Review: Black Lightning: Year One #3

by

Power Struggle

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Black Lightning continues his first year of protecting Suicide Slum, trying to change his old neighborhood for the better, and finding it extremely difficult every step of the way.  Issue #3 arrived last week, dropping readers right into the holiday season, and right into big trouble for DC’s first black superhero.

BLY1_Cv3.jpgBlack Lightning has been hitting the crime element of Suicide Slum pretty hard the last couple of months, and he’s having an impact.  While the residents are still weighing in on if this vigilante is a good thing or not, the criminal element is pushing back. Not only do they try to set up up the hero to take the rap for murder, they also threaten Jefferson Pierce’s family if he doesn’t back down on trying to change the youth of the community.

The most interesting part of this issue was the narration that runs throughout the tale. Over the last couple of years, readers have become accustomed to having the narration match the central character on panel. In this case Jen Van Meter turns that notion on the heads of the reader and it isn’t until the end of the issue that readers find out who has been narrating the entire time.  It’s a shocking (no pun intended) revelation that changes the dynamics of the series and makes the reader realize how much Suicide Slum is controlled by The 100.

The problem with a six issue mini-series that attempts to span an entire year, is there are going to jumps in time, as readers are only given brief glimpses into the overall picture.  That’s how I felt reading this third issue.  While you can tell time has passed,  and Black Lightning and Jefferson Pierce are having a positive impact in the community, there’s also some jumpiness in terms of relationships between old and new characters that isn’t fully explained.

The climax of the issue does pay off, as readers do get to see the creepy magic based villain confronts Black Lightning with a slew of henchmen at his ready.  It features Black Lightning doing his thing, having a team up with Superman (Suicide Slum is part of Metropolis after all), and a spooky skin ripping reveal that answers the question, “How come Superman (a white guy) isn’t protecting the Slum?”

While the initial jump in time requires a moment of readjustment, the main story continues to flow smoothly.  Helping this is the art by Cully Hamner, who once again makes the dark moments really dark, and the happy moments bright and shiny.  I really like how Hamner is able to make Black Lightning and Jefferson Pierce so different from one another (and I’m not talking about Black Lightning’s mask).  With Clark Kent’s presence in the issue once again, readers can really see the parallels between the Jefferson Pierce/Clark Kent identities and the Black Lightning/Superman personalities.

Black Lightning: Year One continues to tell the first big adventure of a hero that is a major player in the DC Universe.  Instead of rebooting a universe, the Year One line gives writers a chance to retell stories from the early days of the heroes, and offers a chance to retcon history where needed (Green Lantern: Secret Origin).  I liked where issue three takes the characters, and even though we know the eventual outcome, it’s the journey getting there that is the most fun. Black Lightning: Year One #3 earns another 4 out of 5 Stars.

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