SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for “LaWanda: The Book of Burial,” the latest episode of Black Lightning.
Black Lightning just went meta. “LaWanda: The Book of Burial” introduced Grace Choi, who in turn introduced Anissa “Thunder” Pierce to a little comic called the Outsiders.
Anissa met Grace at the library as she researched genetic mutations. Grace walked up to Anissa while she sat on the floor, surrounded by books. As she shelved some returned books, Grace struck up a conversation with Anissa. Then, when she bent down to put something on a lower shelf, Anissa noticed the comic in her back pocket.
Asked what she was reading, Grace said, “The Outsiders.” In response, Anissa balked and said it wasn’t her thing, to which Grace replied, “You know, if you’re reading about genetic mutations for fun, maybe it should be. I mean, this is nerd-bait. Young folks with outsized powers traveling the world, knocking bad guys on their asses, and then there are the costumes.”
“Oh, I do love a costume,” Anissa said. This is just as well, since she will get a superhero costume of her very own when she becomes Thunder.
“I tend bar at the Ruby Red Lipstick bar and we do a cosplay party on Friday nights,” Grace revealed. “You dress up as any superhero you want. Supergirl. Looker, if vampires are more your thing.” She then invited Anissa to the party, which Anissa ended up attending. She ultimately wore a black body suit with cat ears, very much in the style of Catwoman, while Grace donned a black suit with a thick silver belt and a silver star on the chest. A Harley Quinn can also be spotted in the background of the party scene.
Grace’s comic is a real issue released in March 1995. The Outsiders #16 boasts a female-led version of Kobra. In the comics, Kobra is an international terrorist group whose leader first appeared 1976 in Kobra #1. The group has made appearances over the decades on the animated series’ Batman Beyond, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Young Justice and Beware the Batman and it may very well be on its way to Black Lightning. After all, Lady Eve — who also debuted in tonight’s episode — is a member of this group in the comics.
Notably, three members of The Outsiders appear on Black Lightning: Thunder, Grace Choice and Black Lightning himself. Introduced in 1983, the Outsiders were a superhero team founded by none other than Batman. The Dark Knight gathered metahumans like Metamorpho, Katana and Geo-Force to found this team and named them the Outsiders due to the fact that the group was comprised of heroes who weren’t quite mainstream. In a secondary version of the team that rose out of the dissolution of the Teen Titans, Thunder and Grace Choi were also Outsiders.
Of course, all of this throws a curveball in the freshman series. The existence of this comic as well as the idea of Supergirl as a fictional character confirms that Black Lightning is not in the Arrowverse — and suggests that it never will be. That tracks with what executive producer Salim Akil said recently: “I say this with all due respect, but [the Arrowverse shows are] not really relevant to the show that we’re doing. The great thing that Warner Bros. and CW allowed us to do was create our own world. We really wanted folk to get to know this family before we started branching out.” Additionally, this begs the question of whether or not the Outsiders will form on the series.
Airing Tuesdays at 9 pm ET/PT on The CW, Black Lightning stars Cress Williams as Jefferson Pierce/Black Lightning, China Anne McClain as his younger daughter Jennifer Pierce, Nafessa Williams as his older daughter Anissa Pierce, Christine Adams as Lynn Pierce, James Remar as Peter Gambi, Damon Gupton as Henderson, Marvin “Krondon” Jones III as Tobias Whale and Chantal Thuy as Grace Choi.
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