Ask a Super-Villain: Blackrock
While Samuel Tanner is a well-known figure in Boca Raton, not even his close friends are aware of his brief foray into super-villainy as the masked man Blackrock. He has been reluctant to discuss it, until now.
My contacts in the worlds of both television and super-villainy netted me an opportunity to speak to Mr. Tanner, who was excited by the opportunity to publicly discuss his brief time “under the mask.”
Harvey Jerkwater: Thank you for agreeing to meet with me, Mr. Tanner.
Samuel Tanner: Please, if we’re going to discuss my supervillain career, call me “Blackrock.” A sexy name. I always liked being called “Blackrock.”
HJ: Okay, Blackrock. You were already a powerful, wealthy, and highly influential man. What made you take up the guise of Blackrock?
BR: I was head of UBS [United Broadcasting System]. A big wheel in Metropolis. But always number two. GBS [Galaxy Broadcasting System] always nailed us. Drove me crazy. We had the better shows than GBS, we had the better news than GBS, we had more jiggle interest than GBS.
HJ: Jiggle interest?
BR: You know. [Tanner grabs his sagging man-boobs and shakes them side-to-side.]
HJ: Ah. Right.
BR: But GBS beat us every time. You know why? Superman. They always scooped us on Superman. He was practically their mascot.
HJ: And that was enough to sink you to second place?
BR: Absolutely. Look, one channel is going on about a bank robbery and a water-skiing squirrel. The other is showing footage of a ninety-foot tall gorilla with lasers coming out of his eyes fighting a flying man in blue tights. Which would you watch?
HJ: I see.
BR: So I figured we’d beat GBS by having our own hero.
BR: Absolutely. So I got on the horn to Silverstone [Dr. Peter Silverstone, Director of UBS Research and Technology]. I tell him to make me a superhero. Someone flashy. Someone cool. Someone with sex appeal.
HJ: And he chose you?
BR: Maybe I shouldn’t have emphasized the sex appeal! Yeah, that nut went and hypnotized me. Then he slapped me into that silly green and purple suit, gave me a magic antenna, and had me go out and fight Superman.
HJ: Hypnotized? Magic antenna?
BR: I had a TV on my chest, can you believe that? Superman has that funny “S,” Batman has a bat, I had a TV. Nice, eh? Hold on, I got a picture here. [Hands picture over.]
BR: Yeah, wow. See that antenna in my hand there? That antenna was a thing of beauty. Silverstone was nuts, but he was brilliant. The dingus drew in power from radio and TV waves and let me recast it as energy rays. Or was it power beams? I think it was energy rays. Anyway, I could do all sorts of cool stuff with the rays. Shape ‘em into things, zap people, the works. I mixed it up with Superman. Superman! And I did good.
HJ: But you were under hypnosis.
BR: Trust me, it was me. You think that geek could have really brainwashed Sam Tanner? Okay, I wasn’t gonna fly around in tights without a little push. So yeah, Silverstone gave me a push with his mind-whammy. But that was all me out there. I went toe-to-toe with Superman! Stood my ground! Sam Tanner kicked his alien ass!
BR: Bet your sweet bippy!
HJ: There were other Blackrocks later on.
BR: Yeah, after I “got my mind back,” Silverstone then set up the same game with my nephew, a no-talent comic [stage-name Les Vegas]. What a mess.
Then me and Silverstone made a Blackrock out of energy. Later Silverstone himself wore the suit. Jesus, what a loony.
HJ: Isn’t there another one now?
BR: You got me. I’ve been out of the super-villain biz for a long time.
HJ: Would you say your experience as a super-villain had a lasting effect?
BR: Oh yeah. Aside from the permanent crick in my neck that came when Superman punched me out, lousy bastard, I learned a lot about myself.
Y’see, when you’re standing on a rooftop in green tights, you can’t lie to yourself anymore. That gut you got? Everyone can see it. A less-than-ample package? Everyone can see that too. Plus, when you got a mask on, you act different, you let out parts of yourself you normally hide. It’s kinda like being drunk.
HJ: In green and purple tights.
BR: Yeah, exactly.
HJ: After your brief career as Blackrock, did you have any other dealings in super-villainy?
BR: A few years back we tried to start up a reality show with low-rent supervillains. “What happens when a group of super-powered villains start living together and try to take over the world?” It couldn’t miss. We had drama, we had sexual tension, we had hotties in tight costumes, we had extreme personalities.
HJ: The show didn’t succeed?
BR: Goddammit, why the hell didn’t anyone tell me Gorilla Grodd ate human flesh? Two days into the program, he ate the entire cast. Then he put the entire crew under mind control and had them reconfigure the broadcast arrays to beam…well, whatever the hell it was.
HJ: [checks notes] A go-go ray, I believe.
BR: Oh yeah! Crazy monkey wanted the human race to go-go dance itself to death.
HJ: The Flash stopped him, but it wasn’t enough to save the series, right?
BR: Yeah. Even with the sets rebuilt, we couldn’t replace the cast. “Hey, come on our show, you won’t get eaten like the last guys” is not a pitch that works when recruiting talent. Especially paranoid loons like most super-villains.
HJ: Have you ever considered returning to a career in super-villainy?
BR: Hell yeah! That’s why I agreed to this interview. I’m ready to come out of retirement! I'm back, baby! Superman will kneel before me! The world will tremble!
HJ: Go on.
BR: But not as Blackrock. Television is dead! Its day is through! The future is the internet! [Stands up, shakes fist to the sky] And I am its master! With my new weapon, I will be: The Deadly Dial-Up!
HJ: You have a new weapon?
BR: A modem box that shoots lightning and can “download” people into alternate dimensions. It makes that modem “ga-jung hsssss” noise, too. This thing is excellent!
HJ: Uh…Mr. Tanner, dial-ups are being phased out in favor of faster connections. They’re becoming rare.
HJ: I’m sorry, it’s true.
BR: But…my new tights…a phone and a lightning bolt on the chest…my cape…
HJ: I’m sorry, sir. Perhaps you could be the Terrible T1 Connection?
BR: The what?
HJ: The WiFi Bad Guy?
HJ: Never mind. Thank you for your time, Mr. Tanner.
BR: [sighs] Oh, you’re welcome, Harvey. You know you’re always welcome here.
And hey, should any budding super-villains have any questions for me, just pass ‘em on. Maybe we could team up and take on Superman again! I got a plan to beat that guy! Can't miss! All it’ll take is fourteen mandarin oranges, a raincoat, and a plasma wakefield accelerator with an energy gradient of 300 GeV/M that can fit into a late-model Japanese sedan.
HJ: I’ll be sure to pass that on.
BR: Thanks. You can let yourself out. “WWE Smackdown” starts in a minute, and you know I hate to miss it.
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