Tag Archives: superheroes

Release the Counter Monkeys!

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Our own Shawn Skvarna is with Jesse Arnold at the Baltimore Comic Con to launch Counter Monkey Comics! Jesse is unveiling the first two issues of his new comic Sock Drawer, while Shawn will be signing prints and copies of our books. The first print is the “Authentic Print” and it’s a tribute to our friend Mark Ruelius. Part of the proceeds from the print will be donated to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation in Mark’s name.

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If you cant make it to the con you can purchase a copy of the print here. The second print is a Con exclusive character poster for Failsafe, which is the comic that Shawn and I are working on.

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Prints will be available for sale in our online store after the con. If you’re in the Baltimore area and are planning on going to the con, be sure to drop in on Shawn and Jesse!

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Authentic Print Now Available

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This is one of three prints by Shawn Skvarna that will be available this year at the Baltimore Comic Con on September 7th and 8th, but you can purchase a copy now in our Society6 store.

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Support Our Comic Monkeys!

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Shawn has updated the Counter Monkey Comics kickstarter page with a look at one of the many great things you can expect from them at the Baltimore Comic Con launch this year. This is a beautiful print that I’ve had as my desktop background on both my PC and my iPhone for a few weeks now. For those who may not be in the know, Counter Monkey Comics is the comic brand that my partner in crime Shawn Skvarna is launching with his childhood friend, and another talented artist, Jesse Arnold. The comic that Shawn and I are doing, Failsafe, will launch under this brand, as will whatever other crazy things we happen to come up with after that. Please take a few moments and check out their Kickstarter page and the goal bundles. There’s a lot of cool stuff there and the campaign only has 5 days left. One of the bundles they’re offering is the Authentic Bundle. In that bundle you’ll get all 5 of our books in paperback and autographed by both myself and Shawn, who did all the cover artwork. I’ll even go one step further, even though it’s not listed on the page, and I’ll personalize the autograph as well for those who choose that bundle. So please, take a few moments and check it out. Any support you could give would be awesome.

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All Kindle Editions $0.99!

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We’ve decided to keep our sale prices as the permanent prices for the Kindle Editions for all our books, so from now on all Kindle e-books will be $0.99. We’re hoping this helps encourage people to pick them up and spread the word. The paperback prices will remain the same simply because of the cost of production- they’re already about as cheap as I can make them. If you’d like to visit our book page where you can find descriptions and samples of all our novels click here or on the picture of the book covers just above.

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Independance Day Sale: All Kindle Editions of Books $0.99!

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From Tuesday 7/02/13 until Monday 7/08/13 all of the Kindle editions of our novels will be just $0.99! Now is the time to pick up any that you might have missed!Just click on the covers or links below to purchase!

1. Down With The Thickness: Viewing The World From a Fat Guy’s Perspective

Genre: Non-Fiction Autobiography

Description: Regardless of body type, there are experiences that we all, as human beings, share and sometimes the key to overcoming the more difficult of those experiences is to look at things from a fresh point of view, with humor, or even to realize that there are other people out there that have been there and survived. I’ve dealt with depression, suicide, and being a morbidly obese guy living in a world about two or three sizes smaller than me. The following book is my perspective and opinions on things like life, relationships, and religion. I don’t profess to have all the answers, I just hope that someone somewhere out there might read this and be touched in some way.

Preview: Sample Chapter

Purchase: Click here for Paperback, Click here for Kindle.

2. You Only Die Twice (An Authentic Clay Colt Adventure#1)

Genre: Urban Sci-Fi/Detective

Description: Clay Colt and his partner Evelyn Wood are private investigators that sometimes have to do less-than-legal things to make ends meet. All that changes the day they see Clay’s dead Kharta’an friend tearing apart downtown Buenos Aries on the news. That dead friend was the son of the Executor of the Kharta’an Empire, the greatest warriors in the galaxy, and to the Kharta’an desecration of the dead is considered an act of war. Someone is using technology to reanimate the dead and Clay, as the the Kharta’an’s chosen agent, has just 48 hours to uncover the truth and find those responsible in order to prevent an intergalactic war where Earth will be ground zero.

Preview: Sample Chapter

Purchase: Click here for Paperback; Click here for Kindle

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3. The Chosen: Rebirthing Part 1 (The Chronicles of Enoch #1)

Genre: Contemporary Fantasy

Description: There has been a war raging between Heaven and Hell for the fate of all creation, and the forces of Heaven are losing ground. The Enemy has discovered something that may tip the balance of the war in their favor, and now it’s up to Jude, the absentee leader of the warrior-priesthood known as the Chosen, and his new trainee Paul, to rally the disjointed forces of Heaven on Earth and find the source of this new threat. If they fail, it will mean that the forces of Hell will be free to run rampant across the Earth, ultimately leading to Armageddon and the end of all things. In the war between Heaven and Hell heroes are not made… they’re Chosen.

Preview: Sample Chapters

Purchase: Click here for a Kindle; Click here for Paperback

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4. The Chosen: Rebirthing Part 2 (The Chronicles of Enoch #2)

Genre: Contemporary Fantasy

There is a traitor in the ranks, and unless Jude, leader of the Chosen, can find and stop them, they could tear the already-fractured forces of Heaven apart from the inside. Meanwhile, Paul has accepted Jude’s training but he quickly comes to question whether he’ll survive it. His concern is only magnified by Mary’s prophetic dreams, which are growing more intense and seem to focus on Paul, but could they hold the key to stopping the cultists? Armageddon is at hand, and if Jude and Paul don’t learn to work together and stop the cultist rituals from taking place it could mean the end for us all. In the war between Heaven and Hell heroes are not made…they’re Chosen.

Purchase: Click here for Kindle; Click here for Paperback

justsuperfont4. Just Super

Genre: Contemporary Fantasy

Description: There is something very different and very special about Keith Green- he has “super powers.” Keith Green also has only six months to live because those powers are slowly killing him. This is the story that reporter Sam Daylin is hired to chronicle, as Keith spends the last six months of his life trying to use his powers to help people and change the world as the its first “superhero”. However, the more that  his illness begins to affect him, the more erratic Keith begins to act. The world’s first superhero could become the world’s greatest threat, and Sam Daylin may be the only person who is in a position to stop him.

Preview: Sample: Chapter 1, Sample: Chapter 5

Purchase: Click here for Kindle;  Click here for a paperback.

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Rant Alert: Man of Steel- A Spoiler Free Review

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Full disclosure: I wasn’t always a fan of Superman. As a kid, of course, I loved him. I’d watch the Reeve/Donner movies, and later the Bruce Timm animated series, and run around the house with a cape (usually a towel or blanket) around my neck. But as I got older and started getting into comics I just didn’t care for Superman as a character. I still loved the idea of him, but in execution I felt that he was bland. He was too powerful, too goodie-goodie, too perfect. He was the Gandhi, and in many cases, the Jesus, of DC comics, and when good stories revolve around conflict and you have a character who is perfection personified, that’s often a big problem. It’s one of the reasons why DC still has a hard time getting the character right in his own series.

That all changed while I was working on my first novel with my best friend, Mark Ruelius. He was a HUGE Superman fan, and when he heard my opinion on the character is was as though I had personally offended him. He made me promise to read three comic book trades: Kingdom Come by Mark Waid & Alex Ross (which I already owned and loved), Superman Birthright by Mark Waid and Leinil Francis Yu, and Superman: Secret Identity by Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen. He was right. After that, I was a fan. This made Superman Returns all the more painful for all of us, because we were hoping to get a Superman movie as good as what Batman was getting with Nolan or the Marvel movies were getting on the other side of the fence. Instead we got… well, I’m not going to go into that. This isn’t a review of that movie. So let’s just get into Man of Steel.

For me, this was a great foundation to build a untied DC cinematic universe on. This was DC’s Iron Man, in that way. Just about every aspect of the movie is inspired by the various Superman comics, Birthright being a heavy influence in particular. But there are a few things you need to know going in to help manage expectations (and I promise, no spoilers):

  1. This isn’t a Chris Reeve/Richard Donner Superman. The tone is different. There’s no comic relief character. There’s no goofy gags. This has been the biggest criticism most “negative reviews” have and I think it’s because those people are going in expecting a Donner or Marvel tone. It does have some humor and moments that’ll make you smile. MoS isn’t “dark and gritty” either, any more so than any of the best Superman comics are. Just about everything, event-wise, in MoS has precedent in the comics and animated movies.
  2. Again, this isn’t a Marvel movie. Marvel’s movies have a certain tone, just as their comics do. They’ve always been different than DC, and this movie is no exception. If you go in expecting a superhero movie with the same tone (lighthearted is probably too strong a word) then you’ll be disappointed. MoS takes itself, and the character, seriously. Again, it’s not The Dark Knight serious. This isn’t emo Superman, but they do approach the material and character in a serious, mature way- as they should. The movie is still a ton of fun, and I immediately wanted to watch it again, just as I did with Avengers or Iron Man. It’s just a different kind of fun/tone.
  3. This goes with the tone, but yes, it feels more like a sci-fi movie than a “superhero” movie. I think that’s a good thing in this case, given the story. That said, the movie ends perfectly and we have the Superman/Clark Kent we’re wanting to see. This has the potential to set up an amazing sequel the way that Batman Begins set up The Dark Knight.

This is very much Clark’s story, and the focus is on him discovering who he is and what his place in the world is. Henry Cavill nails the part and is by far the best embodiment of the character since Chris Reeve. Amy Adams also does an amazing job as Lois Lane. I have to say I was really impressed with how they handled Lois. She was smart, strong, and important to the plot without just being the damsel in distress. They also did away with a typical trope that has long since been played out and done to death (thank God for that), which makes me even more excited to see how they evolve the relationship between Lois and Clark. Some people may take issue with how they portray Jonathan Kent, but I think it was a great way to approach the character, and it made one scene in particular have that much more of an impact on Clark and how he makes the decisions he does.

I want to address Mark Waid’s review of the movie (caution, massive movie spoilers in the link ). As you can tell from my opening above, Mark Waid has written, in my opinion, some of the best Superman stories, and Birthright in particular was an influence on MoS. Waid wasn’t very happy with the movie for two reasons, one of which is a spoiler so I won’t go into it, other than to say that the way it was handled was VERY well done (and even Waid admitted as much) and that, yes, it’s not anything that hasn’t already done before in the comics and other movies, albeit not very often.

The other, and biggest, complaint that Waid had was he said that this version of Superman felt cold and that he didn’t care enough about protecting humans, given all the “destruction porn”. I will say there were times when I felt similar while watching, and it is one aspect that they could have handled better. Superman does go out of his way to help save people in the movie, but I would agree it needed to be emphasized more, and is probably the biggest weakness the movie has, especially given all the destruction and collateral damage that takes place. Again, it’s nothing that hasn’t been shown in the comics and animated tales countless times. This very much feels like a comic book come to life (or a live action version of a Bruce Timm animated feature); but because it is so realistic and lifelike it makes thinking about the innocent people being hurt that much more, where you don’t as much in the comics or animated features (or where it’s easier for them to just magically have people survive or evacuate in time, etc.) It’s something that needs to be improved upon in sequels, but it was far from a deal-breaker for me.

For me, Man of Steel is the best DC movie to date, and this is coming from a die-hard Batman fan. I’m not saying that Man of Steel is a technically superior movie than The Dark Knight, but for me it’s certainly more fun to watch. This is the Superman movie we’ve been waiting for, and it can only get better from here. Keep an open mind and don’t let the negative reviews keep you from checking it out. Go and see the movie for yourself and judge it by it’s own merits. I think you’ll be glad that you did, as it is, by-far, the best movie so far this summer.
I give it a 9/10.

J.R. Broadwater is the author of the non-fiction book Down with the Thickness: Viewing the World From a Fat Guy’s Perspective, the sci-fi detective novel You Only Die Twice, the fantasy novel The Chosen: Rebirthing Part 1-, and the superhero tale Just Super, all available now in digital and paperback formats. Sample chapters and more information about these books can be found here.  Check back each Saturday for a new chapter in the ongoing serial Moving On!

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Rant Alert: Marvel Heroes Overview

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Marvel Heroes is a game I’ve been anticipating for quite a while now, both because it’s a Marvel game and because it is completely free to play. Yep, that’s right. Marvel Heroes is 100% free to download and play from beginning to end. It is also possible to unlock every hero and a vast majority of the costumes and other items for free in-game through loot drops. We’ll talk about that in more detail in a moment. MH is a game by David Brevik, the mind behind Diablo and Diablo II…maybe you’ve heard of them. Marvel Heroes is basically what you get when Diablo II and Marvel Ultimate Alliance have a love child and the results are…mostly great.

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MH plays just like Diablo and Torchlight (they’ve often said that Marvel Heroes is the spiritual successor to Diablo II). Point and click, kill and loot. If you don’t like those types of games or that type of gameplay, you probably won’t like this one either. As of right now keyboard and mouse/click and loot is the only gameplay/control type the devs plan on having available.

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The heroes are all well represented, and having played the game for a few months before launch as a beta tester, I can tell you that a lot of time and effort went into trying to make each hero work and play the way you would expect them to.  The powers are all pretty much like the powers that were in the Ultimate Alliance games. Each hero will have three trees with a specific focus, and each time your character levels up you’re given two points to spend in skills however you like. Many skills will have a synergy, which means putting points into one will have a direct impact on another. This generally works well, as it allows you to spend points in basic skills early without feeling like those points were “wasted” later.

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There are currently 20 heroes available with an additional 5 (Human Torch, Luke Cage, Emma Frost, Squirrel Girl, & Nova) set to be available “soon”. Everyone has a choice of 5 characters to start with- Daredevil, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Storm, and Thing. Not exactly A-Tier characters, but I can tell you from experience that they are all fun to play and can be just as powerful ( and in some cases more so) as the better known or popular characters. After the prologue/tutorial mission everyone will get another of the starting heroes as a random drop. You’ll get a third after defeating Dr. Doom in the Chapter 8 finale, for a total of 3 free characters. All of the other characters (and most of the stuff you can buy in the store, including potions and costumes) are available through loot drops. They are, however, very rare, though there are several things you can do to increase your chances (taken from what has been said on the forums and confirmed by devs):

  1. Equip gear that gives you a +% Special Item chance
  2. The first boss you defeat each day (20 hour timer) has a natural higher drop % to drop a hero or costume. There’s always a chance for a hero drop on mobs, chests, and other bosses, but the chances are higher for that first boss of the day.
  3. Characters that have a lot of rested time (ones you haven’t used in a while) also have a higher chance of getting a rare/hero drop.
  4. % of Hero and Costume drops go up “significantly” after you’ve played through all 8 chapters of the story, during endgame content.

For me, a lot of the fun is the chance that you may get a “special” drop, but if there are some characters you just can’t wait to play you can always purchase them in the store for “G”s. G’s are Gazillion’s special currency, and the exchange rate is basically $1=100 Gs. If you buy in the higher packages of G’s you’re given a little extra as a bonus. The heroes are priced along tiers- 600 Gs ($6), 900 Gs ($9), 1200 G ($12), and 2000 G ($20). Only three characters currently cost 2000Gs- Spider-Man, Deadpool, & Iron Man. The costumes can be a bit pricy as well, as they range from 900Gs-2000Gs. Or you can gamble with 100Gs and buy a ticket, which could be a costume, potion, pet, a 100% XP or Rare boost, or a “rare special”.

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Now, Gazillion has been taking a lot of flack on the forums and game sites for their admittedly expensive pricing. However, I feel that there are a few things that need to be kept in mind before freaking out about it:

  1. The game is completely free to play. You aren’t gimped or restricted from game play content by not paying money.
  2. All of the heroes and 99% of everything else is available, for free, as drops in the game.
  3. The game is completely free. I know I already said that once, but apparently it needs to be emphasized for the self-entitled, hard headed people. These games take tons of money to produce and keep running. They have staff they have to pay. They have to make their money somehow, people. No one is forcing you to spend a dime. If you REALLY want to play as Spidey but you think $20 is too expensive to unlock him (and I would agree) play the game with someone else and try all the things above to increase your chances of getting him as a drop, or wait for an inevitable sale (a month ago they were selling “founders packs” that included specific characters and all their costumes, or groups of characters with an additional costume, for $20-$50 depending on the package you chose), or for the prices to drop- which they will as they add more content.

All in all, Marvel Heroes is a lot of fun to play and can become a huge time-sync. It’s not perfect, and they’re still working out some kinks and refining things, just like most MMOs do just after launch, but for the bargain price of free, you’re not out anything giving it a try.

J.R. Broadwater is the author of the non-fiction book Down with the Thickness: Viewing the World From a Fat Guy’s Perspective, the sci-fi detective novel You Only Die Twice, the fantasy novel The Chosen: Rebirthing Part 1-, and the superhero tale Just Super, all available now in digital and paperback formats. Sample chapters and more information about these books can be found here.  Check back each Saturday for a new chapter in the ongoing serial Moving On!

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