RE:IMAGINED | ACEBLADE

 

CREATIVE DIRECTION

When we approached Aceblade, we decided on two things:

  1. We had to keep some elements of the character as he existed. We did not want to abandon or disrupt any equity that’s been built into the character over the last several years of the character’s existence.
  2. We wanted to create a rich tapestry around the character that would require deep exploration in his development, build a very strong supporting cast of characters around him, and bring us along a very rewarding and fulfilling journey of self-discovery.

This required us to explore several possibilities. We eventually found our way to positioning the character as a descendant to the lost kingdom of New Zimbabwe, where Terrell Durham would find himself in an Avatar: The Last Airbender-type world, but with African-influences rather Asian.

Another part of our creative direction was to take us out of America and put is somewhere that would allow new stories to be told. Africa is widely unexplored in entertainment and media, giving the IP a lot of room to play with creatively.

CHARACTER DIRECTION

We kept several aspects from Aceblade as he exists now:

  • His name: Terrell Durham
  • Branded color: Royal Purple
  • Dual swords
  • Ace iconography
  • Boxer career/profession
  • “The Vegas Vigilante”

Some of these aspects are less prominent than others, but have been worked into our reimagining of the character to respect what has been created.

We had collectively decided against pushing another Asian/ninja inspired character, going in the direction of African designs for his costume. While we weren’t able to be 100% true to African color palettes, we were able to pull a good amount of the color palette from the current Aceblade.

We also paid our respect to the dual blades, yet, made them part of an even larger weapon to give the character more variety in his fighting style. The blades are fashioned after African weaponry and given a hint of Afrofuturism.


Please see the reimagined character below
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Reimagined Logo + Character Design

There is now a consistent “ace”-shaped pattern repeated throughout the design, accented with African/tribal patterns. The logo reinforces the new direction and sets the audience up to understand where this character comes from immediately.

Terrell Durham | Civilian Look

To keep the comedic beats and tonality of the character, we went in a direction of a man who doesn’t have it altogether. He wakes up with bed head and keeps it moving, isn’t fond of doing laundry and puts on whatever doesn’t smell too bad, etc. We had to keep him from becoming a “version of” Peter Parker/Spider-Man or Virgil Hawkins/Static, thus giving him some attributes that would define the character as his own while fitting into the same archetype.

The Aceblade

As you will read in the origin story, Terrell must travel to Africa to assemble the blade. The pieces were scattered by his ancestors to protect it and keep it from falling int the wrong hands. He must assemble the twin blades and join them in order to form the Aceblade.

NEW CHARACTER SHEET + ORIGIN STORY

 

Tagline: Zimbabwe’s Last Hope
Real Name: Terrell Durham
Current Aliases: Aceblade
Known Aliases: Terrell Evans

BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION

Identity (Public or Secret): Secret
Occupation: Ameteur Boxer/Athlete
Citizenship: American
Place of Birth: Las Vegas, Nevada
Marital Status: Single
Known Relatives:
Nirvana Durham: One of the few descendants of the Zimbabwe people, she had taken it upon herself to carry on their history, preserve their legacy and what little there was left of it. As well as protect its secrets.
Education: He attended Anning High School and currently seems to be his highest level of education.

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS

Race/Ethnicity/Nationality: Human/African/American
Gender: Male
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 222 lbs

PERSONALITY

He’s a gambler above all else. When the clock is ticking and the chips are down, Terrell is the kind of man who will put it all on black and hope for the best. For him, there is always more satisfaction over a quick payoff rather than a hard day’s work and while he may always keep the finish line within his sight, he’ll always depend on faith and his own resourcefulness to get him there. He truly believes that life isn’t much different than a poker game in that you have to have luck on your side and the skills to play the hand that you’re dealt.

For him he’s definitely curious and sometimes it’s easy for his sense of wonder to overwhelm his better sense of judgement. He’s quick to knock on doors and see what’s on the other side, but rarely does he stop to consider what’s on the other side. Again, he’s confident in his abilities to improvise and that “play what you’re dealt” mentality. But the question remains, how much is luck and how much is skill?

Living in Vegas, he had spent a majority of his life dreaming the dreams of others, believing that success and worth was defined by just how much you had in your pocket. However learning who his family was and where he came from, he embarked on a journey of self-discovery, hoping to find a place in a land where he barely speaks the language, that’s steeped in tradition and among people who truly feel that he can never truly be a part of it.

For him he’s in search of an identity and purpose, wondering who he truly is meant to be. Is he supposed to be a hero? Meant to protect others and provide stability in an uncertain world? Or maybe a villain? The man who has to rise up and push things over the edge and take the blame so things can progress. Or maybe perhaps something in between? There’s no way of telling as his journey begins and the legend of the Aceblade continues.

HERO/VILLAIN BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION
Superhuman Powers:
  • Agility/Acrobatics: He possesses the magical ability to leap great distances and perform amazing displays of acrobatics.
    Abilities:
  • Professional Gambler: Growing up in Nevada, he naturally took interest in gambling and card games. He knows how to play the odds with everything from horse racing to poker and in a pinch, can “even the odds” with an ace or two up his sleeve. It’s how he’s been able to finance his journey and get around Africa. In addition, it allows him to read micro expressions and habits in others, which means he’s able to read surface thoughts, emotions and potential future attacks telegraphed through their body language.
  • Musangwe: A form of bare knuckle fist fighting from South Africa, it was perhaps one of the first forms of self-defense he learned. Known for spectacle and carrying a title of a “warrior” it seemed attractive for an American trying to prove himself in a culture that values tradition.
    Sword Fighting: Wielding the Aceblade, he’s learned several forms of defense and attack with both one handed and two handed weaponry.
Special Limitations:
  • Language: He has picked up on some of the basics of African languages and dialects he’s encountered, but is still jovially rusty. Some people struggle to take his mastery of the language seriously, making him determined to master the various dialects and languages across the continent.
  • Spells: Energy can only be channeled and released through the Aceblade , but it requires a series of complex and precise movements.
    Paraphernalia (Weapons/Gadgets):
  • The Aceblade: It’s origins are unknown, it’s true purpose a mystery. All that is known is that this was once wielded by the royal guards of his ancestry of New Zimbabwe at a time when only royalty and those closest to them were allowed to wield such weapons. It can be split apart from a falchion to form a pair of dual wielded blades as well as be utilized to perform different spells through various movements (e.g. setting the sword aflame, creating a temporary energy shield, etc.)
ORIGIN STORY
Biography/History

Somewhere in the pages of history, listed among the likes of civilizations such as the Minoans and the Mesa Verde cliff dwellings, there was a city as legendary as the likes of El Dorado and often dismissed just as quickly. Known as “New Zimbabwe”, its discovery was profound and one to rewrite the history books. Little was known about its construction or people and at one time was believed to be too advanced for an African nation. However, as genetic testing was done, it was proven to have been a product of an African people. In addition, many of their descendants were alive well, living among the modern populace.

It started with a small group of these descendants who saw what their ancestors had built and wanted to reclaim what they believed was theirs. With Africa’s borders being drawn and erased, they wanted to reestablish the nation their ancestors once ruled and claim the ruins they left behind. Trying to make a case for a sovereign nation, they had archaeologists, geneticists and just about everything in between researching the “lost city” and the people who once inhabited. As they dug deeper and exhumed more however, it seemed to baffle them leaving more questions than answers, except in the case of the Durham family.

Little by little they managed to make sense of the pieces being uncovered. They managed to collect stories and legends, they were able to correlate to the mysterious ruins, and ultimately discovered the disturbing truth of why the city had to be abandoned and what happened to the nation they once ruled.

Sharing what they found with the movement, they were more intrigued than disturbed. However, rather than let the knowledge they found be used, the family scattered as they became targets for bounty hunters, terrorists and the movement itself. With pressure cracking down and the threat of death around every corner, one couple sent their child to America. Without a name, without an identity, they hoped the American foster system would be able to give him a proper life and hopefully out of the crosshairs of the countless enemies they had made.

Named Terrell Durham, he grew up in Nevada unaware of who he was and constantly searching for an identity. His adoptive parents did all they could to keep his past a secret and discouraged him from seeking out his family not exactly sure what he’d find, believing whatever ideal story he had concocted for them would be better than what he’d find. However as he entered high school, he began to seek out what he could about his biological parents. Looking through birth records, computer files and everything he could get his hands on, he found absolutely nothing. It wasn’t until he had saved up for a DNA test that he found his first breakthrough. He was directed to a grandmother he never knew he had, living in America. Unable to restrain his curiosity and with hopes of having his questions finally answered, he left home and in search of the mysterious old woman.

It was quite a trip that crossed more than a few state boundaries, and when he finally found her, he was disappointed. Despite having an exotic name like Nirvana, she was jovially old school and nurturing just like countless grandmothers tended to be. Her answers were vague and besides mentioning they were originally from Africa, she really didn’t satisfy his curiosity at all. However regardless of what she had to offer him in the way of answers, he decided to stay with her, help her out, feeling a kinship with the old woman and did so until she passed away.

It was after her death and digging through her house that he found an old crawlspace that he discovered artifacts, books, papers and records connected to the “New Zimbabwe” project and the attempt to understand its past, as well as a potential future for the lost city. Having dug through every corner, every trunk and file, while there were many countless curiosities for him to discover, none were more curious than the hilt of an old blade and a piece of the blade itself. Decorated in Tanzanite and curiously sharp for an old blade that was supposedly centuries old, there was nothing his grandmother’s collection could tell him about it except that it belonged to the royal guard. Unable to restrain his curiosity and find answers of who he was, where he came from and how “New Zimbabwe” tied into all of this, he assembled the blade to the hilt. Upon the assembly, a chain reaction followed with the beats and sounds of African drums, tribal chants, and mystical, purple energies filling the room, ending with the spiritual appearance of his deceased grandmother.

Learning of his ancestry through her words, she tells him that he is the descendent of the Great King of New Zimbabwe—his great grandfather several times over, and that the Aceblade, the sword crafted and cared for by the royal family, only responds to those with the imprint to be next in line. Furthermore, he must assemble the rest of the blade and find its sister blade to assemble the artifact that will lead him into rebuilding New Zimbabwe, but that task won’t come easily.

Terrell used what little his grandmother had to leave him and left for Africa, looking to get in touch with experts, natives and find who he was in the land he supposedly came from and assemble the legendary Aceblade. He will encounter opposition at every turn, as the locals are less than friendly and steeped in a culture with traditions others feel he cannot be apart of after growing up in America. Unable to speak the language, he will set off on a journey to learn everything he can, become more, be more and finally find his place in this strange new land.

Terrell will ultimately discover the secrets of who his family was and what happened to them, deciding the fate of the lost nation and whether or not it is truly worth saving, and of course, make a difference as he learns to wield the legendary weapon he will need to assemble along the way. It’s all on the line and it’s up to him to find if he’s either going big or going home.