After taking readers on an impassioned journey of queer love and revenge in Virgil, and giving us the kickass gay superhero we’ve always dreamed (fantasized?) of in Midnighter, writer Steve Orlando is back this spring with Crude. In the same vein as Virgil, which took place in notoriously homophobic Jamaica, Crude is rife with echoes of real-world sociopolitical issues that face the global queer community. With a Russian setting, even the vibrant comic book pages of the story can’t dull the lifelike comparisons drawn within.
“It is a revenge book, but I didn’t want the same book as Virgil,” said writer Steve Orlando. “So whereas Virgil was very on-point – the main character out for revenge, out to save his man, there’s something a little more complex at play in Crude. It was a chance to talk about masculinity and the lives we lead.”
Crude centers around the relationship between Piotr and his son, Kiril. Having kept his job as a government assassin a secret from Kiril growing up, Piotr was constantly absent and easily resented. Now, years later, a bisexual and polyamorous Kiril is unwilling to open up to his father and, wanting to be able to live his life freely, moves to Blackstone, a refinery city where the work is hard, the hours are long, but no one cares about what you do in your personal time or who you share a bed with.
As a bisexual man who spent time living in Russia, Orlando knows firsthand the type of prejudice that can spawn from rampant, toxic masculinity. “There’s a potential death sentence on being queer in Russia and he [Kiril] just can’t stand that anymore,” he said. “After years of having what I would say is a stereotypical relationship with his father – which is based more on not speaking and hiding how they feel – he’s willing to go to Blackstone and live openly.”
Of course, stories with bigoted antagonists and disdain for the LGBTQ community reflect more of the world we live in by the day. Orlando began developing Crude in 2015, before a Trump Whitehouse and before reports of gay concentration camps in Chechnya. Orlando says that themes in the book have become increasingly validated in the wake of such events and that people like Kiril, who sacrifice so much to be themselves, are tragically lifelike. “Now, with what we know about Chechnya, what we know about Occupy Pedophilia, it’s become more and more clear that this motivation is shockingly real.”
The first issue of Crude releases April 11, 2018 from Image Comics and Skybound Entertainment.