Welcome Back!

It’s 2022 already and this comic is back with a vengeance. We’ve got the first issue pretty much in the bag already and have the scripts for two more. Lucien has a great story and I can’t wait for him to share it with you.

You probably have questions. I’m here to answer them.

Why did you stop the original comic?

Our business model was to get the comic crowdfunded, but hardly anyone showed up. In the words of the Wise Man, first you need the crowd, then you can have the funding. With no one to finance the production of the art, it pretty much came out of our pockets and we just couldn’t sustain the comic that way.

What’s different now?

First off, we’re not going to be weekly but bi-weekly (every other week), so it’s easier on the wallet. And we’re not going to rely on crowdfunding for the time being. We’re going to give the comic entirely free for as long as it takes to gather a sufficiently large audience, then we’ll start a Patreon page to back it up. Maybe. Let’s just focus on making a great comic first, see what happens. If you want to help, please share it with your friends. Tell people about it.

Why not continue the Chain-Spider story instead?

There were several issues with the original format, as Lucien will tell anyone (Lucien, please tell people, pretty please?). But it’s the same world where Chain-Spider lives, so I’d bet good money that she might make a cameo from time to time.

Can we still read the old comics?

They’re still on the site at the time of this writing, but they’ll be removed shortly and made available through an online shop (that still remains to be set up).

So what’s this new format you keep talking about?

Oh, I’m so glad you asked! We’re very excited about it. First, this is all very nugget sized, as I mentioned earlier. We’re working in “chapters” (or issues, if you prefer) and will be releasing one chapter per quarter (the first one being Winter 2022). Each chapter will have six pages that are kind of like a short self-contained scene. At a bi-weekly rate, that means 4 chapters a year. We plan on packaging those chapters into digital issues that people can purchase at a very cheap price to help support the comic. These issues will contain production sketches and some notes from Lucien that won’t be published anywhere else. And since we’re nerds and geeks, there might be gaming stats somewhere in there, we’ll see (no promise).

A’ight, that’s all I got for you at the moment. I hope you’ll stick around and tell everyone about this great comic. I couldn’t be more excited about 2022 and what it has in store.

Oh yeah, and fuck covid.


HWB #2.1 is Kinda Funded

So the funding campaign ended a few days ago, and while it wasn’t fully successful (we got $392), we’re still immensely grateful for the support we got. Lucien and I have decided to keep forging ahead anyway, hoping downloadable sales will help fill that gap over time. We love doing this comic and we’re not letting little details like *MONEY* stop us. So we’ll have to stop drinking overpriced coffee from Starbucks for a little while–so what? (They really DO add up, you know?) But I digress. Over the next few days, those who bought Insider & First Reader Rewards will be invited to private rooms on Upwork (where the comic is being produced) and will start getting insight into what’s coming up in #2.1. Be sure to check your spam filters in case the invite gets trapped in there (you never know). If you haven’t received anything by Friday, please let us know, we’ll look into it. It’s important to us you get your rewards (plus, we can’t wait to hear your comments about what’s happening in the next issue). Thanks! JC & LS

Crowdfunding Issue #2.1 Starts NOW!

Hey everyone, Thank you again for following Chain-Spider’s adventures so diligently during Year One. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading the comic as much as we have making it. And now it’s official, we’re launching the crowdfunding campaign for Year Two. We have tons of stories to tell and can’t wait to get started (and by “we” I mean Lucien–I’m just the website monkey). Over the course of the next 30 days, we’ll send backers some previews and updates on how the comic is going (including scripts and sketches whenever available). Please visit THIS SITE and see if there are any rewards that strike your fancy. Thanks in advance for your support! Lucien & Jean

What Happened to Chain-Spider?!

What’s this, guys? Who’s this Nazi-Kicker character? Where’s my weekly Heroes Without Borders comic? As we mentioned a few weeks ago, we’re done with Year One of the comic. We’re about to get started with the crowdfunding campaign–which we hope you’ll contribute to. Come back here on Thursday for the official launch of the campaign. What about Nazi-Kicker? Well, he’s part of the world of Heroes Without Borders (I’ll let Lucien introduce him). He’s a hilarious character, so much so that Lucien and Osiris were inspired to do a few strips for your entertainment. So while we work on the next issue of Year Two (#2.1), due late October if all goes well, we’ll entertain you every week with a Nazi-Kicker strip. It has NOTHING to do with the main storyline of this comic, but we’re hoping you’ll enjoy the twisted humor and great art nonetheless. Thanks, and don’t forget to come back here on Thursday! JC

Year Two Update

So, as Jean mentioned, we’re trying a different approach for Year Two of Heroes without Borders. Before I get into that, you’ve likely noticed I’ve been absent this summer, for which I apologize. I work at Ubisoft Montreal as Lead Writer and my latest project, Watch_Dogs 2, has eaten up most of my free time. Here’s our announcement trailer if you want to see me shine on about things.
It’s a tough gig and it’s murder on the personal time, but Heroes without Borders continues unabated and I plan my writing for it far in advance. We are coming up on the one-year anniversary of the comic’s launch and thanks to having three great at artists at the helm, we have some really strong momentum moving forward. More on that shortly, but I wanted to say ‘hi’ to everyone, and more importantly… thank you for your continued enthusiasm and support. It’s been tremendous and I can’t wait to dive into what comes next!

Year Two: Chain-Spider Needs YOU!

Hi everyone, We’re coming on the first anniversary of the comic and it’s been a fantastic experience. We have finally found our stride, and finally settled on a great artist, Osiris Santos Junior (what a GREAT name, isn’t it?). The response and feedback have been great and we couldn’t be happier with how the comic is turning out. Our first year was something of an experiment. We needed to figure out how to produce such a comic, how to raise awareness for it, and how to create a great story experience for our readers. It’s become very quickly apparent that reading a long-form comic week-to-week isn’t the best way to enjoy HWB. The story needs to unfold at a good pace and we can’t (or shouldn’t) create an environment where the story is compromised in order to bring people back every week. Long-form comics need to read like long-form comics, not weekly serials. Another thing we discovered in the last year is that this was probably the worst time to start a long-form comic and rely on network advertisement. With the great and recent improvements in ad blockers, there’s just no financing left through “traditional” advertising. So we’re going to do an experiment for Year Two: we’re going to turn to you, our readers. On September 1, we’ll be starting a 30-day crowdfunding campaign to help us produce the next chapters. We’re looking at producing an 8-page chapter every other month (so 48 pages a year), each financed by a small campaign. There’ll be rewards and stretch goals, and some of you may even be involved in the behind-the-scenes of how the comic gets produced. There’ll be stretch goals for additional pages and, who knows, maybe even color! The comics produced through crowdfunding will be made available first to the backers, and eventually (3-6 months later?) make it onto the website for everyone to read (except for exclusive content that will be backers-only as part of the crowdfunding campaign). So stay tuned and look forward to September 1, that’s when we’ll announce everything! Lucien & Jean

Updates Bonanza

Thanks to overtime at work, which I’m hoping will come to a close soon, I was only able to finish up Hero Beats: The Street Angels Network article this morning. And I also updated the About section for the story so far, so it’ll be easier to follow story according to the arcs. I hope you enjoy both reads.   Meanwhile, today I go back over the existing arc and I’ll edit the storyline further down the track. I want to introduce someone earlier as well as reveal some information sooner, and since over 70 pages have been written and six comics are currently inked and waiting to be published, now is the best time for me to make the upcoming edits and send this year out with a bit of a bang as we head for Issue 52 and beyond.


It began with a surprise visit from Lancer at 11:00 PM one Thursday night, a visit that I’d been hoping for but was betting against happening. I wanted a behind-the-scenes look at the Street Angel Network, an underground system of contacts who helped out vetted superheroes with various degrees of expertise. Only those crime fighters who spent two tours on the street had a shot of being shown behind the curtain, and taught the two golden rules:
  • Don’t break their trust.
  • Don’t abuse their services.
I was thrilled for a peek at what most heroes would’ve killed to have, and I agreed that I would protect the names of the innocents, some of whom were risking jail time, disbarment, and revoked licenses for helping superheroes under the table. *** Following my meetings with Raph and Lewit, Lancer introduced me to more codenamed Angels, from Gabriel whose van ferried crimefighters as a kind of Uber for superheroes, to Shofar, an old man who maintained multiple burn phones to both transmit messages between heroes and to act as a kind of 911 switchboard. It was getting late by this point, near 3:00 AM on a Friday, and I was figuring our tour was winding down for the night. Like the city itself, however, the Street Angel Network apparently never slept and having insomnia was seen as a virtue. The next stop was codenamed Uriel, and I met the opposite of the evening’s fare of blue collar men and women willing to help the heroes. Uriel came from money and culture, which I could see in the way he met me and how he spoke. His fingernails were clipped and short, his clothing casual without a thread out of place. His lair was a large loft filled with the type of forensics equipment I’d read about in my favorite detective comics. Uriel was a one-man laboratory, with the hardware to handle forensic work that would make many a small police department green with envy. There was no autopsy equipment; otherwise, I saw an assortment of devices, both new and vintage, separated into the different arms of Forensic science. A central table contained the tools that the different disciplines shared including stereoscopic microscopes, comparative microscopes for trace and ballistics comparison, an electron microscope with X-Ray scanner for things like trace evidence and gunshot residue tests (and before you get the impression that I know the differences between them, I don’t—Urial was more than happy to detail his equipment and uses for me). His main computer was also hooked up to various databases including AFIS for fingerprints, and the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network. I didn’t ask how he had access. The firearms table had scales and balances while the serology table was covered in test tubes, a table-top storage fridge, a centrifuge, and test tubes. A chemistry table contained the most serious hardware with the gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer while off to the side was an X-Ray machine near four bookcases stacked with books, studies, and reports. A framed black & white photo of Bernard Spilsbury, one of the fathers of modern forensic pathology, hung next to an earmarked poster for X-Files: The Truth is Out There. When Uriel caught me looking at them, he laughed and said: “Spilsbury and Mulder… they’re both stubborn and driven, like me.” From an old bronze espresso maker, Uriel brewed a mean expresso for me, helping fight off the fatigue that was seeping in. We chatted over steaming cups, talking more freely than I had with any other angel. Uriel seemed pleased to have the attention, and I understood why. He toiled in privacy and helped capture many a criminal; it wasn’t attention he was looking for… just the opportunity to unburden some of his exploits. “Not all crime fighters get a Batcave or have the know-how to analyze evidence, so… they come to me.” When I asked him what the hardest part of the job was, he glanced at Lancer before laughing. I even thought I detected the hint of a smile on Lancer as well. “This crime-fighter, who shall remain nameless, comes to me with trace evidence that he gathered from a murder—a stabbing of a junkie the cops didn’t care enough about. The evidence all points to one guy… let’s call him John Smith. I’ve got his DNA, his hair, his fingerprints everything. So I tell my crime fighter this, and he stammers out: ‘But I’m John Smith.’” Uriel chuckles. “Cross-contamination, that’s the hardest part. Most crime fighters can’t process a crime scene worth a damn and half of what I get is unusable. I try to teach them, I try to equip them,” says, nodding to the small satchels that I learn are simple evidence-gathering kits, “but most of them don’t bother carrying them around.” He smiles at Lancer. “Too much of a bulge I guess.” Uriel explains that he probably learns more about the crime fighters themselves sometimes than he does about the crimes they’re investigating. “Doesn’t that scare off superheroes?” I ask. “The chance you might figure out who they are?” He nods and then looks over at Lancer. “That’s why I ask Lancer to wipe their identities from my head when I do find out something too personal.” “You let him erase your memories?” I blurt out. “Better that than some sociopath torturing me for the information. Besides, it’s what I signed on for.” Up to this point, I’ve tried not to push for personal information, but the idea of letting someone root in my head terrifies the living hell out of me. It’s like voluntary Alzheimer’s, so I plow the course and ask. “You’ve obviously got money… so… what drives you to do this?” He pauses a second, thinking about it. Then he tells me, “I was orphaned,” he says. “When I was 9, a mugger shot my mother and father right in front of me as we were leaving the opera.” He bursts out laughing a second later. “Sorry, I couldn’t resist. I don’t need Hell or tragedy or a crisis of faith to do something with my money and education. And I don’t need powers to do good either.” Dawn’s approaching by the time we leave and the delivery trucks are already rumbling through New York, delivering the essentials for the morning rush. I’m ready to throw myself across the finish line, but Lancer tells me “one last angel.” Trinity Cemetery and Mausoleum is the last active cemetery in Manhattan and certainly the last place I expected to find myself. Through the bare trees, I can see the cold Hudson and the flicker of headlights. Lancer steps inside one of the mausoleums, and we stand before an urn crypt, quietly looking at a name… a woman who died a decade ago. When I finally ask “was she a Street Angel?” my whispers echo and I feel like a thief in this place and in the fraternity of heroes I’ll never really be a part of. “Grandma. She wasn’t the first person to help us, but… she organized them. She started the whole network thing. We kept her secret, tried to keep her safe.” I did a quick calculation of her age… she lived for a respectable 84 years and yet I didn’t think that was the end of the story. Lancer was making a point, I could feel it, so I asked the question that needed to be asked to continue her tale. “What happened?” “We weren’t closing ranks like we should have, and word got around that Grandma was at the center of a network. I guess to the bad guys, she seemed like a chink in our armor… a goldmine of information.” “Jesus,” was all I managed. I couldn’t imagine hurting an old person, but then he said one name… Vuko. I was embarrassed to admit I didn’t know the name, but Lancer’s connections with Tango at the War College and with The Honor of The Samaritan Guard meant his knowledge ran to the military as well and there was a long and deep history with metas as government operatives. He continued. “Vuko was KGB-Alfa. We’re talking Cold War era stuff here going back to the late 60s. Mid-70s, he breaks rank and resurfaces as a soldier of fortune in Angola, Lebanon, that sort of thing.” When I wondered aloud if he was Akula, the breed of Russian metas working for the Bratva and for Russian millionaires that started appearing around the same time in the 70s, Lancer shrugged. “Akula, no. He hates the Russians and they hate him back. There’s some bad blood there over what? I can’t say. He’s incredibly gifted with guns and he takes punishment like a prizefighter on PCP.” Lancer went on to explain how someone must have hired Vuko to find Grandma and interrogate her, and that’s exactly what he did. “He tortured and murdered two angels before he found her and went to work on her. Only… Grandma wasn’t given up anything. She was a tough bird, a vet, and she held out long enough for a couple of crime fighters to stumble across the other murders and beeline it to her. Vuko got away, but Grandma was badly wounded. She didn’t make it.” We were both quiet a moment, and I realized Lancer was waiting for me to process the information, to piece it all together. Ever since that time, the crime fighters in the know would become highly protective of their angels, but then—why give me a tour unless…? “You want to wipe my memory, don’t you?” I asked. “I think their story needs to be told… we could use more help out there and people have to know the price.” “But.” “But, I need to erase some details so you don’t become a target for the authorities or the criminals. I need to erase locations and how to reach them, and I need to plant false intelligence, the kind of details that would lead criminals to me and other crime fighters instead of to the angels. I want criminals to know that if they go after the angels, I’m going to wipe the slate with their heads and mentally regress them to the point they popped out of the womb. And I will keep them in that state.” It was an effective message, at least to me. Looking at Grandma’s name and remembering the people I met this evening, I understood the terrible risk of being a Street Angel. Was I scared of having Lancer tap into my thoughts and scramble them around a bit? Absolutely. Memories and mental acuity are at the core of how we define ourselves, so to surrender control over that terrified me. What if I wasn’t the same afterward? What if Lancer had inadvertently sabotaged something integral to me like my natural curiosity or my ability to write? And yet, could I be responsible for someone’s death. I visualized sitting there, writing the obituary of a Street Angel I was responsible for killing one of them because I couldn’t withstand torture or interrogation. How would I even begin to apologize to someone or their loved ones? For the first time since this all started, I considered abandoning the article, partially out of fear of Lancer tooling around in my brain, and partially because I was afraid of that kind of responsibility. Instead, I said, “Do it,” before I could reconsider. *** To tell you all the truth, I feel almost nothing about the memories that were taken or altered. I’m not sure how Lancer’s powers work or why I was expecting cardboard cutouts in place of the real memories, but the missing moments of that Thursday night to Friday morning feel more like napping through bits of a movie I was watching. I remained grateful for the experience and I found it impossible to tell which memories had been tweaked or altered. So it’s with that sentiment that I say that my tour of the Street Angels Network is as true as my memory allows. Only the interview quotes themselves, which I wrote down, are from the moment of the moment. Before Lancer floated away from my apartment window that early morning, however, I did manage to ask him, “Lancer… this Vuko guy you mentioned. Is he still out there?” “I think so, but the guy’s tough. The last time I heard about him… he’d gone toe-to-toe with Bangarang about, oh, a year ago, and still managed to walk away.” That was enough to send chills down my back.


When you first become a crime fighter, there’s a lot you don’t know. The first lesson is that it’s not a clubhouse out there; metahumans are either territorial about protecting their opportunities for fame and fortune, or they’re the diehard vets suspicious of your motives. Then there’s the stuff nobody tells you about, be it where to find functional outfits, how to protect your brand against marketing poachers, and how to communicate with the police. One of the secrets to being a crime-fighter is what’s considered an industry secret shared only with those heroes who operate beyond a tour or two. It’s for metahumans who pursue heroism for selfless means, and not a shot at glory, and it’s passed on by word of mouth, as much an act of trust like learning someone’s secret identity as it is a rite of passage. The Street Angels Network is the name of an underground system of contacts willing to help heroes under the table. Some are professionals whose jobs prevent them from helping metahumans without permission or for whatever ethical oaths they’ve sworn. Some are doctors and nurses, some still practicing and others striped of their license. Some are lawyers, or cops, or retired metas themselves. Some charge for the sake of supplies but most offer their services for free. The only rules for using the Street Angels Network is:
  1. Don’t break their trust.
  2. Don’t abuse their services.
My journey into the Street Angels Network began at 11:00 PM one Thursday night, when a rap at my window startled me. My apartment was three stories up. Lancer was hovering outside, arms crossed and a simple question on his mind. “You ready?” was all he said. I’d been expecting this visit for a while, but I was still trying to crawl back into my own skin after that scare. I’d known Lancer for a while, now, but I had a hard time readingthe man. Throw his mental abilities into the mix, and I was genuinely scared of him. If he’d ever picked up on that in the time I’d known him, however, he never indicated. I was about to be given a tour of the Street Angels Network; not all of it and even the Street Angels themselves didn’t know the full extent of their own loosely affiliated organization, but the caveat was all the same. I was to use false names, locations, and descriptions to protect the men and women dedicated to helping metahumans. Lancer used a mental cloak to keep us hidden, and we wandered the streets like ghosts. It wasn’t that people didn’t see us per se, just that a subconscious urge made them ignore us like we were a pair of non-descript faces in the pages of Where’s Waldo. It was thus obfuscated that we arrived at our first stop. It looked like any other building, the apartment door short a coat of paint and the blare from a television set filtering across the floor. The man who answered the door went by the codename of Raph, short for Raphael, the archangel of healing. I’d consistently see this Judeo-Christian-Islamic theme behind the Angels, for obvious reasons. Inside his apartment, Raph had a variety of triage kits, disinfectants, some pain-killers, puncture proof disposal bags, and a room he’d insulated against sound that could be converted to emergency care with a massage table for an operating table and a cot for recovering patients. It was surprisingly clean. Raph was polite but apprehensive, and it was only after Lancer insisted on him taking a swig from a bottle of liquid courage (which he also used as cheap antiseptic) that he finally warmed up a little to my questions. “They didn’t let me practice medicine here,” he admitted, “so I had to find another job.” After I asked him how he got into helping metahumans, he told me about working as a deliveryman when, one night, a customer pulled a knife on him. A metahuman he refused to name saved him, but got cut badly, and Raph treated his wounds and quickly developed a reputation among some crimefighters as a street doctor who would treat your injuries, no questions asked. The “no questions asked” is the currency of the Street Angels Network; heroes need these contacts because they don’t trust official channels, while the Street Angels themselves have their own lives to protect. Raph himself could be arrested for practicing medicine without a license, but he calls himself “the middleman” between the heroes and the ERs. Although doctors in general protect their patients under Doctor/Patient confidentiality, they’re still required to report stabbings, shootings, and suspected signs of injuries due to power usage. Many heroes don’t want to be arrested on charges of non-cooperation. “How do you safely dispose of all the medical waste?” I asked. Treating metahumans was a dangerous affair, and if I’d learned anything from interviewing Roadkill Inc., metahuman waste was called problematic residuals for a reason. More than one person had died from touched meta-contaminants. “One of the street angels has access to a cremation furnace,” Lancer said. “We use it to get rid of various things.” “Bodies?” I asked. The room went quiet, but Lancer remained nonplussed. “Never. We don’t make the network an accessory to murder. But we do burn a drug dealer’s stash when we know he might walk, or a dangerous piece of tech that has no right being made or retro-engineered.” Our next stop wasn’t any less homely… another non-descript apartment that could be found in any lower tax bracket. In these places, though, people proactively minded their own businesses, making it easier for Street Angels to operate. This time, we visited the home of a short woman who spoke in a low voice to avoid waking up someone in the next room. Whether it was her partner, a relative, or her children, I practiced the currency of the agreement and didn’t ask questions. She called herself Lewit, and I was hard pressed to remember an angel of that name. Instead I asked, “So what do you do?” The woman’s smile was bright and encouraging, and she motioned for me to follow her. Her workroom was hidden and both Lancer and Lewit chuckled at what must have been my shocked expression. This ample woman, someone I would have expected to be a lawyer or bureaucrat by day, was an engineer. There were several worktables covered in various machine shop tools, or with electronic gadgets including hand tools, soldering tools, cables and wires, and circuit boards. The walls were covered in organized shelving units and drawers, and the empty spaces were filled with a high-end 3D printer, a gun drill, a button rifling machine, a reloading press, a pallet of coolant oil, boxes of cartridges, and so much more. I was looking at a goldmine of equipment here and Lewit must have sensed my thoughts because she simply said: “I have patrons.” “Patrons” is a polite way of saying “junkrats,” a breed that encompasses crimefighters, glory hounds, and straight up collectors, mostly baseline humans who buy high tech devices from inventors strapped for cash or retiring from the life. My attention fixated on a wall display case above the door. “Are those–?” “Street Saint’s old power batons. I gave him an upgrade and he said thank you,” she said, nodding to the two weathered batons crossed and on display. I never learned whether Lewit was a baseline human or metahuman but she helped crime fighters repair their gear. I sensed a military clip to her bearing and to the way she spoke; by the way she handled the equipment, I had no doubt she could shoot a weapon as easily as she could field strip and repair one. Many crime-fighters, especially the Charlie-class ones, often used gadget belts and various tools to help keep the streets safe. Lewit was the go-to saint for building, repairing, and outfitting those gadget-wielding crime fighters. She was a Jane-of-all-Trades when it came to equipment, mechanical and electronic, and she was even known to custom-build devices for her clients when she had the parts and thought the cause was good. I wanted to spend more time speaking to Lewit, but she had an early morning and Lancer was eager to get moving. There were still more Street Angels to visit that night, and I was not about to waste my one shot to peek behind the curtain. TO BE CONTINUED: PART II NEXT WEEK