As a new iteration of the Outsiders are formed in Future State’s Gotham City, two fan-favorite superheroes find their bond grow deeper.

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for “Outsiders,” a story in Future State: The Next Batman #3, by Brandon Thomas, Sumit Kumar, Raul Fernandez, Jordie Bellaire and Steve Wands, on sale now

As the Magistrate tightens his group over Gotham City in the alternate timeline of Future State, the familiar heroes and villains have changed up their tactics and appearances in the face of his authoritarian rule. While a new Batman defends the streets of Gotham and works towards overthrowing the Magistrate for good, the Outsiders have undergone their own transformation, with two longtime friends and partners growing closer than ever.  Katana and Black Lightning‘s relationship takes a new turn that is, unfortunately, tragically familiar to the swordswoman.

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Sometime over the course of the Magistrate’s rise to power, Jefferson Pierce lost his corporeal form and became a living bolt of electricity — not unlike the Justice Society of America superhero Johnny Thunder. As the two teammates reunite in the dystopia of Future State, Black Lightning reveals to Katana that an incident involving magic cursed to carry on as his namesake. And while Jefferson has given up any hope of restoring himself to his old body, he finds himself drawn to Katana’s signature Soultaker Sword.

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Black Lightning Katana Future State

An ancient weapon claimed by the villainous Takeo Yamashiro as he rose through the ranks of Japan’s yakuza, the Soultaker was used to murder his own brother Maseo for the love of Maseo’s wife, Tatsu. Disarming Takeo and claiming his sword for herself, Tatsu discovered that, true to its name, the Soultaker absorbed the souls of anyone killed by its blade, including Maseo. Able to communicate with her husband’s spirit directly through the sword, Tatsu underwent rigorous training and created the superhero mantle of Katana, eventually traveling to the United States where she would join Batman’s Outsiders and occasionally come to the aid of the Suicide Squad while continuing to wield the Soultaker.

The Soultaker provided Black Lightning with a crucial grounding point to remember who he is and regain a semblance of his past humanity. Shockingly, Black Lightning effectively becomes one with the sword in Future State. Now crackling with his electrical superhero energy, the new Soultaker is more lethal than ever, with Black Lightning able to manifest himself apart from the blade in his raw energy state to assist the Outsiders in defending Gotham. And with Katana feeling her longstanding debt and partnership with Black Lightning to be fulfilled, the stoic superhero passes on the Soultaker to the young hero Signal. Signal and Jefferson combine their efforts to take the fight directly to the Magistrate’s forces as part of their continuing bid to liberate Gotham from his rule.

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Future State Signal Black Lightning

The heroes may still be driven underground by the Magistrate, but that doesn’t mean they are operating isolated from one another. Black Lightning may have lost his normal body but now a new Signal protects Gotham City with the being that was once Jefferson Pierce at his side, armed with an even more formidable Soultaker for a new generation. And as the Magistrate begins to face increasing resistance to his rule, the new Katana and Black Lightning partnership may prove to be his electrifying undoing as Future State nears its climactic finish in time for Infinite Frontier.

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