Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I, Crimsonstreak: The Primer

On May 15, Candlemark & Gleam unleashes my debut novel, I, Crimsonstreak, onto the world. The book is a labor of love; a tribute to bright, splashy comic book stories and superheroes, pop culture, and science fiction. It's a unique book in many regards, but the appendices in the back of the book make it stand out. Nearly 100 pages are devoted to newspaper articles, journal entries, magazine features, and character dossiers.

So let's get familiar with our main characters.

Chris Fairborne/Crimsonstreak: The son of prominent superheroes Colonel Chaos and Miss Lightspeed, Chris feels like a disappointment. His dad can fly. His mom can fly. He can't. He did, however, inherit his mother's super-speed, and is considered the world's preeminent super-speedster. The story is told through Chris' perspective; be warned that he's never met a pop culture reference he didn't like. Our adventure starts with Chris imprisoned inside the Clermont Institution for the Criminally Insane, where he's confined to a straitjacket after being convicted of a crime he didn't commit. Oh, by the way, his father's responsible for his imprisonment.

Colonel Chaos: Born William Avery Fairborne, Colonel Chaos is a reformed supervillain who perpetuated several different crimes against the world--things like antimatter rays and holding the world for ransom. He reformed and eventually became one of Earth's greatest defenders, marrying Miss Lightspeed and joining the Heroic Legion. After his wife's death, Chaos descended into madness and forged a one-world government called the New World Common Wealth. He also threw his son in prison, which kind of soured their father-son relationship. His powers include superstrength, flight, and genius-level intellect.

Miss Lightspeed: Born Karen Jo Watson, Miss Lightspeed emerged as one of the world's leading heroes and is responsible for stopping Colonel Chaos' rampage of terror and destruction. In an unlikely twist, Lightspeed and Chaos fell in love and eventually got married. Their union produced a son, Chris, who took the superhero name Crimsonstreak. Lightspeed died over the skies of Iowa in April 2000 during a battle with the villainous Zeus Caesar, yet she's somehow mysteriously returned to life. Her powers include flight, superstrength, and super-speed.

Crusading Comet: Not every hero has superpowers. The Crusading Comet is one of the world's longest-serving guardians, but he's not immortal. He is, in fact, a collection of men named Warren Kensington. Warren Senior, Warren Junior, Warren III, and Warren IV have all taken up the mantle of the Comet. Warren Senior and Junior died in the line of duty; Warren III--the current Comet--fights a disorganized resistance against Chaos' New World Common Wealth, and Warren IV is anxiously (not eagerly) awaiting the day in which he'll don the cape & cowl. As the New World Common Wealth takes hold, Crimsonstreak has few allies...but he can count on the Crusading Comet's heroic legacy.

Mortimer P. Willoughby: Mortimer, sometimes called "Morty" (he HATES that!), is the manservant for the Kensington family, having served under each of the reigning Crusading Comets. He has been entrusted with the education and upbringing of Warren Junior, Warren III, and Warren IV. Morty has a certain skill for electronics and subterfuge, and often runs operations for the Crusading Comet's various missions. That's all, of course, in addition to his roles as tutor, mentor, chauffeur, cook, and feather-duster. For unexplained reasons, Morty has a certain distaste for Crimsonstreak.

Jaci Graves: Former college girlfriend of one Chris Fairborne, Jaci serves the New World Common Wealth as an Enforcer. She and Chris drifted apart soon after the death of Miss Lightspeed and eventually went their separate ways. After her parents died during a counter-offensive against alien invaders, Jaci joined the New World Common Wealth, although she quickly began to doubt Colonel Chaos' leadership. Her powers include flight, which she augments with rocket-powered boots. Before the New World Common Wealth, she served as the superhero Boost.

Zeus Caesar: A super-powered titan of a man, Zeus Caesar stands 6'7" and can bench press a Mack truck. Combine this with sheer lunacy and the ability to generate/manipulate lightning, and you've got the recipe for disaster. Caesar and his Legionnaires Army marched across the Midwest in April 2000 in an attempt to mold the U.S. into another Roman Empire. Their reign of terror continued until they ran into Miss Lightspeed, who fought Caesar to a standstill before the villain jolted her with electricity. Colonel Chaos arrived too late to save his wife. Broken, he captured Caesar and transported him to the Clermont Institution for the Criminally Insane, where the supervillain remains.