Acclaim Comics - Ambidextrous Style!

Print 'Acclaim Comics - Ambidextrous Style!'Recommend 'Acclaim Comics - Ambidextrous Style!'Discuss 'Acclaim Comics - Ambidextrous Style!'Email Brandon ThomasBy Brandon Thomas

Acclaim Comics – Ambidextrous Style!

Last week I professed my affinity for Acclaim Comics and simultaneously lost half my readership. This time, as promised, I present three proposals that I drafted in the attempts of breaking into this crazy industry as a writer for the aforementioned company. Yes, my attempts were a little heavy-handed but I couldn’t let statistics and the possibilities of success stop me. I had stories to tell dammit, and I chose Acclaim’s three biggest guns to tell them with. Following each pitch is commentary from yours truly (in italics), explaining some of the thought process that went into each proposal.

A child that can cross the barrier between life and death…

An object that can make the dead live again…

And the curse upon mankind that results…

SHADOWMAN: GENESIS (12 issue maxi-series)

Act I - First Born

She was born in a place where things only die. The young girl known as Nia has gone from newborn to preschooler in just seven days, and her young parents realize that something is terribly wrong. Nia possesses the ability to breach the void between life and death, which makes her a valuable prize to many.

Emerging from Deadside’s much-feared Valley is a band of creatures, led by a serial rapist known as Bryce who harbors a serious grudge against Michael LeRoi. Meanwhile in the land of the living, the covert government organization Obsidian and their leader the Faceless Man are readying their own plans for Nia, for only she can truly complete their assemblage of Deadside artifacts. And only Shadowman can keep her alive long enough to fulfill her role in an ancient prophecy, but one thing is certain…not everyone will leave this conflict alive.

Act II - The D Files

Nia’s demise has triggered something within Mike LeRoi he had believed long gone…his emotions. Perhaps that explains why the romantic wiles of Obsidian defector Lara Lopez prove to be so effective upon the half-dead peacekeeper of the gates when she convinces him to escort her into Deadside. The true reason for Obsidian’s pursuance of Nia is revealed as the legend of the Soul Staff is told. The staff can make the dead live again and Lara needs it to reunite herself with her husband whom Michael killed to protect Nia. This fact is unknown to the Shadowman, in addition to the knowledge that Lara’s promises to resurrect Michael’s own family are complete falsehoods. Only one soul per staff can make the journey from oblivion to renewed life. And to complicate matters, due to Obsidian’s examinations of Nia, they know how to let themselves in and out of Deadside, and the Faceless Man has his own plans for the staff…and for the traitorous Ms. Lopez.

Act III - Darque Days

Every action demands an equal reaction and this situation is no different. Through the use of a Soul Staff, a man has been reunited with his son, but as the Faceless Man can readily attest, there are consequences involved when cheating death. Each time a staff is used in Deadside, a random catastrophe occurs on Liveside. It could occur one week from now, or one hundred, but it will occur. On this particular occasion, the Earth is experiencing a plague like no other. Mankind’s population is decreasing by millions daily and there’s nothing that Shadowman and Obsidian can do to stop it.

Enter Master Darque who claims to hold the answer to salvation, but LeRoi is infinitely certain that this man cannot be trusted…but what choice does Shadowman have?? Only the final Soul Staff can be of use, and Nia must return to the land of the living and inadvertently cause the catastrophe that will repopulate the Earth with human life after the virus runs it course.

As legend has it, the first and last Soul Staffs cause the identical disastrous result. The activation of the first staff millennia ago cursed the Earth with humankind, and unless Shadowman wants to spend the remainder of his existence sharing the planet with burgeoning plant life…it must happen again.

Shadowman Commentary: I have a rule. Before I get too overly involved in the construction of a storyline I need to know two things…how it begins and how it ends. Sounds simple right?? The beginning is usually the no-brainer, and in this case it was the origin of Michael LeRoi. To be honest, I wasn’t entirely familiar with the particulars on how this radio show host became the guardian of the gates between life and death…and I’m still not. Originally intended as a four-parter, this frame or over-arcing theme became the vehicle that would allow me to tell the story without calling the thing Shadowman: Year One or the Origin of Shadowman. I intended to be a little subtler than that. Develop a main plot, and quietly slip Shadowman’s origin into the mix…after I found out what it was of course. But I still didn’t have an ending.

I had a cast of main characters that served only to ensure that I couldn’t tell this story in four issues leading to nearly uncontrolled expansion and before I knew it, not only was I relating the personal experiences of Michael LeRoi, but I was commenting on the government’s long running conspiracy regarding the existence of Deadside, and commenting on the source of human evolution. An example of how a story can run away from you and provide a more quality finish as a result. But still…I didn’t have an ending.

The more elaborate things became, the stronger the ending had to be, and I still didn’t have one…and then it came to me. How many stories have we seen that concluded in the complete annihilation of the human race?? A plague so terrible that humanity could never survive. But then I had to put things back right?? Enter the Soul Staff…

On a whole, I’m very satisfied with how things evolved (even though I cheated a little) and I hope to one day cannibalize some of these themes for another story. I mean, come on….the end of humanity?? That’s good stuff. Moving along….

Fifteen years in the future, mankind is on the verge of extinction…

A race of hostile aliens wishes to turn the Earth into a breeding camp…

But now we know where they live, and the tide is turning…

ARMORINES: HARSH REALM (12 issue maxi-series)

The sky rained fire for seven days. The invaders now known only as the “Spinners” came to our planet in a hail of meteorites that escorted them through our protective atmosphere and deposited them in the heart of New York City. It only took them two weeks to cocoon the entire metropolis and begin breeding like rabbits. Conversely, it only took our government three days to make the decision to vaporize the largest city in the U.S.

We foolishly believed it was over, for the thought of anything other than total victory was unthinkable. Then handfuls of us began disappearing, dragged into the night by some unseen force. The Spinners had survived and deep within the bowels of our cities they were hard at work creating organic factories where human bodies were fed live to their young. We fought back…at least we tried, but somehow they kept coming. An unending tide of murderous rage that the human race could only beat back through desperate negotiation. A truce was called…we give them half the planet and a few thousand “volunteers” for their breeding purposes, and they’ll leave us to our own devices.

As a populace un-interested in remaining underneath the claws of a race of giant insects, the human race secretly releases two-dozen space probes into the cosmos, in a desperate play to discover the home world of these intergalactic spiders. After ten years, that day has finally come and this is our final chance.

Armorine Captain Tyson Rayside is appointed the task of recruiting a strike team that doesn’t mind going on a suicide mission that could possibly save mankind. He insists on delivering the invitations personally, believing that when receiving a personal invite into the gates of Hell…that invitation shouldn’t come over a phone.

Managing to put together a motley crew of operatives, they depart on a month long voyage that will take them to the heart of the “Spinner” empire. They’re attacked upon reaching the planet’s orbit by miniature fighter craft and a trio of Armorines takes to the stars to defend their main shuttle using their robotic flight suits. Unfortunately, the enemy cripples the three defenders and sends them plummeting to the planet below. Against all odds, two of the Armorines survive the plunge and make the shocking realization that there are hundreds of human beings living underground.

Rayside cannot bring himself to release the planet-destroying missile and the shuttle is taken down to the surface, where the remaining Armorines are forced underground. In a last ditch effort to escape the planet, the Armorines attempt to fight their way back to their downed ship to send a distress call to Earth…but the odds seem hopeless. They fail and start to realize that they’re deep behind enemy lines…with no way home.

As the months’ progress, the situation grows progressively worse as the Armorines find themselves responsible for the lives of hundreds of innocents. By the conclusion of the second act, an Armorine has committed suicide and by the end of the series, it’s not certain if either the Armorines or the hundreds of refugees they’ve come to protect will leave the planet alive.

Armorines Commentary: I penned this one after doing Shadowman: Genesis as an exercise to see what I could come up with using Acclaim’s other big gun, and I had a very particular ending in mind before I even got most of it on paper. It sometimes annoys me in the scope of action movies and comics, that things always come to a happy ending, resulting in a conclusion that denies the harsh reality we live in. Everything doesn’t have a nice, clean, sanitized ending…and I didn’t want this story to fall into the same hole.

It’s been suggested that audiences demand a happy ending to complete their enjoyment of any work that dictates the struggle between good and evil, but I think the audience simply wants a resolution. I compare it to the movie “Seven” starring Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman (SPOILER WARNING) where the detective played by Pitt finds something very shocking contained in a cardboard box. Now, I was a bit disturbed that the “hero” of the story was allowed to be emotionally damaged in such a gruesome way, but I appreciated his realistic reaction to the killer’s final gambit. “Seven” didn’t have a happy ending in the slightest…but it was realistic enough to suppress my initial distaste at its attempts at breaking convention.

That’s what Harsh Realm is to me, a dark, depressing, disturbing story that details the decay of the human psyche in an environment that could accurately be described as Hell. But it’s also about the strength of the human spirit and its struggle to overcome Hell and control its direction. Depressing and inspiring at the same time. No powers or special abilities, just the human need to survive and trapped in a situation where prejudice doesn’t matter…only living does.

Now onto what started this madness in the first place…


Issues One to Three - “Dark Shroud”

A rash of mysterious murders are occurring on the OC2 campus, and Josh’s baseball teammates number many of the victims, including Coach Atkins, the one confidant Turok had left. What appears as a targeting of athletes is later made abundantly clear when Barry Hackowitz, Josh’s roommate, is almost killed. Only the appearance of Turok prevents Barry from becoming the killer’s next victim, and the Son of Stone barely escapes with his own life after making the discovery that the murderer cannot be seen.

After visiting the Lost Land and conferring with Tal’Set, Josh learns that the creature is known as the Wraith, a legendary enemy of the Turok lineage. Josh lures the monster back to the Lost Land, where he is quite visible, and an intense battle ensues. For five days and four nights, Josh clashes with the villain from one end of the Land to the other, with the conflict climaxing on the rim of a volcano. (Think Episode I, Darth Maul vs. Qui-Gon Jinn & Kenobi, only longer, on paper, and taking place on the back of a brontosaurus, inside a raptor nest, and in the arctic.)

Meanwhile, Barry spots a pair of raptors loitering behind the neighborhood 7-Eleven!!

Issues Four to Six - “Displacement”

Upon returning home after his victory over the Wraith, Josh was too exhausted to hear Barry’s story concerning errant raptors and convenience stores, but when he and his roommate awaken in the Lost Land, Turok wishes his consciousness had not so easily failed him the night before. He soon discovers that he’s not the only displaced resident of Earth, when he’s forced to prevent the Land’s largest dinosaurs from making a meal out of hundreds of fellow humans. Finally taking a break after hours of peacekeeping, he crosses dimensional boundaries and finds himself....back on an Earth populated by dinosoids!!!

Barry becomes a valuable ally, as the entire world is on the lookout for Turok, at the behest of the Campaigner. For unknown reasons, the conqueror fears for the survival of the Lost Land, and through the use of a strange device, has evacuated most of its residents to the relative safety of Earth. But what does he fear and why won’t he allow Turok to help him??

Issues Seven and Eight - “Dead On Arrival”

The Earth and the Lost Land have been returned to their proper states, and the new Turok has scored another major victory. However, he discovers just how much his friend Barry Hackowitz matters to him when Barry is kidnapped by the government agency known as the D.O.A. Months ago, the clandestine organization sent a research team into the Lost Land, but due to the Campaigner’s machinations, the five scientists are lost, and the D.O.A.’s path into the Lost Land has been destroyed.

Enter Turok, who can traverse dimensional barriers with ease, and will do anything to protect a friend, even entering the Lost Land in search of the team, and the mysterious Isotope M they’ve created. The trail leads Josh to a strange underwater city and a deadly new villain. But what happens when Josh’s 24 hours are up?? Will the D.O.A. really kill Barry?? And why does the D.O.A. seem much more interested in recovering Isotope M?? And why are there dinosoids rummaging through a house in Davenport, Iowa??

Issue Nine - “Fires of Time”

In recent weeks, Barry has stared death in the face almost as much as Turok has. Josh, tired of putting his best friend in constant danger has come up with a solution....train Barry as his partner!! Before they can get started however, they must attend the reading of Coach Atkins’ will. He bequeaths to Josh a strange item that will play a message only for him. It asks Josh to safeguard Atkins’ niece, who possesses a necklace that is much more than it appears. But what starts as a peaceful trip to Davenport, IA, evolves into something much more as a group of dinosoids get involved. And just what secret does the pendant hold??

Issue Ten - “Ulterior Motives”

Before officially beginning the training of Barry, Josh travels to the Lost Land to consult with Tal’Set about his decision. He learns that no Turok ever before has taken on a protégé. They later become embroiled in a fierce adventure and Josh is forced to confront the real reasons he’s willing to take on a partner.

Issue Eleven - “The Ropes”

Josh begins training Barry, and comes to the conclusion that it will be a much harder task than he originally suspected after the two take a trip to their neighborhood weight room, and Barry almost kills himself. But this doesn’t deter Josh who is determined to make his own mark on the Turok lineage by successfully training a partner, and proving the naysayers wrong. Following the light workout, the two are on the way to a local cafe when they spot a young child on the wrong end of a semi. Without hesitation, Barry leaps into the street and removes the child from harm’s way, dislocating his shoulder in the process. Josh pops it back into place, and believes with this setback, Barry will immediately end his pursuit of becoming Josh’s apprentice, but unexpectedly, this steals his previously shaky resolve.

Issue Twelve - “Oblivion”

The threat that prompted the Campaigner to attempt the evacuation of the Lost Land rears its ugly head and becomes the first major test for the duo of Josh and Barry that have grown more effective as a team over the course of two months. Oh, and Barry grew his first muscle!! The two are walking a tightrope across Niagara Falls at the beginning of the issue, when Barry stumbles and falls into the chasm. Josh dives after him and opens a portal that deposits the both of them on their school’s football field. They decide to postpone the activity for the time being.

While taking a jog, someone begins following them. The two lead the figure into a dead end, and attack him, learning that the man is secretly the Campaigner, taking Josh up on the offer he made in issue #6 to aid the conqueror in protecting the Lost Land. The creature known as Oblivion has resurfaced, and only by working together can the Land be saved. Josh requests that Barry stay home but he refuses, which later proves to be a near-fatal mistake when Oblivion strikes him down in battle. But, after believing that he witnessed his best friend murdered, Josh heads off on a revenge-crazed mission that may mean the death of him.

Turok Commentary: These plots were actually written before Shadowman: Genesis and Armorines: Harsh Realm, and were my first attempt at preparing something for Acclaim. That’s why the format is slightly different.

I proposed a year’s worth of stories with the over-arcing theme that addresses the sense of loneliness that Joshua Fireseed experiences as a result of serving as the Son of Stone. Those familiar with the monthly title may remember that before Acclaim’s second close, Josh suffered a serious betrayal at the hands of elements within his own family and a covert government agency that plotted to kill millions to avert a cataclysm that wouldn’t have occurred for another twenty years.

I took this point and expanded on its possible effects that leave Josh feeling that he can trust no one. Killing Coach Atkins in my first arc serves to leave Turok in nearly complete isolation save for Barry Hackowitz, who becomes an important factor in the reluctant hero’s life. Barry is Josh’s only friend, and young Fireseed realizes that Barry’s proximity to him puts the computer geek in serious danger on a regular basis. The obvious solution…make Barry his partner. Ignoring the fact that no Son of Stone has ever taken an apprentice, and rebelling against any and all objections presented by family members and predecessors, Josh embarks on a path that will forever change the Turok legacy. Through this venture, Josh sees his solitude quelled and replaced by the burgeoning brotherhood between himself and Barry.

I wanted to make this book about the friendship between two young men. Strip away the threats to human life and the prospect of complete destruction, and the book is about two friends making their way through the world, supporting and strengthening each other. Most mentor-partner relationships are between two characters separated by age and life experiences, but I wanted to make this one equal in scope. People need friends in order to grow, and I wanted to force Josh into accepting his role as a protector by giving him someone else to care about. Besides…we need more books out there depicting friendship in its most powerful form. The question for my second year of stories was this…what does Josh think about Barry becoming an even better Turok than him?? Maybe one day I’ll get to answer these and other burning questions.

Whew!! I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted. Post in the boards and tell me if I suck or not.


Brandon Thomas

Recommended Reading: Read a magazine that’s not Wizard, and has nothing to do with comics. It could be music, movies, girls, whatever, escape the box and seek your story ideas elsewhere.

Got a comment or question about this Soapbox?
Leave at message at the Silver Soapboxes Message Board.