Simeon Aston’s detailed cyberpunk visions have appeared on the cover of Heavy Metal (issue 294, the Industrial Special) and in the pages of Megadeth: Death by Design, as well as his own Metal Made Flesh graphic novels. Now he’s teamed up with writer/filmmaker Jason Turner to produce The Chrome Angel Murders: Blood Quantum, a graphic novel starring Turner’s armored sleuth protagonist, the Iron Detective.
Turner is a member of the Prairie Band Potawatomie Nation, a federally recognized American Indian tribe. He has been developing the world of Chrome Angel Murders and the Iron Detective for several years, beginning with a 2014 comic book titled Sentinel, which he turned into the animated short “The Iron Detective: Sentinel.” (scroll to the end of this post to see it.)
Blood is at the heart (so to speak) of Turner’s Iron Detective character. Alex Calibourne, the protagonist, has a rare blood type that allows him to don the cybernetic power armor he wears — only a select few can become so-called “Iron Joes.” But Alex is half Prairie Band Potawatomie, and his Indian-ness is measured in terms of blood, what’s called “blood quantum.”
(“Blood quantum” is a concept that has been used over the years to include or — more often — to exclude people from Native American tribes. Your blood quantum is the fraction or percentage of Indian heritage you have, assuming records were kept perfectly. If you have one “full blood” Indian parent and one who is not, you are half Indian or have a 50% blood quantum. If you have two great-great grandparents who are full-blood Indians and one who is half, your blood quantum is 5/32 or 16%. And some tribes use this number to determine membership. It gets thorny.)
Alex’s blood is what allows him to wear this cool armor and live the thrilling life of an Iron Joe. But it’s also what holds his Native identity. Are these two things related? It would seem so, but we don’t know. There are intriguing possibilities. We haven’t read the graphic novel, because it’s not out yet. This is a Kickstarter project, and Turner and Aston are hoping to secure funding for it by March 25.
Here are more details of the setting and the stakes from the Kickstarter page:
In the future there is an outbreak of cyber terrorism among the Purists. They are a band of technology-fearing religious zealots. Meanwhile, the Chrome Angels are growing into a wild cult, pushing the boundaries of human pleasures and pain. Torn between tribal warfare and chivalry from Arthurian Legends, The Iron Detective must fight his way through hordes of hackers, psychotic mannedroids, and corruption to get to the truth.