Saturday, May 28, 2011

Build a better Devil-Slayer (and Patti Smith's lyrical love child Vera Gemini)

Never heard of Devil Slayer? Well, that's our point!!!

When he's not editing award-winning programs for the Pentagon, my college pal Joe Braband, a fine artist by training, loves a creative challenge for its own sake. My recent thoughts to revive the Defenders as a movie-ready renewed franchise---but first and foremost, a fun and intriguing story--- led me to dig into B and C list characters that aren't really busting any blocks, so to speak. I chose Devil Slayer in particular because my friend seemed to have an affinity for this obscure character, much like my enjoyment of, say, Machine Man.

His pitch for developing the character is Awesome Sauce. Here's his rejoinder to the return of Vera Gemini (thanks, Patti Smith) and Devil Slayer. Hit it, Joe!

I think it is important for a writer to understand the characters that he's going to write before writing, especially in the case of those who have significant backgrounds that can be harvested for some really great stories. Your choice for Vera Gemini as a villain is great. Considering her background, her motivation and her connection to Devil-Slayer, she seems the perfect villain to be elevated to major threat level.

Before that, however, I want to look at Devil-Slayer as a character.

Before becoming Devil-Slayer, Simon Payne was really a horrible person. Mobster, murderer, alcoholic, philanderer, victim of PTSD. He's divorced. He even joined a cult and became an assassin! How fucked up is that?!? He's suffered depression, been wracked with guilt, tried to commit suicide, and ultimately been reborn with a shard of the Nexus of Realities within him. This is a person who has had so many personal flaws and psychological weaknesses that there was no way on Earth that he could be called a hero, and yet, he was one of a handful of people who had been even considered for the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme or Earth.

I thought about that last part, wondering why he would have that type of potential and it all sort of clicked for me - Devil-Slayer is not just a flashy superhero name, it is his purpose, but not in the obvious way. While he might grab weapons out of his shadow-cloak and physically slay demons, his true purpose is to destroy the demons within his own mind and bind them to his will to be used as weapons. Strip away the superhero vestiges of the fancy costume and whatnot and he'd be likened to a practitioner of goetic magic - someone who binds his personal demons and forces them to do his bidding.

The Shadow Cloak - it's not a cloak at all. Sure, it appears to be a cloak and has teleportation properties and all sorts of powers, but in essence, it is a mirror or gateway into Simon Payne's soul. The weapons that he draws from within are mental projections brought over from the other side and given form by the power of his inner demons. Interestingly enough, Vera Gemini was reportedly trapped in the cloak by Hellcat....

The way that I view Devil-Slayer's personality is that of someone who is truly repentant of his crimes, real or imagined, but rather indulge those personal demons, he uses them to fuel his own self-mastery. Having been physically and spiritually reborn, he has embraced his true heroic nature and become someone greater than he was before. I imagine him to be someone with absolute resolve, extreme determination and possessing tremendous willpower. Simon Payne uses his personal journey and his powers to help other people confront and overcome their inner demons - something that would make for incredible stories delving into the other heroes' histories. In this role, he is the team's spiritual guru.

I also see his powers changing somewhat, developing from just pulling mystic weapons from his cloak to manifiesting his own personal demons and unleashing them upon other people. From what I read on the Marvel site, this has already been established. The seduction of his own power and the danger of it would temper his use, but would make excellent plot as well. It also would be a great way for Vera Gemini to escape the shadowy recesses of his mind.
(That and the narco-trafficantes are my favorite parts!!!---Lue)
My lovely Vera Gemini For this and more art, check out!

Vera Gemini would probably run to territory that was familiar, but would find that Mexico has changed. The Narco-gangs perform beheadings, they pray to the patron saint of murderers, they rule the border like demons on Earth. In short, her expectations have been exceeded. There would be more than a few gang members who would be happy to bargain their souls away for power over one another - Vera would be more than happy enough to provide that by summoning up demons when innocent and not-so-innocent people are sacrificed in her name. The plan for Xenogenesis might have hit a road bump, but she'd make up for lost time quickly by reviving the Cult of the Harvester of Eyes and becoming the Narco-gangs' infernal puppet-master. Hell, even without the Six-Fingered Hand to contend with, the Defenders would have one heck of a time dealing with such a large-scale threat!

And that's two characters down..

Let me tell you---this is Lue here---my friend could write this character as a solo character, with ideas like that!!! Maybe a mini-series, spotlighting Devil-Slayer, and eventually guest-starring the Defenders, would be a smash basis for a movie treatment. But it's already a movie I'm seeing trailers for, in my mind. You see, even I don't know what the script will look like! But I'm excited that "somebody's doing it."

This, to me, is going to be something that made my summer memorable. It's the consistency of ...anything you love, creating, exercising, laughing---that makes the right habits. This is one of the things that suits the pattern of my life: it takes me back to the dramas I create with no one visibly around me in the woods. That's the treasure of my childhood, there.

So, here's Devil Slayer. Hopefully, you're meeting him for the first time. The seeds are there for storylines that are contemporary, fun, somewhat socially relevant, and challenging, with something for readers at all ages. Don't be too shocked if this sees print in the next three to five years. And, don't be too shocked if it doesn't!

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