Dynamite Entertainment launched "Project Superpowers" in 2008 from the "Earth X" team of Jim Krueger and Alex Ross, using a group of Golden Age superheroes now mostly in the public domain, including Black Terror, Fighting Yank and Green Lama.
In March of this year, "Project Superpowers" gets reimagined courtesy of celebrated author Warren Ellis, making his Dynamite debut with "Project Superpowers: Blackcross," a six-issue miniseries illustrated by Colton Worley. Following a highly acclaimed six-issue stint on Marvel's "Moon Knight" last year, Ellis explores "Project Superpowers" with a ghost story set in a small town, blending multiple genres from the earliest days of comic books.
CBR News spoke with Ellis about "Project Superpowers: Blackcross" and what attracted him to the project between his current creator-owned ventures like "Injection" and "Trees." Plus, CBR has an exclusive first look at Worley's pages from "Blackcross" #1.
CBR News: Warren, you're very select about your work-for-hire comics output. What was it about these characters and the opportunity presented by Dynamite that made you interested in taking on "Project Superpowers"?
Warren Ellis: I've had a vague itch to play with this group of public domain characters since the 1990s. Nick [Barrucci] and I had been talking about working together for a while, and they turned up on a list of possibilities. I was sitting outside one evening while on the road in the US, going over the list, and had one of those lucky moments when an approach to these characters just dropped into my head. At which point, you have to write it out of your system or it just sits there and nags at you for years. So here we are.
The "Blackcross" story sounds very different than past "Project Superpowers" stories, and the visuals seen so far back that up -- how did you arrive on telling a small town ghost story from the starting point of Golden Age superpowers?
I was wandering in the Pacific Northwest at the time. Close to "Twin Peaks" country, you know? That had a lot to do with it. The trees are not what they seem and all that. Also, of course, the closer you get to the earliest superhero fiction, the closer you are to its roots, which combine crime, science fiction and weird tales.
The "Project Superpowers" characters are rooted in the Golden Age -- what period does the "Blackcross" story take place in?
"Blackcross" takes place in the present day. And nobody in the story has heard of any of those characters before.
Dynamite's earlier "Project Superpowers" had a huge cast, and it looks like some of those characters, like the Black Terror, are present here -- which characters play a major role in "Blackcross"?
The Black Terror, Lady Satan, he whom we currently call "Devil" due to trademarks, The Green Lama, the Woman In Red. A few others. It's not a vast cast. And you won't see them all at once.
How has series artist Colton Worley helped shape this story?
Unusually for me, I started work on this before the artist was set, and the entire story was set before he came in, so I'm afraid poor Colton was thrown in at the deep end. You wouldn't know it from the pages, though.
The early press on this used the term "Superpowers Universe"-- is "Blackcross" planned as the launch point of potential future stories, either from you or other creators?
That's not for me to answer, and I imagine it will be decided by the sales. That would certainly be an interesting thing, but I can't see the future.
Well, that's not true, I can, but you have to pay me for forecasting and nobody's giving me any money to do this interview. Ask me when I'm giving the closing keynote at FutureEverything in Manchester at the end of February.
"Project Superpowers: Blackcross" #1 is scheduled for release from Dynamite Entertainment on March 4.
CBR Staff Writer Alex Dueben contributed to this report.