Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Super-Powered Comics: Young Avengers

I picked up the original two Young Avengers trade well after the book finished its original (and notoriously slow) run. I expected to hate it, quite honestly, as the concept seemed like a cheap knock on the original Teen Titans concept. What I got in its stead was a rather complex look at young super-heroes that owed as much to the New Warriors as it does to the Avengers.

Allan Heinberg, writer of such (loathed) shows as The OC and Grey’s Anatomy builds the initial arc of the book around an intriguing premise: What if you found out you were destined to become time’s greatest villain? A young Kang the Conqueror’s answer is simple: he travels back in time to gather the help of the Avengers, only to find the Avengers no longer exist. So he does the next best thing and gathers a team of young heroes mentioned in the Avengers files, all with ties to previous members. Kang takes the name Iron Lad, and alongside Patriot, Asgardian, and Hulkling they act as a new generation of Avengers.

The initial six issue arc brings them in to conflict with Iron Man and Captain America as well as the fully grown version of Kang. One large irk builds as the story progresses, as we break Marvel’s rules of time as the universe shifts again and again as history alters. (Mark Gruenwald establish the rules of time in the Marvel Universe along time ago, and ever since he died the company have stomped all over them.) The arc ends with one Young Avenger gone, three others arrived in his place, and the temporary disbanding of the team. It is all brought together beautifully by Jim Cheung, an artist I still remember from his sketchy styling on (ironically) the teenage incarnation of Iron Man a decade back. His style developed exponentially through his work on X-Force and especially on Crossgen’s Scion.

A two issue arc follows (with not quite as good art by Andrea DiVito) that starts to re-establish the team. We learn the origins of Patriot’s powers, get some tidbits on the home life of Stature, and establish Kate Bishop’s new heroic identity. The guest art filled Young Avengers Special features some of the biggest comic artists alive: Neal Adams, Gene Ha, Bill Sienkiewicz, Jae Lee, Pascual Ferry, and a framing sequence by Michael Gaydos. Jessica Jones (of Alias fame) delves in to the histories of the team, all as a lead in to the final four issue arc.

Jim Cheung returns to illustrate the best issues of the book, as the team reunites in an attempt to prevent a new Kress Skrull War, all revolving around team member Hulkling. They end up caught between the Kree, the Skrull, and the Avengers, but the new and improved Vision aids them in finding another new member: Speed. Apparently the lost soul-brother of Young Avenger Wiccan (formerly Asgardian), Speed is a temperamental speedster able to project explosive blasts.

The series ends with the team as a unit, but come Civil War and Heinberg’s inability to keep up with the series, the book came to an end.

All in all, Young Avengers gives us a good look at what could have been in the Marvel Universe. But with several team members popping up in the rosters of the new Avengers teams over the next few months, I doubt we will see them as a cohesive unit again. It’s a real shame, as this team has more potential than any other corporate produced title outside of Runaways.

Both books can be picked up now in one affordable trades (containing all 13 issues). I highly recommend any reader of great comics go out and pick them up.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Timeline 16 Story Notes

I wrote Claus vs. Kong a couple years ago where it was originally posted as part of the currently defunct Pulp Empire newsletter. I had lots of fun with it and have at least one planned sequel, so I thought I would bring it to a larger audience on MHP.

The story has been lengthened and cleaned up a bit, the lead character has went through a name change, and I freshened a few things up to set it in the modern day instead of the fifties. But otherwise, I think it remains a solid read. I actually conceived of it as a children’s book idea, and some day would like to see it take that form.

You will have to wait a year for the sequel, but let’s just say I plan to up the stakes.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Super-Powered Prose: Wake by Lisa McCann

Wake isn’t exactly regular superhero fare. No costumes, no even any really heroic actions. But I would still easily categorize it as super-powered fiction. Janie has the power (or is it a curse) to see the dreams of those around her. The only problem is she can barely control it.

This is typical young adult fiction, so while dealing with the constant dreams bombarding her, she also has to deal with boys, sex, and problems fitting in. But we get it from different angles, as she experiences the hidden secrets and closeted desires of those around her. Lisa McCann digs them up rather well, even as she builds a rather lackluster relationship between her and a young slacker at the school named Cabel.

By the end of the story, she learns she’s not the only one of her kind and starts to build towards at least a level of control. But the story derails with the sudden arrival of a police-related plot. I assume this is a build-up for the sequel Fade, but it feels just wrong with the structure of the novel’s first two-thirds.

Even with that brief complaint, Wake remains a good, quick read. I would recommend it, if only as something a little different than what you usually find out there.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Super-Powered Prose: The Web of Arachnos

The Web of Arachnos is the first of (at least) 2 City of Heroes novels produced in 2005-2006. I picked it up back when it first came out not because of its status as super-powered fiction, nor its pretty George Perez cover, but because it was by one of my favorite authors: Robert Weinberg. Weinberg produced both an excellent Vampire the Masquerade trilogy over a decade back and quite possible the best run of Cable ever, issues 79 through 96 (just prior to the Quesada/Morrison revamp). Both excellent works, both fine examples of the field they were written in.

I didn’t get anything quite as exciting with The Web of Arachnos, but I did get a solid work of fiction with a unique origin to a heroic universe. I don’t really know how much of this back story is from Cryptic Studios (the game’s creators) and how much is from Weinberg, but we get an interesting story that ties the roguish heroes of the pulps with the super-powered heroes of the first comics. He sets the story in the late twenties, where an American version of Arsene Lupin (a famous French thief/hero) named Marcus Cole finds his throat cancer cured when he and his friend Stefan Richter find what is basically a Fountain of Youth. It imbues them with great power, but the two also open Pandora’s Box, a kind of energy force that flashes across the world and instantly creates the conditions for super-powers. Cole and Richter are separated. Cole returns to their hometown of Paragon City and sets out to fight corruption. Richter works his way in to the criminal organization Arachnos and eventually takes control.

A lot more happens over the course of the novel. The three Furies/Fates/Kindly Ones make repeated appearances, half a dozen other superheroes appear, a steampunk-style pulp villain named Nemesis falls, all before the final confrontation between Marcus Cole, now the Statesman, with his monstrously transformed ex-friend. All in all it is an exciting action adventure saga that serves to introduce the original members of the Freedom Phalanx, City of Heroes’ greatest team. I would definitely recommend it, but maybe you should check out that run of Cable first. You won’t be disappointed.

I have the next book in the franchise: Robin D. Laws’ Freedom Phalanx sittting in my read pile, so expect a review of that soon. I am not sure the third novel listed in the inside front cover, The Rikti War by Paul S. Kemp was ever published. Anyone with any information on that one would be appreciated.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Super-Powered Television: Heroes Episode 13 Dual

Okay, I am going to say that the Sylar voiceover from the very get-go definitely made me happy with this episode. The voiceover is a good summation of the last few episodes... even does a good job of glossing over the weaker parts.

The show opens with Peter and Nathan talking about their father’s plan over Arthur’s corpse. It leads quickly to a gun pointed at Nathan’s head. But Peter can’t shoot him... so he decks him instead.

Claire, Meredith, Angela, and Noah prepare to head to Pinehearst, but instead get trapped in Primatech by Sylar who has mind games planned for them all.

Sixteen years in the past, Hiro is still hanging from a flagpole. Parkman, Daphne, and Ando go in search of Mohinder in an attempt to get Ando powers and somehow save Hiro. Back in the lab, Mohinder is still dying. Rather dully. Peter once again draws a gun on Mohinder (and I doubt he will do much shooting here either. Why do you even have a gun, Peter?) Daphne speeds through and steals the formula, but Jesse and Knox show up to destroy Mohinder’s lab.

Super-marine falls fast as Knox goes in to the hall and kills G.I.-Kyle (as my 4400 fans/coworkers like to call him).

Daphne returns, Ando injects himself and promptly collapses with a sickly thud. Back in the past, Hiro climbs to the top of the roof. He ends up recruiting his younger self in an attempt to alter the past (which can’t seem like a good idea to anyone, can it?)

Sylar’s mind game plays out simply: he will let everyone go if Claire shoots Angela. How can this mind game really be this dull? And why would be Claire stupid enough to waste a bullet on a phone? Smart, Claire, real smart. Noah frees the remaining villains as bait for Sylar. (Go Hobolossus!)

Mohinder tries to talk Jesse and Peter out of their destruction, but it fails miserably.

Ando wakes up and tries to use his time travel power... and it turns in to a moronic blinking exercise. He quickly learns he has some kind of explosive touch instead (just like on his future appearance from week’s back).

Boo, Hobolossus gets offed away from the screen! Meredith confronts Sylar, but the Puppetman actually comes to her rescue and stops Sylar. Sylar apparently gives him a brain aneurysm instead. He proceeds to inject Meredith with something that causes her to drop to the floor (I assume the adrenaline, as she suddenly can’t control her powers.) Sylar locks Noah in a cell with Meredith, with the assumption that either he will die in her flames or he will shoot her in the head. Oooh, go craaazy Sylar.

Knox and Jesse’s motivation in this is really stupid. Anyway Knox holds Nathan hostage, and confronts Nathan with his fear. Nathan in turn bashes Jesse in the face with some kind of globe. Tracy shows up just in time to freeze and shatter Knox and rescue him.

Parkman touches Ando and finds that his powers amplify somehow. Daphne touches him a second later, and finds herself flashed back in time a few seconds.

Claire and Angela go to rescue Noah and Meredith, but Sylar takes Angela’s place and shoves Claire against a wall. More dull mind games (this is a really stupid deathtrap...). She runs away and tries to free her father, but finds the keypad gone. Noah has Meredith heat up the glass with her powers, Noah fires on it but it doesn't break, so Claire takes a flying leap through it. Meredith sends Noah and Claire away, and Meredith collapses.

Tracy tries to convince Nathan to leave, and Nathan quickly fires her.

Parkman figures out that Ando is some kind of power super-charger. Parkman uses some Einstein physics to convince them to travel back in time. Daphne and Ando work together to travel backward in time. In the past, Hiro and future Hiro try to steal the formula only to be stopped by Kaito. Kaito assaults Hiro, who tries to convince him to destroy the formula. He rips it in half, Kaito swings the blade, and Hiro is grabbed by Ando and Daphne. Back in the present, Daphne and Hiro run off to destroy the formula. They confront Tracy as she tries to steal the formula. After being called “Pikachu” Hiro decks Tracy and they run off with the formula.

Knox and Peter spill out the formula, which conveniently blankets Mohinder. Jesse prepares to blow everyone sky-high, but Nathan beans him with a metal pipe before he can. He proceeds to deck Peter and beat him down with the same pipe. Knox lights everything up and traps Nathan. Peter injects himself in a psychotic hope to help his brother, dives across the room, and flies them both away.

Sylar and Angela confront one another in Primatech. Angela congratulates him on saving the world by killing Arthur Petrelli. Angela tells the truth, that she is not Sylar’s mother either. But Angela tries to convince him that she had his best interest in heart. Sylar detects the lie and cuts her slightly. She admits that he would be useful to her as a monster that she could easily manipulate. She uses the truth about his parentage to keep herself alive, but as Sylar threatens her Claire embeds a piece of glass in to Sylar's cerebellum.

Claire tries to save her mom, but Noah pulls her away as her flames consume her. Meredith literally explodes and takes Primatech with her.

Peter and Nathan confront each other out in the woods. Nathan informs Peter that he wouldn’t have save him if the tables were turned before he flies away.

Mohinder voice over pops up again as he stares at himself in a car door and finds Tracy inside. He leaves with her.

Daphne, Parkman, Hiro, and Ando celebrate.

Mohinder’s voice over is all about love and shades of gray (Bleh.)

Three weeks later we get the beginning of Fugitives, where Nathan confronts an agent about the existence of other heroes. He gives his new goal: to round up the other heroes and contain them. Sorry, not an agent... a black President. (Considering this is either 2006 or 2007 still, I find it odd that George W. is black but whatever.)

The episode ends there and I take it in with mixed feelings. While the denouement of “Villains” did prove to bring things together far better than I would ever imagine, I fear that “Fugitives” may be more of the same. However, the clear focus on a few different players, specifically the return of Micah, could free up the new volume to shine. Let’s hope things can come together to keep Heroes on the air for some time to come.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Super-Powered Comics: The Contingent #1

It’s not often that I run across a new original superhero publication from a truly independent company. But that is exactly the case with the first issue of The Contingent by Mindstorm Comics.

Written by Zack Kruse with art by the eponymous Zeu, The Contingent reads much like the Nunzio DeFillipis and Christina Weir version of the New Mutants from a few years back. The story revolves around a young metahuman named Miguel who a mysterious organization (which I assume is called the Contingent) tracks down in his home in Bolivia. He has some kind of strange energy power, although the nature of it, isn’t made clear in this issue. In fact, very little is made clear in this issue, and that’s a bit of a shame. Miguel travels to his new school which is very much the X-Mansion campus right out of the film. He meets Richie, his telekinetic roommate, and that brings the issue to a close.

Now I am not a hater on decompression (not automatically anyway), but for a debuting independent publisher in an incredibly turbulent marketplace, this seems like an odd way to go with this book. It reminds me of J. Torres’ Sidekicks from a few years ago, but even that initial story gave a little more satisfaction than this work. Looking at the cover alone, we have four players who we haven’t even met yet! Nor do we have any real conflict of any kind.

I can only assume the creators assumed that do to the nature of the direct market, anyone who ordered issue one was automatically locked in to issue two (thanks Previews!) Even so for $3.50, I expect a little more than this. The Contingent may very well have a lot of potential, but we will have to wait another month to find it.

Let’s hope the market will allow it to get that far.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Super-Powered Television: Heroes Episode 12 Our Father

Hiro and Claire arrive in the past, and we learn that Hiro’s mother was the former catalyst. They quickly seperate. Claire goes to stop Kaito from injecting her with the catalyst. Hiro, upon learning his mother is another healer, sets out to find a way to get her to restore his memories. Hiro very badly tries to cook for his mother as he takes the place of th enew chef (where the new chef actually is is anyone’s guess). He proceeds to overhear a conversation between his mother and father about his lack of ability. He reveals everything, and his mom cures him, and the two talk about his life... his successes. She proceeds to pass on the catalyst, not to Claire, but to the adult Hiro. She passes away moments later.

Sylar answers his father’s (or is he?) phone call, and reveals his plans to go after a new list of heroes from Elle’s phone. He burns Elle’s body and wanders off of the beach Hiro left them. Sylar goes to confront someone with the ability to lie detect in an office, and makes short work of her... and apparently her office mates.

Claire has a rather bland heart to heart with her mother. Nathan returns and is immediately suspicious of the older Claire. He quickly sees through her story. Claire actually convinces her father to somehow not answer the phone when Kaito calls. Hiro tells Claire he has the catalyst, but he’s assaulted by a time traveling Arthur. Arthur takes his powers and the catalyst and throws Hiro from the roof. He sends Claire back to the present, and Arthur is trapped hanging from a flagpost in the past.

Parkman, Daphne, and Ando go to the delivery company that has the Isaac Mendez sketches, but the bike messenger tries to make a run for it. He doesn’t make it far before Daphne cuts him off. They get the book and learn that Hiro is trapped in the past. They set out to find a way to find the formula.

Peter and the Haitian are assigned to murder Arthur by Angela. But the Haitian tries to counsel Peter from making a rash decision. They confront Arthur in the hallway, after the formula is activated. The Haitian loses his control over Arthur’s powers. Sylar arrives to stop the bullet, learns he is not Arthur’s son, and proceeds to imbed the bullet in Arthur’s brain. With Arthur dead, the catalyst vanishes.

Nathan arrives back at Pinehearst, and learns Tracy is already on Arthur’s side. Nathan rather blandly meets with the G.I.’s who potentially will give them powers. Arthur returns to the present and proceeds to add the catalyst in to the formula as Mohinder, Nathan, and Tracy look on. Nathan prepares Mohinder to test the injection on the first Marine, the same person that Nathan talked to earlier. He gains massive superhuman strength as the episode ends.

Next week, Villains comes to an end, but how it will play out remains to be seen.

This episode fails on many levels, with it again having the heroes get all the answers just in time to have Arthur take it away again (seriously, this is an annoying plot convention that needs to be thrown away as soon as possible!) A few holes poke through the story... How did Arthur know that Hiro was in the past, let alone be able to take his abilities? Why does a young Noah so easily respond to future Claire’s request? I mean, why would a hard ass like him respond to a stranger’s request about a child he barely knows yet? It just doesn’t fit for me.

With Arthur already dead, I am definitely interested in how they will end this season. I hope and pray that this will end the way it should... with Nathan having to die in order to prevent the formula’s continued spread. Instead, I suspect he will see the error of his ways yet again. If that happens, I might just see the error of mine. After all, RTN has some pretty keen looking reruns of the A-Team every night at eight.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Super-Powered Television: Heroes the Eclipse pts. One and Two (season 3-10,11)

I honestly have put off watching both parts of “The Eclipse” on purpose. After two solid episodes, I feared that this would be more of the same from the first several weeks of the series.

Angela puts Claire in the hands of Noah for safe keeping. Claire is snarky and standoffish, so dad proceeds to train her... badly. They have a heart to heart momentarily before Elle shows up... and finds her powers don’t work. Noah proceeds to beat Gabriel and Elle senseless, but not before Elle can shoot Claire with Noah’s gun. After Noah takes her home and binds the wound, he leaves to go after Sylar, but Claire’s wound opens again.

Nathan and Peter head to Haiti... to find the Haitian, and fall out of the sky as the eclipse approaches. The two of them end up in an argument about their own world views. They end up meeting the Haitian, and Nathan gets captured by the men of Baron Samedi, who is apparently the Haitian’s brother.

Mohinder learns that he may soon die... especially if Claire does so. Mohinder starts to fall apart as the eclipse approaches, but I doubt this will be enough to actually kill him. Instead, he apparently cocoons himself. (Ugh.) He wakes up quickly, apparently cured.

Parkman and Daphne are sent out to find Hiro, unaware that Hiro has the mind of a ten year old. Daphne starts to come in to her own, as her paranoia about betrayal gets teh better of them. Hiro and Ando find them instead, in the hopes that Parkman can cure Hiro. The first irk comes here as Parkman isn’t clever enough to mind-link with Hiro AND Ando to reset his mind. Anyway, they follow Daphne after she runs to Lawrence, Kansas. After Hiro leaves, Matt goes inside and learns that without her powers, Daphne apparently suffers from some kind of muscular dystrophy.

Hiro’s story breaks off from Matt’s as he goes to a local comic shop... ran by guest stars Seth Green & Breckin Meyer. And I have to admit, framing the Robot Chicken creative team as comic shop owners is great fan service. On the other hand, I wonder how much fan service is really necessary in a show that is already so blatantly dredging up old comic storylines.

Tracy plays double agent, ratting on Nathan. Arthur sends her on a mission of her own.. to Paris Island, and almost gets caught by Angela.

As the first chapter starts, Arthur sends Sylar and Elle on a mission to capture Claire as our show opens. Elle proceeds to become the problem child again, as she sets up Sylar to battle with a rental car worker (who for some reason has a rifle). After the debacle of their attack, Sylar and Elle have a Bonnie and Clyde style chat as they become human once more, even as Noah has Sylar in the sites of a sniper rifle...

Oh, and I am kind of annoyed that Lawrence, Kansas, equates to a farm house. It’s a town of nearly 90,000 for goodness sakes! Althought it is big enough to have a comic shop... well done, California writers! Well done!

Okay, so the first part was decidely better than expected... on to part two.

Part two opens with Peter and the Haitian plotting to recover Nathan, and attack Baron Samedi. The Haitian and Peter blindside Baron Samedi, and beat him down.

claire is rushed to the hospital, where we learn her lack of abilities has left her immune system basically non-existent. She is stabilized by the doctors (I am not really sure how...), and her mom finds herself answering questions from the police. But Claire goes in to cardiac arrest... (Sigh... really?), no wait it’s apparently septic shock. The doctors can do nothing to save her. (Powers should be coming back anytime now...) Oh wait, the eclipse clears, lighting up the corpse (as this morgue apparently has windows) and Claire wakes up.

Nathan is tied and chained by Baron Samedi, a character in full super villain mode. He begins to realize that he’s not the hero he thought he might be, but he does help to free the other would-be prostitute. His story reconnects with Peter and the Haitian, and Peter stays behind to let the others escape. After the powers return, Peter comes under fire from Samedi’s forces, and with his gun empty has no choice but to surrender. The Haitian and Nathan return to save him. But Samedi’s powers have returned also, and with his invulnerability, only the Haitian can bring him to his knees. The Haitian helps the prostitute escape, and Nathan and Peter have a heart to heart. Nathan begins to move to his father’s worldview... and proceeds to abandon Peter in Haiti.

Arthur threatens Mohinder to keep him working, even though now powerless, Mohinder (selfish, spoiled brat that he is) wants out. Mohinder beats Jesse senseless in order to escape captivity, and immediately goes running for Maya (Damn you, Heroes!) Mohinder arrives at Maya’s doorstep, but his powers arrive before they can speak. Mohinder returns to Pinehearst, ready to return to his work as his body begins to degrade again.

We learn Daphne actually has cerebral palsy, a condition her powers cured. Now she continues to punish herself again and again for her past mistakes. After a brief stop at the comic shop to find Hiro, he returns to the house and finds his and Daphne’s powers have returned. Parkman helps Daphne come to terms with herself and her past mistakes... hopefully for good this time.

Seth Green & Breckin Meyer continue to have a fight over whether or not the newest issue of 9th Wonders featuring both themselves and the visiting Hiro and Ando. Breckin figures out that the eclipse is what blocks their powers, and quickly become fanboys for the real life heroes. But Hiro runs away as he learns of the perils he faced as an adult. Seth Green proceeds to help talk Hiro out of the comic shop bathroom. Meanwhile, Breckin Meyer finds a secret in an old issue of 9th Wonders that gives him the answer to retrieving his powers. He flashes away from Ando and the comic shop to find Claire Bennet. Parkman & Daphne come back to learn that Hiro is gone, and Seth tells them of a legendary lost issue of 9th Wonders that may hold answers for their future.

Gabriel and Elle “make love” (as much as two sociopaths can do so) on the floor of the safehouse, only to come under attack by Noah. Elle gets hit by a bullet, but Sylar pulls her away (after the two of them magically put some clothes on). Noah’s own sadism begins to shine through again as he starts the hunt for them. Noah pursues them to a supermarket, where Gabriel bandages Elle’s wound then sends her away. Noah beats down Gabriel, and then slits his throat. (Powers should be coming back any time now...) Nathan comes back to learn Claire died, but is alright now. Gabriel and Elle arrive a moment later and assault Noah’s family. Gabriel tortures Noah, but Noah reveals that Gabriel is not Arthur or Angela’s son at all. Noah works mind games to try and save himself, but Gabriel starts to cut him down anyway. Hiro arrives, teleports Gabriel and Elle elsewhere. Then he runs off with Claire. Claire and Hiro watch as Kaito Nakamura hands over baby Claire to a younger Noah as the show comes to an end.

Gabriel begins to doubt Elle after Noah’s words, and Elle seems to still be slightly afraid of him. Gabriel comes to the understanding that he hasn’t changed at all, and proceeds to cut open Elle’s skull.

Well, these episodes were decidedly better than I expected, and I go in to tonight’s episode with less trepidation than I expected. But the Petrelli family storyline seems to me to already be past due to end. The quality of the Sylar, Hiro/Ando, and Parkman/Daphne storylines really show that the show is at its weakest when its treading out the Petrellis again and again. I have no interest in Nathan and Peter’s storyline at all... Honestly, are there any comic fans out there that are tired of the whole Havok trying to come out of Cyclops’s shadow storyline. It feels like a lot of retread, and bad retread at that. Jeph Loeb especially should be ashamed of his hand in this, but then, anyone reading his Ultimate Universe work knows that Loeb has little or no shame.

Here’s hoping that in a couple months, when Heroes returns with volume four, the series will learn to refocus. Give us an actual ensemble for the first time since season one, and push the Petrelli family to the wayside. Here’s hoping... but I’m still not holding my breath.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Super-Powered Prose: Witchblade A Terrible Beauty

So I finally got around to reading Witchblade: A Terrible Beauty, the second half of the Witchblade Combo book. I reviewed the lackluster Talons, the book’s first half a few months back.

While Talons seemed to be about a sort-of-werewolf, John J. Miller’s A Terrible Beauty takes us in to the underbelly of New York City’s voodoo culture. I don’t want to give too much of the plot away as I actually recommend this half of the book, but it revolves around a string of murders affecting the Haitian community. Sara and Jake go to investigate, which gives them a lot of insites in to the culture while they also begin to fall deeper and deeper in to the dark happenings of the culture.

The Witchblade almost becomes a character of its own in this story, as it constantly whispers to Sara. But she only rarely acts on its suggestions. The weapon barely gets used in the course of the novel, almost as if Miller grafted it in to his already half-prepared script. Even so, A Terrible Beauty is a good book. Super-powered fiction and Witchblade fans should check it out when they get the chance.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Super-Powered Prose: X-Men The Legacy Quest Trilogy

So I picked up X-Men the Legacy Quest Trilogy by Steve Lyons at my local Half Price Books (the best store ever!) for three whole bucks. Three novel omnibus for three bucks, not a bad deal. Too bad the tale inside is disappointing on so many levels.

The three books are loosely connected stories revolving around Hank McCoy’s quest to find a cure for the Legacy Virus. (The original edition of this book came out in 2002, which was well after the cure of the Legacy Virus in the comic book, but apparently nobody told the folks at ibooks this.) Hank ends up making a deal with the devil, Sebastian Shaw, who is looking for the cure for his own ends. This leads to a battle between the X-Men and the Hong Kong branch of the Hellfire Club (populated by such luminaries as Fitzroy, Goblin Queen, and a thoroughly erroneous version of Tessa). Hank, weakened by injecting himself by his own virus, finds his cure, only to be kidnapped by Selene to set up book two.

Book two takes the plot to even more preposterous places in a dark future New York where everyone in the world seems to have started to suffer from the virus. The threat proves insanely dull at best, which leads in to book three... where Magneto turns out to be the true villain. While the portrayal of Genosha infected by the virus does bring pathos to the book, it still serves to only very poorly bring the quest to an end.

While his portrayal of the X-Men characters usually stay true to form (with the possible exception of the insanely whiny Beast), Lyons fails to do anything remotely original with them. They all seem to have taken a step back in their progression as a team before this book. Nobody involved seems to have a clue how to act as a member of a team, nor do their personalities seem to have developed past their original Claremont/Cockrum days. And the villains... well, only Magneto really seems to be anywhere close to on track. And his plan to destroy all the humans on the planet seems to fly in the face of everything established about the character in the nineties.

While X-Men novels are a hard feat to accomplish in my opinion, X-Men The Legacy Quest fails on pretty much every level. Instead everyone should consider grabbing a copy of Marjorie M. Liu’s superior Dark Mirror instead.

Monday, December 1, 2008

NaNoWriMo Comes to an End

I have finally brought my first NaNoWriMo experience to an end with a (barely) successful first 50,000 words of Neo-Tokyo. Although the story isn’t quite finished (I would estimate another 20,000 words at least), it does feel good to get that much on to the screen in one month’s time. I am going to try to maintain a continued writing discipline of around 800 to 1000 words a day at least 5 days a week. Wish me luck on that one.

I have been dreadfully negligent on pretty much everything else super-hero related in the mean time. I still haven’t watched last week’s Heroes and I am about a week behind on all my comics and graphic novels. With the stress of nearly 2,000 words a day off my back I should be getting back up to speed though. I have a couple archived articles I will get posted in the next few days and we will go from there.

I may have a new comic property in the works over the next few days. I will let everyone know on that soon as more news pops up. Metahuman Press will be back to updating at a regular pace as well.

Thanks for everyone’s patience while I worked myself to the bone. I have plans to participate in NaNoWriMo again next year, but now that I know what it entails, I will probably change a few of my plans to more readily update. In the mean time, thanks for reading.