[Guest blogger Streebo reviews all the issues of Black Summer that are out in the next three posts. He actually sent me one big review and I cut it into three parts, so any complaints about the organization should be directed at me, not him. This post, for example, is mostly summary, but was not intended to stand alone -- the review proper comes in the next two. I have decided it is OK to do stuff like this since blogs are messy.]
“There are some who feel like – that the conditions (in Iraq) are such that they can attack us there. My answer is, bring 'em on.”
George W. Bush
July 2, 2003
With those words, President George W. Bush revealed himself to be the political embodiment of Lacan's obscene father-of-enjoyment. Who better to go up against this obscene father than comicdom's own obscene father, Warren Ellis? Ellis was the writer responsible for helping modern superheroes transition from the “superego/superhero as responsibility” to the “superhero as obscene enjoyment” (as outlined by Geoff in his superhero book) in the pages of The Authority. Due to the political hot topic at the core of the concepts in Warren Ellis' Black Summer mini-series, I was initially hesitant to discuss this book in an open community, in part due to my desire to avoid sparking many needless political debates, as well as feeling singularly unqualified to discuss such matters for the academia. That said, let's take as brief a look as possible at Warren Ellis' new creator owned superhero comic Black Summer published by Avatar press.
The first issue of Black Summer opens with a montage intercutting scenes of a crippled man living in squalor with the opening of a typical presidential press conference and the images of silver clad superhero, John Horus, strolling calmly across the White House lawn. As we wonder what this seemingly innocuous confluence could lead to – Ellis entertains us with a bit of his detailed sci-fi techno-babble in a flashback showing the possible genesis of this world's superheroes as the men who would become known as John Horus and Tom Noir talk of a “second cerebral cortex”, “data clouds”, and a future where five senses will not be enough. Through expository flashes on the news, we are given the names of this world's premiere superhero team, the Seven Guns. Ellis does not make us wait long to find out exactly what this series is about and on page four John Horus emerges behind the President's podium covered from head to toe in blood. John Horus describes his actions to the assembled members of the media and the world at large:
“Good morning. I'm John Horus. Ten minutes ago, I executed the President of the United States. And the Vice President. And several of their advisers.” He continues, “We're supposed to fight evil. . .but we're supposed to stand by while this administration commits crimes. It is my belief that the war in Iraq is illegal and predicated on lies. It is my belief that our people and theirs are dying for corporate gain. It is my belief that our silence condones the widespread use of torture by our elected authorities. It is my belief that this administration stole the last two elections, and that we are living under a governance of criminals.”
It is my belief that Warren Ellis just sprayed my conspiracy ladened gray matter into a four-color superhero comic. I haven't felt this energized by a simple concept behind a comic book since Grant Morrison's unjustly overlooked opus The Invisibles. With that declaration, John Horus walks out of the White House and basically leaves Black Summer for the next few issues. We just don't know that going in. The first issue ends with Horus's former crime fighting companion, and currently alcoholic and crippled, Tom Noir staring at the television screen in stunned disbelief over his friend's actions.
I'll briefly go over the events of the two follow up issues of Black Summer next time, before discussing Juan Jose Ryp's artwork and concluding in a third post.