Above: The heroes of Gale City. Below: The real heroes of Gale City. note
"Family matters are the most important, so they are the most emotional."Relativity
is a character drama that centers around a team of crimefighters who operate in the fictional Gale City, Indiana. The series focuses on the people behind the masks, and how they juggle work, life, and relationships while donning a costume to fight crime at night. The characters have no superpowers and rely mainly on detectivework to solve crimes. Although it is written in prose form, the series is heavily influenced by comic books and television. The creators describe it as a "prose comicbook", and there is a lot of artwork on the site. It can be found here.
The original Black Torrent was Matthew Bruce, but after an attempt on his life, he was forced to go into hiding and change his name. Because of this, his son Michael believed himself to be an orphan, and formed close ties with his two best friends at school, Tony and Andy. As an adult, Michael is reunited with his father and takes over the Black Torrent role.
His best friend is Ravenswood Cadavre, a former private eye. Within the first few stories, Ravenswood and his fiancee, Melody, get married
and begin running a coffee shop together. Their superhero personas are Overcast and Zephyra.
There's also Dark Flame, who joins the group early on.
Unlike the others, her main focus is on rescuing children.
The name of the series, Relativity,
has dual meaning. It's a play on the word "relative" since the main focus of the series is the family relationships between the characters. However, it also explores the complexities of family and how subjective the term "relative" can be, meaning that you can have genetic relatives who are disconnected and don't care about you, while you can have friends who are more like family than your flesh and blood.
Created by the writing team of Michelle and James Lehmann, the first story appeared on their website in late 2011, and it has been updating on a semi-regular basis ever since. All of the stories in the series can be read on-line or downloaded in eBook format for free. They also have a deviantArt page here,
which contains all of the stories, plus more artwork.
Has nothing to do with the Theory of Relativity.
The series as a whole provides examples of:
- Aesop Amnesia: Most of the conflicts between the major characters occur because of keeping secrets from each other. No matter how many times it leads to a fight, they keep doing it.
- All There in the Manual: In addition to the main stories, there are also "Side Stories" which provide additional background details of the characters. For example, at the beginning of the series, Sara is dating a billionaire named Martin Bling. The side story "Those Who Have the Gold" explains how she met him and how their relationship started.
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: The three core childhood friends; Michael, Tony, and Andy.
- Chest Insignia: Black Torrent has a raincloud and lightning bolt. Dark Flame has flames. Overcast and Zephyra don't have anything.
- Coat, Hat, Mask: Pretty much describes Overcasts' outfit.
- The Commissioner Gordon: Aaron Brooks
- Costumed Nonsuper Hero: None of the superheroes have any kind of powers, but a few of the villains do.
- Deadpan Snarker: Ravenswood/Overcast.
- Differently Powered Individual: In this universe, "Capes" is a derogatory term for superheroes.
- Domino Mask: All the female heroes, and some of the villains.
- Five-Episode Pilot: The first story, Lost & Found, is novel-length, compared to future installments, which are mostly short-story length.
- Grappling-Hook Pistol: Part of the standard equipment for each of the heroes. Torrent gives one to Dark Flame before she joins the team, since she can't afford one.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Michael and Ravenswood. As a teenager, it was Michael, Tony, and Andy.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: All of the collected anthologies have titles that follow the pattern "Something & Something".
- Medium Blending: The stories are referred to as "episodes", and the chapters in the first story are called "scenes".note
- Military Superhero: The original Black Torrent was set-up by the U. S. government to give themselves an operative who appeared to be operating independently. This way they could have him do what they wanted but claim that they had nothing to do with it.
- Painting the Medium: Flashbacks are in blue text.
- Save the Villain: The heroes need to do this on several occasions. In fact, the series begins in the middle of Black Torrent rescuing a villain whose plans had gone awry.
- Secret Secret Keeper: Aaron Brooks knows Dark Flame's true identity, but no one else is aware of this.
- Speaks Fluent Animal: The supervillain known as Cricket can speak to insects and spiders.
- Superhero Packing Heat: When he was a private eye, Ravenswood of course carried a gun. When he made the transition to being a superhero, he kept the gun.
- Theme Naming: Most of the members of Team Torrent have weather-themed names (as well as the town they live in) - the ones who don't are members who had established names before joining the team.
- Triple Shifter: All of the major crimefighting characters have this problem, but it affects each of them to different degrees.
- Villain with Good Publicity: Martin Bling.
- Web Serial Novel
Individual episodes provide examples of:
- Amusement Park of Doom: The climax of "Master Blankard's Pawn" takes place in one of these.
- Art Shift: Nearly all of the stories are presented in prose form, but two stories are comics.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Invoked and lampshaded in the first story. For bonus points, it's lampshaded in Latin.
- Bond Villain Stupidity: Averted throughout most of the series, but played straight with Valdas Rasmas who, among other things, creates a giant convoluted deathtrap, ties the heroes up in a room containing a giant digital display showing how much time they have left to live, and monologues.
- Chess Motifs: In the story "Master Blankard's Pawn", of course.
- Department of Redundancy Department: Rune, introducing himself.
Dark Flame: So, you know my name, yet I donít know yours.
Rune: Rune. But you can call me...Rune.
- Disc One Final Boss: Part one of "Highway Robbery" ends with the heroes capturing the carjackers, only to be informed that another car was stolen while they were doing it.
- Every Man Has His Price: When Tony was 12 years old he bribed a bully to stop picking on his friends.
- Frying Pan of Doom: In the wedding episode.
- Panicky Expectant Father: Matthew Bruce, when Michael was born, leading to this gem:
Matthew: I was in the military for ten years. I've seen men's heads blown off. I could handle that. I just can't handle childbirth.
- Simultaneous Arcs: "Highway Robbery" and "A Strange Twist" cover the same few days, but follow different sets of characters. Events from one story occasionally affect the other.
- Super Powers for a Day: In "August Moon", an accident gives skier Augustine Fennis telepathic powers, but also links him mentally with Ravenswood. The upshot is that Ravenswood gains the ability to read Fennis's mind, but the power only lasts to the end of the story.
- Villain Episode: Rune's origin story. The heroes barely make an appearance.