Precinct1313 Recommends: The Other History Of The DC Universe
DC Comics’ new limited series The Other History Of The DC Universe is phenomenal, a must read and an important milestone in comic book diversity. Now, I could, in all honesty end the post with just that minor amount of information on this fantastic debut issue and just urge you all to go out and purchase this landmark comic-book, but, this John Ridley penned epic series is so deserving of praise that I shall continue to heap on as many superlatives as I can manage to muster up.
John Ridley is a screenwriter, novelist and producer of American Crime and the superlative biographical period drama 12 Years A Slave, and with this new mini-series turns his formidable literary talents towards traditionally marginalised characters such as Thunder, Mal and Karen Duncan, Renee Montoya and Katana, with this inaugural issue focusing on Jefferson Pierce, also known as the electricity infused meta-human – Black Lightning.
The series doesn’t conform to the atypical comic-book format, but reads like a visual novel, a pictorial prose if you prefer, with the flow of the story presented in a diary/memoir style from the perspective of Jefferson. Taking place between 1972 and 1995, we follow Jefferson’s maturation from young man to eventual athlete, teacher and finally superhero in his subsequent Black Lightning form.
Through Jefferson’s perspective we witness the consequent escalation of DC’s heroes including the trinity of Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman, with Jefferson struggling to comprehend why beings of such power can’t seem to tackle widely prevalent social injustices, poverty and discrimination, when they are so readily able to stop alien invasions, marauding gods and overtly powerful SuperVillains. It is here that Jefferson marks what makes a real hero, utilising both his ability as a teacher to enlighten and shape his pupils to help fight back against intolerance and iniquity, and his heroic Black Lightning persona to take that fight to the oppressors themselves.
John Ridley’s phenomenal prose is accompanied by some wonderful visuals courtesy of Giuseppe Camuncoli and Andrea Cucchi, and perfectly encapsulate the differing visual styles of each era of DC and Black Lightning’s lengthy comic history.
Ridley’s “Other History Of The DC Universe” is absolutely an astounding chronicle, a beautifully written and adaptive work of visual prose that deals in highlighting the Superhero perspective from marginalised and disenfranchised minorities, the unusual approach to the comic book itself both verbally and visually is refreshing and I for one cannot wait to indulge in the next four issues of this wonderful series. Highly, highly recommended!