Monday, February 28, 2011

Black Superheroes: Thunder

Thunder subscribes the "Black Canary Method" of secret identities
"Wear a blonde wig and hope for the best"
Name: Anissa Pierce
First Appearance: Outsiders #1 (2003)
History: Anissa Pierce is the oldest daughter of Jefferson Pierce, known throughout the world as the (Then retired) superhero Black Lightning.  As a kid her family discovered that she had inherited her father’s metagene which allowed her to increase her density.  Elated the young girl wished to follow in her father’s footsteps but he forbade it.  She made a compromise with her parents that she wouldn’t even think about such things until she finished college.  Years later, the very same day she earned a Pre-Med bachelor’s degree and walked the stage, twenty-two year old Anissa Pierce put on a costume and a wig and proceeded to start fighting crime.  Despite Jefferson's extremely vocal protest Anissa sets out to do what she feels she was born to do, taking the name “Thunder” to honor her father…even if he is against her decision.  She is immediately recruited by Arsenal to join his new version of The Outsiders.
Beta Says: Thunder is the youngest character to appear in this series of blogs, both in real life and in-comic.  Created by Judd Winick and Tom Raney in 2003 Anissa was one of several new or relatively new characters created for DC Comic’s newest incarnation of the Outsiders, likely created as sort of throwback to her father (Black Lightning was a co-founder of the original team).  Thunder has one major thing going for her, and in greater abundance than every other character I’ve talked about: potential.  She’s such a young person (No older than 24 at this point, I’d wager) and she’s been so underused that the sky is the limit for a bold writer who is willing to give her a chance.  She’s not a blank slate or anything like that but in a world crying out for more female heroes of color Thunder could be the perfect example we’ve all been waiting for.
Also she’s just as gay as Batwoman but with none of the latter’s publicity.  Unfortunate Implications, indeed.
Click below for more on Thunder.

Pictured: Density control?  Maybe?
As I’ve mentioned before DC has a serious problem with blonde white superheroes running around, specifically that the majority of their ongoing solo titles starring women are made of that type and it’s really boring.  So if DC wanted to have a comic with a lady outside of that box Thunder would be, in my opinion, the best choice.  For one thing after eight years of existence she hasn’t been as fleshed out as much as she could be, but that means that a good writer can come up with some pretty exciting stuff without having to worry about staying true to decade’s worth of continuity.  Much like Bronze Tiger she has some pretty strong connections to other characters which could translate to a supporting cast and villains.  The obvious example is her father.  During his write-up I practically said we should give up on the guy as a main character, but the reasoning behind that is that I believe that Thunder has a better chance to capture modern audience’s attention than her old man.  I think, since no one seems to have much faith in Jefferson anyway, it’d be a cool thing to for him to officially pass the torch down to his daughter and act as a sort of an Obi-Wan to her.  He’d make a great supporting character and a really important one.  Besides he has a grown daughter at this point; how much longer can we assume he’s in his crime fighting prime?
Also I simply find Thunder’s potential story more interesting.  She’s the daughter of a well known superhero but honestly in most of her appearances she’s main gotten her ass whipped, one time so badly that she was put into a coma and forgotten about for a while   That’s an interesting plot; a woman who desperately wants to live up to her father’s example but hasn’t been successful.  Or perhaps she wants to get away from her father’s shadow and forge her own identity.  I think there’s a lot of room to play around with her.
And if DC feels hesitant about putting Thunder in her own title alone they don’t have to!  How about a title with her co-starring with former teammate Grace Choi?  Another new character introduced in Outsiders #1 the two often butted heads in that book due to their personality conflict but they have also been in a relationship since about 2007 and are still together today, which is pretty good for a comic book couple.  There aren’t many duo comics these days despite the large amount there once was.  They could be like a modern Power Man/Iron Fist or Green Lantern/Green Arrow except the sexual tension between them has already been addressed and resolved (When will Hal and Ollie just make-out and get it out of their system already?)  Best part: Grace is Asian so a book starring these two, in addition to featuring two badass ladies doing badass things, could theoretically help DC’s recent PR problem with their killing of Ryan Choi/The Atom, one of their extremely few Asian heroes.
Most adorable couple...ever!
Plus I really want Grace and Thunder to be doing something because I’m actually a bit worried that DC will pointlessly murder them the way they tend to slaughter characters introduced the previous decade when they lose interest in them.  See: Doctor Midnight II.
Another cool title could be one where she co-stars with her younger sister Lightning aka Jenifer Pierce, Black Lightning’s other daughter.  It’s already been established that Anissa sort of resents Jennifer for being their parent’s favorite and being allowed to fight crime at a young age so having them as a crime fighting duo could be a pretty dramatic affair.  Plus aside from Hawk & Dove from way back in the day I can’t think of too many sibling characters as the main feature of a monthly (Unless you count the current Batman & Robin title as Dick Grayson and Damien Wayne are legally brothers).
My point is that I’m sick of seeing the same type of woman starring in her own book at DC.  Off the top of my head I can think of a ton of blonde white heroes floating around the universe (Batgirl, Power Girl, Supergirl, Star Girl, Wonder Girl, Black Canary, though her hair color isn’t natural, and even Secret and Arrowette, though they’re retired.  Plus this Artemis person in the Young Justice cartoon) so I’m really interested in the company doing something to change this.  If they do why not try Thunder?  If written well enough she could easily be a future major player.  And hey, if Luke Cage can get that rub after about seven years I don’t know why Anissa couldn’t.  I really like this character; I love her origin and her determination to become a hero.  If I ever get the chance to work for DC I would absolutely love to write for her.
I'm just glad they didn't name her "Black Thunder" or "Foxy Lightning"
That’s it for profiles for Black History Month.  Tune in later this week for The Outro.  For more on Thunder click here.  For a larger and better list of black superheroes check out BLACKSUPERHERO.COM


  1. This is pretty late but I'd like to point out that Artemis in the YJ cartoon is half Vietnamese

    1. Somehow this comment slipped through the cracks. But you are indeed 100% correct and thank you for bringing that up.


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