Updated on 16 October, 2021
The Black Dwarf, sometimes called simply the Black Dwarf, is a fictional character created by American author Edmond Hamilton in his novel Hard Way to Die. The novel was later made into a feature film directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Morgan Freeman, Edward Norton, and Kevin Dunn. Queen Victoria herself was an admirer of the novel and was so impressed with the movie that she ordered a copy of Hard Way to Die, which was then released in cinemas. Directed by Tim Burton, the film was a box office hit and spawned four sequels, including Blackadder, Blood Stone, Jade, and the remake of Blackadder II.
In the first of the original hard way to die stories, the titular character of the Black Dwarf is thrown into a cryogenic sleep cell deep within the underground facility that creates the super-efficient supercomputer. The cell fails and is discovered several months later, and it is discovered that the Black Dwarf was part of a experiment that was trying to create a supercomputer with as much artificial intelligence as possible. The Black Dwarf then manages to escape and sends several operatives after the mysterious androids, all of which end up in the middle of an international terrorists plot.
The second storyline involved the rehabilitation of the original Black Dwarf - now called The Imperator - after he is almost killed by terrorists during a terrorist attack. Once again he is injected with a lethal chemical that causes his death, but this time he goes into a coma. When he awakens and regains consciousness, he realizes that he has been placed into a new body, one that is almost three feet tall and muscular. The Impostor has a plan for world domination and plans to poison the leaders of humanity with a deadly virus, poison the water supply, and then kill everyone on the planet using nuclear weapons. With a team of other super-fast robots, the Impostor sets out to implement his evil plan. Unfortunately, the original Black Dwarf turns up and fights his way to the top of the Impatient's pyramid, whereupon he stops the poison-and-virus serum from killing anyone, and then uses his newly created weapons to destroy every robot in the area.
The third storyline sees the return of the original Black Dwarf. But this time he doesn't have any means of escaping or getting help and relies on a newly activated Batmobile to drive off the Batrocution Team. The team is led by Batgirl, who uses her Batplane to fly above the city and drop in a couple of helicopters, which chase and trap the Impostor. Batman then engages the Impostor in a Batcave with the intent of either killing him or capturing him so that the authorities can find and apprehend the villain.
Although the Black Dwarf comic book series is one of my favourite superhero creations of all time, I feel that the characterisation is quite shallow and not explored enough. For example, we know that he is from a planet called Korugar, but don't be told that he was raised on an evil planet. And whereas he certainly seems to have adopted a human like form, he still looks more like a Dwarf in the end. Other minor characters, such as Booster Gold and Lady Shiva are given more depth, but are never given enough screen time to make them memorable or interesting enough to be featured in a storyline.
In terms of overall quality, the comic book is well delivered. The action is fast paced and there are some very memorable moments, although it is not anywhere near as exciting as the original 1960s cartoon. The story is simple, but executed well, and the characterisation is quite good overall, although perhaps not as diverse as some of the more recent incarnations of the characters.
A lot of the Black Dwarf stories are similar to the modern day version of the character, in that they are usually adventures looking at the dark side of human nature and how people try to balance their lives and relationships. The difference with this particular comic is that unlike most of the modern versions that feature the characters chasing after supervising angels, or working for the government, the Black Dwarf has his own problems to deal with. This forces him to go from being a happy-go-lucky type of guy, to being one of the more cynical human characters you'll find in a comic book. However, one has to question whether this makes the comic better, or worse. Is it a better way to depict a problem, or make the reader think about what would happen if the characters solved their issue?
The bottom line is that the Black Dwarf comic book is a fantastic one, and worth a read for anyone who likes this genre. There are some decent storylines, and some nice supporting cast, although the main character might not be as well developed as you'd hope for. However, for the most part, the story is above average, and well worth a second look.