Save The Set-Up: Building Di In Three Pages

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Developing a character to expedite the story quickly to deliver the movement in a comic/cartoon/movie in regards to a superhero(ine) should involve directness and speed. For me, the five tenets of great comic fare are: action, drama, horror, comedy, and sexiness, with a hefty bonus for great art. The focus of this blog, obviously, is Wonder Woman. No secret if you’ve read other posts is my desire to see the original mythos of the Golden Age Era be given modern sensibilities, and return the uniqueness of the icon while getting away from the flaccidity of the Sword And Sorcery trope- i.e. “Red, White, And Blue Sonja”. A lot of creators over the years (starting with Wein, Perez, and Newell in the 1980s) relegated that material to being silly and regressive. Those of us in the know realize that belief is bassackwards. Here’s an imagining I have for using the 1940s trappings with the eye of the now, delivering a quick view inside her head without requiring an excessive amount of steps:

Two pages with a repitition- three horizontal bars, split in the middle. A set of youthful female eyes on the left with blue shading, a ‘la the cast of a video screen. On the right, a different image.

Panel One: the eyes are wide with curiosity/excitement at the image of a diverse college campus, complete with hipsters, jocks, sorority girls, etc.

Panel Two: eyes of wide horror as a political hostage blindfolded execution occurs.

Panel Three: eyes of fascination at a couture fashion runway show.

Panel Four: eyes squinting with laughter at a cartoon rabbit dressed in drag.

Panel Five: eyes veer to the side in blush-y embarrassment at the image of a chiseled Hollywood actor dressed as a Demi-God.

Panel Six: eyes filled with warlike rage at the image of a Street-Pimp grasping the wrist of a hooker, punching her in the face with the other hand.

Page Three: to the left stands Menillipe, Oracle of the Amazons, with her hands folded to the front, arms dropped, with long white robes and a soft smile. In the center, a glowing, floating sphere with images floating through it. To the right, Queen Hyppolyta in her green bejeweled halter, arm directing to the Magic Sphere, scar through her palm from the blood she spilled in the clay to form her child saying “Diana, Princess Of Paradise… Welcome to The WORLD”.

The stage is set, and the story is ready to move with the original settings back in play.

Pick A Princess!

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OK, so you have been picked as a headhunter for The Justice League. They have ONE slot to fill, and the current roster is: Superman, Batman, The Flash, Green Lantern, and Cyborg. You have TWO potential members to pick from in your queue. GO:

1) An anachronistic warrior, extremely skilled in the art of war (sorta like Batman, only better). Weapon of choice is a broadsword. Raised by a hidden, immortal, and ancient warrior culture, and left it due to wanderlust. Brash member of royalty (sort of like Aquaman), at times a bit arrogant. Unrepentantly kills enemies, if deemed necessary. Has first-hand knowledge of the Greek Pantheon. Very, very strong (but less than Superman).

2) Freedom-Fighter from an ancient and immortal culture more advanced in medicine, magic, science and technology, arts and humanities than any other on the planet due to an edict from their gods. Has an accessory that allows some level of telepathy, and to scan the happenings of the entire world. Controls an invisible flying vessel that can carry multiple passengers with total stealth, and can be morphed into virtually any vehicle imaginable, including offensive weaponry. Wears device that can translate and interpret any language. Main weapon can extract the truth from any enemy, as well as subdue them. Innately kind and humble, and capable of being perfect as a diplomat and confidante to anyone. Believes in total reform and always attempts to help, rehabilitate, or reform an enemy before reacting with battle. Once forced, a superhuman level of fighting skill, prowess, and strength are issued on the target. Works to change the world into utopia, and is constantly challenged as such.

If I were YOU, I’d not only pick #2 as a member, but I’d nominate them for leadership. Oh, before I forget- BOTH are intoxicatingly beautiful women, and a majority of the non-comic reading population knows the second one- sounds like the kind of character you might even make a MOVIE about.

Save The Wonder Origin! A Fix, and A Reversal…

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A lot of mixed feelings get offered on this topic. I grew up fairly hating the ‘clay’ aspect myself. Added to her perpetual hanging out the gods aspect, she always just seemed like a marionette to me in that regard. Also, I always thought (and still do, really) that the competition is kind of lame. There’s always a contrived mechanism for getting her into the event past her mother, and the fact that she has to lie, which is pretty anti-Di as far as I’m concerned. Plus, when you take it outside the medium you basically get a montage of Olympic events, which may sound cool but is actually pretty hum-drum in the grand scheme. The story needs to move and there’s so much to do- introduce the Amazons, get Steve to the Island, get her out of there, etc. A good WW book needs LOTS of action, in my opinion. Male and female audiences alike enjoy seeing a woman kick some ass. There should still be drama; it’s crucial in fact, but you can have it with sparse scenes that drive it home. I think if you invert what most run from, and what a lot of people seem to want to cling to, you can do the whole shebang in 5 pages or less, as far as the two big parts of the origin story are concerned.

THE BIRTH: One scene to get it going. Hipployta looks longingly out a window at her nation. In walks the Oracle, tells her the gods have a mission for her that will in turn ease her ennui. Next, not wearing her regalia, we see Polly in nothing but toga with a pack strapped to her back and a cloak so she can move past the citizenry unexposed. We see her on the beach, a fire built and her pack on the ground. She’s handling a wad of clay. Perspective shifts and we see her with a determined and severe look on her face, with dark clouds moving in behind her. She lifts up a dagger and slits her palm, blood pouring out, then wraps it quickly in a bandage, then her hands are back down to her work. As she continues on her task, she’s so single minded she doesn’t notice the fury around her. An owl flies manically in circles around her. An antelope runs back and forth between her and the beach. Whales are diving in arcs in the distance, and the heavens roar while the fire she built leaps several feet into the air. She falls back from the molded wad of clay, doused in sweat and in the midst of the outbreak of furious nature an intense bolt of lightning crashes down on the small formation. It sits upon a precipice in the center of a ridged dune several feet around it, with smoke wafting from it. The statue is a screaming baby, as the sun peeks through the clouds, the Queen lying on her back, bewildered and exhausted. From behind her, the nation of Themiscyra comes out of the woodwork, some smiling, some crying, and some in utter awe. They all know this is the biggest thing to happen to them. It heralds a change, and a direct commandment and action from the forces that guided them to their home.

AFTER TREVOR ARRIVES: The Oracle tells The Queen that an Amazon must take him home and leave the Island. The Queen suggests a competition to find the worthy. The Oracle looks at her and basically tells her “You already know who it’s meant to be. There can only be one who knows all of what we do, and was brought to this world to be bigger than the rest of us”. Hippolyta does know. The Gods giveth, the Gods taketh away, and she is crippled to stop it. Cut to Diana leaving the Island, Hippolyta watches, looks down at her right hand, sees the scar across the palm, holds it in her left hand and proceeds to wail- fade to black.

With this set-up, the story moves quickly, Diana gets a sense of big-time purpose, the drama of the mother-daughter split is amplified, the nature of Amazon faith gets brought to the front-and-center, and since some people like it, Zeus IS her father.

 

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Save The Tiny Titans! How about… The Particles??

Totally self-indulgent Comic-Nerd fantasy pitch here.

THE PARTICLES: The Atom, Nuklon, Bumblebee, and Microbe:

An experiment with a ‘Dwarf Star fragment’ gone wrong causes serious changes in a roomful of STAR Labs employees. As a result, they become an in-house exploration group for the parent company, and on their own they still manage to get into action/trouble. Sort of a FF for DC with a dash of Pym Particles:

Prof. Ray Palmer becomes The Atom, able to shrink to sub-atomic size with the ability to adapt to any of the environments in-between. He’s an incurable adventurer who is more comfortable being in the world under the Petri dish than looking into it.

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Prof. Ryan Choi is Microbe, able to shrink down to an inch in size, yet retain the strength of himself at full size. A keen scientific mind with a charming demeanor and a reluctant passenger on a constant strange voyage.

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Dr. Karen Beecher is the MIT grad newbie who gains the ability to also shrink down to an inch, but can also fly. A tech prodigy, she creates her own laser blasting stingers and becomes Bumblebee. She’s very in-charge personality wise and can be really, really bossy and hot-headed towards her team-mates.

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Al Rothstein is a custodian at STAR Labs, who becomes Nuklon. Unlike the others, he grows in size instead of shrinking. He also has an explosion-impact power that occurs when he hits, kicks, or punches. He dropped out of high school to support his mom and sibs, and sees the act of being a super-hero in a very prideful fashion. He hates not being able to join his fellows on their ‘tiny adventures’, but when left to his own devices he always manages to find something to get into. He’s street-wise and heavy on horse-sense and very much the heart-and-soul of the group.

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Lastly, there’s Sylbert Rundyne, a visiting Physics consultant who disappears as if atomized during the accident. He later turns up demented and psychotic and calling himself Dwarf-Star. He can now shrink or grow indefinitely and is bent on killing any and all other great scientists he can. He claims to have seen something on his ‘time away’ and believes he knows what needs to happen to the world if he can get all the obstacles out of his way.

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Save Priscilla Rich! My Full Cheetah Pitch…

 

 

ch2In the early 2000s, billionaire Hershell Rich, the appropriately named industrialist went on a safari in North Africa. On his journey, he came upon a cheetah twice it’s normal size and poached it. Unbeknownst to him, he had in fact killed the avatar of the tribe of Urzkartaga, who worshipped a primal Cheetah-God of the same name. Chuma, a dwarfed member of the tribe was designated to carry out the tribe’s revenge. Being a master of stealth and subterfuge, he infiltrated Rich’s camp and managed to stow himself un-noticed in their wares. He even made the journey overseas back to the states inside the cargo deck of the plane, and made it all the way to Rich’s estate, a sprawling compound on a large hill in Gateway City, where he would live for years un-noticed inside the leviathan property. In pocket doors, closets, and nooks he observed the Rich family and laid his plans. By means of poisoning using archaic jungle-derived plant extracts he killed Hershell’s wife through her coffee (cause of death was found to be anaphylaxis resulting from an unknown allergy), leaving behind Hershell and his young daughter, infamous wild-child icon Priscilla “Prissy” Rich. Entering her 20s, Prissy was known for wild partying, extravagant spending, ‘accidental’ sex video leaks, and rampant self-marketing via everything from reality tv to cosmetic lines.

Over the next couple of years, Chuma was stealthily manipulating the young Ms. Rich. Putting oils from the plant said to carry the very essence of Urzkartaga into her drinks and performing archaic rituals in her room, Priscilla’s already jealous and caustically elitist personality became more and more amplified accompanied with abrupt mood swings. Diagnosed Bi-Polar by the family psychiatrist, she was medicated for her raged mania to little avail, carrying the secret that she was hearing voices and seeing strange movements in the night.
Then came Wonder Woman. A new figure of obsession in Gateway City, a beautiful and compassionate woman with super powers who took the city by storm. Her largely emotionally unavailable father developed a fixation on this fantastic creature and was determined to find a way to captivate her through sudden over-the-top philanthropy endeavors and a high profile visible presence. Priscilla’s boosted jealousy reached a boiling point mixed with the bizarre goings-on of her mind. One night as she sat in front of her bedroom mirror, her own reflection began speaking to her, telling her to take charge and exact revenge on her unfair life. Upon instruction, Priscilla went to her father’s enormous trophy room and found the taxidermy head of the giant beast and placed it on her head. Instantly, the spirit of Urzkartaga filled her mind, body, and soul. Next from his vast weapons collection, she found two fists worth of silver rings with curved claw-hooks he’d bought on one of his retreats. That night, when Hershell returned from an event, a lithe body with the head of his prized kill moved at him with lightning speed and ripped him to shreds on one of the decks behind the home in a very disturbingly and thorough fashion, leaving the police to begin hunting for a vicious animal throughout the area.
After Mr. Rich’s estate settlement, Priscilla was called to a meeting at Rich International with chairwoman Helen Sekowsky to discuss terms of a buyout. Sitting across a long table from her, Priscilla leapt to her feet and onto the long table and scurried to the far end in a matter of about 5 seconds landing her face an inch away from the board’s leader with a terrifying feral gaze leaving a thinly veiled threat to her about her role as a publicly ‘silent partner’ to the company’s controlling body and the understanding that any attempt to undermine her would incur strong loss in her personal life extending onto her families. Ms. Sekowsky is now her underling, giving her access to world-wide resources from weapons to agricultural products.

ch1In Priscilla, Urzkartaga has found not only a powerfully connected body to share, but an avatar of power it had never known before. Any time someone buys a magazine with her face on the cover, downloads a video, or buys her fashions and make-up, Priscilla’s cult of personality works it’s way up to the Cheetah-God itself and increases it’s magic. This makes him even more empowered than Zeus himself at this stage of the game. Using her incredible speed, strength and weaponry in her first brutal attack on Wonder Woman, The Cheetah left the Amazing Amazon covered in deep wounds and breathless. The ancient siren-witch Circe decided to take her on for damaging her favorite ‘toy’ with a horde of her Beasteomorphs, who all threw themselves on their backs in total submission. The witch is now fairly terrified of her, and realizes she must help Diana any way she can in ridding the world of this creature.

The Cheetah can move at roughly 100 miles per hour, and her limbs travel in battle to a total blur. She is skilled with virtually any ancient weapon ranging from spears to blow-guns and swords. When she appears, animals in her presence go into a frenzy adding to the chaos. Her avatar mask can only be removed by Priscilla/Urzkartaga itself. Aside from her own abilities, she leans heavily on her servant Chuma to use his talents for stealth and espionage, as well as her lacky Ms. Sekowsky to do her global bidding. Whereas Diana is here to elevate society as the first step in bringing the Utopia of Themiscyra to it, Priscilla is her diametric opposite who seeks to raze society, destroy it’s trappings and sit at the throne in a world of jungle-law. Wonder Woman has no idea who the lady behind the mask is, as she is even impervious to the powerful magic lasso of truth. The Cheetah is clear in her intent of mass death and destruction, and Diana has realized her only option in the future is to stop her even if it means outright killing her.

Full face Cheetah image by Dennis Culver

Also, check out my ensemble blog-     http://comicnerds-with-big-ideas.tumblr.com/

SAVE GIGANTA AND… MOUSE-MAN???

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This is my concept for two Wonder Woman villains from the 1940’s. Neither ever got a proper update on their origins with all explanations intact, and I like the idea of them being a twosome.

In the backwoods of Eastern Kentucky, Doris “Dori” Zool and Michael “Mick” Mosely hit the road in a stolen car and head for the open road. The pair of drug addled and hard drinking 18 year olds immediately descend into a joy-killing spree and staying one step ahead of the law, even taking down a couple of cops in the process (which they enjoy immensely).

Making their way to New Mexico, the pair stumbles upon a small group of Native Americans who have built a makeshift separatist community, complete with a seemingly ancient Medicine Woman. Biding their time until night-fall, the two singlehandedly murder the entire group. Raiding their shanty-town, they discover a bevy of what appear to be dried mushrooms and strange powders in the old woman’s domicile. Not being the most safety conscious (or particularly educated) people, they decide to ingest and snort anything in sight.

When they awake the next morning, Dori finds herself nearly 40 feet tall and cannot find Mickey anywhere. Finally, she hears his voice very faintly and discovers he’s inside her ear and is roughly 12 inches tall. Convinced they are still tripping on their stolen merchandise for a while, they discover they can change to normal size at will. After a day, they realize this is not a drug-induced hallucination. In addition, when Dori grows to her tallest size, she becomes invulnerable. When Mick shrinks, he can throw a punch like a regular sized man’s impact and leap incredibly high.

Deciding this is the best thing ever, they make way to the nearest town, hit a department store and begin wreaking havoc. Dori decides that in giant size she reminds herself of a lady she saw on a late night horror show, and decides a tiger striped bikini/sarong combo with sandals would make her look great as a giant. Mick walks off with a pair of children’s mouse ears and some cool sunglasses to go with his new powers-set. They take the names Giganta and Mouse-Man and head up the coast to Gateway City, where a certain Amazon is getting ready to have her hands full…

 

Save a) Hawkman b) Marriage c) Angry Gays d) Good Storytelling! My Pitch.

hawkmanOK, I just had a really, really, really weird thought. I hate it when a character’s ethnicity, gender, and sexuality get re-conned. There’s the whole ‘love and marriage’ issue at DC now. Well, what if this happened- You know how Hawkman and his love Shayera always get resurrected and find each other? Well, what if Shayera came back as a GUY? Can you imagine? I would read this to see where it went. What if they both kept getting drawn together by circumstance, but were both straight? What if one of them was into it, but the other wasn’t? What if they were both tempted, but having to fight it? What if they DID fall head over heels? OK, discuss…

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