I recently completed a five book series centered around a group of vigilantes fightingÂ rich pederasts in New York City. The central romance in the series develops betweenÂ the first and lead vigilante, a figure known as the Black Mask, and the criminal analystÂ the NYPD brings in to help catch him. She ends up helping him instead, against theÂ members of the Ganymede organization that heâ€™s been fighting for years. A few peopleÂ join them in their fight along the way, including a comics-fan FBI agent and youngÂ hacker who become a secondary couple.
Itâ€™s a dark series. Vigilante stories are about the satisfaction of a need for justice, oneÂ which cannot be found within the system. These stories are generally critical of eitherÂ law enforcement, the corruption in the current legal system, or both. In Black Mask,Â many of the people who end up helping or even becoming the vigilantes are themselvesÂ actually members of law enforcement. They speak constantly of feeling their hands tiedÂ by a system which favors the rich and well-connected to the point where an entire classÂ of people essentially lives above the law. Ganymede, the enemy organization, is aÂ group of men in this class who use their immunity to harm children habitually. ThomasÂ Ambrose, the Black Mask, is the son of Ganymedeâ€™s founder and leader, and hisÂ fatherâ€™s crimes are directly responsible for his choice to become a vigilante. He doesÂ what has to be done to make the world safer for children–including the ones he wishesÂ to father with his lady love.
Catherine Farrows, the crime analyst who becomes Thomasâ€™s vigilante as well asÂ romantic partner, lost her father to alcoholism, which he fell to from the strain of trying toÂ be a good cop in a hopelessly corrupt system. She starts out the series basically tryingÂ to start her life over. Sheâ€™s left her job, the state she grew up in and a bad break-up toÂ move to New York, and sheâ€™s planning to take a hiatus from her work as an analystÂ because of the same burnout issues her father faced. Instead she gets pulled into theÂ hunt for the Black Mask, unaware that heâ€™s already found her and that they haveÂ already become lovers in his â€œcivilianâ€ guise. She ends up falling in love with both of thisÂ manâ€™s personas, and agrees to help the Black Mask well before she discovers that heÂ and Thomas are one and the same.
Catherine is a moral fence-sitter when it comes to what Thomas is doing as he huntsÂ down the members of Ganymede. She knows that murder is wrong, she knows thatÂ there needs to be a better answer for stopping their enemies than violence; sheÂ believes in a higher morality, and ends up wrestling with these issues a lot. But she alsoÂ knows that time and again, they keep running into situations where violence is the onlyÂ workable solution they have available. Thomas has a soldierâ€™s mentality about his workÂ and generally just dives in where he finds it necessary. This leaves Catherine in aÂ situation where sheâ€™s powerfully attracted to this man, and in love with this man…butÂ also a little afraid of him, and a little repelled by his bloody hands.
That is the thing with a deadly vigilante character. We root for them, because theyâ€™reÂ doing what we know is about as right as the situation will allow, and because theyâ€™reÂ doing what we wish we could do sometimes. But they are also bad boys. Their handsÂ are stained, so that we donâ€™t have to stain our own. So it is with Thomas–and CatherineÂ must join him as a vigilante in order to truly understand him and his fight.