Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Countdown to Justice, Vol II: Chapter Three

Chapter Three: A Momentary Lapse
     In Gotham, Bruce was stuck in a waking nightmare. He wanted to inspire the people of Gotham to take back their city, using the bat as a symbol of justice, but instead a new group of radicals had warped it to their own ends.
     The Arkham Knights. Militaristic, capeless versions of the Batman himself. They sought an ordered Gotham; they committed heinous acts themselves, killing any criminal they deemed ‘too dangerous’ and organising the rest into something more manageable. The Batman was constantly having to deny his involvement with them to GCPD, through Gordon. Bruce was not a killer, and he would not watch a group of killers use his image to turn his city into a place that nourishes crime while murdering criminals.
     But now he was surrounded. He counted seven of them, each carrying a dagger that glowed orange. The metal was being heated. It went without saying that Bruce had to avoid taking a hit.
     The ringleader spoke. He had a voice modulator, adding a metallic grate to his speech. “You will submit, Batman.” His grip on the hilt of his sword tightened. “We will have order.”
     Bruce could feel the ring slowly moving in on him. He lowered his hand to his utility belt, ready to spring his sonic disruptor while striking the nearest Knight, but there was a flash of black and red. The ringleader’s sword was knocked out of his hand, just as he was thrown into two of his comrades.
Bruce seized the moment and jabbed his elbow into the next Knight, flipped him over his hip, and pinned his hand to the ground with a batarang. Before he could remove the Knight’s mask, another one was on him, driving him back towards the edge of the rooftop.
     He dropped all his weight into his feet, tried to slow his attacker down, but ultimately it was the dark-haired, black-jacketed metahuman who saved Batman from the fall. She was tall and muscular, and wore a golden tiara. A lasso was strapped to her hip, a sword on her back, and a shield in one hand.

 (Click for detail)

     Batman looked around. The other Arkham Knights were lying around him, disarmed and either unconscious or heavily dazed.
     “I had this,” he said.
     Before she could say anything else, Batman had launched himself across the Gotham skyline, on his batrope. He didn’t seem to keen to talk.
     She was waiting for him when he landed a block away.
     “You can’t outrun someone who’s faster than sound,” she smirked.
     “What do you want?”
     “To learn from you,” she said. “I’m not...used to my powers. I’ve had them all my life, I just didn’t have to use them until recently. I need to control them.”

(Click for detail)

     Batman sized the woman up. Despite the sword, she didn’t have the air of a killer. For a moment, his harsh, untrusting demeanor lapsed. It was enough.
     “Meet me on the roof of Gotham Central Bank tomorrow at eight.”
     And then he was gone, disappearing into the swell of the city.
     Tomorrow at eight, Diana thought. Tomorrow at eight.

To be continued...

Finally, the continuation of Countdown to Justice! Volume II will predominantly follow Wonder Woman, as well as the animosity between Batman and Superman. I'm not setting a regular upload schedule this time because of uni life, but I'm hoping Vol II won't drag on for too long.

The first three chapters are now available here and on my Flickr, and I hope you enjoy reading it!

Countdown to Justice, Vol II: Chapter Two

Chapter Two: Throwbacks

Deep in the rainforests of the Congo...
     Racing ahead of his colleagues, Fine rushed over the brow of the forested hill and was faced with a beautiful sight: a sheer cliff divided by a waterfall, surrounded on every side by dense forest. Among all this green, there was a tiny, bare oasis of pure blue. This would make for a good campsite.
     Milton Fine and his team of LexCorp scientists had been on the move for only a day and a half, and already the others were flagging. Fine was holding up - after all, he was no ordinary man - but while Luthor’s ‘best and brightest’ were experts in their fields, they had never been out in the field itself, so to speak. Also, Fine’s nanoprobes were slowly draining them of all of their data; their energy and strength came in as a nice addition to that. An early Christmas bonus for all of Fine’s hard work pretending to be human.
     The doctor sighed and ran further in to the waterfall, snapping a handful of photographs along the way.
     Then the rainforest exploded, and a wall of brown fur came haring towards him.
     Western lowland gorilla. Fine remembered its taxonomical name and chuckled.

(Click for detail)

     The gorilla was getting closer. One of the other scientists screamed. Foolish boy. It was almost upon him now. Fine raised a single hand, and the creature went limp as soon as it made contact. The doctor’s inhuman strength had damaged its skull.
     Fine set his nanoprobes to work repairing the beast. This hadn’t been his reason for coming to the Congo and spending so much of Luthor’s money, but it would make for an interesting side-project.
     Realising that his compatriots would no doubt be shocked at the display of strength, he mentally switched them into hibernation. He would need their minds for processing power, at least until he got his own body back, and that required their individual personalities to be inactive.
     The nanoprobes worked their way inside the gorilla’s central nervous system and got to work, feeding Fine everything from memories to evolutionary data. How did one species of ape evolve into the planet’s dominant species, while others were relegated to glorified national parks?
     But the gorilla had potential. Its brain was small, but underused. The nanoprobes increased its size and its mental capacity...unlocking a power buried deep within, something most humans didn’t even know they had the potential for.
     Fine’s work took three minutes and seventeen seconds, and then he recalled his nanoprobes from the gorilla. He took a few steps back, and waited for the beast to wake up naturally.

(Click for detail)

     A finger twitched. An eyelid fluttered, then opened completely, followed by the other. It lumbered off its stomach and onto its hind legs, and then howled at the sky. For a moment, Fine thought that his work had been in vain, that the beast didn’t recognise its own capacity for greatness, and then the gorilla fixed its iron gaze on him. Its eyes were now filled with emotions that no gorilla could form to be so coherent and...human. Confusion, then anger, then understanding.
     And then, it spoke.

To be continued...

Finally, the continuation of Countdown to Justice! Volume II will predominantly follow Wonder Woman, as well as the animosity between Batman and Superman. I'm not setting a regular upload schedule this time because of uni life, but I'm hoping Vol II won't drag on for too long.

The first three chapters are now available here and on my Flickr, and I hope you enjoy reading it!

Countdown to Justice, Vol II: Chapter One

Chapter One: Who Rules The Night
       Two weeks ago, I went to Metropolis in search of Superman. You’d think with senses as acute as mine, and with my particular skillset, that I’d be able to track down the world’s most powerful superhuman with little more effort than I would a wild boar.
       But no. Every time I get close to finding the Man of Steel, the trail vanished. It is erksome not being able to find him when my intentions are good, but it’s no doubt that he doesn’t want his ever-expanding list of enemies finding out his identity. I’d hazard a guess that the people in Superman’s life - parents, friends, lovers - don’t share his invulnerability.
       I have other problems, too. Ares hasn’t found me per se, but he’s looking in all the right places. A minotaur hunted me in DC. Two makhai warriors attacked me the day I left Metropolis, less than a week ago. I’ve must have been careless and let something slip somewhere. That, or Ares has found a new oracle. If he has, then Steve is in a lot of danger as well; a man who has learned some of the ways of the Amazons could be a powerful asset to the wargod.
       A car rushes by, fishtailing over the black ice that had compacted on the road. Then it pulls over, and I’m running before I see who gets out. Somehow I know. I just know.
       Another of Ares’ minions.

(Click for detail)

       I sprint down a side alley. Dead end, but I can make the jump over the wall before the minotaur rams me. I leap-
       On the other side is a small garden. I don’t want to disturb these people, so I scale the building. In less than a minute I’m on the roof, far away from that horned demon.
       I need to get out of Washington DC again. There’s no point trying Metropolis again, but there is another. He may just be a man, but some believe he is a vampire. Some say he can turn invisible, or command the shadows to do his bidding. That he can fly.
       Man or super-man, I have to hope that - assuming I can find him - there’s something this Batman can teach me.

To be continued...

Finally, the continuation of Countdown to Justice! Volume II will predominantly follow Wonder Woman, as well as the animosity between Batman and Superman. I'm not setting a regular upload schedule this time because of uni life, but I'm hoping Vol II won't drag on for too long.

The first three chapters are now available to view here and on my Flickr, and I hope you enjoy reading it!

Thursday, 4 December 2014

The Nuclear Man (story)

The Nuclear Man
        I have no idea what I’m doing. I should do, being the former apprentice of a world-renowned nuclear physicist - surely he picked me for a reason - but something tells me this is a situation no scientist ever really prepares for.
        First there was that accident at STAR Labs, with the particle accelerator, and then again with Dr Stein...I think I’m hexed. The universe can prove me wrong by letting Doc be alive, somewhere, somehow, though I know the chances are slim.
        Right now, it’s hard to focus. As if trying to control atomic superpowers wasn’t difficult enough on it’s own, I have to do it with Emily stuck in my head. Our head. Whatever.

(Click for detail)

        I should probably explain. After the particle accelerator malfunctioned, I went looking for Dr Martin Stein, to see if he could help me understand these new ‘fire’ powers I’d developed. He called me a meta-human, and it turned out not be fire at all - I was literally making atomic energy, like a living nuclear reactor. Dr Stein’s lab was built right on top of one, and he was trying to tap something called a ‘firestorm matrix’ when a hired gun tried to steal his work. Thank God the whole facility didn’t go up, but whatever Stein was working on blasted him, his assistant Emily Sung and me. Something impossible happened; my powers saved me and Emily, who was standing next to me, but Stein was gone. And when I say Emily and I were ‘saved’, I mean we were...fused.
        I’m not even kidding. We’re currently sharing a superpowered body (my handsome body, to be exact) and while I control the arms and legs, Emily’s the brain. We’ve only just begun to see what this body can do, but already we’ve been able to transmute metals. How sick is that! It’s mainly Em’s work - I direct the power, she does the calculations, remembers formulas, blah blah important stuff.
        But right this moment, I have no idea what I’m doing. Em’s gone silent and this headcase in a hood just did something impossible too; he threw out a miniature black hole. You can’t transmute a black hole! There’s all this energy ‘round my hands, and I’ve got no clue how to use it.
        Unless I go for the guy. I might be able to throw some of this energy, like a fireball.
        I aim through the black hole, which has started to weaken, directing my atomic fire towards the perp. I just want to knock him down, not damage (or kill).

(Click for detail)

A vicious jet of atomic energy fizzes through the air, ignoring the now-fading black hole’s pull and tearing a hole through the other guy’s outstretched hand.
        Ronnie! Careful!
        Oh now Emily chooses to resurface.
        The black hole is completely gone, as is Headcase’s hand; there’s a smouldering stump in its place. Oh my god, I did that. Thankfully, the wound’s cauterised, but I still just took a guy’s hand off.
        What were you thinking?
        Shut up, Em.
        Sirens. I need to go. The police will take care of his wound, but if he uses his powers on them...
        Oh man. I. Have. No. Idea. What. I’m. Doing.

To be continued?

So for anyone not too familiar with their DC heroes, this is Firestorm. I wanted to do something with him after seeing this week's episode of The Flash and thought a photomanip was the best way to go. The second image and the story was me getting a bit carried away. Officially speaking, this does tie into Countdown to Justice, though I have no idea how as I only did this as a spur-of-the-moment project yesterday. Nonetheless, I hope you've enjoyed this story!

Monday, 24 November 2014

Istari Adventures: Back In My Day

Back to Middle-earth for my latest brickfilm. What did Gandalf get up to in his youth?


This video was technically a long time in the making. I first had the idea for it this time last year, and wanted to make a Hobbit brickfilm in time for the release of The Desolation of Smaug. I put it aside because I had no orc minifigures at the time and went to work on An Istari Halloween, but that failed and I was left without any Middle-earth mischief for a while. Sometime later I found 79014 Dol Guldur Battle and 79011 Dol Guldur Ambush at supermassive discounts, then in July I finally scripted the thing...and filmed it last week. Procrastinating seems to be strong in this one, mmmmm.

I also really wanted an excuse to use that Bilbo minifig. It was an exclusive with the pre-order of the LEGO Hobbit video game, so I thought I'd missed my chance of getting it, and then found a bundle at GAME with the minifig and a DLC, for half price! I won't be able to play it until I go home for the Christmas holidays, since I couldn't bring my PS3 to uni, but I've already got some use out of that minifigure.

"By the power of Grayskull!"

The fight scene was a lot of fun to do. Parts of it are in homage to Fancy Pants' amazing LEGO The Force Unleashed brickfilm, which you need to go and watch right after you've finished reading this blog post. I tried grading it a greenish tint, to make it feel more like how Dol Guldur appears in the films, and between that and the very dark lighting I think I got the tone right. Some of the effects are a bit dodgy, though. Next time I do lightning, I shall definitely be spending some time getting to be more familiar with After Effects' 'advanced lightning' function. It came out looking okay, but not amazing.

There's not much more to say about this brickfilm. It's just another short bit of lighthearted fun, and I hope I get around to making another episode of Istari Adventures (I have the lines collected for three more, though I have no idea which order or when I'm going to film them). Thanks again to Jorden Davis for voicing Bilbo, and I hope you enjoyed the video!

I leave you with a cut frame, of another hobbit going about his daily hobbit chores.

"Are those pumpkins or carrots?"

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Countdown to Justice: Volume I summary

Countdown to Justice
Volume I

This is essentially a table of contents for Volume I of my LEGO Justice League origin story, Countdown to Justice. I worked on this over the course of about four months; I wanted to create my own 'Dawn of Justice', incorporating my favourite aspects of DC comics and other media, but knew I wouldn't have time to make a full brickfilm. Overall, I'm pleased with this volume, though the story in the second will be a lot more focused.

Chapter 1: The Martian
Chapter 2: Look To The Stars
Chapter 3: Just a Hypocrite in a Cape
Chapter 4: Broken Spirits
Chapter 5: You're Not Alone
Chapter 6: Deal with the Devil Ray
Chapter 7: Paying a Fine
Chapter 8: Freak Like Me
Chapter 9: The Brave and the Bold
Chapter 10: Risks
Chapter 11: Hope and Fear

Volume II will begin in February, with Who Rules The Night, and will be followed by Volume III, the finale, later in 2015.

The Story So Far

Warning: contains spoilers.

A year after the events of Man of Steel, three parties have taken an interest in 'Superman': Batman, vigilante guardian of Gotham; the Martian Manhunter; and CEO of LexCorp, Lex Luthor. While Martian Manhunter seeks to unite with Superman to halt an oncoming threat, Luthor wishes to find a way to destroy him should the need arise, and uses the scientific discoveries of Dr Milton Fine to uncover an alien metal which could prove useful in creating an anti-Kryptonian weapon.

The k-metal is recovered from deep within the sea - where it crash-landed on Earth, inside of an alien ship - by Devil Ray, and his meeting with Luthor is intercepted by Aquaman and the Flash, who decide to find what Luthor bought from Devil Ray and destroy it.

Meanwhile, the Batman (who harbours great distrust for the Man of Tomorrow) goes to Ivy University to spy on Milton Fine, but overhears a meeting between him and Luthor. During their conversation, in which it becomes clear Fine knows more about the alien wreckage than he is letting on, Batman is sought out by a Parallax Corps ring, which tries to induct him into the corps. He uses its power to try and appregend Luthor and Fine, but a blue-ring-empowered Superman drains its energy. With the yellow ring drained, Batman disappears into the night, and the divide between the two superheroes grows ever wider.

What To Expect

Volume II will pick up soon after Volume I left off, focusing more on Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman (who only made a brief appearance in the first volume). It will delve into the latter superhero's lore, as we follow her moving about in modern day America, and we will see the animosity between Batman and Superman reach its peak.

You can also expect at least one interlude into Milton Fine's research, as the mysterious scientist's plans advance further.

While Volume II won't start until February, keep checking this blog for updates, and I will continue to upload brickfilms to my YouTube channel. I may also begin to blog on my second channel, though I find doing so hideously awkward. Overall, there's a lot more to come from Jam Pot Studios, and I hope you'll be with us every step of the way!

Friday, 19 September 2014

Countdown to Justice: Chapter Eleven

Chapter Eleven: Hope and Fear
       The strength that Batman felt coursing through his veins was phenomenal. The ring was feeding him information, telling him how to use its power, begging for its golden light to be unleashed. Begging to bring fear.
       As Batman understood it, the ring’s functions were activated and controlled by his imagination and his ability to induce fear in others. He lived on the fear of criminals, and the more they felt, the brighter his light would burn. He would begin his crusade through the streets of Gotham anew-
He heard movement, and came back to the present. Luthor was preparing to make a run for it, down the hall. He would not get away.
       The fear of criminals...
       Batman knew what Luthor was capable of, and of just some of the heinous deeds he had already done, the lives he had wasted. It was time to put his ring to use.
       Luthor ran, and a swarm of screeching bats, all made of yellow energy, soared into him. In mid-air they became a set of hands, then chains binding Luthor’s arms and legs.
       Batman flew up close, and lifted Luthor into the air.
       “I know what you and Fine are doing, Luthor,” he said. “And I know all about your arrangements in Central City, and about that satellite you have flying over Kansas, and with the Devil Ray. I know your secrets.”
       He threw the still-shackled Luthor down the hall. His prisoner cried out when his back slammed into a wall. Yellow straps appeared around his mouth, silencing him.
       “You fear the people,” Batman continued. “You fear what a few men and women with great power can do, and you plan to strike us off.”
       He tore off the straps by hand. They floated away for a moment, then disappeared into less than air.
       “What was in the wreckage that is so valuable? A weapon? Is that was the ‘K-metal’ is? Because you know, Luthor...now, I have a superweapon of my own.”
       Power at 96%.
Batman ignored the ring. He still had enough power left to finish the job.
       Power at 93%.
       A bolt of blue streaked down the corridor. Batman was torn through a wall, and out into the open air. His concentration broken, Luthor’s shackles vanished.
       Batman looked down at his ring. It was spitting out yellow sparks, like an angered snake.
       Power at 86%. Bruce Wayne of Sector 2814, you are advised to return to Qward for-
       “Drop the ring, Batman!” He knew that voice. Where he had only heard it on the Batcave computer, now the speaker was here in the flesh, floating above the ground in front of him. His clothes were the same, but now he was bedecked entirely in blue, with a strange symbol on his chest. A symbol similar to that on Batman’s chest, and on his yellow ring.
       Bruce Wayne of Earth, you are advised to return to-
       “Drop the ring!” Superman shouted, and brandished a ring of his own, on his right hand. A blue ring.

(Click for detail)

       Blue Lantern ring detected. Parallax Corpsman 2814, return to Qward immediately-
       Superman rushed forwards and grabbed Batman’s left hand, trying to pry the ring off his finger. Batman could feel his hold on it slipping and lashed out, sending yellow sparks into Superman’s eyes. It gave him a moment, long enough to break free from the distracted lantern and flip back, sending out a large, yellow fist. It crashed against Superman’s chest and shattered.
       Power at 75%. Why was his power fading so quickly?
       “Batman, the ring is wearing you! You have to remove it!”
       “And you’d know all about controlling power, wouldn’t you...Clark?”
       Batman turned and flew up, only to be pulled down by his heel and slammed into the grass. Superman pinned him down and pressed his blue ring against Batman’s yellow ring. There was a flash of green as the energies meshed, the yellow fighting back against the invading blue but slowly being absorbed.
       Power at 66%...power at 50%...
       Batman screamed in anger and threw out all the energy he could, a wave of bright yellow that sent Superman flying into the side of the university. “You hypocrite!” screamed Batman. “This is my chance to make a difference! With this power, I can bring crime in my city to a definitive end!”
       Superman pulled himself out of his crater in the wall. “At...what cost?”
       Power at 33%.
       “There’s nothing I have to give that I wouldn’t gladly sacrifice for the cause! Can you say the same?” Superman stayed silent as he flew at the yellow lantern, and before Batman could react, Superman had spun at inhuman speed and caught him in a headlock. He pressed his ring to Batman’s, and their energies were at war once again.
       Power at 20%...14%...5%...
       The yellow light died, and Superman pulled away. Its energy almost depleted, the ring flew straight off Batman’s finger. Batman’s yellow uniform faded, leaving his old black suit behind.
       Before the yellow ring could disappear, Superman focused and fired twin jets of searing heat. The ring, fully deactivated, fell to the ground.
       Without the ring, Batman slumped, and Superman unceremoniously dumped him on the grass as he took off his own ring. A figure walked out of the shadows - a strange, grey-skinned being, who took back the ring and gave Superman a respectful bow.
       “My many thanks, Son of El. Without a green ring to give mine full functionality, I would not have been able to withstand the yellow lantern’s attacks for long.”
       “Well, be more careful next time,” Clark chuckled. “You won’t always have a Kryptonian around to lend a hand.”
       Superman watched as Saint Walker donned his ring and regained his radiant Blue Lantern uniform.
       “What will you do with the Parallax Corpsman?” Walker asked.
       At that moment, Batman sprung to his feet. Superman whipped around and fixed him with a severe stare.
       “We need to talk.”
       The Batman said nothing. He threw up a smokescreen from his belt and ran off into the shadows. The fallen yellow ring was also gone. Superman was about to follow, using his x-ray vision as a guide, but a gentle hand fell on his shoulder.
       “Let him go. The ring is useless without a power battery, and he was acting under Parallax’s influence.”
       But deep down, Superman knew that wasn’t entirely true. Now he knew for certain: the Batman was more of a threat than anyone had ever imagined.

(Click for detail)


       There was a knock on what remained of the office door as Fine set about reordering his scattered papers. Not that they would matter soon.
       He turned to see Luthor standing in the doorway.
       “And now you see why I need your research, Fine,” Luthor growled. “But I don’t expect to be kept in the dark, if we are to continue our arrangement.”
       “You mean our partnership, Lex. The original deal has changed, and I require your Metropolis facilities to continue my...work. Consent, and I shall tell you all that you wish to know. The truth, and nothing else. Do we have a new deal?”
       Luthor swallowed his pride, along with his fears of Fine’s true nature.
       “We have a deal.”

To be continued in Volume II...

That's it for Volume I of Countdown to Justice! Thanks for reading, and I hope you've enjoyed it thus far. Volume II begins in February, and I will soon be uploading a summary and behind-the-scenes look at Volume I, so (as ever) stay tuned!