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?”
If I had to dissect the influences that lead me to the idea, the bloody trail would probably lead back to the comic book explosion of the 1990s. Funny book weren’t just for kids anymore. They became brooding, dark and edgy, and thus irresistible to a teenage mind (plus a metric ton of vampire novels, but I digress).
It was a great and terrible time of crossover events, special collector’s edition foil stamped variant covers (I still have my glow-in-the-dark Ghost Riders) and a plague of unnecessary FIRST! issues. This bloat and excess eventually collapsed like bloated things do, with the ‘tryhard’ edge-lord comics devolving into self-parody.
Still, my unholy appetite was whetted and I eventually found my way to masterpieces like Alan Moore’s WATCHMEN and Frank Miller’s THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS. I’ll always love Spidey, but I like my fiction like my coffee and chocolate: DARK.
Over the next few days I’m going to review some noteworthy influences to celebrate the release of my new book CRITERION.
Marvel delivered some entertaining stuff, like the rebooted Ghost Rider, Thanos’ quest for the Infinity Gauntlet and the demonic crossover event ‘Inferno’.
The arc with the most impact for me, personally, was ‘Kraven’s Last Hunt’. It was a real shock to see my favorite hero Spidey get out-smarted and outgunned by a minor villain with a rifle and a flair for leopard skin vests. The hero and villain were both rendered as flawed human beings, struggling with their own mortality and identity.
How dark? Contents include: gorging on spiders, live burial, drug induced mania and suicide.
Have a favorite dark comic book you think people should know about? Drop a comment and let me know.
CRITERION is available now from Crossroad Press in print and digital
P.S. : Liefeld is in on the joke now. We love you Rob, keep rockin’ those pre-ripped, acid washed 501 jeans.