A smash intro! Literally!

Episode Five launches with a quick peek at Countdown’s Strike Armor Version 1.2 – (assuming the original overly bulky and heavy standard-Kevlar bomb-squad-style armor suit in the beginning of Episode One was Version 1, and the trimmed-down-but-not-bulletproof carbon fiber fighting gear he’s had for most of the episodes up ’till now was Version 1.1)

Max-The-Artist has designed some very cool Version 2.0 Strike Armor, but for this story – which takes place just a short time after the previous pages – Madison hasn’t finished it yet. So this episode features the Strike-Armor-In-Progress, but it’s already a considerable improvement, tactically. The “no metal or electronics” rule still holds, but Countdown’s now sporting graphene laminate/gel composite plate over the vital impact areas and woven carbon nanotube micromesh everywhere else, along with a superpolycarbonate visor. The chest timer is chemlume, as always.

Neither graphene/gel composite plate armor nor carbon nanotube micromesh exist yet, so far as I know, but that wouldn’t stop Madison. And the way things are going these days, they may actually be created by the time we finish this story, so I wanted to get a jump on incorporating them for our purposes.

Suitable weapons have been designed and will be coming, but for now it’s just the armor. Despite appearances, it’s even lighter and more maneuverable than his carbon-fiber gear, and has the added advantage of being fairly bullet resistant, although it takes damage. But will it stop a round from a high-powered sniper rifle? Not something you’d want to bet on. Especially if you happen to be wearing it at the time.

Oh, and for those wondering — yep, ankle’s still busted. But for Countdown in battle mode, that’s just a minor inconvenience. Stay tuned!


New Vote Incentive! More of Max’s heroic fantasy art, this time in space! Check it out!

More below!




The rough for this piece of cover art had a smashing window in it. Now, of course Max-The-Artist could just draw lots of little pieces of window glass, but I had been wanting to shoot some 4K glass smashes, and this gave me an incentive to get started. And let me tell you, I need incentive when it comes to glass.

Fire is okay. Explosions are no problem. But glass? Man, what a pain. I’ve got various pieces of scrap glass collected and stored, but I keep putting off shooting it because it’s such a stone bitch to deal with.

To start with, lighting it is so hard. It’s either completely invisible or it’s reflecting all sorts of things you don’t want it to reflect. And that’s just glass holding still. If you’re planning to smash it, you end up having to create some sort of rig that is sturdy enough to hold a heavy-yet-fragile sheet of glass, yet won’t get in the way of the shot. And then you have to throw just a buttload of light on it — without allowing any of the light to hit the backdrop.

Like I said, a pain. Three thousand watts worth of halogen worklights, clearly illuminating something which, if I have everything right, will be invisible up until the moment it shatters.

The shatter, at least, is fairly simple. High-powered slingshot. Due to a misspent youth, I’m actually pretty good with one, and it works just as well as a bullet for the purpose.


See the glass? No? Good.

So start the camera, back out of frame, and fire.

SMASH! YAAAY! Lots and lots of tiny little razor-sharp shards of non-biodegradable glass!


Have I mentioned that I go barefoot in the summer?


Naturally, I had a large tarp spread out below, but naturally, the tarp never manages to catch everything. Three sheets of glass crashed into splinters and shards for this shoot, and even with the tarp and an hour’s sweeping, I’m still seeing telltale glitters from crevices in the concrete — just enough to catch my eye as I walk by, but not so clear that I can find them when I go looking for them with a brush and dustpan.

But they’ll turn up. Eventually. Usually in the bottoms of my feet.

But I will say the footage looked great, it keyed up nicely, and Max-The-Artist was able to incorporate a number of frames in the above cover, suitably enhanced with filters and motion blur. Of course the real star is his artwork, but I always enjoy contributing a little sliver of help where I can. Ha.

Really makes me appreciate fire, though!

— Bob out