Where have all the good wizards gone?

785276646085089940It’s good to be bad, am I right? There seems to be a trend where anyone touched by or practicing magic is always seduced to darkness. The same goes for those who gain incredible powers or become something more than human. It begs the age-old question, “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Throughout fantasy storytelling, you get a glimpse of both sides of the coin. In The Lord of the Rings, Gandalf and Galadriel both resisted temptation from the One Ring but Saruman is seduced by Sauron and turned against the light. There are tons of names on both sides of the argument, from Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort to Merlin and Morgana le Fay. Lately though, the trend is leaning more towards evil, but to a point.

In fantasy, across multiple genres, there are a lot of examples that exude the philosophy that its good to be bad. The anti-hero is the “new Coke” as it were. From Deadpool, Venom, and Lobo in comics to characters like Anakin Skywalker, Willow Rosenburg and Walter White in movies and television. Writers love that little twist to make the story more interesting, and to many, being bad is good.

There is a vein of goodness in many of these anti-heroes, but its been twisted like a pretzel at Oktoberfest. The same can’t be said for wizards going dark. It’s like a touch of dark magic and there’s no turning back. I mean, think about it. Name one dark wizard who came back to the light. It’s hard, when you think about it … You really can’t do it.

Magic, like many things in the fantasy genre, has no clear line with good and evil powers. I mean, Necromancers have been portrayed as both good and evil (think the video game Diablo, for example, or Hellboy for that matter). Again, like everything in storytelling, its the character that counts.

Not to throw religion into the mix, but I like to believe that everyone is worth saving. I believe that we all have a chance to redeem ourselves in the eyes of God. You see that from a lot of writers, but at the same time, there is a trend of making evil as something seductive and enticing.

Look at vampires, and how over sexualized and charismatic they’ve become. They’ve gone from being the scary creatures in Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot and Christopher Lee’s Dracula in the Hammer horror films to glittering “boy toys” in the Twilight series. The only thing that is still scary, today and always, is clowns, am I right?

We need to get back to maintaining that line in the sand between good and evil. If we, as writers, continue to present stories with bad guys as the protagonist, what will our world become. Evil can be redeemed but it shouldn’t be glamorized.


51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverseThe Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt.


Diversity is something we all must come to terms with as writers

nhnzry3jycv4bf2qxt63Recently, Marvel’s Vice President of Sales, David Gabriel, claimed that the company’s recent focus on creating diverse superheroes is a driving factor behind its declining comic book sales. He said, “Any character that was diverse, any character that was new, our female characters, anything that was not a core Marvel character, people were turning their nose up.”

I don’t agree with this statement, but I can see where he gets his point of view. Recently, there has been a trend to make comic book characters more diverse, but I think that’s more of a natural trend. More diverse characters started out as villains (like The Mandarin and Diablo, for example) but that trend has been changing as time progressed. The 70’s brought us Falcon and Luke Cage, the 80s and 90s brought out War Machine, Black Lightning and Storm. Sometimes it’s more about age than anything else.

Think about it … Captain American, Iron Man and Thor have been leading the Avengers since the 60’s. These characters haven’t aged like the rest of us. I mean, the original X-Men were teenagers in the 60’s, meaning that they should be senior citizens by now. Some characters like Superman and Wonder Woman can look the same because they are alien and God-like, respectfully. However, Batman today is more represented by the elder Bruce Wayne in the Batman Beyond series, not as he is in the comics. I loved it when Dick Grayson took up the mantle because that’s how it should be, but of course they went back to Bruce.

I understand I’m talking more about age discrimination than diversity, but here’s my point. People age, they grow old and they die. So why not let a new generation take up the mantle of these heroes. I think Kamila Khan was a great choice as the new Ms. Marvel, not because she was Muslim, but because she was like many of us who like comics … She’s a fan! Here’s a total fan girl who gets superpowers and becomes her idol. I don’t think there’s a single person out there reading this blog who hasn’t had the same fantasy.

I think the first problem people may have is the youth of the characters. You have comic book fans who started reading comics in the 60s/70s, like me. You don’t need to make all these new characters to be kids. I mean, the new Iron Man (Iron Heart, Riri Williams) and Hulk (Amadeus Cho) are all super smart teenagers, for example. It’s a trend right now that’s pushing the envelope. for us older readers. 

I like it when a longtime sidekick/friend takes over the mantle. Sam Wilson (Falcon) as the new Captain America was a great choice because here was an established character taking the shield and responsibility. The same with Jane Foster as Thor. That was a brilliant move, even with the cancer angle, to give her even more reason to be worthy of the hammer.

Diversity is not the problem with comics. You have four different people wearing the mantle of Spiderman, from the original to a clone, a Latino African-American, a Hispanic from the future, and even a young girl (Spider-Gwen). This is where diversity was done right, bridging the gap across generations. That’s how it needs to be done.

In comics, it has never mattered about the color of their skin. It’s about the heart and soul of the character, as a hero, villain or everyday person. I don’t care if a character is gay or straight, black or white, Hispanic or Asian. We want all these characters to represent people of all ages, race, religion or sexual preference for that matter.

When Marvel brought out the mutant Northstar as being gay, I loved the way it was handled in the story. It wasn’t meant to shock us, or done for the sake of diversity, but rather as a way of giving us depth behind his character’s story. It made sense and broadened the idea of being both mutant and gay and how it affected him.

What I’ve been trying to say is that comics have been becoming more diverse since the 60s. Characters like Black Panther, Luke Cage and Falcon have evolved and grown over the years to give us more and more diverse characters today, like Ms. Marvel, Storm, and the new Hulk. Just remember, comics have always had characters of so many different colors (Nightcrawler, Gamora, Brainiac 5) and races (Dawnstar, Green Lantern (John Stewart), White Tiger) that make comics more and more representative of the world today.

Readers don’t want just diversity in comics for the sake of political correctness. They want good stories. That’s more reasonable for the downward trend of readers and sales rather than blame it all on diversity alone. Think about it, there are various crossover storylines annually, changing the continuity of the comics world multiple times in one year. We’ve changed DC comics multiverse three times in the last decade and Marvel once.

Writers know what the problem is … Consistency, consistency, consistency! Learn it, live it, love it and the readers will return!


51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverseThe Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt.

It’s hard to pick a favorite Doctor Who episode, but I’ll give it my best shot

This week marks the premiere of the new season of Doctor Who. It also marks the last season for the 13th Doctor, Peter Capaldi. Now, for you purists out there, I realize he’s technically the 12th Doctor, but I like to count Sir John Hurt’s “War Doctor” in that number because “he was the Doctor on the day when he couldn’t be.” In any case, I will concede to the correct numbering for the remainder of this post. To that end, the new season will mean a whole new regeneration and that means its time for a Top 5.

Before I hit my Top 5 Doctor Who episodes, I’d like to make a prediction about the new Doctor. I think, in this age of diversity, we will get either our first female Doctor or our first black actor as the Doctor. My money’s on Haley Atwell. I think she’d be a great choice as her gig as Agent Carter has ended. There’s been other names bounced around, like Idris Alba, but I think he’s too mainstream with large scale production commitments to be the Doctor.

So as we approach the Saturday premiere, I would like to give you my Top 5 Doctor Who episodes. These are my Top 5, as many Whovians have their own, so please don’t take it personally if I leave one of your favorites out.

doctor-who-silence-in-the-library#5. Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead (May 2008) – These episodes made my list because it introduced us to River Song, played by the wonderful Alex Kingston. Here’s a character that knows the Doctor and his many faces. I was hanging on her every word trying to find some clue as to who the Doctor really is, but “spoilers!” She has been one of my favorite characters/companions of the series. This episode makes you sad at how many people died needlessly, but it also gave me a sigh of relief as they were all “saved” by CAL (you have to watch the episode to understand that reference). Let’s not forget that this was a great story, in itself, especially for an author like me. An entire planet is the world’s biggest library. I love to think that my books are sitting on a shelf there, stored for all eternity. The best part, though, is the end when David Tenant figured out the reason why, his future self, gave River a sonic screwdriver and then to watch him run “one last time” together. Plus, to see that come full circle and played out in last year’s Christmas episode with Peter Capaldi just brought the entire story to a wonderful finish.

doctor-who-photos-50th-03#4. The Day of the Doctor (November 2013) – This special commemorated the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. It not only introduced us to John Hurt as the War Doctor, but it also gave us the best online video tie-in (“Night of the Doctor” with Paul McGann, who finally got his regeneration) and the best on-screen surprise guest. First off, I loved the late John Hurt as the War Doctor. He gave us the solemn attitude and vulnerability of the Doctor on the day when “he couldn’t be the Doctor.” In that one episode, John Hurt endeared himself to me, and to all of us Whovians I think. We all knew David Tenant and Matt Smith were going to be in the special, and they brilliantly shot one-liners back and forth off each other, as expected. The surprise was in the final battle, where they were assisted by all 13 Doctors, including our first look at the “angry eyebrows” in Peter Capaldi. Lastly, the end of the episode where Matt Smith met up with the curator, aka Tom Baker, the 4th Doctor (MY DOCTOR). It was a shock and surprise that I still enjoy watching, over-and-over again. His brilliant performance showed that once you play the Doctor, you never stop being the Doctor.

imagesZO8CV01D#3. The Girl Who Waited (September 2011) – This is one of my favorite episodes because it gave us to the woman who is Amy Pond. We got to see all her vulnerabilities, all the pain and tragedy she has experienced as a companion. Amy gets trapped on a planet that has been quarantined due to a deadly disease that affects people with two hearts (like the Doctor). On top of that, those infected by the plague are placed in one of several thousand accelerated time streams, allowing them to live out their lives. This means the Doctor and Rory are out of sync with Amy and they try to rescue her after she spends more than 36 years there, alone. All this time alone made her rethink her relationship with the Doctor and not to trust him. The entire episode is an emotional roller coaster and, as a fan, it touched on the deep and meaningful relationship the Doctor has with each of his companions and how it both hurts and helps them. It reminded me of a quote from another great episode, Love & Monsters, where Elton goes on about “salvation and damnation” and if you touch or are touched, by the Doctor, it could destroy you. It was heartbreaking at the end when older Amy had to be left behind, in a sense justifying her concerns and fears about the Doctor; but then again, it’s these hard decisions that he must make, as a Timelord, that weighs heavy on his hearts.

Genesis of the Daleks … the Doctor and Davros.#2. The Genesis of the Daleks (March/April 1975) – Although the Daleks were introduced in the first season of Doctor Who, this episode gave us an in depth look at their creation and introduced us to their creator, the villainous Davros. First and foremost, Tom Baker is “my Doctor” and this where we saw the Doctor at his best. He is sent to Skarro by the Timelords to interfere in the creation of the Daleks and hopefully prevent the future death and destruction they wreak across the universe. In this episode, we learn why the Daleks were created without compassion or pity, turning them into ruthless war machines. In one of his best scenes as the Doctor, Tom Baker holds two wires in his hands, connecting them would detonate explosives and wipe out the Dalek’s incubation room. He holds those wires and asks “Have I the right?” to commit genocide of an entire race. That scene makes the entire six episode run one of the best in the history of Doctor Who. The impact these episodes had on the series reverberates in the future, from Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor (Remembrance of the Daleks, October 1988), Christopher Eccleston’s 9th Doctor (The Parting of Ways, June 2005), David Tenant’s 10th Doctor (Stolen Earth/A Journey’s End, June/July 2008), Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor (Asylum of the Daleks, September 2012), and finally, with Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor (The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar, September 2015). That’s what makes this episode one of the most important episodes in the history of Doctor Who.

Before I reach number 1, you have to realize that there are so many different opinions on favorite episodes. There are so many I want to pick that whittling them down to these five are difficult. I want to make these “honorary selections” for favorite episodes, including The End of the World from the 9th Doctor, School Reunion, Doomsday and Blink from the 10th Doctor, The Doctor’s Wife, The Angels Take Manhattan and A Good Man Goes to War from the 11th Doctor, and Time Heist and Face the Raven from the 12th Doctor. Plus, Matt Smith’s Christmas Specials were the best of all the Christmas Specials to date.

So, onto my number one episode …

fireplace-8#1. The Girl in the Fireplace (May 2006) – I know that my number one pick resonates with many Whovians. It was one of the most critically acclaimed episodes of Doctor Who, nominated for a Nebula Award and winning a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation. This episode made you laugh, made you cry, and sometimes, scared you to death. A ship in the far distant future opens a hole in time and space to France in the 1700s to keep an eye on a little girl and wait until she grows up into a woman. Why? To cannibalize her for parts for the ship. Weird as it sounds, it’s fun to watch the Doctor go through time with Madam de Pompadour. Like “The Girl Who Waited” this episode jumps through time as the Doctor tries to protect her from the clockwork soldiers who are after her. It has one of the most touching scenes as the two look at the stars in completely different light. It also has some of the funniest scenes with a horse, a banana daiquiri, and “snogging” Madam de Pompadour. There are also some of the best lines ever in Doctor Who like, “One may tolerate a world of demons for the sake of an angel;” “There is a vessel in your world where the days of my life are pressed together like the chapters of a book so that he may step from one to the other without increase of age, while I, weary traveler, must always take the slower path;” and “This is my lover, the King of France … Yeah, well I’m the Lord of Time.” It’s such a beautiful episode that will go down as one of, if not the best, in the history of Doctor Who.

So, there’s my list of the best of the best. Please feel free to comment on your top episodes and include ones I may have left off. In any case, the new season Doctor Who premieres this Saturday, so get ready!


51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverseThe Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt.

Has Hollywood already run out of ideas when it comes to superhero movies?

277c35a6e0ec68aec7ef8b8224f975b52c3121c6_hq.jpgIt’s hard to believe that we are on our third Spider-man movie franchise, third Superman movie franchise and sixth movie-version of Batman. Technically, if you want to count television in these ongoing franchises, that’s six Superman, four Spiderman, four Wonder Woman (I have to count the failed Adrianne Palicki TV show because they shot a pilot), three Captain America, four Hulks, three Fantastic Four, three Flash and two Daredevil’s and Doctor Strange. The X-Men did it right by inter-mingling all of its movies together in one universe.

Granted, a lot of these earlier products were downright awful. Then again, so were some of the new ones were bad too. It begs to ask the question, why do movie and TV studios keep going back to the well for another franchise reboot?

The obvious reason is money, of course. They know we geeks will gladly pay out the bucks to see the latest and greatest version of our favorite characters on the big screen. There’s also new, young geeks that have never seen these characters before and their parents (much older geeks) want to introduce these characters to them.

For example, when I showed my kids the original Incredible Hulk TV series, they laughed and joked about the bad special effects and make-up. It’s from the 70’s, what do they want? When I was growing up, this was what special effects on TV looked like, along with the cheesy sound effects when they would “super jump” like the Six Million Dollar Man.

We are getting more and more of a variety of some of the lesser known characters thanks to television and pay TV channels, like CW, Netflix, FX and Freeform, with more shows coming to a channel near you:  Legion, Cloak and Dagger, Black Lightning, The Punisher, X-Men: Gifted and more. These are great characters and great stories, with a few surprise “Easter Eggs” thrown in.

I guess my point is that, yes, there are some great characters in these comic book universes, especially the top ones (The “Trinity” in DC of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman for example) but we don’t want to see a rehash of these characters every ten years. The comics got it right when they reinvented and reinvigorated their mainstream characters (Ironheart for Iron Man, Jane Foster as Thor, for example) and this can be done on the big, and little, screen too.

A constant rehash and rewrite of character’s origins (like the failed 2015 Fantastic Four movie) is not the way to go. All you do is piss off fan boys and girls for ruining their favorite characters and they let you know at the box office. It’s the same for video game movie franchises, and some book franchises (Tolkien fans go on and on about Peter Jackson’s treatment of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit).

There are more ideas out there just waiting for an up-and-coming producer or a hot, new studio to tackle. I mean, think about it, technology today makes it easy for anyone to create a short film that looks like a big budget production. If you’ve ever watched any of the short films available on YouTube you know what I’m talking about.

Look, the studios are going to continue to do what they see as moneymakers for them, and I honestly think that it’s all they really care about. Sure, there are many who are “fanboys” and are doing it out of love of the characters, but the power behind them only looks at dollar signs. It’s going to takes geeks like us to keep them in check.


51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverseThe Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt.