Tag Archives: Comics

Emerald Specter 103: Bad Habits Denied

I’ve talked in the past about getting over bad habits and though I’ve been working hard to avoid mine (the time wasting ones with zero benefit), I’m having a devil of a time staying focused on the prize: progress.

I have caught myself at least five times starting to slide into a rabbit hole of time wasting this past week. In fairness, I am off from work (for the last day until my next one) as I write this, which means I’ve had the extra time to stray from productivity.

There isn’t an official medical opinion on this, but I’ve self diagnosed as ADD (no “H,” I am too old to be hyperactive). The reason for this is because even though I can really dive into tasks and get them done, my mind wanders and I often get distracted really, really easily.

A good example of this is that I took a 10 minute detour to work on Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes because I haven’t done my “dailies” yet.

When I was play testing the original BuJoRPG, I was hyper focused on getting that done… and earning XP the whole time, I was motivated to get to the end of the testing phase. I was leveled up. 

During the testing I gained some good habits around the house, I learned the basics of Vietnamese (the language), I was more than willing to do things that I found distasteful (like I have to clean the bathroom later today and I’m not excited about that). I am excited about a cleaner bathroom, though.

Yeah, adulting isn’t the best.

I’ve said all that to say that I have bad habits creeping back in and I need to break that up and get that out of my life again. What I need is BuJourneyRPG testing and to do that I need help with development.

The reaction from the first episode is in: Jodie Whittaker is a hit. 

I was interested in seeing if people would react to her as the Doctor simply because she’s a woman and I actually heard responses that evaluated the episode and her for the merits of the show rather than evaluating her woman-ness.

That makes me happy.

The biggest thing that makes me happy is all the “New Who” fans can stop whining about the classic bent we had with Capaldi… because, you know, Doctor Who started with Christopher Eccleston (eye roll here).

I’ve been a Marvel zombie in the past. There have been some DC titles sprinkled in there, too. I was a super fan of the CrossGen universe right up until the place closed shop (and really wish Marvel would have allowed it to continue without attempting to “reboot” it). When Image popped up, I was all in (with all the titles I could find). More recently I’ve been all in on Valiant (until they started ending titles and restarting with #1s) as well as going all in with Lion Forge’s Catalyst Prime universe.

What does this all mean? It means I give things a try because retreading the same stuff over and over again in the “Big 2” is no longer interesting.

There is a bunch of stuff I am actively waiting for or reading, and I’d like to take a few minutes to highlight what those are with a little reason or two why.

Top Cow’s God Complex is, in a word, awesome. There is a mystery abound, a strange world to explore, and I’m very interested in learning more about “the Gods.” If this one is in my read pile, it rises to the top automatically.

A quirky horror series, Image’s Ice Cream Man is an anthology situation and you can literally pick up an issue without worrying about a “through story” in the series. There might be more going on in this one, but I think if it interests you enough, check it out.

I am still reading Marvel’s Champions, because it’s fresh and has characters in it that I’m interested in (Miles Morales, Riri Williams, Amadeus Cho, etc) and doesn’t have a history to retread. Things are new and interesting… I know I said that twice, but it’s twice as true.

I’m reading DC’s Doomsday Clock, too… mainly because I’m 7 issues in and I love the Watchmen, so hopefully if DC is going to be bringing in the Watchmen, they don’t do it to drive me up the wall. I would really like a Watchmen ongoing but I’m 99% sure that HBO’s Watchmen series is the closest I’m going to get to that.

I was also reading Avengers, mainly due to the Final Host storyline and that because it contained the Prehistoric Avengers. There is still a tangential connection to the Final Host storyline and as long as there is a chance to see the Prehistoric team again, I’ll give it a little more rope.

Why am I reading Avengers? Well, first, I have been a long time fan of team books, with a special place in my heart for the Avengers. This was the one team book I loved getting when I was collecting “back in the day.” With all the reboots, though, I’m not as pleased with how Marvel and DC are doing things, so I’m not giving them as much a chance to entice me into buying these. 

The Prehistoric Avengers, though, are new and interesting. If you think you’ve read that in this segment already, then you should be aware that is the theme of this comics segment. I’m interested in new and interesting.

Aftershock has been doing a ton of interesting stuff, too. I’ve checked quite a bit of it out and I’ve either passed by continuing or haven’t really liked the story being told. Beyonders, though, is right up my alley. This is a conspiracy mystery with a bit of a treasure hunt feel to it… and if there is one thing I like, it’s treasure hunts!

If you aren’t reading Dark Horse’s Black Hammer, I have to know why. This is an epic tale of Golden Age superheroes that get trapped someplace else and their lives they live trying to get out of wherever they’re at… and that is just the tip of the iceberg! Black Hammer is not high on my list for art, but the art has started to grow on me… the story, though, is just too much to miss.

I believe I’m going to be including more comics in my columns because it’ll help me justify why I would want to keep reading a title or move on. There are certain characters that I am interested in following (like the Fantastic Four and Moon Knight) but don’t jump on (or stay on) because of a poor issue. I’d also like to have a solid “yes or no” on new #1s I give a shot (mainly from independents and Image), because everyone deserves a shot.

Look forward to more in the future… I am not putting out a Specter Show yet but a Greatest Show is on the horizon with two returning hosts! Stay tuned!

Journal of the Emerald Specter 93: State of the Comics Industry

There is a great disturbance in the comics industry. Things are looking both grim and hopeful and I’d like to talk a little bit about that now.

As long as I’ve been collecting comics Marvel and DC have dominated the scene. They are, admittedly, the largest two comic book producers in the market, but recently they have been joined by two more “big companies” (Image and Dark Horse) and a whole slew of smaller companies (Valiant, Boom!, Dynamite, IDW Publishing, Lion Forge, Aftershock, Aspen, and Titan to name a few).

The basis of the industry has always been the floppy, or the single issue. Everyone used to play around with different formats in the past but the tried and true means of selling comics has been 22 to 24 page single issues. While there can be many issues that make up a single story, there can also be a single, self contained story within a single issue.

Over the last couple of decades, though, the term “writing for the trade” has come up as being a means of writing stories. A trade paperback, for those not in the know, are six issues collected into one large graphic novel like book. There has not only been a trend in writing for a trade, there has also been a movement in simply waiting for the trade and skipping the floppies.

There is an occasional original graphic novel, or OGN, that comes out of the big four, but most of the OGNs are independent creators putting out stories they can tell in one lump rather than dribbling it out over a monthly floppy schedule.

If floppies are the comics industry’s version of TV, then OGNs are the comics industry’s version of movies. In the end, this is really what the column is going to be about.

Marvel and DC have long standing histories, continuity, that they seek to maintain in their current stories, despite the illogical problem of explaining away decades of continuity by stating that time doesn’t flow the same way in their respective universes. Marvel has stated that despite 75 years haven taken place in the real world, only about 12 years has passed in the Marvel Universe.

First, I’d like to talk about looking at the history and talk about why continuity is so important… to Marvel and DC.

There is a subset of fans that read Marvel and DC that insists that continuity be maintained. Superman has to be from another planet, lands on this planet, and has had every single adventure that he’s had in comic form. Captain America also has to have every single adventure that he’s ever had. No matter how ridiculous, everything that they’ve done has to have been done.

DC has somewhat gotten around the diehards by having their “Crisis” events, which resets the DC continuity (or at least that’s what they hope) and then they move forward. There are subsets of these fans that only really like “pre-Crisis” or “post-Crisis” events, even to include the recent Flashpoint (which launched the New 52) and so on.

As far as DC is concerned, I was a big proponent of the New 52 because it relaunched their entire company with only about “five years of history” build into the revision. Most people reviled it so they dumped it. There was so much more awesome that could have been told.

Marvel has also attempted to do little things to “soft retcon” their line. Things like “Heroes Reborn” (a retelling of the origins of the Fantastic Four, Captain America, and a few others) to update their origin stories… but then they were reintroduced into the continuity as if they’d only been momentarily taken out of time. While these soft retcon (short for “retroactive continuity”) attempts didn’t really do anything to further their hopes, Marvel did do something that was revolutionary and totally awesome: Ultimate Marvel.

In 2000, Brian Michael Bendis was handed Spider-Man (under the Ultimate Marvel imprint) and told to tell the Marvel Universe over again… from scratch. Ultimate Marvel ran for more than a decade and is largely the basis for the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s origins of the heroes, but Ultimate Marvel stopped hindering themselves with over 50 years of continuity. Ultimate Marvel also did something that neither DC nor Marvel has dared do in their “main continuities”: allow changes in the world to happen as a result of their heroes.

In the Ultimate Marvel line, X-Men are still hated by many and that has led to sweeping changes in how the governments of the world react to them. This fundamentally changed the world in which they live, unlike in the 616 (Marvel’s main continuity) where nothing really changes. Technology that the Fantastic Four created crept into the Ultimate Marvel world, unlike the 616 where even though Reed Richards has a flying car no one else seems to have technology anywhere near that.

Basically, I’m saying that Ultimate Marvel was glorious and awesome because it affected the world in which they live. Not having Tony Stark’s armor tech seep out into the world, even little useful bits of it, is unrealistic. Fanboys will cry about Ultimate Marvel not being realistic, but in the end, they look and sound ridiculous because they’re reading a world that never gets changed by the things that happen in it.

I made a comment a while back on a forum that I tend to peruse from time to time that if Marvel’s 616 has 75 years of published materials but only 12 years have passed, that means the Avengers change their lineup about twice a week and have an announcement about their lineup changes every other week. How can Captain America lead the Avengers against the greatest threats if he’s busy announcing the new members from what they had two weeks ago?

Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?

Since the industry is changing, actively, speculators are starting to see what the future of the industry is: trades. If writers are going to write towards the trades anyway, why doesn’t the floppy disappear and allow the readership to just read trades instead?

This would mean (for Marvel and DC) a quarterly (at most) release schedule on their most popular heroes. Sure, there would be some snags in this, like new heroes not being created and flopped stories being highlighted all the more because of less material, but there are too many people waiting to get the trades instead of the floppies anyway. Why not just make the plunge now?

I’ve got a better idea, though. Instead of “writing for the trade” or releasing just a trade paperback in a quarterly fashion, why not do an OGN version of the MCU?

Hear me out.

You put a creative team on Captain America and tell them to write a graphic novel about a particular adventure that Cap is going to have. They can include things that other creative teams are doing on their own assignments or they can just keep themselves self contained. Six months later you have a 200 page Captain America story that is better than what we would have gotten in six floppies or a trade.

Now, you have many teams working on many projects like this… Fantastic Four, Thor, Iron Man, Daredevil, etc… you have them use the same process I said for Captain America but you aren’t trying to eek out six months of floppies on each title and you’re allowing for complete stories to be told that are far more interesting.

Sure, Captain America might only come out once or twice a year, but the story that is in each OGN is far better than you would have gotten in floppies. Utilize an MCU approach by building up a decade worth of OGNs and you have a comic version of the Avengers in the MCU that would be just as epic. After a decade, or however long they decide to run their epic length OGN universe, they could just say “ok, this story has been told” and begin again with new titles, heroes, and a new epic length story.

Wouldn’t that be better?

DC could have a Superman OGN that tells a complete, updated origin for him which lead to a great OGN. Batman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and the lot could each get theirs, building on the appearance of the “first hero” and have their own epic decade long tale. Just like my Marvel example, you could just tell everyone you’re done and restart when it’s time to do something different.

No more rebooting every couple years. No more retconning decades of history. No more wondering why technology isn’t helping the world even though the beneficial heroes could save lives by handing it out.

This OGN universe theory also solves another problem: constant relaunching titles.

Every third week there seems to be a long standing title (Superman, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, or Justice League) that ends it’s 25 or whatever issue run to be “relaunched with a new #1!” That’s BS and the companies know it.

Their reasoning for using this method of selling comics is that they want to bring in new readers, and apparently they think new readers only come in when there is a #1 issue. I’d like to argue that you lose more readers than you gain by relaunching every other year just to have a shiny new #1 on a cover.

The industry could be doing more to keep themselves working at an optimal level but they seem beholden to the old model. If I were in charge of the companies, I’d start looking at moving to the new model ASAP, because there may be a gap if they don’t get their ducks in a row soon.

And by “gap,” I mean something catastrophic for the sales departments of the companies.

Journal of the Emerald Specter 92: Building a Better Emerald Specter

Um… what?

This is a column I’m about to detail a whole bunch of things in and it’ll involve everything to do with EmeraldSpecter.com, the podcasts, the articles, BuJoRPG/BuJourneyRPG, and the future. This is a roadmap to getting me from where I’m at to where I want to be, which will include what I’ve done in the past that worked that I’ve stopped doing.

Despite my sincerest desire, “winging it” with a lot of my content isn’t working as well as I’d hoped. There are spurts where I can do just that but I also have the opposite, which is long periods where nothing works. This leads me to look back at what has worked, which means looking back to LimeFlavored.com.

When I started Lime Flavored, I literally just needed a place to do things online that entertained me… and hopefully along the lines someone else would be entertained as well. That philosophy has definitely held up for the years and has become a pseudo-business model for what I’m doing with Emerald Specter. There was a point, though, where things needed to have a little more structure.

Fast forward a few years (from 2000 to about 2010), where the Lime Flavored Podcast jumped into the world. The show started as a place for me to talk about this and that, sort of like how the Specter Show has been, and then I started bringing on guests to talk to… several episodes then were mainly about the conversation between two people. This eventually led to me having regular cohosts for the show, with two dominating the show for lengthy runs, but died down when excuses from those cohosts began to take down the recording schedule. That’s when I initiated “the show format.”

Rather than beg guests to come on, or talk about the random this or that, I came up with a weekly rundown of segments that would be structuring the show into something more… structured. This version of the show was the most popular, got the most downloads, and fell to the wayside when trying to edit the video content for episode 50… the LAST episode.

Lesson learned, although not immediately.

During the run of LimeFlavored.com, as well as falling well into EmeraldSpecter.com, was the Greatest Show (originally known as the Greatest Show Online). This was me and my best friend Bob getting together to talk about whatever we wanted to, which ran like this for a long time, including my wife into the show as something for us to watch (she cooked while we talked and filmed the cooking), turning eventually into inviting a few more friends on to turn the show into a round table discussion of the more recent years. Special guests have been had and though most of the hosts aren’t on most of the time, those that show up when they can are welcome. Guests have also started to become a big part of what the future of the show is going to be…

Back in the early days of Emerald Specter, I had a multitude of columns. There was the generic “Emerald Specter” column, Gaming Specter, UFC Specter, Storytelling Specter, SpecterFit (also known as Fitness Specter), and those are just the ones I can name without looking up the others. Each of these were short, primarily to keep content flowing, but all eventually started dropping off here and there in favor of a more generalized column… that would be the current Journal of the Emerald Specter (which you’re reading issue 92 of right now).

I’ve added the Specter Show as a podcast as well, doing the “winging it” audio I was in the early days of the Lime Flavored Podcast, along side the Greatest Show (which takes longer breaks between episodes than I’d like but as long as it keeps going I’m good).

This is a lot of unstructured things happening at once, most of which interfere with my ability to progress on structured things like life, BuJoRPG/BuJourneyRPG, and producing more content that I’ve wanted to start producing.

So, I am going to make some changes to streamline, structure, and produce higher content.

Starting with what has become the flagship content provider of the site, the Journal of the Emerald Specter.

Each issue of the Journal will be presented with a unique “cover,” going along with the comic book feel of the site’s aesthetic. This will more than likely convert to a square cover instead of a more comic book traditional shaped cover, but this will be the first step.

Next comes the banner topic, the “geeky thing on my mind” in a smaller than current segment. This could be about anything I listed above but will be concentrated on that topic alone. I plan on planning out these topics in advance, too, allowing for the research that might need to be done when writing.

After that comes the first ever serial fiction I’ll be writing. I will be writing an installment of a serial fiction story with the intent of finally putting out my fiction that I’ve wanted to create for a long time. Including this into the column will allow me to remove the self imposed requirement of having the story completely written before hand and just get my ass writing again. I don’t know how long the installments will be, I’ll let that flesh itself out after a couple of columns.

That is followed by a sports commentary of some sort. I often want to write entire columns about sporting items and rather than dominate a column like I have with chess over the past two issues, I figure I can throw a tidbit into this in order to quench my thirst. Ideally, I’d be covering whatever sports are actively happening but I am not going to limit myself to just that. I’m hoping that continuous commentary on certain topics might one day pan out into a paying gig on another site.

Next comes bullet journalling updates. I am going to include an update EVERY SINGLE TIME and that means I better be making progress on things in the background. Play testing the BuJourneyRPG hasn’t started as of this writing but I’m on the edge of actually being able to do that, and that means I can definitely have content for this segment of the column.

Finally, there will be an RPG tidbit included in each column. This might be a story hook, a review on a new game, a story about a game that I participated in, or just a general discussion about merits of why a certain system works well. This won’t be as big as the main topic but I want to start doing something gaming related and that means writing is probably the best place to start.

That is just the Journal of the Emerald Specter, folks. Let’s look at the Specter Show next.

Just like the Journal covers, the Specter Show will also be getting custom covers for each episode. You might be wondering why I’m interested in doing this for both of these and it’s because I’m interested in putting out quality content, meaning that if everything is planned ahead of time I don’t have to scramble to accomplish anything.

The show will be led off by a geeky topic of discussion, I’m thinking that this might be the place where I talk about my love of TV and movies (reviews, reactions, etc), but I am not locking myself into anything specific. Media seems to be big on the podcast scene so that is definitely where I’d be looking towards for inspiration on this.

Also like the Journal, there will be an installment of a serial (not the same serial), read aloud of course… and this would probably be on the shorter side but with this being altogether different than the written stuff, I’m interested to see what kinds of wonderful pours out of my head in the near future on the serial fiction front.

Finally, the show will include a “what to watch for” segment. The reason for the media being in the beginning could relate to what I’m talking about in the “coming up” section. Movies, TV shows, comic books… all that I’ll be consuming in the near future.

I also had a plan for the Greatest Show, but I won’t be locking anything down on that front because I don’t want to shoehorn anyone else into following a strict rundown. Time will tell what form the show takes but what we’re doing seems to be working for now.

When will all this go down? I did have specific issue/episode numbers for when I’m rolling this out but I want to make sure all the back end stuff is done before I roll out everything. There will be a few graphical updates to the site, too, but they won’t be monumental in difference.

Journal of the Emerald Specter 81: Audio from Written Word

Plans, plans, and more plans. Things start up, things fall through. Things don’t get started and life tends to get in the way.

“If something is important to you, you make time.” ~ Captain Montgomery Scott to Captain James Kirk in Generations.

I guess I have to start making time for the things that are important.

I’ve been talking about writing and completely producing a 22-page comic book before the end of the year. If I don’t actually start doing that I won’t ever get it done. By this time, I should have had a full script written and working on the layout for the book.

Have I done that? Nope. I have a script started but it hasn’t progressed.

There are tons of other writing projects I want to be knee deep in right now, too, but that falls into the “time isn’t happening” category. that’s also going to be grinding to a halt.

I produced a story for a writing class when I went to college back in 2005. The story was just the beginning of a much bigger venture and I’ve often thought about where that story goes. There are details within that story that I’ve long forgotten about and if I dig the story up to freshen the whole thing up. With a rewrite and some additives with the new details, I think it’s ready to be brought out to the world.

I am going to accomplish these things because I have a lot of stories I want to tell and I’m going to tell them.

I’ve been lax with getting out the Specter Show lately. Not that I’ve really meant to not record or to release shows, with the last episode being on the pathetic end of the scale, I’ve just allowed life to push me around.

Yep, there it is again… life pushing me around.

I’m going to start doing some experimental things with the Specter Show. There is another podcasting idea I’ve had that I wanted to try out and while I will definitely be producing at least one full episode of that idea WITHIN the confines of the Specter Show and if I enjoy it but don’t want to fully make a new feed that is also not going to be getting a ton of attention, I’ll produce a few more.

There is also a “research project” that I’ve been meaning to write up and produce into a podcast. Once again, I don’t want to produce a podcast that gets left to flap in the wind on it’s own feed while I struggle to keep up with what I’m already doing. What’s the idea? It’s going to be me producing long form content about a series of subjects all related to self improvement. That’s as far as I’ll go with the reveal so far and just like above, I’ll probably release the stuff WITHIN the confines of the Specter Show once, maybe twice.

Why within? Well, the Specter Show intro and outro would still be in the episode, and with these two ideas I would basically have a “this isn’t a normal episode” warning. If the content is popular or interesting enough, I’ll break it out into it’s own feed and release the episode sans Specter Show bookends.

I am stating right now that I am going to be getting back on the Specter Show wagon and producing content again, and really working to make content that doesn’t suck.

Moving along to the Greatest Show, I don’t see the group sticking to a “season” format… mainly because only one person outside of everyone in my house shows up regularly. This opens up the Greatest Show format changing into two different format options: a roleplaying session that only Metal and I are part of or me running an interview style show at irregular times with the guests I’ve been unable to work on getting on the show due to (you guessed it) life.

Both of those things are going to be a thing and that is where I’m trying to take the show. Unless the old crew comes back together, or Bob is able to make a regular appearance with me to have a reunion to the “old school Greatest Show.”

I said all that in the writing section to get to the meat of this column. The title, so far, hasn’t made a ton of sense in this column and that is about to change.

Let’s say I’m writing a serial fiction series about a school of wizards… and let’s say that the series gets a little attention from readers who would like more. Let’s also say that the series gets some feedback about people who like the premise but don’t have the time to read all that to get the information.

Well, here is where we come in with the title: Audio from Written Word.

I have software that will combine mp3 files into a large m4b file. If you don’t know what an m4b file is, that’s what an audiobook file is (at least through Apple). I am saying that I’d record the serial fiction into an audiobook format.

There are several things that I need to state about this before I go on. First, my time is not free and I’d be asking for a fee. If you consume even a fraction of the audio that I consume (because constant movement at work allows me to hear things but not really to sit and read things), then you’ll appreciate that paying someone to listen to a reading of fiction isn’t a terrible thing. Second, the audiobook files would be complete “seasons,” like the entirety of the series (season 1, season 2, etc) as one single file… this keeps me from seeing to basically having to produce a podcast release schedule to keep up and I can provide a bigger “hoopla” if I just do the bigger release. Third, I could also start writing the serial fiction as just written word and produce an “audiobook” to compile the season… or after a certain number of seasons I can simply produce and release the audiobook “seasons” after a free launch.

The idea is that if I want to start doing things I want to do instead of just doing things I have to do in order to kinda do the things I want to do then I won’t get 50% of what I want to do done.

My wife is a fantastic business woman. She takes an idea, develops the idea, and starts producing product for sale. In a few months, tops, that idea is now a viable business process that works and earns her a living. These ideas also keep her busy and doing things she enjoys.

I’d like to take my ideas and do the same thing.

The funny thing is that I just showed my wife those last two “paragraphs” and she said it would be nice if I did any of my ideas. Like, for example, my bullet journal ideas (I said I’d like to make stickers for the BuJoRPG… primarily the templates for the first version and the templates for the second version, too). That is first on the list.

I deleted Facebook and Google+ from my phone recently and I’ve been less consumed with anger and frustration as a result. I’ve also had a ton more free time to do other things and I know that is a better thing.

I am also going to be removing one of my two regular games from my phone because I’ve progressed to a point where I don’t think I’ll be getting much farther any time soon. Without progress, I don’t really want to keep grinding because the game isn’t that important AND is getting in the way of doing what I want to do.

See, things are getting better already.

The Greatest Show 145: Totes a Porg

Our heroes, the galactic trio of Tricia, Metal Jesus, and the ever bald DJ, discuss some Star Wars: The Last Jedi, BuJourneyRPG, LitRPG, the Dark Matter Graphic Novel, the Verdacomb Graphic Novel, and more! We even gave away some free stuff!!!

The Specter Show 048: Somewhat Damaged

Short and to the point, DJ runs over a bit about BuJourneyRPG struggles, getting out a Greatest Show, comics both writing and reading, what’s been going on, and a hopeful push to get back to normal all on this episode!

Host: DJ Allen
Intro Music: The Idea of You by Nine Inch Nails (from Not the Actual Events)
Outtro Music: The Perfect Drug by Nine Inch Nails
Intro Lead in: Theo Rossi

Contact:
Website: www.EmeraldSpecter.com
Email: EmeraldSpecter.com@Gmail.com
Twitter: @EmeraldSpecter
Instagram: @EmeraldSpecter

Support Emerald Specter at Patreon!

Journal of the Emerald Specter 78: My Version of the DCEU

Many moons ago, I posted an article stating reasons why the DC cinematic universe would fail (now known as the DC Extended Universe). I mention something along these lines a couple other times on this website, but I wanted to address what I’d have done with the DCEU if I were the one running things…

So, why don’t I write about it?

Rather than storytelling, this one really deserves to be under “movies,” since I’m talking about building up the DCEU on the big screen.

First, the rules. I am proceeding as if the DCEU has failed, meaning the releases of the already slated movies after Justice League are no longer going to be released… or already have been and have had little success. Since I’m not worrying about release dates, I’m just going to list them in the order I’d release them, with a little explanation here and there.

So, without further ado… the first movie.

Superman: Man of Tomorrow

This is not exactly an origin story, since we don’t need to worry about origin stories. Why? Well, with Superman: The Movie and Man of Steel, I think another origin, “proper” origin, is unnecessary. The tale of this movie would be Lex Luthor fighting to rid Earth of the last Kryptonian. His new mechanized suit of armor, in conjunction with aid from Brainiac, would be an epic team up against Supes on screen. There would be easter eggs galore in this one, mentioning Wayne Enterprises, the Lantern Corps (plural), Themyscira, Mars, and more. One of the most important hints will be that there is more going on in Earth’s history than we know.

Stinger at the end of the credits? You bet… this is a big plan, and that means setting things up properly. The end credits scene is the planet Apokalips moving out of orbit.

Wonder Woman: Warrior

Not a period piece like Wonder Woman was, this one is all about Diana coming back to Themyscira to fight off an assault on the once hidden island… led by Giganta, or so we all are led to believe. The real brain behind the assault is actually Gorilla Grodd, who is after a very specific artifact hidden in the island’s vault (the Cosmic Rod). Giganta doesn’t manage to escape but Grodd obtains the item and absconds with it to places unknown.

Our stinger shows Grodd passing the Cosmic Rod over to Devilance, who takes it through a portal.

The Fastest Man Alive

Barry Allen… AND Wally West (the Flash and Kid Flash) are pitted against Reverse Flash, who came from the future in order to stop “something terrible” from happening. The terrible thing is the Earth splitting in two from an attack, but Reverse Flash’s solution is to remove the “Speed Force users” from the equation, including himself. On top of this bombshell future villain, Captain Cold is busy trying to steal a special key… which would unlock Mr. Freeze’s prison cell in Arkham Asylum, but he fails when Jesse Quick and Bart Allen (Impulse) foil the attempt.

The stinger on this one reveals to us that Granny Goodness turning from a spaceship monitor showing Apokalips and states that “he’s coming.”

In Brightest Day: Green Lantern

Hal Jordan, John Stewart, and Guy Gardner convene on OA to plan a reunion on Earth but are forced to deal with a direct threat to OA when Atrocitus and Sinestro lead the Red and Yellow Lantern Corps on an assault, where the main focus is trying to get into OA’s vault to liberate the Book of the Black. The attack doesn’t succeed… but while Sinestro makes a second, more intense “last ditch” run at the vault, he cracks open a cell holding Larfleeze, who wreaks havoc in the aftermath (escaping, eventually, with the Book). Jordan decides to stay on OA to help fortify the planet, Stewart heads towards Earth to investigate the other oddities happening, and Guy Gardner tries to follow Larfleeze to wherever he’s heading.

We have two stingers in this one, the first one is “mid credits” revealing Saint Walker (the Blue Lantern) is also headed towards Earth after Sinestro, who received a message from Earth. The second stinger, at our traditional end again, is Larfleeze towing a trapped Guy Gardner towards Apokalips.

Shadow of the Bat

Batman is plagued by a new threat, the Court of Owls, terrorizing Gotham and trying to rid the city of their self proclaimed Dark Knight. When Bruce Wayne can’t handle the onslaught of the sheer number of Owls, he enlists the help of Robin, Nightwing, and the Birds of Prey… together, they rid Gotham of the Court but unfortunately releases some Arkham prisoners (Scarecrow, Solomon Grundy, and Mr. Freeze among them).

The stinger? Yeah, it’s got just one… and it’s Lex Luthor on the phone saying “I think we need to form a Legion.”

Justice League United

Well… we got to this one in a similar fashion to Marvel, but the point isn’t to do something different, the point is to do something big. Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, and Cyborg are enlisted by Flash to help stop the future disaster from happening, one step which occurs “now.” The Legion of Doom (Lex Luthor, Solomon Grundy, Brainiac, Captain Cold, Cheetah, Sinestro, Gorilla Grodd, Black Manta, Scarecrow, and Riddler) unleashes their fury on the world, which causes the Justice League to fully form (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg, Martian Manhunter, Flash, and Green Lantern John Stewart) to fight them back into submission. The fight causes a tear in spacetime, which unleashes Bizarro, allows Sinestro to flee through it, and shows the League the impending threat of a fiery world heading towards the Solar System.

There are three stingers in this one… the early credits scene stinger has the League giving the “watch” over to Martian Manhunter while the rest of them go to deal with the repercussions of the Legion of Doom. The mid credits scene gives us Nightwing and Robin talking about heading to deal with a new threat, hinting at the “Titans” coming soon. The end credits scene gives us a full on view of Darkseid demanding that he deal with the threat personally… that threat being the Justice league.

From here, I’d introduce the Titans as a team, head back for some sequels (Wonder Woman darling with Cheetah and Giganta, Batman figuring out his legacy by recruiting Terry McGinnis as a trainee against Riddler, Flash going up against Captain Cold or Savitar, Green Lantern Corps dealing with the Blackest Night and Black Hand, Superman facing off against Bizarro, Aquaman and Black Manta going at it, and introducing characters that really need to be introduced to blow the doors off the DCEU like Shazam, John Constantine, Green Arrow, and Doctor Fate… just to scratch the surface).

And Darkseid hasn’t even gotten to Earth yet! He’d be the Justice League sequel villain, or maybe even the third one.

In just my tiny little run of movies, though, I’ve introduced a slew of characters that can either be expanded upon in other movies or ignored for other introductions all together. Hell, “mini-DCEUs” could spring up following each character (a-la Sony’s Spider-Verse).

What do you think of what I would have done?

Journal of the Emerald Specter 73: What’s Coming in 2018?

As you read these words, it is my birthday. I decided to take a look at what is supposed to happen with me, things, and all the other stuff in 2018.

That was a terribly put together sentence.

The Emerald Specter 2018 Winter Basho is fully underway and things are flowing way better than I could have imagined. The speed at which game play is happening (required one move per day) means I could probably expand the tournaments from four to six without much of an issue. I’m sticking to four for this inaugural year.

There were lots of folks who joined and then unjoined the tournament before I decided to launch the thing a couple days early. I am the weakest player in the tournament, according to our chess.com ratings, by no less than 250 points. Knowing this, I’m probably not going to win any games… especially considering that two players have already crippled my offense to the point I may not survive to 20 moves. Two players have already scored wins (one player scoring FOUR wins), and we’re less than four days into the tournament as I write this.

How many of these folks will return to compete in the Spring Basho? That is a good question, because if no one comes back, then I’m just holding tournaments and spinning my wheels, which was not the point of this little experiment.

The point was to emulate sumo with chess.

Speaking of sumo, we’re several days into the Hatsu Basho and I am once again participating in the Sumo Game. I lost my first two matches and with any luck I’ll have rebounded by the time you read this to be competing for a kachi-koshi. I need some sort of scouting before the basho so that I can avoid always starting out with a loss.

Harumafuji, a former Yokozuna, is not participating this year because of his assault on another rikishi at the last basho. In case you don’t understand what this means, he smashed a bottle over another wrestler’s head and has been forced to retire from sumo. The Japanese do not allow their sport to be besmirched.

The action thus far has been good watching and I can’t wait to see Ura get back into the top division… because sumo is better with Ura.

I wanted to have a nifty transition like I did from before but I didn’t want to face this one.

We are in the 25th year of the UFC’s existence and I happened to catch the Stephens-Choi event on FS1 and was glad that I decided to watch the whole thing. I would normally have been leery of watching anything more than the “lady fights,” but the hype machine encouraged me to stick with it and the best fight of the night was the main event, in my opinion.

Looking at the schedule for the foreseeable future, I’m really interested in seeing the UFC 220: Miocic-Ngannu event this coming weekend. I don’t often get to witness two good heavyweights clashing and I’m really interested seeing this one live… and getting some buffalo wings to eat while I watch, which means getting to a Buffalo Wild Wings early enough to get a seat.

Other than that, I see that there are two events with more than one set of ladies battling it out, both UFC Fight Night: Jacare-Brunson 2 and UFC Fight Night: Cerrone-Medeiros have some potentially good lady fights I want to see. In that first one, I am hoping to see Tonya Evinger get whooped again, as I don’t think she’s anywhere near UFC material.

And now an aside that doesn’t get it’s own header.

I discovered a couple of spreadsheets on Sunday, January 14 that have been enthusiastic for doing something that I’ve always wanted to do… but first, a spot of history.

In 1998, I discovered e-fedding. That, for the uninitiated, is “electronic federation” or slang for wrestling on the Internet. Basically, you create a character and compete against others in a variety of ways to “pretend to be a wrestler online.” I ran a couple of federations in the past and really wanted to have a longer term future than I did.

The obstacle in that longer future was that I was getting tired of the “real thing,” which was WWE run amuck over anything resembling competition, and the same ideas being rehashed over and over. Basically, if Vince McMahon would step down and let the younger generations start running things it might freshen up the product… substantially.

Moving along, though, I wanted to have the same type of thing for boxing after my wrestling stint… and WeBL does that… sort of, but in my opinion, it doesn’t really do what I was hoping because it concentrates on the “short attention span achievements” that modern expectations have online. WeBL is more like an eFed and I was looking for something closer to emulating the real thing (like reported on by The Ring, including the alphabets WBC, WBA, IBF, and WBO).

Since I started really giving my attention to the UFC, I wanted this to be more of an emulation of MMA rather than boxing… so, I made some spreadsheets of my own but got bogged down in tracking things that I just didn’t have time to program into the spreadsheets.

Well, I came across a tracker for something related to keeping track of an “in universe” EA UFC 2 simulation… and I can now use it in conjunction with what I wrote many moons ago to simulate an MMA experience!

I’m going in the direction, and really always have, of “digital fighters,” and I’ll be using single names (not a given plus surname, more like Seal or Madonna). I’m also instituting that both male and female fighters will be in the same competition, giving it a little depth.

This is sort of like the ESPL, which I cancelled after two seasons, but without downtime in the middle of the year… the digital fighting would be running more “year long” than seasonal. If this works out, I may end up resurrecting the ESPL with the new model and moving forward. I enjoyed doing the ESPL, and modifying the spreadsheet for the digital fighting would work wonders if I decided to program one again.

Smoothly transitioning into creating things, I wanted to write a 22 page comic for 2018… well, not just write, but actually fully produce.

One of my heroes, Dirk Manning, suggests when getting into something like this for the first time to go with an eight page story. The theory is that you aren’t overloading yourself with trying to do something giant but you’re getting enough room to tell a story that is interesting.

With my stated intent, I’d have to alter that (and considered doing so) into 3 eight page stories, meaning I’d end up with 24 pages total. I had one really fleshed out story I could add, then I was kind of struggling to come up with two other fleshed out stories to add to that one…

And I came back to my original intent. The story I’m going to tell is action packed, interesting, and I know exactly what happens, so I can progress in the direction I need to progress.

Thus, I’m back to producing a full 22 page comic book. I have about two pages written as I write this and I’m moving right along. 

I have not ceased working on BuJoRPG… I may be done with BuJoRPG2, though.

Work has been terrible and I haven’t really gotten back into the full swing of doing anything off work… because I’m working so much.

There has been some working out of ideas for the next bit I want to work on and I’ll get to it… but I need to have a normal work schedule again and that has failed to materialize as this has been written… and I’m really, really tired.

Podcasting is the last bit I want to address and since this is the end, I’ll address it under Final Thoughts.

I will be restarting the Specter Show (though I had never intended stopping) on my week of vacation coming up (starting tomorrow). I’ll record an episode, maybe two, and send them out into the world to get that show back up on it’s feet with all kinds of updates.

The Greatest Show will be returning next Saturday, too, as I’m trying to watch the UFC this Saturday. I’m going to be getting in touch with some guests and we’ll be explaining the future of the show when we get back up and running. As for the shows that haven’t been put out as audio, or put up on Channel 1 as edited final products, that will come when I get my week off and have time to do it.

All in all, things are starting to return to normal and I’m hoping that I can get back into everything I enjoy doing rather than doing nothing but work, work, work, work…

Journal of the Emerald Specter 71: Bring on the New Year

Shut your mouth, it’s 2018!

Yeah, yeah… I know, “hey DJ, you probably wrote this last year and we are only just seeing it now.” Well, that is true… but I’m a lot closer to the actual release date than previous articles have been over the course of December, so I’m nearly real time.

But enough talking to myself, it’s time to look at a “New Year’s roundup” of sorts.

So, it’s time to start thinking about the BuJoRPG again. I’ve been overwhelmed over the course of the last two months and haven’t had a chance to put any effort into the bullet journal at all… like, I mean if I was bullet journaling steadily all year I wouldn’t have a single entry for November or December.

Work hurts.

When I last left off from working on the system, I was deep into creating a map for one to explore a “storyline,” more information on the “Jade Realm” that I’d pseudo-created for the BuJoRPG. Well, having had a chance to really give that a thought over the last couple of months, maybe I want to step back from world building to actually just build the basics. I’m reevaluating the approach, and I’m not starting over, I’m just going to hold off on the world building part. BuJoRPG2 may see some upgrades, slight rewrites, or things of that nature… but I’m going to be working on it again.

Speaking of bullet journaling, I wanted to start a new journal for 2018 and I had previously wanted to power through my original journal before I did that, but I’ve decided to use that journal as a testing ground for the BuJoRPG stuff and just start a new journal entirely. On January 1, 2018, I will have started the new year with an attempt to get re-organized and hopefully that leads me to a better chance at 365 days of journaling.

This month, the inaugural “basho” begins for the year as the Emerald Specter 2018 Winter Basho kicks off as previously announced. As I write this, there are four competitors out of 12 that will be participating in the event and I’m hoping that the rest of them jump on board before the actual kick off day.

The time controls are one move per day, which is as fast as I can guarantee I’ll personally be able to play. With my working schedule, several life unknowns, and just not really wanting to tie the event down to a single day or something like that, I’m hoping that the play is fast enough to ramp up the basho schedule from four to six for 2019, though we’ll see how this all actually plays out.

Realistically, I’m anticipating half of the players in the 2018 Winter Basho to not participate in future bashos. While I’d love to believe that the gimmick of chess crossed with sumo is enough to bring back people to compete for the “titles” that are involved, I’m enough of a realist to understand that to build a steady “roster” of players, this is probably going to be a two year plan. Some people will get it right away, some will pop in and check it out before deciding it isn’t for them.

This is one of those years where I haven’t payed as much attention to the NFL as I have previously. There have been years where I’d watch all three games on TV on Sunday, then watch the Monday game and when it was available, the Thursday and Saturday games.

This year? Pfff… I can’t tell you how many Sunday mornings I’ve woken up and just didn’t realize football was on TV. Hell, there have been days where my wife and I went out to eat and the only reason I knew I’d missed football is because it was on in the restaurant.

I’m mentioning this specifically as an NFL subject, but I’ve also slacked on watching the Premier League and the MLS, too, as 2017 hasn’t been a good “sports year” for me.

In 2001, I made a spreadsheet that was able to track the “picks league” I’d run for the people I worked with. The NFL schedule came out and I went to work ensuring that you could just input the scores of the games on the appropriate sheet and everything would update automatically. You could track up to 20 people in this league making the selections and while the coding of the spreadsheet was a little time consuming, I really enjoyed making it.

I’ve only made one similar since that year. When the 2018-2019 NFL schedule comes out, I plan on doing that again. I’m not sure I’m going to include places for people to keep track of their picks but if I build the basic sheet, I’ll be happy enough with myself.

Sticking with sports, the UFC has had a damn good year in 2017. I’m looking forward to seeing what they have in store for 2018, too, as I’m going to start watching more of the events that I’m interested in seeing. I’m a big fan of the women and would guarantee to see the “lady fights” that were on whenever they were on but 2017 didn’t really let me get into UFC as much as I’d wanted.

Going out to watch UFC is something of a problem, as nearly all the bars and restaurants in the area that show the fights are packed to the hilt and have waiting lines out the door. Watching the fights at home is a costly endeavor, too, but if I can find out who at work likes to watch the UFC and is willing to split the cost, I’ll order the fights and none of us will take a giant hit on the price.

Yeah, I know that isn’t how the UFC intends these things to be watched, but we’re still paying to watch the fight and the groups aren’t going to be bigger than five or six people, so it isn’t like I’m hosting a public showing.

The last month or so, you’ve been treated to the “resurrecting old IPs” columns for possible future solo RPG adventuring. I’d even gone so far as to say I was going with my “Tron” idea and started figuring out what system I was going to use…

Then the holiday rush started and everything went to the back burner. EVERYTHING.

Well, if I’d have started RPing that scenario back in November or December, I might be supercharged to keep on with that storyline until some sort of “break” or “conclusion” came along… but since I haven’t even gotten to start the thing, I’m deciding whether I want to use another scenario or just move forward with the Tron one. Finding others to play with has forced me into using solo RPG as the only option I have.

Hey, DJ, what about the last column? You mentioned building some sort of fleet?

Yes, I did, and I’m glad you mentioned that.

Right along side working on the BuJoRPG2, I’m also going to be writing articles for the new fleet. The world that I’m creating does need some explanation and these articles can basically be used as the “training” for anyone wanting to play in the fleet.

Things I need to write up (generally speaking): biological information on the available and known species, a brief history of the planet from which the protagonists hail, how space travel works in this fleet, cultural backgrounds of the different nations on the planet, military structure, and basic things like how to run a SIM.

There is a lot to write and I’m really the only one that can write them up. I’ve got someone lined up to help design starships for the graphics side of things and with any luck, they won’t all look like a single person designed them (similar to what Star Trek ships look like).

I’ve attempted to write prose for a long time. There have been many, many false starts, and even fewer endings. The sad thing is that the “space series” short stories that I used to write are all in the past and I’ve seemed to have lost the ability to keep doing that sort of thing. So, I’m going to give myself a year to accomplish a goal that, if I don’t actually start doing it, I’ll never do.

I’m going to write a single issue, 22 page story, comic book script.

Not only am I going to write 22 pages of comic script, I’m going to then draw the damn thing, ink it, color it, and see how long the whole process takes me. There is no illusion that I can get this task done to completion in a single month, but if I’m going to write the script I want to see the end result.

I’ve talked about, pined over, and romanticized creating comic books since I started collecting them way back in 1987. There were six issues of a homemade comic that I made that have long since been lost that I even made, though I would tell you right now that they are horrible and the stories wouldn’t hold up at all under any scrutiny.

If I don’t do this in 2018, then I cam put that dream away and forget about ever doing it because talk is cheap and I’m tired of not doing anything about it.

The whole goal is to finish this project in 365 days, have a finished product by the end of 2018. I think that is a realistic goal and I’m hoping that it will inspire me to make more if I can complete one.

Wouldn’t that be great?

I’ve seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi. There has been both super positive and super negative reaction to it, and I’d like to throw my two cents in as well.

“Old school” fans will proclaim from the mountain tops that the Original Trilogy (or OT) is really the only Star Wars there is, claiming it to be untouchable for its greatness. The majority of these fans are over the age of 40.

The younger generation of fans, the ones that grew up during the Prequel Trilogy (or PT) are the ones who understand that the OT is good but really love the PT and hold that as the standard to which Star Wars should strive.

We also have a few fans out there that like all of the saga, none of one of the trilogies aforementioned, and there are even still more with other variations of likes and dislikes.

The OT fans that hold up that trilogy as the best profess to wanting more stories with those characters and we are getting that with this Sequel Trilogy (or ST), but things aren’t working out exactly as they’d hoped. The OT super fans are also the ones primarily upset over the loss of the Expanded Universe (EU) that was turned into “Legends” by Disney after the purchase of Lucasfilm.

When Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released in theaters, OT fans initially went orgasmic because they could now ignore the prequels entirely and just focus on moving “forward.” Well, you either seem to really like TFA or really dislike TFA, I haven’t really seen any “in between.” The movie was basically an entire “fan wank” rehash of the OT condensed into a single movie. Yes, there are redeeming bits and interesting beats in the movie, too, but overall, it’s the OT retold in a single movie.

Now that TLJ (The Last Jedi) has taken us into new territory, officially, the OT fans are crying super hard that this new movie isn’t their Star Wars. I have mentioned in some Facebook posts that I felt the movie didn’t really feel like Star Wars but I accept that things need to change in order to not continuously rehash the same story over and over again.

My question to the PT haters has always been: how can you hate half of something and claim to be a fan of it?

If I rank the Star Wars movies, and I’ve done this before TLJ came out, I’d have a different order if I included the Rogue One: A Star Wars Story into the mix… I don’t normally add that one because it’s not a numbered episode, so after putting thought into what I really think about TLJ, the order I’d rank the films in the saga are as follows:

  1. Star Wars: The Revenge of the Sith
  2. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
  3. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  4. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
  5. Star Wars: A New Hope
  6. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  7. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
  8. Star Wars: Attack of the Clones

With a prequel toping the list, I can feel (through the Force) millions of “fans” cry out in agony. RotS is a superior movie, although the film suffers a little from some lumps, it isn’t as “hole filled” or terrible as the OT people want to make it out to be…

I’d probably slot Rogue One right behind The Last Jedi if you made me add it to the list… but since I’m not going to rank the Solo film (as I have zero interest in it) or a Boba Fett film (as I also have zero interest… and as an aside, the character did literally jack shit on screen and he’s super popular? Why? He has literally done nothing to warrant the popularity), I leave Rogue One off that list as well.

When George Lucas made the prequels, the OT fans cried that he ruined their childhood. Those same fans rejoiced at the purchase by Disney, leaving GL out of the mix entirely… and now they’re crying about the fact that Disney is actually doing something interesting, albeit not what they wanted, with the franchise.

You can’t hate and love the creator simultaneously. Pick one.

Star Wars has a bright future. Rian Johnson was given the green light to have his own trilogy, divorced from the Skywalker saga entirely. What have I heard fans think the new trilogy will be about?

  • Obi-Wan Kenobi
  • Mandalorians
  • Knights of the Old Republic

Really? These are completely divorced from the Saga? I don’t think so, McFly.

The key words are “divorced from” and people are having a hard time grasping that concept.

I want to end this segment by boiling down a little 411 for the kids reading this: Luke Skywalker, son of Anakin Skywalker, with R2D2 and C3PO, are what the Saga is about. This links them to Rey, Kylo Ren, Snoke, Darth Vader, Darth Sidious (Emperor Palpatine), Padme Amidala, Chewbacca, Yoda, Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Han Solo, Leia Organa, Lando Calrissian, Admiral Ackbar, Mon Mothma, Jabba the Hutt, Biggs, Wedge, Mace Windu, BB8, and more characters than I can continue to name before I have to start looking them up… If Rian Johnson is going to tell a trilogy that is original and new, then there can be no connection to these characters aside from a passing mention.

Speculation ran rampant about Rey’s parentage and it comes down to the fact she’s a nobody. Why does everyone in the galaxy, read GALAXY, have to be related? Let’s do something new, something different, and let’s stop living in the past.

Nostalgia is for people who don’t know how to move forward.

The Greatest Show 140: The Greatest Boot (Audio)

The trio of DJ, Tricia, and special guest Dan from Fear the Boot, the crew talks about RPGs (and a little bit more)… to include volunteering, being an objective reviewer, and the tale of the Drug Tree! There’s so much more!

Hosts: DJ Allen, Tricia Allen, and Dan from Fear the Boot!

Contact:
Website: www.EmeraldSpecter.com
Email: emeraldspecter.com@gmail.com
Twitter: @MadeByTricia @EmeraldSpecter
Instagram: @MadeByTricia @EmeraldSpecter

www.FearTheBoot.com, AP.FearTheBoot.com, www.MorningSkye.com, and www.BloodMoonGoblins.com