Saturday, May 25, 2013

DC '78 # 15: Deconstructed Cosmos--The Book of Judgment

My life was not horrible, not by any means, comparatively speaking.
Yet, there was much amiss, if only in my own head. I was dissatisfied,
and my only refuge seemed to be nonexistent realms--places I could
either reimagine as I pleased, or recall from my childhood memories.
There's a certain solace to revisiting an unsoiled place, safely preserved
from the changes and evils of the real world.

I never saw the harm in escapism; after all, everyone has their crutches.
I wasn't drinking and endangering others. I wasn't fanatically pushing
some concept of religion. I wasn't raging and intimidating my neighbors
or co-workers to feel superior. I just wanted some downtime with simple,
good old-fashioned release.

But, over time, the real world started creeping into my fictions. The dark
taints, the affects and characteristics. The place that was known for its
consistency became a place of turmoil and unrest--no longer where I
remembered. No longer the place I knew. No longer a place I wanted to be.

So I went on for several years, merely dissatisfied with my lot, my life,
the unfairness of the world, and resigned to not have any pass times
that provided a joyful escape.

So when I found The Book.....well, my heart stopped. And then it began
again with a song, and a renewed energy like I had never known. I felt
better than I knew possible! How can you know how badly off you've been
until you experience something tremendous that lifts you up and shows
you heights undreamed of?

I knew. I just--I don't know--instinctively ? Somehow. But I knew.
Deep in my gut. Like a spiritual revelation had tacitly revealed itself.
I, Walt Burns, had discovered a treasure reserved for no on else on
earth. I had been fortunate...blessed...maybe, I don't....however it
happened, I was special. That in itself was a magic feeling all its own.

And maybe that's why I did nothing at first. That hope was so fresh
and the idea that you have the winning lottery
ticket before you check the numbers. Or how the 'Honeymoon Period'
in a relationship feels, before reality and repetition start to intrude.

I knew what I had, but I was afraid that if I tested it, I would be sorely
disappointed. (I guess once you get an idea in your mind of how life is
'supposed to go' you have trouble kicking it.)

But eventually I pushed myself. Or, more accurately, my desire to please
my daughter pushed me. She had been doing somewhat poorly since her
mother and I separated, and I wanted to do something for her. Something
special. Something no one else would be able to do. After all, I was in part
responsible for her heartache, so who else could heal it?

So I took the book out of the safe I had bought, unwrapped it, and I
placed it on my kitchen table, still laden with jam and crumbs from
that morning's breakfast. My mind was singular in its pursuit, and I
could see nothing around me, nor anything to come.

I wrote of a wish for my daughter-- a world of fantasy, surrounded by
all the wondrous animals I had introduced her to with 'Tiny Titans'
and the Krypto cartoon, and the Amethyst comics she had requested
after she saw  the DC Nation short. I wrote as truth in the book, on
those crackly pages, that she had a world where she was a princess
and was caring for all the animals come together.
I wrote oh-so descriptively of the winged horses from mythology
and different corners of the comic book universe, and of Streaky
and Beppo and flying dogs. I wrote of a safe and favored place
from my childhood memories; the Kent Farm in Smallville, where
love was enough to handle any super-situation.

And as I set, milling over the passages, pages long, that I had written,
in a fan-boy effort of absurdity to try and bring a special world to my
only daughter--then it happened. The phone rang, tearing me from
my writing--now a dozen pages long--even as my eyes lingered at the
shimmering page.

My wife was hysterical. Dana had disappeared from in front of her.
She couldn't make any sense of it. Her words were barely discernible
as she shrieked and pleaded and cursed me for messing with her mind.
She was clueless and scared as a result of the mystery, but I was
attuned and so thus even more terrified.

I had not been clear enough. Instead of bringing my daughter's dream
to her, I inserted her life into the dream. Or, the reality from which
we are dreamed. Who can say? I don't know anymore. I don't know
the depths of how much I don't know. I am awash with ignorance.

For a writer, letting my mind race freely was always my best trait.
Asking questions is what we do. Now, suddenly, the premise of
"Just Imagine" had become a deadly proposition.

Following my panic and fear, I wrote endlessly about my daughter's
return. In my arms, safe, unaffected. I wrote of seeing her where she
was to know if she were safe or not. I wrote of everything conceivable
until my hand cramped and blistered and bled. Finally I knew..there
was no undoing what was created with the pen and page. It left a
change that once transacted, could not be undone.

So I did the one thing I knew to do. Only once again, I was foolish
and short-sighted. I wrote for 'realities' to be aligned so that I could
join my daughter. My fate and presence changed, not hers. Smart on
my behalf, right? Shakespeare was right about man's arrogance and folly.

In my haste, I was not specific enough. "Be careful what you wish for"
should be extended to "what you think upon," "what you write of,"
"what you surround yourself with," "what you speak of," etc. It all
comes back on you in the end.

My body buzzed and vibrated as I felt...the world ?--more than
just my world--shimmer and shake and convulse. After what seemed
a lengthy roller coaster ride within my own body, I had my vision
clear to reveal myself still in my house. But I could tell--just like I
knew with the book--that there was more than seemed to be. Would
this physical premonition be less disastrous than the last?

I went to the window, and there was a new sight through those
old frames. I saw new houses lining the street. Fields. Tractors
driving down the street. Could it have possibly worked?
I ran outside to take in what had happened. I was running, not
aware of it, still tingling and dizzy and pained, but not aware of it.
My mind was overtaken with finding Dana. I felt like a beacon
was pulling me to her. Parents can have that--no matter what the
skeptics say. That connection that can alert us, if we're attuned.

I saw a large grouping of animals ahead of me, gathered under a
tree by a barn, or a farmhouse...who the hell knew the difference.
I was from St. Paul, for crying out loud. Although apparently, almost
coinciding with leaping over Toto (who evidently is always underfoot,)
I didn't think I was in St.Paul anymore.

My memory banks were flooded with recall as I strode past the
menagerie; my subconscious filing away information even as I strode
on to my daughter--a writer's mind always on three things at once.
A talking raven...likely Matthew? Winged horses....Amethyst's
steed...A flying monkey? Damn--it's Buffkin! The Fables are here, too.

Finally I saw her--the most magical thing of all; my baby, feeding
Super-Turtle and petting Ace.

I cried, I laughed....I probably bruised her ribs squeezing her.
She seemed completely unfazed except for wondering why
her dad had lost it.

We contacted her mother through the police in Seattle; her phone
number didn't survive the jump. Even still, it took days to get in
touch--there was so much turmoil and conflict as a result of the
merge. It took a good deal of time to work through it all.

What I have discerned is this; my writing seems to have merged
not only my world and the one where I sent my daughter; it merged
all realities. There was far more going on in those moments (for me
at least) where I was vibrating and realigning 'here' on what I would
assume was originally Earth One. The merge was not an easy one.

Much was lost. Many were erased...although they won't be forgotten.
Transition isn't easy, even in a --well, what do I call this place?
It certainly isn't fictional--I'm here, living, breathing, pumping blood.
Along with what I had always known to be--even in my deepest
moments of escapism--to be comic book characters, cartoon
characters...creations of the mind and pen.

But they are real. Beautiful. Alive. Surrounding me. I think perhaps
my writing was somehow subconsciously influenced--that the magic
(or whatever you call it) itself was led by my inner vision. This blending
of the best of all worlds...and certainly us being brought 'back in time'
to 1978. It's a strange feeling...that I may run into 'another' me who's
younger. What a trip.

The book's magic can't be undone. My carelessness dissolved so many
worlds before this one was settled. I have hidden the book so no further
harm can be caused. It had proven impervious to all methods of destruction
I attempted.

Here, in this world I have created, however inadvertently, my peace
remains intact. Heroes are not killers, and even villains are mostly
sporting and crooked, not sociopathic. Here, Barbara Gordon has
not been assaulted, nor will she be. The Metal Men are fun robots.
Sue Dibny is fun-loving and alive. There is no undue darkness and
misery here.

Of course, maybe it is all fantasy. Maybe I'm nuts. Perhaps right now
I'm locked in a padded room or sitting drooped over the side of a chair
drugged into oblivion. Maybe all of this is a desperate release from a
reality I can no longer handle.

Maybe I'm not at all compassionate or kindly. I could be the biggest
sociopath in the world--imagining myself capable of making such grand,
sweeping changes. That I have the right to make such intensive and
destructive choices about these people's lives...what kind of ego does
that depict?
They say there are  more stories in one event than can be told.
Not only what happened, what the viewer thinks happened, and
what the reader thinks happened, but every variation thereof.

I live in Smallville now...a sleepy small town where an inviting and
quaint billboard welcomes people to the childhood home of
Superboy. But greatness isn't relegated to the past, stale memories
of simpler times.

This town is now home to another young Superboy--a young man from
a place called Earth Prime--once again providing refuge and solace
to a lost youth. He who lost everything due to my efforts receives the
proper love and guidance that will keep him in a good place. He is part of
a family here...a community...he has a home. He's growing strong again,
not merely relegated to being 'another lost soul, another tragedy.' A little
nurturing and positivity goes a long way. Funny--that's all most of us need.

As I've gotten older, that's what I see. Most of us just need a place to
belong-- someone to take us in and make us feel important. Nobody
wants their life, their hard work, tossed aside and forgotten.

The animals love it here. Plenty of camaraderie and companionship.
Even the anthropomorphic (did I spell that right?) fellas like Peter
Porkchop and Fox and Crow fit in well on these huge farms. What's
the difference between one talking animal and the next, right? The
Super Pets, the Zoo Crew, the's nice to have some peace
and calm after everything that's happened.

Riverdale, a new post-Crisis neighbor, is only a stone's throw away, and
they seem to be adjusting well, too. A good fit, really.

Life is good. There's so much possibility here. And everyone here
is fortunate. No longer tossed longer the victims of arbitrary
whims and edicts. From here on, life is what we make of it.


Friday, May 17, 2013

DC '78 # 14:Teen Titans: Robin's Casebook (The Journal of Dick Grayson)

November 3, 1979

Normally I'm so tightly wound, but I do like to see the other side
on occasion. Mal's been excellent at booking diversified acts for
Gabriel's Horn, everyone from 'Scare Tactics' to 'The Electrics,
'The Familiars' to a 'Hawk & Dove' band! (Of course, our band,
'Rock, Paper, Scissors' gives it a go onstage once in a while, but
people aren't paying to hear me, Wally, and Roy play!)

But the real experience is when Duela drags me to CBGB's, or Lilith
takes me back to our old coffee shop for some spoken word or women's
rights music, or Karen and Mal bring me to Bradley's for some jazz!
That's what I like best--seeing new things through the eyes of my friends.

Because really, I don't sport taste of my own. My childhood was spent...
in other pursuits. Harsher environs. Bruce was great, but my education
was very one-dimensional. To be expected; you can't teach what you
didn't learn. The Teen Titans has served as the only place I've ever
developed as a real person--my only social outlet. The responsibility of
what I do weighs too heavily on me the rest of the time (and, according to
the others, even when I'm here.) 
Donna's friend from The Village, Bill Walko,
did up this cheesy drawing for our Christmas card this year.
I kind of love it.
Here, though...with my family...I'm safe to experience,
even experiment, with who and what I want to be. They broaden my
horizons, even if it doesn't seem like it. I suppose people see me as this
'together' guy--which I am--because I have to be. But under that surface
is an insecure kid....with issues like everyone else. Only I don't have the
luxury of tapping into them and exploring them. I have to be buttoned down,

the strong and professional one, or someone could get hurt.

Donna's the team's heart--The Mom. But there has to be The Dad, too.
Warm fuzzies won't save us from a death trap--someone has to deal
with the unpopular necessaries. I kind of hate being so rigid...but how
do you change midstream?

Barbara's good for me in terms of finding release--fun, outgoing, relaxed.
But I feel somehow like I need someone to completely pull me out of my
shell, or it'll never happen. Weird that I'm all about control but I want
someone else to be in control when it comes to something so...intimate.

I wish I could talk to someone about all of this sometimes, but after
Arkham, Hugo Strange, Professor Milo and all the rest we've dealt
with over the years, Bruce says it's too risky. Tells me I can always
turn to him or Alfred. He means well, but he doesn't understand--he
keeps everything inside and thinks it best.

Last year when the Titans and Infinity Inc. teamed with the Justice
League and The Justice Society, it was so cool to see the Earth 2
Robin in action. He's so filled out...confident, a real adult with a
uniform of his own. An individual.

His costume pays homage to his Bruce , but merged with his own
creation....still standing out on its own. It made me think it might be
time for a change. After all, I've been wearing this kid's outfit, the
outfit of a sidekick for over a decade now. I'm nearly out of college,
and I'm still wearing shorts. maybe the only male hero left who does.

Something to consider.

Speaking of change, the Teen Titans has taken on a life of its own!
Who would have thought that our little club for 'side kicks' would
evolve into something so substantial. Not only is our team at the
largest it's ever been, we have a West Coast affiliate team thriving
and now we're beginning another fully sanctioned team for training
new heroes, right here in New York City!

But with all good comes bad, like Cindy Duncan and the others
starting up a renegade Titans group; Teen Titans G.O.--an acronym
for Government Overthrow, of all things. I'm all for independence, but
these kids are asking for trouble. Not to mention, I don't want the good
work the Titans have done in recent years to be undone by bad publicity.
We barely survived the Swenson debacle.

These kids aren't ready; untrained, angry, rebellious. A bad combination.
They need our help, and they're sure not ready to do what they're doing.
Or is this just me acting as the world's policeman like Don Hall accused
me of? Maybe this is exactly how Bruce felt when we formed the Titans?

G. Gordon, spokesperson for 'The Revisionists.'
"Taking back America," indeed!
Nonetheless, sometimes I hear people like these Revisionists-- people
like Godfrey who want to change everything, control it--and I wonder.
I know they're bat-shit crazy (ha!) but beyond being dangerous loons who
want to sanitize everything and everyone to their specifications, part of
their message about unprepared teen heroes is on the money. There
needs to be some kind of regulation. Yet I know that's a slippery slope.

Of course, I want the kids trained for safety, and these agenda-touting
Revisionist bigots are worried about ex-cons like The Ant, immigrants
like Mas y Menos, black kids like Joshua, Jericho and Cindy (not to
mention her being a woman, I'm sure,) and Hot Spot who's an absolute
unknown quantity...except that he's a former H.I.V.E. Academy trainee!

(I wonder if they're just trying to stir things up--maybe they want the
attention? They could all have a place in the Titans...but I guess we--
I-- didn't offer it soon enough.)

I'm worried about stuff like the fact that the last time we saw The Ant,
he had been brainwashed by The H.I.V.E., and Cindy and Jericho are
mad because they feel neglected by the Titans. Not exactly instilling
my confidence in their effort.

Enough of the doom and gloom--on to more positive stuff. We put
out a feeler to Supergirl for membership, but she's laid down roots
with the Doom Patrol in Chicago. I appreciate loyalty, and we have
enough raw power on the team. Besides, she knows she's always

All right...all that's out of the way...I guess I'm 'well' now!
On to the actual Case File.

Teen Titans Case Files # 69J
Mr. Jupiter and King Faraday got us on the horn to help with cleanup
after the Crisis. One of our tasks was to investigate the Time Warp in
Panama. Teen Titans East and West got yanked into a time displaced
doozy, and only the team-up for the ages could save them! (Man--I see
what Bruce means! All those years of puns have gotten to even me!)

So we saw 'cavemen' and other throwbacks from all ages...coexisting
in one place. Strangely enough, there were some dinosaurs and other
creatures there which shouldn't have been, but I guess that's no worse
than a mixing of Paleolithic Era beings and cavemen (homo sapiens)
and Neanderthals, as well as mixes of African, Spanish, and--see? The
rest of the gang was just like "Cool! Cavemen!" while I was stuck on
the endless record groove of "Time anomalies...yeesh!"

It was pretty radical, though; we met all these different kids....some
of whom had a sort of sign language, others who could grunt and emote
enough to discern meaning, and others who used sand drawings and
wall paintings to communicate. (And then we just kind of had Lilith
do her 'attunement' thing to help figure out the rest, with some help
from our resident caveboy.) But basically beating the snot out of
King Kull was a pretty obvious objective for everyone.

Still, meeting (hopefully these translated sufficiently) Anthro, Korak,
Bomba, Kong, Ur, and Mightor was a blast, and having them team-up
with Gnarrk was great for him. We all try, but he's so lonely here.

We took Kull's gem, left the Warp Zone, got decontaminated again,
and filed our report with CBI. Then we headed back for pizza at the
club before going our separate ways.

Sometimes this life I live is such a blast....I wish things could stay this
way forever. But the realist in me knows that's too much to hope for.
Just have to make do with enjoying the hell out of things while they're
so good.

Time for a quick workout before hitting the books and then heading
out on patrol. So, incenerator time for my short-lived journal entry
tonight. Sorry, my friend. Thanks for listening.