correspondence

compound

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A while back, I was reading a feature article about CNN news anchor Anderson Cooper, and I suddenly thought to myself, "What if a guy like that had superpowers?"

So I ran with that concept, and threw in a few other ideas I had while reading Bendis' run on Daredevil, as well as BKV's Ex Machina, and the book Dateline Earth: Journalism As If The Planet Mattered, by Kunda Dixit.

The end result is an idea for a self-contained 12-issue maxi-series I like to call...

correspondence


It poses the question, "What if the world's only super-powered man decided he could make a greater difference as a mild-mannered reporter?"

Here's how the basic premise unfolds...

In 1987, after straying from an outdoor party, Jarett Colby, a dorky, epileptic fourteen-year-old, gets lost in the woods outside of his hometown, Normal, West Virginia. In a clearing, he discovers a mortally wounded alien, without any visible mode of transport. The creature reaches out to Jarett, and touches his face with its tentacle, before disappearing in a flash of lights. Jarett has a seizure and passes out. After recovering, he slowly discovers that he has a range of extraterrestrial powers, including: flight, the ability to shape impermeable force fields, an "early warning system" to guard him against immediate danger, enhanced reflexes, and instinctual understanding of how complex machanical and biological systems function.

In 1988, he used these abilities in public, for the first time, to save his home-town from destruction, when a disgruntled engineer threatens to blow up the nuclear reactor he was fired from. As a result, Jarett gained national fame. Immediately, the Government assigned him a handler: Reynard Skelton, a veteran spook involved in alleged U.S. projects related to ESP, mind control, and other forms of 'paranormal' warfare.

In 1990, as a sophomore in college, Jarett Colby told the U.S. Government that he didn't intend to pursue a career an operative of the State. Instead, he would save the world in a way he found more appropriate: as a broadcast journalist.

In 1999, Jarett joined the staff of the Global Satellite News Network (GlobalSatt). As a field reporter and eventual anchorman, he used his various talents to assist ordinary citizens in the situations that he also reported on: 9/11, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the aftermath of Katrina, etc.

In 2007, a series of events begin, challenging Jarett's decision to save the world through news media, including a shocking truth about the nature of his powers.

(The physical appearance of the adult Jarett Colby is shamelessly based on Anderson Cooper, other than a few minor details.)

correspondence follows the ongoing experiences of Jarett and his diverse production crew, in a multi-arc story examining the role of journalists, the blurring of lines between the private and public spheres, and the definition of heroism in a hyper-globalized world.


MAIN CHARACTERS

Jarett Colby is joined by colorful supporting cast that includes...

Bill Prefer - Co-anchor. Old School journalist in the vein of Dan Rather or Tom Brokaw. Subtly righteous and self-aggrandizing. Believes Jarett Colby's acclaimed status is undeserved.

Avi Schwartz - Colby's Producer. Family man (though he constantly makes snide remarks about his home life, as if he misses the dating scene). Sticks up for Colby's demands to run more "hard-hitting" or risky stories, when delaing with the network execs, because he is naturally combatative and aggressive; however, Avi does not personally understand Jarett's altruistic motives. Visually based on Jason Alexander in Seinfeld.

Madonna 'Maddy' Chan - Research Assistant. Named after the most popular singer, at the time of her birth (May 1985). Graduated top of her class from the University of South Carolina School of Journalism. Cloyingly over-eager, but sincere and well-intentioned. Speaks in non-stop news-speak, much to the annoyance of Jarett, whom she genuinely looks up to. Likes to be on the bleeding edge of the lastest development in communications technology. Her look is modelled on CSS singer Lovefoxxx (yes, that's really her name!).

Eddie Ortiz - Cameraman. "Everyman". No-bull**** salt-of-the-earth type. Acts as Ben Grimm to Jarett's Reed Richards, a comparison they joke about in the story. He looks similar to actor Freddy Rodriguez in the TV series, Six Feet Under.

Jayne Horowitz - Editor/Researcher/self-described "Multi-Purpose Go-To Beyotch". Cynical. Chain-smoker. Indeterminate sexuality. Banters frequently with Jarett. Her style evokes Janeane Garofalo circa Reality Bites.

Barry Wolf - One of the main series antagonists; self-serving, but falls short of being characterized as an outright "bad guy". Head of the rival WOLF News network. He resembles actor Gabriel Byrne.

Jacob Colby - Jarett's elder ne'er-do-well elder brother. Consummate moocher -- admits it, even, but refuses to change. Jarett has been finding polite ways to ignore him, as the series begins.


TITLE

"correspondence" refers to Jarett's occupation -- as on-the-scene reporter and news correspondant. But it also hints at the "correspondence principle" in quantum mechanics (which explains how Jarett's powers work), as well as the so-called "correspondence theory of truth" in Western philosophy, which states that something (for example, a proposition or statement or sentence) is rendered true by the existence of a fact with corresponding elements and a similar structure.



SERIES STRUCTURE

The main story (in the present day) is told in five multi-part arcs, spanning 12 issues. It should have art similar to Michael Gaydos or Alex Maleev, with muted coloring, so that the moments when Jarett uses his powers really stand out.

In contrast, the back-story, set between 1987 and 1997, appears a shorter back-up feature, at the end of each issue, with an art style appropriate to the year it is set -- so the 1987 origin story has art befitting the Marv Wolfman/George Perez era of New Teen Titans; the 1990 story resembles Todd McFarlane circa Spider-Man: Torment, and so on.


correspondence #1 SUMMARY

Jarett Colby's news team from GlobalSatt is covering a UN humanitarian relief mission in Liberia, assisting refugees from the civil war in neighboring Sierra Leone. The camp where they are stationed is attacked by local rebels, and Jarett goes into action, generating a force field around the displaced civilians. The UN Peacekeepers ward off the brigands, although they ultimately escape. The leader of the Blue Helmets expected the weakened Jarett to chase after the enemy; Jarett sternly points out that it is not his place to bring the rebels to justice -- he came here for a story, and that remains priority #1.

After some rest, Jarett and his crew file the report, several hours later than planned. This scene emphasizes the team's inter-perosnal dynamics, and how the maintain a balance between professionalism, ethics, and a sense of humor, given the adverse circumstances they are documenting.

Meanwhile, political analyst and professional talking-head Beth Moulder criticizes Jarett, on her program, broadcast on the right-wing-friendly cable network WOLF News. She dismisses his reportage as self-serving publicity stunts, aimed at relieving bleeding heart guilt. She argues that Jarett ought to take a more proactive role in the fight against injustice, by dedicating his life to being a full-time superhero. Otherwise, he's just a reporter stepping over the line. She challenges Jarett to a public debate on the 'neutral' infotainment news show, Unconstitutional.

Back in Atlanta, several days later, Jarett has lunch with his producer, Avi, who tells him that his hands-on approach is making the execs upstairs jittery; it is only the public acclaim that he brings, which is keeping them from disciplining him.

Later, in his apartment, Jarett asks his Filipina house-keeper, Marisol, whether she thinks he is doing the right thing, intending to get the view of an "ordinary working class person". She tells him, friendly but dispassionately, that she appreciates his personal generosity and committment to his ethics, but freedom of speech never fed any of her children.

The story jumps forward to *after* the televised debate, in which a glowering Beth Moulder tells Jarett patronizingly that she hopes he has a good P.R. team. The host of Unconstitutional tells him, in private, the he's sorry that he blew it.

As Moulder is about to leave the studio, Jarett's "early warning system" alterts him to a pair of would-be 'culture jammers' outside, disguised as security guards, hoping to douse Mulder with a very potent red dye. Jarett knocks her out of the way, just in time, sending the pranksters running. (An eye-witness takes footage of this with a camera phone, which ends up being posted on YouTube. This will become a plot point, in the next issue.)

We then see the version of the debate, as it was broadcast on TV. The segment opens with a reel of Jarett's past efforts (the Asian tsunami disaster relief, survival in the Gaza Strip, rebuilding NYC after 9/11, etc.) We then see Jarett gradually losing his confidence -- and then his patience -- in the wake of Moulder's scathing verbal assaults. He looks vulnerable. The sequence ends with a panel of Jarett's look of uncertainty.

The perspective then zooms out, and we are shown an individual, in shadows, observing the frozen image, on a large-screen monitor, surrounded on either side by many smaller screens (think Adrian Veidt), displaying a variety of other programming (classic movies, music videos, televangelism, etc.) On top of the array of screens is the logo of the WOLF Network. The obscured man tells somebody on a cellphone that he has an "very interesting offer" to make to Jarett Colby. End of main story.

-------------------------------------------

The back-up story takes place in 1987. Fourteen-year-old bookworm Jarett Colby is forced to join his elder brother, Jacob, at a "party" -- more accurately, a drinking session with a bunch of Jacob's stoner friends -- because their parents worry that Jarett may suffer another epileptic fit, if he is left alone with the television at home.

The "party" is held on a bluff that overlooks their home-town of Normal, West Virginia. Most of Jacob's buddies are preoccupied with making out, or discussing who rocks harder: Motley Crue or Metallica. Jarett sits off to one side, reading a copy of Stephen King's The Tommyknockers. He is approached by Jacob's friend Dolf, who tells him King's ideas are "okay", but they're "kid's stuff". He begins telling Jarett about writer/psychologist Timothy Leary's "8-Circuit Model of Consciousness". Dolf's lesson is interrupted by Jacob, who playfully tells his brother to ignore Dolf, because he regularly talks out of his ***. Dolf is too mellow to protest, and is carried off by Jacob, who says that Dolf is the only one who can properly roach the joints.

From the corner of his eye, Jarett thinks he notices a streak of light descend into the woods nearby. However, none of the burnouts appear to have seen it, so the boy just rubs his eyes, and dismisses it as nothing. Feeling the call of nature in his crotch, Jarett walks over to relieve himself, in the ominous forest. To be continued... End of back-up story.

The remaining story arcs are still in the planning stages. But let me know what you all think of the idea.
 
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ProjectX2

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I read the basic premise, and I understand that you took some ideas from Ex Machina, but it feels too similar. Do we really need another Ex Machina?

Of course, I could be incredibly wrong when I read the rest, and I'll feel very stupid if your plot is incredibly different. :wink:
 

compound

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I read the basic premise, and I understand that you took some ideas from Ex Machina, but it feels too similar. Do we really need another Ex Machina?

Of course, I could be incredibly wrong when I read the rest, and I'll feel very stupid if your plot is incredibly different. :wink:
It's okay -- I kinda anticipated that comparison.

Let me straighten this out -- the series has ideas in common with Ex Machina, in the same way that, say, Supreme Power has elements in common with The Ultimates or Watchmen. It's fairly inevitable, becayse they're all stories within the same genre, and a certain degree of over-lapping plot devices are to be expected.

If there are any recent titles to which correspondence owes a debt, it's really Busiek and Immonen's Superman: Secret Identity, or maybe Warren Ellis' Iron Man run.

Even the idea of alien contact being the source of the main character's powers is not unique to either my idea OR Ex Machina. It's obviously been used in the origin of Green Lantern in the Silver Age, and 80s TV shows like Greatest American Hero, or the original Star Brand from the first New Universe.

Of course, I assume that you're also referring to Jarett's decision to pursue a civilian life over a costumed/masked super-heroic one. But if that's the case, it's very different, because Jarett never had a costumed identity, to begin with.

Furthermore, Ex Machina involves a grown adult with his own career path (civil engineering) acquiring super-powers, then taking on a brief stint as a masked vigilante, retiring, and then being coaxed into running for public office.

In contrast, correspondence is more of a coming-of-age narrative. It's got a young man who decides that having super-powers will not let him get in the way of discovering his real aspiration -- which he decides, in college, will be to enter broadcast journalism.

My take is really sort of an inversion of the Superman dynamic, where being a "mild-mannered reporter" is seen as too "ordinary" a vocation to be able to make a real difference.

Once you get around to reading the plot, in further detail, I hope these differences will become even clearer. :D
 
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ProjectX2

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From the corner of his eye, Jarett thinks he notices a streak of light descend into the woods nearby. However, none of the burnouts appear to have seen it, so the boy just rubs his eyes, and dismisses it as nothing. Feeling the call of nature in his crotch, Jarett walks over to relieve himself, in the ominous forest. To be continued... End of back-up story.

That seems to be leading into a return of the alien lifeform, so would that bring on an origin for them or something? That's one thing that I hope we'll see in Ex Machina - what the glyph is, and why it's given Mitchell these powers... Would this part lead into why your character has received these powers, and why the alien is on earth, etc?
 

compound

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That seems to be leading into a return of the alien lifeform, so would that bring on an origin for them or something? That's one thing that I hope we'll see in Ex Machina - what the glyph is, and why it's given Mitchell these powers... Would this part lead into why your character has received these powers, and why the alien is on earth, etc?
I'm not entirely sure whether I made this clear, but you did notice that this part happens in the back-up sotry, which takes place in 1987, right?

So this isn't a return of the alien -- it's the first part of the origin story for Jarett's powers.

So the main story is set in 2007; the back story in different years:

Issue 1 - 3: 1987
Issue 4 - 6: 1988
Issue 7 - 9: 1989
Issue 10 - 12: 1990

This is the "coming-of-age" part. But the events *correspond* to stuff that's happening in the main story.

I might as well spill my plan for the end of the series here -- basically, it is revealed that the 14-year-old Jarett unknowingly killed the alien, by infecting him with common, ordinary earth-bound bacteria (similar to Wells' original War of the Worlds). In the process, he inherited not only the alien's powers, but also it's inclinations and mission.

And the alien, it turns out, was a kind of inter-galactic reporter. So Jarett never made the decision to become a journalist, on his own -- the alien's consciousness influenced his choice. And yet, that also means the super-powers were never intended to be used for combat use, in the first place.

Mid-way through the present-day story-line, in #s 5 & 6, Jarett's brother Jacob tries to coax Jarett into playing the role of superhero, by attempting to infect their entire hometown with a rare virus sample (which he acquires by stealing it from a lab where he has signed up to be a test subject, under controlled conditions).

Due to the way the virus works, Jarett has no choice but to kill Jacob by flying him into outer space, while wearing a haz-mat suit.

The effort required for Jarett to accomplish this feat generates an energy signature, which is picked up by the alien's home-world... who promptly assume that Jarett has murdered one of their journalists (which is, ironically, precisely what Jarett campaigns against, as part of his profession).

Cue a finale involving a misunderstanding of cosmic proportions.
 
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Ultimate Houde

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This doesn't seem to strike me as much as you other one did.

Though the premise, and future layout of the ideas are good.

I have no idea why this one doesn't stand out though

Sorry

You should pop over to Ideastorm, and check out my latest brain storming, as well as my Geek Fight entry, I'm sure you would enjoy both.
 
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ProjectX2

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And the alien, it turns out, was a kind of inter-galactic reporter. So Jarett never made the decision to become a journalist, on his own -- the alien's consciousness influenced his choice. And yet, that also means the super-powers were never intended to be used for combat use, in the first place.

Now that is very good.
 

ourchair

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Quick knee-jerk comments only, based on the first post (I'm still not done with the later posts), because I am shelling out money for a net cafe at the moment, as my computer remains broken...

*Are you intentionally making a joke/pun between a gadget-happy research assistant, who is physically modelled after someone from "CSS"? Just asking, is all.

*The Barry Wolf character seems ill-defined here --- in the sense that I can't seem to grasp how he'd BEHAVE, or what his actions would be like other than the light you say he'd be portrayed in --- but would I be correct in assuming that if he's physically patterned after Gabriel Byrne, then surely he exudes an air of down-to-earth erudition, much like Byrne's character in |Stigmata, a role I know you liked.

*I would seriously consider a David Mack-ish artist to do fill-in parts or flashbacks or whatever... just some kind of artistic involvement, since David Mack was used to good effect in the largely Ben Urich-centered arc of Daredevil entitled "Wake Up" (written by Brian Michael Bendis who I'm sure you're aware has a hard-on for writing about writing)

compound said:
Jarett Colby's news team from GlobalSatt is covering a UN humanitarian relief mission in Liberia, assisting refugees from the civil war in neighboring Sierra Leone. The camp where they are stationed is attacked by local rebels, and Jarett goes into action, generating a force field around the displaced civilians. The UN Peacekeepers ward off the brigands, although they ultimately escape. The leader of the Blue Helmets expected the weakened Jarett to chase after the enemy; Jarett sternly points out that it is not his place to bring the rebels to justice -- he came here for a story, and that remains priority #1.
There's an interesting bit to explore here, in that while Colby is merely protecting civilians, he's also by virtue of his presence, affecting the situation there. I'm no journalist, but the whole ethos that seems to be romanticized by most is that journalists are supposedly meant only to "observe" to blend in and embed themselves, but the fact that Jarrett Colby has the ability to defend the people he's attached his team to has an almost "Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle" effect... his existence changes everything. Perhaps you could consider looking at the thin line between observation and involvement that faces journalists (as well as other social science professions like research psychology, actually)?

Later, in his apartment, Jarett asks his Filipina house-keeper, Marisol, whether she thinks he is doing the right thing, intending to get the view of an "ordinary working class person". She tells him, friendly but dispassionately, that she appreciates his personal generosity and committment to his ethics, but freedom of speech never fed any of her children.
*Insert witty historical factoid, because it's what BKV would do in Ex Machina... :lol: I keed, i keed.

That is all for my off the handle, seat of the pants replies. Pardon me if some of those comments are incoherent.
 

compound

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*Are you intentionally making a joke/pun between a gadget-happy research assistant, who is physically modelled after someone from "CSS"? Just asking, is all.
Nope, I just love Lovefoxxx's look, and how that shapes her public persona.

Technically, CSS (the band) are properly known as Cansei de Ser Sexy, as i'm sure you know by now, but they abbreiviated their name (presumably) to make it roll easier off international tongues, once they were signed to a record contract outside their native Brazil. So the name has nothing to do with the web design function.


*The Barry Wolf character seems ill-defined here --- in the sense that I can't seem to grasp how he'd BEHAVE, or what his actions would be like other than the light you say he'd be portrayed in --- but would I be correct in assuming that if he's physically patterned after Gabriel Byrne, then surely he exudes an air of down-to-earth erudition, much like Byrne's character in |Stigmata, a role I know you liked.
Honestly, the basic idea I had for Barry Wolf was to make him as manipulative as Adrian Veidt, with the charisma of eccentric billionaire Richard Branson. I hadn't really given consideration to how he'd BEHAVE. Still, I do think you more or less nailed it, with your reference to "down-to-earth erudition". He comes across as a visionary, but in a practical, achievable, hands-on kind of way.

*I would seriously consider a David Mack-ish artist to do fill-in parts or flashbacks or whatever... just some kind of artistic involvement, since David Mack was used to good effect in the largely Ben Urich-centered arc of Daredevil entitled "Wake Up" (written by Brian Michael Bendis who I'm sure you're aware has a hard-on for writing about writing)
I have little appreciation for Mack, as a writer, honestly. But he's effective as an artist, when used the right way (like in Alias or Daredevil's "Parts of a Whole" arc), so in that capacity, I guess I'd take that into consideration. I've never read "Wake Up", but I'll make it a point to check it out, eventually, especially since it establishes some of the themes Bendis eventually went on to elaborate, during his regular run.

There's an interesting bit to explore here, in that while Colby is merely protecting civilians, he's also by virtue of his presence, affecting the situation there. I'm no journalist, but the whole ethos that seems to be romanticized by most is that journalists are supposedly meant only to "observe" to blend in and embed themselves, but the fact that Jarrett Colby has the ability to defend the people he's attached his team to has an almost "Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle" effect... his existence changes everything. Perhaps you could consider looking at the thin line between observation and involvement that faces journalists (as well as other social science professions like research psychology, actually)?
This deserves a more well-considered, detailed response than my current mental state permits. I'll get back to it soon-ish. I promise. Like, for real.
 

ourchair

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Nope, I just love Lovefoxxx's look, and how that shapes her public persona.

Technically, CSS (the band) are properly known as Cansei de Ser Sexy, as i'm sure you know by now, but they abbreiviated their name (presumably) to make it roll easier off international tongues, once they were signed to a record contract outside their native Brazil. So the name has nothing to do with the web design function.
I don't think you understood me properly.

I wasn't saying that CSS/Cansei de Ser Sexy was a pun on web design. I was saying that YOU were making the pun.
 

compound

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Hmmm... This one hasn't sustained my interest as passionately as Orphans, so I doubt it will ever be developed any further than this thread.

But i'm bumping it up, for those who might be interested (perhaps in taking over, and developing it further, maybe, who knows).

Please do read through the whole thread, including my responses to earlier comments. There are many further plot details revealed in the discussion that follows the main entry.
 

Zombipanda

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*sigh*

Hopefully, someday, I will have actual work to pimp. You know, something that you will happily *pay* to read, on a "legitimate" publisher, with a listing in Previews.

If only I could find a reliable artist to work with...

I know, right?

I'm just going to work on my prose for now.
 

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