The battle royale reaches a tipping point in today's AXE installment. Don't bother trying to decipher the picture for this one. I may have been a little tired from drawing a bunch of these one after another by the time I got to this one.
Things may look hopeless for our heroes, but the power of friendship brings a ray of hope in this week's AXE page.
I'm not kidding.
It's the beginning of the home stretch. The players arrive on the final battlegrounds in the Undernet in this week's AXE page.
My Valentine's gift to all of you is an especially weird AXE art update! Spider's design has been shrouded in mystery for the longest time, unless I posted the earlier sketch I made based on Alice's description elsewhere and forgot. I believe the earliest Spider scenes in the story were written before I had that description, and I don't think I've been any less vague about his appearance in writing since then. Well, this might help then. Continuing with operator artwork, we have Hoshiko. That's the first piece I drew using the new tablet and editing software I got for Christmas, which was as rewarding as it was frustrating. It was a jump from Photoshop Elements 1.0 to 8.0, so there was a bit of re-learning everything involved. Finally, and I'm hesitant to introduce this one because I still don't know what I was thinking with it, but...The Trailer Parkloids ... Yep.
It's technically Saturday here by now, but I haven't gone to bed yet so whatever, still counts. Check out the last page of Part 6, in which events converge on the final location.
Things couldn't get any worse over on the other side of the story, right? Okay so Shademan doesn't seem to be having a good day, but you can't read too much into the teaser images. Check out today's AXE page for good times and smiles maybe, who knows?
The battle for the Officials' home base comes to a shocking conclusion in this week's AXE page.
A special treat with today's batch of AXE art: a drawing from someone other than me! Our own Flamechick was kind enough to contribute a stunning pinup of Moe. It's quite provocative, in that he's clearly provoking someone to fight him right there in the Officials' locker room. Is that a scene that actually occurs in the story? Keep reading to find out! Meanwhile, I continue with operator artwork, this time featuring the wandering Nijubu and the shut-in scientist Alia.
Metal vs. Vengeance! Flame vs Archer! Dark vs. Dragoon! The battle royale sees adversaries face off seemingly at random! And what the heck is happening with Overdrive? That question will not be answered in this week's installment of the Annihilation finale!
In the first page of the new year, Bubbleman, Plantman, Beastman, and Burstgirl delve into the Darkloids' hidden sanctum.
Closing out 2013 with the start of Part 6. The Official navis come face-to-face with the full Children of Vengeance team, and grapple with the revelation that Magister wasn't what she appeared to be. I did mention there would be a lot of action scenes.
Some more AXE character art! Stuart and Smith follow along the lines of the other operator art I made last month, while Vengeance is a navi that appeared in the first storyline all those years ago but I believe this is the first art he's received. He's meant to appear generic, white, and unfinished, like a blank slate, but in designing him I felt like he needed the big plugs on the backpack as with a Custom Style, and since he's made to be an anti-Bass weapon, I put in a few cues from Bass' appearance too.
A massive attack and an inevitable betrayal mark the end of Chronicle 5 of Annihilation. There's a whole lot of action from here on out.
Shocking exposition is the name of the game as two shadowy manipulative jerks butt heads in today's AXE page!
Tense reunions in this week's AXE page.
The Annihilation story continues next week. Today, I have some character art. The pieces showcasing Lyric and Shou were all I was going to post originally, but in the meantime I had whipped up a simple design sheet for Moe, so I decided to throw it in here.
It's a party in everyone's favorite mysterious corner of the net in today's AXE page.
Today's page features writing by Nijubu from years before the rest of this chapter was started. It wasn't too easy to work it in considering how much the ideas shifted in that time, but I knew all along we'd fit it all together eventually.
Time to return to the saga of Annihilation. In the first installment after our two year hiatus, we finally meet a couple of characters that have been waiting in the wings since the beginning.
Today, October 25th is the fifth anniversary of Annihilation's first update on this site.
The significance of that milestone is somewhat lost considering our fourth year was non-existant, as was our fifth as far as most people know. Just over five years ago, AXE was in a similar situation. We were close to the end of our ongoing storyline, but we lacked the momentum to get there. I had a clear vision of how I wanted it to end though, so I was determined to finish it even if I had to do all the writing myself. After that, I wondered if that finale should serve as the team's sendoff. It could have been, but we decided to give the team one more shot. We recruited some new members with new ideas for a fresh start and it worked. The spirit of the team was rejuvenated...at least for the first year and a half before the same decay of interest and inspiration started to affect the update schedule.
So once again I found myself in a situation where the ongoing story was closer to the end than it was to the beginning and there were plenty of cool ideas for where it should end up and beyond, but we lacked the free time to realize all those ideas. In February 2013 I came to the conclusion that if I wanted to at least finish this storyline, I'd have to take over and do it completely. Since then I've been writing fairly consistently, finishing the overdue fifth and sixth parts, and even extending to a seventh. It was all leading up to this, the return of updates to this page, and the guarantee that those updates will be regular weekly for the next six months.
It's not a revival, it's more of an extended sendoff. Starting next Friday, I'll be posting the end of Annihilation's Dark Ages storyline one page at a time. Every fourth week will be an update for art and miscellaneous content. Once it's all over, that's when we close up shop. It's not that there hasn't been interest in continuing the team. There are even at least three more storylines in the planning stage. I just won't be able to do anything with it alone. Last time I hoped it would help to share the burden of keeping the team active by recruiting some eager new members, and today the Mega Man Team community is stretched more thin, so I don't think another membership drive is in the cards. It's time to exit gracefully.
My teammates haven't all vanished off the face of the earth. I've been chatting with some of them over the last 8 months regarding this plan, and we're in agreement this is the way to go. They're generally glad that I was even willing to do all that writing, and I'm grateful that they were available to discuss their ideas for their characters even when they weren't able to write themselves. I hope everyone can read and enjoy how the seeds we planted 5 years ago have grown.
There's the slight problem of getting caught up, though. Whenever I want to get someone interested in the newest part of the story, the usual response is some variation of the phrase, "I just have to go back and get caught up." They might as well be saying "I am embarking on a dangerous journey. I don't know when, but I promise to return someday." and I wish them luck, but deep down I know I shall never see them again.
I blame only myself for that. AXE is the beast I made it into. It comes from an early fascination with the soap opera writing format as a fan of Marvel comics, Saturday morning cartoons, and game series like Mega Man Battle Network. I always liked the idea of creating a fictional universe with characters and settings I would continue to build on indefinitely. I never really grasped the nuance of accessibility that makes stories like this compelling to new or lapsed readers though. If someone wants to get into my stories, they don't know where to start. If they start with the latest installment, they immediately feel lost, so they look back to see how much reading they have to do to (maybe) be caught up, and then get overwhelmed because even the first part of Season 2 perhaps relies a little too much on the resolution of Season 1, and if you're bold enough to venture back to Season 1 you might start noticing references to Viral Infection stories that don't even exist. Reading up on AXE backstory is a time-consuming and thankless job. I don't blame anyone for avoiding it. If anything, I would rather someone ignore the references to things they missed and keep reading forward instead of looking back. With that in mind, for the first update of this final stretch, I've prepared a recap of events. If you get lost, please refer to these notes. No excuses for when Part 5 begins next week.
Stay tuned. The end is just beginning.