Filing Cabinet of the Damned

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Taking the Challenge

Scipio of the Absorbascon has presented a contest of sorts. He calls it “the Morrison Challenge:”

You have replaced Grant Morrison as the person in charge of revitalized underused characters in the DCU. You need to come up with a pitch for how to reintroduce "insert character name here" as an interesting and enriching part of the DCU.

Today's Morrison Challenge to you is : The Ani-Men of RepliTech.

I ask you: could I ignore this thrown gauntlet?

Of course not.

The Harveyized Version of the Ani-Men

RepliTech, a company only two years removed from the edge of collapse, has amazed the business world by its recent successes in the fields of agri-business, genetic engineering, and medicine. CEO Rex Rogan has led the company back to the forefront even as he has fallen out of the public eye.

Ah, but how?

Rogan and a select few of his friends have applied RepliTech’s latest development to themselves.

These foolish men had long romanticized the dangers of business. They imagined the rules of commerce as identical to the laws of the jungle: kill or be killed, hunter and prey. The Board of Directors of RepliTech employed a new tool to make themselves the greatest hunters of them all: genetic manipulation.

Rogan has mutated himself into a half-man, half-lion. His friends turned themselves into other “ani-men.” All of them are now predators, all cruel hunters.

Rogan, now calling himself “Maximus Rex,” sits upon a blood-stained throne in a chamber decorated with the remains of his kills, both of business and of flesh. He uses his new “powers of influence” to motivate intractable employees. Rogan’s ani-men intimidate and, if necessary, assassinate business rivals. Scientists who might be of use are “persuaded” to join them by midnight visits from the Board of Directors of RepliTech. Important investors have already felt these “persuasions.”

Yet these horrors do not begin to describe the true danger of the ani-men.

Deep inside RepliTech’s headquarters lurks the secret behind the secret…

RepliTech’s remarkable advances in gene splicing are not the work of human scientists. Rather they are the product of Science Detachment 23A of the Psion Empire. Allying themselves with the self-deluded buffoon Rogan, the Psions gained a safe haven on the planet Earth and all the laboratory equipment they would need. After making minor modifications to RepliTech’s Board to satisfy the humans' childish lust for power and blood, Detachment 23A began their true mission: performing experiements on humans to determine the key to forcibly re-arranging superhuman biology back into normal human forms.

Their research is finished. They have found the answer.

The alien scientists are now completing work on a device that will be able to blanket the planet with a focused wave-pattern of gene-altering radiation. They have dubbed this weapon the Silence Engine.

Upon the completion of the Engine, Detachment 23A will transmit a message to an area of space near Pluto.

There, a fleet of Psion Deathbringer-class dreadnoughts waits. General Kialk of the Psion Empire, architect of this daring plan, has promised a swift victory. He sits in the flagship Firetalon, confident in the strategem and preparing for the day when he will drink deep from an ocean of human blood.

The fleet will arrive just as the scientists ignite the Silence Engine!

All superhuman activity on the planet will cease in seconds!

The hated planet's super-powered protectors will be unable to defend their world! Earth will shatter beneath the fleet’s bombardment!

The Psion Empire will have its revenge!


Ah, villainy.

The heroes opposing the RepliTech and Psion plans?

A few possibilities leap to mind.

Batman. There’d be the detective work to track down the ani-men, the ties to high finance, the fact that Batman’s in every damn story.

Green Arrow, the fightin’ leftist. He opposes corporate fat cats. This time his targets actually are fat cats. Irony!

Adam Strange. Alien invasion? Detective work? Action? Adventure? Yep, that’s Strange’s standard bill-of-fare.

The Titans. The Psions were bad guys in the Titans’ old days. (Maybe they still are—I haven’t read ‘em since the mid-eighties.)

The Martian Manhunter. Because he’s awesome and needs the work.

Should the plan advance, any of the above characters could call on the JLA for a big alien invasion mamma-jamma fight.

(Yes, there are holes in the plan. Aliens such as Superman and the Martian Manhunter wouldn’t be affected. Weapon-based heroes such as Green Lantern would still be active. The plan expects the battle fleet to take care of them. Foolish Psions.)

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Friday, September 23, 2005

“Harveyizing” Green Arrow

The blogs Absorbascon and Seven Hells coined a term for the well-designed revivification of old characters. They call it “Johnsification,” after the writer Geoff Johns, who has successfully revived quite a few characters by reinterpreting them.

In a fit of hubris, boredom, and lack of a better idea, I thought I’d try a few “Johnsifications” of my own. I call the process “Harveyizing.”

For my first victim, I give you the second Green Arrow, the man with the silliest name outside of “Silver St. Cloud” or “Vermin Vundabar:” Connor Hawke.

Man, he sounds like a straight-to-cable action movie hero, doesn’t he?

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Hawke is the son of Oliver Queen, the original Green Arrow, and Moonday Hawke, a flighty flower child. Connor left home at the age of twelve and moved into a Zen monastery. There he studied not only Zen but the martial arts and archery, in emulation of his father.

Eventually he and his father met and adventured together. Shortly thereafter, Oliver died.
For about three years, Connor filled the role of Green Arrow.

Comics being comics, Oliver returned from the dead a couple of years ago, putting Connor in a difficult position.

Currently, he’s a supporting character in his father’s book, Green Arrow. (Yes, both father and son call themselves “Green Arrow.”)

Connor is compassionate, brave, and unworldly. He’s a terror with a bow and a whoopass martial artist. He inherited his father’s good looks but not his womanizing ways.

In short, he’s bland.

Ah, but what would the Harveyized Connor Hawke Green Arrow be like?

I’m glad you asked.

The Inner Man
That Connor is (or was) a monk doesn’t mean that he is placid or enlightened. It means instead that he wishes he were placid or enlightened. Hawke became a monk to find inner calmness, not because he already had it.

His father is a hothead with a romantic streak twenty miles wide. His mother is a flighty dipstick. The Harveyized Connor is a man who inherited these characteristics. He’s also spent his life fighting against those traits because he knows firsthand the damage they cause. Connor could be seen as the Dumas fils to Queen’s Dumas père.*

Harveyized Connor behaves in contradictory ways. Most of the time he is the man he wishes he were: calm, imperturbable, compassionate. When situations grow stressful or he gets tired, Connor’s control slips and out comes Oliver Queen Part Deux, the laughing swashbuckler with an eye for the ladies. Like his father, Connor deep down is a modern-day Robin Hood. He shares his father’s powerful sense of justice and disregard for established authority.

This is not to say Harveyized Connor is simply Oliver Queen with self-control and a tan. He lacks his father’s overblown sense of self-righteousness, and he’s not a cad at heart. Even without the monastic upbringing, you’d trust him with your sister.

Also, unlike Oliver, Connor also isn’t a natural superhero. He has to learn the part. He hesitates at times and makes bad decisions.

The struggle between his inborn nature and his desire for inner peace would not be played for heavy angst. Having grown up in a monastery around other men undergoing the same struggle, he understands that it’s human to slip from time to time. He isn’t tormented by his flashy side. Once in a while he’ll even indulge it.

The Outer Man
The green-and-brown costume has gotta go.

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Harveyized Connor needs something new and different. And dang it, the costume needs to be green. C’mon, what’s with all the brown?

Mike Grell took over the character in the late eighties and had Green Arrow abandon the trick arrows. He wanted to make Oliver Queen into a “realistic” street vigilante. For the Harveyized Connor Hawke, trick arrows are a must.

After all, he’s not a “realistic street vigilante.” He’s a dang super-hero.

Harveyized Connor fears using bladed arrows on people. They’re deadly weapons, and he’s counting on his incredible precision to avoid killing anyone. A fraction of an inch off, and a flesh wound becomes a lethal cut. Lacking his father’s overconfidence, he would use non-standard arrows to decrease the chances of accidental homicide.

Also, let’s face it, trick arrows look cool. They increase the possibilities for wild action. Explosives, smoke bombs, swing lines, boomerangs, and yes, even the infamous boxing glove arrows add an element of good-time hoo-hah action.

I love good-time hoo-hah action. I bet a lot of readers would too.

We’re talking about a dude in green tights who shoots arrows at criminals.

This is silly.

I say rather than mitigate the silliness, go with it.

Boxing glove arrow! Hoo-hah!

The Social Man
Connor missed out on traditional socialization and experience. Thus, the Harveyized Connor has a firm grasp of right and wrong in the abstract but little experience in applying this knowledge. The gap between theory and practice could be played for drama or comedy as the situation warrents. (Not too much comedy. Man, would that be tiresome.)

He’d be a solid teammate or partner, since his religious training has taught him the illusory nature of the self and the impermanence of things. Unlike his father, he won’t make waves or throw his weight around.

Chuck Dixon, the only writer who had Hawke as a solo character, paired him up with a mercenary and spy named Eddie Fyers. Dixon wrote a buddy story: the naïve religious idealist and the cynical worldly tough guy. I usually like Dixon’s work, but I didn’t think this idea made for a good read. Hawke does need a regular supporting cast, but not one that transforms him into a lesser character, as I felt Fyers did.

The Harveyized Green Arrow’s supporting cast would begin with his family, biological and other:

His biological father, the other Green Arrow.
His spiritual father, the Abbot Jansen from his monastery.

Jansen was Connor’s father for all intents and purposes. Placing Queen and Jansen in the book would externalize Connor’s primary character conflict. Both love and care for him. Both have large points of contention with him.

Oliver finds him too out-of-touch and thinks he needs to become more involved in the community. Jansen thinks he’s become too tied to the world and drawn to violence.

Both harbor just a wee smidge of resentment at the other’s claim on their mutual “son.”

Arsenal, his “stepbrother” via Oliver.
Roy Harper, known as Arsenal, was Oliver Queen’s kid sidekick, now a grown man. He’s Connor’s opposite, a worldly and practical man, and in many ways Oliver’s “true” son.

Roy is both Connor’s friend and rival and creates a big complication in the relationship between Oliver and Connor. Oliver’s enough of a jerkass to play favorites with these two.

Moonday Hawke, his biological mother
Black Canary, his accidental mother figure

Moonday is a flake, as advertised. She flits from interest to interest, making Connor nuts. In most ways, she’s still fifteen years old. Though once in a while, she’ll unexpectedly become a doting mother. Always at a bad time.

Dinah Lance, the Black Canary, is an unexpected parent figure. Having spent years living with his father, she understands Connor perhaps better than anyone. She sees Oliver in him and recognizes a lot of his mannerisms. She feels a bond with the boy and is also a bit short with him, as she halfway expects him to be the cad his father is.

Then we have his friends.

Power Girl
Because it would be weird. Because it would blow the fanboys’ minds. Because nobody would see it coming.

PG has usually been portrayed as a brassy loudmouth with ridiculously huge boobs. She’s a wasted character, usually typecast as the bitchy sex bomb.

The contrast between her and Connor could pay off nicely. She’s incredibly powerful, loud, and pushy. He’s a former monk with a collection of toy arrows. How very “Odd Couple.”

Like his father’s partnership with Green Lantern, Connor would be able to hold up his end of the partnership through smarts, his ability to keep a cool head, and his keen trick arrows.

Yes, it also provides the opportunity for some grade-A unusual romantic tension. You can just feel the crazy gender politics this could create, can’t you? Hee.

Green Lantern, Kyle Rayner version
Did you ever have a “friend” as a kid that you felt you should like but don’t? That kid your parents stuck you with all the time and you tolerated each other out of obligation? That’s the Connor Hawke/Kyle Rayner relationship. They keep trying because they feel they “should” be friends, given the relationship of their predecessors. They aren’t.

El Puño de Acero
Before Oliver Queen protected the city, it had another vigilante. (One I just made up.) Chuy Romero was a techno-whiz who fought crime and later made a small fortune with consumer knicknacks. His various tech-toys and souvenirs line the basement of his house. He keeps Connor supplied with trick arrows, information on the city, and a fresh perspective on the superhero biz.

Two or three regular people in the city
To keep the boy a little grounded, he needs regular folks in his life.

The Villains
No version of Green Arrow has ever had an impressive set of villains. Clock King? Merlyn the dumbass archer? C’mon. Instead, it’s time to stock the pool with some fresh talent.

He’s dead? Since when has that ever stopped a villain?

Look, he’s a cult leader with a massive army behind him, a lunatic who can fight Connor hand-to-hand and win, and he’s got the cool name of “Lord Naga-Naga.” Kobra rules. Pitting Kobra and his forces against Superman is considered a fair fight. Pit him against a boy and his trick arrows? Connor will have to do his best to stay alive, much less beat this guy.

I’d also revive his “Corsican Twin” brother. Yes I would, dammit. (Young Kobra was a twin who was kidnapped as a baby by a snake cult. His brother grew up a normal guy. But each felt the other’s pain. The brother opposed Kobra until he got offed, way back when. How Kobra survived, I dunno.)

Make said brother a member of the supporting cast and a close friend of Connor. With one character you add to the supporting cast and give Connor a slim hope of defeating The Big Badguy.

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Kobra is a world-conquering fist-shaking bad guy who provides DRAMA! You can’t ask for more than that.

Make Connor Hawke the person in the world Kobra hates above all else. Let the DRAMA! unfold. Hoo-hah!

The Cavalier
The Cavalier is a long-discarded Batman foe who modeled himself after swashbuckling movie characters. He was a bored socialite with an electrified sword, a floppy hat and a taste for crime.

The Harveyized Cavalier provides a counterpoint to Connor. Green Arrow is a man of intense passion who tries to keep a lid on it. The Cavalier is a man of intense passion who hasn’t even seen a lid in five years. And both use antiquated weaponry, which is kinda spiffy.

He is a sybarite and a talented villain who has a powerful organized crime group behind him. The Cavalier would add flash to the stories and act as a counterpoint to our hero’s conflicted nature. This guy embraces his Inner Errol Flynn to a degree that’s almost comical.

(Hey, if the lamewad “Cat-Man” can be revived, so can the damn Cavalier.)

The Human Target
Okay, so this guy was in a series I enjoyed and he’s always been a hero. What the hell. Let’s make him a bad guy.

His name alone makes him a perfect Green Arrow villain. Then throw in his modus operandi: a master of disguise who can be anybody, anywhere, anytime. A skilled gunman who’s proven he can kill without fear or regret.

Now crank up the crazy a little, and voila, you got yourself a nasty, nasty nemesis.

The Hook
Why would people like the New Green Arrow? What’s the point?

Here’s my thinking.

Restoring the trick arrows makes the character visually appealing. They also give him a slight chance against super-powered bad guys. Not much of a chance, but some.

The character of Hawke would be a good reader identification figure.

--He wants to stay in control, but his nature gets the better of him.
--He wants to protect the city and live up to his father, but he’s not sure he’s either good enough or well-equipped enough.
--Despite being a superhero, he’s perpetually the underdog in his own stories.

People could get into that.

Picture an attack on a city by Kobra’s Kult of Krazy Killers. A giant flying saucer appears over the city and demands a bazillion dollar ransom. Sky-cycles fill the air, each one carrying a pair of Kobra Kommandoes bent on conquest! Robots everywhere! Mayhem! The city is in dire peril!

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Who’s there to help? The last son of a doomed world, who possesses powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men? Faster than a speeding bullet, et. al.?

Nah. All we’ve got is a skinny kid with a handful of trick arrows, a goofy green jumpsuit and a whole lotta courage.


I’d imagine readers would appreciate a hero who feels strong pulls towards both towards hedonism and idealism, who tries hard to get past his inborn tendencies to be a better man. He knows what the right thing to do is. He tries hard. He doesn’t always make it.

Also readers would get to see the inner struggle that seldom appears in his behavior. Everyone in the comics thinks him calm and tranquil, but we know better. The disconnect between the Connor people see and the actual Connor would help create a bond to the character.

That’s my theory, leastways.

Okay, so DC would never do this. That’s not the point.

It would rock if they did.

* Sorry. Had to indulge my inner inty-lectual. The parallel was too damn strong.

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Micro-post: Review Roundtable at CSBG


Yers truly and the crew of Comics Should Be Good just finished up a roundtable review of Oni Press's Local #1. The good folks of Oni were kind enough to send us preview copies. We dissected the hell out of it. Check it out.

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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Reggie’s Bitter Victory

It’s a cold, cold moment when one looks at one’s self in the mirror and sees a poseur.

Months ago I decided to write and self-publish a comic anthology. My goal was to have it ready for a nearby convention, the 2005 Small Press Expo (SPX).

A few months later, I stumbled across a large group of talented comic creator types in my own damn neighborhood, the DC Conspiracy. They meet at a bar where I used to be a regular. It’s about a mile and a half from Jerkwater Estates. They proved to be a bunch of helpful and talented folks.

I’ve even posted on this blog about my creative struggles, using Archie characters to explain the war in my skull.

In short, the world of comic creation lay before me, its grassy hills beckoning me to come romp amid the verdure. The path was right in front of me. All I had to do was step onto it.

You can guess where my story is going, can’t you.

SPX is this weekend, September 23-24.

And it ain’t happenin’.

Back in February and March, I wrote up a bunch of plots, a handful of treatments, and about two full scripts for the anthology. They didn’t do a damn thing for me. This was bad. If I can’t get excited in my own work, a reader sure as crap won’t. My interest flagged and I never picked the stuff up again.

Better still, I attended one (1) meeting of the DC Conspiracy, and not even a full meeting at that. Sundry obligations plus inattention to schedules meant I kept missing ‘em.

Due to some very important obligations this weekend, I won’t make it to SPX this year even as a fanboy.

God, I suck.

Had I the drive, I could have overcome the obstacles and produced the anthology. Or at least something. But my desire wasn’t strong enough to overcome these mild hurdles. Dammit.

Larry Young would pants me, given the chance. And he would be right to.

It’s a cold, cold feeling in the belly when you realize you aren’t “unpublished talent” but rather a “big-talkin’ wannabe.” A steel-toed boot to the crotch of one’s self-image.

Humiliated by this metaphorical nutting, mentally curled into a fetal position, I decided to undertake a new challenge. The final put-up-or-shut-up exercise. To find out if I got the goods.

I have decided to undertake the insane challenge of National Novel Writing Month.

This November I will produce a novel of no less than fifty thousand words. (What it will be about, I have no idea. National Novel Writing Month stresses the point that quality is optional. Phew.) I’ve already instructed my friends to give me non-stop grief about the book throughout November. Such prodding should get me through. I hope.

Thus, for the month of November, I have no idea if I’ll post to this here blog.

Not that I’ve been filling it up a lot lately, I know, I know. I might post a little. Given my preternatural skills at procrastination, I might pause to post about the Freudian implications of Starman’s “cosmic rod” as opposed to Green Lantern’s “power ring” or some such drivel, but I dunno.

My self-image can’t take another boot to the huevos like the SPX fiasco. I will finish the damn novel. GYAAAH!!

To prepare for the event and because I’ve been neglecting Filing Cabinet of the Damned lately, I’m gonna post heavily throughout October. Be warned.

So remember:


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(It appears gender bending victory will also be mine. Not quite what I planned, but okay, I'll run with it.)

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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

My Favorite Holiday, or “Yaar! Here Be Cornish Accents Gone Mad! Ahhhrr!”

Yaar, September the nineteenth, but a few days away, brings about the finest holiday ‘pon the calendar.

Aar, it be a day when men speak as they should, women speak as men speaking as they should, and all the world tries its best ta sound like a one-legged jack tar on the lee side of Tortuga.

Aye, I be talkin’ about Talk Like a Pirate Day! Yaar, har har!

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'Tis a fine excuse to talk like a moron for all the day's length! Yaar!

The original pirate-talker be one Robert Newton, an actor fella from the stony land of Cornwall. In the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and fifty, aar, this Newton fella played a part in a movin’ picture called “Treasure Island.” He dast to play the great Long John Silver. An’ he did ol’ Johnny proud. He made use of ‘is Cornish accent and a lot o’ actin’ skill, and he created a language all ‘is own.


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When the sun rises o’er the briny deep the mornin’ a’ Talk Like a Pirate Day, raise a tankard a’ grog ta the sea dogs about ye, sing a bawdy shanty, and say “aaahr.” Call your friends bilge rats and to belay their yappin'. Shiver a timber or three. Yaar.

There be little better in life than talkin’ like a pirate.

'Ceptin' maybe General Tso’s Chicken.


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Thursday, September 08, 2005

Shameless Plug!

I just posted a big fat post on Comics Should Be Good wherein I review a set of Marvel's Whacked-Out Comics of the seventies:

  • Essential Defenders Vol. 1
  • Essential Killraven
  • Essential Howard the Duck
  • Warlock: Special Edition.
Check it out here. It includes a Howard the Duck presidential campaign button from 1976, the phrase "Goofy Bastard Avenue," and cheap jokes based on the comic Giant-Sized Man-Thing.

So you know it's good.


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