Images, Inspirations, and Female Supervillains

I’m a pretty unrepentant collector of images.  I find them all over the Internet, from MyConfinedSpace to 4Chan and everywhere in between.  MCS, unfortunately, has become a haven for idiot Male Rights Activists and is starting to show its misogyny; there’s still some good stuff up there, but I hate how it’s becoming more and more a place for dumb asses to blame all the problems in the world on women.  4chan is still its delightfully insane self, less misogynistic than anarchistic.

Anyway, I love pictures.  I’d love to blow some of them up and use them as posters but, alas, image resolution and pixel density for most pictures simply isn’t there.  Plus, my trusty inkjet printer prints just like you’d expect a $49 dollar printer from Target to print.  So, I find ’em, archive ’em, and largely forget about ’em.

While I was rooting around in one of my hard drives today, I came across a handful of good stuff I had pulled down years ago and stuffed in a folder.  Some funny, some clever, some I was just holding onto, waiting for the perfect excuse to use.  Just to keep people going, I’ll be dotting this post with some of these random pictures.

FuckinAwesome

Take that, chickens.

Among other things I found was a sense of inspiration for a couple characters.  My main character, Steven, was pulled together from a whack of different sources.  His name came from my deceased brother, his Kenpo came from me, and his personality came from various friends over the years.  He’s a literary Frankenstein.  Wait.  Frankenstein was a literary Frankenstein.  Oh, well.  Wilford was based in part on a couple of friends I’ve had over the years, people I respect even if I don’t always see eye to eye with.  Jacob was basically my dad.  Frank was somewhat similar to Repairman Jack (who still really needs a movie!), although not as dangerous.  Jean was built off a couple of guys I knew in college.

Such delicious evil.

Such delicious evil.

I had thought Eve and Jessica were built similarly but a couple of pictures I scrounged up kind of changed that assessment.  Their personalities are definitely fresh creations but their physicality was pulled from two separate places.  It’s funny what sticks in your subconscious mind, ready to be dredged up when you least expect it.  I first noticed this early last year, well after Henchmen came out.  I was rereading Transmetropolitan (the single greatest comic ever, IMHO) when I noticed Eve bore a striking resemblance to this woman:

Standing by, ma'am.

Standing by, ma’am.

Meet Channon Yarrow, Spider Jerusalem’s tough as nails bodyguard and my subconscious inspiration for the mighty Eve.

I noticed another interesting character sketch as I was digging.  There’s nothing terribly special about Jessica, she’s young, strong, smart, has anger issues, but she could probably blend in with a crowd if she needed to.  In that way, she’s the polar opposite of the level-headed but extremely obvious Eve.  Again, I had always kind of thought I had created her out of a pastiche of various women I’ve known throughout the years.  Then I stumbled across this:

She's really pulling that fist way too far back.  Try not to telegraph so much next time.

She’s really pulling that fist way too far back. Try not to telegraph so much next time.

Crap.  Foiled again.  Right down to the skirt with suspenders.  This, by the way, is Tifa Lockhart.  She’s from Final Fantasy, a game I’ve never actually played; I just found the image at some point and my brain filed it away.  I can’t speak to Tifa’s personality, since I’m familiar with the character, but a lot of Jessica’s physicality came from her, right down to the fighting.  Although I doubt Tifa was a Savateuse.  Speaking of which, since it’s kind of an arcane martial art (at least in the States, I doubt anyone from France would consider it arcane), Savate is French kickboxing and it’s a really cool system.  I chose it for Jessica because it’s unique, fluid, and dangerous; just like her.

Bonjour, Savate!

Bonjour, Savate!

I’ve actually been asked a couple of times why I made the main supervillain a woman.  The answer is pretty simple, I think female villains get pretty short shrift in the comics and wanted to do something different.  Outside of Cat Woman, who’s really less of a villain and more of an anti-hero and Harley Quinn, you don’t see that many female villains.  The one’s you do see are usually romantically entangled with one of the male characters or have goals that are, at best, surreal.  Think Poison Ivy; she’s an eco-terrorist whose costumes keep getting skimpier.  While I’m not averse to that, I do think they could do more with her.

So, Eve’s stated goals (her actual goals are somewhat different) are probably more in line with Talia Al-Ghul‘s goals of burning down the world to save it.  You’ll actually have to read Arise to get an idea of what Eve’s actually up to.  As a side note, Eve’s getting an origin story, something every supervillain needs.  It’ll be part of The Clock Man when I get it done and should shed some more light on her character and motivations.

Om.  I love Buddha pictures.

Om. I love Buddha pictures.

There you go, my two female leads.  I like to think I did a decent job of making them real and not just sexpots for the men to save, but time will tell.  Although, just from a sexpot view, I really need to find a way to work these into a story soon.  My buddy Sylva Fae scrounged up this image somewhere and these have to find a use in a story.

Thank you Sylva!

Thank you Sylva!

And with that, I’ll leave you with your Moment of Zen.

Pay Jabba no bother.

Pay Jabba no bother.

More About Miss Tall, Blonde, and Bulletproof

This wasn’t the first time Kára stretched, bent, or outright broke the rules.  As usual, the beings in charge were less than appreciative of her efforts.

“You have betrayed me again!” the voice thunders.

The owner of the voice is a large man with thunder in his eyes and ravens on his shoulders.  His anger shakes the pillars of the heavens and earthquakes ravage the world below when he stomps his feet.  He is unused to his orders being ignored.  To tell the truth, he is unused to not getting his way in all things and usually reacts violently to any transgressions against his authority.

“The man’s wounds would have killed him.  Wounds he received in battle.  He died in battle,” Kára replies, seemingly unaware or unconcerned of the man’s rising ire.

“Then explain the arrow in his back!  An arrow fired from your bow!”

The ravens are agitated now, chittering to themselves nervously.  Their tiny avian brains are incapable of any kind of advanced thought but they can remember what happened when the man was angry.

“I was putting him out of his misery.  Consider it a mercy from the gods,” Kára says.

“So you admit you killed him?”

“I admit no such thing.  He was dead already, he just hadn’t realized it.”

“You are incorrigible.  You are ungrateful.  You are reckless.  You think the rules do not apply to you, do you?”

“The only rule I believe in is the one you imbued me with when you created me; I believe in creating an army to fight the final battle.”

“The rules exist for a reason!  We only take those who fought valiantly and died bravely,” the voice says quietly.

The words, and the quiet way he says them, fill Kára’s heart with ice.

“He did fight valiantly, my lord,” she says with her head hung.  “He died bravely.”

“He died with your arrow in his back, crawling back to his wife and son.  He might have made it, too, had you not decided to intervene.”

“He was the greatest warrior at the battle.  He will be a great asset.”

“He will be a great asset, but his son would have been better.  Now, his son will grow up without a father to train him in the arts of war and we have potentially lost a hero.”

“The child,” Kára asks.  “What will become of him?”

“We’ll do the usual, send a hero to train him, hope the damage done hasn’t been too extreme.  His anger might cloud his judgment, though, and a warrior cannot afford outside anger.”

“Who are you sending?”

“Knut or Ivar, I haven’t decided which yet.” The man says.

“Either would be an excellent choice, my Lord, but…”

“But what?”

“Consider sending me instead.” Kára says quietly.

“Why you?”

“Knut and Ivar are great warriors, but I’m better.”

“Why should you wish to do this, Kára?  It’s not your place to train heroes; it’s your place to choose the dead.”

“Consider it an act of contrition,” Kára says.

“You’ve never shown any sign of being sorry in the past, why start now?”

“Perhaps your wisdom is rubbing off on me.”

The man smiles at that.  While his anger is an all-encompassing force, his ego truly knows no bounds.  Kára knows this and has no compunction about using it against him.  In her mind, he’s a doddering old fool, focused on his power and his control and with no eye for the future.

In some ways, she’s correct.  He is an arrogant bastard who has become so focused on his power that he has forgotten the goal.

His goal is now, and always has been, preparing for a fight at the end of time.  Over the years, though, his training has fallen off.  He hasn’t picked up his spear, save to run through those few that dared piss him off, in years.

Kára knows the enemy trains relentlessly and that’s why she practices constantly.  One woman, no matter how tough, might not change the tide of the war, but she’s not going to be the one that loses the final battle.

“Fine then, Kára, you shall train young Einar in my arts.  Make me proud.”

Eve

If you haven’t read Henchmen, you won’t know Eve.  She’s one of the main characters and I intentionally left her somewhat mysterious throughout the story.  I had intended to flesh her out more in the sequel and accomplished some of that, but her back story didn’t fit smoothly into the rest of the narrative.  I’m trying to flesh out some of the back stories of the characters, tell some of their tales and breathe a little more life into them through a series of short stories.  The first one is obviously Eve.

Here’s the first part of Eve’s story – bonus points for anyone who can figure out which character will ultimately evolve into Eve:

 

The battle rages in the way that only Viking battles can rage.

The Romans codified warfare, and they were brutally efficient at it, partially because they loved it so much.  The Vandals and other associated groups that tore down the Roman Empire bit by bit, learned some of the art of warfare from the Romans, and added their own ferocity to it.

The English, and the other European empires that rose up slowly after the Romans collapsed into a vile heap of complacency and corruption, took what the Romans had done and expanded on it.

But the Vikings were special when it came to fighting.  It wasn’t just that they were good at it, wasn’t just that they enjoyed it; to the Vikings it was religious and the only way to get to Valhalla was to die in battle.  If you died in battle and made it to Valhalla, you got a shot at the fight that would come at the end of the world.  It would be a chance to fight side by side with Thor and Odin, taking the battle to the hated Jörmungandr and ensuring an eternity of peace.

Valhalla was the place to go in Viking mythology.  It was constant drinking and eating and fighting and fucking.  A heaven for a group of people who would find the idea of floating on a cloud and playing a harp to be a form of Hell: The Hell of Boring Eternity.

So, the Vikings fought and fought well.  In fact, they were the scourge of most of Europe during their day.  The only real reason the Vikings didn’t conquer their part of the world was they couldn’t get along long enough to actually take over.

Most people don’t realize it, but the Vikings had a martial arts system.  Actually, they probably had many of them.  Most of their systems focused on the use of weapons because, as Odin had decreed, a Viking should always have a weapon handy.  There was an unarmed form of combat, too, called Glima – which means “In a Flash” – that consisted of a lot of throwing opponents around.

So now, the battle rages.  Large men, and some fairly tough women, hurl spears, smash each other with hammers, slash and cut with swords.  Those who have lost their weapons are busy chucking each other around with a manic frenzy.  The blood is thick on the ground, mingling with the frozen turf and making the ground treacherous.

Trip over a body here – and there are many dead or dying dotting the landscape – and someone will slide a blade into you.

On a hill, not far from the battle, three women calmly watch the slaughter.  Here, in this time, they’re known as valkyrja.  They’re the choosers of the slain.  They show up frequently at battles, seeking great warriors to come to Valhalla and, eventually, fight in the final battle of the world.

They’re all blonde and all wearing varying themes on leather armor.  The tallest, Ráðgríðr, wears leathers dyed all black.  Her hair is a mane of golden blonde hair that hangs down to the middle of her back and her icy blue eyes sparkle like a still mountain lake.  She’s nominally the leader, even though there’s no real sense of hierarchy among the women.  Ráðgríðr vacillates between consensus building and ordering the others, but she always gets what she wants.

In the middle, holding a bow, and wearing brown leathers is Kára.  Her hair, like the others, is blonde, but pulled into braided pigtails.  The pigtails, coupled with stormy gray eyes, manage to make her look dangerous rather than cute.  She’s physically the strongest of the group, but is considered somewhat unpredictable by the others.  Some have gone so far as to describe her as a stormy petrel.

The third is the smallest, but that’s a relative term.  Sanngriðr is adorned in deep red leather armor, covered with a fine gray chain mail.  Her hair, like the others, is golden blonde, but she wears it in a short bob that makes her look safe and charming.  Her black eyes and severe face are a stark contrast to her hair.  Sanngriðr’s black eyes have nothing that even approaches sympathy.  Under the best of circumstances, she’s not a pleasant person to be around.  When she gets angry, she can make the gods run and hide.

These are not small women, the largest stands over seven feet tall, the shortest slightly under seven feet tall.  The three of them could probably slaughter everyone on the battlefield without breaking a sweat.

So why, if these three women are capable of winning the fight below on their own, are they here seeking warriors?  It turns out even the strongest need help sometimes and wars are won by sheer numbers, not individuals.

There is a war coming, and these women intend to build an army that will win it.  In the few years they’ve been around they’ve managed to raise an army nearly ten thousand strong, which is nothing compare the army they’ll need to build before the final battle comes.  When the forces of darkness start a war, showing up with a small army is guaranteed to fail.

The battle continues for hours, neither side willing to give an inch or cede to the other.  Whatever kicked this fight off, some perceived slight or another, was too important to back down on.

At the end, as the sun is setting, a single warrior is left standing.  Well, maybe standing is too strong a term.  He’s limping out of the battlefield, one leg badly cut, and using the spear from a fallen foe as an improvised crutch.

“He was impressive,” the first woman says.

“Indeed.  It is a pity he is still alive, he would have been useful at the final accounting,” the second replies.

The man is almost out the field of battle when an arrow silently strikes him down.  Even with a slashed leg and an arrow in his back, piecing his lung, the man doesn’t collapse immediately.  He staggers several steps before falling to his knees and crawling forward.

The first two women look at Kára with something similar to shock in their eyes.

Kára lowers her bow and returns their gaze.  “He would have died anyway,” she says by way of explanation.

“Yes, but he did not die in battle.  We cannot take him,” Ráðgríðr says.

“What you have done is against the orders,” the Sanngriðr adds.

“My orders,” Kára says, “were to find soldiers for the final battle.  I just found one.”

“He did not die in battle, though,” Ráðgríðr says again.  “He cannot fight in the final battle.”

“Kára,” Sanngriðr says to the woman with the bow.  “You know the rules, why would you violate them?”

Kára glares at her sister and lowers the bow.  “I have made my choice, Sanngriðr.  His wounds would have killed him; therefore he technically died in battle.  I just hastened his demise.”

“Kára, he is still alive.  You did not kill him,” Sanngriðr says.

“Patience, sister.  His heart and will are strong but his wounds are grievous.  He will be dead shortly,” Kára tells her.

Together, the three women watch as the man struggles to find his way home.  The arrow sticking out of his back makes him wheeze and every breath feels like breathing fire.  The slash on his leg, already infected, no longer hurts, but he can tell the wound will cost him his leg.  Thormod, the doctor in his village, is all but a miracle worker, but even his skills have limits and he has no doubt the leg will be removed.

The problem is the slash on the man’s leg severed his femoral artery.  He just wants to go home, to see his wife and newborn son, but the blood pumping out of his leg won’t stop.  His vision darkens, his limbs lose all sensation, but still he keeps crawling forward.

When the end finally comes, he sees a vision of his wife holding his son and knows that he lost.  He promised Asta he would come home to her and Einar, but he has failed them.  His final thought is a desire for vengeance.  Revenge against the king that ordered him into this worthless battle, revenge against the bastard that slashed his leg, and revenge against whatever coward shot him in the back.

The man’s name was Gosta, and, through a technicality, has bought himself a place in Valhalla.