Zatswan: Multiversal Guardian is a science fantasy adventure featuring fantastic settings, larger than life threats, affecting characters, and cosmic romance. While living an ordinary life in Southern California, A.C. Cooper’s world is turned upside down when he is offered a tesseract; a strange object from the fourth dimension that grants amazing powers. A.C. and a young woman he just met, Marlene Ja lee, are inducted into an organization of cosmic peace keepers called the Zatswan. Utilizing the power of tesseracts, these guardians defend all known realities from the greatest dangers imaginable. A.C.’s loyalty and morality are challenged when his new duty as a Zatswan pits him against a mysterious young lady who is literally the girl of his dreams, with all existence hanging in the balance.

 

For some unknown reason, the fourth dimensional tesseracts are existing in the third dimension. Almost nothing is known about the fourth dimension, but there are signs of intelligence from there, like the tesseracts. 4th dimensional beings do not interact with 3D ones in any way the 3D beings can perceive. Traveling to a higher dimension is a much bigger feat than going to a different universe. The Zatswan are able to go from universe to universe by having their tesseracts envelop them and conceal them within contained 3D space. While inside the tesseracts, they momentarily cross into the 4th dimension, and from there, they are able to access different universes. However, while crossing over into the 4th dimension, they can’t perceive much.

 

While the tesseracts allow their users incredible abilities, the Zatswan and their master, the powerful cosmic being known as Zorb, are not sure if they are using the objects for their intended purpose or not. These mysterious items are sources of unlimited energy, and a weakness of the Zatswan is that they can draw on too much power and burn themselves out.

 

The Zatswan come in different colors, with some excelling at abilities others don’t, but being weaker in other areas. For instance, yellows are better at certain tasks than reds, but worse at others.

 

A.C. Cooper and Marlene Ja Lee

A.C. Cooper and Marlene Ja Lee. The new Dimension Warriors.

 

A.C. and Marlene’s service sees them defending various realities against the forces of Expulzar, a being of unfathomable power who desires the destruction of all universes. Why? You’ll have to read and find out!

 


Why did I create Zatswan?

As a kid I absolutely loved escaping to the fantastic worlds of my favorite action cartoons, video games, and comic books. However, being a brown skinned person of color, I was often left feeling like something was missing. I eventually realized these things I loved hardly ever featured characters that looked like me, and if they did appear, they were usually way off to the side, or used primarily for comic relief and little else.

 

I vividly remember being disenchanted with the Power Rangers in 1997. I treasured the show when it showcased the original cast, but they were gone, and the overall quality seriously declined. At this time, I only watched sporadically and barely paid attention to the program.

 

I just happened to be watching an episode when the unexpected happened. After a bit of the usual business, the show cut to a scene with two characters I had never seen before. One character was a young, thoughtful black man who was polite, intelligent, and big hearted. The other character was a spunky Asian girl with a bit of good natured sass. I didn’t know what the show had in store for these two, but I was instantly intrigued, more than I had been for the Power Rangers… well… probably ever.

 

When I saw these two characters become Power Rangers, I was ecstatic. The black character, TJ, was actually made the Red Ranger, and the girl, Cassie, became Pink Ranger, which were essentially the two most important characters on the show. I was so excited I nearly ripped my shirt off.  Fortunately, the quality of the show picked up considerably, and I was in hog heaven. These characters were fantasy crusaders who went on amazing adventures. They weren’t standing way behind everyone else; they had cool powers, weren’t silly stereotypes, and they weren’t used just for race relations stories.

 

TJ and Cassie from Power Rangers Turbo

TJ and Cassie from Power Rangers Turbo.

 

TJ was someone I looked up to, wanted to be like, and just adored to pieces. I think this was the first time I realized what true escapism felt like. It’s kind of sad, but despite the huge amount of video games and cartoons I consumed, I don’t think I had experienced real fantasy escapism before that.

 

The Power Rangers Turbo television series ended on a riveting cliffhanger unlike anything the franchise had ever done, which led to a show called Power Rangers in Space. I was still more excited than ever ... until I actually saw the show. A new white character named Andros was introduced who quickly usurped TJ’s short lived position as leader of the team, and who ate up a surprising amount of focus. TJ’s role became rather negligible, with only two episodes out of forty-five that actually concentrated on him. He was around, but did not do or add much, and one of his two episodes ("TJ's Identity Crisis") actually showcased Andros as the main hero, with TJ just being a plot device who was along for the  ride.

 

I think Power Rangers in Space is a really cool show, and I’m sure producer Haim Saban did what he felt was best for it, but as the series went on, I found my personal investment waning. When all was said and done, the TJ character had only half a season of Power Rangers Turbo to shine before becoming a footnote.

 

In 2003, I became similarly enamored with the character John Stewart, an African American Green Lantern I saw on the Justice League cartoon show airing on Cartoon Network. He was even better than TJ to me. This character had a lot more complexity and a very strong character arc. It floored me when  he was actually able to display some sexuality, as he had an intricate, overarching love story with fellow Justice League member Hawkgirl.

 

I loved what I saw with John Stewart so much that I had to check out the Green Lantern comic books, and this is when things got a little weird for me again. I discovered that in the comics, John Stewart is actually a shadow of what he is on the cartoons I loved. He is essentially a rarely focused on supporting character. This was definitely disappointing, but I took what I could and became a big Green Lantern fan.

 

Green Lantern John Stewart

Green Lantern John Stewart.

 

Looking back on my history with Green Lantern, I can describe it as frustrating. Reading the comics was often annoying, and I found the fandom instantly hostile. Many of the fans seemed to hate John Stewart and the fact that he was on the Justice League show, as they believed one of the numerous white incarnations of Green Lantern to be more worthy and fitting for the spot.

 

In 2004 DC Comics resurrected the long dead Hal Jordan Green Lantern and unceremoniously pushed John Stewart out of nearly all major media going forward once the Justice League cartoons stopped airing new episodes. Justice League sold me on a false dream, as I came to the realization that the actual source the John Stewart character is taken from is nothing that would interest me. What happened to John Stewart was the same thing that happened to TJ, and the same thing destined to happen to many black characters that become part of franchises specifically constructed by and for white people to consume.

 

I would be lying if I said this didn’t frustrate me at the time, but I understand it better now, and it doesn’t upset me as much as it used to. It has, however, made me cagier of the entertainment I choose to deeply invest in, or not. Nowadays, I have to know that the entertainment won’t frustrate me, deceive me, or generally make me throw my hands up in the air in exasperation. I no longer have time for fiction that constantly lets me down, or that I have to wrestle with, so to speak.

 

What I grasped is that much of the entertainment I liked (or thought I liked) was not made with my sensibilities in mind, but someone else’s. It wasn’t made to speak much to me, but to another person. I now understand that if people like me want to see what we'd like, the best solution is to make it ourselves instead of waiting for others to do it, and then hoping they don’t hastily snatch it away from us… which, in my experience, is what often ends up happening.

 

I don’t have a problem with typical white heroes. Indeed, there are many that are dear to my heart. However, many non-white fantasy and science fiction lovers feel left out, or that something is missing for them, when there are hardly any non-white leading protagonists with their own stories in these escapist genres.

 

Zatswan is here to help rectify that problem.

 

Expulzar, a cosmic deity of unfathomable power who desires the destruction of the multiverse.

 

I’ve seen other creators of color discuss their comic projects, and they sometimes say that the stories they make are the stories they wish they had as kids. That is true of me and my Zatswan: Multiversal Guardian series. This is the story that would have deeply satisfied me as a child that I never, ever really had.

 

Zatswan: Multiversal Guardian features a character of African descent in a leading role, and readers won’t have to hope or wonder if he will be a character worth supporting, nor will they need to make compromises with him the way they would for, say, TJ and John Stewart. My full support is behind A.C. Cooper and I have a ton of confidence in him. I understand many black comic fans’ patience is exhausted and I’d like to clarify right now they will not have to deal with things such as the black character being mutilated, desexualized, having a ridiculous hero design, being a support player to white characters, or being a stereotype.

 

As important as worthwhile representation in fiction is, having a cool immersive story is at least just as important. I also created Zatswan simply because I have a really big imagination and a story developed in my head that I need to tell. No matter your background, there is likely something that will pique your interest if you enjoy epic scale science fantasy with sprawling world building, fanciful settings, and lots of well thought out speculative pseudo-science.


 

How can you help if you enjoy Zatswan?

There are under served audiences hungry for diverse content in comics. The large publishers like DC do not seem able to reach these people and effectively satisfy them. I believe the problem is with the entire comic industry, from the executives, to the editors, to some of the creators, to the distributor, to the comic shop owners, and to some of the fans. For people who aren’t the demographics mainstream comics cater to, perhaps the best way of addressing the issue is to bypass all of those obstacles altogether by having fans directly support creators who produce content they enjoy without any bureaucracy between them.

 

If you enjoy Zatswan, you can support it by purchasing Zatswan products, such as the .pdf file of Chapter 1 below:

Zatswan: Multiversal Guardian, Chapter 1: "Attract Mode"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can also click on the Patreon button below and pledge a monthly amount of money you’re comfortable with. Even a dollar is a big help! This will make it easier for me to keep getting you content you like. Spreading the word and link to others you think may enjoy Zatswan is a huge help, too.

Patreon Button

 

I’m greatly honored you’ve taken the time to look into Zatswan. The story is hugely important to me, and it’s my hope that it will be important to you as well.