The CW’s newest DC Comics-based superhero show, Black Lightning, is actually a standalone series, separate from the so-called Arrowverse. Shows such as Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow all share characters from time to time and even meet up for an annual crossover event, however, this new hero will stand on his own — for the time being, at least.
While the existing DCTV series focus on more popular characters from the pages of DC Comics, Black Lightning’s mythos is a little more obscure, which is why we think a character guide is essential leading up to the premiere. Black Lightning is set to debut on January 16, so allow us to introduce you to the characters before it all kicks off.
Jefferson Pierce AKA Black Lightning
The titular role, played by Cress Williams, is of course the main player in Black Lightning. First appearing in his own series in April 1977, Jefferson Pierce is a metahuman who grew up in Metropolis. After retiring his superhero identity to focus on his family, Pierce becomes the principal at Garfield High School. Devoted to his two daughters and still in love with his ex-wife, Lynn, he’s forced to step back into his heroic boots to save his family, friends, and his city. His suit in the series maintains a lot of the standout of features of its comic book counterpart, and it appears like his character traits will too.
Jennifer Pierce AKA Lightning
Jefferson’s youngest daughter is Jennifer, played by China Anne McClain, a 16 year-old scholar athlete with feminist morals. In every family there is a wild, independent member – and Jennifer fills that slot in the show. Eventually donning her own suit, Jennifer takes on the mantle of Lightning to deliver some electrifying justice of her own; though fans haven’t been treated to their first look at her live-action costume quite yet.
Anissa Pierce AKA Thunder
Anissa is Jennifer’s 22 year-old sister, an intelligent and intense medical student who also works for Garfield High School for her father. Played by Nafessa Williams, Anissa is a metahuman just like her father – eventually donning the crime-fighting title of Thunder. The first look at Anissa in her heroic get-up was released the other day, and it’s unsurprisingly a far cry from what can be found in DC Comics.
A confident and no-nonsense woman, Lynn Pierce played by Christine Adams is the ex-wife of Jefferson. While the rest of the Pierce family has superhero identities and extraordinary abilities, Lynn is just one of us. The couple fell out and divorced over Jefferson’s inability to leave his dangerous superheroic tendencies, but it’s evident that nothing can stop him from protecting those around him.
Peter Gambi, played by James Remar, is a confidant, father figure, and old friend of Jefferson. Working as his “tailor”, Gambi will likely help Jefferson to get back into action as Black Lightning. There relationship will be very tight-knit and is said to be deeper than anyone really knows. In the comics, Gambi was once a hitman for the mob, but saw the light and turned his life around – even designing the costume for Jefferson to take on bad guys. He’s also responsible for the death of Jefferson’s father, which could well be the case in the upcoming show.
Marvin “Krondon” Jones III will play Tobias Whale in Black Lightning, a former politician who quickly climbed the ranks of local government via corruption. Unfortunately for him, he’s stopped by Alvin Piece – Jefferson’s father. Tobias winds up killing Alvin, and eventually becomes the leader of the notorious The 100 crew. Jones III is not quite as big in stature and size as his character from the comics, but that’s fine if his take on the role is titanic as it should be.
A musician much like Jones III, Grammy Award-winning singer Jill Scott will step into the shoes of the villainous Lady Eve. She will act as the connection between Tobias Whale and a secret group of underground, corrupt leaders. The character will moonlight as the owner of a funeral parlor, which is fitting as she could probably generate enough business for herself when she’s up to no good. Much like in the comics, Lady Eve will be a tough adversary for Black Lightning to overcome, though she won’t be as recognizable from page to screen.
The 100, first debuting in Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane #105 in October 1970, has been causing trouble in the DC Universe for decades. In the comics, The 100 was made up of 79 evil men and women honoring their 29 late friends and fellow gang members, working together to find a method of becoming immortal. While the villainous gang is definitely set to appear in Black Lightning, the series seems be to taking a grounded approach to superheroism, so it’s uncertain whether their motivations will be the same on the small screen. The 100 were perhaps best known for making enemies of Superman and, of course, Black Lightning.
Debuting Tuesday, January 16, Black Lightning stars Cress Williams as Jefferson Pierce/Black Lightning, China Anne McClain as his younger daughter Jennifer Pierce, Nafessa Williams as his older daughter Anissa Pierce, Christine Adams as Lynn Pierce, James Remar as Peter Gambi, Damon Gupton as Henderson, Marvin “Krondon” Jones III as Tobias Whale and Chantal Thuy as Grace Choi.
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