It’s been a slow few weeks in terms of comics. I haven’t had much to write about, which is bit out of the norm for me. So instead of posting comic book reviews, I wanted to do something a little different.
I don’t like to write characters that are like myself. I think most writers would agree that we’re not interesting enough to merit characters shaped in our likenesses. Casey Way from Fleshtrap isn’t much like me, and that’s probably for the best. He wouldn’t be much fun if he were, honestly. But when I sat down to do The Crashers, a book just as much about superheroes as my relationship with the genre itself, I found it a lot harder to separate myself from the writing.
In a lot of ways, this is a book about me. It’s about my childhood aspiration to write comics when somebody rolled their eyes at me and said, “Only men write comic books. Women don’t do that.” It’s about the hours spent on my front porch with stacks of Generation X and Excalibur comics sitting between my knees, reading all the subversive little jokes (at the genre’s expense, of course) that Warren Ellis got away with writing. It’s about that sick feeling I get whenever Captain America dies, or Jean Grey dies, or Scarlet Witch dies, and sometimes they come back and sometimes they don’t, and it always just feel a little unfair no matter what ends up happening. It’s about how I spent last winter burning through Misfits on Hulu, and feeling so acutely, inexplicably disappointed at the end of every season. It’s about how I read Earth X over and over, and every time feel like I’m mourning a part of myself that never lived.
Somewhere in the middle of this, there is a version of me that both loves and is saddened by the superhero genre. That, invariably, is what The Crashers is all about. That’s why this book fills me with a strange calm as well as equal measures of peculiar sorrow. That’s why all of these characters are, for better or worse, just like me. That’s why they have to be.
Adam Harlow is the part of me that has been dealing with depression as far back as I can remember. He’s that part that’s always been like glass, afraid to touch or be touched, for fear of cracking any more than he already has. He’s the part that destroys everything he touches. That’s why he’s the strongest of them all, so he can learn how unbreakable he really is.
Norah Aroyan is the part of me that can’t be weak. She’s that part of can’t accept help or charity, or even a compliment, and will never admit when she’s wrong. She’s the part that pulls herself up by her boot straps, even when her knuckles are bloody and there’s nothing left to fight for. She’s the part that will destroy herself in order to prove a point. That’s why she’s the most powerful, so she can learn when to back down.
Kyle Jeong is the part of me that believes in nothing and no one. He’s that part that would rather be alone than reach out and risk rejection. He’s the part that builds fortresses and throws stones. That’s why he can’t be destroyed, so he can learn to build up those around him.
Clara Reyes is the part of me that can’t accept imperfection. She’s that part that strives to be the strongest, the funniest, the smartest person in the room. She’s the part that holds herself up to standards that no one set for her, and no one sees as a failure. She’s the part of me that can’t handle setbacks. She’s the part that can do everything and nothing. That’s why she’s the fastest person there is and ever could be, so she can learn to slow down.
Bridger Levi is the part of me that accepts he is powerless to shape the world. He’s that part that eventually makes peace with his past, with his future, and everything else in between because he knows he’s the product of things that are beyond his control. He’s the part that I try to be every day, to take the good with the bad, and to not lose his ability to laugh at the hands that life’s dealt him. That’s why he’s the clairvoyant, so he can see that it all works out in the end.
Somewhere in the middle of all this, where these people meet, is the point of their story. Somewhere between the pages, where people live and breathe and laugh and die, I left a part of myself behind. I’ll just have to wait and see how it all shakes out.