As space year 2021 comes to an end, I would just like to say Happy Holidays and a fantabulous New Year to all my fellow bloggers, followers and readers of Precinct1313! Thank you so much for your continuing support of this majestic mansion of mystery, and we’ll leave you with a cosmic collation of Christmas comic-book cheer via the world’s finest superheroes…
And let’s finish with a special message of holiday cheer from none other than the last Czarnian himself, intergalactic space biking mercenary – LOBO…
“Oh… hi there, it’s great to see you, I hope you didn’t have a particularly hard time finding your way down here, the majestic mansion of mystery known as Precinct1313 certainly is a notoriously convoluted place… infinite in fact. So kudos for locating this particular annex. Usually, of course, the Precinct’s resident Carrion Crow Of Woe – Eldritch would have guided you here, but, he’s been feeling rather nonplussed since his recent encounter with Supergirl’s cat Streaky, so he is on a rather lengthy corvidae sabbatical right now… “
Though, as long as you followed my implicit instructions, it wasn’t necessarily a huge task to navigate – turn left at the Movie Mausoleum, head directly forward until you reach the Comic Crypts and then turn right and head into the boundless Ancient Amazon Archives, whereupon you will find an additional wing that leads ceremoniously unto the art gallery of the atavistic Greek gods themselves. A small part of which contains an extensive exhibition of malice and enmity, of beings whose one purpose in life is to oppose that which is truth, hope and love… the aspirations that ultimately transform into a celestial persona known as Wonder Woman.
Now, it’s well known throughout comic-book circles that Gotham’s grim guardian – The Batman has the greatest and most eclectic gallery of foes, and without a doubt the most famous of all SuperVillains reside within their ranks, even non comic-book fans have heard of the likes of the Penguin, Riddler, Two Face, and of course the medium’s most memorable and malevolently maniacal nemesis – The Joker.
With that said, the Themysciran Titan also possesses a wild array of distinctive adversaries to challenge her ongoing mission of peace, though maybe lesser known outside of comicdom, they are still most certainly as iconic and maliciously menacing as Batsy’s archive of antagonists.
Silver Swans, Gods Of War, Cheetahs, Psycho Doctors and malevolent Witches, Wonder Woman’s eclectic cast of foes really are as wild and diverse as the Caped Crusader’s… in fact, when you really delve headlong into their malign and pernicious psyche they are a hell of a lot more distinct and disparate than almost any enemies the pointy eared vigilante has in his antagonistic ranks.
ARES – GOD OF WAR
Of course, with Ares having been the prime villain in the 2017 Wonder Woman film he has rocketed up the ranks of Diana’s nemeses, though, if you have been a fan of Ms Prince’s comic for many a year (or literally decades, a la moi) then he has always been one of her most enduring and dangerous foes.
In Greek mythology, Ares is the son of Zeus and Hera and one of the twelve Olympian Gods. Designated as the God of War, Ares revels in the savagery and bloodletting of eternal human combat from whence he derives his power. In the Wonder Woman mythos, Ares (in the post crisis DC Universe) was Diana’s greatest enemy, it was through the actions of this barbaric god that Diana left her home of Themyscira so she could resist Ares’ threat on human kind, as he poised to unleash World War III upon the planet. Ares mercilessly opposed the creation of the Amazon race, who were championed by his own half sister – Artemis, who chose to preach the peaceful idylls of the earth goddess Gaea to the fledgling Amazon race, much to the chagrin of Ares who vowed to corrupt and destroy the immortal sisterhood.
My personal favourite Wonder Woman villain of all time is most assuredly Diana’s principal nemesis – The Cheetah, but did you know that the current holder of that appellation, one Barbara Ann Minerva, is actually just one of many that have held that titular title over the years? no? well read on fellow fans of ferocious felines.
Making her first ever appearance in Wonder Woman #6 was the original variant of the capricious cat – Priscilla Rich, created by the awesome alumni of William Moulton Marston and Harry G. Peter way back in 1943. This golden age version of Cheetah was a spoilt rich girl with an inferiority complex and split personality, who when shown up by Wonder Woman at a charity event, attempted yet failed to take the life of Diana. Later, falling into the mire of her dissociative identity disorder, Priscilla donned a colourful costume and became the first Cheetah.
Cheetah 2.0 was actually Priscilla’s very own niece – Debbie Domaine, who was very much removed from her aunt personality wise, being an ecology activist and fast friend with Wonder Woman herself. After Priscilla passes away, Debbie was kidnapped by the cult of Kobra, her aunt’s former villainous identity is revealed and through torture and insidious indoctrination, Debbie became the new embodiment of Cheetah.
Currently chowing down on hapless humans and ruining Wondy’s day is Barbara Ann Minerva – former British archaeologist and heiress. Babs inherited her predatory powers from the ancient plant god – Urzkartaga, who, trapped for aeons in the Urzari jungle sought a champion to free him of his imprisonment and herald his way to ultimately raise an army and conquer the known world – this avaricious avatar ended up being Babs Minerva. First appearing in Wonder Woman (volume 2) #170, Babs continues to create chaos for the Themysciran Titan to this day, and recently was the main villain in the celluloid classic that is Wonder Woman 1984. (We also interviewed her a couple of years back – right here)
Witch-Goddess – Circe is next in our iniquitous inventory of villainy, first ushered unto the DC Universe in the 1949 issue of Wonder Woman #37, this original (pre-crisis) version of the character, created by Robert Kanigher and Harry G. Peter was a centuries old sorceress who acquired her immortality from a rare elixir named Vitae, and was eventually banished to an uninhabited island in space known as Sorca, for her crimes against the Amazon race.
Post the DC Comics shake up of their universe in the Crisis storyline, Circe’s previous history was re-written by the great George Perez, though the core of her characterisation remained similar. In this revision of her mythos, Circe is the daughter of the Greek Titans – Hyperion and Perseis and is an immortal sorceress and former princess of the isle of Colchis (legendary resting place of the Golden Fleece) An advocate of the goddess – Hecate for millennia, her powers are myriad including the ability to change and reform reality and matter, she can control minds and raise the dead to fight for her, on top of the more mundane and everyday powers (at least in the comic-book world) of flight and strength. We also interviewed the malefic Circe a few years back – Right Here, though our poor hapless interviewer would really rather forget his calamitous conference with the witchy wonder!
Like felonious feline – Cheetah, the capricious cygnet known as Silver Swan has been inhabited by three very different persona over the decades. A trio of women have inherited the majestic yet melancholic moniker of The Silver Swan, beginning with the tragic tale of Helen Alexandros. Helen was a talented ballet dancer, who oft found herself bereft of balletic opportunities because (or so she believed) of her average looks and physique. Striking a pact with Ares for angelic beauty, Helen was gifted the exquisite form she so desired on the proviso that she destoyed the Amazon champion, Wonder Woman. Mystically enhanced by Ares, she became the Silver Swan, and was granted the powers of flight, super strength and the capacity to unleash powerful sonic blasts using her voice.
Second in line to ruffle her feathers at Diana was Valerie Beaudry, a lonely and dejected personality with low self esteem and severe social anxiety problems. In fact her only connection to societal structure came in the form of a pen pal – Henry Armbruster, industrial head of Armbruster International. Upon meeting for the first time, Henry exploited Valerie’s longing for acceptance and friendship by choosing her for his secretive Silver Swan project. Through experimentation, Valerie emerged as the new face of the Silver Swan, retaining all the powers of the previous Alexandros avian variant. With the succour of wonder Woman, Valerie gradually broke free from the manipulative control of Armbruster, and in due course became an agent of justice, initially joining the meta-human team – The Captains of Industry, and a brief stint in The Suicide Squad.
The swan song of this group of volatile volitants and current holder of the sonic scream is Vanessa Kapatelis, a former adherent and eventual friend of Diana. Yet, Vanessa’s friendship with Wondy and her inherent insecurities were perniciously preyed upon by Witch-Goddess – Circe, who utilised Vanessa’s diffident personality and slowly turned her against the Amazon princess. With the assistance of the diabolical Doctor Psycho, Circe conditioned and transformed the insecure former friend of Diana into the latest form of the Silver Swan. Even after Wonder Woman defeated Circe and released Vanessa from her thrall, her unjustified torment continued as she was summarily kidnapped from recovery at a Buenos Aries hospital by deceitful pharmaceutical mogul – Veronica Cale. Cale modified Vanessa through cybernetic implants and sent her out, once more, to fight her former friend, Diana. With her eventual defeat again at the hands of Wonder Woman, Vanessa retreated to the paradise isle of Themyscira for rehabilitation and solace.
Phew! and that, my astounding Amazonian associates is just the literal tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to the astonishing Amazon’s array of aggressive antagonists, I mean I could go on (an on) but this post is already reaching near encyclopedic proportions! Yet, with Wonder Woman’s 80th anniversary on the near horizon (October 21, Wondy fact fans) you can be sure that there’ll be plenty more posts emanating from the Precinct’s Ancient Amazon Archives, celebrating not just our favourite Hellenic herald but also her nearest and not so dearest…
Welcome fellow agents of Precinct1313 to our sensational seventh year of existence! That’s right, it’s been an ebullient eighty four months since the majestic mansion of mystery materialised unto this plane of existence. Our mission (which we chose to accept) was to provide you with some decidedly delectable DC Comics documentation, whilst behind the scenes we continued to map out the labyrinthian corridors, herculean hallways and colossal comic crypts that encompass this runic and recondite residence. And as we make our way merrily down through the interminable depths of this endless edifice on our way to commemorate at the infamous Halls of Quaffing to celebrate in style, why not join us in geeky remembrance of some of our favourite past posts emanating from the zenith of this arcane abode.
Our first port of call shall be the abstruse anomaly known as The Scrying Chamber, whence sits, upon a single stone table, a stygian black crystal ball, so join me fellow agents as we stare deeply into its sanguine depths and re-live our personal favourite posts from the past seven scintillating years…
Ace, Krypto and Streaky Too!
Our most recent and without a doubt most fun to write fictional foray was this post dedicated to the awesome and adorable animals that populate the DC Universe. These super-powered pets include such dynamic delights as flying felines, detective deducing dogs and, yep, even a Bat-Cow! And you can peruse (and pet) this perky post – Right Here.
Mister Miracle – Tom King/Mitch Gerads Review
Emotional, poignant, groundbreaking are just some of the superlatives we used to describe this phenomenal piece of comic-book fiction by King and Gerads, a fitting return to Jack Kirby’s Fourth World saga, and a superlative homecoming for our personal favourite Kirby created character, the titular Mister Miracle himself. In fact we loved this series so much we hailed it as – The Greatest Comic-Book Series Since Watchmen! – visit the post – Right Here – to find out why.
Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed Review
As you’re all probably bored of hearing right now, ’cause we never, ever shut up about it (and never shall!) we love Wondy here in Precinct1313, she is our favourite comic book creation of all time! And just recently the glorious gods of Olympus once more bestowed upon us mere mortals yet another thrilling tale of the Themysciran Titan with the fabulous Laurie Halse Anderson penned opus – Tempest Tossed – a sublime celebration of the wondrous one, and you can read our rapturous review of this titanic tome – Right Here.
The Bat Loves The Cat – Comics’ Greatest Love Story
The Bat most assuredly does love the cat, in fact they’ve been dancing around each other emotionally for the past eight decades! Yep, that’s eighty years of perfect passion procrastination! No character has had a more emotive impact on the Dark Knight’s melancholic life than sultry Selina Kyle aka -Catwoman! Why not re-live their tender tale of romance – Right Here.
Phew, thanks for sticking with us as we shared some of our personal favourite posts we have submitted to the WordPress world over the past seven years, and as we near the great Halls of Quaffing for mucho merriment, allow me to say a massive THANK YOU to all of the Precinct’s followers, readers and fellow bloggers… it is YOU that makes this joyous journey worthwhile. Hopefully the majestic mansion will be here for another seven years, so we can continue to share our love and passion for DC Comics and general geekdom!
Oh, And As Ever – Make Mine DC!
I’ve been a gamer for well over thirty years now, in which time I have watched the respective technology of this immersive medium grow exponentially more complex over the decades, not just the relevant console tech itself but also the inherent maturation of gameplay, graphics and storylines contained within these entrancing virtual worlds. One of the things that defined games of previous generations, such as Sega’s Megadrive, and Nintendo’s SNES, weren’t the less complicated pixel form graphics but the relative difficulty of the actual games themselves, modern games, in stark contrast to their ’80s classic counterparts are rather easy in comparison… until Dark Souls.
Dark Souls released in 2011 from Japanese gaming guru’s From Software, an outstanding action role-play game set in the perilous lands of the ancients, known as Lordran. Technically the second game in the Souls series, a spiritual successor to From’s former sensation – Demons Souls.
‘Prepare To Die’ are the ominous words that greet the beleaguered player on the box art, and die you shall, again and again, once, twice or thrice more… now, if you’re thinking to yourself at this moment that this doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun, I say au contraire, my fellow gaming buddies, it’s the difficulty itself that makes Souls the glorious gem it is. A tangible sense of achievement and progress is gained from defeating that impossible boss character that has managed to annihilate your anxious avatar fifteen times on the trot, memorising their strategies, or just purely surviving make for a seriously satisfying sense of accomplishment when you finally do manage to best your cyber-space nemesis.
Difficulty aside, the world and lore of Dark Souls is really rather fascinating, but unlike its peers in the RPG genre, does very little through direct exposition to the player bar the initial (and still rather vague) introductory cut-scene. Dark Souls lore is embedded in its characters, architecture, and items, all vital knowledge and exegesis is derived from multiple conversations with the NPC’s (even then, the ambiguity of their replies require you to dig even further to interpret) or the descriptions that accompany the various weapons, armour and items acquired as you traverse through the treacherous land that is Lordran.
In fact, the narrative is so well embedded that you’d be forgiven for thinking that the creators had decided to not even add one, yet if you’re willing to dig deep and immerse yourself in its perfidious prose you will be rewarded with one of the most cerebral and emotional chronicles that gaming has wrought. But, if plot is of no interest to you, and your only reasoning for venturing into this precarious predicament is for the conflict, then that’s fine, because the combat system in Dark Souls is superlative.
Dark Souls combat absolutely is its defining feature, weighty, precise and intricate. Though it can initially feel a somewhat shallow fighting system, it slowly forms into one of the greatest combat engines to ever grace an RPG. The substantial weaponry open to your prostate protagonist begins with the player’s choice of class, do you prefer to tread the duplicitous world of Lordran as a steel clad knight, maybe a leather bound assassin, or perhaps sorcery is more your style, whichever role you decide upon, you are guaranteed an expansive choice of weaponry, armour, spells and shields (which are your absolute best friends in Souls) for your perpetually pained paladin.
Of course, all the entrancing exposition, crazy combat and awesome armour count for naught if there are no memorable antagonists to pit your plucky (though usually plucked!) hero against, and the adversaries in Souls are some of the largest and most unforgiving any persistent paladin has ever faced. From the humble undead, to the terrifying half arachnid- half witch Queelag, the foes you face down are some of the most remorseless and unrelenting you have ever had the ill will to encounter.
The bosses are unyielding in their pursuit of your demise, from the aforementioned Queelag, through gilded knights – Dragonslayer Ornstein and Executioner Smough (the dynamic duo of video-game hell!) your gaming skills and cred will be tested to their utmost limits, but each and every time (many, many times!) you will assimilate a little more of their inherent patterns and weaknesses, until you finally revel in their eventual expiration.
There is also an extremely popular online PvP mode, where Souls aficionados can test their mettle against other players, whilst invading their worlds or duelling one on one, though this substantive mode rarely interested me personally, though I did enjoy the ability of being able to call upon one of my Dark Souls brethren (hi Dan!) to join me in jolly co-op, and sanguinely slay a boss or two, or to at least share in my torment!
This game has so much depth, intrinsic lore, customisation and complexity that this review could easily become an epic of encyclopedic extravagance, so I will just say this… do you love – Videogames, , fantasy, bloody huge swords, labyrinthine lore and are a little bit of a masochist at heart? then you’ll fall absolutely head over heels with the world that is Dark Souls, just be prepared to die again, and again, and again…
On this day on October 21 1941 an inspiration was born, Diana, Princess of the Amazons made her dynamic debut courtesy of her celebrated creator William Moulton Marston. And so in celebration of Wonder Woman Day, I present to you, my astonishing Amazonian Affiliates, an extra special instalment of ‘Comic Cover Of The Week’ a hearken back to my first ever encounter with the Themysciran Titan, way back in that glorious decade known as the 1980s!
Ah the eighties, it was an interesting and rather revolutionary time in the UK. It had just gotten over the phenomenon that was Punk Rock, a rebellious anti-establishment movement that, really, was more about freedom of speech and giving voice to the people than it was about the music itself. I was actually way too young to appreciate the campaign for acceptance and diversity that Punk represented, but looking back on that era now, have come to realise how much Superheroes fit into the same mould as the punk rockers of the day, working outside of Government control, for the benefit of the people themselves.
I grew up in the greatest decade in the history of human kind (at least it was to me) the 1980’s. Icons from my era included such luminaries as Siouxsie and the Banshees (my all time favourite band… yes I was a Goth!) ridiculously over the top action heroes like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Wesley Snipes, Cynthia Rothrock and Moon Lee (my favourite female action stars.) Video Games began to really evolve from their previous very simplistic and basic look and premise in the seventies, adding more complexity and depth in both the graphics and gameplay. But even with all these wonderful new distractions available to me, Comic-Books were still my first love, my go to for escapism and ultimate reverie.
It was the shadowy Masked Manhunter, The Batman, who initially introduced me into wonderful world of Superheroes. My first encounter with this iconic character was when I was six years of age, I was captivated by his world, so very different from my own (yet at times eerily similar.) Gotham was a terrible, seething place of corruption and murder, yet it had a redeemer, someone who swathed himself in darkness, and was scarier than even the worst denizens of this malevolent city… and yet, fought for good!
The character beguiled me, and it was through him that my love of not just comics, but also literature itself began. It wasn’t until I was nine that I experienced my first foray into the legendary world of the Amazons, I knew who Wonder Woman was of course, through the occasional crossover story in ‘Batman’ and ‘Detective Comics’ but had yet to branch out fully into other realms, feeling contented in my protracted residence in Gotham City.
Wonder Woman #271 was the first time I invested heavily in a character who didn’t have a cape, a cowl and a fatalistic outlook to the world around him. In fact the two characters are literally night and day, which is why I believe that I began to love the Themysciran Titan with the same amount of reverence as I did the Dark Knight, because they were so different. She offered hope, and an optimism that The Bat just didn’t have, a figure who inspired goodness in those around her, with the strength and fortitude to fight the evils of man, yet show compassion and kindness to those deserving (and those who also were not, thus is her leniency and benevolence.)
I have always seen the two characters as my diametrically opposed halves, Batman represents my love of the darkness, gothicism (technically not a word, I know, but I like it) horror movies, the supernatural et al, and Wonder Woman has always constituted my hopes for the future, my work to forward animal rights, vegetarianism, and a general aspiration for betterment of myself and the world about me, and so…
Happy Wonder Woman Day!
Well hey there fellow agents of Precinct1313, it’s fantastic to see you, and we’re so glad that you could make your way over to the majestic mansion of mystery in time to partake in our sixth anniversary celebrations. In a few moments we will wind our way down through the Precinct’s interminable depths as we head towards the infamous ‘Halls Of Quaffing’ to celebrate in style.
Unfortunately our usual anniversary tour guide, the Precinct’s carrion crow of woe – Eldritch won’t be available to usher you through this arcane abode, as he’s still in the dog-house (uhh, crow house?) for leading us astray through a preternatural portal that lead to Raven’s Reach Sanitarium and a padded cell! (For more on that tantalising tale, why not click right HERE)
But fear not, oh fellow fans of fantastic fiction, as I am able to stand in as the (distinctly human) Corvidae conductor for this sixth anniversary commemoration. And so, without further ado, let our peregrinations begin…
The mystical mansion of mystery known as Precinct1313 first materialised unto this dimension in 2014, this paranormal palazzo, oft thought to be a sister building to the sinister House Of Secrets has housed many scribes throughout the countless alternate realities it has dwelled, and in 2014, I discovered it’s many dimensional delights when it revealed itself in terrifying fashion (which you can read about right HERE) and have been trapped within it’s herculean hallways and reality shifting structure ever since. Which actually turns out to be a good thing as it has given me copious amounts of time to relay to you, dear agents, the wonderful world of comic-books, cult movies and general geekery!
And so, fellow fans of fantastic fiction, thanks to this mythical edifice’s psychokinetic power, we are able to transport you back in time (it doesn’t hurt too much, honest!) to visit our most popular posts of yore…
As you are more than likely aware if you’ve been an agent of the Precinct for awhile, our absolute favourite comic-book creation of all time is the Themysciran Titan herself the glorious Wonder Woman, I first discovered the dynamic delight that is Diana, Princess of the Amazons when I was a mere nine years of age, and have been a super fan ever since. A myriad of reviews, overviews and gushing posts have ensued from the Precinct since its inception, and looking at the ol’ stats the most popular of these is… Wonder Woman #600
Another mesmerising mainstay of the Precinct over the years (and my absolute favourite posts to write) has been the – World’s Finest: Interview – series, where each episode we invite one of our most treasured Superheroes, SuperVillains, Costumed Crimefighters, Dimension Dwelling Demons and Super-Pets to answer a quotient of quintessentially quirky questions about life, the universe and cake (’cause everyone loves cake) Such classic characters as Harley Quinn, Circe, and Cheetah, have darkened the Precinct’s media studio and have harassed, bludgeoned, nibbled, and vexed our poor hapless interviewer (why, at one point he was even turned into a worm! an actual worm!!) Checking that ol’ stats page again turns up that the most popular of these was… World’s Finest: An Exclusive Interview With V
Another character that has helped form the foundings of the Precinct alongside Wondy has been Gotham’s grim guardian, the big bad bat! I have been a fan since the age of six, he was instrumental in ushering in my love of the comic-book medium and my fave company, DC Comics. And just like the Amazon Princess, I have written a multitudinous amount of material on his dark crusade to clean up Gotham and absolve himself of the guilt of his parents death by dressing up as a giant bat and beating seven shades out of crazy costumed villains. And, heading on back to that trusty ol’ stats screen, the most read of all those is… Comic Cover Of The Week: Batman Rebirth #22
Phew! thanks so much fellow agents for joining us on that timely tour of the Precinct’s past, and as we near the Halls Of Quaffing for many a beer and celebration, may I just say a massive thank you to all of my fellow bloggers, followers and readers for making this blogging odyssey such a fantabulous experience, it is YOU that have made this journey worthwhile… now, beer!!
I mean, you’re not more evil than a SuperVillain, right? Wearing a mask protects yourself, your loved ones and everyone else… Be a Superhero, wear a mask!
Faora, Bane, Deadshot and Deathstroke are copyright: DC Comics.
Well hey there fellow fans of fantastic fiction , and welcome once again to another enticing episode of ‘Comic Cover Of The Week’ and may I just say that I am being completely self indulgent with this particular post, ’cause this week’s cover(s) are by yours truly!
Now, if you’ve been an agent of Precinct1313 for awhile, you’ve probably seen me post about our incoming visual novel – The Chronicles Of Cassandra Vala – a tantalising and terrifying tale wrought from my fevered imagination. In fact we’ve already introduced you to the two main stars of the show through our fifth anniversary post – Five Years In The Precinct – and – The Black Rose Gallery –
Well, I have been working on a little prequel comic to the series entitled – Tales Of Black Rose – I’ll be honest, I am a better writer than artist but absolutely love to draw nonetheless, it just takes me awhile (a long, long while) to finish up a piece of art. That said, things are going pleasingly apace, so I thought, ah hell, let’s share some of the interior images (some finished, just waiting dialogue panels and some still in process) and in particular the comic covers themselves. Amanda Conner and Adam Hughes I ain’t, but they turned out (I think anyway) pretty damn okay. Thanks for visiting the Precinct friends, and normal service (DC Comics news, natch!) will resume shortly…
Black Rose and Cassandra Vala are copyright: Precinct1313.
Now, if you were with us last week when we took a tantalising trip through a prescient preternatural portal that lay deep within the bowels of this malefic mansion of mystery known as Precinct1313, then you may recount that I, my colleague Pete and our psychic carrion crow of woe – Eldritch are currently being held within a small padded room in a Sanitarium, watched over by the beguiling yet utterly bewildering Dr Rose Black. Luckily I managed to smuggle in (don’t ask me where I hid it!) my trusty laptop, so in preparation for our upcoming odyssey through the ‘Chronicles Of Cassandra Vala’ a visual novel we shall be presenting right here in the Precinct, we thought we’d share a few more images of the story’s main antagonist – Black Rose.
The Cassandra Vala idea, world and characters are something that I have been living and ruminating for the past decade. The tale has gone through many, many revisions, I have experimented with different styles of writing for the narrative – comic-book, visual novel, even a choose your own adventure setting akin to the classic Fighting Fantasy books of yore.
The finished product (it’s never really finished though…) actually combines all of the above narrative divergence (yep, the choose your own adventure portions will also be present!) the one constant of all the different takes on storyline and characters though was the antagonist Black Rose. I’ve been on/off drawing this character for longer than the actual novel itself, I love the character and enjoy drawing her at every opportunity (consequently the titular star of the novel – Cassandra Vala herself, I have much fewer pieces of!)
Just ahead of the upcoming novels debut I thought it would be fun to share some of said images of Rose with you, fellow agents. Some of these pieces I drew over a decade ago, others… just last week! and it’s interesting how little visually the character hasn’t changed… “Shhhhh, I must go now, it sounds like Dr Black is back, making her rounds, we’ll sneak another post out real soon… enjoy ”
This was one of the first sketches I did of the character from way back when. There were a myriad influences for Rose’s look, but absolutely the two biggest were James O’Barr’s undead vigilante – ‘The Crow’ and the creepy character Sadako from the original Japanese movie ‘Ring’.
Another earlier piece, I’ve always enjoyed sitting in a coffee shop reading comics and sketching pics of Rose and her extended family… I have produced some of my best pieces at the local Caffe Nero.
As the years passed, technology and easier usage art software became a lot more affordable, which subsequently opened up a whole new world of computer aided inking and colouring, helping my lowly sketches emerge into a explosion of almost artistic professionalism!!
The above piece is one of my most recent and portrays Rose and her sisters, aka – The Trinity of Thorns. At this point I had finally come to grips with the art software to the point that only the barest minimum of physical sketching is needed.
And last, but most certainly not least, this is my most recent piece, through which I set out to pay homage to my favourite Warhol painting – his classic Marilyn Monroe pop art pic. (it also turned out to be my personal fave drawing of the rambunctious Rose!)
Thanks for stopping by fellow fans of fantastic fiction…
All images are copyright: Precinct1313. I am more than happy for people to share my art as long as credit is given – to Bruce @ Precinct1313.
Hey there fellow agents of Precinct1313 and a warm welcome to our fifth anniversary celebrations! That’s right the majestic mansion of mystery is celebrating five years of random musings on the world of DC Comics and general geekery!
It’s fantastic that you’ve all been able to join us down here in the Precinct’s celebrated comic crypts, for today we not only share the third annual episode of our ongoing scintillating saga – ‘In Pursuit Of Precinct1313’ but this titular tale has been woven so that it also serves as a prescient prologue to our (loooooooong in gestation) visual novel – ‘The Chronicles Of Cassandra Vala’ That’s right fellow fans of fantastic fiction , our ten year in the writing (ten… TEN!) odyssey begins right here, and from this humble introduction, it will then spill it’s masterfully malefic mystery on a monthly basis, right here, in Precinct1313!
To our followers, readers, and fellow bloggers may I just say many, many thanks for the continuing support of the Precinct over the past half decade with your comments and likes, it’s really, really appreciated, it is YOU that makes this entire blogging endeavour worthwhile… and so, on with the show…
Welcome fellow agents of Precinct1313 to the latest chilling chapter of ‘In Pursuit Of Precinct1313‘ if this is your first encounter with the thrilling tale of how we first discovered this Malefic Mansion of Mystery – then why not regale yourselves with the previous chapters right here – “Three Years In The Precinct”
In Pursuit Of Precinct1313 – Chapter III: The Chronicles Of Cassandra Vala
Darkness engulfed me as I entered the inky black void residing within the mysterious vault door, the nihility was all encompassing – no light, no sound, just vacuum. I wheeled on the spot, looking to return back through the perplexing vault egress, my heart was racing and cold beads of sweat formed on my brow, this interstice was, just, wrong… the doorway had disappeared, eaten up by the stygian dark. I was beginning to panic now, a disquieting anxiety pervaded through my fragile mind… where the hell was Pete? I moved cautiously forward, hands outstretched in front of me, scrabbling for something tangible.
My head started to spin, and nausea began to surge through me, taking to one knee I attempted to halt the gagging queasiness, whilst striving to calm my rising anxiety and slow my thunderous heartbeat. To no avail, I felt light-headed and could feel the cold embrace of the oncoming stupor… I cascaded head first into an unconscious abyss…
“Are you okay?” – a voice greeted me through the murk that had encroached upon my mind. “Can you stand?” the disembodied voice continued. Bright light began to penetrate my latent mind, the nausea had subsided, shaking my head vigorously I glanced up to see a woman standing over me, immaculately dressed, porcelain white skin and fiery red hair were my take from this unexpected, though hopefully serendipitous encounter. “I’m not sure” I replied “Where the hell am I?”
The woman took me by the arm and lifted me from my knees, surprisingly strong, her hand curled, rather painfully, in a vice like grip around my forearm “The more pressing question is where did you come from? I mean, you’re the second person we’ve found semi-conscious in this part of the building this morning, you’re not a patient here and you certainly should not have been able to get past security and into this wing without them noticing”
“I’m sorry but… who are you, what is this place?” I could feel the wave of anxious nausea returning as I eventually stood eye to eye with my apparent liberator. She was, quite literally, a vision to behold, flawless skin, her hair an almost impossibly vermilion red, viridescent green eyes that felt as though they were boring into my inner being, my anima seemingly laid bare for her to scrutinise.
“Oh, do forgive me, my name is Black, Doctor Rose Black, I’m the chief psychologist of this esteemed institute, hmm, you still look rather unsteady, follow me, let’s get you checked over” she took my arm, this time more gently, leading me slowly down the stark white corridor “It’s not far, how are you feeling now?”
“Confused, but not quite as queasy thankfully, you mentioned that you found someone else here earlier, it wasn’t another male, dark hair, name of Peter by any chance was it?” I glanced across at the Doctor, still hopelessly beguiled by her transcendent beauty.
“Yes, that’s right, Peter… perplexingly, he had a crow with him, it was dutifully perched on his shoulder, like some kind of pet, it really was a rather surreal sight”
“Eldritch” I replied “the crow’s name is Eldritch, though to be honest, we’re more likely his pets than vice versa” the statement felt ridiculous even as I said it, though, it was probably more than likely true. “You mentioned something about patients, an institute?”
“Yes, you have, somehow, found yourself inside Raven’s Reach Sanitarium, an institute dedicated to helping what some have deemed lost causes, mostly deeply disturbed and psychologically unbalanced individuals” Doctor Black turned her head towards me and smiled “here they find some semblance of peace and tranquillity, as we hopefully work our way towards rehabilitation and, perhaps, reintegration”
“We’ve arrived, if you’ll just make your way through that door on your right and wait a few moments, I’ll send one of our medical interns along to check you over” the Doctor beamed yet another impossibly radiant smile towards me before promptly guiding me through a robust steel door… then swiftly slamming it shut as I entered. I whirled on the spot, peering through the oval shaped hatch embedded within the steel barrier “what the hell? wh-what do you think you’re doing?” I stuttered, nausea once again began to bubble up and I pressed my hands against the cold metallic door frame, to steady against the rise of the unsolicited vertigo.
“You honestly didn’t think I’d just believe you when you said you had no idea where you are, or how you got here did you? I mean come on now” Dr Black’s former radiance disappeared in an instant, replaced by a humourless, grave expression “but not to worry, I’m sure we’ll get to the bottom of things fairly soon, in the meantime, I have done you the courtesy of allowing you to share this room with your companions”
I turned to see Pete sitting on a small bed lodged in the corner of what now appeared to be a padded room, his face bore an expression of morose acceptance… ” got you too huh?” he said, “was kinda hoping you’d not get caught as well and maybe, I dunno, break me out of here?” Pete’s shoulders slumped as he realised that, unfortunately, we were now both in the same predicament. Just to the left of Pete, perched on the bed’s headboard was Eldritch, his onyx eyes fixed upon me, a mocking look for my own ineptitude at extricating them from this peculiar predicament.
“Hello?” a voice punctuated through the disquieting malaise “are you new here?” the disembodied voice appeared to be emanating from the room to the left of our padded cell. “Uuh hey… anyway you can possibly tell us what in the hell is going on?” I furrowed my ear into the soft padding of the cell’s wall “who are you, why has that Doctor detained us in here… in fact where in the hell is here?” my voice rose and fractured in frantic agitation at the situation at hand. “Here?” the female voice replied softly “well currently, at least for me, here, is Raven’s Reach Sanitarium, though what ‘here’ will be as the day goes on, well, who can tell… oh, and my name’s Cassandra by the by, and as far as the Doctor is concerned…” the voice paused, as if unsure how to continue “well, uh, at this time I’m not sure who or what she is, it changes you see”
“Changes?” I queried at the disincarnate voice “what does that even mean, look, uh, Cassandra, I could really use some answers right now, I feel like I’m losing my mind” I turned to look wearily back at Pete, who sullenly shrugged and retorted – “sorry Bruce but you expected to get a straight answer from an incorporeal voice in the adjacent padded cell of a sanitarium! I mean, really!?” I stared at Pete, succumbing to what little rationale still persisted in my mind “You’re right, I know, I just… ” huffing the air from my lungs, shoulders slumped in aquiescence, I walked to the corner of the stark white room, dropped to my knees and burrowed my face into my palms.
“Maybe you’ve always been here Bruce” Cassandra responded cryptically “and maybe, just maybe, I have too, at least, this version of me” I peered at Pete through my fingers, who quietly mouthed “uh huh… sanitarium” Eldritch cocked his head towards me and nodded in conjunction with Pete. Burying my face back into the comforting darkness of my hands I wondered whether what Cassandra was saying bore some semblance of truth, I mean, here I was in a padded room, in a sanitarium no less, after walking through a mysterious portal contained within the crypts of a preternatural mansion known as Precinct1313, where I have apparently resided for the past five years, alongside my closest friend and… get this, a psychic crow, I mused that last thought over again, a psychic crow… yep, there’s a damn fine chance that I am actually, bat-shit crazy!
“She’s here” Cassandra uttered “I have to go, please don’t mention that we spoke, she doesn’t like it when patients converse with one another, maybe we can talk again later, if I’m still me of course…” I gazed anew at Pete, who just shook his head “Sanitarium dude, Sanitarium… “
Hey there fellow agents, and if you’ve managed to stay the course of this strange tale then, thanks… ’tis much appreciated. This prologue will evolve into the monthly fable we have entitled – The Chronicles Of Cassandra Vala – below I have included a small art gallery of my early concept designs for the lead characters from the visual novel, enjoy, and whilst you’re here, why not make your way down to the Precinct’s hallowed Halls Of Quaffing to help celebrate our fifth year in existence… I would join you, but I appear to be confined within a small padded room somewhere, else! Ah well, means more booze for the rest of you huh? silver linings and all that.
The Chronicles Of Cassandra Vala – Character Concept Art –
All text and imagery are copyright – Precinct1313.
Zombies have, in the last decade become rather de-rigueur, in fact you can’t swing a chainsaw without hitting at least another few dozen low budget movies, TV series or video games starring re-animated flesh munching corpses. Much like an undead apocalypse itself, zombie media has hit oversaturation point. I’m sure when influential horror director George Romero first introduced the modern zombie to a horrified audience back in 1968 with the seminal Night Of The Living Dead, he had absolutely no idea that these ghastly ghouls would one day be so over used, that all their dread and terror would give way to a yawn and passive indifference, zombies just aren’t scary anymore… (that said, if I was actually to meet a zombie – I’d be pretty damn terrified! Ooh, ooh, unless it’s a zombified Christina Ricci… I adore Christina Ricci, even if she was a flesh eating, undead, green skinned, puss ridden monster… I’d still adore her! Mmmmm, went a little off topic there… on with the show!)
When Romero’s groundbreaking introduction to the living dead first hit the cinema screen back in the sixties, it was met with revulsion and abhorrence by an audience unfamiliar with such overtly graphic violence.
Romero’s low budget, independent movie was the catalyst of a thousand imitators, some were great (Lucio Fulci’s “Zombie”, Dan O’Bannon’s “Return Of The Living Dead”) but most were awful Z grade rip offs, literally hordes of terribly made and woefully acted low budget cash ins, riding on the back of the movie going publics sudden reverence of all things undead.
It wouldn’t be long before video-game companies decided to take on this burgeoning horror phenomenon with their own interpretations, with the most prolific and famous of the digital dead games beginning in an imposing mansion in the Arklay Mountains, site of the original outbreak of the T-Virus and our initial introduction to S.T.A.R.S and the sinister Umbrella Corporation.
Resident Evil (known as Biohazard in Japan) was first unleashed to video gamers worldwide in 1996, developed by Japanese company Capcom (of Street Fighter fame) and helmed by game design auteur Shinji Mikami. It is one of the original progenitors of survival-horror, a sub genre of gaming that takes cues from horror fiction and focuses on the survival of the main character against overwhelming odds, with limited resources at their disposal.
The first game established many of the ongoing conventions and tropes for the survivalist series, such as the limited inventory system, third person perspective, fixed camera angles for dramatic effect and the iconic typewriter save system.
The game opens with the elite members of S.T.A.R.S (Special Tactics And Rescue Service) responding to the disappearance of fellow team members who lost contact in the remote area on the outskirts of Raccoon City, known as the Arklay Mountains.
Players choose to take control of either Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield at the start of the game, and then, with their chosen avatar, proceed into the mysterious mansion embedded deep within the creepy forests of Arklay Mountains in search of their fellow team-mates.
Graphics are a mix of three dimensional characters set against pre-rendered backdrops, fixed camera angles give the game a rather compelling cinematic feel.
As your chosen avatar explores the mansion they discover documentation in the form of diary entries and audio tapes that provide story beats and exposition, as well as uncovering clues to the various puzzles that need to be undertaken to progress through the mission. The combat takes centre stage through the use of a variety of firearms discovered around the environment, though ammo conservation is important as ammunition is limited.
The inevitable health loss can be counteracted by the use of either first aid sprays or three different types of combinable herbs. The capacity for carrying items on person is also limited, though extraneous items can be kept in an item box for later use. Saving is done through typewriters that are scattered through the mansion, ink ribbons must first be located before saving is possible, and once more these are in limited supply so must be used sparingly.
Player characters will fight through a succession of undead and mutated creatures as they progress, from the humble zombie through, giant spiders and hulking behemoths. Also of note are the multiple endings the game can deliver depending on the actions taken by the player throughout their adventure, giving the game an impulsive replayability.
Capcom’s Resident Evil is a landmark game, it is almost single handedly responsible for the Survival-Horror genre and is one of the longest running video game franchises of all time, with the most recent game “Resident Evil 7″ released to abundant praise from fan and critic alike. Though there have been a couple of missteps (Resident Evil 6 being rather… awful) the majority of titles in the franchise have been absolute gems and are a blast to play (with personal faves being Resi 4 and Code Veronica) The original has seen a remastered overhaul with an upgraded version released on platforms such as Xbox One Playstation 4, and as of this month – Nintendo’s fabulous Switch… which means Zombie blasting on the go! so there’s never been a better time to immerse yourself in the wonderful world of zombies, elite swat teams and evil corporations.
“Aah, welcome fellow agents of Precinct1313, you’re just in time to follow Eldritch (the precinct’s resident carrion crow of woe) and myself down to the infamous ‘Scrying Chamber’ Within this portentous room stands a single stone tablet upon which sits an ominous black crystal ball that not only has the power to decipher the future, but also, recreate the past through vivid evocation.”
“As we wend our way down through the ceaseless and interminable depths of this magnificently malefic mansion of mystery why not take in the various sites as we descend… such as the astounding ‘Ancient Amazon Archives’ or the colossal ‘Comic Crypts’ Just coming up on your right you’ll notice the magnificent ‘Movie Mausoleum’ and a couple of floors down you’ll hear the hearty cheers from the hallowed ‘Halls of Quaffing’ “
“And, we have arrived, please approach the sphere of prevenience carefully and gaze deeply into it’s sanguine depths until something from the Precinct’s posting past begins to take shape… “
“So how about we relive the pestiferous pairing of Hellacious Harley Quinn and the Main Man himself – Lobo, from this portentous post from the past, first published 3 years previous… “
“Feetal’s Gizz” why didn’t anyone think of this pernicious pairing before now (OK, I admit, it didn’t even cross my mind until I saw the previews for this latest issue) but the Main Man and the Mistress of Mayhem teaming up is a match made in heaven (actually, in their particular case, Hell) That’s right my DC Comics’ loving compatriots, Harley Quinn and Lobo are together at last, and it’s as unpredictable, chaotic and crazy as you could imagine… which is great!
Now I’m sure that by now, even if you aren’t a huge fan of reading comics (tell me that ain’t so) you all know who the hellacious Harley Quinn is, but maybe you have never crossed paths with the invincible, space biking Czarnian psychotic Lobo, well never fear… the Precinct is here, and you can read up on the Main Man’s troubled history right here… phew! are you still with us after that briefly violent respite into Lobo’s malevolently malign backstory, you are!? In that case you will love this delectably dangerous duo’s teaming, and there is also icing on this deliciously depraved cake in the form of artistic auteur Simon Bisley!
British artist Simon Bisley is the person most people think of when referring to Lobo, thanks to his stellar work on the character throughout the 90’s, alongside Keith Giffen they made Lobo a household name to comic book aficionado’s across the globe. ‘It’s good to be bad’ was pretty much their mantra, and Lobo is so bad, he makes Harley seem (almost) angelic in comparison!
This book contains so much toilet humour, sexual innuendo, extreme ultra violence and offensive material that it probably shouldn’t be read by anyone… well anyone who is offended by such things, the rest of us should just dive on into a fantastically funny comic brought to us by that dynamically delightful writing duo Amanda Conner (who also drew the classic cover) and Jimmy Palmiotti, once more showing us that as far as comedic storytelling in comic books is concerned, they are the unequivocal vituosi of the art.
“Lobo’s back, the main man and Harley Quinn have a lot in common – motorcycles and mayhem for starters, so it’s long past time they found each other! This could be the start of a fraggin’ beautiful friendship… or they could destroy the planet. Or both! it can be two things!”
Harley’s Little Black Book #6 is available at your local comic book emporium right now. Brought to you by – Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti and Simon Bisley… go and fraggin’ buy it, you don’t want Lobo to find out you didn’t!!
Mmmmm, we haven’t dared to tread the perilous path of the infamous Top 10 list so far here in the darkest depths of Precinct1313, never really gave the idea of doing one much thought to be honest. That is until recently, when blogging buddy ‘The Vintage Toy Advertiser’ rendered his very own (and really rather amusing) Top 10 masterclass (which you can indulge your senses in right here) that we thought, suffering sappho, let’s do one of them there list things then, and thus…
Precinct1313’s Ten Favourite Furiously Fierce Femme’s Fatale
NB: This list will contain both fictional and non-fictional wildly wondrous warrior women for your delectation…
No.10 – Big Barda
No list of vivacious virago vixens should ever be without the formidable presence of fighting fury and thorn in Granny Goodness’ side – Big Barda, for she truly encompasses everything to love about powerful, vibrant female characters who are easily able to match and (in most cases for Barda especially) surpass their male counterparts. How tough is Barda? we’ll let the picture below answer that query…
No.09 – Lara Croft
Quintessentially British acrobatic archaeologist Lara Croft has been raiding tombs, securing ancient artefacts and performing perilous platforming since she was first unleashed unto the gaming world by Core Design in 1996. Since that time she has become one of the most recognisable video-game characters of all time and sits proudly in the upper echelons alongside Master Chief, Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog.
No.08 – Moon Lee
I’m an 80’s kid, I grew up during that phenomenal decade alongside many classic onscreen action stars and martial artists, even as a youngster my preference was always female characters/fighters and one of the biggest influences for me then was the magnificent Moon Lee. Hong Kong action star supreme, Moon Lee Choi-Fung starred in close to a formidable fifty films during her heyday of the 1980’s!
No. 07 – Batwoman
Kate Kane’s Batwoman alter ego first debuted in the 1956 issue of Detective Comics #233 created by Bob Kane and Sheldon Moldoff. Initially created as a female counterpart and love interest to the Batman, Kate has over the past sixty years (thankfully) shed that unfortunate creation calamity and has now become one of the biggest and most beloved of female comic book characters, with a much needed revamp and resurgence through the hand of artist/writer JH Williams III. Reversing the inauspicious and unenlightened conception and delivering a new standard for empowerment in the burgeoning female Superhero market.
No. 06 – Catwoman
Though most Bat-fans see The Joker as Batsy’s biggest foe, for me personally the character that inhabited that perch was always anti-hero cat burglar Selina Kyle. Though Mr J is without a doubt the bigger threat to the dark and surly one’s psyche, Selina holds something over Bats that the jester of genocide never, ever could… his heart. She has been Batman’s most enduring love interest since her inception in Batman #1 in June of 1940… puuuurfect!
No. 05 – Cynthia Rothrock
As previously mentioned some of the biggest influences on me growing up were the plethora of fantastic fighting females that occupied the realms of martial arts cinema, and my most beloved and admired is none other than scintillating Cynthia Rothrock. American born Cynthia is quite possibly the most successful female martial arts master in history – she is five times world champion in weapons and forms and currently holds an astonishing seven black belts in varying martial disciplines! She has also starred in over fifty movies throughout her career, and has acted alongside greats such as Sammo Hung and Michelle Yeoh.
No. 04 – Batgirl
Though the Batgirl name and costume have been inhabited by several different women over the years, the most beloved and well known is assuredly the second holder of the bombastic bat mantle – Barbara (Babs) Gordon. Replacing original holder of the title – Bette Kane (who was created in 1961) Babs debut was in 1967, daughter of Gotham Police Commissioner James Gordon and head of Gotham City Library. Her auspicious crime fighting career began with a triumphant save of Bruce Wayne from a kidnapping plot wrought by SuperVillain Killer Moth, and cemented her place in Bat history!
No. 03 – Elvira – Mistress Of The Dark
Elvira may not be a martial arts action star or female fighting force but what she definitely is, is a sensation of female empowerment and positive attitude. A strong, outspoken comedienne who used her innate sexual prowess to turn the tables on mysogynynistic and prejudice laden media from her first appearance courtesy of actress Cassandra Peterson in 1981. Self deprecating and dripping in risque double-entendres, her campy humour has propelled the voluptuous vixen vamp to celebrated cult status, and beyond!
No. 02 – Starfire
Fiery alien princess – Starfire has been a favourite of the Precinct since she was first unleashed in the pages of DC Comics Presents #26 in 1980. Created by the legendary pairing of comic book royalty – George Perez and Marv Wolfman, Koriand’r instantly became a much beloved character and mainstay of The Teen Titans. Hailing from the planet Tamaran, Kory escaped the ravaging of her home by Tamaran enemies The Citadel and her own feuding sister Komand’r (aka – Blackfire) and made a new life for herself on Earth. She is currently the leader of the Teen Titans and founding member of Justice League Odyssey alongside Jessica Cruz, Azrael and Cyborg.
No. 01 – Wonder Woman
Well, if you’ve been following the Precinct for any length of time then you probably knew that the Themysciran Titan would, of course, occupy the titular top spot, and hey, guess what… you were right! I’ve been a WW fan since I was around nine years old, she truly is the greatest fictional female character in my mind, and has the distinction of having the most significant and profound effect upon female empowerment of any fictitious persona ever created. Her genius creator William Moulton Marston first envisioned the Amazon warrior princess in 1941, when she took the covetous cover appearance on All Star Comics #8. Marston was a supporter of the Suffrage movement of the 1940’s, of whom his own wife Elizabeth was a founding member.
All hail the wondrous one!
If you’ve managed to stay the course of this list, then thanks fellow Agents. Who are some of your personal favourite female furies of all time? let battle commence in the comments below…
“It’s on the thirteenth floor, appropriately” the landlord mentioned as we approached the apex of the top floor of his ‘luxury’ apartment block.
“Appropriately?” I questioned back at the rather burly man who was quietly fumbling for the requisite key to the apartment we had just reached.
“Oh didn’t I mention, this apartment is really rather special, it has the most glorious view of the city from a large picturesque window situated in its front room, and, well, I dunno, I guess the number thirteen sort of comes to mind whenever I think about him… uh, it!? Mmmmmm, no’one’s really sure if he’s human, or something, else”
My curiosity piqued – ” Him? who exactly are we talking about?”
“Wow, you’re really not from around here are you, I mean your accent sounds, British, right?” the landlord sighed heavily as he finally found the relevant apartment key.
“Yes, I’m English, only been in the states for a couple of days in fact, I’m a writer you see, one in need of a healthy dose of inspiration, I thought travelling across the pond and making my home here in Gotham for a few months might help blow away those writer’s block cobwebs… again, who is this mysterious, entity to whom you refer?”
The landlord turned towards me with a look of startling incredulity “Batman, of course, what rock have you been living under, Brit or not, I mean come on, it’s the goddamn Batman!”
“Batman?” my brow furrowed at the idea “he’s actually real?, I always thought he was some kind of myth, a sort of urban legend, you know a boogeyman type”
The landlord’s lips cracked into a rather ominous smile “Oh he’s the boogeyman alright, ‘cept in his case he only does harm to those who deserve it, anyway, please go in and take a look around, but I suggest you make up your mind quickly if you are at all interested, this apartment is well sought after and I have two more viewings this evening”
The apartment was much larger than I had at first envisioned, but then at the price he was charging I could probably afford a mansion in comparison, but it was, strangely enough, the apartment number that had attracted me to the viewing – 1313, there just seemed something, familiar about it.
“And here we are” the landlord stood in front of a sizeable plate glass window with what could only be described as a spectacular view onto the city itself, yet, with the constant torrential rain and lightning storm, and the ridiculously prodigious amount of black spires and gargoyles that peppered the immediate skyline, Hell came more to mind. “This window is better than any TV set you’ve ever seen, and if you’re looking for inspiration to break your writer’s block, well, this particular room might very well be your new favourite muse”
I pressed my nose against the cold glass “How so?” I asked, curious of his assertion.
“Well, you see, for some reason the Bat seems to frequent this particular area rather often, I mean we do have a rather high crime rate here, but that could be said for the entire city, it’s Gotham after all, infamous across the world for just this reason. This particular suburb – Park Row is actually more famous for one particular street dubbed ‘Crime Alley’ by the locals, if you look just over to your left you can see the infamous thoroughfare, the downgrade of this area began maybe thirty years ago after an awful tragedy involving Gotham’s famous affluent family, The Waynes…”
“Ah, as in the parents of billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne?” I said glancing towards the landlord, who appeared a little miffed at my interruption “I think I’ve heard this story, but please, continue on Sir”
“As I was saying, it’s been at least three decades since that awful night, when, after a evening out at the movies with their young son Bruce, the Waynes, Thomas and Martha were gunned down in cold blood right before the very eyes of their child, I mean can you imagine that, how it would taint your life… well it certainly tainted this area that’s for sure and the entire city itself, things got worse from that night onward, the city began its slow gradual descent into hell, I know, I know, I sound awfully dramatic but… wait a second, is that?”
The landlord stood transfixed staring out the window, like a deer caught in headlights, “what is it?” I said whirling on the spot following his gaze. Something dark was moving through the buildings, at first it appeared to be some kind of gigantic corvidae, but one of this size would be ridiculous, we continued to watch as the ‘thing’ descended to the ground below. It was then that the darkened figure began to take shape as my eyes adjusted to the light differential outside, it was clearly some kind of humanoid creature, though like no man I had ever encountered before. The head bore two rather long pointed ears and what seemed to be large black wings draped around the impressively framed individual.
“It’s him!” the landlord exclaimed with an almost childlike glee “told ya huh, can’t believe he appeared just as I was telling you about him though, really creepy timing, and yet…” the landlord glanced at a calendar hanging on the back wall “that’s it!, weirdly enough he seems to come here, to crime alley every year on this particular day”
I looked back towards the calendar “26th of September, Mmmmm, I wonder what the significance of this date is to such a man, umm, creature? that he should appear every year on this very day” I looked back out of the window towards where this ‘Bat’ had been, “he’s gone! I mean, he was there literally a second ago!”
The landlord’s face broadened into a large wry grin “Oh yeah, he’s good at that! off to take down a murderous clown or a riddling sociopath I would hazard, so, after that excitement, what do you think of the place, interested?”
I turned away from the window “I’ll take it” I said confidently.
“Yeah, thought ya would” the landlord passed me the keys”Oh, and we’ve had a few writers rent the place in the past you know, I believe they may have even left some of theirs musings and manuscripts up in the loft area, may be of interest to you.” The landlord turned on the spot and slowly made his way for the door “Welcome to Gotham” he uttered as he closed the door behind him.
“Thanks” I murmured back “I think I’m going to like it here” I gazed towards the trap door that gave access to the attic area… “yeah, I really think I’m going to like it here”
To Be Continued…
Batman and Gotham City are trademarks of DC Comics.
Welcome fellow Agents of Precinct1313, and thanks so much for joining us in the malefic mansion of mystery’s infamous Halls of Quaffing for our regular yearly round up of geeky goodness from the space year 2018. So why not pull up a chair, grab a flagon of your favourite beverage and re-live some of our favourite nerdy necessities in comic-book form, from the past twelves months…
Precinct1313’s Favourite Comic-Book Series Of 2018…
And hoo boy has it been a stand out year for stunning storylines, in fact there have been so many amazing comic-books released this year that picking just three was almost impossible, yet we have managed to do just that with these particularly cool, compelling and consummate creations…
Scintillating scribe – Tom King was without a doubt the finest choice for taking one of DC Comics’ most beloved Superheroes, expert escapologist Mister Miracle, not only because Tom is one of the very best writers in comics today, but also because his surname ably pairs him with Miracle’s genius and legendary creator – Jack ‘The King’ Kirby!
To honour the 100th anniversary since acclaimed creator (and in our humble opinion – most important figure in comics, ever!) Jack Kirby’s birth, DC Comics alongside writer Tom King and artist Mitch Gerads reunited us with one of Kirby’s most captivating and heralded heroes – super escape artist Mister Miracle, through a 12 issue series that also featured The New Gods from DC’s classic Fourth World Saga.
Miraculous is most definitely the word to describe Tom King and Mitch Gerad’s superlative take on Scott Free’s convoluted life, emotional, poignant and groundbreaking also come to mind when describing the extraordinary genius that this series has been. An unreserved masterpiece, and an emotionally charged, breathtakingly brilliant read every single issue. BUY… IT… NOW!
If you’ve been following Precinct1313 for awhile now, you probably realise that Watchmen is unreservedly our favourite comic book of all time. When I first encountered Alan Moore’s trailblazing series in 1986 I was blown away, it was a unique and contemporary take on the Superhero genre, a treatise on social anxiety and a complete deconstruction of Superhero conceptualisation. It was different to everything that came before it, and is almost single-handedly responsible for transforming the face of the comic-book medium for both future creators and readers… a veritable masterpiece!
Thirty two years later and writer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Franks effortlessly transport us back to the wonderfully dark and grimy world set up by Moore, through DC’s 12 issue maxi-series Doomsday Clock. Stylistically the comic evokes the original material perfectly from the dialogue set through to the originals nine panel layout, both visually and tone wise this feels perfectly at home with its peerless predecessor.
If you’re a fan of Watchmen and can get past the apparent controversy that a sequel to the seminal original exists, then this is a must buy. Johns and Franks have presented an excessively well written, dark but at times amusing sequel to the originals world of masked vigilantes, chaos and deep rooted fears and anxiety, and I for one have enjoyed every moment of my stay in its fatalistic presence.
Supergirl: Being Super…
(Ok, Ok, this technically came out in 2017 – but I didn’t personally experience it until the beginning of 2018, hence its place on this list)
Origin Tales have been, let’s be honest, spectacularly overused in both the comic-book scene and their spin off movie counterparts, I mean how many times do we really need to witness Batman losing his parents to the gun barrel of Joe Chill or Spiderman being bitten by a radioactive arachnid, these characters are now so iconic that even non comic-book fans are overly familiar with their backstories.
With that said, you may feel slightly bemused by my inclusion of a series that dynamically delves into the past of Superman’s famous cousin, Kara Zor-El, but there is a genuinely good reason for that… because it’s fantastic!! In fact, it’s not only one of the greatest Supergirl comics to have ever released, but, one of the greatest comic-book series ever published… period!
Supergirl: Being Super is the Mariko Tamaki penned opus that transcends Kara’s origins by offering us a fresh take that focuses more upon her relationships, trials and tribulations of everyday life as a teenage girl growing up in a small american town. It’s a slower burn as a comic, with less super heroics but more angst, sass and quirky dialogue, as we follow Kara in an engaging and fantastically well written coming of age tale.
If you approach the series with atypical expectations of copious amounts of explosions, super speed and heat vision, you’re going to leave disappointed, this is a tale that spotlights the person behind the iconic “S” symbol and it’s all the better for it. Supergirl: Being Super is another stunning revelation in Superhero story telling, and my favourite iteration of the classic character thus far.
Precinct1313’s Most Popular Posts Of 2018…
Phew, what a year huh… I have to say that we haven’t output as many posts this year as we did in 2017, but, unfortunately, sometimes life just gets in the way right? That said, 2018 has been the year where the Precinct’s readership and followers have increased exponentially more than any other year thus far. By far the most viewed posts emanating from the majestic mansion of mystery have been the World’s Finest interview series, which, by the way are also my absolute faves to write! We also dipped our creative toes into the oceanic depths of YouTube unboxing videos with the Vlog1313 vids, where we endeavoured to share with you our unparalleled love for the stunningly realised physical forms of our beloved heroes and villains.
The most popular and perused of our World’s Finest posts this year was the Death interview, starring Morpheus’ soul guiding sister – Didi. Which I’m sure you are all dying to relive right here: World’s Finest: An Exclusive Interview With Death
My personal favourite to write was the Circe interview, an amazing and in my opinion underutilised Wonder Woman foe with a marvellous mythologically rich backstory and a power set that easily rivals her titular foe. Delight in her damnation of our hapless interviewer right here: World’s Finest: An Exclusive Interview With Circe
The most viewed of our V-Log1313 videos also has my favourite statue I have yet procured for my collection, the remarkable recreation of Amanda Conner’s stunning Starfire #1 cover from the fantastic 2015 12-issue maxi series. You can view my amateurish first steps to video authoring right here: V-Log1313: Amanda Conner Starfire Statue Unboxing
And with that, all that’s really left to say is Happy New Year to all of the Precinct’s followers, readers and fellow bloggers, as ever it is you that makes this entire endeavour worthwhile! Oh, and as always… Make Mine DC!