Monday, March 12, 2018

Black Cross Part One

Black Cross
written and illustrated by Chris Warner
Dark Horse comics, January 1988
Part One

'Black Cross' debuted in the July, 1986 issue of Dark Horse Presents (DHP), the newly formed comic company's monthly 'sampler' title that provided serialized material from franchised (Aliens) and creator-owned (Concrete, Mr Monster, The Masque) properties. 

Succeeding installments in the series dribbled out over the course of ensuing issues, as Warner juggled efforts on the strip with his duties on other Dark Horse properties. In January 1988 Dark Horse took all the DHP material and packaged it into one black-and-white comic, titled 'Black Cross'.

Over the ensuing thirty -odd years, Mark Warner indicated that the title was (at one point in the late 80s) in development as a possible feature film. He also hinted at publishing a mini-series titled 'Black Cross: My War', but this never came to fruition. In 1997, Warner published a one-shot color comic, titled 'Black Cross: Dirty Work', that built off of yet more serialized material, but since then, the franchise has been defunct.

'Black Cross' is set in a near-future USA where the breakdown of the social and political orders has left the country divided into 'zones'; some of these are controlled by the authoritarian provisional government, and others are 'black' zones: free-for-all landscapes where anything goes, and life expectancy is severely curtailed. 

As the series opens, veteran NCO Sgt Conrad (his first name is not disclosed) is assigned to join a team of commandos on an excursion into a black zone. Troubled by the atrocities he has witnessed - and likely participated in - during combat in Honduras, Conrad finds himself forced to make difficult choices when the actions of the commando team cross the line between military operations and killing for the sake of killing.........

'Black Cross' features some very good black-and-white artwork. The plot is communicated through Warner's (admittedly) overly wordy speech balloons, these being necessary to keep the storyline coherent for a serialized presentation. The comic offers some genuine 80s nostalgia due to its being suffused with the kind of macho sensibility that permeated Arnold Schwarzenegger films like Commando and Predator.

I'm posting the complete comic in two consecutive parts. Part one is below.

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