Friday, October 19, 2012

Why They Don't Let Me Write For Marvel Comics: My Pitch For Smoke Screen - The Series.

So, I have this comicbook universe I've been toying with. It's original as far as it goes, but in many ways its inspired by and similar to the big two DC and Marvel notions of what a world with superheroes would be like, with many characters serving as fairly obvious pastiches of established ones. For instance, the cosmically powered villain Universalon is a pretty straight forward parody of Galactus, who rather than consuming the energy from habitable worlds to sustain his life, fucks them to death to satiate his endless, godlike sex drive. Basically the same thing. My point is, the weird pseudo-autistic obsession that has led me to spend hours and hours building an entirely fake canon of comics lore did not come about in a vacuum

I started reading comicbooks basically through inheritance, picking up my dad's collection that he'd been slowly amassing since he was a kid. I credit his focus on early Marvel with establishing the brand loyalty I now have for the company, avoiding DC mostly because my initial introduction to them was the Silver Age nonsense of multicolor kryptonite and the sort of wacky bat adventures that would eventually inspire the campy sixties Adam West series. To me, Marvel was always the more serious, harder edged material, existing somewhere that seemed much closer to the real world I could relate to. And out of all the Marvel superheroes, the one I invested the most into personally was always Spiderman.

It's probably a cliche, a nerdy introverted kid having a preference for the prototypical nerdy introverted superhero, but fuck you, it's my childhood. And it's not just my childhood either. A lot of kids like me grew up identifying with the character for a lot of the same reasons I did, apparently including the actor currently playing him in the most recent reboot. And it seems like every like minded Spiderman fan close to my age that I run into always seems to remember one specific (non-canon) issue, designed to exploit our collective desire to emulate our hero, which is the topic of today's entry, a PSA comic called: Spiderman, Storm, and Power Man Battle Smokescreen.

I have to think we got this in school at some point, but my memories from that far back are muddled, ironically enough to save space so I can remember all the shit from the comics I read. It's basically an anti-smoking comic, even though the main villain Smoke Screen turns out to be more interested in gambling than smoking, and the simple story follows Spiderman teaming up with two heroes I didn't care about then and still don't care about to take on this new bad guy and his devious power to emit second hand smoke, which I guess can kind of stink up the place, and eventually cause adverse health effects after years of exposure, and also can pretty much be done by anyone just by, you know, smoking. So watch out I guess? I'm not going to do any sort of in-depth review of the comic itself, which would only be snarky and self indulgent. Instead, I thought I would do something even more snarky and self-indulgent and pitch my own idea for how to bring this weirdly classic story into Marvel canon, and start a new series in the process.

It would just be called Smoke Screen, and it would start in Hollywood, where it's revealed that the PSA story we know exists in the Marvel universe as a work of fiction, specifically as a classically bad After School Special starring actors portraying Spiderman, Storm, and Luke Cage spouting corny lines like a GI Joe postscript, which has since garnered a cult following among irony obsessed hipsters a la The Star Wars Christmas Special. We open in a laboratory of a man building a mysterious device that he claims will open a portal into another dimension, completely ignoring the rerun of the Smokescreen movie on TV. His experiment seems to fail, but he does not notice the signal from the TV causing the portal to react strangely.

Cut to a few years later, and we focus on the cast of the Smokescreen special, now having moved on in their careers, though with little success. The actors who played Storm and Luke Cage met on the production and eventually married, and now do mostly commercial work, while the actor who played Spiderman now makes his living as a professional Spiderman impersonator. The actor who played Smoke Screen has passed on, dying from lung cancer due to an actual lifetime of smoking, but we see that he has left behind a twenty something adult daughter who is trying to make her way in the movie business, now working as a PA on film sets.

Gradually, we begin to feel the effects of an alien presence as four strange spectral entities stalk the streets, invisible to the human eye, looking for specific people, while a dark hooded figure sees them off. They find the Spiderman impersonator first, and one of the creatures enters his body, causing him to double over in pain in his dressing room. Two more of the creatures enter the bodies of the married Storm and Cage while they sleep, and the last goes to a grave site, leaving in frustration. The next morning. Cage wakes up and goes to the bathroom to find his skin is melting off as he shaves, revealing a hard dark shell underneath. Frightened, he runs out to find his wife encased in a block of ice. He pounds on the ice, causing more skin to slush off of his arms, and suddenly the body in the ice burns hot and it begins to melt. Before he can react, a blast of flame pushes him back, burning off the rest of his skin to reveal a rocky creature, as his wife stands before him, scared and bursting with uncontrollable elemental energy from within her body. We end with Spiderman in the dressing room, climbing out the window, a six armed, half human, half arachnid monster crawling up the outside wall.

Cut to the original Smokescreen's daughter on a film set. She goes to the bathroom and is instantly attacked by the creature. She feels sick, and begins to cough up large amounts of thick smoke, ultimately setting off the smoke detectors. The film crew flees as the sprinklers go off, and as she tries to calm them down, the dark hooded man grabs her and she is instantly ported to another dimension. She awakes to find herself standing on a pedestal, the three other mutants standing next to her, as a group of hooded figures bow reverently to them. Their leader reveals that this world received the broadcast of their movie, and Galaxy Quest style believes it to be a historical account. Seeing that their heroes had evidently lost their powers, they did their best to approximate them using their own genetic science, and brought the closest DNA match to the dead Smokescreen as well in the hopes that they would all set aside their differences and help the aliens fight an invasion of extra dimensional monsters plaguing their world. With no other way to get home or find a cure, the group agrees to fight for them.

The first story would follow the team's battle with the alien menace, which is revealed to be a parasitic race that takes over your mind, and that manages to transform everyone but Smokescreen into bad guys. Eventually she is able to figure out a way to use the bad guys' dimension vortex to get home, but she can't help but bring along the aliens and her former team mates turned monsters, who would become recurring villains in what would turn into her solo series. As she learns to use her powers, she would develop the ability to turn into living smoke, and addict people to her presence by making them inhale her in gaseous form.

That's all I got, but I think in the current market of superhero movies, it's enough for a three picture deal. If they're gonna give Guardians of the Galaxy a shot, then fuck, why not this?

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