Love in the Air

Posted: 13th March 2012 by Jeff Bouley / Deacon Blue in Ruminations

Just a little bit of chatter about the writing process to fill a little space until the next chapter of “The Gathering Storm” arrives in a day or two.

Romance in the lives of superheroes isn’t anything new. The always sultry Scarlet Witch married Vision, an emotionless android. Cyclops and Marvel Girl/Phoenix were a longstanding item, with Wolverine stirring up the dynamics. There’s always been a little something going on under the surface of Batman’s interactions with Catwoman. For a long time, Peter Parker (Spider-Man) was involved with Mary Jane. Superman and Lois Lane always had a vibe, and eventually she fell in love with the hero’s secret identity, Clark Kent. The list goes on, of course.

It makes sense, of course, because you can’t have every panel of a comic book be about fighting bad guys. Eventually, you need to see the heroes in their more vulnerable moments and in their day-to-day lives dealing with the same crap that you and I do (though rarely do they ever deal with the big question of how heroes pay their bills. I mean, if you have to hold down a job and be patrolling the city so often, how…)

…but, as usual, I digress.

Of course romantic relationships were going to crop up around here. I make a point of spending a lot of time on transhumans as people with issues of one sort or another, just like the rest of humanity.

Given the amount of time that’s been spent on the unlikely match-up of Mad Dash and Ladykiller, naturally that plot development was part of my plans all along. Right?

…uh…well…actually, no.

Frankly, I never saw it coming. In fact, I’m as surprised as anyone that these two characters would hook up. Just another example of the story sometimes guiding me instead of the other way around.

Ladykiller was never even intended to be part of the series “The Gathering Storm.” I had a sense she might show up in passing, much like a multitude of other characters, but I didn’t see her as a key player. In fact, I’m amazed that after writing the origin story for her (“Prison of Wishes“) on Nov. 29, 2010, she showed up in “The Gathering Storm” in chapter 6 only 10 days later, on Dec. 9, when I posted that chapter here.

I mean, the story “Prison of Wishes” was itself a fluke. Listening to Kurt Elling’s rendition of the song “Nightmoves” in the car one day, a specific line from his lyrics really struck me: “Starring you and me | The hero is struggling to say, that his lady is far away | In her prison of wishes …”

The phrase “prison of wishes” lodged in my head, and I tried to imagine what such a thing might be. From that simple beginning formed the very grim story that is Sarah Gagnon and her imprisonment, ultimate escape from her captor, and perhaps another kind of self-imprisonment wrapped up with self-discovery and self-empowerment along with post-traumatic stress and a largely unfulfilled desire for vengeance and redemption. That story was only supposed to be about the reason why she went from a person with powers who wanted nothing to do with them to the violent vigilante known as Ladykiller; it wasn’t meant to be a prelude.

So, I had an origin story, with a character I didn’t have any particular plans to revisit any time soon. I felt the story was enough on its own, and if Ladykiller never actually showed up in a story, that was fine. “Prison of Wishes” was meant to show a struggle and a partial resolution, not to pave the way for something more.

And then, a week later, give or take, I’m writing a scene in which Mad Dash comes across Ladykiller in the midst of dealing out her version of justice.

A character with no specifically planned future thrusts herself into my larger ensemble story.

And then what does Mad Dash do after seeing she has disemboweled a rapist?

He asks her to join him for a meal. After all, he burns a lot of calories running. And who wants to eat alone all the time?

What I didn’t figure on…nor Mad Dash, I guess…is that his innocent invitation would lead to an odd-couple pairing of the romantic sort. Doubt Ladykiller saw it coming either. But that’s what she gets for being all assertive and jumping into my narrative.

And so, now, I find myself suddenly with a venue in which to explore a character I hadn’t expected to be so close to center stage, with all her conflicting insecurities, assertiveness, anger and affection. Not to mention exploring how a man so removed from normal perceptions of the world and friendly (if socially awkward) will grow along with such a woman.

Should be an interesting ride…