Following DC's Rebirth initiative, Isabella changed Tobias Whale, Black Lightning's most notorious villain. In the original comics, Whale was a black man with albinism -- a trait which has been removed in the more recent take, in spite of the fact that it is shared with Marvin "Krondon" Jones, the actor who plays Tobias on TV.
"Tobias Whale is not an albino in the new comic book series, because I got tired of every albino being a villain in comics," Isabella told ComicBookcom this weekend at the Syracuse Comic Con. "But I have promised Krondon that I will create, and have created a new albino superhero. It's just a question of, if I do more Black Lightning stories, I'll use him there -- if not, I'll use him somewhere else.
Given how few albino characters appear in mainstream superhero comics, Isabella's concern is understandable, but since Tobias Whale is the best-known of all the characters with albinism, it raises thorny questions about whether "bad" representation is better then none at all. The decision to introduce a new, good character instead is a thoughtful solution for the problem.
Isabella also said that the changes made to Lynn Stewart in the comics -- she is now British -- is because actress Christine Adams, who plays Lynn on Black Lightning, has a great British accent in her everyday speaking voice. Adams affects an American accent for the show.
Of course, the show has -- for a variety of reasons -- made changes to the comics, too.
"I know that in one of the early versions of the scirpt, the crucifixion scene from the very first Black Lightning comic -- where a high school student was strung up on a basketball court -- I know that was in one of the earliest versions of the scripts, and that didn't make it in. It amazed me that I was able to put that in a comic book in 1977 and they can't put it on a television show in 2017."
Isabella said that he and showrunner Salim Akil "both work from the same core values, and as long as they do that, I think I'm going to remain happy with the show."
Black Lightning airs at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Tuesdays, following episodes of The Flash on The CW.2comments