Thursday, September 20, 2018

Influential 9: Future Imperfect

It's hard to believe it's been two years since I posted the last new Influential column. But today it's time to take a look back at a great work and how it helped shape my mindset of my writing.

Today, I'm talking about Incredible Hulk: Future Imperfect.

Maestro by George Perez. All images owned by Marvel. 
Originally published as two prestige format issues outside the regular continuity of the current Hulk title, it was still written by then current Hulk scribe Peter David with art by George Perez. The two previously worked together on Sachs & Violens at Epic and this was a chance for the two to pair up for a second time.

The book featured the Pantheon era Hulk, one with the mind of Bruce Banner, the edge of Joe Fixit and the body of the classic jade giant. Because this Hulk was so similar to the current comic Hulk, after Future Imperfect's success it proved little trouble for David to integrate it into the mainstream character's history. But really that's all a lot of background material. The focus here is on those two great over-sized issues.

The entire saga takes place in the distance future, where the Earth has been ravaged by nuclear war  and only a few city-states still remain on the planet. The most powerful is ruled by the Maestro and the rebels know only one hero of the past has a chance to stop him. The book starts with the arrival of that hero, none other than Hulk. He quickly learns about the destruction that caused this future and agrees to help the heroes fight the villain, because only he can understand the villain.

For the Maestro is the Hulk himself.

The radiation released into the atmosphere fed the Hulk's strength but also drove him mad. The Maestro rejected his humanity, instead subjugating the people beneath him and declaring himself absolute ruler of all he could see.

What comes next plays with the typical tropes of time travel in comics as the hero confronts his own future and the nature of fate. Ultimately, Hulk realizes the Maestro is a threat he cannot let live. In the end, he uses the time travel to deliver Maestro to the one point in time and space that can end his threat.

Perez is always at his best when he gets to design, such as he does for Rick Jones' collection of heroic relics.
Future Imperfect is a concise tale that gives a peak at a potential future while also working to define the character as we know him. Perez's luscious art brings the future to evocative life while David loads the tale with twists and turns.

Ultimately, the book serves for me as an example of how to do a time lost hero story to its maximum effect. As I continue to craft new tales of the Quadrant Universe, the importance of time will come into more and more clarity in the weeks and months ahead. Time travel will play an essential part in that expansion, though it might be saying too much to tell exactly where and when.

Future Imperfect stands as one of the best Hulk stories ever told. It's been almost perpetually in print since its original collection in the mid-1990s. If you haven't checked this one out, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

A little more Lightweight and a whole lot of Werewolf! (WIP Wednesday)

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash
My goal of 30,000 words for September is well in grasp as I type this. I've wrapped another chapter of the ongoing saga of Lightweight. Book Four takes him to several locations as he makes his way back to Earth in a big way. I'm so excited to share these stories with everyone starting in January.

Atomic Werewolf continues at a healthy pace. I've got a rough outline I'm working from here, as I develop some different ideas into this one. It's been a fun ride and I hope it makes for a unique book in my repertoire.

I'm moving right into my next chapter of the super secret local hero story, one that I hope to share more details on fairly soon. I'm also working towards developing the two books I've mentioned before as possible side projects, even as I plan a third concept to be my focus for NaNoWriMo in November. Much like previous National Novel Writing Months, I suspect I'll have one main novel and a secondary project going towards my total, but I've got to iron out how those things will flow in the next few weeks.

I've already mapped much of November and December for my writing plans, but we will see where things fall for October. But for now, I'll keep writing and I hope you'll keep reading. Don't forget to check out the Patreon where this week Lightweight 2: Ronin, will drop.

Now leave me be! I've got writing to do!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Looking back at Lulubelle Rose Jensen and Big Top Tales

Every Tuesday we look back at a great post from the previous years of this blog. This time around we go back to a character not quite in my regular wheelhouse, yet the star of one of my favorite stories. 

I am incredibly proud of the work I did as part of Flinch Books' Big Top Talesnow available on Amazon in print and Kindle formats.

Co-editor Jim Beard developed basic characters based around the various occupations of the Henderson & Ross Royal Circus, and based on choices and the time people joined the project, assignments were made. While I had ideas in my head for both the Human Skeleton (scored by the amazing Rocko Jerome) and the Knife Thrower (written by the always great Frank Schildiner), it was my third and final pick that Jim assigned to me. I got to write the Trapeze Artist.

Part of me suspects I might have received my writing assignment because no one else wanted to spend the amount of time I spent researching the trapeze before I started to write. I must have visited a half dozen websites and watched a couple dozen Youtube videos, before I stumbled upon a biography that helped me really get into the head of a trapeze artist in the days before television regularly brought amazing performances to the screen. Queen of the Air: A True Story of Love and Tragedy at the Circus by Dean Jensen helped get me into the mind of the strange mix of isolation and adulation being a star of the trapeze might bring. The true story of Lillian Leitzel isn't exactly a happy one, but it was one that could help me get inside the head of my own Jensen: Lulabelle Rose Jensen.

From Jim's two paragraph description and Leitzel's story, I created a far more modern woman than one might expect from a story set in the mid-1950s. Rose is a woman more than willing to take what she wants, including a man to bed for a one night stand. But it is just that action that embroils her in a murder mystery from the very first page of my tale “Deadly Triangle”. As the story continues, she must balance the fine line of her circus career, her own wants and desires, and a serial murderer that may just want her as his next victim!

And while I think Rose's tale is more than worth the $12.99 print price and the $3.99 Kindle price, the best part of Big Top Tales is it is not alone. In addition to the talented Mr. Jerome and Mr. Shildiner, it also features tales from Ralph Angelo, Jr., John A. McColley and Sam Gafford. Together it makes one complete collection telling the tale of one amazing summer for the Henderson & Ross Royal Circus that cannot and should not be missed.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Jon Sable! Madman! Dragon! Nexus! A new line of Amazing Heroes! (Kickstart the Week 66)

It's been awhile since I focused on a Kickstarter over in these parts. I've cooled a bit on the platform as I've forced myself into a bit more financial frugality over the last year or so. But when I see something that's just really cool, I still want to share it with you.

I supported the previous incarnation of Amazing Heroes, where they produced several figures in the style of the old school Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars. They were fun figures, but they were limited with few joints and with a majority of the figures being classic public domain characters.

A swath of characters are available for the new line.
This time around, they're taking the opposite route. Proper 1/18 scale (a la G.I. Joe and classic Star Wars) figures featuring a variety of licensed properties with names like Savage Dragon, Madman, Jon Sable, Nexus, E-Man and Stray in the initial wave. If the Kickstarter proves wildly successful, they have several additional figures planned as stretch goals including the Red Hook, Jack Staff, Flaming Carrot and the Destroyer himself, Remo Williams. It's an impressive array of figures.

Unfortunately, it's currently in danger of missing its funding goal. This is a superb line of toys featuring a ton of indie favorites, so if you've ever loved superhero toys, now is the time to show some support with a few shekels. Check out the Kickstarter for full details on how to back.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Cosplay Friday: She-Hulk

She-Hulk is one of those characters that takes a lot of dedication to cosplay. AZPowerGirl did not play making this look work for her!

As always, you can check out a lot more great Cosplay pictures over on the Tumblr. And while you are admiring some great cosplay here, don’t forget to check out some of the other great stuff from yours truly this week!