Alright, readers, I finally get to write about Black Lightning and I could not be more thrilled! It’s such a special show and I have been dying to dive into it here with you for the Couch Club!
But first, we need to discuss some of Black Lightning’s history in the DC Comics Universe. Like many DC characters, Jefferson Pierce has had several run-ins with the almighty Batman both in and out of costume. When he’s not a member of the Justice League, Black Lightning has often been a part of Batman’s team, the Outsiders. (And will soon be again, when Bryan Hill and Leandro Fernandez’s BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS debuts later this spring.) Where the Justice League takes on big, world-ending threats, the Outsiders are more akin to the bullet in a sniper’s gun. Batman (or Nightwing, who has also led his own incarnation of the team), deploys the Outsiders as something of a strike team in order to work quickly and efficiently, so the bigger, messier guns on the Justice League don’t always have to be called in for every little thing.
Now as exciting as it may be, I really don’t think we’ll be seeing Batman join the cast of Black Lightning, and perhaps more important, I wouldn’t want him to. One of the things that I think is so cool about the CW cluster of DCTV shows is the lack of the Bat. It’s given us an opportunity to view the hero’s journey that people not named Bruce Wayne are undertaking. Black Lightning, especially, benefits from being a closed loop. It is singular and stands alone. As much as I would love to see Black Lightning, Thunder and Lightning pop up in next year’s “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover—I’m not gonna lie, that would be pretty cool—if they don’t, it’s not going to hurt Black Lightning’s potential. Frankly, I think the show could easily create their version of the Outsiders without Batman.
But why the Outsiders, Ashley? Why not some other team?
A fair question. Like many of you, I believe that Black Lightning’s amazing writers have been planting the seeds for the Outsiders since the third episode of season one. For those who may not remember, this was the episode in which we met Grace Choi and the romance between her and Anissa began. Not only is Grace classically an Outsiders character, but all the way back in that very first appearance, we see her reading an issue of THE OUTSIDERS when Anissa first comes upon her. Sure, maybe it was just meant as a fun little Easter egg, but there are plenty of reasons to suggest it was clever foreshadowing.
For example, Thunder and Lightning. Both Jennifer and Anissa Pierce have also served on the Outsiders in the comics. It’s taken us a season-and-a-half to get Lightning’s powers to fully emerge (I’m still waiting to see that amazing costume in action!), which is probably why Grace’s development has been slow-paced as well. But ever since the midseason finale, we’ve finally gotten to see Jennifer gradually embracing her power set and evolving into who Lightning is going to become in the latter half of the season. And of course, she’ll be following in the footsteps of her sister, who this season has started taking an approach to fighting injustice that her father doesn’t agree with.
You could say she’s been working outside the rules that he established. You see what I did there?
But let’s get back to Grace, and not just because we’re big fans of the amazing Chantal Thuy here on DCComics.com. Frankly, she was barely in season one, but she’s been a bigger part of season two, especially in these past few episodes. This season, and particularly these recent episodes, have all helped solidify her relationship with Anissa. They may not be “official” yet, but it’s clear Anissa really cares about Grace. Meanwhile, you have the maturation of Grace’s metahuman abilities, which may be happening pretty differently than it did in the comics. Regardless, once she is fully Grace Choi-super-strong-hero-lady, I’m confident she’ll also be recruited onto whatever incarnation of the Outsiders we are going to get.
That incarnation would also obviously include Thunder and Lightning, and possibly also their father, Black Lightning himself! This is really the crux of my prediction—the Pierce Family Super Team! And we have precedent. All of The CW’s DC shows (with the exception of Legends of Tomorrow, which is already a team show) are named after a single hero, but actually focus on some kind of super team. Typically, that team just borrows the name of the hero—Team Flash, Team Arrow, etc.—but in this case, I don’t think the team will be called “Team Black Lightning.” That’s pretty awkward sounding, and in addition, Black Lightning isn’t the one who seems to be forming the team. I think the team is going to be the Outsiders!
Yes, yes, this is all just speculating on my part. This is the place in the column where I remind all of you that Couch Club writers know no more about the shows than you do. But let me offer up one more possible signal that this is where we’re going. We had a two-episode arc in the first half of this season dealing with Looker. Although she was portrayed as a villain in those episodes (and a pretty vile one at that), Looker is another member of the Outsiders, and while she was soundly defeated by Black Lightning and Thunder, she wasn’t killed. She was sent to the A.S.A.
Stranger, far fouler characters have been flipped from the side of evil to the side of good. Who’s to say she might not return down the line, and as a hero in search of redemption? I think she’d be a fun addition to a potential Outsiders team if they want the roster to have five members pretty quickly, and making the whole thing even cooler, the team would be almost entirely female!
Obviously, it remains to be seen exactly how the Outsiders are going to look on Black Lightning when they eventually arrive. But here’s my point, we’re over halfway through the second season and it’s looking more and more like that they will arrive. And I am here for it!
Black Lightning airs Mondays at 9 p.m. (8 p.m. CST) on The CW. For more news, features and conversation on Black Lightning, click here.
Ashley V. Robinson writes about TV, movies and comics for DCComics.com and is a regular contributor to the Couch Club, our weekly television column. You can find her on Twitter at @AshleyVRobinson and on the Jawiin YouTube channel.