by Michael Hutchison
Long shot. Exterior: a warehouse roof. Nighttime. A shadowy figure that looks like Batman (actually JOE PUBLIC) is crouching over a skylight, staring into a warehouse. At a table, the run-of-the-mill Italian mafioso (CORPULENT TITO) wears a rumpled suit and smokes a cigar. He is seated at a wooden table covered in stacks of money and papers. Two gunsels are behind him. Also at the table is a very skinny bald man (WEINBAUM) in glasses, who is writing something in a very large ledger.
1 CAPTION: It took me all evening to track these goons back to this warehouse.
2 CAPTION: Fifteen long minutes to find a place to spy inside.
3 CAPTION: And I've still got grades to do for tomorrow.
Interior of warehouse. WEINBAUM calmly talks as he continues writing. TITO looks shocked, his cigar dropping from his mouth.
4 WEINBAUM: Next item: $60,000 for skylight replacement.
5 TITO: Skylights?!! Why we paying sixty G's for skylights?
6 WEINBAUM: This IS Gotham City.
TITO gets up from the table, gesturing angrily.
7 TITO: Why are we putting skylights in our warehouses anyway? Do the boxes need a good view? What possible use is there for a skylight in a warehouse?
8 CAPTION: Can't ask for a better entrance cue!
BIG PANEL. Wide shot of warehouse floor, with stacks of boxes in the b.g. JOE PUBLIC plunges through the skylight. Hundreds of shards of glass are tumbling downward. The GUNSELS and TITO stagger backwards in surprise. WEINBAUM is mildly surprised.
9 GUNSEL #1: Oh my god! It's Bat - uh some guy!
10 CAPTION: Sigh.
11 CAPTION: This happens a lot.
Note: Insert title, author, artist and editor here.
Wide Shot. An inner city school in Gotham City. Exterior of front entrance. Morning. JOHN PABLICATTI, teacher and secret identity of Joe Public, approaches the school. He wears sweats and carries a gym bag with a small sign on it. Lower-class school kids, "gangstas" and hoodlums abound in the background. All are heading for the door of the school.
Note: This page can be laid out with six panels. First row, big panel and a little one. Second row, little panel and a big one. Third row, big panel and a little one.
1 CAPTION: After the morning I had, I should have just called this day off and crawled into bed again.
2 JOHN (th): What a night. Up so late shaking down drug dealers I only got half my grades done.
Medium Close-Up. JOHN is in the hallway approaching the gym. A door to his right reads "Men's Locker Room". John is lost in thought. We can now see that his gym bag has a make-shift sign which reads "Don't touch!"
3 JOHN (th): So tired. Maybe I can just coast through the day. It's not easy being an inner-city teacher by day and keeping the city safe by night.
4 MELISSA (off): John!
5 JOHN (th): Nuts.
Medium Close-Up. Same shot. A pretty redheaded woman enters the frame, and JOHN turns to look at her. MELISSA wears specs over a very cute nose. She smiles at him playfully and holds out several envelopes.
6 MELISSA: Your mail. And Waughbanger is reminding everyone that grades are due FRIDAY!
7 JOHN: Well, no problem. That leaves Saturday open so I can take you out to dinner.
8 MELISSA: I hope you and your imagination have a good time.
9 WAUGHBANGER (off): Pablicatti!
Wide Shot. JOHN continues down the hall, holding the mail in his left hand. He has the envelopes fanned out so that he can scan them. Beside him is WAUGHBANGER, a shorter black man wearing a bad suit and a grumpy expression. Mr. Waughbanger takes wide strides to keep next to John. Waughbanger wears a nametag.
10 WAUGHBANGER: What have I told you about hitting on Melissa? She said "No" once. You can't ever ask her out again!
11 JOHN: You mean now there are rules about playing hard to get?
12 WAUGHBANGER: You ask again and she could sue the administration for more than our annual budget! It just isn't safe to ask out co-workers in the 90s, John.
Medium close-up. John, looking very tired already, leans on the swinging door to the gymnasium. With his gym bag hanging from his left elbow and the envelopes in his left hand, he uses his free hand (right) to rub the bridge of his nose. He squints his eyes. Waughbanger eyes him without a trace of sympathy.
13 JOHN: Ernie, I'm a full-time teacher and after-school coach, with lesson plans and work to take home every night. If it wasn't for parent-teacher conferences, I'd never meet ANY women who weren't co-workers. Or under the age of consent!
Same. WAUGHBANGER clutches his heart and overacts as though he's having a heart attack. Despite all this, JOHN is turning away from him and heading through the gym door; he has a look of disgust on his face.
14 WAUGHBANGER: Gah! Call an ambulance! My heart is bleeding for you. Oh! It won't stop bleeding!!!
15 JOHN: Uh-huh. Look, Waughbanger, my personal affairs are my business
Note: This page uses the classic Keith Giffen/Brady Bunch nine panel layout.
The Warehouse floor. JOE PUBLIC is on his feet, surrounded by the glass from the skylight. Joe strikes a pose; his right fore-finger is pointed square at TITO, his left hand is in a tight fist. Tito is surprised but not scared. The two GUNSELS are pulling their guns from inside their jackets. WEINBAUM stops writing and waits.
1 CAPTION: " so put a little faith in my good judgment."
2 TITO: What you busting into my place for?
3 JOE PUBLIC: I've caught you red handed, Corpulent Tito!
Same panel. Same positions except: TITO raises his eyebrows and shrugs, and the gunsels have their guns fully drawn.
4 TITO: doing my taxes?
Same panel. Everything's exactly the same except for JOE PUBLIC's stance. Surprised, he straightens up just a bit.
5 JOE PUBLIC: I thought you were committing a crime.
6 TITO: The only crime committed is by the guy who raised taxes last year!
7 JOE PUBLIC: Oh.
Same view. Now the characters are starting to move.
8 TITO: Vitto! Guiseppe! Take this guy out of the picture!
9 WEINBAUM: You're not going to shoot him, are you?
10 TITO: Damn straight.
11 WEINBAUM: Oh dear, I had your men's weaponry filed under "Business Security", but if they also use them in an offensive capability I'm afraid we'll have to itemize.
12 TITO: Hold up! I'm not spending my entire evening itemizing every bullet!
13 TITO: Take him out and slit his throat.
Same view. JOE PUBLIC runs away.
14 TITO: Hey! After him! An' watch out over there, there's glass!
Close up of TITO. Tito smiles with pleasure.
Close up of TITO. Now Tito frowns with embarrasment. Word balloons fill the background in an overlapping mess.
15 VOICE (off): Ow!
16 VOICE (off): Ouch!
17 VOICE (off): Look out! Glass!
18 VOICE (off): Watch out for the glass!
19 VOICE (off): OWITCH!
20 CAPTION: Nuts! I thought I was getting the hang of this superhero business.
Long shot. A Gotham City schoolyard, mid-day. JOHN is in the background with several of his students. He wears his sweats and a stopwatch around his neck. His students are playing basketball. In the foreground, two kids are making a drug deal; a kid of about 12 is giving money to an older teenager. John sees them.
1 CAPTION: Some things take more practice than others do.
2 CAPTION: Like secret identities.
3 JOHN (th): A DRUG DEAL? Going down RIGHT HERE?
A door into the school. JOHN, carrying his gym bag, ducks through the door.
4 JOHN (th): Not while I've got my costume nearby!
Same door. John runs out, now wearing his JOE PUBLIC costume. He checks his stopwatch, which still dangles from his neck.
5 JOE PUBLIC: Cool! 1.6 minutes! That's my best time ever!
Wide shot of schoolyard. JOE PUBLIC stands majestically, chest out, like Superman. He has a hand shading his eyes in the clichéd "looking for something" stance. A BASKETBALL PLAYER passes by and notices him. A few other students appear in the background.
6 JOE PUBLIC (th): The hell'd they go?
7 B-BALL PLAYER: Hey Mr. Pablicatti.
Same shot. JOE PUBLIC drops his hand from his eyes, looking a little nervous. The B-BALL PLAYER now turns to regard him. A couple of the students in the background are beginning to notice the exchange.
8 JOE PUBLIC: Uh sorry, you have the wrong person.
9 B-BALL PLAYER: Say what?
10 B-BALL PLAYER: You're John Pablicatti!
Same shot. JOE PUBLIC has completely dropped his superhero stance and is now standing with his hands in front of him, defensively. The B-BALL PLAYER points at Joe's shirt. The students in the background get closer.
11 JOE PUBLIC: No, I'm not. See the costume?
12 B-BALL PLAYER: Big deal! Yer wearin' t-shirt an' a jacket!
13 VOICE (off): Hey, Mr. P!
Same shot. JOE PUBLIC is now looking very nervous. He points at his sunglasses. Several kids are now gathered around them.
14 JOE PUBLIC: Unh-uh! I'm also wearing sunglasses!
15 B-BALL PLAYER: OH! Well then, you're OBVIOUSLY a completely different person!
16 VOICE (off): Hey, Mr. Pablicatti? We supposed to keep playing?
Same shot as last four panels of previous page. JOE PUBLIC is now in a heated argument with the B-BALL PLAYER. Three other students (two boys, one girl) now stand around them.
1 JOE PUBLIC: I'm a superhero! The costume's an obvious giveaway!
2 B-BALL PLAYER: You change your clothes and we're supposed to think you're a totally different person?
3 STUDENT #1: Cool jacket, Mr. P!
Same shot. Two more kids appear in the background.
4 JOE PUBLIC: P as in Public! Joe Public! I'm Joe Public!
5 STUDENT #1: Who?
6 STUDENT #2: Who's that?
7 STUDENT #3: Are you in a play or something?
Same shot. Joe is clearly agitated.
8 JOE PUBLIC: I'm JOE PUBLIC! I'm a superhero!
9 STUDENT #1: Aren't superheroes supposed to have secret identities, Mr. Pablicatti?
10 JOE PUBLIC: YES!
JOE PUBLIC's face is suddenly blank as one of the kids is speaking.
11 STUDENT #1: Then why are you telling us?
JOE PUBLIC begins waving a pointing finger at the kids. Even more kids are gathering.
12 JOE PUBLIC: Okay! Your gym teacher is also the crimefighter known as Joe Public
13 JOE PUBLIC: but Trish, Rodney, Brittany, Cayleb, Peter and Towanda, you're all sworn to secrecy!
14 VOICE (off): Me too?
JOE PUBLIC is looking at a GIRL in the rear of the group. She carries a cellular phone at her ear.
15 JOE PUBLIC: You too, Randolph. And Gretchen. All twelve of you can't tell a living soul, got it?
16 GIRL: What about the girls on the cheerleading squad?
Same setting. JOE is now extremely agitated. The panel is flooded with kids.
17 JOE PUBLIC: How do they know?
18 GIRL: I just told them.
19 JOE PUBLIC: Don't TELL them!
20 JOE PUBLIC: Hey you! Where are YOU going?
Same view, but a wider panel. The panel is packed with kids. JOE is yelling in futility.
21 JOE PUBLIC: ALL 48 OF YOU ARE SWORN TO SECRECY!
JOE PUBLIC hides behind a crate in the warehouse. The two gunsels are approaching from a hallway in the background, obviously in pain.
1 CAPTION: Okay, so my secret identity's gone.
2 CAPTION: I make it a rule to only screw up once a day.
3 GUNSEL #1: Ow! I still have glass in my toe!
4 CAPTION: Here's hoping.
JOE leaps over the crate, striking GUNSEL #2 in the jaw. Gunsel #2 falls backwards, knocking GUNSEL #1 backwards too.
5 JOE PUBLIC: Have at you!
6 GUNSEL #2: GRK!
7 GUNSEL #1: Hey!
JOE PUBLIC stands above the two in a wide-legged stance and extends his arms, fists closed. Energy flows from the two GUNSELS into Joe's hands; Joe grimaces from the effort. The two gunsels shake with weakness, though GUNSEL #1 tries to get to his feet.
8 CAPTION: Being an energy pirate doesn't make one a popular superhero.
9 JOE PUBLIC: HRA-AAAAAAAHHH!
10 GUNSEL #2: Ohhhhhh.
11 GUNSEL #1: So dizzy!
GUNSEL #1 is mostly standing. JOE PUBLIC gives him a mighty punch to the gut.
12 CAPTION: People don't like the thought of a "good guy" draining energy from the bad guys and then using all that power to beat his weakened opponents until they're unconscious.
JOE PUBLIC backhands GUNSEL #2.
13 CAPTION: But hey, a certain man of steel who can bench press an iceberg knocks around ordinary humans every week and no one calls him a bully, so let's not be hypocrites.
Small panel. Close-up of JOE PUBLIC's face. He looks up, stunned. His eyes are wide behind his shades. In the glasses we can see a reflection of stacks of boxes.
1 JOE PUBLIC: WHOAH!
Huge panel. JOE PUBLIC is rising from a crouching position, his back to the reader. The rest of the background is filled with shipping crates and cardboard boxes ALL LABELED. The labels of at least a dozen foreground boxes can be read. They include:
"Swiped from evidence locker"
"Black Market Guns"
"Still More Cocaine"
"Bribe money for dirty cops who accept bribes and a list of their names"
"Dead prostitute (to bury later)"
"Quick drying cement and boat schedules"
"Joe Pesci Movies"
"Coke (not soda)"
"Some kid who called me a clown"
2 CAPTION: Now that's what I call evidence!
3 CAPTION: I don't care if it's tax season doing an inventory is just dumb!
JOHN's bathroom. He is holding a cordless phone between his head and his shoulder while he gets undressed. He has a towel around his waist, still has his socks on and is otherwise naked. Steam is rising from the tub. There is a stack of mail on the sink. He is seated on edge of the tub, peeling off one sock.
1 JOHN: YOU'VE had a long day? Melissa, I just had my secret identity blown AND went up against a Mafia boss. How about some sympathy?
Same. JOHN grabs a letter in one hand, runs his other hand along the top to open it.
2 JOHN: GRADES? I haven't even looked at my MAIL yet, let alone started on grades. And now I'm getting grief for my nocturnal activities.
Same. JOHN grabs the phone in his one hand and turns to face it, obviously a little peeved.
3 JOHN: OH, I have NOT! Just a couple months!
4 JOHN: Look, one of my kids was killed and I wanted a way to fight inner city crime and drugs without endangering my students. And then I got these weird energy powers.
Same. JOHN has the phone nestled in his shoulder again. He holds the envelope in one hand and a full sheet of paper is in his other hand. He has the sheet of paper held as high as his eyes and not far from his face. He squints his eyes at it in a "Are you KIDDING me?" expression.
5 JOHN: HUH! Weird.
6 JOHN: OH! No! Just that Black Lightning's suing me for having the same origin as him.
John stands from the tub. More serious now, he takes the phone in one hand. His other hand drops the paper into a trash can.
7 JOHN: So, how about it. You and me, tomorrow night. Just a relaxed dinner. I know a place.
8 JOHN: REALLY? Er, I mean, great, fine. Whatever. See you at seven.
John lies in the tub, his soapy toes a-twiddlin' at the other end. He rests his head and closes his eyes, a sly smile tugging at his lips.
9 JOHN (th): About time things started going right for me!
is Editor-In-Chief of Fanzing.com. He is the world's biggest Elongated Man fan
and runs the only EM fan site.
He lives in Rochester, MN.
has an 80-page project that he co-wrote and illustrated, called UNIVERSITY, finished and being prepared for self-publication. He's also recently finished drawing another project called FOG for Hallucination Studios, an independent comics group. Kurt is back in school at Southwest Missouri State University, working towards a degree in Graphic Design so he can get out there and make the big bucks. But no matter how many late nights he has to pull, he'll never give up his love of reading and creating comic books. Kurt has also written and illustrated an 8-page story for our first comic book, "Fanzing Presents: Job Wanted", which can be purchased at Too Many Longboxes.com!
Joey Fuentes has a blurb.
All characters are DC Comics
"alt.showcase.94" concept by Joel Ellis Rea.
This story is © 1999 by Michael Hutchison.
Art by Kurt Belcher; colors by Joey Fuentes
Fanzing is not associated with DC Comics.
All DC Comics characters, trademarks and images (where used) are DC Comics, Inc.
DC characters are used here in fan art and fiction in accordance with their generous "fair use" policies.
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