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Sorry about the delay, Superteam. I would have posted this on Friday if it wasn’t for Zom’s notepad fucking up my shit. I was so angry I couldn’t face redoing the entire deleted file until today – I’m sure you understand.

So… this time round there’s a lot more talking – denser panels and whatnot – there’s more wildlife and a sprinkling of magic. BTW, I’ve been checking loads of comics and people break the 25 to 20 words a panel rule ALL THE TIME so I don’t feel that bad about it any more. Obviously if the action’s supposed to be fast paced you can’t go shoving soliloquies in character’s mouths, but if it’s just talking heads, or even a teensy bit of implied movement, then it doesn’t matter so much. Again, I won’t be coming over all Bendis or Kevin Smith.

I wrote this one under the influence of the mighty Melchior Productions Ltd, Vangelis (obviously, but specifically his Apocalypse Des Animaux stuff), Telepathe and Atlas Sound, so it’s all a little downbeat…. Apart from the parts that take place in the Engine Rooms, which I wrote while drinking and chatting with a mate. We had Stay High and Thunderheist on repeat. That LBG tune’s a corker (thankyou, Wrong Tom!).

STOP!

GET READY!

PAGE 1

PANEL 1

One of Hotel Bethlehem’s executive suites. This is of course an incidental detail, because there are really only a couple of elements that are important to this scene: a holo telly tuned in to Gotham Tonight’s news channel, illuminating a figure on the bed. In the bleeding blue light the figure’s features are completely obscured, but we can make out two red snakes burrowing into his/her  eyesockets.

CAP: 12/11/15 HOTEL BETHLEHEM, GOTHAM CITY.

HOLO-TV: ….EWS TODAY, AERIAL PINK HAS JUST BEEN NOMINATED AS TOYTOWN’S REPRESENTATIVE IN THE MAYORAL ELECTION….

PANEL 2

The camera travels up the figure’s body. The snakes are very clear now, shimmering like fizzing, electric sherbert in the holo-light, which has dimmed now the footage it’s showing is from outside the studio. The face is still fuzzy – as it should always be in this scene.

HOLO-TV: WE CAUGHT UP WITH MR. PINK WHO’S FOUGHT A CLOSE RUN RACE AGAINST THE RED QUEEN BACKED CANDIDATE, MR. DUMPTY, OUTSIDE CITY HALL EARLIER TODAY.

HOLO TV: MR PINK CAN WOULD YOU LIKE TO COMMENT ON THIS AFTERNOON’S OUTCOME?

PANEL 3

Close on the *eyes*

AERIAL PINK: (from TV) WELL OBVIOUSLY I’M DELIGHTED TOYTOWN’S CITIZENS ARE BEHIND MY BIG PUSH TO SEE REAL CHANGE IN THIS CITY.

THE CONCERNS OF YOUR AVERAGE TOYTOWNER – A HUGE PERCENTAGE OF GOTHAM’S OVERALL POPULATION I MIGHT ADD – BARELY REGISTER IN CITY HALL, AND MY NOMINATION REPRESENTS THE FIRST STEP TOWARDS RECTIFYING THAT.

PANEL 4

Matched shot. The snakes turn transparent blue. The figure’s  eyes are wide open beneath them.

HOLO-TV: UNFORTUNATELY MR. DUMPTY WAS UNAVAILABLE FOR COMMENT.

SFX: (all custardy) SPLAT!

HOLO-TV: WE’RE GOING TO A COMMERCIAL BREAK. BE RIGHT BACK.

PAGE 2

PANEL 1

Close up on mouth. The figure’s smiling, but it’s such a cruel, sensuous mouth we have no way of knowing if it’s a man or woman.

SHADOWY FIGURE: AH.

SHADOWY FIGURE: NOW THAT WAS FUN AND EDUCATIONAL.

SFX: (musical notes emanating from TV)

PANEL 2

The camera is now positioned behind the figure as s/he sits up, rubbing his/her eyes, and uses the remote to turn off the box as s/he simultaneously dials a number on his phone . The phone’s buttons glow green in the darkness – the picture on the tv disappears into a blinking white ball.

SFX: PLINK

SFX: DOOT! DOOT! DOOT!

PANEL 3

Silhouette of figure on the phone

FIGURE: HELLO? ABIGIAL…

(2): YES. MMMMMMM.

(3): OH, SO YOU EXPERIENCED THAT TOO?

PANEL 4

Camera turns to telly as it blinks on again, picture unfolding, but presently a band of visual static.

TV: —URN OVER KIDS!

SFX: (ad jingle from telly) IIIIIIINFESTICONS! ROOOOBO MERCS!

FIGURE: YES… WE NEED TO GET SOME PEOPLE ON IT RIGHT AWAY.

(2): THERE’S SOMETHING WRONG WITH THE TELEVISION. HOLD ON WHILE I TURN IT DOWN.

PANEL 5

The figure leans towards the screen searching for the volume, but there’s something strange about the advert playing on its surface. It appears to detail an army – literally thousands – of tiny action figures, like bugs.

TV: INFESTICONS! ADAPTABLE ROBO-MERCS COME WITH BILLIONS OF POSABLE BODY PARTS AND WEAPON ATTACHMENTS!

FIGURE: JUST ONE MOMENT ABIGAIL.

PAGE 3

PANEL 1

This time we get a full view. The camera tight on the TV. The image on the screen depicts two frightening looking individuals, one with a red mask over his entire face revealing nothing but a gritted, shark-like maw, and the other bald, blue,  with grills replacing his eyes and mouth, snarling out at the reader and snapping action figure model kits together. One looks like Luke skywalker in his Bespin gear, except for the fact that he has blood soaked knives for hands, the other model has the body of Buzz Lightyear but the head of  an octopus.

TV: INFESTICONS! WAGE THEIR NEVERENDING WAR WITH THE FORCES OF TRUTH, JUSTICE AND THE AMERICAN WAY

(2): A WAR WHICH YOU CONTROL!

PANEL 2

Eighties style animation – looks a little grainy around the edges, the colours a little blocky – of an infesticon, this time just like an AT-ST controller with a blank, empty face and bloody great machine-cannons for arms blowing a family away. Total overkill. Really gory and disgusting.

TV: UNREPEATABLE! UNBEATABLE! UNSTOPPABLE!

PANEL 3

Camera turns back to figure, paused infront of the advert. Dawn is breaking outside the window.

TV: INTRODUCTORY MODEL KITS START AT $5000,0000. JUST DIAL THIS NUMBER NOW!

FIGURE: HMMMMM–

PAGE 4

PANEL 1

Splash/title page.

The screen displays the Infesticons logo, chrome silver on a pink field, just like the eighties Transformers one only wriggling with maggots and insects. The wire scaffolding that constructs the letters before the metallic sheen is painted on them is showing, and infested.

TV: IIIIIIINFESTICONS!

FIGURE: ABIGAIL? THIS IS TURNING OUT TO BE A VERY INTERESTING DAY INDEED.

PANEL 2

Close on smiling mouth again, speaking into phone.

FIGURE: NOW. WHERE WERE WE?

TITLE: BATMAN 666 – COLLECT ‘EM ALL!

PAGE 5

PANEL 1

We cut to, of all places, Venice! It’s a lovely sunny day and two people are out enjoying it, taking a stroll by the river. The small metal bridge they’re crossing is suitably ancient, perhaps festooned with sculpted cherubs and fauns, and they make a very elegant pair. One, a beautiful blonde girl of about 19, dressed like the ideal, chaste victorian daughter, complete with pink flowing dress and petticoats and a lace up bonnet, has her arm wrapped tightly round the other, a greying, but dignified, victorian gentleman, flowing moustachios and all. I imagine him to resemble the first ever image of Sir. Miles in the second issue of the invisibles. He regards his daughter fondly and she looks up at him beaming broadly. In the girl’s other arm is a long dog lead extending out of the panel. We never see the dog at the end of it.

CAP: 15/11/15, 10:00AM, VENICE.

GIRL: ..AND SO THEN I SAID, ‘YOU’RE MAKING A TERRIBLE MESS OF MY DRESS!’ IT WAS QUITE, QUITE INAPPROPRIATE, DON’T YOU THINK? AFTERALL, I’D GONE TO SO MUCH TROUBLE TO DO IT CLEANLY

FATHER: OH YES, MY DEAR. ABSOLUTELY. DREADFUL.

PANEL 2

The camera now floats above them. She looks concerned, like a small child working a sum out in their head. He looks out across the water.

GIRL: I REALLY SHOULDN’T HAVE EXPECTED MUCH IN THE WAY OF A RESPONSE, CONSIDERING HER MOUTH WASN’T WORKING PROPERLY.

(2): BUT, OH POO!, DRY CLEANING IS ONE OF THE HAZARDS OF THE JOB I SUPPOSE.

FATHER: I MUST SAY, MATILDA, I DIDN’T NOTICE A HAIR OUT OF PLACE WHEN YOU ARRIVED AT THE LUTHOR-DEWITT’S LAST NIGHT. AND, I MIGHT ADD, NEITHER DID MR. GLADSTONE

SFX: DEET! DEET! DEET! DEET!

PANEL 3

She reaches into her frilly hand-bag.

LADY MATILDA: DON’T TEASE M…

(2): I’M SORRY, DADDY, I’VE SIMPLY MUST ANSWER THIS—

SFX: DEET! DEET! DEET! DEET!

PANEL 5

She puts her mobile to her mouth, pulling a face.

LADY MATILDA: MS. POTTS! HOW DELIGHTFUL!

PANEL 6

Close up on her pretty face listening.

LADY MATILDA: OH MY! YES!

(2): —-

(3): THAT SOUNDS SIMPLY SMASHING!

SFX: rrr?

PAGE 6

PANEL 1

We pull out a bit. She’s straining at her dog leash, turning to her father who seems oblivious to everything.

LADY MATILDA: –DEPOSITED IN MY OFFSHORE ACCOUNT? FANTASTIC!

(2): GNN! LOOK, PUPPY’S GOT ALL EXCITED NOW! THEY HAVE VERY GOOD HEARING YOU KNOW!

PUPPY: (from off panel and low) grrrrrrr.

PANEL 2

The dog’s really pulling at the leash. Her Father turns, woken from his reverie.

LADY MATILDA: EXCUSE ME, MS. POTTS.

LADY MATILDA: DADDY! COULD YOU JUST HELP ME WITH–

PUPPY: (huge, more like SFX) SNARL! RAWR! GRACK! ROWL!

PANEL 3

The lead snaps. Matilda’s hand covers her mouth. Daddy looks shocked.

SFX: SNAP!

LADY MATILDA: OOPS.

LADY MATILDA: UH. I THINK I’VE NEED TO GO NOW.

PANEL 4

She puts the phone back while scolding her Father.

LADY MATILDA: USELESS DADDY!

FATHER: I’M SO SORRY, DARLING. WHOEVER THAT WAS THEY GOT THE MUTT ALL RILED UP, WHAT?

PANEL 5

Close on Matilda, her eyes straining to find her dog outside the panel.

LADY MATILDA: YES. THAT WAS THE OFFICE.

(2): I’VE GOT TO KILL SOMEONE.

PANEL 6

Large, at bottom.

Lady Matilda and her father’s view as they descend the bridge: a Venetian town square filled with terrified tourists clearing a way for Matilda’s dog, who, in the distance, can just be seen charging up the wall of a crumbling old clock tower. We can’t make the animal out that clearly, but it appears to be a rusty brown in colour, with a mane of blonde hair falling down its back and haunches.

LADY MATILDA: AND IT RATHER LOOKS LIKE PUPPY’S GOING TO GET THERE AHEAD OF ME.

PAGE 7

PANEL 1

CAP: 15/11/15, 14:00PM, INLE. ONE MORE PHONE CALL….

All of the panels in this sequence are tightly packed.

A chessgame, played by candlelight. A hand moves a black Queen into position to check a King. I should mention that the hand is adorned with a single piece of jewellry – a gold ring with a small black rabbit perched on it. The game has reached its closing stages – it’s nearly a simple lock mate. Only one more move…

SFX: BRINGBRINGBRINGBRINGBRING

MAN MOVING PIECE: (off panel) ..AND CHECK–

(2): MY APOLOGIES, SIR, BUT I HAVE TO TAKE THAT….

PANEL 2

He leaves the frame. No movement.

MAN: GOOD EVENING?

(2): AH, ABI. SO LOVELY TO HEAR YOUR VOICE AGAIN.

PANEL 3

A pale white hand moves the King out of the firing range.

MAN: YOU’D LIKE ME TO DO WHAT?

(2): HMMMM.

(3): NO. THAT SHOULDN’T BE A PROBLEM.

PANEL 4

No movement.

OWNER OF PALE WHITE HAND: (off panel) TSSK!

MAN: CAN I EXPECT ANY COMPLICATIONS?

PANEL 5

The owner of the pale white hand knocks over his king, conceding.

MAN: REALLY?

(2): NOW THAT MAKES THINGS SO MUCH MORE EXCITING, DOESN’T IT?

PANEL 6

No movement.

MAN: OKAY THEN, SWEETHEART. THANKYOU.

(2): AND NOW I REALLY MUST GET BACK TO MY GAME.

SFX: CLICK!

PANEL 7

Whoever it was doing the talking they’re resuming their seat.

MAN: AAAAH, YOU LOSE AGAIN, SIR! HOW TERRIBLY IRKSOME FOR YOU!

PANEL 8

Both of his hands are planted on the table victoriously.

MAN: WELL, COME ON THEN – DON’T JUST SIT THERE LOOKING GLUM.

(2): DUTY CALLS.

PANEL 9

Darkness.

SPEECH BUBBLE: (tail-less) WE HAVE WORK TO DO.

PAGE 8

PANEL 1

More darkness.

SPEECH BUBBLE: (tail-less) ER…MR. WAYNE?

SPEECH BUBBLE: (tail-less) UM… MR. WAYNE I DON’T KNOW IF YOU CAUGHT ALL THAT.

PANEL 2

Darkness slowly blinking open as though we’re viewing the scene from the interior of an eyelid. Which we are. Two blurry faces, one black, older and male, and the other, pretty, oriental, young and female peer into the depths, quizically. Both of them besuited.

WOMAN: …SIR?

SPEECH BUBBLE: (tail-less) GROOOOAN.

(2): …WHERE?

PANEL 3

And now we’re outside Damian Wayne’s head and the camera’s positioned midway between Damian, his CEO, Lucias, and his head of online strategy, Kimberly Toyama. Damian’s slumped over an enormous glass table – the sort of table used for large board meetings. And that’s where we are – in the boardroom of Wayne-Corp Tower, its glass walls give us an amazing view of the neon drenched city at sunset. Damian’s sleeping it off after the night before, but at the most embarrasing time imaginable – during his employee’s outline of the talk she’ll be giving to the board over the course of the next hour. She looks confused and flushed, while Lucias crosses his arms with disgust. Kimberly is an attractive, confident, officious type normally, but obviously she feels the pressure when confronted with the Chairman of the Board, especially a chairman who appears to be so disiniterested in what she has to say. Lucias is used to this sort of thing, but that doesn’t mean he approves. Damian actually looks a bit shocked to find himself in this room, with these people.

DAMIAN: OH.

LUCIAS: WELCOME BACK TO THE LAND OF THE LIVING, DAMIAN.

(2): MISS TOYAMA HERE WAS JUST EXPLAINING THE NEED FOR INCREASED SECURITY WITHIN WAYNE-CORP’S VIRTUAL COMPOUND. WE DIDN’T MEAN TO DISTURB YOUR BEAUTY SLEEP.

PANEL 4

Damian looks groggy and contrite.

DAMIAN: SORRY, KIMBERLY. HEAVY NIGHT.

(2): (small) UH, WHAT WERE YOU SAYING?

KIMBERLY: I WAS JUST OUTLINING THE STRATEGY I’M GOING TO PRESENT TO THE BOARD TONIGHT, SIR.

(2): BUT THERE’S NOT A GREAT DEAL OF TIME LEFT. THE MEETING STARTS IN FIVE MINUTES.

PANEL 5

Lucias looks at his watch which has just lit up.

LUCIAS: TOO LATE.

(2): THAT’S FRANCINE LETTING ME KNOW THEY’RE OUTSIDE.

(3): PUT IT ALL IN AN EMAIL, KIM.

PANEL 6

Small. Close on Damian’s face looking apologetic.

LUCIAS: (off panel): MR. WAYNE’S OBVIOUSLY FEELING A LITTLE DISTRACTED AT PRESENT.

CAP: (handwritten, as before) BATMAN’S GREY CASEBOOK, NOVEMBER THE 15TH, 2015

CAP: DUSK IS A BIT EARLY FOR ME. I’M NORMALLY SLEEPING IT OFF.

PAGE 9

PANEL 1

The interior of the batmobile as seen in the first ish. The setting sun sets the cockpit on fire – brilliant, dazzling yellows, golds and pinks. Batman is at the controls. His cape is a sad sunset brown.

SPEECH BUBBLE: (electronic, from speaker) BATMAN, YOU ARE CLEARED FOR LANDING: GLYPH KEY (a glowing series of symbols, red, yellow and green: a circle, a circle with a line bisecting it and an M shape with a line running through the middle)

BATMAN: TELL YOUR BOSS IT’LL BE GREAT TO SEE HIM AGAIN.

CAP: BRUCE USED TO FEIGN NAPPING IN MEETINGS. IT WAS ALL PART OF THE ACT.

CAP: ME? WELL, I LIKE TO IMAGINE HE CAN’T, BUT LUCIAS CAN SPOT THE DIFFERENCE.

PANEL 2

Outside, and the batmobile – or should I say its *head*, because the dinosaur’s noggin has now detached from its body to make it easier to get around – is banking up into the orange clouds. Solar glare sparks off the lense.

SPEECH BUBBLE (tail-less, electronic, from speaker) PULL UP ABOVE THE CLOUD BANK AND HEAD INTO THE SETTING SUN.

CAP: AFTER THAT MESS LAST WEEK ROBIN WAS DUE SOME DOWNTIME, SO TONIGHT I PICKED AN EASY ASSIGNMENT FOR HER.

CAP: WHICH IS JUST ANOTHER WAY OF SAYING, I DIDN’T WANT TO CONTEND WITH THAT LOOK SHE GIVES ME WHEN SHE THINKS I’M BEING STUPID.

PANEL 3

A blur of gold mist outside the window as Batman passes through the cloud.

SPEECH BUBBLE (tail-less, electronic, from speaker) WE’LL BE WAITING FOR YOU ON THE DRAWBRIDGE.

CAP: BECAUSE DESPITE WHAT I TOLD HER, I’M FULL OF QUESTIONS

PAGE 10

PANEL 1

From behind the batmobile as it launches itself out of the cloud, pieces of it trailing off the chassis like cotton wool. Ahead, in the centre of the frame, lies Dr. Fate’s castle-planet. It appears to almost orbit the setting sun but obviously that’s impossible, isn’t it? A golden mini Saturn floating above the city with a door in its equator.  The Drawbridge leading to it and providing safe passage through the planetoid’s dinky asteroid belt  is down, waiting, and two enormous floating metal gates, the only way through the giant white picket fence that hedges off the belt, swing open allowing the Batmobile to pass.

CAP: AND I WOULDN’T WANT DOCTOR FATE TO THINK I WAS UNGRATEFUL.

SFX: (the glyphs from before, piled one on top of the other like traffic lights and emanating from Ace. Huge.)

PANEL 2

The view from the drawbridge. Ace is descending. A thin, pitch black man – not negroid, just PITCH BLACK – in a pitch black suit looks up at it as it lands. Towering over him is the form of Dr. Fate, who, unlike in the last couple of issues, now appears to have a body constructed of rainbows. The only solid feeling things about him are his golden helmet and cloak. He looks as though he could dissolve into the sky at any moment.

SFX: (from Ace as he puts the breakers on) FSSSSSH

PAGE 11

PANEL 1

Damian disembarks and Fate hurries to greet him, arms outstretched. Fate’s servant trails after his master.

DR. FATE: DAMIAN, MY BOY! IT’S WONDERFUL TO SEE YOU AGAIN.

DAMIAN: I WOULD’VE COME SOONER, BUT…I’VE BEEN BUSY.

PANEL 2

They shake each other by the hand warmly.

DR FATE: SO I HEAR.

(2): WELL, I HOPE YOU LIKE THE RENOVATIONS. IT’S MILLION MILES AWAY FROM THAT CREEPY OLD PLACE IN THE SUBURBS.

PANEL 3

He turns to his servant who bows.

DR. FATE: NYARLOTHEP, COULD YOU TAKE MR. WAYNE’S STEED TO THE STABLES, WHILE I SHOW OUR GUEST AROUND?

NYARLOTHEP: YUSSSS MASZTER.

PANEL 4

Nyarlothep and Ace disappear in a puff of green smoke as Fate and Damian head towards the camera along the drawbridge.

SFX: POOF!

BATMAN:NYARLOTHEP? WHO OWED YOU A FAVOUR THIS TIME?

FATE: WELL THAT’S WHAT HE CALLS HIMSELF, BUT HE’S PROBABLY NOT THE GENUINE ARTICLE.

PANEL 5

They head towards the front door, a speck in the distance. Is the drawbridge really that huge, or is the door very small?

DR. FATE: YOU KNOW WHAT THESE INFERNAL TYPES ARE LIKE, ALWAYS ON THE LOOK OUT FOR SOMEONE TO BOW AND SCRAPE AFTER. IT’S VERY DEGRADING REALLY.

DAMIAN: SO…. YOU OWE HIM YOUR SOUL?

DR. FATE: NO, NO DEAR BOY, I’M NOT MR. CONSTANTINE.

PAGE 12

PANEL 1

Suddenly, as if by magic, they’re right in front of the front door. It is that huge, and it’s protected by a huge portcullis. It has a couple of weird features, though: a cat flap and a mottled window at about human height.

DR. FATE: HE OWES ME HIS.

PANEL 2

Fate rummages around in the inner lining of his cloak, while Damian stares up at the door, obviously impressed.

DR. FATE:NOW LET ME SEE….

(2): WHERE DID I PUT THAT KEY?

PANEL 3

The interior of a nightclub that doesn’t care if it’s dusk or dawn. Frenzied dancers whirl in and out of their gleaming avatars – a boy with fiery feathers here, a girl with neon plummage igniting her spine, a boy speedblurring between a gundam robot and naked skin over there. The kids are the light show. Computerised notes, like the ones Robin projects, blast out of the speakers and disperse in the air. Two lithe, shadowy figures make their way through the crowd.

CAP: THE ENGINE ROOMS DAY-AND-NIGHTCLUB, GOTHAM. 6PM

PANEL 4

The crowd parts for the young ladies we’re trailing and we can make out the booths beyond. In the central booth two kids are clinched in an embrace, snogging. The girl wears pink and white flecked framed geek glasses, beneath which, like that girl Natasha from Bats For Lashes, she wears red warpaint – shades of native american. Her short blonde hair has a leather, sixties style thong holding it in place, a multi-coloured feather sticking out of it. On her bottom half she wears a shiny red all-in-one catsuit tied around the waist with a golden sash. She has nothing on her feet. The boy wears a white wifebeater with a computerised wolf’s head motif across his chest and what look like silver leggings covering his powerful legs. His hair is swept back and, like his friend, he wears glasses, but in his case they’re clear, red, and more like superhero’s goggles. Oh, and he also wears white Superman boots with blue detailing. I want to be specific about the clothes because I don’t want some generic, comic book *clubber gear*. The Children of Gotham’s sartorial sense has to reflect their city and the superheroic currents running through it.

ONE OF THE GIRLS: THERE YOU ARE!

(2): I WAS WONDERING WHERE YOU’D GOT TO….

PAGE 13

PANEL 1

The couple turn, interrupted, to face the two girls. Although their interculators are attractive enough, they’re considerably squarer than the couple in the booth, choosing to dress far more conventionally in little black dresses and cloppy shoes. One is mixed race – afro-carribean and white – the other, black.

BLONDE GIRL: HI GUYS. SORRY, I GOT A BIT TIRED AND I HAD TO, UH…..FIND A BOY

(2): NAOMI, KEELY – THIS IS JUDAH.

PANEL 2

Close on Judah waving hello.

JUDAH: HI.

PANEL 3

Naomi wags her finger at her friend. The blonde girl slouches back into Judah’s arms.

NAOMI: YOU SHOULD GET BACK ON THE DANCEFLOOR, GIRL. EVERY TIME THE BASS DROPS THEY’VE GOT THIS THING WHERE YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’RE SHAKING APART.

KEELY: AND THE STRINGS MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’RE FLYING!

BLONDE GIRL: HMMPH. BEEN THERE. DONE THAT.

PANEL 4

The blonde girl leans over the table towards them, her chin resting in her palms. Judah smirks to himself, too cool for school. Bloody snooty scenesters….

BLONDE GIRL: LOOK, NAME, YOU’RE JUST VISITING FOR THE WEEKEND – YOU GO ENJOY YOURSELF AND I’LL CATCH UP WITH YOU LATER.

(2): I’M KINDA BUSY HERE.

PANEL 5

Naomi and Keely turn to head back into the crowd.

NAOMI: I CAN SEE THAT.

(2): DON’T GO ACCEPTING COLOURFUL DRINKS FROM ANY STRANGE, GORGEOUS MEN, ALLIE

PAGE 14

PANEL 1

A silhouette of Naomi’s hand in the panels foreground, waving goodbye as she vanishes into the throng. Allie waves back weakly, as does Judah.

JUDAH: SHE’S RIGHT, YOU KNOW. HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU’RE SAFE WITH ME?

PANEL 2

She turns to look up at him, his arm locked around her – a tiny bird in a huge nest. Her eyes glint.

ALLIE: SNIGGER. I’M NOT WORRIED ABOUT THAT. AND IT’S THE OTHER WAY ROUND – I’M TAKING CARE OF HER.

JUDAH: ARE YOU NOW? A LITTLE THING LIKE YOU?

(2): SO WHAT ARE YOUR SUPER POWERS?

PANEL 3

She smiles at him, digging him in the ribs.

ALLIE: I’LL SHOW YOU MINE IF YOU SHOW ME YOURS.

PANEL 4

Judah gestures out the frame.

JUDAH: HA! AND WHAT’S SO SPECIAL ABOUT HER THAT SHE NEEDS PROTECTING?

PANEL 5

Allie pulls herself up, straightening herself.

ALLIE: SHE’S MY…BEST FRIEND’S BEST FRIEND’S GRANDAUGHTER, HEIRESS TO A VAST EMPIRE.

(2): NAOMI FOX. PERHAPS YOU’VE HEARD OF HER?

JUDAH: F&*K! NAOMI FOX! REALLY?

PANEL 6

Back on the dancefloor with Naomi and Keely. They look like they’re having a whale of a time. But, just a little thing this, some of the shadows have started to grow long floppy ears… Keep it subtle.

JUDAH: (tail-less) TELL YOU WHAT, ALLIE — YOU KNOCK HER OVER THE HEAD, I’LL STOW HER AWAY IN THE CAR, WE’LL MAIL HER DADDY HER PINKIE AND CLAIM THE RANSOM!

ALLIE: GODDD, DON’T TEMPT ME.

HAHAHAHAHAH!

PAGE 15

PANEL 1

Dr Fate and Batman make their way inside Fate’s house. Suddenly the front door is very small and the interior design, well, it’s very Abigail’s Party. Fur rugs. Drinks bar. Fake teak drinks cabinet. Brown wallpaper. A metal staircase spirals its way upstairs and a couple of steps lead down into the sunken living room, complete with orange veloured furniture and an old black and white TV. Even flying ducks on the wall. This place would have been considered naff in 1978, let alone now, but there’s a cosiness to it. There’s another door set in the wall below the stairs and the open plan hall/lounge follows through into the kitchen. A mini shoggoth, doglike, paws at fates legs as he makes his way through the front foor.

BATMAN: STILL A BIT OF THE COMMUTER BELT IN YOU, EH, DOCTOR?

PANEL 2

Fate proceeds to hang his cape up on a peg by the front door while Batman tries the handle to the door beneath the stairs.

DR FATE: IT’S KENT’S INFLUENCE. HE WAS A POWERFUL ANCHOR TO THE MATERIAL REALM.

PANEL 3

Fate leans down to pet his *dog*. Batman pauses.

DR FATE: AH, PLEASE, NOT THAT DOOR. IT LEADS TO THE SERVANT’S QUARTERS.

(2): ONLY NYARLOTHEP’S COMFORTABLE THROUGH THERE.

BATMAN: I JUST NEEDED TO…UMM.

(2): THE LAYOUT’S SO SIMILAR TO YOUR OLD PLACE.

PANEL 4

Fate puts on a red, paisley smoking jacket.

DR FATE: ANYWAY, I BELIEVE YOU WANTED TO GO OVER A PROBLEM WITH ME.

(3): SOMETHING ABOUT SNAKES AND BAT ZOMBIES……

PANEL 5

They both make their way into the lounge, trailed by the shoggoth.

BATMAN: HOW DO YOU KNOW ALL THIS, FATE?

(2): THE SENSEI’S VIRUS COULDN’T'VE REACHED YOU UP HERE. YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT THE REST OF US….

PAGE 16

PANEL 1

Fate, straightening the pillows on the couch, turns to face Batman, eye-slits glinting.

PANEL 2

They both recline in their chairs, facing each other. Fate reaching for his pipe. Batman looking slightly amazed. The shoggoth curls up at Fate’s feet.

DR FATE: THAT REMINDS ME, MR. MIRACLE SAYS “HI!”

(2): HE ASSURED ME IT WOULD BE THE LAST TIME MOTHER BOXXX SEALED HIM OFF IN A PASSING ALTERNATE REALITY FOR HIS ADORING PUBLIC.

(3): THANKFULLY HE CLAMBERED OUT OF THAT LITTLE DEATH-TRAP UNSCATHED.

PANEL 3

Batman shakes his head, disbelievingly.

BATMAN: I’LL NEVER UNDERSTAND HOW YOU PEOPLE FIT ALL THIS TWILIGHT ZONE STUFF INTO YOUR HEADS WITHOUT GOING MAD.

DR FATE: DON’T BE SO DISINGENUOUS, BATMAN. YOU’RE MUCH BETTER EQUIPPED TO DEAL WITH IT THAN YOU LET ON.

DR FATE: THE DUSK, THE TWILIGHT, IS YOUR BIRTHRIGHT.

PANEL 4

Close up on Fate’s helmet, Batman a  blurry, sunset coloured mirror image relected in it. Fate smokes his pipe through the metal of his helmet. weird, glittering smoke.

(2): IT IS YOUR DESTINY.

(3): AND IT’S WHY THE SENSEI COULDN’T DESTROY YOU

PANEL 5

Damian attempts to explain himself.

BATMAN: WHEN MY MIND WAS BEING ATTACKED… THAT DEMON THING…

(2): COULD MY FATHER REALLY BE PERMITTING ME TO EXIST? HAVE I SOLD MY SOUL TO HIM AND HIS MAD CRUSADE?

(2): I HAVE TO KNOW…

DR FATE: WAS IT REAL?

PAGE 17

PANEL 1

Fate puffs on his pipe, knowledgably.

DR FATE: HMMM. I HAVE TO CONFESS TO FINDING THIS SOMEWHAT DISAPPOINTING.

(2): DAMIAN, DAMIAN… IF YOU MUST KNOW ONE WAY OR THE OTHER THERE ARE CERTAIN METHODS WE CAN EMPLOY TO FIND OUT.

(3): I MUST WARN YOU, THOUGH, THIS KIND OF ASTRAL CAVITY SEARCH CAN BE RATHER PAINFUL.

PANEL 2

Fate gets up from the couch.

DR FATE: NOW, YOU ATTEND TO WHATEVER IT WAS THAT NEARLY SAW YOU DEVOURED BY ASTRAL PARASITES FIVE MINUTES AGO WHILE I CHECK THE STORECUPBOARD FOR THE MATERIALS WE’LL NEED.

PANEL 3

Batman ascends the stairs while Fate heads towards the kitchen. Shoggoth follows him.

DR FATE: UPSTAIRS. FIRST DOOR ON THE RIGHT. YOU CAN’T MISS IT.

PANEL 4

Fate enters his kitchen. Very Country Living. pots and pans hang from the ceiling. a tasteful, sunken sink. wood-panelled cupboards.

DR FATE: (Shouting, larger font) YOU’LL HAVE TO BE PREPARED FOR AN OVERNIGHT STAY, I’M AFRAID. THE HOUSE WILL VACATE THIS SPHERE AT SUNSET.

PAGE 18

PANEL 1

He rummages around in a cupboard beneath the sink. It contains a curious mixture of spell ingredients, cleaning products and shoggoth-munch. The shoggoth paws him with its tentacles.

DR. FATE: THERE NOW, BARNEY. I’M JUST GETTING AROUND TO YOU.

(2): NOW WHERE IS IT?

PANEL 2

He turns to a large cupboard above the sink, opening it slowly.

DR FATE: AH.

PANEL 3

It’s now open all the way. Fate’s stunned into inaction. There, perched on one of shelves, is Lady Matilda’s dog. It’s clothed in a brown unitard that not only covers its body but also the upper half of its face. It has large hollow eyesockets and a big, pointed, beak-like snout beneath which the only part of flesh that it shows, a ravening, female mouth, snarls out at him. Its blonde hair cascades out across its back.. This is a real Lynch moment. Everything about Matilda’s *puppy* should feel wrong. Horrible.  I say “it”, but the creature has the body of a human girl of around 14 years, only her feet and hands – or at least the costume around them – are clawed, and all her postures and mannerisms are like an animal.

Here’s a crap picture of it, to give you a clearer idea:

scan0001

PANEL 4

It pounces at him.

PAGE 19

PANEL 1

Fate is backed out the kitchen door by the creature, it’s snout embedded in his shoulder. Sparks fly from the wound. The shoggoth is actually cowering. Useless beast.

PANEL 2

Fate tries to steady himself to cast a spell. leaning on the door handle beneath the stairs. Uh oh…it’s opening a crack – black light seeps into the room. The monster dives off him, a key clutched in its paw, as golden globes start to form in the air.

PANEL 4

It uses its hind-legs to boot Fate through the door.

BATMAN: (off panel, from up the stairs): FATE!

PAGE 20

PANEL 1

Batman comes racing down the stairs.

BATMAN: FATE, WHAT THE HELL’S ALL THAT….

PANEL 2

He spies the open door. It’s pitch black inside. The front door goes ‘CLICK’.

BATMAN: MY GOD.

SFX: CLICK

PANEL 3

He turns to face it. The dog’s head is poking through the catflap. It holds a letter in its mouth with  a bat-symbol on it.

PANEL 4

Batman takes the letter. The creature waits.

PANEL 5

Opening it up. It reads.

GOOD EVENING, BATMAN.

PAGE 21 AND 22

The first five panels run along the top of both pages. Panel 6 is a large image that straddles both of them. The final panels are nestled in the right hand corner of 22.

PANEL 1

The dog retrieves its head. It’s now outside. Night is falling in the sky above Gotham.

CAP: (handwritten. from letter) TWO WEEKS AGO MY ASSOCIATES AND I HAD THE PLEASURE OF JOINING YOU ON ONE OF YOUR ADVENTURES. I MUST SAY, IT WAS ENORMOUSY EXCITING AND ENLIGHTENING.

PANEL 2

Cut back to letter.

AS I UNDERSTAND IT, MOST GOTHAMITES ARE PUTTING IT ALL DOWN TO A BAD DREAM. THOSE THAT REMEMBER AT ALL THAT IS. AFTERALL, IT WOULD TAKE A SUPERHUMAN INTELLECT TO SUCCESSFULLY PROCESS ALL THAT INFORMATION.

PANEL 3

The dog is charging along the drawbridge.

CAP: BUT THAT’S PRECISELY WHAT WE ARE.

CAP: SUPERHUMAN.

PANEL 4

Back to Batman reading, growing apprehension on his face.

CAP: OF COURSE WE DO NOT TAKE THESE THINGS FOR GRANTED, SO, DAMIAN WAYNE, WE INTEND TO VERIFY WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED.

PANEL 5

The cameras behind the dog as it races across the drawbridge to a pink helicopter floating in the distance.

CAP: ALONG WITH THIS LETTER, YOU WILL FIND ENCLOSED A LIST OF ALL YOUR KNOWN FRIENDS AND ASSOCIATES.

PANEL 6

Huge shot of the dog bounding off the drawbridge into the air as the planetoid and the bridge start to fade. The helicopter waits.

CAP: YOUR LOVED ONES.

PANEL 7

Batman speaking into his wrist-comm, disappearing. We can see him through the glass on the window.

CAP: ALL THE PEOPLE WE INTEND TO KILL.

BATMAN: NO! ROBIN!

PANEL 8

Matilda sits in the backseat of the helipcopter petting her dog who’s now curled up in her lap like some enormous, mutated baby.

LADY MATILDA: GOOD PUPPY. GOOD PUPPY.

PAGE 23

Tight, Watchmen style layout.

PANEL 1

Cut back to club. Ali moving in to kiss her boytoy.

PANEL 2

Her pupils ignite with a Batsignal. He draws back, stunned.

LIKE RADIO CRACKLE: ROBZVVVR…NAOMI..VVV..UNDER ATTACK.

JUDAH: WHAT…?

PANEL 3

She turns to face the crowd who’ve drawn back. Naomi is on the centre of the floor, a black rabbit the size of a small child perched in front of her.

ROBIN: OH NO.

PANEL 4

She turns to Judah, frantic.

JUDAH: WHAT ARE YOU?

ROBIN: JUDAH, YOU’RE A CUTE GUY, BUT I DIDN’T SINGLE YOU OUT FOR YOUR LOOKS. THINGS ARE ABOUT TO GET REALLY BAD.

(2): I NEED YOUR HELP.

PANEL 5

Naomi hesitantly bends down to stroke the rabbit. It stares up at her evilly.

NAOMI: HEY…UH. AREN’T YOU THE, UH, CUTEST LITTLE THING…

PANEL 6

Close up on its face.

RABBIT: I’M SORRY MISS FOX BUT THIS IS STRICTLY BUSINESS.

(2): DETONATION WILL OCCUR IN 3 SECONDS.

PANEL 7

Robin shouting, ordering Judah into action.

ROBIN: THE RABBIT!

(2): MOVE!

PANEL 8

Close on the rabbit’s white eye.

PANEL 9

Whiteness.

NEXT TIME: TONS MORE VIOLENCE.

12 Responses to “Batman and Robin 666 #5 (new story arc!)”

  1. plok Says:

    Wicked!

    Jesus Christ, it’s like Batman ate Doctor Who!

    I like this new Batman.

  2. Zom Says:

    In fact the whole thing is just littered with lovely, fun ideas: that Nyarlathotep business (“he owes me his”, “it’s all very degrading”); that vile dog thing (reminds me of that horrid scene in The Brood where the weirdass monster child leaps out on the woman in the kitchen); Ace’s detachable head; the bat-symbols in Robin’s eyes; baddies flying pink helicopters (makes me think of an evil Penelope Pitstop); the jarring and dissonant suggestion that Lady Matilda lives in some completely bizzare, pseudo-victorian world hidden from view – I mean, who the fuck is Mr Gladstone, where does he come from? Brings the film Society to mind; the impossibility of Dr Fate’s house orbiting the sun; the way the Infesticons drag that dirty 80s vibe with them; “sunset” brown bat-capes

    And as ever the imagery simply leaps off the page!

    Was also very keen on devoting an issue largely to teasing a bunch of nasty baddies. Mysterious foes are always exciting – see the bounty hunters in Empire Strikes Back, and the champions of the seven capital cities of heaven in Iron Fist. Course, for some reason Fraction chose not to make (much) good on his creations. I’m assuming that you won’t be making the same rather odd mistake.

  3. amypoodle Says:

    Evil Penelope Pitstop: exactly.

    And I won’t be making the same mistake at all.

  4. Matthieu G. Says:

    Yes. I think it’s the best one yet !

    I wanna live in Dr. Fate house.

  5. plok Says:

    Evil Penelope Pitstop, it’s about time.

    So here’s why I’m excited: because in the first arc, I was just going along with a bunch of stuff that was tied in to something else I hadn’t read. I’m your “every comic is somebody’s first” guy here — never read a comic with Damien in it, though I’d heard Batman had a son by Talia…Ra’s I know, but the Sensei, Agrat, no idea. And the whole thing, while far from what I’d call “fan-fic”, was steeped in this particular Morrisonian approach. Let’s call it halfway to post-Morrisonianism, halfway to influence, because the way I figured it this was still quite rooted in Morrison’s own storylines about Damien, and the triumphant strategy could have been plunked right down in any mainline Morrison DC book without looking one bit out of place. So, a certain amount of deliberate homage there, as I reckoned it, but mixed in with it a whole bunch of new stuff, Amy’s own stuff.

    So okay: that’s why I was looking forward to this second arc so much, because I was waiting to see what Amy’s Batman 666 would look like after he’d dealt with and acknowledged Grant’s material, and his debt to it…I was anticipating the real first episode, not the two-hour pilot, you know? Where I would not have to paddle so hard to keep up with important characters I never heard of, etc., because I would be all caught up. I mean, as a comics reader I’ve never minded having to do this sink-or-swim catching up stuff, bear that in mind! In fact I quite like it, and consider that managing the transition out of a previous writer’s storylines is part of the skill-set for writers and readers both…so I’m happy to say it all worked out very well and excitingly for me, the first-time reader! But it’s also part of the skill-set to know what to do after the transition, once you’ve successfully avoided being fan-ficcy with somebody else’s stuff while still being respectful of it (which is a fine line even for professionally-employed Big Two stable-writers, I think, and therefore a great accomplishment to walk it gracefully) there is the necessity of running off with it all in your own inimitable direction.

    And this was that, and it was really fun to read. “Post-Morrisonian”, yeah…I’d be willing to bet nobody who’ll be writing Batman in the foreseeable future (who’s not Grant himself, that is) will be picking it all up and running with it as you are here…which means you’re the first writer of any stripe I’ve read who really is influenced by reading Grant Morrison comics when you were younger. Of course eventually we’re going to see a lot of people like that, as the generations cycle…and if it all looks like this, it’s going to be absolutely fantastic! But you’ll alway be my first, Amy…and I’d say I’d be reading the hell out of this if it were an actual comic, except that’s redundant since I’m obviously reading the hell out of it even though it isn’t an actual comic!

    And for you Brits who may be wondering if the new Dr. Fate’s mannerisms don’t seem a little too culturally-bound…well, I noticed that too, but then I just pretended I didn’t know where the author hails from, and the whole thing came wonderfully clear: I think it does matter if Damien (or Robin, or really anyone but Alfred) sounds too English in a Batman comic without me knowing why he would, but when you take into account the typical American use of English accents to stand simply for “otherness”, especially elevated, alien, wise, old, or generally fancy otherness, Fate’s clubby-old-uncle attitude makes pretty decent sense — it’s not like when Morrison or Ellis or someone just doesn’t know Americans would say such-and-such a thing in a different way, rather I was able to read this easily as a puncturing, a humanizing, of that American shorthand — cripes, I mean Star Trek even had an English accent stand in for a French accent, you know? The French guy quoting all this Shakespeare, where was the Moliere and the Hugo and the Voltaire, for heaven’s sake? Ridiculous. So the whole cliche could use a little deflating, and I didn’t have any trouble reading Fate as doing so. Still not sure about the smoking jacket, mind you…and maybe someone else wouldn’t find it as easy as I did to read this as though it was written by an American, but oh well, it worked for me, anyway. This isn’t the same Fate we’ve come to know through the twentieth century, obviously — this is Fate as pure mystic being. So yeah: he could have these mannerisms according to that formula. And, too, if you don’t want to see it that way, well…this is already a much more multicultural Batman than any we’ve seen before, so it can fit that way as well.

    Just thought I’d better point that out! And I like a more multicultural Batman, by the way — love a Batman who’s not an American himself, a Bat-universe that’s bigger than the Eastern Seaboard of the United States!

    So anyway. New villains, new characters, new avenues of action…eagerly awaiting the next issue! I’d love to read this printed on oversized pages, magazine-style, it does have that feel to it.

    Great stuff.

  6. Zom Says:

    Oh, I forgot to mention the brilliance of the Mr Miracle conceit.

    By way of some context, I was moaning on at Amy about how Mr Miracle didn’t do much escaping from the Sensei’s death reality. Problem solved in one line of text!

  7. Zom Says:

    …you’re the first writer of any stripe I’ve read who really is influenced by reading Grant Morrison comics when you were younger. Of course eventually we’re going to see a lot of people like that…

    That’s just it, though, Morrison’s been going an awfully long time, and so far I can’t think of one writer whose work could be considered post Morrison in a way which clearly frames Morrison as an influence. This fact makes me very sad, and makes me want to don my sunset brown batcape.

  8. adam aaron Says:

    Matt Fraction? Kieron Gillen?

  9. Zom Says:

    I suppose Fraction is a bit, yeah

    Don’t know about Gillen because I’ve never actually read his stuff, but from the looks of phonogram I’d say probably.

    That’s two. Thanks, AA!

  10. plok Says:

    Oh, I just wrote a whole huge unpostable thing on this…but okay, I definitely do think Morrison has already made it into the stylistic toolkit of comics writing — congratulations, Grant! — at least that stuff he’s out in the front lines of, that allusive hypercompression, taking the business of getting rid of captions and going it one better, on into full-on ellipsis, really “cutting the bones” (in RAB’s memorable phrase) and saying “let’s get rid of the middleman, let’s reduce all this shit down, really distill it”…that’s gotten out there, now, I do agree. And also some things more particular to him about the way he constructs transitions, plots, does little offhand character bits…that, too. I often study/emulate it myself, I think a lot of people do.

    But I think I meant something a bit more “Mindless Ones”, a bit more Prismatic — a bit more of the lysergic superhero poetry stuff, I mean I take it that the Prismatic discussions around here are largely (not exclusively, but largely) about the historicity of the superhero material in general, about a certain kind of rehabilitative interest — just to put a less-abstract point on that, in this installment of Batman 666 I feel like Amy’s giving me a lot of glimpses of the Golden Age aesthetic, too, as itself in a way…and I would call that another type of Morrisonian influence, a consciousness about some constituent parts of the superhero narrative that we don’t usually see foregrounded these days, and the deliberate choice to include them in a more up-front presentation. It works really well with Batman! But it’s that “working well with Batman” stuff that I think has not fully percolated out yet as “influence”. Whatever Morrison does in his Marvel and DC work, they usually just drop it after he’s gone: no one’s interested in his project except for him, it seems. At least, as of this moment it doesn’t look like anyone is interested in it. Probably it’s hard to imagine anyone being able to take what Grant introduces and then run with it, it just seems like “oh, that’s Grant, he’s a one-off”.

    But then there’s this, right? I mean, there have been quite a lot of good comics made in the last few years that can certainly claim Morrison as some kind of an influence, whether it’s influence among peers or influence on developing readers/writers that’s doing the hauling…but this is the first one I’ve seen that really looks like “fuck yes, take this as the starting-point!”, the idea of starting-point suggesting to me that it isn’t all about craft or even all about being adventurous, but it’s also about saying “right, this is the vision of how superheroes ought to work, that I totally think we’re ready for”. Not that it’s guaranteed to happen, but if there were a hundred young writers like Amy the landscape would look quite different. In fact take any of the Rogue’s Reviews, for that matter in the Mindless interview I did you could see that different type of Morrison influence with everything anybody just randomly spun off, all about rehabilitating superhero concepts with a big dose of acid: ambient Airwave like a kind of updated Sun Girl, cranky old neighbourhood weirdo Dr. Strange, Wolverine explicitly trapped between Eros and Thanatos…fucked-up shit, ha ha. And I guess it’s that particular approach to superhero design-elements that I meant to be talking about when I used the weak word “influence”.

    Apologies for the sloppiness of this, it’s nothing like a well-reasoned opinion, I just bashed it out. May well have made things muddier rather than clearer!

    Whoops. But anyway it kept me away from paying work for a little while, so that’s something.

  11. Bucky Sinister Says:

    Finally got time to sit down and read this today. I can’t add too much of substance to the discussion, I’m afraid. I agree wth Zom on what all the best stuff was, and with Plok that Amy’s really made the work his own with this issue.

    So I’ll only add that I really enjoyed the feel of the pages with Robin out clubbing. I don’t know why, but I hadn’t imagined her having… a life, I guess. Of course, Robin seldom does get much of a life in the Batman comic proper. Which seems a shame after reading this. So kudos for pointing out what lazy bastards the vast majority of Batman writers have been for my comics-reading lifetime.

    Also: the girl-dog-thing is creepy as all hell. Pure nightmare fuel, that is…

    At any rate. Best issue yet. You keep writing, and I’ll keep reading.

  12. Zom Says:

    Yeah, nightmare fuel for sure

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