I’ve gone over anime, books, and movies. Now is time for a couple of American TV shows that really stuck with me. I thought about both of theses during my writing.
X-Men: The Animated Series (1992–1997)
In previous posts, I hit on some DC properties I really like. Now, here’s a Marvel one. The 1990’s through 2000’s was the high point of superhero cartoons. Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, the X-Men, Justice League, and Teen Titans all had landmark shows, and I’m probably missing a few. As a very young kid, I didn’t know anyone who collected comic books or anywhere to buy them in my small town. As such, I didn’t get introduced to superheroes in the same way most people do. Instead, I watched all of the cartoons.
I’m singling out the X-Men series in particular because a influenced a bid chunk of Soul Crystals. Most people know this already, but the center conflict of the X-Men franchise is between the X-Men and the Brotherhood. The X-Men want mutants and humans to work together, while the Brotherhood wants to end mutant discrimination by overthrowing all the world’s institutions. Originally, I had imagined Soul Crystals having a completely hidden world where normal people didn’t even know Amuli existed. Logistically, I decided that it was too big a secret to hide. My mind went back to X-Men which employs a different world dynamic where superhumans are in the open and controversial. I also had the thought that what if the Brotherhood won in X-Men? What would a world with a minority of superhumans in charge look like? They could rule with an iron fist, but would that be logical? So, instead of a system like that, I made one where the superhumans were in control but let everyone else think that they were. It’s a reign from the shadows.
I want to point out that there is no true X-Men-like group in Soul Crystals. A.R.C. and A.I.M. are basically two versions of the Brotherhood, but one is the lesser of two evils.
The Flash (2014-)
The Flash on the CW might be my favorite live-action superhero show. There are a lot of reasons for that, but I’m just going to focus on one of them since it involves a character from Soul Crystals. The Flash‘s Cisco Ramon is a very well written character is a great for comic relief (that’s definitely not his only role in the show). When I first heard Cisco dropping nerdy references and jokes, my reaction was “he sounds like 99% of my friends!” It was really true. Growing up in a small town and an even smaller private school system, I basically had the same friends from kindergarten through high school. I still keep up with many of them today. Much like Paul, I was the shy, reserved one of my friend group, while my friends were the opposite. I think that’s why we got along. We were not similar, opposing forces.
Anyway, this brings me to the character of Robby Swanson (who is actually my editor’s favorite). Paul’ s social life in his school is a lot more dire than mine ever was. He gets bullied and only has one friend. Lucky for him, Robby is a pretty great friend. If Paul was only going to have one friend, I decided to blend all my childhood friends together into one character. That’s Robby. I just decided to use him like The Flash uses Cisco Ramon. He is both welcomed comic relief and an active player in the story in his own right.