THE NIGHTLY CHILL
By Steve Arviso
Untitled Superhero Pilot, Scene 2.
FIGHT THE DAWN!
As the sunlit sanity of the waking world burns the night to ash,
embrace the unbound madness of your wildest dreams,
laugh into the endless abyss of your darkest fantasies,
and rage against the coming dawn.
The Nightly Chill is the unstable experience of the mind and madness of Steve Arviso (@AmoralCrackpot). Mon-Fri. Ish.
- BETWEEN THE CRACKS
- UNTITLED SUPERHERO PILOT, SCENE 2
- THE MIXTAPE
IMAGINE BATMAN WITH MOUSE EARS
You know what’s weird to me, as a lifelong comicbook fan? All things considered, DC’s superheroes are, historically speaking, way more in line with Disney’s style and tone than Marvel’s.
Like Disney’s various works, DC’s heroes exist (and even manage to thrive) in this more idyllic, outdated bubble of storytelling and character work. Stories and conflicts are often distinct in their black-and-white view of the world, where things are often clearly good or bad. Any shades of gray are found in these faint, simplistic morality lessons due to a character being naive or misguided. Because in both Disney and DC’s world, heroes themselves are lofty ideals rather than complicated, messy humans who struggle with equally complicated, often unheroic personal problems.
A few notable, highly suspect offerings aside, I’ve been impressed by the work from Marvel Studios. Especially as the years bring more broad, general acceptance of even the weirdest concepts to be found at Marvel. And the willingness and desire to experiment more and more with the formula that allowed the MCU to flourish in its first ten years.
But part of me would love to see Disney bring Superman to life. Their animated feature Hercules was effectively just that. And while I’m not a huge fan of that movie, largely due to the way the material had to be watered down tremendously to make it family friendly (so much death, so much sex, so much not Disney-friendly material). But taking that exact same plot and inserting Superman in it would be an instant hit. This lost young man dreaming of leaving his small farming life behind due to this innate desire to be something greater, only to discover that the hero he wants to be is also the hero the world always needed. That’s a great Superman origin film. That’s the film we should have seen in Man of Steel, but didn’t.
I love complexity and depth in my superheroes just as much as I love the simplistic fun they can also provide. But Marvel’s complexity comes from the human conflicts derived from its human (or humanoid) characters. It doesn’t stem from some misguided belief that grim and broody is the extent of such things. And it’s not as if Marvel’s approach hasn’t been integrated properly into DC properties in the past. Batman: the Animated Series and Superman: the Animated Series both did this to great success and acclaim in the 1990s. Bruce Wayne was a fleshed out, relatable person rather than some cold, disconnected shell of a man who can also somehow go toe-to-toe with god-like beings. Clark Kent struggled in ways Superman never gets to. These are, to this day, the best depiction of these characters and their worlds.
Pixar’s The Incredibles are a blatant riff on the Fantastic Four, sure. But those characters and their world are very much in the spirit of DC. And when the single best DC movie since Mask of the Phantasm comes from Pixar or in LEGO, maybe it’s time to reevaluate what these characters and stories truly mean to us as a culture.
BETWEEN THE CRACKS
Further greetings, introduction, and communication.
Not a Punchline
PULPBUSTERS – THE SHADOW KNOWS
Adena’s lil’ audio love note to the (great) granddaddy of pulp vigilantes, The Shadow. Listen to it now on Spotify, sub to the PulpBusters audio feed, or even download a free MP3 of The Shadow Knows using the links below.
UNTITLED SUPERHERO PILOT, SCENE 2
An absurd tale of superheroic nonsense. Continued.
Previously, on Untitled Superhero Pilot…
Gnatman illegally apprehended SLITHER-O under false pretenses…
POLICE CRUISER SIRENS–UP, AWAY.
Besides. I’m sure he must’ve done something.
(Please, please say, “Yes.”)
(NOTE: DANGERDOLPHIN SPEAKS WITH A DOLPHIN-SPEAK GIMMICK. CLICKS, WHISTLES.)
Wrong again, BuzzBrains!
SCENE 2. JUSTICE SERVED.
SOUNDSCAPE: A ROOFTOP LOOKING OUT ACROSS A FAIRLY PLEASANT URBAN LANDSCAPE AT NIGHT.
What? You’re bullshitting me.
I knew you couldn’t guess my origin story.
High atop a rooftop
looking out across a fairly pleasant urban landscape,
Gnatman and his superhero BFF, DangerDolphin,
piss-away another uneventful night of patrolling…
Did you hear that?
Sounded like exposition.
Anyway. You were saying?
DANGERDOLPHIN HOLDS UP SCRIPT TO GNATMAN.
The clunky segue right here,
where you were trying to guess my origin story.
(Reading. It clicks.)
Oh, right. Sorry.
(Clears throat. Proceeds.)
Well. If you’re not a man bitten by a radioactive dolphin,
or a dolphin bitten by a radioactive man,
then what the hell are you?
I’ll answer that, Gnatman.
Who said that?
See? It’s that voice again.
once a lowly cashier at a big box retailer on Aquaworld,
DangerDolphin found himself caught in a cosmic net,
one cast by Earth’s own Dr. Magician
during a psychedelic cesarean in the Nth dimension,
now beached on a world he doesn’t care much for, really.
Where the Hell is that coming from?
Dunno. But it was mostly right.
I mean, I wasn’t just a lowly cashier at a big box retailer.
(Yawn. He doesn’t care.)
Is that right?
Yeah. I was only working there to pay my way through night school.
Well, isn’t that fascinating.
(Changing subject. Blatantly.)
Hey, do you hear anything that might get the plot moving?
DANGERDOLPHIN CLICKS AS DOLPHINS DO, MIXING INTO THE WOM-WOM-WOM OF HIS ECHOLOCATION. UP, UNDER.
DangerDolphin uses his mildly-annoying powers of echolocation
to search for signs of trouble in the streets and alleys below!
(Annoyed on top of annoyed.)
Okay. Are both of you going to do this all night?
CLICKS, WOM-WOMS CEASE.
Gnatman, I’ve got something!
Five blocks, south-west!
Five blocks south-west…
SOUNDSCAPE: A SOMEWHAT BUSY CITY STREET CORNER.
DOCTOR SPIDER, A HALF-MAN, HALF-SPIDER SUPERVILLAIN, CAUSES A MINOR DISTURBANCE. NOBODY REALLY CARES.
(Recites lines. Doesn’t care.)
I demand to speak to Gnatman,
and Gnatman alone!
once a successful orthodontic surgeon
a tragic dental accident transformed him
into a half-man, half-spider arachnid abomination
and crime against nature,
he now makes a small scene on a somewhat busy street corner!
GNATMAN AND DANGERDOLPHIN CASUALLY WALK ONTO THE SCENE.
There’s that voice again!
What do you make of it, Gnatman?
I’m starting to think I might need an MRI.
I mean, I do get punched a lot.
No. I mean the, uh…
(Gestures at DOCTOR SPIDER.)
(Continues lazy recital.)
won’t you join me in my parlor!
Yeah, yeah. I’m yer happy local Gnatman.
The Hell do ya want?
I deliver a message.
DOCTOR SPIDER HANDS GNATMAN AN ENVELOPE.
Did Lorraine send you?
You go back, and you tell Loraine,
I’m not paying child support until I get a goddamn paternity test!
Whoa. Dude. Wrong guy.
He always got a short fuse?
Don’t even get me started.
GNATMAN PUNCHES DANGERDOLPHIN IN THE ARM.
(Hurt, angry dolphin noise.)
You’ve just been served, Mr. Gnatman.
My job is done here.
I thought you said Lorraine didn’t send you.
But Mr. Slither-O sends his regards.
DOCTOR SPIDER CASUALLY WALKS AWAY, WHISTLING.
Didn’t expect him to just…
Kinda thought he’d kinda,
“sling” a web, or somethin’…
Can we focus on me for a second?
Oh. Do we have a choice, now?
Did they say, Slither-O?
(Opens envelope, reads contents.)
haven’t heard that name in a long time.
But, I thought Slither-O was retired.
I ran into him at a check cashing place the other day.
Hit him with a potted plant.
What were you doing at a check cashing place?
“What were you doing at a check cashing place?”
A SILENCE. THEN…
(Hangs head. Sincere.)
I’m kinda dealing with a lot right now.
I can’t stay mad at you.
Here, take this.
PLOP! DANGERDOLPHIN PULLS A CARD OUT OF…SOMEWHERE, HANDS IT TO GNATMAN.
Where did you pull that–
I mean, it’s a little important.
Look. Just be grateful that your ol’ pal DangerDolphin knows a good lawyer.
SCENE 3. A LAWYER’S OFFICE.
TO BE CONTINUED!
CATCH UP NOW!
Tracks I’m currently chillin’ with. Tonight, other nights. Follow the Playlist on YouTube to keep up with all the changes.
GRAND GHOULISH – THE E-BOOK!
Originally serialized in the digital pages of The Nightly Chill, Steve Arviso’s Grand Ghoulish collects the completed absurd twisted romance between a photographer, a housewife, and her husband–a surgeon who enjoys getting a little blood on his hands!
Read it for FREE in the back issues of The Nightly Chill, or directly support The Nightly Chill and other works by purchasing a copy of the e-book!
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YOU ARE NOT ALONE
THE NIGHTLY CHILL