Invulnerable, but not boring!

Nickelodeon’s superhero comedy show, The Adventures of Kid Danger, is in its final season. This show is one of my guilty pleasures. It is mostly about Henry Danger, the sidekick to the superhero. Captain Man is heroic, handsome, conceited, pontificating, brave and bold, and his superpower is… hmm, let’s do a flashback.

THE NICKELODEON WRITER’S ROOM. A BRAINSTORMING SESSION SEVERAL YEARS AGO.

Writers are sitting around a table. A guy in a Spongebob t-shirt says, “We gotta get into this superhero thing! Lookit all the moolah those movies are making!”

A guy in a Superman t-shirt(size XXXXXXL, he is build like the Simpson’s Comic Book Guy) sits with a sourpuss pout. “Yeah. At Marvel. But didja see DC’s Man of Steel?”

A man in an Iron Man t-shirt sighed deeply. “Why don’t you tell us for the two hundredth time?”

“Making Superman and his dad follow that objectivist crap?” The Supes-t-shirt guy stands up, making his 49 inch waist wave and roll like a tsunami. He thrusts out his pudgy arms to strangle something invisible. “If I had the power of time travel, I’d strangle Ayn Rand! WHILE SHE’S STILL IN HER CRIB!!!”

He sits back down—THOOM!!!—and crosses his arms, which makes his blubbery chest stop bouncing a few seconds sooner.

A young woman in a Black Widow t-shirt glares at him. “Hey, it’s only a movie, if you don’t like it, don’t watch it.”

Supes guy turns red in the face. He opens his mouth and clenches his teeth. “I will let that go. I see you are new here. But we must respect the fanboys!”

The woman meets his fiery gaze. “And fangirls!”

The man nods. “I totally concur! We must give the children Marvel type heroes! Flawed! Funny! Heroic!”

The woman nods, and wipes off a tear. “Like Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy.”

Everyone at the table puts their hand over their hearts and choruses, “Ernest and Tim, we hardly knew yee.”

The Iron Man guy says, “Okay, let’s do a kid sidekick show. Kids like seeing kids. All we gotta do is create a superhero, and we got it!”

Supes guy and Black Widow gal shoot him withering glares. “Really? A kid hero-worships the hero? Where’s the FUN?!?!”

Iron Man guy says, “Oh, when the superhero is being shot or hit or something, and everything just bounces off, the kid can scream when he almost gets caught in the crossfire and the hero stands, hands on hips, heroic smile, and says, ‘You cannot hurt me!'”

The woman’s lips curls. “I hate him already.”

Supes says, “Bah! The reason Superman is hard to write is that he is invulnerable!”

The woman says, “Don’t forget the…” she pantomimes a big fat yawn, “perfect personality.”

Supes says, “Of course. We can make our superhero conceited, full of himself!” He stands again, hands on hips, and thrusts out his ample chest and belly. “A hero with a hilariously obnoxious personality!”

The woman smiles. “Where’d you get that idea?”

Supes says, “But there is that problem of invulnerability. If nothing can hurt him, where’s the danger?”

The woman says, “You know, it’s funny. Superman has bled, he’s even died.”

Iron Man guy says, “He got better.”

The woman says, “My point is you are either 100% invulnerable or zero percent.”

The writer’s room door open fast, smacking Supes in the butt. A pizza guy enters the room. “Pepperoni and anchovies?”

Supes guy stumbles, holding his butt. “Ooo! Ooo! Ooo! That smarts!”

Iron guy laughs. “Ain’t you invulnerable?”

The woman ogles Supes. She smiles big, bigger, BIGGER! Her eyes look like fireworks are going off! “Eureka! Yes, YES, YESSSS!!!”

Supes guy glares at her. “What is so frakin’ funny?”

The woman says, “What if Superman said, ‘Ouch?'”

Supes guy’s eyes light up also. His smile become that of a great white shark about to feast on unsuspecting, 18-21 year old, muscle-beach, sculpted lean meat surfers. “Yes! YES!!! HE IS INVULNERABLE!!! BUT…”

The woman rushed up to him and hugs him! “But he still says ‘OW!'” And the woman and Supes guy dance around the room, not caring how they bash the table and knock over chairs and spill pizza and high-caffeine colas.

Supes guy says, “Think of the slapstick! Boulders bounce off his big stupid cement head, and he says, ‘Ouch, ooo, owie!'”

She laughs. “Lasers bounce off his chest, and he scream, OOOOCH, my nipples! If we can sneak that past the censors.”

Supes laughs, expertly spinning her. “We’ll call it hot purple nurples!”

The woman laughs as she whirls to a stop and embraces him to get right up to his face. “But you know what he needs!”

Supes dips her. “Of course. A catchphrase.”

The woman smiles wickedly, then winces. “Ooo, kink in my back!”

Supes’ face gets worried. “Are you hurt?”

She smiles. “No. I’m okay.”

Their faces, mere inches apart, light up. He says, “THAT’S IT!!!”

She says, “Anvils bash his head, rockslides bury him, huge burly wrestlers pick him up and bash him onto the hard concrete floor, and he says ‘OW OUCH OOO THE PAIN,’ and then he gets up and smiles and says…”

Supes lifts her high and they crow together, “I’M OKAY!!!”

He sets her down. “We need a skirt in the show also.”

She says, “Of course. Two guys together doing dangerous stuff? Get a smart girl to be the voice of reason!”

Supes lowers her. She smiles up at him. They say, “I think I love you!” They kiss.

Iron guy munches pizza and says, “Ah, I love when ideas come together. Take that, Ayn Rand!” He shakes his fist at the heavens. “MOO HAHAHAHA… wait. Wrong direction.” He shakes his fist toward the center of the Earth. “MOO HAHAHAHAHA!!!”

OKAY, BACK TO DAVE!

Captain Man, a hero who is indestructible, but who still says ouch. Who gets bashed and mashed and comes back for more. I wonder where they got that idea…

YEARS AGO. THE MARVEL BULLPEN.

Stan Lee is shaking his head. “Guys, we need a new type of hero and we need one now!”

Roy Thomas and Les Wein (Hulk and Spider-Man t-shirts, respectively) say (respectively), “Uh, how about a teenage superhero?” “But bulletproof?”

Stan looks like someone force-fed him a lemon. “What? No! If he’s invulnerable, we just got a younger and even-more-boring Superman!”

WHAM! The door opens, hitting Stan in the nose. The pizza guy says, “Uh, pepperoni and anchovies?”

Ron and Les jump out of their chairs and huddle around Stan. “You okay? Does it hurt? You gotta little nosebleed!”

Stan pulls a hanky out and dabs his nose. “Nah, I’m fine, it’ll get better.”

Les Wein’s eyes light up. “Yeah. YEAH!!!”

Roy says, “Wait… YEAH!!!”

Stan looks at both. “What?”

Roy and Les babble together: “A hero who is tough and fights and gets shot and stabbed and punched and kicked and lasered and smashed! AND HE HEALS UP AND GETS BETTER!!! REAL FAST!!! And he fights again with the fury of a honey badger!”

Stan says, “Um, how about a wolverine?”

Les says, “Iron Man has armor on the outside, so he never says OW.” Les grins wickedly. “But what if this Wolverine guy…”

Roy says, “Is armored on the inside! Invulnerable skeleton! Bullets blow bloody holes in him! Swords stab into his chest and out his back! Knives gouge hunks of flesh off his arms and legs! And he gets up and heals fast and says…”

Stan Lee shouts, “‘Is that all yuh got, bub?'”

Stan and Roy and Less hug and jump for joy. “The blood! The gore! The violence! The kids will love it!”

Captain Man and Wolverine. Invulnerable does not have to be boring.

Story Critique: Super Holly wouldn’t do that!

At my critique group yesterday, I handed in a draft of the audio story I intend to enter into the San Mateo County Fair Literary Contest. And one lady who usually likes my writing did not like Holly saying “OW!”

This story is set in Hollys future when she has been married to Cal “The Intelletual” Critbert for a couple of years, and is very very very very pregnant. And she is stubbornly out fighting crime, facing the feared Ma Barker gang, when she is hit with labor pains. Since the music for this story is The Blue Danube, her cries of pain sing along with it: “You’re under arrest— OW OW! OW OW! You have the right to remain silent— OW OW! OW OW!” And finally, “Anything you say— OW OW! OW OW! Can used against you— OW OW! OW OW! In a court of lawwwww, OW OW OWWW, OW OW, OW OW, OW OWWWWWWWW!!!”

The lady felt Holly should not be vulnerable, because Holly has always been strong. In other words, she has read enough Super Holly to say, Holly wouldn’t do that. (I am not posting that story yet because it was rougher that what I usually hand out to my critique group.)

Ladies commenting about Holly has happened before. When I performed The Intellecta Rhapsody at my presentation at Half Price Books, one lady said Holly would not whine. I think she felt Holly would not plead and beg the Intellecta-car to please please PLEASE help her stop a giant super-tank driven by Rocky the gangster from running over the roadblock fronted by her beloved Uncle Pops. No, Holly would not whine!

Actually, Holly can be vulnerable, and can even whine once in a while. I have always wanted Holly to be very human, and flawed. (Superman can be so perfect, and so boring!) But these ladies did classic fangirl behavior (my hero would not do that!), and that makes me feel good.

Holly being flawed might lead to another post. At a small comic con, I met a guy who played a superhero on TV when he was a younger man. He felt that a recent movie about that superhero should have been heroic. Hero meant being an icon, not being flawed. He might address this in a book he is writing about that acting job. I will likely buy it, he told good stories on his panel. But I would disagree about his view of heroes. Superheroes are more interesting when they are human. Flawed. Internal wars as well as external. Indiana Jones has a snake phobia, Holly is creeped out by spiders. Superman is polite and well-mannered when taking the bad guys to jail (yawn), Holly gets so mad at the bad guys that steam rockets out her nose when she is about to go super-heavyweight boxer on them.

So thank you, my fangirls. May Super Holly continue to entertain you. I will try to keep Holly true to her heroic, brave, fierce, and flawed self.

P.S. One year ago, Batton Lash, the artist and writer who did the cover art for Super Bad Hair Day, passed away. He helped design Holly’s costume, and he had the perfect idea of Holly having an up-arrow on her chest. Super Holly and I will always miss him.

Well, here’s another racist mess you’ve gotten me into!

This cartoon is from the graphic novel American Born Chinese by award-winning indy comics creator Gene Yang. Looks like a young adult novel that can teach well. But some writers don’t learn.

I read articles about the Romance Writers of America controversy about Courtney Milan criticizing Kathryn Lynn Davis’ novel as a “racist mess.” Milan is half-Chinese. Davis is white (like me). I wondered about exactly what Milan objected to, I suspected she was upset for a reason.

I went to the source. I googled Milan’s Twitter on this subject (click here to read it for yourself). I read the bits of the novel that Milan had trouble with. Guess what? It is a racist mess!

The half-Chinese, blue-eyed (is the other half super-duper Swedish?) protagonist describes Chinese characters as “turned slightly yellow from the London sun”. Are they trying out for The Simpsons?

Don’t forget their “slanted almond eyes”. Funny, the protagonist was raised in China, but she does not say white characters have chalky skin and round eyes. Milan said, “She’s literally describing absolutely normal people to her as if she were a white woman talking about a foreigner.”

I get that. I even grok that. I am a straight older Christian-raised white guy who grew up in a dairy community (ah, the sweet smell of silage). If I had ever described my Japanese-American character Kittygirl or her mother as having yellow skin and slanted eyes, my critique group would have roasted me.

I value my critique group female opinions on Super Holly (go easy on the boob jokes, Dave!). I had Kittygirl admire Super Holly’s long blonde hair; they said Kittygirl should not be envious (so Kittygirl loves her own long black hair, it’s like a cape!). I ran my Fred “Flex” Lexington character (super-powered gay bodybuilder) past a gay minister friend (and Macintosh user!); he pointed out stereotypes to avoid. (Lesbians should not throw themselves at Holly, gays don’t throw themselves around! I agreed, but there is evil and good superpowered emotional control in the story. I will rewrite to improve my slapstick kissy-kissy. Writing is learning and rewriting.)

I am a technical writer. I talk to engineers. Expert sources. People who know what they are talking about. People who do not just write it, they live it. Kathryn Lynn Davis, try a tech writing gig in smart, diverse Silicon Valley. You can learn something.

P.S. Boy oh boy, did I have trouble phonetically writing dialog for Kittygirl’s Japanese-born-and-raised mom. Hey, I’ll replace all the Rs with Ls! Then I’ll replace all the Ls with Rs! And… uh… no.

Story Critique: The Peril of the Purloined Powers, part 1!

I had fun with my Batman fan fiction (His Biggest Fan is finished, just needs a little editing). So I decided to write more fanfic. I can actually sell the story whose start I post below because the character I use is public domain. (I am working on The Comic Book Code novel also, stop hounding me! Well, someone could start hounding me and then stop.)

I took the start of my upcoming story, The Peril of the Purloined Powers, to my critique group last Saturday. I added their comments in [bold and in brackets]. I did not put my edits into the story posted here, but I did edit my original copy accordingly. Any of my blog readers are welcome to comment as well. I should mention that I value feedback from writers above all others.

SUPER HOLLY HANSSON IN: THE PERIL OF THE PURLOINED POWERS!

SHHHTHOOOOK! Again, the ear-popping sound of the dimensional portal spitting me out like a bad oyster [nice]. Sunny sky and buildings and streets kaleidoscoped around me like I was in a blender. [smiley face, nice image]

KERWHUMP!!! Again, I smacked hard on Terra Firma. I could take it, being super-strong, but I was gonna tell my super-intelligent boyfriend that I wanted softer landings.

Fifty feet directly above me in the bright sunny sky was a whirling multi-colored disk of light. I did not have to crane my neck to see it, since I was flat on my back. I thought a farewell as it vanished: See you in a week. [?]

Time to get my bearings. I tapped the FIND MOMMY app on my e-bracelet [throw-away—you’ve dropped this and left it without reaction to whatever it’s supposed to do] and stood up in the foot-deep crater I’d gouged into the dirt-paved [oxymoron?] road. The air was warm, dry, and dusty. Horses pulled carriages with a CLOP CLOP CLOP. Brick and mortar buildings lining the street were grey and sepia, like when TV shows show the audience, [perceptive] See, it’s the past, because everything is sepia! If it was the future, everything would be chrome!

[paragraph is good imagery and description] Dozens of sidewalk pedestrians ogled me. Their clothes were right out of Victorian London: brown tweedy suits and ties, itchy-looking shirts, suspenders, bowler hats, vests, and how did that woman stand wearing a hoop skirt that could house a family of four? One older man with a handlebar mustache craned his head toward me, his monocle popped out, and he blurted, “Aye, there, missy, yew’re showin’ way more ankle than is propah!” [He’s rich, so not the right accent or vocals.] A dozen dirty and ragged street kids pointed at me and laughed: “HAW HAW HAW, th’ circus is in town!” One mouth-breathing man’s eyes bugged at me until his girlfriend hooked his arm and yanked him down the street: “Come along, ‘erbert, and put yer bloomin’ eyes back in yer ‘ead!”

[over the top descriptions really work] Wow, those English accents would launch Henry Higgins’ head into orbit. My clothes were right out of a comic book: blue supersuit and red cape, why dress to blend in when I had no idea what parallel world I was going to visit? I guessed these people had never seen superheroine legs before, but at least they didn’t mention—

“WHEE-EEE-EEE-EEE!!! PUH PUH, P-P-PUHHHH!!!” Horse spittle splattered the side of my face, YUCK! I turned to face a snorting, snuffling, head-shaking beast that made a Clydesdale look like a pony. I stepped back, although that beast could not hurt my stronger-than-steel body. That horse was hitched to a wheeled giant safe of a carriage.

“Aye, yew or!” A gurgly gravelly bellow. I’d always felt horses had dinosaur brains, and the driver atop that carriage was a match for his steed: [good description] tall and wide, fatty muscle burly, bulbous broken nose, sweaty greasy face looking to do a beat-down to end all beat-downs. “Git yer balloony bosom offa dah street! I gotta delivery, YEW OR!” [Do they all have the same accent? Accents are all over the place. This guy sounds like a pirate and miner 49er. (the funniest comment yet! I did edit the accents, but I still kept some Cockney. And I love writing phonetically, but it must be done carefully, it can get out of control fast.)]

GRR, why does sexism have to spill into every dimension? And ‘or’ what— HEY! My blood boiled in a nanosecond! Steam blasted out my nose! I put my hands on my hips and bellowed back at the bully, “Take that back, you frickin’ frakin’ pile of rancid Yorkshire pudding!”

The driver’s face flushed red. Spittle flew from his big fat mouth: “Stomp ‘er, Nessie!”

“WHINNNYYY!!! PUH PUH PUH!!!” The horse reared up and bashed its hooves on me. That didn’t budge or hurt someone who could juggle army tanks, but it was annoying [cute!]. “Quit it, you dumb brute— GLUK!” BLEH, hoof in mouth!SPIT, SPLUT, what have you been stepping in?” STOMP, KICK, STOMP STOMP! “I said, QUIT IT!” STOMP, KICK KICK! “Okay, I warned you!” Screw PETA, I wound up my right-hook, and POW!

WHUMP! Just like in Blazing Saddles, the horse hit the street like a ton of horseburger. The driver scrambled off of his coach and to his unconscious engine. “OY! Giddup, Nessie! GIDDUP!” He kicked it. “OWWWWW!!!”

I thought about clobbering the thug who was hopping on one foot, but his attempt to waken his equestrian elephant had put more pain into him than I cared to inflict.

Men in old-time police uniforms and English Bobby helmets (right down to the front-and-center helmet badges) swarmed about me and the carriage. “Ello, ello, ello! Whut’s all this, then?”

One Bobby took a hard look at the carriage driver. “Aye, ‘arry! Stomping ladies ain’t legal!”

Another Bobby put his reassuring hand on my shoulder. I was happy to see his eyes firmly upon mine, his mind was all-business. “Are yew all right, Missy?”

I grasped his hand on my shoulder and turned that into a handshake. “I’m fine, thank you. Need any help?”

The Bobbies near the carriage were not doing so fine. “Oy! The door’s locked up tight!” “It’s thick steel!” “Whut contraband you draggin’ today, ‘arry?”

The thug’s thick lips curled as the Bobbies handcuffed him. “Nunna yer business.”

Well, as long as I was here… I walked over and gave the carriage door a yank. It flew off its hinges. I smiled at the Bobbies. “Remember, just what’s in plain sight.”

Bobbies scrambled inside. “We ‘it the jackpot!”

The Bobby whose hand I had shaken put his hands on his belly and laughed loud. “HAW HAW HAW!!! Inspector Lestrade will want to see yew!”

LESTRADE? I gawked at the street sign. BAKER STREET? I grabbed the Bobby’s shoulders. “Yes, I promise I’ll see him, I will I will! But…” I spotted a number on one of the buildings. The 200 block! YES! “I just gotta see HIM!”

With a slight frown, the Bobby followed my anxious eyes down the street. “Oh. ‘im. ‘E works with Lestrade sometimes. Run along, but see Lestrade soon.”

“Thanks!” My cape fluttered as I ran down the street and past gawkers! 201, a flower shop… 209, a bakery… 215, an accountant office… THERE! 221 Baker Street!

I twisted the doorknob, yanked the door open, strode inside, and slammed the door behind me: WHAMMMM!!!

Oops. I checked the door. No damage. I had to remember that the 18th century might be fragile. I looked up the stairway. I stepped once, twice, thrice… I CAN’T WAIT! I literally flew up the stairs, made sure to land gently, and knocked on the door emblazoned with a “B.”

An intellectual voice, perfect diction, sounded SO MUCH like Jeremy Britt! “Watson! Kindly open the door for the tall young woman with super-strength and the power of flight, and who works with law enforcement!”

The door opened to reveal, just like in A Study in Scarlett, a thirtyish man of the medical type, but the air of a military man. The apartment behind him was littered with chemistry tubes, stacks of books, and a bullet hole in the sofa. His eyes widened as he grinned at me. “My, my! Come in, young lady! You are?”

I strode in, grasped his hand, and pumped it. “Super Holly Hansson! Doctor John Watson, I presume? I’m a huge fan of…” I adjusted my thoughts to the proper author, Watson was real here! “YOUR writing!”

Watson patted my hand. “Thank you. But I suspect I am not the one you came to see. Holmes?”

The sight of Sherlock Holmes standing by a window and bathed in sunlight triple-somersaulted my fangirl heart! He scrutinized the street like a cat looking to pounce upon a crime. He had a couple of inches over my six-foot-one, but he was so lean that he seemed even taller. He turned and scanned me, his sharp eyes not at all unkind. His thin nose was bird-of-prey beaky, like mine. His hair, what showed under his deerstalker hat [why is he wearing a hat indoors?], was perfectly trimmed. He wore a long overcoat and comfy-looking shoes. His heroic chin was resolutely square. Basil Rathbone? Jeremy Britt? No, THE Sherlock Holmes nodded at me! “How may I help you?”

I wished I had a copy of The Hound of the Baskervilles that he and Watson could sign! But I’d love this: “Please, Mr. Holmes, tell me how you deduced all that about me!”

[Change to make the dialog more Holmesian.] Holmes chuckled to himself a moment. “Watson and I were observing the armored carriage from this window, when we glimpsed a disk of light in the sky from which you shot like a cannonball into the street. Then you stood up and casually brushed yourself off. Watson’s professional diagnosis was that you must be strong as steel. [show don’t tell] I heartily [Holmes usually doesn’t use felling words] agreed. Then you pulled the door off that armored carriage. [expand this, it’s interesting] The instinct of a civilian would be to step back and let the police do their business, but you helped them as though you were on the job. Then [then circled] you ran toward my address. The downstairs door slammed brutally. Then [then circled] a moment of silence, as though someone regretted overuse of strength. Then [then circled] three footsteps, then a pause of one second, then a knock upon my door. There are precisely seventeen steps leading up to my flat. Barring [would he use that word?] a superhuman leap up the staircase that would have resulted in a thud near my door, which did not occur, I theorize that in addition to your power of strength, you also have the power of flight. If you will indulge me?” [circled indulge, but I’m keeping it.]

I levitated a few inches off the floor. “How’s this?”

Watson clapped and laughed. “Bravo, Holmes!”

Holmes waved his hand dismissively. “Elementary, my dear Watson. My dear Holly, your trip through that other-worldly gateway must have been disorienting, or you would have attempted a softer landing.”

I landed on the hardwood floor and giggled. “You would not believe how dizzying dimension-hopping is, thank god I didn’t smash anyone on impact— HUH?!?!” My jaw dropped. “How did you guess that?”

Holmes’ eyes gleamed with steely impatience. [too easy] “I never guess. That gold band on your left wrist that projects an image of a woman twice your age? Your boots and hip purse, made of shiny tough substances neither cloth nor leather? Technologies too advanced for this world. Watson, the disk of light from which Holly fell, what did you observe on its other side?”

Watson’s eyebrows shot up and his eyes widened, giving his normally intelligent face an uncomfortable resemblance to Nigel Bruce. “Why, nothing!”

Holmes raised a long finger in triumph. “Quite so! But surely Holly came from somewhere. My friend Professor Challenger gave a lecture last year on the possibility of parallel worlds. I read his research.” His gaze intensified on me like an analytical cobra. “Fascinating.”

I was grinning like a schoolgirl with a crush on teacher. “Yes. You’re a fictional character in my world. But you are still called the world’s greatest detective.” I looked at the hologram above my e-bracelet and swallowed a lump in my throat. “Holmes, can you help me find my mommy?”

TO BE CONTINUED!

[Very enjoyable. Now I know how important it is to know all the characters in a fan fiction. You had eliminated a lot of the sound / noise and that made it easier for me to understand the plot.] (I think this means the sound effects I toss in, like POW and SKAPLATT and BTT-KER-THOOOM!!! I intend to keep them in my stories, but I agree they should be spices, not the main course.)

[From our fearless leader, who has read a lot of Holly stories: I think it is well-written, but admittedly the first-person POV (point-of-view) is throwing me, mostly because it is not as smooth as the normal narrator you have.] (I will still try for first-person in this story. I usually try for close third POV, but since Conan Doyle always wrote Watson in first person, I would like to do Holly that way as well for this story. I wrote one other Holly story in first person some years ago, and it worked well enough. I will see how the story goes, I can alway rewrite if need be.)

 

For Talk Like A Pirate Day: Sulu’s Gay Trek!

In honor of today being Talk Like A Pirate Day, I again repost one of my fanfics.

SULU’S GAY TREK! (OR HOW SULU CAN BE STRAIGHT IN RODDENBERRY STAR TREK AND GAY IN J.J. ABRAMS STAR TREK WITHOUT BREAKING CANON!)

SCENE 1:
THE BRIDGE OF THE ROMULAN MINING STARSHIP NARADA, WHERE CAPTAIN NERO, A MANLY ROMULAN MINING MAN, SITS IN THE CAPTAIN’S CHAIR AND FROWNS, MAKING HIS MANLY FACIAL TATTOOS EVEN MORE MANLY.

CAPTAIN NERO: Avast, me mighty manly Romulan mining crew, for aboard me mighty manly starship, even the women are mighty manly! Our big mining starship has just passed through a big space-time rift, and now I spy a puny little starship whose captain might tell us where to find that logical Spock scoundrel upon whom we wish to wage our manly vengeance! ARM ALL WEAPONS!!!

THE MIGHTY MANLY ROMULAN MINING CREW: Aye aye, Captain! ARRRR!!!

SCENE 2:
THE BRIDGE OF THE FEDERATION STARSHIP KELVIN.

FIRST OFFICER GEORGE KIRK: (talking on his communicator) Really, honey? Your labor pains feel like he’s throwing full body blows?

THE NAVIGATOR: (a young man of Japanese descent hunching over his navigation console) Sir? I detect a tremendous space-time-from-the-future disturbance from that giant stormy rift! And another incredibly manly disturbance from that gigantic ship that just emerged from the rift! (He studies the readings.) As though everyone on that ship is so manly that they only like other… wait, the disturbances are combining…

THE CAPTAIN OF THE KELVIN: Into what?

THE NAVIGATOR: Into a concentrated energy wave that covers the entire sexual spectrum! And it’s heading directly at our ship! Um, along with a bunch of really big torpedoes and disruptor rays.

THE CAPTAIN OF THE KELVIN: You might have led with that last thing. SHIELDS UP!

SOUND EFFECTS: SKRAAA-CHOOOOOOOOMMMM!!! FZZT! BZZT! ZZZZZURP! THUMP BUMP WHUMP!!!

The entire bridge lurches to tilt at a 30 degree angle. Sparks fly out of control consoles that, after all these centuries, still do not have circuit breakers installed. Crewman fall out of their chairs.

THE NAVIGATOR: (picking himself off the floor) When are they gonna put seat belts on starships? (He checks his console.) Oh no, shields are down! We’re open to any energy attack imaginable!

A rainbow energy baseball rushes toward the main bridge viewscreen, and through it, and onto the navigator’s fly.

THE NAVIGATOR: (doing a double back flip) wwwwWWWWOW!!!

THE CAPTAIN OF THE KELVIN: What was THAT?

THE NAVIGATOR: (staggering) Oh… my… I just felt a surge of incredibly manly energy! Enough to bend sexual space-time 180 degrees!

The main viewscreen lights up with Nero’s mighty manly face.

CAPTAIN NERO: Avast, enemy captain! I be Nero of the Romulan mining ship Narada! Shiver yer timbers over to me bridge where I will torture you for information about that scurvy dog, Admiral Spock!

THE CAPTAIN OF THE KELVIN: Admiral who?

THE NAVIGATOR: Narada? Isn’t that Romulan for raging rainbow?

CAPTAIN NERO: (his tattooed face turning several shades of red, or green if that is the color of Romulan blood) ARRRRR!!! Me blood be boiling with rage! Prepare to enter the Romulan version of Davy Jones’ Locker!

THE CAPTAIN OF THE KELVIN: (disappearing in a transporter beam) But I’m not even wearing a red shirt!

THE NAVIGATOR: (to the first officer) Sir, their incredibly big and manly weapons are powering up again. Speaking of manly, shall we man all escape pods?

FIRST OFFICER GEORGE KIRK: Yeah, save one for me while I distract Mr. Romulan Road Rage. Computer! Set the autopilot for a collision course with that mining ship!

Computer voice from control console: (singing) Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do.

FIRST OFFICER GEORGE KIRK: Nuts. Looks like I’m the designated driver.

SCENE 3:
CAPTION: A FEW YEARS LATER.

A hospital room. The navigator stands beside a hospital bed where a young Japanese woman holds her newborn baby.

THE WOMAN: (lovingly looking at the navigator) He’s beautiful. (She looks at the baby.) Little Hikaru Sulu. My healthy and strong baby boy. And so stubborn!

THE NAVIGATOR: How so?

The woman points to the baby’s diaper. It is colored like a rainbow.

THE WOMAN: We tried white, blue, and even pink, but he kept tearing them off.

THE BABY: (looking into the camera and smiling) Oh, my!

David Reiss’s Doctor Fid trilogy is complete! Buy it!

Fellow author and friend David Reiss has completed his trilogy about Doctor Fid, alpha-supervillain on a hero’s journey. I cannot recommend this trilogy highly enough. So I will pay it my highest compliment: a Doctor Fid and Super Holly crossover! (Written with David’s permission and his excellent advice, for he knows his villain better than anyone.) I set this crossover, which Doctor Fid left out of his personal log, in book 3, Starfall.

SEASIDE CITY, CALIFORNIA. THE SUPERHERO SCIENCE LAB. EARLY AUGUST. A FRIDAY. 11:22 A.M.

My fingers blurred on the dimensional control panel and my super-intelligent mind roiled like when I—Cal “The Intellectual” Critbert—had watched the recently discovered director’s cut of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho; the first sentence of my resulting review was “Triple the tension, quadruple the suspense!” But now, my mind did not roil in a good way. On the control panel, a stretching progress bar assaulted my retinas with a bright red glow indicating an approaching unknown power that could level three city blocks… four blocks… five… six…

Twenty five feet away, a ten-foot-wide vortex kaleidoscoped faster and faster. In all the movies I have reviewed over the years, dimensional portals were never so showy. Or so nasty. When this vortex had popped into existence twenty two seconds ago, it had knocked out every guard and scientist in this lab. I was unhurt, thanks to my inky black, cowled and caped, built-in-six-pack-abs Intellecta-body armor. Excellent for my night job as a superhero, but no match for whatever would pop out of the portal in five point two seconds.

I checked my Intellecta-phone’s map app. A blue dot moved toward my black dot. Impact in one minute, nine point eight seconds. I drew my Intellecta-gun, set it to Harry-Headbutt-buster blaster, and frowned at the futility of that. I faced the portal and adjusted my stance to maximize my scary grimness.

With a flash like lightning and a sound of thunder—KRAKRRROOOOOOOMMM!!!—an eight-foot-tall super-armored man burst through the portal. His posture and balance were perfect. The blackness of that armor outdid my own, absorbing ambient light like a demonic black hole. The armor glowed red at the joints and was speckled with a thousand points of light. Stars? I did not recognize any constellations. But I did recognize the boomerang-blaster-back-to-its-source energy readings from that armor. I holstered my gun.

The armored man spoke, my Intellecta-hearing recognizing that the voice was computer-modulated for even-tempered intimidation frosted with contempt. “A hero. I should have known.” He turned slightly and—even though his helmet had no facial features whatsoever—I could somehow sense when his attention locked upon me. “My name is Doctor Fid and you have diverted me from my mission.”

I put Intellecta-speed into my finger-dancing on the control panel. “My apologies. Your passage through the portal created a overload. I must make immediate adjustments to prevent a multi-dimensional implosion.”

Eight feet of gleaming metal intimidation floated closer. “As my world’s smartest and greatest supervillain, I have far more experience in such matters. Step away from the control panel.” He pointed a glowing finger right between my eyes. “Your body armor is no match for my MK 47 heavy-combat armor.”

I glanced at my phone and back to Doctor Fid. I had to smile. “I don’t need combat armor. I have a Holly.”

Doctor Fid’s faceless head cocked curiously. “A Holly?”

BRAKKOOOOOOOW!!! A six-foot-one, blue-supersuited, blonde amazon meteored through a thick steel-and-concrete lab wall, leading with a super-strong right fist. That fist, surrounded by a six-foot-wide transparent telekinetic blue boxing glove, super-sledgehammered Doctor Fid. He hurtled across the lab and embedded two feet deep into yet another steel-and-concrete wall.

Super Holly Hansson alighted next to me and kissed my cheek, ah, her sweet strawberry scent. “Sorry I’m late. I had to dodge a couple of 747s.”

I typed faster. “Holly, Doctor Fid’s armor,” I nodded at the armored man, “badly affected the dimensional portal.”

Like a cat checking out a maybe-dead mouse for the slightest twitch, Super Holly scowled at Doctor Fid. “How bad can it be?”

The portal glowed brighter as its ominous hum slowly went up the scale. “Imagine it swallowing Seaside City and spitting it out halfway across the galaxy. Into another dimension. That is the best case scenario.”

KERRRRONK!!! Doctor Fid had flexed free of the wall’s rocky embrace. He thrust out his right hand. In that hand appeared a baseball-bat-size rod that had the same color scheme as his armor. He aimed the rod at Holly and floated toward me. “Last warning. Stand aside.”

My movie critic side surfaced. “The metaphor of that rod is unmistakable.”

Holly put her red-caped back to me. Her tall, super-strong body tensed into heavyweight boxer. “Cal, you know I hate those metaphors almost as much as I hate crucifix cliches. Stay behind me.” She inserted herself between the control panel and Doctor Fid. “As for you, tall, dark, and gruesome, come any closer and the mightiest super on Earth, namely me, will get a can opener and—”

KAAZOOOOOWWW!!! The rod’s blinding concussive force blast howitzered Holly through even yet another lab wall. Good thing I had designed this lab to stay standing even if seventy nine percent of it was pulverized. Doctor Fid walked toward me, the rod vanishing back to whatever little pocket dimension he had summoned it from. “We have fifty two seconds left.”

I sighed. “You shouldn’t have done that. It’ll just make her mad.”

ZOOM!!! A blonde and blue missile warheaded upon Doctor Fid and jackhammered punches and kicks. “YOU FRIKIN’ FRAKIN’ FRIKITY SON OF A FRIKIN’ FRAK!!!”

Doctor Fid blocked every blow with a skill to rival the Karate Queen. His moves were too quick, too precise. Probably his armor’s programming. He said, “I suppose I will have to hit you in your weak spot.”

The stars on the armor’s faceplate glowed brighter and swirled into a glittering, hypnotic rainbow that lighthouse-beamed onto Holly’s startled face. A deep thrumming emanated from the armor, matching the flashing faceplate.

Holly’s wide eyes magnetized at Doctor Fid’s faceplate. Her boxer-posed arms dropped and hung like noodles. Her eyelids slowly lowered, her mouth gaped open… and then she snarled, “STOPPIT,” and headbutted Doctor Fid: KLONK!!!

He crashed onto the floor next to me. He stood up, brushed himself off, and turned his faceless face to me. “Mental shields?”

I nodded. “Taught her myself.”

Doctor Fid nodded. “I’m impressed.” He placed a small black and red disc on the control panel. “This will fix your problem.” He glanced at Holly, who was shaking cobwebs out of her head with a “B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B!!!” He sighed. “Your portal problem, at least.”

“Thank you.” I shook his armored hand and sneaked a small disc of my own onto his armor. “Keep your guard up on your left.”

“So, great intellects do think alike,” he said, and floated toward Holly. His voice turned its alpha-supervillain contempt up to eleven. “Bah! I fixed your portal merely so that I can have yet another dimension to make my own!” His fists glowed red, but it was his voice that pushed Holly’s buttons. “Once I vanquish its mightiest hero, the rest will fall like dominoes!”

Holly faced Doctor Fid, her fists up, her teeth bared, her blue eyes ablaze, and I needed to lecture her about falling for melodramatic villainy. She spat out, “The FRAK you will! And mind control is fighting dirty!”

Doctor Fid hovered within boxing range of Holly. He put up his dukes. “That was more of a tranquilizer beam. Works best on soft minds. Have at thee?”

They went at it, their arms like super-jackhammers: POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW!!!!!! I glanced down at the control panel. Well well, Fid’s disc did it! The control panel display showed that the portal was stabilizing nicely.

I glanced up at the super-heavyweight championship of two intersecting dimensions. I noted that this time, Doctor Fid’s moves were not computer generated, but very human. He seemed to relish the challenge of fighting the most powerful superhero in this dimension. He landed more blows than Holly, but she stubbornly did not yield a millimeter. POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW!!!!!! My Intellecta-hearing easily picked up the snark in his battle banter: “Take that, hero! And that, and that! Ha ha, evil triumphs because good is clumsy!”

I glanced at my Intellecta-phone. As expected, the disc I had slipped onto Fid’s armor could not penetrate his armor’s firewalls. But it had gleaned a record of his recent actions, and his mini-biography, and his current mission… oh. OH!

I put Intellecta-authority into my yell: “Holly! Cease and desist! AT ONCE!!!”

“GRRRR!!!” said Holly as she wiped blood from her split lip. She shoved hard with both hands, and two five-foot-tall blue hands pushed Doctor Fid back. She gave me a look that made me grateful she did not have heat vision lest she drill a hole to the Earth’s core. She barked, “WHAT?!?!”

I held out my phone. “You really need to see this.”

Holly snapped at Doctor Fid, “You stay put!” She zoomed over to me, yanked the phone out of my hand, and grumbled, “What is so frakin’ important…” She blinked at the phone. “that I have to…” Her big blue eyes lost their fire, going soft and liquid. “to…” A tear ran down her cheek. “Oh.” She turned those big blues to Doctor Fid. “You poor thing!”

ZOOM! She flew to Doctor Fid. WHUMP! And engulfed him in a hug. She super-blubbered, “I have a dear little fangirl whom I love too! SOB!!!

Fascinating. Doctor Fid, mightiest supervillain of his world, super genius, fearless and arrogant, suddenly had no idea what to do. His hands fidgeted, his awkward discomfort was palpable. He must have realized that his goal here was accomplished and that we did not intend to hinder his progress, for he managed a pat to Holly’s back, a gesture like a toddler carefully shaping his first mud pie. “Apology accepted.”

They both floated over to land next to me. Holly broke the hug and forced her lower lip to stop trembling. Her eyes were two oceans of empathy. “Is there anything I can do to help?”

Doctor Fid’s faceplate betrayed no emotion. “You can be the superhero that your world needs.” His voice turned stern. “You are reckless!” And then respectful. “But you have the heart of a true hero.”

Holly wiped her eyes with her cape, and smiled warmly at Doctor Fid. “I am beginning to think the latter of you, mister scary supervillain.”

I could have sworn that a smile flitted across Doctor Fid’s faceplate. He grabbed my disc off his armor and handed it to me. “Trade you.”

I handed him the disc off the control panel. Doctor Fid floated up and backed into the completely stabilized portal. “Goodbye, Holly. Learn from him. I respect his intellect.” And Doctor Fid was gone.

Super Holly sighed deeply and gazed wistfully at the portal, which vanished. “Good luck, Doctor Fid.” Then a happy little pout pursed her lips. She turned to me. Her voice was a cat meowing for petting. “Cal? Have you thought about upgrading your armor?”

It was hard to keep from laughing. I reared up to Dracula posture. “I thought you liked the Batman look.”

She wrapped her arms around my neck. “I love it. But maybe a little blacker?” She pecked my lips with a quick kiss: “MMM-WAH! And some stars? MMM-WAH! And glowing joints? MMM-WAH!

I smirked at her. “And a big rod?”

Holly smirked back. “Ew.”

Sept 14 I will perform and sell/sign Super Holly books at Half Price Books

At Half Price Books, 39152 Fremont Hub, Fremont, CA, on Saturday Sept 14 2-4pm, I will be talking about my book, Super Holly Hansson in Super Bad Hair Day. I will perform a couple of stories, tell how all this nonsense evolved from The DaVinci Code, how Super Holly evolved into a superheroine, how Cal “The Intellectual” evolved into a movie critic, how I started at open mics, and so on. When I perform, I will play royalty free background music. Mostly classical.

I attach the flyer in PDF and JPG. If you are near Fremont this Saturday, come on by. I have 15 books to sell. (I wish I had more, even though I have never sold that many in one sitting. If I sell out, I can point them to my Kindle book.)

P.S. That’s right, I am an author. Now you gotta treat me with RESPECT!

FAW HPB Sept 2019 Dave Strom flyer <– download PDF