Brightburn Gets Busted

Ooo, scary. Image from IMDB:

Another Mad Magazine type of scene I’d like to see. So I wrote it. It was fun.

WHAT HAS GONE ON BEFORE! Brandon (from the movie Brightburn), the thirteen year old boy with Superman-type powers, had just discovered he is an alien and that his Earth mom and dad concealed that from him, because his spaceship hidden in the barn just told him to “Take the world.” Showing the emotional and intellectual maturity of a rabid hyena, Brandon then decides to kill the mother of the girl whose hand he’d broken because she called him a perv because he kept creeping into the girl’s bedroom late at night because a superpowered boy’s got urges, you know.


The woman in the pale blue diner uniform counts the cash in the register into a few neat stacks. Then she carries a tray of dirty dishes to the counter. She sighs, rubs her forehead with the back of her hand, and says, “Whew, all this manual labor makes me look so small-town downtrodden. The perfect innocent victim for a brat about to take his first plunge into a no-empathy murder spree because he thinks that one of him and seven billion of everybody else sounds like really good odds.” Then she notices the runes crudely scrawled all over the walls. “Oh crap, graffiti? Can’t kids use a notepad?”

FWHOOSH!!! “Oh, great, now something just fwooshed in here.” FLASH, FLASH! “And the ceiling florescent lights are flickering.” She looks up at a ceiling light. “I’m supposed to be spooked by bad circuit breakers?”

SKLASH! She frowns in disgust. “Ew, a piece of greasy grimy florescent bulb just smacked into my right eye! Gross!”

Past the piece of glass on her eye, she sees a thirteen-year-old-kid-size blur in a shadowy corner of the room. She says, “Standing in shadows does not automatically make you scary.”

The blur zooms to the middle of the room. Then to the side of the room. Then to the cash register. Then to a corner again.

The woman refrained from saying, The restroom is in the back, but you shoulda went before you got here. Instead, she put helpless female drama into her voice. “Oh, no, poor little me is going to be a first innocent murder victim! I better hide in the freezer because there’s no dark root cellar to hide from the spoiled psycho killer who’s trying to learn the ropes!”

She runs to the freezer, ducks inside, and locks the door. She plucks the glass out of her undamaged eye, remembering when Superman was shot in the eye, and the scriptwriter was wrong, Superman would have blinked. She blinks. She rips off her dull blue diner dress. She yanks off her brown wig and hairnet, letting her long blonde hair cascade down her shoulders. Then she tap-tap-taps her foot. “C’mon, c’mon. I hate these drawn-out squirming-girl-about-to-die movie moments. Torture porn sucks.”

A heat beam cuts through the top middle of the steel freezer door and sizzles its way down. The woman nods. “About time.”

The door flies off in two pieces, revealing the blur which solidifies into a boy in a striped shirt, jeans, ratty cape, and mask covering the top of his head. He flies at the woman like a murderous cannonball…

And lands face-first on her superpowered right-cross fist: KER-POWIE!!!

The boy staggers back. “Huh? Who are you?”

The woman’s blue supersuit and long blonde hair practically glow with true-blue superheroism. Her blue eyes are fearlessly steely, her beaky nose is a spearhead of justice. Her red cape billows. “Super Holly Hansson. And my eyes are up here, you little perv. I take it you expected someone else.”

The boy’s voice is muffed, his mask is a poor fit. “I was gonna mutilate that mother who got mad at me just because I broke her daughter’s hand, because when bad things happen to people, it’s for a good reason. Like me burning your heart outta your big bouncy chest. Like this!” His eyes send twin blazing heat-vision beams at Holly for several seconds. Then again, he stupidly says, “Huh?”

Her body slightly steaming, Holly smiles bigger, showing her teeth. “I’ve stopped a Hellfire cannon from incinerating several hundred fanboys. You’re barely lukewarm. And take off that creepy mask!” Holly swats with her hand, and her telekinesis rips off the boy’s mask.

His angsty scowl is not an improvement. “It’s not creepy.”

Holly smiles. “You’re right. Masks are inanimate objects. But you ogling a girl in her bedroom at 3 A.M.? That’s creepy.”

The boy’s lips writhe. “Oh yeah? Take this!” He shoves his hands at Holly.

“OOF!” Holly slams into the back freezer wall. Telekinesis, huh? She steps out of the superheroine-shaped dent in the steel wall and thrusts her hands toward the boy with a double-fist grip. “Trade you.”

The boy looks down to see Holly’s blue, transparent, telekinetic, two-handed fist gripping him from feet to chin. He squirms, but the only part of him that can move freely is his thrashing, bobbing head. “You can’t do this to me! I’m special! Someday the world will know how special I am!”

“Have today’s blue-plate special: super-strength, army-tank-crushing, trash compactor!” Holly tightens her grip and growls through gritted teeth. “You wanna hurt girls and kill mommies? You’re playing with the big girls now!”

The boy’s face turns purple. His eyes bug out, nearly bursting with fear. His breath leaks out his gaping mouth with a “HHHHHHHHHHHHhhhhhhhhhhhhh… gasp.”

Holly yanks her hands back. The blue-fist-encased boy flies toward Holly, stopping just before her beaky nose might have poked his eye out. Sweat runs down his forehead. His voice is a weak wheeze because the air molecules in his throat have to line up single file. “Whatta yuh gonna do to me?”

Holly smiles like a shark about to feast. “Let you go. But if you ever hurt a girl, or her mother, or her grandmother, or her grandmother’s pet cat, or a flea on that cat, OR ANYTHING WITH A PULSE!” Her smile changes to a snarl. “I’ll come back, hunt you down, and drag your skinny little butt to the center of town, where I’ll have set up cameras to stream you and me all over the World Wide Web. And then…” Her blazing blue eyeballs press blue telekinetic eyeballs on his, a trick she learned from watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas. “I’ll pull down your pants. Put you over my knee. And spank you. In front of the entire world.”

Holly lets go, her blue telekinetic hands fading away, their job well done. The boy plops to his knees, folds his trembling hands in prayer, and whines up at her, “No, not that! Please! I’ll be good!”

An eight-foot-wide circle of whirling light appears behind Holly. She turns her back and floats toward the dimensional portal. She looks over her shoulder and glares at the boy. “Don’t ever do evil again. It’ll make me mad. And wipe your frakkin’ grafitti off the walls, your artwork sucks!” Holly floats into the portal, and she and the portal vanish.


Brightburn, clad in a blue supersuit and red cape and no mask, flies to a landing and gently puts down another armload of orphans that he rescued from the burning orphanage. “Okay, that’s the last batch.” He faces a reporter. “Now, what was it you wanted to ask me?”

The reporter says, “Mr. Brightburn, I was told that when you were in your early teens, you were not the hero you are now. That you… well… I’m sorry to say this, but that you almost became a murderous supervillain totally lacking in humanity and empathy.”

A tiny little girl hugs Brightburn’s legs and kisses them. “MMM-WAH, MMM-WAH! Thank you, Mister Brightburn! I wuv you!”

Brightburn smiles kindly at her. “I love you too, sweetheart.” He faces the reporter. “Yes, that is true. But a Super Holly Hansson told me to never do evil again. And I’ve been doing good ever since.” A drop of sweat runs down his forehead. He swallows hard. “And no evil. The way she looked at me, I dare not even think about it!”

My Literary Stage Reading of The Wicked Word Witch

The Bardi Rosman Koodrin Literary Stage, held by the San Mateo Fair, had local writers reading their works recently, and I was one of them. Click to go to the Bardi Rosman Koodrin Literary Stage page and copy the passcode. Then click the Literary Stage Reading Link, paste the passcode, and watch us writers read our work. My reading starts at 35:20. (I could only read part of the story, there were lotsa writers reading!)

I won 1st prize in Short Story – Science Fiction/Fantasy – Senior Exhibitor for Super Holly Hansson in: The Wicked Word Witch! I had fun. If/when I read The Wicked Word Witch again, I might want to make the Word Witch’s voice closer to The Wicked Witch of the West (if I can do that). Here, it seems a bit too close to my Cafeteria Lunch Ladies.

Fixing Storyist’s KindleGen

I just shared a draft of my story, The Super She Warrior, with Beth Barany (of Henrietta the Dragon Slayer fame). And I found out that my version of Storyist for my Mac could not generate a Kindle ebook (.mobi). Turns out I need to replace my 32-bit KindleGen with 64-bit. And it turns out that Amazon no longer has a direct link to KindleGen. So I googled a bit, and found out how to get the KindleGen in Kindle Publisher. Here is what I did.

  1. Download and install the latest Kindle Previewer from Amazon.
  2. In the Applications folder, control-click the Kindle Previewer and select Open Package Contents from the pop-up menu.
  3. You will see a folder called Contents. Copy it.
  4. In your Applications folder, create a folder called “Kindle Previewer 3 app contents”. (Or whatever you like, but this name tells it like it is. And no quotes in the folder name, of course.)
  5. Paste the Contents folder into the “Kindle Previewer 3 app contents” folder. (You can find kindlegen in there if you like, I have the path in the next step.)
  6. Go through the process of exporting a Kindle (mobi) file in Storyist. When you get to Step 3: Enter Kindle options, change your KindleGen Location to:
    /Applications/Kindle Previewer 3 app contents/lib/fc/bin/kindlegen
  7. Click Next to continue exporting your Kindle file.

Exploding Dogs!

I have just written my second story (WIP) where I blow up a dog. The leader of my critique group kidded me about that, actin shocked. She kidded me the first time I did it too, in my story, “The Sinister Sugar Rush!”

Both times, it was an example of the old writing rule: Don’t say, show! In other words, do not have a character or narrator explain an important plot point. Instead, show the plot point happening. Like when the evil lunch ladies tell Kittygirl that the super frosting on the cupcakes will make kids run faster and faster, until they blow up. And they say, “Allow us to demonstrate with this cute little puppy!” They feed the puppy a cupcake, and, well, I link a YouTube clip.

In The Stadium Patriot, I blow up a beer-drinking, howl-singing pit bull. It was either that or have Harry Headbutt, my Hulk-type character, have a major explosion in his tummy. But he’d survive. And he’d get mad and pretty much take over the story. HARRY HATE STADIUM PATRIOT BEER!!! HARRY ANGRY!!! HARRY SHOVE ENTIRE PLOT OF STORY ASIDE SO HE CAN MASH STUPID BART BOOFALUGG INTO PATRIOTIC PANCAKE!!!

No. This story, The Stadium Patriot, is the start of Super Holly’s conflict with the hunk of the public that is not so nice, and that she is not always happy saving. Holly needs the tantrum, not Harry. I’ll dive into the hard-to-save-mean-public journey a lot more in my Super Civil War novel.

Story Café: Super Holly Hansson in The Intellecta Rhapsody!

On Story Café again, I perform my story, “The Intellecta Rhapsody.” Super Holly argues viciously with the Intellecta-car (her boyfriend’s intelligent Batmobile), until they must team up to stop Rocky the Gangster (think Edward G. Robinson) from stealing a giant super-tank. This story was inspired by the classical music tune, the Hungarian Rhapsody. Bugs Bunny, Tom and Jerry, and Woody Woodpecker all had cartoons with the Hungarian Rhapsody, so Super Holly needed that also. (The Woody Woodpecker cartoon, Convict Concerto, did it best. Find it at

(Note: Story Cafe made a little mistake with the title. Big deal. They support local writers. Like me. And I love that.)

For Star Wars Day: excerpt from The Snoring Sword!

For Star Wars day, I share part of my story, The Snoring Sword, from my upcoming collection, Rise of the Stumpfinger! (Art by Chunlin Zhao, link to her Instagram).

THE STORY SO FAR! Plus-size superheroine Teri Silver (the Smiling Samurai) and Super Holly Hansson were at a fancy ballroom dinner where Holly is keeping an eye on the villain Billington Stumpfinger. But Ice Cream Guy put everyone to sleep with his Thanksgiving-dinner-with-chamomile-gravy ice cream, except Teri, who does not like ice cream. The big beefy bodybuilder waiters were all ice cream clones who obey Ice Cream Guy’s every command to the tune of, “I scream for you scream, we all scream for ice cream.” Ice Cream Guy commanded his minions to hold off Teri Silver’s agile leaps and flashing sword, and to find Super Holly, and they did. Teri was fighting a fifteen-foot-tall ice cream clone (a Neapolitan flavor mash-up of several waiters) and desperately trying to rescue a sleeping Super Holly from Ice Cream Guy’s cold clutches!

I heard a mouthy “SSSSLLLLLUP!

And then Ice Cream Guy’s shout. “Hey! Don’t close your mouth!” I glanced aside to see him pinch Holly’s nose and say, “Open up! I n-n-n-need your essence!”

“OOF!” A fridge of a fist slammed me a dozen feet and into a table. Ooo, my sore bones were not broken, thank goodness for my padding. I sat up next to Billington Stumpfinger and his girl harem. In Stumpfinger’s suit jacket pocket gleamed something golden… his laser lighter!

Ice Cream Guy squeezed Holly’s beaky nose with a pair of pliers. He grunted over and over, his shoulders and arms jerking with every effort: “C’mon! Close, nose! CLOSE!”

I grabbed the lighter, lit it, and morphed it! It lengthened into… VVVMMMMMMM! A laser sword! I felt its heat and power. Ah, here came cold King Kong and friends!

STOMP STOMP STOMP STOMP!!! “I scream for you scream, we all scream for ice cream!”

I leaped at the nearest frosty Frankenstein and plunged the bright blade into the center of his chest.

In one juicy BLURP, the waiter head-to-toe melted into a warm, creamy puddle. Wow, so this was what Duke Skystrider felt like!

PLLLLLUUUGGGHHHHH!!!” Holly again, she’d opened her mouth. Ice Cream Guy dropped the pilers and pulled a small white stick out of his shirt pocket.

I stabbed clone after clone! They melted: BLURP, BLURP, BLURP! I fought closer to Holly. Half the clones were melted… two thirds… three fourths… 

Uh oh, Mr. Big stepped in front of me and throbbed the air with his deep, thooming voice: “I scream for you scream.” His fist rushed down like a falling safe. “We all scream for ice cream.”

I leaped aside, cut off that massive muscle club of an arm, and stuck my blade into it. BLURP! Scratch one arm!

He kicked at me. I sidestepped, sliced, and another severed limb with strong tutti-fruity smell hit the floor. Another stab, and BLURP!

The giant balanced on one foot. “I scream for you scream…”

I was sick of that refrain. I sliced the giant into three pieces and stabbed three times. BLURP! BLURP! BLURP! Gone!

I was hitting the limits of my samurai stamina. My arms felt like I’d hit three dozen home runs in a minute. My legs begged for a break from my battling ballet. My tummy rumbled for a mango smoothie. My feet were soaked with melted ice cream. I cut more clones.

Ice Cream Guy’s hand crawled over Holly’s open mouth, which stuffily snored: “SKNFF! ULLLFP! KLURFFK! GLAK!” He stood up. He held up his long, skinny left arm, demonically grinning up at… a cotton swab? “EUREKA! Stall the samurai, my ice cream clones!”

The last six waiters stomped toward me. “I scream…”

VMMM, VMMM went my laser sword as I stabbed twice, oh, my aching shoulders. Two clones melted: BLURP! BLURP!

“For you scream…” I laser-bladed a barrel chest in two: VSHOOM! BLURP!

“We all scream…” My bright blade burned through two burly boys… wow, Holly would like that line! VMMM! VMMM! BLURP! BLURP!

“For ice cream.” I cleaved number six head-to-toe! VSHHHHHOOP! Leaving behind two creamy puddles: BLURP BLURP!

Ice Cream Guy stood next to the big barrel. I put one hand on my hip, smiled nicely, and pointed my sword at him. “Freeze. Your minions are melted.”

The lid of the barrel opened: FFSHOOP!

“All b-b-b-but one!” Ice Cream Guy plunged the cotton swab into the barrel and gestured like a mad scientist gone crazy conductor. “Ice cream… become… SUPER HOLLY HANSSON FLAVOR! HEH HEH HEH HEH HEH HEEEEEEEEH!!!!!”

The barrel shook. Glowed. And shattered with a BOOM! Thick, frosty mist cleared to reveal… HOLLY? No, a Super Holly Hansson clone! It had its hands on its hips like Wonder Woman. Six-foot-one like Holly, with Holly’s blue supersuit, long strong legs, fluttering red cape and long blonde hair, big blue eyes, and eagle beaky nose. Unlike Holly, the clone had a sugary sweet smile accented with sparkly strawberry lipstick, like a doll aimed at sensitive pre-schoolers. Super Holly dolls sold in stores smiled less and sold well. My dolls were starting to take off; Holly told me she had TALKED the toy makers into making those. Holly channeling guilt into rage again.

Ice Cream Guy’s adoring eyes licked his Super Holly clone like it was the tastiest ice cream cone in the universe. He folded his hands like he was at an alter. “So b-b-b-beautiful!” He pointed a long arm and stiff finger straight at me. “DESTROY HER!”

The clone walked toward me with a bimbo smile and Holly’s hip-swinging sashay. It sing-songed like a cheerleader, “I scream for you scream, we all scream for ice cream.”

It looked so much like my dear friend Holly, I had to get this over with fast! I leaped, my laser sword aimed right at her up-arrow chest logo, and I stabbed… stabbed… NO! My laser sword could not penetrate its skin!

Ice Cream Guy jumped up and down and clapped, he sure knew how to display triumph. “HEH HEH HEH HEH HEH! Fool! My ice cream clones have the same p-p-p-powers and abilities as the originals! A mere laser stick cannot harm Super Holly!”

I stepped back, back.

The Super Holly clone relentlessly sashayed forward, forward. “I scream for you scream…”

I concentrated hard on my laser sword. It brightened into an eye-hurting stick of sun. I planted my feet and thrust.

My sword flashed, sparked, sputtered on the clone’s belly: VVT! VVVP! ZZT! And didn’t go in.

“We all scream for ice cream.” The clone threw a fast super-strength right hook (Holly’s favorite punch)!

TO BE CONCLUDED! 192, SLAY #MochaMemoirs

I’m in an audio drama, an audio drama of the novel The Deathbringer by E.M. Markoff on! I play the shopkeeper. I was told to channel Dale Cooper from Twin Peaks. It was fun! If you are impatient, the story starts 9 minutes in, and the protagonist talks to the shopkeeper (me!) soon after that. Get a cup of tea, cider, or whatever, and sit back and hit play and enjoy.


Horror Addicts Episode# 192
SEASON 16 Cultural Horror
Horror Hostess: Emerian Rich
Intro Music by: Valentine Wolfe

192 – #SLAY | #valentinewolfe | #vampiresvsbronx | #blackvampires

Find all articles and interviews at:

 190 days till Halloween

Music: “I Felt a Funeral” by Valentine Wolfe

Ro’s Recs: #RLMerrill #VisionVideo

Catchup: 2021, better year? pandemic no fun, taxes, no zombies, still have to go to work

Audiodrama: #TheDeadbringer #emmarkoff, music: “Huitzillin” by Sarah Monroy Solis #sarisolis voices by james seo, dave strom, kadirah wade

Daphne’s Den of Darkness: #daphnestarsert #vampires

Frightening Flix: #Kbatz #KristinBatestella Vampires Vs. Bronx

Live Action Reviews: #CrystalConnor #Kindred

Dead Mail: martin: smoking comic, kate: horror movies help you burn calories, #TheShining

Bigfoot Files: #LionelRayGreen “The Mystery of Bigfoot” #HistoryChannel #AmericasBookofSecrets #WeJustNeedaBody

Historian of Horror: #MarkOrr in memoriam

Odds and Dead Ends: #KieranJudge #Blade #WesleySnipes

Nightmare Fuel: #DJPitsiladis #CongelierHouse 

NEWS: #GabrielandtheApocalypse, #JesseOrr #GypsyMob #FreeFiction, guest blogs:…

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My Thanos and Darkseid Mashup

I met my friend Frank last Sunday for lunch and the Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts, and then his wife Ruth invited me to stay for dinner (yummy enchiladas!). And I did my usual thing of blabbing about my Super Holly characters (if you get to know me, you’d better get used to that).

Backstory: In my Batman fanfic His Biggest Fan, I created a supervillain who is a combination of Darkseid and Thanos: Darknos. Darknos does not exist in Super Holly’s dimension, so he will not be a regular character. I will just use him when I want to poke fun at Darkseid/Thanos. Recently, I wrote another story that is my take on the Infinity Glove (and Cosmic Cube) stories. That story starts when Super Holly, during her weekly comic book run, is annoyed with Darknos on the covers of several Marvelous Comics comic books.

Anyhow, I talked about that story during dinner. Frank laughed when I mentioned Darknos. So the name works. To me, it sounds pompous, perfect for a villain who is full of himself.

This story also led to changing my mad scientist’s name from Stephan (bleh, boring) to Lionel Evilmore (a take on that old and wonderful actor, Lionel Barrymore, who played Mr. Potter in It’s a Wonderful Life).

Lil’ Abner‘s Al Capp said he liked names for his incidental characters that would render further description unnecessary. Some of my faves: Earthquake McGoon, Moonbeam McSwine, Stupefyin’ Jones, General Bullmoose, Nightmare Alice, J. Roaringham Fatback, Evil Eye Fleagle, and Lena the Hynea.

I am inspired to write similar character names. I have stories with Harry Headbutt, Billington Stumpfinger, the Karate Queen, the Smiling Samurai, Cal Critbert (based on movie critic Roger Ebert), Fran Lee (gender-flipped Stan Lee), and John Glutt (my take on Allas Shrugged‘s John Galt, with Comic Book Guy mixed in). Coming up: Bart Boofalugg (Brett Kavanaugh, anyone?).

My play-by-play of Synder’s Justice League

Justice League

Okay, I have a big plate of Mongolian Barbecue, a Vanilla Coke, pomegranate cider in reserve, mocha ice cream and blackberry Chardonnay sorbet, and my MacBook Pro in my lap. I have Zach Snyder’s Justice League on my Roku TV. I am ready to write my play-by-play. To borrow a line from Alan Moore, I am gonna get out there and make trouble!

What is with the 4×3 aspect ratio? Is this some sort of snooty cinema thing? Star Trek: Picard was wonderful, but I wondered why it needed the black bars on the top and bottom, this is NOT gonna be shown on a movie screen! FILL UP THE DAMN TV SCREEN, ALREADY!!!

Starts with a replay in dark dank gritty slo-mo of Superman screaming at the moment of his Doomsday death.

And here’s Cyborg, seeing his mother box get all throbby and popcorny. He delivers a look to the side. Here is Lex Luthor, looking at what looks like Borg cubes, and he delivers a look to the side. And here is Mera, looking all the way behind her to another mother box, and her facial expression looks… like it is not going anywhere.

And here are the Amazons surrounding another mother box, and they draw their swords. I wonder if I’ll see Amazon abs again. Uh, nobody in this movie has said anything yet. Zach, you know modern movies are talkies, just because you have an old-time aspect ration… oh, here goes the talking. “Alert the queen.” And cue up the sad violins. Again. And all the grey, grey, grey, grey ice, grey rock, grey music trying to convince me this is important. No, grey mountains are not important.

I chew more yummy Mongolian BBQ, this is gonna be a long night.

And nobody is talking again. Sigh.

Here is a title screen: PART 1. Bom, bom, bom!

The Whedon version had a more fun and interesting Aquaman. Now everyone talks like they are in The Walking Dead. Remind me to tell you that joke sometime. And Batman pulls out his ultimate weapon: a wad of cash.

I note I have to turn up the volume more than usual. 

What’s with the sad Swedish ladies? No subtitles, maybe they are mourning that they have to eat lutefisk… and here is Martha. Reminding me of that sucky “Martha” line in Bats vs Supes. Note to Zach: sons do not call their moms by their first names. Foreclosure sign on the farm.

And slo-mo Lois in the rain with sad singers and organ music (no dancing monkey). She is standing, staring at memorial. Back to Metropolis, rain has stopped, grey has not.

Oh boy, scary white vans at the museum. Lotsa guns. So, now that killer villains show up, time to make the music more exciting? Wonder Woman is cool! But even that music sounds a bit sad. She has a terrorist in her lasso, and the idiot smiles at her. Ah, at LAST, the cool WW music when she is mopping up those annoying terrorists. She throws the bomb, and slo-mo AGAIN? And a terrorist laughs AGAIN? Super Holly woulda knocked out his teeth by now and told him to stop being happy to be a butthead. Wonder Woman does the bracelet bang that shatters a lot of the building. But at least no one got hurt, except insurance rates will go up.

I see some Amazons have enough sense to armor their bellies. And it is boom tube time. Here is, oh, what’s his name, in shinier armor, and a deeper and more macho voice. You know, the Amazons had plenty of time to build really huge cannons, 16 ton weights, Moby Dick harpoons around that box. They shoulda thought ahead.

Okay, there’s the Amazon abs. Again. Seal up the cave! Let the fortress slo-mo fall over a cliff! Um, the sealing and falling, you might think about starting with that next time.

And speaking of starting, sad chorus music starts again. Sigh. And here comes the annoying bug men, I guess it is hard to crush a cockroach, the Amazon shoulda used Raid. And Steppenwolf, yeah, that’s his name. He says, “The great darkness begins.” Oh really, yuh think?

PART 2 The Age of Heroes

Steppenwolf at the nuclear plant. Best not to use the one in Springfield, you don’t want Mr. Burns mad at you.

Barry Allen on the monitors, he shoulda had a movie before Justice League. Not nearly enough buildup for this flick. Marvel did that right, DC was playing catch-up.

Back to that lab where Cyborg’s dad works. I am seeing the same scenes, but these are darker, grittier, ominous songier, and yes, sadder. Another bug man? I want Super Holly to stomp on one and scream, “I hate cockroaches! I’ll smoosh every last one of you!” STOMP STOMP STOMP STOMP STOMP!!!

Oh, the Amazon lit a fire. Um, there is this thing called the Internet. I shot an arrow in the air, where it lands, I know not where. Oh, in some stone building in the city where we get a 360 degree pan around it. Ooo, cinematic! And WW sees that fire on the television news. I still think email would have been more reliable.

Cyborg, as shiny as he is, is dark and gritty, especially his voice. I miss the BOO-YAH!

WW has the arrow, reads the writing on its shaft. And she jumps down another shaft. With a flaming torch, even though she knows what a flashlight is. Oh, the arrow is a key, how clever! Now let’s stare at wall paintings for a while and let scary music build up in musical slo-mo. And is that a Darkseid painting? When the heck did he visit Earth? if he was there before, why didn’t he take it over then?

Aquaman saves a sailor on a sinking ship. And now, Aquaman walking down a pier in slo-mo (can never have enough cinematic slo-mo, huh?) with sad male singer, “There is a kingdom, there is a king,” and I guess this royalty does not know what happiness is.

Oh, Aquaman won’t pick up the trident? I have to check if Aquaman came out first, I though he’d done that already.

Stepenwolf and Desaad are talking. Desaad looks like a metal glowing coal man, a effect of the weird walkie-talkie they use, cuz a display and speaker would not be cinematic. Steppenwolf owes 50,000 somethings? He either killed a bunch of the wrong people or he maxed out his credit cards.

Batman built a troop carrier? is he gonna put anything in it? Um, there are these things called the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force.

Okay, now we are getting direct exposition. Which is not telling me anything that I needed to know. Oh, here is Darkseid on Earth. Again, why not take it over then? Ah, the mother boxes! Mysterious living objects that turn planets into Darkseid worlds. (Making the boxes alive adds nothing to the story, didn’t Zach know that the Star Trek Next Gen Exocomp episode sucked?) Darkseid carving worlds into the shape of his head. Super Holly would answer with, “We do NOT need planet-size UGLY!”

You are fighting Darkseid with arrows? Where is Princess Leia and her thermal detonator when we need it?

Aaaaaaand, more exposition. Okay, Darksied tried to invade and failed, and the three mother boxes were left behind. On Earth. And they left them there. Still not clear if Darkseid created the boxes or not. I’m not caring much.

PART 3 Beloved Mother, Beloved Son

Okay, it’s about time we saw some Flash. He lightens the mood, and brother does this movie need that! A lot of buildup for the oncoming truck cliche. And Barry super-speeds. In slo-mo (which works here, for a change), to the sound of sad singing and piano music. Now, kindly let him save the girl, Zach. “Here I am, waiting to hooooooold you.” Yeah, I like that shot of the Flash and the puppies!

Steppenwolf grabs an Atlantean and ask where the mother box is. Super Holly would tell him. “I know where it is going, cuz I’m gonna shove it UP DARKSEID’S STONY FAT ASS!!!”

Batman and WW again. Out of uniform, of course. Looking at Bat-monitors, studying Atlantans. Pre cyborg Cyborg playing football in the snow. In more frakkin’ slo-mo and more frakkin’ sad violins. I don’t care for football, but I never though of football as sad. Victor (Cyborg) scores a touchdown. And afterward, he is sad. I guess because his dad was not there. And they get smacked by a car. More sad. And back to the present. 

Wow, this Mongolian Barbecue is really good, but so much of it. I might have to finish the rest tomorrow. (Editing note: I did. Such a deal.)

Um, Cyborg playing a Walkman? Too retro, failing to be cinematic. Cyborg flying a bit like Iron Man’s first flight. And no firewall can stop his mighty super-hacking! That is exposition that is not needed, just show him hacking sometime. SHOW, DON’T TELL! And now you say he can manipulate currency? Yeah, but can he pick a winning stock? “The question, no, the challenge, will not be doing it, but not doing it.” How about NOT giving us a line that claims to be exposition, but does not give any information? Ooo, Cyborg in Cyborg-space, making a stack of money. And gives it to someone in need. Okay, that is nice of him. And he squishes the Walkman.

Barry’s dad in jail, just like in the Whedon version. Dad tells Flash to stop coming to see him. Barry is now at the train station, I’d pay to see Mr. Incredible bench-pressing a train right now. Ooo, Barry has a Flash-cave, and Batman is in it (out of uniform again)! I still like their interaction here. I like this because it is much like the first JL movie scene. I love the line, “I am a snack-hole.” And Bruce has the same answer to what his superpower is: “I’m rich.” That line still works.

WW and Alfred. A gauntlet that absorbs/dissipates energy. Exposition again. JUST SHOW IT WORKING, maybe Bats says he picked up a trick from WW.

And WW goes to meet Cyborg on a dark street cuz Cyborg ominously turned off the lights. Cyborg: “F—k the world.” I still want “BOO-YAH!” Cyborg punching his grave. I guess that is supposed to be cinematic. 

Cyborg’s lab assistant makes a piece of Krypton metal heat up, “It’s the hottest thing on Earth.” My friend Casey Wickstrom would say, “Super Holly is hotter.”

Ah, I like J.K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon. A touch of class.

Here’s the Bat-signal. 

And back to Atlantis. And the mother box. And Steppenwolf, I guess he has gills. Underwater fight with Aquaman. Not slo-mo, thank goodness, even though it is underwater.

Okay, this movie takes a heck of a lot longer to get to where it is going. Longer is not better, regardless of what porn ads might say.

Well, now, good thing Cyborg was within eye-shot of the Bat-signal.

Steppenwolf: “They will tell me, or I will rip it from them.” Super Holly (who really hates bullies): “I’m gonna break every bone in your body! And after I’ve broken them, I am gonna feel so good about it that I will sit by your hospital bed until they heal up, and then I’ll break them all over again!”

PART 4 Change Machine

That title makes me think of Squidward saying, “Spare change, spare change?”

Ooo, heavy-metal going-into-battle music! Batman and friends going to rescue the Steppenwolf hostages. More pumpy music. 

Little spider brain-thought extractor. Super Holly hates spiders. Good WW music when she goes toe-to-toe with Steppenwolf. Nice fighting from Batman, nice moves from the Flash. And more heavy metal music with the nightcrawler. 

Steppenwolf o WW: “You have the blood of the old gods in you!” If he’d said that to Super Holly, she’d blow steam out her nose and grind out menacingly, “What did you call me?!?!” And then she would punch him through several thick steel walls.

Um, when Steppenwolf was holding the missile, why didn’t Cyborg make it go off? The old Hawkeye trick.

Um, Batman still does not know about that big fat glowing force-field fortress thingy in the Russian backwoods? Isn’t he The World’s Greatest Detective?

The Anti-Life Equation! Ooo, Darkseid is gonna kill us all… with MATH!!!

Darkseid: I have turned 100,000 worlds to dust looking for Anti-Life. Super Holly: “I knew you were a murderer. Now I know you’re a stupid murderer at that!” Benny the Rubber Cop: “Yeah, and there is no statutes of limitations on murder.”

And we see Cyborg created from the mother box. In a flashback. I kinda knew that from the previous version. And more stuff on how the mother boxes work. Look, you don’t need to explain all that. Just say how the bad guy will use them. On the old Gunsmoke TV show, they never, not once, told us how Matt Dillion’s gun worked. They just showed it working.

Sad Lois and sad Martha and sad music. And the sound is turned way down. I guess Zach thinks if sad gets too loud, it turns into happy, can’t have that. This Lois and Martha scene is not moving the story forward. Oh, she is the Martina Manhunter! Doing what, exactly? Setting up Lois for, um, what?

The mother boxes are scared of Superman? Really? 

PART 5 All the kings men

Grave digging. Where’s Marty Feldman when you need him? “What hump?”

WW is 5000 years old? How did Cyborg know that, Amazons don’t have internet!

And now Batman is operating on FAITH?!?! NO NO NO NO NO!!!!!! Batman is the smart one, he operates on BRAINS, and ZACH IS STILL TOO WILLFULLY STUPID TO KNOW THAT!!!

Cyborg just hacked into the military computers, so that previous exposition was NOT needed. I repeat: don’t explain how Matt Dillon’s gun works!

In the kewl Kryptonian ship. Oh, now we see Lois’ bedroom again, Lois sitting up in bed. sad music. Looks at the Clark pic. And… what? Suddenly she decides to get up at 3AM and do something stupid?

Suddenly I want Cyborg to say, “Resistance is futile. Supers will be assimilated.”

And Barry is explaining that he generates electrical power when he goes really fast. Really, we needed that exposition after we saw lightening flash around him every time he sped up?

Okay, why are we getting these pics of Earth burning up, and a bonfire of the Amazons? And Darkseid putting his hand on Superman’s shoulder? Dream sequences? NOT NEEDED!!!

Run, Barry, run!

Why is the mother box rising up? I guess so it can shoot up through the street and into the sky and then crash into a taxi. And there is Superman alive again. I want Trapper John to say, “He got better.”

Wait, why is shirtless Superman getting used to his super-senses all over again? Didn’t he already do that in Man of Steel? Do pecs-of-steel rewind super-senses?

Same JL and Supes fight. And Supes fries army vehicles. And this Batman doesn’t carry kryptonite. Zach, don’t you know what Blue Beetle said in Batman: The Brave and the Bold: “Batman always carries Kryptonite!”

This battle is taking a lot more time. That does not make it cinematic. Martin Scorsese, remember Woody Allen’s advice: “Make it shorter.”

Oh, there is Lois! She will make him remember! And no, Martian Manhunter was not needed to set that up, she’s a reporter, she’d watch the news, she would know! If you are gonna add Martian Manhunter to the movie, why not add him to the team?

And the boom tube again. Can’t the JL make it suck up a bomb?

Um, Cyborg’s dad sacrifices himself to, um, do nothing? The mother box was not destroyed. What the point of that, just make Cyborg feel bad? Oh, his father marked the box for thermal anomalies. Really? Couldn’t Batman have just stuck a Bat-tracer on it so that Daddy could live? Even 1960s Spidey knew how to do that! I repeat: BATMAN IS THE SMART ONE!!!

PART 6 Something Darker.

Darker? Do we have to? Any darker and I will spray Windex on my TV.

Back to Smallville, where Superman finally puts on a shirt, making ladies and gay men sad.

Okay, I am saving the rest of my Mongolian Barbecue for tomorrow. Time for some mocha ice cream and blackberry sorbet. Yum.

In the Bat Cave, which Barry likes. Geeks like this Flash. (Later edit: He seems to be liked in the autistic community, and that is a nice thing. Move over, Drax, you got company.)

And even more mother box exposition! WILL YOU STOP WITH THE FRAKKIN’ EXPOSITION ALREADY?!?! Alfred Hitchcock: Exposition is a pill that must be sugar coated. Hitchcock said that because he knew his cinema.

And how does Barry know that Darkseid has fought 100,000 other worlds? Wrong guy to say that.

Well, well, Superman in a cornfield. I admit it, that feels right. Lois is there. And now Martha, and he calls her Ma. LIKE HE SHOULDA CALLED HER IN THE PREVIOUS FRAKKIN’ MOVIE!!! Oh no, not more exposition, “They wanted me back for a reason.” No s—t, Sherlock!

Bat-cave again. And Batman discusses his dream of the Flash saying Lois is the key, hmm, it might mean something darker. Really, Bats? Now I know exactly why I prefer milk chocolate over dark, and I always will.

Steppenwolf: At last! I have my three Rubik’s cubes, gotta get ’em all! WHen’s Pikachu gonna jump outta one?

Ooo! Ooo! Amazon belly!

Ooo, the JL has a plan. And now we have sad Supes in his ship, sad music, seeing the JL in holograms, supposedly convincing him to fight. Really? Hasn’t he made up his mind yet? Or was this just an excuse to stuff him into a black Supersuit? What the frak was wrong with red and blue? HOW MUCH FRAKKIN’ DARK DO WE NEED?!?!

And the heavy metal music for Cyborg, and a pause for the Flash, and Batty music, and back to heavy metal for the whole JL gang again. 

I am getting my ice cream. For real this time, I did not before.

Batman again says, “C’mon, follow me, you damn insects.” But I would’ve loved for him to deploy a big can of Raid. Same scene of Batmobile attacked by bugs, and WW saves with a touch of Amazon opera.

Aquaman riding the dead bug like a surfboard is still cool. But we don’t need the slow-mo later. Too much slo-mo ruins the broth.

Okay, what’s with the “puny lives” speech? Is Steppenwolf dumb enough to think Wonder Woman will switch sides? Or lose her warrior mojo? And later he does it again? Why is that moron trying to piss off the super-strong, super-skilled warrior?

And Superman can pound on Steppenwolf. But again, he does not need to do that dressed in black, unless we, the wimpy audience, need to see that he is darker and thus can be lots more grimly bloody. And here, when the boom tube opens up, is where Batman should have said, “Hello, Darkseid. Have a nuclear warhead.” After Bats checked to be sure no civilians will be Hiroshimaed, of course.

Barry is so fast, why had he been delaying his run? And the run has more slo-mo, and ground forms under his feet for no reason, and it is taking forever to get to where he is going. Hmm, did he go back in time? Now, I finally see the need for a little exposition.

And we are back in Cyborg-space. Why? Is it moving the story forward? These spooks are the three mother boxes? Do they think they are fooling anyone?

Supes punches a defeated Steppenwolf, Aquaman stabs him, WW beheads him, and they grimly and toughly toss the dead body at Darkseid’s feet. I sigh. The JL should not have been judge, jury, and executioner, I hate the Gods-above-humans thing, I hate it, hate it, hate it. Instead, they should’ve hauled Steppenwolf off to jail, and in the epilogue, he is in a puny human courtroom, convicted of multiple murders, and he howls that these puny mortals have no hold on him, but oh yes they do! And by the way, maybe the JL shoulda called the Marines?

And again, I hate Superman in black.

The five stand, GODLIKE! Flash smiles, Superman sorta smiles, WonderWoman is hot. Okay, Aquaman is too, but I say that in a totally hetero way.

EPILOGUE: A father twice over.

Cyborg’s dad tells Cyborg he is proud of him. And we see Aquaman wants to see his father. But Superman had Johnathan Kent, and the Zach version was into Objectivism (do not argue with me, I will fight you on this). Hmm, now Batman is setting up a nice hall of justice? And Flash gets a “job job.” Okay, and Bruce is getting the old Smallville house back for Supes.

Hey, Cyborg smiled a little. He should smile more!

Batman poses on the Bat-Tank.

WW holds a spear. And Super Holly just growled at me, “Don’t touch that metaphor.”

Barry runs. Now THAT’S a smile!

And Supes is still in black? Why?

And here is Luthor. In the prison. Guard: “I am gonna have to come in there.” Why is Lex laughing, I repeat, Luthor should NOT be the Joker! Oh, I guess that was the Joker, Luthor is on a yacht meeting Deadshot. I liked Will Smith better, I am so SICK of gritty Walking Dead voices, it is why I stopped watching Arrow.

And how did Luthor ever figure out Batman was Bruce Wayne from inside prison?

And MORE bug people? Again? Is this another frakkin’ dream? WAY TOO MUCH EPILOGUE!!!And stop with the Lex-doing-Joker thing! STOPPIT!!! Or is it Lex? Or is it Joker?Or do I even care? Why isn’t the frakkin’ movie over yet? Roll the credits, already. Is this an alternate timeline? And Batman says he will kill the Joker slow? WHY? Batman is smart, and that means efficient. He would not play with his food. (And he is a LOT more interesting when he will not kill. Making him a killer makes him less interesting.) Oh no, Superman has switched sides! AND YES, IT IS YET ANOTHER FRAKKIN’ BAT-DREAM. This is not cinema, it’s pretentious feldercarb. This Batman has no detective ability, so he gets super-dreaming powers? As Cartman would say: Lame!

A little meeting between Martian Manhunter and Batman. This is okay, but it still feels stapled on. Give MM more screen time in a later movie. He deserves it.

This is not “A father twice over,” it is “The Energizer Bunny Epilogue. It keeps going, and going, and going, and going…”

I never thought I’d be grateful for the ending credits. The Alleluia song is played over the ending credits. I read that it was Zach’s late daughter’s favorite song. So I’ll give Zach that.

When I started watching this, I was wondering if it would be what some wrote about a similar-length version of the Heaven’s Gate movie: “It was deadly at that length. You really needed a transfusion afterwards.” Well, I feel okay. But I do not feel this was much of an improvement. (Later edit: I slept badly that night, I guess that need for a transfusion kinda snuck up on me.)

My quickie review: Longer, bloated, expositiony, greyer, grimmer, blacker, sadder, bloodier, slo-mo and dreamier, and not an improvement. I am amazed my bladder held out. I did not drink a 32 ounce cola like I did with Malcolm X. Spike Lee taught me that the brain can be fooled into thinking a 3 hour movie is 2 hours, but not the bladder.

Martin Scorsese tweeted that this movie was cinema. Um, no. The Marvel movies are better cinema. Heck, “Dude, Where’s My Car?” was sometimes better cinema cue it got the point across without stuffing in lotsa slo-mo and dream sequences! And FYI, “The Last Temptation of Christ” was mindless pap. I know, I saw it. The “I’m your heart, Jesus” line made a silly young lady in the audience giggle. That line was delivered by a lion, cut this Jesus has all the charisma of a wet napkin. I half expected a Macintosh computer to announce, “And I’m your brain, Jesus.” Sometimes supporting the arts hurts. To paraphrase Squidward Tentacles: Martin, go be pretentious somewhere else!

P.S. Okay, here is my Walking Dead joke. The problem with that show is all the men (dark gritty sore-throat-Batman resonant voice) TALK LIKE THIS. And all the women TALK LIKE THIS too. And all the children TALK LIKE THIS. As for the babies, they do not talk like that. But when they cry, they do not go, “Wah!” They go, (dark gritty sore-throat-Batbaby resonant voice) “WAHHH!!!”

P.P.S. I watched it on HBO Max, which I like. Hence the image. Good stuff on that channel, like Citizen Kane and Rocko’s Modern Life. Consider it.

Nothing Ruins Writing More Than Objectivism!

Mr. A by Steve Ditko. Really.

The proof is in the pudding! Or rather, the writing.

In the biography Abraham Riesman’s True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee, Abraham Riesman spends a lot of time saying Stan Lee was pretty much just a teller of tall tales, that all he did was fill in those little dialog boxes, hey, who cares how characters talk? This gets into the old Kirby-Ditko-Lee debate about who created what, whose ideas were original, who deserves credit, who created what. I say, so what?

I also say that ideas are a dime a dozen. If you spend any time writing, you will run into people who think they have a GREAT idea to be the next J.K. Rowling! I say, think about being the next Stan Lee. As in, write human characters. (Oh, and credit the writer. Kirby and Ditko did have to nudge Stan Lee about that. Credit! The! Writer! ALL OF THEM!!!)

I have posted about Jack Kirby. Kirby churned out decades of good writing and fantastic artwork. For me, when I hold Kirby and Lee side-by-side, Lee usually wins. But I found a Kirby fan’s essay about Kirby’s writing that I think is worth reading. Click here for the Dialog section of that essay.

I also posted how Steve Ditko deserved praise as a writer as well. I still think that Shade the Changing Man being cut off after nine issues is one of the great tragedies of the comic book world. (Batton Lash, the late artist and writer who drew the cover of my book, once told me to skip the DC Vertigo version.)

But Ditko got way too into Ayn Rand’s objectivism (virtue of selfishness, rational self-interest, look it up). Ayn wrote Atlas Shrugged, where super-industrialist John Galt genocided civilization because he didn’t want to pay taxes, but he did want to have his butt kissed, and he spent 40 pages in that book monologging about it. That book sucks.

An objectivist superhero is an oxymoron if there ever was one. George Carlin said, “The term Jumbo Shrimp has always amazed me. What is a Jumbo Shrimp? I mean, it’s like Military Intelligence – the words don’t go together, man.”

Ditko once refused to draw a dream sequence of a DC hero having a nightmare of being a villain, because he believed that a hero would not even subconsciously flirt with the idea of being evil. Ditko said of superheroes, “They are perfect in overcoming the flawed supervillains, saving the world, the universe, yet helpless to solve their common, average, ordinary personal problems. It is like creating a perfectly physical adult with the reasoning limits of a six-year-old.”

So Ditko created, drew, and (unfortunately) wrote his objectivist superhero, Mr. A. In his first story, Mr. A tells a weepy woman, “I don’t abuse my emotions!” His emotions, mind, and what passes for his morality are just one thing: MY-PERFECT-RATIONALITY-PUTS-ME-ABOVE-ALL-OTHER-LESSER-MINDS-EVERYWHERE!!! Mr. A tells the weeping woman that he can save only her, or the EEEEVIL (and gleeful, but not in a fun Emperor Palpatine way) punk who stabbed her in the tummy and now hangs several stories high from a convenient flagpole. Problem is that Mr. A then flooded most of the next several panels with Objectivist blah-blah-blah pontification (for a guy who has no internal conflict, he does that a lot). If he had just shut up, he’d have had time to save both the whiny woman and the nasty punk. There is a reason that the only issue of Mr. A I can read without grinding my teeth is the one with no dialog, just artwork.

I bought Ditko/Lee Spider-Man comic books when they first came out (yeah, I’m that old). A friend of mine said he liked Spider-Man better than those DC supers because Spider-Man had girl troubles, money problems, stuff that regular people worry about. The reason Marvel Comics leaped over DC Comics is because Marvel superheroes had “common, average, ordinary personal problems” that readers identify with, not (at the time) DC’s practically-perfect-in-every-way superheroes (Mary Poppins excepted).

With Spider-Man, Stan Lee wrote superheroes who talked like regular people, and he got the everyman. With Mr. A, Ditko tried to write the ubermensch, but got the uber-schmuck. Read one issue of Mr. A and you will know what the A really stands for. (Yes, that line is in my stories.)

P.S. In my Super Civil War novel (I’m still writing it), Super Holly Hansson will be sick and tired of saving people who might not be so nice. Maybe she’ll think about having people sign an ARE-YOU-SEXIST-RACIST-UNWORTHY-BULLY form before she saves them? I’ll try to make her blabbing about that more humorous than Mr. A’s stainless-steel deadpan.

P.P.S. Mr. A likes to hand people a business card; half white, half black, are you good or are you evil, CHOOSE!!! Super Holly Hansson would toss that card (which would turn heroic true blue after she touches it) and hand Mr. A a card with a big * (asterisk) on it, and she’d say, “I made this especially for you, butthead!” Mr. A would look at the card and announce, “I am not an asterisk!” Holly would yell back, “Haven’t you ever read Kurt Vonnegut?