The Black Summer Begins
Warren Ellis’ first creator-owned masked hero epic, BLACK SUMMER, makes its debut this week, and the death of a President is only a catalyst for bigger events beginning this summer. The specially priced #0 issue is available for only 99 cents. It features an original story leading directly into the monthly mini-series that starts in August priced at just $2.99 per issue. The full color series is drawn by Juan Jose Ryp and colored by Mark Sweeney.
“It’s as pure a working-out of the central notion as I could manage,” Black Summer creator Warren Ellis says of the core masked hero concepts behind the series. “Even the characters who may immediately seem familiar will turn out not to be. This is as new a take on superhero fiction as I’ve got in me right now. So I guess it fills a hole. Marvel are engaged in the business of trying to bring in new readers through the wide-ranging revivals of their creative library that is their mandate. DC are deeply involved in the complex revitalisation of their superhero line that is intended to bring back old readers. BLACK SUMMER is right in the middle – new characters, new ideas, new angles on the genre.”
“We have the best parts of the masked hero genre, huge fights and massive explosions,” adds Avatar’s EIC William Christensen.” “But we also have horrible deaths, real character drama, and actual issues of our society looked at in the terms of this fantasy world with masked heroes. Black Summer is the sort of hero book that I have an interest in reading. I am fortunate that I was able to provide just the right environment for Warren to create his magic here. A major creator on a superhero book with no continuity issues or other editorial restrictions to worry about – that doesn’t happen too often.”
Avatar Press has traditionally specialized in creator-owned and pulp comics that push the boundaries between mainstream and indy. BLACK SUMMER is Avatar’s first foray into the superhero genre dominated by industry heavyweights Marvel and DC, but Christensen views coming at the genre with a fresh start as a big advantage. “I couldn’t care less if Booster Gold is dead, or Triplicate Lass is now Duo Damsel,” notes Christensen. “The huge weight of continuity can be a giant drag on Marvel and DC books. I’m not saying that to bash Marvel and DC. I have been a big mainstream comics cheerleader over the years. Believe it or not, I was one of Wizard’s most prolific freelancers in the early days.
But continuity can be a huge obstacle for the creator and the reader as well. If you think about what books are considered the best superhero stories of the past two or three decades, a couple books that are outside of continuity are at the top of the list. Once every few years there is a book in the genre that makes everyone else step up their game. Books like Watchmen, Dark Knight, Wanted, and now Black Summer.
So Black Summer allows folks who have grown up with hero books to enjoy something with more substance. It’s a hero book with balls.”
The series has received coverage unlike any Avatar Press comic before, with press clamoring to get a peak inside the book with the already-infamous wraparound cover of issue #0. Playing by the rules Of mainstream hero comic fans, Avatar has committed to a timely monthly release schedule starting with the launch of #1 in August. Promotional posters sent to retailers across the country and given to fans at national conventions, mainstream press coverage, and Avatar’s most extensive convention presence in a decade at the year’s most popular conventions – including the appearance with Warren Ellis at San Diego – have all been in preparation for this controversial New series and the biggest event of 2007.