Friday, October 9, 2015

Crash Flash Course on "Who is Jay Garrick" -- Ironically, the Fastest Blog I've Ever Written!


I'm a longtime Flash Fanatic, a Speed Force Enthusiast since I first laid eyes on a four-color panel of the Flash over forty years ago. So naturally, I've got cartoon hearts for eyes when it comes to the current TV series: THE FLASH. In an era of comic book movies with dimmed color palettes and an overload of morose brooding -- it's a show that remembers that DC Comics was also about fun and wonder. It may not be the best series on TV, but it's certainly the one I look most forward to seeing week after week -- as well as chatting about with an equally colorful cast of characters on a podcast I co-host.

I saw someone wondering about "who was Jay Garrick" on a Facebook page, and as I was typing up a rather wordy response -- I realized this deserved to be a blog rather than a post. Now, I'm not gonna get too crazily technical or get bogged down in confusing minutia (hopefully), because this is meant for the non-comic book geeky who wanna know a little something about Jay Garrick — and to explain that, one has to give a crash course on the history of DC Comics as a whole. 


In terms of comic book history (or any other kind), Jay Garrick is the original Flash, created way back in 1940. A college kid who got his speed powers from inhaling "hard water vapors" [what, being hit by a bolt of lightning and splashed with chemicals is MORE believable?], Jay Garrick had his own solo adventures as he whizzed around Keystone City as well as being a founding member in the first “super-team” of all comics — the legendary Justice Society of America. But those Golden Age All-Star adventures ended by 1951, and it seemed as though the world would never see characters like the Flash again…

…until 1956, when DC Comics decided to reinvent the superhero genre once again (for the years in-between, the only superheroes still around were Superman, Batman & Wonder Woman). The first character they recreated was — the Flash, only this time he was police scientist Barry Allen living in Central City. Dressed in a far sleeker (and aerodynamic) outfit, he was the first of the new Silver Age of heroes in comic books.

A few years later, after DC had created all-new versions of characters such as Green Lantern, Hawkman and the Atom as well as a brand new super-team for this generation (of course, it was the Justice League of America), longtime readers were wondering whatever happened to those beloved heroes from the 40s. So a plan was hatched to give both the older fans and the new blood a thrill by finding a way to bring back those early incarnations. 

But how could they explain this? This being the age of science fiction, fantasy and wonder — DC hit upon the idea that the Golden Age characters from the 40s…were actually on a parallel Earth. They named it Earth-2 (although technically, many have long joked it SHOULD have been Earth-1), where all those slightly older heroes and villains still existed. DC also retroactively drew a line in the sand for their existing trinity of heroes (Batman, Superman & Wonder Woman) — indicating that up to a certain point, the universes in those ongoing books had “changed” (for example, now you were suddenly following the adventures of the Earth-1 Batman with the yellow oval around his bat-symbol as opposed to the original Earth-2 Batman sans oval in the previous issue).


The first re-introduction to any of these characters came in The Flash. In fact, I believe they even hit upon the idea that the heroes from yesteryear had seeped into the consciousness of Earth-1 and had actually appeared in comic books there — so one of Barry Allen’s inspirations to be the Flash — was the old Flash stories he read as a child. Anyway, in the classic tale “Flash of Two Worlds” — Jay Garrick bridges the gap between the two worlds (it’s really not important how this happens — though it would occur time and time again afterwards), and Barry got to meet Jay. After that, the two Flashes would occasionally pop up on each other’s worlds, and every year, members of the JSA would meet up with the JLA in a much beloved annual event (the titles of many of those stories invariably used the word “Crisis”).

After Earth-2, another parallel world was discovered that only featured villainous semi-dopplegangers (it also turned out the one hero was a man named Alexander Luthor) — so that planet was named Earth-3. And every time DC Comics got the rights to a new selection of characters from a former competitor (such as Charleston Comics or Fawcett Comics) — they’d just add another Earth to the mix…as well as any other weird or alternate reality — implying there were dozens, maybe hundreds of parallel Earths. 

This went on for about 25 years, until one of the biggest events in comic book history hit the stands: the Crisis on Infinite Earths — where DC essentially said “OK, that’s enough of that” and wiped out almost all the Earths and a number of characters as well. This Crisis is the one that headline kept teasing viewers about in Season 1 of The Flash. Let’s just say…the Flash played a major part in it.

Of course, DC’s way of fixing things only caused more problems, and they’ve been trying to undo this ever since. I won’t bore you with the insane number of events and changes that have taken place over the past 30 years — beyond saying they’ve went and reestablished a multiverse all over again. Much like most killed-off characters on comic books, nothing ever stays dead or destroyed forever. Fun fact — at one point, both Barry Allen and Oliver Queen were dead — and later brought back. 

Now I hear there’s been a new younger Jay Garrick in the past few years (which I prefer to ignore), but I’m 99.9% certain the Jay we’re going to be seeing on the show is a version of the one who was wearing that helmet for over 70 years. He’s the first Flash, the Golden Age Flash, the Earth-2 Flash. Whether he was in a kid's comic book or the hero he met and fought alongside, Jay Garrick was both an inspiration and a mentor to Barry Allen. Easily one of the most beloved characters of his era, every Flash fan hooted and hollered when we saw his "Mercury by way of the first World War" helmet spinning out of that wormhole last season — and we hope this TV version of Jay can carry the mantle of the Crimson Comet with panache and pride. 


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

MOVIE MOVIE MOVIE: My Mini-Reviews of TRAINWRECK, JURASSIC WORLD, ANT-MAN and INSIDE OUT

Since I knocked off 4 flicks over the past week (one through generosity of a friend & the other three as part of my triple feature yesterday), I thought I’d dole out some quickie reviews:


TRAINWRECK: At its core, it's your typical Judd Apatow-directed semi-rom-com: a tad beat-by-beat formulaic, a teensy bit raunchy and more than a bit too long. However, Amy Schumer is a human dynamo of funny (she wrote the damn thing too), and while Bill Hader plays the slightly thankless straight man, he's still wonderfully appealing -- and both Lebron James (!!!) and Colin Quinn steal every scene they’re in. The flaws are largely irrelevant here -- you're going for one reason -- to laugh your ass off.

JURASSIC WORLD: Forget the all the rampaging dinos;  this theme park is overloaded with painfully clunky dialogue and overstuffed with several stock characters written thinner than my local deli slices the Swiss (I was gonna say "cuts the cheese", but some girl actually did that in the theater). And don’t get me started on those kids...I never knew how good the child actors were in Jurassic PARK until I sat through Jurassic WORLD. But damned if Chris Pratt doesn't continue to have that special stardusted quality; there's no denying that the effects are impressive, and if you can switch off your brain for about two hours, you will be entertained. It's the epitome of a popcorn crunching summer blockbuster -- just not a great one.

ANT-MAN: I enjoyed this film considerably more than AGE OF ULTRON (which was fun, but little more than bombastic comfort food and not much else beyond Spader's amusingly droll voice). This tiny wonder is a deft mix of comedy and drama with a definite heart as well. Rudd is surprisingly believable as a hero; it’s the most I’ve liked Evangeline Lilly since LOST Season 1, and the most impressive VFX isn’t the magnificent macro-photography—it’s the digital wizardry that makes Michael Douglas look 30 years younger in the opening scene. ANT-MAN sounded like a preposterous notion, but it turns out to be one of the best MCU movies yet.



INSIDE OUT: This was the first Pixar film I’ve gone to see in FIVE years, and it was well worth it. I was very impressed with what I felt was a rather daring script, dealing with issues and concepts that would be beyond most kids (and probably quite a few adults as well). I spent the first thinking “Oh, they’re not going to squeeze one tear outta me this time.” But by the end credits were rolling, so were the tears, and much like TOY STORY 3, UP and WALL-E, my face was ruddy and streaked with those salty eye jail escapees. Glad I ended my triple feature with this one, as it wore me out with “the feels”. 

Now, I need to devise a way to see MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - ROGUE NATION before summer's end. Then I can decide if  MAD MAX: FURY ROAD remains the Best Summer Action Movie of 2015 (other than the occasional Tasmanian Devil cartoon, I've never sat through anything that was both "fast" and "furious" -- and I have no plans to ever change that).

PS: someone needs to give Judy Greer a better part other than these minor "mom" roles, which was the case with both ANT-MAN and JURASSIC WORLD (I think I heard she was yet another main character's mother in TOMORROWLAND as well). I'm shocked she wasn't the animated mom in INSIDE OUT. It's a complete waste of such a sublime talent -- and not much better than the "best friend" roles she used to be relegated to playing on the big screen...just less snarky and more weepy.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Maybe My Next Screenplay? Stranger Things Have Happened...

With the dawn of a new year, I thought I'd try to find time to write do some screenwriting work again. You know, as someone purporting to be a writer should be doing practically every day. This is not one of my resolutions, as they are more focused on my financial and physical well being. Make my wallet fat and the rest of me --well, not.

Although I’m still waiting to find out if I’ll need to do more touch-up work on DO NOT DISTURB, that's no excuse for letting my imagination atrophy. I considered attempting something that was semi-autobiographical (perhaps inspired by the likes of BOYHOOD or even THIS BOY’S LIFE). I even began to create the framework of a non-linear story -- even if I was unsure where it would lead or when it would end. But I ultimately decided I wasn’t in the right mind space to work on something that would cleave so close to the bone. Luckily, that's something I will always have in reserve to tap at a later time.

So the next-to-last day of 2014, I cracked open a file containing a couple scripts I started back in late 2013. I dusted one off and BEGAN tinkering and rewriting the first few pages. Maybe it’ll be a pet project I can work occasionally while trying to get ye olde life completely back on track. I remembered dicking about with this script idea off and on for a LONG time, waffling on any number of possible titles until settling on the simple but elegant RUBOUT.
 
One thing I like about this idea…is it takes me in yet another direction genre-wise. I’ve done the road trip/crime comedy thing, a horror-vampire-western and of course – a straight forward thriller. RUBOUT would also have thriller elements – but it would really fall under the Sci-Fi genre, something I haven't done before. If I was giving one of those clich├ęd but still frequently used style pitches, I’d say it’s LOOPER meets IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE with maybe a little MEMENTO in the mix?
 
 
Of course, it's not nearly as smart as any of those, but you get the idea where I’m mining here. In fact, I already have two totally different and twisty directions I might take the story in by the time I hit the third act -- I just need to determine which is the better path and the more satisfying journey.
 
Anyway, it’s something I’ll dabble with over the course of the next few months in-between work (while I still have an actual day-to-day job), podcasts, any DO NOT DISTURB-related activities (fingers eternally crossed) and Lord knows what else (and no, I don’t mean watching too much TV – I can always find time for that glorious time-sucking brain-drain). For the handful of folks who have expressed their appreciation for my previous scripting efforts, here's a sneak peek at the first few pages -- which I suspect (just like the last couple scripts) will end up being completely changed, cut and redone at some point in the distant future!
 
 
RUBOUT
written by Scot Eric Candiotti
 
 
INT. CLASSROOM – DAY

 
Two dozen FIRST-GRADERS loudly mill about the edges of the
room. The TEACHER, middle-aged and pleasant, tries to restore
order.

 
TEACHER
Everyone line up in size order.
Milton, you’re on the wrong end of
that line.

 
MILTON, a beefy kid who’s seven going on seventeen, frowns at
the mention of his name. He turns towards the front of the
line and locks eyes with ANDY, a frail wisp of a child with
glasses held together by a thick wad of Band-Aids.

 
Milton makes a quick threatening gesture with a hunched
shoulder. Andy flinches, shrinking away from the bully.

 
MILTON
(sneers)
Thought so.

 
Milton walks past the other boys on line, and a few even step
to the right to make room. JACK, a calm six-year-old boy in
the midst of the bustling brats, seems blissfully unaware as
his eyes remain trained on the teacher.

 
INT. GYMNASIUM – DAY

 
The first-graders have formed a huge ring as each sits cross-legged
on the floor. One GIRL slowly walks around the circle
of children, tapping each one on the shoulder as she passes.

 
GIRL
Duck, duck, duck...
(taps Andy)
...goose!

 
Andy scrambles to his feet and chases the girl around the
circle while the other children CLAP AND LAUGH. The girl
dekes out Andy and slides into the spot he had vacated.

 
Smiling in mock resignation, Andy takes over the role of the
picker, gently touching each kid with one finger as he
strolls by them.

 
ANDY
Duck, duck, duck...
(taps Jack)
...goose!

 
Jack jumps up and runs after the speedy Andy. The two zoom
around their cheering classmates until Andy makes it back to
the ring just inches ahead of Jack’s grasping hands.

 
Jack is now the picker. After scanning the circle of kids,
the ritual resumes.

 
JACK
Duck, duck, duck, duck, duck...
(taps Milton)
...goose!

 
Milton lumbers after Jack like a linebacker hunting a
quarterback. Their speed increases as they spin around the
kids, THE WHISTLES AND HOWLS BECOMING A DIZZYING DRONE--

 
--Until Jack stops short, turns and PUNCHES MILTON IN THE
THROAT. DOWN GOES MILTON! Sitting atop the mini-hulk’s body,
Jack proceeds to go Fight-Club on Milton’s face, each fist
landing with a wet, sickening thud.

 
The teacher makes her way through the crowd of kids watching
the melee. But by the time she reaches the center of the
newly formed circle, the beating is over and Jack is standing
over Milton, serenely wiping his hands with a paper napkin.

 
INT. PRINCIPAL’S OFFICE – DAY

 
Hands lightly clasped on his lap, Jack sits quietly as the
PRINCIPAL talks to JACK’S MOM. The principal is an older
African-American woman with a weak smile and a strong voice.
Jack’s mom is a no-make-up and no-nonsense 40.

 
PRINCIPAL
I need to ask some questions about
your son, to see if there’s deeper
issues to be concerned about here.

 
JACK’S MOM
Such as?

 
PRINCIPAL
About Jack’s home life. This sort
of aggression is often a sign of abuse--

 
JACK’S MOM
Abuse? It’s just the two of us, and
I’ve never raised a hand to my son.
I’ve never even had to raise my voice.

 
PRINCIPAL
But there can be other indicators. For
example, has he ever started any fires
or harmed any small animals?

 
JACK’S MOM
Of course not -- that’s horrible!

 
PRINCIPAL
I’m sorry, but I’ve seen enough
studies to know it needs to be asked.
The total compartmentalization of his
emotions and actions suggests
possible sociopathic tendencies—

 
JACK’S MOM
Excuse me, are you the principal
and the school psychologist?

 
PRINCIPAL
Unfortunately, we no longer have
the budget for a psychologist, but—

 
JACK’S MOM
Then I’ll thank you not to play
amateur shrink with my son. He’s
not Hannibal Lecter. He had a fight
with a classmate that got a little
rough, that’s all. Boys’ll be boys.

 
PRINCIPAL
Little rough?

 
The principal motions towards the doorway looking out into
the general school office. Seated on a bench is MILTON. His
face is puffy and bruised, with a bandage wrapped around his
head like a silent film star with a toothache.

 
PRINCIPAL (CONT’D)
He knocked out three of the boy’s
teeth and dislocated his jaw.

 
INT. SCHOOL CORRIDOR – DAY

 
Flustered, Jack’s mom marches him down the corridor. A hall
pass held firmly in one hand, ANDY waits near the exit.

 
As Jack gets closer, his eyes briefly meet Andy’s, and THEIR
FREE HANDS LIGHTLY SLAP AGAINST ONE ANOTHER. His hand now
balled in a fist, Jack and his mom exit.

 
INT. JACK’S MOM’S CAR - DAY

 
Jack’s mom reaches over to buckle Jack in before fixing her
own seat belt. She reaches to start the ignition, but instead
looks at her son with genuine concern.

 
JACK’S MOM
You’d talk to me if you were having
any problems, right?

 
JACK
Of course, Mom.

 
JACK’S MOM
I’ll always gonna be here for you,
Jack. Remember what I say? The sun
can go out, the moon and stars may
fall...

 
JACK
But I’ll always be your one and
all. I know, Mom.

 
As Jack’s mom starts the car, he opens his fist to reveal A
CRUMPLED FIVE DOLLAR BILL. He leans back in his seat and
closes his eyes, that familiar serene expression on his face.

 
THIRTY YEARS LATER

 
INT. BEDROOM – DAY

 
JACK is asleep.

 
His fingers are entwined and resting on his bare chest, as if
posed by an undertaker. Not a strand of hair is out of place,
and every feature of his face is clean cut and precise.

 
There is a silver nickel-sized DISC embedded in his right
temple. THE DISC GLOWS ORANGE AND JACK’S EYES OPEN.

 
The room’s blinds simultaneously flutter open as well.
Diffused sunlight streams into a room of varying shades of
grey. Jack taps the disc, and it returns to its original
gleaming silver state.

 
INT. SHOWER STALL, BATHROOM - DAY

 
As the soapy lather is rinsed from Jack’s face, he double-taps
the disc. A GREEN HOLOGRAPHIC DISPLAY APPEARS IN MIDAIR,
floating in the midst of the steaming jets of water.

 
THE DISPLAY COLLAPSES INTO A SINGLE ANIMATED LINE.

 
ROBBIE (V.O.)
Good morning, sir.

 
Robbie’s voice is pitch-perfect elocution, robotic only in the
sense there is no discernible accent. As “he” speaks, the
ANIMATED LINE jiggles and fluctuates like a SOUND WAVE.

 
JACK
Good morning, Robbie. Let’s have
the morning’s agenda, audio only,
please.

 
ROBBIE (V.O.)
Today is Wednesday, December 15,
2045. It is now Seven Twenty-Three,
Eastern Standard Time and the
current weather conditions is forty-four
degrees and breezy. You have a
meeting with Mister Falco scheduled
in ninety-seven minutes.

 
JACK
Thank you Robbie. Have the Warp
warmed up and ready for departure
in twenty, please.

 
Jack double-taps the disc again, and the floating
sound wave disappears.