Ksenia Kozhevnikova


Epic Canadiana #2 Kickstarter Has Begun!

The Kickstarter fundraiser for Epic Canadiana #2, Cloudscape’s second anthology of Canadian superheroes, has begun!

Epic Canadiana #2 features 17 stories (over 200 pages!) dedicated to exploring numerous flavours of superheroism within Canada. EPIC CANADIANA #2 is a black & white anthology featuring awesome comics written and drawn by creators from all over Canada, with 17 stories (over 200 pages!). It features a truly diverse collection of heroes – some of them pastiches of classic 40s characters and others totally new. There are arctic demigods and social activists, restless spirits and bison-riding vigilantes. Canada is a tapestry of great diversity, and we have striven to represent them in our anthology with heroes of various genders, ethnicities, and perspectives, including aboriginal and immigrant champions, a character coping with autism, a gay rights activist, a conflicted colonial soldier, and many more. And carefully studying all of them is Department None, a hidden branch of the Canadian government dedicated to keeping track of all superhumans… and dealing with them if necessary.

The anthology features comics by Edison Yan (Scribblenauts), Craig Wilson (Graphic Classics), Colin Upton (Self-Indulgent Minicomics), Julian Lawrence (Drippytown), Eric Johnson (The Graphic Canon Vol. 1), and D. M. Higgins (Superdames, Jill Trent: Science Sleuth); as well as previous Clousdscape contributors Bevan Thomas, Kris Sayer, Jordan Stasuk, Jason Wilkins, Ksenia Kozhevnikova, Jayleen Weaver, Jeri Weaver, Matthew Klippenstein, Ian Thomas, Shevon Singh, Micah Iwaasa, Kate Ebensteiner, and Jeff Ellis; and newcomers Nevin Arnold, Dino Caruso, George Athanasiou, Nelson de Rocha, Alex Greychuck, Manoj Kumar, Kyle Roberts, Liam Rodgers, and John Ward.

Visit the Epic Canadiana Kickstarter page to buy a copy of the anthology as well as other Cloudscape classics!

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Name Game: Two-in-One

by Bevan Thomas

We are back once against to the Name Game, where I take a name from DC or Marvel Comics, and develop it into a totally new character of my own creation who is illustrated by one of the many talented artists I know. This character manages to take his name from both a particular comic book, and from one of my all-time favourite superheroes of all time, Beta Ray Bill, who in Marvel Comics is an alien supersoldier with a face like a horse skull who manages to acquire a variation of Thor’s powers and hammer, and who is far more awesome than that sounds. As usual, all I took was his name, and the fact that he encountered another of his people’s supersoldiers, who was called Alpha Ray Bill.

And now, here is one of the greatest superheroes of Universe-M….

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Two-in-One

image by Ksenia Kozhevnikova

Real Name: Raymond “Ray” Bill

Aliases: Alpha Ray and Beta Ray

Occupation: Former taxi driver, now civil servant

Group Affiliation: Sentinels of Liberty

Raymond Bill was a simple taxi driver who was captured by the mad scientist Dr. Strange, who wanted to transform Raymond into one of his inhuman Ex-Men by fracturing his psyche, creating two beings where there once was one. The Human Torch managed to rescue Raymond before the experiment was complete, and for a while Raymond believed he had survived unscathed. Then, a few days later, he began to get strange headaches, almost as if his brain was being pulled in two… until eventually it was.

While watching television in his apartment, in one blinding moment of agony, Raymond split into two separate people. Both of them had all his memories and more-or-less the same appearance, with a few subtle exceptions, but their personalities were very distinct. Though both Rays shared the same general moral values, one was hot-headed and aggressive, while the other was calm and stoic. Eventually the two managed to combine back into a single individual and Raymond tried to forget the whole thing had ever happened.

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Name Game: Abin Sur

by Bevan Thomas

The next installment in the Name Game, where I take the name of some DC or Marvel comics character, and construct a totally new entity from it (for either Universe-D or Universe-M, respectively), with the final result illustrated by some talented artist I know.

Today, we have Abin Sur, who you probably know as the Green Lantern who gave Hal Jordan his ring. Be prepared to encounter someone totally different.

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Abin Sur

Real Name: Possibly Abin Sur

Aliases: The Patient One, Keeper of the Bronze Keys, Maxwell Lord, Kara Kent, Rex the Wonder Dog

Occupation: Professor of occult philosophy, tempter, duke of Hell

Group Affiliations: Black Academy faculty, the Legion of Pride

image by Ksenia Kozhevnikova

It is said in the moment before time, there was a war, a war in Heaven, and a third of the Host were cast out and fell into the darkness. One of these was Abin Sur.

Each fallen angel had join the rebellion because of a sin, and Abin Sur’s was pride. He felt he deserved to rule over the others. And because of his pride, he was cast out and become part of the court of Beelzebub, prince of pride and lord of the flies. As one of Beelzebub’s mightiest dukes, Abin Sur has worked hard to corrupt mortals with pride, dragging their souls to Hell. It was he who helped bring the Sun Emperor to Earth that first time and lead to the fall of Atlantis, and the Immortal Man is an adversary of the Keeper of the Bronze Keys.

However, despite Abin Sur’s conflicts with the Immortal Man and bouts with such angels as Shayera and Thaal, Abin Sur’s greatest hatred is for a fellow duke of Hell, the being known as Tomar-Re or “Blue Devil.” A member of the Legion of Wrath, Tomar-Re enjoys taking the form of a giant blue dragon, destroying armies with huge bursts of lightening and ruining whatever subtle game his rival has been playing. They call Abin Sur the “Patient One,” but patience only goes so far.

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Name Game: Dr. Occult

by Bevan Thomas

The next installment in the Name Game, where I take the name of some DC or Marvel comics character, and construct a totally new entity from it (for either Universe-D or Universe-M, respectively), with the final result illustrated by some talented artist I know.

Today, we have Dr. Occult, who in the regular DC universe is a paranormal investigator, but who I have given a somewhat darker modus operandi.

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Dr. Occult

Real Name: Unknown

Aliases: Formerly Morgan Edge

Occupation: Alchemist, sorcerer, physician

Group Affiliation: Agent of Shade

image by Ksenia Kozhevnikova

They say that somewhere in the Carpathian mountains is an ancient university known as the Black Academy. There demons give you the best possible education in the arts of sorcery and witchcraft. Tuition is easily affordable. All that it costs is your soul.

The man who would become Dr. Occult graduated from there with a doctorate in occult philosophy, majoring in alchemy and minoring in necromancy. He then got a job in a Boston hospital, posing as a surgeon named Morgan Edge. He used his occult talents to heal the wounded, all the time pursuing his own private studies. Like all true alchemists, “Mr. Edge” sought immortality, and for him there was extra motivation. The moment he died, his old tutor, the demon Abin Sur, would collect his soul.

Eventually, the hospital discovered what exactly their prized surgeon was doing with corpses after hours and “Edge” ended-up in prison. After languishing in a prison cell for three months, the alchemist woke up one morning to find someone standing in the cell with him: a tall man in a black suit and shades who introduced himself as “Mr. Jones.”

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Name Game: Ringmaster

by Bevan Thomas

The next installment in the Name Game, where I take the name of some DC or Marvel comics character, and construct a totally new entity from it (for either Universe-D or Universe-M, respectively), with the final result illustrated by some talented artist I know.

The Ringmaster in Marvel Comics normally runs a Circus of Crime, but I thought the name would work very well for the leader of some ’60s-style psychedelic spy organization.

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Ringmaster

Real Name: Unknown

Aliases: The Big Man

Occupation: Spymaster

Group Affiliation: Commander of Cloak & Dagger

image by Ksenia Kozhevnikova

Ringmaster is the leader of global spy organization Cloak & Dagger, overseeing both its investigation division (“Cloak”) and its enforcement division (“Dagger”). He is devoted to hunting down all enemies of freedom, especially the terrorist cult known as Iron Fist. Though he recognizes the great danger of the Spider-Man and his Sinister Six, Ringmaster believes Iron Fist to be by far a greater priority and doesn’t quite approve of the vendetta his top agent, Mystique, has against the crime boss. Ringmaster is, of course, sympathetic towards her feelings, but feels she has bigger problems to deal with.

Ringmaster is a consummate workaholic who doesn’t seem to have much life outside the agency. In fact, his operatives don’t know of any name he possesses besides Ringmaster, though many affectionately call him the “Big Man,” partly because of his importance and partly because of his small size. This is something the boss takes with good humour. He feels that jokes are often a useful tool for relieving tension, and certainly being part of his agency is a high-stress occupation.

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Name Game: Deadman

by Bevan Thomas

The next installment in the Name Game, where I take the name of some DC or Marvel comics character, and construct a totally new entity from it (for either Universe-D or Universe-M, respectively), with the final result illustrated by some talented artist I know.

Funnily enough, while Cloak & Dagger were always defined by Susan Storm, I developed the idea of Shade for a long time before devising any field agents. I was much too busy thinking about the people in charge (the Joker, Dr. Occult, the Head) and their bizarre creations and it was only when I decided to sit down and write this article that I thought what could be a good name for the top field agent of a sinister, “occulty” government agency. Eventually I got “Deadman.”

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Deadman

Real Name: Richard Grayson

Occupation: Spy

Group Affiliation: Shade

Deadman

image by Ksenia Kozhevnikova

Richard Grayson was a CIA operative, incredibly efficient and mortal incorruptible. Then, when tracking down the criminal organization Red Hood, he was gunned by their agents. A while later, he awoke on a slab in an operating room with a strange man standing over him.

The man introduced himself as Dr. Occult, and said he had brought Grayson back to life in order to continue fighting the forces of evil. Grayson was introduced to Director John Jones, leader of Shade, and told that if Richard Grayson truly wanted to fight for justice, then Shade would point him in the right direction.

Now legally dead, Grayson moves from place to place, wherever the mission takes him. His name has long been abandoned, and he adapted the codename “Deadman” to show that he is no longer party of his old life.

He is very mistrustful of Shade, and especially of the enigmatic and emotionless Director Jones, but does recognize the various evils that must be fought and that perhaps the only weapons to fight them with are the ones only Shade can provide. Deadman has in particular become aware of the coming of the Sun Emperor and that the Red Hood was merely a tool of the Emperor’s Sun-Eaters. Grayson is obsessively trying to hunt down all Sun-Eaters on Earth to stop them from giving power to their master.

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Name Game: Mystique

by Bevan Thomas

The next installment in the Name Game, where I take the name of some DC or Marvel comics character, and construct a totally new entity from it (for either Universe-D or Universe-M, respectively), with the final result illustrated by some talented artist I know.

In this whole “Name Game” project, I find one of the funnest parts is to take a name and then apply it to not only a different thing, but a different kind of thing. For example, giving a person the name of a team, an object the name of a species, or an organization the name of a person. “Cloak & Dagger” as the name of a spy organization is so intuitive, as is giving its top agent some stylish alliterative name. With Marvel comics, you’re spoiled for choice for alliterative names; I decided to go with “Susan Storm” because “Susan Storm, Agent of Cloak” sounds cool and I always like female secret agents. And then adding “Mystique” as her call-sign just made sense.

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Mystique

Real Name: Unknown. Possibly “Susan Storm,” though it seems unlikely.

Aliases: Susan Storm, Invisible Woman, Greer Nelson, Alicia Masters, Janet van Dyne, and many more.

Occupation: Super spy

Group Affiliation: Cloak & Dagger

image by Ksenia Kozhevnikova

People stare at all the very public metahuman battles, at the Sentinels of Liberty confronting the Masters of the World in the New York skies, at the Fantastic Four facing down the Ex-Men, and they forgot that so much of the most important battles are fought behind the scenes. Cloak & Dagger is a secret spy force with a global mission to destroy the enemies of freedom. Cloak is the division that uncovers information, Dagger is the one that makes certain the problems are dealt with, or as one agent quipped: “Cloak aims the gun and Dagger pulls the trigger.”

Susan Storm is one of the agents with a foot in both divisions. Often she engages in Cloak activities of investigation, but also carries out Dagger missions with ruthless efficiency. A master of disguise, it is highly unlikely that Susan Storm is her real name, and in fact she has various dummy identities set-up that she can easily shift to when necessary. Sometimes she is journalist Greer Nelson, other times master thief Alicia Masters or jet-setting socialite Janet van Dyne. Though her call-sign is “Mystique,” she is commonly also known as “Invisible Woman,” due to her ability to sneak into and out of anywhere utterly unnoticed.

Entirely dedicated to her job, her organization, and making the world a safer place by any means necessary, she will do whatever it takes to get the job done: theft, betrayal, assassination, torture – her only loyalties are to her organization and to the greater good. In the service of these two, any sacrifice is justified.


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