The 2017-2018 television season will see the debut of Black Lightning on The CW, and while the network's latest superhero drama won't take place in the Arrowverse, that doesn't mean it won't be mining the back issue bins for DC Universe continuity.
In Black Lightning, Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) comes out of retirement to take on a local gang known as The One Hundred. The leader of this gang is Tobias Whale (Marvin "Krondon" Jones III), and while The CW would like you to think he's the big bad of the show, there are hints that a more sinister power will be involved.
Singer/songwriter Jill Scott has been cast in the role of Lady Eve. The official character description says she's Whale's contact to "a secret group of corrupt leaders." Based on who Lady Eve is in the comics, and the group she represents, it's becoming clear that the true villain behind the scenes is the terrorist organization known as Kobra.
The Cult of Kobra
In the DC Universe, Kobra is a criminal organization that combines the methods of a terrorist organization with the religious beliefs of a cult. The members of the Cult of Kobra are fanatics who are willing to die in the name of Kali Yuga—the age of chaos. They are members of a secretive organization who use terror, advanced weaponry and genetic experimentation in an effort to bring their vision of the world to life. Kobra has also been known to utilize the Lazarus Pits frequently associated with Ra's al Ghul.
The group is led by their eponymous master Kobra, who has absolute control over his followers -- sometimes literally through brainwashing. His real name is Jeffrey Burr, who was kidnapped by the organization as a newborn in order to be raised in Kobra's ways and serve as its leader. He shared an psychic link with his identical twin Jason, which the government attempted to take advantage of in order to take down the evil brother.
Kobra was conceived by the late Jack Kirby for a proposed series before he left to return to Marvel in 1976. After Kirby's departure, DC Comics tasked Martin Pasko with adapting the concept into an ongoing series titled Kobra that lasted all of seven issues. Despite this, the character and his organization have remained a dangerous part of the DC Universe. Following Jeffrey's death, Jason was transformed into the new Kobra.
So... How Does Lady Eve Fit Into This?
While most of the organization's members operate as anonymous foot soldiers, there are a few notable villains who have served Kobra over the years. King Snake, the terrorist father of Bane, was a member. Mammoth and Jinx, frequent enemies of the Teen Titans and members of the Frightful Five, have also served the cause. Most recently, Raptor, a mercenary and one-time mentor to Nightwing, has worked for them.
However, no figure has been more prominent in the group's quest for power and destruction than the villainous Lady Eve. She debuted in Batman and the Outsiders #24 (1985), and has served Kobra as his right hand and paramour for years. She led an iteration of Strike Force Kobra against the Outsiders, has fought Robin, and was featured in one of the stories in Suicide Squad Most Wanted: Deadshot and Katana, where Katana takes on Kobra.
Despite her relative obscurity, she has proven to be a formidable leader and manipulator in her own right. After years of following Kobra, Lady Eve actually betrayed her lover and split Kobra into two factions.
What This Means for Black Lightning
Despite the presence of Lady Eve and an organization that is likely to be Kobra, we don't know what this group will look like in Black Lightning. A secret group of corrupt leaders hardly sounds like the terrorist cult we know Kobra to be in the comics, so what can we expect to see when the show debuts?
It's possible the showrunners will alter the way Kobra functions in this television universe. Instead of operating as an outright terrorist organization, this version of the group could be more clandestine and mysterious in purpose. This could be presented as something similar to Hydra from the Marvel Cinematic Universe -- seemingly normal politicians and businessmen who secretly represent the interests of an evil organization. Another possibility is that they'll be presented as a society, like the Court of Owls on Gotham -- a group of elites who control things behind the scenes.
No matter where the writers of Black Lightning plan to go from here, it's reassuring to see that this new show will be embracing the vast sea of potential that the DC Universe offers. Kobra has been featured in Batman Beyond, Static Shock, Young Justice, Batman: The Brave and the Bold and Beware the Batman, but this will be the organization's chance to jump into mainstream live-action television for the first time. Who knew that a simple casting announcement could hint at so much and provide us with plenty to look forward to?