Progressing on the art, at least…
Artemis dropped out of mist and onto the table, and that would have pretty much ended the poker game even if my bursting through the warehouse’s high windows in a shower of glass above them hadn’t finished ruining the players’ night. Lit by the crackling halo of her electrostatic field, Lei Zi floated through the shattered windows behind me and fired off a carefully calibrated electromagnetic pulse. The sticky charge of free electrons washed past me as I fell to send an electronics-killing surge through any unshielded devices inside the zone. “Go, go, go!” she chanted in my earbug on the open channel.
I let myself fall with the glass. No sense rushing anywhere while I was still picking targets.
First the good news: Ronin Games is on track (the two paragraphs above are the opening lines). I hope to have a first draft finished by the end of the month, and may be in edits and formatting by the end of June. This is a good thing. The bad news; it looks like Wearing the Cape: the Roleplaying Game will be finished later this year than hoped. The Kickstarter should still launch in 2015, but likely in the third quarter of the year.
Meanwhile, my most recent distraction has been Avengers: Age of Ultron.
A2 was a treat; with few missteps, Whedon again handled the huge ensemble cast of heroes with grace and style, even bringing on new characters and making them shine with only a few lines (especially Pietro and Wanda).
Warning: Incredible Spoilers, do not scroll down if you haven’t seen the movie!
Okay then. Whedon continues his theme of how, as humans, we are Our Own Worst Enemy: in A1 toying with the Cosmic Cube draws the attention of Thanos, who sends Loki and his space-orcs to retrieve it. In A2, Tony Stark’s attempt to create an AI capable of bringing about World Peace…goes a little awry. Furthering that theme, it turns out that Pietro and Wanda’s motive for volunteering for Hydra’s augmentation experiments was seeking revenge for the death of their parents in a missile attack using, wait for it…Stark Industries weapons.
So, we create our enemies? But not so fast; Hydra predates Stark Industries, and the next Big Bad is definitely Thanos (again). So maybe all the tinkering with Cosmic Cubes and AIs was with good reason.
Onward, I really enjoyed how Whedon highlighted Hawkeye and Natasha in A2. First, he gave Hawkeye a secret family (shades of Marvel’s Ultimate Universe). He also re-emphasized the deep and platonic camaraderie between Hawkeye and Natasha; and I do mean platonic—Natasha is practically part of the family (an aunt to their kids, and they’re naming their next child after her). Whedon could have easily arranged a silly love-triange there but he thankfully passed on the temptation; instead they are true BFs.
I really wish the Black Widow would get her own movie.
Equally interesting, I thought that Natasha’s attraction to Dr. Banner was very well done. I may be in the minority on this opinion (you can certainly find arguments to the contrary, see here and here), but the budding—and apparently doomed—relationship feels both awkward and superfluous to the plot; in other words, it feels real. To psychoanalyze it in two sentences: Natasha sees Hawkeye’s happy family and regrets not having one of her own (the Red Room monstrously deprived her of both past and future family ties). Banner responds to Natasha’s attraction with more than a little bewilderment and regret (he obviously doesn’t see himself as an object of romantic interest, and his curse similarly cuts him off from prospects of family).
So what about the super-heroics? Well this is a Joss Whedon movie; of course the action was epic and brutal. I especially appreciated how in the final fight, the Avengers’ first concern was to prevent civilian casualties; they begin by trying to evacuate as many people as they can, and in the end refuse the easy—at one point the only—solution. It would have been unthinkable. This is something that is often missed even in the comics.
And both Ultron and Vision are amazing.
Final Note: In the next few days I should be putting the first five chapters of Ronin Games up on The Cape (my series newsletter). Go here to sign up if you have not already.
I hope everyone has a wonderful May!
15 thoughts on “Holy Cow, It’s May: Updates and a Movie Review.”
George: Glad to see that you are back writing and about to finish another novel. I always like to hear about the progress of the novels. I admit I’m not a gamer. I’m back behind the keyboard after a month’s hiatus from writing (other matters came up). I had just finished a first draft of my latest novel and it’s “cooling” before I start editing. I’ve already begun another novel. I still enjoy what you have done with your character, Hope/Astra. I still like her Villains Inc. costume and occasionally the dress. Keep her wearing blue and keep the long-haired wig and mask. I’ve been re-reading your first three novels in the WTC series and I like the first two novels the best, (A Superhero Story and Villains, Inc.).
Summer is a better time for me to write compared to winter. I like going outside and be on the back porch with the typewriter and drafting out a story. This year marks the 30th anniversary of what is my second favorite film: The Goonies. There’s something really timeless about that group of kids who work together as friends.
Take care. Have a great summer.
I can’t wait to read “Ronin Games”. Although I write, my main project now is a distopic future piece (no superheroes). With the whole “Black Widow” subject: what do you think about arguement that the Avengers toys (by Hasbro and Mattel) are sexist against girls? (If you have’nt read about it, a good article on it is here: http://www.bigshinyrobot.com/58801/black-widow-erased-avengers-2-scene-her-own-toy/ ) As someone wh writes superhero fiction, and who has commented on the rise of strong female characters in television (I read your Agent Carter post) what is your opinion on this? And on the Saturday Night Live/ Scarlett Johansson joke that a Black Widow movie would only exist if they could turn it into a romantic comedy featuring Black Widow working at a fashion magazine, breaking her high heels, and having trouble with relationships? (Again, if you want more info: http://www.businessinsider.com/scarlett-johansson-mocks-marvel-on-snl-black-widow-2015-5 ) I love superhero stories and movies, and I hate the idea of these “traditional” gender roles. Do you market more to male, or female readers? Can you please share your thoughts on this?
Sarah: I agree with your point about young women. I write realistic young adult fiction with a main character who is a 17 year old intellectual. She has her adventures along with additional school responsibilities she has earned. There are still a few who would like to curb the enthusiasm and efforts of this student.
I’m not into superhero action figures so I haven’t been following the issue, myself, but I do know that Natasha does have her own figure (go here: https://i.imgur.com/QhjeBqo.jpg). I do note that Black Widow figures aren’t sold as widely, but I see the same for Hawkeye. It’s the heroes who have their own movies (Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, and Hulk) that get the biggest share of the marketing pie.
Also, while I am not a psychic, but I would bet that Marvel has writers hard at work hammering out a good Black Widow script (Marvel hasn’t gotten where it is by ignoring the wishes of its fans). Of course I can see a couple of problems; one is how long it takes to take a movie from concept to script to finished production (at least two years). So we’re looking at a Black Widow movie hitting the theater after the next Avengers movie. The other problem is that, after three movies (five including the next Avengers and Captain America movie), Scarlett Johansson is Natasha Romanov. If she doesn’t want to play her in her own movie (perhaps she doesn’t like the script or just has a full schedule of her own), there won’t be a movie.
I’d sure like to see one, though.
As to your last question: do I market more to male or female readers? I don’t market to any gender of reader; I market to Older YA and New Adult, and of course to Superhero Genre fans.
I think you’re doing a great job with the older YA and New Adult markets. I appreciate your work. I really like your series.
I think history is the biggest barrier to a female superhero film. Supergirl cost 35 mil, but only made 14 mil, Elektra cost 43 made 56, Catwoman cost 100 made 82. What do you bet Marvel is waiting for the box office results of the Wonder Woman movie before shelling out for a Black Widow movie? Also Weadon already has something like 2 movies a year planned out for the next 6 yrs, stuffing more in both storywise and budget wise could be a risky move.
It might be a risky move, but female heroines and superheroines are becoming more popular and they will also have the ability to resolve tougher conflicts.
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Great start on Ronin Games. Can’t wait to read it. Great review on Avengers. Good luck on the game.
Was so glad that I didn’t miss the Kickstarter for the rpg. Cannot wait to own that and play in this world. And I am very excited to learn it’s Fate powered. My groups current Supers rpg preference is Baseraiders which is also Fate run.
Sorry if this was answered previously (will be doing my research but wanted to get this comment in) but is it Fate Core? Strange Fate? Fate Advanced? A new variation? … do you need playtesters?
Like I said, really excited for this game.
It will be a variation closely based on Fate Core (there will be a few game-specific rules changes, but they’ll be something a Fate-player can pick up in five minutes). The powers will be pure Fate Core so conversion to any other Fate Core game will be easy.
I’ve greatly enjoyed the Wearing the Cape series so far. I rate it in my top three super hero fic series along with the Wild Cards series edited by George RR Martin and Peter Clines Ex series. I had a question regarding the difference between Ultra Class and A-Class of breakthrough abilities. How big is the gap between them? I ask this because after rereading all of your books in anticipation for Ronin Games, I just made a realization that I didn’t put together until now. Both Astra and Atlas are described as A-Class, yet Atlas has been described as much stronger and faster than Astra. How big is the scale of A-Class? Is Astra on the low end of A-Class or are her abilities still growing from when she was initially tested in the first book? Astra has been described at lifting 10 tons without injuring her self so she is roughly in the 10 – 20 ton range. She also said she could flip a tank but Atlas could thrown one. Tanks, especially battle tanks are within 50 -70 tons. Not only could Atlas lift one, he could throw one suggesting he is in the 70+ ton range. So, how close was Atlas to being Ultra-Class? It looks like he was in the top tier of A-Class to me. When you have the time please share your thoughts.
Astra may have been exaggerating about Atlas’ “throwing” a tank, but Atlas was certainly the strongest “A Class Atlas-Type.” As for Ultras… The truth is that the whole D/C/B/A/Ultra+ is an entirely subjective scale, especially when it comes to powers that can’t be measured in direct work/energy outputs. Even in categories like strength, well Seif-al-Dinn would have been considered Ultra Class if he’d ever been officially measured, but he wasn’t hugely stronger than Atlas.
And then there are Omegas. You haven’t seen anyone quite like them yet (they may be just rumors).
Astra may be Atlas class. But her real powers are located in her mind. Physical strength is one trait. But it is a whole new level when it is a battle of the minds.
Trying to reach you, Brandt, so I hope the notice of this reply pops up in your in-box. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org