Welcome to Influential, a new column where I look at some of the books, comics, games, movies and other media that have influenced aspects of my work.
Setting has become a vastly important part of my work as I write. There’s a grand tradition in super powered fiction to introduce cities that are like the real world but that are pulled away so that the insanity of super-action doesn’t bleed too close to reality. But for decades, those cities were just pale imitations of real-life towns. Gotham and Metropolis were both somehow New York City. Central City was Chicago. Coast City was San Francisco. You know the routine.
That view of the fictional city changed for me with Starman.
James Robinson and Tony Harris wrote an epic tale of the everyman hero Jack Knight. They introduced the new DC town of Opal City in the process. But unlike so many previous cities, Robinson made Opal a city with history. He introduced a large supporting cast, many of which connected to the city for decades, some even centuries.
He created a living, breathing city with more than just one heroic legacy tying it all together. It was genius and it made the city itself a true star of the book. So much so that when Jack left for a year long excursion in space, as a reader you could feel the longing for Opal. Robinson gave a couple issues during the stellar excursion to show the happenings in Opal, but it still felt like we were all away from home with Jack.
This influence can be seen in many of my works, but it is probably most prevalent in the pages of Walking Shadows. I have given River City a long storied history, some of which is covered in the River City history posts that will start to appear more regularly in the near future. But those bits of history, those hints of a River City past will come to play much larger roles as Book Three starts to get going in a few weeks. I want River City to have a long, connected history, just as Opal did in Starman.
Stay tuned for more on River City and its history over at the Walking Shadows page. Starman is now available in a series of omnibus editions.
For more on Starman and Opal City check out the following articles from around the web: