20 Years!

Growing up, I wanted nothing more than to be a professional writer. I loved the little biographies of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E. Howard that would be included with some of the pulp reprints that I bought… and I dreamed of someday being just like them. I submitted stories to comic book companies and other publishers for years, got a stack of rejection slips, and finally decided that as I moved into my Thirties that it was time to realize that it wasn’t going to happen. I told myself that I was okay with it – that’s I’d tried my best.

Then I got an email that changed all that. A friend that I’d made on the Internet while writing fanfiction had gotten a gig at Marvel Comics and when they asked him if he knew anybody that would work – cheap – on some Ghost Rider-related material, he thought of me. He emailed me to ask if it was okay for him to give my name to Marvel and I, of course, said HELL YEAH! Less than 24 hours later, I was sending a writing sample to editor Jeff Youngquist and they hired me the same day.

Since then, I’ve written multiple projects for Marvel Comics, gone on to write classic characters like the Avenger and the Green Hornet, and been published dozens of times. I’ve been a guest at Dragon*Con, Pulp Ark, and numerous other conventions. I’ve seen my books on the shelves next to my idols.

Despite all the stress and disappointments of life, I accomplished one of my dreams – and I want to celebrate that success. This year marks 20 years as a professional author – and that’s partially thanks to all of you that’s bought one of my books, supported my works, and posted a review somewhere. Even if the review wasn’t positive, it still helped – it made me better as a writer and helped me develop a thicker skin, which is actually a useful trait.

This image was done for me by Gilbert Monsanto and features a whole host of my characters surrounding the Reese Unlimited logo. There are big plans to make 2023 a year to remember. Stay tuned!

Randy Cartier (Icons Writeup)

Randy Cartier

Prowess 4
Coordination 4
Strength 8
Intellect 6
Awareness 6
Willpower 5

Stamina 13

Powers
All powers are derived from the X-O Manowar Class Armor. Without the armor, her Strength drops to 4 and her Stamina is reduced to 9. Her Intellect is reduced to 4 without the armor and her Awareness drops to 4, as well. During the time she wore the armor, she also had the Control Ring. The Control Ring has two powers of its own – Detection and Interface, both level 10 and both with the Limit: X-O Manowar armor only. If someone were to take the Armor Control Ring from her, they could theoretically bond with the armor as she and Arci did.
*Blast (100 MGHz pulsed ion beams) 8
*Dazzle (blinding light) 6
*Extrasensory Perception (Remote Eye) 2
*Flight 8 (Extra: Spaceflight)
*Force Field 6
*Gadgets 4
*Interface 8
*Life Support 10
*Immortality 2
*Regeneration 4
*Damage Resistance 5
*Super-Senses 5
*Telepathy 4 (Limit: Only functions with the wearer of the Control Ring)

Specialties
Athletics, Military (Expert +2 bonus), Weapons (Guns)

Qualities
*Slow to trust
*Counterbalances Aric’s strengths and weaknesses
*X-O Womanowar

Background

Randy Cartier is an ex-soldier who temporarily becomes the second X-O Manowar when the original, Aric Dacia, takes a break from the role. Prior to this she worked as Aric’s head of security at Orb Industries. She and Aric eventually became lovers but she was killed during Crescendo’s assault on Orb Industries.

Spider Aliens – Warrior (Icons Writeup)

Spider Alien Warrior

Prowess 4
Coordination 5
Strength 6
Intellect 3
Awareness 5
Willpower 3

Stamina 9

Powers
*Affliction (poison bite) 7
*Binding 5
*Blast Rifles 6
*Extra Body Parts (arms/legs) 6 (extras: fast attack, super-speed)
*Gadgets 4
*Leaping 1
*Wall-Crawling 5

Specialties
Military, Wrestling

Qualities
*Nature Worshippers
*View humanity as cattle
*Creators of the alien armors (x-o wolf, x-o commando)

Background

The Spider Aliens are a race of alien conquerors. They are responsible for creating the armored exo-skeleton worn by the Earth superhero X-O Manowar and were frequent foes of X-O Manowar and Solar. They worship nature and have great gardens on their spacecraft – they are meat-eaters, however, and consider it sacrilege to eat the fruits of the garden. These stats for the warrior caste, there are numerous sub-types of Spider-Aliens, including spies, priests, scientists, etc.

Crescendo’s Guardsmen

Crescendo’s Guard

Prowess 4
Coordination 3
Strength 4
Intellect 3
Awareness 3
Willpower 2

Stamina 6

Powers
All of the guardmen’s powers come from their armor. It provides them with the following abilities:

*Blast 5
*Damage Resistance 5
*Supersenses 1 (Nightvision)
*Life Support 2 (Heat/Cold)
*Gadgets 3

Specialties
Athletics

Qualities
*Faceless Minions
*Bullies
*We serve Mistress Crescendo

Background

The men that make up Crescendo’s royal guard are mostly unknown figures. We’re not sure where she finds these soldiers or if their loyalty is a result of true fervor or if they merely follow her for money and power. Their armor is sufficient to overpower most ordinary military forces but one-on-one they cannot stand up to X-O Manowar. As such, they tend to attack en masse.

Augur (Icons Writeup)

Augur

Prowess 2
Coordination 2
Strength 2
Intellect 4
Awareness 4
Willpower 4

Stamina 6

Powers
*Immortality 1 (Limit – Source: Augur’s immortality fades if he is not within close physical proximity to Mistress Crescendo)
*Magic 4

Specialties
Linguistics, Mental Resistance, Occult

Qualities
*Fiercely loyal to Crescendo
*Craven
*Snazzy Dresser

Background

Very little is known about the man called Augur. He was the loyal Vizier to Mistress Crescendo and was at her side when she toppled Orb Industries and also when she teamed up with Baron Zemo to threaten both X-O Manowar and Iron Man. It seemed that he had been her advisor since the days of the Visigoths but it’s unknown if he was kept alive through Crescendo’s machinations or if he himself was immortal. He is an intelligent schemer but too much of a coward to directly face a foe without lots of backup. He apparently died during a multiversal crossover but given the timey-wimey nature of such things, he might still be alive.

Doctor Solar, Podcast of the Atom: The Sun Giant!

The January 1965 issue of Doctor Solar pits the Man of the Atom against a geological threat: a massive earthquake has created fissures in the polar ice caps, threatening the world! Doctor Solar travels to the sun to amass enough power to do what must be done. Unfortunately, there is a terrible side-effect for Solar, one that leaves him both giant-sized… and a target for fear and hatred from humanity!

The Eraser (Icons Writeup)

The Eraser

Prowess 3
Coordination 2
Strength 3
Intellect 7
Awareness 2
Willpower 3

Stamina 6

Powers
*Dimensional Transporters 6
Limit: Power works on others only and requires a successful Prowess attack. Whatever body part The Eraser touches will be “erased” unless the victim makes a successful Strength test against the power. If they succeed, they take damage normally but the body part is salvaged.

*Transmutation (Ion Ray) 6
Limit: Only transforms human flesh to stone.

* Gadgets 3

Specialties
Technology (Expert + 2 bonus)

Qualities
Hatred of the Shield
Unappreciated genius
He’s a bully

Background

Part of this comes from Comic Vine:

The Eraser is a criminal scientist and a masked hit man, he always promises to “rub out” the targets he was hired to kill. In the late forties he was hired by a mob boss to kill The Shield. The Eraser was successful and efficient; he managed to turn the famous hero into a stone statue with an “ion ray”, a device of his own creation. This event led Bill Higgins, the son of the first Shield, to take up his father’s moniker and become the new Shield, swearing to get revenge on The Eraser for his father’s petrification. Bill tracks the Eraser down and defeats him, imprisoning him in another dimension, where he would remain for over a decade. Eventually the Eraser escaped from his imprisonment in the alternate dimension, but was amnesic, unable to remember anything.

Later the Brain Emperor (a long-time foe of the Mighty Crusaders, who was out to kill the super team) used his telepathic powers to restore The Eraser’s memory. The Eraser once again resumes his career as a super villain, incorporating “dimensional transporters” into his gloves, which let him literally “erase” objects by transporting them to another dimension. He later goes on to join a super villain team named the Riot Squad, and went on to fight The Fox with the team. Soon afterward he and the Riot Squad killed Matthew Burland, the first Black Hood, which brought him to the attention of the Mighty Crusaders, in particular Kip Burland, Matthew’s nephew and the current Black Hood. His team gets in a fight with the Mighty Crusaders, bearing the full weight of their wrath for the murder of a fellow hero, and the entire team is killed in an explosion.

The Eraser is a tubby little genius with a truly horrifying power – with his dimensional transporters, he can “erase” part of an enemy’s body… resulting in a terrible death. Though he was seemingly killed the last time we saw him, that doesn’t really mean anything. For one thing, the Mighty Crusaders continuity is notoriously unstable. Secondly, when has death ever stopped a supervillain anyway?

The Eraser is often considered The Shield’s arch-foe but he’s not capable of fighting the hero head-to-head for very long. He tends to use gadgets, traps, and goons to help even the odds.

Gamin (Icons Writeup)

Gamin

Prowess 4
Coordination 6
Strength 3
Intellect 3
Awareness 4
Willpower 4

Stamina 7

Powers
*Images 8 (Limit: Can only produce three-dimensional images of herself)

Specialties
Athletics, Sleight of Hand (Expert +2), Stealth

Qualities
*Master Thief
*Flirtatious
*Beneath it all, she wants to do the right thing.

Background

Gamin uses sophisticated technology to project false three-dimensional images of herself. Gamin is also a thief and went after Aric’s X-O Manowar armor but ultimately she seems to find Aric more attractive than his armor and settles for a kiss. They become friends until she is killed by the armor after it is corrupted by the Darque Power of Master Darque.

The Dark Society

While I try to be relatively spoiler-free, there ARE some slight spoilers to be found here – so read on at your own risk!

As with many things that are supernatural, the origins of the Dark Society had their roots in Grove’s Folly, the sleepy hamlet located just down the road from Sovereign City. Grove’s Folly is chiefly famous for two things: its massive Pumpkin Festival held every Halloween and the fact that it was host to one of the bloodiest — and most unusual — battles of the American Revolutionary War.

In recent years, a viral video of the cryptid known as the Straw-Man has given Grove’s Folly a new revenue stream: a surge in tourism related to monster and ghost hunters. Though few know that the city was built atop an open pit to Hell (known as a Hellmouth), the arrival of the Straw-Man has coincided with a number of supernatural sightings and events. The Straw-Man (in actually a gestalt being formed of a young local man named Samuel Hain and Gwydion fab Dôn, a magician, hero and trickster of Welsh mythology) also kicked off a new generation of heroes within the area. In addition to the Straw-Man, several other heroes frequented the area to team up with the Straw-Man or, in some cases, to fight him: Jupiter, Catalyst, Singularity, and the American Crusader.

When a cult attempted to use the Large Hadron Collider at CERN to open portals to both Heaven and Hell in an attempt to bring about the supposed end of days, a collection of heroes came together to oppose this plan. In addition to the heroes named above, Geist, Babylon, and Calavera journeyed to Geneva. In the end, the group saved the world — but at great cost: Babylon was seemingly destroyed in the conflict. In the aftermath, the team swore to come together again if needed.

All of the above is depicted in The Dark Society Book One: Calavera.

Later in the same year, the Dark Society established a headquarters in Romania. It was dubbed The Dark House. They were soon caught up in the machinations of August Messenger, who sought the resurrection of Cthulhu. The Society teamed up with The Peregrine for the adventure, which is shown in The Dark Society Book Two: August Messenger.

If you want more information about the individual members of the team, follow the links to roleplaying game writeups of each — and be on the lookout for the Dark Society tomes, which should be released after the first three Straw-Man titles are released.

Our art is by Gilbert Monsanto.