It looks like Dark Horse believes in ghosts… Five Ghosts, that is. The Oregon-based independent publisher just announced that Five Ghosts writer Frank Barbiere will be writing two new miniseries series titled Blackout and The White Suits. Blackout follows a superhero who lucks into the possession of a special suit that gives him the ability to travel in and out of our dimension at will, and the ramifications of him having these abilities. The White Suits is a time-spanning action drama about a group of assassins known as the White Suits who have their roots in pre-WW2 Russian but now show up in modern day New York to corner the market on crime.
Both Blackout and The White Suits made their comics debuts earlier this year as shorts inside the anthology series Dark Horse Presents, and now we talk to the Brooklyn-based Barbiere about taking these two stories to a new level.
Newsarama: The White Suits returns to comics, but for many this is the first time they’re seeing it. So, Frank, what can you tell us about The White Suits?
Frank Barbiere: The White Suits is a visually arresting action/crime comic series by Toby Cypress & myself. Aesthetically, the book is mainly black & white with splashes of color or a colored page here and there. Toby is an amazing artist and is extremely unique—I think art fans are going to go crazy over his kinetic style.
Nrama: How’d you get to work with Toby Cypress on this new series?
Barbiere: I've been a fan of Toby's for quite some time. He had done a book called Rodd Racer that absolutely blew me away a few years back, and he was just always on my "dream list" of collaborators. I reached out to him and he had room in his schedule, so we were off to the races!
Nrama: How does this tie in to the earlier The White Suits stories you’ve done for Dark Horse Presents?
Barbiere: The Dark Horse Presents stories are in-continuity prologues/prequels that flesh out our narrative a bit. Everything in the shorts is revisited in some way in the main story—part of the fun of it is seeing how details from the shorts affect our main story!
Nrama: I’ve heard of men in black, but who are the White Suits?
Barbiere: The story revolves around an enigmatic gang of killers known as the White Suits. This gang has a rich and varied history, first appearing in cold war era Russia, and has resurfaced in the present day in New York City where they are slowly taking over criminal territory and slaughtering anyone in their way. Our two lead characters are people who've had their lives touched by the Suits and want revenge.
Toby has done a wonderful job of rendering real locations in his style, so NYC natives will definitely see more than one familiar location.
Nrama: Can you tell us more about this story – who are the two leads and how were they affected by the White Suits?
Barbiere: The two leads are Sarah Anderson, an FBI agent who suspects the White Suits are responsible for the mysterious disappearance of her father, and a man known only as Prizrak--an ex-member of the Suits who is currently suffering from retrograde amnesia, but remembers being executed by the Suits.
Nrama: What would you say the tone or style of this series is?
Barbiere: It's definitely a crime story with a lot of noir influence. We've mixed that up with a lot of action to keep it driving, so I think it's very much a fun hybrid.
Nrama: In addition to The White Suits, you’re also doing another book for Dark Horse – a new superhero series called Blackout. Just who or what is Blackout?
Barbiere: Blackout is a young man named Scott Travers. Scott is very much an “everyman” who is thrown into an extraordinary situation—he comes into possession of a special suit that gives him unique abilities.
Nrama: And where does that lead Scott Travers for this series?
Barbiere: The new story follows Scott as he recovers from the events in our Dark Horse Presents story. We see some direct ramifications of Scott's actions, meet some new characters, and of course are introduced to some new threats for Scott to deal with.
Nrama: I’ve been told Blackout was originally created by Dark Horse founder Mike Richardson. How’d you get involved, and what made this a project you wanted to do?
Barbiere: I'd been working with editor Chris Warner developing The White Suits and he tossed me the project. It's been a real honor to work on a premise/character developed by Mike Richardson, and I'm excited that Blackout is such a unique and fun character. Mike has come up with a number of great characters to populate the Dark Horse universe and it's certainly a thrill to be involved, especially considering the great reception the super hero books have gotten.
Nrama: One of the coolest part about superheroes is their powers; just what are Blackout’s?
Barbiere: The Blackout suit allows the wearer to open a portal into a hidden dimension within our own (which we lovingly refer to as “the Blackout dimension”). Scott can travel through this parallel dimension as if if were our own, but he is unseen and untouchable. This gives the illusion of being able to disappear or appear out of nowhere. We've already explored some fun possibilities with these abilities (such as using them to defend against attacks and laser blasts), but there's a lot more in store for the new series.
Nrama: How does this new miniseries connect to the Blackout short you wrote for Dark Horse Presents?
Barbiere: The new series will be accessible for anyone (and you don't have to read the short to understand it), but the series takes place directly after the Dark Horse Presents stuff and builds on it accordingly.
Nrama: Last question: Some of Dark Horse’s other superhero titles seem interconnected; does Blackout play in that same universe?
Barbiere: Dark Horse is definitely building to something cool and we might see Blackout appear alongside other DH characters in the future!