4-Color to 35-Millimeter: Steel and Spawn


In 1992, the “Death of Superman” storyline led to four new heroes taking on the mantle of Kal-El, one of whom was an armored hero named John Henry Irons, a.k.a. the Man of Steel, later simplified to Steel. He remained a staunch ally of Superman’s after his resurrection.

In 1992, several high-profile Marvel artists formed Image Comics, and one of their flagship titles was Todd McFarlane’s Spawn.

In 1997, both Steel and Spawn starred in live-action movies, thus taking two of the highest-profile comics events of 1992 and turning them into REALLY REALLY REALLY bad movies five years later. The great superhero movie rewatch looks at Steel and Spawn.

An excerpt:

I watched Steel and thought, “Wow, is this embarrassing,” and then I watched Spawn and didn’t realize when I had it so good. Steel is terrible, but at least it’s harmless—and its heart is in the right place, as ultimately it’s about a hero who does the right thing. (Although the ease with which Steel uses stolen equipment and fights the cops is a bit off-putting.) Spawn, though doesn’t even have heart. It’s just a dank, dark, ugly story about dank, dark, ugly people. John Henry Irons became Steel to keep people from being hurt. Al Simmons became Spawn because he’s good at killing people. While there’s a level of tragedy to Simmons, it’s a pretty shallow level, all told, and he’s mostly an awful person whose notion of a conscience is half-assed and half-hearted.

guide to my reviews of new Star Trek

Paramount+ (formerly CBS All Access) has been airing lots of new Star Trek shows since 2017: Discovery, Short Treks, Picard, Lower Decks, and Prodigy, with more to come (like Strange New Worlds and Section 31). My reviews of same have been appearing on Tor.com. Unlike my rewatches of TV shows and movies for the site, these aren’t archived on a single index page, so herewith, a guide to the reviews I’ve done to date (regularly updated).


Discovery Season 1:

“We come in peace” — “The Vulcan Hello” & “Battle at the Binary Stars”

“You helped start a war, don’t you want to help me end it?” — “Context is for Kings”

The Spores Must Flow — “The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not for the Lamb’s Cry”

“This is so fucking cool!” — “Choose Your Pain”

Good Retcons and Bad B-Plots — “Lethe”

Tough Mudder — “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad”

If You Want Peace, Prepare for War — “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

“Everybody comes home” — “Into the Forest I Go”

The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side — “Despite Yourself”

“We are still Starfleet” — “The Wolf Inside”

You Can’t Go Back to the Way Things Were — “Vaulting Ambition”

“We will not accept a no-win scenario” — “What’s Past is Prologue”

Moving Forward — “The War Without, the War Within”

A Waterskiing Dog — “Will You Take My Hand?”

We Come in Pieces — First Season Overview

Hooray for Licensed Fiction! — More Star Trek Discovery Stories in Prose & Comics Form to Tide You Over until 2019


Short Treks Season 1:

“You’re just so clearly over-caffeinated!” — “Runaway”

“What’s a Betty Boop?” — “Calypso”

Looking Up, Looking Down — “The Brightest Star”

Here’s Mudd in Your Eye — “The Escape Artist”


Discovery Season 2:

“Where’s my damn red thing?” — “Brother”

Simple Pleasures Are the Best — “New Eden”

Meanwhile, Back in the Klingon Empire… — “Point of Light”

Space Oddity — “An Obol for Charon”

The Monster at the End of This Episode — “Saints of Imperfection”

“You brought that hope back with you” — “The Sound of Thunder”

Lost and Found — “Light and Shadows”

Old, New, Borrowed, and Red — “If Memory Serves”

Redshirts, Red Angels, and Red Herrings — “Project Daedalus”

Death, Here is Thy Sting — “The Red Angel”

“How long until the universe wins?” — “Perpetual Infinity”

While I Look Around for My Possibility — “Through the Valley of the Shadow”

“Today rocks!” — “Such Sweet Sorrow”

The Director of Your Opponent’s Fate — “Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2”

Fight for the Future — Second Season Overview

Hooray for Licensed Fiction! Part Deux — Yet Still More Star Trek Discovery Stories To Tide You Over until Season 3


Short Treks Season 2:

Elevator Pitch — “Q & A”

Them’s Good Eatin’! — “The Trouble with Edward”

Kobayashi Sidhu — “Ask Not”

Back to the Drawing Board — “The Girl Who Made the Stars” and “Ephraim and Dot”

School Daze — “Children of Mars”


Picard Season 1:

Back to the Future — “Remembrance”

“For a relic, you’re in excellent shape!” — “Maps and Legends”

“Engage!” — “The End is the Beginning”

Jean-Luc as St. Jude — “Absolute Candor”

Freecloud’s Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose — “Stardust City Rag”

“Please, my friends, choose to live” — “The Impossible Box”

“Baby steps…” — “Nepenthe”

“Arroz con leche se quiere casar” — “Broken Pieces”

“I noticed a little turbulence” — “Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1”

The Picard Maneuver — “Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2”

Regrets, I’ve Had a Few — First Season Overview

Lower Decks Season 1:

About 60% of a Good Episode — “Second Contact”

What Do You Do with a Drunken Klingon? — “Envoys”

“Nobody can stop you from speaking freely!” — “Temporal Edict”

“Why is it taking so long?” — “Moist Vessel”

“That is messed up!” — “Cupid’s Errant Arrow”

Badgieeeeeeeeee! — “Terminal Provocations”

A Substitute Captain, a Dog, and a Transporter Accident Walk Into an Episode — “Much Ado About Boimler”

“Can someone give us some context in here please?” — “Veritas”

“Guys, therapy works!” — “Crisis Point”

Badass Pakleds? Badass Pakleds… — “No Small Parts”

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly — First Season Overview

Discovery Season 3:

“I am done being reflexively supportive” — “That Hope is You”

The Future Isn’t What it Used to Be — “Far from Home”

“I will trust you to grow through change” — “People of Earth”

“You’re a responsibility hoarder” — “Forget Me Not”

“Your relationship isn’t very professional” — “Die Trying”

“You had me at ‘unsanctioned mission'” — “Scavengers”

Spock’s Legacy — “Unification III”

Moving the Pieces Forward — “The Sanctuary”

“Execute me, Mother!” — “Terra Firma, Part 1”

“There are no spoils from peace” — “Terra Firma, Part 2”

To Be Free, Face Your Deepest Fear — “Su’Kal”

Yipee-Ki-Yay, Michael Burnham! — “There is a Tide…”

“Wanting is not the same as doing” — “That Hope is You, Part 2”

“Let’s fly!” — Third Season Overview

Lower Decks Season 2:

“There’s a giant head approaching the ship!” — “Strange Energies”

DeCandido, His Review Mixed — “Kayshon, His Eyes Open”

Behold the Mistress of the Winter Constellations! — “We’ll Always Have Tom Paris”

“A lot’s changed since slightly earlier today” — “Mugato, Gumato”

“Was I too much trouble?” — “An Embarrassment of Dooplers”

Red Shirts and Big Helmets — “The Spy Humongous”

Huzzah! — “Where Pleasant Fountains Lie”

You Will Be Assimilated by Poop of Borg — “I, Excretus”

ghus choQpu’ — “wej Duj”

It’s Captain Freeman Day! — “First First Contact”

The Good, the Bad, and the Awesome — Second Season Overview

Prodigy Season 1

Star Trek: Prodigy is the Best New Trek Series

Discovery Season 4

Winning a No-Win Scenario — “Kobayashi Maru”

Sitting with Pain — “Anomaly”

Conducting the Larger Symphony — “Choose to Live”

Unification IV — “All is Possible”

Prison Break — “The Examples”

“Just can’t get my poor self together” — “Stormy Weather”

“We cannot let fear define us” — “…But to Connect”

Star Trek Discovery: “Despite Yourself”


Star Trek Discovery is back, and so are my reviews of same on Tor.com! Here, we’ve got my take on the first episode of “Chapter 2” of the first season, “Despite Yourself,” as our heroes foray into the Mirror Universe.

An excerpt:

One of the themes of “Mirror, Mirror” was spoken by Spock at the end: it is easier for a civilized person to pretend to be a barbarian than the other way ’round, and we get two entertaining examples of it here. Burnham is scarily effective as Captain Burnham of the I.S.S. Shenzhou, but that’s as nothing compared to the perverse delight of Cadet Tilly pretending to be Captain Tilly—or, rather, the deliberately unimaginatively nicknamed “Captain Killy”—of the I.S.S. Discovery. The line about cutting out tongues and using them to lick her boots was epic, and I must confess that the thing I’m most looking forward to next week is more of Captain Killy.

Mine! is an amazing comics anthology


So I actually sat down and read Mine!: A Celebration of Liberty and Freedom for All Benefiting Planned Parenthood, a very thick comics anthology that I contributed to. My own story, “In Defense of Self” (art and letters by the amazing Tom Daly) came out looking very nice.

This anthology is important to have simply because Planned Parenthood needs all the support it can get, especially with PP coming under fire by alleged moralists who think it’s just an abortion factory, not understanding how important it is for medical care for people with little money. (As is often the case, what people say is moralism is usually classism instead.)

But regardless of the charity or benefits or politics or anything like that, it’s also a damn good anthology. There’s not a bad story in the bunch, and there are several that particularly stood out to me:

“Inspired by True Events” by Glenn Greenberg & Nick Guarracino. The anthology is full of stories like this, about what life is like working for Planned Parenthood, but this one stood out for me because the people in it felt so real.

“Tea Cakes” by Irene Johnson & Rob Jones. This very personal and real story about a family and food and recipes and secrets and stuff just hit me right on the heart. This wasn’t a treacly story about love and affection but a very complex story about the difficulties of dealing with family.

“Silence” by Josh Trujillo & Maia Kobabe. There’s no actual dialogue in this story, and it’s a perfect metaphor for how hard it is for people to talk about the medical issues that they go to PP for.

“Gloria Richardson” by Mark Waid & Josh Broglia. Of all the biographical pieces in the anthology — and there are about a dozen — this is my favorite, mainly because Mark doesn’t just do straight narration, but instead tells the story in his own voice, which makes it much more effective. And yeah, Richardson was a badass…..

“I Stand” by Pat Shand & Liana Kangas. An excellent compilation of stories gathered by a student recording testimonials, but what really made it was the moralist on the subway, who was brilliantly subtle and insidious, and I particularly like the way the protagonist worked her way through her depression and annoyance at being ambushed like that. Really well done.

“Resistance is Fertile” by Matt Miner & David Stoll. An excellent portrayal of someone struggling with gender identity. I particularly like that Stoll drew the protagonist in color with everyone else in black and white, a simple yet effective bit of symbolism.

“Stained Glass Sex Talk” by Gabby Rivera & Brittney Williams. One of the many autobiographical tales, this one spoke to me in particular as a fellow Bronx native and a lapsed Catholic.

“What You Don’t Know Can” by Devin Grayson & Eugenia Koumaki. A bitterly amusing story that collects all the dumbshit things that people really do believe about reproduction and biology which are all 100% wrong, and reminds you that people really will believe the dumbest things…..

“The Job” by Josh Olson & Jon Cairns. The perfect bookend to “Inspired by True Events,” as this tells the story of a PP doctor who treats anybody — even one of the protesters outside.

But the best story in the book is the incredibly brilliant and powerful “The Bride” by Mindy Newell & Andrea Shockling. The longest story in the book by far (it’s 14 where most are 1-6 or so), but it benefits from the storytelling space, as Mindy & Andrea tell a heartbreaking story of a woman who does what’s expected of her rather than what would actually make her happy. She lets other people define her, but she doesn’t really have a choice, because nobody ever gives her the opportunity to define herself. The story ends in tragedy, and it’s just brutal. The whole book’s worth it for this story.

I can’t speak to the quality of “In Defense of Self,” the story by me and Tom, but I will say that Tom and I have wanted to collaborate on something for ages. Tom is a black belt in the same discipline as me, and we finally found that project to do together in Mine! Since we’re both martial artists, and since we figured the anthology would have plenty of medical-type stories, we decided to stay in our wheelhouse and do a story about self-defense and how empowering it can be. We didn’t want to favor one martial art over another, so we had our protagonist taking a generic self-defense class, and patterned the teacher after the woman who co-runs Tom’s dojo, Kyoshi Jennifer.

It turns out that one other creator had the same idea, as Blue Delliquanti did a story about a krav maga student (entitled “Krav Maga“), but it’s not really anything like our story. Besides, in an anthology this big, there’s going to be a lot of idea overlap, and it’s to the credit of editors Joe Corallo and Molly Jackson that those overlapping ideas aren’t repetitive in the least.

I strongly urge people to buy this anthology. It’s brilliantly done, for a good cause, and just some nifty stuff.


fifty-four first lines of fifty-four novels

I did this in 2013 on the old blog, and now that it’s 2018, I figured I’d post it and add the novels I’ve written in the five years since I posted that.

So herewith, all the first lines to all my novels:


“C’mon, ‘Stairway to Heaven’ is the best rock and roll song ever.”

The night before the kidnappings, Betty Brant dreamt of Ned Leeds, her husband, lying next to her in bed, asleep and alive.
Spider-Man: Venom’s Wrath (full disclosure: that line was written by my collaborator on that novel, José R. Nieto)

The argument started when Cordelia saw what Xander was wearing.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Xander Years Volume 1

Iolaus never saw the staff coming.
Young Hercules: Cheiron’s Warriors

“So where are you guys going for spring break?”
Young Hercules: The Ares Alliance

Captain Klag’s right arm itched.
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Diplomatic Implausibility

Rygel flipped his cards over. “Four priestesses. I win again.”
Farscape: House of Cards

“Shields 1 and 2 are now down, Shield 3 is buckling, and warp drive is down!”
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Demons of Air and Darkness

“Captain, I believe you should come down to see this.”
Star Trek: The Brave and the Bold Book 1

Tharia didn’t cry when his three mates died.
Star Trek: The Brave and the Bold Book 2

Matilda Dixon had been baking a lemon cake when she was told that her husband was dead.
Darkness Falls

Everyone I know is dead.
Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda: Destruction of Illusions

The boy could taste the scent of the lIngta’ on the wind.
Star Trek: The Lost Era: The Art of the Impossible

The faces of the greatest warriors of the past ten centuries stared down at Klag, son of M’Raq.
Star Trek: I.K.S. Gorkon Book 1: A Good Day to Die

“I am Klag, son of M’Raq, captain of the I.K.S. Gorkon—and I summon you, my fellow members of the Order of the Bat’leth, in a call to honor.”
Star Trek: I.K.S. Gorkon Book 2: Honor Bound

Gan Brightblade’s last thoughts before his neck was broken were about how happy he was.
Dragon Precinct

Aaron Vricella regarded the younger man sitting opposite him with a combination of awe and outrage.
Resident Evil: Genesis

Major Timothy Cain didn’t take any shit.
Resident Evil: Apocalypse

Sunrise on Qo’noS had lost its appeal for Ambassador Worf.
Star Trek: The Next Generation: A Time for War, a Time for Peace

Worlds of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Satisfaction is Not Guaranteed

Before the alarm sounded, Shipmaster Vor Ellis had thought it was a good day.
Star Trek: I.K.S. Gorkon Book 3: Enemy Territory

Ele’er sat impatiently on her stool in the learning room. Mother was late, of course—she always was late for their learning sessions, which meant they ended later, which meant that Ele’er was always late for sky-singing.
Star Trek: Articles of the Federation

Sergeant Malcolm Reynolds’s life had reduced itself to the critical imperative of running as fast as he could.

Peter Parker looked at the clock on the wall, smiled, and said, “We’ve got a few minutes, so let’s go to the next chapter: the Periodic Table of Elements.”
Spider-Man: Down These Mean Streets

Erik had been cleaning ale off the demon skull mounted behind the bar when the stranger walked in.
World of Warcraft: Cycle of Hatred

Spike was looking forward to a pleasant evening. The grocery store had restocked the Weetabix shelf, giving Spike the opportunity to clean it out again, the butcher had plenty of blood, and the little trick with the tree branch in the Blockbuster returns bin had nabbed him a videotape of Henry V—Branagh’s version, thankfully, not Olivier’s.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Blackout

As soon as she felt Cliff Nadaner’s mind, Nova knew that she could destroy her family’s murderer with but a thought.
StarCraft: Ghost: Nova

Kes tried to screen out the voices in her head.
Star Trek: Mirror Universe: The Mirror-Scaled Serpent

“Do we really need to be just hangin’ here, B?”
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Deathless

The tank screamed over the ridge, crushing the grass and bamboo under its treads, guns blazing as it spit bullets and shells into the large temple and its occupants.
Command and Conquer: Tiberium Wars

Dr. Jim Knable stood on the Ravens’ Gate Bridge, a seething tide of humanity heading straight for him.
Resident Evil: Extinction

A chill November breeze blew John Soeder’s hair into his face, Mother Nature’s reminder to get a haircut in the absence of his actual mother being around to nag him about it.
Supernatural: Nevermore

They held off on letting this universe die in the hopes that it would provide something interesting.
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Q & A

The bat’leth sliced through the air, heading straight for Captain Klag’s neck.
Star Trek: Klingon Empire: A Burning House

Detective Don Flack stared at the one pill that rattled around the bottom of the prescription bottle.
CSI: NY: Four Walls

The chief priest sat in the canoe as the boy rowed to the sacred island.
Supernatural: Bone Key

“I can assure you, Dalin, that I am but a plain, simple clothier. I’ve no idea where the shapeshifter might be.”
Star Trek: Myriad Universes: A Gutted World

The Zirkiv only looks like a three-hundred-and-fifty-year-old Earth Cargo Service vessel.
Star Trek: A Singular Destiny

The rain had not let up for the better part of an hour.
Supernatural: Heart of the Dragon

Vaspar had been thinking about how much he’d been enjoying the calm and quiet of the past five weeks when he found the dead body.
Unicorn Precinct

The Eso swung its deadly claw at Folami’s head.
Guilt in Innocence

When you’re immortal, you literally have all the time in the world to craft and implement plans. If one plan fails, it matters little, for there is plenty of time to try another.
Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Sun: Under the Crimson Sun

A yellow streak flew overhead, stirring up the litter on 20th Street.
SCPD: The Case of the Claw

Oddly, given how miserable he’d been the past few years, Elthor lothSerra was happier than he’d ever been in his century-plus of life when he died.
Goblin Precinct

Zoë Kerrigan held up her cell phone, currently in picture-taking mode, finger poised over the camera icon, waiting for the red panda to wake up.
Leverage: The Zoo Job

Lord Albin was late.
Gryphon Precinct

One of the great mysteries of The Klingon Art of War is who wrote it.
Star Trek: The Klingon Art of War

The great contradiction of Ichabod Crane’s life was that he was constantly surrounded by people, yet had never been more alone.
Sleepy Hollow: Children of the Revolution

The skies are sometimes blue, sometimes black, sometimes gray.
Marvel’s Thor: Dueling with Giants

Captain Kirti Patel had thought it to be a good day up until the blast came out of nowhere and made a smoking hole in Sergeant Castro’s chest.
Stargate SG-1: Kali’s Wrath

The great world tree Yggdrasil sits at the center of the Nine Worlds, linking each world to the other eight.
Marvel’s Sif: Even Dragons Have Their Endings

At the center of the Nine Worlds is Yggdrasil, the world tree, linking all of them via its might roots and powerful branches.
Marvel’s Warriors Three: Godhood’s End

If you are reading this, then you are about to learn a great deal about something that has been one of the most closely guarded secrets of this young century. Though in truth, the secret goes back to the 19th century…
Orphan Black: Classified Clone Report

I would like to state for the record that starting Shabbos with a crazed unicorn charging at you horn-first kinda sucks.
A Furnace Sealed





Dale Mazur, 1964-2018


Twenty-seven years ago, Jo, a fellow member of the Society for Creative Anachronism introduced Wrenn to Dale and announced that they were brother and sister. Jo died a few years later, but Wrenn and Dale continued to be siblings in all but blood.

Ten years ago, Dale lost his leg due to complications relating to his diabetes. He moved in with his daughter and son-in-law and grandkids in Pennsylvania.

Nine years ago, Dale’s son-in-law moved to El Paso. Dale wanted to stay with his doctors and friends, and Wrenn offered him a place to live with her. She was a few years out of a divorce and living in a small house in Delaware.

Eight and a half years ago, Wrenn started dating me. Eight years ago, we agreed that we would move in together, and she and Dale moved to New York.

Dale was really happy being a New Yorker. With his prosthetic, he couldn’t drive, and in Delaware Wrenn had to drive him everywhere, but here, he could get around on his own thanks to our robust mass transit system.

Despite his health problems — diabetes, vascular issues, Epstein-Barr, back pain, muscle spasms, high blood pressure — Dale lived as active a life as he was capable of. He became a mainstay of the local burlesque scene, and made friends literally everywhere he went. Every party we threw, every gathering we went to, he was always sitting in a big chair telling stories, and he had plenty of them.

A little more than a week ago, his daughter — who went from El Paso to Anchorage to Seattle — called and said that she and the family were actually in the area. They had driven across country and surprised all their family in New York and Pennsylvania, and was Dale free Tuesday or Wednesday night? So they came over Wednesday, Dale made his famous macaroni and cheese, and a good time was had by all.

That night at 2am, Dale was having trouble breathing. I put him in the car and drove him to the local emergency room. We stayed there all night, and then they admitted him. He had fluid in his lungs and a kidney infection, and they spent the last week taking care of that before giving him an angiography that would determine what was wrong with his heart.

It turned out there was quite a bit wrong. They were going to schedule him for a quadruple bypass. They sent him back to his room, and he complained of back pain, so the nurse went to get him some meds. Moments later, he collapsed. He was in the cardiac unit, so he couldn’t have been in a better place, but despite thirty minutes of work, they couldn’t revive him (except briefly for a few minutes where he said he had no idea what happened, then he crashed again).

Wrenn and I are both total wrecks — Wrenn especially. He was always there, always telling stories, always being cranky about something, always there to talk politics or nerdery or television or movies or whatever.

I’ll miss him more than it’s possible for me to say.

Rest in peace, my dear brother-in-law, my dear housemate, my dear friend.


new on Patreon: Doctor Who review, Cassie Zukav vignette, lotsa cat pics!


A bunch of new things on Patreon:

Coming soon will be this week’s TV review, which will not be Major Crimes as originally intended, as that series finale isn’t airing until next Tuesday, and I want to discuss the show once its final episode has aired. I may instead review Lucifer.


happy new year!


Welcome to 2018! New Years Eve was spent at our friend Peter’s house with more than a dozen of our closest friends, where we exchanged many gifts, ate tons of food, and drank a considerable amount of wine.

New Years Day was spent eating goose at my parents’ house and then revising a novel proposal.

Today has been laundry and all the errands, and tonight I’ll be working on my belated review of “Twice Upon a Time,” the Doctor Who Christmas Special, for Patreon. Then tomorrow I dive back into A Furnace Sealed in the fond hope of finishing the fucking thing finally.