The CW Tackles Social Issues in New Superhero Series

The CW’s newest DC television series, “Black Lightning,” aired its premiere episode Jan. 16 to much critical acclaim.

The series,created by Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil, follows retired superhero Jefferson Pierce — also known as the titular Black Lightning — as he redons the suit to become a vigilante of justice in his city. It is immediately clear to the viewer that “Black Lightning” is not like any other show the network has produced before.

And rightfully so — this is the first series the CW has produced with an African-American lead.

Although the show follows a superhero plot line,the action sequences come second to the characters.Clever and true-to-life writing make this a standout from other DC superhero fare, and the series is already shaping up to tackle serious issues.

The story begins with Pierce (Cress Williams) and his daughter Jennifer (China Anne McClain) at a police station waiting for his eldest daughter Anissa (Nafessa Williams) to be released.

Anissa was arrested earlier that night for taking part in a protest against a local gang called The 100 turned violent when members of said gang retaliated. After admonishing Anissa for her actions, Pierce is caught off guard by a wanted poster with Black Lightning’s picture plastered on it, clearly haunted by the demons of his past.

After a harrowing encounter with corrupt police officers — in a scene that seems all too real in today’s society, Pierce decides to once again become Black Lightning in order to ensure that the city stays safe from the officers
who are supposed to protect it.

The duality of being a father first and a superhero second is an interesting one,albeit one that audiences are seeing more and more.Nevertheless, stunning performances — especially by the charismatic Williams— drive this show to its full potential. The struggle of raising children and keeping them safe while also defending one’s city makes for compelling and rich drama.

The series also covers topics that most shows might want to gloss over — namely,racism and police brutality. The series’ dark tone is supported by its use of stunning camerawork in fight sequences. The choreography looks stunning, and Scott Peck and Eduardo Enrique Mayen’s brooding cinematography keeps the show fast-paced and compelling.

Williams’ performance as the title character is strong,with his supporting cast giving him plenty of ferocious energy to feed off of. The humanity explored in all the characters is intriguing to watch.

Photo courtesy of USA Today.

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