Romancing Revenge: The Masked Vigilante Subgenre

I recently completed a five book series centered around a group of vigilantes fighting rich pederasts in New York City. The central romance in the series develops between the first and lead vigilante, a figure known as the Black Mask, and the criminal analyst the NYPD brings in to help catch him. She ends up helping him instead, against the members of the Ganymede organization that he’s been fighting for years. A few people join them in their fight along the way, including a comics-fan FBI agent and young hacker who become a secondary couple. It’s a dark series. Vigilante stories are about the satisfaction of a need for justice, one which cannot be found within the system. These stories are generally critical of either law enforcement, the corruption in the current legal system, or both. In Black Mask, many of the people who end up helping or even becoming the vigilantes are themselves actually members of law enforcement. They speak constantly of feeling their hands tied by a system which favors the rich and well-connected to the point where an entire class of people essentially lives above the law. Ganymede, the enemy organization, is a group of men in this class who use their immunity to harm children habitually. Thomas Ambrose, the Black Mask, is the son of Ganymede’s founder and leader, and his father’s crimes are directly responsible for his choice to become a vigilante. He does what has to be done to make the world safer for children–including the ones he wishes to father with his lady love. Catherine Farrows, the crime analyst who becomes Thomas’s vigilante as well as romantic partner, lost her father to alcoholism, which he fell to from the strain...

Characterization As Series Fuel

I start any series by creating a cast of characters. I might have an idea of what I want the basic plots to be, what themes I want to tackle and what the larger world looks like that I am setting the stories in, but ultimately, characterization is king in my work. That is because whereas the setting and themes may not change much, characters are constantly changing and growing as they interact and face different challenges. This makes them a constant source of new stories. The best example I have of this in my own work is likely Catherine Farrows, the criminal analyst protagonist of the Black Mask series. Catherine starts out the series in a state of burnout, having had so much trouble coping with the corruption in the justice system back in her home state that she’s on hiatus in a new state across the country trying to deal with her feelings. She ends up having a tryst with Thomas, her neighbor, not knowing h’s actually the vigilante the police are hunting. As the clues start to pile up, she is thrust into the police investigation of this vigilante. But she, along with many members of law enforcement, feels the same helpless anger, and they actually end uprooting for the Black Mask more often than not, because h’s doing what they want to be doing. As she learns more about this vigilante, she finds herself agreeing with him, and realizes that she’s about to leave her past by-the-book treatment of law enforcement behind. By the time she discovers that her lover Thomas is the Black Mask,...