How to Write Superhero Stories Without Superheroes, Kinda
The Faith Machine was also inspired by a life spent reading comics. As part of the Watchmen generation, I grew up demanding my superheroes be strained through a filter of plausibility. I didn’t want any of that silly Silver or Bronze Age aesthetic in our power fantasies. We were telling ourselves, “This is how superheroes could really work.” In hindsight, the Modern Age of superheroes was built to answer question, “How can I justify the superhero power fantasies I love?”
With The Faith Machine, flipped realism around and asked, “If superheroes materialized, manifesting as a new power on the scene, how would the old powers react?” My answer was informed by the politics of the early 2010s when two grassroots political movements emerged; Occupy Wall Street, and the Tea Party. Both new powers on the scene, how did the old powers react? Oppression or exploitation.
Occupy Wall Street was persecuted by the law and misrepresented by the mainstream media as radicals. Oppression. The Tea Party was fooled into thinking they were welcome by politicians who took their money and their votes and gave lip service to fiscal responsibility in return. Exploitation.
Calling back to the First Thing: The Intelligence Community is often called upon to maintain the status quo for America’s elite. If superpowers were to manifest spontaneously among the population, you bet they’d be put on the job to draft all the ones they could, and eliminate the ones they couldn’t. That informed the backstory of the novel.
While I enjoy the Marvel movies, they’re drawing on decades of comics’ lore. When this wave recedes, there will be post-modern stories like this one putting a new spin on the old tropes.