What happens when a superhero goes postal? That's the question writer Christos Gage is setting out to answer in the pages of "Absolution," a six issue miniseries from Avatar slated to debut later this year. CBR News caught up with Gage to get the details on the series that promises to drive superhuman John Dusk around the bend.
In the world of "Absolution," superheroes aren't costumed vigilantes, but rather a sanctioned arm of law enforcement. "Heroes are sanctioned by the system, and have a history of working with authorities," Gage said. "They have some degree of autonomy, but the law knows who they are, and they have certain rules they have to live by." For instance, policemen are required to file a report every time they draw their gun, whether they fire it or not, and if they do have occasion to open fire in the line of duty, they are accountable for where those bullets ends up. For superheroes like John Dusk, probable cause is the order of the day. "John is a decent man from a family with a history of serving their country. He wants to do good. He wants to protect the innocent and punish the guilty." Unfortunately for Dusk, even superheroes can be pushed too far.
After reading up on the effects that post traumatic stress disorder has on U.S. troops, Gage couldn't help but wonder what would happen if a superhero developed the condition. On top of that, Gage got a first hand account from a one-time cop who left the force after only a year because they saw just such a breakdown coming. "He kept getting called to the same scenes, seeing the same perpetrators committing the same crimes, and it was incredibly frustrating to have to call them 'sir' and play by all these rules, when he knew that the best thing for society would be to take his gun out and shoot the bastards," Gage said. "He knew that if he'd stayed much longer, he might do exactly that." Gage hasted to add that this was coming from perfectly well adjusted, normal guy. "He was articulating something I think we all feel from time to time, when we hear about child molesters getting out of prison only to reoffend, or serial rapists or whatever: 'Some people just need killing.'"
John Dusk has run afoul of his share of people who fit squarely into that category. "He's seen that some people are beyond redemption," Gage said. "Where you draw the line? Do you wait for someone to start murdering, or do you go after the guy who's torturing animals and amassing bondage porn before he claims his first victim? What happens when some of these scumbags have superhuman abilities? And what does pursuing this course of action do to your relationships, your life, your mind?" And what happens when John's former superhumans and his cop girlfriend find out about his extracurricular activities? "John Dusk is starting down a road he knows will probably destroy him, but it's a path he has to travel. He wants to be forgiven. But he doesn't want to stop."
The seeds of "Absolution" were sown earlier this year at Wizard World L.A., where Gage solicited a sketch from artist Jacen Burrows at the Avatar booth. "I love his work, especially on the Alan Moore H.P. Lovecraft stuff, so I went over to chat and get a sketch," Gage said. While Gage was there, Avatar publisher William Christensen introduced himself and suggested that he develop a project for Avatar. "They've been putting out some amazing stuff lately, 'Black Summer' and 'Streets of Glory' are two favorites of mine. And given that they release material by Alan Moore, Warren Ellis and Garth Ennis, among others, I figured that was pretty good company to be in. So we talked some more, and in New York I pitched William the idea for 'Absolution' and he really dug it." And Gage is thrilled to have the opportunity to tell this story at Avatar where he won't be forced to pull his punches. "This is not for kids. It's going to get brutal."
Gage was thrilled to land Jacen Burrows as cover artist for "Absolution," and newcomer Roberto Viacava is doing the interiors. "I haven't seen any finished art yet, but the samples William showed me are quite impressive," Gage said. "And Juan Jose Ryp, another artist I am a colossal fan of, designed John Dusk and several of the other characters."
In what is becoming a proud "Avatar" tradition, "Absolution" kicks off this December with issue #0, affordably priced at $1.99. "That'll be followed by a six issue miniseries," Gage said. "I think fans of 'Black Summer' or TV shows like 'The Shield,' as well as my work on 'StormWatch PHD' and 'Thunderbolts,' will find it right up their alley."
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