Review – Black Terror #5 (Dynamite)

Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Writer: Max Bemis
Artwork: Ruairi Coleman
Colours: Brittany Pezzillo
Lettering: Taylor Esposito
Release Date: 26th February 2020

There can surely be little doubt that Max Bemis’ penmanship for issue five of “Black Terror” will unquestionably catch a few fans of Richard E. Hughes’ co-creation completely off-guard, whether they were anticipating a hostile reaction to the pharmacist’s long-overdue visit to his beloved “slip up” Myrna, or Robby’s evident anger at a seventy-four-year-old Bob Benton finally coming to see him having ignored his ‘cloned’ son for most of the drug-taking deadbeat’s life; “When you despise everything around you, near-invulnerability ain’t no blessing. Thanks, Pops.” In addition, this twenty-two-page periodical packs a conclusion which is not only shockingly sad in the extreme, but will irrefutably cause those who witness it to yearn for the far less emotionally complicated days of the Golden Age of Comics

To begin with, however, the New Yorker’s narrative commences with a fairly bog-standard scene depicting “the cosmonaut unaged” returning “to find the love of his life withering away” as a white-haired spinster living in a somewhat unremarkable abode. Romantically stage-managed, with artist Ruairi Coleman imbuing the titular character with all the innocent-faced, sweet-smiling charm of a bespectacled Clark Kent, this tenderly-pencilled introduction provides the tale with an opening so totally disarming that it isn’t until the female science fiction novelist suddenly offloads upon her former lover with decades of pent-up angst that it becomes clear the American author is actually going to take his audience on quite the poignant passage.

Benton’s interaction with his petulant offspring is similarly infused with impassioned speeches concerning the unfairness of life and a modicum of physical conflict. Yet whereas Bob’s poor relationship with Myrna is clearly based upon the sense of betrayal the woman feels at being abandoned by the Black Terror’s alter-ego upon giving birth, the costumed vigilante’s connection to his son is swiftly revealed to be one of almost equals, where both men are constantly struggling with anxiety and depression on account of the losses they have suffered. This bond eventually leads to this comic’s fateful finale, as a world-weary war-veteran implores his super-powered spawn to take over his infamous crime-fighting mantle.

Such word-heavy, dialogue driven sequences don’t mean that this publication is entirely devoid of pulse-pounding pace though, as Bemis and Coleman still somehow manage to crowbar in a fantastically ultra-violent flashback sequence into the mix. In fact, Doctor Disgusting’s bizarre experimentation upon his nemesis’ reproductive system, and the Nazi scientist’s subsequent horribly drawn-out demise in a laboratory fire, would undeniably have been the highlight of this tale if not for this book’s final page…

Rating: 4/5.


The writer of this piece was: Blax Kleric
Blax Tweets from @Blaxkleric ‏

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