Sunday, January 4, 2015

Superhero Romance Character Bio #15: Cynic

Wow, it’s been a really really long time since I did one of these.  I found this one in my files today and I remember writing it, but I don't remember posting it yet.  So, I'll post it while I'm finishing up writing the short story collection (completed the second story now and am steadily working my way through the last one, FYI.  I have a rough draft of a cover done, so it hopefully shouldn't be too much longer until it's published.)

We’ll go with one of my favorite characters to stick in a scene to make something happen: Cynic.  This will have spoilers for [book:The Guy Your Friends Warned You About|17235223].
Cynic is a man who has a lot of names.  He seems to refer to himself in his own head as “Cynic,” so that’s what I tend to call him as well.  His “real names” include Steven O’Probrian, Steven Maguire, Steven “the enigmatic billionaire” and “The Dullahan.”  Cynic first joined up with the Consortium after responding to a newspaper ad they placed looking for help, and he now runs their “Department of Information Gathering and Unrestrained Criticism,” although what exactly that entails has never really been established.  If I had to guess, I’d say that Cynic’s job involves gathering intelligence on the other Capes and villains which inhabit the city.  Honestly, it’s difficult for me to really go into too many details on that though, as he doesn’t seem to take the job too seriously and definitely doesn’t devote much of his time to it.  The others seem to accept this though, so I guess they’re used to it.  In any event, he claims to know everything about the city and often takes things to paranoid levels.

Cynic is on the taller side, but not as big as Poacher or Wyatt.  He has short dark brownish hair, which Marian claims he wears in “whatever style it formed when he got out of the shower in the morning.”  He has red eyes which glow when he’s angry or emotional and he swears a lot.  A whole lot.  I’m not entirely sure how or why he picked up that habit, since I seriously <i>never</i> swear at all, but he can be counted on to swear at least once every time he opens his mouth.  He is known for wearing tasteless T-shirts and sandals everywhere, even to formal functions, and he has a habit of complaining about utterly insane things, such as the fact that the National Park Service is out to destroy him or his theory on how “He-Man is responsible for global warming and the rise of the internet.”

Cynic has the power to bend reality to form whatever twisted version of it his own fractured mind imagines.  Since he’s rather insane, this appears to be a simple matter for him.  In fact, most of his problems seem to come from the fact that twisting reality is too easy, and it happens without his intention.  It’s also difficult for him to remember what reality looked like before he started messing with it, and as such, he avoids using his powers whenever possible.

Cynic is a deliberate attempt to stray from the normal romance novel hero.  On his surface, he’s… not especially romantic.  He describes himself in some rather less-than-glowing terms, such as: 

“…the man on the wanted poster the cops took to your door to caution you was moving into your tranquil neighborhood.”


“Whenever a car cut you off in traffic, Cynic was the man behind the wheel laughing at you; the man who pushed his way to the front of every line you’ve ever waited in; the man who put that dent in your car door, then walked away smiling.  Wherever there was a girlfriend telling you horror stories about boorish and awful things her exes had done, Cynic was each and every man she was complaining about.”

Personally, I think he’s a little hard on himself.  I think he usually means well.  Sure, he says some truly insane or annoying things at times, but he almost always has a reason.  Usually it’s almost entirely about getting Marian’s attention.  He seems to enjoy emphasizing his worst qualities whenever she’s around, because he knows that it will get her to talk to him.  

Cynic’s main family ties are his brother Ceann, his sister(s) Morrigan, and his new wife, Marian.  He seems to have a lifelong rivalry with his brother and feels that the man is better than him at everything.  He blames himself for the loss of his brother’s head, although the exact circumstances behind the event haven’t been revealed.  He seems to get along pretty well with 30% of his sister, but doesn’t appear to be on the best of terms with the remaining 60%.  As for Marian, he seems to mold his entire life around what she wants or what might get her to notice him.
I’ve always said that I based Cynic on an utterly platonic friend of mine.  I’ve known the guy for at least ten years, and he’s very much like Cynic (or at least he was in those first few appearances in Yesterday’s Heroes, anyway).  Although Cynic strayed from the friend's personality fairly quickly, there’s still a big piece of the oblivious but good-hearted jerk in there.  Ironically, right after I wrote Guy Your Friends Warned You About, the friend in question reconnected with his high school girlfriend who he hadn’t seen for years and who is now a single mom.  They were just married, and surprisingly, she totally smoothed out all his rough edges.  Pretty incredible, really.  Never really saw him as a responsible figure, but her kids just love him.  We’re all very proud of him.    :)
Cynic's name is entirely random.  I don't know where I came up with the codename and have no backstory for it other than it sounded kind of comic book-y and fit the character I was going for.  His "real name" is also fairly random, consisting of a vocabulary word from a legal case I was reading at the time and a line from the movie "The Sure Thing." 

In it, John Cusack is arguing with his love interest over the name of her hypothetical baby, and suggests she name it Nick, because: "Nick's a real name. Nick's your buddy. Nick's the kind of guy you can trust, the kind of guy you can drink a beer with, the kind of guy who doesn't mind if you puke in his car. Nick!"  When I was writing Cynic, who I assumed at that point would be a throw-away character to fill a scene, I thought of the line and stole the name because that was the type of person I imagined Cynic to be.  In my haste and idiocy though, I remembered the line as being about "Steve" instead of "Nick" and chose it for Cynic.  Of course, Cynic didn't like the name Steve either, for some reason, so his name stayed the more formal "Steven."  There's no storyline reason for that, he just didn't like being called "Steve."  ...Like I said, it's weird.

In any case, Cynic’s one of those characters who I always enjoy writing because he gives me a chance to add some true craziness to a scene.  At the same time though, I’ve always felt that he was one of the sweeter characters in the series.  Marian and Cynic are some of the few characters I’ve ever written who I still write random scenes for, even though the scenes don’t fit anywhere and will never see publication, just because they like to talk about random stuff with each other.  He started out as an experiment to see how far I could get from the stereotypical romance novel hero, but in the end, I think he ended up being Marian’s.  I think they’re sweet together.

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