Batman and Robin 666 #8

May 11th, 2009

Click here to read the rest of the run

And so ends our second story arc. We don’t have a wait for the trade philosophy round here so enough gets answered that it’s a satisfying conclusion, but we leave enough shit dangling to keep you coming back for the mega-story. If you’ve been following us since the beginning you’ll be used to all the weird tonal shifts by now and this episode’s absolutely no exception. I gather Morrison’s going to be using Professor Pyg in his new Batman book so as of now this stuff is officially NOT CANON. Not unless Grant secretly loves this non-run and plays along, which I doubt. I’m playing in his sandpit afterall. And, of course, that’s been one of the themes of this arc.  Seriously, though, in some ways I’ve, completely naively, started to feel as though these characters belong to me, and it does sting a bit to be reminded that they absolutely don’t, so forgive me if I feel a little sad. I’m looking forward to Morrison’s new bat-arc as much as anyone, but it’s a shame to see *my* Robin relegated to a pile of bad guys for Batman to beat on.

And that’s the other thing: I suppose by this time it’s become clear that this book is as much about Alice Dodgeson as it is about Damian Wayne. I think I always saw 666 as a team effort, but that doesn’t mean I’m not aware that Damian really needs some time to shine on his own and I’ve factored that into my future plans, so hopefully I’m heading off any complaints some of you might have at the pass. Though I’ll also be spending some issues focusing really closely on some of the supporting cast too, one of whom may come as something of a surprise. These last two arcs have really been about world building and setting the scene both tonally and narratively for what comes afterwards. So, sure, they’re overflowing with crazy vehicles, virtual reality, lynchian conceits and toy guns, maybe to the point of overkill, but now it’s all firmly lodged in place, I can take my hands off the throttle a bit and Nu Gotham can relax into a different kind of pace.

So anyway, let’s forget about all that for now and join Batman and Robin as they face down the combined might of the Black Rabbit and Action Figure. One last time before the continuity hounds start screaming Elseworlds!’

PAGE 1

Everything on this page is drawn and coloured like an early to mid eighties kid’s cartoon. Simple line work. Blocky colours that don’t stay within the line. I want the characters to have a staunch, heroic demeanour, like Thundercats or Autobots. These guys are the stars of the cartoon.

PANEL 1

From the front. A light green and purple porsche, a lot like a toy car, races along the road, tyres burning into the tarmac as it squeals round a corner.

CAP: (like an eighties computer readout) MEANWHILE….

SPEECH BUBBLE: (from inside car) IF YOU’D ONLY FOLLOWED MY DIRECTIONS!

(2): CAN’T YOU GO ANY FASTER?

PANEL 2

Inside the car. As sci-fi as anything we’ve seen previously, but a bit on the old skool side. LED readouts, a bit button heavy, vector graphic display of the road, that kind of thing. There’s an intercom inserted in the black leather dash by the steering wheel and through it the car’s communicating with the driver who reclines, hands off the wheel.

The driver is the action figure killer we saw in issue 6.

His expression is steely and urgent. A grim hero. There’s an emergency. Time is of the essence.

CAR: I GO ANY FASTER MY ENGINE’LL BLOW AND YOU’LL HAVE TA CARRY ME!

PANEL 3

Match on shot, but….  Back to reality (no toon visuals in this panel). The interior now seems to be made out of a funny mixture of plastic and, well, SKIN (the flesh around the buttons in the dash appears especially raw), the seats are covered in what looks like human hair and as for the intercomm device… It’s an articulated human face filled with servos, like one of those scrunchy plastic face hand puppets we played with as children. Its eye sockets are hollow, as are its mouth and nasal cavities. A mask.

Action figure himself has the same dead expression we saw in ish 6. His skin’s shiny, enamelled. His mouth moves like a puppet’s. We can see the points of articulation.

CAR: (weary and wheezing looking, as though it’s coming from a corpse) HOW’D…YA LIKE TA CHANGE YA NAME TA “TRACTION-FIGURE“?

ACTION FIGURE: EVERY SECOND COUNTS, MAN-MOBILE!

(2): WE HAVE TO GET BACK TO BASE AND WARN THE OTHERS BEFORE THE BATMAN MARSHALS HIS FORCES!

PANEL 4

Small panel. Back to toonland. Close up on intercomm.

MAN-MOBILE: HEY, RELAAAX, DOME HEAD!

(2): I DON’T NEED NO COCKAMAMIE DIRECTIONS…

PANEL 5

The porsche bursts through a metal fence.

MAN-MOBILE: ‘CAUSE I KNOW ALL THE SHORTCUTS!

PAGE 2

PANEL 1

Splash.This page is split down the middle. One side depicts reality from inside the cartoon, the other outwith it, though it’s all the same image, divided. In the cartoon part the porsche is skidding to a halt outside a high-tech silver fortress, perhaps reminiscent of that transformer Metroplex in city mode, the sun rising behind it all pink and gorgeous. The second half of the page reveals a dirty unkept lot, the same dingy garage we saw last time and a porsche made out of bone, bolted onto skin. The tyres are muscle and the windscreens are made of nail. We might even be able to make out the cuticle The light is weaker – wan – here.

The title banner travels across the whole of the bottom of the page. One half of the Infesticons logo heading it is cleaned up and gleaming, but the part that travels into the other half is rotted and infested like the logo we saw in #5. The rest of the title reads like the ‘meanwhile’ cap at the beginning.

MAN-MOBILE: SO COOOOOL YA BOOTS!

(2): INFESTICONS HQ COMIN’ RIGHT UP!

TITLE BANNER: INFESTICONS! NIGHT OF THE BATMAN! PART 4 – DOLLMAKER

PANEL 2

Small. In corner of page. Close on Action figure looking all tragic and noble, the sun glinting meaningfully off his visor.

ACTION FIGURE: EVEN NOW OUR ENEMIES CONSPIRE AGAINST US!

PAGE 3

PANEL 1

Robin suspended in the golden water, her back to us. In front of her the Black Rabbit has transformed into something like this

black_rabbit_of_inle1

towering over her small body.

CAP: I ONLY PRAY WE ARE NOT TOO LATE!

ROBIN: OH MY.

(2): YOU’RE.

(3): YOU’RE…

PAGE 4

PANEL 1

Judah in the cave, kneeling on the floor and cradling Puppy in his arms. She clings to him while he apologogises profusely. His expression one of deep regret.

JUDAH: (foreign) …BEAUTIFUL.

(2): (small. Whispering) I’M SORRY IF I HURT YOU BACK THERE. YOU WERE…..

(3): HOW COULD I KNOW?

PANEL 2

Low shot. Batman stands over him, all business.

BATMAN: HOW IS SHE?

PANEL 3

Judah strokes the girl’s hair. She stares up at him. Is that fear? She’s totally infantalised.

JUDAH: FRIGHTENED. OBVIOUSLY.

(2): SHE KEEPS REPEATING THE SAME THINGS OVER AND OVER.

(3): THEY SOUND LIKE COMMAND WORDS. ‘SIT‘, ‘STAY’, ‘KILL’. LIKE THAT. MY ROMANIAN’S NOT GREAT.

PANEL 4

Close on Batman looking thoughtful.

BATMAN: AT LEAST ONE OF US SPEAKS IT.

(2): WE NEED TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT WHO DID THIS TO HER, AND MOTHER NEVER DID SPEND MUCH TIME IN EASTERN EUROPE.

(3): IF SHE WAS MIDDLE EASTERN OR…

JUDAH: I THINK MAYBE WE SHOULD PUT THE RETRIBUTION THING ON HOLD.

PANEL 5

Judah takes off his goggles. He sounds irritated at the top of the page, but by the time the speech bubble travels down as far as his face he looks worried.

JUDAH: KEEPING HER CALM AND MAKING HER FEEL SAFE IS OUR NUMBER ONE PRIORITY RIGHT…

(2): (small) UH…

PAGE 5

PANEL 1

Cartoony again now. Bats glares down at him.

JUDAH: (still small) Um, exactly how many languages do you speak, Batman? Your intonation’s really interesting and your turn of phrase…

BATMAN: THREE HUNDRED. A THIRD OF THEM EXTRATERRESTRIAL.

PANEL 2

Normalcy resumes. Batman clasps his furrowed brow. Judah suddenly appears really interested in Puppy’s well being again.

BATMAN: LOOK, ULTRA-BEAST, OR WHATEVER IT IS, IF I’M RIGHT THIS CHILD IS THE VICTIM OF SUPERHUMAN, ARISTOCRATIC, DIPLOMATICALLY IMMUNE HUMAN SLAVERS.

(2): SHE WON’T BE THE FIRST OR THE LAST POOR LITTLE EASTERN EUROPEAN GIRL TO FALL INTO THEIR CLUTCHES, SO FORGIVE ME IF I APPEAR HEARTLESS ONLY THERE’S A BIGGER PICTURE TO CONSIDER HERE.

JUDAH: SIR.

PANEL 3

Alfred appears at Batman’s feet, eager to please. Judah gets up, carrying Puppy.

BATMAN: BUT YOU’RE RIGHT. SHE NEEDS TO REST.

(2): ALFRED!

ALFRED: MRRWWWP!

BATMAN: SHOW MR. RUNNING DOG HERE TO THE GUEST ROOMS, SEE TO ACE AND PREP THE DODGEM.

PANEL 4

The rabbit circles Robin like a wolf. She turns to look at it, unconcerned.

CAP: I CAN’T IMAGINE ROBIN’LL BE MUCH LONGER UP THERE.

THE BLACK RABBIT: (two speech bubbles overlapped. One normal. One white text on black, transparent) AH, BUT HOW TO KILL YOU?

(2): YOUR CONSCIOUSNESS CAN FLIT IN AND OUT OF THIS SHELL, CAN’T IT? YOUR BODY IS ONLY A NEST.

THE BLACK RABBIT: BUT I CAN FOLLOW YOU ANYWHERE. WHEREVER YOU GO I’LL FIND YOU.

ROBIN: OH, SILLY RABBIT

PAGE 6

PANEL 1

Robin looking all breezy and cheerful. She reaches out, seemingly to pet him. The rabbit is taken aback for a moment.

THE BLACK RABBIT: PARDO..

ROBIN: DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND? WE INVITED YOU HERE.

(2): BATMAN WANTS US TO GET COSY WITH EACH OTHER.

THE BLACK RABBIT: NO…

PANEL 2

The rabbit rears up, his face turning into a skull. Black flame curls into the water all around. Robin claps delightedly.

THE BLACK RABBIT: IT IS YOU WHO FAILS TO UNDERSTAND! I WILL CRUCIFY YOU ON ENDLESSLY BARBED TORTURE-ALGORITHMS, I WILL…

ROBIN: COME, SHUSH NOW.

PANEL 3

She reaches out again and puts her hand to the rabbit’s forhead, which lights up red like a button being pressed. He pulls away.

ROBIN: I WASN’T TALKING TO YOU TWO.

THE BLACK RABBIT: (starts to talk in multicoloured zeroes and ones) 111110000000001010101010111110

PANEL 4

Close on Robin’s face. Concentrating.

ROBIN: RIGHT THEN.

PANEL 4

Cartoony. Close on the rabbit. He’s disarmed and reverted to his normal mode. His mouth hangs open.

ROBIN: ANYONE FOR CHESS?

PAGE 7

PANEL 1

Tiny panel of white noise.

SFX: SKKRSH!

PANEL 2

Cut to Lady Matilda in a prison cell, sat on the edge of her bed, drooling.

PANEL 3

Prison guard letting a handsome young man dressed in a slightly tweedy but very well tailored suit into the room.

PANEL 4

He helps Matilda up.

PANEL 5

He helps her down the corridor out of the prison section. There’s a red carpet on the floor and it’s strewn with flowers.

PAGE 8

PANEL 1

A pink helicopter waits for them in the road outside the prison. A servant holds the door open for Matilda and the young man. The carpet and the flowers extend all the way to the door.

PANEL 2

She’s helped aboard.

PANEL 3

It takes off.

PANEL 4

Tiny panel of white noise.

SFX: KRSKRSH!

PANEL 5

Cartoon. Aerial shot of Action Figure pacing a stage in the heart of Infesticons HQ, with a holo-screen depicting Batman’s face looking menacing behind him. Everything’s chrome and gold. Standing directly behind him is a red optimus prime knock off but purple and white, and beside him is an all white, luke skywalker lookalike. All sorts of Toy people stand in the audience in what is a packed auditorium. You don’t need to go that heavy on the detail here because saturday morning cartoons and the comics that were based on them  always looked a bit scrappy and that’s the feeling I want. The characters that populated the background in scenes like this were often drawn in a perfunctory and generic style, so don’t give yourself a headache.  All that it’s essential you convey is that Action Figure’s whipping up the troops.

PAGE 9

PANEL 1

The crowd raise their fists in the air, led by Action Figure on the stage. They’re ready for war.

PANEL 2

Another tiny panel of white noise.

SFX: KRRSH!

PANEL 3

Cartoon still. Robin walking down stairs leading to the batcave, where Batman waits for her. She’s going with the  rockabilly look today. Her hair tied back in a ponytail, a studded black leather jacket with an old school Robin ‘R’ badge on it,  red framed horn-rimmed glasses with a winged shape to them, a long flared red dress with gold polka dots and green cowboy boots.

BATMAN: ..OU ALL SET?

ROBIN: YEAH. JUST NEED TO GIVE THE RIDE A COUPLE OF MINUTES.

(2): HE’S ACCLIMATISING.

PANEL 3

Normal now. They stroll through the cave past all the weird memorabila, including what looks like a framed Batman board game

batgame1

BATMAN: HOW DID IT GO?

ROBIN: IT WASN’T LIKE PLAYING CHESS AT ALL. MORE LIKE REALLY COMPLEX, IMPROVISED CODE.

(2): SOMEONE DID A REAL NUMBER ON HIM.

(3): I HAVEN’T SEEN A SLAVED ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE LIKE THAT SINCE THANAGAR, REMEMBER?

PANEL 4

Robin looks at Batman appealingly. She’s part machine too.

ROBIN: IT MAKES ME SICK. HIS MIND WAS SLICED IN TWO.

(2): I MEAN, THAT’S ABUSE, RIGHT?

PANEL 5

They’re heading towards the end of the gangway. What looks like a small dodgem car sits on a tiny piece of track suspended above an abyss.

BATMAN: A SERVITOR MISSILE? I THOUGHT SO. THEY’RE SO…. UNRELENTING.

(2): YOU DON’T SEE MANY OF THEM AROUND THESE PARTS.

(3): WHOEVER PUT OUR FURRY FRIEND TOGETHER COULDN’T RISK HIM BECOMING SELF AWARE. TOO DANGEROUS.

PAGE 10

PANEL 1

Batman boards the bat-dodgem. We’ve seen it before. The tiny pod thing in #666. Robin stands on the edge of the gangway. You don’t want to think about the drop.

BATMAN: PROBABLY WENT AWOL DURING ONE OF THOSE ALIEN INVASIONS YEARS BACK. IT WASN’T ONLY BRUCE AND LEXCORP WHO MANAGED TO SALVAGE THE FALLOUT FROM ALL THAT NONSENSE.

ROBIN: YEAH.

(2): HOWEVER THE QUESTION REMAINS

PANEL 2

Robin cocks an eyebrow.

ROBIN: IS OUR AI BIGGER THAN THEIR AI?

PANEL 3

They turn.

OFF PANEL VOICE: (multi coloured and shimmering) INDUBITABLY MISS ROBIN.

PANEL 4

The black Rabbit, who should now be called the rainbow rabbit (only I like the irony), shimmering like his text, waits, floating in the air above the dynamic duo. He’s in full attack mode like before, but now he has car doors built into his sides and a small cockpit with a windscreen set into his back. He addresses Robin, a smile playing on his lips.

THE BLACK RABBIT: GETTING ONBOARD?

PAGE 11

PANEL 1

She does so. The rabbit continues.

THE BLACK RABBIT: I CAN’T THANK YOU ENOUGH, MADAM. IT WAS LIKE TRYING TO MAKE SENSE OF TWO FILMS RUNNING AT THE SAME TIME.

(2): ONLY THEY WEREN’T FILMS. THEY WERE SELVES.

PANEL 2

Robin straps herself in.

ROBIN: WELL YOU’RE WHOLE AGAIN NOW.

(2): AND AS FOR THANKS, DO YOU THINK YOU CAN PUT THOSE OMEGA-CLASS SCANNERS TO GOOD USE,  SNIFF OUT THAT FACTORY AND HELP US KICK ITS ASS ALL THE WAY BACK TO 1985?

THE BLACK RABBIT: WITH PLEASURE.

PANEL 3

She applies some red lipstick.

ROBIN: JUST WHAT I’VE ALWAYS WANTED, A RABBITMOBILE OF MY VERY OWN….

ROBIN: NO JUDAH?

BATMAN: (off panel) HE’S BUSY. SORRY.

(2): BUT ALICE

PANEL 4

Batman looks up at her smiling.

BATMAN: DON’T WORRY. YOU LOOK AMAZING.

PANEL 5

She beams back, grasping the rabbit’s ears like handlebars.

ROBIN: SO DO YOU, BATMAN.

(2): YOU READY?

PAGE 12

PANEL 1

They fire off into the darkness. Batman trailing blue, Robin a rainbow.

PANEL 2

Cartoony again.

Cut to the same fortress we saw earlier with Infesticons bravely manning its ramparts. Think the Two Towers, only with a weirder cast. Far below them, The field of battle is a silver plain.

CAP: SO, BOSS, GOT A HANDLE ON HOW THIS ACTION FIGURE SET UP WORKS?

CAP: IT’S ANYONE’S GUESS.

CAP: BY POSING AS A LEGITIMATE BUSINESS AND SELLING INFECTED BODYPARTS AND MATERIALS TO GENUINE PRODUCTION LINES?

PANEL 3

Action Figure presses a button.

CAP: MAYBE EVEN EXCRETING GOLEM-DRONES, LIKE THE ONE WE SAW EARLIER, AND SLOWLY COLONISING A LABOUR FORCE.

PANEL 4

The Fortress transforms.  I would include images, but you can find references all over the web should you need them.

CAP: I’M SURE IT HAS HUNDREDS OF WAYS OF REPLICATING ITSELF. PERHAPS THE RAID ALL THOSE YEARS AGO WAS ITS ATTEMPT TO BREED WITH MEN AND WOMEN.

CAP: WAS THERE EVER A KIMBERLY TOYAMA?

PANEL 5

It’s now packing  laser cannons, missile launchers and ion cannons – all that crap – and a smiling, white and green robot face has appeared on one of its towers. One thing though – inspite of the kiddy friendly atmposphere, there’s a few too many guns on this thing. It bristles – a smiling murder machine.

CAP: AS FOR MOTIVATION….

CAP: IT’S ITS FATHER’S CHILD. YOUR GUESS IS AS GOOD AS MINE. JUST GET YOURSELF READY FOR SOME HIGH WEIRDNESS.

CAP: COOL.

PAGE 13

PANEL 1

Batman and Robin burst through a window in the air into the street. Amazed public and motorists. It’s another beautiful green, yellow, purple and pink night in Gotham City.

ROBIN: I ALWAYS WANTED TO MEET THE JOKER.

PANEL 2

Batman dodges round the side of a school bus, the rabbitmobile charges along its side. The kids are loving it. The teachers look concerned.

PANEL 3

Aerial shot. Aparo bridge. A throwback from old Gotham connecting two halves of the city. I suppose it’s not that different from the golden gate bridge, but made of black iron and festooned with gargoyle motifs. Bats zips through the traffic before anyone knows what’s happening or can swerve out of the way.  The rabbit races through the air.

CAP: IS THIS THING ON?

PAGE 14

PANEL 1

Robin, her ponytail coming loose and whipping in the wind, looks down at Batman. They laugh with each other at all the fun they’re having.

CAP: BEFORE WE GET DOWN TO BUSINESS, I WANT TO CLEAR UP ANY MISUNDERSTANDINGS YOU MIGHT HAVE ABOUT WHAT IT MEANS TO BE BATMAN.

PANEL 2

The bridge is clearer here, and the rabbit and the dodgem are now racing along side to side. The rabbit sends out some tendrils from its side, grasping at the other vehicle in an attempt to fuse them together.

CAP: TO BEGIN WITH, DIFFERENT TIMES CALL FOR DIFFERENT MEASURES.

CAP: WHEN MY FATHER STARTED HIS CRUSADE, ALL IT TOOK WAS SOME SMOKE BOMBS AND A TOUCH OF NINJA TRICKERY TO PUT THE FEAR OF GOD INTO GOTHAM’S CRIMINALS.

PANEL 3

Close on Robin, directing her steed into the sky.

CAP: BUT BACK THEN HE WAS DEALING WITH A FEW COSTUMED LUNATICS ON A HOLLYWOOD BUDGET.

CAP: NOTHING LIKE TODAY.

PANEL 4

Cartoon again (in fact everything’s cartoony from this point on unless I state otherwise). The rabbit bounds into the air above the bridge. Batman’s dodgem’s now a sidecar. We have lift off.

PANEL 5

Inset. Smaller. A glimmering light heading towards the clouds.

PAGE 15

PANEL 1

Large panel. THOOM! The rabbit lands, cracking the earth beneath it and sending Infesticons flying.

SFX: THOOM!

PANEL 2

Robin leaps out of the cockpit as it seals up, and guns, like sci-fi flowers, fan out of the rabbit’s back and haunches. Batman’s programming something into the sidecar, his face illuminated by it’s green readout display. In the foreground, up in the ramparts, Action figure directs the attack.

ACTION FIGURE: ATTAAAAAACK!

CAP: TODAY GOTHAM HAS BECOME A NEON DRENCHED DUMPING GROUND FOR ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING THAT GOES BUMP IN THE NIGHT.

CAP: ASTRAL AND OFF WORLD MIGRANTS.

CAP: VAST EMPIRES SPANNING VIRTUAL CONTINENTS.

PANEL 3

Close on Batman hitting a virtual green button on the display. The display itself shows a simplified version of the Infesticon fortress and  a what looks like a small blue bat-pac man tracing a zig-zagging line through it. Underneath the display are the words ‘TRAJECTORY CONFIRMED’.

CAP: AN URBAN RESEARCH LAB TEST-RUNNING TECHNOLOGIES SO ADVANCED MOST PEOPLE COULDN’T BEGIN TO UNDERSTAND THEIR FUNCTION, LET ALONE THEIR CAPABILITIES.

PAGE 16

PANEL 1

Batman watches as the dodgem fires itself like a zigzagging bullet through the Infesticons, who topple like dominoes as it speed blurs into their oncoming army and up into the ramparts, smashing through metal and plastic and shattering one of the HQ’s balconies.

CAP: CRIMINALS ARE NO LONGER THE “SUPERSTITIOUS, COWARDLY LOT” OF MY FATHER’S JOURNALS. STREET LEVEL HEROICS CAN BE LEFT TO THE POLICE.

CAP: BATMAN AND ROBIN ARE ON THE FRONTLINES OF A DIFFERENT KIND OF CONFLICT.

PANEL 2

Robin looks at the Black Rabbit, grinning evilly at him.

ROBIN: OUR TURN.

PANEL 3

He starts blasting at the purple, white and green swarm. His energy blasts are like wreaths of electric ivy. Robin charges into the fray. I want the feeling that they’ve disturbed an anthill. That, inspite of their being physically outmatched, the Infesticons may be able to win the day just by sheer force of numbers.

ROBIN: (angry and jagged) DESTROY THEM!

PAGES 17 & 18

PANEL 1

Splash. Manmobile and two other vehicles, a cool looking, gun-ridden motorbike and a helicopter launch themselves from the fortress’s docking bays. Action figure blasts at his foes with his arm cannons as his army, fire-swords flashing and rayguns blasting, join the fray. Robin bowls into the Infesticons, sending three of them flying, while Batman wrestles with a mean looking He-man knock off. The rabbit fires its guns at the towers. There’s just so many Infesticons, it’s a bit sickening. They’re like insects. All out bedlam. And totally unbelievable. One of those really dodgy, hackish fight scenes.

The caps in  this page direct the reader around the action. I’ll indicate where they go, if they need to be placed somewhere specific.

MANMOBILE: FOR NAPIERNIA!

CAP: YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT WAS UNLEASHED ON THE CITY THIS WEEKEND?

CAP: (by the Black Rabbit) A DOWNED ALIEN SMARTBOMB LOST IN A CHILD’S STORY.

CAP: (by Action Figure) AND THE FIRST HIGH LEVEL, ARTIFICIAL PLAGUE-INTELLIGENCE THIS PLANET HAS EVER SEEN, CONJURED IN THE WORKSHOPS OF ITS MOST DANGEROUS MADMAN.

CAP: IT GOES WITHOUT SAYING IT’S JUST AS INSANE AND HOMICIDAL AS HE WAS.

CAP: WE’RE A WORLD AWAY FROM BLACK MASK AND TWO FACE HERE.

PANEL 2

These panels travel along the bottom of the page.

A mini-missile bursts from Batman’s glove and explodes two advancing Infesticons as he dodges the He-man figure’s swiping sword. In the background the Rabbit bites an Infesticons head off, while another one leaps on his back.

BATMAN: THERE’S SO MANY OF THEM!

PANEL 2

The ground around Robin is strafed with bullets from the copter. She claps her hands and the shockwave sending Infesticons reeling.

ROBIN: WHEN DID IT FIND THE TIME OR THE RESOURCES TO BUILD AN ARMY?

PANEL 3

Robin waits, fists clenched for the next wave. The Infesticon horde churns in front of her.

PANEL 4

Closer on them. A swaying mass of weird toys.

PANEL 5

A brief snap back to reality. Match on shot, but this time the Infesticons aren’t massing metres away, but tiny and swarming over a piece of old brick lying on the floor of an industrial wasteland, right by Robin’s foot. The upturned insect nest from earlier. Many of them now have mandibles, probocis and insect wings, as if they’re built out of bugs.

PANEL 6

Cartoon again. Robin wrenches herself back from the vision. The battle continues around her. The infesticons are giant killer toys again.

ROBIN: URRGH!

PAGE 19

PANEL 1

Batman finishes off the He-man knock off with a right hook. Robin is nearly buried under the plastic monsters, but she’s stopped fighting, instead she looks puzzled.

BATMAN: ACTION FIGURE!

Robin: (small) ….THIS IS SO DUMB.

PANEL 2

Close on Batman, clenching his teeth along with his raised fist and shouting at Action Figure. He looks strangely, well, villainous and frightening. His costume is black and his eyes are red.

BATMAN: YIELD!

CAP: GOTHAM HAS ALWAYS BEEN A NEXUS FOR THE MARVELLOUS AND THE STRANGE. THE LAST OUTPOST BEFORE TOMORROW.

CAP: AND THE BAT IS STILL A FITTING TOTEM FOR A CITY BALANCED PRECARIOUSLY ON REALITY’S TWILIT EDGE.

PANEL 3

Robin is piled on. As is the rabbit.

ACTION FIGURE: (off panel) NEVER! YOU WILL NEVER DESTROY US, EVIL ONE!

CAP: THE ONLY QUESTION IS: WHICH WAY WILL IT TIP?

PANEL 4

Batman notices what going on as Infesticons swarm around him.

BATMAN: ROBIN?!?

PANEL 5

He screams.

BATMAN: NO!

PAGE 20

PANEL 1

Normalcy resumes. POV shot. Robin stands over Batman, tugging at his sleeve, abject concern in her eyes. Is he lieing down?

ROBIN: BATMAN.

CAP: BEHIND THE SCENES A WAR IS BEING WAGED. DIFFERENT FACTIONS ARE VIEING FOR CONTROL OVER GOTHAM’S DESTINY.

PANEL 2

Cut to Batman strapped to a rusty conveyor belt.  Ancient, clanking machinery paused in the action of swallowing him yawns  a few inches from his head. Is that the Joker’s face? Are those teeth? There’s nothing hi-tech here, though, just dust and cobwebs. It’s dark. Robin begins unstrapping him, The rabbit by her side.

BATMAN: (coming out of it – a mite unsteady)…ROBIN?

ROBIN: DON’T WORRY.

(2):HORRIBLE THING HAD US ALL GOING FOR A SECOND.

CAP: THE SENSEI’S ATTACK WAS THE LATEST SORTIE IN THE CAMPAIGN TO TRANSPORT THIS CITY TO THE NEXT WORLD. HE CALLED IT ‘HEAVEN’, OTHERS CALL IT WONDERLAND.

CAP: EVEN NOW ITS GENERALS ARE DRAWING UP THEIR INVASION PLANS. GAMING STRATEGIES AND FINAL SOLUTIONS.

PANEL 3

She explains as Batman sits up, rubbing his eyes.

CAP: BUT YOU KNOW ALL ABOUT THAT DON’T YOU?

ROBIN: IT WANTED US TO BELIEVE IT REPRESENTS THE “TATTERED REMNANTS OF A DOOMED CIVILIZATON FROM ANOTHER GALAXY ENGAGED IN A HEROIC, LAST DITCH BATTLE FOR SURVIVAL“.

CAP: YOU’VE GOT TO LAUGH. IT’S ESCHATOLOGY VIA SATURDAY MORNING CARTOONS.

PANEL 4

Batman grins ruefully at Robin.

BATMAN: AND WHAT WERE YOU DOING WHILE IT WAS TRYING TO TURN ME INTO SPARE PARTS?

ROBIN: LUCKY FOR YOU, YOU CAME PACKING TWO MACHINE CONSCIOUSNESSES LIGHT YEARS AHEAD OF THIS PLACE.

PANEL 5

Robin grins back.

ROBIN: BUT IN ANSWER TO YOUR QUESTION.

CAP: ONCE I REALISED HOW STUPID IT ALL WAS, I SIMPLY RUBBED MY EYES, STROLLED OVER TO THE WALL SOCKET…

PAGE 21

PANEL 1

POV again.  The rabbit and Robin part so Batman can get a clear view of the decrepit factory floor and an inert Action Figure and Manmobile standing over them. Manmobile’s in some grotesque parody of robot mode. Just reconfigure all the nasty, fleshy, hairy parts from earlier and turn them into a Jazz analogue. They’re as still as shop dummies. Creepy.

ROBIN: AND UNPLUGGED THE BASTARDS.

PANEL 2

Batman wanders over to the inert monsters.

BATMAN: ONLY TWO OF THEM.

(2): IT’S ONLY JUST OPENED UP SHOP. THAT’S WHY IT’ WAS ON THE LOOKOUT FOR CASH AND RAW MATERIALS.

ROBIN: YEAH, I THOUGHT THE WHOLE THING WAS A BIT OFF RIGHT FROM THE WORD GO.

ROBIN: YOU THINK THAT’S WHAT IT WAS TRYING TO DO HERE, TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD?

(2): (small) I MEAN, PLEASE

PANEL 3

He plays with Action Figures mouth as he turns to Robin.

BATMAN: I TOLD YOU, IT’S ITS FATHER’S CHILD, IT ROTATES MOTIVES DAILY.

BATMAN: BUT SOMETHING OCCURS TO ME. CARTOONS ARE ENTERTAINMENT….

PANEL 4

Close up on Bats thinking. His best detecting face.

BATMAN: HMMM.

PANEL 5

He peers into the Action Figure’s visor.

BATMAN: IS THIS THING ON?

CAP: AND SPEAKING OF GOTHAM’S GENERALS.

PANEL 6

Close on the Visor, like a camera lense.

CAP: I WANT YOU TO KNOW I’M ONE OF THEM.

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Batman on a holoscreen transmitting to his enemies. The people who masterminded this plot. It’s a fishbowl lense, with Robin and the rabbit crammed in behind him. Think Captain Beefheart record covers. The screen crackles.

BATMAN: (electronic) AS DAMIAN WAYNE I OWN THE SECOND LARGEST MULTINATIONAL COMPANY ON EARTH. WAYNE INDUSTRIES AND ITS SUBSDIARIES ACCOUNT FOR ONE 5TH OF THE GLOBAL GNP. MY WORKFORCE COMPRISES 2 MILLION PEOPLE WORLDWIDE AND A FURTHER 5 MILLION OFFWORLD.

BATMAN: WAYNE INDUSTRIES IS MY ARMY.

(2): (transitioning between panels) AND I’M SETTING UP DEFENSIVE MEASURES THAT WILL GUARANTEE THE SAFETY OF ALL MY EMPLOYEES AND FRIENDS.

PANEL 2

Reverse shot. And now we get to see who Batman’s addressing. This is a real money shot. You know those Kingdom Come covers with all the superhumans looking badass? Well that’s what’s going on here. All of these guys should look as snooty and imperious as you can make them. Seated on a leather couch in the centre of the frame is a man made of silky diamond wearing a black suit. He has a shaved head, just like our Damian, and he watches the telly intently. A beautiful, green woman, her billowing  hair and willowy body garlanded with flowers, naked, except for a wooden domino mask, reclines by him, her arm draped around his shoulder. A white woman with black hair covering her face and wearing grey rags skulks by one of the arms, and seated on the other arm is a huge lionheaded man in a loose fitting white shirt and black trousers. To the Pale woman’s left stands a being in a white Dr. Strange-esque robe which covers its entire body, and a red mask covering its face. The mask, if that is indeed what it is, with its mouth and eyes substituted for black pits, resembles a child’s drawing of a ghost’s face. To the lion man’s right stands another besuited creature, but unlike the man on the chair’s get-up this suit should be multi-coloured: the jacket green, the waistcoat red, the trousers blue, the gloves indigo and the shirt orange. These colours echo the plumage sprouting from behind the birdman’s blue and yellow face. His eyes are like pearls and his beak is long, thin and curved like a kingfisher’s. Behind them a translucent silver woman in a silver evening gown, pearl necklace, and a mask similar to Robin’s, leans on the chair. There are other, darker figures behind them.

BATMAN: (off panel, from screen) SIMPLY PUT, I NO LONGER HAVE ANYTHING TO FEAR FROM PEOPLE LIKE YOU.

(2): IF THIS WAS ABOUT LEVERAGE, THEN YOU CAN NO LONGER COUNT ON MY COOPERATION.

PANEL 3

We cut behind them. The holo-telly glows, but most of the figures are in silhouette. We can make out, amongst the more humanoid figures, a serpentine creature, a woman with gold snakes in her hair, a hunched troll…..

BATMAN: I WILL FIND YOU, AND I WILL STOP YOU. YOU CAN’T STAY SKULKING IN THE SHADOWS FOREVER.

(2): AND NEITHER CAN BATMAN.

(3): THEY’RE OVERCROWDED.

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PANEL 1

Large panel. nearly whole page. We pull out and up. More and more *people* – bat-winged, scorpian tailed, luminous…… An enormous crowd in a huge room – a legion – watches the TV screen.

BATMAN: SO AS OF TODAY I’M MAKING MY IDENTITY PUBLIC.

(2): THE NEXT TIME WE MEET IT WILL BE ON MY TERMS.

PANEL 2

Small panel at bottom of page. Batman looks threateningly at his audience.

BATMAN: SAME BAT-TIME. SAME BAT-CHANNEL.

BATMAN: OVER AND OUT.

PANEL 3

Tiny panel of white noise.

END OF PART TWO: TOY GUNS

NEXT TIME: SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.

25 Responses to “Batman and Robin 666 #8”

  1. Cameron Stewart Says:

    I can’t help but think that instead of putting these out on the blog, you should have kept them private and actually put together a pitch package. It’s pretty strong stuff.

  2. amypoodle Says:

    Yeah, but it was a bit of a rehearsal, TBH. I was just writing them at home for fun. I suppose I could still tidy them up and send them off – I already have a bit of a readership afterall. Or I could do something completely different.

    Anyway, thanks, coming from you that’s high praise indeed Cameron.

    I actually know nothing about putting together a pitch, though. Or where to send it. I’m not sure DC accept unsolicited submissions at the moment, do they? Regardless, if you know who I might have any luck with, or if you you can give me any pitching pointers generally, I can PM you my contact details. That would be amazing.

    Weirdly enough I was just thinking along these lines…..

  3. Zom Says:

    *Man-Mobile is total yuck

    *Love Matilda’s escape. The red carpet is bloody genius.

    *There’s an issue, maybe an entire arc in that board game. Would it have anything to do with Mr Ludic, by any chance?

    *Incredibly impressed with your villains in general, actually. Action Figure is strong as fuck, as are the Black Rabbit and Lady Matilda and her puppies. Fucking good names too.

  4. amypoodle Says:

    (I’ve emailed you, Cam)

    Manmobile makes me feel sick. The Factory (as I’m now calling it) is all about making people feel sick. My favourite bit – shit, am I allowed to say that? I guess ideas belong to the muse not to me… – has to be Robin’s vision of the infesticon bugs. It was a last minute addition to the script and I’m really pleased with it. Completely vile. £5 for anyone who can guess who I nicked that from.

    I’ve been reading a lot of horror comics recently, and I’ve been struck by how completely unscary Sandman or Alan Moore’s Swampy is, for example. They’re fantastic comics, but, I’m sorry, Hell does not look like a bunch of insect/dog hybrids being bossed around by David Bowie with wings. I get my horror kicks from Jack Kirby, Daniel Clowes, Charles Burns, Doom Patrol, some early Millar Swamp Thing and Stray Bullets (LIVE MUSIC! anyone?), and, sure, I think a future Batman comic should be creepy (all Batman comics should be creepy sometimes), but we need to move away from the really obvious scares of the eighties (which, let’s face it, found their roots in the EC comics of the 60s) and towards something a lot more…other.

    I love that word.

    Aaaah, boardgames…..

  5. Thrills Says:

    “The tyres are muscle and the windscreens are made of nail. We might even be able to make out the cuticle ”

    Glurrrrgghhhhhhh. Horrrrible. Ace, but!

    The Infesticons and the whole proposed saturday morning cartoon look totally makes me see them as kind of Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors, via the Cybertron scenes in the first few Transformers comics (drawn by Frank Springer, I think?) maybe with an element of the Scraplets (who disturbed the hell out of me as a kid) – the description of badly-printed colour especially. Sickly yellows and blues, characters not being quite the right colour etc. Slurky goodness.

    This stuff shits on Battle for the Cowl, that’s for sure (faint praise, I know!). Braw.

  6. Triplets Says:

    I thought this was always intended as a pitch, of sorts, to DC. There’s strong enough material here, I reckon.

    Really liked it.

    I will say, though, that there seems to be an over-use of the “it’s was a dream/shared hallucination” trope by way of “your mind makes it real” from The Matrix. First we had the Sensei’s soul nuke which was a virtual attack and then The Factory’s M.O. seems to be a hallucinatory experience. Don’t get me wrong, it was good, nice and horrible but I wonder if using a similar device twice in a row dilutes it somewhat…

  7. Zom Says:

    I told you so, Amy.

    Trips, we discussed that very thing before Amy put it up. As much as I liked this issue and this arc in an of themselves, the device deployed at the climax of this script is weakened by the way it’s sat right next door to similar content from the first arc. Apparently Poodle was aware of the problem at the time of writing but chose to overlook it – bad, silly Poodle!

    It’s my first solid disappointment of this run, actually.

    And I suppose that’s why this is a rehearsal. Putting it out there but not properly pitching it is a way for Amy to learn cliched truths like “the audience is smarter than you” in a relatively safe environment. What’s interesting to me is that were Poodle ever to pitch Batman 666 to DC he could do so with all new and improved scripts and plot-lines thanks to the feedback he’s received throughout this process. He’s certainly got enough ideas kicking around his head, that’s for sure.

    Also, he could rejig it so it wasn’t overtly about Batman, but rather a Batman analogue, and pitch elsewhere. The most important point re pitching however, is that Batman 666 clearly isn’t the only card in Amy’s deck, it’s just that Batman 666 is what he’s into writing at the moment

  8. Zom Says:

    One further thing, it’s interesting to note that Poodle has attempted to write very few scripts over the years: there’s these 8, a single issue of Kazar and 2 or 3 Power Pack scripts all intended for Epic, but never (I think) posted.

  9. amypoodle Says:

    Ah, you caught me!

    Hope it didn’t mar your enjoyment too much.

    The thing is, though – and it’s right here I start to trot out the excuses – Action Figure and The Factory were the stepping stones to the ACTUALTRUEPROPER end, which is obviously where the narrative comes full circle and Batman faces down his true opponent(s). That’s the bit I intended to be the real one-two. And, if you’re paying attention, there’s a resonance with the end of the last arc – Gotham’s real big boys showing their face and all that.

    That said, I do feel a little guilty for treating The Factory as a stepping stone, and I know how I’d play it if I were to write it again. It wouldn’t be that different – like I said, I loved the image of Robin disturbing the nest – but it might not end up with Batman, ummm, waking up.

    Anyway, hey ho!, we’ve all got to screw up a teensy bit sometimes.

  10. amypoodle Says:

    And those scripts you mention really were shit. Best forgotten. Der Falke has got them somewhere. I wish he’d burn them.

  11. Zom Says:

    I actually don’t think it’s a small screw up, and I think you’d do well to pay attention to the fact that two readers have thus far pointed it out. Calling it a “stepping stone” won’t ameliorate the problem; the fact is that it is the climax of the arc, at least in terms of how Batman deals with the arc’s primary threat, and that’s the second time you’ve had the goodies win that way, and followed said win with a glimpse at some baddies behind the scenes.

    Put another way, 100% of your story arc endings are substantially similar!

    If I were your real life editor I’d strongly suggest a rewrite, despite the fact that taken on its own merits the issue is a good one.

  12. amypoodle Says:

    What I mean is, it’s not the end of the world. Because, come on, by your tough criteria certain comic writers we all know and love would constantly be forced to rewrite their stuff. Shit, if the worst you can say is ‘he’s repeating himself here’ then, hey, it’s hardly the heavy critical bombardment Final Crisis received.

    I take what you’re saying about the Factory stuff, however I’m going to be stubborn about the baddy reveal. Both reveals occur in very different ways and for very different reasons – in fact the Wonderlanders didn’t *have* to show at the end of the first arc, I just thought it would be nice to meet them (okay, it did solve one little problem that you know about, but there were other ways around that). The new guys always WERE going to turn up at the end of this one. It was planned that way right from the start and was absolutely necessary to the story. I think the effect is completely different, and the effect counts, not just family resemblance.

  13. amypoodle Says:

    Oh, having wrapped up my whining now, I think I should also say a big thank you! to those of you who’ve been unafraid to criticize the scripts. It’s good for me, because even though I kind of knew I was maybe slipping up a bit, sometimes we all need to be reminded that ostritching won’t work.

    You’re my kind of audience basically.

  14. Zom Says:

    If I were reviewing this I would devote a least one substantial paragraph to complaining about the repetition, because it’s not just that you’ve repeated yourself it’s that you’ve done it straight away. If it were another writer who’d written this I’d find that genuinely worrying. Framing these complaints as “my tough criteria” won’t cut it. Triplets was the first to make the criticism on this thread, not me, and if Triplets and I were bothered enough to comment you can be sure as shit that others would be too.

    And, no, the wonderlanders turning up wasn’t absolutely necessary to the story, the story would have been just fine without them, if considerably less fun and possessed of a few more loose ends. The wonderlanders are essential to what you have *planned*

    Gesturing to the failings of other works doesn’t get you off the hook. What gets you off the hook is keeping this in perspective: this isn’t canon, never was, and it isn’t on the market so it doesn’t have to 100% as good as it can be all the time; it’s allowed to screw up a little every so often. In fact getting it wrong here is a good thing, it’s good training.

  15. amypoodle Says:

    But still: OUCH!

  16. Zom Says:

    The other positive thing to remember is that issue is *in itself* very good

  17. Botswana Beast Says:

    I don’t have your scripts anymore, amy, they were in my lycos mail account which self-destructed. Did you never do Starjammers, in the end?

  18. amypoodle Says:

    No. Well, I sort of started it. If I wasn’t writing this, I’d be writing space opera though.

    You might see some sooner than you think actually.

  19. Triplets Says:

    There’s praise in with the criticism, don’t forget. This is good work but any great work goes through a few drafts, be it with a private editor or the public eye of the internet. If it stings, does it sting more because our criticism is public, do you reckon? Curious.

    Am gonna give the last arc’s ending a re-read for comparison but the similarities immeadiately sprung to mind.

    Loved the parallel that Robin, a rescued killer doll, converts the electronic embodiment of death into something life-affirming.

    Man-Mobile is awesome. Can I ask, do you read Dinosaur Comics? There was a strip a while ago where T.rex gabbed about an human Optimus Prime made out of meat. No implication that you’ve been inspired by it but it was a nice bit of parallel creativity. The way Man-Mobile is described (windows made of nail, urgh) is far more visceral than Ryan North’s Meatimus Prime.

  20. Triplets Says:

    Add: the biggest praise I can give to this is that, if you stopped writing, I’d be a sad set of Triplets indeed. Same with me crying “slack!” for the Seaguy commentations. It’s only coz I’m clamouring for it.

  21. amypoodle Says:

    I don’t read any dinosaur comics, no. The roots of the Factory probably grew from my love of my old superman van, Gotham by Gasoline, things like the Dragon’s Lair (see Seaguy annots) and wanting to update old horror staples, in this case golems and zombies, for the noughties. Meatimus Prime does sound horrible though.

    In a good way.

    Are Transformers for mature readers now?

    And, yes, the parallel with Robin was intentional. There’s another thread feeding into it, but…..

    I suppose the main reason the criticism stings is because Zom’s so right and because he’s very hardheaded about it. Feelings not spared and all that. This isn’t a plea for pity, mind. We’re brothers and that’s just the way he is. Cruel to be kind.

  22. Zom Says:

    I just want to be sure that the message is received. It’s testament to the strength of what you’ve written thus far that this is the first time I’ve felt obliged to drag something out into the open, however.

    Unsurprising considering I normally get stuff off my chest behind the scenes and before they’re published

  23. Zom Says:

    And, you know, you have received pretty much nothing but glowing praise so far!

  24. Bucky Sinister Says:

    I’ll echo Zom and Triplets’ criticism of the repetitive endings, but I’ll also add that I thought this one worked better than the first. So at least you’re improving. And improving, I might add, from a good starting point.

    I’ll also echo the love for Man-Mobile. Creepy and funny all at once (unlike Puppy, who just makes my skin crawl). I do have to ask, though: did you ever see the Bat-Bat cartoons from Ralph Bakshi’s Mighty Mouse series? He had a Manmobile, too. Of course, his had four legs and a hairy butt at each end, so it wasn’t quite as disturbing as yours.

    …and that may be one of the stranger things I’ve ever said…

    Also, nobody else has commented on this, but… Wow! Damian’s dumping the secret identity! I’m very curious to see where you’re going with that. With all the exciting weirdness going on here, I’m almost embarrassed to be so interested in such a fundamental super hero thing. But in a series that seems as concerned with its ideas as it is with character and plot, the secret identity seems a natural toy to take out of the box and shine up for the new century.

  25. amypoodle Says:

    You always get around to it in the end, Bucky.

    I think one of the reasons we’ve seen so few successful (and by that I mean a series that’s been ongoing for a substantial and indefinite period) second gen superhero comics has been because writers are often too beholden to the original concept. My attitude is that there’s no point writing a Batman Mark 2 book unless you emphasise the second half of that equation, and that’s what I’m attempting to do with these scripts. As a writer you have to redefine the character to suit his/her times – you have to show why they’re still relevant. And as I tried to point out in the last issue of this arc, the Bruce Wayne Batman just isn’t built for my New Gotham and neither is the concept of a secret identity. I think why this is will become clearer and clearer as things progress.

    Im only kinda sorta making this up as I go along. There’s a definite story here.

    Anyway, the next arc, as Zom already knows, is very different indeed from what’s come before. I know I always say that, but I meanymeanmean it this time. It’s certainly more character based that’s for sure.

    The first one’ll be on your screens in a matter of days. I just need to do the odd bit of tweaking here and there. I already love it, and I can’t wait to get cracking on the second issue.

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