Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #5 Review and **SPOILERS**

The Whale Wales

Writer: Tony Isabella
Artist: Clayton Henry & Yviel Guichet
Colorist: Pete Pantazis
Letterer: Josh Reed
Cover: Ken Lashley with Juan Fernandez
Cover Price: $3.99
On Sale Date: March 7, 2018


This has been a pretty enjoyable story, unfortunately stretched out into six issues. Not to say any one of them has been bad—the art team is terrific and Tony Isabella can certainly write an engaging comic book. But here we are, at the inevitable conflict between Tobias Whale and Jefferson Pierce, and I almost forgot about this conflict’s inevitability. But that doesn’t mean the conflict isn’t captivating! Is it, though? Find out in my review of Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #5, right here!

Explain It!

Cleveland, at least the Cleveland as shown in this series, has seen better days. It’s overrun with gangs toting alien weaponry and the entire city is on edge. This is all well and good for gun-runner Tobias Whale’s business, but not so good for Jefferson Pierce, either in his capacity as a high school teacher, or as the electrifying crime-fighter Black Lightning. Still, the hot principal at the school, Lynn Stewart, is making fuck-eyes at him, so it’s not all bad. Down at the police department, they’ve got the reptilian alien Sssears, who orchestrated a gunfight with the police happening over the last two issues. The Cleveland Police are balking over handing snakeface over to the DEO, at least until they get the information they want, but the clock is ticking! (NOTE FOR YOUNGER READERS: Way back when, clocks used to make a “tick tock” sound.)
Off-panel, Black Lightning gets a tip about Tobias Whale being holed up in an out-of-the-way warehouse. He knows it’s a trap, but he goes anyway because that’s what superheroes always do for some reason. Once he’s in the warehouse and finds Whale and his assistant Miss Pequod, the doors are locked and Tobias goes to town with these special gloves that negate Pierce’s electricity powers. Then, it’s just a matter of Tobias Whale pummeling Black Lightning, and…oh goodness. Oh my. That’s quite a beat-down, there. Gracious me. Jefferson fights back, and begins to get the upper hand, but when his shapeshifting pal Usagi shows up to help and Whale shoots him dead (with icicles?), that saps the fight outta Jeff, and he looks about to receive the killing blow—next issue!

Again, by itself this is a solid issue, but as part of a series, the story continues to move inexorably slow. Much of this issue reads like recap—more or less nullifying the previous four issues in this miniseries. Black Lightning meeting Tobias Whale reads kind of flat—perhaps more time could have been spent developing his character than spending two and a half issues on a crazy alien gun battle. It did look good, but I feel like substance was sacrificed for flash. The whole miniseries looks great, frankly, and that alone might make it a worthwhile trade collection. Reading this issue-to-issue is just too dull.

Bits and Pieces:

A too-quick read with not much advancing the overall plot. This has been a beautiful-looking miniseries with some interesting bits, but thus far it could have been done in one issue. Here's hoping the final issue wraps things up in some amazing way that makes spending the previous twenty bucks worth it.


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