Black Lightning (Jefferson Pierce) was one of the first major African American superhero to appear in DC Comics. He debuted in Black Lightning #1 (April 1977), and was created by Tony Isabella and Trevor Von Eeden.
The original candidate for DC Comics' first headlining black superhero was a character called the Black Bomber, a black hero who was actually a white racist and later described by cartoonist and self proclaimed comics historian Don Markstein as "an insult to practically everybody with any point of view at all." 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, Marvel Comics' first black superhero with his own title) was asked to salvage the character. Isabella managed to convince editors of his Black Lightning character which he had been working on for some time, mentioning that his characters along the way were merely stepping stones.
Tony Isabella wrote the first ten issues of Black Lightning, before handing over to Dennis O'Neil. Only one O'Neil-scripted issue came out before the series was canceled in 1978 as part of a general large-scale pruning of the company's superhero titles known as the DC Implosion (which also canceled the debut of Vixen, which would have been DC's first title starring a female black superhero). Issue #12 was published in Cancelled Comic Cavalcade, then formally published in World's Finest #260.
Black Lightning made a number of guest appearances in various titles over the next few years, including a string of issues of World's Finest written by O'Neil, then shifting to Detective Comics and a two-part story in Justice League of America in which the League invited him to join, but he turned them down.
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Official Site: DC Comics
Links: Wikipedia Entry Mykey3000 Entry DC Database- Black Lightning