When I saw this book upcoming, I could help but get a bit excited for it. Some may know that I have a thing for these classic heroes. Now I don’t know a lot about them, and I surely was not one of those who followed them pre-2000’s , but I always found these stories to be a breath of fresh air from everything else in modern superhero storytelling. One of those who I knew less than others is in fact Black Terror, so I thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to get to know this hero better.
From a new reader point of view, the way I looked at this was from the perspective of someone who wanted to be drawn into Black Terror for the first time. You expect that those familiar with Black Terror will jump on this book, but that’s never going to be your full audience. You’re also going to be getting just as many readers who want to know what all the buzz was about with characters like this. So with that said, the big question before anything is else is how welcoming Black Terror #1 is. I would say that they succeeded in giving us a warm welcome and giving us a summary of who Black Terror was, and who Bob Benton is. It’s not as if the synopsis didn’t give you an idea of who he is, but it should never end just there. Not when you also have to take things in visually.
Now the interesting thing of course turned out to be the fact that this is another character from back when who they have decided to tie into the modern world. So this is passed the time of Project Superpowers and everything which came with that time. What I enjoyed about the way this creative team handled things, is that they didn’t let the world around him take away from what he was dealing with personally. Sometimes it is nice when you take these old characters and establish just how different things are for them, but sometimes when you have seen it once, you have seen them all. So I was glad that they managed to keep that perspective personal. It also helped that modern didn’t exactly mean 2019, because I’m pretty sure we all know how that would turn out.
That said, this is still a story where you want to question what it is going to take to bring the Black Terror back to action. It took no time at all to see where Benton would struggle against his urges to fight crime. Like in Project Superpowers, you could see where there is a difficulty in drawing that line between good and evil. In a modern world that line is more blurred when back then it was as simple as seeing someone wearing enemy colors and punching them in the face. When we got to see what could bring him to that point? That was one hell of a scene for a true understanding of the kind of hero Black Terror is. I had my suspicions that he was more of the dark crusader, and I’m glad that I was not wrong about that. Very quickly we all came to understand this, and at the same time what will be the driving force for everything else to come in the following issues.
Now with a book like this, the artwork is also an important sell. I found myself satisfied with what this art team had to offer. Matt Gaudio’s pencils impressed me because I was half expecting that he was going to lean towards the house style that we tend to get with books centered around Golden Age heroes. His pencils were more his own and I appreciated this because there can be times where leaning into that style makes it hard to fully appreciate the effort and detail that goes into both pencils and colors. What stood out to me more than anything else in this issue, it was the way Bob Benton was drawn, rather than Black Terror. I was taken back by the way that he was able to capture the look of someone suffering PTSD. The anxiousness written on his face, the consistent sweating, the look like he’s lost his ability to properly communicate with other people. Even the lack of confidence in the way he carried himself could be seen through a slump and many “moments” which all came naturally. Speaking of natural, at the same time I enjoyed the color work because it was all pretty tame. Nothing flashy, or dull, Brittany Pezzillo met us halfway to really dig into this normal life that Bob was trying to live.
The lettering from Taylor Esposito did manage to stand out as well here and there. I loved the touch they gave towards the distinct voice of Black Terror. It’s a unique color scheme that they use to separate his worlds from everyone else’s.
At the end of Black Terror #1, did this first issue meet expectations as a new reader? It did and then some. I found myself understanding this character in a way that I didn’t before. We got to know him as Black Terror, and as the man who tried desperately to draw a line in the sand between the two. What comes next is going to be a thrill, because it’s impossible for a Golden Age hero to truly leave it all in the past.