Vile Vial Secret Files: Creating the End
by David R. Black, Nicolas Juzda, D.J. LoTempio, and Matt Morrison
Insight into the minds of four budding authors
David R. Black: OK, guys, here's the ten thousand dollar question: How do we bring about an ending to this writing challenge? (And save the world in the process?)
Here are some ideas as presented in the various stories:
1) "Prometheus Justified" has one doctor postulating that the virus is actually nano-technology. Since we know that R'as al Ghul designed the virus, I'd imagine that yes, that could be the case. The virus was somehow engineered. It is not natural. We could build on this and have one of STAR Lab's scientists develop another nano-tech virus specifically designed to seek out and attack the Vile Virus. Imagine little nano-probes, like in "Star Trek," fighting it out in a human's bloodstream.
We've seen considerable effort from scientists to figure out how the virus works (Prometheus Justified, Scarlet Speedtrap), and how to stop it (Invasions from Other Planets, Opposite Perceptions). Even the evil version of Mr. Terrific was interested in how the virus works (Winds of Change). So if we choose this option, it won't seem like deus ex machina by any means.
We could simply choose to have one of our villains detonate a "nano-bomb" containing the nano-antidote in the upper atmosphere. The nano-antidote would spread throughout the globe by riding on upper atmosphere winds, and slowly cure everyone.
2) Another scenario uses something I've been working with in my Vial Vile entries. As seen in "Scarlet Speedtrap" and "Opposite Perceptions," Count Vertigo has slowly worked up an immunization to the virus. He's gone from hero to anti-hero (he does some decidedly villain-like things in "Perceptions").
His body is simply fighting off the virus just like our bodies can fight off the common cold. And it's reasonable to assume that if Vertigo is becoming "better," then other infected persons are as well. What this means is that a scientist/doctor could harvest the antibodies in Vertigo's bloodstream and then mass produce them. (I'm sure STAR Labs - especially the upgraded STAR in Metropolis - is capable of such a thing).
The mass produced antibodies could then be spread throughout the world, just like in the first scenario. I'm sure that a cured Flash would be able to "vaccinate" Earth's entire population in a matter of minutes.
Matt Morrison : That gives me an idea. A cured Flash could distribute the cure in seconds. Here's a question: since all of Wally's bodily systems act on an accelerated level as well, why hasn't his immune system already worked out an antibody for the virus? An easy answer is that the virus is made in such a way so that the body doesn't recognize it as a threat... all they would need is to get the body to recognize that threat inside Wally... and bingo: instant cure.
DRB: Wally's still frozen solid as of the ending of "Scarlet Speedtrap." That's why Wally's hyper fast metabolism hasn't developed antibodies yet - He's in a state of suspended animation.
Matt: Ah well... that is a challenge now, isn't it? Maybe if we used the Suicide Squad tactics on The Atom and made him, with a tiny little bomb strapped to him, go into to re-engineer the whole thing,. An M minus 80 or something. :)
DRB: I *love* the idea of the Atom. I thought of using him, and Matt's suggestion just cemented it. Being that we've pretty much agreed that the virus is some sort of nano-techonology (or a virus encased in nano-technology), Ray Palmer would be an excellent guy to have around.
D.J LoTempio: I have a fourth choice for an ending : What if the Vile Virus is a ruse itself?
Perhaps the simplest explanation is that the Virus eventually adapts to its host or vice versa, eventually becoming a neutral agent. Like chicken pox, something that lays dormant for a lifetime. Well, what happens then you ask? Suddenly, the villains are in control of Justice League technology and the heroes are incarcerated or quarantined.
The world is ripe for a swift, merciless attack by the villains and Ra's. In which case, the heroes will have to convince the world that they are heroes again AND defeat the villains in time. Otherwise, choice #1 is not so far-fetched. Remember that virii are essentially vestigial genetic messengers.
Perhaps, the heroes simply create an opposite to the Vile Virus that restructures the DNA affected by the VV? Or, the heroes hijack the vile virus itself and rewrite the genetic message of the virus?
I suddenly had a fifth option : the Vile Virus gains sentience and wants the villains or heroes to free its components from servitude beneath Ra's al Ghul.
Matt: Which brings up the question: Did Bruce act on his own to infect Babs in case Nightwing screwed up? Or did Nightwing get a hold of the virus somehow and decide to infect Babs himself.
Personally, I'd like to see this dealt with and I have an idea. I thought it totally in character for Babs to use her talents to help her father... and that indeed, she would have the same relationship with him as ever. So it could be that the events of Traduce which lead to Babs being infected could have happened AFTER Babs was infected by Nightwing in Feast of Fools.
I know what you're thinking. Aside from being nitpicky, what difference does it make? Well, for one thing... it means that if Babs was infected and contagious... then she must have infected Jim Gordon... who could have passed it on to Luthor and everyone in the White House...
D.J.: Yes, this is a funny situation regarding Babs. But let's not worry too much. Since we're discussing a solution to the Vile Vial Virus, it is conceivable that we have written ourselves a way out.
Idea #6 - For whatever reason, Babs could be immune or resilient to the virus - thus explaining her various infections. She throws off the virus once, encounters it again, the virus adapts to her, and then she overcomes it (a scene forthcoming). Babs anti-bodies then become the main ingredient to ending the virus. This way, we explain Babs situation, and look like we planned it from the beginning.
Matt: Hmm... that seems a bit deus ex machina. It could be easier to say that for some reason, the virus in the envelope didn't take (there wasn't any immediate effect on Babs, after all)
D.J.: I actually like this idea but for a different reason. It implies that Prometheus' treason (in "Traduce") was more apparent than I give him credit. With his technology, he could have rigged a pseudo-Vile that only made the subject temporarily vile. In which case, Gordon, the original target, would have been welcomed into Batman's clutches only to become a thorn in Batman's side when the virus died. I like this idea very much. Nicolas - what do you think?
Nicolas Juzda: I wrote a series of Lost Pages that explained various contradictions between the VV stories and also why we had two dead people running around. One of those basically boils down to Barbara not being infected by Nightwing in FoF but then heading over to Gordon's for Traduce's beginning and then returning for the rest of FoF.
I interpreted "Babs felt evil" as more of a definite effect than "Babs passed out" which contains loopholes. Basically, I posited that Nightwing was trying to knock her unconscious by pumping the room full of gas so that he could infect her without resistance.
Yes, he does flash a vial in front of her, but I got around that too, albeit in a somewhat contrived fashion... he had grabbed the wrong vial by mistake. Yeah, that's a bit cheesy, but I don't think it's workable to assume that Babs was infected when she went to visit Jim Gordon. Neither he nor anyone he came in contact with displayed symptoms of the virus.
Matt: Hmm... if we go by the route that the virus is nanotechnology, that could be feasible. The robots could have been broken in transit. Should have marked that envelope fragile, Bruce. :)
D.J.: Ummm...the robots breaking is implausible for a variety of reasons. Also, I implied that the virus was not nanotechnology but protean-tech. But I admit to leaving the truth open because that would have ruined Mike's intentions. I assumed he could ignore my idea and posit that the protean-tech was a ruse, if he wanted. So, the virus could be nano-tech concealed within the shell of the virus. Or it could just be nano-tech.
Matt: And now that I think about it... nanotechnology would explain why the light diffused the virus. Could be the right frequency creates a signal that disables the electronics... Or am I putting way too much thought into this? :)
D.J.: Too much thought, Matt. Remember that ultraviolet light was used to diffuse the virus. Virii are so small that they can actually slip between waves of ordinary light. Ultraviolet light has a long enough wave length that it disrupts the virii, which is why you occasionally see water-treatment plants with UV baths. The UV rays shouldn't adversely affect non-living nano-tech. But....if the nano-tech needed the virus as a delivery system then UV would disrupt the delivery of the virus.
DRB: OK, I admit that ultraviolet light destroying the virus doesn't work scientifically. But remember, it doesn't act like an antidote to the virus, it simply stops the virus from being contagious. Ultraviolet light somehow affects the virus, but it doesn't stop it.
Matt: Honestly, I'd be happy to have reworked that part of the story if we didn't already have the issue out. Who'd have thought we'd both have had the idea to have Babs get infected?
DRB: Not me! I'm inclined just to let Nicolas explain Babs' situation in "Lost Pages." One way or the other, we know Babs is infected. It doesn't really matter how. Babs isn't a methuman, so I don't think the idea of her "developing an immunity to one form of the virus, then being infected by another strand" really works.
It is reasonable, however, that heroes/villains are slowly overcoming the virus. We've seen both Prometheus and Count Vertigo resist some of the virus's effects.
Matt: OK, asides from another potential story with Babs, here's another way idea. What if somebody, not necessarily Babs, passed the virus on to Luthor and everyone in the White House? A new altruistic Luthor would put his genius behind curing the virus.
DRB: Lex should definitely play a role in the ending. Even if it's just a patriotic, "rally the troops" type speech. After the events in "Traduce," Lex knows how serious the virus is. Even a dope would see how curing the virus would be in Lex's best interest (Lex wants to control the world, not let Ra's do it).
Matt: The big question for the finale of course is, what is Ra's going to do while all the heroes and villains are running around? We know Batman is working with him on it thanks to several stories... but I don't think the stick has been shown yet.
D.J. :I agree with Matt, and I know David also agrees - what was Ra's goal(s) in releasing the virus? If he wanted to cull the Earth's population, he could have saved himself a lot of trouble by releasing the Flu of 1918 or something equally catastrophic. Obviously, Mike picked the Vile Virus because it has interesting narrative applications but it requires a salient rationale behind it to really work. Furthermore, making evil versions of Batman or Superman isn't the smartest course of action. It's intimated in "Traduce" but Batman would probably want to overthrow Ra's eventually. The same would go for any of the major heroes.
DRB: I have no flippin' idea what Ra's wants out of all this. My guess is that he wants everybody to destroy themselves (a la Rann in "Invasions") and then he'd pick up the pieces. I imagine him seeing the virus as the ultimate means to achieve some of his goals - such as population reduction. But you're right: A bad Superman/Batman wasn't just what he wanted. It's something more than that.
D.J.: OK, here's yet another idea - the Vile Virus is genetically modifying the heroes, villains and general populace along the designs of Ra's al Ghul.
A recent issue of Discover magazine featured an article on the optimal design for humans - it ain't pretty. Ra's could have a variant design - one that ensures only Ra's cream of humanity are the superiors. In which case, the threat involves the genetic future of humanity - a nice, grand epic theme. You could even imply that Ra's hopes to manipulate the meta-gene out of existence, thereby ensuring that only his chosen people become super-powered. The heroes and villains can slowly recover from the virus but find themselves bereft of powers. But maybe this sounds too much like the recent "Act of God" mini?
DRB: I like the idea of the virus genetically modifying the populace. What if the virus sterilizes the people it infects, essentially rendering them incapable of reproducing? After the virus induced madness and chaos results in a lot of death and destruction, the few survivors are ripe for a swift, merciless attack by Ra's and his followers.
In this scenario, Ra's is using the virus as a means toward creating a "new world order." Ra's uses the virus to get half the world's population to destroy themselves (i.e. through murder, mass destruction, etc). Even the heroes turned villains would probably start attacking each other after awhile, much like in Kingdom Come.
After all is said and done, Ra's would pick up the pieces. It's much easier to rule the world if most of your enemies have already destroyed themselves, courtesy of the virus. Furthermore, if the survivors are sterile, Ra's could just sit back and wait for any potential adversaries to die off. After fifty years or so (which is nothing to an immortal like Ra's), he'd have little opposition.
He and his hand picked followers can then be fruitful and multiply - create a new society from the ashes of the old. Ra's would set himself up as a de facto god, ruling and preserving the Earth as he sees fit.
Nicolas: Something just occurred to me. We haven't been able to figure out why Ra's would have gone this route.
I think that maybe Ra's is enough of a pessimist that he believes that the majority of people suck. This view is pretty consistent with his character. Thus, he might have genuinely believed that the virus would make a better world.
Matt: I like Nicolas' idea regarding Ra's' idea for going this route. As a reader of darn near every Ra's Al Ghul story in the last 10 years, I think I can say with some authority that Ra's does believe most of mankind is corrupt beyond salvation. How else could he casually speak of killing off 95% of the population of the planet?
So the plan could have been to use the virus to turn everyone who is basically corrupt into something better and then use the powered good people to cut down the population while he waits for the collapse of civilization before moving in with his own shock troops.
I do have two quick suggestions though, based on the rough plot David worked up.
1)We can, and I think should, go into detail as to why Wonder Woman would pair up with Ra's.
I had an idea for a Wonder Woman story for this event, but I couldn't write it because.. well, I really don't know jack about her outside of JLA and I thought the story should be written by someone who knows who all of the amazon supporting cast are.
Basically, Diana has gone back to the old greek myth amazon ways. Specifically, she wants to take over the world through whatever bloody means are needed, form a matriarchy and enslave all the men as her sisters were enslaved before.
As the princess of a race of Immortals, who are presumably protected from the Virus (Is Paradise Island still a place out of time with the rest of the world... or is it just magically hidden?), I'm sure Diana would take an interest in anyone else's plans to take over the world and that she is presumably working with Ra's as a mutually beneficial means to an end. Maybe he's promised her a part of the world for the amazons to have total control over (say... Europe) with colonial outposts everywhere else... like the ancient Roman empire.
Naturally they are both planning to doublecross each other at the last moment... Ra's probably has a few backup "How to disable an Amazon" plans from "Tower of Babel", after all.
DRB: This is good! I don't know much about Wonder Woman either, but we can do a pretty good job faking it. You've got the fundamentals of the Wonder Woman mythos down pat, and in a big crossover story like this, we can get away with ignoring/not mentioning a few things (ie the supporting cast, Paradise Isalnd's current status, etc).
Matt: Second quick suggestion: This is a small point, but I can't see Kyle using a bubble to carry the team in the final fight scene. Not stylish enough. Why not have the rest of the team who can't fly, come in a fleet of B-29's or something appropriate to character? Have Wally borrowing a pair of the Golden Glider's skates, etc.... (Yes, I know she's dead... but Captain Cold probably has her gear somewhere...or maybe Trickster, who started making a stockpile of the other Rogues spare gear....)
Sorry... I just really like that image for some reason... Speedster skating on air...
DRB: Regarding Kyle's power bubble: Yeah, we'll need to change that. It was late at night when I got to the final scene, and my imagination was running on empty. Perhaps Kyle can create winged horses for the cured heroes to ride into battle. Like the knights of old, the heroes can charge in to save the day at the last minute.
I think our reasoning about Ra's goal/objective in releasing the virus is on track. I think that between the four of us, we've developed a good reasoning for Ra's to use the virus. We still may do some fine tuning, but at least we're in the right ballpark. I'm getting excited about this!
Nicolas: I'm a little unclear on just what is and is not currently in the working draft of the finale, but I was considering the various ideas for "other" effects of the virus (sterility, reworking into ideal humans, etc). As I'm thinking more and more about them, I become less and less keen on the ideas, I'm afraid.
No one has mentioned these characteristics in the stories to date, so they'll come out of nowhere, and from a dramatic perspective it'll seem like bait and switch. We fought the personality swapping virus for a whole bunch of stories, but now we're curing the ideal human upgrade virus all of a sudden. This is not meant to be a slam on the people who came up with those ideas. We're all just brainstorming.
DJ: After reviewing David's current plot, I think it performs an admirable job displaying the destructive force of the Vile Virus as is - sans sterilty and such. The chaos it paints is awful and sufficiently dramatic. Adding to the drama is superfluous and will merely weigh the story down.
So, I agree with Nicolas. Let's keep it simple otherwise the conclusion will end up like those ret-con stories we know and hate.
DRB: Whew, good. I think we're trying to out-think ourselves a bit regarding Ra's' motivations. Ra's just wants to take over the world by using the virus to kill people and cause mass destruction. DJ is right in that anything else (i.e. my lame sterility idea) will read like a retcon. Either that, or a deus ex machina.
Let's keep it simple. The KISS (Keep it simple, stupid) principle works just fine.
DJ: I like the selection of heroes for Ra's team. Wonder Woman is a brilliant decision. I could see her recruiting teenage girls as amazons - maybe shield carriers. It would be quite dramatic. Plus, I like the idea of her being Ra's consort - an immortal woman for the immortal man.
One request - can we fit Krypto in the story? I kind of like the little guy.
DRB: We can try. At the least, he can be one of the unaffected heroes defending the nano-antidote bomb in the final scene. Krypto is a stretch, though....
Regarding the two villains who will capture the Atom in scene 1 - How about Spellbinder and Black Mass? Spellbinder can trick the Atom into seeing some sort of non-existent reality, perhaps even tricking Ray into see her (Spellbinder that is) as his long lost wife. Black Mass is just another size changing villain whose powers are similar in scope to Atom.
One final thing: Do you guys want to help actually write this? We could do a "DC Challenge" type story in which we each write one or two scenes.
DJ: I guess I'm up to it.
Nicolas: So am I, but remember how bad the real DC Challenge turned out?
DRB: Yeah, the real DC Challenge turned out rather poorly, but I think we can avoid some of their pratfalls since we have an agreed upon plot to work from. So who would like to write which scene? We have seven scenes, one of which (scene 3) is pretty much written. Personally, since I feel that Nicolas has the best handle on Ra's al Gul and his motivations, he could do the Ra's scenes.
Nicolas: I'd be honored to do the Ra's motivation sequence. It fits in with my approach to thinking about the virus, as more of an abstract concept with certain logical consequences, rather than in a strictly medical context. I also thought I'd note that the posted deadline for the next issue of Fanzing is June 25, exactly FIVE DAYS FROM NOW!
DJ: Well, this is inconvenient. I pick the segment with Stachowski.
Nicolas: That would be Scene Two. That's a good choice for another reason, as well, since I think you're the only writer to examine at length the virus AS A VIRUS. I even needed you to tell me how viruses are contracted. David I think has claimed the sweeping devastation part, since as he said that's been largely written already. That leaves us with what?
DRB OK, here's what we have so far:
Scene 1 - The intro with the Atom - I'll do that
Scene 2 - The scientists at STAR Labs (Stachowski) - DJ's got that
Scene 3 - The wanton destruction scene - It's done, I just gotta figure a way to make it prose instead of script.
Nicolas: I'd rework part 3 by dividing it into lots of brief vignettes of a few paragraphs, each headed with the quoted line (probably italicized). Include the source after the last quote. Also, I think Eve of Destruction makes a good overall title.
DRB: OK, that sounds like a plan. Continuing on....
Scene 4 - The Ra's motivation scene - Nicolas has it.
Scene 5 - The Atom fixing the antidote - empty
Scene 6 - Ra's recruiting various heroes - empty
Scene 7 - The big finale - empty.
We still need suckers, I mean volunteers, to write the last three scenes. Nicolas might be a good fit to do Scene #6, since he's doing Ra's. I could do Scene 5 and stick with writing the Atom. That leaves scene 7 for DJ and Matt to fight over. Or, if Matt wants to help out anywhere else, he can do that, too.
Nicolas: I'm reasonably game for either 6 or 7, but don't feel a burning need to handle either. Does anyone else want them?
Matt: Eek! Five days to deadline and I don't have anything for my "Mount" column yet... I dunno... I'd love to write the last scene, but I REALLY suck at writing action between two people, much less a whole group of them. I'm a great idea man, but I'm pretty poor when it comes to execution, in my opinion. I will be glad to proofread everything and check continuity... but all I can see myself being able to do writing-wise now is offer suggestions for pairings in the final battle... and we need to know who is in Ra's group and who is in the other group first.
DRB: Anything I can get out of you is a help. Maybe you can be our "idea guy" and help us out if we get into any jams. If I get stuck, I'll know who to pester : )
DJ: I'll pass on writing any extra scenes. I'm going to be particularly busy the next week and a half and can't push myself. Sorry. One more thing, should we CC: each other with our sections? I don't want to needlessly bother Matt or Nicolas but I could understand if they want to see what I've written and vice versa.
Nicolas: Yeah, CCing to each other is a must
DRB: I'd only CC the finished scenes. Once you finish your scene(s), send them to everybody.
DJ: how long do you want the individual sections? I'd like some parameters for the scenes (at least for myself). Also, let me know how you end Scene 1 and start Scene 3. I'll do my best to segue between them. I imagine you want no more than 5 pages detailing the scientists and ex-villains developing their plans.
DRB: Just use your best judgment. Don't write a 15,000 word scene, and don't write a 50 word scene. You guys know how to construct a story, so just imagine that each scene is a little mini-story. The four or five page max DJ mentioned works, but don't feel obligated to write that much. Segues between scenes are going to be tough, so don't worry about them at this point. Just write your scene, and we'll worry about transitions and making everything jive later.
DJ: Also, I need to include the Atom at some point and make references to Plas and Dibny. Do I have this right?
DRB: Yeah, make sure that you at least mention Atom in scene 2. Dibny and Plas will appear in scene 2 and Dibny will be the test subject Waller choose for the experimental antidote.
Nicolas: Matt, if you want to write something but don't feel the last two scenes are really you, I have two thoughts on additional things we could put in. 1.5: A scene on the Watchtower, with the alien heroes forced to sit out the crisis. 7.5: An epilogue with everything back to normal. Maybe the heroes and villains reflect on what it was like to work the other side. Neither is essential to the plot, but either would work, I think.
I'll handle Scene Six and Seven It makes a certain amount of sense to have the same person writing them, what with six being the assembly of the opposition for seven.
Matt: Well, everything I've read and seen so far sounds good. Looks like the "writing" is in good hands. We need to work out more detail about the final battle though.
Okay... let's look at the potential "Ra's Army" that we had in David's first plot. Heroes included were: Wonder Woman, Jesse Quick, Captain Atom, The Ray, Sand (from JSA), Damage (Titans), Steel, Green Arrow, Captain Marvel, Geo Force, Animal Man, and Jade.
Nicolas: We could bring back the heroes captured in all the stories. Cure them with the antidote and then use them in the final battle as "The Cavalry."
The captured heroes include Argus, Flash, the Golden Age Flash, The Inferior Five, Green Lantern , Plastic Man, Elongated Man, Mr. Terrific, Batman, Fire, Power Girl, Blue Beetle, Booster Gold , Oracle, and Nightwing . Black Canary was mentioned as being captured. I think that's it.
Matt: Problem is that most of these guys are flyers... so unless we want Jade ringing up flight packs for all the baddies and Kyle doing similar for the good guys, there are going to be some people we can't get in the air... I assume we are still going to have the antidote released in the upper atmosphere?
Also, we haven't even added in the reformed villains who are going to need backup, and this is already looking a little big. My advice? Trim down the baddies for the final battle. And we'll try to balance the roster a bit.
Ra's Team Roster:
1) Wonder Woman- got to have her... the whole Ra's consort idea is too cool. Plus, we haven't used her anywhere else since the intro
2) Jesse Quick- always nice to have a speedster
3) Captain Atom - cliche to have him around during a crossover, but he should definitely be around.
4) The Ray - shows up in crossovers a lot but never really does anything...
5) Sand - I'm not sure the virus would be able to effect his structure.. I mean, he's not carbon-based so...
6) Damage (Titans) - see Ray
7) Steel - Definitely need to have the high tech man there.
8) Green Arrow - Ollie or Connor? Either way, I don't think they'd sign up with Ra's even if the turned bad... besides, both are kind of out of heroics when this story takes place.
9) Captain Marvel -oh yeah... bring in the cheese!
10) Geo Force - don't know much about him.
11) Animal Man - hmmm... could definitely see him working with Ra's.
12) Jade - like to see her, if only to match Kyle in the battle
This leaves us with 7 who I think are definitely workable, and best of all... can fly, and are all heavy hitters; Wonder Woman, Jesse Quick, Captain Atom, Steel, Captain Marvel, Animal Man and Jade
From the reformed heroes...
1)Argus - don't know enough about him.
2)Flash - think we could use him.
3)GA Flash - not when we have Wally handy
4)The Inferior Five - like 'em, but that's five bodies who aren't that effective up there.
6)Plastic Man - see Ralph
7)Elongated Man - him or Plas... ah what the hell, let Ralph recover from his tests and be ready to go.
8)Mr. Terrific - definitely want him in the corner.
10)Fire - maybe
11)Power Girl - definitely, and it's Power WOMAN now, buster!
12)Blue Beetle - maybe
14)Nightwing - think we can give him a miss
15)Black Canary - maybe we can slip her in since she didn't get a moment in the sun.
Since this is the cavalry and since the Ra's team is all heavy hitters, I think we can allow more for this team. But we must have: Power Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Elongated Man, Mr. Terrific and Batman. Why? The obvious pairings...
Wonder Woman/Power Woman- female bricks
Jade/Green Lantern- cancel out
Jesse Quick/Flash - cancel out
Steel/ Mr. Terrific - genius inventors
Ra's/Batman - tacticians planning from the ground
Now this leaves... what reformed villains can we have guarding the satellite? And how can we get them all airborne? Well, I have two ideas for this.
1) Have Dr. Polaris create a personalized gravity field that will allow some limited controlled flight...
2) (my personal favorite) Have Trickster, with the aid of some speedster villains, create pairs of Airwalker Shoes for everyone in the group. Top this off with Trickster thinking "Nice to know I'll get some credit for saving the world for once..."
We could potentially have all this and more assuming we have a ground battle along with the air attacks on the cure satellite.
DRB: Thank you, thank you, thank you. You guys don't know how grateful I am for all your help on this. I am so glad that the DC TV challenge won't need a prose introduction and conclusion. Vile Vial is fun, but I think we all need a break from huge mega crossovers.
Nicolas: By the way, has Michael approved this?
DRB: Ulp! I don't know. We've CC'd him on our discussions, so I guess he knows this is coming
Nicolas: On a different and purely whimsical note, want to challenge the Fanzing Forum posters to match the scenes to the authors after this goes public? ;)
DRB: That would be cool! What I'm think about doing for the next issue is making a "Vile Vial Secret Files" section. The first entry would be Nicolas's "Lost Pages" and for a second entry, I'm thinking of using all of our e-mail plot ideas and brainstorming as a "Behind The Scenes: A Look at how the Vile Vial Conclusion Came About" type feature. I've saved all of our e-mail discussions, and it wouldn't be hard for me to put them in some semblance of order. Of course, if you guys don't want me to do > that, then that's fine too. I realize that our e-mail conversations are private.
Nicolas: I want to re-writing "Lost Pages," if that's okay. In re-reading a bunch of the Vile Vial stories, I noticed two minor errors in "Lost Pages", plus there are a few lines that look really awkward to me now. One night, one draft has a downside.
DJ: You two are putting me to shame! All I've had time to do is consider the set up and outline for my section.
Matt: I have a quick scene here I just wrote, based on Nic's suggestion. Call it Scene 5.5 - The Villains decide to help protect the antidote.
DJ: I'm reading a fascinating article about viral infections and the brain, which partly demonstrates how personalities can change due to infection. The author points out that viral infections usually produce lesions and scar tissue in the brain resulting in permanent damage. I was thinking about incorporating that into my section, but....it might change the tone and rationale behind Matt's section.
If we put my bit into the story, then we introduce the idea that no treatment/cure could kill the infected - innocents, heroes & reformed villains. It would certainly cause permanent brain damage. A pretty hefty incentive to release a cure. I think it could be a useful addition, but Matt or someone would have to tweak the 5.5 section a little.
Nicolas: The trouble with that is that it mutes the moral dilemma inherent in releasing a cure. You know, that the villains are sacrificing their own shot at a better life for the greater good. I'm not vetoing the idea, I'm just saying that we should consider that. Perhaps that could be the major risk in the flawed antidote, though: the risk of brain damage
Matt: I think D.J. has a valid point. I also like the scar tissue explanation. In fact, I almost included a vague "we do this or we die" justification in my story. I wound up deciding against it for two reasons.
The first is that I wasn't sure that anyone before me was going to say that prolonged exposure to the virus WAS going to cause some kind of permanent damage, and that it would just come out of left field if I said "Ah, well if we don't do this... we die." The second... well, it's a storytelling theme. But let me ask you this. What is particularly heroic about doing the right thing when the right thing involves saving your own ass in the end? If we introduce the permanent damage idea, here is what the villains position is.
Do Something: Save the world, save our lives but become bad again.
Do Nothing: World is screwed and so are we.
There's nothing really that noteworthy in someone saying "Gee, either we do this and save the world and live, or we do nothing and die from brain hemorrhages, assuming the evil civilians and superheroes don't kill us all anyway."
There's no sacrifice. No conflict. But having to choose between saving the world at the risk of your soul or trying to fight a battle you might eventually win after a lot of fighting and loss of life... that is interesting. To me, anyway. And I think introducing the "and you die" element just totally negates the point. I dunno...
DJ, if you do want to include that in your story.... here's an idea - Maybe the higher-ups among the villains are told, but Riddler doesn't say anything for fear that nobody will want to keep fighting?
DRB: I think DJ has made some good points in favor of it, and Matt has made some good points as to why it shouldn't be used. A question though: Are we getting too complicated here? Are we thinking too hard? I think we've already put quite a lot of thinking into Ra's motivations, the villains' motivations for wanting to protect the antidote, the heroes motivations for stopping the antidote, etc.
Maybe we should just see where the chips fall after everybody's sections are complete? We can tinker around with small things more effectively once we have completed the big picture.
I just though of something else: If we use the premise that the original antidote's flaw is that it causes brain damage, we'd leave poor Elongated Man as > a basket case. After all, he's our test subject.
Nicolas: Maybe Ralph's very brain, being stretchy, can be twisted all about without getting scarred.
DRB: LOL! Seriously, I think that if you absolutely want to use the brain damage idea, maybe you could have Dr. Martin (or one of the other scientists) simply mention that some virii are known to cause brain damage in the long term. We could use this the a reasoning why an antidote is absolutely necessary. You can't just wait for the virus to "wear off." Its effects, which the scientists can only guess at without further study, may lay dormant for years - much like hepatitis or (untreated) syphilis.
DJ: I'm glad I asked about this. Matt, I think you brought up good points. I've thought about the brain damage idea more and think that it could still factor in quite nicely with the story. It could allow a way out for some villains and/or heroes to retain their new personalities.
One or two of the characters could have severe cerebral damage that the antidote doesn't cure/address. For example, Blythe Bonner could remain reformed, but now dealing with the knowledge that something is permanently wrong with her brain. Nice drama there for future stories. Otherwise, I retract the suggestion. I'll mention brain damage as an issue with virus infection but we needn't give it as much weight..
Nicolas: Future stories that will unfortunately probably never be told. I think Eve of Destruction will mark the final appearance of (this aspect of) Earth-Fanzing. Of course, I could be wrong. "Tales From The World Of The Vile Vial" could become an ongoing interactive Fanzing sub-universe. That'd be cool. Most of the stories in this challenge were so damn good they deserve to be in real DC continuity. It's a pity that they aren't. A real shame.
DJ: I agree, but since some of the characters in the Vile Virus cycle are likely never to reappear in the DCU we could continue their alterations into future stories. I realize that taking this opening too far could be confusing for casual readers but I'd love to see David Black continue the story of Werner Vertigo in other fan-fiction.
Oh yes, and I want to thank everyone for the input and patience considering my suggestion.
Nicolas: Thank us for out patience? No need. I can only speak for myself, but all of the ideas I've heard bantered about here have been quite interesting. I definitely don't begrudge anyone their suggestions.
David R. Black is Fanzing.com's magazine editor and chief archivist. A big fan of "The Warlord," he has a cat named Shakira and is looking for a girlfriend named Tara....
is an aspiring writer with a wife, child and dog. He is a closet libertine and thinks he can sing like Marvin Gaye...on his good days. Wishes he could write like Nelson Algren. He is also a contributor to our first comic book, "Fanzing Presents: Job Wanted", which can be purchased at Too Many Longboxes.com!
Fiction editor Nicolas Juzda
is currently studying law in Saskatchewan. He fills the void that was left in
his soul by contributing to Fanzing. He has twice been among the winners in
the Bulwer Lytton Fiction Contest for bad writing.
Matt "Stars" Morrison is a college student in Arlington, TX. He is a staff writer for Fanzing and dreams of one day actually being paid to tell people his opinions.
All characters are DC Comics
This piece is © 2001 by Black, Juzda, LoTempio, and Morrison.
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All DC Comics characters, trademarks and images (where used) are DC Comics, Inc.
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