About My Book

Learn more about my first book, Six Pack: Emergence.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Delayed Launch Party - Six Pack: Gyration

I am hosting a delayed launch party for Six Pack: Gyration on Saturday, June 2. This will coincide with the launching of a new website. During the day, I will be giving away a free copy of my first ebook, Six Pack: Emergence, sharing some trivia about the two books and unveiling the next chapter in the Arrowverse “Other World” Project. Plus, I will be talking about my upcoming appearance at the Smallville ComicCon in Hutchinson, Kan., June 23-24. I might have some other activities planned throughout the day.

So how do you enter the giveaway? Simple — I plan to launch the website Friday, June 1. All you have to do is, by June 3, like my Facebook page and share a link to the new website and reply to a post I will leave up that day with where you shared it, be it on your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account, or on another blog or website. That’s it! Once you do that, you are automatically entered in the giveaway. Be sure to like my Facebook page so you can reply.

Hope you all will stop by this weekend and enter the giveaway! Thanks to everyone for their continued support!

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Young Justice Reviews: Episodes 24-26

Three more reviews of Young Justice episodes, which will bring us to the end of season one.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Arrowverse 'Other World' Chapter 13 - Supergirl

Disclaimer: This is the first chapter in a story about an "other world" based on the Arrowverse, the CW shows that focus on DC superheroes. I am writing this as my way of paying homage to my fandom for the Arrowverse. The character names Supergirl, Green Arrow, The Flash, Canary and Brainiac are trademarks of DC Comics. These chapters are free to read, they will not be published in book format, nor will any revenue be generated from the chapters. If there are legal issues involved with the usage of these characters, please email me at bwmorris at mail dot com and I will cease with the writing. Critiquing of my writing is welcomed and may be left in the comments.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Young Justice Reviews: Episodes 21-23

We are entering the home stretch of the first season of Young Justice. I have three more episode reviews for you this week.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Interview And Book Giveaway

Thank you to Sara Turnquist for hosting me for an interview on her blog this week. And if you stop by the link, you can enter a giveaway for a free ebook copy of my debut novel, Six Pack: Emergence.

Also, Krista Wagner hosted me this week at her blog and you can get more insight into my works and what led me to becoming an author.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Six Pack: Gyration Is Coming -- And Some Changes, Too

Those who have stopped by the blog have been used to seeing installments of the Arrowverse "Other World" on Wednesdays. Unfortunately, my schedule this week didn't permit me to get the next chapter completed.

Late May is a time of the year that gets busy for me -- and not only do I have a number of events that require greater devotion to my work schedule, but I have my new release coming out in less than a week!

On top of that, I have another project I've been working on -- a new website!

The website will be at bwmorrisauthor.com. I'm in the final stages of putting it together and plan to launch it by June 2 -- and that's also when I plan to hold the launch party for my newest release, Six Pack: Gyration.

Why wait that long until the launch party? First of all, Tuesdays are not a good day for me to do the launch party because that's when I have the busiest day of the week at my newspaper -- we put together the weekly edition that day and I need to concentrate on that. Then the next few days will be busy with events to cover, then comes Memorial Day weekend.

Yeah, this is what I call bad timing!

But what the delayed launch party allows me to do is focus better on what I have planned, plus reveal the new website to everyone. I will also talk more about my planned appearance at Smallville ComicCon June 23-24 and there will be giveaways, too.

I'll be talking more about the details of the launch party and what all will be planned for the website in the days to come. In the meantime, I can tell you that this blog will be semi-active, though I may use it more for thoughts related to subjects that have nothing to do with my writing and comic book geekery. The website will become devoted to those subjects -- and, yes, I plan to keep a weekly update going there.

The last weekly posts here will be the rest of the Young Justice Season One episode reviews (six more to go) and, with any luck, the 13th chapter of the Arrowverse "Other World." After that, those will be posted on the new site and posts at this blog will be less frequent.

I appreciate everyone who has stopped by and supported me -- and in the meantime, if you haven't already done so, be sure to check out the first book in the Six Pack Series, available on Amazon Kindle and Kindle Unlimited.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Young Justice Reviews: Episodes 17-20

We're moving on to the next four episodes of the first season of Young Justice. At this rate, I might actually get all the first-season episodes reviewed by the end of the month.

We left off on a key episode in the series and some of what gets explored is the fallout from that episode, plus a few more developments as we move quicker toward learning more about what The Light's plans really are.

Let's look at Episodes 17 through 20.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Arrowverse 'Other World' Chapter 12 - The Flash

Disclaimer: This is the 12th chapter in a story about an "other world" based on the Arrowverse, the CW shows that focus on DC superheroes. I am writing this as my way of paying homage to my fandom for the Arrowverse. The character names Supergirl, Green Arrow, The Flash, Canary and Brainiac are trademarks of DC Comics. These chapters are free to read, they will not be published in book format, nor will any revenue be generated from the chapters. If there are legal issues involved with the usage of these characters, please email me at bwmorris at mail dot com and I will cease with the writing. Critiquing of my writing is welcomed and may be left in the comments.


Sunday, May 6, 2018

Young Justice Reviews: Episodes 13-16

I have four more Young Justice episode reviews for you this week. It's at this point of the season that pieces start falling into place regarding who are the members of The Light and reasons behind some of the moves the members made, plus laying more groundwork regarding how the members of The Team interact with one another and mature in some ways.

Episodes 13 through 16 feature some elements that viewers who jump into the series at this point may not understand at first. But for those who have been faithful viewers since the first episode, they can accept these elements because they have grown accustomed to what to expect from the series, allowing the series' creative team to place characters in surprising situations.

Let's look at the next four episodes in the series.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Arrowverse 'Other World' Chapter 11 - Green Arrow

Disclaimer: This is the 11th chapter in a story about an "other world" based on the Arrowverse, the CW shows that focus on DC superheroes. I am writing this as my way of paying homage to my fandom for the Arrowverse. The character names Supergirl, Green Arrow, The Flash, Canary and Brainiac are trademarks of DC Comics. These chapters are free to read, they will not be published in book format, nor will any revenue be generated from the chapters. If there are legal issues involved with the usage of these characters, please email me at bwmorris at mail dot com and I will cease with the writing. Critiquing of my writing is welcomed and may be left in the comments.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Young Justice Reviews: Episodes 9-12

I had enough time this weekend to watch four episodes of Young Justice, which brings us t nearly the halfway point of the first season.

What's interesing about the first half of the season is that it's setting the table for the main arc of the season -- we get additional clues about who is part of The Light while left wondering what some of the moves they make will lead to. Then it's the second half of the season when the bigger storyline starts to kick into gear.

Along the way, we watch as the young heroes who make up The Team mature and grow as heroes and as people.

But let's look at the next four episodes and see how they build to what's to come down the road.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Arrowverse 'Other World' Chapter 10 - Supergirl

Disclaimer: This is the tenth chapter in a story about an "other world" based on the Arrowverse, the CW shows that focus on DC superheroes. I am writing this as my way of paying homage to my fandom for the Arrowverse. The character names Supergirl, Green Arrow, The Flash, Canary and Brainiac are trademarks of DC Comics. These chapters are free to read, they will not be published in book format, nor will any revenue be generated from the chapters. If there are legal issues involved with the usage of these characters, please email me at bwmorris at mail dot com and I will cease with the writing. Critiquing of my writing is welcomed and may be left in the comments.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Young Justice Reviews: Episodes 7-8

Two more episodes of Young Justice reviewed -- at the rate I'm going, perhaps there is a chance that the reviews will be finished before the start of Season 3 in the fall. No pressure. though!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Arrowverse 'Other World' Chapter 9 - Canary

Disclaimer: This is the ninth chapter in a story about an "other world" based on the Arrowverse, the CW shows that focus on DC superheroes. I am writing this as my way of paying homage to my fandom for the Arrowverse. The character names Supergirl, Green Arrow, The Flash, Canary and Brainiac are trademarks of DC Comics. These chapters are free to read, they will not be published in book format, nor will any revenue be generated from the chapters. If there are legal issues involved with the usage of these characters, please email me at bwmorris at mail dot com and I will cease with the writing. Critiquing of my writing is welcomed and may be left in the comments.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Young Justice Reviews: Episodes 5-6

Only got to two episodes this week, so I doubt there will be any chance of me reviewing all episodes before the third season debuts later this year.

But it beats what I thought would be my original plan of reviewing one episode per week -- with any luck, I'll have more weeks in which I'll be able to review multiple episodes.

For those who have enjoyed the reviews so far and would like to learn more about the series, may I suggest visiting the Young Justice Wiki.

Now let's get to this week's episodes.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Arrowverse 'Other World' Chapter 8 - Green Arrow

Disclaimer: This is the first chapter in a story about an "other world" based on the  Arrowverse, the CW shows that focus on DC superheroes. I am writing this as my way of  paying homage to my fandom for the Arrowverse. The character names Supergirl, Green  Arrow, The Flash, Canary and Brainiac are trademarks of DC Comics. These chapters are  free to read, they will not be published in book format, nor will any revenue be  generated from the chapters. If there are legal issues involved with the usage of these  characters, please email me at bwmorris at mail dot com and I will cease with the  writing. Critiquing of my writing is welcomed and may be left in the comments.


Sunday, April 8, 2018

Young Justice Reviews: Episodes 1-4

It turns out I was able to fit in the first four episodes of Young Justice into my viewing Saturday night, so I'll be reviewing them all this week.

With each episode, I will give a brief summary of the plot, key elements to the overarching season storyline or to what makes the characters tick, my favorite quote from each episode and my thoughts about the episode.

There may be minor spoilers given out, but I'll do my best to avoid talking too much about the details, in case you have never seen the show and want to check it out for yourself.

Without further ado, let's look at the first four episodes of Young Justice.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Arrowverse 'Other World' Chapter 7 - The Flash

Disclaimer: This is the seventh chapter in a story about an "other world" based on the Arrowverse, the CW shows that focus on DC superheroes. I am writing this as my way of paying homage to my fandom for the Arrowverse. The character names Supergirl, Green Arrow, The Flash, Canary and Brainiac are trademarks of DC Comics. These chapters are free to read, they will not be published in book format, nor will any revenue be generated from the chapters. If there are legal issues involved with the usage of these characters, please email me at bwmorris at mail dot com and I will cease with the writing. Critiquing of my writing is welcomed and may be left in the comments.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

The Appeal Of Young Justice

One of the TV shows that inspired me to try my hand at novel writing was Young Justice, a series about the teenage superheroes in the DC Universe.

The show, created by Greg Weisman and Brandon Vietti, revolves mainly around six characters and gives the spotlight to some characters that people not as familiar with the DC Universe won't know as well, with one instance of the show's creators introducing a new character. The six characters the show centered on are:


  • Robin, aka Dick Grayson, who most everyone will recognize as Batman's sidekick. He's eager at first to lead the group of teenage superheroes known as The Team, but learns over time he has a lot to learn about what leadership means.
  • Aqualad, aka Kaldur'ahm, the character Weisman and Vietti created. He is calm and serene most of the time, but finds himself thrust into the leadership role and must learn how to handle it, along with struggling with his thoughts about what he left behind in Atlantis.
  • Kid Flash, aka Wally West, a protege of The Flash. He is cocky, lighthearted and anxious to prove himself, but must learn what it means to take on greater responsibility and thus mature -- but as he does, he shows he can pass on good advice.
  • Miss Martian, aka M'gann M'orzz, one of Martian Manhunter's nieces. She is friendly but sometimes too eager to please her friends, but keeps her true Martian form a secret.
  • Superboy, aka Connor Kent, a teenaged clone of Superman. He struggles with the fact that Superman seems unwilling to accept him and lets his anger issues get the best of him at times.
  • Artemis, aka Artemis Crock, who becomes the new protege of Green Arrow. She has a quick wit but struggles with her own secrets about the family ties she wants hidden from the rest of The Team.


A couple other characters are rolled out into the series and each gets their own arc, too. That Weisman and Vietti are able to balance multiple characters and give each an arc throughout the series is a testament to why the series works so well.

Unlike many animated superhero shows, Young Justice features an ongoing storyline throughout its first season, one that evolves into something bigger in the second series. It's different from other series in which there might be a storyline taking place during the course of the season, but it fades into the background at times, while taking a larger role at other times.

What I also enjoy about Young Justice is how there are important plot points dropped in during the season that, upon first glance, may not seem key to the larger storyline, but are later revealed to carry a greater importance.

That Weisman and Vietti are able to balance so much character development and weave together a storyline with bits of information that appear to be throwaway at one point, but are revealed to be key moments, explains a lot of its appeal. Another plus is that the show's creators took some characters that fewer people know about and gave them bigger roles -- in some cases, the creators came up with different interpretations of a character that makes the character more interesting.

The show aired 46 episodes on Cartoon Network and wasn't renewed, but will be revived on a planned DC digital service later this year. In the weeks to come, I will sit down and review the Young Justice episodes -- my plan is to do the reviews as my weekly Sunday blog post, though I may switch to another topic on a given week depending on how my own schedule works and my plans to talk about my second novel.

And even if I do one episode per week, I won't get to them all before the planned third season starts on the DC digital service. But I hope you'll enjoy learning more about the series and perhaps it will convince you to check it out for yourself on Netflix or track down the DVDs that are out there.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Arrowverse 'Other World' Chapter 6 - Canary

Disclaimer: This is the sixth chapter in a story about an "other world" based on the Arrowverse, the CW shows that focus on DC superheroes. I am writing this as my way of paying homage to my fandom for the Arrowverse. The character names Supergirl, Green Arrow, The Flash, Canary and Brainiac are trademarks of DC Comics. These chapters are free to read, they will not be published in book format, nor will any revenue be generated from the chapters. If there are legal issues involved with the usage of these characters, please email me at bwmorris at mail dot com and I will cease with the writing. Critiquing of my writing is welcomed and may be left in the comments.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Twenty Questions With Debbie Manber Kupfer

This week, I have Debbie Manber Kupfer for a Twenty Questions session. Debbie is the author of The P.A.W.S. saga, a four-book series, and has written several short story collections. She is having a special sale for the series a week, starting March 26, in which you can get each book in the series for 99 cents at Amazon (or free if you have Kindle Unlimited). You may learn more about the sale at the end of the Twenty Questions session.

You may also check our her website, Paws4Thought, to learn more about her books, puzzles and other interests. She also talks to different authors about their work and you may find more titles that interest you.

Now let's hear from Debbie about her work.


1. How did you get interested in writing?

I’ve been writing ever since I was small. The first story I remember writing was about turning into a ladybug (see even back then I liked shapeshifters). I sent that little story to the Puffin Post and got a mention in the magazine. I was so thrilled.

2. What inspired you to come up with this story?

Back in October 2012 I had an idea about a young girl receiving a silver cat charm from her grandmother. I knew the charm was important and over the next month the story started enfolding in my head. I went to the zoo with my son that month and I started telling him the story of P.A.W.S. and then the next month in November I began writing the first draft as part of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month.)

3. Tell me about the main character, Miri, and what inspired you to create her.

Miri’s a lot like me. She’s clumsy, messy and spends a lot of her childhood in a dream world of her own creation. She’s also bullied as a kid, as was I, and a lot of her experiences are based on my own (though sadly I don’t have magic, other than maybe writing my stories.)


4. What characters, other than Miri, did you find enjoyable to write as you progressed with the book?

Oh, I love my characters – the good and the evil and those in between. Some of my favorites include Joey Marks, the animagus kangaroo exchange student from Australia (who I created for my son, Joey, who shares a lot of his characteristics), Ian the animagus chimp that lives in St. Louis zoo, and my old wild Welsh warlock, Gromer the Green, who first appears in book 2 of the P.A.W.S. Saga, Argentum.

5. What are some of the themes you explored in writing the book?

Each book in the series has a slightly different focus. In book 1, there is a underlying theme of rising up to bullies and abusers, both for teens and adults.

6. What were some things you learned as you wrote and edited the book?

That I can do it! All through my life I’ve written stories, BUT until P.A.W.S. I’d started many but never managed to finish a novel. With P.A.W.S. I took the NaNoWriMo challenge for the first time and that helped me get the story down and keep going until I reached the end of the first draft.

7. What do you find is the right environment for you to write?

By my computer in the morning with the internet turned off. The internet (and particularly Facebook) is my biggest distraction.

8. Are there specific programs or tools you find useful in helping you with the writing process?

Just a lot of tea (and the occasional bribe of dark chocolate.)

9. What have you found to be useful methods for promoting your writing?

My best promo for ebooks is a combination of occasional 99 cents sales for the ebooks (like the one I’m having now) with a little paid advertising. I also enjoy doing real life events at schools, bookstores, libraries and conventions. I’m doing several of these in April to help release my new picture book, Adana the Earth Dragon.

10. What are some famous books or authors you enjoyed or have inspired you?

Favorite authors include Douglas Adams, JK Rowling, Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, and Cornelia Funke.

11. Are there any aspiring or independent authors whose books you've read that you've liked and think others should check out?

Oh yes, these days I mostly read indie authors. Some of my favorites include R.R. Virdi, E.A. Copen, Jen Ponce, Rebecca Jaycox, Michelle Proulx, Mirren Hogan, Misha Burnett, M.A. Ray, and Robert Franks. Really guys, check these out. They are awesome.

12. What advice would you give to those who want to write a novel before they get started?

Just do it. I’m a cancer survivor. For years I thought that writing a novel would be something I’d do in the future, once the kids were older and I had more time. Going through cancer treatment taught me that if I really wanted to write and publish I needed to do it now because you never know how long you’ve got. So new writer, sit down at your computer or with pen and paper and start writing words. (Oh and try NaNoWriMo – Camp Nano is in April and is a great way to get started.)


13. I've seen you written several anthologies as well -- in general, what do you find enjoyable about writing these anthologies?

I’ve put together a few short story collections of my own. (Tea & Dark Chocolate, Will There Be Watermelons on Mars? and Tales from P.A.W.S.) Plus I’ve participated in a number of group anthologies including the Sins of Time series of which I’m not just a contributor, but also the editor of the series.

I like writing short stories in between working on my novels as it gives me the opportunity to experiment in other genres. My main series is YA urban fantasy, but in my stories I’ve dabbled in humor, sci-fi, horror and a little literary fiction.

14. Tell me more about Paws4Puzzles and the work that Yuri Shamne provides for your site.

When I’m not writing fiction I write puzzles for Penny Press magazines and sometimes create custom puzzles of different kinds for clients. Paws4Puzzles is puzzle central, where the puzzly part of me takes over.

I recently was privileged to meet the Russian artist and puzzler, Yuri Shamne, online. I was wowed by his talent and now we’re collaborating in a weekly column on blog, Wednesdays with Yuri.

15. I can tell you are a cat lover -- tell me what it is you like the most about cats.

Well, they’re furry and cute, but also independent. My kitty, Miri Billie Joe, mostly likes to do her own thing, but appreciates having some human servants around to do her bidding.

16. What are some of the differences you noticed about life in the United Kingdom versus life in the United States?

Little things that bug me. In England you can pretty much get a warm drink (tea and coffee) at any restaurant. Here I have to search. And even more so for vegetarian food. London is about a gazillion times more veggie friendly than St. Louis. I enjoy London a lot when I visit each year. But my friends over there say it’s because I don’t live there full time. Circumstances led to me moving to the States and while I don’t hate it I don’t like the current mood since the election.

17. What was it like to live in Israel and how does that compare to other places you've lived?

Ah … Israel. I lived in Israel for eight years and my mum still lives there, so I go back and visit each year. There are obviously many differences, but one of the main ones that strikes me is that in Israel there’s more spontaneity less planning. In Israel it was not unusual for friends to come by without making advanced plans and I’d do the same. Here (and in England) it would be odd to turn up on someone’s doorstep without calling first.

18. Is there a particular type of tea you prefer -- and do you find it's the perfect drink to have while you are writing?

I get through about a gallon of hot tea a day especially when I’m writing. I like it strong, British style with milk. (Tetley’s or PG Tips)

19. Tell me a little more about your family and in what ways they support your writing.

I live in St. Louis with my husband (who is a St. Louis native and how I ended up here), son, daughter and the really ruler of the household, our kitty, Miri Billie Joe.

My kids are immensely helpful when it comes to my writing. My daughter often acts a sounding board for my ideas and encourages me to write. In fact it was she who originally encouraged me to start writing P.A.W.S. My son, Joey is my puzzle partner. We wrote a puzzle book together, Paws 4 Logic, and plan another in the future.

20. Who would win a battle of superhero skills: Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman?

Wonder Woman for the win!





Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Arrowverse 'Other World' Chapter 5 - Supergirl

Disclaimer: This is the first chapter in a story about an "other world" based on the Arrowverse, the CW shows that focus on DC superheroes. I am writing this as my way of paying homage to my fandom for the Arrowverse. The character names Supergirl, Green Arrow, The Flash, Canary and Brainiac are trademarks of DC Comics. These chapters are free to read, they will not be published in book format, nor will any revenue be generated from the chapters. If there are legal issues involved with the usage of these characters, please email me at bwmorris at mail dot com and I will cease with the writing. Critiquing of my writing is welcomed and may be left in the comments.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Political Themes: Star Trek VI

Anybody who paid close attention to Star Trek understood that political themes were common in the TV episodes and films. Perhaps there's no better example of how political themes are addressed than in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

The last of the motion pictures to feature all of the members of the original series, Star Trek VI drew upon parallels to the former Soviet Union engaging in greater diplomacy with the United States, actions that led to the end of the Cold War. But director Nicholas Meyer and the writers did more than touch upon those parallels and looked deeper into what engaging in peaceful negotiations really means.

This is explored through Captain James T. Kirk and his struggles in dealing with the Klingon Empire. On one hand, he makes it clear he doesn't trust Klingons and can never forgive those Klingons who killed his son. On the other hand, he muses about how much of his time with the Federation has been focused on the often tense dealings with the Klingon Empire and what place there is for him in the Federation should diplomatic negotations succeed.

It's the latter perspective that gets explored in more detail as a mystery unfolds aboard the USS Enterprise. Sent to escort a Klingon ship through Federation territory, torpedoes are fired upon the Klingon ship, two individuals beam aboard the ship and kill Klingon Chancellor Gorkon and several members of his crew. After Leonard McCoy fails to save the Chancellor, he and Kirk are arrested for the chancellor's murder.

Meyer, in interviews on the special edition DVD released in 2004, said that Gorkon was designed to resemble Abraham Lincoln because, like Lincoln, Gorkon had new ideas for how people could move forward, ideas that would result in old institutions ending and new ones taking their place. As with Lincoln, Gorkon is met with opposition not only from certain Federation officials, but from within the Klingon Empire. On the DVD, Meyer talked about other notable leaders who sought peaceful relations rather than high tension, ranging from Anwar Sadat to Mahatma Gandhi, and how their ideas were met with resistance both from outside and within.

Indeed, as the plot unfolds and individuals with the Federation, the Klingon Empire and elsewhere are implicated in a conspiracy to assasinate Gorkon and other leaders, the question is raised about those in power who worry what change could bring to our world.

Also addressed is the fact that many aboard the Enterprise are not comfortable with the idea of the Klingons having dinner with them, revealing the bigotry and distrust that often exists between two nations or group who oppose one another. But in the end, the bulk of the crew learns that it's important to move past any differences to move forward. Indeed, when Kirk reveals to all about the plot to disrupt the peace negotiations, both he and Gorkon's daughter, Azetbur, come to realize the importance of moving past the distrust and to find ways to work together.

Though the parallels are more in line with the way the world was changing in the early 1990s, the overarching theme about what change means is still relevant today. Meyer touched upon the military industrial complex that Dwight Eisenhower warned us about and, the truth is, that same complex holds continued sway over the direction of the United States. Even as the Cold War ended, the United States continued down an interventionist path and distrust exists between it and several other nations today.

It begs the question about what we should really ask ourselves about those tensions -- that if they have more to do with our fears of change and what lies ahead for certain individuals in power when change comes along.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

What Makes Black Panther Work So Well

I watched Black Panther again and found I enjoyed it more the second time around.

What caught my attention the first time I watched it was the world building, the character development and the themes explored. What made me appreciate it more upon second viewing is how the themes work in so many ways.

Starting with the world building, co-writers Ryan Coogler (who also served as director) and Joe Robert Cole do a great job laying out how Wakanda came to be and how its society has developed. It doesn't take much for viewers to understand how everything is Wakanda, how aspects of African culture combine with technological advancements that the nation has developed, thanks to its access to a material called vibranium. What I liked the most is that Coogler and Cole find the right ways to let everyone know what Wakanda is like by utilizing a lot of "quick hits" that clue you into certain aspects, yet focusing more time on those parts of the culture that bear the greatest importance to the story.

The characters, combined with the themes, are what really sell the film and make it one of the best installments of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It does focus on issues regarding what blacks face in the United States -- and rightly so, because it helps drive some of the themes explored.

At the same time, most of the themes are ones that could be applied to any race or culture and they remain relevant. Throughout the film, questions are raised regarding how a technologically-advanced nation should build relations with other countries, to what happens when a nation does open its doors to others, to the question about what people with advanced technology should do to make the world better.

Most of all, the lead character, T'Challa, must consider what is the right thing to do when he learns his own family played a part in the primary antagonist, Erik "Killmonger" Stevens (aka N'Jadaka), and how he views events and what Wakanda should do to influence world affairs. It makes for a complex narrative in which determining who is "in the right" is not as easy as it appears upon first glance.

It goes back to what I've discussed the past few weeks about making characters relatable, as people you can empathize with, though you may not sympathize with them. And this goes back to Coogler and Cole, who put a lot of thought into the script and how to portray the characters. For example, they make Erik Stevens somebody whose motivations are easy to understand, even if you may not agree with his methods. The same applies to nearly every other character -- their motivations are clear, and the beauty of it is Coogler and Cole often do that with a character reciting just a few lines.

Black Panther is one of those films that's not just a great superhero film, but a great film, period. Coogler and Cole showed how good they are at laying out a complex theme (and, yes, one that touches upon political issues) but doing it in a way that anyone can relate to it, while writing characters who are multi-dimensional. It's the type of film that can make you think as much as you root for the hero to save the day.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Arrowverse 'Other World' Chapter 4 - Green Arrow

Disclaimer: This is the fourthchapter in a story about an "other world" based on the Arrowverse, the CW shows that focus on DC superheroes. I am writing this as my way of paying homage to my fandom for the Arrowverse. The character names Supergirl, Green Arrow, The Flash, Canary and Brainiac are trademarks of DC Comics. These chapters are free to read, they will not be published in book format, nor will any revenue be generated from the chapters. If there are legal issues involved with the usage of these characters, please email me at bwmorris at mail dot com and I will cease with the writing. Critiquing of my writing is welcomed and may be left in the comments.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Coates, Cap Am And Character Writing Challenges

Earlier this week, writer Ta-Nehisi Coates -- who writes for The Atlantic, has published several books and recently wrote multiple issues of the Black Panther comic book -- announced he would be writing several issues of Captain America.

In his Atlantic piece, Coates wrote that writing comic books was a childhood dream, one he achieved for the first time when he wrote Black Panther storylines. He then talked about the type of character that Captain America has evolved into through the years and admits that he is conflicted about certain stances the hero also known as Steve Rogers has taken. But, as Coates writes, it's why he looks forward to writing the character:

I have my share of strong opinions about the world. But one reason that I chose the practice of opinion journalism—which is to say a mix of reporting and opinion—is because understanding how those opinions fit in with the perspectives of others has always been more interesting to me than repeatedly restating my own. Writing, for me, is about questions—not answers. And Captain America, the embodiment of a kind of Lincolnesque optimism, poses a direct question for me: Why would anyone believe in The Dream? What is exciting here is not some didactic act of putting my words in Captain America’s head, but attempting to put Captain America’s words in my head. What is exciting is the possibility of exploration, of avoiding the repetition of a voice I’ve tired of.

Coates goes on to write that he's not convinced he can write a good Captain America story, but that's why he wants to try. In other words, he is excited about writing a character who holds some viewpoints that Coates does not hold. Coates is the perfect example of a writer who wants to take on the challenge of writing a character who isn't simply repeating the viewpoints of the writer.

It's not unusual for writers to stick with characters who share the viewpoints of the writer because those characters are easier to write. And if those writers want to introduce an opposing viewpoint, just make that character an antagonist or a minor character. But such practices can lead to repetitiveness if a writer isn't careful. The real challenge for any writer is to think about a protagonist who isn't necessarily likeable, a protagonist who has a viewpoint that opposes the writer's view to a degree, or a protagonist whose faults are many, and make that protagonist a sympathetic character.

Putting yourself into the head of another person is what writing a character is all about. At times, that character will not act, think or react the way you would. This is why writers need to be aware of all types of people in the real world and determine what is the best way to make that character relatable -- and if the character is going to be a protagonist, how to get readers to empathize with the character, even if readers don't sympathize with the character right away. At some point, though, the readers will need to sympathize with the protagonist in some way.

I haven't read Coates' work with Black Panther yet but have the graphic novels on my to-read list. And I will be interested to see what he does with Captain America. (Admittedly, I'm not a regular reader of Marvel comics -- I prefer DC comics, though the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies have been better than most DC movies.)

Regardless of when I do get to reading Coates' work in the comics, I'm glad he's taking on the challenge of writing a character who thinks differently than he does. It's a challenge all writers (myself included) should consider because it gets you to think more about how other people, different from you, react in the real world.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Arrowverse 'Other World' Chapter 3 - The Flash

Disclaimer: This is the third chapter in a story about an "other world" based on the Arrowverse, the CW shows that focus on DC superheroes. I am writing this as my way of paying homage to my fandom for the Arrowverse. The character names Supergirl, Green Arrow, The Flash, Canary and Brainiac are trademarks of DC Comics. These chapters are free to read, they will not be published in book format, nor will any revenue be generated from the chapters. If there are legal issues involved with the usage of these characters, please email me at bwmorris at mail dot com and I will cease with the writing. Critiquing of my writing is welcomed and may be left in the comments.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Political Themes: Captain America: Civil War

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has explored political themes from time to time in its films, but one that may do it best is its 2016 release, Captain America: Civil War.

The story is loosely based on the Civil War event in Marvel Comics, in which Steve Rogers (Captain America) and Tony Stark (Iron Man) find themselves on opposing sides as to whether or not superheroes should work under the supervision of the government. It starts with a group of younger superheroes whose escapades lead to the destruction of a school that gets Stark asking the question about whether or not superheroes should register with the government, while Rogers believes such attempts are going to lead to more conflict than expected, especially when he becomes a fugitive, wanted by the government for refusing to register.

The comic book event drew mixed reviews from readers, with critics arguing that Stark is unlikeable and the events aren't wrapped up well. Naturally, there was some skepticism about the MCU creative staff deciding to adapt the Civil War storyline for the MCU.

The way directors Anthony and Joe Russo crafted the storyline, though, it's a storyline that works quite well, particularly because nobody is put entirely in the right throughout the course of events.

It starts with Rogers leading a mission in Lagos that results in the death of members of a Wakanda missionary group and continues with Stark feeling guilty about how The Avengers taking down Ultron resulted in the deaths of many innocents in Sokovia. But each, over time, has had their views changed as a result of other events around them. Rogers, who at one time believed it was important to follow orders, has become skeptical of such oversight after those he has worked for were revealed to have bigger agendas. Stark, who followed his own mind to the point that it made him reckless and his innovations caused more harm than good, now believes that oversight is a good thing.

The opposing viewpoints of whether or not oversight for superheroes is ideal sets the conflict for the film. The United Nations has put together accords that will require The Avengers to work under the supervision of the UN. Stark is willing to support it because of the collateral damage The Avengers have caused, while Rogers opposes it because he knows that governments have agendas and what happens if The Avengers believe they need to take action and said government disagree?

Every superhero is incorporated has his or her own reasons for supporting or opposing the idea of working under UN supervision. James "Rhodey" Rhodes is a military veteran and used to working under such supervision, while Vision sees that, as the number of superheroes has increased, so has the number of serious threats and he sees a pattern. Thus, they support Stark and the accords. Wanda Maximoff is hesitant, given that her mistakes were what caused the death of Wakandans in Lagos, but doesn't want to be constrained more than necessary. Natasha Romanov holds some regret for her past actions and thinks some restraint may be in order, but she remains sympathetic to Rogers. Meanwhile, Sam Wilson backs Rogers, having formed a close bond with him.

Events take a turn for the worse when an explosion happens at the UN, taking the life of T'Chaka, the king of Wakanda, and his son, T'Challa, wants vengeance against the man thought to be responsible, Bucky Barnes, aka The Winter Soldier. In reality, it's Helmut Zemo, a military colonel from Sokovia, who is manipulating events with the intent of putting The Avengers on a collision course with each other.

The overarching theme about oversight and how much control should be put into place over somebody or something is evident throughout society, and not in every case is it evident upon first glance whether or not more oversight or less oversight is the better option.

Add to this the fact that it's not always possible to support what each character goes through in the course of events. Steve Rogers wants to protect Bucky at all costs, even knowing about the people Bucky has killed. Tony Stark has second thoughts about working under the UN, but his ego gets the best of him and he seems determined to prove he's right no matter what. Regardless of whether or not one believes oversight for super-powered beings is important, there's never a moment in which viewers are told that either Rogers or Stark is right about everything.

In other words, a political theme is handled exactly the way it needs to be -- it reveals that politics involves complex issues and answers aren't always easily reached. Nobody is declared to be the one who got everything right and viewers are left to ask difficult questions on certain aspects.

There are characters, though, in which it's easier to sort out motives. T'Challa is easily relatable -- his father was killed and he wants to avenge his father's death. During the course of events, though, he realizes the dangers of getting caught up in vengeance and chooses to seek a different path. Zemo is a character who one can empathize with -- who couldn't relate to the ideas of losing loved ones and those deemed responsible receive no comeuppance -- but Zemo's methods of seeking vengeance cost other innocent lives and give us an appropriate antagonist, in which we may agree with his principles, but we can't support his methods.

Civil War may be one of the best examples of political themes explored in a movie to date. Though you may find one character or two in which it's hard to argue the person isn't right or wrong, it's not so easily done with the bulk of the characters. And when it comes to most political issues, the truth is that determining what is really right or wrong is not so easily done.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Arrowverse 'Other World' Chapter 2 - Canary

Disclaimer: This is the second chapter in a story about an "other world" based on the Arrowverse, the CW shows that focus on DC superheroes. I am writing this as my way of paying homage to my fandom for the Arrowverse. The character names Supergirl, Green Arrow, The Flash, Canary and Brainiac are trademarks of DC Comics. These chapters are free to read, they will not be published in book format, nor will any revenue be generated from the chapters. If there are legal issues involved with the usage of these characters, please email me at bwmorris at mail dot com and I will cease with the writing. Critiquing of my writing is welcomed and may be left in the comments.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Political Themes: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games was released nearly 10 years ago and led off one of the best selling trilogies in recent years, with the three books in the series having sold more than 65 million copies. It led to a popular series of films based on the books and happened to be one of the works that inspired my own writing.

The Hunger Games series also happens to feature a number of political themes, though they may not be obvious upon first glance.

After all, the prevailing storyline surrounding The Hunger Games series is 12 districts in the nation of Panem each having to send one boy and one girl, each 12 to 17 years old, as "tributes" to participate in a battle to the death, from which only one may survive. Katniss Everdeen, the chief protagonist of the series, only volunteers to be a tribute because she wants to protect her sister, whose name was drawn to be said tribute. Along the way, she finds herself becoming the unwilling symbol of a rebellion against the Capitol, all while caught in a love triangle with her longtime friend Gale Hawthorne and fellow tribute Peeta Mallark.

But at the heart of The Hunger Games is class warfare, illustrated in terms of how the citizens are divided into districts. The residents of the Capitol are the elite of the society, decadent to the point of wasting food, speak in a different accent than district residents and have a taste for exotic fashions. But even with the Hunger Games themselves being a bloody spectacle, most of the Capitol residents become emotionally invested in the tributes.

And the districts themselves each serve a specific industry or specialty. Districts 1, 2 and 4 are dubbed the Capitol's "lapdogs" by most of the other districts. District 1 creates luxury goods, District 2 specializes in masonry and military and District 4 focuses on fishing and seafood. In the cases of Districts 1 and 4, the nature of the goods that are produced makes those districts favored above others. And because District 2 is where the military force of Panem, the Peacekeepers, are trained, it also holds special favor with the Capitol. In modern terms, you would think of District 1 as the arts, District 2 as the troops and police and District 4 as higher-end food.

District 3, which specializes in electronics, isn't considered a favored district but is implied to be on the higher end of the economic scale, along with 1, 2 and 4. The rest of the districts are considered poor, with District 5 specializing in hydroelectric power, District 6 in transportation, District 7 in lumber, District 8 in textiles, District 9 in grain, District 10 in livestock, District 11 in fruits and vegetables and District 12 in coal. As you'll notice, the bulk of the districts on the lower end of the economic scale are associated with rural industries.

In fact, another way to look at District 12 -- where Katniss Everdeen lives -- is that it specializes in goods that, in today's world, are associated with Trump voters!

Seriously, the fact is that coal mining doesn't have a good reputation among much of the elite today. And the parallels between District 12 in Panem and coal-mining towns today are pretty striking. They are both at the lower end of the economic scale, they find themselves neglected by the elite and they grow suspicious of them. In District 12, Peacekeepers look the other way when it comes to black markets and hunting activities that are illegal.

But there's more class divide than just between the Capitol and the districts themselves. Within the districts, those who hold the government positions or run the shops tend to be a little better off than those who do the laboring for the local industries. Within the Capitol itself, it's revealed that those who live on the fringes tend not to be as favored or well off as those who live toward the center. And there are a number of shops that are located far away from the main streets, where people who used to hold special favor from the Capitol are stuck working because they're no longer considered useful.

Class divide is all around throughout Panem, so it's no surprise that there is resentment building against President Cornelius Snow, who rules over Panem and lives in, by far, the largest and most luxurious of the mansions. The Hunger Games themselves are certainly not popular among most of the districts -- even with Districts 1, 2 and 4 training kids to become "Career tributes" -- but what makes Snow and the Capitol just as unpopular are the living conditions in most of the districts. The only district that is slow to come around to the eventual rebellion is District 2, namely because it houses the military operations and its residents tend to be fiercely loyal to the Capitol.

But author Suzanne Collins presents class divide in a means that people can relate to. Few, if any, people would approve of a spectacle in which people are forced to send children and teenagers into an arena to fight to the death. The totalitarian rule throughout Panem would make a lot of people suspicious. And while Katniss Everdeen makes it no secret she dislikes the way things are in Panem, her interests lie more in protecting her sister, rather than wanting to embrace a political cause. Most people are like this -- they would first strive to protect those that they are close to before engaging in political action.

Another political theme throughout the books is the usage of propaganda to advance a cause. This is first evident in how the Capitol plays up The Hunger Games as an event that has brought the people of Panem together and how tributes are coached up to present themselves as somebody the Capitol residents should root for. It is utilized by President Snow as a means of trying to keep the districts in line when tensions start to rise. And it is ultimately used by Alma Coin, president of the supposedly destroyed District 13, which has been secretly building its military reserves for a rebellion.

But what makes propaganda an effective political theme is that it doesn't always have to be political. Propaganda makes its way into how the tributes present themselves, in how they find ways to manipulate Capitol residents into rooting for them and a willingness to send gifts to the tributes when they are fighting in the arena. Compare this to how businesses advertise and promote products -- or even how an author promotes his or her books!

And alongside the political themes, there are themes that don't dive into the political realm. A big one is how people can find themselves developing relationships with others when they might not otherwise do so. Katniss Everdeen finds it hard to trust people, thanks in large part to her father dying while working in the coal mines and her mother becoming withdrawn after that. Katniss only finds comfort in her sister Primrose, though she later finds additional comfort in Gale. But there are a host of others who she is initially cold towards.

It's part of what keeps Katniss from being a likable character in every way at first. There are plenty of reasons for readers to empathize with her and, to a degree, sympathize with her. But some people may find her attitude rubbing them the wrong way. In the first book, after Peeta's father gives her some cookies, she throws them away after suspecting Peeta is doing nothing more than sucking up to District 12's tribute mentor, Haymitch Abernathy. That's not exactly the type of gesture you would think of when you want a hero to root for.

Over time, though, Katniss finds more people she connects with and, for those who she doesn't connect with at first, she learns to do so. This is how Katniss is transformed from a character people will empathize with at first, to sympathizing with as the books progress. Katniss is far from the perfect individual with no flaws whatsoever -- and, at times, may engage in actions people don't agree with. It's the type of protagonist that is much easier to relate to, rather than being a one-dimensional character who is said to always be right.

That brings us to the main antagonist, President Snow. He does hold a valid point about why he does what he does -- the nation before Panem was involved in a great war and he believes this structure must be kept in place to ensure the survival of the human race. But while the survival of the human race is a point people can empathize with, there is never a moment in which President Snow is a sympathetic character. His actions are, in many cases, impossible to defend. That is what keeps people rooting for Katniss to prevail.

The trilogy concludes with Panem taking on new leadership, though it remains to be seen how the new government will take shape and what it means for the citizens. It does provide a degree of hope, mostly for Katniss moving on to a stable relationship with Peeta and, eventually, having children -- something Katniss swore she would never do because of the Hunger Games.

But what The Hunger Games series doesn't do is provide easy answers to those political questions it raises. It only addresses the issue that certain methods will not be accepted -- namely that the Hunger Games are no more. The rest is left up for readers to decide where things will go and if Panem's leadership will show people a better path. It's best summarized in what Plutarch Heavensbee tells Katniss Everdeen after leadership matters in Panem are settled.

"Now we're in that sweet period where everyone agrees that our recent horrors should never be repeated. But collective thinking is usually short-lived. We're fickle, stupid beings with poor memories and a great gift for self-destruction. Although who knows? Maybe this will be it, Katniss."

That's a question people should always ask themselves after what's considered to be a terrible regime is removed from power -- are we going to remember those horrors and not repeat our mistakes? Or will humanity fall victim to its weaknesses again?

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Arrowverse 'Other World' Chapter 1 - Supergirl

Disclaimer: This is the first chapter in a story about an "other world" based on the Arrowverse, the CW shows that focus on DC superheroes. I am writing this as my way of paying homage to my fandom for the Arrowverse. The character names Supergirl, Green Arrow, The Flash, Canary and Brainiac are trademarks of DC Comics. These chapters are free to read, they will not be published in book format, nor will any revenue be generated from the chapters. If there are legal issues involved with the usage of these characters, please email me at bwmorris at mail dot com and I will cease with the writing. Critiquing of my writing is welcomed and may be left in the comments.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Political Themes: Planet Of The Apes

Planet of the Apes was released in 1968, in a time when movie studios didn't believe that science fiction could appeal to a mass audience. It was also released during a time in which the United States was politically charged in more ways than those who reminisce about "the good old days" may realize.

The movie is a prime example of not only how political themes can be explored in a movie, but doing it with a protagonist who is not likable to start and who some viewers might have trouble sympathizing with at first. And when said political themes are explored, they are done in a way in which it's not always obvious upon first glance.

The first act of the film focuses on the plight of the American astronaut Taylor, who joins three other astronauts on a mission in space, in which their ship is traveling near the speed of light and follows the theory that, while hundreds of years will pass by, the crew will hardly age. In the opening scene, Taylor's attitude at first appears to be that of a man who engages in deep, philosophical thinking. Consider this observation he makes before he enters hibernation:

"You who are reading me are now a different breed -- I hope a better one. I leave the 20th century with no regrets. But one more thing -- if anybody's listening, that is. Nothing scientific. It's purely personal. But seen from out here, everything's different. Time bends. Space is boundless. It squashes a man's ego, I feel lonely.
"That's about it. Tell me, though. Does man, that marvel of the universe, that glorious paradox who sent me to the stars, still make war against his brother? Keep his neighbor's children starving?"

But it's not long before we find out that Taylor didn't make these observations because he is a great philosopher. He's revealed to be arrogant, cynical and often dismissive of his fellow astronauts. He ridicules Dodge for leaving a small American flag in the rocks and his heroic instincts. Taylor mocks Dodge for being the type of person who would sign up for this mission to seek out new adventures for personal glory, while considering himself a seeker of his own type. "I can't help thinking that somewhere in the universe there has to be something better than man. Has to be," he muses.

And after Taylor becomes quite dismissive of the primitive humans that roam this planet, you wouldn't think this is the type of person you'd want to root for. Only the long journey in which it takes days for the astronauts to seek out life keeps the audience from turning on Taylor.

But when Taylor reaches the height of his arrogance, that's when the revelation that the planet is dominated by a race of intelligent apes comes about.

It's at this point that Taylor's path starts to take a turn from viewers merely empathizing with Taylor to sympathizing with him. On this planet, humans are treated as inferior. The dismissive nature of Dr. Zaius makes it clear that he has no time for "domesticating" human beings and that, while he's fine with experimental surgery on a human's brain, he wants nothing to do with studying humans to see if they can gain intelligence. Consider this quote from Zaius:

"Why, man is a nuisance. He eats up his food supply in the forest, then migrates to our green belts and ravages our crops. The sooner he is exterminated, the better. It is a question of simian survival."

Take that quote and change it around to describe any group of human beings, whether born that way or not, and you can see the immediate political implications.

There are more subtle ways of delivering political themes throughout the movie, too. As many who have broken down the film observe, the apes themselves are divided into social classes. The gorillas, who have the darkest complexion, are either soldiers or perform menial tasks. The orangutans, who have the lightest complexion, are the politicians and priests. The chimpanzees, whose complexions fall in between, are the scientists and philosophers.

But there's another way to think about the racial allegory. The orangutans and the gorillas find human beings beneath them and, while a few chimpanzees are sympathetic to the humans, hardly any want to treat the humans as equals. Indeed, the female chimpanzee scientist Zira takes an interest in Taylor and wants to learn more about him and if it is true that another intelligent race -- perhaps of humans -- existed before simian culture. But she still insists on putting a leash and collar on Taylor, making it clear she doesn't see Taylor at first as truly being her equal.

Events lead to a tribunal hearing that resembles the hearings during the rise of Joseph McCarthy in Congress, in which multiple people were continually pressed about whether or not they were members of the Communist Party, simply because these people spoke out against American policies at the time. Indeed, the hearing is revealed not to be a trial to determine whether or not Taylor has committed any sort of crime, but to portray Zira and her husband Cornelius as guilty of heresy for daring to consider that another intelligent race of beings existed before apes.

Not only are the hearing portrayed similar to the McCarthy hearing, they throw in hints of the Scopes trial, in which the theory of evolution was brought into question and how it conflicted with Biblical stories that were used to determine when humans came into existence. In both cases, there's a political theme about how government authority can be subject to abuse.

All the while, though, you don't see Zaius portrayed as a one-dimensional character. In fact, there are hints that Zaius believes Taylor's claim that he came from another planet, but is more willing to accept that Taylor must come from a tribe of mutants elsewhere on this planet. You get a sense that Zaius may know more than he's letting on, but that he must have a reason for not revealing what he really knows.

These events, along with Taylor becoming attached to the mute female Nova, turn Taylor into a more sympathetic character than he was at the beginning of the film. Viewers who weren't inclined to cheer for Taylor at first are now given reasons to do so.

Getting back to Zaius, what he really knows is revealed in the final acts after Cornelius and Zira help Taylor and Nova escape, then explore an archeological dig that suggests that human being possessed intelligence and a more advanced culture at one time. The revelation of a human doll that talks would, at first glance, appear to vindicate Zira and Cornelius about their theories. But Zaius asks Cornelius to read an article from the sacred scrolls, one that puts Zaius' views on mankind into perspective.

"Beware the beast Man, for he is the Devil's pawn. Alone among God's primates, he kills for sport or lust or greed. Yea, he will murder his brother to possess his brother's land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home and yours. Shun him, drive him back into his jungle lair, for he is the harbinger of death."

This article forces Taylor, for a moment, to reconsider that Zaius has a point, because the article sounds a lot like the observations Taylor made when he was on that spaceship. Still, Taylor insists on looking for his own answers and Zaius allows he and Nova to escape, then orders the archaeological dig sealed so that nobody will know the truth -- but as he tells Zira that he is sorry she and Cornelius must stand trial for heresy, he has good reason to keep the truth hidden, as he hints when Zira asks Zaius what Taylor will find out there: "His destiny."

And that, of course, leads to the big reveal that Taylor has been on Earth all this time, and the obvious political allegory about the dangers of nuclear war is thrown right into viewers' laps.

All the while, though, there are more political themes and allegories rolled out -- but what makes them work is that they are done without making it too obvious to the viewer. There are also moments in which humor is injected and a few tropes of adventures films are rolled out.

Most of all, the protagonist isn't always in the right and the antagonist has a valid point. But what keeps the antagonist from being somebody you would sympathize with is not his ideology, but his methods. Meanwhile, the protagonist's ideology isn't necessarily one every person who watches the film will agree with -- and while some may not appreciate the methods the protagonist employs, most would understand given the protagonist's predicament.

And in the end, viewers are left with the question: Was Taylor right about how there has to be something better out there than man -- or was he right to become mankind's chief defender?

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The Arrowverse "Other World" Project

I've had several story ideas floating through my mind and one kept coming back to me -- one that goes back to one of my loves as a comic book geek.

I'm a big fan of what's known as the Arrowverse on CW, referring to the multiple shows that are based on DC Comics characters. Arrow was the first of these shows, followed by The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl, and these shows have crossed over with one another several times. More recently, Black Lightning premiered on CW and, while it is not yet considered part of the Arrowverse, the show creators have left open the possibility of crossovers in the future.

And as I explored more of DC Comics and what is known as "other worlds," I kept getting this story idea in my mind about an alternative version of the main characters in the Arrowverse. I couldn't get this story idea out of mind, but knowing that the characters in question are owned by DC, I couldn't put together a novel for publication for money.

But then I thought -- why not roll out this story on my blog? I generate no money from this blog, so I figure that might be okay to do.

For those who aren't familiar with "other worlds" in DC Comics, it refers to exploring variations of DC Comics characters that don't fit right into the main continuity. Some of the examples and their "what if" situations are:

* Superman, Red Son: What if baby Kal-El's rocket landed in the Soviet Union instead of Kansas and he grew up knowing the values of that nation?
* Batman, Gotham by Gaslight: What if there was a Bruce Wayne who existed back in the later 1800s who became a masked vigilante hunting down Jack the Ripper?
* Justice League: Kingdom Come: What might the Justice League look like when the members are much older and their proteges and children are now the primary heroes?

That brings me back to the "other world" I had in mind for the Arrowverse, in which I thought about different versions of Green Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl and White Canary. In my story, you don't see the versions of the characters as they appear in either the comics or the CW shows -- these are alternate versions of the characters.

My plan is to write a "chapter" at a time, let that chapter sit for a week, then go back to review and revise, before posting it to my blog. Once that's done, I'll post the chapter. Though my plan is to post chapters on Wednesdays, they may go up other days depending on my schedule.

In the meantime, you'll be able to critique and comment on the writing and what you think works or doesn't work for you -- or just sit back and enjoy what I have to share.

I do have other writing projects I hope to complete as my work schedule lightens, but I hope to fit this "other world" in as I have the time.

One heads up: I will be putting up disclaimers that I don't own the rights to the characters and, therefore, the stories will not be published in book form. I don't believe there will be legal issues from sharing a story for free on my blog, but if it there is a problem (and I hope there won't be), I may have to stop sharing these stories. Also, these will be "family friendly" stories in line with the guidelines Clean Reads, the publisher of my Six Pack series, has in place.

I hope you will all enjoy what I have planned in the coming weeks -- and you can still expect my regular blog updates on Sundays.

Read the chapters so far (character listed is whose viewpoint is shared):
Chapter 1 - Supergirl
Chapter 2 - Canary
Chapter 3 - The Flash
Chapter 4 - Green Arrow
Chapter 5 - Supergirl
Chapter 6 - Canary
Chapter 7 - The Flash
Chapter 8 - Green Arrow
Chapter 9 - Canary
Chapter 10 - Supergirl
Chapter 11 - Green Arrow
Chapter 12 - The Flash
Chapter 13 - Coming soon