Realistic comics can have cynicism and bloody corpses, but supers at play are more fun. Super-life could be too easy -- financial comfort from the armored truck you carried off, wealth from putting out oil-well fires with your flame-control. Why do more? It's their entertainment: a game, played by Marquis of Queensbury rules.
There are a thousand supers in the Big City, heroes and villains feuding like the Hatfields and Coys. They know one another, and the only real division is their opinion of the normals around them.
Twinopolis: Geographically, the Minneapolis/St. Paul area; politically, sillier and more corrupt.
Super-Heroes' Club: It has a bar, exercise facilities, showers. One entrance is the skylight, the other a perilous labyrinth (they don't want uninvited gossip columnists). They have a hot-line to the
Super-Villains' Club, which has a swinging door. Anybody can walk in, if they dare.
The old standbys are ripe for examination and expansion.
Supers wear brightly-colored garb because of the concealed-weapons laws: if you fire ray-blasts, people should be able to see you coming and get out of your way. A red suit helps.
Some powers cry out for commercial application: if you keep smashing buildings in your fights, why not go into the demolition business?
And then there's accelerated healing: the ability to close wounds and regrow damaged parts. This is your body returning to some ideal -- your DNA, which says you are supposed to have a hand here and an eye there. But nobody's DNA is perfect: what if yours codes for impacted wisdom teeth? And they keep growing back every time you manage to get rid of them?
The large opening panel shows a table covered with photos and clippings of superbeings and their
exploits. The photos include a ninja, Captain Mercaptan, Rocketking, Mira, Doctor Death, and an
orange tomcat. An experienced reporter (John Winters) is pointing out details to a young one (Jimmy
John: "It'll take study, Jimmy -- there are a hundred heros in town, and just as many villains."
Jimmy: "Mr. Winters, I still wonder why I got the Supers beat..."
Small panel. John leaning back in chair, arm on table full of pictures; Jimmy leaning forward. Clock shows 9:30; window shows daylight outside.
John: "You were top reporter for the Loon Lake Crier?"
Jimmy: "Supers are big-city! Loon Lake only has a thousand people."
John gestures at a city map on the wall, studded with colored pins.
John: "That's how many supers live here, when you add the industrials, also-rans and wannabees...."
Jimmy: "And a thousand close-knit people are a small town, surrounded by cornfields or normals?"
John's right index finger tapping the picture of a ninja. Jimmy, sudden comprehension.
John: "A town you've just moved to. You're a super by association now -- supers don't need earthshaking powers."
Jimmy: "Ninjas just have training. And Darkmaster can see in the dark."
John picks up a press card, done up in the style of a super-symbol with fancy typography. He
tapes it to Jimmy's shirt.
John: "Right. And YOU have the power of the press."
A good-looking woman walks by, distracting Jimmy. She notices Jimmy being distracted.
John: "Pity -- reporters don't get X-ray vision. Nor invulnerability. She has a large and jealous boyfriend, Jimmy."
Wide view of newsroom; the woman is talking to a friend. John smiling, Jimmy apprehensive.
John: "You'll eventually find out what she's saying. In small groups, you can't get away from reputation. For supertown, you may well become a major supplier."
Doctor Death laughing over victims (ambiguous circumstances, unambiguous corpses). Inset
voice-over for three Doctor Death panels.
John: "Doctor Death laughed when we called him a murdering swine ...
Doctor Death fleeing an angry mob of heroes and villains
John: ... and moved to Antarctica when we proved he molested children."
Doctor Death sitting on a snowbank, bored and irritable, frying penguins with his Finger of
John: "Of course he killed the editor before he left. Power of the Press only goes so far. But supers will step carefully around you, if you don't push it."
John taps his finger on the picture of the man in the skunk suit. Jimmy twists his face and
clutches his throat.
John: "We'll start you on a down-home interview. Captain Mercaptan is often seen near Loon Lake."
Inset panel of Captain Mercaptan in the skunk-cave. A wall is covered with newspaper front pages
of his exploits. He is setting down a bowl of kibble, while a skunk waits eagerly for it and another
skunk strops itself on his ankle.
John (inset voiceover): "Hey, we're not sending you after Doctor Death!"
Jimmy in the newspaper morgue, at the desk which separates the stacks from the rest of the world.
The clerk is giving him a pile of folders.
Caption: "And so to study the citizenry:"
Clerk: "These don't leave the room."
Jimmy at a small table covered with newspaper clippings about Supers. Rumpled hair, rumpled
clothes, empty coffee-mug. Slumped back in the chair, papers in hand, looking up at John standing
beside him. Clock showing 6 pm.
John: "This is National Night Out, and the heroes usually show -- why not go?"
A teenage girl's bedroom -- the sort Betty Cooper (from Archie comics) would have if she were
into Punk and Heavy Metal. Posters on the wall. There is one framed newspaper clipping, a small
story with no picture; headline "Miss Power captures Flying Fox". Miss Power is putting
the final touches on her makeup. She is a wholesome seventeen, with flowing blonde hair, large bust,
commercial spandex and a small cape.
Miss Power (thought): "Maybe I'll meet an important super at Nokomis ..."
Rocketking and Mira getting ready to head out. He is putting on his rockets, and she is swirling
her cape on. Framed citations and headlines on the wall, and a case with trophies.
Mira: "I promised I'd sorta circulate, tonight.
Rocketking: "I'll do that later, but I'm going by Nokomis first."
Jimmy foreground in a crowd, listening to policeman (further from viewer). Rocketking is standing
near the cop, looking noble. A citizen speaks up.
Policeman: "... so good locks are your best investment."
Citizen: "What good are locks if Spring-Heeled Jack is at the door?"
Rocketking takes the mike. Jimmy takes notes.
Policeman: "That's Rocketking's specialty."
Rocketking: "Don't flaunt it and they won't know it's there. Most supervillains can't read your mind ..."
Rocketking still talking. As he does, Miss Power sidles up, distracting Jimmy from his notes.
Rocketking: "... and those who can usually don't do physical stuff like robbery."
Miss Power: "Or you can hire a free-lance super as a guard. I'm Miss Power."
Seen through viewfinder of Jimmy's camera, focussing area centered on bustline, she explains.
Miss Power: "I'm no detective; guarding valuables saves me the trouble of finding the villains."
Jimmy changing film, while Miss Power is taking out a portfolio of pictures and letters, labelled
Jimmy: "You've been doing this for some time?"
Miss Power: "Oh, yes, I have testimonials!"
Jimmy leafs through portfolio. We look over his shoulder, to see it's mostly pinups.
Jimmy: "My, my!"
He looks up. She is making zooming motions with her left hand, grabbing motions with her right.
Jimmy:"Did you really catch Flying Fox?"
Miss Power: "Got her where she couldn't maneuver, and brought her down. The client wanted it kept quiet."
Jimmy unlimbers his camera. Miss Power is embarrassed.
Jimmy: "This is GREAT! How about a picture of you flying?"
Miss Power: "My gravity belt is at the cleaners."
Jimmy: "But the article won't be COMPLETE! Crush a rock in your hand?"
Jimmy and Miss Power sitting on a stone wall side by side. Her portfolio is forgotten beside her;
his camera and notebook, beside him.
Jimmy: "You're athletic..."
Miss Power: "I did catch Flying Fox, but Rocketking caught Pelican and crowded me off Page 1!"
Jimmy: "...and have some experience..."
The two of them eating, at a restaurant that caters to the newspaper crowd: a shaggy bunch, and
quite able to ignore spandex.
Miss Power: "... All-State gymnastics, and a black belt in Karate."
Jimmy: "You've been busy."
Full-width panel. Holding hands, walking down a dark pathway in a park; there's a lake to one side, with Canada geese. In the lake is a small island covered with trees and underbrush.
Trading business cards, under a streetlight, as they prepare to go their separate ways.
Both: "My card!"
Jimmy, seen from behind (hands in his rear pockets) walking into the night, bemused.
Jimmy (thought): "This supers business has ramifications!"
Jimmy, dressed in a tuxedo and looking very much like Jiminy Cricket (but with attache case
instead of umbrella). He's in a line of elegant people waiting to get into a fashion show. Large
illustrated poster, "FALL FUR FANTASY". <For the fashion-show sequence, try to find a
back issue of Millie the Model as reference material.>
Caption: Next evening
Jimmy (thought): "Mercaptan has two real THINGS: the FBI, and furs."
Jimmy in his seat, about fifth row center. The auditorium has a runway with footlights, leading
out into the audience, for the models. The crowd is starting to settle down.
Jimmy (thought): "... and I'm probably safer in an audience full of innocent bystanders!"
The house lights dim, and a spot comes up on a Liberace type waving to the audience as he strides
to the podium.
Emcee: "Hello, hello! It's grand to see so many lovers of fashion!"
The spots have shifted over to the runway, where the first model appears wearing a red velvet
cape (down to the waist) with an over-capelet of ermine (white with small vertical black spots, down
below the shoulders).
Emcee: " ... and now, the lovely Mary Monique, in regal red velvet, with an ermine capelet ... "
More models, in varying fur fashions.
A model in a full-length coat made of skunk fur. The emcee's hands are sweeping out in gestures
Emcee: "And now our Fur of the Year, dramatic..."
Emcee's face is filled with horror; his eyes bug out, he throws his hands in the air. Same
position as the first panel, except for the expression on his hands and face. A wisp of mist rises
above his head.
He collapses to the stage. The microphone hangs in the air above him, quivering slightly. Above his head is a thought balloon of a saber-tooth skunk leaping on a very small caveman. (MC and caveman in about the same position.)
A man in a skunk suit materializes on stage. He is holding the microphone in his left hand; in
his right, a gas pistol with a wisp of mist coming from the barrel. Mercaptan begins to croon
into the microphone.
"Be kind to your four-footed friends;
For a skunk may be somebody's mo-other
Who lives all alone in the woods
Without worldly chattels and goods..."
He holds up his skunk-pistol (it is black, with white stripes, obviously intended to jet out
compressed gas and liquid) and points to the muzzle.
Mercaptan: "Now you may think that this is the end...."
Begins firing into the audience. On the runway, the models are cringing back from him.
Mercaptan: "...but it's the means to the end!"
Full-width panel. The audience is in a panic. (Collective mental image of a herd of stampeding dinosaurs, striped like skunks, with a tribe of tiny cavemen fleeing.) There are bursts of mist here and there in the audience, with people trying to escape them.
Cut to Jimmy, who has put on a gas-mask with a "PRESS" card. He's photographing the
fuss. Behind Captain Mercaptan, the models are clapping on small gas-masks.
Jimmy (thought): "He must figure the models are the innocent bystanders!"
The models haul gas pistols out from beneath the furs, and fire at Mercaptan. He clutches at his
Model: "FBI, Mercaptan! Try your own medicine!"
Mercaptan: "Stumm gas!"
Mercaptan collapses towards the floor. There is a huge burst of stench. Sound effect, WHUMP!)
The runway is empty where Mercaptan was. A wisp of mist spirals upwards from the spot. In the wings, a team of agents bursts through a stage door.
Extremely large panel. People are collapsed everywhere; the exits are jammed. The models, even with their gas masks, are looking ill as they waver off the runway. The room is filled with an influx of men wearing gas masks, white shirts, and plain neckties. Jimmy sits calmly in his seat, taking notes.
"Blast!" "He vanished again!" "Bring in the medics!" (said on walkie-talkie) "Get the vent fans going!"
In the background medics are carrying off unconscious victims. Forensics teams are picking things
up with large tongs, putting them in sealed plastic bags. One is pointing at the floor, near the
podium; a camera crew is hustling over. Another, with a walkie-talkie, is hustling over to the agent
Medic (walkie-talkie): "More urp kits!"
Forensics man: "A footprint!"
Agent (walkie-talkie): "EPA, Mr. Lenox. They want an environmental impact statement for the vent fans."
Jimmy, interviewing the head FBI agent. (Badge, more expensive suit than most.) Both are wearing
Agent: "We can't comment on a continuing investigation. And if we did comment on this one, you couldn't print it in a family paper."
Jimmy, looking over towards the runway. The forensics men are packing up. The lead agent is eager
to be gone.
Jimmy: "Your men seem finished. Mind if I take some pictures?"
Agent: "Go ahead -- I'll notify people."
The agent, starting to leave; turns back to Jimmy.
Agent: "The decontamination crew should be here in about an hour." (pause) "By the way, I hope you rented that tux."
Jimmy is on the stage taking close-ups. A "moan..." comes from behind him.
Jimmy quickly ducks behind the podium. Mercaptan appears, holding his head.
Mercaptan: "Wooooo -- I'm getting predictable, and they've been taking lessons!"
Jimmy pops up and takes Mercaptan's picture.
Jimmy: "So you're really still there when you vanish, people simply can't see or feel you!"
Mercaptan rises to one knee, fiddles with skunk pistol. Jimmy spreads his hands.
Mercaptan: "You could find yourself in bad odor around town, if you printed that in a story."
Jimmy: "Or good odor, if I brought in an interview."
Mercaptan: "That sounds like a fair trade."
Jimmy and Mercaptan, sitting in the front row of seats. Jimmy, of course, is still wearing the
gas mask. Interview.
Jimmy: "People have been wondering what you have against the FBI."
Mercaptan: "It goes way back, before I was a Super ..."
- The End -