Will Nihgate aka Dusk is a vigilante. His greatest enemy is John Skeleton. They have been battling each other for a long time. The recent disappearance of people has lead Dusk to Skeleton. Dusk ends up in one of Skeleton's traps. Thank goodness for friends and allies as just as Dusk is about to drown, he is rescued by his friends, Phantom, Zephyr, Savior, Zombie, and Golem. Sadly, Skeleton escapes. There is always next time. For now Dusk turns back into Will and returns to his normal life. Dusk learns that Skeleton's ally, Black Wind is mass-manufacturing a gun from Skeleton's design. If Black Wind is not stopped it could mean doom.
Wow, this book was way better than I thought it would be. To be honest, I was intrigued by this book because of the awesome book cover but didn't really spend much time on the book concept. So when I finally got the chance to read the book, I was like "Ok, let's see how this book goes." I have read several superhero type books but they have been just alright. This one is like it really was a comic book series that had been turned into a book. I could not stop reading it. There was tons of action and I loved all of the characters both good and evil. The ending was a true comic book ending. One that leads me to hope that the author does continue with Dusk in future books. Due to the authors love of comics, he really brought to life his characters and it showed in this book. Magnificent Things is a must-read/must-have book!. Fans of comic books and sci-fi will enjoy this book.
About Michael McNicholsMichael McNichols graduated with a Master of Fine Arts in Fiction-Writing from Columbia College in 2006. His work has appeared in The Banana King, Worse Than Pulp, and many other publications. He trains in Kenpo Karate, prefers dogs to cats, and has been an avid reader of both comic books and fiction his entire life. He resides in Chicago, IL.
Interview with Michael McNichols
What inspired you to write “Magnificent Things”?
I had started writing some short stories and such about superheroes because, while I knew there was a lot of superhero fiction out there, too much of it relied upon a gimmick. It had to be super heroes with zombies. Superheroes who had all lost their powers. Or it was told from a villain’s perspective. So I wanted to write a superhero story that took advantage of the prose novel format in the same way it would a comic book. That meant getting deeper inside the character’s head, a different type of pacing, and description rather than visualization with art. Instead of drawing a whole city filled with vigilantes and villains, I give it to you piece by piece and you draw it up in your own head and your version is going always to be at least a little different than someone else’s.
I also was thinking about the main archetypes for comic book heroes. The Batman-like character, Superman-type, etc. I found myself thinking about a character like Daredevil, who is often written as a driven, dark vigilante who’s actually a Catholic and always has to deal with his life falling apart. The next natural step would be depression and suicide. I wondered what would drive a vigilante to suicide and how I could write that kind of story without it being becoming too depressing and hard to read. Then I thought about how a vigilante could be forced to try committing suicide and most of the story flowed out of that plot point.
Was there a particular comic pantheon or universe that informed your world more than others?
Dusk/Will owes a lot to Batman Beyond. He’s older and out on his own, but he’s very much a superhero-in-training, learning while doing. I even described his Dusk outfit as being somewhat similar to the Batman Beyond one. John Skeleton came from me noting that there tends to be a lot of insane psychiatrists or psychologists in the Batman universe and the ways one could view his villainous acts as some form of warped psychotherapy.
When writing about superheroes, what sort of aesthetic elements do you use to recreate worlds often thought of as a visual medium?
Growing up, my first two favorites were Batman and Spider-Man. Their influence informs a lot of my writing (at least when it comes to superheroes). The themes of responsibility and what it takes to be a vigilante, should they be doing it, what is the cost of power, and who deserves to wield it, run through decades of their stories. I like to think of Dusk/Will as a cross between Batman, who’s an insanely trained billionaire with resources and plans for everything, and Spider-Man, who’s an everyday guy that happened upon powers and tries to do the right thing while also dealing with all the things any average individual does in his or her life.
Batman and Spider-Man also happen to have probably the two best superhero costumes: a full body suit, a mask, gadgets, and, sometimes, armor. The look of all the vigilantes in the book owes a lot to their influence, though I tried to personalize their outfits to the character. Savior wears crusader garb, Headshot/Clyde has targets on his armor, Will eventually dresses up a lot like his father, etc. I elected not to have anyone wearing a cape since that I couldn’t think of a practical reason for one and I thought my characters would endlessly comment on it and wonder why some jackass wanted to show off that way,
The city, New Danko, is very much a fictionalized version of Chicago where I live and grew up. Too many superhero stories take place on the East or West Coast, but the Midwest has plenty of cities that could have their own vigilante scene in such a world.
Also, as an odd note, I do seem to really like having characters who wear flight suits and glide. Maybe I should take up wing suit flying.
How do you develop your characters?
I put them through their paces and see how they react. I don’t always realize what they’ll do until it happens. I also try to remember that nobody views themselves as a villain or evil, even if they seem that way to the whole world. Additionally, I realize that even in a superhero world that putting on a costume to fly around and fight crime is still pretty crazy and bound to not always produce the best results, even if someone’s intentions are good. It’s something I try to see reflected at in their thoughts.
What is your writing process(es) like? (Are you, in Kurt Vonnegut’s interesting turn of the phrase, a “basher” who crafts each word, a “swooper” who writes stream of conscious, or something entirely different)?
I normally have a mental outline of the story that evolves as I go along. Sometimes, the outline’s not even complete when I start and I just see what happens. From there, I simply write. I try and complete 5-10 pages a day at least. Then at the week’s end, I go and revise whatever I have. Once one draft’s finished, I take a small break and then revise the whole thing. I repeat this process several times until someone else takes a look at it and lets me know what they think.
What time of day is the best time to write?
I used to write a lot in the morning after I’d fully woken up. Now I find myself writing a lot in the afternoons. I don’t know if having a specific time helps me so much as having a block of time where I can just write and not have any work assignments or errands hanging over my head.
Do you have any other books planned for the “Magnificent Things” universe?
I have a mental outline of the first sequel and how that would lead into the third one. A lot of is expanding the world Will lives in and see how he reacts and grows with being a vigilante. I like the idea of having an epilogue that hints at the future since eventually I’m going to write a fourth about what’s going on with our characters about 20 years into the future.
What are your favorite and least things about writing?
My favorite thing is sitting down and just creating. My least is when I have to force myself to sit down. I never have a problem once I actually start writing, but, sometimes, it can be intimidating thinking you have to do this many pages a day and you don’t know if you can finish all that work and you know you’re the one being hard on yourself. That said, I don’t feel right if I don’t get any writing done in a day. I can’t remember the last that I didn’t do any writing on a given day, but I don’t feel like I’m able to get on with things until I’ve achieved my writing goal for that day.
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