In this first issue continuing the popular mini-series, Black Terror embarks on his mission to destroy The Crusaders and honor the memory of his friend, the American Crusader. But will his plans change once the possible force behind The Crusaders appears?
In my review of Project Superpowers 2 #4, I revealed how Black Terror had left the Green Lamaâ€™s side to go on a mission to destroy all of The Crusader troops that the government had been using. The Crusader troops where apparently derived from the DNA of the hero known as the American Crusader, whom Terror had been close friends with. With this issue, we pick up with as Black Terror on the National Mall as he contemplates everything that has let him up to this point, and he remembers another group of patriots who where scorned by the very country they loved and swore to protect.
July, 1944 at Fort Hood, Texas. Black Terror and The American Crusader are shooting a newsreel for the Saturday matinees and meeting the meeting members of the 761st Tank Division, the first all African-American tank division. One of the soldiers is a young Lieutenant named Jackie Robinson. After spending time with the costumed heroes, we flash forward to Christmas of the same year, where the 761st is eating a Christmas dinner that consists of beans thanks to the supply truck that never got through. The snow is thick when they are suddenly attacked by a group of Panzer tanks. The Sherman tanks of the 761st are little match against the heavily armored Panzers, and things look grim for the brave American soldiers. Just when things look their darkest, a familiar skull and crossbones design emerges from the smoke and turns the tide of the battle; the American Crusader and Black Terror have arrived.
Liberating the rations from the defeated German troops, costumed heroes sit and catch up with the men of the 761st. When they ask about where Lt. Jackie Robinson is, another soldier tells him that he under went courts martial right before deployment. He refused to sit at the back of the bus.
Back in the present, the Black Terror decides to end his remembrance of his friend Archie, The American Crusader, by confronting the Crusader troops who have been slowly surrounding him. A brutal fight ensues and threatens to severally damage the National Mall, and Black Terror tries to move the fight to a different location, but is overwhelmed by shear numbers, until he pulls out his sword. Leaving piles of Crusader limbs around him, he realizes that they have been trying to keep him from something, not to stop him. His prey is hiding in the Library of Congress, the last place Terror would have looked. The person he confronts inside may be the mastermind behind the Crusaders, but he is also a big part of Black Terrorâ€™s past.
Despite being a fan of Project Superpowers and Project Superpowers 2, I did not pick up any of the individual mini series outside of the Meet The Bad Guys books. That may just change with this issue of Black Terror. Phil Hester has taken a character that was simply the mad tank of the Project Superpowers mini-series and given him character and meaning. He is still a tank character, but now he has a purpose. The flashback sequences revolving around the 761st take on a whole different meaning when looked at from the present day situation of Black Terror. Then, African-Americans where not allowed the same rights as other United States citizens who had pledged to defend their country. The situation with the 761st and Jackie Robinsonâ€™s court martial are based in fact. Jackie Robinson later went on to break the color barrier in major league baseball. Now, Terror sees the situation with the Crusaders in much the same light. They have taken a part of his friend, manufactured it through an unknown process, and then forced the products of that process to become defacto slaves to the government. The addition of the battle being fought in front of the Lincoln Memorial further drives that point home. But the last page revelation may change everything that Bob (Black Terror) thought he knew.
Jonathan Lauâ€™s artwork here reaches new heights. I have previously enjoyed his work in other Dynamite titles, but here is just completely amazes me. His WWII sequences look spectacular and the fight between Terror and the Crusaders actually makes you flinch. The sight of dozens of these zombie-like beings flying down on Black Terror is wonderful, but the splash page of Terror, American Crusader and the soldiers striking back at the German troops has to be one of my favorites in months. A good deal of the credit also needs to go to Ivan Nunesâ€™ colors. They glow. That is the only way I can describe it.
I skipped out on the series when it was still just a mini. I saw Black Terror in Project: Superpowers and was not overtly impressed with his characterization. It was just another powerful, angry guy in a dark suit with a skull, and other than one or two moments, I just was not grabbed by him. He almost seemed to be a one trick pony. With this â€œfirstâ€ issue of the ongoing series has changed my opinion. A big complaint about the Project: Superpowers Universe is that there are too many background characters running around and doing nothing; that problem is solved with this issue. Phil Hester focuses on Black Terror and his new mission, and gives the character unsuspecting depth that escaped him when he was part of a larger ensemble. I am going with 4.5 out of 5 stars. Now that we have seen what can be done with the right writer, this series might just set a new standard for the PS Universe.