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.
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.
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.