28 August 2009

Spotlight on Black Lightning

Black Lightning made his comics debut in 1977, but it wasn't until finally in 2009 that he made the jump to the TV screen appearing in a recurring role on Batman: The Brave and the Bold along with his team The Outsiders.

Batman took Katana, Metamorpho, and Black Lightning under his wing, until the Outsiders were trained to work as a team.

Although BL has only appeared in this one series to date, he has had a much larger influence on superhero shows over the past 30 years.

Shortly after the creation of Black Lightning, another African-American hero with electricity based powers (and without pants) joined the Super Friends line-up. Due to rights issues, Black Lightning was not included in the team line-up, but its safe to say he was at least a partial inspiration for the "Friend" Black Vulcan.

Years later, Justice League Unlimited played homage to the diversity inspired characters created for Super Friends (El Dorado, Black Vulcan, Apache Chief, and the Wonder Twins) with its own unique creations, the Ultimen. Justice League's take on the electricity character was named Juice, who also sported the trademark blue and gold colors of Black Lightning's costume.

In 2000, the Static Shock series debuted with an African American hero that also had electricity-based powers.

In the series' first episode, Static was shown in a costume very similar to that worn by Black Vulcan.

Later in the series, Static teamed up with a retired superhero, Soul Power, also similar to the original Black Lightning.

Like Black Lightning in the comics, Static Shock would go on to join the Justice League as shown in the Justice League Unlimited episode, The Once and Future Thing- Part 2: Time Warped.

But back to the man who is getting this spotlight. 2009 is not over, and before years end Black Lightning will appear again alongside the World's Finest, Batman and Superman in their upcoming team up movie voiced by Geordi La Forge. Hopefully we will be seeing much more of this historic hero, and less of imitators, in the years to come.

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