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Black Lightning is a superhero with the ability to generate and control lightning. Growing up in the ghettos of Suicide Slum, the hero grew to become a high school principal and Olympic-level athlete who turned to operating as a vigilante to take down organized crime within the district.


Jefferson Michael Pierce was born to investigative journalist Alvin Pierce and Leona Pierce in the Suicide Slum district of Metropolis. When Jeff was nine, his father was shot and killed by trigger man Peter Gambi after Alvin began investigating local con man Tobias Whale. A month or so later, Peter Gambi opened a shop beneath the Pierce family apartment and helped the Pierce family through their financial difficulties. Peter was there to care for Jeff while his mother worked long hours to support them.
Growing up, Jefferson devoted himself in athletics and in his studies, gaining an aptitude for English and poetry. At the age of 18, Jefferson managed to join the Olympic sports team. Gaining fame from the media, Jefferson highlighted his rise from Suicide Slum to send a message to the residents that it was possible to escape the neighborhood's squalor. Receiving scholarships and endorsement offers, Jefferson managed to enter Kent State University and received both an English major and a Teaching degree in physics. Four years after he entered college, Jefferson again joined the Olympic team and this time won gold for the Decathlon. Jefferson then began a teaching job upstate in New Carthage where he met and married lawyer Lynn Stewart, having a daughter named Anissa.

Returning to Metropolis for his mother’s funeral, Jefferson noticed that nothing had changed in Suicide Slum and decided it was time to make a difference. Gaining funding from the Wayne Education Trust, Jefferson moved back to Suicide Slum with his daughter and newly pregnant wife and transferred to Garfield High School as the new principle. Jefferson quickly made an impression by kicking a drug pusher off the school grounds and humiliating three members of the criminal organization known as the 100 (an organization run by Tobias Whale). In retaliation, members of the organization killed Earl Clifford, one of Jefferson’s students, and left his body in the school gymnasium. Distraught, Jefferson related the tragedy to Peter Gambi, who urged him to fight back in a persona that wouldn’t invite counter-attacks on his students.
Equipped with a force-field belt that enabled him to generate lighting bolts, Jefferson donned a blue and black costume, a large afro wig, and affected a jive-talking speech pattern to become "Black Lightning". Taking to vigilante activities at night, Black Lightning carved out a niche in Metropolis and ultimately gained the trust of heroes like Superman, Inspector William Henderson and reporter Jimmy Olsen before learning of Peter Gambi's identity as his father's killer and shutting down the 100 crime syndicate after gaining the ability to naturally generate electricity without the aid of his force-field belt.
Discovering her husband's newfound powers, Lynn becomes troubled with his life as a superhero and the risks inherited therein. Not want their daughters, Anissa and Jeniffer, following in his footsteps, the pair make a deal that they would graduate from college before considering careers in crime fighting. Eventually, Lynn divorced him over concern for the safety of their children.

While investigating a series of student abductions, Jefferson met and allied with the Batman (who was investigating the abduction of his ward, Richard Grayson). Jefferson also met Superman and Black Canary before the case had closed. This also led him to meet Green Arrow as well; with these two acknowledging a kindred spirit in wishing to see political change. After rejecting an offer of membership with the Justice League of America, Jefferson teamed up with Superman again to solve the murder of a girl named Trina Shelton, who was shot and killed by a stray bullet during an altercation between Jefferson and some muggers. Learning this, Jefferson began doubting his effectiveness as a hero and lost his internalized powers due to a psychological block.
When the Batman was building a team to rescue Wayne Enterprises CEO Lucius Fox from the war-torn of Markovia, the hero recruited Jefferson to infiltrate the country while posing as Fox’s brother but he and Batman both ended up being captured, with the pair escaping after Batman managed to break Jefferson's psychological block, unleashing his powers. Joining with a small band of other heroes to free Markovia, Jefferson remained with the team when Batman officially grouped them together as the Outsiders. Moved to Gotham City to be with the team, Jefferson found a teaching post at Gotham City’s Edison High and had an amicable reunion with Lynn, who was now the president of a public relations firm. During his time with the Outsiders, a group of villains called the Masters of Disaster captured Jefferson at the behest of the parents of Trina Shelton to avenge the death of their daughter; however, upon learning that he still regretted what happened and was willing to be executed as penance, they sacrificed their lives to save him. During the Invasion! incident, the Dominators detonated a Gene-Bomb that wreaked havoc with anyone possessing the metagene by making them lose control of their powers, Jefferson was no exception.

After the breakup of the Outsiders, Jefferson moved to his father's hometown, Brick City. While there, he is framed for the rape of a villain named Broadstrip and accused of being a serial killer while the ongoing menace of a gang known as the Royal Family figured into a school shooting that left Jefferson critically wounded and one of his best friends, Walter Kasko, dead. During Jefferson's physical and emotional recovery, he reflected on his career as Black Lightning and the deaths of so many along the way. Cleared of his accused crimes by the Batman and encouraged by the vigilante to keep on fighting, Jefferson agreed to become a reserve member of the newly reformed Justice League of America and aided in the Mageddon crisis.
When Lex Luthor was elected President of the United States, Jefferson is elected as Secretary of Education. Seeing this as an opportunity to make changes from within the system, and to keep an eye on Luthor, Jefferson accepts the position despite misgivings from other members of the hero community. In the meantime, his now-22-year-old daughter, Anissa, graduated in pre-med at medical school as promised but set out immediately to fight crime as a hero the next day, much to her father's disapproval. She drew the attention of Arsenal, who was assembling a new team of Outsiders, and recruited her to join the team.
Following Luthor's dismissal from presidency, Jefferson came out of retirement to help the Outsiders battle the demon Sabbac. When Jefferson returned to the White House, Luthor's successor, President Pete Ross asked for Pierce's resignation as Secretary of Education because the government feared the political implications of having a known super-hero on staff. A short time later, Jefferson's niece, Joanna Pierce, was killed after becoming involved as a lawyer in one of Oliver Queen's cases. Blaming Oliver for his involvement in her death, Jefferson tracked down her killer, corporate CEO Martin Somers, and attempted to shock him with his powers only to inadvertently kill him. In truth, the mercenary Deathstroke had made the killing blow but allowed Jefferson to believe he'd caused the death.

Following the Infinite Crisis incident where Jefferson was recruited by the Batman as part of a team to infiltrate and destroy Brother Eye, Jefferson turned himself in for killing Martin Somers. Surrendering himself to Checkmate, the organization put him in Iron Heights Penitentiary under the identity of "Derek Cooper" for his own protection. Shortly thereafter, Jason Todd discovered the truth while eavesdropping on a conversation between Deathstroke and Alexander Luthor Jr. and contacted Nightwing. When Nightwing and Anissa told Jefferson of this in prison, he did not believe them and intended to stay in prison. Upon learning from Todd that other inmates were about to carry out a contract hit on Pierce, with Captain Boomerang (Owen Mercer) being the intended assassin, the Outsiders resolved to free Jefferson.

Resuming his life as a teacher/vigilante, Jefferson continues to use his abilities to aid his fellow neighbors against criminals and super villains who are looking to bully and take advantage of others.

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  • Black Lightning first appeared in Black Lightning #1 (April 1977).
  • Black Lightning is voiced by Alexander Brandon.
  • Often mistaken as his son, much to Black Lightning's annoyance, Static is a fan of Black Lightning and keeps a poster of him in his room in the Titans Tower.
  • Jefferson is married to Lynn Stewart and has two daughters; Anissa Pierce and Jennifer Pierce. Both daughters are heroes with lightning-based powers; Anissa is "Thunder" (able to alter her mass density, working with the Outsiders) and Jennifer is "Lightning" (possessing the ability to turn into a lightning being, currently under training with the Justice Society of America).
  • Thanks to his time as a member of Lex Luthor's presidential cabinet, the lower levels of the super-villain community believe that he still has ties to Luthor and will willingly provide him with information on rumors and gossip within the community.
  • Exactly how much electrical energy Black Lightning can generate is unknown, but he can easily stun and/or kill a man with his internal powers. As time passes, Black Lightning's powers have become more and more powerful, enabling him to generate/absorb/manipulate any form of electrical energy at varying levels of intensity.
  • Jefferson chose the code name "Black Lighting" after being inspired by Milo Sweetman's quote "Justice, like lightning, should ever appear to some men "hope", to other men "fear"."


See also[]

External links[]

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