Saturday, November 21, 2009

How A Character is Created

So now we had the origin of the character, an idea in my mind of what he should look like and a concept sketch from Ethan Wright that was a first step in the right direction. Although the design had a lot of great ideas in it, I didn't think it was suitable for a slick futuristic space dictator. The single shoulder pad and gauntlet gave the character a Mad Max look. I could see Der Verge's soldiers wearing something like this, patchwork armor left over from the alien invasion or taken from a hundred different worlds. I also didn't want any skin to be showing so that people would never be quite sure how human he still was or how he had changed. Lastly, there was the Darkness Cloak he wore had to be bigger, more extravagant, something that could wrap him in shadows. So even though I could use this design for some of Der Verge's soldiers, I knew this wasn't the man himself and I had to ask Ethan to go back to the drawing board. . .

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Captain Future was a pulp hero created back in 1939.

As a "Man of Tomorrow" and space hero, Captain Future gave me the link between the superhero universe and the pulp era space stories I was trying to mimic with this villain. Of course the original Captain Future didn't carry a Gravity Gunsword, that was completely made up for the character. The Gravity Gunsword has an edge cut by a futuristic laser, the blade is so sharp it actually cuts through the electromagnetic forces of gravity. Not only will it cut you in half but it could send those two halves flying in opposite directions or straight into the air. At this point I was reading about numerous other pulp heroes and I found one more who seemed a natural fit in the story.

Der Verge was able to locate the last surviving rebels, some of whom were well past the point of defeat and united them together. Some of the weaker superhumans were still active, including a former District Attorney named Tony Quinn. Quinn had been blinded and scarred by an alien acid attack and left for dead. Carol Baldwin, the daughter of a man known as The Black Bat, was able to transplant her dead father’s corneas unto Quinn, gifting him with her father’s ability to see in total darkness. Tony then took on the mantle of the Black Bat, using the darkness as a weapon against the diurnal alien invaders. Der Verge had changed drastically, the insect-like abilities of the aliens were solar based, but he was also able to absorb Quinn’s power making them an unstoppable team night or day. It seemed as if the aliens were simply evolved intelligent moths, a race of almost humanoid looking creatures with a society structure beyond human understanding. The Gravity Gunsword make it difficult for the aliens to send in flying aircraft and so they send in hundreds of thousands of ground troops. With each victory more and more humans joined in the fight. Der Verge had no sympathy for the humans who worked with the aliens; he killed them as quickly as their alien overlords. Perhaps it was something in the aliens that drove them to conquer other races, something that Der Verge absorbed from them that turned him into a dominant warlord. The moth-men inevitably fell and Der Verge used their space technology to take the fight back to their homeworld. The aliens civilians had no idea what their government had done but this made no difference to Der Verge. He took the young from the planet and shipped them back to Earth where they were slaughtered and fed to the starving people of Earth. The rest of the population was then wiped out, not a single life remained on their world when Der Verge and Quinn left it. At this point Quinn and Der Verge parted ways. Quinn took over the Earth, building a peaceful utopia. Der Verge and the remaining soldiers left for space to proactively protect their home. As the people of Earth built a peaceful utopia, Der Verge was conquering every alien planet he encountered. His armies soon grew to massive sizes, containing soldiers from hundreds of different worlds. Der Verge realized that a whole multiverse of threats existed. .

As Echo, Der Verge was a moderate level fighter who would primarily duplicate the powers of the villains he fought in order to defeat them. The only power he "banked" during the early periods was the power of flight. After encountering his nemesis Skylark, Der Verge was forced to take on multiple powers simply to stay a step ahead and stay alive. At this time Der Verge stopped flying and took more close combat abilities from his fellow heroes. In their final battle against each other, Der Verge and Skylark had accumulated the powers of almost fifty heroes and villains between them, using one at a time but able to shift between abilities. At the time of his capture he had no abilities "banked".

At the time of his escape Der Verge had copied the natural abilities of the moth-men which included superhuman strength, unlimited endurance, resistance to radiation and chemical poisoning, limited need for food and an enhanced healing ability in the sun. After his conquest of the moth-men and the discovery of the Wormhole Nexus at the center of his universe Der Verge encountered a cosmic police force who operated out of the Nexus. They were known as the Cosmic Wave Riders and they almost defeated Der Verge's armies. Der Verge absorbed their abilities, harnessing the Cosmic Wave Energy to make him indestructible. He no longer needs food, drink, sleep or even oxygen to breathe. He still retains the increased senses and abilities of the moth-men and it seems he cannot release these powers the way he can with the others. Defeating a villain of the night who survived the alien invasion Der Verge also gained control over a shadow force, he can use it to create a blanket of darkness which he becomes invisible in. This ability remains active in the cloak he wears. He also possesses a level of mind control and telepathy that has created a labyrinth of locks within his mind and his senses and combat skills are nearly unbeatable. Untouchable at night and almost unstoppable during the day, Der Verge is a powerful force.

The first concept design that Ethan sent me very good. In fact the sword was almost perfect. I'd always wanted a character with a Gun-Sword and he seemed the perfect character to use one. At this point I decided to write up an origin on the character, figuring that would help Ethan understand the kind of guy he was. As a character who can absorb other peoples powers, or an empathic mimic as they call it in Heroes, it was important to know which powers he has at the time he tries to conquer the Earth in the Canadian Legion. Here is the history I sent him (more or less):
Emperor Der Verge

Der Verge was once a normal human being living in an alternate world full of superheroes. Born with the ability to absorb superhuman powers, Verge became a hero and often stood against his world's deadliest villains. While still a teenager Verge was known as the hero Echo, while an adult he changed his alias to Mr. Mimic. During those years Der Verge often faced off against an opponent with matching abilities, the mad scientist Joseph Skylark. Their final battle lasted three hours. In a bizarre twist an alien race invaded their Earth as the two men lay exhausted and wounded from their war. Taken prisoner, tortured and powerless, both men made a pact that one would sacrifice themselves so that the other, their arch-nemesis, could survive. It took seventeen months but finally Skylark managed to detonate an explosive device, killing himself but buying Der Verge time to escape. With no superhuman abilities, Der Verge was forced to absorb what he could from the aliens. Their thoughts and alien physiology was terrible to mimic, it changed him down to his very basic form, but with their insect-like abilities at his disposal Der Verge was able to steal a ship. Returning to Earth, Der Verge found the planet completely under alien rule. The moon had become a graveyard for superbeings, a final resting place for hundreds of heroes and villains. Searching the dead for anything that might help him, Der Verge found a gravity gunsword that once belonged to Captain Future.
Since I haven't really used this blog in a while I thought I would take the opportunity to show everyone how one of my ideas comes together.

I wanted to do a super villain from space, someone along the lines of Ming the Merciless and Darth Vader, someone who conquered whole planets and civilizations. But I wanted him to be very unpredictable, very multidimensional, someone who was feared for his mind and ingenuity as much as his destructive power.

I used photoshop to create an idea, a shadow of what I wanted, something that would feel like the character I wanted until I found an artist to bring him to life.

The name came from the German translation of Space Rapist; Raum-Vergewaltiger, becoming Emperor Raum Der Verge. The sword in the original design was for a double bladed weapon. The character then went into the file with the dozens of others, waiting for his time to come. Some characters have sat for years, others sit no more than a week before being 'finished'.

In this case, Der Verge sat for about two months. During that time Ethan Wright and I got in touch with each other again. We had worked on something before for a Marvel pitch, before I got tired of trying to pitch to a company whose books I couldn't even read anymore. While trying to decide who I could pay Ethan to illustrate for me, Der Verge just seemed to pop up.

Ethan and I talked a bit about costumes we liked. I wanted something between EMPIRE's lead villain and Lars from Tekken 6. Ethan was also a fan of Tekken and so we went with a more down to Earth, fist fighter look. The first draft Ethan sent me was this: