Black Lightning is finally getting his own television series on The CW, but it seems a lot of folks don’t know this superhero as well as they should. The CW has been kicking butt and taking names with its highly successful series in the Flarrowverse, but the new Black Lightning series will take place independently of the others so it will have room to develop on its own. That should let the showrunners showcase as many of Black Lightning’s powers as possible, so we thought it was a perfect time to run through them. Keep in mind, Black Lightning has more powers than the paltry few we found, but these are our favorites.
Black Lightning may not be the best-known superhero on the planet, but that doesn’t make him any less powerful or amazing than some of DC’s biggest and baddest. You have probably already guessed that he can shoot lightning bolts, but there is far more to this character than meets the eye. Black Lightning is among some of the most powerful superheroes in the DC Universe, and that’s saying something given the power levels of characters like Wonder Woman and Green Lantern. With that, here are 15 Things You Never Knew Black Lightning Can Do.
15. ENHANCED PHYSICAL CONDITIONING
Before Jefferson Pierce became the superhero Black Lightning, he was an Olympic decathlete. His powers help in enhancing his reflexes to make him faster and even stronger, but it’s entirely thanks to his preexisting strength and physical conditioning that he is at that level. Most people don’t even know what a decathlon is (it’s 10 track and field events combined) nor could they compete in one, but we are here to tell you, it requires great strength and endurance.
Pierce spent years conditioning his body to become an Olympic-level athlete, which is no small feat. He even took home the gold medal. Years after his time competing, he has retained his physical prowess and is at the peak of human conditioning. This has helped him to become an even more powerful and effective superhero in the DC Universe.
14. SUPERHUMAN STRENGTH & REFLEXES
This one shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, seeing as it’s something of a standard, but Black Lightning is seriously strong. Jefferson Pierce was already an Olympic athlete before he became the superhero Black Lightning, so his muscles were attuned to the height of human performance. When he is surrounded by electric energy, his muscles become stimulated to superhuman levels. This allowed him to stop a car in its tracks in Black Lightning #1, written by Tony Isabella and penciled by Eddy Newell in 1995.
His strength isn’t the only thing that’s enhanced either. His natural reflexes are also stimulated in the same way and he can achieve incredible speed and accuracy. This doesn’t put him in the same league as someone like the Flash –far from it — but it does make him far faster and more agile than any run-of-the-mill human.
13. SUPERHUMAN SPEED
When you have the ability to utilize lightning, you can tap into it in more ways than you might think. Sure, he can chuck a lightning bolt at his enemies, but he can also travel at the same speed lightning travels. In case you didn’t know, electricity can travel at 280,000,000 meters per second, which is nearly the speed of light. Even with this limit, he can, at times move faster than light speed, but only for very short periods of time.
His super speed alongside his quick reflexes enables Pierce to dodge any incoming attack and even see the world a little slower than us regular folk perceive it. He may not be able to beat Barry Allen at table tennis, but he’s going to dodge any bullets or even energy attacks thrown at him… so long as he is paying attention.
12. TRANSFORM HIS BODY INTO ELECTRICITY
One of Black Lightning’s fundamental powers is that he can control electricity in various forms. Another, less-known feature of his manipulation of electricity is that he can convert his body from matter directly into electric energy. As a being of living energy, his powers only increase, though there are some limitations.
When he is in this form, he is nigh-invulnerable, such that he can’t be injured, he doesn’t require those pesky nuisances like air, food or water and he can pass through solid objects. Becoming a being composed of electric energy does have its drawbacks, as well. For example, he cannot interact with solid objects the same way, so he can’t punch out a thug, but he could certainly fry him in his tracks if that’s the way he decided to go.
It may seem like things are always happening around superheroes living in a big city, but really, these people have their lives to live. On occasion, crime will actually take place far away, which is why the Fantastic Four speed off in the Fantasticar when trouble strikes. For Black Lightning, he simply teleports… sort of.
When Black Lightning teleports, he doesn’t do it in the same way you might think. He doesn’t have a friendly engineer from Scotland transport his molecules from one place to another; rather, he moves along power conduits to get around. This has to do with his ability to convert his form into electricity, which allows him to travel at that speed from place to place. It looks more like teleportation to the naked eye but is truly an extremely fast means of travel.
10. GENIUS-LEVEL INTELLECT
For whatever reason, DC and Marvel like to make most of their superheroes (and villains come to think of it) ridiculously intelligent. Think of Peter Parker or Bruce Wayne; they are both geniuses, which does go a long way in separating them from regular people. James Pierce is no exception to this rule — the electricity generated by his brain power rivals that which shoots from his fingertips!
Prior to becoming Black Lightning, Pierce graduated from Kent State University with a teaching degree specializing in physics. His knowledge of physics has even assisted him in his crime-fighting efforts, given that it has helped him to explore and expand his powers. An average person might have been fine with shooting off lightning bolts, but Pierce was able to analyze the nature of his powers and expand them.
9. CONTROL OVER ELECTROMAGNETISM
Pierce isn’t limited to just detecting electric energy, he can also control various forms of it. He has been able to use this control in various ways over the years, but he primarily uses it to manipulate electromagnetic energy by creating magnetic fields around objects. With a magnetic field, he can move objects and even people within his range. This doesn’t put him in the same league as the Master of Magnetism over at Marvel, but it does make him a formidable superhero.
While not at Magneto’s power level, Pierce can stop a speeding car, levitate it and even split it in half if he needs to. This ability comes in handy when he is dealing with street-level thugs and needs to bring things to a head quickly. Pierce’s ability to control electromagnetic energy looks a lot like telekinesis but is rooted in physics and his abilities to control electricity.
8. CONTROL OVER BIOELECTRIC ENERGY
Bioelectric energy is what helps us to think, remember and even move about thanks to the way it forces our muscles to contract. This type of energy is important to life all around us and while most of us wouldn’t give it a second thought, someone like Black Lightning not only thinks about it, he can sense it and even manipulate it to suit his purposes.
You might be wondering how he could use his powers where bioelectric energy is concerned and we are here to tell you, he can get fairly creative. Everyone has a different “signature” that Pierce can detect so he can manipulate them individually. This means he can cause all of a target’s muscles to instantly contract… or do the opposite — neither would be fun. He has also used his powers to restart people’s hearts, including fellow heroes like Superman, which makes him a pretty valuable teammate.
7. SENSE ELECTROMAGNETIC ENERGY
This power might seem kind of obvious given that the guy can fire off electric bolts whenever the mood strikes, but it’s a lot more useful than you might think. The ability to sense electromagnetic energy allows Pierce to locate where it’s coming from. Since all living things have their own bio-electric energy, this means that he can sense where people are if they are following him or setting up an ambush.
This is somewhat akin to how Wolverine can track anyone thanks to his sense of smell, but instead of using his schnoz, Pierce hones in on electric current. This isn’t limited to just tracking people or animals, Pierce can also track machines that rely on electricity as well… you know, like most everything in the modern world. He can track weapon systems or vehicles whenever he needs to making him an impressive detective with an edge over even Batman.
6. SHOOT DIFFERENT FORMS OF LIGHTNING
They call him black lightning because of the color of his skin and the fact that he can shoot lightning, right? Well, not exactly. Not only can Pierce muster up the energy to fire off lightning bolts at his enemies, he can literally shoot out black lightning bolts to boot. This isn’t just lightning that happens to be colored black, it’s much more than that.
Black Lightning’s black lightning is something of a trick he uses when those pesky laws of physics get in the way of accomplishing his goals. BL’s black lightning is based in magic so it can violate the laws of physics to get around magical enemies or things like insulation. It’s a sort of deus ex machina power that can be used as a plot device when he needs that extra edge to get things done. Also, it looks really cool.
5. ENERGY ABSORPTION
Black Lightning is very comfortable firing off electric bolts at his enemies, but he can run out of juice after a while. To deal with this frustrating adherence to physics, he does have the ability to absorb energy and contain it like a battery. This is slightly different than characters like Bishop who can take an energy blast and then channel it back at his foes. Instead, Pierce just sucks the energy from whichever source he chooses.
If he is feeling a little low, he can suck energy directly from machines around him or even power lines. He prefers to pull it straight from lightning storms, but those aren’t always available so he isn’t too picky. He has pulled energy directly from the planet and could if he were so inclined, suck the energy from a living person. Luckily, good guys don’t really do that sort of thing.
4. ENERGY FORCE FIELDS
When a superhero doesn’t have bulletproof skin or the ability to withstand a nuclear blast, they need some other means of protecting themselves. For Pierce, it’s all about the energy fields. Pierce can generate any number of force fields to protect himself or even other people around him and they are powerful. Pierce’s force fields are able to stop nearly all forms of attack and he doesn’t even need to be looking at or be actively aware of the attack.
Pierce’s force fields aren’t just good at blocking projectile attacks either. They can stop energy weapons and anything that can be thrown at him… like a car or a building. If he is able to put up an energy field, a building can fall on top of him and he would be able to wipe the dust off and go about his business.
Pierce has more than one trick up his sleeve when it comes to traveling from place to place. When he decides it would be best not to convert his body into electricity, but would rather travel in a more solid form, he can simply fly like a lot of his superhero buddies. When Pierce flies, it’s not the same way as someone like Superman who just goes up, up and away whenever he likes; Pierce charges his body with electricity, which allows him to float.
While he is airborne, he can then travel along a bolt of lightning. Not only does this mean he can travel in style, it also means he speeds along at the speed of a lightning bolt and can deliver that very conveyance at an enemy upon arrival. That’s more than floating with style, it’s a fairly unique way to get around and attack his enemies.
2. HEAL UNNATURALLY FAST
Any enemy is going to be hard-pressed to lay a hand on someone like Black Lightning. That isn’t to say he goes untouched and is never injured. Even Superman gets his clock cleaned from time to time and it wouldn’t be a very interesting read if Pierce was never slowed down. Writers have let him take a blade to the thigh or a right cross to the jaw over the years. When this happens, he does need to recover.
Pierce isn’t in the same class as someone like Wolverine, who can heal right in front of his enemy’s eyes. He is morein the class of superpowers like Spider-Man. Let him take a breather and he will be able to accelerate his healing considerably. The electric energy he channels allows him to accelerate cell growth and put himself back in order much faster than a regular person.
1. HIS FURY INCREASES HIS POWER-LEVELS
Comic book fans know that there is one person you don’t want to make angry, and that’s the Incredible Hulk. “Please don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry” is certainly a true statement Bruce Banner makes and it has to do with the way the Hulk’s strength grows exponentially with his rage, but he isn’t the only character in comics like that. Black Lightning is someone you definitely want to keep calm.
When he gets angry, Pierce’s ability to channel his powers grow immensely. He can go from a guy throwing a lightning bolt at an enemy to someone who can cause huge explosions. His rage can even keep him going long after a calmer version of himself would have fallen in battle. Rage isn’t exactly a tool in his bag, but it does increase his abilities significantly.
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