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!

Countdown to Justice: Chapter Ten

Chapter Ten: Risks
       Dr. Milton Fine’s office was cluttered. There was no floor, save for a canyon trail between mountains of marking and assignment papers piled up at almost minifigure height. Desk lamps dotted the room in odd places - on the shelves, under the marking, in the bin, everywhere but the desk itself - while Fine’s drawers contained little more than half-eaten bagels and biro pens that had dried up years ago.
       If nothing else, Fine was an eccentric, the like of which Batman had never seen. Fine also happened to be a genius; his and Dr. Palmer’s research into ‘dwarf star lensing’ would make the idea of shrinking an object, or even a living being, a genuine possibility, though from the files it looked like both scientists wanted to keep it on the down-low.
       With a little effort (Fine’s computer was suspiciously well-protected) Batman managed to hack Fine’s computer, and was about to begin the download of Fine’s data when he heard footsteps and voices coming from down the hall. He recognised one of them immediately. After all, he had gone into business with the guy.
       By the time Milton Fine and Lex Luthor entered the office, Batman was safely outside, in the rain, hiding in the shadows of the overly-ornate (and, aptly, ivy-vine covered) windowframe. He adjusted the sensors in his batsuit, and with after short buzz he could hear the conversation inside.
       “-still do not understand how your ‘research’ could have predicted the presence of the K-metal, Dr. Fine.”
       “The mineral gives off a very peculiar kind of radiation,” Fine replied. “I was on a trawler at the time, when the ship came down. The sailors were too superstitious to go anywhere near it, and by the time I could get a crew together, I knew it would have sunk too far. But thanks to your funding...” He trailed off.
       “Now that the alien wreck is in your hands, Dr. Fine, what do you plan to do with it?”
       There was silence for a moment, before Fine resigned himself to telling Luthor the truth. “From what you’ve described, Mr. Luthor, it seems you brought back the craft’s computer. I will endeavour to interface with this machine.”
       “No matter the risks?”
       “No matter the risks.”
       Luthor went quiet for a moment, and Batman risked taking a peek. He turned his head slightly, just in time to see Luthor pull a gun on Dr. Fine. Fine was so surpised he fell back against his desk. Then Batman saw something odd in his expression, and realised that Fine’s reaction was forced. He looked back to Luthor.
       “You though I wouldn’t do some background checks on you, doctor?” he said calmly, with a hint of smugness. “You don’t exist, ‘Milton Fine’, but unlike other nothings, we genuinely cannot find anything on you. Prior to the beginning of your tenure at the university, ten years ago, the evidence clearly shows that you did not exist. So, answer me this, doctor - who are you? Really?”

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       Dr. Fine started to laugh. Batman listened for his response, but a flash of yellow caught his attention. At first he barely registered it, thinking it was a plane...but it was hurtling towards him. Faster and faster, a blinding bolt of golden light-
       Bruce Wayne of Earth.
       His left arm snapped out.
       You have been chosen to represent space sector 2814.
       A light weight on his middle finger.
       You have the ability to instill great fear.
       Strength spreading through his body.
       Welcome to the Parallax Corps.

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To be continued...

Countdown to Justice: Chapter Nine

Chapter Nine: The Brave and the Bold
      Having chased Black Manta, or ‘Devil Ray’, to Arthur’s own hometown of Beachrock, Arthur made the mistake of the young and naive: blind confidence. At no point while he tracked Black Manta did he believe he might not be strong, fast or skilled enough to defeat his enemy, and bring him to trial for his crimes.
      The barbed spear being raised triumphantly above him was proof of that mistake. Arthur’s enemy had gained the upper hand, and now Arthur was lying on the beach, several ribs cracked and recovering from a dizzying blow to the head, and he was sure that this internal ‘damage report’, for all the good it would do, would be his last. His trident was lying metres from him. He barely had the strength to stand. Manta was saying something, and then Arthur felt a rush of air as the spear came down towards him.
      Then another rush of air, and the spear never came. Arthur looked around, and slowly his vision unblurred. Manta was retreating back into the sea.
      Can’t...let him...escape...Arthur wearily got to his feet, fighting the urge to collapse and fall into unconsciousness. Black Manta couldn’t get away. not after all this...
      He tripped over his own feet, at the boots of a figure in red.
      “Was passing through when I heard a lot of macho grunting. Got a feeling that a certain orange-clad superhero might be needing a hand,” he said, and then pulled Arthur to his feet.
      Arthur knew this face, from the news. The Flash. The fastest man alive.
      “How...how did...”
      “You’re hurt pretty bad. C’mon, let’s get you inside and fix you up. Know anywhere we can go?”
      Arthur nodded and pointed to the lighthouse in the distance. The Flash said nothing as he slung Arthur over his shoulder (with much difficulty) and raced off down the beach.


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***

      “I have to find that crate,” Arthur said. Thanks to his superhuman physiology, he had mostly healed, but was still a little tired and sore. “Whatever Blac...Devil Ray, was selling to Luthor, it’s bad news. I’ve been tracking him on-and-off for months, mainly the last week or so.”
      “You don’t have to do it alone,” Flash offered. Arthur tried to wave him away, but Flash continued. “Things have been quiet in Central City lately. I have time. Plenty of time. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t accept my help, and who knows what Luthor’s latest science project is?”
      Arthur had to admit the thought of coming up against any one of the drones Luthor had sold to the military filled him with dread, and even fear.
      “Alright,” he said. “Alright. I could use a hand.”
      With that settled, Arthur leaned back lazily, letting the Flash know he would not be getting any more out of Aquaman for now. They could wait a few minutes before heading out, and if Arthur was honest, the concept of this partnership was a little nerve-wracking. What if the fastest man alive slowed down his invesitgation? Then a different question struck him.
      “What were you doing here in Beachrock?”
      “What, because I’m a superhero I can’t take a vacation?”

To be continued...

Countdown to Justice: Chapter Eight

Chapter Eight: Freak Like Me
     It’s been over a year since Steve and I escaped from Themyscira, and you know what? I don’t miss it at all.
     All my life, I was ‘the princess’, gifted by the gods, and future leader of the Amazons - bred to be a warrior queen, taught only of strengh and authority - but that never meant anything. I know they all thought I was too much trouble, too unruly to be a ruler. I guess running away with (of all creatures) a man only proves that they’re right.
     The first thing I saw when I arrived in the world of men was a gigantic green monument to a woman, and my hopes were raised. Even now, I see little reason for our ancient distrust of men. Times have changed, and this isn’t a world roamed by Herakles or his like anymore.
     The new world does have its fair share of problems. Some things, like poverty and famine, never change. War is still present, and there are always rich men living off the poor. Coming to think about it, I see some reason why we Amazons distrust men, but I could give you a list of Amazons I don’t trust either.
     I’ve spent most of my time so far in the streets of ‘Washington DC’, this modern Athens, trying to help people. I have great strength, among other things, where humans today have allowed themselves to become weaker and more fragile. I feel as though I have a responsibility to these people who, without knowing it, accepted me as one of their own, though my sword has stayed sheathed for some time now. Apparently, men don’t tend to use them anymore; it has been replaced by newer, more potent bringers of death.
     And here I am in Metropolis, away from Steve (who has returned to his work with the government), away from my mother, trying to focus on the one thing that brought me here. I know he’s an alien, and I know this goes against everything I was taught in Themyscira, but I need help understanding my powers. Superman is fast, strong and can fly, all things I too am capable of, but where my skill with a sword is superior to any man alive today, I don’t fully understand my other, preternatural strengths. If he can train me, show me how to control my abilities as he has learned to...
     He is here. Somewhere in Metropolis, a city of eighteen million people.


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To be continued...

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Countdown to Justice: Chapter Seven

Chapter Seven: Paying a Fine
      Deep beneath his mansion, Bruce Wayne was frantically typing away at his control desk. Six monitors, all showing the same thing: LexCorp purchases. He had gone to the lengths of securing a joint venture between Wayne Enterprises and Luthor’s company just to gain access to LexCorp files, to see if his suspicions were right.
      After hours of poring over every detail, Bruce finally found something intriguing: a large amount of money was being funneled into the research of a Dr. Milton Fine at Ivy University.
      He pondered this for a moment. According to this data, Lex had many pet science projects at universities across the globe, but none of them were as expensive as Dr. Fine appeared to be.
      A short amount of digging later, and Bruce found something even more perplexing. No records of Milton Fine go back further than ten years ago: no birth certificate, no high school yearbook. It’s as if he didn’t exist until ten years ago.
      The Batman was already leaving the Batcave by the time the control desk went into standby.
      The ‘world’s greatest detective’ couldn’t let a mystery like this slip by. It was time to pay Dr. Fine a visit.

***

      At first it was a tiny pinprick of yellow light, and then it burst into a supernova of gold over the Earth; a single, yellow ring, shrouded in the equally yellow energy of fear.
      As the ring began its descent, another anomaly appeared: a strange figure bedecked in blue, who shot after the ring as though his life depended on it.
      He needed to be faster. If he didn’t get within range of the ring and drain its energy before it found its new host, then the Parallax Corps could make a foothold on the Earth. If that happened, if the yellow ring did make the bond, Walker wouldn’t be able to get close enough to drain it again, not without the presence of green light.
      Whoever made these rings had a cruel sense of humour, he thought, and then tucked his arms in and began flying faster.
      He had to catch that ring.
      He would not let Parallax take another body. All will be well.

(Click for detail)

To be continued...

The next few weeks may be a bit rocky, but Countdown to Justice is planned to continue on Wednesday September 3rd.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Countdown to Justice: Chapter Six

Chapter Six: Deal with the Devil Ray
     The sun beat down over the Floridian town of Beachrock with a fury it ordinarily reserved for the desert. Though he would never admit it, Luthor was glad to have traded his usual suit and tie for more comfortable, thinner clothes. Still, it was only for a few hours, while he completed his business with Devil Ray.
     Dominic was completing the transfer of Devil Ray’s payment before the latter’s eyes. Luthor had no intention of double-crossing him, but the Ray was not to know that. Even one as far removed from society as him knew of Luthor’s fearsomely duplicitous reputation.
     Resting on the scalding sands, recently unloaded from Devil Ray’s submersible craft, was a large crate, the size of a pickup truck. LexCorp engineers were examining every detail of its contents, and so far it checked out. The Ray had kept up his end of the bargain.
     “Interesting name,” Dominic suddenly blurted, his nerves clearing getting the better of him. He tried avoiding the Ray’s one, red, strip of an eye, but the crimson glow quickly caught his gaze.
     Devil Ray leaned down, inches from Dominic’s face. “I did not choose it.” “T-then what is y-your r-real name?”
     The Ray considered this for a moment. He checked Dominic’s tablet computer, and read that the transfer was complete. He fixed Dominic with his red visor once more. “...David...”
     With that, he strode purposefully towards Luthor himself. “Our trade is complete. If you wish to contact me again, use my established business channel. Nobody is welcome in the Devil’s Deep save the Manta, and next time I will not make an exception for your messenger.”
     “Understood.” Luthor stood his ground. Not a blink or a flinch. After all, the Ray’s only advantage over him was his strength.
     As Devil Ray stomped back to the crate to the back of a LexCorp flatbed truck, Luthor smiled. While the crate’s other contents would no doubt prove of great use to him, it was the K-metal that made this purchase so worthwhile. If Dr. Fine’s research continued to be correct, the K-metal would-
     A sudden creaking, and Devil Ray’s submersible began falling. There must have been a sharp drop off shortly into the water, as in moments it had completely disappeared. Luckily the flatbed was already off the beach, as Luthor was sure that had it not been, it too could have been sent spiralling into the deep.
     Devil Ray’s attention was fixed on the shoreline, where a figure burst out of the water and landed with such force it scattered the sand beneath him, making a small crater. He was dressed in a tunic of orange mail, and wore tight trousers not dissimilar to those of a wetsuit. His expression was severe, and half-covered by strands of long blond hair. In his right hand, he clutched a golden trident.
     “Manta!” he shouted, and swung his trident at Devil Ray, sending him flying back across the beach. He tried to land a blow on the Ray’s head before he could get up, but the Ray was too fast. He got to his feet and drew out a small shaft that was dwarfed in his hand. It grew into a barbed spear.
     Luthor quitely called Dominic back over to him. His chauffeur scrambled to get both of them back into the car, but Luthor had to watch for a moment more.
     “Manta!” the orange-clad warrior - who the media so mockingly dubbed ‘Aquaman’ - bellowed. “Your diabolical trading is at an end! No more will you defile the seas!”
     Devil Ray’s response was unwavering. If he was at all intimidated by Aquaman, he didn’t show it. Luthor was impressed. “I am a humble businessman. If you do not like the treasures I have to sell, be they wrecks or rare marine life, then simply don’t buy them. What authority do you have to stop me?”
     “The authority of the king of Atlantis!”
     And as the beach finally descended into chaos, Luthor dropped into his car and sped away. He could hear the thunderous blows dealt behind him as the car careened away down the path, back onto the coastal highway.
     “Get me to Ivy University.”

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To be continued...

Countdown to Justice continues this Saturday, August 30th!