Hey, everyone. I had so much fun writing the Indestructibles novella "Roll for Initiative" I immediately wanted to do more with that fictional world the heroes journeyed to. Return to the cursed game universe of that short with "The Players Guide to Dungeon Crawling," a whole new series, currently in Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. It's free starting Thursday, March 29 through midnight on March 31--grab a copy and let me know what you think of the new cast! Here's a quick description:
"For six lifelong friends, it was supposed to just be a simple game night.
But when they break out a new, classic high-fantasy style game—half tabletop RPG, half dungeon-crawling board game, simultaneously familiar and unexplored—for a test run, they find themselves transported into the game’s setting, living the lives of their made-up characters, where the dangers, and the monsters, are deadly serious.
Left with little choice but to jump headlong into their roles, Cordelia, Morgan, Jack, Eriko, Tamsin, and Tobias will have to become the heroes they were just pretending to be to stop a nightmare creature’s reign of terror… or find out if life and death in this fictional setting is as real as it seems."
"Roll for Initiative just may be my favorite short story featuring the Indestructibles. Only, this one runs around a hundred pages, so it's more a novella than a short story. Life lessons are learned in this adventure, namely, don't take anything from Doc Silence's study. Let's see if Entropy Emily takes the lesson to heart, seeing as how she's the culprit...
"Thing is, newbies to the Indestructible universe will get only a whiff of how dope this series is. In terms of boss superhero storytelling, Matthew Phillion has got a black belt and a PhD. Vintage cape & cowl elements mash with whimsy and an amiable sending up of role-playing games."
What happens when the Indestructibles get trapped in a cursed board game reminiscent of Dungeons and Dragons? We find out who the bard is, first of all. Plus all sorts of random geeky fun. Get Roll for Initiative free on Amazon Kindle from now til December 31 at midnight!
The Indestructibles, a team of super-powered teenagers, have been busy. Whether saving the world or traveling to alternate timelines, there isn’t much downtime. But when small respite from the action leads them to start bickering with each other, Entropy Emily, the gravity-controlling resident instigator, decides the best thing her teammates can do is have a game night, and leads them—not entirely voluntarily—into a game that seems to be a cross between a classic pen and paper role playing game and dungeon-delving board game. Unfortunately, she pilfered the game from their mentor, the magician Doc Silence—and it turns out the game just might be cursed.
One roll of the dice and the team ends up trapped in a medieval setting, without their powers, and armed with swords, bows, and a little bit of magic. They’ll have to use their wits to figure out the rules of this cursed game, and convincingly play the roles they’ve been assigned, to find their way home.
When you’re a hero, even game night turns into a life and death adventure. Will the heroes find their way home? Or will they remain trapped forever as paladins and bards, rangers and wizards?
I've been writing and inviting other writers to talk about #1Page1Panel - taking a single page, and a single panel on that page, that has stuck with you for years and years and talk about what makes it memorable and meaningful to you. Colin, whose new book, Infinite Velocity, has just launched this fall, has chosen a great page for his panel--one you might remember reading if you're an X-Men or Wolverine fan. I'll let Colin tell his story in his own words:
#1Panel1Page: Ultimate X-Men Vol. 1, Issue 41
Some brief context. When I was a kid X-Men spoke to me in a way that other super heroes couldn’t. Naturally Batman was cool, but I wasn’t Bruce Wayne. A group of youngsters who had trouble fitting in though, right up my alley.
For reasons beyond my understanding I gravitated towards Wolverine and began to scoop up tons of X-Men comics in the early nineties. But as I got older I strayed away awhile until one day I found myself in a comic book store wanting to get caught up. This was the early 2000’s and Mark Millar was helming a new reboot of the franchise for Marvel with Adam Kubert. It was more modern and edgy, but maintained all the great traits I had known and loved about the franchise. This was Ultimate X-Men
Forty-one issues in and Brian Michael Bendis is having a run in the series. For my money it’s better than it’s ever been. Bendis gets the characters he writes and it shows. This issue reads like a one act play primarily between two characters. Wolverine and a mutant we only know as ‘J-’ whose abilities only manifested the previous night.
The new mutant had accidentally murdered 265 people in his hometown, including his girlfriend and school right before his own eyes. His power, vaporizing organic matter. After realizing what had happened J hides himself away in a cave. That’s when Logan comes in lighting a fire and cracking a beer. He sits down and the rest of the issue is told as an exchange of dialogue between the two.
As subtle as this issue and this one page is it also holds so much authentic storytelling in it. Wolverine is there for one reason. It had to be him, no one else could have survived the new mutant’s power if it happened. But more importantly it had to be Logan because he’s the only one morally flexible enough to do what was needed. In the Ultimate X-Men universe Xavier, and Magneto before him, uses Wolverine like a hitman on several occasions. By all rights he had always been a hired gun through the years. He was good at it. During the entire conversation Logan drinks beer, it’s part of who he is. But I think he’s trying to numb the pain of what he has to do on this particular night.
The painfully beautiful thing about this page is that the kid realizes if things had gone just a little different he could have been an X-Man too. Instead now he’s a mass murderer. Both of them know what’s coming. Death. For Logan it’s the thing he’s best at, but the new young mutant is better. For decades the core of the X-Men has been about taking in scared kids who can’t control their powers, training them to understand their abilities and use them to protect humanity instead of harm it. But for the first time, in this one book and on this one page, they don’t.
You infer a little about Logan’s mission which has clearly been sanctioned by Xavier. If this mutant joined the Brotherhood, or even just ran away, countless people could die. Everywhere he went there would be a death count. Not everyone who becomes a mutant gets to fly or move objects with their minds.
Not everyone gets to live a normal life; occasionally not everyone gets to live. So Logan tells him to finish his beer. The boy may have murdered 265 people, but he wasn’t a killer so he responds ‘Just do it.’
You never see it, in fact you never even see Logan pop a single claw, but it happens. This story isn’t packed with ‘SNIKT’ action sequences, there’s no battle, no good versus evil, just two mutants talking towards the inevitable ending. It’s a quiet story about ethos and integrity and I believe it’s one of the better issues out there. There’s emotion in the silent panels and there’s heartbreak at the end. Bendis gets it and without even using any of Wolverine’s trademarks he tells you everything you need to know about that character. He’s the best there is at what he does, but what he does isn’t very nice.
My immense thanks to Phillion for inviting me to participate in #1panel1page. He and I both have a special place in our hearts for X-Men and this issue. We’ve talked about it several times and I was very excited at the chance to deconstruct it this way.
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I've mentioned this over on social media, but wanted to also post the link here--had a great interview with Under the Capes, a great geek culture podcast I had a chance to meet up with this summer during Boston Comic Con. The recording can be found here. Check it out!
I was invited as a guest on the talk show the Daily Glow on Little Things network a few weeks back to talk YA books, superheroes, and literacy. Had a great time! The video is available online--check it out to find out my darkest secret pre-author life.
Reading reviews of your own books is probably the most nerve-wracking part of being an author, but I always look forward to seeing what SuperheroNovels.com has to say - they're always honest and the reviews are incredibly well-crafted.
Find out what they think of Echo and the Sea in their latest review here!
Just a quick note that I'll be at Boston Comic Con this coming weekend (August 11-13) at booth AA939, and then down at Terrificon at Mohegan Sun the following weekend (August 18-20) with plenty of copies of all the Indestructibles books plus Echo and the Sea available! Let me know if you're going to be at either show and I'll keep an eye out for you!
I finished watching Penny Dreadful last night, and since I've got werewolves and vampires on the mind, I've set it up so the Titus-centric Kindle short, "Blood & Bone," is free to download all weekend. Grab a copy of this Indetructibles short any time Saturday or Sunday (July 15/16) on me!
You can download a copy on Amazon here.
Unsure if the new Indestructibles spinoff will be for you? Here's a quick Q and A about Echo and the Sea and how ti fits into the Indestructiverse:
Q: What sets Echo and the Sea apart from the Indestructibles series?
A: Well, while it takes place in the same universe as the Indestructibles – I’ve started calling it the “Indestructiverse,” something a fellow author came up with a few months back that I thought was perfect – Echo’s story is its own arc. Where the Indestructibles is a lot more comic book sci-fi, Echo is more fantasy, with a lot of myth and magic involved in her world.
Q: What made you want to break from the Indestructibles?
A: First I should mention – I’m definitely continuing the Indestructibles. The fifth book in that series is in the works already! But Echo’s tale is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I’ve had this particular book plotted out in my mind since not long after my first book came out, but when the Indestructibles kicked off, I had to give those characters my full attention. When Like a Comet came out last year, I saw a window to explore another corner of the Indestructiverse and write about some new characters, themes, and adventures.
Q: Is Echo and the Sea the same reading level as the Indestructibles?
A: Similar. It has some darker themes and a little bit more violence—for readers of the series, Echo is more similar in tone to the Entropy of Everything than the original book. A bit more mature with some harsher consequences for the characters, but I think readers of the series will find it to be a similar vibe and tone. The characters are a bit older at the start, too.
Q: Where does it take place in the Indestructiverse timeline?
A: Echo’s story starts right around the time the first Indestructibles book takes place, almost simultaneously.
Q: Why take the Indestructiverse to Atlantis?
A: The idea actually came out of a game that some of my writer friends and I play—I call it the “if they ever let me write” game, where we throw out script or story treatments for characters we’d love to work on. I’d had a running joke about what I’d do if I got to write someone like Aquaman or Namor, and in the end, what I realized was I wanted to do was something original: an Atlantis on the verge of war with the surface world, a swashbuckling high-seas adventure, and a young woman caught up in a life-changing adventure.
Q: You’ve got a lot of mythological references in there.
A: I do. I love mythology. I read Edith Hamilton’s Mythology until the cover fell off as a kid, and love stories like Neil Gaiman’s American Gods or Sandman. Echo’s story gave me a chance to delve into those more fantastical elements that I’m not able to work with in the main series.
Matthew Phillion is the writer of "The Indestructibles," part-time actor, occasional filmmaker. Currently on the lam in Salem with his trusty dog, Watson.