Sunday, August 31, 2014

Character change: Black or White?

I've decided to make a character changing decision with one of my villains. Considering that he's not an established character with 50 years under the belt, I doubt this will be a controversial change. I'm certainly not aiming at controversy, but we'll see what happens.

The character is Professor Zombie, a brilliant scientist who became evil when struck down by a flesh eating virus in Africa. He had to rebuild himself as a cyborg and decided he would rather rule the world than save it.

Now I admit, it's because I'm a white guy that I have so many white characters. Not because I'm racist, rather I just don't think about it that much. But times have changed and good stories need characters from all walks of life. I think the Professor is a good place to start. He's from Africa in the first place and he's kind of a play on black zombie legends. Granted some of those legends are Jamaican in origin, but it still works to make him a unique villain.

In the blog fiction, GZ Legends, I portrayed him as you see above, a white man. Now look at this:

What do you think? I think this adds a depth to his character that wasn't present before. It just makes more sense to make him a black man for the cultural and origin possibilities. This makes him a man who was trying to save people in his own nation before the disease got him. That's what this is about, enrichment of the character. As he appears in my next novel, Chaos Rising, I don't make a big deal about his skin color. I let his attitude and activities do the talking. I just think, he makes more sense as a black man.

Go ahead and let me know what you think in comments. Does he look better black than white? You tell me.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Electrode: Meet the Resistor

Scott McCross, better known as Electrode, ran his daily recon of New York City. At speeds of over 360,000 miles per second, his chore didn't take long. He moved between the obstacles of New York hustle and bustle with the ease of breathing. Any criminal element he found, never knew who found them until it was too late.

Electrode would handcuff muggers and thugs in mid crime. He'd put them in a cell before they could blink. He stopped fights with the snap of  his fingers, creating micro-sonic booms.  He even moved people and animals out of the way of speeding cars.

The bank robbery was nothing new. Five men with guns demanded money and Electrode found them in the act. He removed their guns before he noticed the strange attire of the fifth man. He wore a red and orange body suit with goggles over the eyes. Whenever someone dressed like that, it meant they were either a crackpot or someone flaunting powers. Electrode moved in on the man, but an aura of intense heat forced him back.

"I've been hoping to meet up with you." The man said as Electrode paused to look him over. "Sorry, I'm a little hot to the touch. Especially for you."

"Why especially for me?" Electrode asked. He could tell the man wanted to boast.

"Because you're Electrode, the nuclear electric man. I'm the Resistor!" He held out his fists as he glowed red. Electrode could feel the heat like being too close to a bonfire. "Your power will only make me hotter, so get out of the way. You can't do anything to me without risking the lives of everyone around us."

"Then you can't rob the bank either. You'll burn up the money."

"You fool. Why do you think I brought these men with me? Are you going to make me burn them too? I don't think so. You're an agent of good, Mr. Hero, you couldn't have that on your conscience. And you give of a natural charge that you can't turn off. So getting close to me means heating things up." Resistor laughed.

Electrode grimaced and vanished. Resistor laughed some more. People in the bank looked at each other, wondering where their savior had gone.

"He can't save any of you! Now stay where you're told and you might live to see another day. Men, collect that money."

Electrode raced to the Powers Institute where FBI Agent, Anthony James was working.

"Sorry to interrupt." Electrode said to let the man know he was there.

Anthony sat up from the machinery he was partway under and adjusted his eyepatch. He had a wrench in one hand and grease on his jeans.

"You're always a surprise, I'll give you that. What do you need?"

"I need to borrow something and I need to do it fast."

Across town the men loaded money bags into a van. Sirens sounded in the distance, but they wouldn't be there in time. Resistor smiled as he stood watch over his million dollar haul. The smile faded as all four of his men's bodies launched into the air in different directions.

"Couldn't stay away, eh?" Resistor called out.

A slap to the face spun him to the ground. As he tried to stand, another on spun him the other way. Electrode stopped a few feet away. He wore a rubber face mask with goggles and a different body suit.

"Insulated rubber suit. It's heat resistant too. What do you think of it?" Electrode vanished from sight and hit Resistor again.

Resistor's face jiggled back and forth as mini-slaps battered him. Resistor staggered and fell over. He looked at his hands and found strange handcuffs on his wrists.

"Those are inhibitor cuffs, made by Agent James. You're powers won't work with those on." Electrode pulled off the rubber mask. "Sure gets stuffy and hot in this thing."

"I will get you." Resistor mumbled in a daze.

"What's that?" Electrode responded. "I'm sure you'll try. You know, you did your homework on me but made one crucial mistake. You assumed that I don't know my own powers or how they work. You assumed that your powers would trump mine. And you're a boastful idiot. As soon as you explained yourself I knew exactly what to do. Have fun in prison."

"Next time, Electrode, you won't get the chance."

"You're singing an old tired song. Not interested." Electrode waited for the FBI van to come and pick up Resistor. Agent James had a special cell ready for him.

Electrode returned the suit and went back to work in less than a second. He finished his patrol and went for a cold drink. The forecast called for a hot day after all.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Guest Artist: Jack Lopez

Usually, guest artists draw a picture of an already existing GZ character and I post about them and their work. Jack Lopez had a different approach and challenge. He drew up a made up character ( no name or powers yet, just looks) and said, "Here, see what you can do with this". I thought, "colab?" sure why not? So I set to work on digital ink and color to see what would pop out of my brain. The results are below.

Before we get to that, let's talk about Jack. He's an aspiring comic artist with a cool page of work for you to check out at COMIX Illustrated Studios. On page he has over 300 posts of artwork. His style varies based on what he's drawing. He can duplicate looks or use his own flair. I picked a couple of my favorites off the page to show you. He's equally talented from pencils to inks to colors. I think you'll agree.

This is Ironman of course. Colored pencils. He says this was his first run this way and I say he knocked it out of the park.

Venom! Strong inking work. Click on any image for a closer view.

Now for what he sent me. Here are his pencils on this randomly put together guy that he just drew while messing around one day.

Here is what I did with the digital work.

This is the first guest artist colab I have ever done. Was kinda fun really. So there you have it, the work of Jack Lopez. Be sure to like his page (he's only at 100 right now so let's give that a boost). Remember to enjoy independent artists. They are the untapped talent of the comics universe and you never know what you'll find. Be a fan, I am!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Sandstorm: Enemy Lines

Lombard Ogleson stood in the field of white tombstones and remembered. Vietnam felt like yesterday and he knew it always would. Once a year he would go to the cemetery to pay his respects and remember the place he discovered his awesome elemental powers. Those were the powers that changed him from Private Ogleson the grunt into Sandstorm, the CIA operative. If only he'd discovered those powers 15 minutes earlier; his platoon might be alive today. Why did the memories have to be so vibrant?

He was surrounded by Vietcong and their weapons were aimed at his face where he lay on the ground. His buddies were all dead. They yelled at him in Vietnamese and, of course, he couldn't understand. That was when everything blurred. Enemy soldiers screamed in ways that would echo in his thoughts forever. Their flesh flayed away from their bodies so fast it was like being in a giant sandblaster. That's exactly what it was. He became his namesake in a raging swirling sandstorm the left his enemies in piles of polished bone. Foliage was shredded away several yards in every direction. He looked at his hands in terror and down at the rest of himself. He had destroyed his uniform and stood naked in the jungle.

With nothing but pure shock to guide him he ran. It wouldn't be until much later that he would remember branches and vines flexing out of his way. As his bare feet hit the ground, nothing pierced them, not even the smallest thorn. He was one with nature and its vibrant life was surging through him. He had no idea how far he had run. Miles would be the truth. When he finally stopped, still naked, it was an entire enemy platoon staring at him in confused awe. Slowly, they started to pick up their rifles while trying to figure out what a naked American was doing in their camp. He realized he couldn't let that happen.

Lombard began to scream. It was primal and savage and the ground reacted. The jungle floor uprooted with explosive force, throwing men into the air. Then the ground churned as if being torn by a giant tilling machine. Terrified men, trees, and even a pair of jeeps were plunged underground, never to be seen again. Those men would never have gravestones, not like the ones he stood near.

Lombard took a deep breath. It was just one of those memories and it was the day they were the strongest. He looked out over the sea of tombstones and saluted before walking away.

(Lombard "Sandstorm" Ogleson is one of the characters in my upcoming book, Chaos Rising! Be sure to add the Facebook Page -link upper right- and tune in for updates!)

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Panther Steele: Swords and Shadows

I've been tailing these idiots through three major cities. They've been luckier than they deserve. In New York they killed a school teacher, dental hygienist, and a day care worker. In Pittsburgh they killed three nurses from two hospitals and a clinic. Now I catch up to them in Chicago. They're a trio, so that's why they take three women in each city they choose. Then they move on quickly but I swear they choose their cities on a dartboard. If only I caught on to them before they went to Pittsburgh. It was a lucky break to find out where they were going. Homeless people see things others take for granted. I've spent a long time becoming a trusted friend of the streets.

In Pittsburgh they had already killed the first two and barely missed number three. They have number one for Chicago, but they aren't going to kill her tonight. After tonight, they won't be killing anyone anymore.

I'm Panther Steele and I don't know that I'd call myself a ninja, but the get up sure freaks out the scumbags. I have enough martial arts training under my belt to pull it all off pretty good too. It takes a lot of restraint be part of World Legion; outfit of heroes. You see, to me, the only good scumbag is a dead scumbag and these three are the worst of them. I do my best to play by the rules, but these guys are the worst of vermin. They don't need to be arrested. They need to be exterminated.

So where we are in an abandoned mill. How freaking cliche is that? The girl is terrified and handcuffed to a set of pipes. At least she'll be out of the way. I'm above them all on a broken catwalk. Ha. Catwalk for a panther, perfect. It's time to move. One of them is directly below me. He's not the biggest one, but good for a start.

I drop out of the shadows with my sword pointed straight down. It's a straight edge ninjato and very sharp. I put it through his upper shoulder and into his heart. He can't even cry out. The other two don't see me right away, but they see the look on their buddy's face. He drops to his knees and I pull out my sword. That's it, creeps, take a good look at me.

The smallest on of the bunch gives me one terrified look and makes a run for it. Too bad he has to pass in striking distance. One flick of my wrist and I sever his carotid artery. He won't make it 20 feet.

Last guy is the biggest. He grimaces at me and rips a pipe off the wall. Good. I was hoping for an actual fight. He swings and I duck. He's big thick and strong, but telegraphs his moves big time. His swings are wide and wild. No doubt, he'd crush my skull if he made contact. I keep on the move, let him wear himself down a bit. No. This guy won't be much of a challenge after all. Time to get rid of the stupid pipe. He swings and I slice. Hand is gone and pipe with it. Losing his hand sends him into a psycho rage and he comes at me with the other one without hesitation. You offer it, I remove it. Other arm is gone at the elbow. No sense in delaying the inevitable. I drive my sword straight up under the jaw and into the brain. I turn and give a twist before removing it and standing aside. He goes down like a dead tree onto his face. I use an old rag nearby to wipe my sword before I it put it away.

The girl is in shock. Can't blame her. I use my lock picks to remove the handcuffs.

"I'm not going to hurt you. I'll take you to the hospital, okay?" With that she throws her arms around me and won't let go. I have to carry her out. Yeah, I'll get some heat from killing them, but it was three on one. Even though I'm skilled enough to take them all in, no. Not these. Vermin need to be exterminated. The only good scumbag is a dead scumbag.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Maestro: A Class of Evil

Welcome to my castle. Do you think you'll survive the experience? It feels like it was yesterday; when I was considered to be everyone's hero on my home world. But then, the Sevin Brotherhood came along and destroyed everything I loved. I dealt with them though, oh yes I did. In the process I became the servant of the Demon god, Graethmael. No longer accepted at home, I left to find my new destiny. That's how I became the King of Demons.

There was another king at the time. He laughed at me and sent me on what he thought would be a futile quest for an ancient artifact. Well, artifacts were old hat to me. I obtained the Sphere of Kings and used it on him, taking over his throne. Now all of this is mine to use as I see fit.

I made myself known to the heroes of this universe by kidnapping a female Starknight and torturing her in my dungeon. But that was minuscule compared to what I really love to do. When I get bored I do things like take over the universe and slaughter heroes. I love to entwine people in traps of words, making them question their own morals. I craft better deals than the Devil himself.

I was a powerful bard in my day, creating magic out of music, but I'm far beyond that now. I have my own powerful magics that play off my golden flute. It's called megasorcery and it's an equal measure of sorcery, bardic and the power to alter reality itself. With it, I can sunder worlds or just peel you like a grape. I alter battlefields to confuse my enemies and then toy with them until they die.

Feel like raiding my castle? Nothing amuses me more than some wannabe hero thinking he's broken in to find me or some trinket I've hidden. I love breaking and entering into my home, it's hilarious. My castle is unstable dimensionally so you never know where opening a simple door will lead you. If the creatures I create don't eat you, the various trap rooms will carve you to pieces. Of course there are my demon guards, but I don't let them in on the fun unless I'm feeling generous.

Oh, and let's not forget that I'm a racist too. I hate Elves. All of them. One thing I want to accomplish in my lifetime (and it's a long life) is the utter genocide of those stupid snobby Elves. They were too busy being pompous and righteous when my world needed their help. Now they can just die.

I am Maestro, King of Demons and it makes me laugh when some do-gooder asks why I do what I do. Foolish heroes, evil needs no reason.