I’ve talked about if I were to make a movie, what I would do. I also talked about a video game idea. There is another thing that I wanted to tell all of you about. I can’t draw, so I will never be able to realize this idea either. I have thought about this extensively, and the only thing I could do with this idea is turn it into a comic book. This wouldn’t work in any other medium. The visual style would be dark as fuck. At least for all the stuff with the protagonist when he’s on the job. Let me tell you about my comic idea. Really wish I could draw.
The name of the comic is “Reaper.” It tells the story of a man who dies. When he is killed, he ends up in a kind of limbo space. There, the physical manifestation of Death comes before him. It tells him that he lived a typical life, so he would be going to the Necropolis. It’s a gothic, vibrant city of the dead. The only way to the Beyond is to accept that your life is over before you die. To not have any remaining attachment to the mortal realm when you leave. For the bulk of people, there is the endless city of the dead. The bulk of those there never leave. However, there are forms of Unlife that wander the living world. Most of the time, Death lets them be. So long as they aren’t hurting anyone. But there are times when those who are part of or channel Unlife have to be brought to heel. For this purpose, there is a being that is employed. It is chosen by Death, based on categories unknown. Only Death knows why it picks people.
The young man, Steven Bordeaux, was chosen after he is the victim of murder. Death takes his soul and makes him an offer. It wants him to become the next Reaper. He is free to live life as he sees fit up on Earth, while also fetching the creatures of Unlife that go too far. Simple as that. The trade-off is that if he becomes a Reaper, he will not be able to go to the Beyond. When his time is up, and his soul finally passes the mortal realm, he will be in the Necropolis. Given the fact that he wants revenge against the person who killed him, and that he isn’t ready to die, he makes the deal. Little does he know that this deal is something that is from a person’s nightmares, and the strings attached are more than anyone can bear.
If you have a comic book hero, you need some powers for him, right? Well, the Reaper comes with an interesting assortment of abilities. This can vary from Reaper to Reaper, so it isn’t set in stone. The first thing is the fact that this entity can change from its true undead form to a living facade. But it is undead. Make no mistake. The mortal form can eat, sleep, fuck, and do all that stuff, but it still is something that is living dead. Its native form is shrouded in a black cloak. The body become skeletal. It makes how the clothing stays up a matter of contention. Chalk it up to undead powers.
In mortal form, this being can also be injured like a person. But there is a catch – all mortal injury can be fixed by going into undead form. However, this uses up the pool of Unlife that the Reaper has. Like fixing injury when it is in its natural state. But as previously stated, all the mortal functions work. All of them. Even though it’s a facade of magic, it has to be convincing to the people in the living world. A neat trick that Steven discovers is that he is able to look at a crime scene or old photos and see memories. The Whispers of the Dead, is the name of that trick. A room where a person dies has whispers there. He can see them, and it all becomes clear to him. Steven first finds this out when looking at old photos, which he then puts to use at the office, to help solve old crimes. He works as a records keeper, so he has plenty of time to go through stuff.
The primary weapon of a Reaper is the iconic Scythe. It is a weapon that cannot be touched by any mortal. If a mortal lays hands on it, it will suck the life out of them. This also happens with gloves. If their actual hand wraps around it, the Scythe will react and suck their life out. A Reaper’s Scythe is a malleable weapon. It can change shape, depending on the Reaper’s preference. This has limits, of course. It can’t become a gun. However, any bladed weapon that could theoretically exist, it can become. The shape changes based on the will of the Reaper. However, at the end of the Scythe is something very important.
See, a Reaper can be injured. To repair injury in either mortal or Reaper form takes Unlife energy. With typical undead, Unlife is a resource that can be traded. They keep it in banks in the Necropolis. So long as they have enough Unlife, they can exist in the mortal realm. Reapers are different. Their Unlife regenerates over time. If their standing pool runs out, they can be killed. But there is another thing. Their Unlife comes from a lantern that is at the end of the Scythe. If the lantern is destroyed, a Reaper will instantly die. But this is MUCH easier said than done. Only certain kinds of devices can destroy a Reaper’s lantern. Or it would take unimaginable brute strength. The lantern is also where a Reaper stores the souls of the undead that he claims for Death.
When a Reaper travels, it can do so on foot, though they often don’t walk like normal people. A Reaper’s body can swiftly travel as a kind of mist. This trick can only be done in bursts, because if it is used too much it will drain their Unlife. But using it too much would have to be something constant. Like a sustained mist form.
Another weakness worth mentioning is the fact that a Reaper is just as susceptible to necromancy as any other undead. However, this has a trick. See, if they are in mortal form, they are immune. So long as a part of them is in their mortal form, they cannot be totally controlled. But any part of them that is in their natural state is able to be manipulated by necromancy.
However, a Reaper’s biggest weakness is weapons that are blessed with the Beyond’s light. Such weapons can make injuries that are not able to be fixed until the affected area is given a spell that removes the light’s power. Or, if the Reaper is desperate, they can use their Unlife to heal it. But healing injuries from Beyond weapons takes extreme amounts of Unlife. They are also susceptible to control by Necromancers, if they are in their native form. If their body is completely destroyed, it can be repaired, but doing so will deplete their Unlife to a level where any injury past that will destroy them. So they typically run from fights that get that bad. Also, repeated sustained injury can deplete their Unlife fairly quickly. Like hitting them with an unrelenting hail of bullets. However, keeping a Reaper in one place for such an attack is nigh-impossible.
The major settings of this are the mortal realm (particularly the city of Anchor Haven), and the Necropolis. While the guardians of Beyond do make an appearance, what is Beyond is never seen. Anchor Haven is a coastal city. The recession hit it hard, and now there is growing poverty. His apartment is in a part of the town right next to the college. It’s not a great place, but it could be worse. He shares it with one roommate. The office he works at is used by law enforcement. He does clerical work for them, along with sending unknown “gifts” to help them solve cases when he uses his talents to see the past of the dead. One of the places that Steven frequents is a dark building in a run-down part of town, that is used by the Bone King as a conduit for the living and dead. It’s the entrance to the Necropolis. He also frequents an apartment complex that houses all kinds of types who do magic, along with a brothel which caters to the undead. It is here that he goes for information, along with a casual sexual relationship with a vampire there.
The Necropolis is something unlike anything you have ever seen. As a Reaper, Steven is able to go between worlds. In the city of the dead, you look as you desire to be. Souls that were corrupted by Unlife look as they were. It’s part of the punishment from Death for transgressing. The architecture of the city is gothic in the extreme. It’s a very damp place, with mist and water almost always covering the place. There is no daylight there. It is a city that goes on without end. It cannot get crowded. There is no end to the place. Outside of the city is the Forest of the Dead and other such things. However, the city is always alive. Everything is congregated around a central hub. It’s the link between worlds. Those of the dead who get enough Unlife to return. Or can make a deal with the Bone King. New arrivals also show up there. The people of the Necropolis are a pretty outgoing bunch. Death really does level the playing field. Neon signs and twisted architecture are everywhere. The place that Steven visits the most is Handsome Duke’s bar inside of the Moonlight Casino. Here, he can get all kinds of information.
The Reaper himself, Steven, is a man who lived a pretty ordinary life, up to the day he was murdered. Unlike some characters, his murder wasn’t the result of a seedy corruption. The reason he was killed was because of an angry suitor of his ex-girlfriend. The girl was dating him, and the man got enraged after an argument. He sought Steven out and shot him in the chest. He got a Bachelor’s in Business Communication and was living a pretty ordinary life before becoming a Reaper. He deals with hardcore depression, following a head injury. Becoming a Reaper changed his outlook on life. He is sarcastic by nature, and not eager to get involved in the politics that his job entails.
The next person is Steven’s roommate, Chloe. She’s more than a bit of a punk, but she uses this as a cover. All the assurance and confidence she gives off is a smoke-screen for the fact that she suffers from near-crippling self-doubt. This is tied in to the fact that she is a closeted lesbian, who can’t come out due to the fact that her family would disown her. As such, she has all kinds of tats and other rebellious things, but she cannot openly show who she is due to not wanting to be alone in the world. She eventually starts a relationship with Steven’s younger sister, which he is openly critical of, due to the fact that she indulges in a lot of unhealthy habits, smokes habitually, and has been known to do drugs.
At the office space of the police, there are Detective Laura Holland and Marcus Cortez. They in the homicide department, and often get tasked with looking into murders. Every so often, they are given envelopes from an unknown source (Steven) detailing things about a case, and what they missed. This, along with a series of murders committed by an unknown assailant in black robes, leads them to start investigating the Reaper. Laura is brash and cocky, eager to prove that she’s the best. There are some deep-seated feelings that she is being looked down upon by the other cops, even though she has almost never been mistreated by her fellow officers. Her partner, on the other hand, is an old dog. He’s settled in to the fact that he is not going to be doing the big cases anymore. Before the envelopes started arriving, he was content clearing boring cases, or filing away the ones that he could tell they would never find a culprit for. When they start investigating the envelopes and the mysterious figure in black, he regains some of the old spark in him that made him a great cop.
At The Witches Brew, there are a couple people that Steven has contact with. The first is a young witch named Elma. She was abandoned there by her mother, who was a prostitute in another part of town (that catered to the living. She had no knowledge of the undead). The girl has extreme talent, and the witches there took to educating her. She’s a quirky girl, often with her long black hair in her face. Steven often comes to her for spells and advice on how to take on certain opponents. The room she lives in is almost full from top to bottom with books and spell stuff. It’s a mess, in every sense of the word. The next person is a vampire prostitute whose working name is Karamel. Steven goes to her for sexual release, finding himself incapable of romantically bonding with living people anymore. His issues with his Unlife grow as the series goes on. There is solace with this vampire, who was turned against her will. The girl was from Ukraine, originally. She was brought to America with promises that she would find work. Instead, her ferryman sold her and the girls she came over with to a brothel controlled by the Russian mob. One of her johns was a vampire, and he wanted her so much that he turned her and kidnapped her. It was a choice he would regret, after she tore his testicles off. The former Reaper then killed the vampire, and set the slaves he had free. With nowhere else to go, and the unending hunger, she went to The Witches Brew and asked for a job. She hooks for them, in exchange for free blood. The girl is miserable, but has stated that she has no better options.
There is also a person named Matt. When Steven first met him, he was entranced by how different the young man was. Given that he is bi himself, he saw no reason not to pursue the boy. But when they got romantic, it is then that he discovered something – Matt is not a boy at all. He’s a girl. A girl with a very confused gender identity. She doesn’t want to be a girl, but doesn’t have the will to go all the way with a sex change. So she keeps her hair short, and wears entirely masculine clothing. She’s gotten so good at her facade that she has convinced almost everyone. But the masculine and feminine side of this person have been clashing, and it has led to some very strange hangups. Both emotional and sexual. He does start sleeping with Steven, and the two form a kind of weird bond. One that leads most people to suspect that Steven is gay. The two’s relationship is very violent, as Matt likes it very rough. It feeds into Steven’s growing disconnect from the human condition, with him growing to love this person who is hurting and wants to be hurt at the same time.
Not far down the road from where The Witches Brew is, there is another building where a voodoo master called Kingston Laveau lives. He’s an odd duck. Originally from Africa, he moved to the US and changed his name. The man is cryptic in the extreme, and the advice he gives even moreso. Unlike Elma, the magic he does is almost always dark. Anyone who has extensive dealings with him knows that trusting him is a terrible idea. But his advice isn’t totally worthless.
The last person to mention in the land of the living is the Bone King. This is a creature that is ancient. It has existed as the steward of one of several gates to the Necropolis. This one happens to be in Anchor Haven. He is a very grim character, with a sense of humor to match. Given the state of some of the undead who come through his part of the world, perhaps it comes with the territory. This entity doesn’t have a mortal form, so it can’t wander the streets. But its home can only be entered by the undead. If a mortal comes upon it, the place looks like a broken down old building. The Bone King has no issue doing business with a Reaper, but it makes clear that it takes no sides in any conflict. As such, the creature is not the best to go to for information. It is more of a cryptic mystic that occasionally gives Steven information. Over the course of the series, the creature does grow to have a kind of begrudging appreciation for Steven, as he is not the most grim Reaper he has ever met (pun intended). Eventually he becomes more of an ally than less.
In the Necropolis, the biggest character that Steven does business with is Handsome Duke. The Moonlight Casino is a place where the dead can gamble with Unlife. There is a bar inside where all kinds of lost souls congregate to drink. All kinds of stories go through there as well. Duke is willing to trade information for favors. This forms the basis of his somewhat-favorable relationship between him and Steven. A very amicable sort, Duke is known as someone that no one outright trusts, but who is fun enough to talk to.
We also have a young reporter named Naomi Cross. At least, she appears young. She is part of a multi-national corporation that is a front by Beyond for their own exploits into the land of the living. The Knights are a group who is dedicated to keeping the balance. However, there are rules. The undead solve their own problems. If a problem gets too large, the Knights come in and take charge. This usually ends with a ton of bloodshed. As such, there is a huge superiority complex with the members of this group. Naomi is a member of this organization. Her family all harbored a deep hatred for the Reapers, and the world they represent. She is trying to overcome her own prejudice, while being part of an organization that is in charge of huge news outlets and some very lucrative charity work. All of which is a front. Naomi wants to be free of all of this, but she isn’t human in the strictest sense either. When the new Reaper steps on to the scene, she is working to track him down. It begins a very antagonistic relationship between her and Steven. While not an outright villain, they do occasionally have confrontations of ideals, along with fights over who is supposed to deal with a situation when her organization gets involved.
Finally, we come to Death. Death is a being as old as time itself. It has been the guardian of the other side. It can take whatever physical form it desires. When it interacts with Steven in the world of the living, it takes the form of a tattooed blind woman. Well, blind to everyone but those who know better. It can go anywhere and do anything it likes. But Death does keep to its realm. Partly because it isn’t a fan of mortals, and partly because there are rules that were put in place by the original Compact between the Necropolis and Beyond, back at the end of the Great War. The thing about Death is that it first appears like it has rather pure motives. But as the series carries on, Steven begins to realize that it has a darker purpose behind what it’s doing.
Of course, that is just a small list of the most major characters. I got a list going on of tons of smaller ones. Like a ghoul who owns a music shop, or a beat cop who gets tied up with the undead due to her being one. The thing about this comic is that there wouldn’t be too many recurring villains. Must like Punisher, most villains are slain when they are confronted by the Reaper.. The true villain of the series would be the continuing disconnect between Steven and the human condition as he slowly descends further and further into his role, and his constant fight to maintain his humanity.
So yeah, there’s my idea. Let me know what you think down in the Comments. Wish I had the ability to draw. This could look fucking sick! Oh well. Things are what they are.
Until next time, a quote,
“The tragedy of life is not death, but what we let die inside of us while we live.” – Norman Cousins