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alt.showcase.94
"Life After Death, pt 2: Elemental Afterlife 101"
Featuring Starman

by Joel Ellis Rea
Intended to be published in the March issue of Showcase ’94

Page 1

Small panel closeup shots of Jayneand Marie, back in the lovely park-like place where Starmanis recounting these events. Panels switch between them as needed:

Caption Box:Several months ago —

MARIE:Not dead? And Will? How could you meet Will? You’re Will!

JAYNE:Aren’t you? I remember after the Invasion you thinking that maybe you weren’t humananymore, and you said something about maybe you weren’t really Will at all — that Will had diedwhen that beam from space hit you — him. You thought maybe you were really just a ball of energy that thoughtit was Will Payton.

MARIE: No. Oh, no, pleaseno. That’s not what really happened, is it? But — of course it is. That’s why you’re in your Starmanform, even here, with no one else around. My boy had already been dead for over a year before we had the funeral. You’re not really my son, are you? Who are you really? Whatare you?

STARMAN:(Off panel) Who am I really?

Pages 2 – 3 — Two-Page Spread

The park-like place again, virtually identical to Page 2 of Chapter 1, with minor differences like the clouds and birds being in different places and the people having shifted positions somewhat.There are tears on Marie’s face, and Jaynelooks on in a sort of resigned horror, as if something she had suspected but repressed out of dread had turned out to be true.

STARMAN:I’m STARMAN (logo type).

STARMAN:(separate balloon) But what am I? I was about to learn that the hard way—

Story title, Elementary Afterlife 101 with credits.

Pages 4 – 5

Back in Paradise, Starman, Will Payton, and Ray Deming are walking down a grassy slope covered with numerous puffy, white flowers of the sort that the Demon Etrigan once planted in Hell. We follow them.

STARMAN:What do you mean I’m not dead? I blew myself to atoms! I’m a ghost or spirit or whatever — no one living can see me! I even attended my own funeral, for crying out loud!

WILL:All that’s true, but still, you’re not dead. That’s why you didn’t meet Death. If you had truly died, you would have met Death. Dad and I both met her. I’m not even sure your kind can die.

STARMAN:My kind?

RAY:As we said, you can’t stay for long, but you can visit. In fact, you always could. You’ve always had that power. You have a great many powers you’ve never used or even suspected you had. But for now, you can stay long enough to complete your education.

STARMAN:Education?

WILL:Your kind is usually permitted to discover the truth about themselves over time, and to learn their powers gradually. But time is running out in your case. The menace you were created to face was only temporarily vanquished, and has already returned, and is even now gathering his strength and making new plans.

STARMAN:What menace?

WILL:The menace you thought you died to defeat. Eclipso. Your very reason for existence.

STARMAN:Eclipso said he moved that beam to strike me — you. So he was telling the truth? He really did create me?

RAY:Only partially. He had a hand in your creation, but that was a ruse of your real creators, designed to fool him and keep him off-guard, so that he would believe you to be a pawn on his side, not the most important and powerful piece on his opponents’ side.

STARMAN:My real creators? The Hutchings Institute?

RAY:No. They, too, were mere pawns of the Earth and the Sun.

WILL:Dad, we’re just getting him more confused. We don’t know how to explain this stuff well. Let’s wait and let the Teacher handle this. Here he comes now.

We see a blond man a short ways in front of them. He walks toward them.

Page 6 — Splash Page

The blond man is standing facing us, with the other three standing with their backs to us. The man has his hand held out to shake Starman’s, and is smiling pleasantly. Starman has already shifted back into his Starman form.

MAN:Hello, student. I’m Dr. Holland, but you can call me Alec. Elemental School is now in session.

Page 7 — Interlude

Scenes of a mountainous region, with an armored figure flying around and over the mountains. It’s Monarch, but he has no helmet on. We see him as Hank Hall. He looks grimly pleased with himself. Various angles on him over the first few panels as he thinks the various thoughts shown here, and approaches his destination, a particular mountain, by the bottom of the page. The first panel just shows Monarch in the distance, with a large caption at the top and a smaller one on the bottom.

Caption 1:Interlude. This is not part of Starman’s recounting of his experiences to his family, as he has no knowledge of these events. At approximately the same time he met Will Paytonin Paradise, something was happening that would come to concern him closely —

Caption 2:The Mortal Realm. Planet Earth. Continent Asia.

The rest of page 6 are various closeups of Hankas described above. We can see from looking at his face that he’s not exactly been on a first-name basis with sanity in some time.

HANK: (thought balloons throughout) I’m back! That fool Captain Atom thinks he stranded me in time, but I’ll show him! I’ll show them all! I know better than to take them all on at once like last time, but this armor gives me power enough to kill even Superman in a mano-a-mano fight. But they know of me now, and will suspect. I need to plan, to prepare. This world must be ruled in peace and order, and only I can do it! It’s my destiny, and cannot be thwarted! I must return to my place of birth— where I slew my weak partner Dove and my older self, and took his mantle.

Page 8 — Interlude

Hank has landed on a particular mountain. The mountain is quite barren — nothing but snow and ice and rock. There are only two panels, one on the top, and one on the bottom.

HANK:(aloud) No! Where is it? My older self’s equipment and the instructions he left me! And his body! And Dove’s body! I know this is the right place! Where are they!?

VOICE:(off-panel) They’re gone. I took them.

Bottom panel — Hank turns around, and his face has an expression of stunned recognition. All we see of the other figure is his left shoulder (which we’re looking over) which is encased in blue armor, and just a bit of blue helmet which is visible on the right edge of the panel.

HANK:Wha—? You!? But — but that’s not possible!!

VOICE:I knew you would return, like the fool you are. I counted on it.

Caption Box: End Interlude.

Next Several Pages

HOLLAND:Okay, first thing you need to know is what an Elemental is. You’re half-Elemental. Someone else will help you handle the other half, but for now, just consider yourself an Elemental.

STARMAN:What’s an Elemental?

HOLLAND:You’ve heard of alchemy, right?

STARMAN:Those guys who tried to turn lead into gold?

HOLLAND:Right. They were the precursors of modern chemists. Alchemy, like chemistry, is based on the concept of elements. But their Periodic Table of Elements (as it were) is much simpler than the one I was taught in school.

STARMAN:Earth, Air, Fire, and Water, right?

HOLLAND:Among others. Those are the main ones. Anyway, in a sense, they were right, but in a mystic sense, not scientific. (This is ironic: a man of science, a biochemist, talking about this stuff!) Anyway, the Spirit of the Earth occasionally mates with Spirits of the Cosmos to produce Elemental spirits.

STARMAN:Spirit of the Earth!?

The following panels show various scenes from issues of Swamp Thingwhich illustrate the important concepts.

HOLLAND:Some call her Gaia, some Jord, etc. We’ll call her “Maya.” In the case of the Elemental who took on my personality, the Earth Elemental you call Swamp Thing,was conceived when the Forest Lords seeded Earth with the green of chlorophyl, in preparation for life. Other worlds had their plant life based on other chemicals with different colors, but that’s irrelevant to what you need to learn. Mayawas effectively impregnated that way, and conceived numerous Earth Elemental spirits. One at a time, they came to fruition, and took on the mind of a plant or later animal of the dominant species at the time, who died by fire (all four primary Elements must be present to form an Elemental, regardless of which type of Elemental is being formed — but all living things are already amalgams of Water and Earth, with Air present in the surroundings as well as lungs, leaving only fire as an ingredient needing to be added at the death of the template). Each reigned for a period of time as the Erl King: the interface between plants and the dominant species, and then retired to the Parliament of Trees. The current Erl King is Swampy, and he’s the last. His daughter, Tefé, will be the first of a new form of Earth Elemental — one truly human in appearance and physical origin.

STARMAN:What does all this have to do with me?

HOLLAND:Be patient, my friend. You know now that Swamp Thing is the Earth Elemental currently. There is also an Air Elemental, Red Tornado; and a Water Elemental, Naiad. There was also a Fire Elemental, Firestorm.

STARMAN:“Was”? Past tense?

HOLLAND:Yes. For some reason, he left this dimension entirely, never to return. This left Earth without a Fire Elemental. Apparently your creators knew that this was going to happen before it happened. You were thus created a short time before he departed, as his eventual replacement. The beam that killed Will, that ironically Eclipso moved into position (being tricked into doing so by your creators), provided the Element of Fire necessary for your creation.

STARMAN: Firestormand I met briefly, and I’ve since heard rumors that he’s gone. So he was the Fire Elemental, and I’m the new one?

HOLLAND:Yes, and then some. You’re only half Elemental, remember?

STARMAN:Oooo-kay. If you say so.

HOLLAND:An Elemental has to act as the interface between the Earth spirit and the dominant species. So each Elemental takes on the persona member of the dominant species — in your case, Will Payton. This person is called a “spiritual template.”

STARMAN:Will said that, but I didn’t know what he meant.

HOLLAND:Right. I, of course, am Swamp Thing’s template.

STARMAN: What do Elementals do? What are their powers?

HOLLAND: It varies with the Elemental. My field of expertise lies only with Earth Elementals, of course, but since all of the templates of Firestorm are still alive, none are available here to give you your education, so Maya called on me since I’m the most experienced of the templates currently in the Afterlife who is also familiar with modern times.

STARMAN:So what are my powers?

HOLLAND:Your elemental powers are similar to Firestorm’s: you can generate light and heat, and can also fly. Like all Elementals, you can control matter on a molecular level. Most Elementals are limited in the type of matter they control: Swampycan only control plant matter, for instance, and his daughter Tefé can control both plant and animal matter. Firestormwas their opposite — he could control any non-organic matter. Naiad and Red Tornado should be pretty much self-explanatory.

STARMAN:But me?

HOLLAND:Due as much to the other half of your nature as to your Elemental half, you have complete control over all matter. Period. To date, you’ve only used it on yourself, to change your looks. But you can do far more than that! And, there are other Elemental powers. All Elementals can leave their bodies, move as spirits, and create new ones from the matter they can control (though they usually don’t learn to do this until after they’ve accepted their true nature, if ever).

STARMAN:(the light dawns) So — that’s what I’m doing now! At least, the moving as a spirit thing! I destroyed my body on the Moon, but I can create a new one any time I want?

HOLLAND:Yes. You always could. You can even travel instantly that way, by leaving your body behind, letting it die, and creating a new one at your destination. Think of it as the difference between driving a car somewhere, or leaving the car at home as you take a plane and renting another car at your destination. Swampy never did this until some time after he learned his true origin. You will need to learn this and your other powers quickly. You face Eclipso.

STARMAN:Can I create a body right now?

HOLLAND:No. There’s no physical matter here so your power is limited. On Earth, yes. And it can be any shape — even totally non-human or unlike any living thing. Due to the other half of your nature, once you’ve made a body for yourself, you can control its matter far easier than other matter not part of your body. That takes some effort.

STARMAN:I already did this once, right? When I created a duplicate of Will Payton’s body, which had been fried to atoms by that beam?

HOLLAND:You got it. I said that most Elementals never learn that ability until later if ever, but in fact they all use it at least once, at their creation, in the making of their first (and often only) Elemental form. They tend to not be very good at it at that time, being inexperienced, and thus don’t duplicate their templates exactly, winding up with things like flaming hair and such (Swampy was particularly inept, if I do say so myself — or perhaps he even then realized subconsciously that he wasn’t really me, and was going for a look of his own). You were better at it than most, though you did make a couple of mistakes in duplicating Will (skin color, for instance), but surprisingly you had enough presence of mind to realize subconsciously that his hair and beard would have grown had he really been asleep for a month.

STARMAN:Whoa! If I’d known this before — when Eclipso possessed my body, I could simply have left it, destroyed it, and then created another one!

HOLLAND:That’s right. Now that you know this, Eclipso can never have power over you that way again. But he’s still a tremendous threat — to you, and to all living things on Earth. You need to learn all of your powers to have a chance against him.

STARMAN:What else can I do?

HOLLAND:That’s pretty much it for your Elemental powers, but you have other powers from the other half of your nature. She’ll teach you the rest.

Splash Page

Alec points his thumb over his shoulder at a middle-aged, red-haired woman who had been approaching during the last part of this conversation.

HOLLAND: Starman, meet my esteemed colleague, Ms. Urania Blackwell.

End of Part Two:
“To be continued.”

 


(Reading assignment for the next chapter: the Sandman #20 story ”Façade,”aka “The Strange Death of Element Girl,” by Neil Gaiman. Death has a line therein that is what this whole thing is derived from. Also keep in mind that I wrote this before the “true origin of Eclipso” [as the Renegade Wrath of God -- BLEAH!!] was revealed.)

All characters are ™ DC Comics
"alt.showcase.94" concept by Joel Ellis Rea.
This story is © 1999 by Joel Ellis Rea.


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