THE BLACK TERROR

Here is another public domain superhero that I once had an idea of reviving. THE BLACK TERROR, created by Richard E. Hughes and Don Gabrielson, debuted in 1941 in a series called Exciting Comics.

His secret identity was Bob Benton, a pharmacist (the skull and bones symbol on his chest represents medical poison, not pirates) who invented a special potion that gave him super strength and made his body invulnerable (he was still susceptible to hard blows to his head), and proceeded to become the “nemesis of evil” as the costumed crimefighter, The Black Terror. Eventually he would enlist his teenage assistant Tim Roland as his sidekick, giving him the same powers and a similar costume and calling him…Tim.

Yeah, they were The Black Terror and Tim. That’s like Batman and Dick.

Anyway, read more HERE.

The character was regularly published for 8 years, and despite his comparative obscurity has proved to be a surprisingly resilient property. The character has been revived by several publishers in the decades since, even before it was officially in the public domain, but his popularity has really risen in the past decade ever since Dynamite Entertainment made him a prominent figure in their PROJECT SUPERPOWERS maxiseries in 2008, which lead to appearances in several other series, as well as his own solo spin-off series.

Dynamite pretty much stuck to the original interpretation of the character, merely bringing him from the 1940’s into the modern era, along with many other superheroes, via magical means, while Moonstone Books published a new take on the character in 2012 called THE BLACKEST TERROR, re-imagining as Black man who is more like The Punisher.

Well, I eventually came up with some ideas of my own to revamp the character. Like Blackest Terror, my version was going to be a Black man who operated as an urban vigilante, tackling street crime. I’ll admit that I was heavily inspired by J. Michael Straczynski’s take on Marvel Comics’ NIGHTHAWK. So my Black Terror was likewise powerless, but heavily skilled in various martial arts and wore a full-body suit with armor on it.

As I envisioned the costume, I tried to consider the reality of street fighting, meaning that things like a long flowing cape would be a huge liability in a street fight, especially against multiple opponents, as well as the likelihood of the criminals he encountered being armed with guns or at least knives, which is why he needs the protective armor, and I figured he’d have brass knuckles built into the gloves, and steel-toed boots, because he would need to take out his opponents as quickly as possible, so one hit or kick and they’re going down.

Contacting CELINA HERNANDEZ and telling her my ideas, she came sent me two different version of the costume to choose from. The one above and this one below:

Both drawn well, but I never could decided which design I liked better. I remember initially thinking that I’d use one for Black Terror and the other for my version of his side-kick Tim (after coming up with a better name for him). But I never got around to it. In truth, while I still like the character, I kind of felt that he’s been used a little too much now, so he no longer feels as special as other PD characters. I think that now if I were to use this character then instead of as a hero, I would rework him as villain, maybe as a Punisher-type of anti-hero who would then become an adversary of THE EBONY OWL?

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