I’ve often described my new novel CRITERION as a ‘Grimdark superhero’ story. I did not set out to chase a certain tone or style, it merely followed from the concept – ‘When a super hero is murdered, what happens to his sidekicks?”
I’d like to share some of my influences to celebrate the release of my upcoming book CRITERION.
Spider-Man had me wrapped up in Marvel’s web for a long time, especially with the alien symbiote saga and its creepy crazy villain Venom. I asked my father to photocopy pictures of Venom so I could put them around my room. I was in deep. What’s better than Spider-Man? An evil Spider-Man that wants to EAT Spider-Man!
Perhaps Kraven’s Last Hunt affected me more than I realized.
But like all great villains he outshined (over shadowed?) the hero, and by the arcane rules of capitalism and the comics code authority, had to be promoted in his own spin offs and cross over events, remade as a hero. A ‘lethal protector’, if you will. It was the heel-face turn that ended my obsession with Marvel comics.
What’s that, Marvel? Got something cool and edgy to woo me back? I kinda doubt…
Ghost rider was the perfect guide into the dark corners of the Marvel universe. A spirit of vengeance, it possessed a young man to hunt bad guys with a spiked fist, a chain and a bitchin’ hellfire powered motorcycle. His enemies included assassins, ninjas and demons and he crossed paths with the freaky horror characters of the 70s, like Morbius the Living Vampire and my beloved Blade the dhampir. With the Midnight Sons, he fought an evil little person unleashing hell with the Darkhold, Marvel’s own Lovecraftian grimoire. I heart you, Ghost Rider.
How dark? Sometimes it was literally hard to see! Penciler Javier Saltares, Inker Mark Texeira and Colourist Gregory Wright bathed everything in black. Contents include: Demonic possession, face melting immolation, hell fire, flaming skulls, vengeance, suicide and murder.
Have a favorite dark comic book you think people should know about? Drop a comment and let me know.
CRITERION is now available from Crossroad Press in print and digital
P.S. : James O’Barr’s The Crow preceded the Ghost Rider reboot, but I didn’t find that spirit of vengeance until I had access to better comic book shops. I loved the book, movie and soundtrack. Imagine my surprise when I heard this Henry Rollins song: