Monday, August 27, 2007

Avalanche of Villainy

In the second arc of The Irregulars our heroic trio will face off against the villain I hope will become their arch-nemesis. And before you ask: no, I'm not done scripting the first arc yet. I'm lazy and I drink, so back off. Actually, I'll probably be done with the first six issues in a week or two. My brain's not always linear, so the second arc's been intruding on the first's time. First six issues are looking to take three months to complete, but issues seven through twelve should only take half as long.

Anyway, arch-nemesis. Prof. Gordon Saimiri, the world's smartest monkey, naturally needs an arch nemesis and the opposite number villian is a long establish tradition. The mysterious space aliens that disassembled Gordo and reassembled him as the super-intelligent Prof. Saimiri, it turns out they did the same thing when they picked up Laika's space capsule the previous year. Unfortunately, they put Laika back together wrong. Who better than a super-intelligent, deformed and insane evil communist canine to challenge Prof. Saimiri, our flamethrower-toting simian college professor, his robot and his girl?

So, that's our nemesis and part of Laika's plan to destroy The Irregulars is to assemble an army of villains (that in no way is inspired by the Legion of Doom) and have them all attack Los Angeles at once. Who are some of the players in this army of 35 villains that I plan on introducing in a single, bone-chilling two page splash panel?

Glad you asked.

Atomic Weight. Professor Emil Avogadro, longest tenured member of the physics department at USCLA, was driven insane in the lab accident that gave him his powers. He sees the world only as swirling patterns of protons and neutrons and is able to mentally multiply the number of isotopes in inanimate matter.

The Humidity! Master of super-heated water vapor. It's not the heat, it's The Humidity!

Ramses CDXVII. Egyptian despot and the 417th in an unbroken line dating back to Ramses I. Possesses the combined experiences, guile and intelligence of the previous 416 Ramses (Ramseses?).

Herr Zorn. Seven feet of blonde crew-cut and muscles, the super-strong Herr Zorn absorbs the anger of others as sustenance.

Ms. Limpid. Sultry, 40's Hollywood style femme fatale. Ms. Limpid projects an aura of calm. Her victims remain frozen in their tracks until they're nothing but transparent, glass-like statues.

Tyrannosaurus Reginald. Half man, half dinosaur, all polite. T-Reg kills and eats his human victims with a prehistoric appetite and the salad fork on the left. Please. Thank you. Kill!

Battalion. Mercenary with the power to replicate himself up to 1,200 times.

The Jam Band. Members: Inspiration, Comet Dust, Marble and Tina. Together, when playing their instruments, they weave a pied piper-like spell that mesmerizes those that hear the music, aurally lobotomizing them.

The Spangenhelm. A demonic medieval war helmet that possesses the wearer, slowly absorbing their body and turning it into spectral blue flame. Black helm, boots, gloves and cloak with a body of fire. Armed with a sword in each hand.

Occult Archer. Dressed in an all white Robin Hood outfit, the Archer carries no arrows. His enchanted longbow fires arrows composed of the ghostly forms of deceased criminals. Content with the life of a bank robber and career criminal, the Occult Archer does not suspect that his soul is doomed to become a spectral arrow for the next individual who wields the bow.

The Sirens. Peisinoe, Aglaope and Thelxiepeia are three sisters whose long skirts conceal their bird-like legs. Together, their singing voices have the power to hypnotize any who hear them. Typically they drown their victims and rob the corpses.

Brigadier Chatsworth. English big game hunter, dressed in colonial military attire. A pith helmet covers his bald pate, but he can psychically manipulate his long mustachios to do a range of actions, from firing a rifle to picking locks to crushing his prey like pythons.

Highbrow. Once the world's 53rd smartest man, a series of gristly murders, no two alike, has moved him up to 39th. Fourteen down, thirty-eight to go.

The Archivist. A bibliomaniac with a fixation on historical criminal records, the Archivist is the curator and head librarian of the secret Borgia Library, the moral and ethical antithesis of the Great Library of Alexandria. The Borgia Library is the greatest repository of criminal knowledge on earth.

King Khepri. USCLA professor of Egyptology who, after a tragic accident, believes himself to be the resurrected Egyptian god of the dawning sun, Khepri. King Khepri commits his crimes dressed in ceremonial garb with a headmask in the shape of a dung beetle. He has no super powers.

Dr. Cassiopeia. A stunningly beautiful woman, by day she's a respected clinical researcher. At night she is cursed to float upside down, from sunset to sunrise, as the invulnerable and criminially insane Dr. Cassiopeia.

Leo Lobelia. LA gangster who dresses in pinstripes with a purple lobelia flower in his lapel. Has nausea inducing powers, which form the basis of his extortion rackets.

Count Miasma. European nobleman who can mentally control clouds of noxious black fog. Displaced from his homeland, he's attempting to take over enough land in the states to rebuild his lost fiefdom.

The Tessellator. Dick Spilsbury is a puzzle obsessed criminal who, after an industrial accident, can transmute any object he touches into hundreds of tiny puzzle pieces. He wears a spandex unitard with a logo on his chest that's the outline of a jigsaw puzzle piece and he frequently commits puzzle related crimes.

The Faceless. Escaped from a luinatic asylum, the Faceless is a serial killer who conceals his disfigured visage with an endless series of carnival masks.

Ezekiel Euclid. The smartest and most dangerous criminal mind of a two dimensional universe. Exiled to a three dimensional prison, our earth, by their Supreme Tribunal as a last resort. Disoriented and reeling still, once he's adapted he'll be ready to take over this new dimension. Ezekiel Euclid exists as a 2D apparition, possessing only height and width. Evil has no depths.

These last two are not my own, but contributions from my brother and a friend.

Derrick. An offshore oil rig worker. Laid off from his job, he constructs a lumbering suit of oil rig themed armor and uses it to enact his revenge, and commit crimes. Belching grease and smoke, with a shoulder mounted crane. The crane has different attachments, like a wrecking ball and a giant hook.

Baroness Ape. Old gorilla in a cocktail dress, lipstick and holding a cigarette holder. Think simian Miss Havesham. Antiquities dealer, grave robber and the worlds richest non-human. Keeps human prisoners in a zoo habitat, feeding them bananas.

Some are good, some are lame but will work for the purposes of the plot and some are awesome, at least to me. I love the visual of The Spangenhelm and can't wait to write future appearances of Ramses CDXVII and the Occult Archer.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Batman and The Outsiders

Here are my picks for a new Outsiders roster, followed by Batman's thoughts on each team member.

Katana, Tatsu Yamashiro. "Tatsu has proven herself time and time again. I'll need a lieutenant."

The Question, Vic Sage. "I know I can trust him because he doesn't trust anyone."

Metamorpho, Rex Mason. "Rex is a good man, and his knowledge of the four corners of the globe rivals my knowledge of Gotham."

The Creeper, Jack Ryder. "I may not like it, or him, but I've fought enough madmen to realize that there's value in unpredictability."

Animal Man, Buddy Baker. "Buddy's never really fit in with a team environment, as his short stint with the League's European branch proved, but he's willing to sacrifice for his family. I can use that."

Deadman, Boston Brand. "There are few places I can't get into on my own. That's where Boston come in. Useful. Hal and Barry's friendship. I always saw it as a liability in the field, but with Boston I just can't help liking the old ghost, even despite his annoying habit of possessing random strangers and using them to break into Wayne Manor, raid Alfred's wine cellar and get drunk in front of the TV."

Green Arrow, Connor Hawke. "All of his father's talent with none of his... failings. The kid proved himself with the League and could be useful, from time to time. Taking advantage of his naivety will be simple."

Manhunter, Mark Shaw. "There's no denying his talent even if I can't stand the man or his motivations. A check of his bank accounts reveals that he's thrown the Mirror Master back in jail enough times to buy half the real estate in Star City. Time to find other motivations for him. He really, really hates Kobra. So we have that in common."

Marvin & Wendy. "American college kids, backpacking abroad on their parents dime. Ubiquitous enough to be invisible. Inexperienced, but so was Tim once."

Not quite a full pitch, but I've got a few ideas kicking around. Maybe I'll elaborate on them when time permits.

Black Lightning I'd leave off the team because his profile's too high (Secretary of Education, Meltzer's JLA). Katana fills the lieutenant role nicely and ties to the original team.

Same with Metamorpho. Original team, experience, can fill the heavy hitter role and I'd love to showcase some crazy applications of his powers.

Bats has a history of training children and "Wendy: Agent of the Bat" has badass potential all over it. Wendy and Marvin would be the "Outsiders in plain sight".

I loved Ostrander and Yale's Manhunter series. Plus the guy really hates Kobra and you gotta respect that.

Connor is exactly the kind of guy Batman would use for 20 issues or so until the scales fall from his eyes and he realizes Batman's been playing him. "Of course I've been playing you. I'm Batman." Talented but naive.

There's another character, long deceased, who I'd bring back as an unoffical member of the team as Deadman's new sidekick. I'd build up the character's return slowly, at first only through Deadman's dialogue, making comments and references about the "new kid" he's showing the ropes. Can you guess who it is?

Finally, the line that demands to work it's way into the first issue: "I'm the god damn Creeper."

This is a book I'd love to write. Love to write.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Spider-Man: Divorcé

Sigh. I suppose the arguement could be made that a Spider-Man who's single and has trouble with girls, maybe one who's still in high school, is more relatable for a younger audience. I'd agree with that. Spidey's always been the guy who's a great hero but crap at managing his personal life. Pretty much from the start it's defined who he is. He's the wise-cracking (and smart) smart-ass who stops the Sandman and Electro from robbing banks, but during the day has to dodge bullies and Aunt May's wheatcakes.

Marvel still publishes Ultimate Spider-Man and Marvel Adventures Spider-Man, don't they? And they're widely available in places like Target where kids can get to them?

I know, I know. With great power... Uncle Ben... Gwen Stacey...

These things are also a major part of the Spider-Man mythos. Hell, if you're reading this then you've read the banner at the top of the page. Spider-Man's guilt may motivate him, but it doesn't consume him. If it did then Peter Parker couldn't ever be the wise cracking Spidey we fell in love with during The Electric Company or Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, or while he was tooling around in Gerry Conway's spider-mobile. He'd be Batman.

I'm not convinced that the storytelling options with a widowed or divorced Spider-Man are greater than a happily married Spidey. Could any of the other MacGuffins that Marvel Editorial might employ, like mind-wiping Mary Jane or imprisoning her in the Negative Zone or having her whisked away to Red Raven's hidden island to raise their baby, be more palatable? Somehow I doubt it.

"Hey, where's Mary Jane?"


"The hot redhead from the movies. You know. Weren't they married for 20 years?"

"Nope. I have no idea who you're talking about. This is a swinging, single Peter."

The readership isn't likely to forget and the storyline that removes her from continuity isn't likely to have any permanence.

Morbid, violent "616" Spider-Man, who dresses up in the clothes of the guy who tortured his wife, or ex-wife, with his toxic stingers and magic healing blood, he bears little resemblance to the fun loving and fun super-hero I remember as a child.

But, you're about to say, comics weren't as innocent as your faulty memory thinks they were. I'll agree. They dealt with mature subject matter, like death and suicide and Emma Frost's corsets.* "Kraven's Last Hunt" played out over six issues across three titles, published over just a couple of months. It didn't take 5 years to play out and, while it was a grim story, the villain acted like a villain and the hero was heroic, coping with the challenges thrown at him.

Uh oh, I'm starting to rant here. Time to steer back towards the point. I'm highly suspect of the direction Spider-Man's being taken.

I read stories about Batman when I want to read about a grim avenger, driven by loss. I read stories about Spider-Man when I want to read about a man that perseveres against all of the crap that life and circumstance and Dr. Doom can throw at him, and he does it with a smile, because he's got the love of his aunt and his wife to keep him going.

Granted, I dropped Amazing not long after the "Sins Past" story, but if I only had "One More Day" at this point I'm pretty sure I wouldn't spend it reading Spider-Man comics.

Iron Man's a villain.

Captain America's dead and buried.

Spider-Man's wearing a serial killer's "skin" and his marriage is weeks from falling apart.

Unrelated, but I'm also hesitant to spend $2.99 on a DC comic that might not even be in continuity in six months.

If I love comics, then why does my pull list keep getting shorter?**


Oh, shit. The final panel of "One More Day" is a green skinned MJ holding her jacket in Peter's front door, proclaiming "Face it, Tiger. I'm a Skrull." isn't it?


*The White Queen's and Black Queen's fashion choices did nothing to influence my taste in women. Nope. Nothing at all.

**but I'm also enjoying the hell out of titles like Astonishing X-Men, Immortal Iron Fist, Daredevil and Agents of Atlas.

Friday, August 3, 2007

De-luxe Power Girl


"Feel the Power! POWER GIRL is the newest female addition to DC Direct's line of realistically proportioned, super-heroic 1:6 scale figures! This deluxe collector figure comes clothed in an authentically detailed fabric costume and includes a display stand. Packaged in a deluxe 4-color window box with a fifth panel."

You know, I really have nothing to add. The description for DC's realistically proportioned Power Girl says it all, and sincerely. Although her eyes do kinda creep me out.

I wonder what Ragnell thinks.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Unpublished Comics Cavalcade

After a few sputtering starts and stops, I'm back hard at work on Prof. Simian and the Irregulars, taking breaks only for drinking, gambling and researching which show I should prep a second spec script of, in case of the million-to-one shot that the Disney/ABC people come calling. Thanks, by the way, to the estimable Jane Espenson and her lunch-a-riffic blog for the warning.

It'd be a lot easier to write without the imposition of the day job. Actually, maybe not easier. But I'd rather have 10 hours a day to write than only 2-3.

If you don't want the outline for the first twelve issues of a comic book that might never get published spoiled for you, don't highlight the text below.

1) Introduction. In the can.
2) Jungle fight. Xenon vs Irregulars
3) Venus flashbacks, Prof Saimiri on campus
4) The terraformed jungle is contained thanks to comic book science. Just when they think they've won, enter Xenon Sunday's army of Labori.
5) LA gets overrun by an army of malevolent organic Venusian robots.
6) The big showdown, monkey brain power vs. Venusian world conqueror guile.
7) One-off, "Batgirl Becky" spotlight issue, Batman TV villain, ends with the "bananas and engine grease" line.
8) Becky tangles with Laika. Prof Saimiri: "Where have you been for 50 years?" Laika: (growls) "Planning."
9) Laika origin issue. Soviet Russia in the 60s.
10) The Irregulars race around the city, two steps behind the evil communist canine.
11) Reveal Laika's agents, a Legion of Doom's worth of Keane-verse supervillains.
12) Twenty-three pages of face punching and face kicking. One page of lemonade drinking.

There's lots of really fun crazy brewing and I'm really happy with the direction of the series so far.

Should I start posting excerpts or just hang onto it until I can find a penciller? Readership of Three, you decide!