No work of art exists in a vacuum. All things have their influences. Although it would be impossible to identify everything which influenced me in the writing of Paternum, I do wish to pay tribute to those which I am aware of as well as to those I paid conscious tribute to.
The overall plot of the story is heavily influenced by, well, every piece of superhero media I’ve ever read. DC Comics, Marvel Comics, the DC Animated Universe, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Alan Moore’s Watchmen, Kōhei Horikoshi’s My Hero Academia, and too many others to list. If you have ever written anything about a superhero, thank you.
My process in planning this story owes everything to one of my college writing professors, Alix Ohlin. She was the first one to lay out the 3 Act Structure to me, which I made heavy use of to plan this story. Slightly more at a distance, but for the same reason, I need to thank Joseph Campbell for describing the monomyth in The Hero With a Thousand Faces, and Christopher Vogler for his simple breakdown of it.
I do want to specifically call out two works. First, Wildbow’s Worm has had a lot of influence, primarily for its take on how a somewhat rational world might handle superheroes and supervillains. My take is a mixture of his PRT/Protectorate system and Marvel Comic’s Superhero Registration Act. It also influenced the main villain of the series, which I’ll break down later. I’d also like to thank Drew Hayes for writing one of my favorite superhero stories, SuperPowereds, which convinced me that a story with stakes smaller than the world could still be a successful superhero story.
The main character, Quinn Kaufman, was originally an alternate universe Spider-Man. In fact, the entire work was originally intended to be a Marvel Universe fanfiction set in an alternate universe – Canaveral was originally going to be a version of Captain America, the main villain was going to be a version of the Kingpin, and the New Champions were going to be the Avengers. While the story has changed significantly since then, I think that the Spider-Man influence is still obvious in Quinn’s origin and powers. As such, I owe a lot to Stan Lee and Steve Ditko for creating Spider-Man. I also owe thanks to Phil Lord, Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman for creating Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which is what first inspired me to create the alternate version of Spider-Man who eventually became Quinn. I also owe thanks to a DC Comics fanfiction called Less Than Zero, by Kenchi618, which similarly features a protagonist who finds a supersuit in their parents’ attic. Of course, as his character is a supervillain where mine is a hero, there are obviously some big differences as well.
Canaveral’s powers are borrowed from a side character in an earlier attempt of mine to write a webserial. His superhero name, of course, references Cape Canaveral, while his actual name references Neil Armstrong.
The Magnificent Maxwell has his origins in a character of the same name in a Mutants and Masterminds campaign that I ran where he served much the same role and went through much the same plot. His part hasn’t changed, but then, he plays it so well it didn’t need to. His last name is a reference to David Copperfield.
The Ambrosia Company has influences from Marvel Comics and Worm – specifically, Cauldron in Worm, and the Power Broker in Marvel. Along with McCrae, I’d like thank the writers who created Marvel’s version of the archetype, Mark Gruenwald, Roger Stern, and Sal Buscema. I hope my take on the archetype is a fresh and entertaining one.
Loki was previously a character from the same earlier webserial that Canaveral dates back to. His personality and powers are unchanged, for the most part, but his backstory and story arc have been completely rewritten.
Journey takes her name and part of her backstory from the secondary protagonist in a partially-planned urban fantasy story that I never even began writing. That iteration of her was to be heavily influenced by Karrin Murphy from Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. Those parts of her character have, I think, been excised, but I still want to thank Butcher for the inspiration he gave.
Zookeeper is influenced by Worm’s Miss Militia – both have versatile powers which come with perfect memory to allow them to use the full extent of their ability. Zookeeper, however, is blessed to not be the only bastion of common sense on her team, so her personality ended up more lighthearted.
Hypnos’ powers are original to this story, for once. He still influenced in some ways by Kōhei Horikoshi’s My Hero Academia though, specifically by the characters Eraserhead and Shinsou – like them, Hypnos is a generally tired guy whose powers don’t actually give him any combat boosts.
Vulcan’s powers were originally that of a character of the same name in a short-lived Mutants and Masterminds campaign that I played in. He later became a villain in a campaign that I ran, and has now returned to his heroic roots.
Starling is an essentially unchanged character from that same campaign, originally made to be used by a guest player. He is heavily based on Batman, in backstory as well as personality and general demeanor.
Referee’s power is influenced by part of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. Specifically, a character named Michael bears a sword which is said to even the scales between mortal humans and supernatural creatures, allowing them to fight on even footing. This somewhat vague description has not (yet) been elaborated on, but it was this idea that I based her powers on. A similar character in Drew Hayes‘ Superpowereds had the power to shut off other people’s powers and fight them on a human level – Referee’s isn’t exactly the same, but it’s a similar concept.
Rube is influenced in part by Marvel Comic’s Domino, who also has luck-based powers.
Legion’s powers are influenced primarily by the Prototype videogames, but I think I’ve found an interesting twist on them by focusing on her ability to replicate herself. Her character has been around for a long time in one form or another, all the way back to the first long story I wrote in 2012, but she’s changed a lot over the years – originally, the shapeshifter was a murderous madman who only wanted to absorb as many people as possible. Over the course of scattered appearances in a few other settings, stories, and campaigns, they evolved into the Legion who appears here.
More influence breakdowns will come as more characters are introduced.
The fictional hovercraft full of eels, mentioned in Arc 1, Act 1, Scene 5, is a shout-out to Monty Python’s Flying Circus – specifically, the Dirty Hungarian Phrasebook sketch.
Being bitten by a radioactive spider, mentioned as a joke in Arc 1, Act 1, Scene 8, is a reference to how Spider-Man invariably gains his powers in every version of his origin.
Brockton Street, mentioned in Arc 1, Act 1, Scene 15, is a shout-out to Worm, in which the setting for much of the story is the city of Brockton Bay.
The Raven King, an ancient English magician mentioned in Maxwell Copperfield’s internal monologue in Arc 1, Act 1, Intermission Scene 2, is a shout-out to Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, in which the Raven King is a prominent background figure.
Quinn’s joking retelling of their first night out, in Arc 1, Act 2, Scene 1 is a mix of several superhero origins – both the beginning of Kōhei Horikoshi’s My Hero Academia and Worm, plus a reference to a Spider-Man arc in which Doc Ock stole Spider-Man’s body.
Shiketsu Street, mentioned in Arc 1, Act 2, Scenes 7 and 8, is a shout-out to Kōhei Horikoshi’s My Hero Academia, in which Shiketsu Academy is a rival highschool to the one which the main characters attend, UA High.
Hebert Avenue, mentioned in Arc 1, Act 2, Scene 8, is a shout-out to Worm, in which the main character’s last name is Hebert.
Pardee Hall, mentioned in Arc 1, Act 2, Scene 16, is a shout-out to Lafayette College, which includes a Pardee Hall where I took many of my courses.
The Shrieking Eel, mentioning in Arc 1, Act 2, Scene 17, is a shout-out to William Goldman’s The Princess Bride, in which shrieking eels are a carnivorous species of eel that lives in the waters between Florin and Guilder.
The thaum as a name for a fundamental particle of magic, as mentioned in Arc 1, Act 2, Scene 17, is a reference to Terry Pratchet’s Discworld series – in specific, The Science of Discworld, in which the thaum is exactly that.
The year that Mark Dallas’s thesis tracking historical artifacts of ancient English magicians was written, mentioned in Arc 1, Act 2, Scene 18, is a shout-out to superheroic magician Zatanna Zatara, who first appeared in 1964.
Wynne Jones, the fake name that the Magnificent Maxwell uses in Arc 1, Act 2, Scene 18, is a shout-out to Dianne Wynne Jones, author of such magical works as the Chrestomanci books and Howl’s Moving Castle.
The random passcode generated in Arc 1, Act 2, Scene 28 – “Holy elevating machine, Starling” – is a shout-out to the 1960s Batman TV series starring Adam West, in which Robin would often exclaim “Holy [Relevant Item], Batman!” Starling is the hero in Paternum who most resembles Batman, being primarily a gadget-user and generally no-nonsense.
The tree-like shape that Legion takes on in Arc 1, Act 2, Scene 25 is a reference to Piers Anthony’s Xanth, in which a recurring monster is the tangle tree – essentially as described, a carnivorous tree with a multitude of tentacles that it uses to feed.
The first random passcode given to Quinn by Canaveral, also mentioned in Arc 1, Act 2, Scene 28 – “Correct horse battery staple” – is a shout-out to Randall Monroe’s xkcd webcomic, specifically comic 936, which uses it as an example of a password which would be hard for computers to guess but easy for humans to remember.
More shout-outs will be listed as they occur.
The splash screens for major characters as they’re introduced in costume are heavily influenced by the splash screens used across the history of the Super Smash Bros. franchise.
The power-granting drugs are influenced by similar drugs in DC Comics called Venom (which grants strength and toughness) and Velocity 9 (which grants speed). I was also inspired by Kōhei Horikoshi’s My Hero Academia , in which the main character has super-strength but initially lacks the toughness to handle his own power, and breaks his bones whenever he uses it.
The idea of a bar that heroes and villains could both frequent without fighting each other is influenced by similar neutral zones in a variety of series, such as McAnally’s Pub in Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, the Bar with No Name in Marvel Comics, and both Time in a Bottle and the Oblivion Bar in DC Comics.
Do Not Stand At My Grave and Weep, which is the theme for the first arc, was written by Mary Elizabeth Frye in 1932. She never copyrighted it, as she believed that it ought to belong to the world. Thank you, Mrs. Frye.
More acknowledgements will come as more poems are used.