Batman and Robin 666 #7

April 27th, 2009

It’s four years after the events of Batman 666, and Batman, aided and abetted by a new Robin (a re-wired Dollatron: Damian Wayne’s best pal, supertank and portable batcomputer rolled into one), Ace the Batmobile (half bat-themed Godzilla, half mobile fortress with a detachable head that doubles up as a car) and the kind of technology one would more commonly find in an Ian M Banks novel find themselves battling a new breed of villain in a city teetering on the edge of madness.

The Gotham of tomorrow is a fusion of all its previous incarnations: the playground, the gothic wonderland and the hardboiled urban sprawl. Half its population have floated away into it’s virtual reality suburb, Toytown, and a sizeable percentage of the DCU’s magical community have relocated to its outer fringes. Then there’s the influx of other even weirder immigrants from as near as the Plateau of Leng and as far away as 3,000000,00000,000000000 BC. Throw in the increased degeneration of the natural environment globally, just for good measure, and the city’s beginning to feel like a pressure cooker, where all the lunacy confined to Arkham in bygone years is spilling out. Gotham’s certainly at the centre of something, it’s just that, as yet, nobody seems to have any idea what that might mean.

In the first story arc, Snake Charmer, the Sensei unleashed a reality virus programmed to destroy Toytown and cripple the city by plunging its users/inhabitants into an apocalyptic virtual world in which the new Batman never existed. This virtual assault threatened to fry the brains of Gotham’s online citizenry, until Batman and Robin managed to rewrite the virus’s programming from inside the virtual hell, turning it against its makers and preventing the Sensei and his wife, Agrat Bat Malhat, from detonating a nuke in the city’s docklands. Why did the Sensei decide to show his hand after all this time? Nobody knows, but it’s clear he had a hidden agenda. The word on the street is: ‘apocalypse’.

Two weeks have elapsed since the Sensei was handed over to Gotham’s weirdest custodians, the Wonderlanders, but, Just as our heroes were starting to relax, disaster struck. Most of Gotham’s citizens, unable to properly recollect what happened during the Sensei’s attack, dismissed the bizarre events as a glitch in Toytown’s functioning, but some did not. Gotham contains more than its fair share of super-intellects and one of them intends to use the information that Batman is Damian Wayne against him. To this end s/he contracts three assassins to work through a list of Damian’s friends, and although hir ultimate purpose is not yet clear, we’ve already seen some terrible consequences.

Robin and her new boyfriend, the super-werewolf Judah Running Dog, barely escaped with their lives after a run in with the beautiful but deadly Lady Matilda Dewitt. Robin went toe to toe with Matilda while Judah and Naomi Fox (daughter of Lucius Fox, CEO of Wayne Industries), the assassin’s apparent target, made good their escape, eventually finding themselves cornered in an alleyway by Lady Matilda’s terrifying pet, Puppy, and another assassin known only as the Black Rabbit. Luckily Batman arrived on the scene at the last minute, teleporting the alley to the other side of the city far from the rabbit, and the batmobile devoured Puppy. Robin, meanwhile, managed to defeat Puppy’s master, but on the way to meet up with her friends made an awful discovery. The first two assassins were just a distraction, and while the heroes were being tied up in knots by Matilda and the rest, the third killer, the monstrous Action Figure, was set loose on a boardroom full of Wayne Industries’ employees, leaving Lucius Fox in a coma….

PAGE 1

PANEL 1

The camera floats high over the Gotham skyline as the sun’s first rays tear a pink and blue gash in the retreating night sky. We’re right at the top of Wayne Tower, one of the biggest superscrapers in Gotham, thousands of feet up, and we can feel the air get thinner, colder, and the mind wrenching depth of all that space above us. We can’t see the tower yet because the camera’s facing in the opposite direction, but we can just about make out the tiny shape of the batmobile, flying away from the sunrise and towards us.

SPEECH BUBBLE: SO YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT WE’RE UP AGAINST?

SPEECH BUBBLE: I DON’T KNOW WHY YOU DON’T DOWNLOAD IT ALL FROM THE COMPUTER.

PANEL 2

He gets closer, Sun glinting off his blue scales and red cockpit.

SPEECH BUBBLE: MY HARDWARE’S STILL GROGGY AFTER MY RUN IN WITH LITTLE MISS I’VE-GOT-NO-EARDRUMS BACK THERE.

SPEECH BUBBLE: ANYWAY, IT’S BETTER WHEN YOU TELL IT. MORE DRAMATIC.

SPEECH BUBBLE: WHAT? WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?

PANEL 3

Closer still. We can see inside the cockpit now. Robin, Judah and Batman are crammed into the front seat. Batman’s sat in the middle between them, but even though Judah’s reverted back to his human form, he’s a pretty big guy and between him and the new Dark Knight it’s a bit of a squeeze. Nobody looks very comfortable and Batman and Robin appear to be in the middle of an argument. He stares into the middle distance, trying to give the impression he’s concentrating on driving, but the batmobile’s on autopilot and in reality he’s really pissed off with Robin and he doesn’t want to look her in the eye. Robin’s facing away from him too, ‘cloudwatching’, which basically translates as hugging her legs and sulking. Judah’s just bemused. It’s been a weird night. Who knew Batman and Robin bickered like children?

BATMAN: WE’VE JUST LEFT NAOMI SOBBING AT THE BEDSIDE OF MY OLDEST FRIEND, ROBIN.THIS IS A SICK TIME TO BREAK OUT THE POPCORN.

ROBIN: TSSK! I ONLY ASKED.

(2): AND YOU KNOW I DON’T NEED TO EAT.

PANEL 4

The camera rotates as the batmobile passes it. We now have the side view. Batman turns, lecturing Robin, who’s facing us. She’s frowns like a grumpy eight year old.

BATMAN: DON’T BE FACETIOUS, YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN!

(2): YOU MIGHT WANT TO TRY ACTING LIKE A PERSON OCCASSIONALLY.

ROBIN: ALRIGHT, ALRIGHT!

PANEL 5

We swivel all the way round and are nearly blinded by the light bursting off the tower’s windows. We’re really close to it. So close in fact that it looks as though Ace is going to crash.

ROBIN: I’D ALSO LIKE TO POINT OUT THAT JUDAH DOESN’T HAVE ACCESS TO THE COMPUTER’S DATA-TANKS.

BATMAN: FOR GOD’S SAKE.

ROBIN: BOSS, YOU KNOW FULL WELL YOU AND I ARE THE ONLY PEOPLE WITH WETCHIPS CONFIGURED TO USE IT…

PAGE 2

PANEL 1

Ace approaches a huge glass window just below the WI logo at the top of the building.

BATMAN: ‘PEOPLE’? I THOUGHT WE’D ALREADY ESTABLISHED…

ROBIN: GO ON!

BATMAN: TT!

PANEL 2

He starts to pass through it.

BATMAN: OKAY THEN.

PANEL 3

He disappears through the glass. It ripples.

BATMAN: BUT NO TALKING AT THE BACK.

PANEL 4

Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson, from behind, zooming down one of Gotham’s main drags in the Batmobile from the 1960s TV show. Their capes flap in the wind as they jump a red light. I’d like it to be sunset, just to feed the impression that this is a lighter, more childlike time, as opposed to the current ambience which is a combination of different batmospherics. In this batverse all the action takes place either at dawn or at dusk.

CAP: A LONG TIME AGO, BEFORE THE CURRENT RASH OF WEIRDOS LIKE LUDIC AND THE FLAMINGO REIGNITED THE VOGUE FOR BRANDING

CAP: YOU FORGOT TO INCLUDE YOURSELF IN THAT LIST.

CAP: WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?

PAGE 3

PANEL 1

Closer on them smiling and bantering. Robin’s arm hanging lazily out the car, cupping the wind in his palm. Happy days.

CAP: IT’S OKAY BATMAN, I’M LISTENING EVEN IF SHE ISN’T.

CAP: THANKYOU, JUDAH.

CAP: CALL ME MEGADOG.

CAP: ALRIGHT THEN, “MEGADOG”.

PANEL 2

Robin points upwards, concerned, as they whizz round a corner.

CAP: A LONG TIME AGO, BEFORE THE CURRENT RASH OF WEIRDOS REIGNITED THE VOGUE FOR BRANDING, GOTHAM’S STREETS WERE AWASH WITH THEMED VEHICLES AND CRIMINALLY INSPIRED SET-PIECES.

CAP: RIDDLECARS AND PUZZLECOPTERS.

CAP: A GLEAMING MOTORCADE OF PURPLES AND GREENS.

PANEL 3

We cut to the focus of the dynamic duo’s attention. In the middle of a crowded street, strutting about like a victorious but very stupid boxer on a small hillock of wrecked and gutted traffic, is a huge Turkey-mobile. It could almost be the direct inspiration for Ace with its laser beam eyes and open cockpit carved out of the back of its head (from which the Penguin directs his creation with a steering wheel and a dashboard of weird gadgets). The creature’s ridiculous of course, but dangerous nonethless. The police are attempting to cordon off the area, but a couple of unlucky cops have just been incinerated by the aforementioned eyebeams.

CAP: TELL JUDAH ABOUT THE PENGUIN’S ATTACK TURKEY!

CAP: I’M NOT ENTIRELY CERTAIN THAT EVER EXISTED.

CAP: HMMPH! IT’S ALL THERE IN THE FILES (I’LL SHOW YOU LATER, JUDAH)

PANEL 4

The camera closes in on a couple of perplexed looking traffic cops. One’s on the phone to her boss while the other chews the end of his pen nervously, tying to figure out what he’s going to write in his report. Batman and Robin leap into action in the background.

CAP: ALL THE MADNESS CLOGGING UP GOTHAM’S MAIN DRAG WAS A MASSIVE HEADACHE FOR THE TRAFFIC POLICE.

CAP: THE VEHICLES IN THE GCPD MOTORPOOL STOOD LITTLE TO NO CHANCE AGAINST THE MOST BASIC OF THOSE THINGS. IT WOULD BE LIKE TRYING TO TAKE ON A TANK WITH A UNICYCLE.

CAP: THEN SOME BRIGHT SPARK HIT UPON AN IDEA.

PAGE 4

PANEL 1

Elsewhere. Night. A rundown automobile garage. Its windows are all boarded up or smashed. The lot is completely abandoned and a huge barbed wire fence hems the place in. We’re miles from the road here – the garage is surrounded by tenements and long forgotten. This is the haunted house of garages. We should be afraid to go in there…

CAP: THEY DECIDED TO GO TO THE SOURCE.

PANEL 2

A cop emerges from the shadows followed by an army of his colleagues, all of whom are wearing full body armour. He directs them towards the garage.

CAP: WITH BATMAN AND ROBIN’S HELP HUNDREDS OF FOUR WHEELED MONSTROSITIES WERE REMOVED FROM GOTHAM’S STREETS.

CAP: BY THE END OF THE YEAR THE DEPARTMENT HEADS WERE READY TO GIVE THEMSELVES A HEARTY PAT ON THE BACK AND THERE WERE A NUMBER OF PROMOTIONS IN THE OFFING.

CAP: BUT THERE WAS ONE SNAG.

PANEL 3

From above. The building is surrounded. Out come the riot shields and the battering rams.

CAP: GORDON WAS DISINCLINED TO ALLOW ANY GOLDEN HANDSHAKING BEFORE THE DEPARTMENT HAD SUCCESSFULLY TACKLED WHAT HE SAW AS THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM.

CAP: YOU SEE, GOTHAM’S BAD GUYS ONLY STARTED IN ON THE WHOLE WACKY RACES BIT AS A RESULT OF ONE MAN’S DERANGED TINKERING.

PANEL 4

Close up on the door being stoved in.

CAP: APART FROM BATMAN HIMSELF, HE WAS THE FIRST ONE TO PROVE A FEW HOURS SPENT UNDER THE BONNET COULD YIELD REAL RESULTS.

CAP: BUT UP UNTIL THAT POINT THE POLICE HAD FAILED TO IMPOUND SO MUCH AS A JOKERSLED.

PAGE 5

PANEL 1

The cops pour in.

CAP: SO WHEN AN ANONYMOUS TIP LED TO AN ABANDONED GARAGE ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF TOWN, YINDEL AND RAWLES PUT TOGETHER A CRACK TEAM OF GOTHAM’S FINEST AND SENT THEM IN.

CAP: THERE WERE THOSE WHO THOUGHT THE POLICE ACTION WAS RASH, THAT THEY SHOULD HAVE PLANNED IT MORE CAREFULLY.

PANEL 2

They pause in a small reception area. dust and cobwebs everywhere. Purple and green light emanates from underneath a door leading to the garage itself.

CAP: FORENSICS WERE PARTICULARLY CONCERNED. SOME PEOPLE, INCLUDING THEIR OWN STAFF WHO OFTEN ENDED UP WITH THIS STUFF LANDING ON THEIR DESKS, HAD SUFFERED STRANGE…REACTIONS TO THE JOKER’S GIZMOS.

CAP: ONE YOUNG WOMAN SPENT HER RETIREMENT IN ARKHAM AFTER DUSTING THE GUTTED CARCASS OF A DOWNED JOKERPLANE.

PANEL 3

They wait. Their commander listens at the door

CAP: SHE SAID THE RIVET WORK WENT ON FOREVER.

CAP: THAT THERE WERE FACES IN IT.

PANEL 4

They kick the door in.

CAP: SO MAYBE THEY SHOULD’VE WAITED.

CAP: THOUGH REALLY….

PAGE 5

Splash. A policeman’s face rigid with horror. Purple and Green negative.

CAP: NOTHING COULD’VE PREPARED THOSE MEN FOR WHAT THEY FOUND IN THERE.

TITLE: BATMAN 666 #7 – TOY GUNS

PAGE 6

PANEL 1

An empty street in Gotham’s equivalent of the projects. A dark figure in the grey distance.

CAP: THEY FAILED TO REESTABLISH CONTACT AFTER THE OPERATION WENT RADIO SILENT.

CAP: BUT THE POLICE BAND WAS JAMMED UP WITH FACTORY SOUNDS FOR THE NEXT TWO WEEKS. THE SAME AMOUNT OF TIME THAT ELAPSED BEFORE THE ONLY SURVIVOR WAS FOUND WANDERING THE STREETS.

PANEL 2

A child’s birthday party. Little Timmy, his friends and their parents, all dressed in party hats etc., tears at some wrapping paper.

CAP: UNFORTUNATELY HER DEBRIEF WAS A CONFUSED AFFAIR.

CAP: SHE BABBLED ABOUT WALLS SEETHING WITH TOYS.

CAP: SCREAMING MEN STRAPPED TO CONVEYOR BELTS.

PANEL 3

The figure shambles closer.

PANEL 4

The child stares at the unwrapped toy. A plastic police officer in Star Wars packaging, rotted and swollen. The INFESTICONS brand.

CHILD: DADDY?

CAP: GIGANTIC MOULDING MACHINES.

CAP: SWEET JESUS! WHAT DID HE DO TO THEM?

PANEL 5

The other party goers look confused and the child’s mother drops the cake, distraught .

CAP: THAT’S JUST IT. THE NIGHT OF THE RAID SAW BATMAN AND ROBIN APPREHENDING TWO FACE AND THE JOKER AT THE SCIENCE MUSEUM UPTOWN.

CAP: EXACTLY FIFTEEN MINUTES AFTER YINDEL GAVE THE GO AHEAD.

PAGE 7

PANEL 1

The figure in the road, who we can now see is a female cop, is right in front of the lense, grasping for the reader. I want this panel to make us flinch. How this woman could’ve even begun to’ve been debriefed is a mystery considering she has small tyres inserted into her eyesockets and a car’s grill where her teeth should be. Her hair is green and her face is livid white. A gawping monster pleading for our help.

CAP: MY FATHER DIDN’T BELIEVE IN GHOST STORIES BUT HE COULD DRAW ONLY ONE CONCLUSION FROM THE AVAILABLE EVIDENCE.

PANEL 2

Close on that face.

CAP: THE JOKER’S MACHINES DID IT.

CAP: EXCUSE ME…

PANEL 3

The interior of the Batmobile again. Batman turns to Judah who’s staring into space in disbelief. It’s murky and dark outside the cockpit but we can’t see outside yet.

BATMAN: IT’S UNBELIEVABLE ISN’T IT. BRUCE USED TO DESCRIBE THE JOKER’S MIND NOT IN TERMS OF PATHOLOGY BUT…

JUDAH: NO.. I MEAN YES

JUDAH: IT’S A REALLY F*****ED UP STORY, BATMAN, AND I WAS TOTALLY ABSORBED; SO ABSORBED THAT…

PANEL 4

Judah, eyes wide, continuing…

JUDAH: DIDN’T WE JUST FLY THROUGH ONE OF WAYNE TOWER’S WINDOWS?

(2): UH… I’M SORRY TO INTERRUPT YOU MID FLOW BUT

PAGES 8 & 9

Panel 1 is a double spread. Panels 2 to 5 run along the bottom.

PANEL 1

We pull out so that we can see Ace flying through the interior of the batcave, only we’ve never seen a batcave on this scale before. Batman’s navigating Ace through an enormous subterranean space, conceivably one mile across. The ground far below has a trickle of water running through it and towards the camera, that, from this height, we can only assume is a river. Lights glint from the towering, mountainous walls and in the distance we can make out a landing bay and what looks like a more familiar batcave enviroment complete with all the weird vehicles and souveiniers. But we’ll get onto that stuff later, for now it’s all just colourful blobs….

JUDAH: WHERE THE HELL ARE WE?

PANEL 2

Batman readies Ace for touchdown, concentrating on the controls. Robin smiles to herself. Judah’s as taken aback as we are.

BATMAN: WE’RE SOMEWHERE AROUND THE FLOOR THAT CAME UNDER ATTACK LAST NIGHT.

JUDAH: BUT IT DIDN’T LOOK LIKE THIS WHEN…

ROBIN: IT’S TESSERACT TECH.

PANEL 3

Robin explains, amused. Bats picks up where she leaves off.

ROBIN: TESSERACT TECH. IT ALLOWS THE ARCHITECT TO INSTALL AN AREA OF SPACE INSIDE A CONTAINER FAR SMALLER THAN THAT WHICH RESIDES WITHIN IT.

(2): I COULD EXPLAIN IT TO YOU IN GEOMETRIC TERMS, BUT YOU’RE ALL MAGICKY AND I DOUBT YOU’D KEEP UP.

BATMAN: THE LONG AND THE SHORT OF IT IS, I CUT AND PASTED A MOUNTAIN INTO WAYNE TOWER’S WOODWORK.

PANEL 4

Back to Judah struggling to fit all this in his head.

JUDAH: THAT KIND OF TECHNOLOGY CAN’T BE AVAILABLE FOR ANOTHER 20 YEARS AT LEAST….

(2): AND A MOUNTAIN? SURELY SOMEONE WOULD NOTICE A MOUNTAIN DISAPPEARING!

BATMAN: WHAT CAN I SAY? OCCASSIONALLY I TRAVEL THROUGH TIME AND HANG OUT WITH ALIENS.

(2): AND AS FOR THE MOUNTAIN…

PANEL 5

The batmobile, from the front, landing on a raised pad hundreds of feet above the ground. He’s now a slightly funny colour. The blue is lighter and mixed with patches of green. We can see the interior of the mountain behind it, but we can’t see inside the really batcavey bit yet.

BATMAN: IT BELONGED TO MY MOTHER.

(2): I GREW UP HERE.

PAGES 10 & 11

Same layout as previous pages

PANEL 1

Splash. Reverse shot. We pull up as Batman and co disembark. And here it is. I don’t want this section of the batcave to be too disimilar to Bruce’s, but it’s far vaster. The set up itself is up to you, but as for the ornamentation….The first thing that strikes us, of course, is Ace’s body, towering up into the rafters like the T-Rex in the original cave. There’s the intangible bat-UFO we saw in issue 4 and the bat-out-of-hell-bike too. But that’s not the half of it. Hanging on a massive pair of clamps on one side of the “room” is a massive batliner, like the Titanic only bat-themed, and on the other side is the bat-starship: a blue and gold, Chris Foss inspired, monster of a craft. Robin’s got a couple of vehicles on display too – a solid bronze plane shaped like a phoenix and what looks like a red and gold, ornate, bird headed horsebot, its eyes composed ofnprecious jewels. Something out of a sci-fi Max Ernst painting. Any one of these things is more than a match for a Jokerilla-mobile. In terms of bat-mementos, you can pick and mix from these: the Sensei’s robot’s sword, giant blue and red Cluedo pieces with Batman and Robin’s heads stuck on them respectively, a bat-themed looking glass, a huge, stuffed, multicoloured flamingo next door to a similarly sized, slumped, Mr. Punch puppet carrying a vicious looking mallet, what looks like a Noh Theatre inspired Mr Noseybonk mask, and a perfectly preserved 3D scene from that japanese Batman comic on a weird, mini-stage, complete with proscenium arch and red velvet curtains. Batman also possesses an odd range of costumes: a hairy one, a ghostly one, one that looks like it’s made of water, one with many heads, eyes and arms, one that looks sort of courtly, one that resembles a huge, many fanged bat-monster, one in Joker colours and another that seems to be made of light. I should also add that a tiny figure waits for them on the gangway leading to metal blast doors that mark the entrance to the living quarters.

BATMAN: DEAR ME, ACE, YOU’RE A FUNNY COLOUR, AREN’T YOU?

(2): I’LL COME AND SEE TO THAT LATER.

PANEL 2

Batman bends over to greet his cat, stroking him. He’s pulled his mask off now he’s arrived back at home. Judah and Robin whisper to each other in the background.

BATMAN: ALFRED! IT’S GOOD TO SEE YOU BACK IN BLACK TIE.

ALFRED: MRRRWOOOR?

PANEL 3

Judah and Robin in a huddle while Alfred nuzzles Batman’s head with his own.

JUDAH: I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY HE’S BEING SO BLASE WITH ALL… WITH ALL THIS

ROBIN: HE HAS HIS REASONS.

(2): GOOD STORY WASN’T IT?

PANEL 4

Batman turns to Robin and Megadog.

BATMAN: COME ALONG YOU TWO! THE COMPUTER ESTIMATES THAT BLOODY RABBIT WILL BE HERE IN AN HOUR OR SO AND FOREWARNED IS FOREARMED.

PANEL 5

He strides off towards the living quarters. Robin and Megadog hang back a bit.

JUDAH: WHAT? HERE!

(2): I THOUGHT THAT NAOMI GIRL WAS THE TARGET!

ROBIN: NOT AT ALL. LUCIUS AND ALICE DODGESON WERE THE NAMES AT THE TOP OF THE LIST.

(2): SHE WAS JUST CONVENIENT COLLATERAL.

PANEL 6

She looks at him seriously.

ROBIN: IT’LL BE COMING FOR ME FIRST.

PAGE 12

PANEL 1

Cut to Damian as he walks towards the blast doors. Two tunnels in the rock branch off.

JUDAH: (in background) I DON’T UNDERSTAND HOW IT’LL FIND ITS WAY IN HERE.

(2): AND WHAT GOOD IS ALL THIS TECHNOLOGY IF IT CAN’T KEEP WAYNE INDUSTRIES’ EMPLOYEES FROM GETTING THEIR GUTS BLOWN OUT BY KILLER DOLLS FROM DERANGED MURDER FACTORIES?

PANEL 2

Damian pauses to look down one of the tunnels, responding to a voice.

VOICE: (small and weary) GET…GET.. AWAY…

PANEL 3

The tunnel is pitch black. No movement.

ROBIN: (off panel) THE TOWER ITSELF ONLY EMPLOYS TERRESTRIAL SECURITY SYSTEMS, OTHERWISE THE BOSS WOULD HAVE TO FEND OFF AN AWFUL LOT OF QUESTIONS.

(2): THE RABBIT? THAT’S DIFFERENT

PANEL 4

Two red eyes in the darkness.

SFX: HSSSSSSS

PANEL 5

Close up on Damian looking terrified.

ROBIN: (off panel) WE’RE LEAVING THE BACKDOOR UNLOCKED.

PAGE 13

PANEL 1

A bit of temporal ellipsis. We cut to the same living room we saw in Batman #666. Robin, Judah and Damian are ‘deep in chairs’ around the enormous, blazing hearth. An oak bookshelf rides up the wall beside Batman’s chair and there’s a large picture of Silas Wayne (see the second to last episode of R.I.P) above it. He broods out at us. Robin and Judah share a massive, black velvet sofa, his arm stretched out behind Robin, hugging the back of the chair. He’s uncertain. He wants to put his arm around her, but he doesn’t really know what the rules are now or if she’s interested. For Robin’s part, she looks fairly unconcerned as she digs into a bag of popcorn. Batman leans into his audience, the cat nestled into his lap, his chin resting on his hands.

The lights are low. Shadows everywhere….

BATMAN: I’VE GONE TOE TO TOE WITH ACTION FIGURE TWICE BEFORE.

(2): OUR FIRST RUN IN WAS DISASTROUS, THE SECOND TIME I BOUGHT MYSELF A 3 HOUR WINDOW BY DETONATING AN EMP WEAPON THAT FRITZED GOTHAM’S ELECTRONICS AND THEN I DUMPED ITS TARGETS ON THE FIRST OFF WORLD FLIGHT I COULD.

PANEL 2

He reaches for a book.

BATMAN: WHEN FATHER GOT WIND OF THE MISSION’S FAILURE HE OFFERED TO FOLLOW THE SWAT TEAM IN, ONLY TO FIND THE TIPSTER’S DIRECTIONS WERE A DEAD END.

(2): HE EVENTUALLY JOINED THE DOTS BETWEEN THE GARAGE AND THE NEW, INJECTION MOULDED MERCS, BUT HE WAS AS IN THE DARK AS WE ARE WHEN IT CAME TO LOCATING THE PRODUCTION LINE ITSELF.

PANEL 3

He pulls a small pamphlet off the shelf. We don’t have a clear impression of it yet, but its colour scheme is orange and white.

BATMAN: SO WE’RE ON THE BACKFOOT HERE.

(2): AND WE KNOW EVEN LESS ABOUT THE BLACK RABBIT.

PANEL 4

He brandishes the pamphlet. Its cover depicts the same rabbit as the one at the top of this post. The design is pure Penguin Classics.

BATMAN: ALL WE’VE GOT TO GO ON IS THIS PROMOTIONAL PIECE CURRENTLY DOING THE ROUNDS OF GOTHAM’S CRIMINAL COMMUNITY.

(2): THOUGH, AS FAR AS I’M CONCERNED THIS THING ISN’T AT ALL CONVINCING.

ROBIN: (off panel) FFFFH!

PAGE 14

PANEL 1

Robin gets up, exasperated, her popcorn finished. Batman’s face echoes her sentiments. Judah looks a little surprised and miffed.

BATMAN: I’M SORRY, AM I NOT ENTERTAINING ENOUGH FOR YOU?

ROBIN: BOSS. I’VE HEARD IT ALL BEFORE AND YOU’RE TAKING TOO LONG.

(2): I NEED TO FRESHEN UP.

PANEL 2

Small panel. She pecks Judah on the cheek. He’s even more surprised now.

ROBIN: SEE YOU LATER.

PANEL 3

Judah follows her out of the room with his eyes. Batman regards him cooly.

PANEL 4

We close in on Batman again as he delves into the book.

BATMAN: STOP PANTING, BOY. YOU DON’T WANT TO GO THERE.

(2): NOW. ARE YOU SITTING COMFORTABLY?

PAGES 14 to 18

These pages are all text with illustrations. I want them slightly yellowed with age and the same font used in a Penguin Classics reprint. The illustrations should have a similar quality to these.

I will flag up where they should be inserted in the text, but oviously the page layout’s up to you.

Anyway, here’s the text:

(picture of running rabbit matched on pamphlet cover only less abstract)

Once upon a time, in a faraway land, there lived an assassin. Not just any old assassin, mind you. This assassin was the greatest in the world. At six he had mastered the arts of tickling, pinching and hair pulling; at ten he was lethal with a catapult, banana skins and snowballs; aged thirteen he was the best knife-fighter for thousands of miles and an expert marksman. And by his sixteenth birthday he had mastered the world’s martial traditions, and written a treatise on the arts of war. Some say the finest book of its kind ever written.

The assassin’s name was Marain, which means ‘rabbit’, and like his namesake he trod softly, was quick and agile and to all intents and purposes appeared quite harmless. All highly desirable traits in a man who makes his living by taking other’s lives.

(picture of child throwing a snowball through a man’s chest)

But the assassin was not satisfied. The deeper he voyaged into murder’s mystery the more he became convinced that beneath the surface lay a subtler art.

As a young man in his early twenties his services were much in demand, and he was very rich. He could kill a man by stroking his neck, paralyse with a shout, blind with a gob of spit, and yet he was frustrated and went about his work with a sour look on his face. Then one day he heard tell of a butterfly who, it was said, was able to conjure a hurricane from half a world away with a beat of its wings.

And so he set out to find the beast. He searched every shadow and every sunbeam across three continents before he happened upon the butterfly in a corn field just two leagues from the city where he made his home.

(picture of man flapping his wings in a corn field in tandem with a butterfly)

“Master,” he said, “I have searched for you for many years, and now that I have found you I wish to know the secret of leveling cities with a flick of the wrist.” the insect was flattered that someone should have gone to so much trouble to seek him out, for he was just a humble butterfly and nobody had ever called him ‘master’ before. So he agreed to teach the assassin, who by this time was rather old, and they spent many years in the cornfield practicing until the assassin had perfected the butterfly’s art.

When the assassin returned home he discovered that during his absence the city had been blighted by terrible plagues, and great men, many of whom were his enemies, had grown sick and died. There were reports of a war that had engulfed the whole world and of terrible storms in the east, and he smiled to himself when he heard these stories, for he knew the source of these disasters.

But still he was not satisfied.

“Death!” he cried, for Death was not far away now, “I have mastered the arts of the catapult, the killing breath and leveling cities with a flick of the wrist! I demand that you collect your things and install yourself in the servants’ wing of my house immediately!”

Death could not refuse because the assassin was drawing his last breath and, although he did not like to admit it, the man had a curious hold over him. Afterall, he had been at his beck and call for decades. And so Death did as he was told. He gathered together all his possessions in two large suitcases, picked a room he liked on the third floor of the servants’ quarters and prostrated himself at the foot of the assassin’s bed.

(picture of Death prostrating himself)

But Death was no fool. Many men had sought to command him and there were rules to which they had to abide.

“I have been in your service for many years,” he told the assassin “and I have been both loyal and faithful. You have never had cause to call into question my discretion, my character or the efficiency of my work, but before we draw up a formal contract, would you deny your servant a chance to cast off his shackles, to move on and find for himself a new master?”

The assassin liked to think of himself as a fair man. It was certainly true that Death had been as faithful and loyal as any in his employ, and so he agreed to his request.

“But there are conditions.” Death explained “because you are on your final breath you must substitute another’s life for your own, for I cannot go away empty handed. This is of course what you want. To command me. To direct me at your enemies. Only before I do as you ask, I challenge you to a game of chess. If you win, I will fall at your feet and obey, if I win, you will come away with me to the sunken lands.”

The assassin nodded eagerly for chess was a lot like war, and at war he had no equal. And so, although Death was a very able opponent, he was defeated in a handful of moves.

(Picture matched on image of Death conceding at chess from the first issue of this arc)

“And now, Death, I command you to take the life of my cook!” roared the assassin, who had often had his palate offended by the chef’s questionable skills and had long considered him an enemy. Under the terms of their agreement Death was forced to do as he was directed, stealing the man’s soul away as he slept, but when he returned to the assassin’s bedside he was smiling.

“I did not ask you to attend me when your task was done. Stop pestering me, Death. Go to your room while I draw up a list of other men I would have you kill.” the assassin complained. And still death smiled, because, as we have noted, he was no fool.

“Ah, however you are still on your last breath, master! We must play another game before I will do as you command. And we must play another after that, and another after that, and another….”

The assassin put his fingers in his ears for he knew he had been tricked. Death and the assassin were bound to each other from that night on and their chess games accounted for the deaths of thousands.

Both of them found the arrangement rather depressing (for death could never beat his opponent and the assassin could not extricate himself from the bond of his word) until one day death had an idea. “Your house, master, which was once so grand, has fallen into rack and ruin. The curtains are moth-eaten, the furniture is covered in dust and the carpets riddled with mold. Perhaps we would feel the misery of our predicament less if our surroundings were improved.”

“A brilliant idea!” the assassin exclaimed, and so a notice appeared in the classified columns the very next day offering the assassin and death’s services for hire. But despite the care they had taken, nobody seemed very interested, and so the assassin, who had a acquired a knack for self-promotion, and having decided that their first efforts were a little old fashioned and that the name ‘The Actual Death Company’ didn’t have quite the right ring to it, withdrew the ad and had a rethink.

(Picture of the pamphlet itself)

Two weeks later the first edition of this pamphlet leapt off the press and the work began to pour in. Slowly but surely Death and the assassin restored the house to its original grandeur. The curtains and carpets were replaced and the furniture was polished until it sparkled. In a short space of time they’d added an extension to the servants’ wing, a swimming pool, jacuzzis in the bathrooms and all the mod-cons money could buy. In fact Death became so comfortable in his new home that some of the other servants started to suspect he’d begun losing to the assassin deliberately, and all thanks of the unparalleled success of Black Rabbit Murders inc.

Needless to say none of their targets lived happily ever after.

(Picture matched on one from last ish with rabbit’s eyes saying “armed”)

Black Rabbit offers its clients the best service money can buy. The company has never reneged on a contract or failed to complete a job and will pursue the most elusive targets over decades if necessary.

Choose from a variety of different murder options: immolation, pulverisation, disease, decrepitude, torture, electricution…

Black Rabbit: because you can’t stop Death himself!

For more information conta

LARGE, CARTOONY SFX OBSCURING END OF TEXT: BLEEEEEEEEEEEUUUURGH!

(2): BLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!

JUDAH: (Off panel) WHAT THE HELL?

PAGE 19

PANEL 1

Batman puts the book down, pulling down his mask and preparing for action. Judah springs out of his chair.

BATMAN: OH MY GOD! ACE!

(2): BATDOG, COME WITH ME!

PANEL 2

They charge down the same corridor we saw in the original Batman 666, the one with the holograms of Batman, Robin and their enemies.

BATMAN: I SHOULD HAVE SEEN TO HIM EARLIER. THE LAST THING WE NEED IS THAT CREATURE RUNNING LOOSE IN THE BATCAVE!

PANEL 3

We cut to a very different scene. Robin is preparing to dive into the cave’s swimming pool. I want it to look all disco, like this

and with colourful bat-logos worked into the wall design. She’s wearing a gold swimming suit. It’s rather 1940′s looking and it has her red Robin logo sewn into the chest area, but we can’t see that yet because she has her back to us.

PANEL 4

From under the surface. Her body spears the water.

PAGE 20

PANEL 1

Batman and Megadog, who’s now wolfed out, hurtle into the batcave, followed by Alfred.

BATMAN: COMPUTER! SECURITY BREACH!

(2): SEAL OFF THE CAVE!

PANEL 2

Batman, ready for action, in front of Ace who’s rolled over, his mouth hanging open, in a pool of his own vomit. It looks like thick pink sludge. Judah’s holding his nose.

JUDAH: THAT SMELL….

PANEL 3

Robin doing the crawl. Water splashes the lens.

PANEL 4

Batman telling Judah off.

BATMAN: WOULD YOU MIND PUTTING THAT NOSE TO WORK LOCATING OUR INTRUDER, BATDOG?

JUDAH: ACTUALLY, IT’S NOT BAT..

VOICE: (off panel and foreign): PLEASE.

PAGE 21

PANEL 1

Batman from behind, ready to wheel round.

VOICE: (off panel) PLEASE?

PANEL 2

Robin, having just completed a lap, supporting herself on the bar at the end of the pool, gazing into the water

PANEL 3

She looks surprised suddenly, arching an eyebrow.

PANEL 4

Batman and Judah turn. A young blonde girl, naked and covered in sludge, stands shivering and terrified before them. She holds a tattered and torn Puppy-suit.

GIRL: PLEASE HELP.

PAGE 22

PANEL 1

Robin from the front, swimming to the bottom of the pool.

PANEL 2

The girl collapses into Batman’s arms.

PANEL 3

Robin again, smiling and addressing someone off panel.

ROBIN: WELL, LOOK WHO IT IS!

PAGE 23

Full page. Robin floating just above the bottom of the pool. The Black Rabbit is crouched, motionless, in front of her.

ROBIN: I WAS WONDERING WHEN YOU’D GET HERE.

END OF PART 3

NEXT TIME: BAT-TV!

36 Responses to “Batman and Robin 666 #7”

  1. Zom Says:

    Probably my favourite yet. Just crammed with good stuff.

    I love the whole section given over to super-vehicles. Captures the fetishized thing that surrounds them nicely – brings it out front – and segues beautifully into that truly horrible secret origin of Action Figure.

    The prose bit is also fun. It’s just the right side of absurd. In fact it’s the tonal strangeness of your batverse in microcosm.

    “Black Rabbit: because you can’t stop Death himself”=great.

    Also Bat Mountain is just a brilliant conceit, as is the joker themed batsuit. Oh, and the hairy bat-suit.

    I know we’ve talked about this, but your bat-thinking reminds me a lot of Alan Moore’s Captain Britain run. Lurid, tonally cogent but crazy, and really imaginative.

  2. Neon Snake Says:

    Ok, I’ve got an evening to myself, some wine, and nothing needing doing, so I’m settling in and reading through this.

    One issue down, and I’m bloody glad I’ve still got six to go.

    It’s really, really good, ‘poodle.

    I can see the Morrison influences, sure, but more than that it reminds me of Gibson’s Sprawl series, but amped up to a more, I dunno, Hollywood version – less gritty street level, more Hollywood flash.

    The ’80s virtual reality matrix that you can jack into at will, with the digital graffiti is great. I can see young early-adopter types, the twitterers and the bloggers of a few years back, leaving messages in this virtual world.

    And there’s something in the Dinobot Batmobile, with it’s own AI. I can’t place it, but there’s something familiar in the sense that Damian has to exert his own will over the machine. I’ve seen the idea before, and it’s on the tip of my tongue, as it were.

    Also – Ragged Robin – nice one.

    And the Sensei as villain – I know nothing of the Sensei, other than his appearance in the Ra’surrection arc, which was largely rubbish; the Morrison issues were pretty good, though – the second one especially, which was pure joycore uberbat ass-kicking, so it’s nice to see a return from him.

    Right. Issue 2. More neon-tinged cyberpunk badness please.

  3. Neon Snake Says:

    Right, issue two opens with an internet/virus (read: neon) snake.

    I mean, there’s a fucking reason for my screen tag, y’know?

    And it’s got fuck-all to do with either Metal Gear or Kurt Russel.

    Anyway, great stuff. Dead pleased to see Batwoman, dead pleased to see some of the intervening years filled in. Good justification for Damian adopting a “no-kill” stance.

    And of course, the rescue of the family. Would have, I suspect, been very easy to kill off a couple – just to show the seriousness of the situation, yes? Fuck that. Glad you had the balls to rescue all of them.

    And then, the apocalypse. This is now far enough away from “our” Batman comics to be something new, but still recognisably the best parts of Batman – the crazyness, the madness, the rainsoaked shining skyscrapers.

    Bring on issue 3.

  4. amypoodle Says:

    You know, I didn’t notice the Neon Snake thing till now.

    Well, there’s much more of that, that’s for sure.

    We’ve had a solid, steady flow of readers for the last two issues – not ENORMOUS, but not bad for our very own mindless-vanity project – but very little comment. Are people not feeling this arc? Have I gone wrong? I have to confess to really liking the new stuff. It contains a lot of the imagery that flooded my head when I began the first story, but wouldn’t fit anywhere within it.

    And if you think the Toy Guns arc has been a bit pedestrian so far, wait till next issue.

    Weird things come to those who wait.

  5. Neon Snake Says:

    Ah, Ace the Batmobile – reminds me of a Titan from my old Warhammer 40k days.

    I have no idea if I’ve just increased my geekcred or destroyed it.

  6. Zom Says:

    40k lives in all our hearts.

    Actually, that’s not true, but it does live in mine.

  7. Zom Says:

    Snake, glad you’re liking it.

    Batman 666 is perhaps my favourite thing we do around here. I’ve said it before but I don’t mind saying it again, I prefer reading these raw scripts to reading just about any superhero comic on the racks currently.

    I just wish more people read it, as those that do seem to really like it. It doesn’t get bad hits, but I think the quality on display warrants many more.

  8. Neon Snake Says:

    And also, it lives in Mum and Dad’s loft.

    Right, issue 3.

    I can’t help the Morrison references, I’m in the middle of a marathon MorriDCU reading session, but: shades of Frankenstein, shades of the madder DC: One Million issues. JLArc – love it.

    More than the other two, this one, I think, would have been helped by artwork as a signifier of where in the timeline we were – difficult to tell where we were, often (caveat – drunkness. Possibly my fault, and not the script’s).

    She decided she was real = spineshiver.
    Also: Clap your hands. Yeah! Gimme the childlike sense of wonder of reading a superhero comic.
    GCPD building = all of us – we need a hero, a Bat-man.

  9. Neon Snake Says:

    Zom, it’s really very good. I have no idea how much of my enjoyment is my own personal preferences – my screen name does come from a mix of a love of cyberpunk and the Chinese year of my birth, so I’m always going to be partial to rainsoaked neonglo cities mixed with the supernatural, but I suspect that it’s good in it’s own right, personal preferences be damned.

    I’m torn between wanting to see it illustrated, and wanting to illustrate it myself.

    Now that I’ve got 40k in my head, I’m seeing Gotham as a hiveworld, stretching up into infinity, both dirty and grim at the bottom, and shining and bright at the top; the perfect setting for the mix of wonder/awe and dirty, nasty villainy.

  10. Zom Says:

    I know what you mean about personal preferences, but I too suspect it’s very good in its own right.

    Also, on the question of illustrating it yourself, every issue contains two or three panels that have seared themselves onto my brain, but, you know, without actually existing in their own right

    The results of the police raid in issue 7 is a case in point.

  11. Zom Says:

    On the question of confusing stuff in the first arc. It is demanding stuff, but if you’re prepared to do the work you’ll find that it does make sense. There is a mad logic to it

  12. Neon Snake Says:

    Issue 3 worked for me on an emotional level, if not (necessarily) a logical one. My approach to most things is to worry about logic after emotion – I imagine that when I re-read it (tomorrow, sober) it will make logical sense; as it stands, I’m feeling the importance of a Batman to Gotham city, evoked by Robin’s audience, and by the image of the GCPD building and the Batsignal.

    And issue 4 rocked like a rhino on heat. Absolute fucking joycore, as Batman erupts into reality from pure belief in the sheer rightness of it all.

    And the selfdefense mechanisms, the rogues – as if they’d let something like the Sensei deprive them of their play, that implicit smirking knowledge that Gotham belongs to both Batman and his rogues, not to any pretentious outsider. Glorious.

  13. Neon Snake Says:

    Nice one, amypoodle. I’ll get to the rest over the next day or so, but so far, it’s bloody marvellous. Exactly what I want from comics, and exactly what’s missing from the DCU at the moment – brilliant, mad ideas that can and should only be told in the comic format.

  14. Triplets Says:

    I’ll fall for amypoodle’s bait and comment. It’s deserved because this is rocking the shit out of me.

    I love the crazy reappropriation-slash-extension of the Batmythos. Ace is Bruce’s stuffed dinosaur turned Batmobile, Ragged Robin is Robin the Toy Wonder (and a great example that Damian isn’t above killing with kindness by taking a foe’s work turning it to better ends).

    I also like how Batman (played not QUITE uber-Bat-ish here, but close) with his incredible gadgets, magiqck skills and great friends has been given some foes that are superhuman. These aren’t your daddy’s Batrogues and serve to show the reader that an unkillable near-superbat needs incredible foes. Plastic murder golems! Black (Rabbit) Racers!

    Toytown isn’t Toytown. This whole comic is Toytown.

  15. Triplets Says:

    Also, the image of the policewoman is fucking horrid. I can see it clearly.

    In my miiiiinndd.

  16. plok Says:

    I’ve been feeling a bit guilty about not commenting more regularly…but I feel like my praise is as superfluous as those old apologetic intros I’m delighted not to be seeing anymore of. It’s good, right? We know it, and you know it, and the rest of the Mindless know it. So I’ve just been reading. But how could I let the different Bat-suits pass without mention? Totally gorgeous, and suggestive…I need to know about the hairy one. This is what Elseworlds stories should have been, I never liked that “what if Superman was really Mowgli” garbage…it seems to me that more than anything this skips across Sixties New Wave SF sub-tropes from issue to issue, it’s very surprising in the way it recalls the exact imaginative project taken on in those days…at least, to my eyes it does that, and that surprises the shit out of me. So, because of that I could and can stand a whole lot of variation in the pace from issue to issue…every time you flick on over into something new, you get my attention all over again. This one’s got a lot of talking in it, sure, but even though it’s part of the same story and has the same kind of stuff in it, it still kind of feels like a totally different book…just like each one of these last few has felt like a different book. And that’s a great thing, to achieve that while still keeping the safety line clipped…I can’t wait to see just how far you take it all. We’re going to at least #24, right?

  17. amypoodle Says:

    At least till #24. I know my way around the whole thing. It gets very, ummm, BIG.

    I don’t think of 40k, because 40k didn’t gleam in the right way. Nothing against its aesthetic – it’s quite cool really – but if the scripts are influenced by it, it’s an unconscious thing. Wouldn’t rule that out though, esp because the odd D&D manual cover’s been getting me all excited recently.

    Primary influences so far have probably been Morrison, Jeff Noon, Ian Banks, David Lynch (and anything ACTUALLY SCARY), M R James, Love and Rockets, Borges (just reread him), 60′S and 70′s sci-fi book covers (in fact sf art generally, from Chris Foss to Juan Giminez), Daniel Clowes, Cyberpunk, photographs of gleaming skyscrapers and glowing cockpits, Phil Dick, The Prisoner, BAT-MANGA!, the fairy story art of Mabel Lucie Atwell and Helen Stratton, Max Ernst, Von Bayros, Superstudio, a beautiful pink and blue photo of a girl on my desktop, Oskar Fischinger, Annie Besant, Surrealist Films (which I often stick on youtube while I’m writing), Moebius, really good nights out, DISCO!, electronic music – from Eno to DJ Hell (for some reason I don’t hear anything else when I write 666, tho’ I’m wondering what a Modern Lovers inspired issue would be like – I have some ideas…. Quite exciting actually. I’d also like to add that there’s musical references all over the place too), a massive Batman fetish and tons of other stuff I can’t remember. It really does all feed in somewhere. As you can see, the scripts are more inspired by imagery and atmosphere than they are by writing.

    Looking at that list, it also occurs to me that of course people are going to go compare my writing with Morrison’s, seeing as we obviously grew up with the same influences. A whole generation did. Morrison was just lucky enough to be ahead of the curve (read: born at the right time to fire all this stuff back at the culture before anyone else did.), so the question becomes, not who influences the work, but what you do with those influences. Whether or not you make them your own.

    I think I do.

    And Plok, I do try to make sure every issue has a very different tone. I think if you can’t cram a whole story into one comic, then you should at least try to shuffle the atmospheres between issues, just so the reader feels like they’ve got their money’s worth. That they’ve got the complete package, so to speak. And although the last episode was a ‘talky’, I like to think that the both talkies so far (#5 and #7) might trick the reader into not noticing, just because they’re so full of visually arresting moments, horror and headscratchy stuff. They’re also very, very tightly plotted, so that there’s a clear beginning, middle and, hopefully, DRAMATIC end to each of them. There’s nothing worse than a rambly Brubaker or Bendis comic, where nothing feels like its happened. But that’s long-form writing and there’s nothing wrong with that, just, god knows, I’m not into it.

    As for superhuman bat-foes. Yeah, that’s conscious. I wanted to clearly delineate the difference between old and new by throwing up rogues who would completely maimthe Riddler et al in a fight. They’re tougher and weirder in many cases. The next generation basically. Just like Damian. These guys didn’t *learn* their superpowers or their freakiness, they were born that way – or born into a world that had long since been that way. They’re the real deal.

    Just to give credit where credit’s due, my editor, Zom, has to take a bow for the ‘Batdog’ stuff. It was all his idea. Bloody funny and bloody good characterization at the same time.

  18. amypoodle Says:

    One other thing, ’cause now there’s loads of comments. You guys really make me feel like it’s all worthwhile. Not just because you like the strip, but because you *get* it. You understand what I’m going for: the leapfrogging across Cyberpunk and 60′s SFism ’cause, y’know, it’s not new anymore and we know all that shit already; the updating of standard horror tropes and monsters – of course Action figure is supposed to be a golem; the rogues protectiveness of their city and how much more outlandish they are than any outsider…. Picking up on this stuff means that you’re really feeling it, and that’s great.

  19. Zom Says:

    I like to think I help in small ways.

    I totally agree with you, Plok, about the way each issue feels fresh and distinct yet part of a whole. That’s a great way of doing ongoing monthly comics, if you ask me.

    Also. Plok, can you explain more about the mapping across 60s sf tropes? My sf knowledge isn’t very broad so I don’t pick up on that stuff.

  20. plok Says:

    Well, all that stuff was repurposing, too — taking the paper-thinness of standard SF business and treating it as paper-thin as it was. Lots of stuff in the Sixties was really “generation gap”-oriented too, stealing from the past to pay the present, and with a lot of optimism about a “new” future that was still rooted in commentary on the past. The Dr. Fate episode, with his clubby-uncle ways and his nice 70s house…it’s the sort of thing that we usually feel to be stale these days, as stale as “realistic” superheroes, putting a quotidian gloss on the strange, or what’s always been supposed to be the strange…yet you can turn it around and point it the other way, too: it’s just another way of slicing and dicing. I mean, once that sort of thing was thought transgressive — and it isn’t transgressive anymore, but it can still mean something if anyone’s interested in making it do so. A bit like the “soft” SF of the New Wave (and, I don’t just include the British Invasion, but the American response too), where suddenly there was no reason to care about how the stardrive works because your character’s not the intrepid captain of the ship, he’s the lowly janitor who sleeps between the bulkheads and doesn’t really know what’s going on. He knows what the ship does, but not how…no one’s interested in the how anymore. Well, nowadays this is just considered an excuse to be lazy — don’t get into anything, just pretend it doesn’t matter. But back then it had a lot of allegorical punch. And it could still have, and often does, but today there’s also a third alternative: acknowledge the motif and its meaning, acknowledge that it has> an allegorical setting you can switch it to…but put it to use much as the soft-SFers did the baloney with the rayguns and the warp drive. The freedom of the New Wave to be elliptical and offhand at the same time, sometimes throwing in some stodgy “old business” and sometimes throwing everything out to be as experimental as they could is the same freedom as, well, making all this a Batman story, for one…and being able to have a faintly Moorcockian Fate up there in the sky in his whacko castle (still love all that so much — the flavour of “modern fiction” with all these costumes and capes, like the angry young men only in Toytown Gotham) at the same time. Generation-gap stuff — I think it’s in there — but treated as frilly stuff in the background, just modes, colours on the palette. A bit of Elric and a bit of Deathbird Stories and a bit of Fredrik Pohl and Ursula LeGuin and (so correct!) Phil Dick and The Prisoner — reappropriating the repurposing. Mix well with the last twenty years and serve with a garnish of Heavy Metal and 2000 AD, right?

    Anyway, that’s pretty much how I read it, although my description’s a bit slapdash as — curse you, Zom! — I was just heading to bed…as Amy says, we know all this stuff, know the repurposing of all this stuff, know the repurposing of the repurposing the last time it was all repurposed…like Damian and his villains, we’re born into it, natural inheritors of all of it…we can do what we like with it now. That’s why Uncle Fate in his Seventies apartment didn’t bug me, because I liked the idea of it being a riff…of course if superheroes or aliens or vampires or what-have-you were real they would be very weird, not very blase…the way they conducted themselves would probably be scary, not chummy and comfortable and emptied-out. They wouldn’t be converted by modernity into folks like you and me, but they’d convert us out of modernity…nevertheless, throwing those elements in there, those markers, is still a good way to simultaneously manage tensions, and honour origins. Hey, remind me to tell you my analysis of Steed and Emma, one day…

    Oh God, is that the time?

    More to the point, was that at all coherent?

  21. amypoodle Says:

    As for illustration… I’m keen to see some of it illustrated too. In fact, I’d really like the image header to be a panel from the strip. I don’t care what one – in fact the more understated the better maybe – but it would be so, so cool.

    Having said that, I have a very, very keen eye for what I *want*. I always know it when I see it, and I know what doesn’t work too. I’d love people to send us stuff, but I’d hate anyone to be hurt if I turned them down. Check the influences upthread if you need pointers, tho’ of course my taste is far broader than that stuff. That list serves as a good indicator of what I’m into right now though.

    Dream artists would be: Cameron Stewart, any one of the L&R crew, Quitely, Winsor McCay, Moebius, Paul Pope, Hewlett, Bond, Richard Case (his late era DP stuff)…..

    And I’m sick to the gills that Morrison’s got Camilla D’Errico on one of his new books. She’d be amazing.

    Colourists would be either Jamie Grant or Lynn Varley in DKR mode.

    So my standards aren’t at all high then.

  22. amypoodle Says:

    And Plok

    “as Amy says, we know all this stuff, know the repurposing of all this stuff, know the repurposing of the repurposing the last time it was all repurposed…like Damian and his villains, we’re born into it, natural inheritors of all of it…we can do what we like with it now.”

    that’s it!

    That’s it exactly. The text shares the same attitudes the characters do.

  23. amypoodle Says:

    And Ursula Le Guin and Moorcock are definitely amongst my influences, but in a slightly vaguer way.

  24. plok Says:

    Whew! Got it right, then…

    Just popped back in to say that obviously by “Fredrik Pohl” I meant Brian Aldiss

    Because Old Fred’s my traditional repurposing subject…little slip-up, there…

    I’d suggest that Morrison’s gone into that mix too, you know! I know he isn’t done yet, but…yeah, that’s what I meant by post-Morrisonian, not that you’re sampling from him exclusively, but that yes, he’s becoming a colour on the palette too…

    And so he should be a colour on the palette! It reminds me a bit of how people say of bands “they’re Beatles-influenced”. Well, show me the rock/pop band that is not Beatles-influenced, you know? It’s a ridiculous way to talk, and yet we do it all the time: a band takes the stage at ten p.m. in 2009, and somebody says “eh, kinda Beatles-y”, as though they were listening to a cover band at a high-school dance…there’s a prejudice there, and I think it’s against history…

    Okay, now really bed. Meeting in four hours! Oh, I’m a regular genius…

  25. Zom Says:

    I think if you’re sending out the call for illustrators that there are better places to do it than the comments thread

  26. amypoodle Says:

    I know that. I just got carried away.

  27. Bucky Sinister Says:

    Just getting caught up here, and very much loving this second arc. My favorite bits so far are Fate’s swingin’ Cthulhian pad, and the term “batmospherics,” but it’s all quite good.

    On the subject of illustration and ideal illustrators: I don’t know when this happened, but I’ve actually started seeing chunks of this drawn by Fraser Irving. Don’t know if that makes you smile or cringe, but there it is…

  28. amypoodle Says:

    Oh god, he’d be awesome. I love Irving.

    Klarion was the best looking seven soldiers book, and that’s saying something.

  29. amypoodle Says:

    In fact the more fairystory the better.

  30. The Satrap Says:

    My mind’s eye is having this drawn by Stuart Immonen in Nextwave mode.

    It’s the right thing to do.

  31. Zom Says:

    Stuart Immonen would also rock.

  32. Anonymous Says:

    I’ve been a bit blog-absent lately, but I’ve been meaning to tell you that these are awesome for, I don’t know, some weeks now.
    So: These are awesome. Nice work.

  33. Danoot Says:

    that’d be me, then.

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  36. Rob Says:

    I really like these 6 points at the end, i think it can be keys to successfull social media strategy

    http://allin1panel.com/blog/social-media-marketing-2/

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