Black Summer

Black Summer

Infobox comic book title
title=Black Summer

caption =
schedule = Monthly
format =
limited =y
publisher = Avatar Press
date = June 2007
issues = 8
main_char_team =
writers = Warren Ellis
artists = Juan Jose Ryp
pencillers =
inkers =
colorists =
creative_team_month =
creative_team_year =
creators =
subcat=Avatar Press

"Black Summer" is a comic book mini-series written by Warren Ellis, illustrated by Juan Jose Ryp, and published by Avatar Press starting in June 2007.

The plot revolves around the consequences of a superhero, John Horus, who kills the President of the United States and several of his advisers. ["Black Summer" #0] The following seven issues detail the aftermath of the assassination. [ [ Summer Time...Black Warren Ellis on "Black Summer"] , Newsarama, March 22, 2007]

Plot synopsis

The miniseries alternates between flashbacks detailing the origin of a superhero team called The Seven Guns, and the present day, where one of their members kills the President of the United States. The Seven Guns are "an association of politically-aware young scientist-inventors" (according to creator Warren Ellis), who create their own superhuman enhancements through extreme body modification experiments supervised by Tom Noir and Frank Blacksmith. Noir is the brains of the team, but by far the most powerful member is John Horus, whose enhancements make him, for all intents and purposes, invincible. Their first public mission was to free an unspecified West Coast city from a corrupt police force and the criminal city government which backed it. Over time, they have gained the public trust. Tom began an affair with "Laura Torch", one of his teammates.

At some point, as yet unknown, Frank Blacksmith faked his own death in order to start working for the Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA decided that The Seven Guns were dangerous, especially Tom Noir, and arranged to kill him in a car bomb. Due to an error, the bomb killed Laura, but Tom was only wounded. Having lost his leg, he retired from superheroics and began a life of drinking and chain-smoking. Meanwhile, the CIA continued to experiment with human enhancement, creating their own super soldiers which they claim were more advanced than The Seven Guns (other than Horus, whose invincibility was a fluke).

The Seven Guns

The Seven Guns are posthumans. Their abilities are somewhat vague, but they seem to have access to a private wireless communication spectrum and network, and an enhanced nervous system. They also each possess a weapon known as a gun, with additional capabilities. Differentiating between built-in "super-powers" and abilities derived from using the gun are difficult. They describe themselves as an "extralegal civic defense team," united against the private security firms and organized criminals dominating their city.

In the present day of the series, relations between the various team members are strained, as it appears that though there were shared interests in futurism and body modification amongst the Guns, they did not actually like each other all that much, and had widely divergent political beliefs.

Issue 0

In the first published issue (#0), Tom Noir's solitude is shattered when John Horus assassinates the President of the United States. John goes on Television and claims that he did this because he had come to believe that the president's actions were criminal. The litany of charges he describes against the unnamed president are comparable to those which would be cited by critics of current US president George W. Bush, including: electoral fraud; violating the Geneva Conventions with an recently admitted planned course for torture; the use of retired generals, who were in the employ of defense contractors, by the Pentagon to further convince the American public of the false reasons for war with Iraq; prior knowledge of the Sept. 11 attacks; and leading the United States into an unnecessary war in Iraq to further the interests of oil conglomerates. (The series has not, as of yet, specified whether any of these accusations is true, as this would be beside the stated purpose of the series.) He says that he did this to save the country from what he believed were criminals, criminals whom only he could stop.

Issue 1

As soon as this happens, martial law breaks out across the country. Frank Blacksmith comes out of hiding to try and kill The Seven Guns, beginning with Tom Noir. This first attempt is unsuccessful, and brings Noir out of retirement.

Issue 2

The remaining members of the team - besides Horus - gather and attempt to figure out what to do in order to stay alive, now that the government is after them. Despite mutual attempts to distance themselves from Horus and his actions, the government is firmly against all of the Guns. A situation exacerbated by certain Guns due to actions they take in what may or may not be considered self-defense.

Issue 3

The impending attack by the US military on the Seven Guns' base is revealed to be taking place at a different location, the Guns' previous base abandoned prior to the books beginning. Tom Noir is fitted with a prosthetic limb by Dominic, to replace the leg lost in the explosion that killed his girlfriend, Laura Torch. Dominic inquires as to the location of Laura's gun, commenting "that thing even scared me." Tom states that it is somewhere safe, and when asked about his capabilities, claims that his augmentations uses are limited, and is left alone to ponder recent events.

Tom stumbles upon his old costume, heavily reminiscent of both John Horus' (only rendered in black) and the Midnighter's (from Ellis' previous work "The Authority"). After donning said costume, Tom contradicts his previous statement by running a diagnostic, revealing his systems capabilities to be 99.3% operational.

He performs several actions, such as blocking John Horus from the Seven Guns database, and renders a 3D map of his location, revealing him to be in an underground base. Tom locates the nearest military activity and "breaks" the lock on the entrance to the base. He faces down the tank, stating that he surrenders. Dominic notices Tom is no longer inside, and -- realising the danger he is in -- sends Zoe Jump to rescue him.

The tank fires, seemingly obliterating Tom before Zoe could reach him. The rest of the Guns emerge, and upon realising Tom's fate, Dominic Hyde goes into a rage, destroying the tank and throwing it at approaching helicopters. Dominic laments Toms death, and the remaining guns stand together, with Dominic stating that they will kill as many of the "little people" as they have to, and then they're going to "kill John."

Issue 4

The remaining Guns strike back at the military.Elsewhere,John Horus is shocked at the reports of Tom's demise but manages to survive against missiles launched by a fighter jet squadron which he disposes of.While this is going on,Frank Blacksmith begins to send his "Tactical Stream" - enhanced soldiers all clad in black armor - against the remaining Guns.

Issue 5

The remaining Guns decide to reach one of their bases (D2) to re-arm,only to find Frank Blacksmith's Tactical Stream waiting for them.Meanwhile,at a military base,the general and colonel discover that Tom took control of the tank in order to make seem like it had fired upon him.It is then that John arrives, saying, "Take me to your leader".

Issue 6

The battle between the remaining Four Guns and Frank Blacksmith's Tactical Stream is underway.One of them strikes down Dom and says,"Frank Blacksmith says hello,you piece of ####" before killing him.Meanwhile,John starts razing the base before the general tells John what he found out about about Tom.No sooner does John realize this than the rest of the Tactical Stream arrives at the base to deal with John.Zoe,Kathryn and Angela manage to dispose of the TS sent after them .Afterwards they witness a (nuclear?) explosion in the distance.

Issue 7

John Horus fends off the attacks of Blacksmith's "Tactical Stream," despite the loss of several of his "eyes." The three women of the team decide to help the people of the destroyed city and tell John that he has to leave, warning both he and the Tactical Stream to get out immediately. John eliminates the remainder of Frank Blacksmith's enhanced soldiers and travels to Laura Tarrant's grave, where he and Frank Blacksmith face off over Laura's unearthed grave, accusing each other of digging her up, leading to an argument reflecting of their versions of the events of John's attack on the nation. Tom Noir reveals himself, alive and well, taking both men to task for "fucking it up," ruining the original dream of the Seven Guns and telling them both that he is the one who dug up Laura's gun, activating a failsafe he and Laura put into it, igniting a massive blast that destroys all three men, leaving the women as the true protectors of the country, as Tom thinks it should be. As the smoke clears on the blast site, a prerecorded message Tom Noir made before the meeting airs through every radio in the country, telling Tom's version of events as he sits "waiting here to kill [his] oldest friend."

Main characters

Kathryn Artemis

Before her enhancements, Kathryn was a world-class athlete and marksman. She customized her enhancements by incorporating her motorcycle into the transformation, becoming an armored motorcyclist. Unlike the other members, her background was in history rather than science, and she felt no qualms about killing criminals. Her keyword, Miyamoto, is the Japanese surname of Miyamoto Musashi, a historical swordsman.

John Horus

The most well known and publicly active member of the Seven Guns, Horus is also the most powerful. Until he killed the president and everyone in the Oval Office, he was the most publicly trusted member of the team. He was often a guest of the President. John benefited from the enhancements pioneered by his other Guns: Blacksmith's offensive gun, Angela's flight system, and Tom Noir's baseline augmentations. John's personal contribution was a customization of his gun. Instead of a handgun shaped weapon attachment, his gun appeared as a swarm of eye-shaped floating devices which made him virtually indestructible. The eyes have shown the capacity to withstand several nuclear payloads. He dresses in white clothes that resemble an officer's outfit from the US Civil War, but with Masonic symbols, or Eye of Ra sigils. He also carries on an Ellis trademark, a reluctant hero who wears all white (see Jenny Sparx and Elijah Snow). Keyword unknown.

Dominic Atlas Hyde

The muscle of the team. However, by the time of the comic book, Dominic had assumed the duties of mechanic, maintaining the team's equipment. Facilitating that role, Dominic possesses various implants allowing him to remotely control the team's computer equipment in addition to the baseline augmentations. Once activated, a massive black body armor surrounds his form, and he gains super strength. His keyword, Herakles, refers to the legendary demigod.

Zoe Jump

Uses the Millis Bias Field to distort physical laws, giving her superspeed. Theorizing that if one could mentally encompass, in one instant, the many complex mathematical equations describing such a Field, she would be able to actually bring such a Field into existence and project it around herself, Zoe Jump underwent eye implants that allow the projection of the necessary equations onto her visual field. She is also somewhat able to extend the field around herself, so that a person running in tandem with her can be allowed to obtain the same speed.

Tom Noir

Real Name: Tom Watson. Considered the "brains" of the Seven Guns, Tom Noir helped theorize the Gun technology that would empower the group. He worked closely with Frank Blacksmith to develop the Guns.

More than a year ago, Tom lost part of his left leg below the knee in the explosion that killed Laura Tarrant. After her death, Tom quit the group and became an alcoholic shut-in, living out of a squalid apartment and generally drinking himself to death. Despite this, he was targeted first for termination after Horus' execution of the President. It is believed by government agencies that his genius level intellect, which created the Gun technology now being employed in government agents, makes him as, if not more dangerous than John Horus. As a result, they attempt to remove him from the playing field before he can become involved.

Tom's Gun enhancements include a "supercortex" that allows him to tap into and process all available information streams, including decryption when necessary, and very precise ultrasound imaging technology. He is able to see directly into any target with surgical precision through outer layers of clothing, weapons, devices, internal organs, bones. This vision also allows him to find vital points and weaknesses. His gun is a super-pistol named Inquiry, with surgical tungsten penetrator rounds. Tom also covers his right arm in some kind of techno-organic looking armor while fighting Vince, the government assassin sent to kill him. Keyword: "Bakerstreet".

Angel One

Angel One can levitate and 'fly' by superconductor based magnetic levitation using systems surgically implanted in her legs, and possibly other parts of her torso. The effect works better in highly metallic environments, so better in urban areas than rural or wilderness. Real name Angela. Keyword, "Daedalus".

Laura Torch

In civilian life, her name was Laura Tarrant. Although deceased by the time of the comic book, Laura played a pivotal role in the current state of the team. A caring and compassionate woman; she worried that the power the group wielded would one day be misused. She asked her boyfriend, Tom Noir, to make sure her gun never fell into the wrong hands. Some time later, she was killed by the same car bomb that took Tom's leg. In the aftermath, Noir would turn to drink and disappear. Notably, neither her face nor her enhancements are ever seen. Her gun acts as a Chekov's gun, Tom Noir activating it with the codeword "Laura". Its unknown location is first mentioned in issue 3 by Dominic, later revealed to be buried in her grave and unearthed by Tom Noir in the final issue. Her keyword is never revealed.

upporting characters

Frank Blacksmith

Mentor to the Seven Guns and designer of the external gun attachment that the group utilized in their crime-fighting. The team witnessed Frank's apparent death at the hands of crooked cops years earlier. However, John Horus' actions have brought Frank, out of hiding. Struck by the danger the team could pose, he faked his own death to work on countermeasures for the government. In the intervening years, he has improved upon the technology within the Seven Guns and assembled a team. In his first appearance, he revealed that he was behind the bomb that killed Laura Tarrant. He had been targeting Tom, due to his intelligence. In light of Horus' actions, he has been authorized to terminate the remaining members of the Seven Guns.



*comicbookdb|type=title|id=12313|title="Black Summer"

External links

* [ Review of issue 0] , [ 0] , [ 1] , [ 2] and [ 3] , [ 4] , [ 5] and [ 6] , Comics Bulletin

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