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Black Lightning

     Jefferson Pierce 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/black_lightning_image.jpg
The original Electric Black Guy

DC's first headlining black hero, Jefferson Pierce was an Olympic athlete turned high school teacher who was dismayed by the extent to which his neighbourhood was being devastated by drug traffickers. Devising a costume that allowed him to discharge electricity, Jefferson took to the streets as Black Lightning, dispensing justice to the 100 gang and their boss, Tobias Whale. He later gained the power to control electricity without the use of his costume, and became a member of the Justice League, though he has never abandoned his connections to his home in Suicide Slum. His daughters Anissa and Jennifer are superheroes in their own right, and follow in their father's footsteps as Thunder and Lightning.


  • Afro Asskicker: Invoked. Black Lightning's original mask had a fake Afro attached to it. It was a part of his effort to conceal his identity as a straitlaced high school teacher.
  • Arch-Enemy: Tobias Whale, whose bid for control of Suicide Slum pushed Jefferson into heroism in the first place, and who has come back again and again to menace Black Lightning and his family.
  • Badass Teacher: High school teacher, Olympic athlete, superhero, and all around badass, with or without his powers.
  • Bald of Awesome: In many, though not all, of his modern appearances, Jefferson Pierce is portrayed as having gone bald.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Rivals Superman as one of the nicest guys at DC. Hurt someone he cares about and you will spend months recovering.
  • Chain Lightning: He can produce this effect to shock an entire room's worth of villains.
  • Clothes Make the Superman: At first he needed his suit to produce electricity. These days he produces the electricity himself; if his costume does anything it regulates his powers.
  • Color Character: Black Lightning. At the time of his introduction, it was more or less expected that African-American characters would have "black" in their names. These days he's often portrayed as having chosen the name to make a deliberate point about civil rights.
  • Electric Black Guy: The source of the trope.
  • Empowered Badass Normal: He was originally an Olympic athlete who wore a costume that let him discharge electricity. He later gained the power to control electricity for real.
  • Goggles Do Nothing: Originally, Black Lightning's goggles protected his eyes and concealed his identity. These days he's immune to electricity and his identity is public, yet he continues to wear the goggles anyway.
  • Harmless Electrocution: Often portrayed as capable of shocking an enemy unconscious without causing any permanent damage.
  • Internal Reformist: Joined the Luthor administration as Secretary of Education hoping to do some good, or at least mitigate the damage that Lex was doing to the country. He caught a lot of flak from his fellow heroes for this, although his daughter, Anissa, and her girlfriend, Grace, both understood.
  • In the Blood: His daughters inherited his powers.
  • It's Personal: With Tobias Whale and the 100, whose activities killed a number of his students.
  • Jive Turkey: Invoked. In his early appearances Black Lightning spoke in black slang...but high school teacher Jefferson Pierce did not.
  • The One Who Made It Out: Jefferson Pierce used his athletic success to escape Suicide Slum. He then came back to teach the next generation how to do the same.
  • Overprotective Dad: His daughters certainly see him this way, given his efforts to keep them out of the superhero business.
  • Parental Favouritism: Anissa has occasionally accused him of favouring Jennifer over her, though only mildly.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Shortly before Flashpoint, while on the Outsiders, Jeff expressed discomfort about Anissa being a lesbian.
  • Shock and Awe: His primary power.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Black Lighting originally had the output of a powerful taser. He's now capable of generating more power than a thunderstorm, incinerating enemies with lightning bolts, strengthening himself by absorbing electricity, and even transforming himself into electricity, becoming near invulnerable in the process.
  • Yellow Lightning, Blue Lightning: What colour his lightning is seems to vary from artist to artist. In the early days it was usually yellow; now it's most often blue.
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The Jefferson Family

     Anissa Pierce AKA Thunder 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/anissa_pierce_002.jpg
Anissa in her modern outfit

Jefferson Pierce's oldest daughter, Anissa's relationship with her father was strained by her decision to follow in his footsteps as a costumed hero. Possessed of the power to alter her density, Anissa can become too heavy to move and virtually impervious to harm, and can unleash shockwaves that blow her opponents off their feet. Serving in several incarnations of her father's old team, the Outsiders, Anissa struck up a relationship with fellow Outsider, Grace, becoming one of DC's most prominent (and most powerful!) lesbian couples. She has meant to retire from action on more than one occasion, but has always been pulled back into action.


  • Action Girl: Every bit as much of a badass as her dad.
  • Badass Lesbian: Anissa's in a same sex relationship with fellow Outsider, Grace Choi. Both of them can comfortably kick the rear end of any supervillain they encounter.
  • Battle Couple: She and Grace form a lesbian variant, both on the Outsiders and independently.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: With Grace before they got together.
  • Dark-Skinned Blonde: Has been portrayed as black with blonde hair, though this is not consistent; more recently she's drawn as having black hair.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: She's the femme lesbian while her partner Grace is the butch.
  • Mighty Glacier: Anissa slows down somewhat after raising her density but becomes practically invulnerable. She'd qualify as a Stone Wall but her Shockwave Stomp grants her notable offensive prowess
  • Nigh Invulnerable: Capable of increasing her density to the point of being Immune to Bullets and causing a mobster to break his fist on her face.
  • Shockwave Stomp: When super dense Anissa can create shockwaves by stomping her feet. Her "Thunder" codename stems from this.
  • Stripperriffic: Her costume from the mid-2000s which exposed most of her chest and stomach and could charitably be described as "impractical."
  • The Un-Favourite: Sometimes sees herself this way, as opposed to her little sister, Lightning.

     Jennifer Pierce AKA Lightning 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/jennifer_pierce_new_earth_001.jpg

  • Action Girl: Just as much a badass as her dad and her big sister.
  • Electric Black Guy: Female variant. Lightning is a black woman with control over electricity.
  • In the Blood: Inherited her father's powerset.
  • Shock and Awe: Like her father, Lightning is capable of controlling electricity.
  • Walking Techbane: Justified. Lightning's control over her powers isn't perfect yet, and she often shorts out electrical equipment when she touches it.
  • Yellow Lightning, Blue Lightning: Often depicted with yellow lightning, as distinct from her father's blue lightning.

     Lynn Stewart (Jefferson's Ex-Wife) 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/lynn_stewart.jpg

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Friends and Allies

    Grace Choi 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/250px_grace_choi.jpg
"It's pretty well-established that I am a tough bitch."

Anissa Pierce's long term girlfriend, Grace is a giant of a woman with a short temper and immense superstrength. Recruited into the Outsiders by her friend (and occasional partner) Arsenal, Grace served alongside Anissa/Thunder for the duration of the team's existence. While the two women often clashed publicly, behind closed doors was another matter, and they eventually entered into permanent relationship and moved in together. Volatile and not known for her tact, Grace is nevertheless very protective of Anissa, and her father-in-law, Black Lightning.


  • Amazonian Beauty: Grace's raw sexuality and raw power have always gone together.
  • Battle Couple: She and Anissa are a lesbian version.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: With Thunder before they got together.
  • Blood Knight: Grace is a serious adrenaline junkie and joined the Outsiders for the chance to crack skulls and make money.
  • Boobs of Steel: She was easily the bustiest Outsider, and the strongest as well.
  • Brutal Honesty: Blunt to the point of rudeness, which occasionally strained her relationship with the other Outsiders.
  • Butch Lesbian: Downplayed. She hits almost every requirement for the archetype but is saved from being entirely stereotypical by virtue of being bi rather than gay.
  • Dragon Lady: Subverted. Grace has the overt sexuality, heightened aggression, mysterious past, tattoos, and Asian ancestry associated with the trope but is one of the good guys.
  • Ethical Slut: Grace has a long list of former partners, both serious and casual, but she's not one to cheat or deliberately harm someone, and she's been entirely loyal to Thunder since they hooked up.
  • Fiery Redhead: Justified. Grace dyes her hair to match her personality.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Grace eventually discovered that she's descended from the Bana-Mighdal tribe of Amazons. This explains at least some of her superpowers and her aggressive personality (as well as her not-insignificant resemblance to Bana leader Artemis), though she's actually stronger than most Amazons save Diana, Donna, and Cassie.
  • Healing Factor: Regenerates injuries at a heightened rate. Sabbac once burned off her face; she'd grown it back within a few hours.
  • Ironic Name: "Grace" is a lumbering giant with the personality of a surly bartender. She herself lampshades it, saying "Grace is my name, not my manner.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Huge, fast, and capable of crushing steel with her bare hands.
  • Only in It for the Money: She only joined the Outsiders because Arsenal promised her better pay then she was making bar-tending.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Seven feet tall, 230 pounds, universally regarded as hot.
  • Super Strength: Her primary power. Even for someone with Amazonian ancestry, Grace is ridiculously strong, clocking in just below the likes of Wonder Woman.
  • Tattooed Crook: Grace's tattoos speak to her less than reputable past.

Black Lightning's Rogues Gallery

     Ned Creegan 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/one_man_meltdown_batman_outsiders_dc_comics.jpg

A petty criminal with the power to charge his body like a dynamo at the cost of his lifespan, Ned Creegan assumed the identity of Bag O'Bones and was bested by Batman on his first criminal outing. Sprung from prison by Tobias Whale and the 100, Creegan was subjected to an experiment that restored his life expectancy, and granted him new radiation-based powers as Cyclotronic Man. Taking on Black Lightning, Creegan was returned to jail, where his powers went into overdrive and caused his body to breakdown. Dubbing himself "the One-Man Meltdown", Creegan went on one final rampage that was halted by Black Lightning and the Outsiders, who proved in the process that the prison warden had helped push Creegan's powers into meltdown as part of a plot to kill him.


  • Cast from Hit Points: Creegan's original electric powers shortened his lifespan every time he used them. His later radiation powers didn't have this issue...but did irradiate his body and eventually send him into meltdown.
  • Dumb Muscle: Creegan's intellect was what limited him most as a villain.
  • One-Man Army: As One-Man Meltdown, Creegan was a match for the entire Outsiders roster.
  • Rogues-Gallery Transplant: Originally an extremely minor Batman villain as Bag O'Bones he went on to menace Black Lightning as Cyclotronic Man in his original series. Fittingly, his last appearance as One-Man Meltdown saw him battling both Batman and Black Lightning when they served together in the original Outsiders.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Creegan took one between each of his appearances, going from someone who could match Batman, to someone who could defeat Black Lightning and deal some minor damage to Superman, to a threat to the entire team of Outsiders.
  • Tragic Villain: As the One-Man Meltdown, Creegan didn't want to hurt anybody or even break the law. He just wanted treatment for his condition so that he could serve out his prison sentence without dying.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Of Tobias Whale and the 100, who knew perfectly well what their radiation experiment would do to Creegan but could not possibly have cared less.

     Ishmael 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/969767_ishmael.jpg

A shapeshifting agent of Tobias Whale's, sent to murder one of Jefferson Pierce's friends. Confronted by Black Lightning and the second Gangbuster, Ishmael was soundly defeated and has not been seen since.


  • Bald of Evil: His default appearance features no hair, though given that he's a shapeshifter this may not mean much.
  • Evil Albino: The white skin and red eyes of Ishmael's default form mark him as one, though whether this is natural albinism, or an affectation to please his albino boss is not clear.
  • Fangs Are Evil: Depicted with a mouthful of razor sharp fangs, and undoubtedly evil.
  • Hired Guns: One of several characters contracted by Tobias Whale to kill Black Lightning, although his codename and references to Whale being his "master" do hint at a closer relationship between he and his boss.
  • Moby Schtick: Reinforces Whale's Moby Dick theme. His first words to Black Lightning are even "call me Ishmael" and he makes a few other references to the book during their battle.
  • One-Shot Character: Ishmael appeared in a single issue of Black Lightning as an agent of the 100 sent to kill Black Lightning by Whale.
  • Professional Killer: Retained by Whale as an assassin.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Depicted with red eyes not dissimilar from those of his boss.
  • Rubber Man: His size and shapeshifting powers also allowed him to expand or stretch his body at will.
  • Size Shifter: Could alter his size at will.
  • Voluntary Shape Shifting: Could change his size and shape effectively enough to require both Black Lightning and Gangbuster II to defeat.

     Painkiller 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/painkiller_dc_comics_black_lightning.jpg
Prepare to be anesthetized

A high level mob enforcer in the employ of the Brothers Who Rule, Painkiller has the body of a professional wrestler, the mannerisms of an anal retentive professor, and the power to shut down his victims' senses and nervous systems, leaving them blind and paralyzed. Ordered to take down Black Lightning, Painkiller gave the hero a serious fight but nevertheless failed and has not been seen again.


  • Axe-Crazy: It's hidden well by his erudite manner but Painkiller's a homicidal maniac.
  • Badass Bandolier: Wears an ammunition belt across his torso.
  • Bad Boss: Uses the younger members of the Brothers Who Rule as bait and expendable muscle in his trap for Black Lightning and the police, fully intending that they die alongside the operation's targets.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: Painkiller has blades on his wrists and built into the palms of his forearm bracers.
  • The Chessmaster: Manipulated Black Lightning, the police, and several second string Brothers Who Rule into a confrontation that was meant to eliminate all three.
  • Dreadlock Warrior: Exaggerated. A gigantic mob enforcer who wears his hair in dreadlocks and weaves knives into said hair.
  • Fights Like a Normal: Painkiller can psychically maim his victims with his powers, but he has to finish them off the same way any other mobster would—with guns and knives.
  • Frame-Up: Aims to kill off Black Lightning and the youngest members of the Brothers Who Rule during a shootout with the police. Since none of the police will be able to recall what happened, courtesy of Painkiller's powers, it will look like the cops slaughtered defenseless teenagers and preteens for no reason.
  • Genius Bruiser: Painkiller looks like The Brute, talks like The Spock, and plans like The Chessmaster.
  • Knife Nut: Carries multiple knives on his person and wears them braided into his hair.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Endeared himself to the young rank and file of the BWR while setting them up as pawns in his plan.
  • One-Shot Character: Like most Black Lightning villains not named "Tobias Whale", Painkiller hasn't been seen since his original appearance.
  • People Puppets: Downplayed. Painkiller's powers allow him to shut down a person's senses or their control over their own limbs, but he does not gain control over their movements himself.
  • Power Fist: His heavy forearm bracers, which can catch an opponent's attacks or open up their face with a punch.
  • Power Palms: The blades built into the palms of his forearm bracers.
  • Psycho for Hire: He might claim otherwise, but it's obvious that Painkiller is in it for the violence at least as much as he is the money.
  • Sadist: Painkiller enjoys every moment of watching his victims' terror.
  • Scary Black Man: He's a six foot nine African-American with dreadlocks, the fashion sense of a stereotypical gang banger, and the attitude of a homicidal sadist.
  • Sensory Overload: Painkiller can go one better and simply switch a target's sense to "off", without exposing them to any other stimuli.
  • Slasher Smile: Sports a truly impressive one when gloating to the kids he's about to murder.
  • The Sociopath: Made pretty clear by his willingness to butcher an entire street gang to get to Black Lightning.
  • Spock Speak: Affects the mannerisms and speech patterns of a detached upper class snob. It's a cover to keep his psychopathy from becoming too obvious.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Subverted. Painkiller's rages make him stronger and harder to put down, but prevent him from thinking clearly.
  • Unusual Euphemism: "Anesthetized", which he uses as a shorthand for the way his powers effect the target's body.
  • Wicked Cultured: Painkiller tries to present as a well-rounded intellectual, despite his brutish physical appearance.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Uses teenagers and preteens as bait in his trap for Black Lightning, planning to kill them off and then blame the police for their deaths.
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     The 100 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/the_100_0.png

A massive criminal organization with global reach, The 100 keep a lower profile than groups like Intergang, mostly working through local intermediaries and street level gangs. Operating out of Suicide Slum, the Metropolis branch is headed by Black Lightning's archnemesis Tobias Whale, and controls most of the city's drug traffic.


  • Gang Bangers: The 100's leadership might be sophisticated and global, but its foot soldiers are typically young, poor, and drawn from local street gangs.
  • Generic Ethnic Crime Gang: The Metropolis branch of the 100 is primarily African-American, with Gang Bangers as foot troops and classier "black mafioso" types like Tobias Whale at the top.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The 100's immortal founders and true leaders, who remain almost entirely offscreen, allowing local cell leaders to make their own decisions.
  • Nebulous Criminal Conspiracy: The 100 is thoroughly decentralized, with operatives that include everyone from local Gang Bangers on up through mafiosi. The seldom seen leadership have been implied, at various points, to be vampires or other mystical beings, though they rarely take a direct hand in events, preferring to let regional bosses like Tobias Whale handle their problems for them.
  • The Syndicate: The 100 have a lower profile than Intergang or their own parent organization, The 1000, but they're still a huge, if decentralized group, with the ability to deploy agents all over the world.

     Tobias Whale 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/tobias_whale_0011_7.jpg
The Great White Whale

An albino gang boss with an imposing physique and an eye for profit, Tobias Whale was the uncrowned—and unchallenged—king of Suicide Slum before Black Lightning arrived on the scene. The undisputed leader of Metropolis' 100, Whale has frequently tried to expand his operations outside of the city's slums, making plays for control of The 1000 and Intergang, and even trying to horn in on Gotham City's drug trade, precipitating a mob war with the Penguin in the process. Prone to warring with other gangsters and vigilantes like Batman alike, Whale nonetheless holds a special hatred in his heart for Black Lightning and counts the hero as his worst and most persistent and personal enemy.


  • Alternate Company Equivalent: As a grossly overweight mobster who walks the line between supervillainy and more traditional organized crime he's DC's equivalent of the Kingpin, though differentiated by virtue of his race and albinism.
  • Animal Motif: "Whale", of course. His surname is "Whale", his nickname is "The Great White Whale", and he wears a Moby Dick inspired signet ring. Even his Weapon of Choice, when he chooses to carry one, is a harpoon, a weapon most associated with whalers and whaling.
  • Arch-Enemy: By far the most well known enemy of Jefferson Pierce and certainly the most personal.
  • Badass Normal: Whale has no superpowers, but his bulk and brilliant criminal intellect still make him Black Lightning's worst enemy and a force to be reckoned with in the Metropolis underworld.
  • Bald of Evil: Rarely, if ever, depicted with hair.
  • Big Bad: Of the original Black Lightning run, the Black Lightning/Blue Devil team up, and much of "Gotham Underground" prior to the arrival of Intergang.
  • Blade on a Stick: Whale normally relies on his sheer size in fights, but when forced to arm himself he's been known to go for a harpoon, fitting his Moby Dick theme.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: The conclusion of his war with Intergang saw Intergang buy out Tobias' Gotham enterprises and set him up as their figurehead CEO of Kord Industries.
  • Depending on the Artist: How disfigured Tobias is seems entirely up to artist discretion. Sometimes he's portrayed as a normal looking (if huge) man with albinism, other times he's deformed to the point of resembling a humanoid whale.
  • The Don: Of the Metropolis branch of The 100, one of DC's largest criminal gangs. "Gotham Underground" saw him try to expand into Gotham City following the death of Black Mask, where he aimed to become that city's new "Boss of Bosses".
  • Eviler Than Thou: Whale attempt at becoming Gotham's new Boss of Bosses saw him go to war with both the Penguin's mob outfit and a branch of Intergang in order to determine who was going to be the real Big Bad of the story.
  • Evil Albino: For the majority of his publication history, Whale's pale skin has been portrayed as the result of albinism. Unlike many examples it acts not only as a signifier of his evil, but an enabler, since his skin tone allows him to pass as white and therefore benefit from white privilege and racist power structures.
  • Fat Bastard: Whale is built like the proverbial brick outhouse, tipping the scales at a morbidly obese four hundred pounds.
  • Foil: To Black Lightning. Jefferson Pierce is a star athlete and civil rights activist who came home to make a difference, while Whale is an obese gangster who downplays his racial origins and oppresses his old neighbourhood.
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: Whale always dresses expensively, in the best clothes his drug money can buy.
  • Mob War: Whale has warred with numerous other gangs in Metropolis and Gotham alike, and following the death of Black Mask was one of the key players in the mob violence that consumed Gotham. He took over several major crime families and was moving on the Penguin's turf when he was bought out by Intergang.
  • Moby Schtick: Whale's name, nickname, Weapon of Choice, and appearance all make him a walking reference to Moby Dick's titular whale.
  • No-Sell: During the early Black Lightning stories, Tobias' sheer bulk made him invulnerable to Jefferson's electric powers—since Black Lightning could only put out as much energy as an average taser, and Whale was far larger than most men, he was unfazed by the shock, which forced Jefferson's to face him hand-to-hand.
  • Purple Is Powerful: Tobias' suits are almost always one shade of purple or another.
  • Red Baron: "The Great White Whale".
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: One of the few consistent features in artistic depictions of Whale is that his albinism has given him red, or at least red-tinged, eyes.
  • Red Right Hand: Whale's albinism marks him as evil to audiences, though ironically, it often shields him from prosecution in-universe (since he looks white to Metropolis' racially biased police). Some writers, missing this point, have exaggerated his deformity, drawing him as resembling a humanoid white whale rather than a person.
  • Rogues-Gallery Transplant: He's set up shop in Gotham and tangled with Batman, though he always returns to Metropolis and Black Lightning in the end.
  • Scary Black Man: As a huge, physically intimidating African-American gang boss, Whale certainly has aspects of this trope, especially when put up against "model minority" Jefferson Pierce, though his albinism gives it a different feel.
  • Stout Strength: Four hundred pounds. Immensely strong.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Whale lacks Jefferson's athletic training, but at four hundred pounds and six foot five he doesn't really need it.
  • Villain Team-Up: His mob has worked with The 1000 and Intergang in the past, and Whale has concluded personal alliances with a number of other figures in the Metropolis and Gotham underworlds.

     Warhog 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/warhog.jpg

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