[ASH] Coherent Super Stories #14 - The Idiot Plot

Dave Van Domelen dvandom at haven.eyrie.org
Wed Jan 23 09:33:44 PST 2008

     The cover shows a bewildered Brightsword standing in the middle of a
group of old men in lab coats.  The men are riding tricycles, playing with
toys and otherwise acting like little kids.  He's thinking, "I've heard of
going through a second childhood, but THIS is RIDICULOUS!"  Burst at the
bottom right says, "This issue: The Idiot Plot!  The Clockwork Ibis!  A map
of Brightsword's stomping grounds!"

 .|, COHERENT                                            An ASHistory Series
 '|` SUPER STORIES                        #14 - The Idiot Plot
        Featuring Brightsword             copyright 2008 by Dave Van Domelen

     Coherent Comics is proud to present another Script Book Special,
featuring the lead story from Brightsword #26, cover dated November, 1970!
Only "The Idiot Plot" will be presented at this time, the Clockwork Ibis
story will have to wait for another day.  :)

     GENERAL ART NOTES: This should look like solid Steve Ditko (get Ditko if
possible!), with a special emphasis on some of the more extreme facial
expressions he's known for (i.e. looks of stunned disbelief, mocking anger,
etc.).  In general, Brightsword should come across visually as a bit clueless
at times, but don't go overboard and make him a buffoon.


     Splash page.  There's one caption in the upper left, with the big title
burst below it.  Brightsword is standing in a confused pose, perhaps
shrugging helplessly, and dominates the page.  Around him are your standard
floating Ditko heads, each of an older man (maybe a woman or two) looking,
well, as stupid as possible for people who normally look smart.  Not
zombie-like, instead like little kids.  Credits at the bottom, to be

CAPTION 1: Brightsword's strong arms and blazing sword are usually enough
     to get this patriotic hero through the day, but will they do him any
     good when he faces...



     4 panels in a 2 by 2 grid.

     Panel 1: Brightsword is bounding across rooftops, making superhuman
leaps along the San Francisco skyline.  Think "raw power" more than "inhuman
grace" in his leaps.

     CAPTION 1: Near Golden Gate University -- 

     THOUGHT 2 (BRIGHTSWORD): I hope Professor Zeemon is okay.  His phone
call sounded a bit -- 

     Panel 2: Brightsword has landed on top of an academic building, near a
roof access door.

     THOUGHT 3 (BRIGHTSWORD): -- odd.

     Panel 3: Brightsword is heading down the stairs from the roof, lit
mainly from the slowly-closing door behind him.  Shoot for "spooky"
atmospherics here.

     SPEECH 4 (BRIGHTSWORD): I hope nothing's happened to the professor.  No
one else at GGU takes me seriously.

     Panel 4: Seen from inside Professor Zeemon's office, Brightsword is
opening the door and looking at something in shock!  In the foreground should
be the silhouette of a slumped-over figure.



     3 panels.  Panel 1 takes up the top half of the page, panels 2 and 3
split the remainder.

     Panel 1: An over-the-shoulder shot from Brightsword's perspective.
Professor Zeemon is slumped over behind his desk, a stupid grin on his face.
Try to make sure he doesn't look dead so much as stupefied.  The office is in
disarray, but should look more like it's always messy, rather than looking
like it's been ransacked.

     BURST 1 (BRIGHTSWORD): Professor, what happened?

     Panel 2: Brightsword is shaking the professor lightly, but it doesn't
seem to be helping much.  Maybe add some swirly toon lines around Zeemon's
head.  SPEECH 3 should be all wobbly.

     SPEECH 2 (BRIGHTSWORD): Professor, snap out of it!

     SPEECH 3 (ZEEMON): Whu?  Glbrx --

     Panel 3: Zeemon is a little more clear here, but still has a blank
expression.  Brightsword has stepped back "to give him some air" as it were.  

     SPEECH 4 (ZEEMON): Brain -- no worky.


     Six panel grid, 2 across by 3 down.

     Panel 1: Medium-close shot of Brightsword, with a look of shocked


     SPEECH 2 (BRIGHTSWORD): They've taken your mind!

     Panel 2: Over-the-shoulder look at Zeemon, who's back to smiling.

     SPEECH 3 (ZEEMON): A mind is a terrible thing to taste.

     Panel 3: Shot from the side, Brightsword's putting his hands on Zeemon's
shoulders and speaking earnestly to him.

     SPEECH 4 (BRIGHTSWORD): Professor, who did this to you?  Was it the
aliens who experimented on me?

     Panel 4: Same pose as panel 3, but now Zeemon is talking.

     SPEECH 5 (ZEEMON): Aliens!  Yes, you like aliens --

     Panel 5: Brightsword is slinging Zeemon over his shoulder and moving
towards the door.

     SPEECH 6 (BRIGHTSWORD): I need to get you to medical attention, FAST!
UCSF's medical center's not too far from GGU -- 

     SPEECH 7 (ZEEMON): Wheee!

     Panel 6: Brightsword is leaping across rooftops, Professor Zeemon over
his shoulder.  The caption is in the lower right.

     SPEECH 8 (ZEEMON): Hahahahaha!

     CAPTION 9: And so, our hero bounds off to the west on a mission of


     6 panels.  A row of three smaller panels across the top tier, two panels
in the middle tier, and the bottom third is one wide panel.

     Panel 1: Brightsword is outside a hospital ward, talking to a pair of
policemen.  One is uniformed, and seems to be standing guard over the door,
while the other is a plainclothes detective, Detective Rich.

     SPEECH 1 (RICH): The third case this week, damnedest thing.

     Panel 2: Closeup of Detective Rich, leave space for large dialogue

     SPEECH 2 (RICH): Professor Cleveland over at SFSU, and a visiting
researcher name of Doctor Kumarappan here at UCSF, both got the same brain

     Panel 3: Cut to Brightsword.

     SPEECH 3 (BRIGHTSWORD): Is there any common thread?

     SPEECH 4 (RICH, OFF-CAMERA): Yeah --

     Panel 4: Medium shot on Brightsword and Detective Rich.  The uniformed
officer may be visible at the edge.  Footnote caption at the bottom.

     SPEECH 5 (RICH): All three were atomic scientists, with top secret
clearances.  In fact, the AEC * is sending someone over today.

     CAPTION 6: * Atomic Energy Commission, the people in charge of our
atomic research! - Ed.

     Panel 5: Over the shoulder shot of Detective Rich from Brightsword's
perspective.  Another caption at the bottom.  Detective Rich is rolling his

     SPEECH 7 (BRIGHTSWORD): What about SETI? *

     SPEECH 8 (RICH): No, only Zeemon was into aliens.

     CAPTION 9: * The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence -- in other
words, aliens.  Started in 1961. - Ed.

     Panel 6: Brightsword is leaping off into action.  Detective Rich has a
sort of long-suffering expression.

     THOUGHT 10 (BRIGHTSWORD): The other two must have been more careful
about letting people know they were involved with alien research --

     SPEECH 11 (BRIGHTSWORD): Thank you, officer, I'll be in touch!


     4 panels.  The page is divided into thirds again, with panels 1 and 4
being the top and bottom third.  The middle third is split into panels 2 and

     Panel 1: Caption at upper left.  We're in another academic office,
similar to Professor Zeemon's, but this one belongs to Professor Walters.  It
is VERY tidy.  Professor Walters looks like he's not happy to see
Brightsword.  He is, in fact, NEVER happy to see Brightsword.  He's an
astrophysicist, but doesn't believe in space aliens.  He's got short-cropped
gray hair and dresses like a stereotypical academic, down to the suede elbow
patches on his jacket.

     SPEECH 1 (BRIGHTSWORD): Look, Walters, I know we don't get along, but
you're in danger.

     SPEECH 2 (WALTERS): From your so-called ALIENS?

     Panel 2: Brightsword medium shot, he's shrugging.  Be sure to leave lots
of room for the speech bubble.  He should be facing slightly to the right (to
panel 3).

     SPEECH 3 (BRIGHTSWORD): I think so.  But even if I'm wrong, there's
three brain-drained atomic scientists in the hospital, and you could be
fourth.  You've worked with the AEC, right?

     Panel 3: Same sort of shot, on Walters, who looks skeptical but willing
to listen.  Enlightened self-interest, if you can pull off the expression.
Should be facing slightly to the left (to panel 2).

     SPEECH 4 (WALTERS): Yes, on that atomic rocket project.  And I still
have the clearances.  I suppose I could be on the shopping list of this
"Brain Thief" of yours, alien or human.

     Panel 4: Medium shot of the two standing face to face.  Walters is a
little more on the "middle aged spread" side, but otherwise the two have very
similar statures.  He has your basic "played college football at a small
enough school where you had to be good at academics too" body type.
Brightsword should be on the right...be careful to watch the backgrounds from
panels 2 and 3, keep in mind that those two shots and this one form the sides
of a triangle, so each should have different backgrounds.  Place the speech
bubbles between the two.

     SPEECH 5 (WALTERS): So, what do I do?

     SPEECH 6 (BRIGHTSWORD): Take a vacation, don't tell anyone you're
going.  And lend me some of your clothes, I'll play YOU and set a trap!


     Another three-tiered layout, but the top tier is about one quarter of
the page, as is the bottom tier.  Panel 1 is 2/3 of the width of its tier,
with panel 2's closeup being the rest.  Panel 3 is essentially a half-page
spread.  Panel 4 is 3/4 or more of the bottom tier, with panel 5 a thin slice
on the right.

     Panel 1: Caption at upper left.  Brightsword is in Professor Walters's
clothing from page 6 (the guy has a monotonous wardrobe), maybe with a
different tie.  He's dyed his hair to more or less match Walters's as well.
Try to make him look not quite like Walters, but close enough that it's at
least not a TOTALLY stupid disguise.  Brightsword is looking at a paper from
a neat stack on the desk, a puzzled expression on his face.

     CAPTION 1: Day three of the ruse --

     THOUGHT 2 (BRIGHTSWORD): What's a Christoffel symbol?  I feel like the
aliens already drained my brain!

     Panel 2: Close-up, Brightsword is turning suspiciously as he hears a
noise from off-panel.

     SFX 3: CREEAAK!

     BURST 4 (BRIGHTSWORD): Who's there?!

     Panel 3: A shadowy form, man-shaped but big and bulky, fades into sight
slightly (it's under a stealth cloak, but has to become partly visible to
fire) and hits Brightsword with an energy stunner.  It blows away part of his
borrowed sportscoat, so in the next panel his costume should be partially

     SFX 5: VRRRM!


     Panel 4: Brightsword is trying to stand, a bit woozy.  He dominates the
panel, crouched down.  The legs of Darkshield should be clearly visible on
the left side of the panel.  Brightsword's speech bubble needs to be wobbly,
indicating he's stunned.

     SPEECH 7 (BRIGHTSWORD): It'll take...more than that --

     Panel 5: This one is just SFX vertically filling a narrow panel, with a
caption at the bottom.  The background of the panel should be black.

     SFX 8: VZZZT 

     CAPTION 9: -- but not a lot more.


     Three tiers again, roughly an H shape going on, although panel 3 might
be best at a bit bigger than 1/3 of the page.  Panel 5 probably needs a bit
more space for text than panel 4 does.

     Panel 1: Fades from dark on the left to half of Brightsword's face on
the right.  There's a caption in the dark section, and a wobbly speech bubble
below it.

     CAPTION 1: Consciousness returns painfully --

     SPEECH 2 (BRIGHTSWORD): Uhhnn.  I know that hangover --

     Panel 2: Pull back to reveal Brightsword strapped to a standard issue
Mad Scientist Table.  His professorial outfit is in tatters, revealing his
costume, but his mask is not on, and his hair is still dyed gray.  Don't show
where his laser sword is yet, but make sure that one of his legs is still
mostly covered by the ruined trousers.  Have one of Darkshield's gauntlets in
the foreground, as if we're looking from a position seated next to where the
villain stands.

     BURST 3 (BRIGHTSWORD): Darkshield's stunner!

     SPEECH 4 (DARKSHIELD, OFF): Indeed, Yankee Doodler.  It appears my trap
trumped your trap.

     Panel 3: Same scene, but an angle that shows both figures fully.
Brightsword on the left, so his speech bubbles read first.  He seems to be
wiggling his legs, struggling to free himself.

     SPEECH 5 (BRIGHTSWORD): We'll see who's trap trumps which, chump! 

     SPEECH 6 (DARKSHIELD): I see you've improved your reading level to
Dr. Seuss, my nemesis.  I'd knock you back down with the Brain Sifter, but --

     Panel 4: Closeup on Brightsword.

     BURST 7 (BRIGHTSWORD): You're in league with the brain-sucking aliens?

     Panel 5: Closeup on Darkshield.  Do a cutaway of his helmet so the
reader can see his calculating expression.  Caption at the bottom.

     THOUGHT 8 (DARKSHIELD): What is that fool on about now?  Oh well, I'll
play along, as long as he doesn't suspect the truth *, all for the better,

     CAPTION 9: * Darkshield is actually a Soviet agent pretending to be a
regular supervillain, as any good member of the Coherent Collectors' Crew
knows! - Ed.


     Weird layout.  Panels 1 and 3 are insets, about 1/6 of the page each in
the upper left and lower right corners.  Panel 2 fills the remaining 2/3 of
the page in a zigzag.

     Panel 1: Darkshield is standing boastfully in front of Brightsword,
while the hero has almost got his leg where he wants it.  He's reaching for
his boot with one hand, as if there's something under the tattered dress

     BURST 1 (DARKSHIELD): And when they conquer the Earth, they will give me
America to rule!  MUAHAHA!

     THOUGHT 2 (DARKSHIELD): Now for the rest of this charade, I see he's
almost reached his sword --


     THOUGHT 4 (BRIGHTSWORD): He didn't take my sword!  Almost...got it --

     Panel 2: Brightsword grabs the sword and ignites it, the energy beam
slicing through the table and freeing him.  Darkshield recoils in fear.  Lots
of energy effects and the like.



     BURST 7 (DARKSHIELD): He's free!  Stop him!  Protect the Brain Sifter!

     Panel 3: A trio of figures in armor similar to Darkshield's, but not as
bulky or powerful, rushes in towards the camera.



     Splash page.  Three armored goons are trying to pile on Brightsword
(they don't have zappy weapons), while Darkshield lurks in the lower left
corner of the page, thinking to himself.

     SPEECH 1 (BRIGHTSWORD): I don't know why you keep throwing these tin
cans at me, Darkshield -- they never beat me.  And now that I'm ready for it,
your little stunner won't work either!

     SFX 2: various laser-on-armor noises where relevant.

     THOUGHT 3 (DARKSHIELD): No, they never do.  But that's not their job.
They're expendable, so long as your attention is kept away from the important


     4 panels, in a 2 by 2 grid.

     Panel 1: One of the armored goons is thrown into a rack holding some
complicated but clearly portable apparatus (the Brain Sifter), which is
crushed in a shower of Kirby Krackle.  Darkshield should be partially visible
at the edge of the panel, and maybe Brightsword's throwing arm is on-panel as

     SFX 1: CRASH!

     BURST 2 (DARKSHIELD): The Brain Sifter, NO!

     THOUGHT 3 (DARKSHIELD): More of a Brain SCRAMBLER, but maybe if its
inventor hasn't already been purged he'll fix that problem next time.

     Panel 2: The remaining two goons seem to have Brightsword almost pinned
against a table, but he's clearly just about to retake the upper hand.  He's
put his mask back on by this point.

     BURST 4 (BRIGHTSWORD): You're not getting away this time!

     Panel 3: Darkshield is ducking through a hidden exit at the right of the
panel as both of his remaining goons fly across the top of the panel.  Be
sure to leave room for the extended thought bubble so the flung goons aren't

     BURST 5 (DARKSHIELD): Wrong, Earth-man!  I always get away!

     THOUGHT 6 (DARKSHIELD): I will report to the Kremlin that the Brain
Sifter doesn't work, so its destruction is no great loss.  And now I have a
new game to play with this capitalist lackey!  I wonder if we have any flying
saucers being built in the Science Cities?

     Panel 4: Brightsword slams his fists against the closed exit (which is
to the left in this panel, so it looks like he's trying to break through the
panel border to get at Darkshield), but it doesn't budge.

     SFX 7: THOOM!



     Panel 1: Caption in upper left.  Exterior shot of a police precinct
house.  A trio of guys in skivvies (the armored goons, sans armor) is being
led up the steps in chains, and a cart with black armor bits is being wheeled
off to a service entrance.

     CAPTION 1: Later, down at the precinct house --

     Panel 2: Interior, Detective Rich's office.  He's sitting behind his
desk, Brightsword (in full costume, with the tatters of the "disguise"
gone) standing on the other side.

     SPEECH 2 (RICH): Too bad Darkshield got away again, but the three guys
you did bring in have a list of priors as long as my arm, mainly working for

     Panel 3: Same scene as panel 2, but now Detective Rich is looking in a

     SPEECH 3 (BRIGHTSWORD): What about Professor Zeemon?

     SPEECH 4 (RICH): The doctors are hopeful.  The first victim's already
recovering his wits, so it's probably only temporary.

     Panel 4: Closeup on Brightsword, but leave plenty of room for his
closing monologue.  Caption at lower right.

     SPEECH 5 (BRIGHTSWORD): Hopefully, when they recover, they'll remember
more about what happened -- but with the aliens using Darkshield as a pawn,
that's probably a dead end.  I just hope I can stop their fiendish plans
before it's TOO LATE!



Author's Notes:

     This story was written over the course of two days during which I wasn't
getting enough sleep and had a work schedule of the "half an hour frantic
alternating with an hour of nothing" variety, so I was a bit more
scatterbrained than usual, making the Brain Sifter's effects applicable to
the writer as well as the characters.  ;) The "classic reprints" conceit is
in full force, of course...there wasn't really a Brightsword comic in 1970,
given that to make a November cover date I would need to have written it the
day I was born.  I was a precocious kid, but not THAT precocious.

     This all started with Tom Russell claiming, in a review of ASH #84, that
you'd never see me using the "Idiot Plot", which moves along solely because
everyone involved (or, at least, the protagonist) is an idiot.  I took that
as a challenge, naturally.  :)  Brightsword does some pretty stupid things,
and only "wins" because his opponent's job is to be a distraction and he's
willing to play along with Brightsword's foolishness.  So this is an Idiot
Plot of the limited "protagonist is stupid" form...the dumb things Darkshield
does (like leaving Brightsword armed) are done for smart reasons.  Okay, so I
cheat a little on this being a proper Idiot Plot.  But the story's so short
there's not a lot of opportunities for Brightsword to really shine as an
idiot, and I had no desire to pad it out.

     Darkshield the first was never a "serious" supervillain, his operations
were often timed to distract from real covert ops elsewhere in the area,
although once in a while he'd be given some piece of Soviet super-science to
test out (as with the Brain Sifter).  If no one else could get a gizmo to
work, they'd hand it to Darkshield and see if he could find a use for it.
His son, however, would become a real supervillain as Darkshield II in the
Third Age.
     Now, Brightsword isn't exactly an idiot, but neither is he terribly
bright, and he does tend to jump to a conclusion and then stick to it.  It's
likely he never found out that the insidious Doctor Sheng was behind the
incident that led to his powers erupting (CSS #5), although by the mid-70s he
at least knew the origins of his laser sword (a Santari cutting torch) and by
the 1980s he was likely told by Delta Rose that no known alien race was
responsible, but she wouldn't have been able to rule out rogue Pranir or
Scytharian interests.
     Eventually Brightsword did discover that Darkshield was a communist
agent, so that puts this story in the early part of their clash.  As far as
their "relationship" goes, it's only important to know that the two have
clashed a few times before, and that Brightsword has a reputation in San
Francisco (mostly positive, but some eye-rolling at times).  Against most
foes, Brightsword has had clear-cut victories, but since Darkshield's whole
MO is "distract then escape" and Darkshield is a highly trained Soviet spy,
he tends to get away even if it looks like he lost.  Readers of the
Brightsword comics, however, would know he actually won...according to his
own goals, anyway...most of the time.  Sort of like Norman Osborn may have
been thwarted as the Green Goblin, but for a long time he evaded capture and
continued to be a force in Peter Parker's life.  Except, of course, that back
then Peter wasn't stupid, so Norman's job was a bit harder.

     Anyway, this was a one-shot "inspiration to execution in three days"
sort of thing and I don't have plans for #15 yet, hence the lack of a "Next
Issue" box.  Gonna get back to ASH #85 now.  :)


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