Friday, March 16, 2018

Sexy Side-Project Announcement: The Red Queen Chronicles: The Leader is LIVE!

There are certain characters who just inherently attract respect, ridicule, admiration, disdain, and sexy women all at once. These are remarkable characters in their own right. They're also great characters for my sexy side-projects. That's exactly why I'm so excited about this latest project, which gives Cyclops a chance to channel his attraction in the sexy world of "The Red Queen Chronicles."

With so many sexy female characters in this series like Mary Jane Watson, Jean Grey, and Emma Frost, it's easy to forget that men can have sex appeal too. Granted, they don't always look as good in a thong, but their sex appeal is still plenty deserving of respect. There's a reason why the X-men comics often have Cyclops attract so many beautiful women. Sure, he can be a boy scout, but he can also be one of those guys who just drives the ladies wild.

It's not just the fact that he's tall, fit, and handsome. It also has nothing to do with how awesome he looks in shades. Cyclops is, at his core, a leader and a fighter. He won't just stand at the front lines of a conflict. He'll make others want to stand by his side, even as killer robots bear down on him. No man has that kind of leadership skill without attracting a few beautiful women.

Jean Grey may be the love of his life, but the fact that Cyclops has been involved in more than one love triangle throughout his history says a lot about his sex appeal. The comics are often subtle with that appeal, even when Emma Frost is involved. However, this sexy side-project will not be that subtle, among other things.

Since joining the Hellfire Club in "The Red Queen Chronicles: The Phoenix," Cyclops has had his share of sexy action. While Spider-Man and the rest of the sexy supporting cast have had more, he has yet to utilize the new opportunities before him. That's exactly what he'll do here and more than one woman will benefit from that effort. If you're a Cyclops fan and just love seeing him be awesome, then this is the story for you.

I hope you enjoy it. As always, I strongly encourage everyone to take the time to post feedback. I do have other side-projects planned. I'll announce them in due time. For now, I hope this will build on the sexy foundation I've created.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Heart, Soul, and Zombies: New Mutants Dead Souls #1

The following is my review of New Mutants Dead Souls #1, which was posted on

From a purely pragmatic standpoint, teenagers are uniquely qualified to take on paranormal threats. Most adults, be they ordinary people or iconic superheroes, have a certain level of life experience to forge what they see as a sense of normal. It's part of the basic maturation process. As kids grow into adults, they refine their perspectives into what they consider rational, balanced, and proper.

That may serve them well in function within an ordinary, civilized society. As soon as demons and paranormal monsters enter the picture, those mature people are more likely to buckle under the pressure. Teenagers can be irrational and melodramatic, but by lacking a secure grasp on the real world, they're actually more capable when it comes to facing paranormal threats. This plays out in many memorable ways throughout Chris Claremont's initial in New Mutants. Matthew Rosenberg now attempts to do the same with New Mutants Dead Souls.

In terms of timing, the market is ripe for teen mutants fighting paranormal threats. Rosenberg is coming off a successful stint with Phoenix Resurrection and with the cancellation of Christina Strain's Generation X series, there is an opening for stories centered around teenage mutants taking on the kinds of threats that would overwhelm functioning adults. If those threats involve paranormal creatures that require the leadership of Magik, a teenage girl with a colorful history that involves demons, then the potential entertainment value is beyond dispute.

X-men comics are well-known for providing unique opportunities for young mutants to establish themselves. In a world still populated by time travelers and refugees from dystopian futures, those opportunities are important. New Mutants Dead Souls #1 establishes a new team with familiar faces to take on the kind of threats that often pass under the radar for most X-men. That doesn't imply that paranormal threats are less important. It just acknowledges that mutants are more likely to get attacked by killer robots than demons.

The makeup of the team also acknowledges that some X-men that attract paranormal threats more than others. The fact the team is led by Magik proves that Rosenberg understands what makes the New Mutants unique. Any team of mutants can come together and fight giant robots. It takes a special team with a demon-loving teenage girl as leader to come together and fight paranormal threats. New Mutants Dead Souls #1 doesn't attempt to complicate the concept or overlook the appeal. Anyone just looking to see mutants fighting monsters will get what they want.

Magik's team, which consists of Rictor, Boom-Boom, Strong Guy, and Wolfsbane, is full of familiar names for New Mutants. They're young, immature, and don't hesitate to fight back when someone throws an empty bottle at them. When the threats are paranormal and there's more room for recklessness, that's both expected and refreshing. In the case of New Mutants Dead Souls #1 the threat involves zombies and when it comes to the undead, reckless is most prudent approach, even though it tends to get messy.

The specifics of the threat start off basic. There's a small town in Alabama that sustained heavy casualties due to a hurricane. Some of those casualties died, but didn't stay dead. It's a localized issue that isn't quite on the level of requiring the Avengers to assemble in full force, but it warrants enough concern to send a team of team of teenage mutants right into the heart of the conflict. It's simple enough to challenge the New Mutants while also maximizing their youthful recklessness.

It's not too simple in terms of story, though. This zombie attack doesn't just happen because those corpses all made deals with Mephisto. There's a reason why the dead are rising and that's what the New Mutants have to figure out, but not before battling a horde of zombies that allows Adam Gorham's art to maximize the paranormal ambience. It has the feel of both a horror story and a superhero story, which proves to be a potent combination in terms of raw entertainment value.

There's plenty of setup and tense exchanges, but there's plenty of memorable action-packed moments that are every bit as satisfying as the best moments on The Walking Dead. There's Magik cutting zombies up with her sword, Boom-Boom blowing them up with cherry bombs, and Strong Guy ripping them apart. It's visceral and brutal, but what makes it uniquely satisfying is how it gets resolved.

It's not one of those conflicts that only ends when the last zombie gets its head blown off. There are other forces at work driving the attack and those forces aren't as obvious as someone having worked for the Umbrella Corporation. It's a mystery, but not one that requires much sleuthing. When one of the members on that team spends much of her spare time with demons, the traditional sleuthing process is both tedious and unnecessary.

While the final resolution does come off as a bit rushed, as do other parts of the story, New Mutants Dead Souls #1 is one of those stories that doesn't try too hard to set up future conflicts or over-emphasize the first. It still takes some time to do a little world-building, establishing some infrastructure with the team. They have a base of operations. They have a larger mission and that mission is something even a team of teenage mutants can get behind.

It makes for a story that feels complete and dense. A lot happens quickly. Even when it's a bit too quick in some areas, it still comes together in a concise, coherent manner. It's less an origin story and more a reminder, one that belabors how Chris Claremont's idea of having teenage mutants take on paranormal threats can be fun and entertaining. Rosenberg and Gorham take that idea and run with it, establishing a unique appeal with a colorful cast of characters that is sure to attract more than just zombies. Teenage mutants or not, that appeals to every age group on some levels.

Final Score: 8 out of 10

Friday, March 9, 2018

X-men Supreme Issue 165: Crimes Against Inhumanity Part 4 is LIVE!

This is it. Time has run out. The world is no longer on the brink. It’s at the brink. The world of X-men Supreme is poised for another major turning point. These are kinds of moments that have helped shape and define this fanfiction series. Arcs like Overlord, the Phoenix Saga, Natural Disorder, Dark Legacy, and the Cambrian Explosion have contained such moments, which carry ripples into the future of this fanfiction series. The conclusion of the Crimes Against Inhumanity arc will have more than a few ripples.

The secrets of White Cell are exposed. Romulus, the founder of White Cell and the father of Wolverine, is on a mission to end all conflict by controlling the most powerful fighting force in the world. The X-men, X-Force, and every other defense force on the planet armed with anything more than a baseball bat is a target. This isn’t about winning a war for Romulus. It goes beyond any conflict the X-men have ever faced, as well as anything Charles Xavier ever envisioned. It either has to end here, but not without a price. In the world of X-men Supreme, every resolution has a price.

There have been times when that price has been painfully high. The events of the Cambrian Explosion cost Magneto his sanity. The events of Natural Disorder cost Polaris her life. For the X-men, it has always been a matter of coming together and fighting to ensure that price isn’t too high. In X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided, they weren’t able to come together. In fact, the events of the Drug War arc ensured that the X-men would not be able to rally together like they have in previous conflicts. That means the price they’re about to pay with Crimes Against Inhumanity will run much deeper.

The tension is already there. Charles Xavier, President Kelly, and General Grimshaw came together after the events of X-men Supreme Issue 148: New Divide with the sincere hope that the Mutant Monitoring Initiative would vastly improve relations between humans and mutants. The events of X-men Supreme Issue 149: Law Abiding Bind even explored some of those improvements. In the short-term, Xavier’s efforts bore fruit. Even before he could expand those efforts, though, Romulus was poised to take advantage of it.

He’s had centuries to plan. He’s been operating behind the scenes since White Cell was introduced way back in X-men Supreme Volume 2: War Powers. His hopes, his vision, and his personal war to end war is finally set to culminate. The X-men, X-Force, and even unexpected allies in Fantomex and Deadpool are all that’s left. The stakes aren’t just high. They’re personal. This is Wolverine’s father, X-23’s grandfather, and Mystique’s mysterious mentor. When all is said and done, there will be scars. There will be upheavals. The course of this fanfiction series will be on a very different path.

X-men Supreme Issue 165: Crimes Against Inhumanity Part 4

This arc is one of those arcs that I hope helps define the X-men Supreme fanfiction series for all the right reasons. It took a long time to build towards. I got the idea way back when I was writing X-men Supreme Volume 5: Dark Truths. I spent a lot of time and energy guiding the story to this point, setting everything up for a big payoff. I try to make every issue of this fanfiction series awesome, but I try to make arcs like this feel extra meaningful.

The conclusion of Crimes Against Inhumanity will have all sorts of ramifications. Some of those ramifications will set the stage for the home stretch of X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided. There is, indeed, another conflict brewing and it’s one that I’ve also been building towards. However, I cannot get to that payoff without making every issue in between count. That’s why it’s critical to get feedback for every issue, especially the conclusions of major arcs like this. I implore you, the reader, more than usual to take the time to review this issue and all others. I can’t know whether or not these issues are sufficiently awesome without feedback. Either contact me directly or post your comments directly in the issue. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Xcelsior!


Thursday, March 8, 2018

Gloriously Destructive Deconstruction: Batman: White Knight #6

The following is my review of Batman: White Knight #6, which was posted on

There comes a point in a long-standing conflict where the mental and physical strain that keeps it going becomes too much to bear. It usually occurs beyond the point where either side has a chance to claim victory. At this stage, the only goal is survival, although that doesn't always entail surviving intact. Given how long Batman and the Joker have been clashing with one another, spanning deaths, resurrections, and retcons, it's surprising they haven't reached this stage sooner.

To some extent, Batman avoids this stage with all his villains. A big part of his efforts to protect Gotham and stop criminals like the Joker involves stopping them before they reach the point where justice becomes a moot point. The Joker just makes that harder than most because he goes out of his way to push Batman and everything he stands for to the absolute limit. For decades, Batman exercises superhuman discipline in avoiding the Joker's traps. That discipline finally falters in Batman: White Knight and the consequences have been both revealing and compelling.

Sean Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth take Batman into uncharted territory, using a sane Joker to deconstruct the very principles that make Batman who he is. As a homicidal clown, Batman is able to fight the Joker's challenges directly with his long list of skills and gadgets. As Jack Napier, though, even those resources aren't enough. Since regaining his sanity in Batman: White Knight #1, Napier keeps hitting Batman in ways that no exploding whoopee cushion can ever match.

The GCPD turns against him. The public turns against him. Even his own family turns on him with Nightwing and Batgirl leaving him to join Napier's new initiative. It's not just a deconstruction of Batman's principles. It's utterly destroys all the systems and support structures that once allowed him to function. Now, Batman is no longer the savior of Gotham. He's part of the problem and Napier presents himself as the solution. In Batman: White Knight #6, they enter more uncharted territory.

Part of that story is a culmination of the process that begins in Batman: White Knight #1 with Jack Napier setting out to destroy Batman and everything he stands for. Having convinced everyone he's right and Batman is wrong, Napier leads an effort to arrest him. That effort includes some of Batman's greatest defenders, including Jim Gordon. They go along with Napier's plan, but they make clear that they hate every minute of it.

That's an important component of the unique narrative presented in Batman: White Knight. This isn't about Batman's friends and allies being brainwashed, either by the Mad Hatter or some elaborate media conspiracy. They watch what Jack Napier does and listen to what he says. He doesn't force them to agree with him. He doesn't poison them with laughing gas when they disagree either. He just puts them in a situation where they cannot escape the truth.

Characters like Jim Gordon, Nightwing, and Batgirl hate every second of it. They fight it every step of the way, but they cannot get around the implications of Napier's agenda. He gives them too many reasons to go along with him and Batman keeps giving them too few. The consequences of losing that support play out in a way that feels tragic, but predictable in Batman: White Knight #6.

For once, Batman's incredible skill, strength, and endurance aren't enough. It's one thing to escape one of the Joker's elaborate death traps. It's quite another to stand against those he considers his closest allies when they're not brainwashed. Batman does not at all come off as Batman. He comes off as someone who just can't be the same hero without all the support systems that allow him to operate. It shows that Batman is only as capable as the allies around him.

He almost comes off as inept in how he falls into Napier's trap, which feels pretty out of character for Batman. Even with the loss of some of his closest allies, he doesn't show the same mental toughness as someone who can battle Ra's Al Ghul, Killer Croc, and Poison Ivy in the same day and still keep his sanity. Some of that feels like a direct effect of Napier turning the world against him. Some of it just comes off as Batman faltering when he doesn't falter.

This part of the narrative, with Napier finally subduing Batman alongside the GCPD, contains some of the most dramatic moments of the story to date. The other part of the narrative, which involves Napier responding to a threat from the less sane, more obsessive Harley Quinn that has been running around since he regained his sanity. It's a threat that has been unfolding behind the scenes of previous issues, but unfolds just as Batman succumbs to Napier's agenda.

While this moves the story forward, it somewhat detracts from the drama surrounding Batman finally losing to the Joker. As soon as Batman goes down, he seems to lose his relevance in Napier's ongoing story, which now faces a different kind of challenge. In a sense, turning people against Batman and bringing him in is the easy part. Now, Napier has to actually demonstrate that he's right, Batman was wrong, and he can deliver where Batman failed.

It's the final step in the total deconstruction of Batman. Napier knows on some levels that even if he succeeds in taking Batman down, he'll only end up vindicating Batman if Gotham cannot handle threats that involve villains in clown makeup and giant freeze rays without him. In fact, he may end up empowering Batman even more if he shows he cannot deliver. It's a stressful situation for someone whose sanity is always in question. His ability to handle that situation remains uncertain, even with his sanity intact.

In a sense, Batman: White Knight #6 encompasses two distinct stories. One is the culmination of Batman's world collapsing around him and the other is a setup for Napier's ultimate test. One is heavy on drama, but the other somewhat distracts from that drama. It still makes for a powerful, compelling narrative that undercuts Batman's core identity. Some of that narrative, however, gets undercut by Napier's own evolving conflicts.

The ending still provides compelling insights that hint at the growing instability of Jack Napier's efforts. He's succeeding in his efforts to ultimately defeat Batman, but it's not without complications and for once, those complications don't involve a shortage of clown makeup or exploding cupcakes. Whether or not Jack Napier can succeed where Batman fails will prove whether such deconstruction is ultimately good for Gotham or just another bad joke.

Final Score: 6 out of 10

Friday, March 2, 2018

X-men Supreme Issue 165: Crimes Against Inhumanity Part 4 PREVIEW!

Throughout the history of Marvel Comics and the X-men Supreme fanfiction series, there have been incidents where it’s painfully clear that nothing can ever be the same again. It’s one thing to just stop Dr. Doom from taking over the world, prevent the Brotherhood of Mutants from crashing a Dazzler concert, or thwart one of Mr. Sinister’s experiments. Winning those battles doesn’t involve much aftermath. The world basically continues as it is.

Then, there are events like Secret Wars, House of M, Overlord, and the election of President Robert Kelly in which there’s no undoing the upheaval. Things are going to change in a major way. There’s no way around it. There have been many such moments in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series, the events of X-men Supreme Issue 148: New Divide being the most recent. That moment, which set the stage for X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided, split the X-men into two teams, one led by Charles Xavier and one led by Cyclops. That division has left the world vulnerable.

It was only a matter of time before someone attacked that vulnerability. Sebastian Shaw tried and failed during the events of the Drug War arc, but that conflict only set the stage for a much bigger battle with Romulus, the father of Wolverine and the leader of White Cell. As a villain, he has a somewhat shaky history in the X-men comics. In this fanfiction series, however, his efforts and his vision promise to shake the X-men, X-Force, and everything in between to their core.

The Crimes Against Inhumanity arc will likely be another one of those critical turning points for the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. It’s one of those moments where nothing can be the same again. There’s no going back. There’s no undoing the damage that Romulus did. Going all the way back to X-men Supreme Volume 5: Dark Truths, I’ve been setting up Romulus’ plan. He’s been silently working behind the scenes, manipulating the Wolverine, Weapon X, the X-men, and the governments of the world to carry out his vision. That vision is dangerously close to being realized.

It has already claimed casualties, as we saw in the Unholy Man arc. It promises to claim many more as Romulus’ armies of Weapon X drones roam the world, destroying every major defense system more advanced that a spear. He’s not just trying to win the conflict with humans, mutants, and the X-men. He’s trying to end all conflict, but on his terms. It’s the vision of a dangerous man who has shown a willingness to torment his own children to see it through. The clock is ticking and the final showdown for that vision is set to unfold.

Make no mistake. The world of X-men Supreme will never be the same after this. Characters like Mystique, Wolverine, X-23, Cyclops, Charles Xavier, and so many more will face some hard challenges and harder questions in this final battle. What happens to them and what happens to Romulus will shape the course of this fanfiction series for a long time to come. As always, I’ve prepared a preview of just how big this final battle will be.

“These men…are too…strong,” grunted Colossus, who was locked in a grapple with one of the warriors.

“They’re fast too,” groaned Psylocke as she missed one of the warriors with her psionic blades and got a heavy dose of telekinesis in the process.

“I get it, guys. You don’t need to keep reminding everyone!” said Captain Freeman while narrowly avoiding a claw slash.

“Argh! Well…I think…it bears…repeating, comrade,” said Colossus as he took an optic blast to the head, “What we are doing is clearly not working,”

“Even I need time to adapt!” grunted the Green Beret, “Any luck on your end, Xavier?”

“Not the kind I would prefer, Captain,” said Professor Xavier, who was concentrating while a couple of MSA agents defended him, “These men have telepathic abilities. They’re blocking me out and trying to attack with probes of their own. I can barely keep my own shields up.”

“Well, we better find another way soon!” said Psylocke as she narrowly avoided an optic blast, “Once these blokes run out of equipment to destroy, they’ll only have us left to target.”

Professor Xavier felt a thick sweat form over his head. His psychic attacks yielded no results. The minds of these warriors were built like Wolverine’s, except they had their own telepathy with which to fight back. They were like computers carrying out a program and with the destruction in the Pentagon, they were definitely succeeding.

Colossus, Psylocke, and Captain Freeman continued incurring injuries. Captain Freeman had adapted his body to become more durable. One of the warriors fought back by rapidly teleporting around him and striking him with head blows. Two more did the same with Colossus, utilizing more optic blasts to wear him down.

They even seemed to use his metal form as a means of destruction, blowing him back against any piece of heavy equipment that wasn’t easily destroyed. The warrior taking on Psylocke didn’t try to match her agility. While she attacked with her psionic blades, the warrior simply used telekinesis to keep her off her feet and slam her against nearby walls.

“Hnn…is it too late to swap powers, Colossus?” groaned Psylocke, now with a dislocated shoulder.

“I don’t think metal skin would fare much better,” grunted Colossus, falling to his needs after taking an optic blast to the head.

“We’ll have to fall back,” said Captain Freeman, “We can’t save this area, but the least we can do is-UNGH!”

The Green Beret was cut off when one of the warriors struck his legs with a wave of telekinesis, tripping him so that he fell flat on his face. The warrior made sure he stayed down by driving his claws into his upper shoulder, wounding the mutant soldier in a way that was difficult to adapt from.

With Captain Freeman and Psylocke injured, the mysterious warriors turned their attention towards Professor Xavier. He was still guarded by a couple of MSA agents who anxiously fired back with their weapons. None of their shots landed. The warriors didn’t even notice when they incurred a wound. With perfect coordination, they used their telekinesis to disarm the agents. This left both them and Xavier vulnerable.

“My rifle!” shouted one of the agents.

“Whoa! Looks like you’re on your own here, Xavier. This was not part of our training,” said the other.

“I need more time,” said the Professor intently, “Too much time to make sense of it all!”

The two warriors used their telekinesis again to shove the two MSA agents out of the way. Their eyes glowed red as they prepared to attack the Professor with an optic blast. Xavier was forced to stop his psychic probe. His only option at this point was to run, but he was unlikely to get far.

‘No…it can’t end like this. Is this going to be the legacy of the Mutant Monitoring Initiative? Failing to stop an attack that crippled the world?’

The warriors were about to attack. Then in an unexpected turn, their eyes stopped glowing and they froze where they stood. For a moment, they looked like computers processing a new set of commands.

“Emergency Protocol Omega initiated. Returning to core for Defense Strategy X,” they said in perfect unison.

Then as suddenly as they appeared, the four masked warriors teleported away. They left behind a decimated MSA control hub and many unanswered questions. Colossus, Psylocke, and Captain Freeman emerged injured and confused. General Grimshaw and several officers rose up, taking in the damage that they had just incurred.

“Talk to me, Xavier. What just happened?” asked General Grimshaw.

“I’m…not entirely sure, General,” said Xavier as he did a quick psychic scan, “I detected a brief psionic signal. It seemed to come from all directions. I disappeared too quickly before I could make sense of it.”

“I sensed it too, Professor…in addition to my shoulder popping back in place,” groaned Psylocke, who was helped up by Colossus.

“You’ll have to make sense of it later,” grunted Captain Freeman with blood dripping from his mouth, “We’ve got a hell of a mess on our hands.”

“Something tells me, it is much worse than we expect,” said Colossus.

It wasn’t an unreasonable assumption. No one dared contest it as they struggled to process what just happened. Everyone was just beginning to catch their breath. Then General Grimshaw’s cell phone went off.

“I presume that’s the president,” said Professor Xavier.

“You really are the world’s greatest psychic, Xavier,” said Grimshaw as he recognized the number, “If he’s able to call, then something must have changed on his end as well. He’s going to want answers. For all our sake, someone better figure them out.”

It's moments like this with X-men Supreme that I find uniquely satisfying. There have been only a handful of big battles like this where I take my time to set up a huge, game-changing battle like this. It’s not something I want to force or rush. It’s one of those things that deserves time, energy, and just the right kind of emotional payoff. That’s what I believe will make this fanfiction series as awesome as it deserves to be.

I intend to make an extra effort to ensure the conclusion of the Crimes Against Inhumanity arc matches or exceeds the other moments I’ve crafted within this fanfiction series to date. I want this moment to enrich X-men Supreme to new levels. To do that, I need plenty of feedback. I know there has been another surge in spam lately. I am doing what I can to temper that, but I will still sift through as much of it as I can to find that feedback. Either contact me directly or post your comments directly in the issues. Either way is fine and I appreciate any support you can offer. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Xcelsior!