Black Lightning: The Book of Markovia: Chapter Three: Motherless ID


The enemy of my enemy… nope, still don’t trust her

As if the fight against the ASA wasn’t bad enough, now the heroes are taking on a foreign country. The ASA has been using the threat of Markovia to justify their brutal actions in Freeland, and now Markovia is actually doing things that are ticking off the heroes. Granted, going to war over a woman isn’t the best plan, but hey, maybe Marksburg, Markovia, or Freeland, Georgia, will be the next Troy. The forces are gathering in “The Book of Markovia: Chapter Three: Motherless ID.” I’m not sure if that’s supposed to be id as in ego and… or as in identification, but I think it’s the first one.

It’s been a while since we saw her, and this episode opens with Dr. Jace doing a video blog about her captivity among the Markovians. She reports that Lynn Stewart will be arriving soon, and that Colonel Mosin, leader of the Markovians, wants Lynn’s stabilizing agent to keep metahumans from burning out and dying. Jace has some concerns, and a checklist that doesn’t show what she thinks, but does show she’s a sociopath. The very next scene proves Jace’s plans don’t always work. When things start getting out of hand, Mosin himself shows up and demonstrates a new addition to Lynn’s body. Mosin reveals some secrets before leaving a temptation behind and walking out.


Things are tense back in the Grotto, with Jen not at all happy about TC’s message for her that ended last episode. I don’t quite get how the TC/Khalil connection is working myself, but Jen seems to be overreacting, even for her. There are some explanations among Jennifer, TC, and Gambi, and then Jennifer turns her anger on her family for keeping Khalil’s return from her. Gambi and Jefferson have a conversation away from everyone else about the new arrivals, and we even hear “Outsiders” mentioned—the team Black Lightning has been on most often in comics, along with Geo-Force, Technocrat, Windfall, and Atomic Knight Gardener Grayle among others. Before anything can really get settled, Jefferson gets an urgent call, causing him and Anisa to leave in a hurry.


Answering what they thought was a call from Lynn, our heroes meet Gardener Grayle, who fills them in on recent events about Lynn and the ASA and Tobias Whale. Jefferson and Anissa aren’t happy. I admit, I don’t get how this happened. The Markovian agents got the drop on Lynn and Gardener, took her, and left a combat specialist out cold on the ground? That seems odd. They negotiate a kind of tense peace, and, after Grayle leaves, Jefferson shares some difficult news with Anissa. Elsewhere, Tobias Whale is his usual charming self, and Lynn shows that even in her current straights, she has something of a sense of humor.


In the Grotto, Brandon and Jennifer share tales of woe while TC does his best to figure out how to handle the Painkiller chip in Khalil’s head. Gambi helps Jennifer understand some of what TC is reporting, and there’s a peculiar sort of VR scene that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. This requires some new strategizing led by Gambi. Elsewhere, Anissa isn’t happy about either her mother’s addiction or how Jefferson is handling it. Then again, she’s never been shy about disagreeing with her father. After some disagreement, Anissa offers support to Jefferson.


The second expedition into Khalil’s head goes much better with some careful planning and teamwork. With necessity making strange bedfellows, Jefferson and Anissa meet up with Major Gray of the ASA to discuss retrieving Lynn from the Markovians. It’s a tense event but they do manage to agree on a few things. After this little summit, Jefferson returns to the Grotto to share news with Jennifer and find out how little he’s in control of, well, pretty much anything. Jennifer drafts Brandon into the effort, but he agrees after finding out more about what’s going on. While Jefferson and Gambi argue about travel arrangements, Anissa deals with her own mutiny from Grace, which leads to some impressive sparring. We know where Anissa learned to fight, but I’m really curious about who taught Grace.


There’s an epic meeting of egos and self-serving personalities as Tobias Whale and Dr. Jace have a chat. Neither likes the other, but I’d say Jace came out ahead in the exchange with some of the news she delivered. Down in the Pit, Gray supervises some special training and forces Dr. Blair to make a few special modifications. Jace moves on to a visit with Lynn, and Dr. Stewart is really not looking good. Following this, Dr. Jace meets with the very focused and not-particularly-pleasant Colonel Mosin.


As the teams meet up, Pierce makes some more demands of Gray, who really isn’t in a position to refuse. Gray gets a very pointed reminder she’s not in charge of everyone, and Jefferson steps in to provide unity and leadership. The next scene had some questionable placement, and really seemed to be out of sequence. TC goes into Khalil’s head once again, and learns more about what’s going on in there. After regrouping in the real world, there’s another journey to the center of Khalil, some emotional appeals, and some significant progress with his condition. It’s not smooth, and things are going to be complicated in the future. I really think those last two scenes would have played better in reverse order.


What I liked: I can’t help it: I keep finding Dr. Jace entertaining. She’s a bad guy, no doubt, but has some good delivery. I’m hoping this is the end of the good guy side of the characters keeping secrets from each other. I’m interested in the assemblage massing to go to Markovia. I enjoyed seeing Major Gray put in her place.


What I didn’t: I mentioned those two scenes feeling like they were shown out of sequence. I’m finding it a bit odd that Gambi has gone from playing dead with so much discipline to showing his face to pretty much everyone. He’s getting as bad as Flash unmasking. The VR bits inside Khalid’s head struck me as a bit odd, too.


Overall, the show continues to be highly enjoyable. I’ll give this a 3.5 out of 5.


Comic trivia: Among the characters who have been in the Outsiders (a team initially founded in Markovia) gearing up for this raid are: Black Lightning, Thunder, Grace, Technocrat/TC, and Geo-Force/Brandon.