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The Flare's family's decision (Jupiter's Circle #4 spoilers)


#1

I’m so in love with this series. Am I allowed to say that? I actually mean I love writing it because it’s so unlike anything I’ve done before and I’ve had a lot of fun playing around with the usual superhero tropes.

The great Victor Dandridge from Black, White and Read All Over gave us a lovely review (which you can see on the front page), but asked a serious question: Did The Flare get too easy a redemption for his philandering? Would this happen in real life? We were chatting about this on Twitter, but one of the reasons I feel forums are coming back into our lives is not just that we follow too many people on Twitter now to really see any posts from people we like, but that 140 characters doesn’t really answer the question.

So…

As those who read yesterday’s issue know, this two parter is about a superhero going through a midlife crisis in his sexual relationship. I’m not sure if this has been done with a superhero comic before, but what I did was basically transplant two real-life stories into a superhero setting and just told them as they were when they happened to acquaintances when I was around 20 years old. What’s fascinating is how different real-life is from American superhero convention. The Marvel or DC ending to this story would be that April, the nineteen year old girl at the centre of the drama, would have been a Skrull or a Manhunter and she was sent to destabilise The Flare and ultimately wreck the team. The ending would have been more melodramatic and The Flare’s redemption would have been sacrificing himself for his team-mates to prove he wasn’t such a mean guy after all.

Etc.

But by transplanting the real-life beats into the story you get something new and interesting. The guy leaving his wife and kids for a 19 year old girl is interesting in this superhero context, especially on his lame pretence that he can get her on his team, but the events I nicked from real-life are as follows.

a) one of my neighbours when I had my first apartment left his wife and three kids in similar circumstances. She was still absolutely in love with him and even though we all thought she was well rid of the guy she still really wanted nothing more than to get them back together. About a year after they broke up he had an industrial accident at work and was incredibly burned. He was bed-ridden for the rest of the time I knew him (I haven’t seen them since I was about 22) and she took him back and nursed him. The girl he was seeing was really young and couldn’t handle it, but his wife stepped in and took him back. Everyone was astonished as their apartment had to be refitted, she had to give up her job and everything changed so she could look after this guy and become his carer. She seemed genuinely happy to have him back and the year they spent apart was never, ever mentioned by anyone.

b) one of my best friend’s cousins was a philandering fireman. He was always cheating on his wife and she eventually found out and split up with him. He moved into his own place, had a string of girlfriends and the split was REALLY acrimonious. She absolutely HATED him and the whole thing was really toxic. Then he got diagnosed with cancer and all the people he’d been hanging out with quietly and quickly ditched him. He was really incredibly ill and she surprised everyone by being the one who was at the hospital with him every day. Once he got out, she moved him into her place and nursed him until he died two years later. She never seemed happy they were back together. In fact, she still seemed to not like him very much on the few occasions I saw them together. But she did it because she felt it was the right thing to do and I’ll always remember how calm she seemed at the funeral. It was more like a sense of duty than her still having been in love with him.

Anyway, I was 19-25 over the course of these two incidents and kind of didn’t really expect either of them. I assumed each ex-wife would want nothing to do with these guys when the chips were down, but now I’m older I realise the first just still really loved the guy more than she condemned what he had done and the second helped him because they had a massive shared history and she knew nobody else would step up. Writers - as you know - are emotional kleptomaniacs and I’ve never seen this story told in any medium. Applying it to superheroes is interesting and the beats of how this played out was interesting. Yeah, it’s not the usual trope where The Flare would have grabbed the bomb that was going to kill the people he let down and flew it into a black hole, sacrificing himself in a redemptive move, but Circle has been fascinating to write because I’ve applied real-life logic and beats to a world where we’ve never seen it and I’m loving how much people are digging it because it’s been so fresh and fun to tackle as a writer.

The last two-parter of this first volume is SKYFOX and I’m so in love with this character. I’ve based him on Oliver Reed or Richard Harris, especially the anecdotes from the (excellent) Hellraisers book. Those guys who were great but just a little TOO MUCH. The conceit I’m playing with here is what causes a split between two superheroes. In X-Men it was an ideological argument between Xavier and Magneto over the integrity of homo-sapien. In Civil War it was Iron Man wanting superheroes to be licensed by the government, Cap wanting them to remain free agents. In Jupiter’s Circle it’s going to be small and personal. Like real-life arguments. Then this leads into the six part mega epic of volume 2 where we see the shit truly hit the fan and everything go very widescreen with upside down alien cities and the ultimate fate of this super-team we know eventually destructs to pave the way for Jupiter’s Legacy.

This series is 2 volumes each, both Legacy and Circle, and I’m thirty pages away from finishing the entire 22 issues that they comprise. I’m going to miss it because I’ve LOVED pushing it with this little beaut, but the movie starts getting scripted this month and Mister Quitely is back with Legacy 2 in the New Year so there’s plenty to keep it ticking along in the meantime.

MM


Jupiter's Circle #4 - Chat-Back for Lettercol!
#2

Yay!

22 Issues…

Hmm… That’s okay, I guess, but, you know …you could always do a THIRD volume … and a fourth volume … (please?)


#3

I felt that the ending to the issue was very emotionally honest, and helped to reinforce even further the emptiness of the relationship that was struck up during the mid-life crisis fling.

Loving relationships involve forgiveness on a constant basis, so while we might be used to story logic dictating that someone who does something wrong should get punished for that wrongdoing, it felt more true to life to see the ending we got.

I do get the impression, though, that the emotional fallout is going to continue, at least for certain members of the family…


#4

What I’m enjoying here is slightly messing with preconceptions like the vengeful son or whatever. Where things seem to be going one way and then surprise us because someone’s got a job in Ohio or something and things don’t really go to plan. We’re so used to comics where everything follows that conventional narrative structure that it’s so weird and fun to keep going to different places. I wish I could release all these books at once because I’m so caught up in this world and characters right now.

I’m checking over the letters on Legacy volume 2 this morning and a big superhero heist/ rescue with villains in Dubai. Quietly, ye are a genius! But lest we forget how great Wilfredo and the boys have been here too. I can’t wait to have these up on my shelves as trades.

PS Definitely planning a third and final volume to the series, but it’s going to be set a generation after Legacy and there needs to be a year or two between them so it feels like a little distance.


#5

YAY!

This is seriously the best story you’ve ever written, I think. I reckon this will be seen as your Sandman.


#6

Thanks, fella. It was weird writing the entire Huck six issues in the middle of this because it seemed so EASY. There’s so many moving parts to this and the eventual six volumes running between now and 2019 kind of balls in the air all at the same time. A nice, regular little 6 issue thing was such a breeze by comparison.

I’m really proud of it though. I think my time at Image so far has worked out really well. Very happy with all the books!

MM


#7

I thought the ending to this issue hit like a freight train. I didn’t see it coming and kept expecting the whole invasion scenario to have been faked by The Utopian as a cruel way to make The Flare to realise he was being a dick and to go home to his wife. But as you say, that would have been how a DC comic from that era might have handled it. This feels much more real.


#8

Sandman, huh.

I’ve heard it talked about more like it being his “Superman/Batman: Generations”.
Except without the whole faltering near the end and becoming a bore bit.


#9

I think in terms of being a well-loved epic narrative.


#10

That was more of an appreciative huh than a questioning one.
I get it, definitely.
I think more in terms of just a more intimate family tale.


#11

We’ve been trained, not just by comics, but by popular media to vilify “the one who did it” in relationships…especially when it comes to matters of fidelity. That’s why I posed the question of the “easiness of the resolution.” I whole-heartedly believe in the Love Conquers All creed, so the ending TOTALLY makes sense to me. But, I recognize I’m a rare bird, still waiting for my 80’s movie training montage/ high-five still frame. Lol

One of the pieces I appreciated most about this story arc was the compassion that everyone seemed to uphold, epitomized first by Utopian and Lady Liberty. They recognized the “need” (for lack of a better word) of The Flare’s dalliance, tolerating its initial flourishes with a bit of a wink and smile. His wife did too, to an even greater degree – so sure that when the time came, her husband would come home, without any sort of pressing or leaning from anyone else to make it happen. That’s a wife. For good or for worse and all in between.

-Victor Dandridge


#12

Oh, I wasn’t advocating her decision, Vic. I felt it was kind of sad, especially in her trapped circumstances, that she was putting up with this and we can tell by the kid’s face last issue that he (and she) knew at the breakfast table. It’s really a comment on those times. She’s deeply unhappy but trapped in her era and her relationship and the idea at the end - when she does what she perceives to be the right thing - is ultimately that despite his idiocy she still loves him and wants to help him. I definitely don’t mean it as a relationship guideline. It’s just based on those examples I gave earlier where people can make odd decisions sometimes that contradict everything you can imagine, especially when you’re 20.

MM


#13

It was certainly true to the times, and, as you’ve said, it’s not something that’s inconceivable for a wife to do.

People to cheat and stray, and love is rarely monogamous and sometimes that can make a relationship stronger; but not always.

I’m interested to see where it goes from here, as it seems like a good set up for some further tension.


#14

Oh man! I didn’t go quite for sadness with her, but more of a naive faith. Like she saw it coming, with the macro view of his experiences, that she expected him to “falter” in some way like this.

I’m curious about why SHE’S not a part of The Union? Was she not given powers like the others?


#15

Oh, ye need to re-read JL #1, chum! The gang who took the bought to the island were all these old college friends, including Grace. No other girls were on the trip. There’s some really interesting stuff with Grace coming up, btw. Utopian has maybe been my favourite to write for obvious reasons. The relationship between he and his wife was really, really interesting to explore. Being married to the perfect guy!

MM


#16

You know me too well! I was nose-deep, counting heads to see that! Lol


#17

Today is not tomorrow, which is payday, so when today becomes tomorrow and tomorrow is today I can purchase then say something reasonable.

For a change.


#18

I think this really captures a far more common response at the time as well. While it still happens now, back then I bet it happened far far more.


#19

Some folks - as you know! - are careful observers of “ordinary life” from a very young age; about three months pre-partum, if some folks’ stories are true.

Still thinking over the issue - but one early conclusion. This may be the single best issue of anything you have ever put out. At this point I’m thinking of it as “tincture of Millar” - all you’ve written and thought and experienced distilled to tell this story through much more experienced eyes.

Aging can be worth something!

:neckbeard: <- or bad facial hair decisions! :laughing:


#20

I’m really glad I found this thread - the ending was pretty disturbing and brutal, and came out of nowhere. It’s so much easier to take knowing its based on real life and all its randomness rather than having some kind of authorial condemnation or approval of the characters.
What happens to the Flare is brutal, but what happens to Joyce, and the way she just takes it, is even worse.

Great issue, but, damn it left me sitting stunned in the food hall where I read it yesterday!