Something Bigger Than Life

the-watchmage-is-coming1

That’s right, the long-awaited reboot of my award-winning serial, The Watchmage of Old New York, is here! Click here for the Amazon buy site, or buy on Barnes & Noble, iBooks, or Kobo.  Don’t miss out on this, old fans and new will love what I’ve done with the story.

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You’ve probably figured this out, but I read a lot. Books, comics, the backs of shampoo bottles, if it has words, I will consume its soul, therefore gaining its powers.

This is a metaphor, but apt.

A few months ago, I wrote about how Inside Out explored human emotions by personifying them. Instead of being something abstract, suddenly Joy was a character, a joyful one, but with significant flaws. Sadness was a pariah, but with a hidden virtue. Anger, Fear, Disgust, all given life. This is how the mind works…

Sorta…

Continue reading

Love it? Hate it? New Avengers Lineup!

We all know by now that Marvel comics is doing a massive crossover (and money-maker) beginning in May. You’ve heard the name before: yes, they’re redoing Secret Wars. Of course they’re doing it differently, but just the name alone is going to suck recovering comic book addicts like me back in. Sometimes I feel like Michael Corleone in Godfather III (which isn’t as bad as it’s reputation, but that’s a different story).

I’m not going to talk about the new Secret Wars, but I’m going to talk about the aftermath. Marvel recently revealed it’s post-Secret Wars lineup for the Avengers. I love it.

I love it because it shows that Marvel is trying to reach a wider demographic: Not just white boys, but boys and girls of all races and religions.

The new line up is:

Iron Man: Maybe it’s Tony, maybe it’s Pepper Potts

Ms. Marvel: Not Carol Danvers, but the teen Kamala Khan (the first Muslim and Pakistani Marvel Superhero)

Thor: Not Donald Blake, but the new female wielder of Mjolnir. Her identity is still unknown.

Captain America: Not Steve Rogers (who was artificially aged, nor Bucky Barnes. It’s Sam Wilson–The Falcon–who carries the shield (does he carry the shield? I hope so).

Vision: Let’s face it, you can’t have the Avengers without Vision.

Nova: The teenaged Sam Alexander, who is also half Latino.

Spider-Man: Not Peter Parker, but Miles Morales. Yes, Miles Morales is sucked into the main continuity from the Ultimates Universe (which gets destroyed). I love Miles, he’s a great character, and I think he fits perfectly what a modern Spider-Man should be. What this means for Pete, I don’t know, but I hope he gets a happy ending, or at least not die.

The New Avengers

So as you can see, Marvel is going young (Nova, Spidey, and Ms. Marvel) and they’re going diverse. They’re going for the new generation, and I think that’s the right move. Diversity is the key.

Like my posts? Follow my website or “Like” my facebook fan page and/or follow me on Twitter. You can also purchase my debut novel, Song of Simon, at any online bookstore or a real one (they both exist). Song of Simon currently has a 4.7/5.0 rating on Amazon, so it’s pretty damn good. If you’re looking for something FREE, you can read my serial (soon to be an expanded series of novels) The Watchmage of Old New York. Though it ended in February, 2014, it remains one of the most popular serials on JukePop OF ALL TIME!

Ninja Turtle Donatello Dies! (maybe)

A quick reminder: My Goodreads giveaway runs out at the end of the month. Enter now for a chance to win a signed copy of SONG OF SIMON.

I haven’t read the TMNT comic in many years, but I have a lot of love for the heroes in a half shell. That’s why when I read that Donatello dies in the next issue, I was shocked.

Actually, I wasn’t shocked. If I remember correctly, Donatello was once shot and thrown from a helicopter. They kept him alive with robotic parts, turning him into a cyborg.

Yes, a teenage mutant ninja cyborg.

Donnie was never my favorite (that goes to Leo), but I liked him a lot. I always saw him as the most pure-hearted of the turtles, even more than Mikey. Donnie was the introverted nerd, and the nerd in me related to him. Nerds of a feather…er…shell…flock together.

I’m sure that they will find a way to revive him. After all, in comics everybody comes back except Uncle Ben, Batman’s parents, and Bucky Barnes…forget that last part.

Here’s a screen shot from the comic.

Poor Donnie.

I told my pet turtle Shelvin about it. He was unmoved, and went back to fighting Godzilla.

Shelvin vs Godzilla

Like my posts? Follow my website or “Like” my facebook fan page and/or follow me on Twitter. You can also purchase my debut novel, Song of Simon, at any online bookstore or a real one (they both exist). Song of Simon currently has a 4.7/5.0 rating on Amazon, so it’s pretty damn good. If you’re looking for something FREE, you can read my serial (soon to be an expanded series of novels) The Watchmage of Old New York. Though it ended in February, 2014, it remains one of the most popular serials on JukePop OF ALL TIME!

Agent Carter Finale

So what did you think of last night’s Agent Carter finale? I was very pleased with it. Writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely should be proud of what they created here. They brought the plot together full circle, with Stark attempting redemption not just for Midnight Oil, but for losing Captain America (which wasn’t his fault anyway, but guilt is a funny thing). Stark was clearly the focus of the episode, and Peggy was the catalyst character for him to change his ways through the series. To paraphrase, “you (Peggy) are the only one that believes in me.”

The climax was fantastic. Stark was hypnotized by Doctor Faustus (the Comic Book name for Ivchenko) into believing that he could save Cap. It took Peggy to bring him down by convincing him that Captain America was dead, and we had to move on. Of course, that’s something that Peggy couldn’t do, at least not yet. When she destroyed his blood sample at the end, well, that’s where she finally achieved peace. It’s not easy getting over a loved ones’ death, but there’s peace at the end of that tearful ride.

Jarvis tailing Stark to shoot him down, was pretty cool too.

I’m hoping that there’s a second season. At the end they brought in Armin Zola. You can’t bring in a major villain like that, have him talk to Faustus, and not have some sort of ramification. Does anyone know if they’ve been renewed?

David Tennant to Play The Purple Man

Well this was a surprising turn of events. David Tennant, best known as the Tenth Doctor on Doctor Who, will play The Purple Man (Dr. Zebediah Killgrave), in the new Netflix series Aka, Jessica Jones. The Purple Man is one of the most dastardly, depraved villains in the entire Marvel Universe. This should be interesting.

Here Tennant talks about his upcoming part:

“I grew up on Marvel Comics so it’s very exciting to be part of their ever expanding entertainment empire,” he said. “I love the movies, I love the TV shows that they do so I’m very pleased to be part of one.”

The Purple Tie, a beginning

The Purple Man (they’re calling him Kilgrave in the series) is a long time villain of the “street level” Marvel heroes, mostly Daredevil, Jones, Heroes for Hire, and the like. He has mind control powers, and he has no problem using them for horrible acts, including rape. He once abducted and controlled Jessica Jones for several months, subjecting her to all sorts of torture. This will probably be part of her backstory in the series, and his reappearance will cause all sorts of trauma and conflict. With Luke Cage and potentially Iron Fist also in the series, this could be excellent (or terrible).

I’m dying to see how Tennant takes on such an evil role, so unlike his stint as The Doctor. He’s done evil before–he played Barty Crouch Jr in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, but that was more of an insane evil (Chaotic Evil, you might say). The Purple Man is a Lawful Evil type, a tyrant hungry for wealth, power, and ultimate control. He’s a master manipulator and true sociopath. In other words, he’s a bastard.

If Marvel wanted to hook me into this series, they did their job well. I’ve got a fever, and the only prescription is…well, you get it.

Like my posts? Follow my website or “Like” my facebook fan page and/or follow me on Twitter. You can also purchase my debut novel, Song of Simon, at any online bookstore or a real one (you’ll probably have to order it). Of course, you can always buy an autographed one from me, just send me a message. Song of Simon currently has a 4.7/5.0 rating on Amazon, so people seem to like it. If you’re looking for something FREE, you can read my serial (soon to be an expanded series of novels) The Watchmage of Old New York. Though it ended in February, it remains one of the most popular serials on JukePop OF ALL TIME!

Marvel vs Attack on Titan is Here!

Marvel’s been using the term “titanic team up” for decades, but nothing like this.

News about a Marvel and Attack on Titan has been circling for a weeks, and now it’s HERE. Actually, it’s over here. Below is the first page, a little squeezed together to protect Marvel’s copyright.

Page 1

It’s shorter than I wanted it, but it’s pretty good. It’s got Spider-Man trying to psyche out Titans with trash talk (good luck with that), banter between Hawkeye and Black Widow, and Captain America being Captain America. There’s a pretty cool “ending,” but i’d hardly call it an ending. Really, it’s every superhero playing their bare bones character archetype instead of going into depth. I want more than just 8 pages, no, I DEMAND it.

If you’re going to do something so awesome, don’t skimp on the awesomeness. I’m hoping that this is just a tease. I won’t be satisfied until the last titan takes a shot to the back of the neck.

Meanwhile, a clever AoT fan took the Attack on Buffalo (with lots of snow) and recreated a classic scene from the series. You can check that out here.

Like my posts? Follow my website or “Like” my facebook fan page and/or follow me on Twitter. You can also purchase my debut novel, Song of Simon, at any online bookstore or a real one (they both exist). Song of Simon currently has a 4.8/5.0 rating on Amazon, so it’s pretty damn good. If you’re looking for something FREE, you can read my serial (soon to be an expanded series of novels) The Watchmage of Old New York. Though it ended in February, it remains one of the most popular serials on JukePop OF ALL TIME!

CM Punk to Write for Marvel!

CM Punk is going to write Thor Annual #1 for Marvel, and I’m about to leap out of my chair with joy. My geek worlds are colliding in this explosion of Awesomeness. Now if only he finds a way to work D&D into the storyline (Thor: Volstagg, thou must save versus Will. Thy DC is 16).

Check out his interview at Marvel.com for more information.

This is the bees knees, the tops, jolly good, and other olde timey phrases. After Punk quit the WWE, I wondered what he was going to do next. Would he come back to the WWE or maybe Ring of Honor? Would he marry his girlfriend, wrestler AJ Lee? (he did). Would he go on tour with Rancid (Valerie would’ve smiled down from heaven for that). I knew that he was a comicbook fan (He once worked at a comic shop, and “it’s clobbin’ time” has been one of his catch phrases for a long time). He’s also a very intelligent, creative person, which you can see in his promos and interviews. Despite that, it never occurred to me that he might write a comic, let alone a Marvel icon.

Apparently it’s been something he’s wanted to do for years. He’s been studying scripts and the Marvel Method. Putting on tights and performing stuntman fights in front of 30k people a night has got to be great preparation for the world of comics.

Tell it again…

Thor is going through a lot of changes right now. Last month he lost his arm in a fight with Malekith, and an unnamed (so far) woman now wields Mjolnir. It’ll be interesting to see where CM Punk goes with it. “Best in the world?” We’ll find out soon.

Damn, he still looks badass.

Like my posts? Follow my website or “Like” my facebook fan page and/or follow me on Twitter. You can also purchase my debut novel, Song of Simon, at any online bookstore or a real one (they both exist). Song of Simon currently has a 4.8/5.0 rating on Amazon, so it’s pretty damn good. If you’re looking for something FREE, you can read my serial (soon to be an expanded series of novels) The Watchmage of Old New York. Though it ended in February, it remains one of the most popular serials on JukePop OF ALL TIME!

The Mask: Comics and Secret Identities Part 2

Welcome back. This is a continuation of a previous post. I suggest that you read the first part before this one, just so you know where I’m going with it.

Superman and Clark Kent as an Anomaly

Superman poses an interesting contrast to the traditional mask in that he doesn’t wear one. It’s a constant joke among fans that no one recognizes him. I mean, how can anyone be that stupid? I’ll explain below, but first I want to talk about what makes Superman unique.

Both Clark Kent and Superman can be called his “true persona.” He was raised Clark, and until his powers manifested, he was an ordinary boy and unaware of his lineage. This parallels the classic stories of Hercules, Moses, Harry Potter, Jesus, etc. But when he comes into his power, Superman leaves Clark Kent behind. He still carries much of his personality and morality, but they are not the same. He smashed that shell like the many buildings he’ll smash in the future. When you can look at the Earth from a dozen miles up, you never look at it the same way again.

I want to find who said this, but the writer is wearing a mask.

But Supes wants to be Clark Kent again. He doesn’t have to lead a human life, but he chooses to. The “new” Clark Kent is Supes fantasy of what his life would’ve been like if he was a human, not a Kryptonian. In the movie Kill Bill, Bill claims that Clark is an example of how Supes see humans: weak, bumbling, and awkward. I say that it’s a mask, but the one Supes wears to experience some of his old life. Through his upbringing, he is neither human or Kryptonian, but a little of both.

I wish they focused more on this in the recent movie, or at least the next one.

As for nobody recognizing him, it’s because people don’t see the man, they see the mask (or uniform). Last year, Jimmy Fallon did a bit where he had Mets pitcher Matt Harvey ask people questions about what they thought of Matt Harvey. No one recognized him out of his uniform, and hilarity (sorta) ensued.

People didn’t recognize Harvey–even though he was the hottest thing in New York–because he was out of uniform. It makes perfect sense to me that they wouldn’t associate Clark with a red and blue blur (Smallville reference).

Masks and Identity in The Watchmage of Old New York

watchmage small

In my serial (and forthcoming novels) The Watchmage of Old New York, masks and disguises play an important part of the setting. The Dwellers–mythical creatures drawn into our world through people’s dreams and beliefs–all wear magical disguises in order to survive in the city. They know the cruelty of humans, and they understand the danger if they were discovered.

When I devised that, I drew on a few scenes from Maus, where the jewish mice wear (polish) pig masks to move around the ghetto. Maus always had a strong effect on me. Most of my family immigrated before the Holocuast, but still.

If you haven’t read Maus, start.

I know that in real history, some Jews were able to hide their ethnicity, and even do it in America. Here, Jewishness (and all ethnicities) is in danger of being assimilated by the larger culture. They’re–if you will–being thrown into the melting pot. It’s tragic to immigrate and save your life, only to lose your identity.

The Watchmage has to hide his identity as well. At the time the serial begins, he’s already 150 years old, and has lived several lives. Each time he has to build a new identity, but he doesn’t have the luxury of leaving and starting again elsewhere. He will spend all of eternity taking new identities, living many lives that are never his.

Everybody Wears a Mask: It’s Called The Internet

I’m not the first person to point this out, but we all wear masks. You are not the same person at work as you are at the bar. You’re not the same around children as you are around the elderly. That’s normal. A person is not a piece of paper. A person is a gem with a thousand facets, and each facet shines with its own light. People are way too quick to judge another as “fake” when they see a facet they’ve never seen before.

If we were to approach the world as a simple paper, it would surely tear us apart. The masks that we wear protect us from the world. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the world is not a pleasant place.

I’m wearing a mask right now. So are you. You’re reading this through an interface, where you can use any avatar you want and reply as any persona you want to be. Hell, you can be Batman for all I know. We live in a world of masks now: Twitter, Facebook, blogs, they’re all masks that let you deal with the world around you.

Don’t be sad. Don’t be ashamed. When Spiderman or Batman dons the mask, they become something greater than what they were. There’s no reason why you can’t too.

Excelsior.

Like my posts? Follow my website or “Like” my facebook fan page. You can also purchase my debut novel, Song of Simon, at any online bookstore or a real one (they both exist).

The Mask: Comics and Secret Identities Part 1

Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” –Oscar Wilde

It’s a long-standing tradition in comic books for the heroes and villains to wear masks. Everyone from lone rangers (but not Tonto, for some reason) to secret squirrels (But not Morocco Mole) don the mask. The mask is the symbol of the genre. But why?

Different Secret Squirrel

The logical reason is that they need to protect their true identities from the public. They give rationale like “protecting their loved ones,” and there’ve been enough “women in refrigerator” incidents to give this validity.

Less spoken of is the less virtuous “freedom from repercussions.” They act in anonymity, not unlike the horrible comments at the end of every internet article (but that’s a different issue).

I think there’s more. There’s a psychological aspect to it, where the small and helpless can take on a new identity, free of their former self. Like the Oscar Wilde quote above, once inside the mask, they can be their true selves, or at least the self they want to be.

Which One’s Real, The Man or the Mask (Spiderman and Batman)

I’m going to use Spiderman and Batman as examples, because 1) everybody knows them (who would get it if I talked about Atom Smasher and Moon Knight?) and 2) they are great representations of what I’m talking about. Both heroes are one man with the mask on, and one off. The difference is which one is the true self (or is either?)

My friend, Dr. Osvaldo Oyola, (whose website The Middle Spaces has just about the best comic analysis on the Net) recently wrote an article that talked about Spidey, responsibility, and identity (among other things). Part of the article was born from a conversation we had about The Superior Spiderman storyline and a post I wrote. He noted how when Peter Parker regained his body from Doc Ock, Green Goblin noticed it right away from Pete’s wisecracks.

What Osvaldo notes is that Spiderman is a joking, obnoxious, free spirited hero, but Pete is not. Peter Parker is quiet and shy, always picked on by guys like Flash Thompson and ignored by girls. He grows out of this somewhat over the years, but there’s no doubt that they’re two separate personalities.

Stupid Sexy Spidey…

In this case, the Spiderman mask gives Peter the strength and confidence to be the person that he always wanted to be. He went from a shadow in the back of a classroom to a bright red and blue dynamo that won’t be ignored. Remember, when he first got his powers, the first thing he did was try his hand at Pro Wrestling. He wears a loud costume of primary colors. He wants people to SEE him. He wants to be noticed.

As Spidey says on the cover of his very first appearance, Amazing Fantasy #15: “Though the world may mock Peter Parker the timid teenager, It will soon marvel at the awesome might of Spider-Man.” He couldn’t state it any plainer than that. The mask makes him the man he wants to be.

Batman is a bit more complex. He underwent a psyche-ripping trauma as a kid. He’s obviously insane (people seem to gloss over that). I would say that unlike Spiderman, who affects a strong persona to hide a weak one, Batman is the strong persona that wears a weak mask.

Bruce Wayne is the mask. Batman is the real person. Bruce Wayne is a role that Batman made up so that he can interact in society. His real psyche is so destroyed that he can’t handle the real world without some buffer. He can only handle the world of madmen criminals and two-bit thugs.

Sad Batman is Sad

This damage even bleeds in under the mask. Look at how he treats his Robins, or how he acts around other Justice League members. Hell, he devised methods to kill every one of his friends in case he needed to. No sane man would do that.

But Bruce Wayne would never act that way. He’s just a rich playboy with not a care in the world. There’s no way Bruce Wayne could be Batman, right?

Maybe Bruce Wayne is the man Young Bruce wanted to be before Joe Chill shattered his world. Batman is living out a fantasy through his alter-ego. It’s the fantasy of a normal life, one that he’ll never have.

Read Part 2.

Like my posts? Follow my website or “Like” my facebook fan page. You can also purchase my debut novel, Song of Simon, at any online bookstore or a real one (they both exist).

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, and What DC Doesn’t Understand

Comic-Con season is the geekiest time of the year. Every day there’s a new thing to go nuts over. This time it’s Wonder Woman’s costume in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (the worst name ever).

I like it, and Gal Gadot looks great in it (what doesn’t she look great in?). I picture Wonder Woman as more muscular, but it’s not my movie, I’m not the casting director. Gadot brings star power, if a lack of acting chops (the awful Fast and the Furious Series doesn’t count) and star power brings in the Muggles who wouldn’t normally see a comic book movie. Gal Gadot is a model, not an actress, and that concerns me with how they’re going to write and direct Wonder Woman.

Dark WW is dark

Dark WW is dark

Notice that her costume has muted colors, similar to Superman and Batman in the previous movies. Does this mean that Batman v. Superman is going to be as dark and morally ambiguous as its predecessors? Probably, and that’s the problem. It’s like Snyder played DC: Injustice and suddenly thinks he understands what’s going on.

DC keeps going for these dark movies, and that’s not true to the characters. Yes, it worked for Batman (to an extent), but that’s because Batman is meant to be dark. Most comic heroes aren’t. Superman is not dark. He’s the paragon of all that’s good in the world (next to Captain Marvel). On an aside, I always thought it poetic that an alien is the best example for humanity.

This is not 300, and this is not Watchmen. Snyder does not understand the characters that he is trying to portray.

The Trollvengers

I love Wonder Woman. Not in a pervy fanboy kind of way, but as a character. She is one of the most complex characters in fiction, a blend of divine warrior, compassionate human, uncomfortable diplomat, and lonely, stoic outsider. She is impossible to portray correctly as a supporting character in this movie. I doubt that anyone could even get her right in her own movie, which is a shame, because someone should try.

I suggest that Snyder look to the old Justice League cartoon from the early 2000s. They had a firm grasp on the characters, mostly because it was actual comic book writers doing it. Dark movies do not equate to good movies. You only have to look at what Marvel is doing right to see what DC is doing wrong.

Like my blog? Check out my debut novel Song of Simon, from Damnation Books, or check out my free, completed webserial, The Watchmage of Old New York. Or just come back here again. I’m pretty damn awesome.