Cover to Exciting Comics #9. Art by Elmer Wexler.
America's Best Comics
|First appearance||Exciting Comics #9 (Jan. 1941)|
Richard E. Hughes|
|Alter ego||Bob Benton|
The Black Terror is a fictional comic book superhero who originally appeared in Exciting Comics #9, published by Nedor Comics in January 1941. Some Black Terror stories were written by Patricia Highsmith before she became an acclaimed novelist. The character has been revived by various publishers over the years, including Eclipse Comics, AC Comics, America's Best Comics, and Dynamite Entertainment.
The character first appeared in the Golden Age of comics in Exciting Comics #9, published in January 1941 by Nedor Comics. He was one of that publisher's most popular superhero characters, operating until at least 1949.
His secret identity was pharmacist Bob Benton, who formulated a chemical he called "formic ethers", which gave him various superpowers. He used these powers to fight crime with his sidekick, Tim Roland, together known as the "Terror Twins".
Eclipse Comics did a three-issue mini-series "revival" of the Black Terror. In this series, the character is an undercover FBI agent operating against organized crime who would dress up like the Black Terror for certain operations. He had no superpowers or any connection to the original character.
AC Comics revised the Black Terror, starting in their Americomics title. In it, now-retired Bob Benton (called Mark Benton in this version) returns to action after an attempt to shake him down for protection money leads to the death of his wife. He would operate as an over-the-top vigilante, now just called the "Terror". Later, most likely due to trademark issues, he became a criminal enforcer known as the "Terrorist".
In Roy Thomas' Alter Ego mini-series from the 1980s, several Golden Age characters were used, but renamed. The Black Terror (renamed "The Holy Terror") made an appearance.
America's Best Comics
The Black Terror, along with other heroes from Nedor Comics, were revived by Alan Moore in his series Tom Strong, published by America's Best Comics. This revival set the characters on a parallel world called Terra Obscura, which was also the title of the resulting mini-series.
In Tom Strong #11, Moore and co-creator Chris Sprouse more fully introduce the idea of Terra Obscura being a parallel Earth, "but in our own dimension. In our own galaxy." In this issue, Tom Strange is revealed to have run across the Milky Way for 30 years to reach Strong for help in stopping an alien menace that killed or imprisoned most of the science heroes of Terra Obscura. Strong himself theorized that the duplicate Earth "must be due to some near-inconceivable fluke of mathematics, of statistical probability."
The parallel Earth, as revealed by Strange, was formed much as our own, except that once Earth had completely formed, something large collided and combined with it — a vast spacecraft. The pilot of the spacecraft survived in the Moon, until awakened by astronauts on July 20, 1969. It apparently followed them back to Earth, where it began construction of a ship to return home — by converting the entire Earth into a spaceship. In the process, it was engaged in battle by the members of SMASH. It killed some members, and trapped others in suspended animation for 30 years, until freed by the combined efforts of Tom Strong and Tom Strange.
In Tom Strong #12, it is revealed that the Black Terror had been killed in battle with the alien. However, Benton, a polymath, had transferred his consciousness into a computer program called Terror 2000.
In the Terra Obscura series, the Terror 2000 program institutes a crime prevention program in Invertica City, wherein technologically produced versions of the Black Terror (referred to as the Terror) fight crime. A corporation running the program tries to sell it to other cities in the US.
Eventually, the Terror transfers its consciousness into the now deceased Tim and tries to acquire power from the returning Captain Future's spaceship. He is defeated by a time travelling version of his original self, the Black Terror.
In 2004, legendary comic artist George Tuska (who drew the Black Terror in the 1940s) joined small press publisher TLW Comics, and had an older Bob Benton, now retired, appear in the comic Rival. In 2006, Tuska and TLW produced two stories featuring the Black Terror with his new partner, Terror Girl, a creation of Tuska and writer Brien Cardello. Terror Girl is still being published by TLW today.
The publisher Dynamite Entertainment said in 2007 Black Terror would be one of several public domain Golden Age characters that would appear in the comic book series Project Superpowers, by writer Jim Krueger and artist Alex Ross. He was also the first in the series to get a spin-off limited series, written by Krueger with art by Mike Lilly. In the Black Terror miniseries, which began in November 2008, the Terror leads a one-man assault on the White House in search of his lost partner, Tim.
The Black Terror is seen in the Mike Allred illustrated "Stardust the Super Wizard" story in Image Comics' Next Issue Project #1 (also known as Fantastic Comics #24). He can be seen with many other notable Golden Age characters, including Daredevil, Miss Masque, the Green Lama, the Face, the Phantom, the Fighting Yank, and Samson, who headlines the book. He also made a small appearance on the cover and in some panels of Savage Dragon #141 (November 2008).
Wild Cat Books
In June 2008, pulp publisher Wild Cat Books released Legends of the Golden Age, a prose anthology featuring new stories of the Black Terror and Lev Gleason's Daredevil.
The Metahuman Press serial Out for Vengeance uses both the Black Terror and Black Fury as a basis for the character. He maintains the traditional secret identity and costume. The series is set in the modern day and involves Robert Benton suddenly finding himself young and semi-amnesiac in the city of New Salem.
The webcomic Heroes Inc. started in 2009 and takes place in an alternate reality where the allies of World War II lost the war. In present day, the American Crusader gathers DNA from Golden Age heroes in order to create a new generation of heroes. One of these Golden Age heroes is the Black Terror (now going by the alias Duncan Boone), who is currently on death row for first degree murder.
Curse of the Black Terror
In February 2011, Broken Soul Press launched a webcomic called Curse of the Black Terror. The comic is described as a superhero/noir story. The webcomic follows a re-imagined version of the Black Terror. Writer Curtis Lawson has stated that the story keeps the original Black Terror's history mostly intact and that his new Black Terror is a Legacy Hero. This new Black Terror features a new costume, but the same powers as the original. His identity has not been revealed. The visual re-design of the Black Terror in this webcomic was the work of artist Kundo Krunch.
Infinity Comics Group
ICG has announced a Black Terror version (alter ego unrevealed) which will be based on the magical principles of Chaos Magick. He will team up with two other public domain heroes.
Eric M. Esquivel and Ander Sarabia created an alternate universe version of The Black Terror, called "The Blackest Terror"", who is more of an urban revolutionary, obsessed with social justice, than a status-quo-enforcing superhero. Theirs is the first version of Robert Benton to be portrayed as an African-American. Blackest Terror also appears in their book Thor: Unkillable Thunder Christ, also published by Moonstone Books.
- "TLW Comics". Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=333695026733&topic=14648.
- Brady, Matt (July 18, 2007). "Ross and Krueger on Superpowers". Newsarama. http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=121397.
- "Mike Lily: Black Terror, Exclusivity and More". Newsarama. July 9, 2008. http://www.newsarama.com/comics/080709-LilyBlackTerror.html.
- "Alex Ross & Jim Krueger on The Black Terror". Newsarama. July 30, 2008. http://www.newsarama.com/comics/080730-BlackTerror.html.
- Rogers, Vaneta. "New/Old Heroes to Challenge 'White, Right' Status Quo". Newsarama. Newsarama. http://www.newsarama.com/comics/blackest-terror-challenges-white-right-111011.html.
- Black Terror at Don Markstein's Toonopedia
- Black Terror at the International Catalogue of Superheroes