Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Exorcising Another DC Idea From My Head

I don't really want to write for Marvel or DC anymore. There was a time when I really did, because let's face it, between them they've got the biggest sandbox and the coolest toys in all of comics. But I think it's pretty clear to me now that there are some really unpleasant people running the playground, and people have been pissing in the sandbox for a decade or so now and most of the toys are broken. But I still like my old ideas, from time to time.

One of them, which really isn't usable in the post-Flashpoint universe, was a crossover that was a sort of pre-Infinite Crisis Infinite Crisis. A single villain, with a master plan and seemingly total knowledge of the heroes of the DC universe, has engineered the single worst day ever. Every hero faces insurmountable odds, villains that have been carefully manouvered into striking at them where they're weakest. Every hero faces his greatest challenge, every relationship is tested, everyone basically faces their hardest fight ever...

And meanwhile, in a back-up feature that runs through the crossover as it jumps from issue to issue, we see Triumph. Remember Triumph? He's the superhero who sacrificed his whole existence in our timeline to save the world, only to come back to a universe where nobody remembers what he did and nobody cares about him. When we last saw him, he'd lost his powers, his sanity, and had been turned into an ice sculpture by the Spectre. In the back-up, we find out he's regained the latter two, but he's working as a janitor in a public school in Cleveland. He's given up on trying to be remembered, or trying to be a hero, or trying to be anything. He's given up completely, and is just watching the days go by one by one. And then someone steals some cleaning fluid from his supply closet, and he wants to find out why.

But that runs as a backdrop to the major run of stories. Everything bad you could imagine happens, all at once. Superman loses his powers, Paradise Island gets attacked by Darkseid, Batman is dropped out of an airplane sans parachute...it'd just be this crazy, intense, "how did it get this bad this fast?" life-or-death struggle for every single superhero, all at once. But through this struggle, we see their best qualities come to the fore. Every hero rises to the challenge and overcomes it, fighting their most difficult battle when they're at their worst and winning. They come together, they work as friends and teammates in a way they hadn't done in a while, even then, and they figure out the truth behind it...whoever was behind all this didn't want them dead. They didn't want them humiliated. Batman recognizes the pattern first, but the others are only a few seconds behind. Whoever was behind all this wanted every single superhero on Earth to be as far away as possible from Cleveland, Ohio, on this particular day and time. And it's worked.

At which point, we cut back to Triumph, who's tracked the thief back to his lair. It's the Key. He's been behind all of it. His entire career as supervillain has led up to this moment, a mystical initiation that has led him to power, to madness, to sanity, and finally to the perfect purification that has made him ready for this moment. He has constructed the Lock. (The cleaning fluid was needed to purify the area it will stand on.) The moment he enters it, he will open the true mysteries of the universe and attain perfect cosmic oneness, the ultimate fulfillment of the spirit. Of course, the universe will cease to exist, but he's okay with that, because he won't be in it anymore.

The only problem is that the Lock will only be in convergence with our universe for five minutes of real time. And during that five minutes, all the Key's powers will disappear and he'll be just a normal human being. Meaning that he needs five minutes of time in which he can be absolutely sure that not a single superhuman will interrupt him. And he's arranged all that. Every superhero, every supervillain, everyone with any kind of special power whatsoever, is neatly out of the way for the five minutes that will lead to the Key's apotheosis.

But Triumph isn't anyone special. He's just a janitor. The Key didn't account for him. And so, for five minutes, Triumph becomes the most important person in the whole universe, because he's the only person in between the Key and the Lock. The fight that follows isn't pretty, it isn't graceful or athletic or even all that heroic. There's scratching, there's hair-pulling, there's biting. But it lasts a full five minutes, and that's all that matters.

At that point, the Key loses his chance, but regains his powers. He's about to take his vengeance on the powerless, bruised, battered Triumph...when every single superhero in the entire DC Universe shows up to stop him. Having saved the day, Triumph stares into the sunrise and realizes that what's important isn't being powerful, or famous, or idolized or rich or important. He remembers why he became a hero in the first place, to do what's right and to know that the world is going to keep on turning one more day. And even without powers, that's enough.


Anonymous said...

It would be better if villain somehow teleports Triumph back in a last ditch effort to complete his agenda, moments before the superheroes arrive.

Anonymous said...

I would definitely read this as a 2-3 issue Justice League story, but at true crossover length it would be masturbatory and interminable. Also it retreads Morrison's JL a bit too much, considering the Key's plot here is basically identical to his plan back then. Fun idea though; having said the above, I would love to see the Key return, and Triumph definitely has some storytelling potential.

AlephZ said...

See, if DC had taken time to wrap up its universe before the Nonsense began, this would've actually been a perfect Justice League wrap-up.

Grazzt said...

My dream Justice League story is similar. Basically, it would start with a rather silly supervillain ("THE MONUMENT MASTER", maybe give him a monkey minion) threatening to steal the Statue of Liberty. The Justice League would get called in to stop him, but would get distracted by all sorts of ridiculous drama (attack by Prometheus, Batman's paranoia of metahumans affecting the League negatively, Roy Harper off the wagon, maybe some relationship nonsense). Basically rehash all of the internal conflict the League has ever gone through in the space of a single issue or maybe a short arc.

Anyway, the Justice League would defeat their inner and outer demons and come out triumphant...only for the last page to be the silly supervillain flying into the sunset in a helicopter, Statue of Liberty in tow, and laughing maniacally. The Justice League have gone so far from their roots, they can no longer protect the planet from the sort of Silver Age villain they would have dealt with in a single issue thirty or forty years ago. And (since we're dreaming), I'd have editorial enforce the change, and anytime any DC comic showed Liberty Island there would only be an empty pedestal.

Anonymous said...

In other words, less wangst, more facepunch!