Welcome to Brainstorm's Corner, a monthly springboard showcase. A springboard, basically a one-page prose summary of a comic book story, is the format used for submitting stories to companies such as DC Comics. In one page, a writer must describe the plot while also trying to make it as intriguing as possible. It's quite a challenge!
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In the Golden Age, characters were typically district attorneys or wealthy playboys in their secret identities. Sure, there were other occupations, but those two dominated. During the Silver Age, when the world was caught up in space race fever and the drive for new technology, a different secret identity of choice came to the forefront - the pilot. Hal Jordan was a test pilot, Larry Trainor (Negative Man of the Doom Patrol) was too, and so was Ace Morgan (of the Challengers of the Unknown). Heck, even Steve Trevor of Wonder Woman fame was a pilot at one point. Even historical pilots, such as Enemy Ace and Johnny Cloud made their debuts in the Silver Age.
Wouldn't it be cool if all these aviators could come together and share one adventure? But how?
Well, without getting into goofy ret-cons and time paradoxes, my proposal is an Elseworlds. Set during the Cold War, which allows me to use the WWII pilots and the modern age pilots, the story takes place on a world with no superheroes. Much like our world, the only heroes/heroines on this Earth are ordinary men and women who perform extraordinary deeds. It's a world where ball players, cops, astronauts, and war heroes are role models, not beings with powers and abilities far beyond our own.
In many ways, this world could be our Earth, but it's not. This parallel Earth is divided into three domains;
1) The East, which includes the USSR and its communist allies.
2) The West, which includes the USA and its allies.
3) The Sea, which includes underwater kingdoms such as Atlantis.
These three domains are constantly bickering and are one mishap away from all out war. Their differences, be they political or substance based (i.e. land vs. sea), are seemingly insurmountable. The fragile peace between the three domains is put to the test when an unknown foe attacks all three at once. Who - or what - is this new player? Well, it turns out that there are actually four domains.
The fourth domain, the Aerial Domain, has remained hidden from the other three for centuries ..Or have they? While a crack team of aviators goes to put a stop to the Aerial Domain's attacks, a private investigator uncovers evidence of an ages old conspiracy - evidence that the Aerial Domain's operatives have long been involved in the affairs of the other three domains.
"Read it, Waller, read it!" shouted Johnny Peril, hysterically waving a report.
"Peril, I've had enough of your bullsh--"
Two security guards burst into Amanda Waller's office, weapons drawn.
"Get this lunatic out of my sight!" ordered Waller.
"You can't deny it anymore!" yelled Peril as the two guards grabbed him. "I've got proof! It's been under our noses this whole time!"
Peril continued his tirade, dropping his report onto the office floor as the guards dragged him into the hallway. "There's a fourth domain! It wasn't the Russians! I've told the press! Another government cover up ."
Waller slammed the door shut and rubbed her temples. Silence had never felt so heavenly. Crazy fool, that damn Peril - always into something extraordinary.
She picked up the report Peril had dropped and quickly glanced over it.
"Damn! How did he get this?"
She walked over to the phone atop her desk and spoke sharply into the receiver. "Get me General Eiling. We've got some major damage control to do!"
One Day Later
"Good evening. I'm Jack Ryder and this is a GBS special news report ..Still reeling from the release of the so-called 'Peril Papers,' the US Air Force has confirmed that a joint Eastern Domain-Western Domain task force engaged the forces of a fourth domain early yesterday. The questions on everybody's minds this evening are many. How long did the government keep the existence of this purported "Aerial Domain" a secret? And why is the Aerial Domain attacking us? .."
Johnny Peril clicked the television off and turned to face his companions.
"We did it!" he smiled.
"No, not yet." answered Steven Savage, an elderly man whose face showed the ravages of time and combat. "The battle's just beginning."
"You don't think our guys will win?" asked Johnny.
Savage shrugged his shoulders.
"I sense danger ahead. Uncertainty." replied Heather Storm, Johnny's girlfriend.
"Hmmmm look over the report again, Heath" requested Johnny. "Maybe you can get a vision of things to come by re-reading it."
"I'm not that kind of psychic, dear" said Heather. "But I suppose it couldn't hurt. OK, here goes ."
The Existence of an Aerial Domain
by Jonathan Peril and Steven Henry Savage
There is a domain beyond ours. A domain of light and no ground. An aerial domain. After searching through classified government documents and combining our findings with historical events and anecdotal data, we present these findings:
"The floodgates of the heavens were opened. And rain fell on the Earth for forty days and forty nights Everything that moved on the Earth perished - birds, livestock, wild animals, the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind .Only Noah was left, and those with him on the ark." -- Genesis 7:11-12,23
Sure, we believed that for awhile. But the day we, meaning the Western Domain, discovered the residents of the Sea-Domain, our decidedly land-centric perspective was altered forever. The Sea humans told us their version of the Great Flood and how they survived by adapting to life underwater. If humans could survive by going under the waves, why not by going above the waves as well? The Aerialists, our name for the residents of the Aerial Domain, did just that.
"They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind" -- Hosea 8:7
Farmers in the Western and Eastern Domains have harvested the bounty of their land and fields for ages. The Sea Domain harvests kelp and other aquatic plant life. Is it so hard to believe that there isn't something comparable to sustain life in the skies?
"The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going." -- John 3:8
So why haven't we seen any Aerialists? Why aren't their activities known to us? They are known to some, but not to the public at large. Eiling, Waller, and their counterparts in the Eastern Domain's military have known about them for ages, but have kept this information to themselves.
Aerialists prefer to keep themselves hidden - observing us without being seen themselves. How do they do it? Classified documents obtained by the authors of this paper reveal that the Aerialists have cloaking technology. Discovered by the government shortly after an Aerialist reconnaissance craft was captured over Roswell, New Mexico, the cloaking technology explains why so many UFO's are said to vanish into thin air.
Furthermore, since WW I, pilots flying at high altitudes have reported seeing "sky demons." Until now, those stories have been denounced as hallucinations caused by oxygen deprivation. Little did we know that our "shell shocked" veterans were really seeing Aerialists in their natural state. We posit that the cloaking technology is not always reliable.
"As they were walking along and talking together, a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha saw this and cried out .and Elisha saw him no more" -- 2 Kings 2:11-12
The Aerialists are much more than passive observers, however. They are interested in us, and history is chock full of mysterious disappearances into the sky. Elijah was just the first of many.
Fact #1: Attempting the first round-the-world flight, the plane carrying Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan, her co-pilot disappears over the Pacific Ocean in July of 1937.
Fact #2: Dispatched to destroy a secret Japanese military base during WWII, the Death Patrol - a group of aviators who were part of the Western Domain's Task Force X - report engaging a "huge UFO." Contact with the Patrol was lost shortly thereafter. No wreckage was ever found, and the Eastern Domain disavowed any knowledge of the incident.
Fact #3: Sputnik 1, a satellite launched into orbit by the Eastern Domain in 1957, ceased functioning after reaching an altitude of 200 km. Subsequent satellites, launched by both Western and Eastern Domains all fail once they reach that altitude.
Fact #4: U-2 pilot Gary Powers is shot down in May of 1960 while flying a high altitude reconnaissance mission over the Eastern Domain. Widely believed to be shot down by a surface-to-air missile, Powers maintains that whatever hit his plane came from above, not below.
Fact #5: On April 12, 1961 the Eastern Domain cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becomes the first man to orbit the Earth. When his capsule lands, Gagarin is not inside it and nowhere to be found.
Fact #6: On May 5, 1961 Lt. Commander Alan Shepard reaches an altitude of 185 km aboard the Freedom 7. The flight lasts only 15 minutes, but upon recovering the Freedom 7, the US Navy can find no trace of Shepard.
Fact #7: On March 28, 1962 - just a few months ago - Eastern domain pilot Lt. Col Valentina Vostok engages Capt. Nathaniel Adam in a dogfight off the coast of Alaska. The two planes vanish, but this time, observers are able to document the disappearance firsthand.
"The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on Earth. It will be different from the other kingdoms and will devour the whole Earth, trampling it down and crushing it." -- Daniel 7:23
What does the Aerial Domain want? They have kidnapped many, perhaps in an effort to simply study us "land dwellers," but because of their recent full fledged attacks on the other domains, we can easily assume that they have more vile intentions. What have we ever done to them? Perhaps, in our quest to explore space, we simply invaded their domain one time too many. Are our space exploration programs the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back, or has this hostility been building ever since Orville and Wilbur Wright's first flight?
Or perhaps pollution emitted from our factories is the cause of this attack. The Sea Domain nearly came to blows with the Eastern Domain over the latter's refusal to abide by water purity laws, and thus, this possibility doesn't seem too far fetched. Recent scientific literature has confirmed the existence of some sort of "ozone hole" over Antarctica.
"You followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient" Ephesians 2:2
We know little about the Aerial Domain thus far. One Western Domain government official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, says that military intelligence believes that the Aerial Domain is structured like a monarchy. The Aerialists' king, assigned the code name "Boreas," is believed to be the mastermind behind the recent attacks.
"He makes winds his messengers, flames of fire his servants." -- Psalms 104:4
Boreas's has at least two major weapons (that we are aware of) at his disposal. First are the Man-Hawks, the Aerial Domain's military pilots whose vessels can materialize out of thin air. Second is a weapon of mass destruction nicknamed the "Tornado Twin." Its wrath having already been felt in places around the globe, the Tornado Twin contains not one but two explosive warheads.
"His way is the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet. He rebukes the sea and dries it up; He makes the rivers run dry .The mountains quake before him and the hills melt away. The Earth trembles at his presence, the world and all who live in it." -- Nahum 1:3-5
Clearly, the Aerial Domain poses a threat. Even the Sea Domain, which is out of harm's way for the time being, will feel their wrath if the Aerialists mange to defeat the Eastern and Western Domains. For the first time in our history, the three Domains - so long at odds with one another - must unite to battle a common foe.
"And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds and from one end of the heavens to the other." -- Matthew 24:31
We must act. As this is being written, a joint military task force of Eastern and Western Domain aviators has been sent to put an end to the threat. Meanwhile, top scientists are working on a way to neutralize the ravaging effects of the Tornado Twin.
"While people are saying 'peace and safety,' destruction will come on them suddenly and they will not escape." -- 1 Thessalonians 5:3
We cannot afford to sit by idly. This is not a time for dilly dallying. The government cover up of the Aerial Domain's existence has compromised our ability to cope with the threat posed by the Aerialists. Pray for our aviators that they might succeed. For without them, we are surely doomed.
"It will be the lowliest of kingdoms and will never again exalt itself above the other nations. I will make it so weak that it will never gain rule over the nations." -- Ezekiel 29:15
There can only be one victor .so the prophecy says. Will it be us or them?
"There will be one king over them and they will never again be divided into two kingdoms." -- Ezekiel 37:22
But some good may come from the strife we presently face. If the three earthly domains can put aside their quarrels and work like a team now, perhaps we can have lasting peace in the future. But first, we must make sure that we have a future. Lord have mercy on us.
Who's in the series? Well, how about ..
Johnny Peril - A private investigator, Johnny has a knack for finding himself involved in cases dealing with the weird or supernatural. Johnny will tell you that all he wants is a "nice, normal case" but don't believe him for a second. He'd rather be knee deep in danger than anywhere else.
Heather Storm - Johnny's psychic girlfriend
Steven Savage - Known as the "Balloon Buster" during the first World War, he is now Peril's main source of information. Are his recollections of the Aerial Domain's involvement during the war real, or are they just the ramblings of a senile old man?
Carter Hall - An environmentalist lobbying for a worldwide ban on CFCs and other air pollutants, Hall's a shady character without much of a past. When the Aerialists are exposed to the world, will Hall be on our side or theirs?
Amanda Waller - civilian director of the Western Domain's task force to neutralize the Aerial Domain threat.
General Wade Eiling - the US Air Force's Chief of Staff
General Johnny Cloud - the WWII "Navajo Ace" returns to the skies as the leader of the Western Domain's attack on the Aerial Domain.
Lt. Col. Travis Morgan - second in command of the Western Domain's attack.
"King" Savage - aviator son of Steven Savage, he's also part of the Western Domain's task force (Savage was a member of the original Secret Six in actual DC continuity)
Larry Trainor, Hal Jordan, and Ace Morgan - members of the task force.
Richard "Buck" Dare - A British advisor to the US Air Force, Dare fought in WW II as "Captain X"
Captain Nathaniel Adam - US pilot who recently disappeared over the Alaskan coast.
General Janos Prohaska - The WWII hero known as Blackhawk returned to his native Poland after the war. He becomes the leader of the Eastern Domain's attack on the Aerial Domain.
Captain Natalie Reed - the Eastern Domain's chief intelligence operative, Reed was an American who defected to the Communists. Romantically involved with Prohaska, she's sarcastically referred to as "Lady Blackhawk."
The Rocket Reds - the name of Prohaska's Task Force. It's members include Col. Stanislaus Drozdowski and Lieutenant Weng Chan, a Chinese aviator whose nickname is "Chop Chop".
Hans Van Hammer - elderly East German advisor, von Hammer's exploits as the WW I "Enemy Ace" made him a national hero.
Lt. Col Valentina Vostok - Soviet pilot who disappeared while readying to engage Captain Adam in battle.
The Aerial Domain:
Boreas - King of the domain, he was personified by the Greeks as the god of the westerly winds.
Northwind - Boreas' chief advisor.
Man-Hawks - the name given to members of the Aerial Domain's military.
Tornado Twin - nickname give to the Aerial Domain's weapon of mass destruction. If this thing touches down, you're screwed.
The Sea Domain:
They play a small role in the series, but three of their ambassadors (Arthur Curry, Karen Starr, and Jim Lockhart [the "Red Torpedo"]) make brief appearances.
Previews of Issues:
Aerial Domain #1 - "The Domain Game"
We meet the major players in the series and learn the background/history involved in making this Elseworlds what it is. As the Aerialists make their initial attack, Johnny Peril goes public with his findings. After negotiating a makeshift alliance, the Eastern and Western Domains send their best pilots to neutralize the threat. But will that be enough?
Aerial Domain #2 - "Smoke on the Water, Fire in the Sky"
As the damage below mounts, the task force engages the Aerial Domain's Man-Hawks in combat. Even the most experienced and combat-ready pilots find themselves outclassed by the Man-Hawks. Many are shot down, a few are captured; Have the Aerialists won so easily? Meanwhile, Johnny Peril continues his quest to discover if the Aerialists have any weaknesses. Steve Savage seems to know something, but Johnny's not convinced that the old man's recollections are accurate.
Aerial Domain #3 - "Riders of the Sky"
Captured and imprisoned in an Aerialist prison, Janos Prohaska, Travis Morgan, and Larry Trainor manage to escape. They're aided by .Alan Shepard and Yuri Gagarin? Weren't those guys presumed dead when they disappeared? Our heroes learn the secrets of the Aerial Domain, and free even more of the Aerialist's prisoners - including some gal named Amelia Earhart. It's an insurrection in the sky as the Earther pilots take the fight to the heart of the Aerial Domain.
Meanwhile, Hans von Hammer verifies that Steve Savage's memories are accurate. The Aerialists do have a weakness - C4H8Cl2S - mustard gas! After loading a plane with mustard gas and compounds hoped to have similar effects (such as chlorofluorocarbons), the aging heroes of WW I take to the sky - perhaps for the last time!
Carter Hall, meanwhile, is revealed as an Aerialist conspirator who wants to destroy the one thing that can harm his people! He's too late to stop Savage and von Hammer from taking off, so Hall and a band of Aerialist soldiers take out their frustration by kidnapping Johnny Peril and Heather Storm!
Will Peril and Storm manage to escape before being placed in an Aerialist prison? Will von Hammer's and Savage's ploy work? Will the captured pilots manage to destroy the Aerial Domain from within? Or will the Aerial Domain swat them like flies?
Find out by reading Aerial Domain, a three issue miniseries shipping in February from DC Comics, who reminds you to keep 'em flying!
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....
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This proposal is © 2001 by David R. Black
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