Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Timeline 19: Origin of Mister Haunt Notes

Just like Claus vs Kong before it, The Origin of Mister Haunt is a re-purposed, revised, and reformatted story from my old Pulp Stories Monthly e-magazine. Unlike Claus vs Kong this one needed a rather large rewrite from its much earlier version, which includes about fifteen hundred additional words in all.

Mister Haunt is my quintessential pulp character in the Quadrant Universe. Over his next couple appearances (I have more waiting to be rewritten), you will see elements of the Shadow, the Saint, and Doc Savage all pop up on the page. That being said, I want to make sure Haunt is his own man, and as we learn more about the mysterious character, I think you will find he is truly different.

I hope everyone enjoys the first shot of Mister Haunt. Let me know if and when you want more.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Super-Powered TV: Heroes 4.3: Ink

“Ink” opens with a un-narrated montage followed by cryptic plans told by Samuel to Lydia.

Parkman has problems with Sylar in his mind, but Sylar uses Matt’s powers to keep him safe. But only after harassing Parkman during a drug bust. Parkman finds a stuffed animal by the toilet. Sylar hints that something worse is happening at the residence. Only problem is that all of it is a plant by Sylar. In the end, Parkman has to use his powers to keep from losing his career after he beats down a suspect. In the end, Sylar makes an ultimatum about the future.

We meet a woman with some kind of audio processing disorder. Peter meets her, but the conversation gives us no real information. Her name is Emma (played by Deanne Bray, a mostly deaf actress) visits her doctor who tells her she is synesthetic, able to view sounds as a kind of light. The doctor counsels her to actually get back to work as a doctor herself, instead of her job in the records department. In Central Park, Emma uses the audio-lights to perfectly play a cello. Peter comes to watch, but she runs away before he can speak with her.

Claire gets a visit from dad, but Gretchen throws herself in to the lunch-date the two have set. Claire does manage to convince dad that she can handle the situation with Gretchen. Gretchen hints at her past as a bulimic. Claire decides to come clean with her new friend. Claire invites Gretchen to become her roommate.

Peter leaves his meeting with Emma to confront a man who has sued him, only to find it is an incognito Samuel. Samuel does his best to set up Peter, going as far as to break in to his house and alter the photo in his montage. Samuel agrees to drop the charges and goes back to his family home. No one will let him in so he takes his vengeance with his powers, which are apparently earth-related. (Apparently in the world of Heroes all ink contains dirt.) Peter and his partner show up after the disaster, and a tattoo of the compass appears on Peter’s wrist as the show comes to an end.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Super-Powered TV: Dollhouse 2.1: Vows

We open the new season back in the present day. Echo is put in to a project where she is married.

Dr. Saunders is playing games with Topher’s mind, even as Langdon and Claire seem to be deepening their relationship. But the doc has plenty of issues to deal with since the revelation of her own status as an active.

Ballard’s mixed feelings about his new situation are obvious as Echo continues from wedding day in to wedding night. But the mission is apparently Ballard’s idea, as her new husband is an arms dealer. Her new self thinks she is an FBI agent as well, active on an undercover mission.

While back for treatment, Echo has an echo (for lack of a better word) of a previous mission alongside Whiskey. But even in her numbed state, Echo seems to be gaining deductive reasoning.

Alexis Denisof (of Angel fame) makes his debut as Senator Daniel Perrin, a crusading statesman on a mission to expose malpractice by the Rossum Corporation.

Dr. Saunders hits on Topher back at the house (where he apparently sleeps in the server room). In the process, we actually get a look in to Topher’s head as something more than a morally ambiguous nerd.

Martin attacks Echo in his house and accuses her of being someone else. But the head injury also causes her to have flashes again. She is doing rather well, until the flashes cause her to lose her identity mid-speech.

Martin brings Roma/Echo with him on the arms trade. Ballard uses Echo’s flashes and channels her previous fight with him (from last season). Suddenly an expert martial artist, she takes out Clar’s men Jet Li-style. She goes as far as leaping on Clar’s car and using his own explosive to stop his escape.

Saunders leaves for greener passages, while Sierra and Victor still seem to have a connection. Meanwhile, Echo speaks with Ballard. She admits to being aware of all her past selves. Ballard tells her that Caroline is the real her, but Echo seeks to find away to save all her past lives. And so Ballard goes from being the dollhouse’s enemy from the outside to being Echo’s handler... and maybe an even greater threat from the inside.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dollhouse 1.13: Epitaph One

Before we get to the review of the first episode of Dollhouse season 2 this weekend, we need to take a look at the missing episode “Epitaph One”.

Ten years in a future, the world is a disaster. We seem to be following a small group of survivors as they try to escape a bunch of crazy people turned monsters called butchers. They stumble from one underground hiding hole to another and as we open, we stumble upon the Dollhouse.

Apparently, somehow just about everyone has been wiped in to some kind of killing machine. They implant a wiped man in their band, apparently with one of Adele’s memory. We follow that with a look at Topher’s first day on the job.

In 2019, the little girl goes to the bathroom while her escort stops to use a well-needed shower. She of course lets her guard down and gets knocked down by her own flashlight.

Our next flashback comes post episode 1.12, with Ballard as her agent. But Echo somehow maintains her own intelligence post-implant.

In the past/present, Boyd and Dr. Saunders discuss Langdon’s leaving of the facility.

In the future, we find Whiskey/Claire acting more than a little crazy. She asks them if they are looking for Safe Haven, which is apparently another legend in the post-mindwipe-land.

We learn that Mr. Ambrose, a higher-up at Rossum, has changed the rules of actives. He has imprinted himself to Victor’s mind, apparently permanently.

In the future, Iris murders Griff, the group’s leader, and plants the gun on her brain-wiped “dad”.

In the past-present, Adele resurrects Dominic in to the mind-wiped world of the future. They find that Caroline has the answers. Sierra and Victor have a heart to heart in the past (in their real identities).

In the future, Zone is stupid enough to give the kid a gun. They learn Iris is an imprint. But Zone already knew because of the birthmark tattoo.

In the past, the group at the Dollhouse seem to have gained an almost religious furor in the post-mess world. Topher has went quite insane. He explains a way to make pre-programmed warriors through a phone call and realizes he had already done it. Caroline and Ballard arrive minutes later.

As a kid, Caroline agrees to lead the survivors to Safe Haven. Whiskey stays behind even as the butchers arrive on a mad rampage. They escape up the elevator shaft while Whiskey turns on some kind of gas failsafe. The episode ends with Zone, Mag, and the new Caroline setting out for Safehaven from Adele’s office.

An interesting episode to say the least, with Felicia Day and Zack Ward putting on excellent performances as Mag and Zone. With this not being the final episode as planned and only a DVD extra, it will now be interesting to see what it will mean for season 2 of Dollhouse. Joss says Felicia Day will be back next season though, so I suppose we will have to wait and see. As I think about, I personally wonder if the future narrative may not prove a far more fulfilling story to tell in the long run. We will see as things get kicking tomorrow with “Vows”.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Living Legends 19 Notes

This is it: the chapter we finally see what happened to the heroes trapped in the abyss sphere.

Ghost Woman’s powers and identity get taken to a new level as we realize she is far more than we ever expected from her previous appearances. Her identity crisis and alter egos will become a major part of Living Legends in the months to come.

Blackout gets his own cure as the abyss sphere somehow remedies his loss of intelligence. The mute Blackout will also get to do more than act like an animal upon his return to the real world.

Hey, remember when Marcus Bennett was another spy for Dominique? No? Well, he is, the no good dirty rat! But now Doctor Frost is beginning to get the clues he needs to finally figure out the mystery behind Dominique and her allies. I think Frost has really started to gain a voice with this issue, even if that voice is Jack Bauer.

And it all comes down to the Green Lama. I’ve waited eighteen issues to finally introduce one of my favorite Golden Age characters to the story of Living Legends. Originally, I planned to make Lama one of the initial Legends, but as I worked my way through the characters I realized he could be far too powerful among the initial eighteen. We wouldn’t want him to show up Atoman, nor did I want to make a second hero in trouble with the government. So Lama got pushed back. But Jethro Dumont is finally here, and he is here to stay.

Next month, it is back to the characters in the real world as we begin the progression in to the next stage of the mystery of the time-jump.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Super-Powered TV: Heroes 4.1: Redemption and 4.2: Push, Jump, and Fail

Welcome to Volume Five of Heroes: “Redemption”. We have two episodes to cover from the first night, so let’s get right to it!

We open with a funeral of a character named Joseph attended by a handful of folks we have never seen before. We get a montage of some of the Heroes we do know in the process (most of which are from season one) before we move in to images that appear to be of the characters’ current location. Our eulogist (already a better narrator than Suresh) uses his powers (I assume telekinesis) to bury his brother as the funeral breaks up.

Chapter one, “Orientation” starts after the break as Claire makes her way to her college dorm room in Arlington, Virginia. Her roommate ends up being a little overly pushy; far pushier than any normal human should be. Seriously, I met some overly pushy people in college, but this goes a little far. Claire meets Gretchen after bailing on her new roomie during a test. Gretchen is a far friendlier student (despite her resemblance to a former ward of a nanny named Fran). She discusses her new surroundings with her father and embraces truthiness. (Stephen Colbert must be proud.) After a party where she chooses to hang up with Gretchen instead of

In Japan, Ando and Hiro have set up a business called Dial A Hero. Hiro’s sister Kimiko shows up to tear them a new one for wasting the company’s money. But after she leaves, they do get their first call. It is of course, a stuck cat. Ando goes to get it and predictably falls. Hiro uses a time freeze to keep him from getting hurt, but when he flashes the power off he seems to get stuck in time himself. After he awakens back in the office, Hiro reveals he is dying. He talks about his history in the carnival... before disappearing fourteen years in to the past.

Peter is a medic again, and uses his flight (or is it strength) powers as a really cheap form of parkur to get to an injured patient on the other side of a traffic jam.

Noah and Angela discuss the death of multiple Building 26 agents by Traci Strauss. Traci tries to murder Noah in his car, but he is rescued by Danko of all people. We get several tense and rather pointless moments. Later, Noah tries to convince Traci to work with him to find redemption, but Traci declines. Danko & Bennett have another terse converstion about Traci, but this time the Haitian lies in wait to make Danko forget his target.

Angela sits down for dinner with Nathan, a dinner she saw only moments before in a vision... only with Sylar. She begins to get worried about the nature of Sylar/Nathan.

Parkman receives Angela’s phone call for help, but he refuses to help. He is dealing with his own issues with “darkness” that has arrived recently.

Nathan begins to display Sylar’s power traits while in his office. He reaches out to Peter, but Peter ignores his calls.

At the circus, Lydia the tattooed woman works with the carnival master to uses his powers to summon up an image of Emil Danko. Our villainous carnival master assigns Edgar (go, Ray Park, go!) to hunt down and assassinate Danko. Edgar goes after the mind-wiped Danko and kills him in his apartment just after Traci decides to let him go. He cannot cut water and Traci chases him away from the scene of the crime before he can get the “compass” he wants.

Episode two, “Push, Jump, Fall”, opens with Parkman having headaches in Los Angeles, while Nathan is having the same in Washington. Parkman finds his son gone, only to have him in the hands of Sylar. Sylar demands to have his body back. It seems instead of wiping Sylar from Nathan’s mind, Matt absorbed the villian’s consciousness in to his own. Not quite sure how that would work, but let’s run with it. Parkman uses a police drug recovery program to discuss his powers in the loosest sense. Sylar pays a visit, and as always, Matt ends up looking crazy. He again looks crazy in the interrogation room. Sylar’s influence finally strikes with the water guy, as Matt forces him away from the house.

At his apartment, Noah calls Sandra only to have a man answer at the house. The phone dials right back, but this time it is Traci. Traci calls Bennett to the scene of Danko’s demise. They discuss the unknown killer and find a key buried in Danko’s stomach. This seems to be getting slightly preposterous. Noah pays Peter a visit, and after a brief conversation about Peter’s situation, he asks Peter to back him up. They open the safe deposit box and find that it is an actual compass, a broken one. Edgar arrives, but Peter uses his own speed and strength to keep the fight moving. They start a super-speed fight, and either Edgar clearly does not have any fighting abilities past his speed or Peter is a secret ninja, because Peter easily defeats him with one less blade. After the fight, we learn the compass isn’t so broken when held by Peter. Peter refuses to follow Noah on the mission, but he quickly finds that Noah has become a victim of Edgar after Peter leaves. Traci visits the injured Noah in the hospital... and Noah ends up hitting on her. Really?

In the past, Hiro realizes his location. He encounters Samuel the carnival master, himself time traveled in to the past. With Samuel’s influence, Hiro stops the accident that made Kimiko have a grudge against Ando. Now they are in love, and Hiro immediately decides that he must fix every mistake of his life.

In the aftermath of her roommate’s death, a suicide note appears out of nowhere in the room. She moves in with Gretchen who seems set on solving the murder. They start talking about a push, jump, fall test to determine how the body landed. Alone, Claire decides to run the test all by herself. She finds that her roommate did commit suicide. But Gretchen watches her recovery.

We end in the carnival with the words we gather the rest, and images of Sylar, Peter Petrelli, and Claire.

All in all, the debut shows a cohesiveness that hasn’t been seen since the end of season one. The loss of Mohinder (so far at least) gives the show a chance to pull itself out of its old funk. The new villains have solid potential, but so did every other villain introduced on Heroes. The challenge will be to keep them from derailing the way every other villain did. The characters seem to have received a reset as well, with most of their personalities reverting back to season 1. Nicely done, if not for the fact that we had two seasons of wild motivation changes. Hopefully the stream-lined writing staff can keep the show focused asd we progress over the next few weeks.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Super-Powered Comics: J. Michael Straczynski's Red Circle

I hyped up DC’s The Red Circle a few months back. Well, August brought us the J. Michael Straczynski-pinned series of one-shots in case you were already unaware. Apparently a lot of people were, as the sales on the books were so-so at best. It’s a shame more people aren’t interested in trying out these new characters, but the format for their release honestly only encourages people familiar with the characters’s previous incarnations any chance of interest. DC did nothing to market these at all, and that is a damn shame. Even a small spot in the current Blackest Night crossover might have helped, but as I surmised when DC licensed these characters along with the Milestone line, they have no plans of using their licensed characters in anything that will potentially be reprinted again and again and again.

But I am here to review the four new takes on the old Archie heroes, and that is what I will do. Make your own judgments about DC’s handling of the license, but try not to let that keep you from buying any book you want, including these titles.

The line opened with The Hangman. With pencils by the criminally underrated Tom Derenick and inks by the legendary Bill Sienkiewicz, the art shines through. The character of the Hangman definitely has similar themes to other mystical immortals. I can best describe him as a cross of the Spectre and El Diablo, but with a genuine secret identity. Of all the characters, he has the most potential as the initial four stories end.

Inferno came next with art by Sword of Dracula’s Greg Scott. A lot has been made by Inferno’s fiery alter ego resembling Dan Didio. Inferno fills the standard John Doe/cypher character slot. His past is a mystery to everyone, including himself; he doesn’t know the origin of his powers; or even understand his transformations. JMS tweaks the formula a bit, but the initial chapter is quite predictable. He does have a brief and somewhat entertaining battle with the previous week’s star, but it does more to show how intriguing a character Hangman could be.

The Web opens week 3, with art by Roger Robinson (of Prototype and Azrael fame) and Hilary Barta. Here we get a rather large digression from the original concept. Now The Web is a rich heir with too much time on his hands. To prove to himself he can do good, he dons a costume and sets out to answer calls from help off the internet. The concept works better than I expected, even though I think JMS shoehorns a bit of tragedy in to the story to give it more of a Spider-Man meets Batman origin. The Web has the potential to either be great or an absolute mess. It will be interesting to see where the ongoing ends up.

The Red Circle rounds out with The Shield. The utterly out of place art team of Scott McDaniel and Andy Owens provide the story’s art. A survivor of a bomb blast in Afghanistan gets an experimental exo-skeleton and becomes the military’s first on-call hero. The book runs to the serious and the cartoonish stylings of McDaniel distract from what could otherwise be a solid political action thriller. JMS does more to hint at the backstory of the Shield than any other character, which is unfortunate...

as with last week’s The Shield #1, most of those subplots are nowhere to be seen. Instead we get a rather dull trip in to post-52 Bialya which seems less of a story than a set-up for a guest shot by DC’s other new military hero: Magog. Hopefully, Eric Trautmann can bring a little more to the story with subsequent chapters. I will say the art team of Marco Rudy and Mick Gray are far and away more suited for this character than McDaniel and Owens.

The backup featuring Inferno gives us a little bit more about the character, but it only serves as a set-up to a repeat from his one-shot, only this time he fights Green Arrow instead of Hangman. Greg Scott remains solid on the art, and Brandon Jerwa seems to have the seeds of a decent opening story arc. I just wonder if a co-feature is the best way to deal with a character that clearly has the longest story drive of these four heroes.

The Web #1 debuts later this month, and I am sure I will be back with a review of that when it is out. FOr now, I recommend The Red Circle but suggest you can take a pass on The Shield #1. Let’s hope later issues show some improvement, as I do not want to see the Red Circle heroes go the way of the late, lamented Impact Comics.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Super-Powered Comics: Rampaging Wolverine

With the release of X-Men Origins: Wolverine on DVD today, I thought I would go back and look at the single best release the movie gave to us. (I still haven’t watched the film yet; expect my review in the near future) That title is a one-shot called Rampaging Wolverine from just a week before the film. Behind a painted cover by Nelson are forty-eight pages of glorious black and white art. The concept harkens back to Marvel’s magazines of the seventies and eighties. I still miss Savage Sword of Conan, so I gave it a try as soon as I saw it in Marvel Previews.

Joshua Hale Fialkov and Paco Diaz Luque open the book with a tale called “Sense Memory”. The story details Logan’s first experience with Madripoor. Pirates get involved, and Wolverine uncovers secrets in both the present and the past. It brings back great memories of the early Claremont/Buscema days of Wolverine, a time period I still fondly remember.

“Unconfirmed Kill” by Chris Yost and Mateus Santolouco is by no means as strong a story, but it does offer a short and clever play on Logan’s healing factor.

“Kiss, Kiss” is a prose story by Robin Furth with spot illustrations by Nelson. Furth may have been reading Lord of the Rings before she wrote this one: it involves Wolverine’s battle with a giant spider. Even so, the story does have a couple clever bits in it, and just the embrace of superhero prose in the book makes me happy.

“Modern Primitive” by Ted McKeever closes out the book. The author of Metropol and Eddy Current seems like an odd choice for the Canadian mutant, but his art style actually offers a pretty cool Logan. The story is a rather straight forward affair about his battle with a giant baboon (no, seriously, it is a giant baboon), but the story really isn’t the star here. McKeever’s art is not for everyone, but if you enjoy it at all you will get some fine work in this one.

Though no story but the lead are rock-solid, Rampaging Wolverine offers a compelling and entertaining package. The art is beautiful through-out, and even in black and white, forty-eight pages with no ads for $3.99 is a steal in today’s market. A black and white follow-up book is on Marvel’s schedule in the near future, this one starring Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu. If it is as good as Rampaging Wolverine it too will deserve a Recommended.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Super-Powered Comics: Silver Surfer Requiem

As I said in my review of Bullet Points, J. Michael Straczynski is one of those creators who is either great... or terribly off-base. That work was an exceptional example, and Silver Surfer: Requiem is another.

With art by Esad Ribic, Straczynski crafts another of Marvel’s tales of the fall of one of their characters. In Requiem, Norrin Radd falls under the influence of some kind of virus that eats away at his very being. With each subuquent issue he sets out to make even the most minute changes to make his legacy mean something as he moves inexorably to his demise.

The Fantastic Four guest star in issue one, but it is issue two guest-starring Spider-Man where the story starts to shine. We get a look at what the Surfer sees everyday as he soars the cosmic spaceways... and perhaps the world improves for it. Issue three gives us his attempt to stop an intergalactic war, while four takes us back to Zenn-La and his impending demise. And a certain cosmic being known as Galactus...

Though a quick read, Requiem offers an excellent look at the strange enigma known as the Silver Surfer. Ribic’s painted art is gorgeous, and JMS keeps the story flowing along well while channeling the feel of the late sixties Stan Lee issues. All in all, a good solid edition to “The End” line. Recommended.

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Day for Real Heroes / That Old Piece of Cloth

This being a blog about fictional characters, I think today it is best to pause to celebrate the real heroes of seven years ago. My thoughts and prayers go with them and all who died on this day in 2001.

But I will post this speech by comic writer/artist Frank Miller from the fifth anniversary of the attacks in 2006, entitled “That Old Piece of Cloth”:

I was just a boy in the 1960s. My adolescence wasn’t infused with the civil rights struggle or the sexual revolution or the Vietnam War, but with their aftermath.

My high school teachers were ex-hippies and Vietnam vets. People who protested the war and people who served as soldiers. I was taught more about John Lennon than I was about Thomas Jefferson.

Both of my parents were World War II veterans. FDR-era patriots. And I was exactly the age to rebel against them.

It all fit together rather neatly. I could never stomach the flower-child twaddle of the ’60s crowd and I was ready to believe that our flag was just an old piece of cloth and that patriotism was just some quaint relic, best left behind us.

It was all about the ideas. I schooled myself in the writings of Madison and Franklin and Adams and Jefferson. I came to love those noble, indestructible ideas. They were ideas, to my young mind, of rebellion and independence, not of idolatry.

But not that piece of old cloth. To me, that stood for unthinking patriotism. It meant about as much to me as that insipid peace sign that was everywhere I looked: just another symbol of a generation’s sentimentality, of its narcissistic worship of its own past glories.

Then came that sunny September morning when airplanes crashed into towers a very few miles from my home and thousands of my neighbors were ruthlessly incinerated—reduced to ash. Now, I draw and write comic books. One thing my job involves is making up bad guys. Imagining human villainy in all its forms. Now the real thing had shown up. The real thing murdered my neighbors. In my city. In my country. Breathing in that awful, chalky crap that filled up the lungs of every New Yorker, then coughing it right out, not knowing what I was coughing up.

For the first time in my life, I know how it feels to face an existential menace. They want us to die. All of a sudden I realize what my parents were talking about all those years.

Patriotism, I now believe, isn’t some sentimental, old conceit. It’s self-preservation. I believe patriotism is central to a nation’s survival. Ben Franklin said it: If we don’t all hang together, we all hang separately. Just like you have to fight to protect your friends and family, and you count on them to watch your own back.

So you’ve got to do what you can to help your country survive. That’s if you think your country is worth a damn. Warts and all.

So I’ve gotten rather fond of that old piece of cloth. Now, when I look at it, I see something precious. I see something perishable.

“That Old Piece of Cloth” from NPR’s This I Believe.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Super-Powered Prose: Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko

Some people are probably familiar with the movie version of Night Watch, one of the best foreign films to appear in the last few years. But before it was turned in to a fine film by Timur Bekmambetov, it was equally entertaining in its original form: as a novel by Russian fiction writer Sergei Lukyanenko.

The premise of Night Watch is straight-forward: two secret societies exist unseen to human eyes. Locked in constant conflict, the sides of Light and Dark now sit in a truce to keep their war from destroying everything. The light sorcerers belong to the Night Watch and monitor the forces of the dark, which cover everything from sorcerers to vampires. The dark in turn have the Day Watch, which serve as an answer to the light. This leads to multiple political machinations. And these machinations unwitting pull several people, including Anton, our narrator.

I do not want to go in to plot points for those unfamiliar with the work, because I feel Night Watch in both its forms deserves a much large audience. But I will say that what at first seems like another supernatural thriller quickly morphs in to a battle of right and wrong played out by dozens of super-powered beings. I have long listed the movie as one of my favorite pieces of super-powered film-making. The novel equals, maybe exceeds it, as a look at a real world populated by metahumans.

Clocking in at well over four hundred pages, Night Watch the novel is a much deeper experience than the movie. If you have seen the film and wondered about the book, go out and read it. If you are unfamiliar with either work, go check out the book for a great combination of the supernatural and the super-powered. And if you’re worried seeing a Russian name in the author slot, don’t be. Andrew Bromfield gives the book an excellent translation. He keeps the depth the original novel clearly possesses while making sure it is readable as a modern American novel.

Night Watch is a novel not to miss. Highly Recommended.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Super-Powered Web: Superhero goes MMA!

Anyone from the ages of about eighteen and thirty probably remember Jason David Frank. Don’t recognize the name? Does the name Tommy Oliver mean more to you? No? Okay, here’s a pic.

Jason David Frank,Power Rangers,MMA

That would be him in his Power Rangers Zeo outfit. He wore multiple costumes:

Red Ranger,Power Rangers,Jason David Frank,Green Ranger,White Ranger

And even joined one of the more recent incarnations, Power Rangers: Dino Thunder as the Black Ranger (that is actually him as the Black Ranger talking to his other identities in the picture above).

So, Jason David Frank has definitely had his experience as part of the superhero community. No one else can say they wore four different Ranger costumes, nor has anyone served longer as a Ranger. But those days are behind him.

Jason David Frank is now an MMA fighter. Let me repeat that: Tommy the Power Ranger is now an MMA fighter. And before you laugh, before you say anything mocking, take a look at the guy:

Jason David Frank, MMA fighter

He takes his martial arts seriously. He’s been at it since his pre-teen years and has openly developed a style he calls Tose Kune Do. He is a Bruce Lee follower (hence the similarity to Bruce’s Jeet Kune Do) and has based the style (translated “Way of the Fighting Fists”) on traditional disarmament techniques. How it plays in an MMA ring remains to be seen.

In addition he is one of the co-owners of a new line of MMA clothes with the truly awesome name Jesus Didn’t Tap. I will be sure to run an update when more information emerges about his first fight.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Super-Powered Comics: Invincible

Happy Labor Day, folks! And to celebrate I am giving you a review of one of my favorite titles!

Invincible truly is the modern classic of comic literature. Robert Kirkman has taken what seemed like an average combination of Superman and Spider-Man and turned it in to a truly interesting universe. His cast quickly expanded to include dozens even as the twist in issue seven completely changed the complexion of what seemed like a simple concept.

Now over fifty issues later, the series hit a big bang with issue 60: “The Invincible War”. A crossover featuring just about every super-powered character published by Image in the last decade (or maybe longer), it involved long-time villain Angstrom Levy summoning dozens of evil Invincibles from other dimensions to wage war on Invicible’s earth. In the aftermath, Invincible faces an even bigger threat that costs the lives of many of his allies.

Invincible offers everything a good superhero comic should possess: great characters, an always rolling plot, amazing art, and an ever-changing universe. Not the illusion of change; not change that will be retrofitted in five or ten years. Actual change. Characters die; most will never come back. Invincible learns from his mistakes, even when they almost cost him his life.

The first twenty-five issues are now collected in to (relatively) inexpensive hardcovers. I highly recommend anyone not already on board to check these books out. I think you will be amazed by everything that you’re missing. Highest recommendation.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Super-Powered Web: Spider-Woman Motion Comic #1

The fine folks at Marvel were nice enough to offer up the first issue of the new Spider-Woman: Agent of S.W.O.R.D. motion comic for everyone to read free of charge. Check it out:

It seems a little late in the game for what is clearly meant to be a direct follow-up to Secret Invasion, but I think they did all right. They probably could have looked a little harder in the voice acting department; the cast is so-so at best. But the Bendis/Maleev team seems designed for this kind of story-telling.

Check it out yourself and see if you agree. Mildly Recommended.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Out For Vengeance 5 Notes

EMPIRE somehow makes its first appearance here. EMPIRE has been bouncing around in different story ideas of mine for years now, but this is the first time it has appeared in any of my super-powered fiction. They don’t have much of a role here, but they will continue to appear over various other stories (and maybe in Vengeance) in the future.

I love the term Humutants. How has no one used that before? Anyway, Phineas Moulton is my answer to the classic forties mad scientist villain. Beyond that, I do not want to give up anymore information about these flashbacks. They are all building to the reveal of Vengeance’s missing years.

More hunting rounds out the story. The hunting sub-plot will continue for a few more months, but expect a reveal before the serial finishes its last year.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Super-Powered Comics: Atomic Robo

It isn’t too easy to quantify what exactly makes Atomic Robo one of the most entertaining titles on the market today. The book comes from a comic publishing company made up of a bunch of upstart Star Wars fans/creators Red 5 (the name itself comes from Luke Skywalker’s call sign in A New Hope.

The comic definitely owes something in its style to books like Hellboy and The Goon, but Robo is definitely his own character. The product of an experiment by Nikola Tesla in the early part of the twentieth century, Robo’s adventures stretch over nearly a hundred years. With a variety of partners and allies, he fights everything from giant ants to living pyramids to Cthulhu-like monsters in his job as a “fighting scientist”.

The shtick owes something to Mignola’s BPRD, but Robo never quite enters the darker sides of the world made famous by Mr. Mignola. Instead his adventures, maintain a lighter air. Much of the reason for that can be attributed to the cartoonish pencils of artist Scott Wegener. Wegener seems perfectly made for a comic mixing robots and weird science and through his surprisingly expressive, animation-inspired style, Robo and company come to beautiful life.

Aiding Wegener on the book is webcomic pioneer Brian Clevinger. The co-creator/writer melds a mix of genres to make sure Robo’s adventures are over the top whether they fall in the thirties, World War II, or the present day.

But the most important factor that both Clevinger and Wegener bring to the book is a heaping helping of fun. So often, modern comics forget that they don’t always have to keep everything dark and brooding to tell a compelling tale. Atomic Robo equals any book in degrees of suspense, but it always manages to keep a fun spirit in the process.

The first two volumes of Atomic Robo are in trade paperback. You can order Volume 1 to your right or get Volume 2 here.Volume 3 is just about to wrap up in comic form. Both creators already plan multiple continuing volumes, so it looks like Robo isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Highly recommended.