A hero published by DC Comics
. Black Lightning
in Black Lightning #1
in 1977 and was created by Tony Isabella
The story goes that the powers that be at DC Comics wanted to
have their first black super-hero title and enlisted Tony Isabella
to work on their idea, which was a black hero called the
Black Bomber. Isabella protested that the character was too
white and DC Comics gave him license to create a new, more
black character and so Black Lightning was born.
Jefferson Pierce came from Suicide Slum in Metropolis. Pierce's
father was killed when he was young and his mother and he moved into
an apartment over a costume shop run by a man named Gambi. Pierce
grew up here and did well in school and athletics, eventually going
to Kent State. His athletic prowess got him on the 1976 U.S.
Olympic team to Montreal where he won the decathlon. The fact
that the general public believes that Bruce Jenner won in '76 shows
how the world tries to keep a black man down.
Pierce turned to teaching as a profession and taught in a small town,
until word of his mother's death reached him. Pierce returned
to Suicide Slum, but he did not leave, seeing the need of that
neighborhood. Taking a job in the local high school, Pierce began
to see the influence of a criminal gang known as the 100, who were
selling drugs to the local high schoolers. Pierce grew increasingly
angry over the situation until he felt he had to do something.
Pierce confided in Gambi, the costume shop owner who created for
him a costume to conceal his identity. He also created a belt that
would produce an electric field around him. The field would deflect
bullets and allowed him to shoot bolts of electricity. How a
costume shop owner came up with this was never explained, but Pierce
took the costume and belt and became Black Lightning.
Pierce fought crime for a few years, battling street wise menaces like
the 100 and the fat albino crime lord Tobias Whale. One day
while fighting some criminals, one of Black Lightning's bolts
missed its target and struck a bystander, killing them. Crushed by
the guilt, Pierce hung up his costume for a time.
Eventually, Pierce was approached by Gotham's premiere defender Batman
and asked to take up the mantle of Black Lightning. Pierce and others
joined Batman in forming a group of rag tag heroes known as the
Outsiders. Black Lightning was a member of the group for many years. He is currently a member of President Lex Luthor's cabinet and defended the White House from alien
attack during the Our World At War crossover event.