Monday, December 31, 2018

New Year, and a new look for the Quadrant Universe!

2018 is wrapping up. With 2019 around the corner, it was time to up the look of the Quadrant Universe. With that in mind, meet the logo that will adorn all the new releases as they drop starting in just two short days with the publication of Quadrant 6 on Patreon!

Be prepared to see a lot of this in the days and weeks ahead, folks, as there's a ton of new super powered fiction heading your way!


Friday, December 28, 2018

Great Art: Magnus, Robot Fighter by Craig Rousseau

Magnus is one of those weird characters that has fascinated me since his days at Valiant. He's not exactly a superhero in a traditional sense, yet he is a super powered being in the distant future fighting the all encompassing threat of a robotic horde. Or at least he is, when he's not appearing in a Steampunk variant of his original appearances, as in this variant cover art by the always amazing Craig Rousseau.

As always, you can check out a lot more Great Art over on the Tumblr. And after you're done admiring some great art here, don’t forget to check out some of the other great stuff from me this week!


Monday, December 24, 2018

It's Christmas Eve! Enjoy Claus vs. Kong for free!

Have you ever wondered what would happen if Kong attacked the North Pole? You haven't? Why not? It's only the best holiday tale ever!

And did I mention I'm sharing it with you, dear readers, free?


You can head over to Wattpad and check the story out for your own bit of holiday cheer! As the savage beast rampages across the factories of Santa and company, everything falls to one brave elf with a plan to save the day! I hope you enjoy it and be sure to let me know what you thought of it when you're finished!



Friday, December 21, 2018

Cosplay Friday: Harley and Ivy, Christmas style

I mentioned it in last week's Great Art, but I decided this year would be a Harley and Ivy themed Christmas. The holiday themed versions of our favorite Gotham City Sirens are portrayed here by Uncanny Megan and Emi Smile. Fine work from both as well as Emotive Lite Photo!

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!


Thursday, December 20, 2018

Young DC heroes in prose - thoughts on Wonder Woman: Warbringer and Catwoman: Soulstealer

Just over a year ago, DC and Random House teamed up to produce the DC Icons series, novels telling the tales of young DC characters. The titles don't seem to have any particular connection other than that theme and a rogue's gallery of well known young adult writers providing the stories. With two books of the released three now under my belt, I thought I'd share some thoughts on both.

The Batman book remains on my to-be-read pile! 
Wonder Woman: Warbringer twists the back story of Diana and gives her an adventure in Man's World years before Steve Trevor arrives. Instead, she rescues a young girl named Alia when she washes up on Themyscira's shores. Unfortunately for Diana, she soon learns Alia isn't just a normal girl, but a Warbringer, a living trigger for war in the world.

The plot quickly expands to introduce Alia's friends and her brother Jason, even as forces beyond her control seem to attack Alia and Diana from every corner. Much of the story is spent hopping from Alia and Diana's point of views as they get to know each other, but Diana is far less a fish out of water than in most tellings of her origin. A major twist hits two-thirds through the book to reveal the true villain and the tale rushes to a speedy finish there.

Leigh Bardugo is a fantasist in her regular work and perhaps that explains some of the slog her character interactions often seem to be. The time between leaving Themyscira and reaching the site of the final battle often feels disjointed and with little clear path. Because of this, the middle really weighs the rest of the story down. The conclusion makes up for a lot of those issues, but it just doesn't feel like Bardugo had enough to fill three hundred plus pages in an entertaining way.

The same cannot be said for Sarah J. Maas' Catwoman: Soulstealer. The roughest part of the tale is an extended introduction set a few years before the main action as teenage Selina is taking care of her ailing sister Maggie while earning a living as part of the girl gang of fighters known as the Leopards. This portion ends badly for Selina as she's arrested and about to be locked away for a long time before Talia Al Ghul intercedes and invites her into the League of Assassins. And while this section feels overly long, every page of it is essential in defining Selina and her motivations for the rest of the novel.

Fast forward two years and Selina returns to Gotham as Holly Vanderhees, a wealthy socialite. She's graduated from the League, but has betrayed them in coming to Gotham with a prize she's looking to sell far greater than anyone could imagine. She quickly sets up her work as Catwoman which brings her into conflict with Batwing. With Batman out of the city, Luke Fox is in charge of defending it and one of the best parts of the book is how compelling Maas makes both Selina and Luke as their narratives bounce back and forth.

I expected the cast to be limited mostly to those two figures, but Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn end up playing significant roles, with a bevy of other Gotham regulars making cameos at least. The tale races along with two characters that stay compelling and a plot that's always moving forward.

Maas knows the lore of these characters well and embraces it rather than ignores it. Dozens of Gotham locations used previously appear as do several well known elements related to the characters I've mentioned already and a few more. Maas revels in crafting her own take on these ideas and the result is an epic novel that makes me wish she would write more contemporary heroic fiction.

Both Warbringer and Soulstealer bring new ideas to old characters, but it's only Maas's Catwoman tale that truly excels at it. Both books are available pretty much anywhere books are sold, so check them out if you haven't already and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

A December to dismember! (WIP Wednesday)

Blame Extreme Championship Wrestling for that punderful title, as they gave us the original event of the same name in 1995. WWE pretty much destroyed the relaunched ECW with a pay-per-view of the same name a decade later. (It was a whole lot of not good.)

It's been a tough few weeks. Health issues kicked my depressive tendencies into high gear and familial situations ramped up my own need to retreat from a lot of the world. I've focused a bit more time into a few games instead of putting a lot of it into writing, either here on the blog or on books.

But I am continuing progress on Lightweight. I hoped to finish the last two chapters before the end of the month so that the first drafts would all be prepped for the January launch of all new stories on the Patreon. While I still have months and months to get them done before they would actually debut, that doesn't mean I don't want to make sure readers can know they will see everything come out in a timely manner with work done months in advance.

My plans for the final two weeks of the month consist mostly of getting the last few rewards for December sent out on Patreon, then to make sure everything is up and ready for January and February on the Patreon. From there, I plan to wrap up the fourth book of Lightweight, then move on to completing the first full year of Quadrant and Shockwave. After that, I'm in the free and clear to start on 2020's slate of stories for the site!

Not much news otherwise as I ramp up for the Christmas holidays. Next week's posts will likely be light on content, so you can expect to see your next WIP Wednesday after the first of the year!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

A few thoughts on Wonder Woman (Tuesday Throwback)

With Aquaman out soon, it seemed  a good time to take a look back at another DC gem of the last few years!

Big props to the film for just making sure they stopped to
have this photo actually taken mid-film. 
The DCEU's Wonder Woman is the first modern DC movie to do what Iron Man and Avengers did for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Director Patty Jenkins, writer Allen Heinberg and star Gal Gadot created a Wonder Woman far superior to her comic counterpart.

I suspect Heinberg can take a lot of credit for that. A noted television writer, he took a story by Zack Snyder and Jason Fuchs (with some reported input by Geoff Johns) and crafted a great film script that stayed true to the character while keeping the storyline fresh. While this was his first movie script, he does have a history with comics, writing the excellent Young Avengers for Marvel and the six issue Who is Wonder Woman? run for DC.

Patty Jenkins also has a bit of comic to movie pedigree. While she hasn't directed a movie since the critically acclaimed Monster way back in 2003, she was at one point attached to Thor: The Dark World. She left that movie due to differences with the MCU's creative staff. With this film in her repertoire and The Dark World still sitting as one of the worst MCU movies, it seems she might have taken a wise career path.

But Gal Gadot really brings the film home. An ensemble player up to this point, she shined as the centerpiece of the film. She brought Diana to life in a way no one has quite captured before (with all due respect to Lynda Carter.) She made the character her own, while embodying so many of the best parts of her history.

Clearly the creators (with comic enthusiast Heinberg at the fore front) drew from dozens of DC Comics runs to make this Wonder Woman. From the earliest issues of the character (where Doctor Poison is drawn), to the Perez run (where this version of Ares and the Amazons have their origins) to the New 52's Azzerello / Chiang run (where her secret origin as Zeus' daughter originated). And while all those runs had moments of triumph, the film somehow combines those elements into a whole better than its parts. It's a true achievement by the team guiding the DCEU and hopefully, the first sign of a better future for the Extended Universe.

If you haven't checked it out, I highly recommend Wonder Woman to any super-fan. It's the kind of film it is hard to be disappointed in. You can check it out through digital streaming now or pick it up on Blu-Ray September 19th.

Monday, December 17, 2018

The secret origin of the Living Legends!

I have made no secret of my interest in playing with public domain characters to form a foundation for the Quadrant Universe. This was a purposeful choice on my part, but it vastly predates the era of convenient wikia sites for such characters. When I first started to develop Living Legends it was all from a very cool book called the Encyclopedia of Super-Heroes by Jeff Rovin. Published in the early eighties, it attempted to be a comprehensive list of every superhero created up until that point. It also featured dozens of public domain figures I started to cobble together into a story idea.

From that the Living Legends concept was born, as eighteen of those characters are lost in time only to resurface seventy years after their disappearance. The foundation predated comic projects like Project: Superpowers and The Twelve by a few years, even if my final released volume came far later.

Old Soldiers was supposed to serve as the first novel of a trilogy. It stands on its own but leaves plot threads dangling for future installments for that reason. But as I set out to work on the second volume of the series, I quickly realized at the time I wasn't quite ready to bring it to life just yet. It was a complicated concept to begin with, and I found that I wasn't able to pull together the disparate threads as well as I would like for the ongoing series.

That makes it one of several projects I hope to finish over the next two to three years. I have any number of works set to expand the Quadrant Universe as a whole, and the next two Living Legends volumes are a significant part of that.

Don't let their delay though make you avoid reading the second book in the ongoing Quadrant Universe saga though. Living Legends: Old Soldiers introduces a plethora of new characters, many of which will eventually surface in other corners of the universe. And I don't want anyone to miss the origins of Lady Foulplay or The Coward, or the dark secrets of The Dart and Ace. There's a ton of adventure waiting ahead in these pages!


Friday, December 14, 2018

Great Art: Holidays with Harley and Ivy by Bill Walko

Bill Walko is a super-talented artist that has kind of become the go-to-guy for fun character art online. He's since branched into his own comic series with The Hero Business which features page after page of his fun visuals. But as a holiday treat here on the blog, I thought I'd share his amazing rendition of the holidays for Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy.

As always, you can check out a lot more Great Art over on the Tumblr. And after you're done admiring some great art here, don’t forget to check out some of the other great stuff from me this week!



This is part one of a two week holiday celebration with the coolest couple in Gotham, so stay tuned for a special Cosplay Friday next week as well!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

That's My Jam 4: Somewhere Over the Rainbow by IZ

Sometimes I think it's pure emotion that makes covers work far better than the originals. Perhaps it might be sacrilege for the Judy Garland fans out there, but her rendition has nothing on the power of Israel Kamakawiwo╩╗ole, the late Hawaiian singer known colloquially as IZ. A powerful singer often with just his ukulele accompanying, he's a singular talent known these days as "the voice of Hawaii." He brings a new meaning to the song in his performance of it. If you haven't heard it before, you might just be a bit surprised.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Life's derailments, or a migraine a day... (WIP Wednesday)

It's been a tough week framed with the return of an old enemy: migraines. This has slowed my process quite a bit. 

Most of the work I've accomplished over the week has been on lunches and short stretches away from home and a computer, writing in a notebook. I've worked on much of Lightweight this way over the last few months. 

Outside of this, my focus has been mostly on trying to keep the headaches from derailing me completely. This has slowed my writing down a bit, but shouldn't impact the full roll out of the Patreon at the beginning of January. 

Beyond that, I've been playing quiet games and mostly just working to stay distracted from the pain as much as possible. It's been an up and down process, but usually my bouts with headaches leave me within a week or two arrival. 

While I'm busy recovering though, you can bring a bit of joy to my day. If you've been reading my work please head over to Amazon or Goodreads and give it a review! Every single review helps more readers find the work, and you will earn my unending gratitude and brighten my day just a bit more.

Today's image is a much more elegantly photographed image of a headache than I could ever produce, all thanks to the talented Matteo Vistocco on Unsplash. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Casting the MCU's Fantastic Four! (Tuesday Throwback)

I originally posted this article almost a year ago and we are still waiting for the Disney / Fox deal to close once and for all. With the MCU debut of Fantastic Four somewhere in our future, here's my choices again for the perfect FF cast. 

As I write this, the announcement was just made a few minutes ago. Disney is buying Fox and the X-Men and Fantastic Four properties will soon return to Marvel Studios. While a few folks are talking about what this means for the X-Men franchise, I'm personally far more interested in how it would effect the one property Marvel Studios desperately needs to handle, just to save it from the mediocrity it has suffered in three films so far.
    It is time for a great Fantastic Four film. 

    All they need is some matching spandex.
    Let's keep the premise simple and as close to the classic origin as possible. They fly into space, get exposed to some kind of galactic space goo / Negative Zone force / Dormammu spit / whatever and get super powers. They crash back on Earth and learn they have gained freakish abilities. Reed decides to use this in the best way his capitalist mind can think: by turning them into a business. 

    As they reach their first levels of success and fame, Reed's old rival Victor Von Doom resurfaces. The Eastern European aristocrat (hell, make him overlord of the remains Sokovia instead of Latveria now) has used his genius to replicate the technology of Tony Stark, but his time training under the Ancient One gives him a different perspective on the world of tech. He's still got a major hate on for Reed, who seems to have lucked into all the success Doom struggled to get. So he sets up to fight the heroes. He brings in one big MCU guest star as a dupe to ground and pound the team before the final battle between the heroes and him. 

    An end credit scene shows the impending arrival of the Silver Surfer and quite frankly set up a whole new phase of Marvel films. 

    It's far more simple a story than any other attempt to modernize the team for modern movies while delivering some room for laughs and character development. 

    Let's take a look at my cast, in the order I would expect to see them in the credits: 


    Eddie Redmayne as Victor Von Doom: Eddie may be swamped under by the next four Fantastic Beasts films, but he is spot on the guy that can play Doom to a tee. He can play down to earth, pathos and isn't unwilling to transform himself for a role. And if Jupiter Ascending proved anything, it is that he can go over the top as a villain with ease. 


    Saoirse Ronan as Susan Storm: Ronan is young, blonde and an infinitely better actress than the two women she replaces. While she's avoided blockbusters for the most part, she would be a spot on choice to build a more full fledged Invisible Woman than we've been given in the past. She's easily the most powerful member of the FF and it's time we're giving an actor and a movie that can show it.


    Armie Hammer as Ben Grimm: I'm not sure if Armie has given up on the "I need to be a thing" thing yet, but he'll probably never make it as a major leading man. But Hammer is a great player in his previous blockbuster attempts. He could make a great giant rock monster, whether or not the movie wants to go full CGI or use makeup effects. 


    Ross Lynch as Johnny Storm: The hothead of the Fantastic Four goes to a man most famous now for playing a serial killer in My Friend Dahmer. But as a veteran to the Disney Channel, Lynch is pretty much built to play a slightly smarmy but great looking guy that loves the spotlight. Kids love him and with about twenty pounds of muscle packed on, he could be Marvel's next hot young thing. 


    Zac Oyama as Reed Richards: The most unknown of the actors in my list, but the College Humor regular has acting chops plus the comedy talent to make the inherent silliness of stretching powers really work. Zac has played super smart and socially inept before during shorts, and that makes me think he's got what it takes to make a young Reed come to life. And if Kelly Marie Tran can make the leap from CH to Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Zac could do the same for the Marvel Universe.


    Matt Smith as the Silver Surfer: The only former Doctor (at the moment) not yet cast in a Marvel movie or show would be the perfect man to bring a quirky alien fascinated by humanity to life. While Surfer in many ways is an ultra-powerful version of the good Doctor, I suspect Smith could bring some interesting differences between the two and hopefully set himself up for an eventual spinoff film. 


    Introducing: ? as Alicia Masters: I have to cast an unknown as Alicia Masters, as I think it might be a great time for Disney/Fox/Marvel to show off their diversity creds by hiring an actually blind actress for the role. It might add a few headaches to the filming process, but would be worth it just for authenticity's sake. 


    Featuring: Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk: Oh, come on! We all want to see The Thing fight The Hulk on the silver screen. Doom could easily use the big guy as a tool in his plot setting up a big fight between the two while the rest of the FF have to deal with Doom himself. It could make for a great climax and set up another "puny god" style moment. 

    What do you think of this cast and plot? Who do you want to see in a MCU Fantastic Four? Let me know in the comments! 

    Monday, December 10, 2018

    The Spirit of America reborn! A few words on the star of 'A Dangerous Place to Live'

    Despite starring in the very first book released in the saga of the Quadrant Universe, Freedom Patton's origins actually come much later than many of my characters.

    I grew up in the 80s and 90s, but by the time I started to really start writing it was a post-9/11 world. I don't think those that were still young or not born yet on that day understand exactly how that shaped so many people's lives whether they were personally affected by the tragedy or not. By the time the attacks happened, I already started to develop the concept of what a modern day American hero might look like. Most patriotic heroes have their basis in the 40s. Even as much as I love Mark Gruenwald's work on Captain America, his attempts at 90s patriots in Jack Flag and Free Spirit were... limited. So I set out to create a disillusioned hero for a disillusioned America.

    After 9/11, the origins of the character came into perspective. The Quadrant Universe has a long line of patriotic heroes behind it, but Freedom is unique among them. He isn't a costumed superstar living on his family's legacy. He's an average American from a broken time and a broken world.

    By the time A Dangerous Place to Live starts, he's years into his story. He's suffered from betrayal, both his own and others. He's seen the country, both the best and the worst. But he always has the mission. Always has the voices of the people guiding him forward.

    If the Spirit of America is broken? What would it look like? That is the tale of Freedom Patton in a nutshell. It's heady stuff, but it all is wrapped in an action-packed tale filled with monsters and super-beings and a quest to carve out a kingdom in the heart of America. It's prescience only seems to have grown since I wrote the first draft over a decade ago.

    You can get a copy on Amazon or half a dozen other online retailers. Subscribers to the Super Powered newsletter also can get a copy for a bit lower price. (Free counts as a lower price right?) And if you do read it, please consider giving it even the briefest ranking or review on Amazon or Goodreads. Every review helps bring more readers to the work!

    Today's image is from Josh Johnson on Unsplash.

    Friday, December 7, 2018

    Cosplay Friday: Spider-Gwen

    Along with Miles Morales, Spider-Man Noir and Spider-Ham, Gwen Stacy a.k.a. Spider-Gwen a.k.a. Ghost Spider will soon make her motion picture debut. With that in mind, it seemed fitting to feature the character on this week's Cosplay Friday. Gwensday Addams does an amazing job bringing her to life here. Feel free to check out more of her stuff at her Facebook.

    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!


    Thursday, December 6, 2018

    Neil Gaiman on Impostor Syndrome

    Sometimes as an independent writer in a vast ocean of independent writers, often isolated from anyone else interested in writing the kind of stories I want to write, it's easy to feel like I'm just faking it really well. This isn't a unique feeling by any means, nor is it really unusual. Most human beings have self-doubts and for people with a lot of them like yours truly, it often feels like you're just waiting for everyone to realize you're an awful fallible human being. I've read several great works that discuss what is called impostor syndrome, but perhaps the most compelling argument of all was shared by Neil Gaiman on his blog:

    I was lucky enough invited to a gathering of great and good people: artists and scientists, writers and discoverers of things.  And I felt that at any moment they would realise that I didn’t qualify to be there, among these people who had really done things. 
    On my second or third night there, I was standing at the back of the hall, while a musical entertainment happened, and I started talking to a very nice, polite, elderly gentleman about several things, including our shared first name. And then he pointed to the hall of people, and said words to the effect of, “I just look at all these people, and I think, what the heck am I doing here? They’ve made amazing things. I just went where I was sent.”
    And I said, “Yes. But you were the first man on the moon. I think that counts for something.” 
    And I felt a bit better. Because if Neil Armstrong felt like an imposter, maybe everyone did. Maybe there weren’t any grown-ups, only people who had worked hard and also got lucky and were slightly out of their depth, all of us doing the best job we could, which is all we can really hope for.

    That right there gives me a lot of strength whenever I read it. Because even two great Neils, one the first to do something no one before him could do, and the other one of the finest writers of his time.

    Wednesday, December 5, 2018

    The First, but not the last! (WIP Wednesday)

    It's mostly been a weekend of relaxing here at Super Powered Fiction Central! This has been on purpose as I cool off from spitting out 50,000 words in thirty days as part of NaNoWriMo. The First: Hero's Dawn isn't quite finished yet, but it will rest for a bit as I make sure I've got the first three months of stories set for the huge roll-out of twice monthly (or more) new fiction on Patreon.

    I'm also getting things prepped for the roll-out of another top ten wrestlers for the year ending 2018 over at the Wrestling Deep End, as well as writing about recent independent shows I've attended.

    Next up on my docket is the wrap of Lightweight Book Four, more Shockwave and then finishing up The First: Hero's Dawn. From there, I'll then wrap Quadrant Book Two before pulling out a couple older works to finally bring to an end.

    So I have lots of plans ahead... but not much to talk about for them right now! I'm sure I'll have more in the near future however, as things get ready to launch for the next wave of Lightweight tales in just a few short weeks!

    Today's image is of D'Compose, a great villain from the classic cartoon Inhumanoids, by artist Kelly Williams. I've had giant monsters from beneath the ground in my head for awhile lately, so it seemed fitting to share this one here!


    Tuesday, December 4, 2018

    Tuesday Throwback - Enter the mind of Enigma in Quadrant: The Future Shock!

    I talked in detail last week about the importance of the Quadrant series to my writing. I even penned a brief introduction to the four members that make up the team. But that was last week. This week brings the fourth volume in their ongoing adventures, now ready for your digital purchase!



    "The Future Shock" brings Enigma to the forefront as he finds himself trapped in a single moment of time. It also introduces one of the team to one of their greatest threats, Tempus Dux, the dark lord of the future. Dux has a vast hatred for the heroes of Quadrant, a hatred they don't yet understand. But without the voices in his head for the first time in his life, the young omnipath must use his wits and his telekinesis to stop a threat beyond anything he's faced before!

    All this plus the return of a strange force that offers more mysteries into the nature of the Quadrant Universe!

    Quadrant: The Future Shock is now available at Amazon.com.

    Monday, December 3, 2018

    A quick site note

    I'm just checking in to let everyone know that things are going well, but I'm still in full recovery mode from NaNoWriMo. Stay tuned for a Throwback post tomorrow followed by a return to the regular schedule after.

    Bonus Typhoid Mary cosplay by Florencia Sofen just because I recently bought the new action figure. Thankfully for toy aisles, she was not wearing this exact costume...

    See you in a couple days everyone!