DC Black Label 2020
1972-1995: Jefferson Pierce
Written by John Ridley
Layouts by Giuseppe Camuncoli
Finishes by Andrea Cucchi
Coloured by José Villarrubia
Lettered by Steve Wands
Academy Award-winning screenwriter John Ridley (12 Years a Slave, Let It Fall) examines the mythology of the DC Universe in this compelling new miniseries that reframes iconic moments of DC history and charts a previously unexplored sociopolitical thread as seen through the prism of DC Super Heroes who come from traditionally disenfranchised groups.
This unique new series presents its story as prose by Ridley married with beautifully realized color illustrations from a selection of exciting illustrators and comics artists. Alex Dos Diaz provides art for #1, which follows the story of Jefferson Pierce, the man who will one day become Black Lightning, as he makes his way from being a young track star to a teacher and, ultimately, to his role as a hero.
I was intrigued by this when I heard it was coming out. I am a marginalised individual, though I doubt the homosexual (or Jewish) characters will be featured otherwise Extrano, Obsidian would be one of the featured characters. Still those of us on the fringes of society have similar enough backgrounds to fully understand each other, albeit in their own unique way. It is also an important moment in history that we are getting a series such as this and it is long overdue. If history has taught us anything its that we really aren’t that far removed from the fear of using marginalised characters in comics, the debate rages on now all too vocally, so everything in its own time and for this the time is now.
I am a huge fan of the way that this is being told. It is somewhat akin to the way we saw Iris Allen tell the Life Story of the Flash, not just somewhat actually prose with illustrations as we follow their lives along. The story & plot development we see through how the sequence of events unfold as well as how the reader learns information is presented exceptionally well. The character development is utterly and sensationally brilliant to see. At every stage of Jeff’s life we see him grow, evolve and become something he wasn’t before and it’s through all the high’s and low’s that is able to happen. The pacing is superb and as it takes us through the pages revealing his life story we are drawn into the life of a man whose story is completely relatable to.
The interiors are so completely beautifully rendered. The linework is exquisitely laid down and how we see the varying weights and techniques being utilised to showcase the detail work is phenomenal. The way backgrounds are utilised to enhance the moments that we see them and just bring us such size and scope to the story. The utilisation of the page layouts and how we see the angles and perspective in the panels show a stupendous eye for storytelling. The two page spread by the by is one of the most stunning looks at the arrival of the modern age of heroes. Also right aft that the harlequin pattern with the art inside them is a tremendous wow factor. The colour work is gorgeous! How we see the hues and tones within the colours being utilised to create the shading, highlights and shadow work is beautifully rendered. There are moments where we see some inspired colour choices and it’s so refreshing to see this kind of work being done.
I wasn’t sure what we were going to get with this. I mean I supposed you could say that Jeff is a sensible choice to start off with though I was worried we’d get a stereotype of the angry black man. We did of course but not in the way you would imagine and it’s an in-depth character study of a complex individual who loses and finds himself through his work, whether an educator or a superhero. This should be in every single comic lovers possession because it’s just that good.