The Top 20 Moments of the Extended DU (20-16)
This is my September. This is my time of year.
Yup, I’m a fan of Linkin Park, you’re just going to have to accept that. Anyway, the point of that song paraphrase is that yes, it is indeed September and September is my birth month (the big day is this coming Monday in case you want to say ‘sup in the comments).
Last year, as a little gift to myself, I did a little bit of bragging by looking back and recalling my Top 20 favorite moments from the main series. It wasn’t just about it being my birthday, it was also because last year was a particularly awful year in my life and I needed to take some time and have a bit of pride with something I created.
This year is less than awful, so really this reprise of last year’s idea is more of a celebration of that fact and trying to establish another tradition around here, not unlike my ‘Dear Hollywood…’ letters for Halloween.
Of course, I can’t do the exact same thing as last year. There’s only been a year’s worth of new stories in the main series, so the top 20 from then won’t have changed much (Maybe I can do a top 20 to go with the Vol 6 Annual). Therefore, this year my Top 20 moments will be drawn from the Extended Descendants Universe; the various minis, limited series, and one-shots I’ve written alongside the main series since the beginning.
This week’s installment will be 20-16. Now just like last year, there’s not direct order for these, but I’m trying to put them together from sillier to more serious at least up to the top five, which are my absolute top five. Without further babbling, I give you my Top 20 Moments of the Extended DU, #20-#16:
#20 – Bryce the Jelly Pig (The Whitecoat and the Second Stringers)
As I said, this little ego trip is mostly to look back at the things I’ve done with the DU and have some pride. Buuut not everything I write or create is soley my creation. In the case of Bryce the Jelly Pig, the credit for Bryce goes to my mother who related the basic idea of Bryce to me from a bizarre dream she had wherein we were having a family reunion and I brought along my pet pig… who was made entirely of clear jelly.
I’m almost ashamed for not having come up with Bryce myself. I mean the whole idea of him is so weird, so incredible that it just screams ‘comic books’ and the best kind of comic books at that. It’s just delightful in it’s oddity.
For more than a year, I worked to integrate him somewhere in the DU. The idea that he served some sort of scientific purpose came quickly, but where he fit in was another matter. For a while, he was going to be part of the main series, something Cyn rescued from mad science and finds a kinship with in his amorphous nature.
That never really panned out (nor did the Pen-Pen from Evangeleon expy I also considered making a team pet). But then came the Second Stringers mini and Barn Owl’s story. I liked the idea of Barn Owl being Iron Man without the personal tech skills, so I had already rouged out this idea that he fought to keep independent labs independent, both in a corporate sense and in a criminal sense, thus earning tech from them and the idea of him being the one to get Bryce came from that.
Look for Bryce to return in the future and maybe even be found snuffling around the new LSI HQ!
#19 – The Motes Find Morganna (Rise of Morganna)
It probably goes without saying that I had no idea what I was going to do with Faerie when I wrote Rise. I knew I wanted it there, but my vision at the time was incredibly narrow and I did a lot to limit myself, what with the Faerie Rules et al. You might notice that this has been retconned in later stories, but the Vault and Sky area with the crazy rules and such still exists, it just isn’t the whole of Faerie.
Anyway, the motes. I love these guys. I love writing these guys even if it is a bit of a pain keeping up with their weird cadence, especially when Morganna has her own weird cadence, but it is worth it because I find them hilarious.
First and foremost, the motes were inspired by the Siamese cats from Lady and the Tramp, only less overtly racist.
There’s a lot of ‘cat given the power of speech’ in the motes, especially in that they are rather intelligent, yet massively self-serving; completely willing to hand over agency to someone else for what amounts to protection and a free ride.
The other big ingredient that makes the motes what they are comes from yet another Disney film, Peter Pan, specifically Tinkerbell. When I was a kid, I thought the ‘glowing light’ thing turned into Tinkerbell rather than her just glowing really bright. It’s actually a pretty common trope with fairies—I remember Navi from Ocarina of Time being the same deal. When I started to construct the Faerie races, I decided that the glowing light creature should be a thing unto themselves and thus motes were born.
Soem of you might have thought motes are meant to be a take on will-‘o-the-wisps, but I assure you those are an entirely different creature. Think airborne swamp jellyfish.
#18 – ‘Pain in the Ass’ (Descendants: LA Vol 1)
The first three issues of Descendants: LA were written in one sitting over the course of about five hours. The characters were each vaguely conceived by mixing and matching the basic powers and personalities from the animated Teen Titans. It’s more obvious in some than others: Ray didn’t inherit much from anyone while Lydia managed to take something from four different characters (Hey kids! Guess which ones and what she inherited from them, I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised!).
Taking a line from an AIM conversation I had with a friend based on the initial concept for Icthiani, we get the impetus for the scene I’m talking about: “Wow, combining Raven and Starfire gets you a completely irredeemable asshole.’.
Yes, the idea I started with for Icthiani was an alien from a foreign culture, confused and intrigued by it… who is completely closed off from others and reticent about it. I won’t waste your time with dissections of the two characters who inspired ‘Ani, but the way it shakes out is that without an outlet or a willingness to ask questions to others, PLUS the ‘rage demon grafted into her’ thing equals a lot of frustration and hostility. ‘Ani was, at conception, a female Ru without the benefit of the link explaining why they don’t boot her ass.
Now, there are a few ways to endear even a complete jerk to the audience: make them cool, make them complex, and/or make them funny. Considering how sharp ‘Ani’s edges are, I opted to go with all of them, starting with funny.
To that end, I had ‘Ani go down and apologize to Felix, but wear the designation of ‘pain in the ass’ with honor.
I especially like this scene because I like these two and their dynamic. It’s this moment and this discussion that puts ‘Ani at ease with Felix, more at ease than she is even with her brother. And while she’s still anti-social and dislikes the hi-tech modern world she’s in, the one person she’s okay with being around is the outgoing guy who is the most ingrained in technology.
And from the other direction, I like that even though he’s a little afraid of ‘Ani, he still sees fit to remain casual with her and just let her be there in his space. It’s a great thing about both him and Lydia that they’re just so open and accepting to all people regardless of how weird and/or terrifying they are.
#17 – Descendant-ball (Liedecker Institute Vol 2)
Remember when the X-men played baseball and had fun and stuff? I do. I actually own the comic with the last instance of this; the New Mutants: Academy X trade Choosing Sides wherein the Hellions and the New-New Mutants played all-powers basketball. The delightful, but short-lived Avengers Academy also had some scenes of powered sports playing.
I love this sort of thng. In fact, I love whenever people with superpowers use those powers in mundane situations simply to make their lives easier and/or more fun. That’s probably why I loved X-men: Evolution so much. The characters didn’t just save their powers for villains, they used them practically any time they were in private and it would be useful. One of the very first scenes in the show is Wolverine slicing open a water bottle instead of opening the cap; and yes, they played mutant ball.
I was tempted to make that story arc of LI all about the all-powers baseball game, but while I do love this kind of stuff, it’s pure world building and it isn’t as if there was something at stake in the game.
What I will say is that it was nice writing all my LI kids together for once, and to have them come together regardless of clique and allegiance just to have fun. It was especially fun having Rapunzel get a designer uniform because that’s just how she is and how she thinks.
In the future, I want to do more stuff like this, even in the main book. Remember back when I did a few of the Descendants training sessions? That was pretty cool, I think. The problem is finding time to fit it in, just like defeating Dr. Paralous. Maybe I’ll do a full on training issue that’s just character stuff. What do you think?
#16 – Cupid Means Business
This… was one of the weirdest damn things I’ve ever written. If you haven’t read it, I suggest you do so now because nothing I say after this point is going to make sense. Go ahead, it’s pretty short.
Are you back?
So… Cupid. I have a problem with Cupid in general. While I believe in romance and love at first sight and all that, Cupid bothers me something fierce. To be very specific, my problem is in how, in many depictions, he uses his arrows on complete strangers and this clearly mind controls them into loving one another.
No, this isn’t love at first sight. This isn’t helping love. The little wing’d bastard is mind screwing people and the proof is in the fact that he can miss! Even if we accept that he knows that the two targets would be a great couple, the arrows are just tools (tools of MIND CONTROL) that affect whoever they hit regardless of if they were a target or not.
It’s creepy, okay? In the same ‘everyone else seems cool with this idea’ sense as love potions. At least with love potions you know it’s a bad idea that will go horrifically wrong. With Cupid, you’re supposed to root for him to get it right!
And that’s why, as I am wont to do, I fixed Cupid.
Granted, he’s still employing mind control, but here, it’s more of a psychic nudge to get two people into one another’s orbit instead of forcing them to fall in love. Also, the arrows at least try to hit the right person (god damn do they try) and an errant hit isn’t a love bomb on the poor shmuck either.
To be honest though, I decided to write CMB purely in order to write the scene where his arrow splits into a Macross Missile Massacre. Being the nerd that I am, I love the ‘trick arrow’ shtick, but always thought it was use unimaginatively considering the kinds of weapons all the other supers rock. Thus fragmenting seeker arrows. Because COMICS! (Not to be confused with SCIENCE!)
Oh, and some of you might be wondering and yes, CMB is canon. He’s the same kind of being as Anansi.
And that’s it for this week’s list. Drop back in at the same time next week for the next five moments and don’t be shy about heading over to the forum and offering up your own favorite moments. It’d be the best birthday present you could give me. Besides like cash. Or a new car with one of those giant bows on it. It’d be in the top ten at the very least.
Speaking of cash, I’ve dropped the price of the A Girl and Her Monster paperbacks to $9.99 USD (available on Amazon and Createspace [use code “JC6FHA72” to get 25% off at Createspace]. You can still contact me for a signed copy, and for our friends and Europe, the ebook is now finally free on Amazon UK.
Finally, while I’m sticking to my count down this month, there might be a bonus blog update this week dealing with the events going on surrounding DC Comics and the terrible things they’ve been saying and doing over the course of the Baltimore Comic Con. It’s all pretty vile and insulting and I feel like I shouldn’t be silent about it. Until the post materializes, I’ll just direct you to hasdcdonesomethingstupidtoday.com.
Questions, comments, verbal abuse? Please post them below in the comments, or the forum.
You can check in on what Vaal’s working on or just what’s on his mind by following @ParadoxOmni on Twitter, checking out his new (incomplete) Facebook Page or using the hashtags #TheDescendants or #RuneBreaker. Sign up to learn about new book releases by Vaal by clicking here.
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