My Current Hawk & Dove Pitch Idea

A couple days ago, I wrote up my idea for what I would’ve done with a Hawk & Dove title around 2002 (when Dove first returned.) I’ve had enough people encourage me that I’ve decided to write up what I’d do with Hawk & Dove today. First of all, one key element of my previous idea is being thrown out: Hank Hall is back, and I think it best to keep him as Hawk.

 

To start with, let’s get a bit of history on the characters: the first series was conceived in the Vietnam War era, and the concept was to show that both the Hawks and Doves had valid points, and needed to work together. The brothers Hank and Don Hall were given powers by a mysterious voice. Hank became Hawk, and was the embodiment of aggression and war. Don became Dove, and was the embodiment of pacifism and peace. When the duo was revitalized in the late 80’s, war and peace were thrown out in favor of chaos and order. Specifically, the mysterious voices that gave the brothers their powers were revealed to be Terataya, Lord of Order, and T’Charr, Lord of Chaos, who were in love, and were trying to prove to the others of their kind that order and chaos could get along, and were, in fact, stronger together than apart. Toward this end, they felt that Don Hall wasn’t an acceptable candidate after all, and thus had his powers removed at the most inopportune time possible. He died as a result. Dawn Granger was given the powers in his place, which allowed for romantic tension between Hawk and Dove as a not-quite mirror of their creator’s love. Now, with the most recent return of a Hawk & Dove title, they have returned to the concept of Hawk and Dove as avatars of war and peace. I really liked this as a concept, but think that it fell apart in the execution, as they continued to act more like the embodiments of chaos and order than war and peace. Still, that gave me an idea: what if there were a reason for that?

 

My original Hawk & Dove pitch was to have Kestrel (and the Lords of Chaos she represents) interfere with the natural process of someone becoming Hawk. What if that was flipped – what if it wasn’t the bad guys that subverted the process, but the good guys? What if Hawk and Dove weren’t attached to Terataya and T’Charr, but were a naturally occurring power passed down from avatar to avatar throughout the ages. Only, to further their own purposes, Terataya  and T’Charr used their own power to force the powers to enter Hank and Don Hall (and later Dawn Granger) to further their own end? If this is the case, maybe they corrupted the process and infused peace with order, and war with chaos. As a result, Hawk and Dove are not who they were meant to be. If we alter their origin thusly, we now have the ability to tell stories about war and peace, as well as chaos and order. This is exactly what I would want to do.

 

The first issue of this new series would be from the perspective of the Phantom Stranger. Hawk and Dove have come to his attention, and something about them is nagging at him, though he can’t place it at first. As he watches them go about their heroic and personal lives, he begins to realize the above problem: that the avatars of war and peace have been “corrupted” with chaos and order. The issue would end with the Phantom Stranger making a decision to correct this imbalance. From the second issue onward, the Phantom Stranger would be repeatedly seen in the background, subtly manipulating both the people they come into contact with and the situations they’re called into action to deal with. We wouldn’t see things from his perspective again. This would allow the reader to be outright told what direction the series is going in (allowing them to be “in the know,” as it were), but keep them guessing throughout the series as to how the Phantom Stranger’s manipulations are furthering this goal. (Incidentally, this is how I think modern comics work best – don’t hide information for a big reveal, as readers may not stick around for that big reveal. Instead, give them the information, and let the implications be the big reveal.)

 

For Hawk, I would introduce him to a miniatures wargaming group (who he would find via involvement in a paintball team). One of the players who repeatedly beats Hank would constantly quote “The Art of War,” by Sun Tzu (who would be revealed to be a previous avatar of war). As he pushes himself to learn about tactics and strategy, the change would carry over into his heroic identity. I envision a moment, during a major conflict, when the heroes are planning strategy, and Hawk interjects with a reasoned, logical tactical suggestion, and everyone stares at him in shock – with Batman frowning and stating “That’s…a good suggestion. We’ll go with that.”

 

For Dove, I would push her toward non-violent solutions, as well as the benefits of chaos to peace. Toward that, I would also reintroduce Captain Brian “Sal” Arsala, though I would combine him with his “partner” from my previous Hawk & Dove idea. By that, I mean he would be the one who acts on hunches, and thus, shows Dove the positive sides of chaos, especially where peace is concerned. (Oh, and he’d make a good love triangle with Dove and Deadman.) The big event I see for Dove is a situation where she was too busy helping Hawk fight an enemy that could’ve been avoided, and results in the death of a peaceful protester. As he lays dying, she promises him to try resolving conflicts without throwing a single punch for a full year (and I’d hold to that – for 12 issues, she wouldn’t throw a single punch.) This, of course, will irk Hawk, but he’ll quickly realize that she’s still helping in other ways, and grudgingly accept it. Also, while Hawk is studying Sun Tzu, Dove will be studying a previous avatar of peace: Ghandi, and his words will inspire her to be a new kind of super hero.

 

Of course, that’s what I’d do with each of them separately. Together, I would use two quotes to embody their relationship:

“The purpose of all war, is peace.” –Saint Augustine

“Si vis pacem, para bellum” –Latin adage meaning “If you wish for peace, prepare for war”

The idea being that they compliment each other in paradoxical ways. During peace-time, they must prepare for war, but during wartime, they must fight for peace. Each of their actions would help the other, while being diametrically opposed to their own philosophy. My goal for the Hawk and Dove title hasn’t changed: it would be to have each and every issue show that both sides have valid points, and that differences, when working together and brought toward a common goal, only serve to make them stronger.

 

Oh, and the Phantom Stranger wouldn’t be the only one trying to manipulate them. The Lords of Chaos would still be trying to woo Hawk away from Dove (and I’d bring in the Lords of Order trying to woo Dove away from Hawk). I’d also bring Kestrel back – this time, Sal would be taken over (as he’s a perfect conduit for chaos, even as he rebels against Kestrel’s evil…)

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My Original Hawk & Dove Pitch Idea

Years ago (sometime around 2001-2002), after Geoff Johns resurrected Dawn Granger/Dove in the pages of JSA, but before he brought her and her sister, Holly Granger/Hawk, into the Teen Titans (and long before Hank Hall/Hawk was resurrected in Blackest Night), I came up with a pitch idea for a Hawk and Dove title. I brought this up a week or so ago, and was surprised to learn that a few people were interested in what I would’ve done. So, three months since I wrote anything in this blog, I decided to track down my old notes and write ‘em up into a blog entry. What follows is what I would’ve done with a Hawk & Dove title back then. Warning: it’s LONG.

 

To my mind, every issue of Hawk & Dove should make you see that there is usefulness and truth in both viewpoints. With that in mind, Hank and Don Hall were the WORST choices for Hawk & Dove. Hank was on the slow side (mentally speaking), and Don looked up to his brother too much, causing him to be swayed to the side of War/Chaos more than fulfill his role of Peace/Order. When Dawn Granger became Dove, it both helped and hurt the situation. War and Peace were thrown out in favor of Chaos and Order, and that worked – especially since a peaceful/pacifist super hero would be pretty hard to write, especially back then – I mean, how would you include her in the fight sequences? Yet Hawk was always seen as someone who was useful, if you could rein him in, keep him from being too much of, well, himself. And that doesn’t work for the core idea that both are valid viewpoints. So when Dove returned, but Hawk had not, I decided that the answer was to set Dove on a quest to find a new Hawk, just as she had sought out Hank Hall/Hawk when she first became Dove.

 

Opening Scene

I actually wrote the introductory sequence of events for the first issue (though I didn’t break it down into panels and pages yet). Here’s what I came up with:

Open with Dove (in her secret identity of Dawn Granger) in a car, following her old flame, former Captain Brian “Sal” Arsala as he pulls into a High School parking lot in the “bad part of town” in Washington D.C. Dawn pulls into a vacant lot across the street and watches. Sal gets out of the car, and opens the passenger side door for a woman. The two talk for a bit in the background while Dawn argues with herself.

Dawn: What am I doing?

Dawn: I SHOULD be looking for the new Hawk, not following my old love interest as he drives some lady around…

Dawn: Well, maybe she’s just his sister, or a friend. Besides, it’s not like there have been any leads to finding Hawk!

Dawn: Yeah, if that’s his sister, then I’m… I’m having an argument with myself. /sigh/ Be careful, Dawn, you don’t want to crack up now.

Sal kisses the woman lovingly, and Dawn sees that both he and the woman have wedding rings on.

Dawn: Well, that settles that! Time for me to leave…”

A gun taps on the windshield. Two young punks are on either side of her car in the alley – they’re car jacking her.

Punk 1: Get out of the car, or your brains will decorate the interior!

Dawn rolls her eyes.

Dawn: Oh, you’ve GOT to be kidding me!

Dawn: Okay, okay! Just don’t shoot!

Dawn holds one hand up in feigned surrender, while she opens the door with the other.

Dawn: DOVE!

Halfway through the transformation into Dove, Dawn kicks the door she was just opening into Punk 1, while using the momentum to push herself toward the passenger side door, open it, and slam it into Punk 2 – all in one fell swoop. She continues her movement out the passenger side door, clocks Punk 2 with a punch that drops him while grabbing the gun from out of his hands. She then leaps over the car to land on Punk 1, who was just getting up from having the car door slammed into him. She picks up the gun he was carrying, which was flung away when he went unconscious.

Sal (from off panel): Dove?

Dove now sees Sal, service pistol out but lowered, moving down the alley. He apparently heard the commotion and crossed the street to help. He looks shocked to see her (which makes sense, since the last he knew, she was dead.)

Sal: Is that really you? You’re…alive?

Dove looks uncomfortable (rubbing the back of her neck, etc.). She was planning on avoiding him entirely, and now that’s obviously not possible.

Dove: Yeah. It’s…a recent development.

Sal looks overjoyed – almost in tears (his eyes DO water up).

Sal: I-I’m late for picking up my partner, but you should join me – us! You should join us! We’ve a lot of catching up to do!

Dove: Well…I really need to be looking for the new Hawk…

Sal gets angry.

Sal: Then you’ve heard? Did it finally leak to the media? I knew it would eventually, but dammit!

Dove stares at him blankly.

Dove: Did what leak?

Sal: Wait…you mean you DON’T know? Come on, there’s something you need to see.

 

That’s as far as I wrote out, but I did plot out all five issues of a first story arc/mini-series.

 

Issue One

Dove has been searching for Hawk with no luck. Frustrated, she returns to Washington, D.C. (her old stomping grounds), and finds herself drawn to her old lover, Captain Brian “Sal” Arsala. Only, now he’s Detective Arsala – demoted for behavior and alcohol problems due to his inability to deal with her death (he truly loved her, and her death broke him). In the intervening time, he’s gotten his life back on track thanks to the help of the woman who would become his wife (building tension when they meet – he still loves her, but he’s married now.) In point of fact, when Sal brings Dove to see his partner, the partner (who I didn’t name) warns Dove about all that’s happened with Sal (in a “you better not mess up his recovery – or his marriage!” kind of way).

The big reveal of the issue is that the new Hawk is a serial killer. For almost a year, Sal’s partner had been obsessed with catching a serial killer, and a month ago had even cornered him in an abandoned apartment building scheduled for demolitions.(The partner tracked him there because he was following a hunch.) Just as he got the drop on the killer, though, he felt a blinding pain and blacked out. When he woke up, he found a new victim with the word “Hawk” written on the wall in the victims blood (something new for this serial killer). This new evidence has been at every murder scene since.

(Note: Hawk and Dove need danger to stay in their heroic identity. My thought here was to have Dove explain that she wasn’t quite…right since her return [a lie], and needed to have him keep his gun trained on her, in case she attacked. She wouldn’t realize about Hawk being a killer yet, but because of that, Sal REALLY believes her, and the small amount of danger keeps her in her Dove persona.)

 

Issue Two

This would focus on Dove learning about the killings, reviewing the evidence, and coming to terms with the fact that the new Hawk will not be her partner, but her enemy. She’ll feel alienated and alone, especially with Sal now married, and his partner watching her like she’s going to destroy Sal (his animosity is what allows her to keep in Dove persona for this issue – “I’m no danger. I just said that to insure I stayed in the Dove persona.” “Maybe you were telling the truth and maybe you weren’t. Have no fear that I WILL put a bullet in you if I feel it’s necessary!”) Still, she feels it’s her responsibility to catch Hawk, so she bears up under the burden. But she’s unable to make heads or tails of a pattern. The partner points out a few things, and while they make sense, it just doesn’t add up to a pattern to her – not one she can follow anyway. (Hawk is chaos, Dove is order – his “pattern” doesn’t follow any logic, so she can’t understand it. So having a keychain at the previous crime scene that spells out the street corner Hawk abducts his next victim from doesn’t help when it’s a different clue that points toward the crime – maybe the name of the victim’s dog is the name of the next victim. Strangely, Sal’s partner seems connected enough to be able to figure this unpattern out every so often… He was good at tracking the serial killer all along, but has been IMMENSELY better at it since the serial killer became Hawk.)

The issue ends with the reveal (by a final page appearance) that Kestrel is behind the whole thing.

 

Issue Three

Dove, Sal, and Sal’s partner vs. Kestrel and Hawk. Kestrel and Hawk have the advantage, and Dove and crew are simply trying to get away this time. Since she feels assured of victory, the new Kestrel reveals that she subverted the natural process of the new Hawk receiving the powers, and instead imbued them into the serial killer (who is now her lover).

After escaping, Dove comes to the realization that Sal’s partner was supposed to be the new Hawk. She also realizes that she is never going to be able to track down “Hawk,” but Sal’s partner can – that he’s still connected to the Hawk persona. She departs, but gives them a number and tells them that she’s off to get a secret weapon and to call her before approaching. After they barely escape the last fight, they have no problem calling on a super heroine (and her secret weapon) when a confrontation is expected.

 

Issue Four

Focuses on the investigation of Sal and his partner as they try to track down the false Hawk. Interspersed with this is Dove, seen fighting alongside the JSA as she tries to convince them to relay a message to someone who they believe won’t want to hear from her. Once she explains the situation to them, though, they agree to relay the message, though they don’t promise he’ll show up. The issue ends Dove arriving just in time to witness Sal’s partner having a burst of inspiration and finding, not the next victim (as he’d been hoping to), but the false Hawk’s base of operations. The head to the base of operations, only to find it was a trap laid out for them. Sal saves Dove at the cost of a mortal wound on the last page.

 

Issue Five

The final issue in the story arc opens with the arrival of Dove’s secret weapon – Dr. Fate (who, at the time, was Hector Hall – who had the soul of Hawkman and Hawkgirl’s son, but the body of Hank Hall and Dawn Granger), who stabilizes Sal’s wounds before he dies. A fight sequence happens, but Dr. Fate is able to reverse the ritual Kestrel did, and Sal’s partner becomes Hawk in time to save Dove from Kestrel. The comic ends with Kestrel fled to a new body, the serial killer captured, Sal recovering in a hospital with his wife beside him, and Hawk and Dove partners again.

 

Obviously, as soon as Holly Granger showed up as the new Hawk, I shelved my idea, and haven’t looked at it again until the “New 52” Hawk & Dove series came out. I don’t think there’s much about my original proposal that I would save – I really like that Sterling Gates and Rob Liefeld went back to the War and Peace dynamic over the Chaos and Order one, though I feel the execution was a bit off (Dove never really seemed to be about peace, for one). Anyway, I’ve whole new ideas for what I would do with a Hawk & Dove series, and maybe one day soon I’ll write those up…

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Unrealistic Pitch for a total reboot of Marvel’s Cosmic titles, Part Two

Well, last week was kind of a bust, what with the holidays and all. Still, I’m determined to finish out these Unrealistic Pitch ideas, though several of the Cosmic title ideas I feel could be incorporated into the current continuity of the Marvel Universe – they wouldn’t need a total reboot to work. I framed them from the point of view of a total reboot, however… In any case, here’s part two of what I would do with a total rebook of the Marvel Universe’s Cosmic titles:

THE SPECIAL

The Special would be based around the idea of the butterfly effect, where the events of one group have long lasting effects elsewhere. The comic would open with the Shi’ar Emperor, D’ken, looking at screens filled with videos and data of the Kree-Skrull War and deciding its time for the Shi’ar to step in and mediate a peace – by annexing both into the Shi’ar Republic. Emissaries are sent to the Kree and Skrull. The Supreme Intelligence simply laughs at the Emissary to the Kree and ignores the Shi’ar. The Prophets, however, are outraged, and begin a campaign of destabilizing the planets on their border, so the Shi’ar will be too busy to involve themselves further. Of course, when the Shi’ar capture one of the head dissidents, and learn it’s a Skrull, they send a battle fleet on a direct course for the Skrulls’ homeworld of Skrullos. The Skrulls, of course, sent a fleet of their own to intercept (as well as placing operatives in key positions inside the Shi’ar’s fleet). The two fleets meet around a lifeless planet called Xandar. (Scans reveal it once contained life, but is a desolate rock now.) Unbeknownst to either group, this was the homeworld of the Nova Corps, a galactic police force from a time before there either empire existed.

Meanwhile, the Fantastic Four are testing Reed’s newest gadget: an FTL (Faster Than Light) Drive. Richard Rider, a high school student, is in the crowd viewing the historic event. (At the start of the story, the Fantastic Four are a famous group of adventurers and scientists who continue to break new scientific ground daily – they’ve been adventuring together for a while, but haven’t gained their super powers yet. The FTL Drive is a success, but when they appear at the far side, a pitched battle is occurring between the Skrull and the Shi’ar, and the Fantastic Four’s vessel is damaged when it collides with a Shi’ar vessel (it came out of hyperspace inside the ship’s shields). With starships battling it out all around them, the Fantastic Four knows their own ship is far outclassed, and quickly set a course to return home. Damaged as the ship is, however, they crash land, and the energy released as the engine explodes causes them to develop the powers the Fantastic Four is known to have.

Meanwhile, back at the battle, the ship the Fantastic Four crashed into plummets to the planet below. This awakens the Worldmind – a sentient computer that governed the Nova Corps before its tragic end – and seeing the devastation above, sets about to recreate the Nova Corps. Of course, by the time it’s systems are fully awakened, both sides are nothing but derelicts, so it sets off to follow the trail of the one ship to leave the battle – the Fantastic Four’s vessel. (The Starjammers see it go, as they arrive to salvage what they can from the remains of the battle.) As the Worldmind passes Jupiter, the story focuses in on the Eternals, who are amazed that the humans have developed FTL capabilities (they watched the Fantastic Four leave and return). Seeing something follow them, but not aware that it’s the Worldmind, the Eternals fear it’s the Skrull. In the ensuing chaos, mad Thanos, an Eternal who was jailed for attempting to murder every Eternal, makes his escape. He has the ability to see the abstract entity Death whenever someone is dying, and has fallen in love with her. As such, he causes several deaths to the Eternals in his escape, and promises Death more as he flees to the core worlds of the galaxy. She does not seem particularly happy about this.

The last scene in the comic will be the Worldmind arriving on Earth, at the crash site of the Fantastic Four’s vessel. Richard Rider has stuck around since the crash landing, and now that it’s night, he’s sneaking into the cordoned off area to see about snatching a souvenir. The Worldmind chooses him to be the first Nova Prime in the new Nova Corps, and the Special ends with Richard accepting and becoming Nova.

THE TITLES

The Nova title would be the main gateway for the reader to the Galactic scene, as Richard Rider knows nothing of what’s going on out there. As the Worldmind explains the situation to him, it is likewise explained to the reader. Rich will attempt to split his time between Earth and the galactic problems, though each time he focuses on one, the other has something happen that required his presence (ie. galactic problems he could’ve prevented break out when he’s dealing with his personal life, but personal problems develop when he’s out saving the galaxy). The Worldmind is especially interested in first training Richard to be a Nova Prime, and then in reforming the Corps. It gives him “vacation time” that he can use on Earth, but requires him to be on call during such times.

The Fantastic Four title will focus on scientific adventure, and will be a part of any major galactic event. It will also feature exploration of other dimensions, and testing out new and innovative technological advances, created mainly by Reed. Unbeknownst to anyone, including herself, Sue (who is married to Reed from the beginning) was pregnant with Franklin, their first child, and this will become a major theme – that of family – in the title. The first storyarc would pick up where the Special left off, with the Fantastic Four adjusting to their new powers, and trying to figure out what’s going on out in space (deciding they need to know, as if there’s a war, it could spread to Earth, and they need to be prepared if it does.) One storyline I would want to tell (maybe a year and a half to two years into the series) would be a dimensional war, between the Fantastic Fours across the dimensions are at war with the Doctor Dooms (some of who are allied in odd ways). The end result would be the death of most of the Fantastic Four characters across those dimensions, including the Human Torch from this dimension. He is replaced by a Human Torch from another dimension (whose world is now destroyed). This Human Torch is a homosexual who was married to Reed Richards in his world. To find himself in a world where Reed is straight, and married to his sister, is taking him some getting used to. (I see in my head a scene where he bellows out his usual battle cry of “Flame on!” before pausing to ask what THEIR Human Torch used to say, since theirs was a heterosexual – only to find it amusing that a straight Human Torch had the same battle cry.)

Thanos will focus on his attempts to woo Death, though he rarely succeeds in pleasing her. This is because he doesn’t understand the situation: Death is dying, and has chosen Thanos to be her replacement. As such, she doesn’t want him to simply kill people for her, she wants him to understand that death comes when it is time, not before and not after. She doesn’t want to simply tell him this, though, as she wants him to learn this for himself. Of course, as things progress, she will increasingly amp up the lessons, as her time draws short. One of the first of these lessons will be Gamora, the equivalent of a teenager of her species, found in a battlefield (as Thanos tends to go from warzone to warzone in his attempt to continue seeing Death). Death will turn her back when Thanos moves to kill her, and figures out Death wants her alive. He will raise her (and acquire other companions along the way, as well). This will eventually result in the resurrection of one of his chief rivals (I would use Captain Marvel, if he’s dead by that point) to be Death’s messenger to teach Thanos… Meanwhile, the Eternals, fearing Thanos will lead the Skrulls back to them, create Drax the Destroyer to deal with him. (Drax is a being with no genetic similarities to the Eternals, and thus, they hope he will not lead the Skrull back to them, if he’s discovered.) Each time Drax is slain by Thanos, he resurrects with a new powerset that makes him more deadly to the mad Eternal.

The Starjammers title would be patterned after the TV show Firefly (the situation, that is – not the characters themselves). The Starjammers are good people, angry at a corrupt government, who live in the grey areas of morality as pirates and smugglers. The title will start off with their origin story (we see them in the Special, but we don’t see much beyond their hatred of the Shi’ar), which starts approximately 10 years ago, when the Shi’ar learn of the existence of Earth. Earth has sent out signals into space for decades prior to that, but the Shi’ar mostly ignored them. When one high ranking official considers the planet for potential inclusion in the Shi’ar Republic, stealth ships are sent to abduct a hundred humans. Christopher “Corsair” Summers, a military fighter pilot, and his wife are two of those abducted. (His sons, who will grow up to be Cyclops and Havok, are rescued from this fate by the quick thinking of their father.) Set through a series of tests designed to determine humankind’s outer limits, all but Corsair and his wife are slain (he due to his ingenuity and quick thinking, and her because she’s the only mutant in the hundred). Outraged at their treatment, when D’ken shows up to review the results, Corsair attempts to assassinate the Emperor. His wife is slain in front of him for his efforts, and he is sent to a prison mining camp. (The assessment was that, with only two humans surviving at such a low spectrum of the tests, and with their low technological level, Earth isn’t worth contacting further.) In the mining camp, life was brutal and everyone saw to their own selfish needs. It was into this that Corsair changed things – first he saved Hepzibah from being raped by the guards (which earned him a brutal beating and time in solitary), then he rescues Raza when black marketers target him with an EMP that shuts down his cybernetics (which they planned to rip out of him and sell). Meanwhile, he constantly tests the bounds in repeated escape attempts – he’s never serious about the attempts, only in gaining knowledge from them. Finally, he has a crew loyal to him, and has worked out a means of escape (that involves releasing a unique sentient warship that decided killing was wrong, and thus dishonored its design and insured no other fully sentient starships were ever made). The crew will eventually gain knowledge that will destroy the Shi’ar’s defenses, only to learn that there are greater threats out there, beyond the galaxy, that the Shi’ar were keeping at bay (such as the Phalanx and the Universal Church of Truth.)

Lastly, the Cosmic Anthology would feature three different stories in each issue. Each story would focus on another aspect of the galaxy (including the Kree, Skrull, Shi’ar, Eternals, Deviants, Inhumans, etc.) These stories will often crossover with the main titles (Nova, Fantastic Four, Thanos, and Starjammers), but no more than one story at a time (though major, cosmic events might see all of them showing the event from different perspectives). Stories of Ronan the Accuser, Captain Mar-Vell, the Super-Skrull, the Inhumans would be found here, as well as solo stories involving supporting cast or members of a team in one of the core cosmic books. It would also be a good place to resolve dangling plots, should a title get cancelled.

Anyway, that’s what I’d do with the Cosmic side of the Marvel Universe. Next up, I’ll focus on the opposite: the street level heroes (specifically Spider-man, DareDevil, and the Heroes for Hire, among others.)

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Flash Fiction: Weekly Challenge, Christmas Edition

This week’s topic for the Weekly Challenge over at 100 Word Stories was “Christmas.” The basis for my entry, called “The Elven Curse,” was a silly scenario involving Christmas that a game master (hi, Morgie!) once ran our group through. I used it to explain a mystery from Lord of the Rings. How? Read the story over at 100 Word Stories‘ website! It’s only 100 words long, after all! ;) (They really outdid themselves this time, too – if you listen to the podcast, it’s over 1 1/2 hours long! Lots of good stuff to listen and relax to this fine Christmas afternoon…)

My entry to last week’s Weekly Challenge was posted directly to the Flash Fiction tab here, because I screwed up and managed to forget to submit it. As such, I’ve nothing new to post to the website here (though if you missed it last week, feel free to check it out!) The topic of next week’s challenge is Return, which seems appropriate for a New Year’s edition.

So until next time, Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year! (And Happy Chanukah! Happy Yuletide! Happy Kwanzaa! And the all purpose Happy Holidays! And in case you don’t celebrate any of the previous, have a wonderful end of the year!) Be safe, but do something to tell the grandkids about! ;)

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Unrealistic Pitch for a total reboot of Marvel’s Cosmic titles, Part One

Covering just the overview (since it included a rundown of the major alien races in the Marvel Universe) ended up being extremely long, I’m spliting the cosmic titles into two sections. Today is the overview, next week I’ll cover the actual titles (including the special) that would comprise my take on the cosmic side of the Marvel Universe…

 

OVERVIEW

Marvel has a long tradition of telling science fiction stories set beyond the atmosphere of the Earth. From the Galactic Empires of the Kree, Skrull, and Shi’ar, to the mysterious Celestials and dangerous Galactus, to the cosmic beings that make up the fabric of reality like Eternity and her kin, all of these stories take on a larger than life aspect. There are mysterious to the universe, and these stories explore them all, filling the reader (when done right) with a sense of awe and excitement. That would be the goal of every story in my reboot of the cosmic titles.

To the greater empires, Earth is viewed as an insignificant planet on the outer rim of the Milky Way Galaxy, populated by a barbaric and backward species. This opinion will change, as Humans begin to involve themselves in the affairs of the galaxy. This will be done mostly via individuals (Corsair of the Starjammers, the Fantastic Four, Nova, and others.) Also, because of Earth’s supposed insignificance, several races (the Eternals, Inhumans, Deviants, and others) have chosen Earth’s solar system to hide out. As a spotlight begins to shine on Earth, each of these races will react very differently…

For the rest of the Milky Way, the three dominant empires are the Kree Technocracy, the Skrull Theocracy, and the Shi’ar Republic. The Kree and Skrull have been at war for half a millennia, and that war shows no signs of letting up any time soon. Both the Kree and the Skrulls had colonies in other galaxies, but due to the war, these colonies have either been lost, or their citizens been recalled for the war effort.

One big change I would make would be to have each of the main alien races – the Kree, Skrull, and Shi’ar – based in the Milky Way. The Kree and Skrull are still at their centuries long war. Though either one could pose a serious threat to the Shi’ar, they are too busy fighting each other to try taking on the Shi’ar. For their part, the Shi’ar are happy to stay neutral. Many of the minor races, fearing becoming embroiled into the Kree-Skrull War, have applied for –and generally accepted into – citizenship within the Shi’ar Republic. This has swelled their territories to a full half of the Milky Way Galaxy, and they’ve even begun to send diplomatic envoys to other galaxies. Prior to the war erupting, both the Kree and the Skrull had colonies in other galaxies, though either contact was lost with these colonies, or their citizens have been recalled for the war effort.

 

THE KREE TECHNOCRACY

The Kree are evolved from amphibians, and while they are notably humanoid, they have strong amphibious characteristics: blue, wet skin, a lack of hair anywhere on their head or body (though they do have tentacles on their heads in place of hair), and none of the mammalian characteristics (for example, the women, while obviously feminine, do not have breasts).

They are not native to this galaxy originally, but were refuges from a world consumed by Galactus. Always an aggressive species, the Kree arrived in the Milky Way and immediately conquered a new home, rechristened “New Hala” – a planet that belonged to the Skrull Theocracy. They have since gained control of a fourth of the core worlds in the Milky Way (many of which originally belonged to the Skrull), and though they consider New Hala to be their new homeworld, the seat of government is on Kree-Lar (as Hala is on a distant spiral arm of the galaxy, and not conducive to governing the empire.)

The Kree Technocracy is ruled by an organic computer called the Supreme Intelligence. Every member of the Kree race is expected to link his brain patterns up to the Supreme Intelligence once a cycle, and to perform a full download when dying, if possible (soldiers are implanted with a chip that can be removed and used to upload their final scans). Thus, even the dead have a “vote” within the great machine of government (though the Supreme Intelligence has been destroyed twice during the Kree-Skrull War, and thus it is said that the dead have an “unequal representation,” as some of the data could not be recovered.) Votes are weighed by expertise, so while the Supreme Intelligence will factor in every mind within itself, those with military leadership experience will be factored as more important in the voting algorithm on matters involving the war, for example.

The war has taken a toll on the Kree population’s psyche, and they’ve mellowed tremendously, even while continuing to fight against the Skrull. Still, most of their worlds are akin to the United States: dominated by the Kree, with small reservations of the indigenous populations scattered about in undesirable locations. The Inhumans are one of these indigenous populations who, rather than live out their lives on reservations, fled to the Blue Area of Earth’s moon.

 

THE SKRULL THEOCRACY

The Skrull’s evolutionary origins are thought to be from bacteria, though very little information about this is publically available. What is known is that they are neither animal nor plant, but can mimic both. Skrulls reproduce asexually through binary fission – in which two exact copies of the parent are created, this includes memories. The view of Skrulls seen in comics today is actually the dominant species in their empire, not that of an actual Skrull, who’s true form is jealously guarded. (As a side note: none of the races in the Skrull Theocracy – aside from the Skrull themselves – are allowed to be called anything other than “the people of the Skrull Theocracy.” No individual races are ever named, just individuals.) Rarely does anyone know who is actually a Skrull until they begin to change their appearance, and that has been further complicated by technological advances that allow honored members of society to have the ability to alter their appearance like an actual Skrull. Skrulls are always able to tell one of their own, however…

Every citizen in the Skrull Theocracy has their lives practically planned out for them, day to day. Each day, they are given the prophesies for that day, akin to a horoscope, though far more detailed and determined not by the stars, but by the Prophets. For most of the citizens, their role in society determines which horoscope they read, though there are often individuals named specifically on any given day – the more important a member of society is, the more often they are named individually, though even the most common of citizens can have an individual horoscope, if the prophets see their role that day as important.

Skrulls view their ability to change their shape as a gift bestowed by their gods, and generally fall into one of three categories. The most common are the “Common Skrulls,” who integrate into other parts of society and keep an eye on their sector for dissidents and radicals. They view themselves as the ultimate spies, and will often have multiple roles in a given sector, allowing them more access to a greater portion of the population under their purview. As such, Skrull society functions very similar to that of the panopticon principle. The second are the “Super Skrulls,” warriors who pride themselves on being able to copy the genetic qualities of multiple species. These warriors will take on multiple power sets from the genetic material of various individual mutations in any given population of their empire. Most Super Skrulls can gain the abilities of at least three mutations, but some are capable of upwards of ten. Genetic material is a closely guarded secret between Super Skrulls, though at least two must always have access to any given material (so such information will never die out). The third group are the “Prophets,” who rule the Skrull Theocracy. They gain the gift of prophesy by half-dissolving themselves in sacred pools of acid, and their word is law to the people of the Theocracy.

There is one other kind of Skrull, known by many derogatory terms, but most commonly called Deviants. These are Skrulls who are unable to control their genetic make up. Some are unable to keep a single form. Others are unable to change their form. Some are born this way. Others become Deviants by injury or illness. Regardless, they are put to death whenever they are discovered. Centuries ago, a group of Deviants banded together and went into hiding, and sought to gather as many of their kind as they could, hoping to create a fourth category. They numbered in the thousands when they were discovered, and rather than being embraced, they were hunted and killed. A group of several hundred, believed killed, fleed to Earth, where they now live in Lemuria, a city in on the floor of the Pacific basin.

Another notable group are the Eternals, who were comprised of the minor races of the Skrull Theocracy that rebelled against the strict religious laws. While still a part of the Skrull Theocracy, the Eternals aided the Deviants who fled to Earth, and when they were able to make alternate travel plans, joined the Deviants. However, the Deviants did not want them as a part of their new society, and after a brief conflict, drove them away. There has been enmity between the two ever since. The Eternals set up a home on Titan, one of Jupiter’s moons. Though they belonged to multiple races (ie. unable to breed children), they modified their genetic make-up to be compatible. They made their base form look akin to humans, as they are fascinated by Earth’s residents, and hope to one day join humanity on Earth (though each time they’ve decided that humanity was not yet ready for them).

 

THE SHI’AR REPUBLIC

This Shi’ar are of avian descent, with feathers instead of hair. They are a fragile (especially due to their lean muscles and hollow bones), but extremely long lived race. As such, they often wear hard, metallic exoskeletons to protect their physical form. While the Shi’ar are as aggressive as the Kree ever were, they pursue it in different ways. For the Shi’ar, to enter open combat is frowned upon and seen as beneath them. Instead, an insulted Shi’ar will work to destroy everything you’ve ever loved before seeing you killed. To say that the Shi’ar value cunning is understating it to near criminal proportions.

Beyond the Shi’ar themselves, who function as a kind of nobility in the Shi’ar Republic, there are literally tens of thousands of races. While the Shi’ar has always been welcoming of incorporating new cultures and races into itself, the Kree-Skrull War has ramped up the desire for others to be within the protective shelter of the Shi’ar, such as it is, and the Shi’ar have welcomed all of them. The Shi’ar Republic now makes up a full half of the core worlds, and has even begun sending diplomatic envoys and explorers to other galaxies to expand even further. (The other half of the Milky Way’s core worlds are split between the Kree and the Skrull, and the Shi’ar have traditionally taken a neutral position in the war.)

The Shi’ar Republic is governed by its Emperor and two houses of Parliament: the Shi’ar House and the Common House. All three have equal power in voting for and creating laws. The Emperor is also tasked as the Executor, responsible for carrying out those laws. Judicial matters are handled by Judges with appeals presented first to the Racial Representative in the Common House and then to the Emperor himself, when necessary. (The Shi’ar have a rank system to their noble status that determines who grievances are heard by, but this likewise ends with the Emperor as the final say in Judicial matters.) Every race is represented in the Common House, with the number of representatives determined by the population of the race, as well as its importance within the Republic. Every Shi’ar is officially allowed to vote on any matter in the Shi’ar House, though most give these votes to Representatives that they feel best serve their interests. How many votes a given Representative has varies upon how many have given him or her their voting rights. At any time, a Shi’ar can take back his rights and either vote himself, or give their rights to another Representative.  As such, Representatives can rise and fall in a matter of days, and given the Shi’ar’s noted cunning, this indeed happens quite often. In every branch of the government, especially given the size of each of the Houses, corruption is rampant. As such, matters are often simply decided by the Emperor. Unfortunately, the current Emperor, D’ken, is quite insane…

 

This doesn’t include some of the major players (such as Galactus and Eternity) who aren’t a part of the racial empires, nor extra-galactic empires like the Phalanx, mostly because they would be used for individual stories and are not a part of the general situation in the galaxy. Next up, I’ll cover the Special, and the individual cosmic titles, which include the Fantastic Four, Nova, Thanos, the Starjammers, and a Galactic Anthology.

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Flash Fiction: Weekly Challenge Failure

Well, I managed to write a story for this week’s challenge over at 100 Word Stories, but then had a brain freezed and forgot to e-mail it last night. So instead of being posted there, I simply posted it (along with last week’s entry, “Kudzu”) in the Flash Fiction tab on this blog. The topic had been “fingerprints,” and my entry would’ve been titled “Zero Tolerance.” I thought it was a fun, if simplistic, story about a serial killer. (Your tastes on the combination of “fun” and “serial killer” may differ, of course.) So feel free to check out the other entries at the 100 Word Stories’ website, or my own stories in the Flash Fiction tab on this blog (or both).

In any case, next week’s topic is, naturally, Christmas. I planned to work on it earlier – maybe even write two – but I couldn’t come up with anything last week. Thankfully, I came up with a concept today, so I shouldn’t have any problem finishing it before the deadline – and this time, I’ll make damn sure I send it in on time!

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Unrealistic Pitch for a total reboot of S.H.I.E.L.D. (and affiliated titles)

Continuing my series of “Unrealistic Pitches,” these are what I would do if I were in charge of a total reboot of the Marvel Universe. (I plan to do the same for the DC Universe next, and maybe the Valiant Universe, as well. We’ll see.) In any case, next up is S.H.I.E.L.D., The Avengers, and the Defenders. I was debating including my idea for a New Warriors reboot, but decided it works best under the “street level” heroes, so I’m going to include it there…

 

OVERVIEW

S.H.I.E.L.D. takes the place of the C.I.A., Homeland Security, and any and all spy organizations of the US in the Marvel Universe. As such, all of the big events in the Marvel Universe should revolve around these titles. I would divide them into three titles: S.H.I.E.L.D., The Defenders, and The Avengers. These titles would revolve around the before, during, and aftermath, respectively, of the major events happening in the Marvel Universe.

 

THE INDIVIDUAL TITLES

The S.H.I.E.L.D. title would juggle multiple storylines going on at the same time, focusing on operatives that have gone undercover into various super villain, criminal, and terrorist organizations around the world. Their objective is to learn about threats posed by these organizations and, when possible, sabotage these efforts. When that isn’t possible, they’re to act as an early warning system, alerting their handlers to the upcoming threats. Multiple storylines would happen at the same time, and one of these will be the next big event to hit the Marvel Universe, though the reader should be kept guessing which one it will turn out to be. The three top agents would be Hawkeye, Mockingbird, and Black Widow, and most of the stories would revolve around these three (sometimes working together, but often not). Sometimes they will succeed in sabotaging the bad guy’s mission and sometimes they’ll relay the upcoming plans back to S.H.I.E.L.D. – but sometimes they’ll fail to learn anything important in time to prevent anything, and some agents will die in the attempt. The reader should be kept wondering what the fate of each agent will be, and whether any given mission will succeed or fail.

The Defenders title will be the cornerstone of practically every major event storyline in the Marvel Universe. Other heroes could deal with the smaller threats, but the villians behind world shattering events would be dealt with by the Defenders. They are the first line of defense against every major baddie that comes down the pipe. They generally assemble whenever S.H.I.E.L.D. provides intel of an imminent attack. The team consists of Nighthawk, Doctor Strange, Namor, Valkerie, the Hulk, and a reserve cast of practically every hero in the Marvel Universe (Moondragon and Spider-man would be two of the heroes often called on – they could’ve been regular members, but prefer being reservists, even if they get called up practically every time). Doctor Strange is crucial to gathering the team together, as Valkerie is often off in Asgard and the Hulk is repeatedly escaping from whatever prison he’s been confined to this time (Doctor Strange often helps with this on the sly, as he feels responsible for the Hulk being recaptured after missions). Things become dicey when Doctor Strange is off dealing with a mystical threat to the universe, but is often able to help assemble the team, at the very least. Namor is one of only two full time members, since he no longer has a home to return to (Atlantis was destroyed in a previous – or the first – mission. As such, he’s devoted his life to insuring that such a genocide never happens again.) As a former king, he’s ideally suited to handling the finances and logistics of the team, though his temper can sometimes get in the way, especially where personality conflicts are involved. Nighthawk is the sole (hero) survivor of his dimension, and leads the Defenders to insure that this universe does not suffer the same fate as his own. If the team receives enough intel on the upcoming event, they will assemble reservists based on the threat. If there isn’t enough time, a general emergency is called, and anyone capable of answering makes up the team for such threats.

The Avengers are called in when the Defenders fail, or didn’t have enough warning to even show up. They will AVENGE, going after the Osama Bin Ladens of the Marvel Universe. They are tasked with capturing the villains alive to stand trial, whenever conceivable, or to take out the villain when this isn’t possible. Captain America leads the team, and is crucial for his reputation – he’s seen as an honorable hero by not just Americans, but by practically everyone in the world. Doors are often opened to them because of his leadership of the team. Iron Man is likewise important for the image of the team, as his company’s extensive research into non-lethal weaponry shows the world that they’re serious about trying to bring in the villain alive, whenever possible. Thor and Ms. Marvel are the powerhouses of the group, and Ant Man and the Wasp are the reconnaissance experts. Black Panther, ousted from his nation by a coup by Klaw, rounds out the group as the resident tactical genius. Whereas the Defenders will be fighting on their home turf against incoming threats, the Avengers will be tracking down the villains and fighting them on their home turf, making it both a more proactive, and more difficult task.

 

THE SPECIAL

Kicking off things would be the S.H.I.E.L.D. Special, which would set up each of the above titles. It would start with three S.H.I.E.L.D. ops. The first would result in successful sabotage of the enemy’s plans, but requires a speedy extraction, as the villains learned of the undercover operative’s identity during the sabotage, unbeknownst to the agent. The second results in the death of the agent, who is unable to pass on the information of the imminent threat. The Avengers are called in to take down the bad guy responsible for the attack. Lastly, the third results in information being passed on the Defenders, ending with a two page spread of the Defenders facing off against the bad guys. Each of these stories would continue in the main series.

 

And that’s what I would do with these titles (and major story arcs set on Marvel Earth.) I think S.H.I.E.L.D. would work well, and Avengers fits the name incredibly well, but I’m not sure how well Defenders would go over. Sure, it fits the name, but I don’t know that Defenders fans would be particularly pleased with the changes (which makes it the weak link in my idea), though I, naturally, love the idea. Anyway, next up I’ll put the universe in the Marvel Universe with the Cosmic titles…

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