google-site-verification: googlee8ae134d89e446c0.html Playing Hero World: Public Domain Heroes: Exciting Comics #9

Monday, 30 March 2015

Public Domain Heroes: Exciting Comics #9
They are here! The forgotten heroes that shaped the genre on it's origins. War propaganda! Forgotten characters! Or perhaps just something silly. Your dose of Public Domain Heroes starts here.
The Pitch: Black Terror is probably one of the most popular characters from this era. He managed to somehow, someway, get a toy in 2014. Indeed, his outfit design is cool even in the 2010's, the black strongman getup following a skull cross bones across his chest with gold details and a blue-and-red cape is probably on the top of echelon of Golden Age super heroes designs. Alan Moore wrote a story that had him as a important character. And most of Nedor Super heroes we are going to feature here anyway were featured before. So he isn't a forgotten character at all. Dynamite Entertainment run a Public Domain super hero revival in which Black Terror was the break out star, drawing in significant numbers from readers. That comic was even published outside of America! So really we aren't starting with an obscure character here.

However, Black Terror has this strange lure about him. You see, despite Moore's and his recent(ish) on going the character was really different from the original. People seem to like and use his iconic costume, but change or perhaps 'update' the character in one way or another. Perhaps it's because he is from another era where the Super Hero genre was still solidifying some troupes or perhaps the authors had different ideas they wanted to play around with the concept.

Maybe by reading a bit about the origin of the character we can understand that 'lure' or even why Moore and Dynamite Entertainment moved away from there.

The Download:  Right here ! A big thank you for the Digital Comic Museum for saving these old comics for the future.

Who's who: This comic was really "by the numbers". Tons of action, standard fare bad guys, strong-man powers to the rescue. But there are some moments.

 Our protagonist is kinda of a weakling. Yet he wishes to undo injustice. Robert "Bob" Benton spends time on his lab trying to figure out a chemical combination that let's him become stronger to fight injustice. That's right, the main character is a chump who is trying to figure out a manner to combate crime and injustice through drugs. Of course no one in the comic questions this, not even the youngster Tim he just saved. This was a comic aimed at 13 year olds in 1942 after all, wild imagination and crazy science were a thing back then. I can admire that.

His introduction as a caped mystery men is as by the numbers as you can get, and the action scene is no Jack Kirby, being stiff and with strange looking punches as if the movement of the characters was "stiff". There is no clever use perspective either, making the combat look bland and uneventful. Yet there is something about that costume in movement that makes it just too cool to pass up.

For all Black Terror bravado, he actually goes down easily. In fact, despite having "super human resistance" and invulnerability as a power, the character constantly gets bonked on the head. Note that Tim became a hero due to wanting to stand up to bullies (Kinda the same as the protagonist no?) and the original comic sets the tone that can be seen in many other issues: Tim is in equal footing as Terror. He saved his friend, and while he is older and throughout the comic he threats Tim as his kid-friend, whenever there is a call to action they work in unison. The expression for the duo was "Terror Twins" and that wasn't just a pun: Tim was about as strong as Black Terror and just as useful. Contrast this with the limited showing of Tim in recent revivals of the character and that might make you think.

Alan Moore's Black Terror and Dynamite Entertainment's Black Terror had to create myths around the character, I can see why. He is just a pharmacist who got freakish super strength, got a cool but unrelated costume and went to punch criminals in the face. But the one thing the first issue (and other appearances) set up, the idea that the sidekick is just as capable as the protagonist was dropped. Was this an update to the concept? Would a character wearing dark colors and skull cross bones have to be dark as well? What about Tim? Does he make Black Terror "too colorful" for today audiences?

Looking for answers, I only got more questions. See you next "Public Domain Heroes"!

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