Writer: Tony Isabella / Artists: Clayton Henry, Yvel Guichet / DC Comics
First things first. Apologies are in order for missing the review for issue #4 of Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands. This is a great, strong series that deserves every piece of coverage it can get and that issue was more than worthy of a quality review. So if you hadn’t read it yet, do that first then come check this out.
Now, for issue #5 of Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands. Tony Isabella, Clayton Henry and Yvel Guichet delivered the best issue of an already strong mini-series. As the penultimate issue, we see Black Lightning finally confront Tobias Whale, his arch-nemesis.
The new and improved Tobias Whale is a major force to reckon with. Instead of just being a caricature of a character from a rival publisher, he’s come into his own. He’s more than willing to get his hands dirty while fighting Black Lightning and even shows that he can do so essentially on his own. After watching Black Lightning fight his way out of every corner he’s been placed in thus far, Tobias is understandably the most challenging one yet.
As DC’s first major black superhero, Black Lightning’s adventures often offer insights into his experiences as a black man. Sometimes it’s through fully appreciated but surface level examinations of interactions with gun violence or police brutality. But other times it’s expressed through subtle moments like in this issue.
This issue’s prime example is Jefferson Pierce’s determination to stay in the classroom as a teacher instead of taking an executive position. Rather than following the path laid out by the Black Lightning tv show, the comic book highlights a harsh truth about education: the few black men that are teachers are often pushed out of the classroom where they can arguably make the most impact.
Those subtle nods go a long way.
After reading five issues I still hope that there’s been some talks about giving Black Lightning his own ongoing series. But I also have to concede that this mini-series has brought the character into modern day in such a resonant and compact way that it wouldn’t be the end of the world if this was all we got for a little while.
Reading Black Lightning? Find BNP’s other reviews of the series here.