Propaganda enjoys a Black Summer – “a nasty little superhero book”

Published On July 25, 2007 | By Richard Bruton | Comics, Reviews

This is Propaganda, I’m Richard Bruton and this is what I’ve been reading lately:

Black Summer Issue 0

Written by Warren Ellis
Art by Juan Jose Ryp

Black Summer wrapround cover issue 0.jpg

8 Pages. 8 bloody pages. That’s all there is in this issue 0.

8 pages to introduce us to Warren Ellis’ new 7 issue series from Avatar starting in August 2007.

And to paraphrase Jerry Maguire; you had me at page 4. This is a nasty little superhero book and Warren Ellis is definitely a master at nasty superheroes.

Black Summer is another take on the “superheroes in the real world” story, but since this is Warren Ellis who’s never one to do things by half measure, this little introductory issue starts with one of those super-heroes, the man called John Horus, walking out into a White House press conference to announce that he’s just assassinated the President, the Vice-President and several advisors because he’s decided that the people of the United States are living under “the governance of criminals.”

Warren Ellis is back doing his own brand of superhero comics. His thinking this time, as he explains in the text piece at the back of the comic, is to ask the important question: if you’re the most powerful being on the planet and you decide that the government of the most powerful nation on Earth is being run by a corrupt regime wouldn’t you feel duty bound to topple that regime?

John Horus is part of The Seven Guns, a team of politically motivated super-powered science adventurers who went out into the world to fight corruption and lies. One of them died, their benefactor and creator of their powers was killed, one of them was crippled and John Horus, always the most powerful of them, ended up in the service of the US Government. The rest of them have retreated from the public gaze. Black Summer is intending to bring these seven, or what’s left of them, back into the public eye following this issue’s bloody introduction.

avatar black summer panels.jpg

(reaction to John Horus’ blood-soaked announcement looks to be less than rapturous. And Bush thought he had problems with Michael Moore attacking him?!?! Art by Juan Jose Ryp from Warren Ellis’ script, published by Avatar Press)

Aside from seeing the actions of John Horus, we also get a look at what remains of the life of another of the Seven Guns; Tom Noir. He lost his leg and his lover in a car bomb, hasn’t used his powers in over a year and is sitting in a squalid apartment, trying to crawl further into a bottle as he sees Horus give his very bloody press conference.

The rest of the series, from the setup we have here, is going to involve the US government hitting back, hard, at the Seven Guns. Indeed this issue ends with a strange and familiar man standing at Tom Noir’s door. It looks like the US government is already planning on a retaliatory strike.

The art by Juan Jose Ryp is functional and unspectacular – good but not great. It’s got a little of Frank Quitely and Geof Darrow about it and does the job of telling the story with a simple but effective 6 or 9 panel layout throughout.

As it’s written by Warren Ellis, you’re pretty much guaranteed a good story, and Black Summer, on the evidence of the 8 pages here, is going to be a great story. He’s had a couple of misfires recently with Blackgas and Wolfskin, but with the recent Fell collection easily one of the best things he’s done and black Summer looking like another great Ellis comic, it seems he’s recovered and is back to his best.

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About The Author

Richard Bruton

– Started in comics retail aged 16 at Nostalgia & Comics, Birmingham. Now located in Yorkshire, he’s written for the Forbidden Planet International Blog since 2007. Specialising in UK Comics and All-Ages comics, Richard’s day job in a primary school allowed him to build the best children’s graphic novel library in the country.

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