Loose Wires

High voltage

Sometimes you just want to shake your head.

Mention to someone, anyone that you are a writer and like clockwork the comments come. “Oh. I’ve always wanted to be a writer” or “I’m going to write a book when I retire” as if it were that easy.

This is not a choice. I did not wake up one morning and decide to be a writer. I simply realized I already was one.

Writers are not like other people. We are wired differently.

And there are a lot of loose wires.

Writing is not a 9 to 5 job. There is no clock to punch. You are always writing or reading or thinking about writing. I toss and turn at night until my wife finally tells me to get up and write whatever story I happen to be working through. It simply cannot be turned off.

One example of this came to me recently. A friend of mine mentioned that she was house-sitting for a relative. Sounds innocent enough. Not so fast-my mind starts wandering, meandering down various avenues. At first all I could think of was her taking the house out for a walk. Let me repeat myself:  All I could think of was her taking the house out for a walk.

That was just the beginning. Now that I was down the rabbit hole ideas came quick and furiously. Now this house was not always where you left it. Or maybe the doors within this house led to different places and times. In my mind I twisted and turned my way around the thought of someone house-sitting to my own bizarre version of the locked door haunted house.

Like I said loose wires.

There is something just a little off about us writers. I for one wouldn’t have it any other way.


Origin of Powers



There is a thrill that runs through you as Superman soars into the sky, much the same as we watch Thor call down lightning from the skies. We love the incredible powers gifted to these heroes(and villains). Beyond what they can do with these gifts there is a deeper question.

Where do these powers come from?

The creators imagine worlds greater than ours. Worlds where greater than human beings can fly, burst into flames, even call the powers of nature their own. With the great powers also comes the origin story. For me that is an important piece of the character. Where the powers come from can help determine the stories you tell.

There was a time when it seemed like every new character was a mutant. It was so simple to just say “oh he’s a mutant” and that explained away everything. During other eras it was the fortunate accident or alien heritage. For me that is lazy storytelling. I imagine a world where there are a myriad ways that characters might develop their powers.

Here are just a few examples:

Alien-Alien/Human Hybrid:

Superman is the first character that comes to mind. Born on another planet gave him his power once he reached ours. Nice and neat. They are an alien eliminates so very many questions. Of course it opens doors into what that alien civilization may be like or what other alien life forms they encountered.

Cultural Hero:

Some cultures have heroes whose powers are handed down from generation to generation. While the person behind the mask may change the name and powers stay the same.

Fortunate Accident:

I say fortunate because lets face it most of the accidents that create superpowers would actually turn out pretty bad for the victim in the real world. In the comics world it does give us characters like Spider Man and the Incredible Hulk. Some things are just better.

Government/Military Experimentation:

Two words. Captain America. One more. Deathstroke. It is not much of a stretch to imagine this worlds military organizations experimenting on its own soldiers(not to mention enemy combatants). The added bonus is you have characters already trained for battle.


Sometimes it is a magic user, other times magical power is bestowed on a chosen one. From John Constantine to DC’s Captain Marvel to Doctor’s Fate & Strange right on to Zantana magic spells abound.


The X-Men do not have a monopoly on mutation. While most are familiar with mutants through Marvels various X-books there are other examples. Not quite born with powers, more born with the potential. With mutants it usually takes place around puberty. The Inhumans for example go through a right of passage which exposes them to the Terrigan Mists which activate an individuals powers.

Otherworldly Artifacts:

From the Quantum Bands to the Blue Beetle Scarab to one of the many-colored power rings objects often transfer their power to the wielder. Whether they are alien, ancient or magic based simple objects often hide great power.


Sometimes it takes a super-genius. Tony Stark built his Iron Man-armour to fight his battles. He is not alone. Whether it is an incredible suit or a ship or even simple gadgets characters have used science for decades to help in the fight against crime. Or even just to commit crimes. Depends on where your morality lies.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. How these powers came about is just the start. That is when you start asking questions.

There should always be questions.



Grayson discovered


This column had roots in my previous column regarding the announcement of the ongoing series Grayson. It is nice to see how a series matches up against your own expectations.

Dick Grayson has always been one of my favorite characters in all of comics. I think part of it had to do with the fact that while he was coming of age and moving on from being the first Robin to becoming his own hero as Nightwing, I was going through my own teenage years and discovering who I was. Grayson always seemed to be the bridge between Superman and Batman, more human than one and much more compassionate than the other.

I looked forward to this series, feeling that it was a brilliant and much needed change for the character. I do have friends who simply long for the days when Dick will once again don the (blue and black)Nightwing suit once again.

The new series is written by Tim Seeley and Tom King. I had no familiarity with either writer going in, I was flying blind. In five issues they have rewarded my blind faith with an excellent series. Just enough spy action, paired nicely with great character beats. In short order they seem to know Dick Grayson, the man behind the hero. That is important. Yes these are comics but it is not all about the shiny suits. The men(and women) in those suits are what we come back for every month.

It does not stop with Grayson. They have created a fantastic supporting cast for him in short order. There is the far away shadow of Bruce sprinkled in as a lifeline to his former life but the key are his new partners so to speak.

The ‘Helena Bertinelli’ they have crafted along with artist Mikel Janin’s depiction of her, she is the definition of the seductive spy, has been outstanding. After seeing this version I would be happy to never see another version of the Huntress ever again. The experienced spy mentor for Dick, but you can see an almost envy for the way Dick still looks at the world without her cynical-worldview.

On the other hand we also have Midnighter as a rival, regular guest star. I love Midnighter and I am glad he is being used well since Stormwatch is over. It is easy to write his use off as taking the Batman role, but I do no believe it is that simple. As much as many of us see Nightwing as almost an equal to Bruce in some ways it will always be a teacher/student relationship. In Midnighter, Dick has a rival, contemporary who is his equal. He questions Grayson’s motives for doing what he does, much as Grayson does himself. Midnighter has faith in his abilities, in his powers but Dick has his resolve. I look forward to when they fight together rather than each other.

As I mentioned before Mikel Janin takes care of the art. I first discovered Janin on Justice League Dark, he quickly became on of my favorite artists. Here he is asked to do less, no mystical monsters or group scenes, but he does so much more. The characters come alive within these pages. When I see his Grayson I cannot imagine anyone else drawing him.

It has been a great ride so far and I look forward to the journey every month. For those looking for Nightwing, he is still here leaping into the unknown.

Grayson simply left the mask behind.

ADVICE: Be a Peformer and Write Like a Boss

The Writ, The Read & The Rock

cropped-cropped-8f6df-typewriter1971ws255b2255d1.jpgFull disclosure: Yes, I am the furthest thing from a writing “expert”, however that won’t stop me from sharing my own personal insight on the matter.

I’ve said it elsewhere in writing workshops and online studios, and I’ve said it here: (most) writing is performance art. Why? Because it is done with the notion that someone — hopefully many someones — other than the author will read it. So my sound advice is for any writer expecting an audience is that you should WRITE AS IF YOU ARE A PERFORMER of the highest calling and with the highest reputation. Why? Because you’ll write to your best ability. That means your spelling should be precise, your grammar nearly impeccable, your diction on-point and your syntax sensational. Even if you’re just blogging (which is essentially what I’m doing here as I write this), write as if MILLIONS will be reading your words…

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Christopher Reeve is Superman

christopher reeve

We now live in a renaissance of super-hero movies, two or more movies a year is common place. This was not always the case. In 1978 the first of the big screen super-hero movies would arrive. Superman: The Movie.

I happened to catch it on TV the other night, it still holds up. Yes, it is a little cheesy but that is ok. It has heart and a sense of hopefulness.

And it has Gene Hackman being a bucket full of awesome as usual. (Love Hackman, just love him.)

Most importantly though it had Christopher Reeve. For many, myself included, Christopher Reeve was Superman. He was the Superman we grew up on and he was the Superman we think of when someone mentions the movies. Yes other actors have played the part. George Reeves, Dean Cain, Brandon Routh, to the current actor Henry Cavill. They each brought something to the role but we keep returning to Reeve.

Christopher Reeve is Superman, emphasis on the ‘man’.

That is where some writers and filmmakers lose me. They get distracted by the incredible power of Superman that they forget about the man-part. Reeve is corny as you can get but it works. You absolutely believe that he was raised in Kansas and you believe that he could fly. If you were an all-American kid from Kansas who could fly you would be a little corny too. There is the gravitas that comes from such powers, but there is also the joy.

It often comes down to nature-versus-nuture. Yes Superman is a Kryptonian with fantastic powers, but he was raised on a farm in Kansas. This is no stranger in a strange land. Kansas is his home not Krypton. He is so human and you see that in Reeve’s portrayal. There is humour, but more important there is humanity.

Watching that first movie I remember what made so many love the character of Superman but more importantly his better half Clark Kent. Kal El is not the super one, it is always Clark.

The powers do not make him a hero but his humanity.




Finding your own Fandom

I found myself in a discussion today about the choices we make when spending our money on our various forms of fandom.

I do not want to call anyone out directly so I will not use any names. If anyone takes offense in apologize but you got me thinking.

In talking about the state of comics someone told me there were books they liked, by creative teams they liked, with stories they liked that they simply would not buy these books.

I was dumbfounded.

Why would they not buy them?

Their main reason. They did not like editorial. Not the editors of the particular books or even the editors of the group of books. They did not like the editors of the entire company. For that reason they would not buy any books from the company.

This did not compute to me. I understand everyone has to decide how they will spend their money. We all work hard for what we have. Ultimately we choose how to disperse those funds. I just could not understand what they thought this would change.

For me if you find something that brings you joy you support it while you can.

Not buying books you like to make some greater point seems counteractive. It is so easy for that hated editorial to simply decide that your voice does not matter. To decide that they were right all along and we did not want that anyways.

If we buy things we like and do not buy things we do not like that makes the greater statement. It says: “I like this, give me more of this thing right here”

It is a choice we all must make alone.
For all of us I just hope we find the joy, find the things that touch our soul. If nothing else I hope we all keep searching.

Blowing Up The Marvel Universe-part three


What started as a two-part column has morphed into three. Sometimes good ideas cannot be contained. So here we have the final entry in my recreation of the Marvel Universe, hope you enjoy.

For the second part look here.

When we last left our intrepid heroes (I just always wanted to write that)…

As the RISE event continues it is clear the world needs its heroes. A great danger has risen in the Savage Land while the worlds premier superteams still stand down. The fifth week re-introduces some old favorites:


While other heroes deal otherworldly threats, someone must protect the common man. Daredevil is just that someone.


Kurt Wagner has lost his friends, he even lost his life. He never gave up hope.


Cannonball and Dani Moonstar bring together X-Force once more in search of their one-time mentor Cable.

Rocket Raccoon

Rocket (do not call him a Raccoon) is one of a kind, and he plans on staying that way. While not saving the other Guardians Rocket will take any job if the price is right..

The entire rebuilding of the Marvel line has been building to this point. One of the things I wanted to do with this reboot was pare down the seemingly thousands of X-books and Avenger related titles. I wanted to break things down to their barest essentials.

As the world of men faces a dire threat the worlds greatest heroes return from their self-imposed exile. Week six commences:

The Uncanny X-Men

Scott Summers returns from space to lead the team he was born to lead. Who will make up this new team of X-Men?

Ryder and Vaughn

Quasar was the Protector of the Universe, but he couldn’t save his best friend. Now he crosses galaxies to bring Nova back.

The Avengers

Earth’s Mightiest Heroes return with Hawkeye at the helm. Iron Man, Scarlet Witch and Thor stand at his side as they forge a new team of Avengers.

Finding their way past the guilt of past failings the heroes of the Marvel Universe return to where they belong. Between the people they have pledged to protect and that which threatens them.

When it comes to a choice of them or no one, these heroes will always make the right choice. They will RISE.

It was a fun ride, but difficult. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.