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Fanzing Writing Challenge:

"The Reclamation Project"


This is the hard part. Picking a winner. Hard, because so many of these were great! I thought reading all eight of them would be a chore, and instead became enraptured with the imagination, intelligence and care which was given to these characters. How appropriate that we should be featuring these in the "My Hero" issue, given that many of these were obvious labors of love.

In ranking these, I considered several factors:

  • Good writing skills, of course. Did the story work as fiction? The contest aside, was the writing any good? Dialogue, plot and characterization factor in here.
  • Was there a balance of storytelling and character-fixing? A fix without a good story was poor, of course. And a story which took one paragraph to say, for example, "Suddenly, God snaps his fingers and Crimson Fox is alive again. And now, on to my 28-page Crimson Fox story!" wouldn't work.
  • Could DC publish this tomorrow?
  • Did the author deal with the way this character was screwed up in an intelligent manner, coping with the consequences and finding a way around them? Or did he/she decide to ignore it?
  • Imagination is always a factor. Plot twists or clever ties to established continuity always impress me.

I'll take these in order, one through eight:
  1. Blue Devil - Obviously written by someone who collected the original Blue Devil series (as I did), this tale has a lot going for it. Although the restoration of the character appears, at first, to be handled swiftly and then attached to a separate story, upon reflection it is quite involved. It connects Neron and Nebrios as demons who have been involved in the rise and the fall of Blue Devil. Smart! The characterization of Neron and Nebrios, of Superman and Phantom Stranger rang true. Blue Devil could have been more of his old wisecracking self, but this is admittedly a serious story for him.
  2. Hawkman - This story is mostly talking, explanation and revision…but any way of straightening out Hawkman would HAVE to be, so I can hardly fault the writer! In all, a good job of re-establishing Hawkman in his former role while not chucking all that has come since. I do wonder how this will compare to the real story when Hawkman is reintroduced in "Justice Society of America" next year. I also wonder what Tim Truman will think when he reads this!
  3. Guy Gardner - VERY GOOD! The characterization of everyone in this story seemed spot-on! Guy is a good mix of his old rogue-ish self balanced with his more mature persona. Lobo was great…and I don't LIKE Lobo! This tale was so genuine that when I was done reading it I could see it as a comic book in my head. One quibble: I don't see Guy as too much of a Star Trek fan, although I can buy him idolizing Captain Kirk! If this story has any flaw, it's the easy fix: Guy finds a spare ring and becomes GL, then goes on an adventure. But the adventure is necessary in order to show Guy changing his life, testing his new double-powers and HAVING FUN!
  4. Power Girl - Cute story! This ret-con of old stories just by dismissing them is fun, though I'm not sure if it meets the "DC could publish this" standard. It pokes fun at some of the more sexist, silly and just dumb segments of PG's life, but I don't know that it solves anything.
  5. Nighthawk - This story should be published by DC tomorrow! I had little care for the character of Nighthawk and was surprised when this was submitted, but reading it was a hoot! A simple little story that could be done as 8 pages in a "Secret Files" or an "80 Page Giant", it is nonetheless clever and engaging. I LOVED the surprise ending. BRAVO!
  6. Deathstroke - I was unfamiliar with how Slade Wilson was ruined, but Louise does a good job of covering this for the reader. This entry was one of the longest and most in-depth. Intelligence and deep characterization (especially of Titans characters) are Louise's strong suits…in fact, I'm so spoiled by that that I sometimes take it for granted when reading her work! I'm not a Deathstroke fan and I'm unsure as to how much this fixed things for Titans fans, but on the basis of the story alone I'd have to give this one high marks.
  7. Firestorm - Where to begin with this one? Well, the idea of mortally wounding the other Firestorm so as to rejoin Stein and Ronnie Raymond is a good one, I'll give it that. I'd have preferred to see how Ronnie copes with having Stein there permanently, but instead this story focuses a lot on Effigy. The plot doesn't really make a lot of sense and has a lot of holes in it. Ronnie Raymond seemed like an altogether new character, especially his being a cop and having a roommate named Chad and a way-cool pad and going to frat parties. Chad joking while a bleeding man is dying on the floor…the stupid guards and lax security at the White House…Effigy's mission to kill the President and THEN nuke Washington, DC (which would kill the president anyway)…the unimaginative and juvenile dialogue…the unnecessary profanity, including some swear words that could never be printed in a regular DC Comic (you didn't read those because I substituted tamer equivalents)…all of it needs work. Basically, DC could not publish this tomorrow. But I'd encourage the author to work on his vocabulary and focus on characterization; here and there, I saw glimpses of a very good writer bursting to get out from behind the "I'm going to kick your ass!" dialogue. And again, killing off Stein and putting him in Ron's body permanently is a great approach. I wouldn't have thought of it, as Stein seemed too far removed in recent appearances.
  8. Ice - This was sent to me with a note that it had been lying around incomplete and had been hastily finished in order to get in for the contest. To be blunt, it shows. I like the characterization of Guy and Ice, and with the proper development this could be a good story. But as it is, there IS no story! The explanation for how Ice is restored is non-existent and happens offscreen, with only some vague allusions to "The Phantom Zone" (which does not exist in current continuity). Given that Ice was fried and her charred corpse buried, I don't see how she'd have wound up in another dimension! The story that is here mainly concerns Guy and Ice reconciling. It's nice, but it needs a lot more. (Nice work on the Norwegian dialogue. That Guy would EVER speak a non-English language shows how he's grown!)

As I said, the "Firestorm" and "Ice" stories need work. "Power Girl" was entertaining but couldn't really work beyond a humor piece in an Ambush Bug comic. The remaining five should ALL be published in DC Continuity, no matter who gets the top spot! But I'm sure you want me to whittle it down some more, so here goes:

The "Blue Devil" and "Hawkman" stories were clever and do the job.
The "Deathstroke" story is very well-written.
But the "Guy Gardner" and "Nighthawk" stories are my top two. Both would work quite well as comic stories, would resolve the character problems and the fans would enjoy them. If I was forced to narrow it down any further…I couldn't. It's a tie, and it's a good tie! Congratulations to both of you!

Now…on to the next Writing Challenge!