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Black Summer is an eight-issue (#0-#7, May, 2007-July, 2008) comic miniseries written by Warren Ellis, drawn by Juan Jose Ryp and published by Avatar Press. On July 3, 2006, the president of the United States is assassinated by John Horus, the most powerful member of a superhero group called The Seven Guns. After claiming that the president and his advisers had all been criminals, and that they were just being brought to justice, John Horus then orders the nation to go about re-electing new leaders, while making it clear that he won't tolerate anyone coming after him.
This sets off a chain of events that makes the government start hunting down the remaining members of The Seven Guns, including Tom Noir, one of the original Guns who disappeared after another member and lover, Laura, was killed in a bombing. Making matters worse is that one of the people hunting them is Frank Blacksmith, an unofficial "eighth" member of the team who had been thought dead. With the whole U.S. military after them, Tom and the other Guns must figure out how to survive, and what to do about John Horus.
This series provides examples of:
- Alternate Company Equivalent: The Seven Guns are basically the Justice League.
- John Horus: Superman - The Paragon Flying Brick with a sun motif, unquestionably the most powerful member of the team.
- Tom Noir: Batman - Crazy Prepared Detective (his voice-activation phrase for his powers was "Bakerstreet"), with a night motif, considered by everyone to be the one person who could handle John, in spite of John being so much more powerful than Tom.
- Laura Torch: Green Lantern - her powers (the scope of which we can only imagine) even get used by other characters, echoing how a GL power ring might change hands.
- Zoe Jump: The Flash - Super Speed
- Dominic Atlas Hyde: Martian Manhunter - Super Strength, shapeshifter, alternate leader.
- Angel One: Hawkgirl - Flight
- Kathryn Artemis: Wonder Woman - Amazon name, kind of straightforward role supplying basic firepower with few gimmicks or surprises.
- Anti-Hero (Type IV or V): The Guns.
- Armor-Piercing Attack: The Guns' guns shoot incredibly powerful bullets. When Tom gets his in his flashback, it's said to be capable of shooting through a tank.
- Beware the Superman: When John goes bad, he proves himself completely invulnerable to conventional military weapons, up to and including nuclear strikes. The remaining Seven Guns also manage to hold off military attacks, although no attempt is made to nuke them. Flashbacks reveal that Frank Blacksmith (and to an extent, Tom Noir) was explicitly concerned about this trope when the Seven Guns were developing their abilities.
- Bottomless Magazines: A "respawning function" in the Guns' guns apparently makes it possible for them to keep running on a single clip unless they use so much ammo so fast that it doesn't have time to replenish itself.
- Bulletproof Human Shield: Justified in the case of Dominic Atlas Hyde's corpse, considering the extent of his body armor. Bullets enter the corpse, but apparently don't exit.
- By the Power of Greyskull: The Seven Guns use spoken code words to activate their implants.
- City with No Name: The city the Seven Guns are from.
- Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Zoe claims this is what happened to the rest of the Seven Guns, since they "don't ever switch their enhancements off". However, given the flashbacks seen during the story, one really has to wonder whether maybe they were going already...
- Cyborg: The Seven Guns get all of their superpowers through cybernetics. Based on the explanations of Angel-One's flight systems, and the "ninja cripple tricks" we see Tom Noir display among many other powers, the Seven Guns apparently have extremely extensive body-modifications.
- Do Not Adjust Your Set: John Horus does this in issue 2
- Expy: John Horus and Tom Noir totally aren't Apollo and the Midnighter...
- Evil Knockoffs: Frank has a squad of similarly-enhanced soldiers prepared to take down the Guns.
- The Faceless: Laura Torch. She's been dead for years at the start of the book, and her death was a major turning point for several characters, but the flashbacks never reveal what she looked like. All we know is that she and Tom Noir were a couple, and that her Gun was terrifyingly powerful in an undefined way.
- Faceless Eye: John Horus's Gun enhancement is a fleet of levitating eyes.
- Faceless Goons: the Evil Knockoffs all wear helmets that completely obscure their faces.
- Discussed by Kathryn Artemis.
- Foot Focus: In a flashback, after Angela / Angel One's operation, we get a glimpse of her bare feet. She even plays footsie with Tom at one point.
- Genius Cripple: Tom Noir, before he gets his prosthesis. He's also a Handicapped Badass.
- Godwin's Law: Lampshaded - when Kathryn and Dominic argue about what John did, she compares The Government to Nazi Germany.
Dominic: That's a bullshit argument!
- Gorn: Scenery or otherwise, it's a Juan Jose Ryp trademark.
- Groin Attack: Tom combines this with Grievous Bottley Harm when fighting the super-mook sent to kill him.
- I Call It Vera: Tom calls it Inquiry.
- I Did What I Had to Do: Said by John Horus, naturally.
- Kathryn Artemis Is About To Shoot You: one of the covers to issue #2.
- Lightning Bruiser/Instant Armor: Dominic Atlas Hyde
- Most Common Superpower: Kathryn Artemis, Angel-One, and Zoe. Ryp likes to draw his women busty and braless.
- No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: John's "eye" devices. He was adamant about keeping info on how they work secret from everybody, even the guy who built the components that went into them.
- Not Quite Dead: Frank Blacksmith. Then later, Tom Noir.
- Person of Mass Destruction: All of the Guns, especially John Horus.
- Paint The Oval Office Red: The cover of Issue #0.
- Power Floats/Barrier Warrior: Angel-One
- Private Military Contractors: One of the reasons for the formation of the Seven Guns was that PMCs were being used in their city.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Short and sweet.
Tom Noir: "You want to change the nature of justice in America and you kill a president? What did you think that made you? Two-fisted Super-Jesus for the American Way? It made you Lee Harvey Oswald, you prick. You know what? Lots of people hated John F Kennedy. He barely got elected. But Lee Harvey Oswald isn't remembered as an American hero. Just a prick with a gun who killed the president. That's you now, John."
- Spikes of Villainy: One of the Evil Knockoffs sent after the Guns has spikes on her boots, and the one that tries to kill Tom early in the story has retractable spikes in his forearm.
- Spiritual Antithesis: Ellis himself contrasted Black Summer with Mark Millar's Civil War, saying that latter is the Lighter and Softer vision of a conflict between superheroes and government, and the former is what would really happen.
Ellis: ...masked adventurers on the run are not going to be pursued, tricked and trapped by their estranged colleagues. Every last one of them is going to be hunted by the combined forces of the US military structure. It is, to my mind, what would always happen — the streets of America would be secured by soldiers and gun emplacements and helicopters against the threat of the flying superhuman. And for those who think I’m being anti-American, consider this: in Britain, we’d just have the SAS kill them in their beds. You people are young, and have not yet learned how to do business.
- Super Speed/Good with Numbers: Zoe Jump. She has to visualize a set of quantum equations in order to engage her abilities.
- Take Me to Your Leader: John Horus says this when he arrives to speak to some army folks, after getting their attention by dropping a fighter jet in front of their base.
- Taking You with Me: How Tom Noir kills John and Frank.
- Technopath: Tom Noir
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: John Horus
- Women Are Wiser: The living female members of the Guns (Zoe, Kathryn, Angela) do manage to avoid having their Berserk Buttons pushed compared to the men-- and it's the practically-a-Blood Knight Kathryn Artemis (just read her flashback in issue 6) who says "We also have a responsibility to this city, and we haven't done right by that. We've been crazy for too long, girls." This may be why they all survive. (It's hinted in flashbacks that Laura Torch may have also been the most grounded member of the entire Seven.)
- Wretched Hive: The city where the Seven Guns got their start was an incredibly corrupt near-police-state before they cleaned it up.
- X-Ray Vision: Tom has this, though instead of actual x-rays, it "provides realtime sonar imaging on a sliding level. You'll be able to see directly into any target with surgical precision: outer layers of clothing, weapons, devices, internal organs, bones." When he's using it to look at a super-mook's nervous system, it resembles Vein-O-Vision.
- You're Insane!: Said by John Horus, when called out on his stupidity by Kathy Artemis.