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“Jefferson Pierce came home from the globetrotting life of a star athlete to find his neighbourhood ravaged by violence and corruption… its youth dying of poverty and despair ! Now he fights that despair on the playing field as a dedicated coach… and battles corruption in the streets as… BLACK LIGHTNING !”


Context

Black Lightning (Jefferson Pierce) is an early African-American super-hero.

He was created by Tony Isabella, appeared in 1977, and was the first Black character to ever headline a DC comic book. He’s pretty cool.

We have a series of emergent history profiles about BL, though not all parts have been published yet. This allows us to present how the character concept evolves, including the retconsMaking changes to a character or story after the fact (such as his children).

So, for instance, this profile about Black Lightning during the late 1970s and early 1980s only uses material from the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Sequence

The whole series goes :

  1. Black Lightning (Profile 1 – Year One, original take). This here profile.
  2. Batman and the Outsiders (Part 1 – 1983/1986).
  3. The Outsiders (Part 2 – 1986/1992).
  4. Black Lightning (Profile 2 – 1980s).
  5. Interlude – The other history of Black Lightning.
  6. Black Lightning (Profile 3 – 1990s).
  7. Black Lightning (Profile 4 – 2000s).
  8. Black Lightning (Profile 1.1 – Year One, modernised take).

If you need more guidance than a mere list, check our guide to Black Lightning character profiles.

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Background

  • Real Name:Jefferson Pierce.
  • Other Aliases: “The Suicide Slum Smasher”.
  • Known Relatives: Lynn Stewart (ex-wife), unnamed parents (both deceased).
  • Group Affiliation: None.
  • Base Of Operations: Suicide Slum, Metropolis.
  • Height: 6’1” (1.85m). Weight: 200 lbs. (91 Kg.).
  • Eyes: Brown. Hair: Black.

Soundtrack

Let’s pick something from 1977 for chronologically correct atmosphere.

As it happens, that’s when “Sir Duke” was released as a single from Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the key of life, one of the *major* musical works from that decade. So heh, I didn’t have to spend long looking at the billboard…

Powers and Abilities

Black Lightning is an Olympic-level athlete and superb combatant, capable of taking down half a dozen armed thugs in seconds.

His sheer strength, agility, endurance, coordination, etc. are truly exceptional.

Skills to pay the bills

As an instructor, Jefferson excells in teaching athletics, language arts, and physics.

A decathlon champ, Pierce is a world-class master of the 100-meter dash, the long jump, the shot put, the high jump, the 400-meter dash, the 110-meter hurdles, the discus, the pole vault, the javelin, and the 1,500-meter run.

His other sportive skills include basketball, daring urban acrobatics and trash-talkin’.

The Suicide Slum Smasher is also remarkably stealthy, and can even pull off Batman-like disappearing tricks. It’s an important part of his modus operandi as an urban vigilante.

Black Lightning (Bronze Age DC Comics)

Use of electrical powers

His power to generate electricity also provided him with enhanced strength and a personal electromagnetic force field.

Jefferson initially believed that these powers were generated by the special belt Peter Gambi had designed. He later discovered that the belt had only triggered his innate abilities as he learned to activate his powers without the device.

Black Lightning seldom uses his lightning’s flash to daze opponent – he can take thugs out without that. In fact the main documented use of this might have been an involuntary side effects from his powers restarting after he had been drenched.

Electrical force field

While the super-strength can be always active, Lightning only uses his force field intermittently. This is often to intimidate attackers as he shows them he can ignore their attacks.

Research shows that he doesn’t seem able to take complex actions whilst the Force Field is on. Though in game terms he loses his Dice Actions he can still perform movement actions that are trivial for him, such as swinging from a rope.

If he intends to use that movement to attack thugs he will keep his Force Field on while he’s swinging from said rope, then once on target he’ll use his great speed (in DC Heroes rpg terms, Initiative) to cut off the force field and attack before his foes can react. In case of a serious emergency he can conduct complex actions while maintaining his force field about himself, though.

Black Lightning (Bronze Age DC Comics) face closeup as Jefferson Pierce

“Justice, like lightning should ever appear, to some men, hope, and to other men, fear !”

This is the quote that inspired Jefferson Pierce to create his alter ego.
It was at first attributed to Thomas Randolph (though Randolph was actually quoting a line from the anonymously-written play Sweetman, the Woman-Hater). But it soon became a line from an original poem written by Jefferson himself.
The Randolph quote was actually, “Justice, like lightning, ever should appear to few men’s ruin, but to all men’s fear”. So it could be rationalized that Jefferson rewrote the line to more optimistic effect.

History (part 1)

Jefferson Pierce was born in the rough Metropolis neighborhood of Suicide Slum.

He lost his father at the age of four when an out-of-town mob triggerman accidentally shot him while struggling with a police officer. Jefferson’s mother was assisted in raising Jeff by one Peter Gambi, who opened a tailor shop underneath their apartment.

Gambi became a good friend to the Pierces. He eventually made Jefferson’s mother a full partner in the shop and helped to see Jefferson through high school and into college.

Adulting

Pierce distinguished himself at Kent State University  as an education student focusing on physics. And his amazing physical prowess earned him the gold in the 1968  and 1972  Olympic Decathlons.

After graduating from college Jefferson became a high school teacher.

Jefferson Pierce was married to one Lynn Stewart until 1970. Though the details are unknown, their relationship ended in a bitter and painful divorce.

Returning to Suicide Slum for his mother’s funeral, he decided to transfer from his current job at New Carthage High (where Dick Grayson was a student) to his childhood school, Garfield High.

Jefferson, then aged 27, had just arrived on campus when he made a name for himself thrashing a drug dealer and then the dealer’s enforcers.

Black Lightning (Bronze Age DC Comics) putting on his mask

Return to Suicide Slum

The pushers worked for The 100. This coalition of organized crime families controlled a hundred cities but centred on Metropolis.

To discourage further acts of heroism on Pierce’s part without killing him and risking the creation of a martyr, The 100’s enforcers instead attempted to terrorize Earl Clifford, a student Jeff had befriended.

Mr. Clifford was accidentally killed. Though it was not intentional the thugs nevertheless saw an opportunity to still send Pierce a message. They left Clifford’s body hanging on a hoop of the basketball court where Pierce and Clifford had met.

Outraged, Pierce went to Peter Gambi, his childhood mentor, for advice. Together, the two created a superheroic identity that would allow Jefferson to challenge The 100 without endangering those close to him. Taking inspiration from an old quote about justice striking like lightning, Pierce became Black Lightning.

Over the next two weeks, Black Lightning took down The 100’s dealers and muscle in his neighborhood time and again.

Against The 100

Black Lightning soon caught up to Joey Toledo, the leader to The 100’s enforcers in that area.

He allowed Toledo to bargain for his life on the condition that Toledo gave Black Lighting the names and addresses of all of The 100’s people in the area. Black Lightning would not have actually killed him, but Joey did not know that.

They agreed to meet the next night at the Garfield High School gym where Clifford’s body had been left. But Toledo intended to ambush Black Lightning with over a dozen of his men. Pierce had anticipated that and prepared his own surprise. He now had a weapons belt designed by Gambi that provided a bullet-deflecting force field – and the ability to discharge electrical shocks on contact.

The combination of his martial prowess and the powers of the belt allowed Black Lightning to quickly defeat Toledo’s men. Unfortunately, Toledo has an ace in the hole : the supervillainous archer Merlyn, hired by The 100 to take down Black Lightning.

Black Lightning (Bronze Age DC Comics) heroic face closeup

Outside interests

Lightning was caught by surprise and briefly taken prisoner by Merlyn. The archer then swiftly released the hero so he could kill him in a properly challenging face-off.

Merlyn also intended to kill Toledo, whose bungling had made him a liability to The 100.

The ensuing melee was thrown even further into chaos by the arrival of Talia al Ghul. She sought Merlyn’s death as punishment for an earlier failure on his part while serving the League of Assassins.

Ultimately, Toledo was killed – and Merlyn was wounded but escaped.

Talia also told Black Lightning that the League of Assassins supported his war against The 100. Since there was no place for that organization in the world that the League planned to create.

Street fighting man

Black Lightning’s vigilantism made him a suspect in Joey Toledo’s murder. Inspector William Henderson of the MPD’s Organized Crime Division put out a warrant for the hero’s arrest.

(Inspector Henderson originally appeared the Superman TV show. He also made a handful of appearances in the Superman comics.)

Nevertheless, Black Lightning continued his war against The 100. He was now aided by a street snitch going by the nickname Two-Bits. Furthermore, his electrically-reinforced physical strength was increasing.

Pierce discovered that the 100’s local ganglord Tobias Whale was headquartered in a midtown office building. He challenged the “Great White Whale” on his own turf.

Despite a soaking by water that rendered him temporarily unable to use his weapons belt, Black Lightning fought Whale and his men to a standstill. However, that was interrupted by the arrival of Inspector Henderson. Both Lightning and Whale fled the scene.

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Superman’s pal

Soon afterward, Black Lightning intervened when The 100 enforcer the Cyclotronic Man (Ned Creegan) took Jimmy Olsen hostage to lure Superman into a confrontation.

Black Lightning stopped the Cyclotronic Man only to get into a fight with Superman. When the Man of Steel arrived, it looked like it was Lightning who had attacked Jimmy.

The misunderstanding was quickly resolved when Jimmy regained consciousness – and the Cyclotronic Man renewed his attack. Superman and Black Lightning defeated the villain.

Afterward, Black Lightning convinced Superman that the murder charge was in error. Superman confirmed his story by examining the arrow that had killed Toledo and recognizing it as one of Merlyn’s design.

Peter’s dark secret

Tiring of Black Lightning’s interference and fearing that he would inspire others, The 100 put a one-million dollar bounty out for the capture and execution of the hero.

Syonide and his henchmen managed to capture Black Lightning – by exploiting his connection to Peter Gambi.

As it turned out, Gambi secretly was the out-of-town enforcer who accidentally killed Jefferson’s father while working for The 100. He had actually become part of Jeff’s life to make amends.

Tobias Whale planned to kill Pierce and Gambi together, but Black Lightning broke free of his restraints before that could happen.

Showdowns

Gambi jumped in front of a shot meant for Black Lightning, saving Jefferson’s life at the cost of his own. Enraged, Black Lightning suddenly activated his powers even though his belt had been taken away.

All the The 100 thugs were no match for Jefferson, who quickly waded through them and Tobias Whale.

The beaten criminals were turned over to the police, who now recognized Black Lightning as a hero rather than a vigilante.

Tobias Whale was broken out of jail by The 100 immediately after his bail was denied. But Black Lightning took little time in tracking him down and taking him into custody once again.

Black Lightning (DC Comics) makes a dramatic entrance

History (part 2)

Though The 100’s presence in Metropolis was all but removed, there was still some cleaning up to do.

Black Lightning began taking on all threats to Metropolis in general and Suicide Slum in particular. He was aided in this by Inspector Henderson, who had become a friend after their work together against The 100.

Black Lightning was instrumental in :

  • Capturing Suicide Slum-born international terrorist the Annihilist.
  • Stopping the Trickster (James Jesse) from completing a diamond heist.
  • Breaking up a local smuggling ring that exploited illegal immigrants.
  • Stopping Doctor Polaris (Neal Emerson) despite the supervillain’s greater powers.

Jefferson also found himself working at the school with his ex-wife, Lynn Stewart. Though he was angry to see her at first, they soon rebuilt an amicable is still somewhat distant relationship.

She figured out that he was Black Lightning after seeing the hero in action and told him that she knew his secret.

Return of Lynn, return of Whale

This provided Jeff with a confidant, something he had missed since Peter Gambi had passed away. With Lynn in this role, the bitterness and pain their divorce had built up apparently melted away.

Black Lightning continued to stalk Tobias Whale, hoping to prevent his return. At one point he and Green Arrow (Oliver Queen) were attracted by Whale into the same death trap, but they teamed up and defeated all the traps as Whale fled.

He eventually found him, but in a strange twist of fate the two men ended up as allies.

Whale wanted revenge against The 100. So when he captured Black Lightning he asked for a ransom from The 100, under threat of letting Black Lightning go free after having given him his information about the mob. Whale, however, was betrayed by ambitious moll Tabitha Katt, who ran away with the info.

Whale thus proposed a team up to Black Lightning to find her and recover the files about The 100. Katt, Whale and several thugs of The 100 ended up behind bars and the files went to the police. However, an innocent old woman was killed in the fracas before Black Lightning could intervene.

Black Lightning (DC Comics) 1977 dramatic pose clenched fists

Later adventures

Black Lightning had a few more documented adventures.

  • He clashed with criminal Mohawk Shuck.
  • He foiled criminal Sonny Rabb’s attempt at smuggling himself back into the US.
  • He got involved in one of those weird Silver AgeSuper-hero comics from the late 1950s to the early 1970s Superman stories, teaming up with Big Blue to stop a crazy devolving super-powerful alien who had been passing himself as a human. The alien’s tantrum was triggered by the accidental death of one Trina Shelton, who had been shot by a hoodlum Black Lightning was subduing.

At Green Arrow’s recommendation, Black Lightning was considered to join the JLA. The team then consisted of Superman, Zatanna, the Flash (Barry Allen), Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) and Green Arrow (Oliver Queen).

They ran him through a nonsensical test without warning, and he passed. But Black Lightning turned them down, since he had sworn to protect Suicide Slum and preferred to work alone.

However, by the next day, he stopped the Regulator (Barnabus Boulton) while the JLA was busy battling his enormous hordes of mutated, gigantic vermin. Jefferson thus saved the day.

Out of juice

One of Pierce’s troubled students, Lincoln Trask, attempted to avenge himself on a voodoo store. He blamed the death of his mother on her insisting to use voodoo remedies instead of medical drugs. Lightning stopped him, but Trask was soon captured.

It was a trap. The owners of the voodoo store actually wanted to capture Black Lightning, as they assumed his electrical powers came from being ridden by a loa and that they could learn to be possessed in the same way. Then they would use the loa-granted electrical powers to fight off the mob preying on their shop.

It soon became clear that Lightning’s powers were not mystical, and the situation degenerated. Though Trask was saved and his abductors arrested, Black Lightning mysteriously lost his powers during the fight.

Last adventures before the Outsiders

Of course, the Black Lightning continued to protect the people of the ghetto even without his powers. For instance he stopped the Slime Killer, a murderous vigilante.

Later, as Pierce, he organised the Suicide Slum Olympics to prevent the heat and idleness of summer from causing trouble. Those Olympics came complete with a hostage crisis. Black Lightning prevented the worst of it, but one of the hostages was killed.

The Suicide Slum Smasher also teamed up with Batman while both men where investigating a criminal plan from different angles. Both ended up discovering the HQ of a crazed, reactionary retired general called Hargrave, who was stealing enormous quantities of gasoline.

The team-up was pleasant and efficient, and Batman and Black Lightning apparently stayed in touch.

Black Lightning (Bronze Age DC Comics) angry face closeup

Crisis on Infinite Earths !

Some of these events where soon retconned. A part of said retcons took place before the Crisis on Infinite Earths – though for simplicity’s sake it might be better to classify them as Crisis-induced reality rewrites.

(We call this take the “Crisis penumbra”, referring to reality alterations that took place before the Crisis started or after it concluded. There’s more discussion of that in the Firefly (Garfield Lynns)’s character profile).

The two changes 

  • Pierce did not lose his electrical powers and strength while rescuing Lincoln Trask.
  • The Silver Age-style team-up with Superman apparently took place later.
  • In the original telling, Trina Shelton’s accidental death was greeted with indifference. In the revised version that soon followed, it badly rattled Jefferson. Guilt made him unable to use his powers, and he retired.

Gangbuster (José Delgado) would eventually step up to replace Lightning as the defender of Suicide Slum.

Black Lightning (Bronze Age DC Comics) punching

Description

Jefferson wears a wig as part of his Black Lightning costume to further obscure his identity. The mask and wig are sewed together, and the mask has yellow film over the eye holes.

Black Lightning almost always carries his costume, or even wears it under his clothes.

Black Lightning (DC Comics) cover detail beating pushers

Personality

Encouraged to excel by his mother and Peter Gambi, Jefferson Pierce seeks most of all to pass that gift on to others. This motivates his work both as an instructor and as Black Lightning.

His initial drive to take down The 100 was intended to remove their oppressive influence from Suicide Slum and allow the citizens there to live better lives to the best of their ability. Once The 100’s control of Suicide Slum had been broken, Jefferson realized that Black Lightning could continue to contribute in that capacity.

Controlled temper

Though Pierce is quick to anger (usually with excellent reason), he will calm down in short order and re-assess situations in a more balanced manner.

Frex, he was understandably furious to discover that Gambi was the man who killed his father. But upon Gambi’s death shortly thereafter Jeff acknowledged that Peter had loved him and been a good surrogate parent.

At Peter’s funeral, Jeff took the letter that Peter had left him explaining his crimes and threw the shreds into the grave. This was not out of anger, but instead Jeff’s way of showing that he had forgiven the man and that his earlier sins no longer mattered.

This same event also encouraged him to make a rapprochement with Lynn.

Likewise, his main point of friction with Inspector Henderson is that he wants the police to understand the youth of the ghetto and why some commit crimes, rather than just treat them like animals.

Black Lightning (Bronze Age DC Comics) drinking coffee

Confident teacher

As an instructor, Jeff is willing to use a variety of means to reach out to his students. He would impress the athletes by showing his own skills and praising theirs, or get students engaged in Shakespeare by having them act out scenes from the play in class.

He also had a particular contempt for criminals who did not think their actions through. He made a point of cursing their ineptitude as he casually subdued them.

Pierce is very protective of his students, and is often draw into adventures when one of them is threatened.

As Black Lightning, Jeff is confident and competent, and rarely hesitates. Somehow, he knows what he’s doing.

Oh stewardess ! I speak jive

As part of his Secret ID, Black Lightning often speaks differently than Jefferson Pierce. He be speakin’ jive… or at least the comic book version thereof (though he doesn’t get to say “Sweet Christmas”).

Key bits to throw in dialogue include:

  • “Turkeys”, as a very common word to designate dimwits, street thugs and the like. ”Freeze, you turkeys !” You can also use “Sunshine” in that role, but not as often. Less dated words such as “morons” or “sucker” are present but of course less colourful.
  • Frequent, but not systematic double negations and elision of the final ’g’s.
  • Habitual “be” (“You be at Garfield High gym at midnight”) — but it’s far from systematic either.
  • Regular jokes treating opponents as if they were unfaithful lovers to be threatened (“I want that confession sealed with a kiss”, “You didn’t keep our date, boys”, etc.) as part of a violently macho street culture and to insult men by treating them like women. He’ll find many other ways to question the manhood of his opponents, though – mostly because it works well.
  • Various graphic, hyperbolic threats (“When they get you, they’ll have to *pour* you into a cell !”, “And I won’t have to turn you into a pair of walking doggie-bag !”) he will not actually carry out but are part of the character.
  • “Hey, wanna boogie ?!” is practically a battle cry at some points, uttered before Pierce leaps on some villain to pound the crap out of him.

… at least some of the time

Lightning doesn’t do the jive bit with allies and/or people who know his secret ID, which tends to be a good chunk of the cast. And sometimes he just does the generic urban super-hero banter thing à la Spider-Man or Daredevil.

He doesn’t seem to be attached to this part of his dual identity. He once complained that the constant jive talkin’ as Lightning was bothersome.

Black Lightning (Bronze Age DC Comics) jumping over a turnstile

Quotes

“Don’t figure on these turkeys holdin’ me back for long, Toledo ! I’m here for you, killer… and ain’t nobody gonna stop me !”

“Lightning strikes twice in this town — and the second time I strike, it’s for keeps !”

“Man, it’s bad enough you’re working for scum like The 100, do you have to be so damn dumb to boot ?”

Peter Gambi: “In the meantime, you’d better get some sleep.”
Jeff Pierce: “Wish I could, Peter, but only Black Lightning is through for the night. Schoolteacher Jefferson Pierce still has some English papers to grade before morning.”

“How about you try messing me, turkey ? But it’s only fair that I have a shot at messing *you* ! You comin’ out to play ? Or are you gonna keep hiding behind a kid ? What’s the matter — can’t you find a mama’s skirt to hide behind ?” (thugs charge at him and drop their would-be victim)

(Charging Whale) “Hey, fats, wanna boogie ?”

“Oh, man ! I was hopin’ you’d resist ! ‘cause you risked the live of ’bout 200 kids… an’ to me, that ain’t funny !” (KA-POW !)

(As Pierce) “You don’t need extra [basketball] practice, no. But it does keep you out of trouble, and that’s what I promised the juvenile court I’d do. Get on now. Your sister will be home from work soon — she’ll want your help with dinner.”

Black Lightning uses his force field against gunfire (DC Comics)

DC Universe Adaptation

(This section proposes ways of using this character in DC Universe stories).

This origin has now been relegated to pre-Crisis continuity and a new one provided in the Black Lightning: Year One mini-series.

Still, this version of Black Lightning could always make an alternate universe appearance. If one prefers this origin to the newer one, the story would need little alteration beyond perhaps adjusting the years given for Jefferson’s Olympic competitions.

On the other hand, one could leave the dates as-is. The second Black Lightning solo series made good use of the passing years as a supplemental theme in the Jefferson’s development and he might make a good second superhero generation elder statesman along the lines of the members of the original JSA.

Black Lightning (Bronze Age DC Comics) knotting his tie

DC Heroes RPG

Black Lightning (during much of the Black Lightning series)

Dex: 08 Str: 08 Bod: 05
Int: 08 Wil: 08 Min: 07
Inf: 07 Aur: 06 Spi: 07
Init: 027 HP: 050

Powers:

Flash: 04, Lightning: 08, Force Field: 05

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Flash has Explosive Radius.
  • Flash, Force Field and STR are Contingent on Lightning (with STR dropping to 04 if that Power is Neutralized or otherwise rendered non-functional).
  • Lightning uses DEX as AV and has No Range but can use Chain Extension up to a 1 AP Range.
  • Force Field is Self Only, eats up the Phase’s Dice Action as long as it is active (unless Black Lightning pays a Minor Marginal fee per Phase, in which case he also gets the Can Attack Thru Bonus), and might not reflect energy attacks.

Skills:

Acrobatics*: 08, Artist (Writer): 05, Charisma*: 07, Detective (Legwork)*: 08, Martial Artist (Incld Techniques)*: 08, Scientist (Observation): 04, Thief (Stealth)*: 08, Vehicles (Land): 04, Weaponry (Missile)*: 08

Advantages:

Area Knowledge (Suicide Slum), Familiarity (Basketball, Education, Language Arts, Physics/Chemistry), Iron Nerves, Lightning Reflexes.

Connections:

Two-Bits Tanner (a street snitch, High), MPD Inspector William Henderson (High), students of Garfield High (Low).

Drawbacks:

Miscellaneous (If Jefferson attempts to use Lightning while he is wet, it will also attack him. This may negate his other superabilities as per the Contingent Limitation, but this was not definitively established as it only occurred while his powers were first developing), Secret Identity, Dependents (his students, Lynn Stewart).

Motivation:

Seeking Justice.

Occupation:

High School Teacher.

Wealth:

005

Black Lightning (DC Comics) scatters thugs

Lightning strikes !

When Jefferson first took on the Black Lightning identity, Peter Gambi served as a Confidant and designer of the ELECTROMAGNETIC BELT [BODY 04]. The later was necessary to activate Jeff’s Powers and superstrength (his original STR was only 04).

Black Lightning also suffered Mistrust as the police did not know what to make of this vigilante and mistakenly believed him responsible for Joey Toledo’s death.

These Advantages and Drawbacks were all lost during the events that allowed Black Lightning to bring Tobias Whale to justice at the cost of Gambi’s life. This was also when he gained his Connection to Inspector Henderson.

Gambi was originally a Confident, which of course stopped with his death.

Black Lightning may have suffered Guilt over the deaths of Earl Clifford, Peter Gambi and Trina Shelton, among others. But if so that was between appearances.

In the pre-Crisis continuity, Black Lightning did not have his Powers during the last few adventures during this era – and his STR, in turn, was down to 04.

Black Lightning (DC Comics) (1970s original) rises dramatically

DC Adventures RPG

Black Lightning (Early, original) — Averaged PL 10

STR STA AGL DEX
03 (08) 03 05 04
FGT INT AWE PRE
08 03 04 03

Powers:

Energised strength ● 12 points ● Descriptor: Electricity
Super-strength — Enhanced Strength 5, Leaping 2

Lightnin’ ! Array ● 18 points ● Descriptor: Electricity

  • Electrical touch — Close Damage 8
  • Lightning flash — Burst-Area Close Visual Dazzle 8
  • Ground out — Burst-Area 2 Damage 8 (Limited 1 – Only targets touching conductive surfaces)

Electric juggernaut Array ● 14 points ● Descriptor: Electricity

  • Stationary deflecting field — Enhanced Dodge 2, Enhanced Parry 2, Impervious Protection 6, Immunity (Life support) – all are Sustained, Concentration
  • Mobile deflecting field — Enhanced Dodge 2, Enhanced Parry 2, Impervious Protection 6, Immunity (Life support) – all are Sustained, Tiring

Combat Advantages:

Accurate Attack, Close Combat 4, Defensive Attack, Defensive Roll 2, Improved Grab, Improved Initiative, Improved Trip, Power Attack.

Other Advantages:

Fearless.

Skills:

Acrobatics 4 (+9), Athletics 8 (+11), Deception 4 (+7), Expertise (Basketball) 3 (+6), Expertise (Education) 6 (+9), Expertise (Science) 3 (+6), Expertise (Streetwise) 2 (+5), Expertise (Writer) 5 (+8), Insight 6 (+10), Intimidation 3 (+6), Investigation 8 (+11) (Limited 2 – Gather Information only), Perception 7 (+11), Persuasion 4 (+7), Ranged Combat (Throwing) 6 (+10), Stealth 6 (+11), Vehicles 2 (+6) (Limited 2 – Common land vehicles only)

Offence:

Initiative +9
Unarmed +12, Close, Damage 8
Lightning +12, Close, Damage 8
Variant AoE lightning flashes, see above

Defense

Dodge 12
Fortitude 7
Parry 12
Toughness 5/3*
Will 10

* Without Defensive Roll.
Electric juggernaut enhances most defences but is Concentration – see above.

Complications:

  • Seeking Justice His motivation is remove the weight of injustice on the innocent by defeating bad turkeys.
  • Relationships He is a school teacher and a community leader, dedicated to his job as much as his one-man crusade. His students and neighbors are the reason he fights crime.
  • Power Complication Early in his career, he requires a special electromagnetic belt to harness his powers. Immersion in water may cause his powers to become Uncontrolled.
  • Mistrust Black Lightning begins as a mysterious vigilante, wanted by the police as well as hated by gang members. He is framed for murder.

Powers Levels:

  • Trade-off areas Attack & Effect PL 10, Dodge/Toughness PL 9, Parry/Toughness PL 9, Fort & Will PL 9.
  • Point total 179. Abilities 66, Defences 21, Skills 35, Powers 44, Devices 0, Advantages 13. Equiv. PL 12.


Notes

The PLs noted here do not take the Electric Juggernaut power (the force field) into account, since while it can be used while Lightning is active (the version within the Array without the Concentration Flaw) it is Tiring and thus quite limited.

When it is active, it boosts both the Dodge/Toughness trade-off and the Parry/Toughness one to PL13, bringing Black Lightning to an averaged Power Level of 11.4

Black Lightning costume research sketches by Trevor von Eeden

Sketches by series artist Trevor von Eeden, trying out costume ideas before settling on his classic 1976 design. Mr. von Eeden was but 16 when he started working on the series.

By Hard Jivin’ Papa Roy Cowan and Cool Cat Sébastien Andrivet, you turkeys !

Source of Character: Black Lightning vol. 1 (DC Comics), character created by Tony Isabella.

Helper(s): Who’s Who for height/weight, M&M stats with Pawsplay.