Barbiere Brings Dark Horse's "Blackout" Out of the Shadows

Over the past year or so, Dark Horse Comics has been steadily building a base of superheroes. Today, readers are introduced to another character joining the ranks of Ghost, X and the rest as Blackout debuts in the pages of the anthology series "Dark Horse Presents" #24. While a creation of Dark Horse editor Mike Richardson, the hero's story is being written by Frank Barbiere, with art by Micah Kaneshiro.

Blackout is, to some degree, a traditional superhero: A man of unassuming means finds himself suddenly in possession of technology that gives him heretofore-impossible abilities. The character, and story, follow a less common thread, however, in that the man in the suit is largely in the dark. He's no great hero, and as the story unfolds, is discovering for himself what this piece of machinery is capable of. Comic Book Resources spoke with Barbiere about the upcoming story, and who Blackout is shaping up to be.

"Blackout is a young man named Scott Travers, who's looking for his place in the world," Barbiere told CBR. "Scott is a real 'everyman,' a young guy who has been struggling to find something bigger in his life and works to overcome his fears by seeking challenge. I'm really happy with the character; I think he's very relatable and brings readers right into the world we're building."

Scott is a lab assistant, though it seems he's no great scientific genius. Barbiere is keeping a lid on what that lab might have been involved in, though it promises to add some fiction to the tale's science. Despite the trappings, however, Barbiere is quick to point out that character, rather than sci-fi gimmicks, forms the heart of the story.

"Scott works a day job in a lab, and when his benefactor disappears under mysterious circumstances, Scott comes into possession of a strange suit with incredible abilities," Barbiere said. "Scott's main drive is searching for his benefactor, while also trying to uncover the mysteries of 'the suit.'

"We're keeping exactly what kind of things went down in the lab purposely vague; readers will get the same hints and clues that Scott does," Barbiere added. "'New technologies' is really as much as I can say. We do address a few of these things in the first story, so keep your eyes open for pieces of information. Attentive readers will definitely be able to start piecing things together. Mike [Richardson] is very interested in theoretical physics and science, and I have some cool ideas based off of 'real science,' but that's not the focus of the series. The story and characters are."

In classic form, the first story of Blackout in the pages of "Dark Horse Presents" jumps right into the action. The story gives readers a sense of the characters origin, following Scott as he struggles to make sense of his newfound abilities.

"He'll be performing a bit of reconnaissance, trying to figure out how to use the suit in a more 'stealth' capacity," Barbiere said. "He doesn't really know how to use the suit too well, so readers literally get to discover along with Scott. Of course, things don't go according to plan, and Scott ends up biting off more than he can chew."

Barbiere has found an ideal collaborator in artist Micah Kaneshiro. With the focus on character, in concert with high-tech gadgetry and laboratory settings, Barbiere couldn't be happier with what Kaneshiro has brought to the table.

"I think people are going to be really blown away by his work," Barbiere said. "Micah is immensely talented as an illustrator and storyteller. As a writer, I simply could not ask for a better collaborator. Micah really nails expression and body language, which is key to our story. Blackout wears a suit that covers his face, so it's necessary to have an artist who can show that physicality and emoting without relying on facial expressions. Micah also has a knack for drawing cool technology and gadgetry, which is a huge plus!"

Blackout joins the ranks of other newly created or re-imagined superheroes at Dark Horse Comics, as the publisher broadens its offerings and reaches out to potential new audiences. With the creation of new hero-centric titles comes an opportunity to take a fresh look at the genre, potentially even to change the rules of the super hero game. Blackout, though essentially a superhero story, steps lightly into the genre forms of science fiction and mystery.

"Even though Blackout fits the superhero mold, he's a unique character. That big focus on character, on Scott being a more down on the ground guy vs. some crazy gladiator or soldier, was a draw for me -- it makes him more relatable and human. The sense of mystery in the series is also exciting, since Scott doesn't know any more than we do about what's going on."

The serial story told in "Dark Horse Presents" is just the beginning for Blackout. Barbiere and the publisher have much more in mind for the character and plan to continue to introduce Scott Travers to the comics buying public even as they establish the mythology of his world.

"The focus of the action...will be Scott's interaction with the Blackout suit and how he learns to use it," Barbiere said. "Essentially anyone could wear the suit -- it's just a tool. The choices Scott makes define who he is and how the story develops. The story is not about the suit -- it's about the man inside it."

"Blackout" debuts in "Dark Horse Presents" #24, on sale now.

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