"An exciting new entry to the superhero genre" – Critical round-up of Black Lightning

There’s a new superhero on the block. Black Lightning is not only getting audiences abuzz, but critics too. For those not in the know, Black Lightning - secret identity Jefferson Pierce - is a DC superhero infused with, you guessed it, electric super-powers. Often relegated to historical footnote, he’s been handed the reins for his own superhero show. Spoiler: It’s good. It’s real good.

If charting at a 100% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes isn’t enough for you then feel free to take a gander below at what the reviewers have to say about CW’s latest superhero show. 

For those curious about seeing what all the fuss is about, Black Lightning airs Sundays at 9pm EST on CW and will premiere on Netflix in the UK on January 23.

Black Lightning’s origins and powers – Entertainment Weekly (B+)

“Perhaps the superhero known as Black Lightning could help, but he’s been missing in action for nine years now. Instead, Jefferson is living a peaceful life as the principal of Garfield High, though his electricity powers still bubble out when he’s feeling particularly angry or stressed — such as when he gets pulled over by a police officer and harassed for no reason, right in front of his daughters.”

How Black Lightning compares to other shows – Newsday (3/4)

“Is Black Lightning a great addition to DC’s TV canon? The answer will come in time, because it takes time. The pilot’s tropes are overly familiar, the action sequences predictable. But this is absolutely a welcome addition, potentially a valuable one, and indisputably a long overdue one.”

Black Lightning’s unique mix of superhero social commentary – IndieWire (B)

“Some of the strongest elements of Black Lightning see the show engaging with the social issues, from gang violence to police brutality, without being defined by them. Jefferson isn’t Freeland’s sole arbiter of social justice or a conduit for community morality — he’s a man trying to help preserve his family as a father and partner. He’s an educator grappling with the legacy of his former students who’ve chosen a more destructive personal path.”

Black Lightning’s confident start – AVClub (A-)

“[Showrunners] The Akils have added an exciting new entry to the superhero genre, one that quickly strikes a balance between its light and heavy storytelling. And they’ve found a truly compelling lead in Williams, while keeping an eye on the future (and franchising) with its younger stars. Just as important, they’ve built a world where heroes of all kinds are needed, and then immediately filled that demand—no capes, quivers, or speedsters required.”

Black Lightning daring to be different – Uproxx (no rating)

“The series doesn’t always tackle these ideas gracefully — or, at least, subtly: its fictional city is called Freeland. But the canvas the Akils are painting on feels much richer for looking beyond basic good vs evil, time travel, doppelgangers, and all the other tropes of the genre”

Image: CW/DC

Bradley Russell

I'm the Senior Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, focusing on news, features, and interviews with some of the biggest names in film and TV. On-site, you'll find me marveling at Marvel and providing analysis and room temperature takes on the newest films, Star Wars and, of course, anime. Outside of GR, I love getting lost in a good 100-hour JRPG, Warzone, and kicking back on the (virtual) field with Football Manager. My work has also been featured in OPM, FourFourTwo, and Game Revolution.