Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Why I Should Write SEVEN SOLDIERS #3: The Bride of Frankenstein

Is there a legal issue with the name Bride of Frankenstein? Like, does Universal own that specific grouping of words? In that case, The Bride would work just as well or better, unless there’s an issue with Kill Bill. Basically, I am saying THE NAME IS FLEXIBLE.

The deal with the Bride is this: Victor Frankenstein created a woman with the intent that it would become his first creature’s mate, but the she-creature wasn’t having it (in Morrison's Frankenstein!, she says “It’s nothing personal. But you were never my type. … Alive. One of these days they’ll figure out how to sew on a sense of humor.”). The Bride escaped captivity and lived a wandering existence before “the Red Swami brainwashed me, grafted on two extra arms, and passed me off as a reincarnated assassin goddess.” That incident brought her to the attention of the Super Human Advanced Defense Executive, or SHADE.

What is SHADE? Their leader is Father Time, a master manipulator who only seems callous and amoral because he can see the big picture (and I’m talking the biggest). Like a certain celebrated Time Lord, he periodically regenerates into new forms, except Father Time does it every January 1st (comic book time being what it is, it would theoretically be years between regenerations, but it would be more fun to have Father Time obey the real-world or "higher" calendar, to the great confusion of the characters within the book). I’ll let Morrison, via Father Time, explain the organization’s mandate:

“Here’s the pitch. Superman meets James Bond. Big time for a little while. These days we clean up the crap no one else will touch, on a budget that wouldn’t buy you breakfast at a fancy hotel.”

God, I love that notion. SHADE headquarters hasn’t been remodeled since 1978 and the paint is peeling; since every penny they get goes to developing new and innovative superhumans for the purpose of national defense, their computers are perpetually four years out of date, and everyone has to chip into an office fund to buy the coffee. Even if you don’t drink coffee, you have to pay into the fund, and I cannot stress that enough.

SHADE is drawn like a Jim Steranko spy-fi comic, except all the characters are ugly.

The Bride is the perfect operative to work for SHADE, and here’s why:

1.) She’s quick-witted with a dry sense of humor and a strong stomach. The latter will come particularly in handy when a monster composed of self-loathing, disappointment, desperation and alcohol vomit coalesces in the sewers beneath Ivy Town and attacks the college students from which it originated.

2.) She’s got the flexible morals her job requires; she has no problem ordering an entire Manhattan city block vaporized when a lack of flow renders the architecture poisonous and threatens to spread; that act, however, doesn’t exactly get her on the Guardian’s good side, and there is of course a fight until they realize they have to team up to defeat the sinister Landlord.

3.) She’s infinitely adaptable and has a lust for life. Something of an aesthete, she dresses in the latest, most outrageous fashions, and it is her stylistic convictions that make her alone immune to Nightmare in Plaid. The Bride surrounds herself in fine art, food, and music, and desires (and is desired by) some of the handsomest men in all the world; unfortunately, this taste for the finer things leaves her highly susceptible to the 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 configurations of Baron Sensor’s Pleasure Cube, and that mission does not go very well.

4.) The Bride is extremely professional; she has no ties, and so the mission doesn’t become personal. One of the few exceptions to this rule is when the last in the Frankenstein bloodline is discovered living in Toronto. The secret of the Frankenstein Process is encoded into his DNA, and using this, the Men from MOMMA derive their experiments with the end goal of no longer needing women to reproduce. This project turns out to have military applications, and from it will come the only creature who might be considered the Bride’s equal: the mysterious supersoldier and poet, Lilac Vapour.

5.) The Bride is probably the coolest person you’ll ever meet, but if you ever have occasion to meet her, it probably means you are going to die very soon.

(Also, Josh: If DC called tomorrow and wanted more story springboards, I’d pitch them the “Bitter Cold” killer-snowmen idea from Wyatt, in which a science-priestess curses the raiders that destroyed her laboratory village, binding their souls to water molecules and leaving them to freeze in the winter. But that is okay because you should totally be drawing this.)

Another asset: You have to understand, approximately one in three SHADE agents will eventually go rogue, and the agency has learned to just accept that. Mental breakdown is a frequent side effect of superhumanization. You might agree really quickly to have supercool pilot skills uploaded into your brain (as do the members of the X-Hawks Squadron), but you may become unhinged when you can’t sleep because your mind is incessantly playing out hypothetical combat simulations. A young agent signs up to gain ESP at the cost of his sense of smell; it sounds like a good trade-off, but when he can’t enjoy movies because he knows how they’ll end, and when the smell of cooking bacon has no effect on him whatsoever, he’ll want revenge on the superscientists who did this to him (and of course, with the ESP, they can’t hide a damn thing from him).

It is, of course, one of the Bride’s jobs to track down these rogue agents and kill them or try to salvage their enhancements. And they can trust her with it, because she’s got another edge over every other SHADE agent.

She never had any humanity to lose in the first place.

NEXT: Mister Miracle (I guess).


plok said...


I have one suggestion: the esper dude, the trade-off should be that he has his sense of smell enhanced. I have an acute sense of smell myself, and let me tell you: sure, the good things smell really good, but most people really have no idea just how many things that smell like shit there are, to be encountered in a given day.

No Daredevil comic has ever pointed this out. And it isn't like I have superpowers, just a sensitive nose. And even just that, that can suck. Of course no doubt your friend there would think "enhanced sense of smell...why not? What difference could 20% make? Bacon will smell extra-terrific." WRONG. Well, not about the bacon...

Oh, I could write you a book.

NEED THIS SERIES. Very reminiscent of Stross' "The Atrocity Archive", which is a very good thing.

Justin said...

You're too kind! The Bride has turned out to be the one where's it's most tempting to do like amypoodle's Batman 666 and just starting *writing* the damn scripts, but you know ... time better spent elsewhere, I suppose.

Not to mention that even if I were in any position to get a Bride series pitched and accepted, I can't imagine I'd get more than eight issues before cancellation. In a way, you'd think the current market would *discourage* decompressed storytelling; new launches are almost certainly doomed, so why *not* squeeze everything you can into the couple of issues you'll get?

Oddly enough, I'm thinking the agony of supersense would almost fit better in the Bulleteer comic I'll be proposing after Mister Miracle. I might not necessarily want to read Matt Murdock himself dry-heaving every time he walked by a public restroom, but that's sort of what I envision a Bulleteer comic being *for*, if that makes any sense. A place for the messy side of superpowers to be explored without having to bog down Superman comics and the like with that stuff.

plok said...

That makes sense...

And if you like, I could tell you all about it, though some of it might sound a tad disgusting.

Well! But maybe I should've just said that quietly to myself. In any case, on suitable reflection I think SK sounds like "what a good idea, I would totally buy the shit out of that comic", and K&F sounds more in the vein of "oh my God where is that I NEED that...!", but "BoF" sounds to me a bit more like "what in the hell are you waiting for, an engraved invitation?!" Because that one sounds like it's ready to go today.

Therefore, after you get done with #7 (or #6 if MM becomes a problem), you can expect me to nag you about doing a Poodle on "Bride". It'd be a beautiful thing to read, I bet.

...Hmm, but on the other hand, you know Justin...

I think I'd be remiss if I didn't also say that nobody has the rights to "shadowy organization" locked up, and it sounds like there's quite enough there to just plain do your own thing with. A little tweaking is all that'd be required, to make it wholly your own.

AND IT WOULD BE SO AWESOME IF YOU DID THAT, even if it meant I wouldn't get to read the poodleization first, that that's what I'd advise.

Justin said...

Man oh man ... I would be lying if I said I hadn't *already* spent at least a few moments this week considering how much would have to change before "fan fiction" becomes "ripoff" becomes "inspired by..." Frankenstein's public domain; not sure about the Bride, but then although that character has to be inherently monstrous in some way, I'm not sure she actually has to be the bride of Frankenstein.

As for the organization, I'd have to lose Father Time, but I really REALLY need to keep the underfunded element; it's not a huge deal in the original comic (all the better, I suppose), but it's been built up in my head as being essential to why, instead of Steed and Peel, this spy-fi organzation has freaks and sweaty malcontents. It's all about frustration.

-How old did you say this jetpack was?
-Well, the 1997 model is--
-I wouldn't trust a 12-year-old CAR on an important mission, much less a personal flying device run on rocket fuel!
-Okay, okay, FIRST OFF, it's only been used three times officially. SECOND...
-Wait, what does "officially" mean?
-...SECOND, I'm not happy about this either, but budgets are budgets.
-Are you telling me Clinton was willing to pony up for new jetpacks but Bush wasn't?
-That's classified. Anyway, this is probably the worst possible time to tell you, but you can't go on leave next week like I promised. Cyan can't cover for you because I need him to work with Black on Operation Seven Fingers.
-Can't you get Yellow or Magenta to cover?
-Damn, I meant to cc you on that e-mail. Yellow was killed in action yesterday, and we think Magenta may have been responsible, actually...

(That exchange wouldn't really work in a comic, but it made me laugh when I was doing the dishes.)