Golden Age superhero Bob Benton and his edgy crime-fighting alter-ego Black Terror are soaring back into a fresh solo series from Dynamite Comics that hopes to deconstruct the pulp hero for a modern age by dropping his tortured psyche into the turbulent '70s era — and SYFY WIRE has a special expanded preview of the debut issue.
Written by Say Anything lead singer and acclaimed comics writer Max Bemis (Moon Knight, Polarity, Centipede), and injected with intense artwork by Matt Gaudio (Bettie Page, John Wick), Black Terror is a gritty new series attempting to revive the masked vigilante by providing an Alan Moore-like take on the Project Superpowers universe, but devoid of all the severe depression.
The talented art team is rounded out by impressive contributions from Ruairi Coleman (Cloak & Dagger, Turok), with colorist Brittany Pezzillo (Bettie Page, Green Hornet) and letters courtesy of Taylor Esposito of Ghost Glyph Studios (Bettie Page, Elvira).
Set in 1974 Chicago, anxious ex-crusader Bob Benton has settled into an ordinary life of being a drugstore pharmacist. His boring daily routine, bottles of pills, and a sexy co-worker he has a schoolboy crush on are the main elements of his existence that bring some measure of happiness.
But lurking just beneath the seemingly placid surface are his shattered memories of being a violent superhero. Struggling against his semi-psychotic urges to fight crime and debilitating PTSD, Benton is forced back down a trouble-strewn path he believed he'd long left behind, and into a destiny to again combat evil and become the infamous Black Terror!
Black Terror and his sidekick Tim were conceived in 1941 by Richard E. Hughes and Don Gabrielson and were first seen in Nedor Comics' Exciting Comics #9. The swashbuckling Golden Age series chronicled the wartime exploits of mild-mannered pharmacist Bob Benton, who developed a serum that gave him extranormal powers. More recently, these public domain characters have been featured by Dynamite in their various Project Superpowers releases first created by Jim Krueger, Alex Ross, and Doug Klauba.
Bemis has a certain affinity for the conflicted Nemesis of Crime and hopes this revival series resonates with fans new and old.
"I like the idea that in our book, he’s a guy who lives in broad strokes who has been affected by the moral ambiguity of his world and the 1970s at large," Bemis tells SYFY WIRE. "I often feel the same way as the world becomes more complex and scary around me."
"Each issue is a standalone story that anyone can dive into, though it works best as a whole," he explains. "So expect each issue to have its own tone, themes, and worldbuilding. I think they’ve [Gaudio and Francavilla ] done a great job of paring realism with evocative emotional storytelling. You definitely FEEL the story, which is a huge thing for this book."
Take a trippy journey back to the Windy City in the Swingin' Seventies in our five-page peek at Dynamite's Black Terror #1 in the gallery below, with variant covers by Francesco Francavilla, Jorge Fornes, David Nakayama, Erica Henderson, and Adam Gorham, then tell us if this Golden Age classic deserves a place on your pull list when it arrives on Oct. 2.