The battles has been fought, the war has been won and the criminals have been punished. Now Bob Benton is adjusting to life as a normal pharmacist. But after having lived the life of the Black Terror, can he be satisfied filling prescriptions? Let’s find out in BLACK TERROR #1 from Dynamite comics. It hits store shelves October 2nd!
Writer: Max Bemis
Artist: Matt Gaudio
Colorist: Brittany Pezzillo
Letterer: Taylor Esposito
Editor: Kevin Ketner
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: October 2, 2019
Previously in BLACK TERROR: In the early years of World War II, pharmacist Bob Benton created a mixture of chemicals which gave him a variety of super powers and enabled him to become the scourge of the Axis. Once his duty was done, he found that he was suffering psychologically from the acts he had experienced and committed during the War to End All Wars. He hung up his cape and struggled to just be ordinary Bob Benton, pharmacist. No matter how hard he tried, the shadow of the Black Terror followed him.
WHAT A DRAG IT IS GETTING OLD
During World War II, the Black Terror terrorized the enemies of the free world as one of the many costumed heroes who took up the cause of liberty against tyranny. He was adored by his allies and feared by his foes, but that was when they all had a common foe. After the war, it was different. The depths he went to during the war, the actions he performed, where not as acceptable on the streets of an America tired of conflict. These criminals were possible the guy next door, the daughter of your friend, the cousin you only saw on holidays. To make matters worse, his actions during the war haunted him to the point he finally hung his cape up. The loss of old friends, and his own agelessness, affected Bob Benton until he finally found a legal, pharmaceutical way to handle his own personal terrors. So when we find him in 1974 Chicago, he is working in a pharmacy and taking his Valium every day. It helps him handle this life or ordinary experience. But even as he stands behind the counter and fills the prescriptions for an ailing citizenship, he sometimes finds himself flashing back to days more dark. His coworkers, like the attractive Sheila, just accept it as one of his little quirks. TO them he just checks out mentally at odd occasions. In his mind through, he is reliving trauma which haunts him. He has been diagnosed with “post-traumatic stress disorder”, and the Valium and his own “values” are the only thing keeping him functioning as a regular human.
It all changes one day when he notices a shoplifter in his drug store. No one else sees it, and instead of alerting his coworkers, he instead follows the culprit home. Looking through the shoplifter’s window, he sees what he assumes is a miscreant leading a deviant lifestyle. When he returns to work, he begins to see injustice and crime everywhere. From the man giving unwanted advances to a young woman, to all sorts of cruelty, he realizes he cannot look away. At one time, he wouldn’t have. He would have taken a hand in the matter and dealt out sweet justice. It is then he realizes the real drug he needs to cure his ills, and it is in the form of a tight fitting black suit, a red lined cape, and stylish cuffed boots. The Black Terror returns! But what happens when he discovers his shoplifter is committing much more than minor theft, and the things he thought secret have been observed by a source he would have never guessed?
KIDS ARE DIFFERENT TODAY…
Max Bemis (Moon Knight, Evil Empire) is more than just a storied musician and song writer, he is proving himself a high caliber scripter of the sequential as well. As with many of his past projects, Bemis seems to call upon his own experiences with mental issues as he outlines Bob Benton’s state of mind throughout this first issue. His voice is strong, and Bemis successfully makes a case for Benton’s suffering from PTSD, something which is often not explored with in the superhero realm. The scenes with Benton ring true and Bob’s realizations may echo realizations which Bemis himself has made in his own life at different points. He takes a character who has a recent history of being played very macho and stereotypical and adds a layer to him which makes him more interesting than many of his contemporaries. Teamed up with the art of Matt Guadio (Vampirella, John Wick) and Brittany Pezzillo (Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, Bettie Page), there is a successful feel of the time. Odd as it sounds, the book looks like the seventies, largely thanks to Guadio’s work. He visually conveys the style of the seventies, and Pezzillo’s colors tie it all together and add to the feel. It is solid work from a group of relative newcomers, but work that promises much in the future. And once again, I find myself noticing the lettering work of Taylor Esposito (Red Sonja and Vampirella Meet Betty and Veronica, Bettie Page: Unbound). Much as the las title I reviewed with his work, he manages to expertly place the dialogue in a fashion which allows for the uninterrupted viewing of the story, but still flowing almost unnoticeably. That is what a good letterer is supposed to do, and Esposito does it well.
BOTTOM LINE: KINDA TRIPPY
I was surprised in a way to see this issue start off in the 1970’s. While that was an exciting time for super heroes in our world’s Bronze Age, it seems too have been somewhat unexplored in the world of Dynamite Comics. Add to that the mental issues and doubt which Max Bemis allows Black Terror to give voice to, and it makes for a most satisfying issue.
BLACK TERROR #1 looks like it is preparing to present a different take on the tolls of being a super hero, and I for one am ready to get a dose.
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