Adventures in the DC Cartoons!
Plots by Michael Hutchison
Art by Bob Riley
I was sad to hear of Adventures in the DC Universe's cancelation, but I think it failed to live up to everyone's expectations (Plus the art was crap; our artist Bob Riley should approach them if they ever decide to do a second try!). My personal feeling is that many people were hoping for more experimentation and new takes on established characters in the same way that the current series has been introducing DC characters.
Here are some story proposals for the Batman/Superman Adventures. Some of them are rather short, as much of the story would be visual action. Others are more intricate. Each proposal would introduce another DC character into the animated mythos. Casting "wish lists" are included, although some of the actors are pricey and would only do television for the kick of it.
1) "Two Worlds"
Clark Kent investigates the disappearance of a scientist (a friend of Emil Hamilton) but keeps running into a Detective Jones who is also on the case. The scientist is Dr. Saul Erdel, whose transporter has yanked Jones (alias J'onn J'onzz) to Earth; Erdel disappeared shortly afterward. J'onn, in order to fit into society while searching for Erdel, learned human languages and customs by telepathy and then adopted the guise of a detective. At every step of his investigation, John Jones meets resistance from Lexcorp, which is trying to gain custody of some damaged equipment in Erdel's lab. When Clark Kent tries to investigate Erdel's lab, some agents hired by Lexcorp try to kill him. John Jones becomes the Martian Manhunter in order to save Kent; in close proximity, he read's Kent's mind and realizes he's Superman. The two continue to track down Erdel, this time in costume.
J'onn tells Superman about his past. He was a poet on Mars, where their peaceful society was suffering from a terrible plague. The mountainous funeral pyres, day after day, gave J'onn a psychosomatic aversion to fire. He'd just returned from adding his family to the pyres when a teleportation beam from Earth zapped him away from his planet. Crazy from loss and shock, J'onn went into a rage and smashed the equipment, terrifying Erdel.
Superman and the Martian Manhunter finally find Erdel, who had fled in fear that the alien meant to kill him. Erdel has secretly been rounding up the replacement parts to set him back and returned to the lab once he had them. However, the Lexcorp agents appear to steal the equipment; at Erdel's request, J'onn disintegrates the transporter rather than letting the agents have it.
Superman finally offers to transport J'onn to Mars in his rocketship, where they find that the planet has been dead for 10,000 years! Apparently, the transporter beamed him across space and time. Superman tells J'onn that he feels a tremendous kinship to the man, as they are each the last of their species. J'onn thanks him for his kindness and asks to be returned to Earth, as Mars cannot offer anything to him anymore.
2) "Scientific Property"
Lex Luthor tries to purchase Will Magnus' latest creation, a polymer that mimics other elements; when Magnus says no, Luthor hires Metallo to steal a sample. Jimmy Olsen and Clark Kent are touring the Magnus Robotics facility when Metallo breaks in. Magnus' usual countermeasures fail, and Superman is unable to get past the rays of Metallo's kryptonite. Magnus drops six responsometers in a vat of his polymer, energizes it and creates the Metal Men. The team of robots is able to defeat Metallo, thanks to Lead's help in shielding the radiation.
3) "Speeding Bullets and Bracelets"
Clark and Lois are covering a press conference by the delegate from Paradise Island. When the mythical Scylla attacks the conference, both Superman and the delegate, Princess Diana, Brainstorm's Corner. Jimmy Olsen calls her Wonder Woman and the name catches on. Superman and Wonder Woman team up to battle the numerous mythical beasts, all of which are commanded by Circe, enemy of the Amazons. Wonder Woman reveals that Zeus created Paradise Island as a container for the "mythical" creatures of ancient times so that humanity would be the dominant lifeform. Circe must have opened "Doom's Doorway" and released the monsters. Superman and Wonder Woman finally defeat Circe and return the creatures to Paradise Island; Wonder Woman declines to stay in Metropolis, as she feels her mission of peace is more important than being a "superhero," but she invites Superman to pay a return visit to Paradise Island one day.
4) "Night Hunters"
Batman brings a gun-toting marksmen named Deadshot in to police HQ; Bullock is surprised to see him there, thinking that the Batman was investigating a series of armored car robberies in Midway City. Batman doesn't understand why Bullock would think an out-of-town case worth his troubles and then sees that a dark, winged figure has been spotted at the crime scenes. Intrigued, he and Batgirl hop in the Batmobile for a cross-country trip.
During the next armored car shipment, Batman and Batgirl follow close behind in the Batmobile. Atop a tall suspension bridge over a gorge, the armored car swerves and tips. Batman discovers the guards unconscious but cannot find the perpetrator
until his own shadow begins beating him! This "Shadow Thief" is intangible but is able to deal blows to Batman; Batman is on the verge of unconsciousness when the Shadow Thief flings him from the bridge. Batman falls, unable to keep his grip on his bat-grapple enough to fire it. As he blacks out, wings catch the corner of his eye.
Batman awakens in a spaceship! His savior, Hawkman, reveals that he and his wife were on a covert science mission to compare Earth police methods with their own when an Earth thief broke into their secret hideaway and stole a surveillance device. The Hawks are committed to undoing this mistake and bringing the Shadow Thief to justice. The Hawks and the Bats set a trap for the Shadow Thief, but he outwits them and steals the Batmobile instead! The Hawks pursue the Batmobile and manage to drive it off the road. As the Shadow Thief battles the Hawks hand-to-hand, Batgirl fires up the headlights of the Batmobile, solidifying the Shadow Thief enough for the perpetrator to be apprehended.
The Hawks apologize to the Batman and vow that they'll stay out of Earth's way; Batman has other ideas and invites them to stay, learning crime-fighting through hands-on experience.
5) "Requiem for a Spectre"
Commissioner Gordon asks for Batman's assistance in discreetly tracking down the whereabouts of one of his best deep cover officers, Lt. James Corrigan, who was supposed to be reporting the arrival of a huge drug shipment but hadn't reported in. Batman and Robin investigate the docks and spy on the mobsters Corrigan was last with but are unable to find him. However, the mob gathering is disrupted by the appearance of a hideously pale figure which announces its arrival as the "hand of judgment on Earth". Several of the gunsels fall dead from fright during the shootout that leaves this "Spectre" undamaged. Robin wonders if they have a new vigilante in town. Batman holds Robin back, noting that the Spectre is already gone and that they have to stay covert in order to find Corrigan.
The duo splits up, Batman following a terrified carload to their headquarters while Robin slips aboard the departing drug boat. Batman encounters the Spectre, who informs Batman that he will be bringing this Mob to justice and asks that he leave. Batman says that his first priority is finding Corrigan; Spectre announces that Batman is too late to help. Aboard the boat, Robin deduces the truth when he finds empty barrels and traces of spilled cement near a trapdoor. Back at the HQ, Spectre tells Batman that Corrigan's cover was blown, and he was dropped into the ocean in a cement-filled barrel. Batman demands to know how Spectre knows this, but Spectre doesn't say.
Meanwhile, the mob kingpin discovers Robin snooping and captures him. Spectre, sensing that the boy is in danger, disappears and Batman realizes that Spectre may not be just another vigilante! Batman leaps into the Batmobile and races back to the docks. The kingpin levels a gun at Robin's head and fires. The bullet stops in mid-air. Robin stares at it, rotating only inches from his forehead then sees something behind the mobsters. They turn to find the giant figure of the Spectre, standing in the ocean as a vicious storm brews around him, enraged that these men would try to murder a young boy and pronouncing them irredeemable. Robin is lifted off the boat by unseen hands as the Spectre smashes the vessel. The mobsters cling to the wreckage for life as the Spectre brings the storm down upon them.
Batman arrives in a boat he "borrowed" to find Robin standing inches above the ocean. Robin climbs in as Batman calls to the Spectre, who will not listen to him. Batman steers the boat into the melee, pulling the mobsters from the water. Spectre orders him to not interfere, as these men murdered Jim Corrigan. Asked how he knows, The Spectre says, "Because I WAS Jim Corrigan!!!" Batman shouts back that he won't stand by while human beings die, no matter what they've done. The Spectre tells how he has been appointed by a higher power to judge men on Earth, but Batman believes he's after revenge, not justice. The Spectre decides that he cannot impartially judge these men and leaves them to Batman to deal with. As the Spectre vanishes, Robin says that Corrigan's probably alive and pulled off the "Spectre" character through tricks and special effects. The mobster announces that that's impossible, as they saw him die a week before. Batman thanks him for the confession and steers the boat back to the shore, pondering the truth of the Spectre.
6) "The Ductile Detective"
One of Bruce Wayne's wealthy friends asks him to accompany his daughter to a social function or two, as he doesn't like the company she's been keeping and wants her to meet new people. Bruce picks up the lovely Sue Dearbon and escorts her to a museum charity ball. At the ball, the lights go out and several pieces of art displayed behind high security measures are stolen; jewelry, wallets and watches are also missing. Sue and Bruce retire to a balcony to calm down, but Sue's old boyfriend, Ralph Dibny, interrupts them. She and Ralph were engaged until her father threatened to disown her if she married the middle-class celebrity showoff known as Elongated Man. The three of them argue and Ralph leaves in a huff. Bruce suspects that Elongated Man, needing money to impress Mr. Dearbon, used his powers to slip past security and swipe the art.
Batman returns to look for clues and runs into EM, whom he suspects is back to steal more objets d'art. The two have a furious battle. As Batman finds standard fighting and martial arts moves to be quite futile against the rubber-bodied contortionist, he has to devise a new system of fighting to tackle Ralph. EM finally convinces Bats that he's there to investigate as well. The two detectives set a trap for the thief at a ball held aboard the Dearbons' yacht. The thief turns out to be a reconstituted Clayface, who has been using the treasures to fund his experiments. Ralph saves Sue's life and a grateful Mr. Dearbon allows them to get married.
7) "Historical Markers"
(A two-part episode or perhaps even a 90 minute special)
The old JSA brownstone headquarters in Washington, DC is scheduled for demolition. Clark Kent is there covering the story, while Bruce Wayne is trying to purchase it to prevent the demolition. Several other superheroes are at the scene; as they discuss the ways that the old JSA members inspired them, we are introduced to both the characters of the past and the present.
Superman discusses the JSA's costumed identities, which inspired him to don a cape as well. Batman drew his inspiration from two characters, the fighting Wildcat and the cunning, mysterious Dr. Mid-Nite. The Flash and the Atom talk about the older characters of the same name. Elongated Man discusses the silly Johnny Thunder who still managed to make a difference. Wonder Woman admires the outspoken Miss America, while Black Canary drew her inspiration from the similarly sonic-powered Liberty Belle.
Dr. Fate is there, silently observing. Superman introduces Fate to the others, and Fate magically displays a montage of the JSA's history. When asked what happened to them, Fate reveals that he was not a member of the team in 1945, but he always assumed that they quietly disbanded and retired. Elongated Man finds it curious that none of the team would be present for the demolition. Dr. Fate gives Batman several of the secret identities to run through his Batmobile computer terminal; there is no record of any of those people beyond 1945. Searching the HQ doesn't reveal any clues, but Superman keeps hearing a very faint, haunting violin melody. Dr. Fate traces the vibrations of the tune to a dimensional instability located in the main meeting chamber; the Flash finds the exact vibrational frequency, which reveals the JSA still sitting at their meeting table. They've been in an enchanted sleep since 1945, aging very slowly; the faint violin music fills the room now, but its source cannot be found.
Fate casts a spell allowing the others to enter the dreams of the JSAers and lead them out of their dreamstates. In their communal dream, the 7 JSA members are still living during the 1940s and WWII has never ended. The JSA has been fighting the Nazis to a stalemate for year after year, still believing that it's 1945. The modern heroes team up with the Justice Society to defeat Germany and literally kick Hitler's butt (it IS only a dream), thus bringing the dream to a conclusion.
It turns out that an old enemy of the JSA, the Fiddler, surprised the team at their headquarters and magically entrapped them with a lullaby. The Fiddler (not a goofy little third-rate villain but actually a rather creepy phantom character and a mystical equal of Dr. Fate) has appeared in the JSA meeting chamber, angered that they have escaped his trap after all these years. The Fiddler plays his violin like a demon, conjuring up monsters which Dr. Fate tries to fight by himself. The JSA and the younger heroes return to consciousness. The two sonic-powered women disrupt the music of the Fiddler enough for the other heroes to tackle him.
The JSA members find themselves 20 years older, physically, and over half-a-century away from the time that they knew. The younger heroes are overjoyed that the JSA is back, but find that the older heroes need to adjust to their circumstances. The Flash recommends that maybe the new heroes should form a Justice Society of their own. The others agree that it is something to think about.
That's it for this month! Here's a preview for next month:
All characters are DC Comics
This column and all plot outlines herein are © 1998 by Michael Hutchison.
All artwork is © July, 1998 by Bob Riley.