'Black Lightning' Makes a Bat-Signal Joke, Followed Immediately by a Batman Joke

Tonight's episode of Black Lightning was chock-full of new developments and world-building -- [...]

Tonight's episode of Black Lightning was chock-full of new developments and world-building -- including a delightful reference to DC's Dark Knight.

Spoilers for tonight's episode of Black Lightning, "And Then the Devil Brought the Plague: The Book of Green Light", below!

The episode followed Jefferson Pierce/Black Lightning (Cress Williams) on his crusade to protect the town of Freeland, and, as the episode name implies, locate a source of Green Light. His hunt for the drug's supplier led to him crossing paths with Inspector Henderson (Damon Gupton), who wanted to know how to keep in contact with Freeland's newly revived superhero.

Black Lightning, while speaking in a modulated voice, presented Henderson with a burner phone, which he declared to be an "old-fashioned" alternative to other means of communication. He then told Henderson to think of the phone as "The Black-Signal." Henderson laughed that off, remarking that Black Lightning still has jokes. He then quickly realizes that Black Lightning has disappeared from the scene without as much as a sound, leading Henderson to also remark, "You still do that, too."

In a way, this serves as a pretty clever nod to Batman on multiple levels. The first is the obvious play on "The Bat-Signal", the device that Batman and Commissioner Gordon use to communicate with each other. And the remark about Black Lightning disappearing feels like a one-two punch of Batman references, as it feels exactly like something that Gordon would say about Batman.

While neither reference/homage really references Batman outright, both still raise quite a few questions about the character's place in the world. As fans have seen in previous episodes, Black Lightning is taking a sort of meta approach in referencing most other DC Comics heroes, with both The Outsiders and Supergirl being mentioned in a sort of abstract sense.

But at the same time, the pilot episode confirmed that there are other superheroes in the Black Lightning universe, it's just too early to tell exactly who. So while Jefferson could be talking about Batman in a sort of esoteric, purely fictional sense, there is also a chance that a version of the Caped Crusader is currently palling around in Black Lightning's Gotham City.

The CW's DC Comics-inspired shows have a weird history of mentioning or homaging Batman, with a name-drop on Arrow sending fans into a tizzy late last year. But in a way, Black Lightning existing within its own universe could make this Batman reference mean something more, and fans will just have to wait and find out what it is.

Black Lightning airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on The CW.