Fan Favorite

Fan Favorite

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Admit it: you geek out about SOMETHING. Even if you refuse to use the term “geek out,” you find yourself with a store of knowledge, research, and collectibles about some particular topic. Something out there, unrelated to your work (or even related to your work, perhaps) sets your brain on fire and gets you talking like nothing else. Even if you’re a confirmed introvert, you can happily chat with a complete stranger if they mention the correct words or pick up the right book off the shelf. You know every line from a movie, sport clothing with iconic symbols, have tattoos on your body, or named your pet after a favorite character.

In short, you’re a fan.

Don’t worry; I’m not calling you out. It’s healthy to fangirl/fanboy over things. They make you a human being. Not to mention it gives you a topic that you’re an expert in that your friends and family AREN’T. So when one of them ask if you know anything about a certain comic, a book series, a movie franchise, or even an animal or plant species, you’ve got the answers. You might tend to go overboard in your enthusiasm (when you see their eyes glaze over, it’s time to reel it in), but that’s the measure of your devotion. And if you’re idolizing another person’s work? That’s a sign of flattery. You never know how much it means to an artist or writer that you think so highly of them. (Don’t cross the line into stalking, though. No one likes felons)

Taking that bountiful fount of knowledge and applying it to your writing can help you out of those blocks and doldrums. You got it: I’m talking about fan fiction. Playing around in a world you DIDN’T create and allowing your imagination the license to run wild. It’s a writing exercise that works when you can’t get anything else to function for you. And while you have a few caveats, you’ll find yourself exhaling a huge sigh of relief – and possibly filling pages and pages and PAGEs with words before you come up for air.

Now, fan fiction causes plenty of debate among writers. Some authors get defensive and “forbid” any fan fiction of their work. Cute, but there’s no way to actually enforce that bluster. Since it violates copyright to publish fan fiction, it’s also weird for them to take up the stance. (Note, that’s the biggest caveat. You can write a twelve-book series, but you’re using characters and worlds that belong to someone else. So it’s not going to see publication) Most authors, though, shrug it off and take it for the compliment it is. And plenty laugh at the different perspectives that writers bring to their work.

Not everyone thinks alike, after all.

Maybe you HATED the ending (despite loving the book) of a series. Or perhaps you identified more with a secondary character than the protagonist. Perhaps you want to ditch the entire cast and start fresh in the world. Run wild. As long as you’re putting words on the page, you’re engaging your imagination and getting your writing brain to function for you. And when it’s a choice between staring at a blank screen and WRITING? You got it – writing wins every time.

You CAN also look around and find online fan fiction sites. You want to make sure they adhere to the copyright rule and implicitly state that they DON’T own the characters, world, etc. And you CAN’T accept any compensation for your work. But you might earn a following of people who love your take on the idea. And, again, it’s getting words flowing from your fingers. Fan fiction has pushed plenty of writers through their dry spells. With enough tweaking, it might even land you a REAL publication.

Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter series? Yeah, that started as Harry Potter fan fiction. Marissa Meyer’s Lunar series? Sailor Moon fan fic. You won’t see the original characters or worlds anywhere, but if you squint your eyes, turn on your head, and twist the book inside out, you can tease out the threads. That’s what writing fan fiction can do for YOU, too. If you’re willing to dissect what you LOVE about your chosen geek topic of choice, you can start following the idea down a path that will lead you into a world of YOUR design. And before you know it, you’re crafting a new book or story.

I have a Robin (as in Batman and Robin, not the bird) fan fiction I’ve kept around for YEARS. Whenever I get bogged down and find myself struggling to find words, I pull it out and add more. I’m not trying to write for anyone but ME (and it’s definitely not canon). But it’s prompted two other short stories in the process – stories with NOTHING to do with comics or even the action-adventure trope. It’s why I never delete the file.

So don’t toss out that “silly” idea for fan fiction you’re keeping around. You never know when it might set off that inspirational light bulb. You don’t have to share it (I don’t). You don’t even have to admit you write it. Tuck it into a folder on your computer. Name it something droll. But when you find yourself confronted with a blank screen, pull it out and let your mind play. You WON’T regret it.

Review of New Suicide Squad: Kill Anything

Review of New Suicide Squad: Kill Anything

New Suicide Squad, Volume 4: Kill Anything by Tim Seeley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Sometimes I finish a comic, sit back, and go, “What in the world was the creative team thinking?” Yeah, this is one of those volumes.
Personally, I feel Mr. Seeley and Mr. Ryan came up with the title first and then went from there. Or they felt no reason to connect this volume to the work that preceded it. Maybe they knew the comic was getting a new rebrand (it enters the Rebirth stage after this) and felt no obligation to do anything more than pile up a body count. Who knows. That’s about how much sense it makes.
While I loved seeing Chato make a return (he’s always a favorite), and the usual hijinks produce the expected laughter, it’s full of random questions and holes that leave you squinting. (Rose Tattoo? Come on, guys) I’m not one to expect logic from comics – much less one for Suicide Squad – but this one tripped over the border of left field and kept going. I’m sure the team had fun, though.



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Review of New Suicide Squad: Freedom

Review of New Suicide Squad: Freedom

New Suicide Squad, Volume 3: Freedom by Sean Ryan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Well, eventually, things need to veer off-course, right? And I’m not referring to the plot. (Okay, I AM, but it works on two levels here) It’s almost a given that as soon as a comic settles into place, moving on track, someone decides to toss a monkey wrench into the works. Then you get a trainwreck of a plot where everything slams into a brick wall of, “I guess that makes sense” and “All right, you sort of tied up a few loose ends.” Then they tack on a few “bonus” content pieces that don’t contribute any extra material or insight to the plotline. (And in the case of the Katana bit, don’t even provide you with an ending or the promise of more to come, much less a hint of, “Hey, go here to find out how this ends!”)
Is it worth the read? Sure. The creative team continued to do a better job than in the first run. However, it’s a little tiring to get into a groove and then end up tossed out of it. Comics and consistency are NOT friendly bedmates. They’re barely roommates.



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Review of New Suicide Squad: Monsters

Review of New Suicide Squad: Monsters

New Suicide Squad, Volume 2: Monsters by Sean Ryan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Regardless of how bad someone out there is, there’s probably someone worse. It’s an idea that makes Suicide Squad one of my favorites (and, you know, the fact that Harley’s my idol). Mr. Ryan delves into the concept better than anyone else out there with this one, twisting the League into a bunch of dystopian psychopaths. At the same time, he FINALLY gets Harley out of that cringe-worthy getup everyone’s stuck to. (For that, you’ve earned a standing ovation)
The mind games in this volume aren’t on the page alone. And if you weren’t already invested in the characters, you find yourself taking notice. (Though, seriously, what is the point of Reverse Flash? Where’d he come from? And is it just me, or is Parasite a more repulsive version of Marvel’s Venom?) Everything slowly unravels in a way only Suicide Squad can manage. It’s the best characterization yet, and I applaud the creative team for their work.



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Review of New Suicide Squad: Pure Insanity

Review of New Suicide Squad: Pure Insanity

New Suicide Squad, Volume 1: Pure Insanity by Sean Ryan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Sometimes, when a new artistic team takes over a comic, you see a complete shift in things (and I’m not referring to the artwork). Plots go sideways, characters fall through the cracks, and you basically need to start over. Considering this was a rebranding of Suicide Squad, I expected the same to happen. But Mr. Ryan and his team picked up (albeit already scattered) threads of the previous teams and moved on coherently.
Now, I have to ding them on the stereotyping of the problem zones (can you call them villains given the nature of Suicide Squad?). It’s a tired trope, and it was tired in 2015 when the publication hit shelves. Seriously, let’s apply better imagination here. But the pitting of “bad versus worse” makes for an interesting concept. Not to mention the mental games and breakdown of such a team. They haven’t tackle that theme before (not outside of Harley, anyway). It’s a promising start.



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