Mighty Max Animated Cartoon Story Bible
Mighty Max Story bibile
The following is the original story bible given to the show’s writers in the first season, spelling out the characters and what should/should not be done in the show. I think this is the most intresting for our 3 huge documents from Mark, giving alot of insight previously unknown. I’m thinking of re-writing the wikipedia entry for the show to include many of these revelations. (Note: I am NOT the author of the current entry for the show, if you are message me and we can work on it together!) And after all that, here it is! Thank you Mark!
(the kid with the cap)
Mu, Lemuria, Atlantis, Machu Picchu, Pacoima–names of antiquitarian mystery and unanswered questions. How is it that there were pyramids in Egypt and, 10,000 miles across the ocean, in South & Central America, too? How did a form of the Hindu language get to be spoken by a small tribe of Inuit Eskimos far above the Arctic Circle, 15,000 miles away? And who did build those Easter Island statues on a speck of land devoid of any rock capable of being carved, 3000 miles away from the nearest land mass? Papyrus rafts… not! Chariots of the Gods? Space aliens? Give me a break, they have better things to do. Drunken neolithic frat boys on a road trip? Maybe, but why haven’t the archaeologists dug up the fossilized beer kegs? No, the answer lies in the mists of time; the answer is lost technology, or magic–it’s one and the same. The answer is a cosmic rapid transit system of portals and gateways that span the globe (and beyond), able to transmit people and things instantaneously from place to place. And the answer is… gone!
All we know is that over ten millennia ago everyone who was anyone (kings, warriors, demons & high priests with pull) was trippin’ around the globe as easily as riding the NY subways (but with less graffiti). Then, a major, knock-down, dragout cataclysm between Good & Evil came, and the knowledge was lost for all time… until an 11 year old boy with attitude found the key and became MIGHTY MAX, the Chosen One!!
Actually the last thing in the world Max ever wanted to be is a hero. He’s a young Ferris Bueller with a dash of Calvin (from Calvin & Hobbes): smart, spunky, incredibly likeable and with a mind to ditch school and head for the beach, or the park, or anywhere but where he’s supposed to be. A good kid at heart, just with a touch of the wanderlust…. He’s bright and popular, hanging mostly with his buddy Felix (a shy, gangly, twitchy/kinetic boy who desperately wants to be a rock & roll drummer when he grows up, but at the moment is a tinkerer… always with drumsticks or a screwdriver in his hands) and Bea, a wickedly intelligent dark-eyed girl who’s a cross between Winona Ryder & Sigourney Weaver–cute, tough and fair. Max has a good life, nice house, snags enough A’s & B’s to skate by, and is just getting a glimmering interest in girls. And he’s such a charmer, he gets away with murder. It’s a perfect life. Perfect until his Mom (an ex-hippie, Terri Garr-type) brings home an ancient one-of-a-kind proto-Hittite chicken statue, and life is never going to be perfect again.
See, Mom is a Finder, one of those people that organizes swap meets and supplies antiques and odds & ends to collectors and museums. Need a matching coaster for a set of Howdy Doody placemats? Mom’s got it. A fossil trilobite from the Cambrian? Mom’s got that, too. In fact, most of the house and basement is full of junk, looking like something from the last scene of Raiders Of The Lost Ark! And amidst this stuff one day, hidden in an old trunk, Max finds the weird & mysterious statue that will transform his life.
The statue’s ancient and musty, with hieroglyphics on the base. Running to one of the millions of old leather bound tomes Mom has stashed in boxes, he digs out one particular book: “Egyptian Hieroglyphics, From Our House To Your House.” Perusing the pages, he begins to translate the legend on the bottom of the statue: Dear, Max, you have been chosen to be the cap bearer, go down to the 7/11 and wait for a sign. CRASH!!! In his shock, our hero drops the statue, shattering it into a million pieces. But inside the statue is a cap… a baseball cap!! What is a baseball cap doing in a 10,000 year old statue? Max tries it on, the cap glows once, a tingle like electricity running through the boy, and suddenly the world is about to change.
Soon, at the nearby 7/11, Max is ambushed by weird lava creatures that want his cap or hide, whichever comes first. Our hero, not one to mess with evil minions (“Hey, you guys ever think of brushing your teeth, your breath is rank!”), spreads treads and splits on his BMX bike, the lava-ettes right behind. He cuts up a sidestreet, down a back alley, across a neighbor’s fence and is about to leap his bike to freedom, when an even bigger, uglier monster, suddenly materializes in his path!! Oops…. Max dumps the bike, taking a header for a brick wall. Curtains for Maxy?
Just as head is about to meet unmoving wall, the cap glows, and a portal/door/something opens, and Max pops right through… landing in the middle of the Mongolian Plateau on the other side of the world!!! To make matters even more confusing, standing there greeting him is a three-foot tall yahoo with the head of a chicken and the body of a Greek philosopher, looking and sounding like a cross between Plato & John Gielgud (from Arthur): “Ah, the Chosen One!” Worse, next to the uncanny chicken-headed guy, is a huge ol’ warrior that makes Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator look like a pussy. We’re talkin’ muscles on muscles, bristling with weapons like a walking aircraft carrier. The big guy is bad, and is named… NORMAN, the Guardian. Basically, all Max wants to do is get the heck out of this weirdness. Not a chance.
Seems Virgil and Norman have waited through the eons for the coming of the Chosen One that was prophesied in the “Tibetan Book Of The Very Tired” and are to act as Max’s guides & protectors in the battle between Good & Evil. Max, to say the least, is nonplussed. “Why me?” Virgil pulls an ancient scroll from his sleeve: “Because, Mighty Max, you have the cap!”
Yes, the Cap Of Power, the last key to the cosmic transport system that used to dot the planet. The cap acts as a sort of Universal Subway Token–the wearer finds a portal (Virgil shows Max on the scroll, which looks like that great map from Time Bandits, just littered with portals), the cap changing colors as one nears one of the entrances, and then with the aid of the cap, enters. Thus, Max (and anyone or anything Max is holding onto) is able to whisk instantaneously from Sri Lanka to Switzerland, Bangkok to Burbank and help out those in need. (Max accidentally took one of these rides back at the brick wall.) Max hands the cap back to Virgil. “Here, it’s yours. Now, can you tell me how to get home?” The Noble Chicken explains that the cap is Max’s till the end of time, or Max is killed, whichever comes first. “Gulp!” Max takes the cap back.
So what we have is the classic myth-structure straight out of Joseph Campbell: one reluctant but tres cool hero in our great kid Max; one mentor/guide (a Yoda-character) in Virgil; a talisman of power with the cap that can take you anywhere; the preternatural Guardian, Norman; a friend of the hero as Felix; a wise mother; a vivacious partner/female foil in Bea; and evil. Lots & lots of evil. We’re talking mega-doom evil. There’s Skullmaster, a diabolical monster, almost a minor deity, who’s been imprisoned at the center of the world and needs Max’s cap to set him free. (It was his lava beasts that first stalk Max in the pilot episode.) We’ve got ice aliens and mutant hunchbacks, serpent kings and the living dead. Enough monsters to fill a nightmare’s menagerie. So without further ado, let’s actually get a little more into the characters:
WHO BE WHO AND WHY:
MIGHTY MAX (the kid with the cap)–Right. You’ve seen Raiders, Star Wars, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Time Bandits, Laputa, Die Hard & Princess Bride. Done deal. Max is a combination Ferris Bueller, Calvin, Han Solo with a touch of Indie. He’s a vivacious kid, charming and smooth-talking as hell, who looks before he leaps, but is hardly stupid; he’s got a huge streak of self-preservation, but his curiosity is even huger, and he absolutely likes to have fun. He’d bungee jump in a second off the highest bridge, provided he tied the knots; body surfing a tsunami, maybe, if someone gave him a 50/50 way of getting out of it alive. His reaction to danger is to quip first, run second, ask questions later. Basically, he’s got major attitude coupled with a strong desire to try cool things without totally killing himself.
We’ve absolutely got to give him intelligence. No Friday The 13th kind of stupidity where the killer is on the loose, so Max blindly wanders around the woods all by himself calling out so the monster can come find him. No, Max’d react like you or I would in that situation: he’d be in the car and driving home right after the first axe victim was found, whether he could drive or not. Max is not a fool. Do not make Max act like a fool.
Sure, Max is 11 years old. He does stupid things, but he’s always looking for an angle. He loves to beat the system. He’s got the Cap Of Power, he’s gonna darn-well try to abuse that power. Not in any criminal sense, but if Max were 7 feet tall, he’d play basketball; he’s got a cap that will take him anywhere in the world? He’s gonna use it to his advantage. If Max found a portal that got him to Paris, you bet he’ll take a girl he’s trying to impress there for lunch. Granted, he’s 11, and he doesn’t speak French, so trouble is inevitable. Still, think of it from his viewpoint. That’s the key. This is an action/adventure/comedy show, from Max’s point of view!!!
There are no Benton Quests telling Johnny what to do here; no Obi-Wan Kenobis (although Virgil serves a similar, if less revered position). At most, the Noble Chicken acts as a sort of twisted Glinda The Good Witch. But he’s only there to give guidance, and most of the time Max doesn’t always agree with Virgil’s suggestions, let alone listen to them. And Norman? He’s a complete no-hoper! Norman’s got his own axe to grind (literally): All he wants to do is kill. And destroy. And demolish, massacre, and mangle!!! He’s kinda monomaniacal in that way. (Hey, he’s a warrior, what do you expect?)
So Max is basically on his own. And he loves it. He’s essentially good, and certainly much prefers to save the world then watch his friends and family get slaughtered, but he’s not a Duddley DoRight. Heaven forfend!! Whatever you do, Max is no goodie-two-shoes Luke Skywalker. RETCH!!! Max is closer to Han Solo, or would like to be when he grows up. The key is that although Max sometimes hides it, like most of us, deep down inside, he’s indeed a hero, when the chips are down. He truly wants to see Right triumph over Might, and the underdog be victorious. The difference between Max and us, is that Max is always getting into situations that demand this inner core of integrity to come to the fore.
But atop the heroic insides is the mouth and mind of a charmer. Everyone loves Max, despite themselves; he’s the smoothest thing since yogurt. He can talk the birds out of the sky, and the ice cream man out of a cone. He always has a smile for everyone, and although he can get into trouble at school, neither his teachers or the principal ever think badly about him. He’s just too amicable and has too much heart! Think Ferris Bueller, think Parker Lewis (both used their wiles to help their friends out, as well as being self-serving). Max gets people eating out of his hand he’s so smoooooooth. Which means that when confronted by an Ice Alien, or a Lava Beast, he’s gonna try to swindle his way to freedom, beguile with his fancy patter. We’re talkin’ mucho charisma. Too bad charisma doesn’t work on monsters. Still, Max will always try mouth first, brains second, feet third, and physical force last. Remember that. He’s a BS’er, a motormouth, a slick willy. He makes Daniel Webster look like a piker. And he always smiles. [NOTE: Max’s motives are pure; he’s not a seedy used-car salesman. He just has a mouth of gold.]
Another point, this isn’t a Bill & Ted deal. Bill & Ted are cool, but kinda space cadets. (I certainly wouldn’t trust them to park my car, ya know?) They sorta bumble their way through their adventures, their minds tending to run tangential to the point, rather then parallel with it. Max is always right on top of things… it just happens that he doesn’t always want to be there.
As far as Max’s underpinnings, he likes physical things/action to intellectual pursuits, sports to studying. Running, jumping, biking, swimming, anything that’s dynamic. Hey, he’s a boy boy. But he’s also a great reader, too. He and Felix’ll browse through the encyclopedia for hours trying to figure out how to build a homemade ballista to shower water balloons down on the rest of the neighborhood, or he’ll get latched into “Lord Of The Rings”, forgetting for a moment that he’s living a life equally as exciting (and bizarre).
He’s also got the wanderlust. This is a subtle but important point to remember. Having the Cap Of Power is a dream come true four our boy. He’s always wanted to go places and see things, climb mountains and touch the North Pole. Usually an eleven year old kid doesn’t get many chances to go to exotic places, but now Max can. And he loves it.
But at the same time it leads to trouble. Whereas in the past Max might like to run away from his problems and have nowhere to go, now he can go anywhere. And he can run almost forever. Think about it: a kid who doesn’t have to face any difficulties if he doesn’t want to. This leads to some crises of conscience, believe you me. Fortunately, at his core, Max is hero material, otherwise he wouldn’t be The Chosen One. But it might take Max awhile to discover that facing his problems may be the only way to overcome them.
And he’s got a mouth, in the British sense of the word. He’s cheeky, as opposed to caustic, frivolous instead of “F*** You!” There’s a fine line… don’t cross it. Think Monty Python And The Holy Grail, rather then The Adventures Of Ford Fairlane. John Cleese is endearing while being cutting, Andrew Dice Clay is just plain obnoxious. Stick with the endearing. ‘Cause the bottom line is that Max is a great kid. How he gets into and out of adventures, saves the world, deals with Norman & Virgil, and doesn’t get turned into toasted cap, is what the show’s about. Remember the fun!
We got this kid with wanderlust able to go anywhere. What’s more, he’s got one buddy who’s a super-intelligent chicken, and another who’s the Ultimate Death Dealer. Recall Danny Cooksey in Terminator 2: “Cool!! My very own Terminator!” What kid wouldn’t want all that freedom, coupled with an all-powerful being that did your bidding? (Even I wouldn’t mind that.) So skate with Max’s strong points: smarts, cheek, fun, and complete charm. Wrap him in humor, add big, dashing visuals (like in Raiders) and you got our main character. “Just don’t call me Mighty!!”
VIRGIL & NORMAN (two sides of a weird coin)–Every young up-and-coming hero needs his protectors and mentors. Luke Skywalker had Obi-wan, Jason had Chiron, Frodo & Bilbo had Gandalf. The budding hero doesn’t know diddly, and there always has to be someone around to give a little omniscient advice and look after the fledgling until they gain their wings. In our case the two stuck with the job of shepherding Max are Virgil & Norman. Poor Max.
Now, Virgil, the Noble Chicken, has lived for eons, his function in the universe being to act as caretaker of the Sacred Scrolls Archive & Daycare Center (sort of a library of Thomas Brothers Guides to the gateways and portals of the cosmic rapid transit system). In this capacity, he’s waited for the coming of Mighty Max, the Chosen One, for it is only Max that can wield the responsibility of the portals in a pro-social manner.
But waiting 10,000 years with very little to fill your time can get a little… much. Virgil, responsible to a tee, has now gotten overly so. Think John Gielgud times a million. He makes Yoda seem like a down-to-earth midwesterner. To Virgil, the battle between Good & Evil isn’t just a physical issue, it’s gotten philosophical. He tends to over-intellectualize , giving long meandering orations about the pros & cons, morals & justifications of a certain-death situation. He’s Jiminy Cricket on methamphetamines.
But he’s not a scatterbrain. His points are well-chosen and make perfect sense, it’s just his focus on what’s important in a given predicament is somewhat misplaced. He will debate the right or wrongness of a life-saving action ad nauseam. To hurt as opposed to kill, to run away as opposed to hurt, these are all fodder for his discussions. If it weren’t for the fact that he’s usually right (in some ridiculous way), he’d be a real pain in the tuckus.
His other foible is that he’s vain about his appearance. I mean, he’s a chicken, how vain can you be? And yet, Virgil manages. “I’m not a chicken, I’m a fowl.” When he molts, he could care if the world’s coming to an end; it’s his falling feathers that take up his thoughts.
Play Virgil as a voice of reason, albeit a twisted one. If Max listens to him too much, Max will go astray. Remember: Max is the Chosen One. It’s his job to save the day. No matter what Virgil says, Max has final veto power. It’s just that our Noble Chicken will always be trying to throw in the last word… ’cause he has so many.
Norman on the other hand is a being of very few words. His motto is: “If it moves, kill it.” That’s it. He’s a simple soul, with a limited view of the world. Whereas Virgil will debate the ramifications of an act, Norman just does it. He’s the opposite of the Noble Chicken in that way.
Because he is good at only one thing (destroying), he rarely thinks things through, nor has to. Which leads to problems and story points. If there’s something bigger and meaner than him, what does he do? Gets into trouble, that’s what. Max is always having to pull him back from the precipice. “Look, Norman, there’s 8 million brain sucking aliens behind that door. Maybe it might be better to find another way?” Norman just can’t understand alternate approaches to problems. He has two settings: Full speed ahead and full speed ahead.
But Norman isn’t dumb, it’s just that rather like Mr. Spock in Star Trek, he hasn’t had much experience with the finer emotions, or with thinking about things other then his purpose–to destroy. He’s never stopped to smell the roses as he’s hacking his way through them, nor taken a moment to contemplate a sunset. Which makes for some interesting situations if Max ever tries to get Norman to do a little self-actualization. How does the ultimate warrior feel, deep down inside? (It’s a little like the emotional evolution of Arnold in Terminator 2.) What happens when the big guy runs into someone even bigger? (Which happens a lot in our show.) Does he have feelings of doubt? inferiority? a lack of self-confidence? When you’re used to being top dog in the warrior department, is it earth-shattering to find out you’re no longer #1? Norman must deal with these things in our series, and it’s Max who helps him.
See, when all is said and done, Max is the key to the trio of Virgil, Norman and himself. Max is Captain Kirk to the others’ Spock & Bones. Virgil thinks too much, and Norman doesn’t think enough. It’s Max, as the Chosen One, who must decide on a balance. That’s what keeps the dynamics entertaining. What a delicious opportunity to abuse power when you have a super juggernaut, Norman, at your disposal. Max would be figuring out ways to get Norman to help him out with whatever neighborhood hijinks he’d be planning, at the same time trying to further Norman’s self-awareness. Meanwhile, Virgil would know better, and would be trying to further Max’s own self-awareness. Max is the key; that’s why he’s the Chosen One.
FELIX & BEA (two in the know)–Okay, onto Max’s human friends. Felix and Max have been buddies since kindergarten, each playing off the other’s strengths & weaknesses. Max has always been a winner, and Felix naturally gravitated towards him, the two getting into trouble as a sort of makeshift dynamic duo. Max brings the less-then polished Felix out of his shell and into the limelight (Max is good at that), pushing his friend into trying new things. Felix works as a stabilizing force to Max, giving our hero someone to focus on, to help.
On his own, Felix is high-strung, with nervous hands, usually drumming with his ever-present pair of drumsticks. When he’s not percussing, he’s fiddling with models and screw drivers. Anything. He’s probably a habitual nailbiter. There’s an overflowing core of energy in the kid that’s bubbling up all the time, looking for ways to manifest itself, but being bottled up by a tentative personality.
As far as Max being the Chosen One, Felix is a bit in awe with a hint of envy. Things just always seem to happen right for Max. Still, Felix comes along on various adventures, and when he sees how dangerous it is, he figures Max can keep the cap, he’ll stick with drumming.
As far as Bea is concerned, she’s more then a match for Max. Cute, feisty, intelligent, she’s got the world wired through thinking: once she sets her mind on something, it’s a done deal. But she does it through hard work and through the system as opposed to Max, who skates and tries to find a way to beat the system. That sometimes can be a bone of contention between the two: Bea thinks Max has it too easy, and Max thinks Bea goes overboard.
Still, there’s an underlying attraction, which in later years might blossom, but at the moment is just an irritant. All they know is that Max likes to hang with Bea, and she with him. Even through they’re different, they compliment each other, grudgingly.
Of course Bea is fascinated with Max being the Chosen One. She instantly comprehends the immense responsibility involved, while not completely buying the choosing of Max for the job. Still, if pressured, there’s probably no one else she can think of who’s got the winning ways of our main character. Max never loses at anything. If someone has to save the world from Evil, Bea figures she’d rather have a winner then the converse. Nevertheless, she’s not above helping Max out at all times. She feels she has a better insight into complicated things then he does and gladly offers her advice, forcing him to heed it, whether he wants to, or not. She’s not a nudge, but she is aggressive about speaking her piece. And woe to Max if he doesn’t listen.
MOM (Earth goddess, or just plain whacked?)–We already know about Mom being a Finder, a collector of life’s flotsam & jetsam. She’s also a bit of a flake: ex-hippie, homeopathic, with a touch of New Age thrown in. She’s the perfect mother of a hero; she believes in all that astrology razzmatazz. Mom’s the type to take it all in stride when various preternatural creatures storm through the house. It’s almost as if she expects that sort of thing.
Yet, if the chips are down and her cub (Max) is threatened, she can turn into a real tiger. Think of a phased-out Linda Hamilton from any of the Terminator movies. Mom might come to the rescue wearing old Shogun armor she’s got stashed in some box, wielding a Saxon long bow. But use this sparingly. Mostly our Mom acts as an oracle, purveyor of wisdom, a starting point to mysteries. Much of the junk she finds leads Max on merry chases and sometimes the fate of the world hinges on an item she’s collected from a garage sale. Also, sometimes even the Chosen One needs a mother, and that’s what Mom’s best at.
SKULLMASTER (the Adversary)–The meanest S.O.B. in the valley. Pure Evil. This is the dude that got the cosmic rapid transit system wiped off the face of the planet 10,000 years ago because he was using it for his own diabolical purposes. He’s not a nice guy. Basically, his idea of a practical joke is to flush kittens down the toilet, then destroy the toilet, followed in rapid succession by the bathroom, the house, the neighborhood, and the rest of the planet. He’s not someone known for his gentle sensitivity. He wants to own the universe, and he intends to.
One small problem: he’s been banished to the regions just west of the center of the Earth. He’s not a happy camper about this. His only hope for escape (and eventual universal domination) is to gain control of the cap. And Max has the cap. So Max is in for a rough time. Skullmaster really has a bug up his bottom when it comes to the Chosen One.
We should play this guy like a cross between Darth Vader from Star Wars, Evil from Time Bandits, and Alan Rickman from Die Hard (he was also the best thing in Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves, by far). You don’t want to mess with this bozo at any time. So imagine him confronting Max: “You’re the Chosen One!! Don’t make me laugh….” Of course, Max hates to be laughed at and treated as a whippersnapper, so he’s steamin’. It’s a grudge match made in prehistory: Skullmaster–huge, all-powerful and evil–against Max–little, weak, with a motor mouth and a good heart, but not much more. Of course, we hafta make sure Max comes out ahead in each confrontation (or it’s bye-bye series), so think wisely before getting our hero in a direct confrontation with this malignant demigod.
Play Skullmaster sparingly, maybe every third show or so. The rules on what he can and cannot do on the surface world are still vague. He probably has about as much pinpoint navigation on Max’s whereabout as Sauron did on Frodo. It’s a touch & go thing. More will become clear as we start to work with him. At the moment, just be aware that’s he’s very, very, very, very, very, very, very powerful, so if Max takes him on, he’s gonna need more then a pea-shooter or a Saturday morning “Look, your shoelace is untied!” trick up his sleeve. Skullmaster equals death. Remember that.
STORY IDEAS (just an inkling of where to go)–Something to keep in mind when doing MIGHTY MAX is that each story in the series should have a strong child-relatable emotional arc. Sort of kid tales played against a cosmic tableau. Always remember: Max is a kid, he’s not some caricatured superhero. He may foil the bad guys because he’s smart & brave & lucky, but he’s Ferris Bueller: he’s got a mouth on him. And he’s not perfect. He’s got a Cap Of Power!! You can bet when he’s not being shunted off at the beck & call of Virgil to save some people in distress, he’s gonna be figuring out ways to misuse the power of the cap, like get into Dodger Stadium for free, or spy out Bea’s all-girl slumber party, or maybe even scam a way into picking up spare change at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. He’s not a criminal, but he is a kid, with a kid’s drives and dreams, desires and stupidities. Anyway, here are some character-driven ideas:
Okay, so Max has his first real crush, and it’s on a winsome blonde-haired girl named Jiffy, one of those Destined-To-Be-Prom-Queen-types. Oh, he’s got it bad, mooning and hoping, doodling and trying to read poetry. Bea is of course disgusted with Max. She thinks he’s acting like a bigger moron then usual (not to mention that she’s a wee bit jealous of Jiffy but won’t admit it).
Well, Max wants to get Jiffy something special as a token of his affection… not to mention break the ice. Seems Max hasn’t really even talked to her yet; he’s been unreasonably shy (which for Max is absolutely amazing). Ah, first love. Unfortunately, poor Max doesn’t have enough dough for a gift, having blown it all on comic books and Game Boy cartridges. Fortunately, he’s discovered a portal that opens right into the heart of an undiscovered Egyptian tomb!!
Inside, flashlight blazing, are the treasures of the ancient world: gold, silver, 5000 year old baklava! It’s awesome! Still, Max knows better then to snaffle any of the baubles. Particularly with constant reminders from Bea, who’s come along for the ride. Nevertheless, what about Jiffy? He needs something to impress her. Thinking nothing will come of it, our hero hoists a small nondescript, but nevertheless, golden ring, stows it in his pocket, and makes tracks for home, where he gives it to Jiffy. Dum-de-dum-dum!!
Little does Max realize, but that is the Ring Of The Pharaoh Rootintootin, last of his line, and black sorcerer extraordinaire. Soon, strange bloodthirsty cultist minions with the heads of crabs and the bodies of social workers (actually, just some dark-cloaked monstrous Lovecraftian thingies) are stalking the streets of Max’s neighborhood, hunting for something… or someone. And that someone is Jiffy!!
Soon, all heck breaks loose, Max (with Bea’s help) battles deranged corps of creatures, fighting them off successfully, or so he thinks. For in their wake, they’ve kidnapped Jiffy and are going to sacrifice her to the ghost of Pharaoh Rootintootin, trying to raise him from the dead!!
Suffice it to say, Max goes back to save his love, with Bea trailing along (much to her chagrin and constant flippancy). This is harder then it looks, what with ingenious Egyptian pyramid mazes, fiendish death traps, major full-on battles, where the Sphinx itself comes to life (possibly with computer animation, like in Aladdin), and the resurrected body of the sorcerer-pharaoh trying to blast everyone to ash at every turn.
In the process, Max finds Bea to be much the better world-saver then Jiffy, who’s a bit spoiled, and just not the heroine type. He also learns a lesson about being responsible for his own actions. There are reasons laws & taboos were created, and one shouldn’t just heedlessly ignore them… or bad things come of it. The button is that after all of this rescuing and hero-ing, when Max finally asks Jiffy to go to a movie with him, she turns him down. Seems his life is just too exciting for her. So Max & Bea go instead.
Another story might involve a kid at school who’s a total computer dweeb, we’re talkin’ scrawny and pale, defensive and intelligent. He’s picked on mercilessly. Even Max gets a little carried away with the crowd. Later, he feels a bit ashamed, but he’s only eleven, and that runt at school’s a nerd, so who cares? Besides, it’s such a lovely day….
KA-BINGO!!! Max’s cap glows, and he’s suddenly whisked to a rocky wasteland in the middle of nowhere. It’s Virgil & Norman, and something’s come up. “Oh, brother…. What’s it now? Giant cockroaches intent on devouring Fort Lauderdale? A maniac monster escaped from some hideous government secret experiment?” Max is only joking, but the Noble Chicken isn’t: “Hideous brain-sucking aliens from a distant star are about to invade Earth. They’re just passing the orbit of Jupiter, and should be here…” Virgil checks his watch: “…in about three & a half hours, provided they get a good tail wind.”
Max is caught off-guard: “Quick!! Call the Army! Call the Navy!!! Alert President Bush before he leaves office!! Too late.” Virgil explains that no one else can do anything about it. Radar can’t detect them; telescopes can’t see them. What’s more, how could anyone on Earth get into outer space at such short notice. How could anyone without….” Max knows what’s coming: “Yeah, yeah, the cap, the cap.”
Seems that the aliens’ll be passing close to Mars shortly, and there’s a portal just in their path. Max, Virgil & Norman take the right entrance, and suddenly they’re on board the star craft. And it’s weird. And the aliens are weird. And mean. And hungry. It’s all Max and Virgil and even Norman can do to escape through another portal and back to Earth with their brains still in their bodies (though Norman would like another go at ’em). How are they going to stop the monsters?
It all hinges on Max destroying the aliens’ computer system. With that fried, the ships will be unnavigable, and the invasion will be avoided. But Max doesn’t know diddly about computers. The only person he can think of… is the dweeb.
Well, now Max gets to swallow his pride and ask the nerd for help, and in doing so, he learns that the kid’s sorta cool, just different from Max. In fact, turns out they get along pretty well, what with trouncin’ aliens and destroying the main computer, they turn into real buds. And after a hard day saving the world, Max has learned something about life (other than just that aliens ooze barf-yellow blood); he’s learned about outward appearances being illusory, and that acceptance should be for what a person is inside, for in everyone there is something good and heroic. Even nerds!
Hey, some of this may sound morally highhanded, but all good stories have emotional arcs, and coupled with the bits of a strong character-motivated plot are oodles & oodles of smashing, bashing, monster crashing, demons flashing, and cool Saturday morning allowable outrages. And humor. Max is Ferris Bueller, after all. If there’s a punchline, Max’ll find it.
Now, there’s tons more to go into: how the cap actually works (the shortest distance not always being a straight line–it’s like escalators at a department store, getting on one, then running around to another on the other side of the store); who imprisoned the major evil dude Skullmaster at the Earth’s core; what happened to Max’s Dad; how some stories are set into motion by Virgil calling Max into the fray, and others are catalyzed by Max’s own curiosity, or greed, or kidness; what really became of Amelia Earhart; all the mysteries of the universe. But, hey–this is just a rough guide; we’ll talk more later.
What it comes down to is you got this great kid with attitude–Max, a cap that’ll take him anywhere, a Noble Chicken, a juggernaut Guardian with the un-juggernaut name of Norman, great friends, and all the wham-bam-slam action and humor that we can cram into 22 minutes. Hey, if the cap fits, wear it.
“Change is affected by the edge of a sword.” – The Maxnificant Seven