Though only in its sophomore season, Black Lightning has already produced a number of intriguing antagonists. The series features quite the robust slate of villainous characters, all of whom serve the overarching plot in myriad ways. This is most notably due to the show’s avoidance of the villain-of-the-week trope, a storytelling convention popularized by Buffy that still plagues many a genre show today. With so many fascinating foes on its roster, it’s past time to examine each of Black Lightning’s more prominent antagonists individually. The following list will do so, while ranking them from least to most powerful.
11 TORI WHALE
Tori Whale, Tobias’ sister, debuts early in Black Lightning pilot season. She doesn’t last for long, however, dying in a firefight in an effort to protect her brother. Similar to Tobias, Tori was long ago administered a serum that prevents her from aging normally.
While her primary role seems that of a henchwoman, Tori also serves as a master strategist. After all, it is she who devises the plan to turn Freeland against Black Lightning. Convincing Tobias to sway Khalil’s opinion of Freeland’s hero marks the first step in her stratagem. Unfortunately, she doesn't live to see the outcome.
Khalil Payne’s low position on this list is not emblematic of weakness on his part. Indeed, he is incredibly powerful in his own right, courtesy of his superhuman strength, jumping abilities, venomous weaponry, and more. However, all of this does not a formidable villain make. In many respects, being under Tobias Whale’s control holds him back, as the crime lord keeps him on a short leash. It’s Khalil’s desire to be better that truly distinguishes him from Black Lightning’s other antagonists, though. The character's humanity leads to his betraying Tobias, a move, though bold, which ultimately culminates in his demise.
Akin to a few others on this list, Syonide’s role in Black Lightning is impactful yet brief, as she dies early in the show’s sophomore season. Despite her demise, Syonide ranks among Black Lightning’s most formidable rogues, epitomizing the silent but deadly character archetype. As Tobias Whale’s right hand, her skill knows no bounds.
As an assassin, Syonide is as good as they come, especially considering her marksmanship and remarkable hand-to-hand combat abilities. Unfortunately for her and Tobias, Syonide meets her match in Kara Fowdy, who uses a blade lodged in her shoe heel to exterminate the assassin.
Admittedly, Giselle Cutter isn’t easy to rank. The true extent of her powers and abilities has yet to receive specification. A mercenary with incredible combat prowess, her knife throwing skills guarantee she’s deadlier than most. Still, it often appears as though Cutter harbors meta-human abilities that are being kept under wraps. For instance, on a few occasions, she has been shown to possess telekinetic powers of some kind. How they work and from where she attained them remains unclear. Regardless of the mysteries surrounding her, Cutter continuously proves why she warrants recognition as one of Black Lightning’s most dangerous foes.
7 DOCTOR JACE
Doctor Helga Jace counts among the more powerful characters on Black Lightning. Yet, she possesses no superpowers, nor does she directly involve herself in the ongoing fight between Black Lightning and Tobias Whale. Rather, her formidability rests in her intelligence. Jace’s work as a biochemist has led to her becoming instrumental in what’s known about the meta-humans featured on Black Lightning.
Curiously, it’s Jace’s lack of a moral compass that makes her such a threat. Conducting illegal experiments prior to her imprisonment and A.S.A. recruitment seemingly hardened her in many respects. Thus, the doctor couldn’t be more perfect in helping Tobias execute his nefarious plans.
This particular character hasn’t had too much of a presence on the series, but has managed to leave her mark as a threat. Looker resides in South Freeland, alongside a community of white people who are essentially subject to her commands. Her meta-human abilities are, of course, of special interest. Courtesy of a metallic liquid, Looker is able to give people limited abilities. In doing so, she can also take control of them. Additionally, her telepathic powers round out her impressive talents. Still, much about her has yet to receive explanation. Hopefully, more is on the horizon where this villain's concerned.
5 LADY EVE
Jill Scott’s Lady Eve debuted and departed quite quickly during Black Lightning’s first season. Yet, in only a handful of episodes, she proved an incredible foe. Prior to her death, her influence in Freeland appears unmatched, as she masterfully balances being both a legitimate businesswoman and an underground crime lord. When it comes to her power-set, however, Lady Eve’s abilities are hard to define. The villain is shown to have some form of control over death, but the show has yet to make the extent of what she can or cannot do abundantly clear. Who knows, perhaps we haven’t seen the last of her after all?
4 AGENT ODELL
Agent Odell appears this high on the list due to his control and access to much of the happenings in Freeland. Try as Lynn Stewart might to prevent him from weaponizing the Pod Kids, Odell is on track to doing just that and likely much more. This especially holds true considering he now has confirmation and proof of the Jefferson family consisting of Freeland’s favorite super-powered vigilantes. Furthermore, his ruthlessness has reached a level that Tobias Whale may find impressive. Thus, in many respects, Odell could be an even bigger big bad that many currently believe him to be.
3 MASTERS OF DISASTER
Currently, Tobias Whale’s Masters of Disaster, or MOD, has not quite reached its full potential. This is a given, though, since the team recently debuted on the series with each member receiving a carefully paced introduction. At present, the MOD consists of four members in total: Shakedown (vibrokinesis), Coldsnap (cryokinesis), Heatstroke (pyrokinesis), and New Wave (hydrokinesis). Because their powers vary, Tobias has, thus far, been using them rather strategically. As such, it’s not yet clear what will transpire once they all enter into a combat situation as a team. Needless to say, things are unlikely to look good for whomever or whatever stands in their way.
In addition to being one of Black Lightning’s more powerful antagonists, Lala serves as one of the show’s most intriguing characters. Early in Season 1, Lala is little more than an overly influential gangbanger, one who owes his success to Tobias Whale. As many may recall, their business relations don’t end amicably, as Tobias kills Lala in a jail cell. Soon thereafter, Lala returns, having been resurrected under mysterious circumstances. Even stranger are his newfound mystical abilities, which allow him to communicate with the folks he’s murdered. Presently, it seems his powers have a tangibility to them that’s yet to be explained.
1 TOBIAS WHALE
For now, it doesn’t look as though Black Lightning will soon rid itself of Tobias Whale. It’s a good thing, too. Similar to Stringer Bell on The Wire, Tobias seems dynamic enough of an antagonist to stick around for as long as the show’s creative team sees fit. His motives, personality, and relationship to the world around him all ensure he maintains a level of intrigue like no other. Obviously, meta-human abilities also factor into his notability. These include an extended lifespan, enhanced strength, and superb combat skills. As evidenced by his antics, Tobias employs all of the above and more to remain Black Lightning’s most formidable foe.