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Black Lightning Is One of The CW’s Best Superhero Shows, so Where’s the Fandom Love?

(L-R) Krondon, Cress Williams, Jordan Calloway, Christine Adams, China Anne McClain, and Nafessa Williams of 'Black Lightning' attend the Pizza Hut Lounge at 2019 Comic-Con International: San Diego on July 20, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Presley Ann/Getty Images for Pizza Hut)

I did not attend San Deigo Comic-Con this year, but I was following along many people who I enjoy and respect, both on this site and others, to get some insight into the mood there. Among all the excitement over BladeThe Eternals, and everything else, something stood out to me when I saw a tweet from io9′s Charles Pulliam-Moore about the lack of excitement from fans of the Arrowverse when it came to Black Lightning.

This stood out to me because when I wrote about the recent Arrowverse Entertainment Weekly covers, I initially wrote about how I wished the Black Lightning team had been included in that, but I remembered that Black Lightning isn’t technically in the Arrowverse, and I wanted to avoid a bunch of people telling me something I already knew and missing the point.

Black Lightning is a good show. Like all the CW supershows there are inconsistent moments, but it has always consistently had interesting mythology, great character dynamics, and an ability to balance the family drama with being a superhero series. Yet, it is often overlooked in favor of its sibling series, because it isn’t connected to the Arrowverse, when it comes to coverage.

Now, I don’t mind that Black Lightning is its own thing. While I love the crossovers, just like in the comics, it means pausing the momentum of an ongoing story to deal with this big thing, and I think the more contained storytelling is to its benefit. That being said, when it comes to getting hype from the fan community (who will literally be hype over anything at Comic-Con’s Hall H), something fails to connect.

io9 reported that Cress Williams said that, after some of the talk he’s heard about future plans, he “wouldn’t be surprised” if Black Lightning, Lightning, and Thunder ended up crossing paths with the Arrowverse team eventually, and I think that makes sense at this point. Also, getting to see Iris onscreen with other Black women that aren’t her family would be amazing, honestly. Team #IrisNeedsHomegirls 2020.

I also reject that this lack of excitement is because the show is “too political.” Supergirl had its most ripped-from-the-headlines, political season last fall, and yet no one fully fell off. Supergirl has never been afraid to be a feminist-leaning show with progressive sentiment, and while it has definitely made mistakes along the way, it values the story it is telling—not to mention there’s really little difference between Jefferson Pierce’s desire to protect his city from that of Oliver Queen’s desire to protect his home. The only difference is that we have been told that one story is universal with a white lead, and the other is a “Black” story with a Black lead.

In comparison to Luke Cage, that character was part of a larger connected universe with the Marvel Netflix shows, and I think, for more people, Luke Cage is the Black superhero (and he was the first black superhero to be featured as the protagonist and title character of a comic book), and so there was more excitement around that property. Personally, I think if Black Lightning were actually Static Shock, more people would naturally gravitate towards it, but that doesn’t make Black Lightning not a solid superhero show in its own right.

So what if the show is super Black? If you can relate with aliens, meta-humans, and most outrageously of all, white multimillionaire heirs who have never worked for a living, then you can watch a superhero show that is framed around empowerment.

Yes, it’s more of a family drama, but all of these CW shows are family dramas. Hell, the latest season of The Flash has the titular character teaming up with his adult biracial Black daughter to fight crime. With its second season laying the foundation for meta trafficking, an entire government attempting to invade, and the mostly meta-human Jefferson family coming together stronger than ever, Black Lighting is a show worth checking out if you haven’t seen it yet.

Also, the entire cast is amazing, and Cress Williams is a D&D nerd. Season 3 premieres October 21.

(image: Presley Ann/Getty Images for Pizza Hut)

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Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.