This week’s episode of Black Lightning introduces a brand new character from the comics who was overshadowed last week. An assassin specializing in metahumans, hired by Destiny, is revealed in the second chapter of Book of Ruins: Theseus’ ship as Ishmael, an evil ninja warrior played by Rico Ball. He’s smart enough to get rid of the immortal Lala, who has transformed into Han Solo, a cosplayer in spite of himself. In the comics, Ishmael has long been an enemy of Black Lightning in multiple realities, and the series version includes elements of both the New Earth and Prime Earth incarnations, though it prefers the latter to the former. Let’s look at it together.
Little is known about Ishmael except his name, which was probably a pseudonym (especially since his brother’s name was Queequeg), and his character. He and his twin brother were both metahumans, werewolves who could take on the guise of anyone, and both used their powers as mercenaries, assassins in the service of whoever paid the most. At some point Ishmael was employed by Tobias Whale, and from then on he worked exclusively for him, also developing a loyalty that went beyond the mere terms of his contract. Whale had interests in Brick City, and when the local gangs, the Black Berets, the Heights Boyz, the House Crew, the Royal Family, and the West Side Cobras, tried to make a deal, Whale decided to step in and take advantage of the ensuing chaos. Ishmael’s mission was to disrupt a peaceful gathering: He kidnapped vigilante Jose Delgado, aka Gangbuster, and took on his appearance to make it look like the hero had become violent and brutal. The plan was to disrupt the meeting and kill the leaders of the rival gangs so that a massive turf war could break out and the Whale of 100 could flourish. Unfortunately, Brick City was Black Lightning’s territory, and he immediately went after this strange killer villain: During the fight, the hero realized he was dealing with an imposter, and soon managed to track down the original Delgado and work with him to foil the Whale’s plan. Ishmael is supported by his brother Queequeg, but the battle is very unequal: The twins’ powers came from their molecular instability, and Black Lightning’s lightning bolts destroyed their amorphous bodies. Black Lightning briefly teamed up with both shifters and even saved Gangbuster when Ishmael literally tried to rip his face off, foiling the Whale’s plan and saving Brick Town from a devastating turf war. Ishmael disappeared from the scene before the New Earth became the First Earth.
In this new reality Ishmael was a completely different person. He was a born metahuman with the ability to absorb the powers of other metahumans, but was kidnapped by the people behind the Ark program, which aimed to create a private army of super soldiers. The program’s experiments not only gave him new gifts, but also condemned him to an agonizing death, as his body rejected the treatment. Batman left the Ark program before they could find a cure for his illness, so his fate was sealed….. But Ishmael was found by Ra’s al Ghul, who saw potential in him in and decided to put him in one of his Lazarus pits. From that moment on, Ishmael not only received new gifts and became practically immortal, but he also became blindly loyal to Ras Al Ghul, whom he considered to be a kind of messiah. Convinced that the world must be destroyed in order to be reborn purer and more righteous, Ishmael trained hard to join the League of Assassins, and when he was finally accepted into the circle of demon warriors, he was practically a fanatic. Because of his remarkable gifts, he was tasked with finding other surviving metahumans from the Ark program and recruiting as many as possible. Ishmael discovers that Batman has hidden couple Gabriel and Ana Ramos in Los Angeles, and goes on the hunt : Anna died as a result of the experiments, as he had risked, while Gabriel survived to raise his only daughter, Sophia, alone. Ishmael didn’t think Gabriel would embrace the League’s ideas and kill him, but Sophia was a different matter entirely: He threw her against a passing train to awaken her dormant meta powers, then brought her to Hadim, where Ra was waiting. While Batman kept an eye on Ramos, Ishmael had to confront the aliens along the way, but he sided with them and easily escaped with the girl. In Khadim, Ishmael participated in the training and conditioning of Sophia’s consciousness and witnessed the birth of another fanatic, Babylon. His master’s vision slowly but surely came to life, and he could not wait for the world to ignite and rise from the ashes to celebrate Ra’s al Ghul’s triumph.
Ishmael, however different from reality, is still a killer blindly loyal to his superior, a man whose misplaced loyalty has kept him from committing the worst atrocities. On New Earth, he is a shapeshifter who can take any form and even mimic the exact features of another human, his unique body giving him superhuman strength and durability; on First Earth, he is a highly skilled assassin and martial artist, adept at using scimitars and other blades; From birth, he has the ability to absorb and manipulate other meta-subjects, an ability which, enhanced by the Lazarus Pit, also allows him to unleash the full potential of other abilities; Project Ark has given him superhuman strength, speed, agility, durability and reflexes, while the water from the Pit mixed with his blood gives him a kind of immortality, as he is able to heal from any type of injury and can even reattach lost limbs. Ishmael fights for the glory of his master, whether it be Tobias Keith’s dreams of domination or Ra’s al Ghul’s vision of a rebirth of the world.
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frequently asked questions
Which nations are descended from Ishmael?
Throughout history, the Ishmaelites have been associated with the Arabs (more specifically, with the Arabs of the North). In fact, two important tribes in northern Arabia, the Kedarites and the Nabataeans, have names that correspond to the two sons of Ishmael.
What is the description of Ishmael in the Bible?
The biblical name Ishmael has come to symbolize orphans, outcasts and social outcasts. Unlike his namesake in the book of Genesis, who was exiled to the desert, Melville’s Ishmael roams the sea.
Why did God send Ishmael away?
During the banquet that follows the weaning of Isaac, Sarah discovers that young Ishmael has been mocking her son (Genesis 21:9). She was so distraught at the thought of Ishmael inheriting her wealth that she demanded that Abraham send Hagar and her son away. She declared that Ishmael would have no part in the inheritance of Isaac.
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