Saturday, January 12, 2019

Crisis Weekly, the twelfth

Crisis Weekly #12.

This is one of the moments I've been building toward, one of the ones I've been eagerly anticipating writing.  President Reilly, a.k.a. Firehawk, finally gets to command the spotlight, in the most dramatic fashion possible.  In a way, it's a reprise of her earlier battle against a legion of Man-Bats, but it's also the State of the Union address!  And it's her confronting, head-on, the challenges of the public's negative perception of superheroes, allowing herself to be viewed as the first time, as president, as a superhero.

I didn't invent the concept of Firehawk as a politician.  I first came across her in that regard in the pages of Firestorm.  Her secret origin is actually horrifying.  The daughter of a US senator, Lorraine is kidnapped as forcibly experimented on, in the hopes of duplicating Firestorm's powers.  The results aren't quite as intended, but she does in fact gain superpowers, and eventually a reputation as a bona fide superhero, who eventually for a time joins the odd "Firestorm matrix," in effect finally becoming Firestorm.  But not before becoming herself a US senator. 

She doesn't even rate her own Wikipedia page, however.  She's lumped in for one of those group pages of miscellaneous characters, with a fairly brief entry even at that.  Yet Firehawk has fascinated me since, as I've previously mentioned, I first learned about her on the back of a trading card, and then her later appearances in Firestorm, as a senator, as part of the Firestorm matrix (there's usually two individuals who comprise Firestorm: the one who represents the body and the one who in effect represents the mind, the role Firehawk assumed).

Her major role in Crisis Weekly is a small indication of what I consider to be her vast potential.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Crisis Weekly, the eleventh.

Crisis Weekly #11.

The last new character is introduced this week (probably), and his name is Ezrah.  Ezrah is named after someone I met during my first six months in childcare, who was in fact one of the kids.  Interacting with kids all day, you see a wide variety of personalities, and naturally some are going to stick out.  Sometimes it seems like the ones who do stick out for all the wrong reasons, and sometimes it's not even their fault, but because for one reason or another they have developmental delays.  Ezrah required a lot of attention, but I didn't mind at all.  I tend to feel most accomplished when it's clear I'm helping kids like Ezrah, and I guess that kind of instant gratification is basis human nature.  You want to know you're making a difference.  Most of the other staff in the facility are women, and it was theorized that Ezrah responded to me because I'm male, as he was at the time otherwise at home with a single dad, and you can do the math for the rest of it.  I like to believe it wasn't so simple, but who can say?

For those keeping score at home, I'd love to disclose some additional inspiration for the fictional Ezrah, but that would be telling.  Instead, I'd like to just reference one additional source of inspiration that cropped up this week, for the splash page involving El Dorado's apparent death, which is a callback for me to Mike Costa's brilliant G.I. Joe/Cobra comics, in which Chuckles gets the last laugh by assassinating Cobra Commander.  It was Costa's biggest moment in his long run (and led directly to two G.I. Joe crossover events, "Cobra Civil War" and "Cobra Command") across several series, and I just like to bring up his work, on the chance it'll inspire more people to read it.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Crisis Weekly, the tenth.

Crisis Weekly #10.

I don't necessarily have a lot to talk about this time, except to note that Jack Ryder as depicted here is being inspired by Tom Hardy's Eddy Brock in Venom.  Bloodwynd, too, as revealed last installment, is inspired in part by Cormoran Strike, the amputee detective in J.K. Rowling's Robert Gailbraith mysteries (who is himself inspired, I'm sure, by Rowling's own "Mad-Eye" Moody from the Harry Potter books).  And, since we're talking inspiration here, some of Rachel "Bulletproof" Rogerson's arc is inspired by the movie Isle of Dogs, which I love.

So there's that! 

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Crisis Weekly, nine installments completed.

I was barely a dozen years old when Superman died.

Nowadays, it's almost difficult to remember, the seismic impact a fictional event like that had, even if there have now been two animated and one live action movie adaptations of the story.  Sure, DC had created a media frenzy over the death of the second Robin, Jason Todd, a few years previous.  But sensational superhero deaths became almost a matter of course in later years.  Captain America died, in the aftermath of the original Civil War comic, and that got some pretty good coverage.  Johnny Storm died, and his passing merited a special black bag edition of Fantastic Four, much like Superman's.  It started to seem that if you wanted the public to pay attention to comic books, you had to kill off a major character.

Because the death of Superman was huge.  It coincided with a massive boom in comic book buying.  Marvel had struck big with comics drawn by artists who somewhat promptly left to start Image.  A whole speculator market flooded the medium, and of course the bubble burst, and really, comics are still struggling to emerge from the fallout.

The story everyone remembers, though, from that time is the death of Superman.  Like I said, I was a kid at the time.  I can't say that I was emotionally affected, but it was a powerful formative experience, a touchstone event right there near the beginning of my reading life.  It's impossible for me not to think of it in relation to Superman and comics in general.  The story itself quickly segued into another grand adventure, four impostor Supermen appearing only to make room for Superman himself, returning from the dead.  Lots of people now like to believe it happened at all as a crass publicity stunt, but the creators insist it was a way to delay the wedding of Clark Kent and Lois Lane, since the TV show Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman was about to launch, and the comics had only just got around to letting the silly lovebirds approach a happy ending to their decades-long romance, and they didn't want to get there before the show could.  So they threw a crisis at Superman, the biggest imaginable.

The comic book creator most synonymous with the whole thing is the guy who wrote and drew the pivotal issue, Superman #75, Dan Jurgens, and he's freely returned to the story whenever he's had the opportunity over the years.  But I figured there was still room to play around with it.  So this edition of Crisis Weekly begins to make clear how this particular story dives into that one.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Crisis Weekly, eight weeks completed!

Wow.  So I've just posted Crisis Weekly #8.

I say "wow" for a couple reasons.  The first is that this week's script is double the length of previous ones, sixteen script pages as opposed to eight.  This is because I'm hedging my bets about how next week will turn out.  I've been writing these scripts on Saturday, but next Saturday I'll be participating in a mini family reunion, so if I don't get a chance to write something before then, I'll at least know I've got the script numbers where they should be (old NaNo habit). 

The second is that I finally got around to something I've been itching to write since I started this thing, which is to say the first of two spotlights on Bloodwynd's origins.  This week is the origin itself, which I've revised.  It was previously detailed in the pages of DC's '90s Showcase comics.  I decided that it would be interesting, given the confusion some fans still have about this, to have Martian Manhunter help explain it, because these fans think Martian Manhunter is Bloodwynd, which I again reference in the script.  Probably won't get around to actually exploring that, although I certainly have ideas.  Likewise, I obliquely reference Firehawk's origins, but probably won't be getting back into that, either, but it's nice to mention, something I remember from DC's '90s trading cards, where I first learned about Firehawk at all.

And for once, action fills the story, and that felt nice, too, a change of pace, and getting into the thick of the White Martian plot, which will continue to ramp up in the weeks to come.

The next script, whenever I get around to it, will continue Bloodwynd's origins, and I'm very much looking forward to writing that one...

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Crisis Weekly, seven down!

That's Sparx!  She makes her Crisis Weekly debut this week.  Donna Carol "D.C." Force debuted in the '90s, during an attempted new wave of superheroes, most of whom drifted comfortably into immediate obscurity, some of whom stuck around for a while.  Sparx stuck around for a while.  She ended up as a featured character in Superboy and the Ravers, one of the less-heralded of the many teenage superhero books that were in publication that decade (including Generation X, Gen 13, Young Justice, and of course several iterations of Teen Titans and Legion of Super-Heroes).

My favorite was Superboy and the Ravers.  This was a team composed of damaged individuals like Half-Life, half of whose body was literally exposed skeleton covered in ectoplasmic goo.  Take that, X-Men!  This was a dude oozing with angst!  There was also Hero, a rare gay superhero who also happened to have possession of a power vest and later the H-Dial (as in "Dial 'H' for Hero").  Then there was the Qwardian warrior Kaliber, who had a near breakout moment during the Genesis crossover event.  And Aura.  And Rex the Wonder Dog.  And the Flying Buttress! 

But mainly, I loved seeing Sparx get a chance, because she was a fun character, and unlike the rest of the Bloodlines generation, she seemed packaged for greatness, part of a whole family of superheroes but powerless until alien parasites attack her.  There was always a ton of potential in her, and so yeah, of course I was going to have to include Sparx, too, in this crazy adventure, even if she isn't immediately a featured player (time and space will tell).

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Crisis Weekly, the sixth week!

Just posted Crisis Weekly #6.

The whole concept of a DC crisis has rich history.  The original, 1985's Crisis on Infinite Earths, remains a huge watershed moment.  It was originally designed to collapse the multiverse back into a coherent, single DC continuity, so that every superhero operated in the same world.  This was a problem since DC had inadvertently created the concept of the multiverse based on how its publishing fortunes had developed since Superman's debut in 1938.  Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman have always been DC's three most important creations, but they originally existed at the same time as the Justice Society of America, several members of which were famously reinvented at the start of the Silver Age, the second wave of DC superheroes in the 1950s.  One of them, the second Flash, met his predecessor in the famous "Flash of Two Worlds" issue, which in effect ushered in the era of the multiverse.  Eventually, the Justice Society was placed in a second continuity, Earth 2, and there were regularly team-ups between the Society and the more famous Justice League.  In Earth 2 continuity, Batman and Catwoman really did officially get married, and their daughter was Huntress, and eventually, Batman was even permanently killed off!

Anyway, so DC got fed up with competing continuities, and so Crisis on Infinite Earths happened.  But then DC decided that the multiverse was a good idea, and so Infinite Crisis happened in 2006, and later Final Crisis in 2008. 

Infinite Crisis was a story predicated on the notion that the grim nature of superhero comics that had developed roughly since Alan Moore's seminal Watchmen twenty years earlier had become toxic.  In it, the characters are fully aware that they're no longer seen in their best light.  Wonder Woman had been forced, like Superman in the real world controversy in 2013's Man of Steel where he snaps the neck of General Zod and audiences watched in horror, to murder a diabolical schemer named Maxwell Lord, and that was used as the main focal point.  DC used the opportunity to also reflect on Superman's periodic relative unpopularity, as well as the massive success of the "Doomsday" arc in which he became the most famous murdered fictional character since Sherlock Holmes. 

And Batman offers this choice observation:


So anyway, this week's Crisis Weekly is very much in the spirit of that particular moment.  There's a brutal verbal takedown, in this case reflecting once again the real world, where confidence in the US seems to be at an all-time low.  Fiction ought to reflect reality, comment on reality, otherwise it's mere escapism.

But this installment also bursts into "mere escapism" by finally unveiling Man-Bat, long teased, as one of the main antagonists of the narrative, thereby plunging a lot of heavy real world issues back into fiction, and as promised, beginning a full-throttle dive into more traditional superhero storytelling.  It's the first big culmination point, equal parts summary of what has come before and an illustration of what it's all meant.

And it's really just getting started...!
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