Black Summer #0

Warren Ellis is no stranger to taking a concept as simple as superheroes and turning it on its ear. He reinterpreted the superhero team concept with his acclaimed run on The Authority years ago for DC/Wildstorm. He seems to be set to do it again with Black Summer.

The Seven Guns were a group of adventurers who used science and technology to enable themselves to fight evil and corruption. When one of their members was killed and another injured, the team drifted apart.

John Horus was one of the most idealistic and powerful of these heroes. When he decided the President of the United States must be made to pay for betraying his country and leading the nation into a war under false pretenses, Horus executed the President, Vice President and most of his Cabinet.

Now this superhero is giving the country back to its citizens. He’s going to enable people to have a new free election and make sure that the process isn’t tainted as it has been in the past. And though he can offer a dire warning like not to “test” him because no one can imagine how powerful he is, he also implores people to understand that what he has done isn’t a terrorist act or a coup and that he wants to return the American spirit to the public. He may have the best of intentions, but he’s most likely insane, as well.

There’s also Tom Noir, a former Gun who “retired” after losing his leg in an accident that claimed the life of the woman he loved. Tom seems to enjoy spending his days drinking in solitude and watching the news. He’s grown tired of fighting the good fight and feels like his best days are long behind him. Obviously, since he just watched his old partner make his announcement on assassinating the President on the airwaves, he’s going to be a major player in this series.

If this type of story line has been done before, I don’t have enough diversity in my comic collection. Ellis thrives on taking readers to places they’ve never been before and he’s presenting us with an interesting road here. What would happen if a superhero felt the government dishonored its people and did something about it? Would the public support it? Do intentions mean more than actions? I don’t know what I’d do, but I’m sure as hell curious to see how Ellis follows this chain of events over the rest of the story line.

Jose Ryp is an artist I’m not familiar with, but I was very impressed with his work, nonetheless. He reminds me of a cross between Geof Darrow and Darick Robertson. He puts a great amount of detail into both his characters and his backgrounds, and I really liked a lot of the layouts in the book. His design of Horus provides a means to show the character as a noble figure of light and goodness, like a modern-day knight, but it can also look intimidating and scary. I guess it depends on your point of view regarding the character and his actions.

I’m surprised this book didn’t get more media attention. Actually, I’m not sure it received any media attention. But you figure in this day and age, you’d have headlines all over the place about a comic book that features the killing of a President, even though it isn’t blatantly spelled out just who that President is. That docudrama last year was the focus of a lot of bad press. Perhaps not being under the scrutiny of the major media is all for the best.

This issue was just the lead in to a seven-issue limited series beginning in August, and I’m eager to see how far Ellis takes this. I trust that it’ll be an interesting journey.