Black Lightning, CW’s upcoming superhero show, has been expected to drop sometime in 2018 since it was announced by the network. Now, though, it’s been put on their schedule a little earlier than anticipated – one month before Marvel’s Black Panther is released.
The character, originally introduced in 1977, was not the original candidate for DC Comics’ first headlining black superhero. That distinction goes to a character called the Black Bomber, a white racist who would turn into a black superhero under stress. When the editor who had approved the Black Bomber left the company before the character had seen print, Tony Isabella (whose previous writing experience included Luke Cage, a black Marvel Comics superhero with his own title) was asked to salvage the character. Realizing the potential issues a character like the Black Bomber would create, Isabella managed to convince editors to instead use his Black Lightning character which he had been working on for some time.
The character has since been a member of the Justice League and the Outsiders.
Marvel’s Black Panther, set to make his movie debut on Feb. 16, 2018, was the first black superhero in mainstream American comics, debuting years before such early superheroes as Marvel’s Falcon (1969) and Luke Cage (1972), and DC Comics’ Green Lantern John Stewart (1971) and Black Lightning (1977).