The Double Life of Miranda Turner Brings Classic Heroics Back [Interview]
October 13, 2016
IMAGE COMICS: You two are bringing readers to an all-new world here. What kind of superhero tale is THE DOUBLE LIFE OF MIRANDA TURNER?
GEORGE KAMBADAIS: THE DOUBLE LIFE OF MIRANDA TURNER is heavily inspired by the Golden Age of comics. Miranda lives in a world full of crazy and over-the-top superheroes and villains. In my mind, it's a fun Golden Age story with a modern twist.
JAMIE S. RICH: We wanted something light-hearted and empowering, something where the characters were fun and also aspirational. Miranda has something to prove, and the goal was to build a story where she was going to become the hero she knew she could be. In some ways, I was picking up themes I had started in another series I did for Image, IT GIRL & THE ATOMICS. George and I actually met because David Lafuente had sent him my way, thinking he'd be a good fit for IT GIRL. We both liked inventing weird super-powered heroes and antagonists, so that was part of why we decided to give the book a backdrop where there were lots of them.
IC: Miranda is The Cat, having taken up the costume and name after her sister, the previous Cat, passed away. What can you tell us about Miranda? What kind of person is she?
RICH: She is a struggling actress who is still trying to make her mark, which again ties back to her having something to prove. She wants her sister, Lindy, to think she deserves to be The Cat, but also, even in death, their sibling bond is strong. She just wants to help. For me, the acting thing made perfect sense, and we even get into it in the series, that it's not an altogether different vocation than masked crimefighter. It's all about adopting the identity to fit the necessary role.
KAMBADAIS: Miranda is a spontaneous person. At first she didn't take the situation seriously, she thought that everything was a just game. Or an act. She is an actress who plays the hero, but in the end she becomes a new and different kind of hero from her sister.
IC: Lindy is Miranda's older sister, and a ghost, to boot. What was she like as a hero? Will we see much of her time in the spotlight?
RICH: That might be fun to go back and look at her in life. She was an international woman of intrigue, like those old Wonder Woman comics where Diana Prince wore go-go boots and fought spies. I think her adventures would be more stylish, snazzier, and on a grander scale. Her homebase was the world.
KAMBADAIS: Lindy always was the responsible one. When there was someone in need, she was always going to help. That's why she became The Cat. For now, she is only Miranda's mentor, but who knows (Jamie probably does!), maybe in the future we'll see more of her as The Cat again!
RICH: Oh, I do know! I have whole second and third story arcs mapped out.
IC: Lindy has a lot of opinions on how Miranda should behave as a hero. How has their new status quo has affected their relationship as sisters?
RICH: It's heightened the natural dynamic between them, that Lindy wants to be protective of Miranda, but Miranda is thrust into the spotlight and is really the one leading the charge. They have to find a dynamic where their division works for them. One of them is still alive and functioning in the real world, and so can take on the problems of such, while Lindy being a ghost allows her to take a different vantage point. She's a mentor, but one who can't necessarily take an active hand. Lindy was also very successful in life, both as a fashion model and as The Cat, so that is important in how the two behave. Lindy maybe had it easier than her sister, and so she has to learn to appreciate the effort Miranda is putting into it—especially since Miranda doesn't actually have powers. It's a different kind of bravery.
KAMBADAIS: As all siblings do, they have their ups and downs. Miranda makes mistakes while wearing the mask, but so does Lindy as her mentor. I think the perfect hero is the two of them combined, and with this new situation, they are now closer than ever.
RICH: Yeah, I like that fact that we can literally meld them. Creating the parameters for what Lindy could do as a ghost was not only essential to the story, but gave us even more ground to play in. The two of them are getting to share their lives in ways regular sisters never do.
IC: Having to solve your own murder is a pretty good twist. Do you see the story as a superhero tale first, murder mystery, or something else? How do you describe the story to people?
KAMBADAIS: This is a fun superhero story with a bigger mystery running through the background.
RICH: George originally presented the core concept to me, and the mystery aspect is what I gravitated toward, so that was initially the most important, but then it occurred to me that the book, if it was going to have an extended life, had to first function as a superhero book. So it was important to me to have some obstacles in early issues that seemingly were unrelated to the mystery at large, to show that Miranda is someone who can take on any challenge. That's usually how I present it: as the story of a woman who puts on a mask to fight crime and help find her sister's killer. With the twist being that the murdered sister is still with her.
IC: How are you approaching designing and writing the new heroes and villains? Are you riffing on the classics at all?
RICH: I try not to create any too obvious an analogue, though with the bigger powered characters, it is a little hard to get around their well-known antecedents.
KAMBADAIS: Well, I'm a huge fan of Golden Age era of comics. Everything was so easy and fun. One of my favorites is the Black Cat, a.k.a. Linda Turner. She is in public domain, and Lindy is based on her. As for Miranda, for her suit, I wanted something modern, practical, and easy to find in your house to wear. She is not a supermodel like her sister and not as confident with her body as her sister, and that's why the costume is not as revealing as Lindy's suit. After all, I wanted to contrast the differences between a Golden Age costume and Modern Age costume. For the other heroes and villains, I went wild, with my favorites being the Devo-Hat villains and Zebra.
RICH: The Blockheads! I was actually looking at the visual iconography of Very-era Pet Shop Boys when I cooked those guys up. Their powers are so absurd, it was kind of my joke on how out there comics have gotten, how all the usual powers have been cycled through, and now you can only be original by being super crazy.
IC: You're tackling a lot in this comic—questions of legacy, what it takes to be a hero, reputations, and especially expectations. What do you want readers to take away from this book?
RICH: The main thing I want is for them to enjoy themselves. But in a broader sense, I'd like for readers to look at how Miranda deals with obstacles, how she solves problems, and how she perseveres. I think when it comes down to it, that's what all the best superhero stories are about.
THE DOUBLE LIFE OF MIRANDA TURNER is available now.