It's a name, an event, a label, and even a comic or two. If you've seen Dark Horse's Project Black Sky — and given that the first comic was the best offering at this past Free Comic Book Day, I hope you have — you've entered into a complex world of heroes. Here's what you need to know.

First off, Project Black Sky is the name of Dark Horse's new superhero imprint, which contains series like Captain Midnight, Brain Boy, Ghost, Blackout, X, Skyman, and The Occultist.

Second, Project Black Sky is the name of the event that will draw these heroes together, uniting them in one world because third, "Project Black Sky" is a mysterious project inside the world of these superheroes, one which originated with Captain Midnight back in the '40s, and suffice it to say it's gotten... somewhat off-mission since then.

And last but not least, Project Black Sky is a comic — or rather, two comics: the excellent one offered on Free Comic Book Day, which kicked off the event, and a free webcomic titled The Secret Files of Project Black Sky, which is offered here, and helps flesh out the connective tissue that runs between all these comics.

The best way to get immersed in the world of Project Black Sky? Well, that's going to be the Project Black Sky Sampler, which you'll be able to recognize by its awesome Terry Dodson cover (which, by the way, we're thrilled to exclusively reveal!):

The sampler will contain segments from Blackout #1, Brain Boy #0, Ghost #1 and The Occultist #1. But since it doesn't come out until October 15th, the best way you can get into PBS right now is with io9! We asked mastermind Fred Van Lente — writer of the FCBD PBS comic, The Secret Files of Project Black Sky webcomic, Brain Boy, and other hits like Marvel's Incredible Hercules and Valiant's great Archer & Armstrong — to give us the details on the major players, and what Project Black Sky holds in store for them.


Blackout: "A researcher gets the ability to walk "between" dimensions by cutting through a second, "dark" one — but do even worse horrors lurk in there? Project Black Sky very much wants to talk to this young man, find out where he's gotten his abilities from."


Brain Boy: "A psychic Secret Service agent on loan from Albright Industries, which has a long history of Project Black Sky, Matt Price thwarted Project Black Sky's attempt to reclaim its biological weapon Ape-X in Las Vegas with Captain Midnight in the Free Comic Book Day book. His current battle with the Men from G.E.S.T.A.L.T. is something Project Black Sky is paying close attention to.

"In the Brain Boy mini I'm writing now, a mysterious threat to the President from a renegade psychic apparently running a "doomsday prepper" cult in the New Mexico desert attracts interest by both the US government, in the form of Matt Price, and the enigmatic organization G.E.S.T.A.L.T., which seems to be trying to unite the psionics of the world under their leadership. What, if any, connection these two groups have to Project Black Sky, if they are allies or foes, will be explicated by the end of this book, which has quite a shocking revelation — or it will have, if I've done my job right. "


Captain Midnight: "The World War II hero was one of the first people Black Sky brought strange vessels and technology not from our world. It may not have been a coincidence that soon thereafter he fell into a vortex in time and was catapulted to the modern era. Now he doesn't trust Project Black Sky, and they certainly don't trust him — the inventor and pilot has the engineering know-how to pose a serious threat to them.

"Captain Midnight is a fun character, a guy used to being in charge who is completely out of his element, and he just sort of deals with the modern world by barreling through it. Matt's contempt for him (part and parcel of the contempt the youth have for their elders) grew to respect during the FCBD team-up. Matt doesn't have many friends, and even less people to look up to, so that's a relationship I look forward to growing in the coming months."


Ghost: "Permanently "phased" out of our world, Ghost may the one person who can be helped by Project Black Sky and their technology — if they ever learn she exists."

The Occultist: "What if Peter Parker became Dr. Strange instead of Spider-Man? A very fun magic-based series, the real wild card of the Black Sky titles. The connection between him and the rest of the universe comes from an unexpected source."


Skyman: "A disabled fighter pilot gets a suit that lets him fly as well as walk. One of the only characters in the Black Sky world he actually wants to be a professional hero, he may have bit off more than he can chew — because Project Black Sky sees heroes as just a villain waiting to happen. They may want to take him out."

X: "A brutal vigilante that's kind of a combination of Batman, Punisher, and Wolverine. His abilities have a direct link to Project Black Sky — which we hint at in the Secret Files web series."