Welcome to Brainstorm's Corner, a monthly springboard showcase. A springboard, basically a one-page prose summary of a comic book story, is the format used for submitting stories to companies such as DC Comics. In one page, a writer must describe the plot while also trying to make it as intriguing as possible. It's quite a challenge!

Brainstorm's Corner gives YOU, the reader, the chance to critique the story before a writer sends it off to every editor at DC. So let Fanzing know…would you pay to read this? If not, why not?

This particular effort is a proposal for an Elongated Man Special which, if successful, would lead into an ongoing series. If not successful, it should still be fun! My thanks to Bill Wiist for whipping up some fantastic illustrations to accompany it.

One last thing: Jon Karl Franklin Haynes recently sent me his suggestions for submitting to DC, and it recommends including two pages of sample script from the story. This is something new (DC never mentioned this in their guidelines 6 years ago!), and I didn't have one ready to accompany the springboard in time for this issue. So what do you think? Should we include script excerpts as part of future "Brainstorm's Corner" columns?

"The Mystery Cruise Mystery"
A Detective Comics Special Featuring Elongated Man
by Michael Hutchison
Illustrations by Bill Wiist

Ralph and Sue Dibny are relaxing on a cross-Atlantic cruise to Paris. The planned festivities include a play-acted murder mystery which the dinner guests are challenged to solve.

At dinner that night with several other reknowned detectives, Ralph and Sue discuss his retirement from crimefighting and their tiring of the bon vivant lifestyle. They talk of actually finding a home and having kids. Ralph also notices that Sue has given up casual drinking.

The mystery begins when a purser is killed by an unclassifiable stab wound. Ralph is amazed at the realism, until the captain brings Ralph aside to tell him that the purser's death was not part of the mystery. Attempting to notify the mainland, a jamming signal prevents all outside contact; even Ralph's JLA signal device is blocked. A scientist onboard suggests that they use his powerful new deep space transmitter (which he's transporting in the hold) to contact the JLA, but even it can't penetrate the jamming. The scientist reveals to Ralph that the transmitter uses alien technology captured during the Invasion, and the two have an argument over the ethics of such thievery. Later, the scientist is strangled in his locked room…and the pliable Ralph Dibny is suddenly at the top of the list of suspects!
Sue's a hostage yet again!

Ralph has his own suspicions, and he and Sue plan a trap for the murderer. When he spies a woman at his dinner table whose eyes are a different color, he captures her as an imposter…but they're just colored contacts! Ralph realizes he's played his hand too early and tipped off the murderer. Ralph stretches around the ship looking for the killer. As his upper torso circles back to the deck, he finds Sue taken hostage by the ship's head chef…in actuality, a Durlan shape-changer intent on recovering their captured technology!

The Durlan orders Ralph to pull his body back where the Durlan can see him, then announces that they're all going to wait until a Durlan ship arrives. Ralph wraps his arms around some nearby badminton poles and pulls his legs in so fast that by the time they catch up to him they're traveling over 100 miles an hour. He kicks the Durlan with such force that it's knocked a mile into the ocean; enraged, the Durlan returns to the ship and has a vicious fight with Ralph. Ralph thrusts the Durlan over the edge and into the screws of the ship, where it's ground into bits. Ralph feels sick about killing someone, but he knows the fight isn't over.
Swarm of Durlans filling the sky!

Ralph tells the crew that the Durlans will most likely kill everyone aboard in order to cover up their breaking of the Earth-Durla peace treaty. The crew and some passengers, including Sue, grab high-powered weapons from the hold (which cruise ships regularly carry to fend off Black Manta, Oceanmaster, the Fisherman, etc…). At dawn, a 747 appears and looks like it's going to crash into the ship; at the last minute, the disguised spaceship splits into a mass of Durlans so thick that they blot out the sky. A fierce battle ensues between Ralph, Sue and the crew against the Durlans. There are several casualties, but the Durlans change tactics and seemingly disappear.

Ralph realizes that they have shape-changed into objects, possibly even some of the crew and begins a stealthy game of uncovering them through deduction, tests and trivia questions that aliens wouldn’t be able to answer. Stymied, the Durlans once again form ranks, calling their reserves from the ship and attacking again. At Ralph’s suggestion, Sue fights her way to the chef’s quarters, finds the jammer and shoots it. Ralph's JLA transmitter calls in the JLA just in time.

Later, on the Eiffel Tower observation deck, Ralph and Sue are examining their bandages and bruises. Depressed, both about killing so many Durlans and his inability to fend off the attack without help, Elongated Man affirms his retirement from superheroics. Sue asks him if he was serious about having kids; Ralph says, “Sure, someday.” Sue suggests 8 1/2 months!

So, what did you think ? Was it good? Was it lousy? Splunge? Would you fork over anywhere from $2 and up to read it? Should DC hire this person immediately and you'll burn your collection (or at least Brother Power The Geek) if it doesn't happen?

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