Thursday, June 30, 2016

F.O.R.C.E. Files: Doc Tesla

When I created F.O.R.C.E., my goal was to play with the various archetypes that appear in super powered fiction. Legend combines a pair of tropes as I covered before, but the focus of the second chapter takes a look at the concept of the legacy hero. Doc Tesla is the great-granddaughter of the legendary inventor and the third generation of hero to use Nikola Tesla's technology to fight crime and serve those around her.

The legacy hero as a concept dates back to Lee Falk's The Phantom, but DC has numerous heroes that fit the category as well. Though many were written out of continuity by the New 52, they all appear to slowly be making their return now as part of DC Rebirth.

I'm not quite sure where I came up with the idea for a legacy hero framed around the legend of Tesla, but it dates back to the mid-2000s when I first started to embellish my old super-team into F.O.R.C.E. She was one of my earliest additions to the team after the core duo of Legend and Iron, characters that long predated the idea.

Despite her origins being much later than most of her teammates, Doc Tesla became one of my favorite characters on the team. She has a rather different origin than the rest of the team and remains new at using her equipment.

Her tale also adds some poignancy to the ongoing saga of F.O.R.C.E. I don't want to spoil anything, but both in the flashback and modern sections, our heroes face terrifying decisions.

Check out F.O.R.C.E.: Doc Tesla for only 99 cents at Amazon and Smashwords.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Worth Watching 1: Maverick

The Worth Watching feature is where I simply talk about a show I think deserves wider viewing from genre fans.

Maverick isn't exactly the first show you think of when I start a new column on a site called Super Powered Fiction. But in many ways Maverick gets by without falling into the obvious tropes of the Western setting. He's not a rampant gunman, but instead focuses his energies on outwitting his foes.

Started way back in 1957, the show ran for a healthy five seasons on ABC, but it was really only the first three seasons I ever cared to watch. James Garner as Bret Maverick was a lovable cardsharp and a con man. When I discovered the show as a child in the mid-1980s, I was fascinated by a Western hero that wasn’t all punching and shooting. Bret—as well as fellow Mavericks Bart, Beau and Brent—solved their problems with their head more often than at the barrel of a gun.

Bret was always my favorite though as James Garner brought a charisma to his character fellow actors Jack Kelly and Roger Moore never could quite match.

I’m not sure when exactly I regularly started following the series whenever it did appear on television. I was too young to watch Bret Maverick (the 80s rebirth of the show), but know I also caught it in reruns later in that decade. But I do know as I flipped through channels from those days until now, I would often stop when I saw James Garner in his familiar black hat.

And of course, Bret Maverick returned in the awesome 1994 film Maverick, both as James Garner and with the similarly named character played by the film’s lead Mel Gibson. I remember being greatly disappointed that a sequel never developed from the film.

To this day, any version of Bret Maverick is a character I will follow. James Garner is a classic face of film and television with a legacy that loomed over six decades. Though he’s gone now, his roles will continue to live on for decades to come.

If this article interested you at all, please pick up the first three seasons of Maverick, the single season of Bret Maverick and the film at the Super Powered Fiction estore.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Great art: Dracula by Bruce Timm

I love Bruce Timm and I am on a bit of a vampire kick lately, as I research for a couple upcoming projects that will feature vampiric elements in them. So when he did this amazing art inspired by Hammer’s Dracula film, I had to share it here. Check out Little Shoppe of Horrors for more of Timm's horror art.

Remember to check out more great art at the Tumblr.

Monday, June 27, 2016

With a little help from my friends... and fans

The life of an independent author is not always an easy one. When the profits from your books aren't enough to live on and you find yourself off your other job because of leg injury, things get rough. That's the situation my family and I have found ourselves in for the last couple weeks. With no income coming in, we're in dire straits.

Because of that, I've set up a GoFundMe page. I'm asking fans, friends and family to help us out in our trying times. Even if you can't spare any money (a problem I understand all too well), please consider sharing the campaign and help more people see our troubles. Every little bit will help see us through a few more days.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Cosplay Friday: Vampirella

I am going to be honest here. I consider Vampirella to be one of the quintessential comic characters, as important to the genre as Superman, Spider-Man or Wolverine. In many ways, she defined the move to mature storytelling in the 70s black and white magazines, forever marking her and her iconic (if brief) costume as one of the most important female characters in comic history. American horror author Nancy A. Collins clearly agreed and I highly recommend checking out her amazing year worth of Vampirella stories that really redefined the character.

So did cosplayer Micheline Pitt as she shows off an amazing rendition of that legendary costume.

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 on this week!

What's Up: June 24, 2016

What's Up is a simple post where I give you links to the books, comics, movies, games and/or music I have been enjoying as of late. Feel free to check them out if you would like to enjoy them as well or give your opinions of these works in the comments below (though do try to keep it spoiler free.)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

River City History returns to Walking Shadows

A new River City History takes the stage at Walking Shadows today. Give it a look and consider supporting the Patreon for the project as well.

Enter the wasteland of 'The Scavenger'!

When I first published The Scavenger in 2014, it was just a simple Short Shot story with a post-apocalyptic feel. But since then I've released Lightweight: Beyond. Anyone that has read both stories can see distinct similarities in setting. This should come as no surprise though, as The Scavenger is actually the first appearance of the planet Nill.

When I first released the Short Shot, I already knew it was going to hint at the future of Lightweight, even while the first few chapters of the Lightweight saga were still underway. I wanted to write a short piece to give me the feel for the world, especially because I knew when the upcoming fourth Lightweight novel is released, major elements of this story will come to play as Kevin Mathis seeks to stop Nill's destruction.

But that is an entirely different tale. We are here to discuss The Scavenger. At just under a thousand words, it is one of my favorite pieces of flash fiction. It is also conveniently available at whatever price you would like to pay. Released under a Creative Commons license, it is available now at Smashwords and you can pay anything for it from nothing to a few thousand bucks. Or if you would rather just read it right away, you can conveniently read it through Wattpad either at the site or in the reader below.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Influential 7: New Warriors

Influential is an irregular series where I take a look at various properties that have served to inspire my writing and style.

Image credit: Marvel
New Teen Titans in the early 80s was definitely an attempt by Marv Wolfman, George Perez and DC Comics to transform the young heroes of the DC Universe into the company’s own version of Uncanny X-Men. But while the motivation was obvious, the book became something far greater than what was initially planned. To this day, it is one of the best superhero books in the history of comics.

New Warriors had a similar origin. It came out of Marvel’s desire to have its own team of young superheroes. While the company already had the New Mutants, that team was already well on its way to becoming something very different: the paramilitary unit that became X-Force.

Rage is not only a favorite of mine,
he's also one of the few New Warriors
with an action figure.
Initially formed in the pages of Mighty Thor to battle Thor and the Juggernaut during the “Acts of Vengeance” crossover event, the team consisted of the majority of Marvel’s non-mutant teen heroes (as well as the little used mutant heroes Vance Astrovik and Firestar). Only one member, the mysterious Night Thrasher, was new. (Some rumors say he was originally meant to be Rocket Racer before a last minute change to tie in with the new series.)

Fabian Nicieza, Mark Bagley and later Darick Robertson were stars on the rise when they jumped on the ongoing series that spun out of Thor. Night Thrasher proved to be the linking force of the new team as he brought the young heroes together to fight the evils of the world. But Nicieza and company never forgot that these were disparate young people coming together. And they set out to do great things with the kids.

Nova (don’t call him “Kid”), Speedball, Namorita, Thrash, Marvel Boy/Justice, Firestar, Silhouette, Rage and the ever expanding cast always remained fascinating people even when they were fighting threats large and small.

Ultimately New Warriors succeeded best at being fun and compelling at the same time. The book spent most of its run never forgetting that comics were entertainment. It was always just plain fun.

They’ve tried to bring the concept back a dozen times, but it never quite works, probably because of the horrible damage done to the team at the beginning of Civil War. But as one of my first looks at a teen team in work, I will always look back to New Warriors every time I write about young heroes.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Great Art: Marvel Vs. Capcom by Adam Warren

Adam Warren and Marvel Vs. Capcom are both favorites of mine, so it was a no brainer to share this amazing piece featuring Arthur versus X-23, Viewtiful Joe vs Modok and Shuma Gorath vs Tron Bonne. If you love Adam's art too, be sure to check out his Empowered series. They are great comics.

Remember to check out more great art at the Tumblr.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Kickstart the Week 42: The Stalker

The Stalker is a pulp noir superhero tale set in the 1930s. Created by Travis Huffman, he brings elements of The Shadow and Batman to the page, albeit with a more supernatural twist than both the pulp and comic icon.

The new Kickstarter is for three issues of The Stalker series as well as a special looking at the legacy of the character, as he has a Phantom-like legacy over multiple generations. It looks like a fun, unique comic, so if you're interested, be sure to check it out.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Cosplay Friday: Starfire

Florencia Sofen is one of the world's best cosplayers and she's back today with this amazing cosplay of the DC New 52 Koriand’r. Source.

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 on this week!

What's up: June 17, 2016

What's Up is a simple post where I give you links to the books, comics, movies, games and/or music I have been enjoying as of late. Feel free to check them out if you would like to enjoy them as well or give your opinions of these works in the comments below (though do try to keep it spoiler free.)

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Experience "The Arrival"!

In this new story, the year is 1966 and the four heroes that make up the United States’ premiere team, The Challenge Squad, face a crisis of conscious even as they face a galactic level threat that could destroy a huge chunk of the planet!

An homage to some of the great sixties super-teams, “The Arrival” is now available as an ebook on Amazon and Smashwords.

But is actually the second appearance of the team. They originally appeared in another Timeline Story, "U.F.O." which is also available now. While both are related, neither is necessary to enjoy the other. I'd be more than happy if you got both, though!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Best Character Ever 22: James Bond

Bond. James Bond. It is a name synonymous with English language culture. Over twenty movies after Sean Connery first donned a tux to bring the character to life in Dr. No, he has become one of the most beloved characters in the history of entertainment.

Through the years, Bond has been brought to life by a half dozen actors of varying ability. Connery wasn’t the actual first. That honor actually goes to Barry Nelson, an American actor on the 50s television anthology show Climax!, where he played “Jimmy Bond”. But he set up the look and style of the character for decades to come.

Since that time, the question of who is the best James Bond floats through the ether of everyday conversation and internet argument. Sean Connery, Daniel Craig and Pierce Brosnan all have a strong contingent of backers. Roger Moore, the longest running Bond, often ends up as something of a red-headed stepchild while George Lazenby is barely an after-thought. But none are my favorite Bond. No, the best Bond is often the most derided: Timothy Dalton.

Dalton came to the character right after Roger Moore and his movies came with an instant tonal shift. The Living Daylights and Licence To Kill are not the wild campy rides of Moore’s era. They are dark, gritty Cold War tales that feature really threats and limited gadgets. James Bond is a cold-blooded killer, but still our moral compass through a world where no one is someone we really want to root for. Over the fifty years of James Bond films, these two come the closest to Ian Fleming’s originals. If you haven’t watched them, give them a shot, especially if you’re a fan of Casino Royale or Skyfall.

Talking all the different James Bond actually brings up my favorite aspect of the character, one that always surfaces every time Bond is recast. A theory has been around for decades that all James Bond movies are in continuity and that the name and number are passed from agent to agent as one retires or dies. This creates a fascinating continuity akin to some of the craziest comic book universes. It’s also an idea that if I ever wrote a James Bond novel, I would definitely put into play.

Here is my personal James Bond timeline:

  • 1962-1968: The first 007 is actually named James Bond. He comes into operation and takes on the forces of SPECTRE. Injured in battle, he temporarily retires.
  • 1969-1970: A new Bond takes the place of the original, but his wife is quickly killed at the hands of SPECTRE agents. His quest for vengeance leads to horrible injuries that leave him badly scarred.
  • 1971: With a need for a 007 active, the recovered first Bond returns. His work is short lived though and he quickly is retired. The resurfacing of SPECTRE in the early 80s brings him back into operation, temporarily giving the world two active Bonds.
  • 1972-1985: After experimental plastic surgery, the second Bond returns to duty with a new face. He would quickly become an expert agent, now regularly towing the party line for M and the Special Service.
  • 1986-1990: A hard-nosed military veteran becomes the third man to take the Bond name after the previous Bond is forced into retirement. He is much less concerned with materialism than previous 007s, but his hard-nosed views clash with those of M.
  • 1993-2005: After two years without an active Bond, a fourth Bond is brought in to the Special Service. In the post-Cold War era, he faces far different threats and spends much of his time jet-setting rather than in active service.
  • 2006-present: After the previous Bond is forced into retirement, the fifth and current James Bond becomes active. In the post-9/11 world he is far more tactile an operative than previous 007s. The nephew of the original Bond, he also carries the birth name James Bond. (Feel free to insert all his young adventures as James Bond Jr . if you would like.)

I love playing these kind of Wold Newton games with literary figures and Bond started that for me. That alone makes him an important addition to this list.

Currently, Daniel Craig may or may not have filmed his last Bond with Spectre. After that, it could go to anyone. (Idris Elba is my choice for Bond 6 though.) If Craig leaves, I look forward to building the growing narrative of multiple Bonds.

Oh, and anyone that spends time debunking the theory (like the folks that made Skyfall), should stop. Have fun and live a little.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Great art: Amethyst by Mike Maihack

I have an unrepentant love for Amethyst, whether in her original or New 52 incarnation. I still feel she's a character ripe with possibility. I once even wrote a Vertigo story about her, but never could get an editor to look at it. It's a great concept, but I have no idea how I would ever rework it as it was very specifically focused on Gemworld.

This image today is a bit lighter in fare, drawn by the always amazing Mike Maihack of Cleopatra in Space fame.

Remember to check out more great art at the Tumblr.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Cosplay Friday: Dagger

Cosplay bodypaint always fascinates me. The work on this Dagger costume makes it pretty much the perfect version of that costume.

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!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Is the world prepared for… the Atomic Werewolf?

I am proud to introduce the Atomic Werewolf to the world. The character is one of my odder creations, a 1960s experiment gone wrong that creates a massive wolf creature on the run from the government.

This short introduces a massive monster with connections with many points in Quadrant Universe history. But it was also about experimenting with form. I wanted to tell the story in a different way than straight prose. I made the decision to tell the tale from the viewpoint of a friend of the monster writing in his autobiography more than forty years later. It will not be the last appearance of either character however, as I plan a long history for the Atomic Werewolf as part of the Quadrant Universe. I particularly would like to share more passages from Davy Daniels' autobiography, but all that depends on how many more Timeline tales I manage to write between my other anthology appearances and novel length work.

As an aside, I am also very proud of the cover which combines a famous public domain movie poster with an atomic icon to create a beautiful visual for the book, even continuing the movie post design with the names of the stars. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed creating it.

The Atomic Werewolf is truly some of the most fun I have had as a writer, so I hope everyone can enjoy reading this unique tale as much as I did creating it.

Pick up The Atomic Werewolf now at Amazon or Smashwords. Priced at only 99 cents, it is the right price for a great read!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Obscure Heroes 3: Wildstar

Wildstar: Sky Zero was one of the initial “second wave” of Image Comics. Created by Al Gordon and Jerry Ordway, it stood next to Dale Keown’s Pitt, Sam Keith’s The Maxx, Larry Stroman’s Tribe, Keith Giffen’s Trencher, Mike Grell’s Shaman’s Tears. Like most of those stories, Wildstar lasted for only a four issue run. Unlike the others, that was all that was planned.

Al Gordon’s previous writing credits included fill-ins on Legion of Super-Heroes and Timber Wolf, so a story about time-traveling metahumans seems right up his alley. He comes in alongside legendary Superman artist Jerry Ordway to produce a new book about an aging hero from the future known as Wildstar. It seems he is stuck in a time-loop, but for most of the series, we are not sure why. But once again he travels in to the past in an attempt to stop the post-apocalyptic badlands of his current existence.

In the past, he comes across a government agency responsible for alien tech as well as Mickey, the son of the agency’s head. But Wildstar didn’t time-jump alone and he has a half-dozen other metas to make his way past. Wildstar and Mickey become inexplicably linked as he tries to escape attack from the other time travelers and their duped government allies.

By the end of issue three, our hero is dead, but as in so many comics, it is a death that won’t last.

Wildstar would later return for a ongoing series that would last only three issues and a guest shot in Rob Liefeld’s best Image title, New Men, before returning again fairly recently in the pages of Savage Dragon under the new name of Soulstar. It seems a copyright dispute left the character without a name… and those old issues unsaleable. It’s a damn shame too. Whatever his name, he was a damn fine comic character. He also remains one of several comic characters I would love to see return in some kind of print form.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Great Art: Big Jim’s P.A.C.K. vs. Hydra by M.C. Wyman

I have been a fan of M.C. Wyman since the 90s when he was a regular on Marvel's B books, drawing dozens of issues over just a few years. Since then he seems to make a good bit of cash selling art on Ebay. I even commissioned a Lightweight piece off of him last year. One of my favorite of these later day pieces is this piece featuring Mattel's 70s answer to G.I. Joe, the always awesome (and Kirby designed) P.A.C.K. against Baron Strucker himself.

Remember to check out more great art at the Tumblr.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Cosplay Friday: Miss Spencer

Rumble Roses is a game where the female wrestlers are about as close to superhero figures as possible. While it definitely goes for a bit of cheesecake, it is built on a more advanced version of the WWE Smackdown engine, making it a very fun—if somewhat limited—game. It also ends up ripe to be used by cosplayers.

I have met very few teachers that dress like this.
A schoolteacher gimmick is an obvious choice for the game, hence Miss Spencer, pictured above. The game's unique face/heel system also gives her an alter ego. And what is the most sensible alter ego for a teacher? Well, a dominatrix named Mistress Spencer of course!

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!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

F.O.R.C.E. Files: On Legend

Legend has elements of both halves of this
amalgam, but he's forging his own path.
Image credit: DC/Marvel.
The F.O.R.C.E. Files is a new irregular series of columns discussing the F.O.R.C.E. series.

When I first developed Legend about twenty years ago, he was designed to be the answer to a formula. Comic book universes have their big conquering hero, their A list player that leads the other heroes into the future. With a name like Legend, he pretty much has to be that guy.

Those characters in Marvel and DC are—at least in this writer’s opinion—Captain America and Superman. So when I first started to develop Legend I looked at what made those characters different. Legend’s sense of justice certainly resembles the pair. The skintight bodysuit and cape originates with Superman, while I suppose Legend’s history as a military man links him at some level to Cap.

But from there, I wanted to develop Legend into something new. He’s a hero with a more modern bent, built by a modern businessman under a defense contract. He’s supposed to be a kind of super-soldier, but the experiment’s darker elements caused him to go out on his own and gain the enmity of his creator (a member of a family that also plays a part in the pages of Lightweight, where Legend recently appeared.)

I also wanted to start Legend in a place a bit darker than those heroes usually tread. Legend is a man still recovering from both his greatest success and his greatest tragedy. He stopped a man that was supposed to be America’s top hero, but was also its top criminal. In doing so, he lost his closest friend and confidant. He’s a broken man as his backstory begins and still has that darkness deep inside him. It will continue to haunt him throughout the series.

Legend is a character I hope to develop over the next few years of writing. He’s got an interesting future ahead of him if I can accomplish even half the plans I’ve had in place for him over the years.

And hey, he’s only the first of many great new heroes that will rear their head as F.O.R.C.E.moves towards its conclusion.

Legend takes the spotlight in F.O.R.C.E. 1: Legend, a 99 cent short story at Amazon and Smashwords. Learn more about him in that tale and the entire F.O.R.C.E. series.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Best Character Ever 21: Leonardo Da Vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci’s impact on history is legendary. The quintessential Renaissance Man, Da Vinci did things hundreds of years ahead of his time. But as great as he was as a historical figure, I often think he offers many more possibilities as a figure in literature and pop culture. He’s certainly one I am always fascinated to see in fictional endeavors.

I think I first came across fictional Da Vinci in the film Hudson Hawk. I would have been about twelve when I first saw the legendary box office bomb starring Bruce Willis. But its backstory focused on Da Vinci and the quest to unlock the three pieces of the Philosopher’s Stone the legendary engineer inadvertently made. While Hudson Hawk certainly isn’t a masterpiece of cinematic history, it did instill me with a love for the fictional Da Vinci that has survived for over two decades.