Monday, September 21, 2009

A taste of Valkyrie Maid and Sun Strike

Issue one
Essentially, the Reaves family is moving in to their new home in Forest Rivers. Sun Strike, in his everyday identity as Clay Reaves kinda takes the focus in the first half of the story. He has been through things, after being kidnapped to become champion of Luxitica, which to this day he can still barely convince himself happened. Both Clay and Frida Reaves flashback to their careers and how they came together (though in that case, we start with some hints). She happens to be the one who can drive; she’s on her way over in the moving truck, daydreaming of clearing the way as Valkyrie Maiden and hefting the truck there herself!

After several memories and his moving efforts take their toll, Clay decides to go for a run in the neighborhood. This leads to a handy, out-of-sight demonstration of his agility, and also the beginning of his super-human displays driving one of the local dogs bonkers. However, while passing through the woods he feels as though he’s being observed, and decides to tone it down, feeling a bit uneasy---too bad, considering the run otherwise helped! Unfortunately, he gets back just in time to see Frida pulling in, a bit unhappy to find so much still a mess (including the driveway!). He gets it out of her that this situation irritates her, and doesn’t let her just be nice about it, provoking her to snap at him, and he snaps back in a desperate effort to feel better. They apologize, and just as they’re ready to make up for the busy, busy past week or so...

I believe they have a rather hefty Asgardian “relative” come by to visit (he’s sure to become human later and get in shape! But he’s immortal now, so what does he care, with Valhalla’s great table of feasts!) Frida excuses herself a minute to see her neighbor, her new friend who greeted her along with her husband when the Reaves first found the new place. The lady’s husband, home from the war, is very sick. The exhausted woman sits down for a few minutes, while Frida stands over her ill neighbor.

Towards dark, Frida’s mother Nancy comes by with their twins, who she leaves with Clay. We learn Frida’s Valkyrie powers were her sacrifice so that she might become a mother and give to her children in return a spell that will protect them in times of danger. We have a skulker, too, just to keep things lively. His presence may well be the catalyst to Frida’s powers returning; they are tied into a need about which she does not yet fathom. When they manifest, while standing at her sick veteran neighbor’s bedside, she imagines they are an omen to some threat. However, it turns out that she has to be there for one of her new neighbors as a valkyrie; he is a soldier who must go to his reward. It seems like she would need to have some prior relationship to be welcomed into the presence of a dying person; perhaps no one realizes death is quite at hand, but she will be there for him.

Now, at that moment back at her house, while Clay is fixing something for the kids, they, uh...vanish. And in their place sit three vikings, though in variant dress.
Without a doubt, here’s where we to get to meet the Trips through him; the twins are with him when Frida changes, and they are exchanged for the Triplets, who he questions as Sun Strike, since they appear when his kids DIS-appear! The trips have their own questions. Essentially, they each have a power: Elda is strong in levitation, Zero is good at super-calculation, and Analogy is the resident telepath. They have been summoned before by nefarious personages who wanted to use them much as they themselves use their elementals in Hazel’s Mystic Garden, which is where they were before arriving in place of the twins, and where they believe they belong. (We briefly see the twins playing in the Garden, with its child-like atmosphere.)

Over at her neighbor’s, we get the psychaedelic sequence where Valkyrie Maid takes the guy on to the after world, while her hubbie tries not to destroy the house battling the Triplets. They come to realize: they recognize him, though they were in robotic tele-presence units they used for time travelling. They identify themselves, but he explains, not only do they not look the same, but furthermore, after expending much energy to help them, he was attacked and wounded near death by what he thought at the time by “a bad hallucination after my life was turned into a bad hallucination!” Sun Strike doesn’t like to lose or even feel like he might lose; “you might even say I’m a sore loser!” They manage to fight back by using their team work and training to give all three of them access to one another’s powers; as soon as they get distance between themselves and Sun Strike, they take the chance to mystically discern what has happened to bring them here. About this time, Valkyrie Maid’s task is complete, and she changes back to normal (bringing the twins back to Clay, to his great relief). She thinks on how the Valkyries often wondered about the men who they took to Valhalla; heroes were a fascination to some, perhaps a chore to others, but their spiritual custodianship was the valkyrie duty. Duty is something she understands...but she also understands living for herself. Her choice to give her life to her husband and children gives her something no valkyrie in Asgard knows.

Clay joins her in her identity as Frida, when she must comfort her neighbor, who she only first met when the Reaves looked at the house where they are moving in. She sees how her life as Frida involves being there for the living, who require a very different sense of duty: the consolation of remaining on this world. All of this puts things into perspective for Clay, who had not been in the greatest mood on this busy day (mundane life, as he might think of it, is a very taxing adjustment for those who have lived in other ways). “I was believing I’d gotten nowhere and needed a fresh start,” he thinks, “but my life isn’t just cursed by’s blessed with magic, too. Kinda corny? But it’ll do in THE END.”

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Trust requires a creative engine

Because I saw often identified certain of my enduring fictional characters with real people (a few since have become very real of their own essence), initially I felt rather neurotic about introducing enemies. I didn't write very much about anyone you could conveniently label as "evil." Life is a work, time is filled with our works; I envisioned ourselves in those stories steady at tasks of discovery, exploring the nature of people and things---adventurous philosophers---able to step into ideas visited in dream.

Stories you can relate to visit problems and struggles upon their protagonists precisely because we are already at odds with our hearts' desires, each and every one of us, whenever we seek to manifest anything at all we want in life. At the time, I considered us as spirits in symbolic, conceptual struggles. I did not want to imagine and envision people in conflict with one another without producing peaceful resolution; I did believe we should forgive everyone, whatever power it takes, and strive for what could be described in morality's metaphorical terms as our higher angels (problematic, when one is simply attempting to describe benevolent humanism, which I found required an endless supply of trust). Concepts and extra-dimensional, existential menace not unlike that we already find when thinking for ourselves, were the opposition; you could say "for we struggle not against flesh, but against principalities" to quote Paul in the Bible.

So, just as stories require a creative, story telling engine, so do relationships.

Now, characters spouting philosophy while they hike weird places with an idealogical cause attached is still bound to be a feature of my writing, but it is the rare individual (and there SHOULD be something for them) who would accept traveling ecologues full of information. There is a reason few people read encyclopedias the way they watch movies (though I highly recommend treating yourself to articles in the spirit of information as a story).

Let's come down to earth, then, where these ideas are needed! I languished and practiced and typed enough to realize I'd learned the hard part and now needed to dig into the part I'd ignored so often: the part of life where all of your feelings happen. ALL of them---not just the untouched mystical planes of our secret identities here in cosmic existence, but something of the world where ideals and expectations generate clashes great and small, the place for where we'd best prepare.

Where each character of mine generates their trust, there we find the fountainhead of their motivations. I learned a great villain or thief may not only hold a fascination or even touch upon some subliminal terror or even longing, but demonstrate for us the verity of a wisdom evident, perhaps in their words---perhaps in our repulsion at their example.

All of this leads to undertaking the groundwork for creating deeply relatable casts where, as in life, situations pit people in opposition. My interest in creating characters that stand up to multiple episodes means finding circumstances that will create stories that explore different facets and flesh out the people involved, and maybe leave me with that deeper sympathy, and hope for others, that we are discouraged to abandon in the fallible somethings of life. Along the way, we'll discover characters to which we can relate, together with us in our struggles.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sun Strike and Valkyrie Maid

Sun Strike and Valkyrie Maiden
Our hero is grabbed as a teenager and transported to an immortal realm where all technology uses power from the sun; this dimension exists parallel to our own save for a special nexus, yet they share the same star as we. There he acquires a mentor, a rough-hewn, short-tempered and secretly, very frightened teacher, who reveals to him everything has been thrust upon him quite suddenly, and he now must grab our hero before his chosen time and hastily prepare him to be the last line of defense. Every guardian of the realm has been converted to living flame, unmoving torch effigies, brightly light, yet mere shadows of themselves.
Our heroine finds said hero dying one day, and discovers she is a human incarnation of a valkyrie maiden. She saves him. They fight alongside one another, they love, they wed. She exchanges her powers for a special protection that will trade her sons for her husband’s magical ancestors in times of mortal danger. Together, they move into a suburban neighborhood...and the story begins.
Origins file: Quite honestly, I was revisiting the idea of a warrior champion reminiscent of the Iron Fist of my adolescence, during which period I also intensely enjoyed David’s issues of NOVA. This time the champion would be allowed to grow and mature in ways unexplored by restricted commercial characters. Our hero and his love, who becomes a valkyrie warrior, also have twins, in which I was entirely inspired by David, the big Iron Fist fan, and his love for Amy, who likes the Valkyrie; they also have twins! So in the brain storm, I thought about how I didn’t want to give the kids powers, too, just yet---that is, I wanted to do stories where Mom, Dad, and the kids all enjoy/ cope with being normal people. The normal people angle evoked Nova, Marvel’s effort to capture the “everyman teenager who leads a secret life where his hidden powers thrust him into superhuman difficulties” ethos that inspired Spider-Man. Now, Spidey’s powers are not the place to look for that “lightning-in-a-bottle”; the comparisons would be smothering, if the powers and backstory wre not fundamentally different. Nova’s concept inspired my own imagination, plus he was a favorite of Dave’s. I wanted Dave and I and our wives to collaborate on the content for an all-original story.

All-original was important: I have a wonderful Avengers story, only applicable as a sample of my writing unless Marvel’s buying, intended not only to encapsulate that type of adventure, but also to serve as the last part of a trilogy (though the beginning is a two-parter), in fact a post script that sets up events in the middle story behind the scenes. But they may work best as stand-alone adaptations, as they were not originally plotted as an arc, despite having my novel in common. At any rate, one item I was dealing with was how a character named after Holt tied into the Dragon’s Line portion of the adventure, which hinged upon the presence of the captive Valkyrie, who he loved. I immediately thot of the less-used members of the DL, particularly Dangard, still searching the astral plane and future for the whereabouts of Nic, Marc, and Ray. The triplets---his adopted children with Wanda---also seemed to play into the search. Later, I began envisioning Holt’s sons, in adult adventurer versions, joining the quest. I wasn’t sure why Amora would work with the absorbing man and his crew, but last night I figured out Odin placed a ward to prevent her, Loki, and other Asgardian of malicious intent from entering the hiding place of the melted Destroyer robot (the maguffin). The story seemed to have something real to say, so I stuck with it despite the usual derision (usually justifiable?) of fan fiction (“it’s a pastiche, I keep saying...”). The important thing seemed to be that I could later remove the Marvel characters and still design a new adventure, but Now I see that David, his boys, and the connection to the Dragon’s Line should be lifted for an entirely different story---indeed, they together create a new story engine.
“So how do I protect the kids from mortal harm if they don’t have powers?” I asked aloud. What if there was a way to swap the kids to somewhere safe? Interestingly, I had somewhere to send them, logically, if they traded places with the Triplets, who presently dwell in the Misty Hazel’s Garden realm in the fifth dimension (or sixth, maybe). Initially, I didn’t make that connection, not till later in the hour, but I was sure the Trips switching places ala Captain Marvel would allow Mom and Dad to continue their adventures. What kind of powers would the Trips have? So long as they have the power to bring those boys back safely, it works. So far Marc Kane is the one who’s written them at all, and she says she knows they are telepaths and will be empaths in time, capable of psychometry and other feats. They are, magically speaking, initiates. As the twins grow older, their switches will conjure their similarly maturing counterparts, according to Marc.

How did their mom get this deal? I postulated, initially, she sacrificed her powers in order to gain this magical boon, to cast said protection spell in times of danger. She has retired, as has her husband, to raise their family and have a normal life together. Some phenomenon will occur that calls upon them both, and in the bargain, the children will be able to link hands and vanish---and since the Trips are known to dwell in Misty’s Garden sometime after the passing of their parents, why not send them there?

So! How was their Mom unique from Valkyrie? While thinking over the different motivations/ stories given to Marvel’s own, it became clear she could be a Valkyrie incarnated as a human (the Don Blake scenario occurred to me as well, and i knew I wanted her to have a blinding transformation trope). However, she is 100% really a human, a choice made by her spirit as her career as a Valkyrie began...and ended! Apparently, she was fascinated by the world from which the valkyries drew their fallen heroes to bring to Valhalla. Moreover, said heroes ceased to come to Valhalla; whether they are simply going to some other place, it is not known. It seems unfair, after all, to say no dies a hero on a battlefield anymore. So she chooses a human incarnation, and the plan is that she is looking for heroes, and the first one she meets activates her powers as the Valkyrie Maiden, clothed in navy blue and cloaked in mahogany. (I am trying to settle on a reddish orange tone for him.)

However, the hero she finds dying truly does not want to die---is from an entirely different spiritual discipline, and is in fact an atheist. His name is Sun Strike, and his origin is a cross between Nova and Iron Fist, made original by the writing itself, providing details such as the solar-powered nature of the realm whose champions stand like statues of living flame, rendered inactive by the technology of an invader from the future. The mentor specifically is intended to be an asshole, his response to being left out of the ranks of champions and his fear that they will not be resurrected. At any rate, he embodies the great power of the champions, yet, only by training and concentration can he access said power and possibly free the realm from oppression. At this much later date, he roams the earth as Sun Strike (I believe the name inspired the solar-powered nature of the realm). Strike has wound up in a Scandinavian milieu and quite possibly gotten himself killed, save for her efforts. Trust me, he will make it worth her while as soon as he can.

So here came his name...soon came her name, both run by the Marc Kane in the space of a few minutes. From about nine till midnight I kept revisiting the new idea, while also working out my Avengers story besides, confirming Thor’s choice of disguise to keep tabs on the villains, the nature of the Deviant’s technology, and revisited the vision of the Trips leading the sons to the Norn Stones, which fall into the hands of their father, who is without powers in this reality.

So! Expect my Avengers story over in my new sister column of pastiche fictions, "Integr8d Fix" and hopefully, as I catch up on my backlog and birthday present stories, SS and VM will spring to life!