Wayne Brady will join Black Lightning season 3, portraying the DC villain known as Gravedigger. Although certain comic book criminals have gone through various iterations, and appeared in several forms of media, Brady will have the distinction of being the first actor to play Gravedigger.
Created by writer David Michelinie and artist Ed Davis, Gravedigger made his comic book debut in 1977. The moniker was a codename for Ulysses Hazard. Suffering from polio as a child, and the target of bullying, Hazard transformed his body through a strict regime of exercise. Hazard would then join the army during World War II, only to find himself in a segregated military. Black soldiers were kept out of the battlefield. Frustrated at being unable to fight, Hazard invades The Pentagon with the intention of proving that he is capable of doing battle. He is then made into a one-man combat unit and given the codename of Gravedigger. Although it’s an interesting history, Brady will be stepping into the shoes of a more modern persona.
According to The Wrap, Brady will be joining Black Lightning in the recurring role of Tyson "Gravedigger" Sykes. A veteran of the second World War, Sykes becomes a Super Soldier after he gains enhanced abilities as a result of an experiment. Super strong, agile, with enhanced tactical abilities and combat expertise, the character has plans for creating a metahuman paradise. This will put him in direct conflict with Jefferson Pierce himself. Brady will reportedly make his first appearance as Sykes in 2020, after the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover event.
Brady is a familiar face to TV viewers. He is one of the stars, and an executive producer, on the long-running Whose Line Is It Anyway? Brady has also served as the host of several talk shows and competitions, including Let’s Make a Deal and So You Think You Can Dance. It should be an interesting shift to see him play around with a fictional, villainous character.
Brady does have one advantage. Comic book heroes are rebooted on-screen fairly regularly. Spider-Man and Batman are famous examples of this. Even villains are redefined and reexamined by performers and audiences every so often, like Joker. On the other hand, Gravedigger should be a fairly new bad guy to many in the audience. It gives the typically comedic actor a chance to do something memorably different. Going by Brady’s tweet in which he reacted to joining Black Lightning, he’s more than excited for the challenge.