Review of The Rules of Supervillainy

The following of my review of The Rules of Supervillainy by CT Phipps. For those it makes a difference to, I listened to the audiobook version. It was narrated by Jeffrey Kafer.

I’ll admit, I was a little unsure about this book going in. Over the years, I’ve tried reading novels about some of my favorite comic book characters but could never really get into them. I was of the opinion supers didn’t really translate well to a purely written word form. That went out the window pretty much right away with this book.

The Rules of Supervillainy is as much comedy as anything else. The protagonist, who calls himself Merciless, cracks wise about as much as the likes of Deadpool or Spider-Man. Merciless calls himself a supervillain but isn’t the traditional sort and almost crosses into the territory of hero at times. He even suggests the term anti-villain once. The world is colorful and, while I wouldn’t say it goes as far, comparisons to The Tick did come to mind more than once. The comedy is funny, sometimes dark, and leans into comic book tropes in a self aware sort of way.

One odd thing about the book, and I can’t even really call this a complaint, is that the book seemed to end more than once. There were at least two points where it could have wrapped up before it did and I would have felt satisfied. That said, the way it continued from those points didn’t feel forced or like filler, they were legitimate and entertaining continuations of the story.

In the end, this book tells a complete and satisfying story on its own and could easily be read that way but it also feels like an origin story or a first episode. To me, that’s perfect for the first book in a series (which this is, I believe there are three more already and another on the way.)

I’d also highly recommend the audiobook as the narrator, Jeffrey Kafer, really brought the whole thing to life perfectly.

In conclusion, I went into this book not expecting to like it and then had to stop myself from buying book two right away (the only reason I didn’t is my Audible backlog is in need of attention.) Your mileage may vary due to the genre, but I’m giving this one a five out of five.

New Writing Endeavor

I’ve been quite for a while now. I’ve been trying to get into the habit of a regular writing time each day and struggling with it a bit. Now I’ve got something new to maybe keep me on it. 

Starting very soon (I have my first couple of assignments but they’re incomplete), I will be doing some writing for TSR Games’ blog, Multiverse. At this point, it looks like I’ll be mostly be doing reviews for them but that could expand later.

Of course I won’t let this keep me from working on Dark Futures or my own things, it will just be something new in a more structured format to get me on track.

New Starship Troopers!

Yesterday, seemingly out of nowhere, Sony announced a new Starship Troopers movie would be released and have a one-night-only theater run in August. The surprising thing is this movie is a continuation of the last four, not the reboot we’ve known for some time was in the works. 

That’s fucking awesome.

This movie called Traitor of Mars and is animated, just like the last one. The people who played Johnny and Dizzy in the first film returned to voice those characters, which tells us this film must be set during the same time as the first. The writer of the first movie is also back.

I love the franchise, so obviously I’m​ looking forward to it. I hope one of the theaters in my area will be showing this one. I plan to take the night off work to go, if at all possible. 

I think animated is the right way to go with this franchise, even though this will probably be the end of it. The trailer is pretty simple, doesn’t have a whole lot of information, but is still pretty damn cool.

For a little more information, and a look at the above mentioned trailer, check out the write up I did for Dark Futures yesterday.

Am I Writing Again? Sort Of.

Anyone who knows me probably knows, or at least could have guessed, I haven’t been writing much of anything for a while now. It’s been several months, at least. That isn’t from a lack of interest or desire to do so. I’ve had plenty of ideas in that tims, I just haven’t been able to bring them together and assemble them in a way which I felt I could do anything worthwhile with. I believe that may now be beginning to change.

I recently (I think it was three or four days ago) had an idea for a story. That isn’t unusual in itself but this was different. This was an idea for something more long-form than I usually do, with sub plots and all. Maybe even something novel-length, like I’ve never really attempted before but have long wanted to. Then the idea stuck in my head for a couple of days and seemed to actually strengthen and develop, rather than fall apart as most have for me in recent memory.

Not wanting what might be a worthwhile idea to leave me, as I’m sure has happened a few times in the past, I began the process of outlining the story. What I have as of now is very much only in broad strokes. It is the shape of a story with no fine details. I have no definite names for characters or organizations involved, even using placeholders like CORP and GANG A in my notes for the time being. I’m also uncertain if the climax I have in mind is quite right for the story and my final resolution is especially grey, but this is all a start. It’s also a lot further than I’ve gotten with anything else for some time.

In any case, I’m going to give this a shot, hopefully see it through to the end. At the same time, I think it may help me if I blog more about the subject. I’ll be talking about aspects of the story and the world in which it’s set (one which has been cooking in my mind for years now) as well as my writing process and trying to form positive habits to make this happen. Posts will probably be irregular at first but should hopefully find some sort of groove eventually. It would be great if you’d come along for the ride with me. Maybe knowing people read the blog posts would spur me on even further. I’ll also be happy to discuss pretty much anything I post about in the comments.

Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic 2016 Part One

As of the episode of NXT which aired on October 12th, we’re half way through the first round of the second-ever (annual, maybe?) Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. This seems as good a time as any to look back at what we’ve seen so far.

The first match of the tournament saw the relatively new Authors of Pain (managed by WWE Hall of Famer and fellow Minnesotan Paul Ellering) against the Bollywood Boys in their debut on NXT TV. Predictably, the Authors of Pain won.

Later in that same episode we saw the NXT tag team champions The Revival take on the team of Andrade “Cien” Almaden and Cedric Alexander. The Revival took part in the first tournament last year and have since gone on to become the first ever two time NXT tag team champions, whereas their opponents are still pretty new to the promotion and had never tagged together before. The Revival won, which surprised me as I didn’t think they’d want the champions to progress all that far in the tournament since they don’t really have anything to gain by it. More interesting, after the match Andrade Almas attacked Cedrick Alexander in an apparent heel turn.

The next week (the episode which aired last night), we saw Glorious 10, a pairing of Tye Dillinger and Bobby Roode a lot of people were excited for take on the debuting SAnitY. I’m not familiar with any of the members (there are four of them) of this new team, but the announcers made it seem as though someone with more knowledge of wrestlers outside of WWE would know who they are. Right from the start, SAnitY was brutal and just destroyed Tye Dillinger. When he sought help from his partner, Bobby Roode walked away, no doubt setting up a feud between them which should be entertaining to see play out. SAnitY got the win.

Finally, we saw TM61 versus Riddick Moss and Tito Sabbatelli, who were both making their NXT TV debut (though I saw them both perform at a recent NXT Live event.) The match went on longer than I would have expected and neither of the new guys were especially impressive. TM61 won the match.

To summarize, as of now we have the Authors of Pain, The Revival, SAnitY, and TM61 progressing to round two. There are still four matches left in the first round and they will be airing over the next couple of weeks. Of those, I’m particularly looking forward to No Way Jose and Rich Swan teaming up against Tony Nese and Drew Gulack.

What do you think of this year’s Classic so far? Did any of the matches go differently than you expected? What match are you most looking forward to? Let me know in the comments.

NXT 06/15/2016

After NXT Takeover The End, they’re calling this a new beginning for NXT. I hope this episode was just setting things up and not a sign of what we can expect in the future from NXT.

The show openes with a tag team match between the new Authors of Pain pain and two people they didn’t even bother introduce. The Authors of Pain are the team who attacked American Alpha at Takeover and are managed by WWE Hall of Famer Paul Ellering.

The match showed this new team to pretty much be straight brawlers and that took them to victory, if there was ever any doubt. I really hate this meaningless sort of match.

This annoyed me. If the Authors of Pain weren’t going to launch straight into a feud with American Alpha, there was no reason to attack them at Takeover. It would have made more sense to go after The Revival.

After that, Andrade “Cien” Almas and Tye Dillinger exchanged words in the back and the Authors of Pain ignored a request for an interview.

Up next was a women’s division match with Carmella, obnoxious as ever, against Tessa Blanchard, who is still pretty new and apparently just a jobber so far.

The match was pretty standard fare, with Tessa Blanchard showing more personality than I expected going in. Carmella showed a lot of flash in the ring and eventually won by submission, then danced in celebration probably just to annoy me, personally.

After that was a statement from Samoa Joe. It was recorded last week, after retaining the title. He was just reaffirming that he’s champion, really.

Blake and Murphy were interviewed backstage next. Apparently they’re back together. It seemed like there was some friction between the two but they tried to blame it on Alexa Bliss and move on. Their match against TM61 was up next. At least it wasn’t another pointless match.

Solid teamwork and a decent showing from TM61, while Blake and Murphy were as dull as ever. Obviously just a match to try to get TM61 over. Yawn.

After that, there was a statement from The Revival about being tag champions. My interest in this episode began to weaken even further.

Next was a recap and interview with Bayley backstage, followed by the match promised earlier between Tye Dillinger and Andrade Almas. That was a rematch from last week’s Takeover.

These two guys put on an entertaining show again, just like at Takeover. Almas dominated and,, eventually scored a pin fall for the victory.,

Up next we got to hear from Finn Balor, one week after his failure to reclaim the NXT title. The audience was behind him all through, even chanting, “please don’t go.” When he started asking what’s next for Finn Balor, he was interrupted by Shinsuke Nakamura. They got along well and Nakamura challenged Balor to a match.

– Authors of Pain defeated an unidentified tag team. 
– Carmella defeated Tessa Blanchard. 
– TM61 defeated Blake and Murphy. 
– Andrade “Cien” Almas defeated Tye Dillinger. (Rematch from NXT Takeover The End.)

What interest I had in Authors of Pain waned with this episode as they failed to do much of anything with them. Paul Ellering makes me want to like them, if only because he’s a Hall of Famer from my home state and had a hand in the Legion of Doom back in the day.

I think the NXT women’s division is going to go through a rough patch as they start trying to elevate some of the newer talent.

The Finn Balor versus Shinsuke Nakamura match is going to be great and a suitable send off for Balor. (Balor has already been spotted at at least one main roster event, likely discussing with Creative how he’s going to come up.)

As always, feel free to hit me up on social media if you’ve got a bone to pick or want to talk about something. You’re also welcome to respond in the comments here. You can join in the global conversation on social media using the hashtag #WWENXT or, often, just #NXT.

NXT Takeover The End

Apparently this NXT Takeover isn’t just The End, it’s The End of the Beginning. That’s what they called it at the start of the show, anyway. Inconsistent name aside, I’ve been looking forward to this one more than any Takeover since the one with the Bayley versus  Sasha Banks Iron Man Match..

The  first match of the night was Tye Dillinger versus the debuting Andrade “Cien” Almas. Dillinger had some really silly looking entrance attire. Almas was apparently well known in the indies but I didn’t know anything about him. They said he was a masked luchador before now, which is cool. Overall, neither of these performers meant much to me going in.

Very technical match early on and fun to watch. There was a lot of showing off from Almas. Possibly too much. I don’t think it worked for the live audience any more than it did for me.

Almas got the pin, which led to a partial standing ovation and a lot of boos. This was a great first showing for Almas and, while we still don’t know much about him, I think we can look forward to some great matches from him in the future.

Up next was the NXT Tag Team Championship match between the challengers The Revival and the defending champions, American Alpha. American Alpha won the titles from The Revival at the last Takeover, so this has been brewing for a while. The audience was all for American Alpha.

Right from the start, they played up the wrestlers against brawlers aspects of their characters. Fantastic match. This is what tag team wrestling should be. After a lot of back and forth, The Revival scored a pin making them the firs-ever two-time NXT Tag Team Champions. I did not expect that.

After the match, two big guys dressed in all black came out and attacked American Alpha. Paul Ellering, WWE Hall of Famer, then joined them on the ramp. This is going to be big.

The next match was Shinsuke Nakamura versus Austin Aries. I couldn’t call this one. Both are very over with the audience, though I think Aries has the potential to be a great heel.

The audience seemed mostly behind Nakamura, and even continued his entrance music after it stopped playing. It didn’t take long for me to realize I overestimated support for Aries.

After the best match I’ve seen from either of them yet, Nakamura scored the pin for the win. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this continue between these two, assuming neither move up to the main roster with the WWE brand expansion.

Following Nakamura versus Aries was the NXT Women’s Championship match between Asuka and Nia Jax. This was probably the match a lot of people were really looking forward to. I think these two performers are the future of the NXT women’s division going forward, with all the others who have been called up to the main roster over the past year (and I don’t think it’s long before Bayley and maybe some others join them.)

Asuka is always fun to watch in the ring and I believe Nia Jax is going to be the best women’s heel the WWE has ever had someday. She’s not there yet, but it’s coming.

The match started just about how you’d expect with their very mismatched sites. Asuka went in with a game plan which didn’t go how she’d like and Jax just tried to be overpowering (which usually works well for her.) As the match progressed, we saw Asuka focusing on submission maneuvers and Nia Jax targeting Asuka’s back.

The match was surprisingly short before Asuka scored a pin to retain the title.

Finally, we came to the main event of the night: Samoa Joe defending the NXT Championship against Finn Balor (who Joe took the title from not all that long ago) in NXT’s first-ever steel cage match. 

Oddly enough, that was the match I got least into of the night. I wouldn’t call it bad, it was just far less exciting than I would have liked after how high the bar had been set going into it. The match was back and forth all the way through before Samoa Joe finally captured the victory over Finn Balor. You may recall that’s the outcome I predicted after the previous episode of NXT.

I read after Takeover went off the air and Finn Balor got up to go interact with fans some, the audience began chanting, “thank you, Balor,” and “see you Monday.” Obviously, a good portion of the audience is expecting the same thing I am: Finn Balor getting called up to the main WWE roster sooner than later. He’ll be a welcome addition there. I expect he’ll join up with former Bullet Club stable mates in The Club. After all, if they’re going to be feuding with John Cena and The New Day, they’re a man short.

Andrade “Cien” Almas (NXT debut match) defeated Tye Dillinger.

NXT Tag Team Championship Match: The Revival defeated American Alpha to become the first-ever two-time NXT Tag Team Champions.

Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Austin Aries.

NXT Women’s Championship Match: Asuke defeated Nia Jax to retain the title.

NXT Championship Steel Cage Match: Samoa Joe defeated Finn Balor to retain the title.

Not much to say here, really. Obviously, American Alpha is about to go into a feud with whoever this new team Paul Ellering brought in is. I wouldn’t be surprised if that concluded at the next Takeover and we see American Alpha drafted up to the main roster during the brand expansion before the end of it.

I expect Nia Jax will go on to feud with someone new, possibly Carmella or Alexa Bliss, while Bayley returns to chasing Asuka for the Women’s Championship. I do expect that will be short lived, however, as Bayley is almost sure to be getting called up to the main roster very soon. Maybe she’ll even start chasing the title there right away. That could lead to friction between her and Sasha Banks and give us a couple more great matches from them before Sasha claims the WWE Women’s Championship at Summer Slam, as I hear is the plan. 

I’m unsure what other women will get called up during the brand expansion, but the main roster will definitely need to pad their women’s roster if it’s going to be split in two. Carmella seems like an obvious choice, since Enzo and Big Cass are already there, but I’m not sure if she’s ready. The coming expansion could also be part of why Alexa Bliss split from Blake and Murphy. I’d love to see her on the main roster and being more active all around.

I expect Finn Balor is now done with NXT. A lot of people seem to expect him to show up at RAW tonight. I don’t. I think he’ll get a little time off and show up to aid The Club at Money In The Bank (though I don’t think we’ll see any titles change hands on that front.)

As Bobby Roode (I hear they may be going with Rude?) is now with NXT, I wouldn’t be surprised if we say him enter into a feud with Austin Aries, since I’m told they were two of TNA’s best before jumping ship.

Nakamura is going to go on being an entertaining crazy person. This isn’t so much a prediction as it is a wish list item, but I’d really like to see him have at least one good match with Tye Dillinger, who I think I am becoming a fan of. I read Hideo Itami may be coming back to NXT before long, being nearly recovered from whatever the injury that took him out was. If that’s true, I would not be at all surprised to see him feud with Nakamura at some point, maybe frame it as a rivalry between Japanese wrestling styles or something. Or maybe I’m way off base on that one, as I know next to nothing about Itami.

I’m really not sure what’s next for Samoa Joe.

And that’s all for now. Sorry this one got up so late but it was a lot more to write and I got busy. I still made sure to get this up before this week’s NXT so I can try to keep this a regular thing. I will continue to give my thoughts on matches, but I’m going to try to focus more heavily on the story and how they go about crafting a narrative in the serialized format.

Check my About Me page at the top for all the places you can find me online. I’ll pretty much always be glad to talk about wrestling or probably just about anything else. You can join in the global conversation by using the hashtag #WWENXT or just #NXT on social media. You’ll find me tweeting there when I watch NXT and usually the other WWE shows, though the main roster pay per views are usually the only things I watch live, due to my real life schedule (and that may be changing if the rumor of two pay per views per month after the brand expansion is true.)

NXT Recap 06/01/2016

What follows is a recap of the episode of WWE NXT which aired on Wednesday, June 1st, 2016. This is my first time writing one of these and my also be my last, I can’t say for sure yet. I just decided it had been too long since I had posted to this blog and I needed to flex my writing muscles a bit. After reading, let me know in the comments section if you think I should make this a regular thing.

Before getting to the breakdown, I have a single comment: The fuck was Corey Graves wearing?

The episode opens with The Revival. They came down to the ring in regular clothes and did the usual heel opening thing. They focused mostly on how they’re the best and threatening American Alpha, who they have a tag title match against at Takeover The End next week.

Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa mercifully interrupted a promo going on longer than necessary when not much was being said. They stuck up for American Alpha a bit but mostly boasted about how they’re on the way up and the time of The Revival is passed. Standard stuff.

The segment ended with The Revival getting kicked out of the ring (literally) and a match was made. That match confirmed as the night’s main event during the first match.

Before moving on to the first match, there was a brief bit in the back with Shinsuke Nakamura. He didn’t say anything important but I did notice his English communication skills have improved drastically since he started on NXT. That’s probably the only thing keeping him from the main roster at the moment.

The first match of the night was Tye Dillinger versus Buddy Murphy. That’s right, it’s Buddy Murphy now, not just Murphy. He entered alone, which will probably be the norm now as it appears his tag team is done for and Alexa Bliss abandoned them both. He still entered with the same video showing all three of their names, though.

It was strange to me, seeing Murphy in a solo match. I’ve only ever seen him as part of Blake and Murphy. It wasn’t bad or unwelcome, just different.

It was a solid, technical match right from the start. The work remained good all the way through, though it was nothing especially exciting. Dillinger came through with the victory.

I get the feeling they’re starting to give him a push, but I still can’t really get behind Dillinger. I’m not sure what it is.

Next, Corey Graves interviewed Finn Balor and Samoa Joe, who will be facing each other in a cage match for the NXT title next week at Takeover The End.

I think Finn has gotten better at this sort of thing since I started watching NXT back in August. At that time, he was pretty awful whenever he had to talk. Joe seemed oddly happy, at least at first. This sort of thing is not the strong suit for either of these guys.

Finn sort of rewrote history about how Joe got as far as he has. It went from a respect to treating him like a whiny child. The interview otherwise played up their past friendship and referenced them teaming together in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.

Apparently, Joe has been in cage matches before but Finn hasn’t. I don’t expect that really matters at all, but they played it like that gives Joe an advantage. I half expect to see Finn fly from the top of the cage next week.

I think Finn will lose their match and it will lead to him getting called up to the main roster, maybe joining The Club. It would be following a similar path to Kevin Owens.

The second match of the night was Elias Samson versus Austin Aries. I don’t really like Samson, and not in a heel kind of way. I think his character is lame and the commentators get even worse whenever he’s in the ring. They pretty much always say the same stupid things. He also reminds me of Jason Mantzoukas, for whatever reason.

I don’t feel much more positive about Aries, but I don’t really know him yet. I feel like they’ve been leaning too much on his fame outside of WWE/NXT, which I know nothing about. And I can’t be alone in that.

Early on, Aries made Samson look like a chump with an arm bar he wouldn’t let go of and things continued in much the same way. It was obvious all the way through how much Aries outclasses Samson as an actual wrestler.

In the end, Samson tapped out, giving Aries the win.

The main event was the Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano versus The Revival match promised at the show’s start.

Neither of these teams get me excited, but they’re both good at what they do. I’ve even read rumors they may both be moving to the main roster when the brand split happens next month. I don’t know how reliable the source is, so we’ll just have to wait and see. The Revival, of course, has a tag title match at Takeover The End next week. If they win that, they’d be stuck on NXT for a while longer. I don’t particularly want them to win, but I’d much rather see American Alpha move up over them.

This was one of those matches where my attention starts to drift.

Dawson delivered a superplex to Gargano, but Gargano roled it into a small package and stole a pin. The Revival kept the fight going after the match, which is fitting for them, but American Alpha intervened.

The show wrapped up with a women’s title match contract signing, with Asuka and Nia Jax. It’s nice to see a women’s event in the final slot, even if not a proper match. NXT gets that right. It was also nice to see William Regal actually on the show.

I really like Asuka. I think Nia Jax has a lot of potential but she’s a ways off of realizing it. She’s really bad on a mic but should be a brilliant heel someday.

After some shit talking, Asuka told Jax she talks to much. A brawl ensued, ending with Jax power bombing Asuka.

As always, you can join the global conversation using the hashtag #WWENXT or just #NXT. You can also check out my About Me page to find me on social media, where I’ll gladly talk about wrestling or just about anything else until you’re sick of it.

Thursday Thoughts One

Here’s something new I’m going to try to do: Every Thursday, I’ll post a quote related to writing and just give my thoughts on it. Nothing fancy, just a way of trying to get myself in the habit of posting here more regularly.

001This is something I know to be true, at least for me. It’s also something I need to make myself remember. To tell the truth, it’s been so long since I’ve really written anything, I could hardly be called a writer at this point.

Get it done. No excuses.

(Sort Of) Review of On Basilisk Station

It has been far too long since I have posted here. I really need to work on that. What better time to start than now?

I’ll spare you my thoughts on Wrestlemania, now two days past, and instead write a sort of book/audio book review.


I recently picked up the audio book for On Basilisk Station by David Weber. I’ve been interested in learning more about the Honorverse, since I see The Royal Manticoran Navy at most conventions here in Minnesota. I had previously tried to read House of Steel, but struggled through it and eventually stopped. The Honorverse Companion portion of the book was far more interesting to me, though I have yet to finish it. Because of that, audio book seemed like the way for me to approach this series.

I put off beginning the series on audio book, because the preview sounded terrible. It’s worth noting that I got the audio book from Audible, so I listened to the version they made. There have been others. The narrator does some bad voices and accents, but they serve their purpose of differentiating characters well, so it can be forgiven. However, the way she says “Manticoran” is likely to make you hate her a little. In the end, I got used to the narration pretty quickly.

While this book is science fiction, at its core, it’s really just a naval story in spaaaaaace. I find keeping that in mind makes it a little more enjoyable.

Of course, David Weber is known for lengthy dialogue and info dumps. They are in this book by the pound. Sometimes it feels like it’s never going to end. While it can be tedious, the info dumps do serve the purpose of creating a very detailed universe. It even gives details and numbers about types of ships and armaments and everything. Of course, it was later determined the numbers were off and they were adjusted.

The dialogue, on the other hand, can be excessive. I think often it’s just an attempt to explain things to the reader in unnecessary detail things which should be understood as the story unfolds. It’s like a textbook example of telling, not showing.

If you can get past these things, or if you like them, the story is enjoyable enough. It feels like it opens an elaborate new world for you to explore, which it really does. The series is getting quite lengthy and there are many related books outside of it. There’s even a comic book series.

I felt like I was struggling at points, but I enjoyed it overall and even bought the audio book for the next in the series (The Honor of the Queen) right when I finished it and I’m listening to that one now.