The second issue of writer Bryan J. L. Glass‘ new series from Dark Horse, Furious hits shelves today! The media can’t get enough of the high-flying supercelebrity known as Furious! But the authorities are convinced she’s a danger and a menace—they’ve had more than enough of the privileged vigilante! Stuck in the crosshairs of her past, Furious must balance her desire for justice with her quest for redemption.
The issue dives deep into its main character Furious’ past as well as her alter-ego. And with the second issue out there and it clearer as to how it all comes together we thought it’d be a perfect time to talk to Bryan about the series.
There’s lots of reveals and to warn you, there are spoilers below! So, if you want to read your copy and come back, we totally understand… we just wanted to warn you.
Graphic Policy: So, let’s just dive right into the big reveal this issue. How’s it feel to finally get it out there?
Bryan J. L. Glass: Relief. Plain and simple. We never lied regarding what the book was really about; we just couldn’t talk about its primary plot and character in any specific detail without spoiling the issue #1 reveal. And that made it really hard to talk about the book at all, because what makes this series different from every other book on the stands is Cadence Lark.
The hook that made Dark Horse Comics, and particularly editor Jim Gibbons and publisher Mike Richardson, jump at this series was its unique premise: tabloid fallen starlet ripped straight from today’s headlines gets superpowers and tries to redeem herself—slow motion train wreck ensues! Everybody gets that picture, and immediately envisions the extraordinary potential for drama, comedy, pathos…any number of storytelling directions. Yet once I’d decided to introduce my plot via the mysterious girl on the run, trying to be a superhero, and eliciting empathy for her good intentions gone awry—before revealing she’s actually of a fairly unsympathetic type—then I knew we couldn’t talk about her true identity at all.
So yeah…now we’re breathing huge sighs of relief all around. And as we promote future issues and the inevitable trade collection, everybody involved can finally assume the cat’s premise is out of the bag and discuss the deeper implications of what the series is actually exploring about the human condition in this instant media saturated age.
GP: We really get an idea of who Cadence Lark is, and the rough childhood she went through. Leading to her fractured self. The reveal is really the hook of the series. Why’d you wait for the second issue to really dive into it, instead of the first?
BJLG: The “big reveal” at the end of issue #1 was never intended to be such a big deal. Less of a shocking twist, and more of a confirmation of what the reader was probably suspecting.
The decision to delay any information about her screwed-up past until issue #2 was to allow the Furious character to be established without all of Cadence’s baggage, much like Cady herself is trying to do. I wanted the audience to care about her before I gave them any reasons to distrust her.
With a series like this, where the secret identity is just as significant and substantial as the super-heroics, then the creative team has to be very careful they don’t overload an audience with information dumps. Yet even with all of issue #2’s major revelations regarding Cadence, we’ve still only scratched the surface of what’s made her such a despised character, while revealing nothing of her super-powered origin.
GP: In the first issue Cadence was just not a likeable character, and a bit bratty. Here there’s that, but she gets rounded out with her history and a tragic slide from innocence. How’d you work to balance a character that could so easily slide into unlikeable and difficult to be sympathetic for.
BJLG: By trying to elicit sympathy for the struggling superheroine from the beginning. As I said, I wanted readers to empathize with her best intentions gone awry before showcasing her darker sides. But part of the balancing act is to offer a character that acknowledges their troubled past. That’s her very motivation to be a superhero: to redeem herself from a lifetime squandered.
Furious, or the Beacon as she prefers to be called, is the ultimate underdog because the dreaded enemy she must ultimately defeat is herself.
GP: There’s so much of a mirror between Cadence’s early life and Furious’ early life. Both born of tragedy, innocent at first, Cadence slid to trouble and looks like Furious is going the same way. What was the thought process into having that parallel?
BJLG: That parallel was extremely intentional. The idea that anybody gets up trying to be evil is a cliché absurdity, as every good villain believes they’re the hero of their own story. On some level, much of their villainy is a shortsighted effort to balance perceived scales of injustice weighted against them.
Cadence Lark never set out to become notorious. Hers was a gradual slide, aided and abetted by Hollywood enablers who were themselves struggling with deep-rooted issues. The Beacon is her effort to atone, and yet she is power without discipline, and without training. Thus even her deepest desire to make peace with herself is thwarted by Furious.
GP: The comic, especially the beginning, is laid out very differently, with the various news reports, and eye witness accounts are explored. There are literally layers of data there. Was this your idea or artist Victor Santos’?
BJLG: That opening 3-page media montage was envisioned and scripted by me (which I’ve attached in the email). I tend to think visually, and I like conceiving of new and innovative ways to tell the story. So while I’ve given Victor total freedom to explore this plot through his own designs and layouts, there are still the occasional places where I’d like him to deliver a specific idea. This was one of those.
It was definitely challenging to keep all those layers straight in my head, and I ran the risk of not scripting my vision with enough clarity, particularly with the language barrier Victor and I can sometimes struggle with, but he really came through with a fantastic layout and finished art.
And huge kudos to our letterer Nate Piekos of Blambot who did a fantastic job with many of the word-sensitive layers of media represented.
Overall I think its an incredible 3-page crash course, easy to assimilate, into what Furious is really all about!
GP: In the first issue and this second one you use real world Twitter handles. Where’d that come from and did they know?
BJLG: It was a lot of fun using the real world social media handles of my industry friends and colleagues to showcase media reaction in a book so entrenched within that culture. Andrew Gaska, Chandra Free, Jim Zub, Adam Withers & Comfort Love! All were featured with the consent of the participant, and for that back cover of issue #1 they even provided their own tweets. I came up with the fun Tweets of me, Victor, and editor Jim that appear in issue #2, but those guys got approval of the words attributed to them or they wouldn’t have run.
GP: This issue really looks at child stars and the issues they face. We’ve seen that a lot lately with Gomez, Bieber, Spears, etc. What do you think it is about fame that causes these issues and why is it so hard for child stars to have a positive second run?
BJLG: As I tried to illustrate throughout Cadence Lark’s backstory—issue #2 tracking her past from ages 7-18—star power is akin to super-powers. These young stars have power that others profit from. As long as they’re making money for somebody, they’re absolved of accountability. If this 17-year-old superstar finances their own corporation employing dozens to work as their managers, agents, stylists, accountants, logistics coordinators, security, etc., then whatever the star wants the star gets. Yet the older they get, the less society is willing to laugh off or turn a blind eye to their antics. So you get young stars treating police officers or judges like the Paparazzi, and it only bites them in the ass. Meanwhile, everybody who already made their own fortune off of theirs has moved on to greener pastures. It’s a sad and sick cycle…and I’m profiting off it even as I use their terrible examples for my story.
For Cadence Lark, she had ten years being told she was the center of the universe…and then abruptly wasn’t. How that occurs is story, and particularly how she’s awakened to that truth, is still to be revealed. But suffice to say, The Beacon is her last chance for a healthy comeback and it’s already overladen with the suffocating baggage of Furious.
GP: There’s already clearly a divide in how people view Furious with the news taking one stance and individuals another. How much of that will we see through the series?
BJLG: The entire series echoes with that divide, and it will never be clear-cut, just as it never is in real life. There is simply no monolith of support pro or against her. Mainstream media may initially condemn her, taking the side of beleaguered public officials and civil servants who simply don’t know how to respond, while the New Media of the Internet and social networks adore her. But what happens when traditional media softens toward her, yet she loses her shiny new toy appeal to the masses that flocked to her support online. Furious the series will continue to resonate with these ever-shifting dynamics of notoriety and fame.
GP: There are also some subtle comments about the objectification of women and especially female superheroes. Again, how deep do you dive into that?
BJLG: We explore that a bit because it’s such a deep-rooted aspect of our media culture. Sex sells. And it always has. Commercials are crafted to entice on a sexual level. Products are sold by how sexy they can make you feel, physically or by perception alone. Stars are often sold on their sex appeal. And there is nearly always a double standard employed by those who excuse it, as well as those who condemn it. So obviously, Furious as both a book and character can be scrutinized on that level as my protagonist is also both a superhero and a superstar.
I have no agenda to pursue on the matter, pro or con. I can only hope to utilize it in an honest fashion when the needs of the story and the character’s choices are informed by how she herself is perceived by those in her world.
GP: Hints as to what we can expect as the series continues?
BJLG: I definitely don’t want to give anything away, but Furious is definitely on a collision course with her first super-powered adversary.
While we were deftly avoiding the fallen starlet angle in our pre-press, we were touting Furious as the “first superhero of her world.” The implication of that statement has less to do with our book being about what it means to be the first superhero, and far more so to suggest she will not be the last. The secret to her superpowers, which will only be barely scraped at in these first five issues, could almost be considered a Pandora’s Box. She is but the first, but what follows could radically alter the world she knows.
But on the small-scale personal level, these first five issues are essentially about her inner journey as it plays out behind a foreground of corrupt law enforcement, misogynistic serial killers, and her own frightening ability to become judge, jury and executioner…and all on-time for the evening news!