Sunday, April 22, 2007

Double feature: Who Watches the Crusaders -and- The Scarlet Avenger

Since Mikester hosted a long discussion about it on Progressive Ruin, it seems that everybody knows, or should know, or won't admit to not knowing, that Alan Moore's seminal / ground-breaking / classic / post-modern /critically-acclaimed (pick any three) graphic novel, Watchmen:

was originally intended to feature DC's then-newest property, the recently-acquired Charlton heroes:

This plan was eventually vetoed by TPTB at DC, and Moore invented a whole new slew of mystery men for the story (some say to the benefit of the narrative).

What many perhaps do not know is that Moore originally played with another set of heroes in developing the notion that eventually became Watchmen: the MLJ/Archie characters:

As the comments to Mike's post will attest, I did not know this factoid, or I perhaps had known it but forgot: it was also covered in the Comics Urban Legends feature of Comics Should be Good over a year ago.

At any rate, once the idea was put into my head, I couldn't get it out. I wish I could draw so I could do a pastiche of some of Dave Gibbons's panels, substituting the Archie heroes in place of Moore's characters. The difference in intent, tone, and context between the two sets of characters couldn't be greater; their juxtaposition is crying out to be realized somehow.

In lieu of creating anything artistic, all I can do is speculate on the correspondences.

I know that injecting yourself with super-helium is not really the equivalent of becoming one with the quantum universe, but I think the Comet has to take Dr. Manhattan's role, for want of any other candidate.

I like The Fly for Nite Owl, even though he lacks the legacy aspect; unfortunately, Fly Girl is the only female character with enough stature to stand in for Silk Spectre. Perhaps we could add some estrangement to the mix to make that work.

Jaguar has the traveling-to-foreign-lands part of Ozymandias's background; we could dress up the rest.

For the doomed Comedian, perhaps The Shield or a grim 'n' gritty Captain Flag.

Finally, I think the only character that could even begin to stand the weight of filling in for Rorschach would be The Hangman (not pictured in the pin-up).

This is only a first draft; do y'all have any more insightful interpretations? I turn this over to the power of the internets.


Here's the text of an email I received today, from a fellow who obviously checked out the interblogwebosphere for likeminded folks:

Hi, there.

I see that you're a big 'Spy Smasher' fan and thought you might be interested in checking out my short student film, 'The Scarlet Avenger', on Google Video. It's a rip-roaring adventure, based on all the 1940s matinee serials that inspired movies like 'Raiders of the Lost Ark', 'The Rocketeer', 'The Shadow', 'The Phantom' and 'Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow'. You can catch it here:

Movie link

Note: You can watch it in real time, but it looks way better when you download it (after downloading the free Google Video player). Doesn't take long at all.

It's my dream to turn the short into a feature-length motion picture. I will be chronicling this great adventure on my blog:

Blog link

On the site you'll find links to a high quality podcast version of the short, rare behind-the-scenes footage, outtakes, fan reviews and artwork, and much more. Hope you enjoy it and look forward to hearing from you.


Scott C. Clements
Toronto, Canada
Well, I took a look at the film, and while I don't know if there's a feature film in there, it was competently made and professional enough for me to share it. I'm not sure about the hero's costume, but the movie seems to hit all the right notes. Who knows? This guy could be the next Spielberg, and we can say we were there when it all started.


Jeff Rients said...

When you first mentioned "the MLJ/Archie characters" I hadn't scrolled down to the picture. Until I did I thought you were talking about Archie as Captain Pureheart, Betty as Superteen, Jughead as Captain Hero, etc. I kinda freaked out for a second.

The Fortress Keeper said...

That's an interesting "What If."

The MLJ/Archie heroes starred in some pretty wild stories before the teenager from Riverdale took over that particular universe.

I was thinking about Steel Sterling as Ozy though. If I remember right, he was a brilliant scientist who dove into a vat of untested chemicals in an effort to fight crime.

That's crazy enough to devise a plan to save the world by destroying NYC ...