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Fantastic Four #547

An excerpt from Dwayne’s script for Fantastic Four #547 titled, “Never Ask Her If She’s Wearing Colored Contact Lenses”.

I love this script because it just shows how well Dwayne could write characters. Even super-heroes have downtime, and the conversations and relationships here are so real and so hysterical.

I told Dwayne how much I loved pages 6 and 7 with the Thing and Storm. He laughed because someone online had complained about the scene – arguing that a woman would never be bothered by people talking about her looks behind her back. Dwayne’s incredulous reaction was, “You don’t know very many women, do you?”

This is from his First Draft, dated 4/18/07. The document header has an earlier version of the title, “And You’re Sure You Don’t Wear Colored Contacts?”

Page 1

PANEL 1

Johnny leans against the wall, he’s flirting with two Dora Milaje, who are deadpan as they guard a closed door.

CAPTION

New York City, The Baxter Building......

JOHNNY

...So, we’re in this other dimension right? It’s like a parallel Earth.

PANEL 2

Favoring Johnny, closer as he continues his story. He’s smiling, the Dora Milaje closest to him maintains her deadpan.

JOHNNY

But everybody’s been turned into zombies. It’s like Shaun of the Dead.

PANEL 3

Johnny is suddenly serious.

JOHNNY

Except it wasn’t funny at all.

PANEL 4

Wider. Johnny is thoughtful.

JOHNNY

Everywhere you looked, twisted versions of people you thought you knew, acting in ways you never thought they would.

PANEL 5

New angle, the door is open and the Dora Milaje have stepped aside for the Black Panther, in full ceremonial dress, but his mask is off.

PANTHER

Ease your mind, Johnny. I learned a great deal on our extradimensional trip.

Page 2

PANEL 1

Medium. Favoring Panther, resting his palm supportively on Johnny’s shoulder.

PANTHER

I’m in the process of putting together a contingency plan to make sure that it never happens here.

JOHNNY

Thanks, T’Challa. Could I ask you something else?

PANEL 2

Wide, favoring Johnny, he’s kidding around again.

JOHNNY

Do you really need two bodyguards just to go to the bathroom?

PANEL 3

Closer, Panther is almost smiling. Johnny is laughing

PANTHER

It is important that I not be disturbed as I attend to my kingly duties.

JOHNNY

Ha! You said “doodies.”

PANEL 4

Panther is walking away, the Dora Milaje block Johnny’s path.

PANTHER

I’m going to the UN for a few hours. I assume you’ll use the time to construct another of your sophisticated comedy gems.

JOHNNY

Like always.

PANEL 5

Panther is gone. Johnny has turned his attention to one of the Dora Milaje. He is leaning towards her, touching her upper arm.

JOHNNY

Where were we? Oh, yeah.

JOHNNY

What would you say to a night on the town with the hottest super hero in North America?

PANEL 6

The Dora Milaje is twisting Johnny’s arm behind his back. It’s hurting him.

JOHNNY

Owww! I appreciate the enthusiasm but I’m not really into the rough stuff...

JOHNNY

(small lettering)

C’mon, let go! I think you’re dislocating my shoulder...

Page 3

SPLASH

Deep Space. The Solar Sail Ship is in the background. Reed Richards is stretching out of it into the foreground, where he is grabbing the ARTIFACT from page 11, panel 3 last issue. Reed’s still in his beach clothes, but it also still wearing his life-support bracelet.

CAPTION

The Solar System, somewhere between Saturn and Earth...

REED

Got it!

TALKING SHIP

Can I help?

REED

Just hold my feet, Sue. I’m bringing it in.

TITLE

RECONSTRUCTION, Chapter Four

TITLE

Never Ask Her If She’s Wearing Colored Contact Lenses”

CREDITS

Dwayne McDuffie Writer

Paul Pelletier Penciller

Inker

Letterer

Colorist

Molly Lazer Assistant Editor

Tom Brevoort Editor

Joe Quesada Editor In Chief

and Dan Buckley Publisher

Page 4

PANEL 1

Reed is entering the ship, bearing the Artifact. It’s a little larger than a Trash Can. Sue is watching from behind a glass shield.

SUE

So, what is it?

REED

I don’t know. External scans indicate it’s a complex biochemical artifact.

PANEL 2

Reed is examining the Artifact with Kirbytech probes, lost in thought. Sue smiles maternally behind him.

REED

It’s constructed, not a life form but this is the most fascinating technology I’ve ever seen.

REED

It will require a great deal of study to--

PANEL 3

Reed twists his head back impossibly to look at Sue.

SUE

Two days.

REED

Pardon?

PANEL 4

Favoring Sue. She’s smiling, but she’s not kidding.

SUE

You’re the smartest man in the world. Two days is plenty of time for you to figure out what that thing is, determine if it’s a threat, neutralize it and--

PANEL 5

Both are smiling now.

REED

--get back to my wife on our second honeymoon.

SUE

I said you were smart.

Page 5

PANEL 1

Sue is in a space pod. Reed is just outside.

CAPTION

Shortly...

REED

You’re sure you don’t want to come along?

SUE

Positive. I’m going back to Titan to enjoy the view. Maybe I’ll finish reading “Against The Day”...

PANEL 2

Favoring Reed.

REED

The lifepod is set on autopilot. It’s pre-programmed to take you back to Mentor’s house. If there’s any problem--

SUE

If there’s any problem, I’m the Invisible Woman.

REED

Point taken.

PANEL 3

Closer on Sue.

SUE

I’ll see you Thursday. Don’t make me come looking for you.

REED

I’ll be there. I’ll bring flowers...

PANEL 4

Exterior the Solar Sail Ship as Sue’s Pod flies out and away from it.

TALKING LIFEPOD

Flowers are better when they’re a surprise.

TALKING SOLAR SAIL

Oh. Right. I’ll think of something else, then. I love you, Sue.

PANEL 5

Close on a silhouette of THE WIZARD, touching his fingertips as an evil smile lights his face. He’s in an unidentified high-tech lab.

TAILLESS RADIO BALLOON

I love you too, Reed.

WIZARD

I’ve got you now, Richards.

PANEL 6

Similar to previous.

WIZARD

We are underway. Proceed to Target 2. Coordinates follow.

Page 6

PANEL 1

Exterior of the Baxter Building.

TALKING BUILDING

(“Frosty” balloon shape)

I can’t believe you said that.

PANEL 2

Inside, Ben is taken aback by a regal and angry Ororo.

THING

I didn’t say it, I’m just telling you what Michael said.

ORORO

You can tell Michael Collins that my hair is completely natural.

PANEL 3

Favoring Ben, trying to back out of the hornet’s nest. Storm is holding up some of her hair, letting it fall through her fingers.

BEN

Okay, you know. Whatever. Sorry I brought it up.

ORORO

This is not a weave!

PANEL 4

Storm offers her hair to Ben.

ORORO

Go ahead.

BEN

Go ahead what?

PANEL 5

Favoring Storm.

ORORO

See for yourself. Pull my hair.

BEN

Are you nuts?

Page 7

PANEL 1

Wide as Storm puts her hair in a flabbergasted Ben’s hands.

ORORO

Hard as you want.

BEN

I don’t want!

ORORO

Do it.

PANEL 2

Ben is holding Storm up off the ground, dangling from one of his hands by her hair. Her arms are folded and she’s giving him the evil eye.

BEN

There. Happy now?

ORORO

I think I proved my point.

PANEL 3

The Panther has entered the shot. Ben, still holding her by her hair, is embarrassed.

BEN

T’Challa, I can explain...

PANTHER

Don’t bother. She’s very sensitive about her hair.

PANEL 4

Close on Panther.

PANTHER

Word of advice: As you value your life, never ask her if she’s wearing colored contact lenses.

OFF-PANEL ORORO

(burst)

I’m not!

PANEL 5

Panther has walked past Ben and Ororo. He is exiting the room without looking back.

PANTHER

I know, my love.

PANTHER

I’ll be back in time for a late supper. Have Omoro make reservations, he always knows the best places.

The last of Dwayne’s Science Fiction and Fantasy column, formerly hosted at FantasticCon.com-

Edgewise #9

This week, I misdirect your attention with some odds and ends, while I desperately try to think of something new to say about STAR WARS.

***

A number of readers seem to be under the impression that the title of this column is supposed to refer to either the tone of its contents or my demeanor. Nope. I think the pop culture sense of the word “edgy” went out with the macarena and anyway, I’ve been on my very best behavior here. Edgewise refers only to me getting a word in same.

***

A paragraph was dropped from my (mostly favorable) review of THE MATRIX. The gist of it was this; no conceivable variation of the line, “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, Toto,” is clever. It wasn’t even clever in THE WIZARD OF OZ, where at it least had the virtue of freshness. Really, if that line is anywhere in your script? Cut it.

***

In the now-classic second installment of EDGEWISE, I inadvertently referred to the second movie in the PLANET OF THE APES series as “ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES.” Of course I meant to say “BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES.” This is the first error I’ve ever made in my entire life. Now I know how the rest of you must feel.

***

Apropos of nothing but the preceding item, John Rozum, writer of the late, lamented XOMBI and X-FILES comic books, used to refer to the seventies’ spin-off TV series as “Starsky and Hutch On The Planet Of The Apes.” It made me laugh.

***

I want to do a column about the single strangest show in TV history, LIDSVILLE but the cruel and tyrannical overlords at FANTASTICON claim this show is outside my purview. What do you guys think? It’s an action/adventure show about hats. I mean, c’mon!

***

The McDuffie Genius Grant is a cash award of one dollar American that I give solely at my own discretion to anyone who does something that I think is particularly bright. Today I’m announcing a special McDuffie Genius Grant to anyone who can figure out a plan to prevent the seemingly inevitable extinction of the comic book medium. If you can save my industry, I’ll pay you five bucks cash money from my own pocket. Serious inquiries only. And hurry, SPAWN’s under a hundred thousand copies a month, we can’t have much time left.

***

That about does me for this week, be here next time when I explain at length how STAR WARS ruined prose SF. Can THE PHANTOM EMPIRE make things any worse?

Dwayne McDuffie is the creator of DAMAGE CONTROL and the MILESTONE UNIVERSE. He once wrote a comic book where SPIDER-MAN called on the GHOST RIDER to help explain bicycle safety to children.

This is an excerpt from the first Justice League episode that Dwayne wrote, “The Brave and the Bold: Part One.”

There’s no cover page on this script, so I don’t know if this was an early draft or a final record draft. I’m guessing this was written in 2001, but it’s undated.

ACT ONE

FADE IN:

EXT. DINER -- DAY

PUSH IN on a diner in Central City.

FLASH (VO)

So there I was... Cornered.

INT. A DINER – DAY

The FLASH is seated in a booth, near the front window. He’s shoveling unbelievable amounts of fast food into his face. Burger wrappers and milkshake cups litter the table. Flash is half-turned to face DEENA and DIANE, the two pretty girls he’s chatting up. The girls are seated at a table kitty-corner to his. They are completely unimpressed with him.

FLASH (CONT)

(mouth full)

Solomon Grundy thought he had the drop on me. But he didn’t. and do you know why?

The girls just exchange disgusted looks Flash loudly SLURPS on a straw.

FLASH

(loud SLURP!)

Because I’m the Flash --

FLASH/DEENA/DIANE

(in unison)

-- The fastest man alive!

DEENA

You told us.

FLASH

Did I?

He shrugs, and picks up another burger.

FLASH (CONT)

Anyway, so when Grundy tries to grab me, I...

All react to the sound of a CAR CRASH. Flash looks towards the big window.

REVERSE – FLASH’S P.O.V.

A speeding TRUCK (marked with Radioactive Materials symbols) plows into a small CAR, sending it spinning off the road and right towards the diner.

THE CAR crashes through the front window of the diner. It’s heading right for Flash and the girls.

FLASH

Look out!

In terror, DEENA covers her eyes with her hands.

DEENA

[frightened SCREAMS!]

The car’s skidding right at her, filling the frame.

Suddenly, a RED BLUR flashes through scene, and the girls are gone. The CAR smashes into the tables before coming to a stop.

Nearby, Flash stops on a dime and sets down the two girls who he has picked up, one under each arm.

FLASH

Would you excuse me?

Flash zips to the car and opens the car door. The DRIVER is safe, stopped by the car’s airbags.

FLASH (CONT)

Are you okay, man?

DRIVER

He’s a madman! Ran me right off the road. Someone’s gotta stop him!

FLASH

Right.

Flash pauses to pick an half-eaten burger off the hood of the car. Popping it his mouth, he turns and winks at the girls.

FLASH

(gulp!)

Later, ladies.

And Flash zooms out of the demolished storefront, leaving the girls staring off after him with looks of newly-kindled admiration on their faces. Diane shoots a look at Deena.

DIANE

And you didn’t want to give him our phone number.

CUT TO:

EXT. CENTRAL CITY – STREETS – DAY

Flash heads up the street, zigzagging through cars as he follows after the truck.

THE TRUCK swerves wildly as it speeds through traffic.

IN THE FRONT SEAT, an oddly-calm DRIVER (Dr. Chin, wearing a lab coat over his clothes) spots Flash in the rearview mirror. He nods to his equally emotionless PASSENGER who rides shotgun.

The Passenger is holding a high-tech ENERGY PISTOL. He leans out the window, turns and FIRES.

FLASH dodges the blast, which smashes into the ground, leaving a smoldering crater.

FLASH

Whoa!

The Passenger fires a VOLLEY of shots at Flash, continuing until the gun clicks twice. It’s empty. Flash dodges the barrage, only to find himself in the oncoming traffic lane. A speeding car is right there, even the Flash has no time to avoid it. The motorist leans on his horn.

FLASH

Oops! Sorry.

Flash runs right up the hood and down the back of the oncoming car, then swerves back into his lane.

Flash pours on the speed and rams into the side of the truck with his shoulder, just as it pulls onto a BRIDGE.

FLASH

Okay, pull over!

THE TRUCK swerves, shredding the guard rail in a shower of sparks.

The Driver turns the wheel back hard.

When he feels the truck beginning to push back, Flash releases it and slows down, allowing it to pull ahead again.

As he watches the truck spins wildly out of control and heads toward the guard rail.

FLASH

Uh-oh!

In a RED BLUR, Flash pulls both passengers free just as the truck CRASHES through the rail and tumbles off of the bridge towards the water far below.

FLASH

Gotcha!

Still holding the Driver and Passenger by their upper arms, Flash watches the truck fall.

An instant before it strikes the water, the TRUCK suddenly stops, suspended in mid-air in an EMERALD BEAM.

WIDE

To reveal GREEN LANTERN, hauling the truck back up, then depositing it on the side of the road with a beam from his power ring.

GREEN LANTERN

Lose something?

FLASH

I was handling it.

Green Lantern glances back at the swath of destruction Flash has left in his wake.

GREEN LANTERN

So I see.

FLASH

What are you doing here?

GREEN LANTERN

Responding to a police call. Someone hijacked a load of radioactive isotopes.

Green Lantern opens the rear doors of the Truck with his ring, revealing the missing ISOTOPES. Flash looks at the inside of the truck, then back at his two prisoners.

FLASH

No wonder these guys were in such a hurry.

The Passenger and Driver (Dr. Chin) both stare blankly at Green Lantern, blinking their eyes as if waking from sleep. They’re dazed and confused.

DR. CHIN

(waking GROAN)

Where am I?

FLASH

You hijacked a truck and drove it off a bridge. Any of this ringing a bell?

DR. CHIN

What?

GREEN LANTERN

Let’s see some ID.

Using his ring, Green Lantern takes Driver and Passenger’s wallets, then examines them.

GREEN LANTERN

Professor Arthur Chin and Doctor Mark Stevens. Both work at the River Bluffs Research Center where the isotopes were stolen from!

FLASH

And I feel guilty when I take paperclips from the Watchtower.

Green Lantern flashes him a sour look.

GREEN LANTERN

Let’s see if we can get to the bottom of this.

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. RIVER BLUFFS RESEARCH CENTER – DAY

Establishing the scientific facility.

DR. CORWIN (O.S)

I’m sorry...

CUT TO:

INT. RIVER BLUFFS RESEARCH CENTER – DAY

Inside a spacious, high-tech laboratory, Green Lantern is talking to DR. SARA CORWIN (cool and intellectual, somewhat reminiscent of the tightly-bunned “Lilith Crane” from the old CHEERS series). Flash is wandering around the lab, gawking at some of the caged LAB ANIMALS.

DR. CORWIN (CONT’D)

I can’t explain their behavior. They’re both highly respected experts in their fields.

Green Lantern looks though a file folder, obviously the doctors’ records.

GREEN LANTERN

They certainly don’t fit the profile of armed robbers.

DR. CORWIN

To be fair, they’ve been under enormous pressure to finish their current project. It’s possible they simply snapped under the strain.

As Flash listens, he finds some bananas near the animal cages. Without thinking, he peels one and begins eating it.

GREEN LANTERN

What are they working on?

DR. CORWIN

That’s classified information.

Corwin snatches the folders out of his hands and walks away. As she stalks past Flash, he notices the Gorilla in the cage looking at him chewing on the banana. (NOTE: This is Grodd but the audience doesn’t know it yet). Flash offers a banana to the ape.

FLASH

Want one?

Corwin freezes in her tracks, wheels around and grabs the banana from Flash before the gorilla can take it.

FLASH

Hey!

Dr. Corwin points at a “DO NOT FEED THE LAB ANIMALS” sign.

DR. CORWIN

Out. Both of you. This interview is over.

They exchange looks and leave.

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. A HOT DOG STAND NEAR THE PARK – DAY

Flash is loading up on snacks at a HOT DOG STAND, an impatient Green Lantern stands nearby.

GREEN LANTERN

Would you hurry up? We’re supposed to be conducting an investigation.

FLASH

Can I help it if I have a hyper-accelerated metabolism? Besides, it’s just a little snack.

Green Lantern looks askance at Flash’s enormous pile of Hot Dogs. Before he can retort, both react to three police cars screaming past with SIRENS wailing.

GREEN LANTERN

What now?

Then, they turn and see BYSTANDERS fleeing from the park.

BYSTANDERS

[terrified SCREAMS!]

BYSTANDER #1

There’s a gorilla on the loose!

FLASH

I’m on it!

Flash hands his precariously balanced mound of Hot Dogs to Green Lantern.

GREEN LANTERN

Wait, I’ll go --

Flash ZOOMS off. GL is talking to the empty air.

GREEN LANTERN

-- with you.

Green Lantern puts the hotdogs on the cart and is about to fly off when the HOT DOG VENDOR puts a hand on his forearm.

HOT DOG VENDOR

Not without paying for that.

GREEN LANTERN

But I have to...

The vendor frowns, and Green Lantern resignedly sighs.

GREEN LANTERN (CONT)

(SIGHS)

How much?

CUT TO:

EXT. CENTRAL CITY PARK – DAY

It’s pandemonium. The police have the exit to the park sealed off A SWAT OFFICER points as SOLOVAR (a different gorilla from the one in the last scene) runs through the park.

SWAT OFFICER

There he goes!

The officers fire a net which Solovar dodges.

Solovar scampers through a CHILDREN’S PLAYGROUND, using a chain link swing to propel him to 20 feet away, then gracefully and rapidly scampering up and over a set of hemispherical MONKEYBARS. A SMALL BOY who struggles to climb, watches Solovar pass him with genuine admiration.

SMALL BOY

Cool!

Solovar’s path is cut off by another group of policeman, closing in from the opposite direction.

POLICEMAN #1

We got him now!

He runs straight at them and at the last moment runs up nearby SLIDE. When he reaches the top, he LEAPS into the air, vaulting over the policemen’s heads and into a conveniently placed tree, abutting the park fence.

POLICEMEN

[startled CRY!]

EXT. STREET NEAR PARK

Leaping down from the tree to the other side of the Park Fence, Solovar looks back to see his pursuers trying to climb the fence after him.

Solovar races out to the street, where MID-LIFE CRISIS MAN (he’s balding, drinking designer coffee, wearing shades and expensive clothes that are too young for him) is starting up his little red convertible SPORTS CAR.

Solovar reaches into the car with his foot and picks Mid-life Crisis man up by the scruff of his neck.

MID-LIFE CRISIS MAN

Hey!

Solovar deposits Mid-life Crisis Man rump first on the sidewalk next to the car.

MID-LIFE CRISIS MAN

[impact grunt]

Solovar climbs into the tiny car, knees and elbows sticking out and DRIVES AWAY, just as some of the policemen arrive.

MID-LIFE CRISIS MAN

Stop him! My insurance doesn’t cover a second driver!

CUT TO:

EXT. STREET – DAY

In the sports car, Solovar weaves down the street, ignoring the stunned reactions and HORN HONKS of passers-by. After Solavar drives through, Flash zips in and reacts to the unlikely sight.

FLASH

Now there’s something you don’t see everyday.

Grabbing a RAKE from a gardener’s barrel, Flash accelerates and runs right up beside the car. Solovar reacts.

SOLOVAR

[grunt of surprise]

FLASH

Having fun, Mojo?

Solovar stomps down on the accelerator and tries to pull away from Flash. But the Scarlet Speedster hurls the rake down in front of the car.

The tires hit the upturned tines, and the tire blows.

SCREECH! The car swerves out of control and smashes into a dumpster in a nearby alley. SMASH!

When Flash runs up to the wreck, Solovar is stunned.

SOLOVAR

[dazed GROAN.]

Flash puts out a hand to soothe the dazed animal.

FLASH

Easy boy, we’ll have you back behind monkey bars before you know it.

Recovering, Solovar slaps Flash’s hand away.

SOLOVAR

Get your stinking paws off of me, you filthy Human!

Flash is stunned.

FLASH

Say what?

NEW ANGLE – TELESCOPIC VIEWFINDER MATTE

Find focus as Flash is centered in CROSS HAIRS.

REVERSE – A ROOFTOP

Where DR. CORWIN is carefully sighting a strange ENERGY RIFLE. She FIRES.

BACK ON THE STREET

Flash is ZAPPED by the discharge from the energy rifle.

FLASH

[cry of pain]

CUT TO:

INT. FLASH’S MIND – CONTINUOUS

Flash falls through a black void. LIGHTNING BOLTS crackle, tearing off his uniform as he tumbles, WALLY WEST’S FACE is revealed to the camera, visible under his shredded mask.

FLASH

[falling cry]

DISSOLVE TO:

A LABORATORY – NIGHT

Wally, dressed in street clothes, is standing in front of a rack of chemicals. LIGHTNING STRIKES through the window and hits both Wally and the chemicals.

FLASH

[pained CRY!]

A LIGHTNING FLASH WIPE TO:

A BLACK VOID

CLOSE on lightning bolt logo on his chest, PULL BACK to reveal Wally is in his Flash costume. He pulls the cowl over his face and SPEEDS AWAY, leaving burning tread marks behind.

But as Flash runs, his body is SWELLING, getting fatter and fatter with every step. He’s slowing down, too heavy to run.

FLASH

[HUFFING & PUFFING!]

Fat Flash stops in front of a conveniently placed MIRROR.

FLASH

(filtered)

No!

Flash backs away from the mirror.

WIDER to reveal a series of three FUNHOUSE MIRRORS. Flash turns toward the second one.

FLASH’S P.O.V.

Looking in the mirror. Flash looks tall and thin.

Flash turns toward the THIRD MIRROR. His body looks normal but his HEAD IS GIGANTIC. He touches it. Wait a minute. It is big. Flash steps back from the mirror.

NEW ANGLE – WIDER

BIG-HEAD FLASH cradles his genuinely gigantic head. His head begins to swell ever larger, until it EXPLODES.

CUT TO:

BLACK VOID – CONTINUOUS

Flash is normal now and relieved. As he feels his head, his hands shift shape and GROW FUR. Flash’s costume rips as he TRANSFORMS into FLASH GORILLA.

FLASH GORILLA pounds his chest, throws back his head and ROARS in terror.

FLASH GORILLA

[roar]

Flash Gorilla can’t move his arms. Suddenly, he realizes that he’s no longer a gorilla, he’s a MANEQUIN, dancing on the ends of wires. He looks up into the sky to see the wires leading up to the puppet master, it’s a gigantic GORILLA GRODD FACE AND HANDS, looking down malevolently as he works Flash’s controls.

BUM (O.S.)

Hey! Wake up! --

MATCH CUT TO:

INT. JAIL CELL – DAY

A weathered old BUM is looking down at the camera.

FLASH (O.S.)

Huh?

WIDE – JAIL CELL – CONTINUOUS

Flash is sleeping, stretched across the bench in the holding cell. The BUM is shaking him awake.

BUM

C’mon, you’re in my spot!

Flash sits up, still dazed.

FLASH

Where am I?

More of Dwayne’s Science Fiction and Fantasy column, formerly hosted at FantasticCon.com.

One editor’s note – I’m fairly certain Dwayne made a typo in the story below about Halle Berry. It was Star Trek VI, not V, where he had his hilariously loud encounter with Halle Berry. But that’s a story for a future blog. Back to Dwayne’s column-

Edgewise #8

As I’m writing this, THE PHANTOM MENACE is still over a week away and that means just one thing. Yes, it’s back to my seemingly endless overview of Star Trek.

I’ve previously reviewed STAR TREK, the original series (thumb’s up) and STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE (thumb dislocated). Let’s whip through as many movies as we can this week, shall we?

STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN

This is probably the best of the movies, although I’ll accept arguments for IV. The cast is all in fine form, everybody’s got at least one good bit and Ricardo Montalban’s Khan is the single best villain in the entire series. Let’s face it, Mr. Roarke’s got it all. He’s got the accent, he’s got the pecs, he’s got the worm that crawls in your ear and later crawls out for no adequately explained reason unless, like Paul Winfield, you shoot yourself with a phaser first (And how cool was that?). Also, everybody gets jackets and Mr. Spock dies for a while. Rent it and watch it again. It’s still good.

STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK

It’s an odd-numbered one. Nothing more need be said but why let that stop me? They find him. Big surprise. What we’re they going to do, give us all our money back afterwards? Maybe they should have anyway.

STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE HOME

They have to go back in time to get a whale. Unlike the previous entry, this one’s funny on purpose. I laughed a lot but I still wonder what the whale said to the pissed-off cosmic thingy that came to Earth looking for its buds, the whales. “Don’t worry about it, big guy, the humans hunted us to extinction. Go home.”

STAR TREK V: THE FINAL FRONTIER

This is the worst movie I’ve ever seen that didn’t have Jeff Conaway in it. On the other hand, at the premiere, big-time movie star Halle Barry mistook me for Michael Dorn (the actor who plays “Worf”). Like I was going to correct her. On second thought, it was a fine film.

STAR TREK IV: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY

This should have been the last time we saw the original cast. A very strong entry, entertaining and thematically sound, it was both textually and metatextually a fitting send-off for our old friends. So of course they had to go to the well just one more time…

But my review of STAR TREK: GENERATIONS, and my fan boy scheme to ret-con it out of existence, will have to wait for a couple of weeks. Next time, I’ll talk about STAR WARS, if I can get a ticket. Two weeks hence, we’re back in the saddle with a quick pass at the rest of the STAR TREK movies and a look at STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION.

Dwayne McDuffie is the creator of DAMAGE CONTROL and the MILESTONE UNIVERSE. If you know Halle Berry, please don’t tell her that was me.

TV Script: Teen Titans “Fear Itself”

October 22nd, 2012 | Posted by Eugene Son in Scripts

This is a teaser from the Teen Titans episode, “Fear Itself.”

I picked this episode for a couple of reasons. For starters, Warner Animation is doing a new Teen Titans series. Also, this was Dwayne’s first time working for Glen Murakami – with whom he’d later team up with for Ben 10: Alien Force and Ben 10: Ultimate Alien. Lastly the script introduces Control Freak – who is just an awesome villain and makes me smile everytime I try to imagine what inspiration Dwayne must have drawn on when he wrote him.

This is from Dwayne’s draft, dated May 13, 2003-

INT. “BIG TICKET VIDEO” STORE – DUSK

<STING!> EXTREMELY CLOSE on a PRETTY TEENAGE GIRL (the RENTAL CLERK, though we can’t yet see her uniform), screaming in terror at the top of her lungs.

RENTAL CLERK

<HORROR MOVIE SCREAM>

Inside a LARGE VIDEO RENTAL STORE, the pretty clerk cowers in fear as a BIG TV-TURNED-MONSTER creeps toward her, cables flailing like tentacles as its screen splits horizontally into a gaping mouth of razor-toothed jaws. Behind the monster, a wild-eyed young man wearing a LONG BLACK CAPE and BATTLE ARMOR (CONTROL FREAK) commands the monster with a HIGH-TECH OVERSIZED REMOTE CONTROL.

CONTROL FREAK

Okay: either you admit that WarpTrek 5, which reunited the entire original cast of the classic TV series, deserved to be on your “favorite rentals” list or ...

Control Freak <CLICKS> his remote and the TV-Monster stomps one step closer, licking its fangs hungrily. The terrified clerk shakes her head in bewilderment.

TV-MONSTER (B-TRACK)

<SNARLS and SLURPS>

RENTAL CLERK

Please! I don’t even know what WarpTrack is!

Control Freak grins maliciously as he raises his remote.

CONTROL FREAK

And that, my pretty, is why you must be DESTROYED!

With a <CLICK> of the remote, the TV-Monster suddenly grabs the clerk with its cables. And just as the hideous creature is about to toss the screaming girl into its gaping mouth ...

TV-MONSTER / RENTAL CLERK

<ROAR> / <SCREAM>

ANIME BG – ... the TEEN TITANS come racing to the rescue.

ROBIN

Titans: GO!

Raven <CHARGES> her powers and ...

RAVEN

Azarath. Metrion. Zinthos!!

... <BLACK ENERGY> whips in to <KNOCK> the TV-Monster o.s. as Starfire <ZOOMS> in to catch the clerk.

TV-MONSTER

<snarl-- URK!>

THE TITANS fall into heroic formation as Control Freak turns to face them, grinning confidently.

CONTROL FREAK

Well well well, if it isn’t my old arch-nemeseses: the Teen Titans!

The Titans cock their eyebrows, clearly they don’t recognize him. Beast Boy tries to fake it -- and then whispers to Cyborg, who shrugs.

BEAST BOY

Um, yeah ...

(to Cyborg)

Who is this guy?

Control Freak stalks toward them, brandishing his remote.

CONTROL FREAK

I am the master of monsters! I am your darkest nightmares come to life! I AM CONTROL FREAK!!!

Unimpressed Raven frowns in deadpan sarcasm:

RAVEN

A couch-potato with a souped-up remote: I’m petrified.

Creepy Control Freak aims his remote and ...

CONTROL FREAK

You will be. You will be.

... <FIRES> a <BLAST OF DARK ENERGY> [NOTE: The energy from Control Freak's remote should be subtly suggestive of Raven's signature Black Energy effect.] The energy <ZAPS> the VIDEO DROP-BOX behind Raven -- turning it into a MASSIVE DROOLING DROP-BOX MONSTER.

RAVEN

<surprised GASP>

As the monster lunges to attack her with a <HIDEOUS INHUMAN SCREECH>, we ...

... CUT TO BLACK AND ROLL MAIN TITLE.

More of Dwayne’s Science Fiction and Fantasy column, formerly hosted at FantasticCon.com-

Edgewise #7

Okay, no goofing around this week, let’s jump right into the EDGEWISE VIRTUAL MAILBAG.

Dear EDGEWISE,

What’s all this stuff you keep writing about superintelligent brains secretly running FANTASTICON? Isn’t it just a cheesy literary device that’s long since ceased to be funny and yet continues to waste over a quarter of your meager space every week? You don’t really expect us to believe this nonsense?

-John Rozum, California

No I don’t and neither do the brains. In fact, they’re counting on it. But, you got me, they aren’t really brains. They’re extradimensional creatures whose true shape is too horrible and complex for our puny, human minds to fully grasp. Who’s got the space to describe all that every week? H.P. Lovecraft stories with less plot than a MARS ATTACKS trading card often spend thousands of words just describing the tentacles. I’m doing you a favor here, show some appreciation.

Dwayne,

How about naming some of your favorite science fiction authors?

-Ray Washington, Michigan

Well, I read almost everything, until STAR WARS and the dreaded fantasy trilogies ruined the medium. Off the top of my head, the stuff that stuck with me includes Harlan Ellison, Robert Sheckley, Robert Heinlein (with an explanation) and Robert Silverberg. Anybody named Robert, apparently. My favorite science fiction novel is Frank Herbert’s DUNE but I was 12 when I read it, which probably explains that.

Mr. McDuffie,

Reading your column, I notice you don’t seem to like much of anything. How about naming some SF TV series that you think are worth our time.

-Virgil Hawkins, Dakota.

That kind of depends on how valuable your time is, doesn’t it? Actually, I think I’m relatively easy on this crap. Here’s the stuff I’ll watch if I’m not doing something else: XENA, FUTURAMA, DEEP SPACE NINE, BUFFY, the SUPERMAN cartoon – I’m probably forgetting a bunch of things. I’m reconsidering FARSCAPE, either it got funnier or I’m just getting used to the Muppets. I also recommend COPS, which takes place on a parallel Earth where the police are always trustworthy, patient and helpful. A little over the top, even for sci-fi but what the hell.

Dear Edgewise,

Isn’t it true that all of the letters in this weeks’ column are fake, even this one?

-Dwayne McDuffie, Florida

Well, yes. I thought it would kill some space and maybe encourage my readers to send real letters. So far, I’ve only received one legit letter. Even though it was unsigned, I guess it’s only fair to print it:

Dear so-called Dwayne,

You suck!

True, but only as a physical manifestation of a deeper emotional connection. And that’s all the time we’ve got for now, see you next week.

Dwayne McDuffie has every hope that by the next time he does a Virtual Mailbag, you guys will have come through with at least two or three pieces of real mail. I mean, this was downright pathetic.

I suppose these Dwayne-meets-celebrity stories work better with the names in them, but seeing as this is online, I don’t want to put them here. You can probably figure some of them out. If you track me or Matt down in person and ask, we’ll probably tell you.

STORY #1

Dwayne was at a party in New York City when [ROCK STAR] crashed the party with his girlfriend. The rock star was blitzed out of his mind on drugs and alcohol, but no one wanted to kick a famous rock star out of the party. But as the night went on, the rock star and his girlfriend had a fight and he started to scream at her, then started hitting her. No one knew what to do, but they all looked at Dwayne – since he was the biggest guy in the room. Dwayne shrugged and walked over.

Dwayne grabbed the rock star, picked him up, carried him to the front door, and physically flipped him out of the house then shut the door.

Later the story evolved into, “Dwayne beat up [ROCK STAR].” Dwayne downplayed the incident, saying that he didn’t beat him up. According to Dwayne, the rock star was so drunk/high that he had no idea what was happening when Dwayne picked him up. Plus because of all the drug use, the rock star only weighed about 130 lbs.

But we still like to tell it as the time Dwayne beat up a rock star.

STORY #2

Dwayne was in Los Angeles and ran into an old film school buddy at a book store. As they chatted, the buddy asked him, “Hey, do you want to meet [OSCAR-WINNING WRITER/DIRECTOR]?” Dwayne said of course, so the buddy took him to the back of the store where the [WRITER/DIRECTOR] was browsing. When the buddy introduced who Dwayne was, the [WRITER/DIRECTOR] was very excited and started to gush-

“My [n-word]! What is up, [n-word]? You wrote Milestone? [N-word], I LOVED those books. The [n-words] in those were like REAL [n-words], you know what I mean, [n-word]? Honor to meet you, [n-word]! I mean there are some [n-words] in this world, but you are one [n-word]. You know what I mean, [n-word]?”

Dwayne was really uncomfortable, but the guy kept on going – complimenting Dwayne, but using the [n-word] over and over, and calling Dwayne the [n-word] over and over.

Finally Dwayne said, “Listen, could you stop that? I don’t like my friends calling me that word, let alone people I just met.”

[WRITER/DIRECTOR] starts to laugh, thinking Dwayne is kidding, and exclaimed, “Well look at this [f-word] [n-word] right here! Getting all uppity? I [f-word] LOVE this [n-word]!”

At which point Dwayne started to wonder how it might affect his career trajectory if he was to punch out a famous Oscar-winner. Fortunately the conversation soon ended and Dwayne didn’t punch him out, because chances are that the [WRITER/DIRECTOR] would have been killed. And deservedly so.

STORY #3

Dwayne was at a networking event for African-Americans in entertainment. There were plenty of young African-American men and women – eating, drinking, talking, exchanging business cards.

Oh, and there was [SUPERMODEL] carrying around a Mac Powerbook.

Now no one would dare go up and talk to [SUPERMODEL] – probably because she’s internationally known and statuesquely gorgeous. But maybe it was the computer? Because she was having a hard time trying to get it to do what she wanted it to do. So Dwayne thought, “Why not?” and went over and asked if she needed help. Sure enough, [SUPERMODEL] accepted his help. She and Dwayne found a quiet side room away from the party where they could sit and he could answer all her Mac end-user questions.

After he had answered all her questions, she was really excited. And she wanted to thank him. So she told Dwayne, “Come with me.”

Dwayne followed [SUPERMODEL] back into the middle of the party – straight into the middle of the main room. Then she said loudly, “THANK YOU!” and gave him a huge hug – making sure everyone in the party saw it.

And that was that. [SUPERMODEL] left with her computer, and Dwayne was standing there wondering what that was all about. Why did [SUPERMODEL] need to make a big showy thing out of a thank you hug?

The answer became clear within moments. All the eligible single women in that room came over to introduce themselves to Dwayne. [SUPERMODEL] knew that if she made a big public show of hugging Dwayne that EVERY WOMAN in that party was going to see what he was about. Dwayne was grateful – at least as grateful as [SUPERMODEL] was for him answering her computer questions.

And who says supermodels are dumb?

More of Dwayne’s Science Fiction and Fantasy column, formerly hosted at FantasticCon.com-

Edgewise #6

I don’t care what the superintelligent, disembodied brains who run FANTASTICON have to say (and FANTASTICON is not, as is rumored, merely a front for said brains plans to conquer and build military staging areas on our “primitive but strategically important planet”). I’m taking a break this week from my recent, ongoing struggle to review all of STAR TREK “before they make any more.”

I know, I’m relieved too.

WARNING: If you haven’t yet seen THE MATRIX, tread carefully, all right? Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I used to write comic books for a living and if years of precipitously dropping sales weren’t enough to depress me, I had to go sit through THE MATRIX, only the most recent of a spate of “comic book movies” that’re way more enjoyable than your average actual comic book. Just shortly before the Earth finished cooling, when I was but a editor-ling at Marvel Comics, I was taught comic books’ main advantage over moving visual media was that “comics have an infinite special effects budget.” For what it’s worth, I thought our main advantage was the interplay of prose and pictures unique to the medium. The argument, such as it was, is now moot. See what happened is, the movies finally caught up to us visually. It’s pretty clear now that any image you can think up can be done on film. All I could think of, watching folks leap through the air from building to building and running up walls and swinging from ropes in front of explosions is this: This may actually look cooler than when Ditko was drawing Spider-Man. Okay, it ain’t as cool as Kirby yet but give them a couple of years. I hereby pronounce big, dumb action as a comic books’ raison d’être, dead and buried. It is now the proper province of 100 million dollar plus movies. Mainstream comics better find something else to do, before everybody’s got a DVD player.

Meanwhile, some very quick thoughts on THE MATRIX. Yes, it is very much like GHOST IN THE SHELL, but has anybody noticed how much the plot mimics the origin of Marvel Comics’ DR. STRANGE? I guess the comic-bookness of the affair shouldn’t surprise me. I know at least one of the Wichosky brothers (co-creators of THE MATRIX), wrote some damned good HELLRAISER COMICS for Marvel (Ahem, I wrote some stories in the same crossover. I’ll be expecting my 100 million dollar movie to be along presently). The most pleasant surprise, though, is that the much ballyhooed “secret of The Matrix” pays off as one of the coolest evil plans to take over the world I’ve ever seen. Go figure. On the other hand, human beings make really crappy batteries. Everybody repeat after me, the value of a battery is not how much current you can get out, it’s how efficiently it stores the energy you put in. Humans store energy only slightly more efficiently than a hot towel. Especially really skinny humans like Keanu Reeves.

This is a script snippet from the Justice League Unlimited episode, “The Once and Future Thing, Part Two: Time Warped.”

Dwayne was really proud of how well this scene turned out. In the first season of Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, actor Peter MacNicol was cast to play a recurring character. Dwayne was really excited to use him again, because MacNicol had done such a tremendous job playing Chronos on Justice League.

Dwayne wrote an amazing scene. This is from Dwayne’s draft, dated May 6, 2004.

EXT. TITANIC – NIGHT

It’s the Titanic, parked on the Neo Gotham streets. Nearby, also on the ground, is the tip of the ICEBERG that sank it.

INT. TITANIC SUITE – NIGHT

It’s the nicest stateroom on the ship. David Clinton, now “CHRONOS,” is sitting on the bed, his legs dangling. He kicks them as a little kid would. Seated next to him is ENID, dressed in formal, Elizabethan-era finery. She looks terrified. She’s trying to mollify him.

CHRONOS

Enid? I have to say that I’m vexed. Yes, “vexed” is precisely the word for it.

ENID

You shouldn’t let yourself get upset, David.

He reaches over to gently cup her cheek in his palm. She flinches but forces herself to let him. He hops off the bed to the floor.

CHRONOS

You’re right, dear. But here we are.

New angle reveals the JOKERZ (only two Didis), standing in a row before him. They’re very nervous.

CHRONOS (CONT’D)

Look at it from my point of view. I go to the trouble of taking over the whole city, so I have a nice place to keep my collection...

ENID

And it’s a beautiful collection, David.

CHUCKO

I was going to say the same thing, Boss. For instance, this is a really nice boat. Big!

CHRONOS

Don’t patronize me Chucko. And especially don’t interrupt me.

CHUCKO

Sorry.

CHRONOS

Sorry, what? Everybody?

JOKERZ

(like dutiful schoolchildren)

Sorry, Lord Chronos.

Chronos walks back and forth in front of them, like a drill Sargent inspecting his troops.

CHRONOS

It doesn’t seem right. I go to the future. I get the technology that gives you all your new superpowers. I let you run amok in my town in return for the occasional ... security job. And what do you do in return?

BOTH DIDIS

Ummm...

CHRONOS

Rhetorical. My point is, I give you an easy job: Take care of Batman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern. It should have been ten minutes work.

BONK II

But the JLU showed up. They got in our way.

CHRONOS

Yes, they did. And the question arises, who told them where and when our targets would arrive? I mean, I told you and I only know because I’m the undisputed master of space and time.

CHUCKO

I’ll look into it boss. I’ll find out where the leak was.

CHRONOS

Don’t trouble yourself, Chucko. No. Don’t bother.

Chronos cups his hand over his mouth and leans into Chucko’s ear, as if to whisper a secret.

CHRONOS (CONT’D)

(Sotto Voce)

I already know.

Chronos pushes a button on his belt and a TIME VIEW OPENS. It’s a floating hole in space.

THE TIME VIEW

In a dark alley, somewhere in Neo Gotham. Batman Beyond is giving money to someone we can’t see.

CHRONOS (CONT’D)

Somebody’s getting a payoff. Yes, he is.

Now we can see who’s getting the cash, it’s Chucko.

CHUCKO

Sweating as he sees the evidence.

CHRONOS

Frowning as he closes the Time View.

CHRONOS (CONT’D)

[tsk, tsk] Chucko, Chucko, Chucko. You’ve been a very bad clown.

Chronos grabs Chucko’s sleeve and opens a TIME SLIDE. They both VANISH.

CUT TO:

EXT. CRETACEOUS/TERTIARY PLAIN – NIGHT

A prehistoric shoreline, heavy with vegetation. DINOSAURS graze peacefully and wade in the large body of water nearby. A TIME SLIDE OPENS depositing Chronos and Chucko.

CHRONOS (CONT’D)

Enjoy your stay.

Chronos VANISHES again in a time slide. Chucko looks around, frightened of a Dinosaur who seems to be taking a mild interest in him. Chucko FIRES UP his energy staff and blusters.

CHUCKO

You think I’m scared? I’ll be running this dump in a few yea--

Chucko reacts to the SHADOW passing over him. He looks up to see what’s blocking the sun, A GIGANTIC ASTEROID is heading right for the camera. Resigned, Chucko lets his energy staff fall from his limp hands. His shoulders sag as he realizes what’s about to happen.

CHUCKO (CONT’D)

Aw, Fooey.

EXT. EARTH – NIGHT

The Asteroid strikes the Earth like a gigantic hammer blow. There is a HUGE EXPLOSION.

CUT TO:

INT. TITANIC SUITE – NIGHT

Chronos TIMESLIDES back into the scene.

CHRONOS

Do you know what killed the Dinosaurs?

BONK II

N-no, sir.

CHRONOS

Well, Chucko does. And unless you want to find out first hand, you’ll go finish off the Justice League.

The annual Comic Con International in San Diego starts later this week. It’s one of the times of year when Dwayne’s presence is missed the most. So many great memories of buying books, meals, parties, panels, signings. Even just sitting in the lobby of the San Diego Marriott to stay up late and talk and tell stories.

Trying to think of the “best” Dwayne/Comic Con story to tell, but this is the one that pops to mind. It happened way before I met him. It took place when Dwayne was working for Marvel Comics – I’m guessing around 1987. It was when the San Diego Comic Con was nowhere near as big as it is now, and it was held back in the old San Diego Convention Center.

Dwayne told a story of a bunch of fans who came down to hang out at the Marvel booth – just wanting to talk Marvel comics. On Thursday, these fans had the greatest time simply chatting with anyone and everyone who made Marvel Comics. Most of them were fine, but there was one comic book fan in their group that had a problem.

His breath. His breath was awful.

It was so bad that no one wanted to speak to him. When he’d come around to talk, the person on the receiving end would immediately cringe and try to get away from him. It was just rancid. And he was apparently completely oblivious. It just made everyone who was working the Marvel booth miserable.

And that was just Thursday.

He came back on Friday. To chat and talk and ask questions and spend time around the entire staff of Marvel Comics. And his breath was just unbearable. Saturday rolled around, and sure enough, he and his friends came by to spend time with the people at Marvel – most of whom they knew now from three days of conversing with them.

On Sunday he returned. But this time Dwayne was ready for him. Before the guy could talk, Dwayne immediately shoved a toothbrush in the guy’s face.

The guy was stunned. He tried to stammer that he already had one, but Dwayne interrupted him and said, “You’re clearly lying.” Dwayne told the guy to take the toothbrush and use it.

The guy didn’t know what to say, so he looked to his friends to say something. Dwayne responded, “They know. Your friends know. They’ve just been too polite to say anything about it to you.” The friends turned red and looked away or down. Dwayne was right.

Dwayne continued, “Now it’s going to bleed the first time you do this. That’s normal because you haven’t been brushing regularly. But you have to brush your teeth. Twice a day.”

With that, the guy took the toothbrush and left. Since it was Sunday, we’ll never know if the guy took Dwayne’s advice. But I personally like to think that somewhere out there is a comic book fan who has better oral hygiene thanks to Dwayne McDuffie.

Okay, one last memory from Dwayne’s last Comic Con in 2010. It was late Friday night in the lobby of the San Diego Marriott. Dwayne was hanging out with Charlotte and Tom Kenny when they got a text from Yuri Lowenthal (voice of Ben 10) that he was coming by with a friend. Yuri showed up along with actor Aaron Douglas, aka Tyrol from Battlestar Galactica.

Dwayne was excited about getting to meet him. He was genuinely excited to chat with an actor from one of his favorite sci-fi tv shows.

With all the work Dwayne did over his career, he was such a giant in comics and tv. But even for a pro’s pro like Dwayne, there were times when it wasn’t just work. There were times when it was okay for him to just be a fan.

Even if it was only once a year every summer in San Diego.