“Black Lightning: Year One” wraps up with a final showdown between Black Lightning and Tobias Whale. Van Meter’s reinterpretation of the hero of Suicide Slum may have seemed a little irreverent to some, and dismissible to others, but the story did what it was supposed to do. It updated the legend of Black Lightning. It helped weave in the threads other creators have added to the tapestry of this character. Certainly, it is a big change from what Tony Isabella did when the character was first introduced, but the comic book world is a different world now, too.
Hamner’s art is as solid in this issue as it was in the previous five. He has a commanding investment in the appearance of Black Lightning and has put his stamp on this character. Granted, Lightning hasn’t had a “Who’s Who” roster of artists that have rendered his solo adventures (Trevor Von Eeden and Eddy Newell are the two I can think of off the top of my head), but it will be hard to deny Hamner his place in making this series what it was — a very good read.
I could have done without the rambling narration from Lightning throughout the entire issue, however, as it felt like it detracted from the main story more than complimented it. That said, the story itself is a straight-forward superhero-takes-back-his-neighborhood story. This could have almost been an after school special as it featured good defeating evil so resolutely. The “empowering” of Whale was a neat addition, but the story was fairly safe, especially considering we all know Jefferson Pierce is still alive today.
I’d like to see Van Meter and Hamner have another go at Lightning with a modern day story. Certainly, if nothing else, Hamner could design some better threads for Black Lightning than the clown suit he currently wears. If you didn’t get a chance to nab this book as it came out, rest assured, DC will be releasing a trade paperbackl. Granted it’ll be November, but it is coming out. Now it just remains to be seen who else DC feels needs the attention and “care” of a “Year One” series.