Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #4
Written By Tony Isabella
Art By Clayton Henry
Published by DC Comics
Release Date February 7, 2018
Black Lightning Cold Dead Hands has been hands down one of my favorite monthly items to pull when I visit my local comic book store. Tony Isabella’s return to his classic creation shows that it’s possible to breathe new life into one of the classics and make it just as timely today as it was back in the day. The issue four of the six-issue miniseries, which I’m hoping gets upgraded to an ongoing, continues to follow the Cleveland hero as he attempts to figure out who is releasing highly-dangerous weapons onto the streets of his hometown.
Issue 4 opens right where issue 3 left off with Black Lightning and the Cleveland Police Department trying to keep the Simmons kids out of danger as they attempt to apprehend them while also defending themselves against an attack from Tobias Whale’s “Weathermen”. As the battle between Black Lightning, law enforcement, and the tech-empowered criminals of Cleveland rages on we see Officer Henry Casey attempt to keep his promise of keeping the kids safe. During the battle, Black Lightning decides that the only real way to help not only the kids, but the injured officers who were hurt when the first shots with the Weathermen broke out, is to draw the Weathermen’s fire. Sure enough as Black Lightning begins to retreat from the scene White Thunder and the Weathermen follow him allowing the officers to not only get the boys away from the scene but also allowing them to start trying to assist the injured officers.
As the battle continues, in another part of Cleveland, Tobias Whale and his assistant Miss Pequod discuss what Whale refers to as “Tonight’s Commercial” in reference to the events happening between Cleveland law enforcement and The Weathermen. Whale is quite happy about the display of his weapons and what he knows will be the results of tonight’s firefight. Tobias knows that fear of the weapons will only cause the sale of his products to skyrocket due to people wanting those very weapons for themselves as a means to defend themselves. Tobias is essentially providing a solution to the problem that he created by using the very thing that started the problem, to begin with. While Whale is confident in the numbers and the sales that he is about to produce he still recognizes that there are some loose ends that still need to be tied up and that’s when Miss Pequod herself volunteers to handle them. After having drawn the fire of the Weathermen and dispatching two of them, Black Lightning is then blindsided by the humanoid serpent SSSear who is parading around as White Thunder. The two duke it out with Black Lightning, of course, coming out on top while dropping a Han Solo quote. One of the interesting things about the fight is that White Thunder seems surprised that his men would attack him as a means to also dispatch Black Lightning in order to collect the bounty that Tobias Whale has placed on his head.
One of my favorite aspects of this issue and honestly the entire mini-series as a whole is that we get to see how all of this affects the community. Not in an abstract type of way, no we get to see the very people who live in this neighborhood and we get to interact with them as they deal with the violence, discrimination, and the corruption that populates the area. One of the running questions in the issue is “Where were you when terror came to Cleveland?” and we in a way get to see that question answered by seeing various people from the neighborhood and Black Lightning’s life watch the incident unfold on tv. We get to see everyone from Jack Carella, Usagi, and Kitaro to Sgt. Ernie Colavito and Jefferson’s grandmother Loretta Henderson. I love that the series doesn’t shy away from showing us just how Black Lightning and his fight for the city affects and impacts all of them. The page dedicated to seeing Miss Loretta’s reaction to the ensuing battle becomes all the more interesting when we get to see Anissa and Jennifer Pierce who many fans may recognize as Thunder and Lightning the children of Black Lightning. However, in this mini-series, the girls aren’t his children, but they are instead his cousins and it would seem that superpowers seem to run in the family as the girls exhibit the same powers as their cousin Jefferson. It’s interesting that Isabella still chose to include Anissa and Jennifer in the mini-series even if they aren’t his children. I do love though that the girl’s appearance does seem to hint that at some point we may see them suit up as their superhero alter egos in order to help their cousin Jefferson.
Throughout the rest of the issue, we see Black Lightning, Tommi, and Denise working together with the other officers to handle the remaining Weathermen. Their efforts are successful, but that’s not the most interesting aspect of the final pages of the issue. One of the final pages is dedicated to informing the reader of the deaths that occurred that night and at the bottom of the page, we see Tobias Whale’s assistant Miss Pequod, who has seemingly carried through on her word to Whale that she would handle the loose ends. The final page, however, is dedicated to Whale confessing his disappointment in not just SSSear, but the Weathermen as a whole and so in true super-villain fashion he decides to kill Black Lightning himself.
GoC Finale Review
As a whole Black Lightning Cold Dead Hands is a mini-series that has not been afraid to address racism and prejudice in America. Tony Isabella has done a fantastic job of updating his classic creation Black Lightning and giving us a timely story meshed with sci-fi superhero aspects. At its core, Black Lightning is the story of a young Black man who just wants to protect his city and his people from those who would wish to do it harm. Isabella does a fantastic job of respectfully using aspects of Black culture as a means to tell the story that he wants the reader to see. Issue #4 of Cold Dead Hands continues the great work that Isabella has been putting out every month. With each new issue, I grow sad of the miniseries potential end, but I also grow more and more hopeful that DC will see just how popular Isabella’s Black Lightning is an upgrade from a six-issue miniseries to a full-blown monthly book. With Isabella’s writing and Clayton Henry’s art together these two fantastic artists have made this character and the characters within his universe absolutely sing and, let me tell you, I love the tune. So here’s to hoping for a much longer Black Lightning run and to the hope of seeing Anissa and Jennifer suit up.