The Black Terror has been through a lot since getting jettisoned from Pandora's Urn back in the humble beginnings of Dynamite's "Project Superpowers." He went on a one-man search for his old sidekick Tim Roland (AKA Kid Terror) and has come to terms with the fact that the America he fought for in World War II no longer exists. Following this crisis of identity, the Terror now sees himself as a swashbuckling hero and not the macabre vigilante he once was.
In his most recent story arc, writer Phil Hester set the Terror on a mission to rescue the original American Crusader, who was being used to churn out zombified clones for use by the American Government. Now Hester is back with artist Wagner Reis for a brand new story-arc, "Inhuman Remains," that promises to reveal more about the Black Terror's secret identity as Dr. Bob Benson and how he was changed by his time in Pandora's Urn. The story will also give the Terror a brand new sidekick, The Parrot. CBR News had a chance to sit down with Phil Hester to talk about some of his plans for "The Black Terror."
CBR: Phil, this isn't your first jaunt into the world of "Project Superpowers" and certainly not your first into the world of the Black Terror. With a few story arcs under your belt, what do you think is unique about the Black Terror?
PHIL HESTER: He's a complicated guy, but he thinks he's not. I keep describing him as Eastwood's "Gran Torino" character in that he's a man out of time and has some disdain for the world he's stuck in, but when the chips are down he's the guy you want on your side. Of course, that makes him all the more interesting when you finally break through that iron facade and get to the pain he must be carrying around inside.
I also think he's unique in that he's sort of "Project Superpower's" World's Finest: Batman and Superman rolled into one character. He's the Boy Scout and the badass. I also think his devil-may-care attitude leads to some real humor. He's both the upright hero and the shady anti-hero. His only constant character trait from 1940s to now seems to be tenacity.
You're starting up a new story arc entitled "Inhuman Remains." Tell us a little bit about it.
The "Project Superpowers" Heroes are being haunted by the ghosts of their abandoned pasts, the selves they lost while imprisoned in Pandora's Urn for sixty years. They came out of exile as more powerful, more focused versions of the heroes that went in, so what happened to those parts of their identities they shed? The Mad Magi, a magic wielding villain, gives those lost regrets, ideals, loves, dreams, etc. living form and haunts the heroes with them.Â
This leads The Black Terror on a quest to discover just what he could have become if he had lived not only his normal hero life, but maintained his civilian identity as Dr. Bob Benson.
Also, we introduce some Golden Age Nedor villains to the Project Superpwers universe. So don't fret, skull-cracking aplenty awaits.
This story arc will also feature the introduction of The Parrot, the Black Terror's new sidekick. What's the story on the Parrot?
Alex [Ross] and Jim [Krueger] developed this buccaneer persona for the modern Black Terror and when I threw out the idea of giving him a flying pirate ship, Alex got inspired to create a sidekick in that same pirate vein. She's meant to be something bright and cheerful, like Robin to Batman. Also, she represents some deeper mystery about the origin of the Phantom Galleon and its tie to the Boon of Ra.
Why wait so long to give the Terror a sidekick?
He's always had a sidekick in Tim, but that relationship is... complicated nowadays. Alex saw an opportunity to inject a character that was a needed as a complement to The Terror on both a story level and a visual one.
After having a chance to really explore the world of the Black Terror, how do you feel the character has grown under your writing? How do you think his character will continue to advance?
I can't really judge. I'd like for readers to have picked up on that indomitable spirit he's been displaying, but also his sense of humor and his desire to do the right thing -- not just because it's his duty, but because he genuinely believes in justice. I hope if folks stick with us they'll find he also has some unspoken regrets about the life he could have lived as a normal man. That's what the next few arcs are all about.
What is most challenging about writing a book like "Black Terror?"
Keeping track of all the characters Alex wants to bring back. He's got such an unbridled love for these characters that it's like watching a Roman candle go off every time he fires off some new sketches. Best part of the job, actually.
What do you think is most rewarding?
The great people I get to work with in Nicky [Barrucci], Joe [Casey], Jim, and Alex, not to mention all the artists who've done a stint on the book, especially Jonathan Lau.
Why do you think the character, out of all of the "Superpowers" heroes who have earned a series, has enjoyed this much success?
Not sure. Well, for one thing, his costume is so iconic. He's pretty much the only golden age character outside of a major publisher with such a striking, memorable look. I always say the proof of a strong character image is how many different versions you can make of it and have it still be immediately recognizable (Batman, again). Black Terror passes that test. Also, he's just a lot of fun to read about. He has his moments of introspection and angst, but it never hinders him from kicking ass.