Tag Archives: Superheroes

If I Made GOTHAM

For a little while now, I’ve been unexcited about the concept behind FOX’s upcoming Batman prequel, GOTHAM. I don’t know if it’s because Smallville teased me for a decade or because I was more excited for Heroes than I have ever beenabout any other show. Ever.

You should note that these criticisms have nothing to do with what we’ve seen of GOTHAM at all. And that’s fair. The cast looks great. The trailer actually looks pretty amazing.

But I guess I just don’t see the point. I wouldn’t be shocked if some of the show had been inspired by Gotham Central, which I quite enjoyed. The premise being what super crime in Gotham looks like from the street view the cops have.

But the takeaway of these stories for me is that there need to be superheroes. Which I totally agree with, but why would I want to watch a show that doesn’t have any?

A Different Kind of Show

So if I were doing GOTHAM, I think the first thing I would do is get rid of Gotham City. It’s too well-known and the idea of Batman is so provocative you risk creating a Batman babies program with kid Catwoman and young Joker. I say forget that noise. Instead, I would do a completely generic police procedural like you see on TNT. There would be dramatic scenes, compelling music, and beautiful, brooding protagonists staring directly at the screen a la Rizzoli and Iles or Cold Case.

And I would keep it completely mundane for the entire first season. Just the typical one-shot criminals and police drama. And then in the second season, a few episodes in, I would hit the protagonists with their first supervillain. No one knows where he or she came from or why they do it. All the cops know is they’re darn near unstoppable and they barely run them out of town.

At this point, careful observers might have noticed the tiniest hints of weirdness around the edges of the first season that foreshadowed something else going on. And then the show would go back to normal for a little bit while everyone wondered what the #$?! was going on.

And the show would carry on like that for a while. Normal police procedural that occasionally sees a supervillain pop in a do something crazy. It would be a subtle escalation that tests the limits of our heroes and gives a true view of what everyday life looks like when you have to live in a world with superpowers.

And then around season 4 the first superhero would show up. Just out of the blue, after the cops are getting used to just barely winning and seeing friends die at the hands of super crazies, a masked vigilante shows up and changes the game.

And this is where it gets really interesting. The show turns out to have been a hero origin story the whole time, but from the perspective of our dynamic police force. And like the cops, the show doesn’t reveal who the hero is or how they became what they are. Instead we’re left guessing if it’s one of the supporting cast or some bit criminal from season 1. Could just be some guy no one knows.

Maybe eventually the police even form an alliance, if they ever figure out he’s not just another nut job and stop trying to arrest him.

GothamAnd I would have the story arcs for each season pre-written, so we could lay down clues and foreshadow events years out.

At least that’s how I would do it, with nods to sources like Gotham Central, Irredeemable, and Nemesis –works I’m stealing from in spirit if not directly.

It would be a long con for sure, and I expect no basic cable station would want anything to do with it in the age of instant gratification television. And if it did get a first season, there would be the constant threat of cancellation. But imagine audience reaction once it started to get real. And maybe this kind of show is too conceptual for modern television. Hard to say, but I do think we live in an embarrassment of superhero riches. As the genre’s creative boundaries stretch further and further, maybe some enterprising, young artists will read this and steal it.

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The Best Time to be a Dork

I’m pushing 30, and I can’t think of a better time than now to be a geek, a nerd, a dork, or whatever you want to call it.

Seriously, right now, the dorks are winning.

NERDS!!!

I remember a time, around 15 years ago, where I couldn’t really proclaim my love for Dungeons & Dragons, Magic: The Gathering, or comic books. Of course, I went to a Christian school where things like that (magic, wizards, etc.) were frowned upon. I actually got in trouble once for having the manual to Civilization II in my backpack.

But really, I only had a couple of friends that would admit that they were into geeky things.

Fast forward to today.

Batman and a collection of Marvel superheroes are sitting at the top of the box office.  The San Diego Comic Convention is bigger than ever. Gen Con drew in over 41,000 people. You can’t go out without seeing someone wearing a Spider-Man t-shirt. Comic book characters on are TV. Major networks are taking chances of fantasy and sci-fi shows. Game of Thrones is one of the best shows on TV. Doctor Who is back and more popular than ever!

When I read a comic book in public, I RARELY get scoffed at. In fact, more often I get asked  if it is any good. People generally aren’t afraid to try roleplaying games. Video games are a booming medium. Everyone plays Call of Duty, Battlefield, Halo, or World of Warcraft.

This is a far cry from when I had to huddle in friends’ basements, rolling dice in the lonely, dreary shadows. Now, someone can put a good idea for a tabletop RPG on Kickstarter, and it can make 12 times its funding goal. There are so many cool geeky things out there, and there’s no way I have the disposable income to buy even a quarter of their awesome-ness. And that doesn’t even include the different geeky events around the country that I want to attend!

Viva la Dorka!

There are some even greater things that are coming out of this dork boom. People in general are getting more interested in science and math. Going to space is cool again. Comic book and video game art are inspiring younger  generations to create awesome things. Movie and video game music has never been better, and I bet you’ll see kids picking up instruments because of Halo, Skyrim, or Rock Band.

So, enjoy this geek boom while it lasts! It’s a good time to dork out.

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My Current Campaign — Superheroes

I love superheroes.

The fascination began when I was but a wee lad watching Batman: The Animated Series at my babysitter’s house. Movies, video games, and comic books soon followed. Since I’m also a big fan of role-playing games, it didn’t take me too long to find a couple of superhero RPGs to play.

That brings us my current campaign, a custom world for Mutants and Masterminds, 3rd edition.

My buddy John approached me with a scenario and an idea for a character he had: a sidekick apprenticed to an ultraparanoid superhero is left alone after his mentor is murdered. I loved the idea and started worldbuilding right away.

It’s a combination of all the tropes I love about the superhero genre. In fact, my main goal was to take characters from all over the various comic book publishers and combine them in interesting ways. I’ve also given them some fun, goofy names that either elicit laughter or groans from the players. They’re superheroes, so you can’t take them too seriously.

Here are some of the characters:

Big Brother – He’s the superhero who was murdered. He’s basically a combination of Batman and Big Daddy from Kick-Ass. He was brutal in his dealings with criminals, and he owned the private prison and insane asylum, so he was able to continually torture them in terrible ways. He didn’t really trust anyone, and that includes his sidekick, Kid Impulse (played by John), whom he just barely seemed to tolerate.

Prometheus – The world’s foremost superhero, Prometheus is a combination of Superman and Thor. Unlike Superman, he doesn’t have a secret identity, and he doesn’t care to. Nor does he try to understand humanity. His motivations for protecting the Earth are unclear.

The Blue Beast – TBB is a combination of Hulk and Nightcrawler. Not much is known about him except that he will randomly teleport from place to place, rampaging and destroying wherever he goes. In our first session, our player characters had to fight him off long enough for Prometheus to arrive and take him to superjail.

The Hedge Knight – She’s a combination of the classic knight archetype and Poison Ivy. She’s a swordswoman who controls plant life.

That’s just a few of the (so far) 60 super characters I’ve made for the campaign. It’s a lot of fun, and I love that basically anything can happen.

The player characters are as follows:

Impulse – Formerly Kid Impulse, Impulse was kicked out of the mansion by Big Brother’s mysterious oldest son after the superhero’s death. Impulse is a superb hand-to-hand combatant and hacker. If you hadn’t guessed, he’s based on Robin/Nightwing.

Lightspeed -A superfast superhero, he’s another sidekick trying to prove himself. He and Impulse are used to hanging out in the same circles, so it was obvious that they should team up.

The War Witch – A magic wielding warrioress and a  fixture in the Justice Gang, she is the sponsor of the other heroes. It is intimated that she once had an affair with Big Brother.

Crackshot – He’s a rich, ruthless, cocaine-addicted assassin. He doesn’t care what anyone thinks of him; he just likes to kill. He’s more of an antihero (obviously) and tends to show up whenever something major is going down in the city (which inevitably leads to him begrudgingly teaming up with the other heroes).

My campaign isn’t exactly groundbreaking in any way, but it is a ton of fun to play.

What is your favorite campaign setting?

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Super Style: From the Con to the Runway

Five Superhero Styles (That Aren’t T-Shirts!)

Offices tend to frown on wearing underwear outside your clothing. Same with winged helmets. Don’t even think about rocking a jumpsuit! Unless you’re heading to the danger zone with Maverick, you tend to get some strange looks.

But, just because you can’t go full cosplay everyday doesn’t mean you can’t find subtle ways to show your allegiance. From high fashion to fun-derwear from the wading pool to the wedding ceremony, here are some sly ways to be subversively super.

Image courtesy of nOir Jewelry

Image courtesy of nOir Jewelry

1.Gotham Fabulous
Noir Jewelry’s DC Collection let’s you be a hero or a villain. Supergirl rocks her S across her chest, but for a mere $500 you can rock yours across your neck.

Maybe your tastes go darker? We’re loving this Gotham City ring ($225). Not only is it hella chic, it could come in handy in a fight should you run into some goons. With prices from $65-$500, this is special occasion stuff, but come on, who wouldn’t feel more confident walking into a board room wearing their favorite Amazonian’s cuffs ($140)?

2. Finding Namor
Ok, so Speedos are rarely, if ever, a do. I’m not saying that this is a good thing; I’m just saying this exists. Awkwardly pursue your own Sue Storm poolside in these tiny trunks ($29.95).

Unless you’re into DC, then you’re totally dressing as a warm water Aquaman.

3. Stealing PeeGee’s Look
Ok, so this might not be everyday style, but it is interesting to see Power Girl’s look go from the convention floor the runway.

Victoria’s Secret’s annual Fashion Show won’t air until Nov. 29. Until then you’ll just have to look to your books for women with impossible bodies in physics defying fabrics…well, there or the Internet, movies, or television…

4. Strutting It Spider Style
Have your own ideas how Spider-Man 3 should have ended? (Who doesn’t? Let’s never speak of it again.) A new climactic battle is at the end of your feet with these hand painted shoes ($110).

Prefer to keep it more noir? How about the Dark Knight and Clown Prince of Crime($110)? Etsy seller WalkingDeadApparel says that he/she can create just about any superhero pairing. Get creative! The possibilities are endless! Hulk and Banner! Thor and Loki! Tony Stark and a bottle of Jack Daniels!

Image courtesy of vintagecovers

5. The Phantom iPad
If you have an iPad odds are pretty good you’re already using it to read digital comics. Why not save one from your analog collection or from Etsy seller VinageCovers’ collection and turn it into an iPad cover ($54)?

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