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Black Lightning (DC Comics) (1995)

Black Lightning

(Profile #3 - 1995 series)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

This entry focuses on Black Lightning as he was in his 1995 mini-series. The first arc of this series was written by BL’s creator, Tony Isabella .

As of this writing we have three Black Lightning profiles, which are best read in order to get a sense of the character.

  1. Black Lightning – That 1970s profile.
  2. Black Lightning – Modernised origin by Jen van Meter.
  3. Black Lightning – 1995 return (this here article).

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Background

  • Real Name: Jefferson Pierce.
  • Marital Status: Divorced.
  • Known Relatives: Lynn Stewart Pierce (ex-wife).
  • Group Affiliation: JLA (Reservist), formerly the Outsiders.
  • Base Of Operations: Carver Neighborhood of Cleveland a.k.a. “The Brick City”.
  • Height: 6’1” Weight: 182 lbs.
  • Eyes: Brown Hair: Black


Powers and Abilities

(From DC’s Who’s Who.)
Originally, Black Lightning’s power belt enabled him to surround himself with a protective electromagnetic force field and to throw bolts of energy. It also augmented his strength (to about “Class 5” – Ed.).

In the course of his adventures, through as yet undisclosed means (likely related to the Dominators’ Gene-Bomb attack during the Invasion), these powers became internalized.

Pierce also maintains his Olympic-level physical conditioning, giving him above average strength, speed, and endurance. Under Batman’s tutelage, he has become a highly skilled hand-to-hand combatant.

Black Lightning actually relies primarily on his athletic training in combat. He only uses his powers against inanimate objects (weapons, vehicles, etc.) and other metahumans as necessary.

His goal is to temporarily disable opponents rather than kill them. And it is easier for him to avoid unnecessary harm by limiting the use of his powers.


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History

(From DC’s Who’s Who.)
Growing up in Metropolis’s Suicide Slum, Jefferson Pierce watched as his family struggled to make ends meet. When his father was accidentally shot to death, Jefferson and his mother soon found themselves taken under the wing of Peter Gambi, who had opened a small tailor shop underneath their apartment.

Determined to get out of the slum, Pierce trained himself to physical perfection. He then gained national attention when he won a gold medal for the decathlon at the Montreal Olympics of 1976.

After receiving a teaching degree from Kent State, Jefferson taught high school English in the city of New Carthage, until his mother’s death brought him back to Suicide Slum.

Realizing nothing had changed in his old neighborhood, Pierce decided to stay and make things change. But he grew angrier as he watched a criminal organization known only as the 100 corrupt his student with drugs.

Justice, like lightning

Witnessing Pierce’s frustration, Peter Gambi designed the costume and a electric power belt of Black Lighting. In this way, Jefferson could fight against the 100 without placing himself in perpetual jeopardy. Yet he could still serve as a positive example to the local youth.

Black Lightning does an acrobatic dodge

After many months, Black Lighting finally defeated the 100 and their monstrous albino leader, Tobias Whale. Unfortunately, his friend Peter Gambi was killed during their crusade against the 100.

Black Lightning turned his attention to other criminals after defeating the 100. He remained active until a young girl named Trina Shelton was accidentally killed as a result of his actions, after which Pierce hung up his costume and went into seclusion.

Outsiders

He finally resumed his Black Lighting identity several years later. That was at the direct request of The Batman for a case that turned into the first mission of the Outsiders.

Pierce eventually retired from the Outsiders and even mostly from being Black Lightning. That lasted until the Dominators’ Gene Bomb fully activated his metagene. Now, Black Lightning no longer needed his power belt to activate his abilities.

With his renewed abilities came a renewed sense of purpose. Pierce got a Wayne Foundation Grant to fund his work (inner-city improvement, though Batman sees it as a cover for Black Lightning). He then moved to Carver Neighborhood in his father’s hometown, Cleveland.

Brick City

Carver Neighborhood, a.k.a. the Brick City, was an economically depressed borough. Its serious drug problem exacerbated by numerous warring gangs. Pierce stepped into this two-fold:

  1. To inspire children through his work as a schoolteacher and other community work via the Wayne Foundation grant.
  2. To take down the gangs as Black Lightning.

Pierce had several friends to help him in his war. Black Lightning’s first ally was a contact named Beagle, a street informant who lived in a VW Bug parked in an alleyway. Beagle had all sorts of street connections, even extending to cities as far away as Los Angeles and Gotham City.

Beagle put Lightning in touch with Commissioner Latimer. However, Latimer’s ability to help Lightning was rather limited. The city officials disapproved of the Brick City in general and Lightning in particular.

Still, Latimer unofficially assigned Detective Tommy Colavito to work with Black Lighting. Colavito ran interference between the police and Lightning, as well as passing information along both ways. He often worked alongside Black Lightning.

Battle for Brick

Jefferson Pierce’s struggle in the Brick City was difficult. He faced another meta-human named Painkiller in combat. He also was seriously wounded in his civilian identity by a gangbanger posing as a new student. His old enemy Tobias Whale also began moving into the Brick City.

Despite all of this, Black Lightning still made inroads in improving the neighborhood. Black Lightning was also a reserve member of the JLA and played a supporting role in a number of missions during that time.

After Lex Luthor’s election to the presidency, Jefferson Pierce was accepted the position of Secretary of Education. He defended the White House as Black Lightning during a recent alien invasion, taking care not to expose his secret identity. However, Luthor already knew of Pierce’s alter ego, though Pierce in unaware of that fact.


Description

Jefferson Pierce is a tall, athletic Black male. He has a short haircut and the beginning of age-wrinkles. He dresses in relaxed formal wear as Jefferson Pierce.

As Black Lighting, he wears a set of dark blue biker’s leathers. The high-collared jacket has rust-colored panels trimmed with a golden lighting bolt design.

Lightning does not wear a mask, but instead keeps a constant crackle of electricity surrounding his body in a nimbus to obscure his features.


Personality

Black Lightning is serious and determined, but still maintains a good disposition and even a dry wit. He takes the concept of civic improvement in all of its aspects very seriously. Thus, he tries to be as inspirational as Jefferson Pierce as he is intimidating as Black Lightning.

He is still greatly troubled by all of the deaths that he has failed to prevent. While he has a tendency to take the weight of the world on his shoulders, he usually does it with a fair amount of good humor. He takes his work seriously, but takes a great and contagious joy in working to make a difference.

Black Lightning uses his powers in much the same way as Batman uses his gadgetry. These are support to augment his skills, rather than something he relies on.

Also, much like his mentor, he won’t kill his opponents (even Painkiller’s death was unintended). Jefferson usually avoids inflicting serious injury unless he’s making a point (such as breaking the arm of a gangbanger that ordered a hit on one of Pierce’s students).


Quotes

“We have some serious concerns in this city — education, jobs, health care, housing, not to mention government indifference. Frankly, you gang morons are distracting me from the *important* issues of the day.”

After breaking a gangster’s arm: “Three things you should take to heart, Del. One: the Royals recruit any more kids and I come looking for you. Two: you only have three more limbs. Three: after that I have to get *creative*.”


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Black Lightning

Dex: 07 Str: 04 Bod: 05 Motivation: Seeking Justice
Int: 07 Wil: 08 Min: 08 Occupation: Secretary of Education
Inf: 08 Aur: 07 Spi: 07 Resources {or Wealth}: 007
Init: 26 HP: 050

Powers:
Electric Being: 08, Force Field: 03, Full Vision: 01, Lightning: 10, Power Reserve (STR): 04

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Force Field and Full Vision are Contingent upon Electric Being — at least 1 AP of EB must be on for either of them to function (-1FC).
  • Force Field is only effective against metallic objects (steel-jacketed bullets, etc.) (-2FC).
  • Full Vision is provided by a low-level electrical field, and thus acts like a motion detector rather than an actual visual ability (-0FC).
  • Power Reserve is Elementally Linked to Electric Being and can only be activated up to the current active APs of Electric Being minus 4 (-1FC).

Note:
While in costume, Black Lighting usually leaves Electric Being on at 1 AP to disguise his features and to keep Full Vision active. He won’t increase it to more than that except in combat with other metahumans to avoid accidental collateral damage to people or property.

Skills:
Acrobatics*: 07, Charisma*: 08, Detective*: 07, Martial Artist*: 07, Thief (Stealth)*: 07

Advantages:
Area Knowledge (Metropolis’ Suicide Slums, Cleveland’s Brick City), Confidant (Beagle), Expansive H.Q. (his brownstone apartment building’s basement), Government Credentials (Secretary of Education — Medium), Iron Nerves, Lightning Reflexes, Rich Friend (Wayne Foundation Grant), Scholar (Creative writing, English literature), Sidekick (Det. Tommy Colavito).

Connections:
Batman (High), Commissioner Latimer (Low), Outsiders I (High), JLA (Low).

Drawbacks:
Guilt (those he couldn’t save), Mistrust, Secret Identity (Jefferson Pierce).


Sidekick: Detective Tommy Colavito

Dex: 04 Str: 03 Bod: 04 Motivation: Thrill of Adventure
Int: 04 Wil: 05 Min: 04 Occupation: Police Detective
Inf: 04 Aur: 03 Spi: 04 Resources {or Wealth}: 005
Init: 14 HP: 15

Skills:
Charisma*: 04, Detective*: 04, Martial Artist*: 04, Thief (Stealth)*: 04, Vehicles (Land)*: 04, Weaponry (Firearms)*: 04

Advantages:
Area Knowledge (Brick City), Police Credentials (Low), Sharp Eye.

Connections:
Commissioner Latimer (High).


Previous statistics

Prior to the Dominator’s meta-bomb attack, Black Lightning’s meta-gene remained mostly unexpressed, its abilities only brought out by Peter Gambi’s Power-Belt. During this time, he had the same powers but could only use them while wearing the power belt [BODY 04].

By Roy Cowan.

Source of Character: DCU, character created by Tony Isabella.

Helper(s): DC Comics’ Who’s Who, Rob Maple.

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