Dan Jolley talks Superheroes (and Supervillains) in Gray Widow's Web

Years ago, when I was still hip-deep in DC Comics (both reading them and writing for them), I was a guest at a sci-fi/fantasy convention and wound up on a panel about superheroes and the law. I don’t think I was very popular on that panel, because as much as I love superhero stories, I think there’s one thing about them that, if you apply any kind of logic, becomes inescapable: superheroes and the law mix about as well as a bucket of kerosene and a lit match.

Let’s take Batman for example. Now, I love me some Batman. Who doesn’t? He’s the Dark Knight, the Caped Crusader, etc. etc. He’s smart, he’s cool, he’s the pinnacle of what a human being can achieve, right? He’s also a vigilante, and in the eyes of the law, vigilantes are criminals. Pure and simple. There aren’t many Batman stories I don’t enjoy, but a sure-fire way to lose me is to get into the concept of Batman and/or Robin getting deputized by the Gotham City Police Department. That’s where my willing suspension of disbelief gets all unwilling-like.

(In fact, not only are almost all superheroes technically criminals, I would go so far as to say most of them are conservative criminals. One of the basic tenets of conservative philosophy is the desire to limit the power of government and put the destiny of the people in the people’s hands, yes? Superheroes, at their core, are making a statement: The government is inadequate to the task. Therefore, I will take the law into my own hands.)

But I digress.

During the aforementioned panel, I brought up the massive collateral damage caused by Superman or the Hulk or Iron Man when they’re fighting some insanely powerful villain. Sure, it’s cool when Superman picks up a car and uses it to swat some bad guy through a building. But if we’re talking about real life, there’s going to be some poor schmuck who runs out of his apartment and screams, “That was my car, you alien jerk!” I mean, seriously, that guy needed his car to get to his job. Is Superman going to come and take him to and from work every day? Is Superman going to cover his expenses now that he’s unemployed? Is the insurance company going to take every opportunity to deny his claim? (No, no, and yes.) Superman just destroyed that guy’s property and damaged his livelihood, but won’t be held even a little bit accountable.

In a different part of the discussion, someone else tried to make the point that, if superheroes existed, then it naturally follows that supervillains would exist as well. I further damaged my popularity, with the crowd in general and with that guy in particular, I think, when I said, “No, that doesn’t naturally follow, I wouldn’t say. If a superhero exists, and a supervillain then pops up, it’s because someone like me put that supervillain there.”

It’s all fiction. We just make it all up. The question becomes, how close to the real world do we want to make our fiction adhere? Are we writing stories in which Batman runs down a street carrying a big Snidely Whiplash-style bomb with a sparking fuse? Or stories in which the Punisher unloads an AK-47 at a group of bad guys, and a stray bullet punches through a wall and kills a four-year-old?

In the first book of the Gray Widow Trilogy, Gray Widow’s Walk, protagonist Janey Sinclair declares herself the protector of the city of Atlanta. A few years earlier, Janey mysteriously gained the power to teleport from one patch of darkness to another. She also developed the ability to see in total darkness, and her strength increased to roughly that of three very fit men. Janey eventually steals a suit of prototype military body armor, and decides to use her gifts to try to prevent other people from experiencing the heartbreak and trauma that she has.

That determination leads Janey to make a surprise visit to a television studio and record a statement, part of which goes like this:

“The general public has branded me a criminal. I can’t argue with that. What I’m doing is illegal. However—and I say this with the utmost respect for the law enforcement community—I don’t care. No one can stop me. No cell can hold me. Atlanta belongs to me, and I will see that it stays protected. … There is a new law in Atlanta. The Gray Widow’s Law. It’s easy to remember: do unto others as you would have them do unto you…or else.”

It’s a nice sentiment. Comforting, even, depending on your viewpoint of the world—the thought that someone is out there, lurking in the shadows, watching out for the little guy. Too bad it’s utterly, wholly incompatible with the law. Societies have laws—that’s just the long and the short of it. If we start ignoring the law, the civilization we’ve put together can’t hold and will eventually collapse.

So where does that leave Janey? Well, characters grow and change and learn new things (or at least they’re supposed to), and in Book 2, Gray Widow’s Web, Janey Sinclair learns in a hurry that the world she thought she knew is just one tiny part of a much, much, much larger whole. Janey is left with little choice but to amend the way she looks at everything around her. Especially when extraterrestrials who view humans as little more than raw material make their presence felt.

I hope you’ll join her, and see where she—and the rest of the human race—end up.


About the Author

Dan Jolley started writing professionally at age nineteen. Beginning in comic books, he soon branched out into original novels, licensed-property novels, children’s books, and video games. His twenty-six-year career includes the YA sci-fi/espionage trilogy Alex Unlimited; the award-winning comic book mini-series Obergeist; the Eisner Award-nominated comic book mini-series JSA: The Liberty Files; and the Transformers video games War for Cybertron and Fall of Cybertron. Dan was co-writer of the world-wide-bestselling zombie/parkour game Dying Light, and is the author of the Middle Grade Urban Fantasy novel series Five Elements. Dan lives somewhere in the northwest Georgia foothills with his wife Tracy and a handful of largely inert cats.

Learn more about Dan by visiting his website, www.danjolley.com, and follow him on Twitter @_DanJolley.


About the Book

JANEY SINCLAIR never knew how or why she gained her ability to teleport. She never wanted it, and for years tried her best to ignore it. But when horrible violence shattered her world, she vowed to use her mysterious talent to protect the citizens of Atlanta, in an effort to prevent anyone else from suffering the kind of agony she had. Wearing a suit of stolen military body armor, Janey became known to the public as the GRAY WIDOW.

But now the extraterrestrial source of her “Augmentation” is about to reveal itself, in an event that will profoundly impact Janey’s life and the lives of those closest to her—

TIM KAPOOR, who barely survived the assault of twisted, bloodthirsty shapeshifter Simon Grove and still struggles to pull himself together, both physically and mentally.

NATHAN PITTMAN, the teenager who got shot trying to imitate Janey’s vigilante tactics, and has since become obsessed with the Gray Widow.

SHA’DAE WILKERSON, Janey’s neighbor and newfound best friend, whose instant chemistry with Janey may have roots that neither of them fully understand.

And Janey’s going to need all the help she can get, because one of the other Augments has her sights set on the Gray Widow. The terrifying abomination known as APHRODITE LUPO is more powerful and lethal than anyone or anything Janey has ever faced. And Aphrodite is determined to recruit Janey to her twisted cause…or take her off the field for good.

Unrelenting ghosts of the past clash with the vicious threats of the future. Janey’s destiny bursts from the shadows into the light in GRAY WIDOW’S WEB, leaving the course of humanity itself forever changed.


 Tour Schedule and Activities
7/19/17            Jordan Hirsch  Review
7/19/17            I Smell Sheep  Top Ten's List
7/20/17            SpecMusicMuse Author's Interview
7/21/17            Sapphyria's Book Reviews  Top Ten's List
7/22/17            http://bookishlyme.blogspot.com/  Review
7/22/17            The Seventh Star Blog   Author's Interview
7/22/17            StoreyBook Reviews   Guest Post
7/23/17            Sheila's Guests and Reviews  Guest Post
7/24/17            Infamous Scribbler   Author's Interview
7/25/17            Beauty in Ruins   Guest Post
7/26/17            Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Mystery and More!   Author Interview

7/26/17            Jeni's Bookshelf, Reviews, Swag, and More!  Review


  1. This looks like an interesting series. I'm putting it on my "Want" list.


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