Monday, January 07, 2008

Tinfoil Hat Theatre Presents #2: Beelzebub, Jr. #1

Another trip to the misspent decade of the 90s--in 1999, I started on a new project with an artist who later went on to some fame and fortune while I continued to live in squalor and regret. Close readers of my spindly zine VOLUNTEERS will see some ideas that I later pillaged, as well as a few things that occurred to better writers than me in later years.

SPLASH PAGE: A scene from Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, done in low-rent high school production style. Feature SCOTT COLSON front and center.

NARRATOR: That’s me and Bill Shakespeare, chillin. It’s the last happy moment I remember.

SCOTT: And as I am an honest Puck, if we have unearned luck now to ‘scape the serpent’s tongue, we will make amends ere long; else the Puck a liar call. So, good night unto you all. Give me your hands, if we be friends, and Robin shall restore amends.

CUT TO MRS. LI, standing up in the front row of an empty auditorium, clapping.

MRS. LI: Good dress, folks. The show’s day after tomorrow. Now get home and do some homework! Scott, I need to talk to you.

SCOTT comes down from the stage as the other students mill about.

SCOTT: Whazzup, Mrs. Li?

MRS. LI: Principal Rand stopped down here a few minutes ago. He says you haven’t been going to class.

SCOTT: I’m here for the play, aren’t I?

MRS. LI: That’s not the point. You can’t pick and choose.

SCOTT: I’m just tired of jumping through hoops, that’s all.

MRS. LI: It’s not “jumping through hoops”, it’s called an education. Maybe we need to bring your parents in on this.

SCOTT: Lotsa luck.

MRS. LI: I’m sorry, Scott, but you’re not giving me much room to maneuver here. I’m afraid Ben Fuentes is going to have to come in and take your role.

SCOTT: What? Fuentes is worse than a freakin’ sock puppet!

MRS. LI: Scott! You need to think of your priorities. You’re so full of potential—

SCOTT: Don’t bother with giving me the props, Mrs. Li. I already got the message.

SCOTT chucks down his Puck costume and storms out.

FEATURE SCOTT, MOONSHOT, and C.P. sitting on a graffitti’d drainage pipe down by the river. They are in a blasted landscape of empty factories, an industrial wasteland. C.P. is a long-haired teen with a heavy metal T-shirt and a beat-up skateboard, MOONSHOT is a wiry African-American teen with flashy hip-hop clothes.

C.P. That was whack, man.

SCOTT: Ain’t no thing. I’m not goin back to that school anyway.

MOONSHOT: Hey, man, why don’t you come kick it with me for a while? I’ve got a crib over on the southside, it used to be an old factory or somethin, there’s plenty of room.

SCOTT: I don’t know what’s up yet, let me just sit here and chill for a while.

NARRATOR: I don’t know how long I would have sat there. Maybe forever. I had no home to go to, not really. And the one thing I cared about was yanked out from under me. But the world creeped in anyway.

FEATURE A POLICE CAR on the horizon.

MOONSHOT: Check it, 5-0.

THE COP pokes his head out of the window, looking around nervously.

COP: What are you kids doing down here, didn’t you hear they’re clearing the area?

SCOTT: What?

COP: It’s The Command. They’re engaging some supervillians downtown, and heading this way!

C.P.: That rules!

COP: Get in the squad car, kids, and I’ll get you out of here!

MOONSHOT: Yeah, right. We out.

COP: You goddamn punks! I said, get in the goddamn car!

The trio look at each other and shrug.

MOONSHOT: It’s all good!

THE KIDS pile in the back and the squad car peels out.

COP: Jesus, kids today!

SCOTT AND C.P. hang on the mesh between the front and back seats, MOONSHOT leans back, feigning disinterest. THE RADIO CRACKLES TO LIFE.

RADIO DISPATCHER: All units, all units. Be advised The Command has broken into two groups. Several costumed vigilantes have apparently gone rogue. Approach any costumed individual with extreme caution.

THE COP picks up the microphone.

COP: This is Charlton in Unit 23, heading uptown with three youths. What’s the location of The Command?

Suddenly the squad car rocks as a streak of red and yellow flashes by.

C.P.: I think that was The Red Rip! That rules!

THE COP stares out of the windshield.


Square in the center of the road, the sun at his back, is THE AMERICAN CONSCIENCE. He is six-and-a-half feet of star-spangled muscle, with a lantern jaw and a shock of blond hair. THE COP SLAMS ON THE BRAKES, and the squad car skids out. The car plows into AMERICAN CONSCIENCE, crumpling the front end, but the hero doesn’t flinch. He seems to be scanning the distance.

THE COP’S HEAD has smashed the windshield, leaving a bloody smear. The back door has crumpled open, and the three teens ease their way out, wide-eyed. AMERICAN CONSCIENCE turns his attention to the trio. His eyes glow with an unnatural fire.

AMERICAN CONSCIENCE: Get out of here, kids.

MOONSHOT: We’re ghosts, sir!

THE THREE take off, but SCOTT and C.P. draw up alongside an abandoned building.

NARRATOR: I should have gone home and watched it on the news. But I’d never been this close to a real superhero. And American Conscience was one of the greatest—I thought.

SCOTT: I gotta see what’s goin on!

MOONSHOT: It’s your funeral, dogs! I’m out!

MOONSHOT zips off. SCOTT carefully peers around the corner.

SPLASH PAGE: The street has filled with flying, standing, crouching, heroes, including one riding a motorcycle, a dozen together. AMERICAN CONSCIENCE stands against them all.

NARRATOR: I got more than I bargained for. It was The Command, America’s team since back in the day. And the teen team, the Kid Command, right alongside.

DOC OCCULAR, a hero with two long cybernetic stalks jutting out from the eyeholes of his mask, steps forward.

DOC OCC: You know this has to end now. You can’t stand against all of us. Dr. Devil Dog told us the truth.

AMERICAN CONSCIENCE: Truth? You think you know the truth?

Suddenly a blur flashes to the side of the hero. AMERICAN CONSCIENCE plucks THE RED RIP out of the air in a flash, and holding him aloft, snaps his neck.


The masked heroine falls down retching as AMERICAN CONSCIENCE casually tosses THE RED RIP aside.

AMERICAN CONSCIENCE: Christ, that was your big plan? Have Larry run at me at super speed while you distract me? Kinda old school, dontcha think?

NIGHT WOLF, a leather-jacketed vigilante with a steel mask, revs up his cycle.

NIGHT WOLF: He killed Double-R! Let’s rock!

NIGHT WOLF roars after AMERICAN CONSCIENCE, who rather casually swats rider and cycle aside. He then grabs DOC OCCULAR by his cybernetic eye stalks, spins him over his head, and smashes him against a wall.

THE GOLDEN BEACON, an older hero in a yellow-finned helmet, flies overhead. He unleashes a blast of energy from his eyes that splashes harmlessly off of AMERICAN CONSCIENCE’S chest.

AMERICAN CONSCIENCE: I can’t believe I used to look up to you, back in the day.


MASTERSTROKE: You will end this assault, villian! So says—Masterstroke!

MASTERSTROKE, a female ninja, runs at AMERICAN CONSCIENCE, samurai blade shining. It breaks off on his back. AMERICAN CONSCIENCE snaps his elbow back and smashes it into her face.

AMERICAN CONSCIENCE: I can’t believe this is so easy! I shoulda done this years ago!

AMERICAN CONSCIENCE scorches SNOW SENTINEL with eye-beams as she tries to use a cold-gun against him.

DR. DEVIL DOG, an older, goateed figure in flowing black robes, lifts his arms in supplication, his amulet swinging and flashing.

DR. DEVIL DOG: I call upon thee—


AMERICAN CONSCIENCE picks up the old sorcerer and flings him toward the alley where SCOTT and C.J. are hiding. DR. DEVIL DOG hits the wall with a sickening thud.

C.J.: Aw man! This rules!

SCOTT: Chill, this guy is really hurt. Something isn’t right about this.

C.J.: I think he’s dead, man. That’s cool, though. I ain’t never seen a dead body before.

SCOTT creeps up.

C.J.: Stay away from that dude, man, that amulet is glowin’. I think he’s a villian, man.

SCOTT: Reformed villain…I think it’s Dr. Devil Dog.

NARRATOR: In retrospect, my whole whack life seemed to be leading to this moment in time.

Suddenly DR. DEVIL DOG’s hand shoots out from his cloak and grasps SCOTT’s arm weakly.

CUT TO AMERICAN CONSCIENCE ripping the metal wings from IRON OWL as EAGLE EYE tries to fell him with a variety of arrows.


DR. DEVIL DOG: You…you know of my reputation, young man?

SCOTT: Yeah, a little. I know you’re kind of a mentor to the Kid Command these days.

DR. DEVIL DOG: A lot of good that did….they’re all….all going to be dead….

DR. DEVIL DOG takes the amulet off of his neck and holds it out from shaking fingers.

DR. DEVIL DOG: Take it, young man…take it, and give it to somebody who has the guts to do… what I don’t….

FEATURE SCOTT holding the amulet, wide-eyed.

C.J.: Aw, man. He really is dead, man. And it’s awful quiet out there.

SCOTT AND C.J. peek around the corner in time to see AMERICAN CONSCIENCE squeezing the life out of THE BLUE MASK, an older costumed hero.

THE BLUE MASK: Little…punk….gonna…kick…your…


CLOSE UP of AMERICAN CONSCIENCE looking out of the corner of his eye.

FEATURE SCOTT’S AND C.J.’S hair getting blown back as something streaks by.

C.J.: Let’s ghost, man.


AMERICAN CONSCIENCE: Hey, American Conscience! You just killed The Command and the Kid Command! What are you gonna do now?

C.J.: Ulp—

AMERICAN CONSCIENCE: I told you kids to blow. You think you were hiding from me? Your heartbeats are pounding in my ears.

AMERICAN CONSCIENCE’S eyes light with an unholy fire.

NARRATOR: The power came off him in waves. I knew that was the end of the line.

CUT TO A NEWSVAN screeching to a halt, then another right behind it, at the mouth of the alley.


He turns his back on the two kids and strides out to meet the news crews.

REPORTERS: American Conscience, what has happened—how many dead—how did this—

SCOTT: Jesus, let’s get outta here—

THE TWO KIDS lope down the alley and away.

FEATURE A SERIES OF SQUARE PANELS FILLED WITH TELEVISION SCREENS. AMERICAN CONSCIENCE is talking on each one, with a variety of people watching in a variety of settings. His speech is broken up over several panels.

AMERICAN CONSCIENCE: I am sad to report this tragic news to the American people. It is indeed a terrible day. Just a short time ago a situation arose where myself and the rest of The Command were forced to fight the Kid Command to the death. We believed that Dr. Devil Dog, the reformed villain who had been mentoring the Kid Command, had embraced the side of good. How wrong we were. He warped the minds of these young heroes to evil.

FEATURE an aging, overweight hippie, TONY RICHMOND, who is watching a small TV in his record store with a multiple-pierced employee.

RICHMOND: Wow, man. I guess that’s it.

PIERCED GIRL: What’s up?

RICHMOND: Hey, listen, can you run the shop for me for a few weeks? I got some places to be.

PIERCED GIRL: What are you going to do, follow The Dead?

RICHMOND: Yeah…yeah, I guess you could say that.

TONY RICHMOND shuffles through a beaded curtain in the back. Looking around carefully, he lifts a panel in the floor and descends down stony steps. At the bottom, RICHMOND opens a rusty chest, and begins wrapping himself with tattered rags, like a mummy.

RICHMOND: Damn, that’s snug. It’s been a while.

Soon RICHMOND is fully garbed as a mummy, with a pair of goggles over his eyes. He steps out of the back door and takes off flying.


CUT BACK TO others watching television.

AMERICAN CONSCIENCE: Team leader Doc Occular tried to turn our younger team back to the law with words. But when Dr. Devil Dog ruthlessly slew the venerable heroes Golden Beacon and Red Rip, then all bets were off. Sadly, I stand here as the sole survivor. God rest their noble souls.

FEATURE BILLY JACK PIERCE, a hugely muscled older man with a burr haircut in bed with a sexy younger woman. He is watching the end of AMERICAN CONSCIENCE’s speech. He clicks off the T.V. with the remote in a huge heavy hand.

PIERCE: I can’t believe it. I can’t freakin believe it.

WOMAN: Billy, let’s order room service and forget about all that.

PIERCE: Hey, baby…didn’t you say you were studying journalism?

WOMAN: That’s right, Billy.

PIERCE: You said college, not high school, right?

WOMAN: Of course, big silly!

PIERCE: Well, get some paper and a pencil. I’ve got a helluva story for ya…

FEATURE C.J.’S MOM, a haggard and shopworn older woman, drinking beer and watching T.V.

AMERICAN CONSCIENCE: That is all I have for now—but rest assured I will look in the coming days and weeks to build a New Command.

SCOTT, C.J., and MOONSHOT creep past her and up to C.J.’s room with the amulet.

NARRATOR: We had to kick back, chill, and figure out what to do. But it wasn’t like I had the Presidential Cabinet to help or anything.

FEATURE THE THREE KIDS looking at the amulet in C.J.’s messy upstairs room.

C.J.: I say give it to John Elway. He knows what’s up.

MOONSHOT: Nah, man, Ice-T. That brother is righteous.

SCOTT: Sure, and let me page Bruce Willis while I’m at it. You two are so whack. Where would I ever find these dudes, at the 7-11?

C.J.: Well, we got to think of something. That American dude will be out lookin for us.

MOONSHOT: He’s lookin for you two fools, ain’t no thang to me.

SCOTT: He won’t be able to find us that easily. It’s a big city.

CUT TO AMERICAN CONSCIENCE perched on top of a tall building like a gargoyle, his stars-and stripes cape snapping in the wind. World balloons are bubbling all around him.

VOICES: with meatloaf with green beans—asked me to the—a gallon of milk—the deal around six—a big city.

FEATURE AMERICAN CONSCIENCE UP CLOSE, a cruel smile playing on his lips.

FEATURE AMERICAN CONSCIENCE’S POV as we see the city wide, then a residential neighborhood closer, then a street of two-story row houses closer, then a single weed-strewn yard and peeling home, then a cheap plywood door.



MOM: Hold up a sec.


AMERICAN CONSCIENCE (SMILING): Good afternoon, ma’am. Are the boys here?

MOM: Hey—you’re the sooperhero from the tee-vee! Come on in! (TURNS AND BAWLS) C.J.! GET YER BUTT DOWN HERE!



C.J.: This is whack, dude, he found us. Now what?

SCOTT holds the amulet out thoughtfully.

NARRATOR: Then things started REALLY getting whack.

DR. DEVIL DOG APPEARS over his shoulder.

DR. DEVIL DOG: You better think twice about that.

SCOTT is startled.

SCOTT: Wha—I thought you were dead!

DR. DEVIL DOG: Who, me? Well, I am. But my spirit is apparently linked with the amulet. That’s one of the many things I didn’t find out until it was too late.

SCOTT: But—but I’m afraid if I don’t try to use its power, my friends will all be dead!

DR. DEVIL DOG: That’s true enough.

DR. DEVIL DOG GESTURES, and suddenly the pair are standing in the living room, where C.J., his MOM, MOONSHOT, and SCOTT all are dead from gunshot wounds. SCOTT looks shocked.

DR. DEVIL DOG: Right this moment, American Conscience is using his X-ray vision to find a pistol C.J.’s mother keeps in a drawer by the bed. He’ll shoot you all, ransack the place, and slip away at super-speed. In this neighborhood, the cops will chalk it up to the terminal problems of the inner city. Sorry.

SCOTT: Dr. Devil Dog—how do I use the amulet?

DR. DEVIL DOG: If you use it at all…you must use it to its fullest!

SUDDENLY THE PAIR are standing in the ruins of a city in the desert. A young DR. DAWES DEVILLE is excavating a site nearby.

DR. DEVIL DOG: I found the amulet at this site in Egypt in ’68.

SCOTT: Hey, I thought you were some sort of medical doctor!

DR. DEVIL DOG: An archaeologist. Somehow, “Devil Dog, PhD” didn’t have quite the same ring to it. But I must hurry, the moment is almost upon us. I realized the power in the amulet, and refused to turn it over to the university.

FEATURE DR. DEVIL DOG AND SCOTT watching a younger version of himself getting beat up on by DR. A-BOMB.

DR. DEVIL DOG: I was fired, of course, and decided I must earn a living somehow. I began to cautiously use the amulet to conduct a number of modest crimes. I fought all the good ones, in my day.

FEATURE DR. DEVIL DOG getting worked over by DR. APOCALYPSE.

SCOTT: Yeah, it looks like you were a regular “Punching Bag to the Stars”.

DR. DEVIL DOG: Painfully true. I skirted around the power of the amulet. I sensed it, but feared it. My God, I could have ruled the world. But I was content, for the most part.


DR DEVIL DOG: But losing to the Kid Command was the unkindest cut of all. So I decided that if you can’t beat them, join them. I was a foolish old man. And now they must be avenged. But you must have the strength to do it right. Do you, boy?

SCOTT: Just tell me how.

DR. DEVIL DOG: Embrace it, boy!

SUDDENLY SCOTT is back with C.J. and MOONSHOT.

MOONSHOT: Whazzup, Scott? You looked like you were trippin out there for a second! We don’t got time for that!

SCOTT: I’m on it.

SCOTT puts on the the amulet.

NARRATOR: Nothing.

SUDDENLY SCOTT begins writhing in pain.

NARRATOR: Then everything.

SCOTT’S shoes split, and a pair of cloven hooves burst out. He begins to bulk up and shred his shirt and pants. MOONSHOT is looking on in panic, C.J. is waving the eternal “heavy metal” insignia with both hands.

C.J.: This rules!


AMERICAN CONSCIENCE: Don’t make me come up there, boys!

CUT BACK TO SCOTT as two long horns burst from his forehead. He lets out a HOWL.


MOM: I’ve tried to keep him away from the mary-juwana, sir.

CUT BACK TO SCOTT’S teeth growing out. CUT TO a wide shot of SCOTT, now seven feet tall, filling the room. MOONSHOT is in complete shock.


SCOTT looks at his hands, now capped with long steely claws.

SCOTT: Wh-what happened to me?

THE BEDROOM DOOR BANGS OPEN, AND AMERICAN CONSCIENCE shoulders his massive bulk through.


FEATURE LARGE PANEL WITH SCOTT in all his demonic glory.

SCOTT: So—you want a piece a this? What you got?

NARRATOR: They were brave words—though I was scared numb. But I knew I was all that stood between my friends—and death!

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