Check yourself, corrupt mining CEOs! A new latex-clad ball-buster is in town, with deadly knife-throwing skills and a kitschy name to prove it. Cue Yellow Knife, the toughest superhero from the NWT since Wolverine took his Harley south and everyone forgot he was from the territory.
“He’s kind of a vigilante Robin Hood-like character, kind of like Punisher,” says Montreal writer Dave Michaels, who created the character for CanCon web series Heroes of the North. “He saw a lot of corruption and how the Inuit and the aboriginal communities have been treated and he realized his knife-throwing abilities could be used to fight that.”
Not too much is known about how the young orphan Jason Blade became Yellow Knife, says Michaels, except that he was born in the NWT and raised by a troupe of circus performers (Gilles Amyot, anyone?). He doesn’t have the superpowers his name might suggest – shooting arsenic beams or charging people ludicrous rates for housing – but he is a crack shot with his eponymous yellow throwing knife.
The capitally named superhero is a recent addition to the Montreal-based comic universe, providing a patriotic alternative to DC and Marvel since 2009 with characters like Ottawa-based hulk The Canadian and his testy Quebecoise counterpart Fleur-de-Lys (she’s the only agent who operates under provincial rather than federal jurisdiction, because, you know, Quebec).
Yellow Knife is one of nine characters to join the roster for season two, where he’ll team up with other government employees (yup, our superheroes work for the federally regulated Canadian Defense Organization) to battle Medusa, a malevolent weapons manufacturer based in North Korea and run by Nazi scientist Doctor Josef Mengele.
“Canadian characters have not been that prominent [in comics]. There’s Wolverine and Alpha Flight [a Canadian superhero team], but we’ve never really had our own movies,” says Michaels. “For season two, we were able to give every province and territory a character and something to be proud of.”
Although it’s been almost five years since the first string of Heroes of the North episodes were released, the storyline has been unfolding through film shorts, comic books, blog posts and social media. Michaels, for example, is working on an ‘origins’ comic book, likely to be released in the summer, in which we learn about the slaughter of Yellow Knife’s circus family by Crimson, a sexy assassin, and her pet wolf Lupa.
“What still confuses and haunts Jason to this day is the fact that despite the murder of the only family he’s ever known, there is a lustful bond between him and Crimson, and he is drawn to someone who should, by all means, be his mortal enemy,” says the character’s online profile.
In his adventures, Yellow Knife will be joined by two other Northerners: Yukon Jack, a samurai lumberjack from Whitehorse, and Borealis, a mysterious beauty from Nunavut who specializes in Inuit wrestling. (Right now Yellowknife’s own Tiffany Ayalik has been cast to play Borealis in season two, though filming hasn’t begun yet.)
“Borealis will be very closely tied with Yellow Knife. I even wrote a story where they tackle the issue of missing and murdered women together,” says Michaels. “It’s a really sad, and heartfelt piece. I hope I do it justice… Tiffany’s read it and helped with dialect.”
Although Michaels has never been to the North, he says he’s learned a lot about the history and geography of Northern Canada since he started writing for the series five months ago. And he’s open to real-life inspiration for his plotlines: I suggested a Soviet wolf monster spawned from the fallen uranium core of Kosmos 954 and a plotline where Yellow Knife has to battle some Medusa villain trying to steal Giant Mine’s arsenic horde to destroy the world. Who knows, maybe there could be a plotline where Yellow Knife miraculously convinces 2000 people to move here. Now that would be a heroic task if there ever was one.
Yellow Knife’s first screen appearance, in which he’s played by actor Mike Donis, will be in a mini episode to be released in the coming months; a 30 second trailer for the episode was released in February.