Friday, September 30, 2011

DC's "New 52" Batman Books

Given my disappointment over Superman, I wanted to give Batman, another DC icon, a shot at hooking me in with a fresh take. I hate pretty much everything Grant Morrison did with Batman. All the Damien stuff and Batman Incorporated just seemed a far cry from the brooding loner version of Batman that I think works best.

But seeing that some of that stuff is being carried over into the new DC, i decided to give the Batman books one last chance to make these ideas work for me. Although I wanted to read Detective Comics #1, local stores were sold out, so I'll have to wait for the reprint. But I did manage to snag all of the others. My first stop was Batman and Robin.

Batman and Robin

Again, more wrong turns, in my opinion. As a "new" reader again to the Batman books, i kept asking myself, why is this guy taking his 10-year old son out to fight crime with him? I don't care how well his son is trained. Granted, Bruce is a screwed up guy, but his decision to take Damien out with him was not treated as screwed up. It was taken for granted.

Batman also seems to be emotionally "healing" from the death of his parents. In a scene with Damien, he says that it's not important how his parents dies. It's important how they live. And from now on he's going to replace remembering them at Crime Alley on the anniversary of their death with celebrating their wedding anniversary. Whaa?

That sounds more like Superman, to me. Batman hangs onto his pain. It;s what keeps him paranoid and screwed up enough to zealously sacrifice every ounce of his being to what he does. Remove the perpetually unhealthy emotional condition of Batman and you begin to remove his essence and the reminder of what he does all that he does.

One bright note for me is that a mysterious villain is trying to kill all the members of Batman Incorporated. I hope he succeeds. There are enough Batman knock-offs in Gotham. The more you add, the less unique Batman becomes.

My hope is that the events of this book (except for eliminating the Batman Inc. characters) will in no way be referenced or reflected in other Batman books. I'd like to forget nearly every page of this issue.


This book seems to be a little more bent toward new reader accessibility. The writer cleverly has Bruce Wayne testing out an interface device that gives him basic information on everyone he sees, easily introducing key characters to readers as a by-product. It seems to be mostly a solo book, with brief interaction with Batman's supporting cast current and former sidekicks.
The story sets up an interesting mystery that I wouldn't mind reading, but this book isn't the re-invigoration of the character I'd been hoping for. I doubt I'll get the next issue.

Batman: The Dark Knight

This book felt a lot like Batman #1. It even shared some plot points, which was disappointing. But the art was great and the narrative was cool, and no sign of any sidekicks.

Again, once of my complaints is that Batman seems to be losing his loner essence a bit. In one scene he's actually leading a squad of policemen into a tactical situation. In another, it's made clear that Bruce Wayne funds Batman's operations, and this is public knowledge! (Smells a lot like Tony Stark, DC. Too much in fact.)

I enjoy Batman best when he's an urban legend, an seemingly unstable, driven, semi-psychotic loner who even makes his allies uncomfortable. In recent years his supporting cast has exploded, shining unwelcome light into the dark corners of Batman's world, and he has struck me as less and less dark and mysterious as a result.

As a result of my experience with the Batman books, I still plan to give Detective #1 a try when I can get my hands on the second printing that I imagine is coming. But in all likelihood, the Batman stories I want to read will only be found in special miniseries or one-shots, rather than the ongoing Batman books.

In Search Of Truth When Making Decisions

I felt like diverting from our normal look at Romans this week in favor of a subject that came up recently in connection with a couple of people I know. Making decisions.

How do we go about making those decisions in life that scripture is silent on? Should I take this new job? Should I get that degree? Should I date this girl? The Bible doesn't give us personalized answers to these questions and the Christian cliche answer, "pray about it" sounds good (and IS good!), but seems incomplete. Even ripe for abuse.

For example, some folks I've talked to pull out James 1:5 as a proof text for the idea that God will give us personalized feelings, signs or "impressions" that provide any answer we need. But this verse, while promising wisdom, doesn't say anything about when or how that wisdom will be received. So assuming it will come in a certain form or within a certain time, based on that verse alone, is a dangerous way to interpret the Bible.

One friend I talked to last Saturday was in the midst of making a big career path decision. She felt almost completely adrift regarding what she should do with her life. I told her that in my life, I've tried to analyze who I am, what my skills are and what my purpose in life is, and then look for the scenario that bests fits all of that. She then asked, "but isn't there a place for just throwing caution to the wind, diving in and trying something?" I told her that I thought there was, but that there are two extremes I think we can fall into. The first would be to act only on the information you have and can understand. If we did that, we'd never get anything done! The other extreme is to just "trial and error" our way through life, following each impulse of the moment until we get lucky. That results in a lot of harm to self and others that could be avoided if we're willing to pursue truth.

The best route, I think, is to go as far as our reason and wisdom will take us. Then, when we've hit that dead end, ask God to direct us in making the right call. Once we've done those two things, I think we take that leap into the darkness.

There is not much we can contribute to the "leaping" part of the process. What waits in the dark is beyond our control. But is there a way we can develop our sense of reason? Our ability to use wisdom to discern right from wrong?

The Bible says quite a bit about wisdom, and how valuable it is to pursue it. The book of Proverbs is dedicated to developing wisdom in its readers. The Bible itself serves as a "filter" we can pass our thoughts through, to see if they contribute to or detract from the agenda God has for all humans.

It's been quite awhile since I posted this, so I thought I'd share again a topical index I created a few years ago that came out of my personal study of the book of Proverbs. The index below attempts to organize each proverb in an approximate topical group, including topics such as finances, relationships, marriage, leadership, and various sins we all struggle with.

Although I have never heard the audible "voice of God", I can say that he speaks to my individual concerns through his word, by something as simple as "process of elimination". For example, if I'm considering doing "A"(be it a career choice, relationship choice, whatever) , which is not bad in and of itself, but it will have the side effects of "B", which the Bible warns me to avoid, then by being familiar with the Bible's warning against "B" I can make the choice to avoid "A", confident that doing so is God's desire for me.

Likewise, if the Bible encourages "D", and choosing "C" will better enable me to do "D", then again, barring any downsides, I can be confident that God is "calling me"(and often abused phrase in Christian culture) to choose "C".

This is the approach I've tried to take with life decisions, big and small. And I hope the index copied below is a tool you can find useful as you aim to seek the truth.

Resources/ Finances- 3:9-10, 6:1-5, 10:15-16, 22, 11:4, 15-16, 18, 24-26, 28, 12:27, 13:8, 11, 22-23, 14:4, 20-21, 24, 30, 15:6, 15-16, 27, 16:8, 17:8, 16, 18, 18:11, 16, 23, 19:4, 6, 7, 14, 17, 20:16, 21, 21:5, 6, 13, 17, 20, 25, 26, 30, 22:1, 2, 7, 9, 16, 26-27, 23:4-8, 23, 24:27, 27:12, 13, 23-27, 28:6, 8, 11, 15, 20, 22, 25, 27, 29:3, 7, 14, 30:8, 9

Provision- 10:3, 29-30, 11:8, 12:7, 21, 13:21, 25, 14:8, 11, 26-27, 15:3, 25, 29, 16:1, 3, 6, 9, 15, 17, 20, 33, 18:10, 19:12, 21, 23, 20:4, 13, 24, 21:5, 13, 30, 31, 23:17-18, 27:7, 28:6, 25, 26, 30:5

Pride- 3:7, 34, 11:2, 12:9, 13:10, 15:33, 16:5, 18-19, 17:9, 18:1, 12, 20:9, 22, 21:4, 22, 24, 25:3, 6-8, 27, 26:1, 8, 12, 27:1, 2, 21, 28:11, 26, 29:23, 30:12, 13, 30:32

Godliness- 10:6-7, 9, 20, 27, 29-32, 11:4, 5-6, 10-11, 19-21, 28, 30, 12:2, 5, 10, 12, 28, 13:5-6, 9, 21, 25, 14:2, 9, 11, 14, 19, 34, 15:8-9, 26, 33, 16:2, 6, 8, 14, 17, 31, 17:5, 18:3, 19:16, 20:2, 9, 11, 21:3, 4, 8, 10, 21, 22:4, 24:15-16, 24:21-22, 25:26, 28:1, 4, 7, 9, 12, 29:7, 16, 18, 24, 27

Correction-3:11-12, 6:20-23, 9:7-9, 10:8, 10, 17, 11:14, 12:1, 15, 13:1, 10, 13-14, 18, 15:2, 5, 10, 12, 14, 22, 31-32, 16:20-21, 17:10-12, 18:15, 19:3, 20, 25, 27, 20:5, 12, 18, 30, 21:11, 22:17, 18, 23:9, 12, 19, 23, 24: 5-6, 26, 25: 11, 12, 27:5, 6, 9, 17, 28:14, 29:1, 18

Love/Hate- 10:12, 11:17,25, 12:2,10,20, 13:2, 14:17,21-22,35, 15:1, 16:27, 17:5,13, 20:22,28, 21:10,21, 22:16, 24:15-16, 17-18, 25:17,20,21-22, 26:21, 27:3, 28:3, 29:13, 30:14

Serving- 3:27-28, 14:21, 17:17, 18:16, 19:6,17,

Pain- 14:13, 17:22, 18:14

Conflict(resolution)- 10:18, 11:29, 14:9, 15:7, 16:7,14, 17:11, 18:18-19, 20:3,22, 22:10, 24-25, 24:8-9, 25:21-22, 26:4, 5, 17, 20, 21, 29:22

Sacrifice- 14:4, 18:16, 21:3, 25:4

Leadership—14:28, 34-35, 15:22, 16:3, 10,12,13, 14-15, 25, 32, 17:7, 19:10,12, 25, 20:8, 26, 28, 21:1, 22:11, 24:7, 25:2,3, 5, 6-7, 26: 6, 8, 10, 28:2, 12, 15, 16, 21, 28, 29:2, 4, 12, 14, 16, 19, 21, 26, 31:4-5

The Heart- 4:23, 14:10, 12, 15:8, 11, 13, 15, 16:2, 17:3, 20, 22, 18:8, 14, 19:2, 20:9, 27, 21:2, 27, 22:11, 23:19, 26, 24:12, 27:19

Hope/Fear- 10:24-25, 28, 11:7, 23, 31, 12:3, 7, 21, 25, 28, 13:12, 19, 21, 14:11, 14, 26, 27, 30, 32, 15:24-25, 29, 16:4, 9, 17, 33, 17:3, 18:10, 19:21, 23, 20:24, 28, 21:30, 31, 23:17-18, 24:10, 19-20, 28:1, 29:25

Words/Language- 4:24, 10:11, 13-14, 18-21, 31-32, 11:9, 11-13, 22, 12:5-6, 13-14, 16, 18, 23, 25-26, 13:2-3, 17, 14:3, 23, 15:1-2, 4, 7, 23, 26, 28, 16:23-24, 27-28, 17:4, 7, 9, 14, 19, 20, 27, 28, 18:2, 4, 6-7, 8, 13, 20, 21, 19:28, 20:5, 15, 19, 25, 21:19, 23, 28, 22:11, 14, 17-18, 24:1-2, 9, 25:8-10, 11, 15, 20, 23, 25, 26:6, 7, 9, 18-19, 20, 22, 23, 24-26, 28, 27:14, 28:23, 29:5, 20, 30:6

Integrity/Honesty- 11:1, 3, 5, 12:17, 19-20, 22, 13:5, 7, 17, 14:5, 25, 15:4, 27, 16:11, 13, 29-30, 17:4, 7, 8, 15, 23, 18:17, 19:1, 5, 9, 22, 28, 20:6, 7, 9, 10, 14, 19, 23, 25, 21:6, 14, 28, 22:5, 12, 28, 23:10-11, 24:28-29, 25:14, 18, 19, 26:18-19,23-26, 28, 27:6, 19, 28:6, 10, 13, 16, 18, 20, 21, 23, 29:5, 10, 12, 24, 30:6, 8, 10

Relationships/Marriage- 5:3-6, 7-14, 15-17, 18-23, 6:24-29, 30-35, 7:4-5, 6-27, 12:4, 13:20, 14:1, 7, 22, 15:17, 30, 16:7, 28, 17:1, 17, 19, 18:19, 22, 24, 19:13, 14, 19, 22, 20:6, 21:9, 10, 19, 22:14, 23:27-28, 25:17, 20, 24, 27:10, 14, 15-16, 17, 28:7, 29:3, 30:19, 20, 31:2-3, 10-31

Judging- 11:27, 13:23, 16:10, 17:9, 18:13, 17, 19:11, 20, 8, 24:23-25

Family/Parenting- 13:24, 14:1, 15:20,30, 17:6,17,21,25, 19:13,18,19,25,26, 20:7,20,29, 21:18, 22:6, 15, 23:13-14, 22, 24-25, 26:3, 27:8, 11, 28:24, 29:3,15,17,21, 30:11,17, 31:10-31

Work- 6:6-11, 10:4-5, 26, 12:11, 14, 24, 27, 13:4,11, 14:4, 15-16, 23-24, 15:19, 16:3, 26, 18:9, 19:15, 24, 20:4, 13, 21, 21:5, 17, 25, 26, 22:13, 29, 23:20-21, 24:27, 30-34, 25:13, 26:13-16, 27:18, 28:19

Justice- 11:31, 12:5, 21, 13:6, 14:14, 32, 15:3, 25, 16:5, 12, 17:5, 11, 15, 23, 26, 18:5, 17, 19:5, 9, 28, 29, 20:2, 22, 26, 30, 21:7,11,12,15,18, 22:8, 22-23, 24:11, 17-18, 19-20, 23-25, 28-29, 25:5, 21-22, 26:2,27, 28:4,5,12,17,18,28, 29:6,9,14,26, 31:8-9

Wisdom- 9:10-12, 10:1,13-14,20-21,23, 11:9,30, 12:8,23, 13:15-16,20, 14:3,6,8,18,33, 15:14,21, 16:16,21-22, 17:2,7,24, 18:2,15, 19:2,3,8, 20:29, 21:6, 22:12, 23:1-3, 23,26, 24:3-4, 5-6, 13-14, 25:2, 26:12, 27:12, 22, 28:11, 29:3, 30:24-28

Jealousy- 12:12, 14:30, 23:17-18, 24:1-2, 19-20, 27:4

Sin’s Consequences- 9:16-18, 10:2, 20:1, 17, 25, 23:29-35, 24:17-18, 21-22, 26:27, 29:24,

Discipline/Self-control- 16:32, 20:30, 21:18,29, 22:3, 23:23, 25:15, 16,28, 26:3,11, 27:20, 22, 29:19

Anger- 12:16, 14:17, 29, 15:1, 18, 17:14, 19, 27, 18:1,6, 19:3,11,19, 20:3,22, 22:10,24-25, 24:17-18, 26:27, 29:8,11,22, 30:33

Addiction- 20:1, 23:29-35, 31:4-5, 6-7

Thursday, September 29, 2011

More Hits And Misses With DC's "New 52"

The Savage Hawkman

I really wasn't sure what to expect with this one. The creator's compared it to Indiana Jones fighting aliens, and the first issue delivers on the concept. I'm also encouraged by the revamp of Hawkman's powers that seems to be going on, centering them even more fully on the mysterious properties of the Nth metal. There's great potential for the concept of Hawkman to get a fresh new take. What i would have liked was a slight retracing of Hawkman's origin story, so I know whether or not it's the same as it has been. But hopefully they will take the opportunity to re-establish that at some point in the first story arc. I wasn't blown away, but this book will bring me back for at least one more issue.


I admit. I doubted. I hoped, but I doubted that Geoff Johns could work his magic on Aquaman and for the first time create a book that would have me genuinely invested in this character, and not just wanting him to be worthy of investment. But he did it. And by means that are so unexpected but so completely appropriate.

Rather than trying too hard to re-invent the character with new powers that would make him demand respect even on land, Johns plays up the fact that the average joe thinks he's a joke among the other superheroes. The result is some great laughs but also almost instant identification with and sympathy for Aquaman.

I'd still be excited to see him gain new powers over water (think Magneto but with H2O), but Johns is already establishing Aquaman's desire to leave Atlantis and his kingly status behind him. A pretty big move that probably upsets the apple cart enough for now.

In the first issue alone, Aquaman is already a fascinating, butt-kicking character that I care about and I can't wait to read the rest of this series for as long as it is in the care of one of the comic book industry's best writers.

The Fury Of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men

Notice the plural in that last word? Not a typo. The new take on this character concept involves the existence of multiple "Firestorms" and we get to see the origin story for the two this book will focus on in the first issue.

Although she isn't writing it alone, I can see the touch of master scribe Gail Simone in the dialogue, which helps the book a lot. Some great character moments and baddies that are REALLY bad. My only complaint is that things seem to ramp up almost too quickly. I would have been content to just see Firestorm on the last page and leave the action that follows for #2. Instead, our main characters suddenly have brand new powers that they already seem comfortable with, except superficially.

I'm also not impressed by one of the bad guys quoting the Bible as he helps kill people. C'mon, Gail. I'm not even offended as a Christian, but more as a reader. Bad guys being "Christians" is long past being an interesting twist. It's a tired cliche.

Still, the issue was solid and Gail Simone, whatever her level of involvement, has earned my attention. I'll be back for at least another two issues.

The Flash

I'm pretty happy with how this book is starting out. We get to see a Flash that, while still very powerful, is slightly less experienced in the use of his powers. And while I think some characters are at a disadvantage by having their marriages erased with this reboot, I think Barry being single (with Iris still in the comic) brings a youth, a freshness and an insecurity to the character that is nice. Barry has not been a very interesting character historically, so taking away some of those supportive characters will help define who he is.

The art is different from previous flash books, but the coloring and lightning effects work really well. It's a visual treat on every page and suits the character very well.

The story also presents a mystery I'm interested in solving. Interested enough that the lost opportunities (few though they were) to focus on character in this issue didn't bother me at all.
I wasn't blown away by this issue, but I'm a Flash fan and really liked it. I'm sure The Flash will be a regular purchase for me unless they really do something to screw this up.

Teen Titans

This issue delivered just what it needed to. Great art and action and nicely paced, character revealing introductions to the future key players of this book. Because the DC universe timeline is being condensed, Red Robin (who now has a MUCH better costume!), Wonder Girl, Superboy and Kid Flash are all coming onto the DC Universe scene "for the first time" in this issue. And the chance to get in on the ground floor is a very exciting one for me.

The story doesn't start out with the team formed and ready to fight crime. The issue consists of seperate smaller stories introducing each character, slowly connecting them to each other. Teenage meta-humans have a reputation for being reckless loose cannons, and so the government is rounding them up for... we don't quite know yet. But these teenagers suddenly have a common problem and it's clear they will need each other to deal with it.

I am SOO hooked!

Tomorrow I'll wrap up my coverage of DC's "New 52" with my thoughts on the Batman books!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Green Lantern: New Guardians #1 and Superman #1

I picked up another load of DC's final comics of the first month of their new universe. here are my thoughts on two. More to come soon!

Green lantern: New Guardians

Given that this book shares a subtitle with a TERRIBLE concept that came out of the lame "Millenium" crossover way back in the 80's (do I get some extra geek cred for that reference?), I was reluctant to check it out. But as a die-hard GL fan, knew I at least had to give it a shot.

This issue is almost pure set-up, mainly of Kyle Rayner's character. It retells his origin with a few modifications that make him less of a loser (he wasn't fixing to puke in the back alley, just urinate) and firmly establish him as having been specifically chosen to bear the ring. The other elements of the issue set up what will be coming, which is still very unclear, but I'm interested.

It's a quick read, with a little less dialogue or other text to give it meat. And while I hope that won't be the norm (I like to feel like I've read three to four bucks worth) I'm on board at least until they make it clear what this series will be about.


This book is in trouble. Or at least hope it is. I hope it does terrible and DC quickly recognizes that they need to go in a different direction with their handling of the most iconic character in comic book history.

Unlike the current story in Action Comics, Superman #1 picks up where Superman is at today, establishing his current status quo as a character. So what is that status quo in a nutshell? No different from what I saw in Action Comics #1, except for a different costume. (And BTW, the costume changes are now not even the LEAST of my concerns.)

Both Clark and Superman seem much like the same person. Really odd, given that DC is hoping to get non-comics fans in on this book, who won't as easily suspend disbelief when it comes to the whole "glasses disguise" thing. Superman and Clark are both always frowning in some way. Either in anger or disappointment. But mostly anger. (His one smile is while he is threatening to drown some bad guys if they don't surrender.)

Again, as with Action Comics #1, they seem to be pulling specifically from Superman's "social crusader" roots to the exclusion of the rest of this character's history, giving us someone who comes across like a self-righteous college kid who just discovered public protesting.

His dialogue as Superman is also surprisingly old-school sounding. As he prepares to throw a giant object at the bad guy he says, "So far you've been doing all the pitching in this game. Now let's see if you can catch!" The rest of the script has plenty more moments with a "tell don't show" writing philosophy. (The wrong approach in comic books, I think.)

Although there are a number of better directions you could take this character compared to where they are, for my tastes it would have been great to see a new kind of Clark persona that Kal-el puts on. Maybe a socially awkward gaming nerd who is really good at expressing himself in writing but is lousy in conversation. And a Superman who is a strong, encouraging example of service and self-sacrifice, who is there to help people in the moment, rather than solve the world's problems at their root cause. (Again, this would be my take, but DC could do any number of things that would work better than what they're doing now with Superman.)

I have a sneaking suspicion that no one at DC knows how to effectively write the iconic Superman anymore. When we see knock-off heroes based on the icons like Batman, Wolverine, Superman or Captain America, we see through the name and costume and say, "this guy's a so-and-so rip-off", because the essence of those iconic characters is much more than their costumes. But DC seems to be taking away Superman's essence as it has been established over the last handful of decades. If you took away this Superman's costume and name, the Man Of Steel would be the last character that would likely come to mind.

DC can naturally do what they want. These are just "funny books" at the end of the day and I'm not bothered by what they're doing with Superman. I'm just not interested in it, and neither is my wallet.

But DC, if you decide to take that "essence of Superman" that you're not using right now and inject it into another character, could you send out a memo? I think I'd like to read that guy's book.

New Free Audio Drama!

At long last I am able to present the newest audio drama from The Spirit Blade Underground Alliance, the online creative community of volunteers sponsored by Spirit Blade Productions!

Why "at long last"? Because this project has actually been in development longer than any other project the Alliance has released. It was the first script I gave a green light to and the first to hold auditions. But for reasons that still puzzle me, God has chosen again and again to delay the development of this project. Three different mixers have taken it on and both of the first two had to step away from it because of some difficult things that came into their lives beyond their own control.

After many more months of searching for an interested mixer, a new mixer joined the Alliance and eagerly took on this project a few months ago. He's done a wonderful job and as of today I've posted the audio drama on the Spirit Blade Underground Alliance page.

It's called "DSI Files: Unlucky Seven", and is set in a future where special agents sanctioned by the church are sent out to investigate and deal with significant spiritual events or threats. The script is a cool blend of sci-fi and the supernatural (which you know *I* dig!) and I hope you enjoy checking it out!

You can download it for free right now on the Alliance page!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Getting Back In Shape

Next week, as I return to developing the songs for Spirit Blade 3, I'll also be starting a new, daily regimen of vocal exercise.

While re-recording some vocals for the Special Edition of Spirit Blade, I noticed that my vocal endurance and some of my upper range flexibility had weakened since recording for Dark Ritual. Spirit Blade was recorded just a couple of years after I graduated from college as a vocal performance major. Dark Ritual was recorded shortly after two years of serving as a worship pastor, which involved regular vocal exercise. But since then I haven't had a vocal regimen built into my daily routine, and it's finally begun to show.

Although I'll continue producing music now and then after Spirit Blade 3, I don't really plan to do as much of it. But I still want Spirit Blade 3 to have the best voice possible from me. So, like an actor who goes to the gym for three months before filming that superhero movie, I'm going to be working my voice as hard as I safely can so that when it comes time to record my song vocals for Spirit Blade 3 I'll have all the options I want in terms of vocal range and tonal qualities.

Part of me is looking forward to getting my voice back in shape, but another part of me dreads adding more to my day that does not directly advance the development of a new project. But for every grand vision there are numerous details that have to be stacked one on top of the other in order to assemble the final product. And if this has to be one of them, well... at least it will be more enjoyable than marketing.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Catching Up On Creative Tid-bits

With my new laptop up and running and the first draft of Spirit Blade 3 finished, I've been anxious to get into work on development of the songs for Spirit Blade 3. But I've also seen how other projects have fallen to the wayside during my writing streak, made more obvious as I've been playing catch up recently.

So instead of charging ahead with the songs, I've decided to take about a week and make sure some smaller projects and tasks I've committed to doing get done.

Among those are the release of a Spirit Blade Underground Alliance audio drama that has been in development even longer than the first audio drama The Alliance released! A series of unfortunate events have kept the project in "limbo" for a long time, but it looks like it will finally be seeing release very soon!

I'm also working on a short bit of audio fiction written by Nathan James Norman, the writer of The SBUA audio drama, "Untold: Alliances". It will be featured on the podcast in October to coincide with the Halloween season (it has vampires and werewolves!) and will be an effort on my part to explore an additional creative avenue for Spirit Blade Productions. (More on that in October.)

I hope to be back into development of the songs for Spirit Blade 3 by this time next week, but of course I'll be sure to give you the latest details right here!

Have a great weekend!

-Paeter Frandsen

More DC "New 52" Micro-Reviews

Mister Terrific

I picked up this one because I like sci-fi themed super heroes and Mister Terrific was a character I enjoyed in JSA. The redesign of his costume is in keeping with his former look and the character itself is largely the same. Although his origin is retold in flashback without the Spectre's involvement, it retains the same basic elements. His wife and unborn son are killed in a car accident, leaving Michael Holt crushed. But a time travel visit from his future adult son (instead of The Spectre dropping by) convinces him he was meant to do greater things. Specifically "educate the world", although it's not clear what this will involve.

One point of interest was Holt's profession of anti-theism. After retelling the tragic story of his wife's death, he says "I don't believe in God. Now you know why." This is an interesting position for the writer to take, since it establishes his atheism as being rooted not in some scientific argument, but in a very personal and emotional experience. This is something few atheists will admit to being the true source of their atheism. Although in general this first issue was not remarkable, I will probably give it one more month and see what happens.

Wonder Woman

This was an impulse buy. I read Gail Simone's run on Wonder Woman and naturally loved it. I've wanted to love this character in comics since watching Lynda Carter as a kid. But all the togas, sandals and Greek gods just never worked for me. Unfortunately, this new iteration isn't working either. My chief complaint is the art. The gritty, imprecise style would look better to me on a Batman book, or some other character that is more "earthbound" or "street level" in concept. I think they're hoping the art will help sell the brutal feel they're trying to give this book, but it wasn't working for me. The story also keeps us at a distance from Wonder Woman's thoughts at a time when I want to be re-introduced to what makes her tick. I won't be giving #2 my money.

Green Lantern Corps

Like the Green Lantern solo book #1, this issue doesn't represent a leap forward in quality from what's come before, but rather a continuation of the great quality I've already come to expect. One difference though is the story, which features a vicious, invisible killer capable of slicing right though even the incredible defenses of a power ring, making short work of any Green Lantern. The gore factor is up a little more than usual, but it works here as this book appropriately has a more military vibe to it than the Green Lantern solo book. The serious tone and sci-fi action will no doubt keep me coming back for more every month, just as I have for years.


This was another last minute decision. I was intrigued by how the creators described this book in the San Diego ComiCon panels. The idea is to tell the story of a kryptonian who grew up on Krypton, is already in her teens, but is now suddenly thrust into life on earth, without any of the moral values that Clark Kent was raised with. The first issue focuses on the alien nature of her surroundings. No one speaks her language and she can't understand anyone else, leading to some naturally intense conflict. Hopefully, she won't learn English and become adjusted to earth life for a VERY long time, as I think it keeps her distinct from Superman and gives us a potential story link to Krypton, as well as provides potential for other great story opportunities. I'll definitely be coming back to check this one out for at least another month or two.

Blue Beetle

I love the Blue Beetle concept that was introduced in Infinite Crisis and have been following his solo comic and enjoying his appearances in Teen Titans ever since. A great sci-fi superhero concept. Blue Beetle is like the Swiss Army Knife of superheroes. His alien armor can shift and change to suit nearly any task at hand.

This version of the character, as far as I can tell, has been changed very little. His origin story is now free of any Infinite Crisis story elements, and the concept of the Reach, his arch-nemesis, is more clearly tied to his origin story. The art is solid and the story has my interest, even though we don't see Jaime, the main character, as Blue Beetle until the last page.

The writing has a strong Latino element, due to the cultural backgrounds of the cast of characters. A minor complaint is that enough of the dialogue momentarily drifts into Spanish that I have to use context clues to decipher the finer points of what characters are expressing now and then. It's not a big problem, but my hope is that the writer doesn't confuse adding "culture" with adding "character". I think writing comics in this way has some bonuses and adds a layer of realism to the script, but since I don't speak Spanish I hope I'm not missing out on some nice character bits because I don't understand what's being said. In the end, the language issue doesn't effect my enjoyment of the book to anywhere near the proportion I've spent talking about it, and this book will likely be a regular purchase for me for a long time to come.

Captain Atom

The cover of this book has had me anxiously awaiting the first issue. The solicitations gave me the impression that this book will take Captain Atom down the road Alan Moore intended to take him with Watchmen, before he was asked to create an original character (Dr. Manhattan) instead. Although his origin isn't retraced in the first issue, we understand that his ability to absorb energy and manipulate matter came by way of some accident. Now he has incredible powers that he doesn't fully understand and that may also be killing him as he uses them.

The opening narration of the book sets a somewhat naturalistic philosophical tone, stating that humans are really no more special than animals, while at the same time acknowledging our inherent evil. (This is interesting, since purely naturalistic philosophies have no logical basis for any moral positions.) The title of this issue's story is "Evolution Of The Species" and the title for next issue's story is "Messiah Complex". So it sounds like this book will be traveling a somewhat philosophical route, despite having lots of super-powered action and explosions. Naturally that interests me, provided the philosophy is thoughtful and not the same old naturalistic stuff we've heard for years in science fiction.

Where this issue fell enormously short for me was the interior art, which is made up of more "gritty", imprecise lines with low detail, carried chiefly by the coloring. Once again, I think this art style better serves more "earthy" characters, and those rooted in the fantastic, as this one is, would be served better by clean, dazzling art. I never used to care about art in comics like I do these days, but the way this art rubs me may just make for a deal breaker unless issue #2 is really something special.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

More Of DC's New 52

Last week DC introduced several more #1 issues, re-introducing us to more of their properties in hopes of grabbing new readers and reminding existing fans why they love DC Comics. As you might expect, the effort produced mixed results, at least as far as I'm concerned. Here are the titles I picked up:

Hawk And Dove

Although I'm not a longtime fan of these characters, I like the contrast between the pacifist Dove and the enraged warrior Hawk, and I enjoyed their inclusion in Gail Simone's "Birds Of Prey". And while the art in this first issue was great, the characters were fairly well-defined and I'm curious about where things will go, I'm not sure that all adds up to a purchase next month, especially since DC has launched a number of other books that I enjoyed more than this one. If they had showed more of their hand regarding the future direction of this book, they might have sold me, but at this point there just wasn't quite enough to hold on to me as a reader.


I've never followed Superboy's comic before, though that may change now. Although they are retracing Superboy's origins as a clone of Superman, they are doing so independent of the "Death Of Superman" story, and with more attention to Superboy's internal thoughts and feelings. As a result, this is an intriguing, serious, character driven story that seems to lead into the new Teen Titans book, setting up Superboy as a potential tool for deception, if not outright evil. Can't wait to see where it goes next!

Demon Knights

For years I've wanted to read a sword and sorcery comic book that was dark in tone, character driven and has great art. As I've flipped through fantasy comic books on shelves over the years I've been met by disappointment again and again. When I saw the solicitations for "Demon Knights" I didn't even want to get my hopes up. But then I read in an interview with the creators that they were aiming to capture the same readers who dig "Dragon Age". I figured if this comic read or looked even remotely like those games, I should at least give the first issue a try. I'm so glad I did. The story centers on Jason of Norwich, who for reasons unknown is cursed to host the demon Etrigan in the final moments of the age of Camelot. The main story picks up hundreds of years later in the Dark Ages. Jason has apparently been made immortal through his bonding to Etrigan, and now travels with fellow immortal Madame Xanadu, who serves as his companion and love interest but with hidden motivations. The first issue has dark sorcery (and I mean REALLY dark sorcery!), brutal action and the blood, grit and grime you'd expect if you were playing Dragon Age: Origins. Fans of dark, brutal fantasy shouldn't miss this one and the last page, which I'd LOVE to spoil but won't, left me with a crazy kind of itch to read the next issue. And the fact that all this fantasy goodness just happens to take place in my favorite comic book universe (albeit hundreds of years in the past) is just icing on the cake. If they can keep this quality up, Demon Knights will be one of the books I look forward to most every month.

Suicide Squad

Since there is no longer a Secret Six book being written by Gail Simone, and I've developed a taste for "villain books", I decided I should give the new Suicide Squad book a try. The premise is that super criminals who want to reduce their sentences can enroll in black ops government missions from which they will likely not return in exchange for reductions in their sentences. Honestly, I have no idea why they didn't just keep the cast of Secret Six and bring them over to this book. Apart from Deadshot and Harley Quinn, I barely recognize any of these characters. And when you've read a villain book by Gail Simone, it's hard to read another one by anyone less gifted to write dialogue. This issue does little more than establish the basic premise of the book, though there are enough questions raised that I want answers for that I will be giving the second issue a fair shot.


This book is my second attempt to fill the "villain void" left behind by The Secret Six. Deathstroke is supposed to be the baddest of the bad when it comes to mercenary villains. And this issue establishes why. Only in "Identity Crisis" have I seen him pull off cooler moves. But in the midst of all the butt-kicking I think they dropped the ball just a little regarding character. All of their character work seemed bent on portraying him as the most vicious and efficient killer out there, when I think they should have spent some of that time reminding us who Deathstroke is, where he acquired his abilities and why he does what he does. The only possible character plot is obscured, left as a hook for future issues. But if they don't reveal more character bits in #2, it's a hook I won't bite for #3.

Green Lantern

I'm a big Green Lantern nerd, so there was no way I'd miss this issue. DC must think I'm not the Only one, because this is one of the few titles that, while renumbered to #1, doesn't seem to provide the same jumping on point seen in other books. Hal Jordan isn't a Green Lantern and instead Sinestro, long time enemy of the GL Corps, is chosen to wear a ring for reasons no one, including Sinestro or the Guardians, understands. It's an interesting plot hook, and reads just as great as we've come to expect from Geoff Johns. But it's an odd choice of storyline in a month when they are looking to bring in new readers. The concept of a Green Lantern is presented well for those new to the book, but I can't imagine Sinestro will be the long-term "hero" of this book.

The Laptop Is Dead! Long Live The Laptop!

Over the weekend my laptop sputtered and died, finally giving out after at least three years of faithful service. Although I do all of my audio mixing and other production work on my desktop, my beaten up Dell laptop was where I spent most hours of a typical work day, answering e-mails, posting to blogs and other web activities.

This particular laptop was my first, a hand me down that my sister and her husband gave us when they upgraded. The timing was perfect, as I was going to have to begin working while watching our oldest son at the same time. That was at least three years ago. These days, I couldn't keep Spirit Blade Productions running without a laptop. (Or without pulling out my hair and having some kind of mental breakdown.) So I quickly spent some of Monday and all of Tuesday researching laptop options, making a purchase and getting my new laptop set up.

During this somewhat stressful transition, two thoughts occurred to me that make me very grateful.

First, I reflected on what an effective and meaningful gift that old Dell laptop was. Karyne and Jon, thank you so much for your thoughtfulness, which made it possible for me to keep my work moving forward. It might have been a small thing to you, or maybe more of a sacrifice than I realize. Either way, it made a huge impact on my ability to do what I do and saved me a lot of money that we didn't have.

Second, I realized that because of the purchases made by those of you who listen to our audio dramas, I was able to purchase this laptop without pulling any funding from our personal finances. (A big deal given that we still contribute some money every month to fund the company.) and without hindering our ability to fund our upcoming projects.

So I just wanted to give you guys a tangible example of how your support literally makes what I'm doing possible. Thank you so much!

-Paeter Frandsen

Monday, September 19, 2011

In Search Of Truth, Romans 15:1-7

Christians have much more freedom in life, according to the Bible, than many modern Christians believe. But that freedom is in direct proportion to the maturity and strength of their faith and ability to discern the difference between what is helpful to their walk with Christ and what is harmful to it. Another limitation we should always apply to our freedom is based on how our actions effect believers around us. In previous verses, Paul taught that we should refrain from exercising any freedoms that would result in spiritually (and of course physically) harming someone else.

Those who have strong, mature faith, should put it to use supporting other believers who are weaker than they are. (v.1) Our aim should be to act based on what is best for others and what will result in their spiritual growth. (v.2)

Jesus is God of the universe every bit as much as God the Father or the Holy Spirit. He had every right to slam down to the earth in an epic thunderbolt and take for granted that we would fall down in awe and worship him. If anyone was entitled to a life of fun and pleasure, it was Jesus. But as Paul points out, even Jesus didn’t spend his time on earth living to please himself. He lived out what was predicted of him in Psalm 69, in which he is portrayed as someone with numerous enemies, who is wrongfully looked on with disgust and is weary and beaten down by life. There would have been nothing wrong with Jesus simply spending his time on earth exercising his rights and freedoms for his own pleasure. But instead, to bring about an immensely greater scenario, he gave up his rights and freedoms for the sake of others.

Psalm 69 and the life of Christ are examples we are meant to follow. It may not mean that our lives will be tortured and painful from beginning to end. But living as Jesus did means taking advantage of every opportunity we see to strengthen the faith of others and do what is best for them, even at the cost of our own rights and freedoms. And with scripture as our model and source of encouragement, we can see this kind of living not as drudgery, but as an incredibly purposeful path that will multiply our pleasure in eternity. (v.3-4)

Paul prays, as we should, that God, the ultimate source of encouragement and perseverance, would unify us with other believers, getting us “on the same page” in our pursuit of “Christ-like” living, so we can draw the world's attention to who God the Father is, and his relationship to Jesus Christ. (v.5-6)

With this aim in mind, we should get better and better at accepting each other, wrinkles, oddities and all, just like Christ chose to accept us in order to bring about something amazing. (v.7)

Next- Jesus’ Agenda Was All Inclusive

Coffee House Question- What do you think would be the hardest thing for you to set aside or give up, either temporarily or permanently, for the benefit of someone else?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

No Podcast This Weekend

Just wanted to quickly mention that there will be no podcast this weekend. I'm out for my annual trip to spend the weekend with my gaming buddy and roll strange dice for hours on end.

In the meantime, if you need your Spirit Blade Productions audio fix, you can check out the big sale we've got going on, or see if maybe there's something cool you've missed on our freebie page!

And don't forget about the FREE Spirit Blade Audio Book!

Have a great weekend!

-Paeter Frandsen

Monday, September 12, 2011

Downloads 50% OFF Through End Of September!!

I've just launched another CRAZY BIG SALE in our online store!

From now through the end of September, you can get the digital download versions of our audio dramas, as well as our two song bundles, for HALF OFF!

"Spirit Blade Special Edition" and "Spirit Blade: Dark Ritual" are both just $4.99 each!

"Pilgrim's Progress: Similitude Of Dream", and our song bundles are just $2.49 each!

If you've never tried out our productions before, now is the time! And if you're already a fan, let someone else know that there's no better opportunity to experience Spirit Blade Productions!

-Paeter Frandsen

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Forum Chat Tonight At 6pm MST!

Just one last reminder to join me for the online 1-hour chat today at 6pm Mountain Standard Time. Just go to, login (Or create a free account if you haven't yet. It's quick and easy!) and scroll down to the bottom of the main page. The chat box is right there! See you soon!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Script Finished, New Video and Sale Next Week!

This has been a HUGE week and I've got a handful of things to update you on.

First, on Wednesday I finished the first draft of the "Spirit Blade 3" script, and last night I read through it with my wife. We were both very happy with it overall and also made notes of a few details to fix. Thankfully, it does not appear to be running as long as I feared. It will still be longer than "Dark Ritual", though. We're probably looking at a 4-disc set with a run time of around 4 hours once songs have been added in. Today I'll be fixing a few details based on quick notes we made last night. After that I'll begin figuring out where the songs will fall and what themes they will cover so that I can begin the development of the music.

Yesterday I uploaded an odd new video to our Youtube channel that will serve as an "example" for a video creation event I will be launching soon from our monthly newsletter. Keep an eye out there for details. There will be free stuff in it for anyone who participates, so if you're not subscribed to our newsletter, go subscribe now!

Lastly, next week I will be launching a sale that will run through the end of September, giving big discounts on all of our digital download products! I will make an announcement on this blog as soon as the sale has launched. So keep checking back here early next week!

Have a great weekend!

-Paeter Frandsen

DC's New Stormwatch, Batgirl and Action Comics

This week I checked out three of DC's new titles from the launch of their new DC Universe continuity.

Stormwatch #1

I'd read and enjoyed some previous iterations of this book and these characters, but this one wasn't really working for me. If you're looking for a comic book about super-powered people who don't necessarily wear costumes and aren't necessarily heroic, this might be a good fit for you. That was one of the draws for me in previous versions. But the writing this time around seemed to simply present the concept of the book rather than introduce us to who these characters are. It felt like a page by page run down of quick character bios that included little more than their names and their powers. Speaking of powers, I'd forgotten that the power sets represented in this book are a bit odd and abstract at times. One guy can control and communicate with cities (huh?), another woman can mentally access any information from every media source in the world and a young girl can do anything the physics of the 21st century can make possible... or something like that. It was all a little odd, and I highly doubt I'll be sticking with this title, as much an I enjoyed seeing Martian Manhunter.

Batgirl #1

I wasn't going to even try this title. The cover, with Barbara Gordon in a costume much like her classic black, yellow and purple digs, with a big ruby lipstoick smile on her face and shampoo commercial hair flowing out the back, just looked like a betrayal of the entire Batman concept, which Barbara supposedly used as inspiration for hewr crime-fighting persona. Frankly, I saw little resemblance... until I started reading. I should have trusted what I know of Gail Simone. She can write the phone book and make it a compelling character piece. We get to be inside Barbara's mind for most of the book, experiencing her excitement over being able to fight crime again and the scars of fear the Joker left behind when he paralyzed her. For those concerned that her paralysis is being wiped away, don't be. It's a major part of her character and informs everythign she does. The story is also the same gritty tale with the creepiest villains that I've come to expect from Simone's work on Birds Of Prey and The Secret Six. I picked this up as a last minute impulse decision and am SO glad I didn't ultimately judge this book by its terrible cover. I'm amazed to say it, but I'll probably be buying this book every month.

Action Comics #1

And now for the big boy. The re-launch of the world's most famous hero and the re-imagining of his origins. I'm thrilled that Grant Morrison is not destroying this book so far. I'm very interested in where things will go. Rather than re-tell his Krypton or Smallville origins, this origin story centers on the first six months after he first appeared in Metropolis, and establishes him as the first super-human that anyone has ever seen.

Although we get a few nice moments with just Clark, this story is mostly about how people perceive "Superman" and so our perspective is somewhat that of an outsider. There were only one or two minor details I found confusing. The rest of the story made perfect sense, which I think is a step back in the right direction for Morrison, who is taking Superman back to his roots as a social crusader, looking out for the underdog. It gives the book a slightly liberal political vibe, but I'm not very political myself and even if I was I don't think it would bother me.

My one point of concern is the furrowed brow that Superman seems to constantly have. He strikes me as being an angry man. Granted, this is in keeping with the character of Superman as he first appeared in the late 1930's, but I hope we will also get to see the personality traits of the later Superman, who was optimistic and quick to smile, while being kind and polite in all of his interactions.

Based on the way Superman's powers are not fully developed yet in this story, I wouldn't be surprised is Morrison is planning to take him on an evolutionary journey that leads him through his various interpretations, so I'm hopeful the "angry Superman" isn't the one we'll be stuck with in the end. Either way I'm intrigued and plan to follow this book at least until the first story arc is complete.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

In Search Of Truth, Romans 14:13-23

Paul just established in previous verses that all of us will be accountable to God for what we do. For this reason, we shouldn’t spend our time evaluating each other, but helping each other succeed and avoid sin in life. (v.13)

From Paul’s mature perspective, he clearly sees, as we should, that nothing is unclean in and of itself. This little nugget of scripture sheds light on the nature of sin itself, although developing a doctrine of sin is not Paul’s focus here. Sin, or evil is not really a “thing”, but a twisting or a removal of something that is good. The actual meat sacrificed to idols in Paul’s day was not unclean in and of itself. It was the twisted purpose the meat became associated with that was wrong.

This is why Paul says that thinking of something as unclean makes it unclean. He’s not saying that evil is subjective and whatever we decide it is. But if we believe something is evil (even if it’s not) and choose to participate in it anyway, we’ve shown that we are willing to do something that it outside the will of God. That is the true sin. (v.14)

Paul is calling his readers to sensitivity toward other believers and their sensitivities. Eating idol meat in front of a believer who thought of it as evil would have upset them significantly. It also may have led them into the sin of judging the one eating the meat, or believing that doing a little evil now and then is okay. Either of these results would be damaging to a person's service to God. Christians should not be damaging each others’ faith over issues like diet. (v.15)

So what is the solution? Paul offers part of it in verse 16. We should not remain silent when an activity we believe is good is called evil by another believer. Instead, an accusation should be our cue to begin a conversation based in scripture. This is a win-win situation, either revealing real sin to us, or revealing freedom to another believer.

At the very least, our aim should be to come to common ground and find unity. We are not meant to be divided from other believers over minor issues. We’re meant to be on track with God’s purpose for our lives (righteousness), experience good relationships with God and each other (peace) and have the sense of fulfillment that comes from living our lives for God (joy in the Holy Spirit). (v.17)

If we serve Christ with these things in mind, we’ll find that God approves of our lives and so do other people, even if they don’t always see eye to eye with us on everything. (v.18) Looking forward to those kinds of blessings, we should aim to have good relationships that result in building each others confidence in God. (v.19)

Paul echoes again verses 14 and 15 in verse 20, and then adds that another solution to handling our differences is to abstain from behavior that other Christians condemn, and to do so when it would otherwise cause them to sin in some way (either in their wrongful judgment of you or their wrongful conclusions about permitting evil in their own lives). (v.21)

Paul isn’t saying to avoid these kinds of activities altogether, but to keep them between you and God, instead of doing what you know will push someone's buttons or in some way harm them.

True freedom and a sense of fulfillment in these areas of life is experienced when we do the things we enjoy with full, well-reasoned confidence that they are not in violation of scripture and not harmful to us or anyone else. (v.22)

But in a final word of caution on this subject, Paul warns that if there is any lingering doubt about eating idol meat, we should avoid it, since it will otherwise demonstrate our willingness to go outside the bounds of what God wants us to do. (v.23)

In summary, and as you may have noticed in my comments so far, I think we can apply the principles of these verses, not just to dietary custom, but to other areas Christians might disagree on, but which have no clear representation in the teaching of scripture.

As we navigate these waters of disagreement, we should prevent others from calling wrong what we think is good (v.16) and avoid giving off harmful impressions about sin or pushing each others' buttons. (v.21-22)

For application of these and other verses to entertainment choices, check out

Next- Unity Among Believers

Coffee House Question- What are some “Idol Meat” areas you’ve found yourself dealing with or talking about with other Christians?

A Few Thoughts On "Paul"

Last night I watched the sci-fi comedy "Paul", which had a handful of funny moments but a lot of missed opportunities. Unfortunately it never quite took off as the celebration of geek culture it was likely meant to be, but I still enjoyed much of it and thought the performances were great.

It also had an odd subplot the writers (who also starred in the flick) used to knock theism in favor of naturalistic evolution. In the commentary there was a brief reference to a scene that, had it been included, would have brought a little more balance to the topic, but as it was handled in the movie it made the writers come across to me, ironically, the same way they apparently aimed to portray Christianity: Emotionally driven, intolerant and ignorant of the facts.

It reminded me of something C.S. Lewis (brilliant thinker and a fan/writer of sci-fi) once wrote in "Mere Christianity", and made me think he may have invented a time machine, traveled to 2011, watched this movie and then traveled back before writing it. He made the observation that some people "put up a version of Christianity suitable for a child of six and make that the object of their attack". Seems to me that's what the writers of "Paul" ended up doing, unintentional though it may have been.

It wouldn't be anything worth mentioning if we lived in a world in which people normally sat down and discussed opposing ideas in a reasonable, even-tempered manner. But instead, we tend to simply absorb our life philosophies through entertainment, an emotionally charged medium not equipped to properly examine ideas logically.

I'd guess "Paul" will mostly "preach to the choir" (an ironic metaphor), but hopefully those interested in seeking the truth about the existence or non-existence of God will put in some time to try and understand the best arguments put forth on both sides of the discussion.

On a side note regarding the topic of "tolerance", I can't help but wonder if this movie would have been a LOT more controversial if the subject of theism-bashing were Islam or Hinduism, instead of the far more common target of Christianity.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Finishing The First Draft And The Future Of "Spirit Blade"

I'm amazed at how fast I've been writing the first draft for "Spirit Blade 3"! Yesterday and today I've wrapped up three plot threads and I'm currently writing the climax.

I plan to go back through the script to ensure that there is a good amount of action throughout, but I think I can safely say that it ramps up enough at the end, with enough epic scale, to be worthy of the end of a trilogy.

But while writing the big fun action at the end of this script, I'm also writing the final scenes I'll probably ever write for at least some of these characters. There are elements of both triumph and tragedy as this story comes to a close, and it's fittingly sad that I prepare to say goodbye to these characters and their stories.

Yet I still wonder if this will really be the last we'll see of Merikk and his allies (or his enemies for that matter). It's too soon to make any announcements. In fact, it may fizzle and no announcement will come. But I can at least say that I have been toying with an idea that will in some way continue the world of Spirit Blade. In fact, more than "toying", I've spent extra hours every night this week intensely exploring a possibility that, if it works as I hope, will mean a new "Spirit Blade" experience for you all to enjoy. (And for those reading the forums, I am not referring to the potential i-phone game, which I'm also excited about!)

There is still plenty of conceptual work to be done, but I'll say I'm VERY excited about this idea, and hope it will be something I can launch at the same time that Spirit Blade 3 is released. That's all I can say for now. Let the speculation commence!

Have a great weekend!

-Paeter Frandsen

Flashpoint and Justice League #1

DC's new universe started with the end of the Flashpoint Mini-series and Justice League #1, which both came out this week.

Although Flashpoint was drawn and written fairly well, it was ultimately just another ho-hum "alternate reality story" which we all knew would not stick around. Although surrounded by tie-ins, the Flashpoint universe was predictably here and gone, giving me no reason (as I knew it wouldn't) to invest in the alternate versions of my favorite characters that were presented.

Where it functions well is as a Flash story, dealing with Barry's greatest enemy, The Reverse Flash, and bringing the stakes close to home as the story hangs on the death of his mother. The ending felt a little rushed and I think it would have been stronger if it wasn't attached to the "New 52" event, but these are five issues that would stay in my collection even apart from their soon to be historical significance in attachment to the relaunch of DC's continuity.

The real fun this week began as I opened to the first page of "Justice League #1". The story takes place five years ago, when superheroes were first coming on the scene. In fact, we get to see Batman and Green Lantern meet for the first time! The writing is great, showcasing the core of who these characters are and with the backdrop of freshness that the editorial staff is no doubt aiming for. It looks as though this entire opening story arc in the Justice League book will be about the team's origins.

Not all DC books are using their first issues this year to tell origins stories, though I kind of wish they would. In fact, part of me wishes that DC would have just gone all the way and done a COMPLETE re-launch of the universe, with no stories outside of character origins retained from the previous continuity. That may sound strange from a guy who's been a hardcore DC fan for 15 years and who LOVES the rich history of the DCU, but I for one would love to see DC's answer to Marvel's "Ultimate" universe, and the New 52 isn't quite that.

Even so, I can already tell that this is the best jumping on point that new readers have ever been offered for their universe. And the pages of Justice League, if issue #1 is any indicator, will be a great place to get more big iconic heroes for your buck and maybe test the waters and see what heroes you might be interested in following in their own books. If you only try ONE DC book, Justice League should be it! (At least until more DC books come out later this month.)

DC has already sold out on their first print run of Justice League #1, but the second print is already coming to stores next week, and you can always go digital and get it right now for your mobile device!

(Boy, I wonder when that publicity check from DC is going to get here.)