Monday, December 12, 2005

On the Black Terror

Who wears a black shirt with a white skull and crossbones and shoots badguys with a machine gun? No, I'm not speaking of the Punisher, my friend. Look to the left. That Jap-massacring fellow riding a steamroller and sporting that fashionable skull and crossbones motif is none other than... The Black Terror!

Name: The Black Terror

Real name: Bob Benton

First appearance: Exciting Comics #9 (May, 1942)

Background: Ol' Bob, a pharmacist, experimented with his drugs and came up with "formic ethers," a gas which, when inhaled, gave him super strength and great resistance to harm. At least, bullets usually bounced off him, but sometimes he could be KOed by a blow to the head. Back then, writers didn't dream of giving a monent's concern to details like strength levels or in-story continuity or logic. Just the wham-bam-drama, please, and keep it coming! Wartime heroes were the best.

Later, Bob got him a sidekick, because that's so de rigeur, don't you know. Tim Roland was the young lad's name. Was he an orphan? I believe he also had super-strength. Did he also breathe Bob's gas invention to give him the power? If so, could Bob be charged with giving dangerous substances to a minor? If not, could Bob be charged with the reckless endangerment of a child? Why was the kid's street name Tim? Couldn't it have been at least Black Tim? Alas, I don't have the issues that would answer these questions. Someone needs to release all the Black Terror stories in an archive format. Pure comics gold.

Powers and abilities: As noted above, the ether conferred upon Bob the powers of super-strength (he could lift and throw cars, knock out dozens of people, etc.) and super-tough skin. How long did the effects last? Since these stories were told in 1942, when no one cared about fictional logistics, the answer is probably: it lasted as long as the story needed it to.

Weaponry: The Black Terror often used guns. As you can see from the picture on the top left, he wasn't above squishing his enemies with a steamroller, either, apparently.

Weaknesses: As you can see if you click on the story link below, the Black Terror could be thumped on the head with a gun butt and knocked out cold, even though bullets bounced off him.

Team-ups I'd like to see: Captain America and Bucky (these guys and Black Terror and Tim would make quite the patriotic, Jap-busting, slightly homoerotic foursome, though they might drift apart due to the Black Terror's pro-massacring stance); the Punisher (they might well get along).

Black Terrifying links:

A full online Black Terror story --- Even Scipio would agree that this is PACKED TO THE MARGINS WITH DRAMA. Giant magnets with razor blades that don't appear in the story! "They're throwing lead from a tommy gun!" "You dirty rat!" "Look! There they go --- in that AUTOGIRO!!" "A perilous plunge!" "Ach! Put opp the hands or I shoodt!" You just don't find snappy dialogue like that in today's gloom-'n'-doom superhero books. Exciting Comics, indeed.

Don Markstein's Toonpedia entry

International Hero entry

An exciting-looking cover

A rather disturbing-looking cover

The Black Terror was created by Richard E. Hughes and Don Gabrielson.

No comments: