We’ve reported on the development of this series a few times now, but today at the CW Upfronts, the network debuted its first-look trailer for its small screen adaptation of the electrifying DC hero, which joins an already robust line-up of comics-based shows at the network (Arrow, The Flash, iZombie, Riverdale, Supergirl, and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow).

It could be that actively great television is grabbing my attention more (Fargo, Better Call Saul, Catastrophe, etc…), but I’ve been feeling really burnt out on the CW shows in general. Even episodes that most consider quite fun like this week’s Supergirl, I’ve had a hard time not glancing down at my phone. But this trailer feels a bit more refreshing in that the hero is a bit older than the usual CW lead, and the cast looks to be mostly African American, another element that sets it apart from the rest of their superhero fare. Also the perspective of the retired hero coming back into action, while tried and true in the comics, is fairly new territory for these sets of shows.

The show will also NOT be set in the Arrowverse at its inception, per their presentation today. If that works for it or against it, I’ll let you decide.

Black Lightning is executive produced and showrun by Salim and Mara Bock Akil and Greg Berlanti, and stars Cress Williams, China Anne McLain, Nafessa Williams and Christine Adams. Black Lightning was created by Tony Isabella with Trevor Von Eeden.


  1. Justin, apparently not. Quoting Comic Vine, he’s a relatively recent creation:

    Black Lightning was created by Tony Isabella and Trevor Von Eeden in Black Lightning #1 in April 1977. Black Lightning was the first African-American superhero to have his own solo series. Though short lived, the series is known as an iconic addition to DC’s history.

  2. Oh jeez. You guys make me feel old.

    Black Lightning was created by Isabella and Eden and was first published in the spring of 1977. Black Vulcan appeared on the Superfriends TV show in the fall of 1977. According to Isabella, Hanna-Barbera requested to use Black Lightning in the cartoon, but on being told they would have to pay an additional fee to Isabella to use him (due to the contract he’d signed with DC), HB just made a knockoff named Black Vulcan to use on the cartoon.

    Here’s an old Wizard Universe interview with Isabella where he talks about it: https://web.archive.org/web/20080111224227/http://www.wizarduniverse.com/magazine/wizard/003717774.cfm

    Black Lightning was the major reason that Isabella and DC had conflicts for a long time. He felt that they screwed him over with various things because his contract included additional royalties that they didn’t want to pay him for, so they didn’t use Black Lightning in other media in ways that would have been beneficial to the character and to Isabella. (Later Alan Moore would have similar complaints about DC nickle and diming him for no good reason – DC had a long history of being pennywise and pound foolish when it came to stuff like that).

  3. The official credit line for Black Lightning, which was one I came up with and which was included in the CW press release, is …

    Black Lightning created by Tony Isabella with Trevor Von Eeden.

    At this point, I’ve corrected sites like the Beat so many times that I must assume they are willfully using the wrong credit and not the one agreed upon by all parties.

  4. ” Black Lightning was the first African-American superhero to have his own solo series. ”

    Actually, the Black Panther’s first solo series (in the unfortunately named “Jungle Action”) began in 1973, four years before Black Lightning’s debut.

  5. Tony, thanks for commenting. Nothing being done willfully here, I promise. You’ll note that your and Trevor’s names are the first ones listed in the initial paragraph as creators of the character.

    We’ll adjust the credit placement accordingly going forward. Thanks.

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