Monday, April 2, 2012

I, Crimsonstreak: Comic Influences

I, Crimsonstreak wouldn't be anything without the comic book creators who came before it. References and influences are intertwined throughout the novel. Here are a few worth pointing out.

Batman: Batman looms like a shadow over the criminal elements of Gotham City, and is a giant in the world of superheroes. References include excessively goofy gadgets (the Adam West Batman), a reliable British servant (Michael Gough's Alfred), a secret lair (the Batcave), and the sense of a brooding, serious, professional hero (pick any post-1980 Bat-era for that one). The Crusading Comet and trusty butler Morty are steeped in Batman-ness.

Superman: Superman stands for "Truth, Justice, and the American Way." He's the quintessential "tights and flights" superhero gifted with a wide array of impressive powers (flight, X-ray vision, freezing breath, super-strength, etc.). Colonel Chaos and Miss Lightspeed share many similarities with the Man of Tomorrow, although no one character in particular is intended to be a Superman clone or parody.

The Flash: Chris Fairborne is Crimsonstreak. He's not intended to be a parody of the Flash, but the character definitely has an influence on the protagonist. Super-speed, red's impossible to miss the Flash's influence. If anything, Crimsonstreak is a tribute to the Flash, although the two are quite different.

Spider-Man: Spider-Man is a hero grounded in the mundane nature of life. While he's trying to stop his impressive rogue's gallery from destroying New York/the World, he's also dealing with common problems like romantic entanglements and financial difficulties. Crimsonstreak is cut from a similar mold, although his problems are a bit less common. Spider-Man brings an everyman sensibility to the comics, something that influenced Chris Fairborne's character.

The Shadow: No character in particular directly references the Shadow in the main narrative of the book. However, I love the pulpy feel of the character, and have few nods in the bonus material that definitely echo Shadow lore. The original Crusading Comet's outfit, for example, is a callback to the Shadow's flowing trenchcoat and wide-brimmed fedora.

The Tick: The book has a goofy sense of playfulness to it as far as superheroes are concerned. The Tick is a major influence on how I see the world of comics. My love for the character comes primarily through the TV show from the nineties, and I loved every minute of it. The Crusading Comet was nearly Die Fledermaus reborn before he evolved into a different type of character.

The Phantom: "The Ghost Who Walks" is another pulp hero sometimes forgotten like the Shadow. The 1996 movie with Billy Zane ("Slam Evil!" was the tagline) remains a guilty pleasure. The Phantom's legacy--sons/family members succeed previous Phantoms in an unbroken line--is exactly how the Kensington family has decided to operate.