Tonight's episode of Black Lightning makes an exciting reference to a well-known DC Comics team, the Outsiders.
In the episode, Anissa Pierce (Nafessa Williams) meets Grace Choi (Chantal Thuy) and notices a comic book in her back pocket. The comic just so happens to be Outsiders #16 from the series that ran between 1993 and 1995. We'll talk more about that in a bit.
While the comic is a nice nod to DC Comics generally, it's also a sly nod to Anissa, Grace, and even Black Lightning as characters. You see, in comics, all three of those characters are members of the Outsiders. Black Lightning is a founding member of the Batman-backed group while Grace and Anissa both join up later, with Anissa in particularly joining the team because she thinks she could do well to be working with a team instead of trying to be a hero on her own.
Tonight's Outsiders name-drop makes for a lovely Easter egg of sorts, but realistically the show could very well be leading up to creating its own version of the iconic comic book team. Williams herself has even spoken about this possibility, directly referring to the show has having their own version of the Outsiders.
"The thing that's gonna be really, really interesting at some point is that there will be, we will on some level be like a super hero team down the line," Williams said. "So, it will be like our own little very small version of The Outsiders."
With that in mind, how could the Outsiders fit into Black Lightning? We have a few ideas.
It's not just Anissa, Grace, and Jefferson with ties to the Outsiders. Lady Eve (Jill Scott) has some ties too. That comic book in Grace's pocket, Outsiders #16? Lady Eve has a prominent role in that issue. In the story, Lady Eve is working with Kobra Cult and shows up with Strike Force Kobra, and she has the Outsider, Halo, kidnapped. We quickly learn that Kobra has taken control of Halo's original body -- that of Violet Harper, an evil woman the Halo entity originally inhabited. The newly resurrected body calls herself Spectra and joins with other members of Strike Force Kobra -- Dervish, Windfall (herself an Outsider being misled by Kobra), and Syonide. The Outsiders are able to defeat Kobra and the evil Spectra, bring Windfall back, and kill Syonide.
While this probably isn't a story that we'd directly see on Black Lightning considering how rooted in reality and authenticity the show is, we could see Lady Eve bringing Kobra/Kobra Cult or some variation of it to the show. It's also worth noting that Syonide is already on Black Lightning. She's Tobias Whale's female henchman, meaning the show already has two Outsiders villains at the ready.
In comics, Black Lightning is a founding member of the Outsiders. He's chosen by Batman, and while it's unlikely Batman is going to pop up in the Lightningverse, with both Anissa and Jennifer Pierce (China Anne McClain) developing powers Jefferson might just put the team together himself. This could be particularly useful considering that The 100 has their hands in law enforcement in Freeland as we saw with Tobias Whale being let into the jail so he could kill Lala last week, and that Black Lightning is considered a criminal, not a hero. Having a team to help him take on The 100 while also operating outside of the law has a very Outsiders-like feel to it.
Like all teams in comics, the Outsiders have a roster of villains they face. We've already mentioned Kobra and Lady Eve, and we know that Tobias Whale has connections as a villain in the world of the Outsiders as well, but another way Black Lightning could fit elements of the Outsiders into the show -- even if they don't want to actually create and Outsiders team -- would be to utilize some of the villains.
We've previously suggested a verson of Baron Bedlam as a villain we wouldn't mind seeing pop up, but there are other notable villains that could make an appearance, such as Bad Samaritan. This choice works particularly well should Baron Bedlam show up. In comics, Bad Samaritan is an adviser to Baron Bedlam. Perhaps Baron Bedlam, as well as Bad Samaritan could appear as part of the powerful and corrupt leaders that Lady Eve is connects Tobias Whale to on the show.
We know Black Lightning is officially not part of the Arrowverse. In fact, Grace even mentioned Supergirl as a fictional character in comic books in tonight's episode. But if there is no Arrowverse, why not create a Lightningverse?
Now, a Lightningverse doesn't have to mean a whole new slate of super hero shows. It can simply be establishing more information about the world outside of Freeland. They've already taken some steps towards this, particularly in the shows pilot episode when a commenter on the news directly mentions how other cities have heroes (presumably white) who are treated like heroes while Black Lightning is treated like a criminal. A good way to bring the Outsiders into the show could be to use various other Outsiders heroes outside of Freeland. That way, if the show ever were to expand there'd be heroes to work with and, on the flip side, heroes that could show up to help Black Lightning.
Despite not being part of the Arrowverse currently, should Black Lightning ever want to connect and be part of the shared multiverse The Flash, Supergirl, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow exist in, the Outsiders could be a good way to do it. With it already being established that Freeland is a world apart from the Arrowverse -- that Grace Choi mention of Supergirl again -- if The CW were to bring Black Lightning into the Arroweverse, positioning Black Lightning, Thunder, and any other heroes that rise to help him fight The 100 as "The Outsiders" would make for a good way to acknowledged Black Lightning's comics roots and still have him be a part of the Arrowverse. After all, Arrow has already faced a handful of classic Outsiders villains like Brother Blood.
While Batman appearing on Black Lightning or any other of The CW's superhero shows is unlikely, bringing in a Batman-like character would provide another way for the show to introduce the Outsiders or elements of the team. Batman was the backer for the Outsiders in comics, the show already has a very Alfred-like figure in Peter Gambi, and the violent criminal underbelly of Gotham is kind of Batman's thing so why wouldn't there be a similar type of character in a world where The 100 reigns? Maybe this Batman stand-in could even have ties to Black Lightning's past...
Which brings us to one of the easiest ways to bring the Outsiders to Black Lightning: Jefferson's back story.
With Black Lightning, we're jumping into the story not at the beginning but many chapters in. Black Lightning is already an established hero even if he's been off the streets for years when the show begins. Eventually, the show will likely expand on Black Lightning's heroic history and that would be a prime opportunity for the show to bring the Outsiders to the story. After all, Jefferson probably didn't just wake up one morning and decide to be a vigilante. There a lot more there and it could include the Outsiders.
Black Lightning airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on The CW.