1 – Night time. A straight shot of the Capitol Building (from the side of the Mall for those familiar with D.C.). It is a foggy night. I imagine a very loose, expressionistic art style here. Dark and moody, if possible, but the building and place should still be recognizable.
Friday, September 30, 2011
1 – Night time. A straight shot of the Capitol Building (from the side of the Mall for those familiar with D.C.). It is a foggy night. I imagine a very loose, expressionistic art style here. Dark and moody, if possible, but the building and place should still be recognizable.
Caption-Henry: For years, I worked to protect our lives, our world, from the madness of Cthulhu.Caption-Henry: Little did I know there were such worse monsters available.Caption-Henry: Cthulhu had won the right to be our tormentors. The lease was now expired…they all have a chance to be up next.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
A public park. In the play area children are swinging, sliding, hanging from climbing frames, messing around on the roundabout and seesaw. A group of bored parents stand watching. One woman stands with a pram: the baby inside is squalling. Two dads are talking about last night’s game. A mother is smoking a cigarette, lost in her depression. Another woman is talking to a friend on her phone.
Dad 1: Defense was all over the place last night.
Phone woman: So I told him, if I catch him doing anything like that again, I’ll take him for everything he has.
Baby (unseen, from pram): Waaaaahhh!
Two boys (7 / 8 year olds) have pushed a fat kid off the roundabout. The kid is snivelling on the ground, nursing a bruised knee. The bullies are laughing at him. In the background, the woman rocks her pram to try and calm her crying baby.
Boy 1: Goes much faster without you slowing it down, lardybutt!
Boy 2: Ha ha, lardybutt, lardybutt, ha!
Fat Kid (small letters in bigger balloon): I’ll get you, Garrett. One of these days…
The sports talk has turned to an argument – the two dads are pushing and brawling with each other now. The woman with the baby frowns at them – this isn’t helping keep her little one quiet.
Dad 1: O’Neill’s got to go.
Dad 2: Whu--!? O’Neill’s the best player on the whole team!
Dad 1: Get out of here! Are you for real?
The phone woman gets another call. She holds out her phone to see who’s calling, while still talking to her friend who’s on the line. Behind her, the depressed mum presses her cigarette butt into her arm. The baby continues to cry in the background.
Phone woman: Oh – hang on, Tru, I’m getting another call. Ohh – it’s Anthony! You remember, Friday night?
Phone woman: Gotta take this, Tru – a woman has her needs, after all.
Baby (off-panel?): Waaaaaaahhh!
Main panel. The mum with the pram has had enough of all this commotion. She pushes the pram away, towards us. Behind her, the kids continue to bully (tormenting a little girl on the swings), the dads continue to argue, phone woman starts flirting, depressed woman starts to cry.
Although we’re looking straight into the pram, in the foreground of the image, we still can’t see the baby. All we can see inside the pram is darkness.
Dad 2: Like you know anything--!
Little girl: Get off! Leave me alone!
Phone woman: Hey, big boy – missing me already?
Mum: Hush now, Cthulhu, they’re not ready yet. Soon, though. Very soon.
Monday, September 26, 2011
I haven’t written a splash before, and this seemed the perfect opportunity to try.
1. Full Page Splash
The bottom third of the page shows the backs of people. They are drawn small, as we are seeing this panel from quite far away. The mass of people are gathered on a wide cliff face, looking out across the sea to the horizon.
Three quarters of the page are taken up by two monstrous beings. One is Cthulhu, the Water elemental. It is grappling with the Air elemental Hastur the Unspeakable, who is floating above the ocean floor.
The two are battling a great distance away, which gives you an idea of how big these two beings are. They are locked into their final battle. It is an awe inspiring site. We are but spectators between this epic battle.
“...the Old or Ancient Ones, the Elder Gods, of cosmic good, and those of cosmic evil...
...for there are the Water Beings, hidden in the depths; those of Air that are the primal lurkers beyond time; those of Earth, horrible animate survivors of distant eons.” - August Derleth. The Return Of Hastur, 1937.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
PAGE ONE (three panels)
PANEL ONE, HALF-PAGE SPLASH
A man stands on the edge of a lookout. Before him lies the ruin of a large city. Most of the city is rubble and the buildings that are still standing have large sections missing. A giant bipedal creature, the size of the tallest visible skyscraper, is ambling between them. It is green, bat-winged, and has a face full of tentacles--Cthulhu.
CAPTION: This is what has become of the world--reduced to nothing more than RUBBLE and DUST.
CAPTION: It has been this way now for over a year…
CAPTION: Ever since that ABOMINATION and its ARMY revealed themselves from beneath the waves to wage war on humanity.
As of the man’s POV, we see a close-up of Cthulhu carelessly brushing past a building, its wall collapsing.
CAPTION: I call it a WAR…
CAPTION: However--truth be said--it was more like a MASSACRE.
CAPTION: For the most part, the attack was unexpected, unprovoked, and particularly brutal.
Close on the man’s face, looking saddened.
CAPTION: There were some who were forewarned of this APOCALYPSE, however--
CAPTION: --A select few who were SENSITIVE ENOUGH to hear the creature’s calls through their DREAMS.
CAPTION: I probably wouldn’t have believed it possible...
CAPTION: … if I hadn’t been one of them.
There once was a little-known pulp-writer who went by the title of H.P. Lovecraft. Now Mr. Lovecraft had a penchant for naming the “gods” of his tales with very unusual names. There was Nyarlathotep, Azathoth, Yog-Sothoth, and Shub-Niggurath. However, there was one in particular that transcended the rest to become a staple of pop-culture. This character has seen spin-off stories, films, video games, RPGs, plushies, two albums of carol parodies (I kid you not), a plethora of fan-art, and of course, comics.
Who is this popular fellow? Why Cthulhu of course.
What’s that you say? You’ve been living under a rock for the last 83 years? In that case, I should give you a brief run-down on who he is:
Like all of Lovecraft’s “gods”, Cthulhu is actually an alien. He is green, gelatinous, has bat-like wings, and looks like a fat man with a face full of tentacles. He is also dead, but not really. He’s kind of just been sleeping… for a really long time. To clear things up, here’s a small quote from the Necronomicon:
Make more sense now? It is also said that ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn. No, I didn’t just have a stroke, that’s alien-speak for, “In his house at R'lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.” You should probably be thankful of this, as it has been prophesised that when he awakens--when the stars are right--the whole world will plunge into madness and insanity… sweet, sweet insanity! Mwahahahaha!!!!
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Friday, September 23, 2011
PANEL ONE, WIDE
Close up on the lower half of a pretty woman’s face. She is talking into a cellphone.
WOMAN: Hey, it’s, umm…
WOMAN: It’s me.
PANEL TWO, WIDE
From behind, we see that the woman--a blonde--is sitting on a sofa in a large living room. Over her shoulder, a large-screen TV displays a News Anchor. In the upper corner of the screen is an image of Spider-Man with the label “Spider-Island” clearly visible. In the lower corner of the screen it says "Mute".
WOMAN: Have you heard about Manhattan?
WOMAN: They’re calling it “Spider-Island”.
WOMAN: They could probably use your help.
WOMAN: If you do come up, I’d…
Close on a white-gloved hand holding a cellphone. Upon its screen reads “Voicemail” and below that, it says “Speaker: On”.
PHONE/WOMAN: I’d like to see you.
Marc Spector is crouched upon a rooftop. He is wearing his Moon Knight gear, but has the hood pulled back so we can see his face. He is holding a cellphone in his hand. He looks sad, almost teary.
PHONE/WOMAN: I miss you, Marc.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Extreme close-up on Norman Osborn’s mad eye. Not that he only has one mad eye, both his eyes are quite mad, obviously. We’re only focused on one in this panel though.
NORMAN: Miles Warren was always a poseur.
Pull out to a head & shoulders shot of Norman, power-suited and grinning sinisterly. Behind him we see Gwen Stacy in flashback: smiling, laughing, wearing some ridiculously kitsch 60s Romita outfit.
NORMAN: A petty, vain, inadequate little man of limited intellect… he always envied what I had.
Pull out further to show more of Norman’s surroundings. He’s standing on a penthouse balcony high above Manhattan, looking out across a town that’s crawling with Spider-People. It’s a hazy day: New York smog.
NORMAN: The difference was, I actually had it… he had to make do with crude, synthetic copies.
Even wider shot, showing more of the Spider-People swinging, wall-crawling, fighting, doing whatever a spider can. Norman continues to watch from his balcony in the distance.
NORMAN: But lack of genius is not Miles Warren’s greatest crime… that is lack of vision.
Go back in towards Norman slightly but keep the shot wide. In the distance behind Norman’s penthouse, shapes begin to form in the haze. Lots of them. Approaching.
NORMAN: This town should never… could never… will never be a Spider-Island.
The shapes take form as they approach Norman’s building like an army coming towards their general – hundreds of everyday New Yorkers riding Goblin Gliders, wearing Goblin masks.
NORMAN: I think ‘Goblin Island’ has a much better ring to it… don’t you?
Monday, September 19, 2011
Caption: All my life I had everything.Caption: Everything.
Caption: Envy of everyone. Fast cars. Flashy games. Rare food.Caption: Turn down service daily.
Caption: All that stuff won’t buy me wall crawling powers. Or crazy web hands.
Caption: Or this Spider-Sense I keep hearing about.
Sunday, September 18, 2011
1. Philip Porter (new character), an overweight middle aged New Yorker is swinging just above the streets of New York City. Like many of his fellow citizens, Philip has awoken with powers similar to The Amazing Spider-Man. His face shows a mix of exhilaration and joy, as organic webbing shoots from his wrist as he swings through the city.
2. A close up of Philip’s face, showing the joy he is feeling.
3. A wide panel showing Philip’s silhouette, surrounded by yellow electricity that has hit him from seemingly nowhere.
4. A close up of Philip’s face as he lies on the ground. He is alive, but in pain. A single foot is on the side of his head, pinning it to the road.
5. This panel shows the identity of the man who is standing on Philip’s head. He is also the person responsible for shooting Philip down. It is Norman Osborn, a look of disgust on his face. In the background we can see other New Yorker’s swinging around. A sickening KRACK sound effect is seen in the background as Norman squishes Philip’s head with his foot off panel.
Really? I have to spell this one out for you?
You have never wanted Spider-Man’s powers? You have never mimed getting up out of a chair by shooting a web from your wrist and pulling yourself up by it?
Or is that just me?
So, Spider-Island! What’s it all about? Put simply, the Jackal (yeah, that clone saga guy) has returned to the land of the living and has promptly released bio-engineered bugs which when bite people, give them the powers of our favourite friendly neighbourhood Webslinger.
Spider-Island gives both our tenured writers and you at home a huge range of options and possibilities. One could focus on Peter’s thoughts on living in a city full of similarly powered civilians, or on one of those civilians themselves. You could look at how the other heroes feel about having to battle usually common placed thugs who now have the proportionate strength of a spider, or how Mayor Jameson will put a positive spin on the situation. See what I did there?
Whichever way you go, just remember – they are teasing a Ben Reilly return..
P.S Dan Slott is one of the best Spidey writers in modern history. Read his stuff. Now. No, NOW!
Saturday, September 17, 2011
AZTEK has just discovered that LEX LUTHOR is the primary means of funding behind the Q Society, isn’t too happy about it, and decides to go visit LEX himself.
PANEL 1: LEX LUTHOR is standing near a waiting Limo, and he looks particularly annoyed. UNO, AZTEK’s alter-ego, is currently standing between LEX and his limo. LEX’s aids, including the chauffeur and a bodyguard, stand nearby with their weapons drawn but not pointed at UNO, as LEX is waving for them to stand down.
LEX: Can we make this quick please, Uno? I’m a very busy man.
UNO: You know who I am?
LEX: Of course I do. But if you’re here, you already know that, don’t you?
PANEL 2: UNO stands face to face with LEX LUTHOR. LEX is completely calm and has his arms crossed in front of him.
LEX: So what’s so urgent that you had to come all the way down here without your magnificent costume or even so much as the courtesy to call ahead?
PANEL 3: UNO is pointing at LEX. LEX looks down at UNO’s finger rather than looking back at UNO, as his body language says he’s heavily disappointed in what he interprets to be UNO’s ‘childish’ behavior.
UNO: I want to know what your motivation is.
LEX: For what?
UNO: For funding the Q Society and making me who I am.
PANEL 4: LEX gently moves UNO’s finger to the side. He uses his free hand to lightly ‘dust off’ the portion of his suit that UNO was pointing at.
LEX (1): My “motivation”, as you put it, is to save the world.
LEX (2): In case you weren’t aware, we are on the same team.
PANEL 5: LEX begins to circle around UNO as he tried to get to his LIMO.
UNO: Forgive me if I don’t believe you.
LEX (1): That’s your problem, Uno.
LEX (2): Question my methods if you like, but please don’t insult me by questioning my motives.
Friday, September 16, 2011
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
1. A little kid holds a newspaper in his hands. He is standing on a busy city street and we are reading over his shoulder.
Headline: Blood Eclipse To Drown City
Image: artists rendition of this red eclipse, make it look like Berni Wrightson drew it
We can’t make out the rest of the words.
2. People look up into the sky, at us, their faces beginning to show surprise, fear, anger, etc.
3. The same panel as before but this time there’s a red shadow creeping up on them.
4. The same panel again but the red has almost overtaken them.
5. The kid is scrunching the newspaper in his hands, the red is right below his eyes.
Kid: C’mon, Dad…
Monday, September 12, 2011
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Ra’s Al Ghul, still in shadow, identity still obscured, points at Aztek.
RA’S AL GHUL
On Aztek. His mouth is a hard line. He is a warrior. Determined and focused. Ready to face his destiny.
Aztek takes off, flying up and away from Ra’s.
I remember Aztek dying.
Writer - Grant McLaughlin
Artist - TBD
The High Concept
April O'Day manages O'Day and Simeon Private Investigations with her partner, and part-time comic book artist, Sam Simeon (who is also a gorilla). Like the original series, this book would aim to be irreverently entertaining, presenting ridiculous obstacles for our titular heroes to best each and every month. Although there would be overarching stories, each issue would attempt to present a complete tale, so that readers wouldn't have to read every single thing ever published to keep up (although they would be welcome - and encouraged - to do so). There aren't enough humour books anymore. Angel and the Ape would attempt to fill in that gap, while providing some enjoyable adventures for the reader to follow. You could almost think of this book as being similar to the Batman: The Brave and the Bold series, in that there would often be guest appearances by other DC characters and usually a "case of the week" type scenario mixed in with the overriding concern.
ANGEL O'DAY - The driving force behind the O'Day and Simeon Detective Agency, Angel is a young, motivated 20-something who intends to make her mark on the world. She is bright, energetic, witty, and able to get out of tight spots with surprising regularity (perhaps one of her most useful traits).
SAM SIMEON - The other half of O'Day and Simeon Detective Agency, Sam is a gorilla. He is also a rising comic book artist, working for Stan Bragg, a neurotic editor at BC Comics. Sam acts and dresses like a human, but he is definitely still a gorilla with all the characteristics that that entails. He doesn't speak, although Angel seems to understand him nonetheless. Other characters try to do the same, but few succeed. There is the potential to make some good use of thought balloons here - not necessarily with speech, but perhaps images to illustrate some of his basic thoughts and imaginings.
STAN BRAGG - Editor at BC Comics, he often appears through emails, phone calls, or text messages berating Sam for being late or doing shoddy work (even though he is always on time and only delivers the best). He also has a habit of laying elaborate traps for Sam when he visits the BC Comics offices.
The book would open with O'Day and Simeon Private Investigations not doing too great. Jobs are coming in less and less often, and Angel and Sam are having trouble closing what few cases they have on the go. Things just don't seem to be clicking the way they once did. The two are getting a little burnt out. It also doesn't help that Sam has recently been hired by Stan Bragg to be the artist on one of the flagship titles of BC Comics latest reboot, a task that is taking up more and more of his time. Seeing that things aren't going well, Angel convinces Sam that they should take their show on the road, travelling through the country to meet and learn from other successful private investigators / detectives. As their travels continue, they realize that their recent streak of bad luck is the result of someone or something actively working to thwart the two, a larger mystery that they must obviously solve before it's too late!
There would also be a minor B-Story, following Sam's continuing work on the BC Comics reboot, played out mostly through Stan Bragg's incessant (and often furious) communications with Sam. This would be pretty irreverent and lighthearted, poking fun at comics and the industry, although as the series progresses, it might be more relevant to the troubles facing our intrepid heroes than initially thought.
The first issue would establish the status quo, showing the recent difficulties facing Angel and Simeon Private Investigations, their sudden inability to solve any of the cases they're working, and Sam's new gig at BC Comics. Although she's been thinking on the idea for a while, after a particularly disappointing failure by the team, Angel convinces Sam that they should get away for a bit. Sam is excited at the prospect of having some time to relax and work on his comic book work. He realizes too late that Angel's ulterior motive is to hep them get their groove back by travelling from city to city meeting with other PIs.
From there, the two could travel the country, meeting with different investigators and increasingly difficult challenges in each issue. They would start with Slam Bradley, getting some time to visit New York, learn some tips, and fight off the Royal Flush Gang. The Question wouldn't be quite so cooperative, forcing the two to stretch their minds a bit to understand the knowledge he tries to impart. Ironically, the two are too busy fighting off the Masters of Disaster while visiting the Elongated Man to benefit from the same type of intellectual stimulation. Their visit with Jon Jones would be illuminating for a number of reasons, including his uncanny ability to understand Sam and the secret identity that he has (revealed at a key moment in the wacky adventure they'd have with him). Detective Chimp would particularly sympathetic to their plight, developing a strong kinship with Sam after some initial friction between the two. Finally, the two would travel to Gotham to see the greatest detective of all. However, their attempts would be hampered by the Riddler trying to offer some unwanted help and Batman wanting them to prove themselves (this could be divided into two issues).
Realizing a key piece of the puzzle to the increasingly difficult and dangerous challenges that seem to be following them, Angel and Sam return home to confront the forces that have been plaguing them! Once (if?!) they survive, this initial story arc would draw to a close, leaving Angel and Sam back on top and ready to face whatever wackiness might face them in Union City with their new found ally!
Friday, September 9, 2011
The Concept: OFFICIALLY, Superman is the worlds first superhero.
OFFICIALLY, NATO did NOT have a top-secret intelligence division known as CHECKMATE, which was NEVER responsible for employing the aid of superhumans in order to help keep the world safe.
OFFICIALLY, the organization known as the JUSTICE SOCIETY was never anything more than a work of fiction created to sell comic books.
In truth, during the Cold War the Justice Society and it’s members were responsible from protecting the world on countless occasions from threats that ranged in origin from supernatural, superhuman, extraterrestrial, and more, all without the world ever knowing what really happened – a truth that is about to become Declassified.
The Principal Characters:
*JAY GARRICK, The Flash. A chemist and physicist from Keystone City. One of the three founding members of the Justice Society.
*ALAN SCOTT, AKA Green Lantern. An engineer from the West Coast. One of the three founding members of the Justice Society.
*CORPORAL TED GRANT, AKA Wildcat. A veteran of World War II turned prize fighter. One of the three founding members of the Justice Society.
*WESLEY DODDS, AKA Sandman. A brilliant PI from New York who’s already a veteran of covert superheroics thanks to his powers. Starting to feel his age. One of four expansion members of the Justice Society after initially aiding them while unaffiliated.
*NUBIA OF THEMYSCIRA, AKA Wonder Woman. Claims to be on a personal mission from ‘Queen Hippolyta’ to stop ‘Mans World’ from destroying the planet with its petty squabbles. No one really believes her story, even if she is an invaluable addition to the team. One of four early expansion members of the Justice Society.
*DINAH DRAKE, AKA Black Canary. Grandmother of Dinah Lance, the second Black Canary who operates in the modern era. A young heroine who is discovered by Checkmate and brought into the Justice Society so she can be trained and kept out of the public eye.
*AUGUSTUS HOMER, AKA The Heroic Hawk-Man. No relation to Carter Hall, the modern Hawkman. Like Dinah, he’s a young, inexperience hero that the Justice Society take under their wing in order to train him and keep him out of the public eye.
*SEAN THOMPSON, Agent of Checkmate. Agent Thompson is the liaison between the Justice Society and NATO’s top secret Intelligence organization, Checkmate.
The world is entering the 1950s, and the Cold War is kicking into high gear. Chairman Mao has won the Chinese Civil War. Nuclear Weapons have spread beyond US boarders. Rarely has the future been less clear. And these are not the only dangers the world faces, as plenty of Cold War opportunities are waiting to be exploited by supervillains.
Recognizing there are situations beyond their own capabilities, a top secret branch of NATO known as Checkmate recruits a small team of superheros to form a covert Society, one that can help prevent the outbreak of World War III and put a stop to any maniacal madmen looking to use the Cold War to further their own ends.
(The following describes the initial setup and opening story-arc of the series)
As the Series opens, it is the last days of 1949, a new decade is just around the corner. Jay Garrick, Alan Scott, and Ted Grant, are already established as heroes. However, they are not widely known to exist by the public and are mostly considered to be urban legends. Wesley Dodds, the Sandman, is also an established hero by this point and has been operating as such since the 1920s, but due to his MO, few have ever even heard of him.
Meanwhile, while NATO and Checkmate have been established, they have yet to fully organize and fill the roles they are intended for. Despite this, Checkmate is successful in using its early intelligence leads to connect a number of dots leading towards an organization known as the League of Assassins and a plot that that threatens the world. This link is only confirmed when the League attempts to wipe out Checkmate before it can make use of this information and anyone who might be aware of the plot.
While Checkmate survives, it is wounded and needs time to get back on its feet. At the same time, it is unable to ignore what it knows. It assigns rookie Agent Sean Thompson to follow leads on supposed individuals with supernatural powers and recruit their help. Using these leads, Sean finds and recruits Garrick, Scott, and Grant to help Checkmate stop the League of Assassins’s plot. With a little unexpected help on the part of Sandman, the three both succeed in stopping the plot and uncovering a group within the League led by Vandal Savage to splinter off.
While successful, the three heroes recognize that the League and Vandal are still at large, and that there are plenty other threats out in the world that they may be needed for. While they aren’t interested in joining Checkmate directly, they do agree to form their own team, the Justice Society, and agree to aid Checkmate in helping to keep the world safe. Checkmate isn’t entirely pleased by this arrangement, but prefer it to not having the Societies aid at all, and assign Agent Thompson as liaison between Checkmate and the Society.
(So that there's no misunderstanding, this is in Grant's place because he contacted me via email asking if I'd like to switch places with him since he felt like he needed a little extra time to get his put together, and I was all to happy to help him out.)
Thursday, September 8, 2011
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Writer: Ryan K Lindsay
Editor: Karen Berger
The High Concept
The zaniest villains of the DCU are on a road trip. It’s nasty, perverse, amusing, and the landscape will never be the same. Can one undercover villain finally doing good put a halt to their trail of death and decay?
The Phantom Stranger
The creepiest villains of the DCU embark on a cross country trip of debauchery and murder in what they think is a crusade to find Darkseid. The Scarecrow has promised this group a new age of villainy but he’s being led astray by Gorilla Grodd who is taking advantage of Scarecrow’s psychological cracks. As the road trip cuts a swathe of voyeuristic wickedness across the country, one villain works against the group. Doctor Phosphorous has reformed and he’s killing members of the group while reporting to a hero who holds no moral code.
The group dynamics should be strange. These people are basically carnival freaks who are suddenly lumped together and driving across the country for some decadent fun (at least in their eyes). The car rides are strange, the pitstops even stranger. There is every possibility for these characters to be sitting outside the world’s largest piano eating burgers and talking about who is a member of the best rogue’s gallery while the ground around them is littered with dead tourists.
Being a road trip also means we can have seasonal heroes step into the tale for just a little bit. The gang can do their best to avoid the Swamp Thing or try to kick Blue Beetle’s ass.
It is early on we see Doctor Phosphorous conversing with someone outside the group in a clandestine manner. It will be slowly revealed that the good Doctor has reformed and is working against the group, from the inside. He’ll eventually start killing the other villains one by one, but does that really make him any better than them? All good heroes have a moral code and the Doctor is so new at this game that he’s still far too harsh.
But who is it he’s talking to? Why, it’s none other than [CLASSIFIED].
This road trip is a glorious exploration of villainy across America. People will line up to join the crew, or be the first in their town decapitated, or try to take these suckers down. Everyone loves a parade but what happens when the whole world becomes Dallas on that fateful November afternoon? The DCnU will never be the same and a new hero will emerge; or will he be taken down after he’s served his purpose?
Monday, September 5, 2011
Maxy Barnard, writer
Gianluca Guggliotta, artist
The high concept: Corporate espionage/sabotage on a new scale for a new DCU. Supported by a mysterious benefactor, Curt Metcalf is a prodigal inventor turned loose from his former, morally bankrupt employer, Edwin Alva Sr.. Unemployed, angry, capable, willing and funded, Metcalf is ready take on the seemingly endless web of corruption in front of him, as the technical monstrosity known only as HARDWARE!
CURTIS "Curt" METCALF: Hardware. A calm, hard-working prodigy with a seething alter ego bubbling underneath, fresh from forcefully leaving his employment at Alva Technologies with...
EDWIN ALVA Sr.: Sinister and calculating head of Alva Technologies, using the inventions of his employees for war profiteering and black market deals, all in the name of funding his attempts to literally immortalise himself.
REPRISE: Hitman with the power to gain "extra lives" from murdering others, hired by Alva to kill Curtis and protect Alva Technologies' secrets.
Lt. MARISA RAHM: Pre-op transsexual policewoman, independantly investigating Hardware due to his interaction with and possible connection to...
LEX LUTHOR: One of the possible benefactors of Curtis, and a person interested in procuring the company secrets stored away in Curtis' head, doing so by hiring...
MINDFLOW: The cerebral assassin (but not that one). A murderous close-range telepath, who kills by stripping every thought and brain function from his opponent into his own mind, or availability willing, one of the brains he keeps in a selection of jars.
BRUCE WAYNE: Another possible benefactor, the only disincentive being that he appears to have no motivation for funding Hardware. Could he have some secret angle to the situation?
TED KORD: Rumoured to have died as the vigilante 'The Blue Beetle' some time back, but in Curtis tracing his funds back to the source, his name continuously crops up.
THE SHADOW TRAVELERS: Anomalous humanoid shapes sent by Alva to steal information and items from rival companies. Their true nature is unknown, but they seem to have capabilities similar to that of an invention of Curtis' back from when he worked for Alva Technologies
BARRAKI YOUNG: Curtis' girlfriend, going through a whirlwind of conflicting emotions as she tries to deal with his increasing anger, his unemployment, followed by his sudden disappearances and mysterious earnings.
Curtis Metcalf discovers that his inventions for Alva Technologies are being misused by their sociopathic CEO, Edwin Alva Sr. Curtis leaves the company, voiding his contract and blacklisting him from ever working in the technology field again. Scorned and enraged by the corrupt use of his inventions, Curtis accepts a mysterious opportunity to receive funding to be used EXCLUSIVELY for taking on Alva Sr.'s corrupt web of corporations and subsidaries as the technological marvel HARDWARE.
A B-story running alongside this is that of Lt. Marisa Rahm, who, whilst officially hunting a killer who appears to be in the employ of Lex Luthor, is also independantly investigating Hardware, who may have some connection to Luthor himself.
This is an entirely fresh Hardware, reinvented, retooled and slightly retold for this initial outing, to make him more a part of the DCU, in the way only a tool of corporate sabotage can be, connecting him to the businesses that are noteable back-matter of the DC Universe. LexCorp, Wayne Industries, the apparently defunct Kord Enterprises, maybe even S.T.A.R. Labs. And that's just the ones that AREN'T connected to the evil Alva Technologies.
This opening story is a fairly straightforward re-establishing of Hardware, split into three parts, taking up roughly 8 to 12 issues:
The story starts with Curtis Metcalf shifting from his enjoyable and productive work at Alva Technologies to discovering that his employer, Edwin Alva Sr., is the morally bankrupt head of a network of corrupt businesses, all selling their wares and inventions on the black market, and even directly to Kahndaq, a nation on the precipice of all-out war with America. Confronting his boss and almost caving to violence, Curtis leaves the company, voiding his contract and blacklisting him from any future work in technology development for the rest of his working life.
This leads to Curtis becoming sedentary and hateful, straining his relationship with his co-habiting girlfriend, Barraki, to near-breaking point. One night, when everything seems to be at rock bottom, Curtis is visited by a mysterious suited man, who offers him funding on the condition that it is used exclusively to take down Alva's network of companies, and nothing else. Fueled by a lust for revenge, Curtis accepts, developing a weapon like no other; a cybernetic suit equipped with new versions of inventions made over his career (such as the neural net) that he names HARDWARE, and immediately tests it by taking out the very bottom rung of Alva's corporations, beginning our story proper.
Time passes, and Hardware's increasingly drastic acts of terrorism and industrial sabotage finally prompt Alva sr. to employ Reprise, a seemingly immortal assassin to take him down. This leads to their first encounter, as Reprise comes to blows with Hardware in a warehouse of black market nanobombs, sacrificing a significant amount of his accumulated 'lives' to unleash one of the bombs at Hardware, dismantling his armour and revealing his true identity. So begins a race between Curtis and his assailant, where he has to rebuild his armour before Reprise can track him or his loved ones down. After getting another mysterious injection of cash at the last minute and a peculiarly stern message of encouragement, Hardware is rebuilt, in a much more sleek and manageable suit (a timely update of the classic design), and goes out to stop Reprise, who was mere seconds away from entering his home and slaughtering Barraki! Another fight follows, ending in Reprise realising he's down to his last life and escaping. A decision that doesn't end too well for him when Mindflow, an assassin in the employ of Lex Luthor, strips his last life away, along with his memories of who Hardware is.
Alongside this arc our B story begins, that of Marisa Rahm, a transgendered liutenant in the Dakota police force, investigating a series of mysterious murders, linked only by the name 'Mindflow', written in blood at one of the crime scenes. When her leads over two months (the same length of time Hardware has been operating, coincidentally enough) only get her as far as finding out that Mindflow is an assassin on some bigwig's payroll, Marisa is pulled from the case by a distinctly hateful and transphobic higher-up. Undeterred, she tries to continue the case under her own steam, ending with her having the misfortune of seeing both Hardware and Reprise's climactic showdown, and the subsequent assassination of Reprise by Mindflow. Tailing Mindflow in the aftermath, Marisa learns that his employer is none other than Lex Luthor, CEO of LexCorp.
Hardware becomes suspicious of his benefactor in the wake of the sudden extra funding and peculiar message left for him in the Reprise story, and for him to use some of the extra money to investigate just who it is that's employing him, and what their motivations are, leading him to suspect Wayne Industries (a lead he dismisses quickly upon meeting the billionaire playboy in charge of the company, who Curtis deems a 'foolish child wasting his father's company in the name of a wild life'), as well as the defunct Kord Enterprises, a company long-dead in the wake of the apparent death of Ted Kord. This is expanded to include LexCorp after Marisa Rahm tries to confront and arrest Hardware, suspecting him of being an accomplice of Mindflow, and subsequently Lex Luthor, a potential employer Curtis hadn't considered.
This in turn would lead to Marisa and Hardware to work together to confront Luthor, only for him to reveal his altogether different motivation of stripping Alva Technologies' secrets from Curtis' brain (Reprise having been killed as another person who may have known something damning towards that company). Before a proper confrontation can happen, Alva Sr.'s monstrous creations The Shadow Travelers break into the tech department of LexCorp, bringing the mega-arc to a head with Hardware and Mindflow attempting to fight them off, whilst Hardware simultaneously tries to stop Mindflow from killing him. Mindflow's dual purpose fails him when the last remaining Shadow Traveler enlarges into a monstrous black shape and slaughters him. Hardware makes a hasty retreat, finding a knocked-out Marisa, taken down by an absent Lex Luthor, and rescues her. The Dakota branch is destroyed by the giant Shadow Traveler, who appears to be obliterated himself in an explosion, and Hardware vows to continue his quest.
The story ends on a sadder note, however, as Curtis returns home to find that Barakki has left him, his angrier ways and constant absence having forced her to give up on him. With this sad note, however, Curtis finds that Marisa Rahm wants to join his crusade against corruption, and will help him solve the mystery of Kord Enterprises.
And that's the mega-arc opening story, as it were. From there there's the possibilities of more encounters with Alva's network or Lex Luthor, as well as approaching the Kord Enterprises issue and whether Ted Kord is alive and funding Hardware. Alongside that there's the bud of Kahndaq, and another possible mega-story of their war with America kicking off, leading to a team-up with multiple heroes, and a one-on-one confrontation with Black Adam.
[Goodness, that was long, wasn't it? I do apologise, seems the whole pitch process brings a talking monster out of me. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed it, I'm genuinely passionate about both Hardware and Marisa Rahm, so it's an absolute treat to have got the chance to sit down and think of what I would actually do given the chance to reboot them and bring an element of the dakotaverse into the DCU proper. And hey, I learnt some lessons about writing pitches, which is always nice. And who knows, maybe one day I'll get to do this... in my dreams]
Ben Rosenthal, writer
The high concept:
College can be rough. For many it is the first years away from home. For most it shapes them into the type of person that they will become. For Kate Kane and Renee Montoya, it’s life or death. As fledging masked heroes, can the two roommates find time to train, study and discover their true feelings for each other?
KATE KANE: 19 year old student at Gotham University. Kate is currently studying Criminology as a major with her roommate Renee Montoya. Kate is cynical and snide, suffering fools lightly. With a sharp wit she is quick to fend off anyone who she feels is becoming emotionally too close. That is, everyone but her roommate.
RENEE MONTOYA: A studious girl determined to one day become Chief of Police. Her strong beliefs of right and wrong are often questioned by her Criminology Professor Vic Sage. Spending more time with her books than with people, she is not the most popular of people. Lacking in self confidence she revels in the attention shown to her by both her Criminology Professor and roommate, Kate Kane.
CHARLES VICTOR SZASZ (VIC SAGE): The Criminology professor at Gotham University, and also the night time vigilante known as The Question. He takes an interest in Renee Montoya and begins to train her to be his replacement when he retires.
NATHAN WEBB: Deceased lover of Kate Kane. Nathan fell from a rooftop while he and Kate were ‘training’ together to become superheroes after witnessing the illusive ‘Batman’ one night. Kate left his body to be found, with the media labelling his death a suicide. He appears and speaks to Kate as her conscious, and more often than not her guilt.
COLONEL JACOB ‘JAKE’ KANE: Kate Kane’s estranged father. A very successful Colonel in the United States Armed Forced, Colonel Kane has never gotten over the death of his wife while giving birth to Kate. As such, he and Kate have never connected. He has just recently discovered that he has terminal cancer, and is currently trying to get to know his daughter before he passes. He has not told Kate of his condition.
Kate Kane and Renee Montoya are two early 20 college students studying Criminology at Gotham University. As roommates the two share study notes, but unbeknownst also share secret lives. Kate is currently training herself to become The Batwoman, after witnessing the mysterious Batman herself many years ago with her then rich boyfriend, Nathan Webb.
Renee Montoya is a bookish beauty, studying hard to realise her dream of one day becoming the Gotham Chief of Police. The Professor of Criminology, Vic Sage, takes an interest in his young pupil and begins private tutorage of Renee. However, these lessons are not filled with books. Vic reveals himself to Renee as being the masked vigilante known as The Question. He begins to train Renee to be his successor.
Meanwhile, Kate is saved from a brutal bashing by street thugs by a masked man known only as Agent-33. He informs Kate that he has been watching her, and is impressed with her progress. He also informs her that he is aware of how her ex-boyfriend Nathan Webb truly died – that he fell from a building top while he and Kate were ‘training’ themselves to become like Batman. He tells Kate of other costumed heroes which exist in not only Gotham, but throughout the world. Agent-33 offers to train Kate how to defend, attack and possibly kill people which she accepts. As their training progresses, and Kate becomes more skilled, Agent-33 gives her a costume – that of The Batwoman. Kate has become that which she has been training to become for years, a hero.
Throughout the trainings, the two roommates begin to grow closer. This surprises Kate as she does not become close to anyone. Nonetheless, the friendship between the two continues to grow.
Things become complicated when the two kiss one night while drinking at a party. Kate pulls away and runs to the rooftops, chased by the image of Nathan, which is the image she gives her conscious and guilt. After a talk with Nathan/consciousness, Kate returns to the party to seek out Renee. However, she has left.
Feeling embarrassed and rejected, Renee runs towards the room where her and Professor Sage train. On her arrival she hears two men arguing. Remaining unseen, Renee watches as her Professor’s alter-ego, The Question battles with another masked man. The Question is killed, with his murderer revealed to be Agent-33. Donning the costume of her mentor, Renee becomes The Question and follows the killer.
Meanwhile, Renee has donned her costume and has headed out to take her aggression on any thugs she may find. Instead she finds Ageant-33, who informs her that he has just witnessed a murder. He tells Kate that the killer is behind him, and killed the masked hero The Question in order to steal his identity.
Renee, dressed as The Question arrives on scene. Kate as Batwoman and Renee as The Question battle, each oblivious to who the other is, while Agent-33 watches. Eventually the two find out who the other person is, their fight ending in a passionate kiss. Agent-33 attacks, revealing that he works for the secret group of villains – The League of Assassins. He had been training Kate all this time to get her to join. After Renee falls from the edge of the rooftop on which they are fighting, Kate flies into a blind rage, beating Agent-33 to a pulp.
Fortunately, Renee’s training enables her to survive. The two decide what has to be done – Renee will dress as Agent-33 and infiltrate The League of Assassins while Kate pretends to have accepted the invitation to join. Together they will find out who the head of this criminal empire is, and bring them down.
This launches us into the second story arc, where Kate and Renee attempt to infiltrate the League, continue to attend Gotham University and enter into a relationship. Just to complicate things, Kate’s famous yet distant father returns to Gotham.