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Forget Kingpin, Black Lightning's Tobias Whale Is TV's Best Supervillain

WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Black Lightning Season 1 and Season 2.

When it comes to comic book television, it's hard to argue that Vincent D'Onofrio's Kingpin isn't the most sinister villain we've encountered. In three seasons of Marvel's Daredevil, he went all out to make the horned vigilante's life a living hell while co-opting New York for his own purposes.

D'Onofrio's performance was remarkable and always intimidating, and even at the show's weakest, he continued to set a bar that the other Netflix shows, the Arrowverse and series like The Walking Dead struggled to meet on a consistent basis, thanks to his brains and brawn. But following the end of Black Lightning Season 2, it's become perfectly clear that, as good as Kingpin was, Tobias Whale's even better.

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Tobias (Marvin “Krondon” Jones III) takes top prize mainly because everything Kingpin accomplished, Tobias matched and did even better. Both are known for secretly leading gangs, buying out cops, puppeteering high-ranking officials and killing off journalists to rule the criminal underworld, but Tobias does it with a style that surpasses Kingpin.

What's more, after getting exonerated for killing Black Lightning's dad decades before this current series takes place, Tobias was able to stay in the dark, operating like a ghost. Kingpin may have been a shadow, but many eyes were on him, from reporters to Daredevil himself. Tobias, though, stayed off the grid, not opting for public glitz and glam as he used henchmen, politics and all resources at his disposal to truly run Freeland like his playground.

Kingpin was all about cash flow, infrastructure and shady deals with associates like Madame Gao, the nature of which he didn't even know the full scope of (i.e. the dragon bones in Defenders), but Tobias knows everything that happens around him, as he has his finger on the pulse of Freeland.

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The albino villain (created by Tony Isabella with Trevor Von Eeden for Black Lightning #1) used child soldiers as killers and drug runners, knowing it was the perfect way to get back at Black Lightning. He has even relied on supernatural allies to bring back the dead, if he needed. He also focused on turning metahumans into bodyguards, as seen with how he converted a paraplegic Khalil into Painkiller without remorse. They are nothing but tools to him, and given his love of chess, it's no surprise Tobias sees everyone as pawns.

Kingpin, on the other hand, had flaws (his love for Vanessa and loyalty to his inner circle, his ego and temper), but Tobias operates cool under pressure, and with even less of a code, often abusing his own crew. If you think Kingpin killing his abusive dad was sadistic, Tobias waits until his old man is senile and in a wheelchair to crush him like an anaconda.

But most of all, what makes Tobias so vile is that he didn't weaponize politics like Kingpin. He instead chose to manipulate race and hate, using Black people and the anti-diversity sentiment in his favor. He was obsessed with exploiting the poverty of Black people, making them rise up through harsh violence.

Black Lightning and his civilian alter ego, Jefferson Pierce, try to uplift Black people, but Tobias keeps them in a criminal state because he draws pleasure from it as a self-hating "Black man." He looks down on his own people and wants to enslave them further so they can make him money, which makes him even more dangerous than those who oppressed them.

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What tops it off is that Tobias doesn't come off like a man, but a god. He ages slowly thanks to a special serum in his bloodstream, and the manner in which he robbed the metahuman agency, A.S.A., of its assets truly makes him a one-man army, if he so chooses to be. With his super-strength, masterful combat skills and degree of invulnerability, he's easily an upgrade to Kingpin. Tobias may have gotten locked up in the Season 2 finale, but it's very evident that, unlike Wilson Fisk, Tobias is a near-immortal villain.

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