to do, the Pierce family would have their fair share of fights, with Black Lightning and Lightning ending up on the bad side of Thunder and her outsiders, if only temporarily.
As you've probably already guessed, Anissa and Jennifer Pierce have not been seen since the New 52. However, with the Black Lightning show itself reportedly following a retired Black Lightning who steps back into action when his daughter and his star pupil's lives are endangered, we know that at least one of the daughters will be present. Based on that information it is also reasonable to assume that both daughters will make an appearance. Although, will we see either of them in their superhero monikers and what about the supposed star student? I suppose only time will tell.
Like the character Rocket, Virgil Hawkins, the superhero Static, was originally a creation of Milestone Comics before being drafted into DC Comics. The young and intellectually gifted teen Virgil gained his powers after being exposed to chemicals in an incident which became known as "The Big Bang." After the incident, Virgil found that he could manipulate electromagnetism, which he used mainly to fire electricity and magnetize objects (allowing him to essentially fly by surfing on top of the object). With his powers, Virgil became the superhero Static and took to the streets to wipe out crime from South Dakota.
Over his superhero career, Vigil would join the likes of The Teen Titans and also work at S.T.A.R. Labs under his civilian identity, using his intellect to help design equipment for other heroes and himself.
Out of all the heroes on this list, Static is more consistent in terms of popularity, with the characters appearing in many of DC's animated shows including his own show, Static Shock. The cartoon would grow in popularity, lasting four whole seasons before it was cancelled. Static would then appear in other shows such as the Justice League and Young Justice. Although, not even Static could escape the curse of the New 52, with the character's solo comic getting cancelled. Although, it’s honestly only a matter of time before we see the character again in comic books.
You might have noticed that Virgil's powers and costume colors greatly resemble that of Black Lightning's. The costume was no mistake, as Virgil looked up to Black Lightning for inspiration and the two would frequently cross paths, with Black Lightning becoming a mentor to Vigil.
With reports of a "star student" who land himself in trouble making the initial crux of the pitched Black Lighting show, Virgil fits into that role very closely. In fact, I'm willing to bet that the start student is indeed Virgil Hawkins. However, like I said before, only time will tel, so let's hope that the Black Lightning pitch quickly finds a TV network and hits the ground running, as it will be a great opportunity to give diversity among black superheroes an even bigger push forward.
On the topic of DC characters who could use more attention, check out the video below to learn a few cool facts about Wonder Woman: