Alex Ross & Jim Krueger on The Black Terror
Ross & Krueger on The Black Terror
As we discussed with Dynamite entertainment President Nick Barrucci back in July, the Project Superpowers expansion begins in August with the debut issue of Black Terror, a new ongoing series written by Jim Krueger, with art by Mike Lily.As readers of Project Superpowers know, Black Terror was one of the first heroes released from the magical Urn after being imprisoned by the Fighting Yank. Disoriented and immensely powerful, the Black Terror has become a one-man wrecking crew in fighting against the forces of Dynamic Man. Underlying everything he does however, are two burning thoughts – to find his sidekick Tim, and to exact revenge against the Fighting Yank for locking him away for decades. We spoke with Project Superpowers architect Alex Ross and writer Jim Krueger about the coming series and the Black Terror himself.
Newsarama: Guys, why choose the Black Terror as the first spin off of Project Superpowers? What is it about him that makes him an ideal candidate for being the foundation of the expansion? Alex Ross: Black Terror quickly emerged as the lead character in our first Superpowers series. His hybrid quality of the Superman/Batman archetypes makes him an interesting metaphor of the lead hero with a darker edge. He’s a very simple man in his motivations, and I think the creative voice was achieved for him quickly early on. Jim Krueger: The Black Terror was the first of the heroes released from the Urn, or at least who came on the scene in the story. He's been changed dramatically from when he originally appeared in comics. These changes make him extremely fun and interesting to write and tell stories about. His quest to save Tim is still at the forefront of his purposes, and yet no one knows really, who Tim is, or who the Black Terror was. So there's a lot to cover. NRAMA: Stepping outside of Project Superpowers for a moment, what's the history of the Black Terror? First appeared in 1941, continued through '49...but still, only the broadest strokes are known about him as a character... AR: That allows us to imprint more of what we want upon this basic ‘40s hero archetype. He’s a man missing his sidekick, thrust into a modern world that’s less suited to his sensibilities. JK: He was a pharmacist who mixed some of his herbs and medicines together to give him super strength. This, of course, was before the food and drug administration was what it now is, but that's pretty much it. The limited series is going to deal with some of his history though. NRAMA: Jim, what are the differences between the storytelling styles of then and now? Why are there so many gaps in his original continuity/chronology? JK: Continuity was not all that important back in the day. It's much more so, now. I think the bigger issue has to be based on the rules of the story. Superman has his kryptonite. Lois doesn't know Superman is Clark Kent. These are the basic rules of a character like that that are vital to the stories. The weaknesses, the things that can't change. We're right now creating a series of rules about this new universe. AS we do so, we look at as much of what we can from the past, but creating something that stands on its own is also of vital importance. For example, no one talks about the issue of Superman back in the ‘40s when Superman took all the cars of the free way and left them somewhere (with drivers inside) to cut down on the noise pollution in Metropolis. NRAMA: What can you say about the Black Terror’s days in the world of Project Superpowers prior to being imprisoned in the Urn? It wasn’t fun, from what he’s said. AR: We’re going to spend more time establishing what our heroes do in the present, presuming acceptance of their previous adventures as having happened. JK: True, true. Although I have to say that every once in awhile, there will be a hint of the past, especially the really nasty parts. We're already seeing this with the return of the Claw. All the old stories suggest that he was very mild-mannered. Which, makes him less interesting than the emotional powder keg he is now. NRAMA: What story will the miniseries tell? It seems there are a few ways you could go - step into the past up to the imprisonment; work in the present with his acclimation; his search for Tim....etc... AR: We’re going to take our tale straight into what’s up with the world today and what Black Terror thinks he can do to fix it. JK: The search for Tim is a catalyst to the story involved, but there's far more to it than Tim. Black Terror discovers that one of the former sidekicks (who could or could not be Tim) is being incarcerated by the president of the United States. This leads him to take off for Washington regardless of the Green Lama's wishes. We've been dealing with what new abilities each of the characters have assumed since their incarceration in the urn. When it comes to the Black Terror, diplomacy isn't one of his new strengths. It's going to get bad. NRAMA: How do you two see the Black Terror in relation to the larger Project Superpowers universe? All the heroes know one another, it seems, so how do they see him? AR: Black Terror is quickly seen as a bit of the impetuous hothead who’s still angry about losing decades. JK: Yes, but more than this is the notion that the world has changed so much while he was away. He doesn't care about fitting in. He just wants to make things right. To quote Dr. Horrible, "The Status Quo is not Quo." NRAMA: In your story, it's been noted that the Terror seems to be much more powerful than he was pre-imprisonment...any hints as to why, or how powerful he is? JK: The time in the urn has changed all the heroes. A major part of how this all works will be dealt with in the future "big" storylines involving the whole of the team. AR: We more or less returned him to his roots of super-strength, wherein he could literally stop a train. Many of the characters are either altered by their time lost or somewhat returned to their roots. NRAMA: Not that there's been room to slow down in Project Superpowers, but is the Terror still "Bob?" That is, after being the Terror so long, even imprisoned, is there any other person in there? Could he have, perhaps, forgotten “how” to be his secret identity? AR: Good point. I think that’s one of the things he and the rest of his teammates have to be struggling with. JK: Terror is still Bob. But in a backwards world like this, is it Bob, or is it bob? You know? And what will that mean in the future? All I can say, is how could he not get his own series with questions like this so far unanswered? NRAMA: So who is the Black Terror? JK: I've really wanted to move Black Terror towards this idea of his being a pirate hero. He'll be getting a sword in the first issue. Alex has talked about a robot parrot, which I think is a joke. Still, I think he's building one. I know the last time I saw one of Alex's models, they were spitting feathers. But I think that was a joke. The Black Terror already sounds like a pirate name. In a corrupt world like the one we've been establishing, that marks him as a rebel to the way things are done. NRAMA: What's his view of the world today? He came from a time when people/heroes actually worked to change things and make things better, not just support the status quo. Is he going to fit in here and now? JK: Nope. He can't fit in. And that's going to make for some really interesting problems. Also, he's not the only character who's going to have problems fitting in. NRAMA: Wrapping with a tease - where do things start in issue #1? JK: Sort of in the mushroom cloud aftermath of Project Superpowers #7. That series is going to end with the whole of the Super Powers basically being made terrorists in the eyes of the world. So Black Terror's march on Washington demanding with his fists that The President's prisoners be set free... well, it isn't going to help.