Archie Comics had a stable of Red Circle superheroes they’d published in the past, so they decided to launch them again, only this time oriented more toward the dark side (Len Wein was going to redo THE HANGMAN, among other such projects). The Fly that I came up with owed more to the classic horror movie than the classic Joe Simon & Jack Kirby comic, though of course, I paid my respects to that as well. The editor, Scott Fulop, and I were extremely enthused about this series – but once Archie’s Powers That Be saw it, they decided it would never mix with the teens at Riverdale High and canceled it.
The idea is simple: a special person gets superpowers from an alien to fight for justice, just like in a million other comics – only the powers are a virus that kills the new hero and infects other humans, who then die. This alien was lying, unlike the million others; the powers are a means to decimate humanity before the aliens take over. Every issue, the person with the Fly powers dies, and a new Fly is born.
In the comic, they eventually neutralize the virus and fight back, but I was intrigued by the challenge of – up until that time – making you like each new hero even though you knew he or she was going to die.
Pencils on THE FLY by Mike Bair. The cover shows our perfectly blameless hero after his arm has rotted and snapped off.
You can buy the unpublished scripts directly from Steve Englehart. For that matter, you can buy any published or unpublished works for about the last fifteen years, if you want to see how a script compares with what ended up in print. The price is $15 or the equivalent in your local currency. E-mail Steve for details.