Grace Choi’s choice of reading material in a recent episode of Black Lightning revealed far more than her geeky side. The episode “LaWanda: The Book of Burial” featured a scene in which librarian Grace (Chantal Thuy) flirted with Anissa Pierce (Nafessa Williams) as she was researching genetic mutations while looking for an explanation for her recently manifested superpowers. Anissa noticed that Grace had a comic book in her back pocket and asked her what she was reading. This prompted a conversation about superheroes and an invitation to a cosplay event at the bar where Grace moonlighted as a bartender.
There were quite a few obvious Easter Eggs here that die-hard comic book readers probably spotted. Grace said that the comic she was reading was called Outsiders and described it as being about “young folks with out-sized powers traveling the world, knocking bad guys on their asses.” This is a fair description of the 2003 DC Comics series Outsiders, where the characters of Grace Choi and Anissa Pierce first appeared. The Grace Choi of the comics also worked in a bar, though she was a bouncer rather than a bartender as well as a genetically altered Amazon born of a different tribe than Wonder Woman. The flirtation between the two characters also hinted at the Outsiders comics, where Grace and Anissa eventually became a committed couple.
The most well-hidden Easter Egg of all, however, lies in the particular comic that Grace was reading – Outsiders #16 from the 1993 Outsiders series. This issue of Outsiders has the distinct honor of showcasing what is probably the first committed lesbian relationship in mainstream American superhero comic book history. The comic pitted The Outsiders against a new, all-female version of Strike Force Kobra – an all-metahuman team in the employ of the cult-leader Kobra. The team’s membership included the assassin Syonide and the sorceress Fauna Faust (daughter of classic JLA villain Felix Faust), who were both depicted as being deeply in love and firmly committed to one another.
Interestingly enough, the name of Syonide has been used by three different characters in DC Comics history and all of them have ties to Black Lightning and The Outsiders. The first was a bounty hunter with a code against killing, who committed suicide rather than face the wrath of The 100 after being hired by Tobias Whale to capture Black Lightning. Whale gave his special weapons to a woman he employed as his personal assassin, making her the second Syonide. She died fighting The Outsiders and her gear was later seen in the hands of the aforementioned Strike Force Kobra member, who was the third Syonide. According to IMDB, actress Charlbi Dean Kriek has been cast in the role of Syonide on Black Lightning, though she has yet to be identified by name, despite appearing at Tobias Whale’s side in every episode so far.
While it may be a coincidence that particular issue was used as the impetus for the “meet-cute” scene between Anissa and Grace, it seems unlikely. It seems far more probable – given the series’ creators commitment to depicting diversity – that the choice was deliberate. If so, it’s a subtle link between DC Comics’ first portrayal of a committed lesbian couple and their first portrayal of a same-sex relationship between two female superheroes of color.
Black Lightning airs Tuesdays on The CW.
Source: The CW
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