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By: Joseph R. Obsenada
Artwork by: Charisse Ocampo

I’ve always expected to be challenged to the extreme. The world is big and original ideas are hard to come by, especially when you’re working in the comic book industry, where tropes are often overused.

“Understand this Xavier, if you don’t come up with something new within three days, you’re fired,” my boss proclaimed in a fit of rage. It was understandable, as our sales have been on the decline. Our series slowly stagnated and fans noticed as they showed their harsh criticism, saying that the comic was becoming predictable and generic with other comic book series in our genre.

The ultimatum I was given is to come up with a brand new storyline for the “Justin Tyme” series. The comic was about a dimension/multiverse-hopping high schooler solving mysteries across all of them. The series itself was a mixture of action/adventure, mystery, and thriller. The series already reached its peak at its 57th issue, “Justin Tyme: The Grasp of Wrath.”

Since then, the series struggles to reclaim that kind of success. We’ve hinted early on about Justin always having a conflict with himself about change and whether he’ll remember to do the right thing. In the last issue, the villain, Martin Scurll, pushed him to ask himself the question more seriously. It’s probably time to use the dilemma.

“In due time, Justin, you’ll come to the point where you’ll be given a choice: Die as one of the greatest detectives that the multiverse has ever seen, or live long enough to let your inner dragon consume you.” The dragon reference was from Robert L. Moore’s book titled “Facing the Dragon.” This will be a big left turn for the series as it mostly focused on the villain of the week format, and has transitioned to a character development-driven series. It’s not how most of the staff would want to end the series, but it’s a gamble that we needed to make to extend and eventually end the series.

Desmond is primed to take my spot as the head writer if I don’t deliver with this new storyline. He’s a rather young lad in his late 20s who is a very creative fellow, but he still needs time to become a seasoned comic book writer. He’s also my apprentice, but we lack the chemistry due to his ego.

Even though he’s cocky, he still knows how to respect me, but I still can’t help but feel like he looks down on me every now and then. It was Desmond who came up with how the final battle with Martin Scurll would go down in the series and it pleased the fans greatly.

“The possibility of a spin-off is very strong if the fans really love the change in tone,” I preached to my boss with extreme vigor. He was interested in the idea but was also visibly unsure of it. He knew that this was going to be a gamble.

He told me that he’ll think about it and eventually give an answer during tonight’s meeting. This was a good sign because it would mean that he would announce it. I’m very hopeful that this would push through. I told Desmond to put on hold his idea for the title. I explained to him that the boss will announce as to whether or not the plan will materialize.

Evening rolled around and the meeting began. The agenda was about the next storyline that we were going to have. Everyone listened with attentive ears. “Xavier, about your proposal of having an internal conflict as the theme in the next storyline…” I eagerly waited with slight nauseating pain in my stomach since this could also be my last meeting.

The boss gave the thumbs up and I was overjoyed. “We’ll begin our scriptwriting tomorrow. By week three, we’ll jump-start our storyboarding. Any objections?” The staff gave their approval and the operation pushed through. Desmond then asked if he could present the title. The boss gave the go and he said, “Justin Tym: A Rift in Tym.” This is very fitting for the storyline as we went to foreshadow the end of this series.” The boss also gave a thumbs up. A small portion of the staff secretly disapproved, but the boss always has the final say. The next few weeks were a bit odd for me as I was surprised that most of the staff members were comfortable with the new storyline and with the new direction that we were headed for.

Only time would tell as to whether or not this would spike our sales. I was satisfied with the work that we put into this final storyline. We completed the first issue of the comics’ final run. We waited for about a week to let the reviews roll in and to see what critics and hardcore fans of the series would have to say about the change in direction. The receptions were good. The majority of the fanbase thought that the change of pace was a breath of fresh air for the series. A small but rather toxic and vocal part of the fanbase was absolutely livid. One comment caught my eyes as it directly mentions me.

“Xavier really stepped up his game in this storyline as it presents our protagonist, Justin, finally being presented with his long-awaited dilemma. Either go down as a hero or rise to be the new villain of the multiverse. The series has always brought joy to me and it really pulled me out of my hard times. I’ve always hoped that they would address Justin’s moral dilemma. I really hoped that they, at least, would start something new or turn the aftermath of the arc into a spinoff,” one of the fans said. It warmed my heart and I just had to pat myself on the back. Everyone in the office celebrated as we beat the old sales record and breathed a great sigh of relief.