NOTE: This was a script proposal I tried to sell DC on when they had the Impact line going. Since it was based on one of my favorite MLJ / Mighty characters, I thought you might like to see it.
MISTER JUSTICE Mark II:
PAGE ONE: Three panel-tier over a splash panel. In the three-panel tier, a group of cloaked teenage (and perhaps over-teenage) cultists are in a graveyard, one of their number, terrified, tied to a marker, about to be sacrificed. The cult leader draws back his arm for the stroke, then brings it DOWN…
…And in the SPLASH PANEL, his knife shatters on the chest of the wraith which has just materialized between him and his intended sacrifice…the wraith called MISTER JUSTICE! TITLE: MR. JUSTICE in “JUSTICE IS SERVED”
PAGE TWO: The cultists flee to a nearby shack, as Justice gestures to the terrified boy and causes the ropes binding him to unravel. The youth falls prostrate on the ground, weeping. Grimly, Justice throws open the door of the shack. Various evil accoutrements are about, including a devil-sign on one wall; the cultists attack him with knives and guns and evil objects. His hands enlarge and he slams them against the walls of the shack.
PAGE THREE: Mr. Justice gestures, obliterating the devil-sign with a glowing cross. He turns to the cowering cult-leader and draws another cross on his forehead, and tells him it will never leave his brow. He then blows apart the walls and ceiling of the shack.Cut to: a prowl car, with two cops in it; one of them stiffens for a second and tells the other, “Barney–I don’t know WHY–but TURN IN AT THE GRAVEYARD!” The cops enter, finding the intended victim, and in the distance we see the shadowed figure of Mr. Justice talking to the cultists.
PAGE FOUR: Mr. Justice tells them that they may no longer continue their evil work with impunity. They must face a choice NOW. Either confess your crimes to the police, forsake your former ways, and face MERCY…or remain ON your path…(his face glows with a holy fire as he gestures)…and face JUSTICE.
To a man, the cultists run toward the cops and give themselves up. Closeup shot on Mr. Justice’s head as he regards the cultists and cops from a distance. He would like to think that they have made a SINCERE repentance. For, though they cannot know–THEY were in far greater danger from their actions than was their VICTIM. Justice does not stop at DEATH. In fact…he regards himself with a bitter smile…sometimes it only BEGINS there.
PAGE FIVE: One of the cops runs toward Mr. Justice, intending to question him; before he can get there, Justice ascends in a burst of holy flame. The cop, bowled onto his backside, mutters prayers to Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Justice materializes in a darkened room of a mansion. The door opens and a boy, Michael McKay, says, “Oh, it’s you.” “Yes, Mikey. Close the door, I’m tired and I don’t want to be seen.” Mike, closing the door, says, “I wanna hear the story again.”
Justice, hovering crossed-legged above the bed, gives an ectoplasmic sigh. “All right, Mikey, I’ll tell you THE STORY again. Once upon a time, about 952 YEARS ago, in ENGLAND, there was a PRINCE…”
PAGE SIX: The scene shifts to medaeval England, and an outside shot of the castle of Prince James, from which we hear the words: “Take his right HAND OFF!”We go inside to see a line of persons, very nervous, before Prince James, seated in his throne room, with two guards holding a terrified thief. Behind him is his chief advisor, Rogers. The thief pleads, “No, Prince James, NO…it was only a LITTLE thing…”James answers, “It was a little THEFT. And little thefts grow into BIG ones, and get bigger and BIGGER…unless you STOP the thief! We will leave you with your LEFT hand, to hold your BEGGING CUP.” Prince James is NOT at all a nice person. His sentences for the persons who follow are arbitrary, and severe. The last to come is a poacher. James thinks. Hmmm…isn’t a complete day without at least ONE…Oh, BEHEAD him!
PAGE SEVEN: Rogers smiles and tells James that THIS is the way to ensure the throne of England comes his way when the current monarch dies…through STRENGTH. James smiles as he puts his hand on Rogers’s shoulder. And strength is useless unless harnessed with WISDOM…wisdom such as YOURS, my court adviser. He bids Rogers tend to the beheading soon, as he has things to do. James leaves the chamber. James is met in the hall by his wife, Veda, who begs him to reverse his decisions about the beggar and the poacher. He takes her face in one hand and tells her not to dwell on the beheading; doesn’t she remember what happened to his FIRST TWO WIVES? She withdraws. Rogers follows the prince.
PAGE EIGHT: Rogers and James are now in the castle’s war chamber, conferring with his generals and with war maps on a large table. James supervises Rogers’s plans to conquer neighboring realms. One general expresses dislike at attacking innocents who have done him no wrong; in mid-complaint, he notes the evil look in Rogers’s and James’s eyes, and reverses himself. Well, then, if there are no further complaints, we will attack TOMORROW on the dawn. As Rogers and James leave, Rogers asks if he can make an example of the dissenting general. You can–AFTER the battle, says James.
PAGE NINE: Rogers asks if he can have a girl for the night; James gives him one of the chambermaids, who is none too enthused about the prospect. They leave. James goes to bed with his wife.That night, James awakens, paces the floor, decides to ask Rogers for some sleeping draught. He goes to Rogers’s chamber, cracks the door…
PAGE TEN: Big panel of Rogers’s bedchamber, astonished James looking through the crack in the door. The girl is DEAD, and spread upon the bed, while Rogers, bare-chested, performs a black magic ritual, a sinister black smoke-shape hovering over the girl’s form. And on Rogers’s chest is burned an inverted star.Prince, horrified, runs down the hall. Rogers turns his head for a second, notes the door is cracked, and, opening it, silently watches James run away.
PAGE ELEVEN: James, on parapet of castle, agonizes over what he has seen. If Rogers is a devil-worshipper–and if HE has been guiding James’s actions–he shudders. WHAT HAS HE BEEN DOING? James throws open a door, tells a guard to summon his generals. Now? asks the guard. IMMEDIATELY, says James, grabbing him by the tunic.Cut to: Panel of James addressing his bleary-eyed, surprised generals, telling them: THERE WILL BE NO WAR.
PAGE TWELVE: Generals, astonished but relieved, ask James why. He says their realm has enough foodstuffs and wealth to satisfy their needs, and whatever else they want can be gotten by free trade. Else it is NOT WORTH getting. They will employ a defense force, and that is all. James tells a page to summon his subjects from the past day, call off the beheading and behanding, and schedule a rehearing of cases.Rogers, watching via a spyhole in darkness, listens and does not like what he hears.
PAGE THIRTEEN: Prince James heads back to his chamber, feeling relieved in a way, anxious to tell Vada of his decision. But his path is blocked by two guardsmen. They do not obey his order to step aside, and lay hands on him. The enraged James is cut short by the sight of Rogers. A gag is placed in his mouth.
PAGE FOURTEEN: Rogers has the two guards tie his hands and shove him down the hall to Rogers’s chamber. There he is tied to the bed, and Rogers bids the guards, his loyalists, leave. James, sweating bullets, sees Rogers raise his dagger, and tell him that the plan for war will NOT be stopped, and that the realm–and the queen–will now belong to Rogers, and to HIS MASTER. The last thing he sees is the knife, going DOWN–And then DARKNESS.
PAGE FIFTEEN: Darkness–then James opens his eyes, in a realm of blinding light and purity. He is on his stomach, shielding his eyes, and a presence is beckoning…he mutters, “My lord…my lord…” No, says the presence. I am only, like you, a CREATION, not a CREATOR. Worship me not. Your life on Earth…is DONE.
PAGE SIXTEEN: James realizes he is in a court of sorts, not unlike the one he presided over some hours ago on Earth. He asks, “What is to BECOME of me…and my FAMILY…and my REALM?” The presence replies, We stand in JUDGMENT of you…and as for your family and kingdom, the direst of consequences, which YOU helped bring about, may yet prevail, or may not…the shape has not yet been revealed.
James protests, Do with me what you will, spirit, but do not leave my WIFE and CHILD, nay, e’en ENGLAND itself prey to that beast…IT IS NOT YOUR CONCERN now, Prince James, thunders the presence, sending him to his knees. Your concern now is your AFTERLIFE, and your eternal reward, and our JUSTICE.NO! shouts James, scared, but defiant. WHAT JUSTICE??
PAGE SEVENTEEN: James shouts at the Presence, Leaving VETA and ROBERT and ENGLAND and the WORLD before the monster, ROGERS? Where is the justice, either THERE or HERE?Your sins are GREAT, James of England. Have a CARE…True, implores James. My sins are blacker than the pit…yet, I was IGNORANT in some things…and, at the last, I daresay REPENTANT…Repentance was TOO LONG IN COMING! says the Presence.I say thee–NAY! shouts James.
PAGE EIGHTEEN: James in final argument with the Presence. If I yet exist, spirit, then may I still DO GOOD…and AID the cause of justice in the mortal sphere! Can YOU leave the world of the living to the minions of HELL, and call it JUSTICE? The minions of Hell are opposed by forces you know naught of, replies the Presence.Where were they when I DIED? queries James. Where will they be when Rogers plunges our realm into WAR…for his DIABOLISM? Let ME be one of the forces of good, opposing him…let ME erase my blackest sins, and e’en redeem the wicked, if possible, by showing them the course of truth! As I was shown, the night of my DEATH! If bargains may be made with the DEVIL…then how so much MORE with…ENOUGH! says the Presence. We make NO BARGAINS…and YET…
PAGE NINETEEN: The presence asks James if he would withdraw his plea; he would not. Then, Prince James, perhaps something MAY be done. Perhaps you may become a DEPUTY of sorts…SO BE IT! The presence lifts what appears to be a scepter, and a radiance purls from it and engulfs Prince James. As the aura bathes him and hides him from view, the presence tells him: We make provisional judgment. You MAY YET redeem yourself…if you PROVE RIGHTEOUS. You will be given POWER…great, but not SUPREME. You will give protection to those threatened by spiritual evil, and to the evildoers, give first the CHOICE…of mercy, or JUSTICE, as YOU are given. You shall be bound to Earth till JUDGMENT DAY, when your life’s sum-total’s weighed…and then you will receive MERCY…
PAGE TWENTY: Full-page panel, MR. JUSTICE emerges, bathed in energy, looking at his hands, the Presence nearby. …Or JUSTICE!! finishes the Presence.
PAGE TWENTY-ONE: Mr. Justice is hurled into darkness, as the Presence’s last words echo in his mind: You have MUCH to learn. There are forces that can endanger e’en YOU…you must learn your POWER…
He phases down, crumpled on the ground, at night, on a meadow some distance from the castle.
…You must learn redemption…
Cut to: interior of the castle, war room, Rogers wiping his blade, one of the generals dead at his feet, the others cowed somewhat….I trust that should settle our DIFFERENCES OF OPINION, gentlemen, says Rogers. The war proceeds, as planned…on the DAWN. Shot of Mr. Justice rising from the ground, facing castle. “There was much to do, and I had to learn how to do it…and what were the powers of a ghost…and by dawn, I did…and resolved that, before the day was through…I would have COMPANY.”
MR. JUSTICE in “Baptism Bizarre”
PAGE ONE: Mr. Justice is hovering above Mikey McCay’s bed, the little brat up way past his bedtime. Justice is tired. Mikey tells him, Okay, there ya was, Mr. Justice, 900 years ago, and you’d just gotten killed, and just listened to that neato voice you did like VINCENT PRICE, and how you got him to let you come BACK…and THEN what happened? I tell you what, Mikey, if they’d told me I’d end up 900 years later bone-tired and telling my life story to a NINE-YEAR-OLD KID at 1 A.M….I might’ve STAYED DEAD.
PAGE TWO: Mr. Justice adds, Besides, I’ve TOLD you this story again and again. Why do you wanna hear it a SIXTEENTH TIME? Because I like the way you TELL it, says Mikey. I missed my calling, says Justice. Instead of a PRINCE…I should’ve been a WANDERING MINSTREL. Like Bob Dylan? says Mike. Whoever HE was, mutters Justice. Flashback to scene before of cruel Prince meteing out justice, with Rogers and his wife before him.
PAGE THREE: Flashbacks: 1) Prince James discovering Rogers conjuring demon above girl’s corpse; 2) Rogers dispatching Prince James; 3) Prince James’s ghost, in otherworld, debating with The Presence; 4) Prince James transformed into Mr. Justice.
PAGE FOUR: Mr. Justice getting to his feet on the road which leads to the castle. Justice scratches his head. What the heck is it that ghosts can DO? I mean, there wasn’t even one to haunt my CASTLE and give me POINTERS…A drunk hobbles along, singing a drunk’s song, Justice decides to try him. You there, says Justice. Yes, YOU. Can you SEE ME? ‘sblood, YES, I can see ye, mutters Old Mack. I’ll tell you how WELL I can see ye…he stumbles against Justice…for the price of a good bottle. Justice, reluctantly, holds him up. He can be seen, heard, and touched. He can even smell a drunk.
PAGE FIVE: Justice leans Old Mack up against a tree. All right, he thinks, WHAT is the significance of me meeting a sodden derelict? If there IS any significance, and if this is NOT just another farce…Two of Rogers’s guards, armed with swords, show up and demand to know why these two idiots are out after curfew; are they spies? Justice raises a hand and commands them to stop, he is the prince… The guard whacks Justice’s arm off with his sword. Justice, one hand on his hip, looks at the guard and says, “I don’t like it when you cut my arm off in the middle of a sentence.”
PAGE SIX: Mr. Justice wallops the guard off his pins with a fantastic uppercut. The other guard comes for Mack, who pulls out a bottle, uncorks it, and splashes the stuff in the guard’s eyes. While the guard gropes around, trying to get the rotten booze out of his eyes (Mack has a stomach of solid steel to drink that stuff), Mack yells for Justice to whomp him. Mr. Justice, crouched down and hunting on the ground, says, “Just a minute, Mack, I have to find my arm…Ah, there!” Holding his arm in his other hand, he uses it as a club and wallops the guard out.
PAGE SEVEN: Justice, putting his arm back on his shoulder, asks Mack what does he do next? You’re new at this business, aren’t you? asks Mack.Everybody has to die SOMETIME, Mack, says Justice. I just did it RECENTLY. I came back to…MAKE AMENDS for some things I did in life…and they didn’t tell me what a ghost could DO. What was it like over there? asks Mack. You REALLY want to know? Yes. I wasn’t there long enough to know. YOU’RE a big help, sighs Mack, sitting down on a rock.
PAGE EIGHT: Justice grabs Mack up by his collar. We have things to do, Mack, and they have to be done at once. I need to get to the castle and check up on…the Princess. And NOT be seen. Well, says Mack, ghosts can change their SIZE, or so I’ve heard, and get through the tiniest places. Justice decides to give it a try. Perhaps if he imagines himself small… He shrinks to the size, roughly, of Doll Man. Mack picks HIM up by the cape (HEY! What are you DOING there? asks Justice. Only getting you a HIDING PLACE, Mr. Ghost, says Mack), and plunks him into his empty bottle. Now, says Mack, looking at the exasperated Justice through the bottle walls, just don’t SAY anything, and we might pull it off.
PAGE NINE: Near the castle wall, Mack cocks back his arm and flings the bottle over the parapets. It hits the grass inside the wall. One of the guards asks, What gives? Another one says, It’s that consarned DRUNK again…pay no mind, it just ENCOURAGES him.The guard watches the bottle roll over the grass, towards a barred window in the castle, and clink against the bars. One thing I’ll say, he mutters, that old drunk has one heck of a PITCHING ARM.Justice emerges from the bottle unseen, jumps through the bars and resumes normal size inside. A hall. He hears a familiar voice nearby, and rushes down a flight of stairs. A guard, outside a dungeon door, tries to stop him; Justice, shoots out his arm–which elongates, surprisingly enough–and wallops the guy unconscious.
PAGE TEN: Justice, shrinking once again, jumps through the barred window of the dungeon door and emerges, normal-sized, in the sight of the Princess. She is disheveled, in chains. She is also in shock. What in HEAVEN…No, says Justice. Not anymore. My name is…JUSTICE. Is that your Christian name or your last? asks the Princess.Justice puts his face in his hands for a second. When he takes his hands away, he wears the face of Prince James. JAMES…! shouts the Princess, and tries to embrace him, but, his hands shaking, he stands aloof. We…cannot do that anymore. I am DEAD.
PAGE ELEVEN: Justice takes the bracelets around her wrists, puts a finger under each, and breaks them open. She asks how they’ll get out, as he leads her out of the dungeon. He elongates his foot out and kicks the door off its hinges–getting a little more confident, there. There’s a kayoed guard outside…but nobody much else. The battle must have started, she says.
PAGE TWELVE: Justice and his wife hurry out of the castle, at early daylight. They see old Mack sleeping neath a tree. Justice yells in his face, WHERE IS EVERYBODY?? Oh–says Mack, I guess they’re at the WAR. Cut to: big scene of troops at battle with each other, castle walls besieged, arrows flying, boiling oil getting poured on invaders, and all that good stuff.
PAGE THIRTEEN: Rogers in his mobile command unit (a TENT), conferring with generals, giving orders (the fight is going well), an evil amulet glittering at his throat. Cut to: Troops outside, hearing a tremendous voice: STOP! LAY DOWN YOUR WEAPONS! The two warring factions gape at the sight of a GIGANTIC MISTER JUSTICE, towering over the trees, carrying Old Mack and the princess in one hand. I am JUSTICE! he continues. I have come for the traitor ROGERS–he who MURDERED PRINCE JAMES to plunge you both into WAR! THAT’s got their attention, mate, agrees Mack. Cameo shot of Rogers, looking out of his tent, NOT amused.
PAGE FOURTEEN: Justice places Mack and the princess down, while continuing his speech. One of the soldiers throws a spear at him; it sticks in his forefinger. Justice pulls it out and hands it back to him. This yours? Y-y-yes, milord, gulps the soldier. The only real enemy you have is ROGERS, continues Justice. He serves the POWERS OF DARKNESS, and would have you be their UNWITTING TOOLS. Some lives have been needlessly lost today…but no more. Go home to your families, and let me deal with the murderer Rogers…YES, says Rogers, standing near Justice’s ankle. Yes, let’s just see you DO that.
PAGE FIFTEEN: Justice shrinks, ready to get personal with his killer, and yet…Rogers seizes his amulet, calls upon his OWN patron, and from the amulet leaps a bolt of ebony power which becomes a demon, looking more potent by far than Justice. So that’s what’s been behind you all this time, Rogers, remarks Justice. And I let you become my chief advisor. If you had TAKEN my advice, you might have lived a few more WEEKS, Prince…yes, I know who you are…instead of facing your SECOND DEATH, as you do…NOW! Both figures grow to larger size, but the demon blasts bolts of ebon energy from both his hands through Justice’s body, causing the hero to reel in pain. What…have I gotten myself INTO here? thinks Justice. The princess screams. Old Mack mutters, Oh lord…oh, LORD… Rogers smiles and yells to the troops, Who will you stand by NOW? HIS power…or MINE?
PAGE SIXTEEN: The demon grabs Justice’s face in a burning hand, searing him, and hurls him for a loss. Justice, pained, shrinks to human-size and avoids the demon’s flying body press, causing his opponent to crush practically a whole forest. Justice, elongating his arms, rams a tree through the demon’s chest; it laughs, and, forming a sword of its hand, cuts him in half at the waist.
PAGE SEVENTEEN: Justice is aghast; his legs will not function while separate. The demon grasps him in both hands and begins crunching him into a shape about the size of a Three Musketeers bar. But Old Mack, noting the way Rogers fingers his amulet, grabs it away from him. Rogers repays Mack with a stab through the back. The amulet goes flying. Justice, almost out of it, sees the bauble, reaches out an elongated hand…
PAGE EIGHTEEN: …And CATCHES it! Yep, it’s one of those Last Desperate Chances we know and love so well in comicdom. Rogers is aghast and demands the demon destroy him; Justice, exerting what remains of his powers, crushes the amulet to powder in his mitts. At that, a black vacuum-portal opens, a large hand comes out, and the demon is dragged back, not liking it a bit. Justice struggles free as the warp closes.
PAGE NINETEEN: Justice, on the ground, pulls up his lower half like a man pulling on trousers. But then…he notices Old Mack, bends over him, and says, “Old friend…I hope you have an easier time of it than I had.” Shot of the Princess, regarding him in terror…and then, EVERYBODY turns to Rogers. Justice, very deliberately, advances on Rogers. You killed me, he says. You should be glad…because now, I have to offer you a CHOICE.
PAGE TWENTY: Rogers tries to run, but Justice trips him up with an elongated foot. He stands over him, and tells him: Because of what you did, I have been offered a SECOND CHANCE…but I have to remain here till JUDGMENT DAY to RECEIVE it. Today, I offer you the same choice. You may FORSAKE your present path. You may TURN from the ways of HELL…and embrace SALVATION. Snarling, Rogers says, I embrace POWER! Besides that, there is NAUGHT worth having! I SPIT on your “salvation”! Justice grabs Rogers by the chest, hand over his birthmark, and lifts him off the ground. Then, says he, you have rejected MERCY…His hand erupts in holy fire, and Rogers is consumed. The onlookers react in horror….You must face JUSTICE!!
PAGE TWENTY-ONE: Cut to: the room where Mr. Justice, tired, speaks with Mikey McKay. “And what about LADY ALICE and ROBERT?” “Like I told you before–I saw them back to ENGLAND. They lived happily ever AFTER. Now GOODNIGHT–and let me get in some SACK TIME.” “Goodnight yourself–party-pooper,” sasses Mike as Justice compresses himself and takes rest inside a tiny castle in a goldfish bowl on Mike’s desk.
Cut to: an expensive office of a publishing tycoon, who is answering the phone, telling his editor he was VERY RIGHT to call him about this matter, as per his order. The nameplate reads, “COL. AUSTIN ROGERS, publisher.” Rogers, his shirt open to reveal the inverted star on his chest, assures his caller, Very right INDEED.