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Black Summer #1

Posted: Monday, July 30, 2007
By: Tim Janson



Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Juan Jose Ryp

Publisher: Avatar Press


Black Summer #0 created a bit of controversy recently with its very bloody depiction of the murder of the President of the United States. The entire scene was featured on the wraparound cover to Issue #0 and made our local Fox news here in the Detroit area. Of course, my first thought was this is typical of people who really don’t know a lot about what they are reporting on. We’ve seen a helluva lot worse things in comics than the murder of the President. But hey, it certainly could not hurt the good people at Avatar Press to get a lot of free publicity.

This all leads into issue #1 of the seven issue mini-series picking up just after Superhero John Horus, a member of the superteam known as Seven Guns, as apparently gone crazy and slaughtered the President. Playing on people’s disenchantment with our own political leaders and a morass of a war in Iraq, Horus did what he thought was the only logical thing. Now the entire Seven Guns team is on the firing line. Frank Blacksmith, the designer of the members super-enhancements is believed to have been murdered while another member of the team is killed in a bombing. However, Blacksmith’s death was all a ruse. Blacksmith in secret has put together a new and even more powerful gun-crew to hunt down the former members of Seven Guns, beginning with drunken cripple Tom Noir. Blacksmith knows that Tom’s enhancements have not worked for years…or do they?

As with anything by Warren Ellis you can always count on a different take, and something new on the mundane, and Black Summer is no different. Certainly, readers will be divided into two sides: those who feel that Horus is nothing but an assassin and those who believe he is a patriot. Politics aside, this is a decidedly dark view on the superhero genre and perhaps the most realistic one. Would people with that kind of power be content to knock over a few banks or would they want to truly flex their muscles in a show of dominant and oppressive power? The superhero genre itself is in another very dark phase, leagues bleaker than it was in the 80’s with things like The Dark Knight Returns, as politics is entering into today’s comic plots the way it never has before.

The book is penciled and inked by Juan Jose Ryp, an amazingly detailed artist. One need only look at that cover to issue #0 to see the time and energy that he puts into his work. Today, when many artists are working in a more minimalist, animated type of style, it’s nice to see someone put so much detail into their art. The look of John Horus is simply stunning and altogether poignant because he does not even bother to change or clean his costume, still soaked with the President’s blood.

No matter where you stand politically, this is one series you have to check out!



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