One of the interesting things about Black Lightning’s second season is the growing presence of new metahumans in Freeland whose abilities don’t seem to be dependent on them using the green light drug. Like Jefferson Pierce, these new metas’ powers come from within, which begs the question—where did they come from?
Black Lightning spent a lot of time establishing the idea that Jefferson Pierce, and by extension his children Jennifer and Anissa, were the only stable metahumans living normal lives after the experiments that activated Jeff’s meta-gene as a child ultimately proved to be unsuccessful on other test subjects. Because the show is still technically separate from the larger Arrowverse where the rest of the CW’s DC comic book shows take place, it made a certain degree of sense that the series (and its small population of metas) would primarily be focused on Freeland, where its characters live. But in this week’s episode, “The Book of Secrets: Chapter One: Prodigal Son,” Black Lightning very casually dropped some details about the larger world the show’s set in that could mean major things about its heroes’ futures.
While the country of Markovia has been name-checked on Black Lightning (and Arrow) in the past, none of the CW shows have really delved all that deep into its larger mythos from DC’s comics. In Black Lightning’s first season, a televised news report detailed the recent death of the Markovian king and what would mean for the country, but that was pretty much it. But Black Lightning began drawing on Markovia again this season by introducing a sinister version of Dr. Helga Jace, a character who in the comics is the royal doctor responsible for giving the hero Geo-Force his powers to manipulate earth and lava.
In Black Lightning, Jace is a corrupt scientist who was imprisoned for her unethical experiments on patients that result in a number of them losing limbs and one of them dying. Much to Lynn Pierce’s dismay, Jace is sprung from her imprisonment as part of a last-ditch effort to save a number of metahuman teen experiments who are trapped in stasis pods, and the two begrudgingly worked alongside one another right up until the moment where Jace’s latest experiment ends up killing half of the pod kids.
Lethal though Jace’s methods are, her research into the meta-gene makes her a valuable asset to people like Tobias Whale who see young metahumans as valuable weapons, and so it isn’t long before the kingpin springs her from jail for a consultation. Brief as her exchange with Whale is, what Jace says is interesting, if not important: After she left Freeland following her earliest experiments on young people, she made her way to Markovia specifically to start up a metahuman researching program there.
Coincidentally, Markovia’s metahuman researching program plays a major role in Young Justice: Outsiders’ current arc revolving around the world’s heroes trying to wipe out the international metahuman trafficking market. There, Jace is an ally to Prince Brion (Geo-Force’s public identity) and works alongside Black Lightning and the rest of the Young Justice team as they search to find Brion’s kidnapped sister, princess Tara Markov.
In DC’s comics, Black Lightning’s connection to Jace comes by way of his involvement with the Outsiders, the team of superheroes (including Batman and Geo-Force) who end up killing her in a battle, and so her being woven into Black Lightning isn’t exactly surprising. But in making Jace’s connection to Markovia much more explicitly about creating metas, Black Lightning might be laying the groundwork for something big and much more comic book-y in the future.
Correction: An earlier version of the post stated that Dr. Jace’s experiment killed all of the pod kids, when in reality it only killed half of them. We regret the error.
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