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The Other History Of The DC Universe #1 Review: A Brave & Bold Story

With a notably cinematic flair and deep characterization, this intense look beyond the looking glass takes the canonical history of the DC Universe. It gives resonance to events and personalities that went unseen before. The work being done by the Marvel Snapshots series borrows heavily from the likes of Astro City in how it frames the fantastic events of a comic book world, and this book takes a similar tactic with the added layer of the complex racial and political history of the United States.
The Other History Of The DC Universe #1 Review: A Brave & Bold Story
The cover of The Other History Of The DC Universe #1. Credit: DC Comics
Writer John Ridley digs deep into Jefferson Pierce, showing a lot of the nuance Cress Williams exhibited in the hit CW series. There is a wonderful through-line that shows the desire to rise above one's station and the everpresent pressures working against that desire that Ridley plays like a Stradivarius or a Stratocaster. You should prepare yourself for the fact that this does not play like a standard comic book. There are almost no panel divisions, no speech balloons, no action scenes. More like an illustrated novel, carefully typeset text (it's a little teensy, honestly, but shout out to the publication design of Kenny Lopez) and still shots from pivotal moments (check the end of the Outsiders for an iconic shot, or Superman hovering over Suicide Slum) let Giuseppi Camumcoli, Andrea Cucchi, Jose Villarrubia, and Steve Wands lay out what's essentially an oral history of Black Lightning.
This work has a literary quality that's more award bait-ish than, say, your latest crossover. Ridley's approach elevates the characters as it sometimes recasts them in lights that are less heroic than one might be used to. What's interesting to any student of comics history is how Black Lightning's initial brush with Justice League membership is so like that of the Falcon, how the need for a hero of color supersedes the importance of their own abilities or distinctiveness.
Many superhero fans might be turned off by descriptions of Superman's white privilege or the optics-focused Justice League with its largely homogenous ethnic makeup. In a word: tough. Heroes rise to confront the challenges of their day, and crying because you only have thirty-seven lead characters who look vaguely like you instead of thirty-nine is not a position Superman or Batman or any of their contemporaries could support. Like Batman: The Hill or Far Sector or, frankly, the entire Milestone line, this is the voice of people who didn't share a background with Julius Schwartz or Tom DeFalco, no less relevant for its statistical rarity in the industry.
This is a brave and bold story that contextualizes an experience some may consider as alien as Krypton or Thanagar. RATING: BUY.
By John Ridley, Guiseppi Camuncoli, Andrea Cucchi, Jamal Campbell
Academy Award-winning screenwriter John Ridley (12 Years a Slave, Let It Fall) examines the mythology of the DC Universe in this compelling new miniseries that reframes iconic moments of DC history and charts a previously unexplored sociopolitical thread as seen through the prism of DC Super Heroes who come from traditionally disenfranchised groups.This unique new series presents its story as prose by Ridley married with beautifully realized illustrations by Giuseppe Camuncoli and Andrea Cucchi. Issue #1 follows the story of Jefferson Pierce, the man who will one day become Black Lightning, as he makes his way from being a young track star to a teacher and, ultimately, to his role as a hero. Future issues focus on characters such as Karen and Mal Duncan, Tatsu Yamashiro, and Renee Montoya. Extensively researched and masterfully executed, The Other History of the DC Universe promises to be an experience unlike any other. You may think you know the history of the DC Universe — but the truth is far more complex. The Other History of the DC Universe isn't about saving the world — it's about having the strength to simply be who you are.

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Hannibal TabuAbout Hannibal Tabu

Hannibal Tabu is a writer, journalist, DJ, poet and designer living in south Los Angeles with his wife and children. He's a winner of the 2012 Top Cow Talent Hunt, winner of the 2018-2019 Cultural Trailblazer award from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, his weekly comic book review column THE BUY PILE can be found on iHeartRadio's Nerd-O-Rama podcast, his reviews can be found on, and more information can be found at his website, Plus, get free weekly web comics on the Operative Network at
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