Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Classics - The Black Terror #1

Here's a golden age character who was a complete mystery to me.

His origins are long before I started reading comics, and practically every time he pops up in the modern era, he's a completely different character.

The reason The Black Terror shows up every now and then is thanks largely to the fact that the character is in public domain. He last resurfaced about four years ago in a not-so-great new series from Dynamite Entertainment, and he appreared in some of Alan Moore's ABC comics (with Tom Strong) - but his first reappearance (after his original Golden Age run) was in a Prestige mini-series from Eclipse Comics in 1989.

Written by Beau Smith and Chuck Dixon (in what must be the manliest writing team-up of the century) and painted by Dan Brereton (in what I believe was his first work in comics), the series brought the Black Terror back as a (more or less) normal man working undercover to bring down the mob.

The story begins with a nightmarish dream sequence that doesn't seem to have much in common with the rest of the story, but from there we get into the grim and grisly world of crime.

As Ryan Delvecchio, The Black Terror is working as a gunman for the mob. One mission gives him possession on a computer disc that links to a mysterious plot known as Romulus.

Using his insider information, the Terror is able to wreak havoc on the gang, but he has a tall order in front of him. Not only does he face a powerful and ruthless gang of criminals, he's also being pursued by the FBI, who don't appreciate his "freelance" crimefighting - and did I mention that the gang is being run by the state's governor?

So lots of wheels turning in this one, and lots a grim violence to go around.

Brereton's painted art for this issue is brilliant in places and very shaky in others - but you can definitely see the promise of the excellent artist that he would become.

As far as I know, this series hasn't been collected and reprinted, while at least three volumes of the most recent (and far less entertaining) stories are available.

Now that's a crime!

Grade: A-



Glen Davis said...

I think Bill Black brought The Black Terror in his Americomics previous to this, but I could be wrong.

Chuck said...

I think you're right, Glen, though I'm not sure if those were reprints of Golden Age stories. Americomics has reprinted some terrific stuff over the years!