Publicly-elected superheroes. Gather round and I’ll explain how it works.
The concept of superheroes as celebrities has slowly begun creeping into the works of modern creators. Whether in the pages of the Authority, Powers, or taken to the ultimate level in X-Force, examining the man in tights as a celebrity or sex symbol seems to be the next logical step. The project currently known as the Crucible is meant to make a similar leap.
The Crucible is the world’s first team of publicly-elected superheroes. Every title, every concept, needs a series of questions that serves as a foundation for the work any respectable creator hopes to achieve. When developing this idea, several things flew through my head, and after much revision and focused frustration, here are the issues I wanted this book to address.
What happens to heroes when they’re as concerned with good press as they are with saving the world? What happens when greedy agents, eager to promote the hero they represent, stage dangerous rescues for their client to perform in order to send their approval ratings through the roof? What happens when numerous members of the team are vying for the single slot of field commander? And just how much autonomy can the U.S. government provide its nation’s chosen defenders?
This is the world’s largest all-star game here, people. The public participates in an annual multimedia vote to determine who they want protecting their space on the planet. Heroes from all over the country are vying for the attention of the world’s voters, because election to the Crucible means fame, fortune, and loose women….if you’re into that sort of thing. Heroes have representation that are eager for their ten percent of the million-dollar salary Crucible members are provided. The weekly Crucible Chronicle goes behind-the-scenes to provide the adoring public with the malicious gossip they demand. The safety of the world has turned into a popularity contest.
Before even deciding on what my roster would accomplish in their semi-heroic pursuits, I realized that in order to function properly…this book needed strong characters. People with personal problems, people with bad attitudes, and people with something to hide. The public wants the coolest, shiniest, and most attractive heroes on the front line, and to hell with how they mesh as a team. What follows is a blending and shattering of popular archetypes.
My very own Superman clone with which to embarrass on a monthly basis. The nearly invulnerable strongman with the billowing cape and large ego. Spends the majority of his time looking down his nose at fellow teammates because they can’t juggle buildings. Stays on the team because the people want him there, leads for the same reason, and would have serious difficulty accepting orders from anyone else. Due to the fact I don’t like his attitude, much of the first year of the title is spent humiliating him and downplaying his effectiveness, paving the way for a new leader that isn’t such a dick.
An Air Force pilot badly injured in a test exercise. At least that’s what everyone thinks. Connected to the Crucible’s main computer known as Locus, enabling him to supply the team with strategies and data collected from previous operations. In reality, instead of functioning as some airborne Robocop, Aegis is the U.S. government’s double agent concealed within the team. This serves to answer the obvious question of why the government would even allow the team of “heroes” to run unchecked. If America’s interests are ever in jeopardy, Aegis’ atomic battery vaporizes the team on the spot.
The world’s smartest man, who can create weapons from nearly anything on hand. Combination of the X-Men’s Forge and MacGyver. The only thing holding him back is his twisted fuckin’ attitude and the fact that he is a world-class bigot. The world’s most dangerous white supremacist blessed with the mind of Reed Richards. Even the guy’s son hates his guts. But that may have something to do with the Architect’s taste for exotic groupies, and his inability to remember the day the mother of his son died.
The Crucible’s token female. The voters, especially the male ones, would feel guilty if there wasn’t a female representative on the team to ogle. Sure, there are female heroes out there with better powers, and better attitudes…but Allison Blaire has the biggest tits. She has the world’s biggest chip on her shoulder and a serious problem with any person sporting a pair of testicles.
The most tragic member of the Crucible, composed of the inseparable duo of Roosevelt West and Taylor Hunter, though not by choice mind you. Which isn’t very surprising considering that West is the paedophile that held Taylor and twin sister Tiane hostage for several terrible days. Taylor escaped, though too late to save his sister, and with his tormentor staring down the barrel of a misplaced gun, the young man and his companion were enveloped by a strange light. They find themselves grafted together by an alien source, with their lives forever connected. Not only are their powers triggered and sustained by close contact, but their heartbeats are congruent as well. Luckily, as the Primary, Taylor Hunter has the ability of controlling the actions of his apathetic counter-part, forcing him to perform altruistic endeavors. The majority of the title is from Taylor’s point of view, as Counter-Balance is the newest member of the Crucible.
Urban avenger protecting the streets of Chicago with his young partner Squire. Strength and speed slightly enhanced by circuitry-lined suit, but is an extremely talented athlete and fighter. His increasing level of notoriety makes him prey to overeager agents looking to secure him a position within the Crucible. Doesn’t seem interested without intense prodding from his younger partner, and somehow seems to be four steps ahead of his opponents, though the reason why remains to be seen.
The old pro trapped within the throes of the new generation. The former leader of the Crucible, before Paragon flew in with his colorful cape and overgrown attitude. Gale is the only member of the team that doesn’t give Taylor of Counter-Balance a hard time regarding his secretive nature, and serves as a father figure to the youngster. Has a small but loyal following that keeps him in circulation. Has little use for the fame and prestige, and just wants to use his powers to help people…the only true hero in the bunch. Think he’ll be around too long?
There you have it folks…the Crucible. I know what you’re thinking though: “Yeah, Brandon, this is great. What is it these assholes do again?”
Next week, Crucible #1- Testing the Waters, full script style.
Next time: 22 FULLY SCRIPTED PAGES OF INSPIRED LUNACY…
If you can’t wait for your Ambi fix until then, check out the Silver Soapbox on Saturday for an AmbiExtraous on Marvel’s much-maligned (by SBC!) Alias comic…