Saladin Ahmed and Dave Acosta fight fear with "big honkin' guns" in TerrorWar

TerrorWar excerpt
TerrorWar excerpt (Image credit: Dave Acosta/Jay Leisten/Water Pererya/Shawn Lee (Copper Bottle))

If you like the Netflix streaming series Hellbound, you'll love the new digital-first comic book series TerrorWar. This isn't a battle between heaven and help though; instead, it's a battle against paranormal monsters who feed on your fear and have cropped up on Earth just as humanity recovers from a near-apocalypse and survives in a patchwork city.

TerrorWar cover (Image credit: Dave Acosta/Jay Leisten/Water Pererya/Shawn Lee (Copper Bottle))

"TerrorWar is the story of Blue City, a futuristic megalopolis besieged by Terrors - mysterious, horrific beings that take the shape of your worst fear before killing you," series writer Saladin Ahmed, who is working with artist Dave Acosta, tells Newsarama. "It follows a group of regular working people who have the extraordinary ability to kill Terrors as they begin to unravel the grisly conspiracies beneath Blue City's gleaming surface. Classic science fiction horror noir, updated for our era."

The face of TerrorWar is Muhammad Cho - one of a small number of survivors with the ability to resist the mental mayhem Terrors can do to people. He and others like him are part of a group that is looking to combat the Terrors - not just with their mind, but also "big honkin' guns" as Ahmed describes it.

"Muhammad is all about defending the neighborhood that raised him and he's just trying to put food on the table for himself and his team of 'Terrorfighters' while doing so," says Ahmed. "In his own words, 'I grew up in the back of a broken down zataar mandu shop, listening to credit drones shred my neighbors to bioscrap when they couldn't pay their bills.' Blue City is a place full of utopian lies. Muhammad hasn't swallowed them, but he does his duty anyway."

Muhammad Cho has a certain twinkle in his eye that's less Santa Claus, and more like '90s Marvel heroes such as Longshot, Cable, and Gambit. When asked if this is homaging those characters, Ahmed said we were on the money.

"Oh, absolutely," says the writer. "It's a lot of other things also, but TerrorWar is undeniably us putting our stamp on the important 'grizzled glowy eyed dudes with big honkin' guns' sub-sub-genre'!"

If you've read Ahmed's work, you know he loves world-building - each setting is a character. That's no different with TerrorWar's Blue City.

TerrorWar teaser (Image credit: Dave Acosta/Jay Leisten/Water Pererya/Shawn Lee (Copper Bottle))

"I'm sort of always writing about cities. My fantasy novel Throne of the Crescent Moon was all about a fantasy metropolis, Abbott has Detroit in its very DNA. My Miles Morales run has been about Brooklyn almost as much as anything," says the writer. "WIth TerrorWar, I knew from the get that I wanted to ask what happens when there's only one city left and all of humanity is living on top of each other - except those rich enough to afford space."

TerrorWar is the second collaboration between Ahmed and the artist Dave Acosta, after completing the upcoming graphic novel Dragon.

"Dave is a horror master who understands character and storytelling via action so intuitively that it's just super easy working together -- and I'm always dazzled by the results," says Ahmed. "Dave in turn brought on Walter Pereyra, whose neon and chrome sensibility has been perfect for the story, and Shawn Lee, whose range and meticulousness are really bringing the whole thing to life."

The TerrorWar team is rounded out by inker Jay Leisten and editor Heather Antos, and it'll all debut through Saladin Ahmed's Substack newsletter. TerrorWar is the first release of Ahmed's publishing imprint he's set up named Copper Bottle, which will be publishing TerrorWar digital-first through Substack.

"The support Substack has provided Copper Bottle has allowed us to take a unique gamble here," says Ahmed. "We are paying competitive rates and sharing ownership with artists while playing a slightly longer game of reader engagement than one sees in either monthly comics or, say, a Kickstarter. Ultimately this model will live or die by paid subscribers - but for now we are thrilled to just get these comics out there!"

New chapters of TerrorWar will debut every month on Ahmed's Substack, however, the specific page counts of each chapter and when exactly they'll debut each month will be flexible - part of the appeal Ahmed found in releasing comics this way.

As for those who are hold-outs for print comics, Ahmed says TerrorWar will end up there eventually.

"The great likelihood is that we will collect the finished product in print at some point, but that's likely a good ways off."

TerrorWar chapter 1 is available now. 

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Chris Arrant

Chris Arrant covered comic book news for Newsarama from 2003 to 2022 (and as editor/senior editor from 2015 to 2022) and has also written for USA Today, Life, Entertainment Weekly, Publisher's Weekly, Marvel Entertainment, TOKYOPOP, AdHouse Books, Cartoon Brew, Bleeding Cool, Comic Shop News, and CBR. He is the author of the book Modern: Masters Cliff Chiang, co-authored Art of Spider-Man Classic, and contributed to Dark Horse/Bedside Press' anthology Pros and (Comic) Cons. He has acted as a judge for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, the Harvey Awards, and the Stan Lee Awards. Chris is a member of the American Library Association's Graphic Novel & Comics Round Table. (He/him)