Thursday, March 31, 2011

New Advanced Classes






Two new advanced classes: the Macromorph and Insect Enhancile just went up at RPGnow. These two guys are very superheroic character options- one inspired by Giant Man and the other by Spiderman- especially the corporate-built Spiderman 2099. Both are designed for Otherverse America and Psi-Watch, but can be used in any of my settings. I wrote a lot of material for the Macromorph especially, describing how to use him in Black Tokyo or Galaxy Command. The Insect Enhancile has a really neat set of customizable abilities, inspired very heavily by the rogue talents in the Pathfinder RPG. I had a lot of fun writing the Insect Enhancile, building this diverse set of abilities. In a way, if you want to make an insect-man hybrid for D20 Modern, the Insect Enhancile write up is almost as flexible as Fursona.

In the coming weeks look for The Powered Hero basic class, which will support Psi-Watch and Otherverse America, as well as a follow up to the basic class dealing with cosmic-level superpowers, entitled Fundamental Forces.


Also keep checking the Skortched Urf sales site for a couple of new Free20 releases: one is a new disease designed for the Psi-Watch campiagn setting that will basically turn your characters into this guy:


Finally, be on the look out for a free preview of the revised Otherverse America. Probably the first of many short teasers, this Free20 PDF will focus on tattoos and body modification in Otherverse America. Expect some world info and a bunch of feats and object philosophies tied to the subject.

CHRIS

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Some good news!


First off, I got a new apartment at last, and I'll be moved in by the beginning of the week. Which is fucking awesome.

Second, I just saw this rough sketch by Amanda Webb. It's a sketch of "Dolfie" the Lifer children's host. I'm absolutely in love with this piece already. The little chibi Lifers are fucking amazing- especially the cute little Neverborn. Amanda is a very, very sick woman, and I love it.

Third, check out these two articles from Io9, which may be the only website publishing anything positive or uplifting anymore.

http://io9.com/#!5786265/brain+computer-implant-has-passed-1000+day-milestone

http://io9.com/#!5786980/nanogenerators-powered-by-your-heartbeat-could-replace-batteries-in-five-years-say-chemists

I love seeing technologies I've read about in games and sci-fi coming to reality. I'm especially pleased by the neuro-implant in the first story. Anyway, talk to you all later.
Blessed Be,
CHRIS

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Something I really like about Amanda Webb...



She really pays attention to the descriptions I give her.Over on the left we've got her rendition of Lifer politician and major setting NPC, Fairfax Dacoveney. If you're unfamiliar with our setting, imagine a cross between Cobra Commander and Randall Terry, and if you don't know who Randall Terry is, go Google the goat-fucking son of a bitch. He's a charismatic Lifer politician, the voice behind the Coalition for Life and the Lifer nation. Accompanying Dacoveney is Jelly, a Fluxminx security specialist who has protected him since he was born.

Anyway, the description of Fairfax Dacoveney I gave Amanda mentioned that I imagined Bruce Greenwood (from 13 Days) playing him if they ever made an Otherverse America movie. It's funny- she wasn't slavish to reference, but her finished piece clearly looks like Greenwood, especially the lines around the mouth and the way his hair came out. Anyway, it's an impressive bit of detail on her part, and I figured I'd share it with you.
CHRIS

Monday, March 21, 2011

Art Preview: The Full Conversion Cyborg Player Race



Here is a preview of the Full Conversion Cyborg race from Otherverse America. The art is a work in progress by Alex Garcia. And here we've got some preview text from the player race chapter of the revised core rulebook, a description of baseline humans in the setting as well as their FCB cousins.

Humans

By 2107 C.E., Panacean humans are the dominant strain of humanity. Unmodified homo sapiens are a rarity, usually found only in remote, rural areas, or among populations that rejected the gene-mod for ideological reasons, such as the Lifer Enclaves. The greatest concentrations of un-modified, ‘old-stock’ humans in North America are found within the Lifer Enclaves at Pensacola, FL and Atlanta, GA.

Today’s Panacean humans look identical to their non-modified human cousins. However, the first versions of the genemod had suffered minor physical mutations. These defects were quickly re-coded in later immunization campaigns. Some older Panacean humans are marked by blue-green striations, resembling tiger stripes, upon their face, hands and chest. New born children, modified with the latest version of the mutation have less than a 1 in 20,000 chance of being born striped.

During the 2010s and 2020s, “Panacean Stripes” were an especially desirable trait- they marked a potential lover as an absolutely safe partner, and heralded a new post-AIDS era of sexual freedom. Even those who didn’t manifest the stripes naturally used make-up, tattooing and cosmetic genemods to imitate the appearance of those who did. Today, the fad for striped lovers is a thing of the past, as society has grown to accept (and take for granted) this omnipresent gene-mod. Seeing old men and women with azure stripes is barely worth commenting on, these days.

Baseline Humans in the Otherverse America campaign setting have all common human racial traits. In addition, they gain the following additional racial traits.

Intangibles: Brown Skinned Future
Hispanics are the dominant racial group in America, and have been since the
mid-2060s. However, a century of inter-marriage, cosmetic genetic engineering, and alien immigration means that racial homogeny is a thing of the past. Many of the children of the 22nd century blend the traits of a half dozen ethnic groups, plus designer mutations and over-the-counter nano-infections found nowhere in nature. Powereds and cyber-enhanced soldiers comprise a substantial minority of the human population, while most big cities are home to at least a token extra-terrestrial population.

A 22nd Century version of Hispanic culture has spread to, and had a profound influence on both Lifer and Choicer nations. The Lifer Hispanic population brings tension, both racial and social to both movements.

The traditionally Catholic Hispanic population forms a powerful voting bloc which counters the traditionally white Evangelical Christian core of the Lifer movement. Despite a common opposition to abortion, and a shared conservative streak, 22nd Century Hispanics haven’t forgotten the anti-immigrant/anti-Mexican rhetoric and mass deportations of the early 21st Century, much of which was spearheaded by the conservative and Evangelical culture of the day. Old rivalries and ethnic tensions die hard. Lifer politicos must be acceptable to both white and Hispanic believers to have any hope of victory.

Among the Choicers, Hispanics bring a strong Central American paganism to the Covenant. Devotees of the dark Mayan goddess Xix Tab often side with hardline Bastian priestesses, while others worship the Virgin Mary as a gentle, Choicer patron of motherhood and grace.
Spanish is as common as English. Official documents and Mesh-sites are accessible in both languages, while marketing displays beam information directly to the corneas of consumers in their preferred tongue. Most American citizens can speak and are literate in both English and Spanish as their native languages.

Hispanics have taken a dominating role in arts and entertainment. Mexico City, Buenos Ares and Havanna have joined Bollywood, Hollywood and Tokyo as the major cultural exporters of the 22nd Century. Americans of both pseudo-nations and every racial background have become just as addicted to telenovelas, futbol and lucha libre as they are to manga, rock n’ roll, action movies and the NFL.


Size: Medium. A human’s baseland speed is 30 ft.

Ability Score Modifiers: +2 to any ability score of choice. Humans excel in a variety of fields.

If the game master feels ordinary humans are overshadowed by the metahuman characters in this sourcebook, she may allow human characters to add +1 to an additional ability score of choice at character creation.

Bonus Feat: Humans receive an additional feat at first level, which can be of any type, including Birthright feats, racial feats, Psionic Precursors or Object Philosophies as well as faction specific or general feats.

Highly Skilled: Humans receive four additional skill points at first level, and an additional skill point at every level there after.

Dynamic: Humans receive an additional action point at first level and every level there after- they make committed heroes, terrorists and activists.

Automatic Languages: Humans born and raised in North America speak and are literate in at least two languages, usually English and Spanish. Foreign born humans may substitute other languages if desired.

Panacean Infection (EX): Panacean humans have extraordinarily strong immune systems. They are immune to all non-magical terrestrial sexually transmitted diseases. However, they can still succumb to alien diseases, bio-warfare agents and magical diseases. They receive a +4 racial bonus on FORT saves made to resist contracting other forms of disease.

A Panacean’s evolved genome is laced with a genetically engineeredform of the resilient herpes virus; this re-sequenced disease causes them no harm and has no ill effects. The Panacean Infection is designed for easy sexual transmission. Only a relative handful of humans were immunized under laboratory conditions: the genome’s designers intended that like the disease it was designed to eradicate, the Panacean genemods could be sexually transmitted. This cheap and easy secondary vector for immunization was instrumental in disseminating the genemod in Africa.

Any humanoid, monstrous humanoid or giant with a reasonably normally anatomy who engages in unprotected sexual intercourse with a Panacean mutate also gains the Panacean Infection extraordinary racial trait. Players and gamemasters can safely assume most human characters in an Otherverse America campaign have this genemod, unless there is a compelling story reason otherwise.

The upcoming Sexually Transmitted Future sourcebook goes into deeper rules for genetically engineering humans and other species.

Full Conversion Cyborg (PL 7)
Large Monstrous Humanoid

“If you live through this with me,
I swear, I will die for you.”
- Courtney Love, Live Through This

“More than sixty percent of all full conversion cyborgs have been sexually or physically abused at some point in their lives. This fact, it's true one across the board; it doesn't matter if the cyborg is Lifer, Choicer, is a member of the US military, or belongs to some other corporation or interest. Regardless of affiliation, it is likely that at some point in his or her life, the borg- this indomitable, unstoppable war machine, knew what it means to be a victim.

To most abused children, cyber reconstruction's the perfect deal. The minute they
turn 16, they sign with the first people who can make them this promise: Come work for
me, and in return I'll strip away the human weaknesses, in many cases, the very sexuality,
the skin- that has made you a victim. That makes you weak.

I'll give you an indestructible metal body, wire your nerves into guns and jet
engines, download combat training right into your brain... and make you strong, so strong you never have to worry about being hurt ever again. All of a sudden..... boom. Thermo-nuclear capability is in the hands of a kid whose father beat him till his bones cracked....since the day he was born.

It's a testament to the strength of these people's souls that we don't have to stop
more of them because they've gone rouge.”
-Dr Fabian Obregon (codename: Mind Games), transcript of a Mesh-Know-Now! interview after the Lesbos Beanstalk Incident, late 2107.

Cybernetic implants are as common to the 22nd Century as cellular phones were during the early 21st Century. Military cybernetics programs enhance a soldier’s capability with implanted subdermal armor or onboard weapon systems. Young priestesses replace the flesh and blood fingers they were born with as a sacrifice to choice itself. Cyborgs are everywhere in 2107, but full cybernetic conversion is still rare. It’s not just a matter of money, despite the multi-million dollar surgery required to create an FCB; it’s a matter of psychology. Very few people have the will necessary to surgically remove their flesh and blood humanity and replace it with steel and composites.

Those who do, for whom total body prosthesis is the only choice, are a special breed. A handful of full conversion cyborgs become beings of steel and silicon as a matter of survival, not choice. There are very few injuries 22nd Century medicine can’t heal, very few diseases that can’t be cured, but for the small, unfortunate minority full cyber-conversion is a better option than a life time of paralysis or an early death.

However, most full conversion cyborgs choose this path, giving up perfectly healthy meat-bodies in favor of cybernetics. Why? Corporations and the military recruit trans-humanists, who are willing to enter a decade long service contract for a chance to climb the techno-evolutionary ladder. Patriots, fanatics and true soldiers become full conversion borgs for a chance at the power necessary to make their ideals a reality.

However, nearly three quarters of all full conversion cyborgs world wide share a single common tragedy. Most elective cyborgs are the product of long term sexual abuse during childhood. As soon as these damaged children reach adulthood, they cut away the flesh that hurt them, transforming themselves into an invincible polymer-skinned juggernaut, someone who can never be harmed (sexually or otherwise) again.

Cyber-Conversion In Game
There are going to be plenty of cybernetically enhanced player characters in an Otherverse campaign, including many so heavily modified they’re often mistaken for Shell Suits. The FCB player species provides a strong, durable cyber-chassis to build upon, giving FCBs an advantage lesser ‘borgs can’t match. Thanks to their built in power supply, FCBs can field more and better cybernetics.

A player can choose to undergo full or light cyber-conversion in game. If the character is human, he retains his human racial traits after the conversion (bonus feat and additional skill ranks), though the character no longer receives the additional skill ranks for being a human after the procedure. If a member of another species undergoes the conversion process, he or she loses most, if not all of their racial abilities, and replaces them with the FCB’s racial ability listing.

Individual gamemasters should decide if unique abilities, particularly Psionic or magical talents innate to a particular race are lost during the conversion process. In most cases, abilities explicitly referencing the character’s original anatomy are lost. Similarly, human characters with abilities directly tied to their original anatomy (such as Genefeats) lose those powers during the conversion process.

The FCB racial traits are treated as an acquired template added to the base creature. Performing the cyber-conversion requires a well equipped surgical suite. In most cases the cyborg’s surgery is performed over a several day period, while the ‘borg remains in a medically induced coma. In most cases, a cyborg requires a 2-3 month period of recovery and psychological adjustment before entering active service, and is virtually helpless, requiring complete hospitalization for the first few days after the surgery.

• Purchasing Full Cyborg Conversion has a Purchase DC 34 + 1d6 (DC 35-40) and has a base restriction rating of Restricted (+2).

To offset this cost, many newly created cyborgs arrange a contract with a megacorp or the military. Terms of service typically last between 10-15 years, with lucrative bonuses for reenlistment. In addition to front line combat service, cyborgs are also employed in mining, space exploration, heavy industry and other high risk occupations.
Many companies offer ‘short-time’ contracts to their FCBs. In exchange for a decade or more of service, a cyborg is returned to full humanity at the end of their contract period. Once the contract expires, the cyborg is installed into a freshly decanted cloned body, custom grown to their specifications. The cyber-chassis is than refurbished and reused by another short-timer ‘borg.


Appearance: The appearance of individual FCBs varies wildly, depending on which entity the ‘borg works for, and who they purchased their systems from. However, all members of this ‘weight-class’ of cyborgs share similar design elements.

All FCBs are heavily armored, robotic humanoids resembling light shell suits or androids. Cyborgs have a metal and composite endo-skeleton which mimics human proportions and anatomy, with thick layers of artificial muscle tissue and Kevlar pseudo-skin woven around robotic components and equipment pods. Dense composite plating protects the cyborg’s vital areas.
Most cyborgs have eliminated all traces of their human appearance, and their skulls resemble a combat suit’s helmet or a robot’s skull rather than anything human. A distinct minority have human seeming faces. Despite the realistic appearance and texture of their skin, it is durable polymer, as resistant to damage as the cyborg’s armored body. In all cases, the only thing organic that remains of the cyborg’s birth-body are the brain, portions of the spinal column and some of their optic nerve.

Reproduction: Full Conversion Cyborgs are sexless creatures by their own choice. They cannot reproduce, do not feel physical pleasure, and most, freed from the burdens of human hormones, have no interest in sexual matters at all.

Obviously, FCBs cannot select any class with an emphasis on sexuality, including many of Black Tokyo’s advanced classes. If the FCB becomes a member of any cybernetically enhanced class (such as the Voidsparrow Advanced Class) which more selectively removes body parts, the cyborg is subject to the more extreme
cyber-conversion process.

The FCB is immune to most effects based upon sexual manipulation, and in most cases is not considered to have any sexual orientation. Though cyborgs can and do feel love and affection, it’s all but impossible to seduce one of these ‘borgs.

Names: Full Conversion Cyborgs begin their lives as humans, and their names follow mundane human naming conventions. However, just because a FCB uses a human name, it doesn’t mean they keep whatever name they were born with. Many cyborgs legally change their name, or adopt a codename upon their conversion into a cyber-warrior….another way of cutting ties with their past.

Size: Large. The FCB receives a +4 size bonus on grapple checks, may use larger weapons than its medium counterparts, and it’s lifting and carrying limits are double those of a Medium creature. However, the FCB suffers a –1 size penalty to Defense, and a –4 size penalty on Hide checks.
The FCB’s base land speed is 40 ft.

Ability Score Modifiers: +6 STR, +2 CON, -2 CHA. Full Conversion cyborgs are incredibly strong and durable, but they find it difficult to relate to other people, both due to their obvious cybernetics and to the pain of their early childhood.

Racial Skills: Full Conversion Cyborgs receive no racial skills. Their abilities are determined by their training and interests, not a standard race-wide template.

Racial Feats: All Full Conversion Cyborg receive Iron Will as a racial bonus feat, reflecting the sheer force of will necessary to undertake (and survive) such a radical transformation.

Enhanced Senses: The FCB gains lowlight vision and darkvision with a 90 ft range.
The FCB receives an implanted communication link and onboard computer, similar to the implants described in the Dept Seven Tech Update: Cybernetics. These implants allow the cyborg to communicate wirelessly through the Mesh, send and receive radio and cell phone signals, and perform computer use tanks as normal for a standard computer system. Full Conversion Cyborgs physically disable their wireless card when it is not in use, and cannot easily be hacked.

Full Cybernetic Conversion (EX): The FCB’s integrated armor provides the creature with a +4 equipment bonus to Defense, which increases throughout the cyborg’s career. This bonus increases to +6 at 5th level, and +8 at 8th level.

Unfortunately, the cyborg’s bulk prevents the FCB from wearing additional external armor. The cyborg can pilot power armor, but the FCB’s proportions and anatomy mean the suit has to be custom fitted, increasing the total purchase DC by +6.

The FCB no longer needs to eat, breathe, or drink. He becomes immune to the effects of vacuum and radiation. He becomes immune to non-magical heat and cold. The fully cybernetic FCB becomes immune to non-magical disease and poisons, ability drain and energy drain.

Redundant organs and self repair systems enable the FCB to shrug off lethal damage. The FCB has a 50% chance to ignore the additional damage from a critical hit, as if he had the fortification ability.

Cyber-receptive (EX): Thanks to the cyborg’s high-energy power supply and specially designed artificial organs, he or she can receive an effectively unlimited number of additional cybernetic implants (or points of Drain) without ill effect.

Racial Weaknesses: As a fully cybernetic creature, the Full Conversion Cyborg does not heal damage naturally, though the cyborg can be repaired like any other high tech device.

All FCBs suffer a –2 penalty on all CHA based skill checks (except Intimidate) against any creature with less than two cybernetic implants. Even humanoids with a single implant or a hobbist’s interest in cyber-reconstruction find it difficult to relate to full conversion cyborgs.

All FCBs require extensive maintenance, performed by a competent cyber-mechanic in a well equipped shop. Each month of active service, the cyborg must undergo extensive diagnostics and repairs. Doing so requires the FCB to receive a DC 32 Repair check, which requires at least 16 hours in a well equipped repair bay.

If the cyborg doesn’t receive these repairs, he suffers a -1 penalty to his STR and DEX scores, and is considered fatigued until he receives these necessary refits. These penalties increase by one per week (maximum -10) until the cyborg receives repairs. If the cyborg performs nothing but rest or light activity during a month, he does not require maintenance, but any stressful activity puts a strain on his cyber-systems and increases the likelihood of a catastrophic system failure.

Anyway, enjoy both racial write ups.
Blessed Be,
CHRIS

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Stragglers....

Right now, I'm only waiting on a few pieces of art to come in, mostly stuff I only requested this week. As I was going through the manuscript for Otherverse America, I wanted to start filling in some holes in the art order, finding concepts that need illustrated but for one reason or another, haven't been assigned yet. Obviously, I'd love illustrations on every page, but since I don't WoTC's art budget, I have to prioritize.

Right now I have the following pieces out.

1. A cover by Alex Garcia, which I showed a preview of a couple of posts ago.
2. An illustration of the Full Conversion Cyborg player race, also by Alex.

3. An illustration of "Dolfie" Black, a retired Lifer superheroine, which according to Amanda Webb who I assigned the piece to, will touch on the state of children's television, circa 2107. I can't wait to see what she turns in.

4. From my new artist, Scott Holmes, expect a character illustration of the Lifer terrorist Ghost Boss. Again, it'll be fun to see his interpretation of this character.

5. I've ordered three setting illustrations from Felipe Gaona. The first is a shot of 22nd Century San Fransisco. Since Alex will also be illustration San Francisco on the cover, I sent both artists the same text and notes. It will be really interesting to see their differing visions of the city, based on the same input.
6. Felipe will also be doing an illustration of Boston, the Lifer capitol.
7. Finally, Felipe will finish up with a shot of the fortress-like, imposing Pensacola Enclave.

Expect some more art previews later in the week and a peek at some of the text.
Blessed Be,
CHRIS

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Go help Japan

http://www.sankakucomplex.com/2011/03/17/operation-tomodachi-us-military-too-cool/
From the website Sankuku Complex, a story that actually shows the US military in a positive light. Awesome because I'm former military, and I lived in Japan for about two years. I'm glad we're helping out, and I hope everyone on Misawa AFB, in the northern tip of Japan, is okay.

Also, when I logged into Paypal this morning, I noticed a donation box for Japan on the homescreen. If any of you guys have some extra cash in your Paypal accounts, send it over: a country whose excellent art has influenced us all for years needs help.

Blessed Be,
CHRIS

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Art Preview: The Battle of Boston



Here's a preview of the cover of the Otherverse America Game Master's Guide, which will be released (hopefully) day and date with the revised Core Rulebook. Felipe Gaona did this amazing piece, and I'll be getting at least 2-3 more pieces from him. Expect some big scenic shots of San Francisco, Boston and Pensacola. Like the incredible Kieth Parkinson painting of Chi-Town in the Rifts Ultimate Edition, these setting illustrations will really help sell this world as a living, breathing place.

I'm also in talks with a new artist named Scott Holmes to do some artwork for me. I'll be putting up his gallery soon, over on my blogroll.

Finally, I just sent out a visual guide to the Otherverse America setting to all the artists and freelancers working for me. It's pretty art heavy and text-light, just giving them an idea of the look of the world. It's got tons of great art by Amanda Webb, Alex Garcia, Mark Hyzer, Felipe Gaona and a couple of others, and shitty art by me. It's too rough for real publication, but if you're a fan of Otherverse Games, I'll gladly send you a copy gratis. Just email a request to me at christopherafield@hotmail.com. It's a neat little thing to have.

CHRIS

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Otherverse America is Coming Together Nicely
























Here's a status update. I've got my new pagemaker working- the first release with the program, Fursona continues to sell very well, and has already more than paid for the art I purchased for it. Awesome.

I've got a few other releases that will come out very soon: Before the Adventure, a dramatically expanded Pathfinder update of the old Skortched Urf release Signs and Fantasy Occupations. I've also got two new advanced classes for Psi-Watch and Otherverse America on deck: The Insect Enhancile, a genetically engineered superspy type character inspired by Spiderman 2099 and Grant Morrison's Marvel Boy (No-Var) and the Macromoprh, a size changing superhero like Giant Man or Colossal Boy.

More importantly, lets talk about the format for the revised Otherverse America.

Right now, I'm looking at least two huge sourcebooks and several smaller releases in support of the Revised Otherverse America. One sourcebook, the Core Rulebook will include the history, races, feats, new talent trees and unique advanced classes for the setting. This puppy will likely top 300 pages by itself!

Up top we have the original cover of the first edition core rulebook- a photomanip I did myself from some public domain stock photoes. It's a good piece, and one of the images I'm most proud of. It also is probably only RPG sourcebook cover that actually shows an abortion on the cover, so I figure I deserve some kind of award just for that.

Anyway, Alex Garcia has just agreed to provide a new cover for the revised Core Rulebook. He's using the character from the original cover, as you can see from the character sketch at far right. The Midwife from the first cover will be walking through the streets of San Fransisco 2107.

In addition to the Core Rulebook, also expect a Game Master Guide that will include a complete threat roster, from first level thugs to blast en masse to full stats for Roe, Artemis and the other major setting players. In addition to the 'monster list' expect lots of advice on actually running this unique setting, plot hooks, and other cool stuff. The Otherverse Game Master Guide is going to top 100 pages, and maybe reach 200, depending on how much I decide to cram in.



I've removed the Powered Hero basic class from the Core Rulebook into its own stand alone PDF which will go on sale soon. The Powered Hero as it stands tops 25 pages, and is fully compatible with Otherverse America, Psi-Watch and even Galaxy Command if you want to run a Legion of Superheroes styled campaign. It's a comprehensive superhero creation system designed to build modern, realistic mid-range superheroes, on the order of the Ultimates or the X-Men. This will be a kick ass sourcebook, and right now, I'm working on a follow up to the Powered Hero Basic entitled Fundamental Forces.

Fundamental Forces will be all about high-level, cosmic abilities....the really game-breaking, 'do anything' superpowers. Want to play the Flash, Scarlett Witch, Kid Quantum or the Time Trapper? You'll like Fundamental Forces.

Anyway, salivate over the new info. Next time, I'll give you a sneak preview of Felipe Gaona's cover to the Game Master Guide.

Blessed Be,
CHRIS

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

New Comic Purchase: X-Men: Second Coming



So yesterday, I was in the mood for a new trade paperback. Something continuity heavy, and with good art. It was a toss up between some Geoff Johns DC Stuff and X-Men, and I went with the old standby. Damn was this a fine comic. Spoilers follow.


First, this is a great wrap up to the last 5 years or so of X-Men storylines, a very, very satisfying and surprisingly comprehensible read. I'd not been following X-Men regularly for the last few years, and I was able to follow the Second Coming storyline easily, and that's a big plus in my book. The story was amazing, especially for a long time X-reader.

Obviously, the art was amazing. I especially have to give Terry Dodson props- Choi might have got to illustrate the arcs two big deaths: Nightcrawler and Cable, but Dodson got to illustrate Kurt's funeral and his facial expressions sold it. Seeing Wolverine trying to hold back his tears was an amazing experience, and his eulogy at the funeral was one of the best parts of the arc. I also like the quieter admission that Nightcrawler's private chapel was the 'only church I ever set foot in' by White Queen- it reveals alot of her character and emphasizes that Kurt was the rarest of all mythological beasts, one encountered only in fiction, the non-judgmental, genuinely welcoming Christian.

Another two quiet character moments I really enjoyed: that moment of doubt I had upon reading Cyclop's disbanding of X-Force. Did he send X-Force into the future on a suicide mission because they were best suited for the mission, or did he do it to atone for his sins, to get rid of a squad that had become an embarrassment? Does Cyclops even know himself?

Another quiet bit of characterization that involved Cyclops occurred during the final battle between Hope and Bastian. There's a moment when Hope manifests the Phoenix raptor, Cyclops looks on in awe, and Emma Frost looks like she's going to cry- she knows Phoenix will be back sooner or later, and she knows Cyclops will leave her once that happens. Hell, she met Cyclops when he was cheating on his wife, and he's got a real history of infidelity, so she knows what's coming, what's in this guy's history.

The action was equally amazing. My favorite moments: Warlock finally has his revenge on Cameron Hodge- a grudge match going back to X-tinction Agenda back before Image Comics formed. Other favorite moments included the scene where Archangel murdered an F-22 Raptor. Fuck it's good he's back.

I also was blown away at the scene where the Nimrods managed to break Colossus' arm. For me, Colossus is the definition of invulnerability even more so than Superman- we see Superman bloodied by Doomsday or Darkseid or some punk with some Green K, but how often have we actually seen Colossus injured. I can think of twice before now- an early Claremont issue where Deathbird hits a younger and weaker Colossus with some acid, and in Mutant Massacre where it pretty much takes an entire team of Marauders to put Colossus down. You just can't hurt Colossus with anything short of a nuke, so I was staring in open mouthed awe at the fact a squad of Nimrods was able to break him open. One of the best action scenes in the comic, along with that amazing and completely silent 10 page battle against the first wave of Nimrods in Choi's X-Force.

Finally, I loved that while preparing for the second wave of Nimrods, Cyclops sent Colossus- for just the same reasons I mentioned above, Rockslide because he's nearly as tough, Namor (because that dude reguarally trades punches with Hulk) and Dust. Dust, this skinny, shy Muslim girl who still wears a burka is a frontline fighter: because when you stop to think about it, how the hell do you kill a girl who can turn into sand? It reminded me I love 'elemental' characters like her that are made out of something that can't sustain life, but who can still live and percieve: Sandman, Dust, Hydroman, Aquamaria (Blood Syndicate), Brick and The Thing, Prysm (Teen Titans).... they're some of my favorite characters just because I can't figure out how they work, how they even exist- there's something miraclous about that power set that fascinates me.

Anyway, Fursona is up and I'm going to set it up for Print on Demand. I just need to get a back cover together, and I'll do that tonight.

Blessed Be,
CHRIS