When I originally reviewed Black Lightning‘s first two episodes ahead of January’s series premiere, I had positive things to say about one of DC’s latest TV adaptations. But even then, I obviously had no idea of the greatness which would blossom out of those introductory chapters.
Having since kept up with the show week-to-week, and then receiving the opportunity to view the inaugural season on Blu-ray, well, my opinion hasn’t technically changed. Though after viewing Salim Akil’s superhero opus in its entirety, I can say with certainty that we may be witness to one of the true greats when it comes to modern comic book-based television. There may be a lot of these babies, sure, but this one in particular is already making a strong bid to be of the upper echelon.
By now, the less familiar among you may be privy to the basics: Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) comes out of vigilante retirement under extreme circumstances to once again take up the mantle of Black Lightning, thus having to juggle life as a costumed hero with his full-time job as a high school principal – and, on top of that, he’s a father of two girls. Somehow, he finds time to sleep.
In the midst of all this, we’re able to share warming moments with the Pierce family as they wade their way through the hardships their hometown of Freeland is currently facing. Plus, daughters Anissa (Nafessa Williams) and Jennifer (China Anne McClain) develop powers of their own, thus adding complications to the mix.
One of the show’s qualities resonating most with viewers has been that of Akil and company fearlessly tackling social issues of the present day, simultaneously interweaving them with the genre. To be honest, it’s quite brilliant. And though you may think it speaks to only those of certain ethnicities, there are lessons to be learned by all.
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Conscious as the material may be, I think it was the riveting nature of the saga that kept me coming back each Tuesday night. Trust me, if you dig conspiracy thrillers, there’s a lot for you to love here. In fact, I’d go as far to say Black Lightning looks and feels more like a Netflix series than one on The CW, but I’m thankful for its prime time slot so that it be more easily accessible to the masses.
Really, it’s the intrigue and mystery behind how the 100 gang plaguing Freeland is tied up with a government agency that’ll leave you glued to your seat as you take in each of the 13 episodes included in the set. That may be a bit of a lower count than most other DC shows right now, yes, but that means there’s no room for filler. In other words, the plot never stops moving and the producers are able to craft one tightly-written tale.
As of the time of this writing, I’m unaware of what season 2’s episode count will be, but I won’t lament if it’s nothing beyond 13 or 16 installments. Already, the creative minds behind this thing have shown us what “less is more” really means, so I’m willing to welcome whatever lies ahead with open arms.
Naturally, there’s a lot of fun to be had alongside all of the seriousness, as creative ways for Jefferson to use his powers are always displayed. Not only that, but Cress Williams’ 6’5 frame makes you believe this cat can walk into a building and kick the crap out of absolutely everybody (man, do I love those scenes), similar to how Ray Stevenson was the Punisher to me. Believe me when I say the action element isn’t overused, but when it’s there, it’s going to count.
Furthermore, I’d like to say how Black Lightning ranks up there with The Flash as being one of the most visually impressive of the DC shows, therefore it looks downright phenomenal on Blu-ray. I honestly can’t imagine watching Jefferson going electric under any other circumstances right now. Suffice it to say, this production was made for HD.
Of course, those of you investing in the Blu-ray release will be rewarded with a handful of featurettes, none of which are overly lengthy. What that means to you, personally, may vary from others’ opinions, but I really appreciated hearing showrunner Salim Akil’s insight during “Art Imitating Life: The Pilot Episode,” as well as the full inclusion of “Black Lightning: 2017 Comic-Con Panel,” the latter of which is a real treat for those unable to make it to San Diego.
Whether you’re already aboard the Black Lightning bandwagon or not, I firmly believe this first season to be a must buy. Those yet to join the party who count themselves among the binge-watching crowd will find this is right up their alley. As for everyone else, just know the content packing those two discs is worth every penny.
Black Lightning proves that it's more than capable of standing shoulder to shoulder with the rest of The CW's DC TV pantheon with an astonishing first season. Believe the hype.