Wednesday 14 June 2017

LEGO Marvel's Defenders | Chapter 3: Vampire Nation - References and Easter Eggs

As the team head to the vampire city of St. Sebastian, Iron Fist starts to wonder if there's more to Doctor Strange's motivations than meets the eye.

References and Easter Eggs

  • This episode’s setting and subplot are heavily inspired by Death of Dracula #1, which sees Xarus (Dracula’s son) murdering his father as part of an attempt to unite and control the Vampire Sects.
  • The flag seen throughout St. Sebastien has one star for every vampire sect.
  • Though the Sects themselves do not appear much in this episode, they will feature more heavily later in the series, and in other MBU projects.
  • This is Blade’s first appearance in the MBU.
  • In the prologue, Blade is seen with Raizo Kodo, leader of a band of ‘good’ vampires called the Forgiven, who seek to thwart the machinations of Dracula, Xarus, and any vampires who lust for power and bloodshed. They first appeared in Fear Itself: Hulk vs. Dracula #1.1 in 2011.
  • Raizo’s vampire powers are never clearly defined in the comics, beyond his prodigious skill with a blade. In this episode, he is shown to be mildly telepathic, able to ‘listen’ to the vampires of St. Sebastien, and apparently can turn invisible.
  • The Claw Sect vampires that Blade and Raizo hide from are from the Middle East. They are skilled assassins.
  • The helmeted, gun-toting vampires seen throughout St. Sebastien are of the Kreiger Sect, rivals of the Claw and one of the strongest vampire sects. They are militaristic, and usually dwell in an unassailable mountain fortress.
  • The statue that Blade and Raizo hide behind is ‘Our Lady of Famine’. One of my interpretations of Marvel’s vampire culture is that they would have needed to enslave local villagers to build the vampire citadel during the day, and that in fear of the vampires, these superstitious locals might have come to create folk legends about them. Our Lady of Famine is a fictional vampire and one of those legends.
  • The footage of the Ultron army invading St. Sebastien is taken from a cancelled animation called LEGO Ultron Unlimited: Vampire Nation, which was to cover the events that Xarus mentions in flashback.
  • Dracula being beheaded is a direct reference to the comics; traditionally, in folklore, one of the only ways to kill a vampire is to behead it. The X-Men actually revive Dracula after his murder at Xarus’ hands by reuniting his head with his body in Curse of the Mutants.
  • Ryan Negron, the MBU’s original Iron Fist voice actor was unable to voice in this episode, so Josh Danque (AFewGoodFilms) offered to temporarily replace him.
  • This is the first episode in the series where a character uses the term ‘Defenders’ to define the team. Iron Fist’s dialogue implies that there was a previous team in the MBU that we have yet to fully learn about.
  • Doctor Strange is implied to have had previous dealings with Daimon and Satana Hellstrom, who appear to be villains in the MBU. Only time will tell if this is truly the case.
  • Doctor Strange is shown not to be above foul play himself, using a Spell of Illusion to distract Xarus while he searches the citadel. This mentality of ends justifying the means is a subtle reference to Strange’s role in the Illuminati, in the comics, where Strange, Namor, Tony Stark, Charles Xavier, Black Bolt and Reed Richards come together to deal with catastrophic situations in secret, taking action (some terrible action) on behalf of the rest of the superhero community.
  • It is unknown whether Xarus’ plan to turn Iron Fist and Valkyrie into vampires would have worked. Iron Fist’s chi abilities might have allowed him to purge the vampire curse from his body (as Wolverine’s healing factor can), and Valkyrie is an Asgardian goddess, so mgiht not have been affected at all.
I hope you found these little nuggets of info fun and interesting! Until next time, what is the true extent of the Hellstroms' plan? Do they truly wish to raise Dormammu? Why might Strange not be being entirely honest with his new teammates? And can Blade and the Defenders stop this new Vampire Nation from rising to power so late in the game?

Thursday 25 May 2017

LEGO Yondu and the Ravagers - References and Easter Eggs

In the aftermath of Gamora's attack on the Badoon, Yondu and his Ravagers come to that same planet to collect a bounty, but they soon find that nobody is left to pay them. There is only the Hunger.

References and Easter Eggs

  • The green crystal, the Elemental, is a gemstone of great power precious to the Brotherhood of the Badoon. It's first appearance was very recent, in Gamora #1.1, published in December 2016. Its powers will be different in the MBU.
  • Galactus is able to sense the Elemental from far away. In the comics, different energies and firmaments have different 'tastes', with Sakaar's Old Power giving Galactus a high. This is the same in the MBU, with Galactus thinking the Elemental will be a fine delicacy.
  • Most of the Ravagers in this brickfilm are original characters, with the exceptions of Yondu, Star-Lord, Taserface, Kraglin, and Lady Hellbender.
  • Lady Hellbender is a minor antagonist from Totally-Awesome Hulk #1.1-1.4. In the comics, she is the self-proclaimed Monster Queen of Seknarf Nine. She scours the universe for rare monsters in order to bring them to a sanctuary on her planet, where they are adored for their strength and size. However, in the MBU, she has temporarily joined the Ravagers to acquire money and supplies to further her own goals. Her blocky ship, the Destromundo, is currently docked in one of Knowhere’s outer, long-stay bays. On a good day, she is strong enough to go toe-to-toe with the Hulk. I plan for her to appear in my Planet Hulk series, and thought this would be a good way of introducing her beforehand.
  • Yondu's exclamation "Sweet Mistress Death" is essentially his way of saying "Oh my God". It's meant to imply that the cosmic beings who pop up in the Marvel universe are regarded as a pantheon of 'gods'. I like throwing in more subtly ways of world-building like this.
  • P0K, the hooded, robot Ravager, mentions the Shanix currency. The Shanix is a currency found in the Transformers universe, which the Marvel/Transformers/Doctor Who character Death's Head hails from. Keep your ears open for other subtle Transformers name-drops in the future!
  • Yondu mentions the Broker, a trader of antiques who operates on Xandar.
  • Galactus' herald in this brickfilm is not the Silver Surfer, but Stardust, a water elemental. In the comics, Galactus goes through a number of different heralds, and we will see most of them in the MBU too.
I hope you found these little nuggets of info fun and interesting! Until next time, what powers does the Elemental have, and what do the Badoon want it for? What happened to the Silver Surfer? What did Reed Richards seem so concerned about? And who are King Y'Gaar's mysterious allies?

Join me for the next chapter in this cosmic saga coming soon!

Whoever these two aliens are, they definitely don't come in peace.

Friday 29 July 2016

BIONICLE: Journey's End. Again.

BIONICLE is ending again, and with how the news that the first generation was ending affected me six years ago, I thought I'd comment on the news today.

I'm really not surprised, or not in the way I should be.

Honestly, I think that Generation 2 had limited appeal, and off the back of LEGO's treatment of properties like Ninjago, Chima, original BIONICLE, and now The Freemaker Chronicles, and therein lies the real surprise. Take a look at Ninjago and you'll see that the company's gone to great lengths to create an incredibly inclusive and in-depth play experience: while the show, for instance, isn't exactly Legend of Korra, it's still got a set of fleshed-out and "real" characters (but still just simple enough to not alienate really young children), engaging character arcs, imaginative locations and storylines, and in Nadakhan, Morro and Skylor some really interesting villains. When the fans reacted well to minor, throwaway characters from the show, like Dareth and the Postman, LEGO listened: you can now get both in physical form. And even if kids dont follow the show, there's enough symmetry in the sets to carry a story of their own, without being reliant on any background knowledge: just look at the Jadeblades from the Tournament of Elements, or the set for the city of Stiix, which could easily have been a fun base for the wave's ghostly antagonists without kids knowing he true context from the show. Chima and the original BIONICLE had the same charm, the same level of detail, and BIONICLE in particular had a great deal of fan interaction.

So for Generation 2 to be so vastly homogenised was a shock, especially since it came at a time when Ninjago was doing very well. You would think LEGO would try to emulate that success with what had been one of their most popular themes in the past (which, along with Star Wars, saved the company in the early 2000s).

Alas not. While the first wave of sets were fun, there was no attention to story beyond a few 2D cartoons that were funny, but had nothing special about them. The heroes were caricatures, the world a science-fantasy template, and the villains a character-less Zerg rush without any threat. We were told the Toa needed the golden masks, and given several campfire recountings of the andient conflict between good and evil that had set current events into motion, but there was nothing beyond that. Comparing the first year of Generation 2 to the first year of Generation 1 may be unfair, given that LEGO was clearly aiming for an even younger demographic, but I really can't help it: instead of learning about the island and its inhabitants via the framing device of an amnesiac, first person protagonist, we're given brief backstories and names for six central ones and no insights into the world of the story beyond the fact that it appears as a physical stage for the Toas' quests; rather than a highly nuanced relationship between the six Toa, three of whom competed for leadership, we were given archetypal cartoons who seemed to speak from a bank of stock phrases.

And so given that the designs of most of the sets went downhill, and that fans had little to nothing to align themselves with story-wise, or not in the way they might be used to from Ninjago, it's no surprise to me that BIONICLE has been discontinued again. I'm sure a lot of people are very sad about it, and I did sigh at the thought of the new story not having the chance to develop into its third year, but it's like energy: you get out what you put in, and quite frankly Generation 2 didn't have much that made it truly special.

Just my opinion, I'm sure it's an unpopular one, but I thought I would share it.

Thursday 14 January 2016

Macbeth (2015) | Film Review

Macbeth (2015)

Directed by Justin Kurzel
Written by William Shakespeare, screenplay by Jacob Koskoff and Michael Lesslie
Starring Michael Fassbender (Macbeth), Marion Cotillard (Lady Macbeth), Paddy Considine (Banquo), Sean Harris (Macduff), David Thewlis (Duncan).
Macbeth (2015) on IMDB

Is this a triumph I see before me? Not quite, but Macbeth is certainly, in my eyes, one of the finest film adaptations of William Shakespeare’s famous play. Set in Scotland, in a heavily fictionalised simulation of the rise and fall an 11th century Scottish king, Shakespeare’s play needs no introduction. Despite being the shortest of his tragedies it is perhaps the most famous. Including genre transpositions (such as Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood) and other forms of adaptation, Macbeth has been brought to screens large and small twenty-four times. So what makes this 2015 adaptation stand apart? You would think that with so many adaptations and so many different approaches to the play’s content, that Macbeth would simply retread old ground. You would be mistaken.

Macbeth is in many ways a very literal adaptation of the play, doggedly loyal not just to Shakespeare’s beautiful, poetic dialogue and soliloquies, but also to the emotions and motivations behind them. There is no better display of this approach than in the eponymous protagonist himself. Through Michael Fassbender’s wonderfully underplayed performance we see a man first quietly suffers the consequences of his actions, and then is led to believing his own lies, caught between his ethics and his desires. Macbeth is first caught in a conflict between his sense of morality and his duties to a noble king, and to the resplendent future promised to him by three clairvoyant witches. Fassbender internalises Macbeth’s pain, hidden behind a falsely calm facade, only beginning to burst through as he descends into madness later in the film. Initially, Macbeth cannot bring himself to murder Duncan in cold blood - he does not believe himself capable of murder - but over time he is sold his own lie, and allows himself to become more and more callous and cruel, and it is as he moves further down this dark path that Fassebender allows Macbeth’s facade to slip: when Macbeth sees the ghost of Banquo, and has an outburst of anger in the middle of his feasting hall; when ordering the deaths of Macduffs wife and children, and when he lights the execution pyre himself. It is a subtle emotional journey but not one that goes unnoticed, and while not exactly a virtuoso performance, it is one that I believe shows a deeper level of skill from Fassbender; where some actors might go over the top in portraying the throes of insanity, Fassbender brings a more human and beautifully low-key approach.

While faithful to the play in terms of content, Macbeth is also vastly experimental, yet not to a degree that it alienates the viewer. Kurzel’s use of montage editing during the opening battle sequence unglamourises and humanises what could have been a straightforward action sequence. We are brought to the battlefield alongside Macbeth, Paddy Considine’s Banquo, and a handful of other soldiers, and we stand beside them at every stage of the hellish nightmare that this battle becomes. In particular, our focus is drawn to a young soldier (played by newcomer Scot Greenan), who is implied to be partaking in his first battle. Tension rises, as the two armies of Scots race toward each other in slow-motion. Then the chaos begins, and our protagonists are lost in the low mist and a frenzy of near-silhouettes, and as Macbeth himself stands distracted by his first sighting of the witches, all around him, we are forced through slow motion to watch as both friends and enemies - including the young boy soldier - are painfully dispatched. This young soldier, seeing war for the first time, has his throat cut before the day is done.

Every blow and strike by soldiers on either side is with a raw energy that keeps this fight, despite its scale, a personal affair. We cut back to Banquo several times throughout but it is Macbeth’s perspective that provides the most visually interesting parts of the sequence, as halfway through, he becomes distracted by three enemy warriors who he sees as three hooded witches, a change in colour temperature (cutting to the witches in a putrid yellow from the bluish grey of the battle) dividing reality and irreality. The battle passes Macbeth by, and the level of disparity is signal through another clever use of slow and fast motion. The world turns and his soldiers fall, but Macbeth is singularly focused on these three unknown figures who he can palpably sense are somehow tied to his own fate.

Similarly, the final confrontation between Macbeth and Macduff takes place in the reddening smog of a burning forest, hiding everything but the two combatants from our sight and throwing a malicious red glow upon them, as if their battle takes place over the mouth of hell itself. It’s a wonderful visual metaphor considering the film’s use of religious imagery and the Macbeths’ complex relationship with their faith, and makes for a stylish and visually awe-inspiring, almost fantastical finale, reminiscent of the similarly hellish, crimson final frame of Red Sorghum (Zhang Yimou, 1987), which also showed war in an unpatronising and horrific way. Interestingly, this powerful blood-red is seen only in this scene, the opening titles, and in the murder of King Duncan; despite the amount of bloody violence and gruesome deaths, actual gore is generally kept to a tasteful minimum, used sparingly to retain its visual impact. Duncan’s murder is a turning point for the story, the moment when Macbeth takes fate into his own hands and physically sets himself on a path to ruin. The finale is of equal importance, as all of Macbeth’s mistakes become manifest, and he is punished for his moral failures. Justice is done, Macduff kills Macbeth, and leaves his body on the plains before Dunsinane Hill as a red sun fills the sky.

Despite all of this, I have one rather large criticism with the film, one that I found distracting to the point of actually degrading my experience of the piece: mumbling. Shakespeare’s writing is beautiful, and the film consistantly stays loyal to the original text. However, the beauty is in how it is heard, how it is performed, and yet even Fassbender is guilty of fumbling with many of his lines. The rhythmic intonation and delivery is there, but in many cases it is inaudible - often detracting from the emotional value of the characters’ speech, particularly in the cases of Marion Cotillard and Paddy Considine - and when the film is drawing so heavily from such a triumphant work of lyrical art, it just feels like, pardon the pun, wasted breath. Only a few scenes (such as the banquet hall, when Macbeth sees the ghost of Banquo) break this pattern, and when the film is already carried by characters with thick, Scottish accents, the sheer volume of mumbled lines makes large swathes of the story difficult to follow.

That’s my major criticism of this film, but unfortunately it’s a rather larger one that detracted considerably from my enjoyment of the film. It prevented me from becoming invested as fully in Lady Macbeth as I clearly should have been, which is a shame considering how wonderfully complex a character she is. That brings me to another criticism, which is that at times, the film moves a little too slowly, most noticably during a few of Lady Macbeth’s monologues. Marion Cotillard’s performance, particularly when she returns to her home village (which, now abandoned, has the air of cursed grounds) is moving and deftly portrays the character’s own personal tragic downfall, but the use of such long takes in already slow, plodding sequences detracted from said sequences as a whole; performance alone can only hold the audience’s attention so far. Film is a visual medium, and while a lot of it is reliant on the actors’ physical performances, cinematography, camera movement and intercutting are also essential in exploiting a film to its full potential. Long takes are great in moderation, and overuse of intercutting is far too common in modern cinema, but we sit in a room watching Lady Macbeth stare into space and talk to herself several minutes. Twice.

In conclusion, I think that despite being incredibly loyal to the source material, Macbeth is a surprisingly fresh and innovative take on the material. The visual style makes this, as a friend of mine described it, a “pretty” film, and the performances (where we can hear them) are richly layered and engaging, drawing us into a very personal experience.


There was room for improvement in the sound design department, and the pacing was a tad slow at times, but overall this was a fantastic exploration both of Shakespeare’s tragic characters and of visual form. I would highly recommend seeing this film in its entirety, since its visual style is one of its greatest achievements. The other? Well, it’s no surprise to me that Michael Fassbender was nominated for Best Actor at the British Independent Film Awards. He poured his soul into Macbeth, and more than deserves the recognition for it.

Monday 23 February 2015

Avengers Tower: Invasion

After rewrites, reshoots, much kafuffery and myriad setbacks, it's done.

Avengers Tower: Invasion is my longest brickfilm to date, coming in at a grand 8 minutes 21 seconds. It's possibly the most complex I've ever done too, and considering my own internal controversies over this brickfilm, I figured it warranted a proper write-up, just for me to explain everything that went on while I was putting this hunk a' junk together.

The origin story
From March through to August last year I was working on Avengers Tower, a series of fight videos for another channel (though I moved them back to my channel after a disagreement). They were Avengers 'training' fight sequences, and I started trying to use more minor Marvel characters. Anyway, the third video was originally going to be a brainless fight against Ultron and his AIM minions, and so I started animating before I really had a clear idea. At this time, it was called Ultron Ascending, and would be released in two parts. However, part one received a lot of negative backlash, and issues with this other channel caused me to shelve Ultron Ascending.

The dilemma
Ultron Ascending was a really low point for me. I was just about to head off to university and wasn't sure whether I would be able to continue brickfilming there or not (more on that later) and when the reaction to this was so poor, I hated that it could be one of the last things I'd be able to make for a while. It became a sore spot, and I wanted to put the very memory of it out of my mind.

However, I still had about 5 minutes worth of animation done, and a super-complex 1 minute digital intro. That's more than I've ever filmed/edited of anything before, and while I wasn't pleased with much of it, I thought it would be a shame to let it go to waste. At this time, I had also just started talking to Galactic Bricks about a shared LEGO Marvel universe, since I wanted to attempt a different, fresher Avengers project at some point soon. So, I made the decision to try and find a way to use the Ultron Ascending footage.

Invaders assemble
The main difficulty in rewriting Ultron Ascending was that it was such a small-scale story, and the original script had Ultron be destroyed. Thus the first thing I decided to do was have Ultron only appear in a behind-the-scene capacity, and let the Avengers just fight AIM, who I decided (being an organisation of techno-geeks) would somehow have come under the android's sway. Since, with the MBU now better formed in my mind, I wanted to add more set-up for future brickfilms, I tried to interweave some backstory for the robot, while at the same time not making it too oblique. Annoyingly, the original footage, didn't have any space for me to add more in, so it feels like all the build-up is in the second half.

(Click for detail)

Which brings me to my honest truth about the film: I don't like it. It hasn't been much fun to work on: it's riddled with light flicker (in both the new and old footage) which I just seem to get rid of, the story is a bit half-hearted, hastily edited, dodgy VFX, and it represents an unpleasant part of my brickfilming career...I'm already looking at how to make my next large project more of a departure from this. While I made the best of a bad situation, there's so much I've learned from how not to brickfilm.

So I hope you enjoy watching this more than I did making it, basically. I've had months of wanting to work on something else but being driven (for some inexplicable reason) to finish this, and I'm not satisfied with the end result.

On a lighter note...

Now this I am pleased with. Together with Galactic Bricks, I've been working on establishing a lot of backstory canon, planning lots of brickfilms, and have even begun filming on a few of them. Black Panther: The Gold Vibranium is my next Marvel brickfilm, while a Doctor Strange tribute is also in the works. I'm also quite happy that I've managed to do two episodes of SHIELD Declassified, which you can view on the MBU playlist. Big things are in the works, and while I'm going to be working on some non-Marvel projects too, the MBU has a lot of my attention. Future installments will be far better than Invasion. That's a promise.

The one good thing that did come out of Invasion was the amount of set-up I managed to add without making it clunky. I've established Ultron, AIM (including Andrew Forson, who'll return in Black Panther), Superior Spider-man, and even threw in Inhumans and the High Evolutionary (shhh, spoilers), all of which will have further repercussions in the MBU.

There's better to come, and now that Invasion isn't at the front of my mind I have time to work on becoming better. Like I said, there's so much I've learned about what not to do, and I'll be experimenting with new techniques to try and improve my work.

That's all I have to say for now. I do hope you enjoyed Invasion, and I hope you'll enjoy the future of the Marvel Brickfilm Universe!

(Click for detail)

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!