Secrets & Shadows, Mega Centurions, and The Cost of Saving the World

Originally posted in the December 5th edition of my weekly email/newsletter.

Recently, I’ve been thinking a great deal about my first comic, Secrets & Shadows, and my most recent one Mega Centurions. Both are drawn by Dexter Wee (who did the all the covers and started doing interior art from issue #2 onward) with Kote doing the colors/grayscales. Both focus on heroes, though Mega Centurions pulled inspiration from Japanese-based Power Rangers and Voltron rather than the US-based cape superheroes of Secrets & Shadows. Both are fairly serious stories with moments of humor as opposed to something like Clusterf@#k. And I guess most importantly, both show the cost of saving the day/city/world.

While it is much less prominent in Secrets & Shadows, we do get to see it through Joseph’s father. As Black Sun, he was the city’s greatest hero, the bright light that shone across the city, the benchmark for all of the other heroes. But in the big climactic battle, he lost his wife and killed his greatest enemy. Now, the city hasn’t had a supervillain in years and things are relatively peaceful but he drinks alone in his house.

He’s know longer a hero and it’s implied that he was pushed out of the superhero group he founded. It’s also made clear that he doesn’t have that great of a relationship with Joseph, who now dislikes heroes. So he saved the day, but he lost a substantial amount in the aftermath. Because it was in the periphery, we don’t get to delve into what he’s going through as much as his son. But it is there. Mega Centurions on the other hand, the issue is much more prominent.

The focus is on Cassidy, Reggie, and Thad so we get to see where they are and their struggles. Originally, they were all on track to graduating at the top of their class, but now they work seemingly dead-end jobs. They saved the world from an evil alien prince, but now they can barely cover their rent. They don’t see their families and are trying to come to grips with where the current situation. Unlike Black Sun, the Mega Centurions were still in high school with little to fall back on so the fallout was much more costly. Black Sun was already arguably at the end of his prime. These kids lives were just beginning.

The idea originally came from the idea of how the Power Rangers ever graduated when they had to duck out of classes and tests all the time which made me think about how much someone would have to sacrifice. The more I thought about it, the less funny and goofy the story became. The story does get lighter as things go on, but it is a much more serious affair than I originally intended. I think it started to hit close to my experience watching people who made sacrifices to help other people only to end up worse off. And that’s something that’s been touched on in comics before.

The bigger the heroics, the bigger the sacrifice.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that all comics with heroes should have that. Give me something inspirational and happy. Give me the superheroes with the balanced lives and healthy family dynamics. Give me bright and cheery over realistic grittiness. I don’t mind those stories and I enjoy them.

But I don’t have that story in me. At least not yet.

I’ve been keeping Mega Centurions close to the chest (for good or ill), but I do think that the story isn’t going to completely go where people might expect. I do think it ends on a hopeful note, but not in the conventional comic book sense.

Because while I believe things have to come at a cost, I don’t think they are ones that you necessarily have to pay forever.

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