Black Lightning: Year One

black lightning year one cover trade paperback
6.0 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Art: 6/10

Fun character to feature for an origin story

Confusing narration, average art

Comic Info

Comic Name: Black Lightning: Year One

Publisher: DC Comics

Writer: Jen Van Meter

Artist: Cully Hamner

# of Issues: 6

Release Date:  2009

black lightning year one #2 cover

Black Lightning: Year One #2

Reprints Black Lightning: Year One #1-6 (March 2009-May 2009). Jefferson Pierce has returned to his home in Suicide Slum…the roughest area of Metropolis. Charged with turning the neighborhood around starting with the school, Jefferson finds himself facing off against a gang called the One Hundred.  The One Hundred doesn’t intend to give up Suicide Slums easily and Jefferson has become a target.  Fortunately, Jefferson has his own secrets and some powerful allies.  The battle for Suicide Slums is beginning and Black Lightning is on the case!

Written by Jen Van Meter, Black Lightning:  Year One is a DC Comics mini-series reintroducing the character who first appeared in Black Lightning #1 (April 1977).  The collection features art by Cully Hamner.

Black Lightning: Year One does what most DC Year One titles attempt to do in that they are meant to streamline a character’s origin and thereby make it more relevant.   In Black Lightning’s case, that means getting rid of a lot of 1970s blaxploitation aspects of the comic and turning Black Lightning becomes a kind of Lean on Me type of Joe Lewis Clark principal combined with the Stand and Deliver encouragement. It sometimes comes off a bit preachy.

black lightning year one #6 cover

Black Lightning: Year One #6

The book tries to be more than it really is. Van Meter uses really strange storytelling structures that instead of enriching the story just makes it more confusing. There are points where you wonder who the narrator is in the first few issues. If she had followed Jefferson’s wife the entire storyline, it would have made sense and it could have been an interesting telling of a super-hero from a third person person perspective, but the narrator jumps all over. The last few issues of the story really focus on the One Hundred and get really confusing as to what is going on leading to a less than spectacular showdown.

The art of the book is fine. Cully Hamner (who did work on Blue Beetle) provides an ok, if not a bit lacking backdrop for the colorful hero. A bit grittier artist might have seemed to push it to hard (like the awful Marvel Max Cage series), but I think they could have hit the Black Lightning’s origin a bit harder since they indicate that not even Superman can help the area of Suicide Slum.

Black Lightning:  Year One is a quick read, but not very fulfilling. It is unfortunate that a half-way interesting character gets another shot like this and misses the mark again. It is series like this that will keep Black Lightning a supporting character and won’t get him star quality.  Hopefully if he gets another shot, DC can do better than average.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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