It's time to judge the entries for Fanzing's "Arkham Asylum's
Vacation" Writing Challenge. This has been, hands down, the
best writing challenge ever. The response was tremendous, and almost
everyone who submitted started rattling off several other ideas
for future stories! For that reason, Arkham Asylum's Vacation now
has a spin-off writing challenge
but we'll get to that later.
The winner of this writing challenge gets a Fanzing T-shirt (or,
if he/she prefers, a Fanzing mouse pad or Fanzing coffee mug). And
picking a winner
phew! This is
nearly impossible. We have not
had any horrible entries, or mediocre entries. There's just "good",
"great" and "should be published as a comic"!
If you haven't read these yet, try to ignore the summaries on the
Read the Intro to
Arkham Asylum's Vacation
Maxie Zeus encounters ????
One of several Maxie Zeus adventures submitted (each entry
accompanied by something along the lines of "Here's a
villain nobody will be using!"), this tale also dredged
up a little-used protagonist. To Juzda's credit, it also uses
the character (I'm being vague on purpose) in a way that's
true to his original profile. Well done!
Bugs and Bug Men
Blue Beetle encounters Charaxis
While it would have been funny to see this encounter end
the moment Charaxis hit the windshield, I enjoyed the battle.
Scott Rogers writes a great Blue Beetle! Competent and capable,
but still a goofball. A nice mix of all versions of Blue Beetle.
Good work, Scott. (Scott, by the way, prefers the old version
of Killer Moth
but does a good job with Charaxis!)
Legion Subs vs. A Quartet of Misfit Villains
Whew! As a Legion of Substitute Heroes fan ever since their
1983 Special, I loved this story. Unfortunately, I have to
disqualify this one as a competitor just because it is not
in current continuity. (Although I really wish that the Subs
WERE in continuity!) The rules did make it quite clear. But
David did submit another entry.
Angel and the Ape vs. Clayface
Dannell does have a bit of an error here, but I don't know
whether to hold it against her or not. The problem is that
Clayface 1, Basil Karlo, is no longer the "ugly wacko
he's now the reigning shape-changing Clayface
in Gotham (according to Penguin during 1999's "No Man's
Land". However, given that there have only been a few
Basil Karlo stories in the last decade, I can't really fault
her for that and will allow the story to compete.
Over all, it's a very fun tail, er, tale. I can see how Basil
Karlo would be annoyed at the thought of animal actors receiving
awards. However, the story doesn't really go anywhere too
interesting, and it seems like Arnold the pig (who must have
died decades ago) gets more attention than Angel and Sam!
Poison Ivy vs. Titans
Michael Rees pleases Titans fans everywhere with well-written
portrayals of Damage, Argent, Troia and Arsenal. On top of
that, the plot is very logical and we even get to see the
younger Titans doing some planning. The superb story did have
some grammatical errors, but graded as a story it was the
tops! And there's some inter-fanfic continuity, too. Rees
should definitely submit some work to DC and see if he can
follow Faerber's run on the Titans title! (Frankly, I liked
this story better than Devin Grayson's stories.)
The Mad Hatter vs. er
A New Hat
Mad Hatter is portrayed as both the hat collector and the
Lewis Carroll character. Nicely done. Although the ending
is a bit strange, I loved the premise and the portrayal of
both main characters.
The Idiot Returns
Having never read the "Idiot Root", the story this
was based on, it was a little difficult to understand. Gruesome,
too. Still, I was able to get the gist of the character, and
it did make some sense that he would go after Superman. I'm
not sure I really buy the idea that Superman would develop
a new power just to defeat him, though. (Brainiac attacks
his mind all the time and Superman never has done so.)
Zeus Goes To Washington
Green Arrow vs. Maxie Zeus
Maxie Zeus takes over Eden Corps. It's great to see Connor
Hawke again. However, I think the plot in this story is a
little meandering and tries to do too much at once. It was
great seeing Maxie getting addicted to Starbucks Coffee, though!
Mortals As Victims of History
Maxie Zeus vs. Wonder Girl and Troia
is quite impressive. The research that must
have gone into it for the quotes and the Greek history. Wow!
On top of that, we have good storytelling (such as introductions
to the major characters) and a very believable, logical reason
why Maxie Zeus would seek out Helena Sandsmark.
The story is hindered by numerous typos, errors and one obvious
mistake (Helena suddenly knows who Maxie Zeus is when paragraphs
earlier she had no clue). I also don't understand what relieved
Cassie of the Joker's madness serum. Despite all of this,
it is definitely one of the best stories submitted for this
Joker's Whiz-Bang Part 1
Vs. the Marvel Family
Seth has a good deal of fun with this one, I can tell. The
combination of the light-hearted Fawcett characters and the
Joker (who runs the gambit between funny and homicidal in
his portrayals, as we all know) works very well together.
The "we can't kill the bad guy" bit has been done
to death, but it IS nice to see someone debating that about
the Joker. (I have a problem believing that the wisdom of
Solomon would have counseled against killing the guy, though.
Leaving the guy free to escape and murder again isn't
Chase vs. Signalman
A commendable job by David R. Black, who manages to tie in
with a very recent issue of Martian Manhunter AND previous
Arkham entries! Quite cool! The use of the lame-o Signalman
in a touching story is also a very big draw.
Fear Of Me
Scarecrow vs. Supergirl
A very effective story marred by an overabundance of grammatical
errors and bad punctuation that often disrupted its readability.
Still, the portrayal of Professor Crane is quite humorous,
especially when he breaks the fourth wall and points out some
of the cliches in Batman stories. Linda's situation is unique;
I don't recall too many superheroes who have been afraid of
their own identity.
Zsasz meets Resurrection Man!
this story. Wow! I'm tempted to
give Rees the award just because the concept is hilarious. I
Zsasz the psycho trying to take out a man who can't die.
I loved it.
Beetle and Booster Gold vs. the Ventriloquist!
This entry was a bit short and straight-forward, but I did
enjoy seeing Beetle and Booster again. Not sure i buy the
explanation that the Vegas police would call them in!
One thing is quite clear: Maxie Zeus is a great character, but
he's not a good Batman villain! Against Batman, a delusional man
is not much of a threat. But in three stories, Maxie Zeus is used
most effectively. Unless the Batbooks have big plans for Maxie,
DC might want to consider freeing him up for other titles to use.
I mean, I really don't like most Wonder Woman stories
but if "Mere
Mortals as Victims of History" was published in Wonder Woman,
I'd buy it!
Blue Beetle vs. Charaxes was
aw, jeez, I just can't get the mental
image of Charaxes hitting the Bug's windshield out of my mind. CLASSIC!
Rees' Green Future story is admirable and shows a thorough understanding
of the current Titans title. As I said
it's as good as anything
that Devin's book has done so far. I really like the way Troia and
Arsenal are mind-controlled but seem like they're in their right
One startling observation is that most of the best stories involved
obscure or discarded Batman villains. I almost wish the Ten-Eyed
Man was still around, just because I'm sure someone would do a good
job with him!
In the end, we had to narrow it down to a few of the best entries:
"Of Bugs and Bug Men"
"Mere Mortals as Victims"
And the winner is:
I can't do it! I just can't do it! I can't tell any of these
three guys that they didn't win. Their entries are all so good!
I have spent the last day re-writing and re-writing the sentence
to say that Rees or Rogers or LoTempio has won
and then I erase
it and give it to another guy.
"Bugs" is funny, enjoyable, easy to read and doesn't
contain any errors. "Green Future" and "Mere Mortals
as Victims" are more ambitious, character-heavy and deep, but
both lost points for typos and, in the latter's case, a few plot
holes in an otherwise superior story. I tried plotting out the various
merits and demerits
and they balance out.
I was THIS close to calling it a three-way tie
but I'm not paying
for three prizes. So, after careful deliberation amongst the judges,
The award goes to Michael Rees for "Green Future"!
Michael wins his choice of a Fanzing T-shirt, mousepad, coffee mug
or oversized mug from the selection available at http://www.cafepress.com/fanzing/
However, as a surprise consolation prize to D.J. LoTempio
and Scott Rogers for their excellent challenges, both will receive
a special discount for use in the same store! All three winners
will be notified by e-mail shortly.
Thank you to everyone who participated.
--Editor Michael Hutchison, who just realized he has
to pay shipping to England while Scott Rogers is a couple
states away, grumble grumble.