Way back when, my old comic book partner and I were discussing the possibility of doing a story about a group of young adults with a variety of abilities ranging from superhuman strength to hydrokinesis and so on. I was a little skeptical because X-men had pretty much cornered the market on that kind of thing and it was hard not to look at other stories that were out at the time without comparing them (with the exception of Rising Stars by J. Michael Straczynski, which remains one of my favorite comics ever). But B was pretty gung-ho about it so I told him I would give it a try. The end result was a story that centered around a young man named Kyle who was struggling to come to terms with both his sexual orientation and his freakish strength, and as the story begins, he’s starting to have a hell of a time keeping both of those things concealed. He has an older brother, Eric, who possesses the same strength, and is also a raging douchebag as well.
Here’s a bit from the intro:
The entire page is darkness.
CAPTION: I WAS EIGHT YEARS OLD WHEN I FIRST REALIZED THAT I WAS DIFFERENT FROM OTHER BOYS MY AGE.
CAPTION: I SPENT THE NEXT TEN YEARS OF MY LIFE FIGHTING IT.
CAPTION: THE URGES WERE STRONG, BUT MY DESIRE TO BE NORMAL WAS STRONGER.
CAPTION: MY SECRET WAS SAFE…
A gym locker room is packed full of buff, half-nekkid guys.
CAPTION: UNTIL TODAY.
ERIC (OP): GO AWAY. YOU’RE BOTHERING ME.
Our first look at Kyle, who is holding out his hand. He is the only fully dressed man in the locker room. He looks as if he doesn’t want to argue but knows it’s inevitable.
KYLE: THEN GIVE ME MY KEYS.
Kyle is waiting patiently for Eric, who is rifling through a gym bag on a bench in front of a set of lockers and ignoring him. He is wearing tri-striped track pants (suspiciously Adidas-ish) and nothing else, showing off his ridiculously massive chest.
KYLE: YOU CAN’T JUST TAKE MY CAR WHENEVER YOU FEEL LIKE IT.
Eric finally acknowledges him, giving him an annoyed look.
ERIC: MY CAR IS IN THE SHOP UNTIL TOMORROW AND I NEEDED TO WORK OUT SO GET OVER IT.
Eric starts to walk away and Kyle grabs his wrist. Around them, a few curious onlookers watch the family drama play out.
Eric snatches his hand away, angered by Kyle’s daring.
ERIC: WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING? DON’T EVER TOUCH ME.
KYLE: GIVE ME MY KEYS AND I’LL LEAVE YOU ALONE.
Eric grabs Kyle by the shirt.
He slams his little brother against the lockers behind him. Kyle’s face is patient; he’s been through this before.
KYLE: LET ME GO, ERIC.
ERIC: OR ELSE WHAT? YOU’LL GO CRYING TO DAD? NOW BE A GOOD LITTLE BOY AND WALK YOUR ASS BACK HOME.
ERIC (whisper): OR I’LL TELL EVERYONE THAT YOU’RE A BIG, FLAMING QUEER. I’M SURE THAT’LL GO OVER WELL.
Close up of Kyle—he’s hurt and angry all at once.
CAPTION: I PUT UP WITH MY BROTHER’S SHIT FOR EIGHTEEN YEARS. I COULDN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE.
CAPTION: BEFORE I KNEW WHAT I WAS DOING…
Eric is launched backwards into the opposite side of the room, into the lockers, which are obliterated by the force of his landing. Gymheads jump back just in time to keep from getting bowled over.
CAPTION: I SNAPPED.
Kyle is walking through the workout area where more men are pumping iron. His face is distraught and a bit sad.
ERIC (OP): KYLE!!!
Eric has come out into the area, standing near a set of free weights. Kyle has stopped and turned around to face him across the room. Again, some onlookers watch the family feud in progress.
ERIC: HOW LONG?
KYLE: TEN YEARS.
KYLE: DON’T WORRY. I HAVE NO INTEREST IN STEALING YOUR THUNDER.
A close up of Eric—he is absolutely enraged.
ERIC: NO FUCKING WAY!
Eric picks up a 45 lb barbell plate with one hand as if it weighs next to nothing.
He hurls it at Kyle like a Frisbee.
Kyle easily catches it in one hand and glares at his older brother. All the while, the people around them stare on in amazement.
CAPTION: I NEEDED TO SHOW HIM THAT HIS DAYS OF TORMENTING ME WERE OVER.
Kyle snaps the plate in two like a cracker.
He drops the halves on the ground.
SFX: (some sort of heavy clanking sound)
He turns to leave.
Eric’s mouth is open in shock. As is everyone else’s.
One of the shocked onlookers has a cell phone to his ear.
ONLOOKER: IT LOOKS LIKE WE’VE BEEN KEEPING TABS ON THE WRONG BROTHER. YOU BETTER BRING HIM IN.
ONLOOKER: AND GET A GAG CREW OVER TO THE GYM. NOW.
Another look of an anguished Kyle as he exits through the gym doors.
CAPTION: MY SECRET WAS OUT.
CAPTION: MY LIFE WOULD NEVER BE THE SAME.
As the story progresses, Kyle gets sucked into an organization that wants to use his powers for (mostly) good. He meets and becomes friends with other people with their own unique gifts, including future love-interest Brandon, who is telekinetic, and a mysterious and slightly creepy girl named Sarah, whose power—or rather, a tragic result of it—caused her to cut out her own tongue. She’s my personal favorite.
I think maybe I’ll short story this one day. Seems a shame to let it gather dust on my hard drive. This is one of the last projects I worked on with my old partner because it was around the same time that I decided to shift my focus to manga and I’d already started working with a new partner who specialized in that art style. It was a sad parting for me (partnerships are a lot like relationships in that way) but I enjoyed the time we worked together and will always remember it fondly.
3 thoughts on “TBT 2007: Project N.E.O.N.”
Nice to see a gay protagonist 🙂 interesting story, eager to read more 😀
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I’m all about gay or bi protagonists. The world needs more of that. 😀 Thanks for commenting!
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Totally agree – keep up the good work 🙂
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