Monday, January 7, 2013


Okay, you visitors to Quantum Comics Blog.  I’ve come to a decision.  You people have simply had it too good for too long.  That ends now.  As of this moment, we’re going to get some evil going on in here!  And in the world of Quantum Comics there is no greater evil than the arch-enemy of the Environauts!  My friends, meet the villain to be most feared and dreaded
--Graeme Grimstead!

When I went looking for the greatest enemy of the Nauts, who would be the greatest villain in the Quantum cast, it was with specific needs in mind.  He had to be a European (British, as it turns out) rich enough, powerful enough, and possessing such command of comic-book super-science as to be a rival for Esteban Vega himself--and ultimately Esteban’s son, Lucky, who would become Earth’s greatest force for good.  He had to be ruthless but tragic, morally blind but righteous in his own way.  He would need a base of power from which he could not be easily removed, which would position him as a potential threat to the entire human race against which he bore a colossal grudge.  Indeed his hatred of mankind would be equalled only by his passion to make the world a better place--after his own twisted fashion.  The nemesis of the Nauts would have to be both a monster and an aristocrat, a fiend with a broken heart, a wounded boy who grew up to inflict pain and torment.

But how to create such a character was the question.  In another comics universe, where we’re acquainted with a very famous cosmic quartet, such a character exists, and he is their arch-foe.  He is an armored tyrant with a face ironically scarred as the result of his own vanity, a heart that loves only power, a contempt for the humanity that he blames for the persecution and deaths of his parents, and the ability to bring forth nightmares of science virtually at will.  That character is the villain against whom all the other villains in that world are measured.  Creating such characters is not easy (indeed, it took this villain’s creators a couple of years to work out all his details), but not impossible--if you know how to go about it.  We see the results here:  Grimstead as he battles the Environauts for the first time, clad in a containment suit that keeps his physical form integrated (for reasons we’ll understand as we go along), and Grimstead as he appears next, a sinister figure in black leather and sculpted, ribbed spandex (think “Locutus of Borg Meets The Matrix”).  Study him well, for none others who live are as deadly as he!

I often look to culture, popular and otherwise, outside of comics for inspiration.  To cast my master villain, I looked to television for an example of where to start.  Some of you may remember one of my favorite series of the 1990s, Sisters.  In one season of Sisters there happened to be a character named Simon Bolt (the late Mark Frankel).  Simon was a British financier and tycoon, phenomenally wealthy, and--because of who played him--virtually surrounded by a blinding force field of sexy male gorgeousness.  (If you ever happen to see another, shorter-lived 90s show, the undead drama Kindred:  The Embraced, Mark Frankel was also the lead vampire in that.)  Seriously, the guy was beautiful beyond belief.  But Simon was also a very tragic man.  He was essentially a modern-day Charles Dickens character, who had brought himself up from an English childhood of crushing, heartbreaking poverty and grief to become a global captain of industry and finance.  But doing so had cost him, for in the process Simon had euthanized his wounded inner child and smothered all the love and warmth in his heart, becoming pretty much a Star Trek Borg in a business suit.  It took the love of one of the Sisters--Sela Ward as Teddy--to turn Simon from a wealth-and-empire-building cyborg back into a human being.  I decided to start constructing my Environauts arch-villain with Simon as the model.  Graeme Grimstead, like Simon Bolt before him, would be an Englishman who demonstrated what happens when Ebenezer Scrooge doesn’t get his ghosts!

Now, as we’ve discussed (and will soon talk about again), the leader of the Environauts and the de facto lead character of Quantum Comics is Lorenzo “Lucky” Vega, who in his superhuman identity will be called Lucky Star.  On Lucky’s handsome young Mexican-American shoulders ride the core values of Quantum storytelling:  heroism, courage, beauty, intelligence (in his case ferocious intelligence), science, wonder, adventure, romance.  In trying to round out the character of Lucky, I came up against a particular challenge.  While he shouldn’t be perfect (because perfect people aren’t interesting unless they’re Mary Poppins), if he’s too screwed-up and neurotic his stories become about how screwed-up and neurotic he is and the sense of wonder and adventure is lost.  So I decided that instead of making him so dysfunctional that he defeats our purposes, I would give him a particular twist of character to make him a little more intriguing.  And what I settled on was that he would be inept with girls his own age and primarily attracted to older women!  I liked that idea because the notion of the hot young boy and the older female “cougar” has caught on in popular culture these days.  (It’s even been a couple of sitcoms.)  Lucky’s cougar, I decided, would turn out to be the one true love of his life.  That meant she had to be not just a beautiful woman approaching 40, but a woman of that type who would be more or less his equal--the equal of a boy who happened to be a comic-book super-science genius!  And for the inspiration for that, interestingly enough, I needed only peer into my own past!

Don’t arch your eyebrows at that; I have no cougars of my own.  But when I was in college, there was an instructor on whom I had a wee bit of a queer boy’s crush.  I once took a college course in fantasy literature as an outlet for my special imagination (one of the very few that I had--I wasn’t as happy a student as I hoped to be after high school).  The instructor for this class was a lady that I’ve never forgotten.  Her name was Alice Hall Petry.  She was very pretty, had light brown hair, a sharp, quick mind, a fine wit, and an appreciation for imaginative things.  In other words she was “my kind of gal”.  I liked her and enjoyed her class, both for the subject matter (including Frankenstein and Alice in Wonderland!) and for her.  So it was that when I set out to create Lucky Vega’s inamorata, I recalled Alice Hall Petry, switched her professional interest from literature to science, and created Professor Elise Hall.

What has this to do with our arch-villain, you ask?  Remember how Sela Ward as Teddy taught Simon Bolt how to love again?  Well, guess what Elise Hall once did for our ultimate bad guy--and imagine how someone like that might feel if his lover happened to leave him and take up with a gorgeous and much younger Mexican-American genius super-hero!  That’s only a part of the motivation of the supremely evil Graeme Grimstead.  When Quantum Comics Blog returns we’ll learn the whole story of how a little boy from a London tenement became the most evil and dangerous man on Earth--and the monster that the Environauts can hold at bay but never defeat!

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