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The Clock

proposal (including sketches) by Kurt Belcher

Countess Belladonna

Since first hearing about the Clock, I've felt it was such a great concept that the character HAD to be revived. There are so many inherent possibilities with the concept that there would be no lack of ideas for the comic.

Because the character is such an unknown in a present day where Green Lantern and the Flash are about the most in-depth most readers get with Golden Age characters, I feel that the Clock is more or less a cipher. Especially because I'm using the grandson of the original Clock, I can build this character's personality, background, family dynamics, etc. from the ground up - much the same way that James Robinson did with Jack Knight in his STARMAN comic.

Like Robinson, I love the ideas of those fictional cities and towns like Metropolis, Gotham City and Opal City - ones that might not exist on any legitimate map, but which exist in our mental geography. With those kinds of places to base our heroes, we can perhaps eventually get our readers to believe, "Maybe this city DOES exist somewhere - maybe there is a masked hero somewhere fighting crime, and we've just never heard about it.?". We can step back from the story from time to time and sort of fool ourselves into believing that somewhere, somehow, these stories actually happen, helping you blur the line between reality and fiction.

Count FlorianAlthough basing our heroes in 'real' cities has its merits, perhaps lending them a little more realism and grit - we know we haven't heard any news from New York City about a guy who flies around with a magic green ring. Fictional cities can be constructed in our minds and the readers' minds from square one. I know that it helps me believe that maybe Opal City exists somewhere, when James Robinson writes his loving descriptions of the place from time to time in the adventures of the Starmen. When he tells us all about the city's neighborhoods, eccentricities (all 'real' cities have them, why can't 'fictional' cities?), citizens, police, shops, back allies, nooks and crannies - it makes it even more possible for me as a reader to believe in this hero and the people that he protects. These are a few of the major reasons that 'fictional' cities hold such a place in my heart.

TigressThe city we're talking about in this case is Cloister, Vermont, the former home of Mark Merlin, Prince Ra-Man, who died in the Crisis. It's been established that the city has a weird heritage, from the religious fanatics that founded the town and their eventual downfall. The town was more or less deserted after the original founders left until the arrival of Silas Darkhawk, a reputed mystic who resettled the town as a 'weirdness magnet', attracting strange citizenry from all over the world. He also constructed his 'Mystery Mansion', from occult blueprints, with magic built into the house, like magic wound into a witch's knotted cord. He took advantage of the town's odd history and generally weird atmosphere.

Not many 'normal' people lived in Cloister during Silas Darkhawk's tenure as town elder. Later, a bright, shiny new Cloister emerged not far away from the original Cloister -- built by normal people for normal people. It didn't take long for this to become 'Cloister', while the weird little burg down the road became 'Old Cloister', or 'Old Town'. Cloister became a shining beacon of hope and promise, where people worked hard and lived good and blameless lives. They sent their riff-raff and castoffs down the road to Old Cloister, which, in this new century, quickly became a clearinghouse for every form of weirdness the world had to offer.

Cloister became the home of the dynasty called the Clock in 1936, with the emergence of the original hero to bear that name DragonLady- making him quite possibly the first masked hero, even before the Crimson Avenger. Unfortunately, the Clock worked in a small town in Vermont, whereas the Avenger was best known to operate in New York City, garnering him bigger headlines sooner as the first of the 'mystery men'. And so it is that the Clock has been forgotten while the Crimson Avenger is considered the original 'super-hero'.

The original Clock (who was DA Brian O'Brien in his day job) operated for only eight years until he was killed in 1944, but not before having a daughter whom would grow up to marry the second Clock. The second hero was the son of the Golden Age hero called the King, who mostly took on the identity because he didn't want to be called 'the King' (Maybe he was an Elvis fan?). The daughter became the groovy heroine called Figment, and she and the new Clock worked side by side through the late '60s and early '70s. They were drawn to Old Cloister more than their predecessor, which became a center for the many counterculture movements of the era, and even fought alongside the premier heroic team of the time, the Justice Experience. They fought (literal) Black Panthers, solved in secret the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, foiled a murder at Woodstock, and even lent a helping hand to a few secret government groups like the CBI, Argent and the Danger Trail. The two eventually fell in love, married and had a son - settling down as much as hippies and heroes could. When the story starts, their son, an heir to two different heroic legacies, has only just decided to take on the identity of the Clock.

The Buzzardnew Clock is named Brian Standish, and is VERY aware of the pressures on him from his elders, who don't want to see him disgrace any of them, especially his grandfather, the King, who he sees very little of (he lives in New York), but who funds his work. His 'Friday' is a master weapon-smith and engineering genius called the Gadgeteer (Jimmy Ellis). The Gadgeteer was a villain that this Clock's dad fought in the '70s, who wasn't quite a hardened criminal, but was committing super-villain crimes for his family. However, the second Clock had a social conscience, and did his best to help the criminals he fought reform and follow the straight and narrow. In the Gadgeteer's case, the Clock saw no alternative but to make him his assistant and mechanical man, to help keep the man's family together. The Gadgeteer eventually became the Clock's closest friend and confidant, privy to his secret identity - and their families became as one. Brian Standish grew up with the Gadgeteer's son Tommy Ellis and they became best friends, even though Tom was a few years younger than Brian. In the present day, Tom Ellis has grown up to become the minor bad guy Bloodhound, who first appeared as a villain in Grant Morrison's, Mark Millar's and N. Steven Harris's AZTEK series from a while back. The character is way too cool to let go unused, and he's pretty much a cipher (other than us knowing he's a college student), so we can create this back story for him, and have him become the Clock's backup. The two would often talk about how this is like what they dreamed of as kids: they get to play super-heroes for real, just like their parents!

Brian Standish loves old cars, and even had the Gadgeteer make his 'Clockmobile' a '40s sedan, only more streamlined, with a super-charged engine, and made with modern sensibilities for the contemporary super-hero. Bloodhound would often just be driving the Clock's 'Clockmobile', but would just as often accompany him on jobs that the Clock knew he needed backup on.Bloodhound

The concept of the Clock can generate any number of ideas - including naming the first year's worth of stories 'The Clock Strikes', i.e. 'The Clock Strikes One', 'The Clock Strikes Two', etc. etc. The year's worth of stories wouldn't be a continuous twelve-part story, but rather mostly several small stories that would wind up with some kind of pay-off story at the end of the year. So, although he would be facing separate threats in most of those first twelve issues, there would be running sub-plots and some major connections between the stories told. The whole year would build tension to some major story at the end of the year. After this would come 'The Clock Strikes Thirteen', a weird story in which the Clock descends in the secret, decadent and dangerously magical world of Old Cloister to save his assistant, the Gadgeteer. 'Grandfather Clock' would tell a few tales about the original Clock. 'Turning Back the Clock.' has stories of everything from the FlyTrigger Twins losing their souls in a bet with Silas Darkhawk at the twilight of the West, to stories about Prince Ra-Man and his mystical exploits, to stories about this Clock's parents in the Age of Aquarius. There could also be crossovers with time-traveling characters like Chronos, Hourman and the Lord of Time, as well as fellow Golden Age legacies like Starman, Star-Spangled Kid, the JSA, and others.

The Mystery Mansion has been kept in good shape by a number of servants, associates and other mysterious figures associated with Prince Ra-Man or Mark Merlin. Just a few of these are: a mysterious giant Oriental woman called the Dragon Lady; Maureen Merlin, niece of Mark Merlin - and a fair mystic herself; and a number of servants from the other-dimensional world that was Ra-Man's and Memakata's home. The Mansion and its attendant history, including Silas Darkhawk and Prince Ra-Man, can also be used when magic is a part of the story. Stories like, 'Whatever happened to Ra-Man's cat, DruidMemakata?' Turns out it's been breeding, producing litter upon litter of magically-attuned and talkative felines that have become 'familiars' to mystics all over the world. The Mansion itself has become a mystical version of Hemingway's old Florida Keys estate, with hundreds of cats wandering all over the Mansion and its grounds, all of them the descendants of Memakata and its mate. And where did the body of Silas Darkhawk disappear to in 1894? A local urban legend has sprung up around that particular event, with both Cloisters telling their children that Darkhawk will come and get them if they don't behave. This persistent legend will crop in odd places, maybe even to the point of becoming a story unto itself.

As was said, Old Cloister is a 'weirdness magnet', and has attracted something from just about every branch of the paranormal under the sun. Just the nature of this town has the potential for endless streams of ideas. The place has the usual fringe elements and 'refugees', but there are also other - things. Aliens that have been living there long enough to know Silas Darkhawk in the flesh, aliens left over from various invasions (including the big one from a few years back), and aliens that are just visiting. There are vampires, werewolves, mummies, patchwork monsters, and the typical 'classic monster' stuff, along with the attendant mad doctors. The town is also a haven for those affected by the 'Gene Bomb', much like the 'Underworld' Ostrander wrote about in HAWKMAN. The town has thousand-year-old robots; lost Atlantean artifacts hidden in the town by Darkhawk; ancient magicians; faceless killers; madness in a jar; bottled pirate ships with pirates dreaming of destruction; sleeping prophets; captive gods; sinister clowns; bigfoot; fairies; UFOs; etc. etc. etc.

Concerning villains: There will be people the Clock has to deal with on both sides of the tracks. In Cloister, all decisions concerning organized crime trickle back to "Big Johnny" Caesar, the "boss of bosses" of the Cloister mob. On the surface, Caesar is a stereotypical Italian "family" man, but he harbors secrets deeper and darker than most other career mobsters - things that don't necessarily concern his work. His opposite Crimesmith number in Old Town is the Crimesmith, a black wheelchair-bound technical and criminal genius. He runs a criminal underworld that looks like a patchwork, with such a cross-section of the population of Old Cloister - with demon enforcers working alongside angry aliens and robots with a few loose wires. There will also be villains almost tailored to the concept of the Clock, such as Father Time, the Clock King (and his Clockwatchers), T.O. Morrow, the Lord of Time, and others.

The concept is too good and the possibilities too wide to let a great idea like the Clock go to waste.

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!

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