Anissa Pierce is a character with two versions in comics with another version in the cast of the 2018 Black Lightning CW TV show. This profile will focus on the comics version for the mean time. Info about the TV version may appear here or in a separate profile.
In DC’s post Crisis continuity Anissa Pierce is the daughter of Jefferson Pierce (AKA Black Lightning). When Anissa was 12 she had the strange experience of her body being pulled to the ground. This incident convinced Jefferson to take Anissa to STAR Labs for extensive testing which confirmed Anissa had the ability to change her body’s density. Not long afterwards, and unrelated to Anissa’s power manifestation, her parents divorced and she and her sister Jennifer lived with her mother. Despite the divorce, Anissa had a loving, if strict, relationship with parents. Jennifer later exhibited lightning powers and would become a member of the Justice Society. As a teen, Anissa expressed a strong desire to become a crime fighter like her father. He was dead set against it and a bargain was struck that he’d consider the idea if Anissa graduated from college. She is a proud, recent a recent magna cul laude Pre-Med graduate of Tulane University when she is first seen in costume and breaking up a local gang.
Anissa was approached by Arsenal to join the Outsiders, a team her father had belonged to in its two previous incarnations led by Batman. Since her father had withheld his insights and training, she reasoned it was to her advantage to learn the ropes by joining a team. Anissa did her best to fit in with the team dynamics which were often high strung as fellow teammates Arsenal and Nightwing were dealing with grief and guilt following the death of a founding member of the Teen Titans. Anissa was grateful no one on the team held her responsible for her father’s decision to become Secretary of Education in President Lex Luthor’s administration. Making Luthor President can and in my opinion should be taken as meta commentary on the Supreme Court decision which led to George W. Bush in 2000. However, tension existed between Anissa and Grace Choi who derided Anissa as the newbie, rookie, and a sorority sister.
That Anissa and Grace became romantically interested in one another came as quite a surprise to some readers who accused Judd Winick of simply adding more LGBT characters to advance some agenda. Perhaps in anticipation of this reaction, Winick supplied an in story explanation. Choi confided to Anissa that she simply didn’t process her emotions well and her taunts were a sustained effort to gain Anissa’s attention and that Anissa’s perceptions of and feelings for Grace were gradual. In recently rereading this series I wonder if the relationship wasn’t foreshadowed to a small extent in issue #6. Here Grace fights a demon and suffers severe burns on her face and Anissa rushes to protect her then and later in the hospital as she recovers. In any case, one person’s antagonistic behavior toward another to whom they are attracted is not an unheard of occurrence.
Anissa made some rookie mistakes but she also made great effort and was committed to training and the team. However, this Outsiders volume ended a few months after the relationship revelation and was revamped as another Batman and The Outsiders volume which was written by Chuck Dixon. Several years before this Dixon was noted for his conservative opinion about homosexuality having no place in comics after speaking his mind following the debut of Marvel’s Rawhide Kid Slap Leather mini series. Grace remained an active team member for a while and he didn’t shy away from writing their relationship. Anissa had been removed from the team and in her subsequent appearances she came off being written as annoying, a bit desperate, and a hindrance but also determined to rejoin the team. That would happen by an invitation from Grace without Batman’s knowledge. Anissa was dealt a massive concussion from an explosion and was in a coma from which it was uncertain she’d regain consciousness. She and Grace were effectively removed from the roster for the few remaining issues of this series and would not appear in the following Outsiders volume 4 under yet another writer till issue #36 of its 40 issue run. Then the excuse was offered that Anissa had spent many months recovering in several hospitals with Grace by her side. They had moved into an apartment and were enjoying life together as retired crimefighters. However, they both eagerly helped Anissa’s father in a mission devised by Amanda Waller for Black Lightning which Waller offered as a means to obtain a pardon and release from prison in an accidental death.
Anissa, sister Jennifer, and Grace Choi disappeared from continuity when DC revamped its entire comics line in 2011. Anissa and Jennifer are referenced in the current (2017 – 2018) Black Lightning mini series written by Black Lightning creator Tony Isabella. However, Isabella has made this Jefferson Pierce too young to have teenage let alone adult aged children. They are his nieces.
Thunder possesses the ability to control her body’s density, rendering her a high degree of invulnerability. Her code name comes from an accidental discovery. Using her ability to increase her body density and stomping her foot on the ground creates a shock wave that can topple people and objects. The sound created by it resembles thunder.
Thunder first appeared in The Outsiders #1 volume 1 (2003). Her relationship with Grace is shown in #41.
Read Grace Choi’s profile here.
Art by Matthew Clark.
Created by Judd Winick and Tom Raney.
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