PROJECT SUPERPOWERS BLACKCROSS #1 (Dynamite Entertainment, March 04 release date) Writer: Warren Ellis; Artist: Colton Worley; Colorist: Morgan Hickman; Letterer: Simon Bowland
EDITOR’S NOTES: For some time now, I’ve felt that I should explain why there are not more reviews of traditional super-hero books on this blog, or more reviews of Marvel and DC books. (I’m hoping to meet some writers who are interested in reviewing Marvel and DC titles and give them a try-out here). So, here goes the explanation . . . . . . I’m not especially enthralled with super-hero books and don’t read much of them anymore. Once in awhile I will pick up a book depending on the writer or artist involved and give them another chance. It’s not that I look down my nose at the superhero genre in comics and anyone who still reads and enjoys them. There are some great works out there, much better than what passed for superhero titles 20 years ago. And, it’s not always because the Big Two create one mega-event after another that spans twenty or forty books for the story to unfold. That is annoying, but I have to admit that some of those mega-events have turned out to be really good stories. The real reason is that after decades and decades of reading super-hero titles I am looking for something else. I’m burned out a little on these books. It’s similar to my once infatuation with heroic fantasy. Many years back, I read so much of this that I don’t turn to it or crave it anymore. Hey, peanut butter tastes great - - but if you eat it every day you end up getting bored with it or stop appreciating it. You don’t want anymore.
Warren Ellis is one of those creators that I attempt to follow. If he dabbles in the superhero melting pot, I’ll always give it a taste. However, that doesn’t always guarantee a good read. I think it depends on whether he is filling in on a title (for example, his short and unmemorable run on Marvel’s SECRET AVENGERS some years ago) or being given more creative freedom in the case of a character re-boot (see his imaginative first story arc on the most recent reincarnation of Marvel’s MOON KNIGHT). Now, he’s dipping into the blend of lesser-known characters (many now in public domain) from Dynamite’s PROJECT SUPERPOWERS. This was a popular limited series from 2008 that resurrected many Golden Age superheroes from the smaller publishers like Fox, Crestwood and Nedor. One of the better-known characters from that series was The Green Lama (wouldn’t I love to see Ellis tackle him?)
After just one issue, it’s very hard to tell where the story in PROJECT SUPERPOWERS BLACKCROSS is going. Readers may wonder which of the characters from the aforementioned limited series will be included in this new work. (My second chance to nominate The Green Lama! Please?) While the covers (six different ones) are all very enticing and feature superheroes on them (with one exception, the fire on the water cover) readers may anticipate more of the same inside the pages. There are only a few panels where superheroes appear in Issue #1. The word “Blackcross” also would seem to indicate that this is the name of a character, perhaps the one portrayed on the fabulous symbolic main cover by Jae Lee and Ivan Nunes. That is an image of Black Terror, a prominent hero from PROJECT SUPERPOWERS. Yet, he appears as a foggy image in just one panel in the first issue, unless he is out of costume and not identified. Blackcross actually happens to be the name of the town in Washington State where the story occurs.
What does play out in Issue #1 are some very strange and sometimes disturbing incidents that occur without explanation, baffle the police and investigators, and set the stage for future events. A mystery is being developed with undertones of supernatural forces at work. The only common element is that everything happens in the little town of Blackcross.
- An off-panel silent presence prompts a man to travel to a state park, undress, douse himself with gasoline, and become a human torch.
Criminal investigators that are trailing a serial killer who leaves patriotic carvings in his victim’s chests learn that his next stop is in Blackcross.
A mirror may be the gateway between the psychic/medium dubbed Lady Satan (what a choice for a business name!) and a masked and caped image that appears to her, looking for a pathway and beseeching her to reach out and touch.
Or, are these incidents just part of the nightmares that cause sleepless nights for a man with an identity crisis, in a witness protection program and struggling to adjust while he begins to receive threatening messages via email?
Will all these loose threads tie together to knot up a satisfying thriller? I would assume so, as this is some bait that I intend to nibble on. I’m hooked. .