Bob Benton is a Valium popping pharmacist in mid-seventies Chicago, still struggling to come to terms with life after the end of WWII. He hadn’t been a neurotic pharmacist then, but a legitimate Superhero, The Black Terror, but ever since the end of the war life was difficult. Kept young by his self-concocted superpowers Benton is cracking at the seams and all it takes is one shoplifter to act as a crisis point.
I shall put my hands up here and admit I haven’t read volume one of Black Terror, but this issue did everything it needed to introduce to me the world, and more importantly the character of Benton and his alter ego The Black Terror. An apt name given the state of our main characters mental health as we join him.
This is a superhero for whom the years have not been kind. What does a perpetually young man with superpowers do when he is now surplus to requirement? He returns to his pre-war trade as a pharmacist but finds himself reliant on his own wares just to make it through the day. Make no mistake about it, this is a probably closer in comparison to Taxi Driver than, say, Captain America. Benton is the man on the edge, seeing all that’s wrong in the country he fought for, and that his friends gave their lives for.
The combination of the writing of Max Bemis, darkly funny and well paced, coupled with the kinetic art of Matt Gaudioa and the stark vibrance Brittany Pezzillo’s colours all work together to bring this opening issue to life. While the idea of the dispossessed war hero struggling to come to terms with civilian reality is not a new one, and still sadly relevant even today, this is one that is told with heart, charm, humour and honesty. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for The Black Terror. Jeff Goddard