Life Is Sweet

Levy Tran: proof living life is excellent
Levy Tran: proof living life is excellent

Last week, I spent most of my time on the road between home base in southwest Missouri and Dolan Springs, AZ, not far from the Nevada-Arizona border. My friend's father passed away a few years ago, and left him some land; this was the first opportunity that he had to go check it out, and he didn't want to make the drive alone, so I rode along. We stopped in Roswell, NM on the way home, so that was the selling point for me.

For most of my life, I have been pretty self-interested. I have been married a couple of times, and both of those--as well as a string of dysfunctional friends with benefits and casual relationships--had led me to believe that the only person interested in making me content was me. I recently remarried and I still feel this to a certain degree. I suspect that this is why I embraced superhero fandom. Being a loner who can't 100% commit to telling anyone the truth, even those that one claims to love, is romanticized as being heroic. The fantasy is that heroes can put on masks and escape from being themselves and become genuine people, capable of doing something for the common good.

On the trip, some things occurred that have changed my perspective. For one, I saw the Painted Desert, and it gave me this overwhelming urge to experience more of the world. This sounds pretty selfish, but what I mean to say is that I don't want to take the world for granted. I'm an agnostic, but looking out over the vastness of Arizona, I couldn't help but feel like I was beholding the work of a higher power. Next, there were four times during the trip I was confronted with the fragility of human life. At Mile Marker 91, not far from Albuquerque, there was an accident involving two semis and a car carrier. My friend and I were on the opposite side of the interstate, heading the other way, but I don't hold out a lot of hope for the survival of those drivers. The cabins of the three vehicles were all but obliterated, and the remains of the trucks were heavily damaged. The next morning, my friend and I were almost robbed. Someone marked our hotel room with a bottle of laundry detergent, and two dudes showed up, claiming to be looking for "Joe." As soon as my friend answered the door and they gave this flimsy excuse, they left the parking lot without a backwards glance. They didn't check any of the other rooms to see if they had just knocked on the wrong door. My friend thinks they lost their nerve when they saw he wasn't traveling alone. We also saw a sleep-deprived trucker nearly run a man off the road. This was terrifying to watch, and when I was driving, I worried about pulling alongside the same semi to pass him. Finally, we both realized at the end of the week that we had gone seven days without comics. We'd embraced real life together and found it more rewarding than staying in our comfort zones.

This is why I am writing today. Life is too short and too awesome to keep your nose in comics 24/7. Yes, read! Yes, enjoy comics. Just don't let that be the totality of your existence. Please find happiness with other people-friends, family, whatever. Don't settle. Never settle.


Classic Marvel Super Heroes Tabletop

Some friends asked me to run a few sessions of TSR's Marvel Super Heroes role-playing game, originally published back in the mid-to-late-1980s. Because most of the players are unfamiliar with continuity beyond the Claremont/Lee run of X-Men, the campaign's setting is between Uncanny X-Men #s 269-274 and 275. While Rogue is playing house with Magneto in the Savage Land, a young woman wearing her face appears in North America. I randomly rolled her powers and stats using The Ultimate Powers Book and her talents from the "Ultimate Talents List" available at The chronicle is more involved than just this character; she is just the NPC I am most proud of, so I thought I'd share.


F GD 8

A RM 26

S RM 26

E IN 36

R GD 8

I AM 46

P IN 36

Health 96

Karma 90

Resources PR (3)

Popularity 0


Real name: Unrevealed

—Has had reconstructive surgery to make

her identical to Rogue of the X-Men

Occupation: Professional thief

Identity: Secret

Legal status: Unknown

Place of birth: Hammer Bay, Genosha

Marital status: Presumed single

Known relatives: Jonathan (brother)

Group affiliation: Unrevealed

Base of operations: Mobile


Free Spirit (pp. 70-71, Ultimate Powers Book). Body becomes comatose while disembodied consciousness—retaining her Mental Primary Abilities, Talents, and Powers—moves independently. If her body is killed while separated from her spirit, she must make a Red result on a Psyche FEAT roll to resist being pulled into an afterlife dimension.

Hyper-Intelligence. RM (26) Power rank. Rogue can have intuitive leaps (CL1000 Intuition) or bursts of genius (UN Reason) for up to 26 minutes. Each successive use of this power within a 24 hour period reduces the Power Rank by -1CS.

Telekinesis. GD (8) Power rank, with a range of up to 4 areas.


Artificial Intelligence; Escape Artist; Parapsychology; Physics, specifically in Acoustics, and Sharp Weapons.


Bred to serve the Genoshan government, “Rogue” has escaped captivity. Her brother, Jonathan, is still a slave there.

Image of a Rogue cosplayer I snagged from Google Images.
Image of a Rogue cosplayer I snagged from Google Images.

Start the Conversation

White Comanche (1968)

No Caption Provided

William Shatner plays Notah, a blond honky who leads Comanche war parties against other honkies and loves peyote like a Comic Viner loves Saga, AND is Notah's identical twin brother (except for their eyes), Johnny Moon (no relation to Peter), who wanders the countryside like David Banner, helping people out and fleeing authorities who mistake him for his sibling.The two decide to settle their differences in the town of Rio Honcho, which happens to be the town where Notah's rape victim lives and Johnny Moon's nogoodnik enemies are based. Hijinks ensue.

Shot in Spain between seasons of Star Trek: The Original Series, this spaghetti western is listed in Golden Raspberry Award founder John Wilson's book The Official Razzie Movie Guide as one of the The 100 Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made. Emphatically, undeniably, yes! Imagine if Sergio Leone had directed the shlocky Double Impact, but cast Captain Kirk in the Jean-Claude Van Damme role(s).Shatner delivers his dialogue in both roles as one might expect, like a young, mechanical John Wayne impersonator. The instrumental jazz soundtracking the film almost invites Shatner to sing along with it, but sadly, the Shat never croons. Miss Kelly, Notah's victim, is able to overcome the fact that Johnny Moon looks like her attacker, but isn't able to completely squash actress Rosanna Yanni's Argentine accent.

If you are bored some lazy weekend, this film will be a hilarious way to spend the afternoon. A young boy is killed, and even this death scene is more laughable than tragic. In fact, it's even more funny when Johnny Moon insinuates to Miss Kelly that Rio Honcho seems like a good place to settle down and raise a family. Shatner spends most of the film as Johnny Moon, which makes the climax between the twins that much more... whatever. Pop some corn and prepare to be bedazzled by the fact a studio invested money in this movie's production. =)

Start the Conversation

WWE Payback predictions

More likely to return at Payback than CM Punk
More likely to return at Payback than CM Punk

I predict the booking for tomorrow night's event will go thus:

1. At the 2013 Payback, Wade Barrett lost the IC title in Chicago after a triple threat match with the Miz and the then-rising Curtis Axel. Will history repeat itself as he faces RVD in the same arena where his last run ended? I hope not. I'm kind of tired of these short title runs. They diminish the titles as much as long runs with no serious contenders.

2. The Shield will be defeated, which isn't a bad thing. Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins would both benefit from being able to pursue singles titles, and Dean Ambrose's "wild card" character might develop a la Brian Pillman if he's on his own.

3. John Cena will get a clean win over Bray Wyatt. As much as I enjoy the Wyatts, this feud has gone on long enough. Both sides have wins over the other. This can only end with the bloody poster boy pulling out a victory.

4. AJ Lee will return and level Paige after the Diva's champion retains in a match with Tamina Snucka. Payback 2013 was where AJ picked up the Diva's belt in the first place; seems a fitting setting for her to return and challenge the young woman who took her title. ...Maybe Punk will even be at ringside, to cheer on his new bride-to-be?

5. Bryan Danielson (He'll always be RoH in my heart) will not surrender the belt, and Steph will book his wife in a match against Kane as a consequence. Bryan will ultimately give up the belts to save the WWE Universe from having to see Brie Bella pretend to be horrified of Kane [her acting is atrocious].

6. Sheamus will drop the belt to the King of Swing, because Antonio Cesaro is a versatile wrestler who can handle a variety of opponents in excellent exhibitions, while Sheamus is a five-trick pony and those moves are all worn out.

7. Hornswaggle will be as bare as a baby's bottom at the end of the night. He's been hairless before, so no biggie, but if the fake midget lucha bull loses his mask, what utility would he possibly have in the WWE?


My X-Men: DoFP Top 5 **SPOILERS! Beware!**

I loved X-Men: Days of Future Past, though claims arising that it is "the best comic book movie ever" are a little short-sighted. Yes, it certainly has a huge ensemble cast and successfully ties together six other films, and it was commercially successful, but there have been other movies that weren't sequels that were as successful with smaller budgets and less well-known casts. BUT! This is not about poo-poo mouthing the movie! Here are the top five things I loved about it.

5. Hugh Jackman has now played a character in a comic book movie franchise longer than any other actor. Jackman's Wolverine has appeared in seven films, and eight if you count the deleted scene in Fantastic Four when Reed Richards shape-shifts into Logan. Patrick Stewart and Robert Downey, Jr. are close behind, but Jackman takes the lead.

4. Speaking of Patrick Stewart, I was concerned that I wasn't going to be able to take Patrick Stewart seriously as Professor X anymore after hearing him voice CIA DIrector Avery Bullock on American Dad, but happily, this was not the case. Stewart is a remarkably versatile actor, who can pull off sci-fi drama, comedy, and classical drama with equal prowess.

3. I was concerned that Quicksilver was going to be a bust, but the sequences featuring the character were so much fun to watch, and I loved the soundtrack. I'd point out, though, that there were no Walkman's in 1973. Peeps were rocking vinyl and 8-tracks back then.

2. When Stan Lee initially envisioned the X-Men, it was a vehicle for discussing civil rights issues with a younger audience. Professor X is MLK to Magneto's Malcolm X. While that dynamic is still viable throughout this movie, I also liked that their relationship has the additional element of romantic tension with Mystique. Comic purists hate it, but since the films have ignored the Rogue-Nightcrawler-Mystique triangle and the shape-shifter's past with Sabretooth, this was a nice way to make her a more well-rounded character. Also, Jennifer Lawrence is much more likeable to me in this role than as Katniss in The Hunger Games franchise.

1. Finally, the Star Trek-esque reboot of the franchise. F*** you, X3; you never happened. The post credit scene indicates more movies to come, but with history having been rewritten, audiences will be in totally new territory. SWEET. Exploring the unknown is more exciting to me than stomping over familiar ground. =)




Writing Comics

Dark Horse Comics has created this nifty three-page PDF for those of you who want to try to write comic books. Sure, you can disregard it, but: a) most companies will not accept unsolicited submissions, and the ones that will, reject scripts with no discernible organization. Writers need to be able to communicate their ideas clearly to editors and artists, and b) while there are some exceptional books that build upon this topic, like Cooney's Writing and Illustrating the Graphic Novel and Denny O'Neil's book for writing comics "the DC way," this is a good and simple foundation... and is also free.

You can either access it HERE or find it the way I did by googling "Dark Horse Writing Guidelines."

Good luck.