Friday, June 27, 2008

Big Bang Comics (Knight Watchman) Plot Synopsis

[Written in 1996 and submitted to Big Bang Comics after talking to founder Gary Carlson at the Chicago Comicon.]

“The Return of Mr. Mask!”

A 1940 Knight Watchman Adventure

A Plot Synopsis for an 11-Page Story

One chilly autumn night, a librarian is clubbed with his own book stamper and a collection of rare Sherlock Holmes books is stolen. The next day, the bizarre crime is mentioned by newspaper. Two police officers discuss the case, but can make no sense of it.

That evening, the curator of the Midway City Museum of Science and History is shot when he tries to stop a museum guard from stealing the first telegraph from a display. The guard reveals himself to be Mr. Mask, who gloats that he will have his revenge by making a fool out of the Knight Watchman.

The next day’s newspapers say the night watchman at the museum was arrested, but the guard is released later as he has an ironclad alibi. When the guard returns home, the Knight Watchman is waiting for him. The guard is terrified, but he insists he is innocent. The Knight Watchman believes him because he knows Mr. Mask has broken out of jail since their first encounter and could have impersonated the guard easily. Suddenly, the Knight Watchman says he sees a possible pattern and leaves.

Later, Albert Penham, a wealthy businessman, is startled when the Knight Watchman appears in his study. Penham paid $10,000 for the original manuscript of Ivanhoe at auction. Ivanhoe was written by Sir Walter Scott, the Knight Watchman explains, just as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote the Sherlock Holmes stories and Sir Charles Wheatstone invented the first telegraph. Each crime involved someone who had been knighted. As the Watchman talks, Penham calls his attention to the manuscript and then clubs him over the back of the head.

When the Knight Watchman comes to, he is tied to a tabletop with a sword hanging from a chandelier above him. Mr. Mask, who had got to Albert first and replaced him, explains how acid will eat through the chandelier chain in three minutes, causing the sword and chandelier to drop. As Mr. Mask leaves, he says he has one last “sir” to take care of. As the Watchman lies there, he notices a few drops of acid are falling on the table. By wriggling his body, he is able to move one of the ropes right under the drops.

Not long afterward, Mr. Mask arrives at the home of “Jolly” Joe Sheldon, his former boss and thus someone Mr. Mask used to call “sir.” Mr. Mask gloats over Sheldon while he holds him at gun point. Just then, the Watchman bursts through the window. Mr. Mask shoots wildly until the Watchman punches him out. Joe Sheldon shows pity for his ex-employee, asking if there can be any cure for his deformed face. The Watchman replies that he would rather find a cure for a deformed soul.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Untold Tales of Spider-Man Plot Synopsis

[I had written this back around 1996 when I thought I would show off a writing sample to editors at the Chicago Comicon. An artist (I forget which one!) dissuaded me from doing so, saying that editors (particularly at Marvel) were not interested in unsolicited writing submissions.]

“Faces of Dancer”

Peter Parker and Aunt May are checking out Empire State University, where Peter is thinking of attending in the fall. They are receiving a personal tour from Geoffrey Milanovech, a student from Czechoslovakia. May is concerned about letting Peter stay in the dorms. Peter cuts the tour short when he thinks he is being followed. After May leaves, Peter looks for a place to change to Spider-Man, but there are too many people around. Peter briefly lost sight of the suspicious man, but when he sees him again the man is herding Geoffrey to a black sedan. Peter wants to know what’s going on, so he butts in and makes a big scene out of leading Geoffrey away. After hiding in a nearby hall, Geoffrey tells Peter he doesn’t know why that man is after him. Peter spots the man, who has followed them into the hall. He sends Geoffrey to hide and changes to Spider-Man, but when he confronts the man, the man confesses he only worked for the driver and was told to fetch Geoffrey. A police officer arrives and shoos Spider-Man away, but when Spider-Man sees no police car outside, he doubles back and finds the black sedan pulling away with Geoffrey inside. Inside the car, the “policeman” explains that Geoffrey’s diplomat father won’t defect with his son in jeopardy, but just then Spider-Man arrives on the roof. The “policeman” is both afraid and familiar with Spider-Man and throws a grenade out the window to keep him busy. Spider-Man muffles the explosion with webbing, but had to jump off the escaping car to do so.

Later, in an abandoned brownstone, the “policeman” removes his mask to reveal the mask of the Chameleon. The Chameleon fumes to himself about how Spider-Man hounds him, remembering their last two run-ins. In fact, the Chameleon had taken this job for the Czech Republic in order to make up for the mission Spider-Man had foiled when they first met.

Meanwhile, Spider-Man is on the side of the very same building, having been led there by a spider-tracer he left on the car’s roof. He hops through an open window and mows down six thugs working for the Chameleon. Spider-Man fights through several rooms until he reaches one where he finds Geoffrey tied up. He leaps behind the boy and starts to untie him when a door opens and a strange weapon fires webbing like Spidey’s just as his spider-sense warns him. Both Spider-Man and Geoffrey are hit and held together, so that when Spidey tries to break free he chokes Geoffrey. The Chameleon has an ordinary pistol in his other hand and tries to use that next, but Spidey is still able to disarm him even with the handicap of having Geoffrey stuck to him. The Chameleon runs out of the room and summons more henchmen. Spider-Man fends them off while still ensnared in the web, until it loosens enough for Geoffrey to slip out.

The police arrive as Spider-Man finishes off the thugs, but the Chameleon slipped away. Spidey listens from the roof as Geoffrey tells the police the thugs were working for a spy. When Spider-Man fails to see the Chameleon being led out, he swings down and asks the police if they let anyone go. They admit to letting a cleaning woman go and, sure enough, the Chameleon is already blocks away, ditching his old woman disguise in an alley and sneaks off in a new disguise. He wonders whether the Stark infiltration assignment he’d been offered wouldn’t be easier.

Later still, at home, Peter weights his choices for colleges and ESU comes out on top. May is thrilled and volunteers to make a snack. Peter expects wheatcakes, but is pleasantry surprised when May returns with root beer floats.