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Black Lightning Reading Order

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Created by writer Tony Isabella and artist Trevor Von Eeden, Jefferson Pierce made his first appearance in Black Lightning #1 (April 1977). This Afro-American schoolteacher from the crime-ridden Suicide Slum area of Metropolis gained electrical superpowers and started fighting crimes under the name Black Lightning as a response by DC Comics to the success of Marvel’s Luke Cage.

This didn’t work exactly as DC envisioned it as financial difficulties put a quick end to the title, but Black Lightning survived and started to appear in other series and fight crimes as part of a team.

Originally, Tony Isabella had been tasked to retool a series called The Black Bomber with a strange and disturbingly bad premise that the writer described as DC’s first black superhero being a white bigot. He didn’t want to touch that and convinced DC to change the story. To draw the new title, the company recruited a young prodigy. Trevor Von Eeden was only 16 when he was offered the job–at the time though, Von Eeden didn’t know if he got the job for his talent or because he was black.

Through the years, Jefferson Pierce’s origin story evolved. His powers first came from a technologically advanced power belt and the schoolteacher also had an Olympic athlete background. He needed something like that because his powers were not the result of a mutation or a science experiment. This didn’t stay like that as it was later revealed that the character possesses a latent metagene.

At first, Black Lightning fought criminals in his neighborhood, especially the members of the criminal organization called The 100. But Black Lightning is not your typical superhero, he’s also a father–and his two daughters also became superheroes, Thunder and Lightning. Pierce is certainly a team player and he worked alongside Batman as a founding member of the Outsiders superhero team.

Black Lightning Comics Reading Order

Black Lightning’s Origin Stories

Let’s start with two books. The first one collects all the issues from the original Black Lightning series.

The second one is a new take on the first year of Jefferson Pierce as Black Lightning–published in 2009 after Final Crisis.

Black Lightning and The Outsiders

Following the cancellation of his own title, Black Lightning briefly appeared in World’s Finest Comics, Justice League of America, and Detective Comics, then founded the Outsiders with Batman.

After Batman and the Outsiders #32, the series was renamed Adventures of the Outsiders. Issues #33 to 38 offered new stories (only available for now as digital comics, not collected elsewhere)

Even if it was published at the same time as The Adventures of the Outsiders, the series The Outsiders chronicled events a year after that series:

  • The Outsiders
    Collects The Outsiders #1-28, Annual #1, and Special #1. (Digital Only)

    • The Outsiders #27 & 28 are part of the Millennium crossover event.

Black Lightning’s 90s Comeback

For a while, Black Lightning was absent from DC Comics publications. But he came back in 1995 and moved to Brick City to continue his solo career–once again, Tony Isabella is the writer.

After that, as we entered into the 2000s, Jefferson Pierce appeared occasionally in other DC titles–like Superman (vol. 2) #166 in which he became Secretary of Education in Lex Luthor’s government.

The Outsiders reformed in 2003, but this time it was under the direction of Nightwing and Black Lightning was not a regular member of the team. Nevertheless, his daughter (Thunder) was and this prompted Jefferson to visit her occasionally. As a result, he appeared in multiple issues–and they may be hard to find nowadays.

In 2005, Black Lightning also teamed up with Green Arrow for a storyline, before a new Crisis happened.

Black Lightning, Member of the Justice League of America

Following Infinite Crisis, DC Comics decided to relaunch Justice League of America and Black Lightning became a full-time member–up until Final Crisis.

Batman is gone and Black Lightning is joining once again the ranks of the Outsiders.

Black Lightning during New 52

In 2011, DC Comics relaunched its universe with the New52 initiative. During that period, Black Lightning had little to do.

Out-of-continuity, during the Convergence event, we revisited an old iteration of Batman and the Outsiders.

  • Convergence: Crisis Book One
    Collects Convergence: Batman And The Outsiders #1-2, Convergence: Adventures Of Superman #1-2, Convergence: Green Lantern Corps #1-2, Convergence: Superboy And The Legion Of Super-Heroes #1-2 And Convergence: Hawkman #1-2.

Black Lightning during the Rebirth Era and Beyond

New 52 ended and the Rebirth era began, but things didn’t get more busy for Black Lightning at first.

However, when DC decided to relaunch the Outsiders, Batman recruited him to become the leader of the new team.

Following the end of the Rebirth era, Black Lightning appeared with The Signal and The Outsiders within the pages of the anthology book Batman: Urban Legends–in the stories “The Caretaker” (Urban Legends #1-3), “The Fearful” (Urban Legends #8-9), “The Signal and the Outsiders” (Urban Legends #18-19).

Did we forget an important issue? Did we make a mistake? Let us know in the comments!

Last Updated on October 25, 2023.


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