Friday, January 04, 2008

Tinfoil Hat Theatre Presents: CAPES #1

I'm starting 2008 by going through the ol' Archives and presenting some of my old scripts and stuff from the wayback.
Here is a project I was working on back in 1999--a comic book series called CAPES, a riff on COPS but with a REAL WORLD twist as a group of young heroes on a reality show face off against a criminal mastermind.
I probably wasn't the first to think of some of these ideas and I know I wasn't the last--look at Todd Nauck's WILDGUARD and Brian Michael Bendis' "Retro Girl" in POWERS, for instance. Careful readers will note that I cribbed some of these ideas for my current comic book zine VOLUNTEERS, obviously the "first to market" stuff via Bendis and Nauck had to be set by the wayside, a curse that many creators face.
So, for your dubious reading pleasure...



VISOR: Electronic space-aged visor over stunning good looks, over a giant ego

RETRO GIRL: Has the power to speed up or slow down time, but prefers the 60s pillbox hat look

SPITBALL: The son of two Silver-Age heroes (The Silver Spitfire and The Red Ball), he has taken his father’s amazing rebounding technology to bounce off of crime

THE HARD-WIRED KID: Spockian cyborg

LEMMING LAD: Morose fraidy-cat who writes a lot of bad poetry

CATNAP: Former bad-girl trying to go straight with modest success

SLINGSHOT: Former teen sidekick of 40s hero The Crack Commando, who has recently been unfrozen and is learning way too much about the 90s

I see this first sequence featuring several long, narrow panels. Feature two sets of hands, one holding a photograph. The teen in the picture has a shock of blond hair and white, straight teeth.

VOICE ONE: This kid will have to be the leader. He used to be in that singing group, you know the one all the teeny-boppers went for? My daughter loved that group. Plus, he’s done soaps.

VOICE TWO: What’s his powers, though?

VOICE ONE: Powers? Screw that. Give him that visor we found, call him Visor or something.

VOICE TWO: That artifact came from a wrecked spaceship! It’s untested! It’s—

VOICE ONE: Did someone ask you a question?

Feature a photo of a young adult in a mummy costume.

VOICE ONE: Nah. Looks ratty, looks like he smells, would scare the kids.

Feature a photo of a young woman in vintage clothes, with a “Jackie O” pillbox hat.

VOICE ONE: This speaks to me. It’s trendy, it’s post-grunge, it’s today.

VOICE TWO: Her powers—

VOICE ONE: Powers? She’s the love interest for Visor, ‘nuff said.

Feature a photo of a young African-American with cyborg-enhanced features.

VOICE ONE: He’s hip! He’s urban! I love it! He’s in!

Feature a photo of a powerfully-built Black hero.

VOICE ONE: Don’t show this to me, I just picked a Black kid. I need an angst-ridden kid. Any reformed villians in there? That’s dramatic tension.

VOICE TWO: Just what are you looking for?

VOICE ONE: Ratings, baby.

Feature a splash page, with a majestic hovercraft over a shining skyline. People young and old are smiling and pointing.

CAPTION: The Superstar Seven in “My Three (Alternate Universe) Sons” (Writing and Art credits)

CAPTION: When people see the hovercrafts, their hearts and spirits lift. For these powerful ships are owned by The Volunteers, the world’s premier team of heroes.

Feature the high-tech interior of the ship, where five teen heroes sit.

CAPTION: Unfortunately, this hovercraft was “borrowed” from The Volunteers.


VISOR: H-W, fly by that apartment building on 8th and Charlton, let’s see if we can catch those sunbathers out again. I wanna try out my X-ray vision.


RETRO GIRL: Dream on, Viz.


HARD-WIRED KID: Visor, I believe there is an anomaly below us that deserves investigating.


SPITBALL: It’s all good, H-W, it’s just me. I’ve got my Game Boy hooked into the main viewscreen.


LEMMING LAD: That’s not Game Boy, that’s King Wave! Now we’re all going to die!

Feature a heavily-muscled reptilian man, wearing a giant fishbowl on his head, directing a bevy of claw-clacking and tentacled creatures through the streets.

KING WAVE: Spread out, my minions! This time, the surface world will be ours!

Feature the interior of the ship.

LEMMING LAD: I got dibs on staying behind and flying the hovercraft!


VISOR: This one’s for Sweeps Week, baby! Let’s roll tape!

Feature Visor, Spitball, the Hard-Wired Kid, and Retro Girl bailing out of the ship, outlined against the skyline. A flurry of little flying, robotic cameras follow in their wake.

SPITBALL: I got the bread crumbs!

VISOR: I got the butter! Let’s do this!

Feature King Wave, buggle-eyed.

KING WAVE: Not you meddling kids!

With a mighty CLONG, King Wave separates the Hard-Wired Kid’s head from his body, and it goes skidding off down the sidewalk.


Feature H-W’s head.

HWK: Not—tcchh—so. If somebody would bring me my---tcchh—soldering iron—

Spitball, curled up into the fetal position, ricochets off of King Wave’s helmet with a teeth-jarring KABONG.

SPITBALL: I’ll catch you on the rebound!

Visor’s goggles flare up.

VISOR: Now let’s put the heat on!

Retro Girl stands holding H-WK’s head.

RETRO GIRL: I can’t believe you two! Our friend is hurt, and you’re just trying to plant a new catch-phrase into America’s subconscious!

Spitball gets snatched out of mid-air by a huge claw, and gets dragged down toward a gaping maw.


Visor is tangled up with a tentacled monster and is getting squeezed mercilessly as he tries in vain to fight back.

VISOR: Don’t get all touchy-feely on me! I’ve got butts to kick!

Another tentacled monster grabs Retro Girl around the neck. A little kid standing nearby watches with interest.

KID: Hey, aren’t you guys the ones on TV all the time?

RETRO GIRL (gasping) Yes, now get outta here, kid!

KID: Why? This is all fake like wrestling, right?

A monster whacks the kid with a scaly tail, sending him ricocheting down the street.

Suddenly, twin bolts of fire scorch the monster, and Retro Girl wiggles free.

RETRO GIRL: What the—

Feature The Volunteers, broad-shouldered heroes with their hands on their hips. Their roster: The Star-Spangled Fist (Standard patriotic hero), Visor Man (looks suspiciously like an older Visor), Scarlet Scorcher (flame-control powers), 0-2-60 (high-strung speedster), Targeteer (aggressive-looking weapons master with Robin Hood hat and moustache). (Note passing resemblance to 60s-era Avengers)

FIST: You’re all washed up, King Wave!

SPITBALL: Damn, I wish I had thought of that one!

Feature a few panels of The Volunteers mopping up the undersea invaders. Targeteer shoots one full of arrows, 0-2-60 whips the spears out of several creatures’ hands at super-speed, Scarlet Scorcher throws a fire-ring around several more, Visor Man blasts a few, Fist goes toe-to-toe with King Wave.

Feature The Star-Spangled Fist dragging King Wave by the scruff of his neck as Spitball approaches.

SPITBALL (sarcastically): Ooooh, it’s The Volunteers! We would have had this wrapped up in a minute, but you just had to come along and take sloppy seconds, huh?

Feature a close-up of Fist in full glower.

SPITBALL: Er—it’s all good, though, we don’t need the publicity. Later—

He turns around and bumps into Targeteer’s chest.

TARGETEER: There is, of course, the small matter of the hovercraft.

Visor bullies his way in.

VISOR: Hey, screw you, pal! I call it an eye for an eye! What’s up with “Visor Man’? What about copyright infringement? I’ve got merchandising to think of, man!

Visor Man steps forward.

VISOR MAN: I-I’ve been trying to get up the nerve to introduce myself to you, father. I—

VISOR: Whooooah! What did you say?

VISOR MAN: I—I said “father.” You are my father, and I traveled back in time from an alternate future hoping to one day meet you, and have since been trapped here—

SPITBALL: You mean Viz is actually going to get some action?!

Visor elbows Spitball in the gut.

VISOR MAN: I have tried to live up to your legacy, father. I have made improvements on the visor—

SPITBALL: Yeah, yeah, that’s all good, but I got to know—who wins the next 30 Super Bowls?

Retro Girl steps up, still holding the Hard-Wired Kid’s head under her arm.

RETRO GIRL: More importantly…who’s your mother?

Cut to the team bursting through the doors of the team’s clubhouse.


CATNAP is polishing her claws.

CATNAP: What’s this?

VISOR: Never mind. Where’s Slingshot?

CATNAP: Where he always is, surfing the ‘Net for porn.

VISOR: It’s time to call a team meeting. The Volunteers took their hovercraft back.

CATNAP: Yo, popsicle! Get out here!

Slingshot walks through the door.

SLINGSHOT: Gosh, gals sure have changed since I got frozen in that iceberg back during the War!

SPITBALL: Well, this will knock the freezer-burn right off ya, big guy. It turns out that Visor and—


CATNAP: What’s bouncy-boy talking about, Visor?

VISOR (visibly nervous): Nothing, it’s just that…well, you know that new guy Visor Man in The Volunteers? Well, heh—he was telling us today he’s from an alternate future, and he’s—heh, heh—our son.

Feature several panels in a row of Catnap’s stony expression. Finally:

CATNAP: He did say an alternate future, didn’t he?

Lemming Lad and Spitball fall down laughing. A camera with a blinking light watches from the corner.

Feature the same scene on a television monitor.

VOICE ONE: Thank God! I think the show is saved!

VOICE TWO: Saved? We haven’t been doing that badly—

VOICE ONE: We were getting killed by “Matlock” reruns in Philly! I mean, look—Retro Girl can hardly stand Visor, there’s no sparks there—I thought the kid we thawed out would turn out to be gay, that didn’t fly—the “bad girl” hasn’t slept with anybody--the robot kid, what’s his name, he doesn’t act Black at all—but this alternate future thing?….now we got something.

Feature the clubhouse again.

SPITBALL: Yeah, I don’t have any alternate universe kids—that I know of! Heh heh.

SLINGSHOT: Did she have any alternate-universe sisters?

VISOR: Will you guys shut up, you know I haven’t been to any alternate universes!

SPITBALL: Whatever you say, playa.

CATNAP: I am really, really starting to hate myself.

Suddenly an alarm blares.

VISOR: The intruder alert! Everybody scramble—YOU!!

Feature Visor Man.

VISOR MAN: I’m sorry to break in, but I had to talk to you, father—mother.

Feature Catnap and Visor.

VISOR: Jeez, now what?

VISOR MAN: I—I just wanted you to know how much—how much I missed you after you—er--

VISOR: Whoa, whoa, hold up. We get—killed?

VISOR MAN: I—I can’t say any more.

Catnap puts her fingers in her ears and closes her eyes.

CATNAP: Not listening, not looking, not listening—

VISOR: You’d tell you dear old pops, wouldn’t you?

VISOR MAN: It…it started with the murderous rampage of a giant robot—

Suddenly, a giant robot fist smashes through the roof and snatches Visor Man up in his grasp.

Visor and Catnap look up and see the twenty-foot tall monster, with “ennui” stenciled on its chest, begin to lumber away.

LEMMING LAD: Dibs on monitor duty!


Feature a restored Hard-Wired Kid.

H-WK: Excuse me, team-mates, but that robot displays many of the characteristics exhibited by previous robots constructed by Dr. Cybershatter, The Volunteers’ greatest foe.

VISOR: Visor Man…he said it started with a robot!

CATNAP: And Moby Dick started with “Call me Ishmael”. Who cares? Let’s rock!

Cut to the team, minus Lemming Lad, racing down the street, following the robot’s path of destruction. A flurry of little flying cameras follow behind.

VISOR: Retro Girl—use your power to speed up and slow down time to allow us to catch the robot!

RETRO GIRL: Okay, okay, but easy on the exposition! It’s ten weeks into the season, everybody knows my powers by now!

Retro Girl puts her fingertips to her head, and waves of energy come out. Feature a panel of the background whipping by in a blur, as Retro Girl speeds the group up through time. Suddenly they have caught up to the robot, who is disappearing into an old warehouse. The team regroups.

CATNAP: There he goes!

H-W K: It appears to be an abandoned warehouse.

SLINGSHOT: You know, if somebody would just tear down all these old warehouses, our jobs would get a lot easier!

RETRO GIRL: Ooooh, now I’ve got a headache. And I left my purse back at HQ. Anybody got an aspirin?

SPITBALL: Aspirin? We don’t even have pockets!

VISOR: Okay, team, here’s the plan. Catnap and Slingshot, you—OH SH--!

KABOOM! Suddenly, a wall comes down, and a bevy of robots spill out from behind it, swinging fists and shooting lasers. The teens fall into a full-scale fight. Retro Girl grabs the Hard-Wired Kid by the back of his shirt and pulls him through the warehouse door.

RETRO GIRL: C’mon, H-K, let’s get to the real plan.

The duo stops short just inside the door, eyes wide. POV Retro Girl as she surveys the scene: five glass tubes, each housing a member of The Volunteers in suspended animation. On a raised dais, Dr. Cybershatter is cackling insanely. The giant “ennui” robot stands at attention nearby.

DR. CYBERSHATTER: Finally, the moment of my greatest triumph is upon us—the utter defeat of The Volunteers! And you think you—you TV personalities—are going to stop me?

Feature the fight outside. Slingshot gets socked in the jaw, and flies through the air. Spitball bounces up with a mighty SPROING and catches him in mid-air.

SPITBALL: Tuck in your chin, Slingshot! It’s a wonder the Nazis aren’t in New York today!

SLINGSHOT: Hey, I got frozen before the war was over!

SPITBALL: Good thing!

Catnap claws the guts out of a robot. Visor is blasting one alongside her.

VISOR: Great fighting form, Catnap!

CATNAP: It ain’t gonna happen, Visor.

Another robot gets ready to club Catnap down, and Visor intercedes with a laser blast.


The robot explodes, showering them with parts. Catnap still looks unconcerned.

VISOR: Are you okay? I’m just thinking about our—

CATNAP: Still not gonna happen, Visor.

Feature the interior of the warehouse.

CAPTION: Meanwhile…

RETRO GIRL: You know, doc, this is a real waste.

DR. CYBERSHATTER: You are speaking out of turn, child! This is my life’s work!

RETRO GIRL: You know, that’s great, but did you patent any of this stuff?


Feature H-W Kid sneaking off and extending a finger into a nearby control panel.

RETRO GIRL: The licensing on the inventions in this room alone could bring you millions! And just think if you floated stock on the market! When you knock over a bank with these robots how much do you clear?


RETRO GIRL: Don’t forget to subtract your personal market value, some of which is lost every time you do a year of two in jail, because you pretty much get busted by The Volunteers every time you try something.

DR. CYBERSHATTER: Not this time! This time I triumph!

RETRO GIRL: So then what? Do you even have a 401K?

Feature the Hard-Wired Kid.

H-WK: Processing the XY-02 constructs….bypassing the atari subroutines…

DR. CYBERSHATTER: But…what about taxes?

RETRO GIRL: Everything goes off-shore, to Bermuda or somewhere. Tax shelters in the Pacific, and the Swiss handle your savings. Sub-contract the labor in Mexico and Viet Nam. You’ll have buyers in every country in the world. Of course, you’ll need to build a web site.

DR. CYBERSHATTER: Good Lord, child. I never realized—

Suddenly the Hard-Wired Kid springs the suspended animation chambers, and The Volunteers step out in a daze. The next moment, Visor and the others burst through the door.


Spitball takes a tremendous bounce off of Dr. Cybershatter’s head. Visor finishes him off with a sizzling blast, and he falls. Spitball lands alongside as Slingshot bursts in the door.

SPITBALL: Now that’s one for CNN, baby.

RETRO GIRL: You idiots! I had him talked out of it!

VISOR: Talking doesn’t sell t-shirts, Retro Girl.

The Star-Spangled Fist steps up and clasps Visor’s shoulder. Catnap crouches warily nearby. Visor Man stands behind, smiling.

FIST: Your team—you—well—good work, son.

VISOR: Ah, bite me. Hey, you okay, Visor Man?

VISOR MAN: I am well, father, thank you.

VISOR: Hey, what’s your real name, anyway?

VISOR MAN: It is Bernard.

VISOR: Bernard? I’m sorry, man, Catnap must have stuck you with that one. Hey, Bernard, you’re old enough to buy beer, right?

Feature Scarlet Scorcher, Retro Girl and the Hard-Wired Kid.

SCARLET SCORCHER: You know, I thought your team was just “The Real World” with capes. I guess there might be something more to you than that.

RETRO GIRL: Yeah…there might.

POV FLYING CAMERA, showing Retro Girl in a fish-eye lens. Her hand grows big as she reaches for it. The next panel is all wavy lines, as she grabs the camera. The last panel is black.

CAPTION: Fade out.

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