Hello, I am SwanofWar, the author of Dragon Ball SW, my DBZ expanded universe. As a writer, I see the DBZ universe as a world of opportunity, not to recreate it in my own image or change some aspect of it, but to build upon the beautiful foundation Akira Toriyama set down and to create stories and character that make it feel like you're watching the actual show. As a professional, I take my work very seriously, striving through heavy research to make sure everything I write matches the canon as well as working my own creative muscle to keep my expanded universe fresh and exciting. I have a lot of love and respect for the DBZ characters, especially Vegeta, Goku, and Bulma.
If you are reading this and are among those who respect, love, and support what I do, my deepest gratitude goes to you. Hearing from all those who have read my work and felt it touch or excite them in some way is the inspiration that keeps me going. I will never be anything without my fans and owe so many hours of joy to you.
And if you are new to my writing, I welcome you. Come - be warriors, heroes, magicians, Saiyans. Come dream with me.
Like most of my stories, Dragon Ball Z: A Good Man started with a question: what would occur if Vegeta suddenly regained his tail? I am certainly not the first person to have this thought. There have been many fanfictions and comics written on the subject, mostly with either some comical or sexual context. My immediate thought when I asked myself this question was the image seen in the first chapter of this book – of Vegeta looking in the mirror and seeing the reflection of his old self looking back. I couldn’t help but think that it would be a constant reminder of his life before Earth.
Like many fans, Vegeta intrigues me because of how much he has changed since his original appearance in season one of Dragon Ball Z. He made for a fantastic villain, a challenge to Goku’s former existence as something truly unique and exceptional. Vegeta’s change into the grumpy, mean-spirited hero he is today was extremely gradual and an item of much speculation. While it is in the nature of Goku and his friends to be very forgiving of past wrongs and to see the good in others, many fans have criticized DBZ for how easily Vegeta got off considering all he’d done.
But DBZ: AGM wasn’t about a punishment fantasy for fans who long to see him brought to justice. From moment of its conception, it was about exploring questions – one central question in particular: is Vegeta a good man? As a writer, I believe I have two purposes. One is to entertain, the other is to ask questions. Through stories, I explore possible answers to these questions and allow my readers and myself to draw conclusions. I like to think that DBZ: AGM not only successfully covered Vegeta’s nature, but the nature of what makes someone ‘good’ in general.
However, how DBZ: AGM turned out is quite different from how I first imagined it. In the early concepts, AGM was going to be a much shorter story, following the model of a standard DBZ movie. The Z Fighters would be faced by a villain that had the stand in name of ‘The Judge’ who had a very twisted sense of justice. The Judge and her band of underlings would threaten to destroy the Earth unless they handed Vegeta over. The Z Fighters would, of course, refuse and fight them and Vegeta would be faced with the dilemma of his own past and guilt.
This actually wasn’t a bad premise. But I soon realized that I could do far better. Inspiration hit and everything changed: what if Vegeta and Goku lost the initial battle? It was a crucial decision. With Vegeta being arrested, the conflicted would be forced off Earth and our heroes would be taken out of their comfort zone. It also took me out of my comfort zone since I had been looking forward to writing for the cast of side characters such as Krillin, Piccolo, and Gohan. With the story so drastically changed, I knew I wouldn’t be able to include them as much.
The decision also lost me a lot of my early readers, who had come hoping to see our heroes overpowering stock villains. But despite that, I don’t regret the decision in the slightest. Because of the choice to have our heroes lose, I was able to produce a story where the Z Fighter were faced with a challenge where fighting wasn’t enough, where their morality and strength of character were put to the test. Though, I won’t deny I missed the gang and am so glad that in the next story, Dragon Ball Z: Light and Shadows, I’ll be able to write about the whole cast.
A lot of people who have written me on my work commented about the story’s ‘OCs’ as they call them. Truth is, though, I never thought of my Justice characters as OCs. Technically, that’s what they are: original characters. But each character was created to support the canon characters and nothing more. And thanks to the premise of the story, I was able to build a very diverse cast that reflected different aspects of Goku and Vegeta’s conflict.
From the beginning, I knew I wanted the main villain to be a woman. This was honestly for no special reason other than that we had never seen a female main villain in DBZ and I wanted to do something new. The original concept for the ‘bird’ aspect of her design came from the stand in character of The Judge. With their plumes and wings, I thought birds resembled majestic judges, who traditionally wore large wigs and flowing robes. I also wanted the villain to be threatening, so I gave her traits of reptiles as well, with scales and fangs.
As for her character, I drew inspiration from one of my favorite cartoon villains of all time: Claude Frollo from Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame. I made Nevrrest an imposing, self-righteous figure on a crusade, willing to go to deadly extremes to accomplish her goals. I even gave her an intelligent, yet uncertain hunkering companion in the form of the arlian Sepis. However, instead of being the oppressed, brainwashed, and verbally abused character that Quasimodo was, I wanted her to have a legitimate understanding and affection for Sepis – a mutual love that had been twisted by shared hate.
Throughout the story, I had a lot of readers express frustration with Nevrrest. And that was a very intentional reaction. I wanted people to want to root for Nevrrest, to be conflicted by her the trueness of her determination and her honest belief that she was in the right. She is the ultimate embodiment of the unrelenting avenger, the one who will ‘never rest’ until she’s had her revenge. Yet, I think there’s a piece of Nevrrest that exists in all of us – a part of us that gets a thrill when we see someone get ‘what they deserve’. But that part of us is dangerous. And looking yourself in the mirror is rarely a comfortable experience.
Nevrrest also served the role of reflecting Vegeta’s character development over the story. The more Vegeta embraced his own evil past and his future as a good man, the more Nevrrest lost her own goodness and descended into darkness. If you look at the novel as a whole, in the beginning Nevrrest wasn’t really that bad. She cared about what the people under her thought, valued her friends, and truly believe that by putting Vegeta through horrific punishment that she would not only set herself free, but Sepis and other victims like him. By the end, however, all she really cared about was satisfying her own Vegeta-destroying fantasies and feeding her egomania. This was the complete opposite of Vegeta, who had discarded his former concepts of what taking pride in himself and preserving his honor meant.
As for the other characters, I wanted them to represent a wide spectrum of good and evil, justice and injustice. With a tyrannical crusader at the helm like Nevrrest, I had to make the prisoners believable enough so that the reader’s reaction would be more complicated than mere pity. As representative of the worst of the worst, I created the remorseless and cruel Lacor – a man who delighted in the suffering of others and was itching to act out his wicked deeds again. Dr. Resetti and other prisoners on Seven served similar roles. They were living proof that there was a reason Nevrrest had developed her merciless attitude.
On the other end of the spectrum, however, were characters like Dreeke and Nada, prisoners whose roles as criminals hadn’t been so simplistic. Dreeke was just a man who had been motivated by greed and cowardice, and who had since repented of his previous lifestyle and wanted a second chance. Then there was Nada, a man guilty of horrible crimes, but didn’t share the basic motivations of Lacor and others like him. Forced into a life of crime, but only feeling remorse for himself.
The members of the Justice also played a part in representing this spectrum. To juxtapose Nevrrest, I created a host of characters who truly were seekers of Justice, characters such as Horkion, Hameus, and Dr. Tottle. These characters are wholly good people who want not only uphold justice, but to make the universe a better place. On the other side I created more conflicted characters like Laswe and Sepis, people who were inspired by Nevrrest’s vision of bringing evil low and created a new world where the wicked weren’t tolerated. Then there were odd cases like Oom’Bagu and Misado. Misado is a force of pure good. It’s only concern was making certain that good prevailed and didn’t have much of a grey area. While Oom’Bagu was nothing but a grey area. On one hand, he believe in reform and being patient and understanding of others. But at the same time, he also had a strong urge to punish the wicked and to enforce order.
But amidst this spectrum, I needed a black and a white. The white was easy, Goku already fulfilled that role so no character needed to be created. But I needed something to represent unconquered evil – living proof that the Justice’s mission wasn’t done. That proof came in the form of the imposter Un.
In the early drafts of the story, I had no idea how ridiculously complex the character of ‘the monk’ would become. I always intended the monk to become a traitor to give Vegeta an evil to defeat as a way of proving himself, but I had no idea that the monk would end up being an evil shape shifter, or that the true Nettelish would end up being a reformed saiyan just like Vegeta was. But it became pretty clear as I created my concepts for AGM that there needed to a wild card – a ball flying out of left field that would really shake things up.
Un did so much for the story that I don’t think it could have existed without her. One, she revealed how vulnerable the Justice was – how it was a youthful organization built more on hope than solid ground. She also showed that evil didn’t just disappear because the Justice had imprisoned millions of evil people. In fact, evil existed right among them. Furthermore, Un was the embodiment of hidden truths. She forced all the characters to bring their dirty laundry out into the open – most of all Nevrrest, who was unable to hide her own wickedness from then on.
Un was also an excellent opportunity to bring something else into the story – Toriyama’s sense of humor. Anyone who knows Toriyama’s works knows he loves to use a very absurd, screwball style of humor in his works. Had this been one my original works, Un probably would have been a little gremlin or something more vicious. But this was the world of Dragon Ball, thus she became a tiny, white, Looney Toons style bunny. In a Toriyama fashion, I think in a way this made her even more terrifying, if hilarious. It also showcased her deceptive nature. Who, after all, would be afraid of a fluffy little bunny?
That youthfulness and vulnerability of the Justice was also a strong point in this story. A lot of people have asked me about the judicial system seen in this story, how I came up with and if I based it off anything. The answer is I drew inspiration from the judge tribunals of Victorian Europe. In this system, a panel of judges would act as both judge and jury. Only, in these historical cases, the defendant would have to be his own lawyer and witness. It rarely went well.
In that sense, I wanted the Justice’s judicial system to feel primitive – archaic, but trying to develop into something more. Many readers have criticized the Justice, and they had every right to do so. The system they had built under Nevrrest was inherently flawed and built by people who were trying their best, but honestly didn’t have everything as figured out as they wanted the public to believe.
Because of that weakness, AGM became about more than just saving Vegeta. It was about saving The Justice, and justice itself with it. It was about admitting weakness and frailty, and realizing that was okay. Even heroes are just people – and they stumble and make mistakes. What mattered isn’t that people don’t mistakes, it’s that they correct them and are willing to face them. And that, really, is what being a good man is all about.