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Dr. Smithsteen's Casebook

This issue follows the previous after a gap of a couple of days. The intervening time will be filled in by flashbacks within the narrative. Consequently, time of day, weather, and clothing will be variable.

The issue is narrated by PAUL SMITHSTEEN, in the form of notes from his private professional files -- his patients' "casebook". His narrative captions should be lettered in some plain (serif) typeface and will be labelled PAUL's NOTES to differentiate them from his speech. (We can assume that he's narrating the files in his spare moments and his computer is turning his words into a typescript -- but that's not really important.)

PAUL will begin the scenario as, surprisingly, PAUL, but his other personalities will also appear. When another personality is talking, his caption will be labelled appropriately.

PAGE ONE. One panel.

Panel 1

A single splash page, but actually a montage of images. Centrally, we have the face of PAUL SMITHSTEEN looking directly at us. He's holding the steering wheel of a car. In the top left, we see the same face, but the hair is long and tied back in a ponytail. His dress is of a 17th century sailor and he's holding the wheel of a sailing ship. He's probably laughing, and possibly brandishing a cutlass. In the top right we have the same face again but this time unshaven. He's now wearing a fedora and a long raincoat in the style of the 40s or 50s. He has a revolver in one hand. The background is a grimy city wall. Bottom left, the same face again but this time in sombre black. His mouth is open, shouting at us (and probably foaming), and his fist is pounding on a pulpit -- he's in the midst of a rousing sermon. In the background, we can see enough detail to understand he's in an old-time religion Christian church. Finally, bottom right, we see six more smaller faces, clustered together. One wears a top hat. One wears the war paint of a Native American tribe. One wears first-world-war flying helmet and goggles. The other three are simply black silhouettes -- unknowns. Note that these images all have PAUL's face.

The captions on this page are placed: (1) top and centre, (2) upper left, (3) upper right, (4) lower left, (5) lower right, (6) bottom and centre.

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

My name is Paul Smithsteen. I'm a psychiatrist. I have a lucrative practice in Los Angeles.

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

I am also Jerome Sanders, a sailor in the King's navy. That would be King William of 17th century England.

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

I am also Harry Grubbins, private investigator. I work the lower East side of Chicago in the '50s.

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

I am also Jesse Dillon, I preach in small town Texas in the 1880s.

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

And others. I don't know how many others. All in my head, crowding to get out.

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

I know it sounds like fodder for a fascinating case study. But this isn't about me.

PAGE TWO. One panel.

Panel 1

Another big splash page. This shows the entire group (JAMES, SARA, FRED, CHI-YUN, PAUL) by the side of a highway. It's early morning. In the background we can see their rented SUV and FRED's motorcycle. They seem to be arguing. (No surprise.) JAMES has a large, unfolded map flapping in the wind and he is struggling to read it past CHI-YUN's and SARA's arms as they try to point things out to him. FRED stands a little way off and is smoking. PAUL just looks on. JAMES wears his costume but has his coat over the top and his cowl pulled back to show his face. Everybody else is dressed for travelling. CHI-YUN is in her "typical" Chinese guise. The name captions should be placed suitably close to each figure. (Other captions will be placed appropriately for the conversation, of course.) The issue title, Dr. Smithsteen's Casebook, will run along the bottom of the page in block lettering, credits immediately under it.

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

It's about them.

CAPTION:

Trans-Canada Highway, outside Calgary.

CAPTION:

Thursday 25 September 2014

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

Fred

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

Chi-Yun

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

James

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

Sara

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

Earth's next generation of superheroes.

CHI-YUN:

What about this blue road?

JAMES:

That's a river.

PAUL (softly):

Should've hired a car with computer navigation.

SARA:

Let's just grab a hotel in Calgary. Hide up there.

JAMES:

But we—

FRED:

And this time let's all be using the same definition of low profile.

JAMES:

Was that a dig at me?

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

God help us.

PAGE THREE. Four panels.

Panel 1

JAMES, SARA, CHI-YUN, and PAUL are climbing into the SUV (PAUL driving). FRED is already pulling away on his motorcycle.

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

Four super-powered teenagers and myself. An unlikely team, perhaps. But we didn't choose to band together. We had very little choice.

Panel 2

The two vehicles enter the outskirts of a city. A road sign tells us that this is "CALGARY".

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

We're on the run. Hunted by alien creatures who see us as a threat to—whatever plans they have for the Earth. They are powerful and ruthless. Alone, none of us would stand a chance. Together, we have safety in numbers.

Panel 3

The two vehicles pull up outside a small hotel in a crowded city street.

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

And while we're running, we're learning. We're learning to act as a team. Learning the skills we will use to take the fight to our pursuers.

Panel 4

PAUL at the reception desk of the hotel, the others standing a little behind him (JAMES's costume and SHIELD not in evidence). They carry minimal hand luggage. PAUL talks to the person at the desk.

PAUL:

—connecting rooms, if you have them.

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

In each new city, we attract trouble. Or look for it. We deal with it, learn from it, grow stronger and closer together, and we move on.

PAGE FOUR. Five panels.

Panel 1

PAUL is alone in a hotel room, unzipping the bag on his bed. It's not a huge bag -- these people are travelling light.

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

So where do I come in? I don't have powers, I just got caught up in things.

Panel 2

PAUL lifts some clothes out of his bag.

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

Oh—channelling the ancestors? No, that's not a power. That's hypnotic regression. A well-documented scientific procedure.

Panel 3

Another bedroom. This one is larger, well furnished, and more "personal" than a hotel room. PAUL lies on the bed. His clothes are different: t-shirt and sweat pants, or some similar thing. There's a small recorder on the bedside table and PAUL is holding the microphone, talking to it.

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

I was adopted as a baby. I don't know my real parents. I suppose that's why I was so interested in regression. Connecting with my earlier self.

PAUL (into microphone):

Third session. I can now induce the trance state with a few seconds' meditation. Today I will attempt to record the memories I recall while in that state.

Panel 4

Close-up of PAUL on the bed (still in the flashback), eyes closed.

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

My first contact was with Jerome. At first, I seemed to be speaking gibberish in an English accent. But then there were facts about his life. Facts I could verify.

Panel 5

Back to the scene shown in PANEL 2. He's still in the same pose -- this reflection has only taken a few seconds.

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

The personalities are distinct, with different knowledge, different skills—

PAGE FIVE. Five panels.

Panel 1

PAUL lifts a small revolver out of the bag.

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

—different needs.

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

Harry will insist on acquiring guns whenever he's "out". Usually, Jerome or I throw them away.

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

Still, it could be worse—I think Jerome wants a sword.

Panel 2

PAUL lifts a bible from the bag -- it's the one JESSE was carrying at the end of ISSUE #11.

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

When one of them is in control, I'm a spectator. I know what they're doing and saying but not what they are thinking. I can't communicate with them. It's like watching a movie through their eyes.

Panel 3

Close-up on the bible in his hand.

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

It's a mental change, not a physical change. So how—

Panel 4

Flashback panel to the TROLL punching JESSE in ISSUE #12 PAGE 11. Show how huge the impact is, with JESSE not even flinching.

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

When I was Jesse, I was punched by a drugged-up thug. Hit with superhuman strength. He felt nothing. I'm not even bruised.

Panel 5

Back in the present, PAUL holds his shirt open and pokes his bare stomach. There is an unmistakable scar but this is NOT the three-day old wound it should be.

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

I—as Jerome—was shot. When I let Jesse take over, the wound healed overnight.

PAGE SIX. Six panels.

Panel 1

A flashback to the action in the third panel of ISSUE 3 PAGE 17, with Jerome acrobatically vaulting a car and attacking the gunman.

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

The other personalities all have their own abilities, of course. Jerome visited Japan three centuries ago and learned martial arts moves I can't even pronounce.

Panel 2

Another flashback. (Are you bored with them yet? Ok, this is the last one.) Show one of Jerome's flashier moves fighting the K-MAN in ISSUE 1 PAGE 7.

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

But it's still my body. I keep fit. I work out. He's not doing anything I couldn't physically do if I had his training.

Panel 3

Another flashback panel! (Ok, so I lied.) This one shows just-shot Jerome, on his knees and bleeding, from the third panel of ISSUE 9 PAGE 15.

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

But to heal bullet wounds—

Panel 4

One more flashback. We'll repeat the flashback panel given on the previous page (the TROLL punching JESSE in ISSUE #12 PAGE 11) but this time add JESSE's dialogue.

JESSE:

The power of God protects me from evil!

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

—simply with the power of his faith? His mind? Did he have a psychic talent thirty years ago that I can now tap when I assume his personality?

Panel 5

Back in the present, PAUL regards the Bible lying on the bed next to his bag.

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

Or—?

Panel 6

A close-up of PAUL's hands carefully putting the bible back in his bag. He's speaking out loud (but his face can be off-panel).

PAUL:

Allrighty. Guns we throw away, Bibles we keep. Got that, guys?

PAGE SEVEN. Five panels.

Panel 1

In another hotel room, SARA and FRED sit at a small table, playing cards -- poker. Each holds a fan of cards, examining them closely. They don't appear to be playing for money -- at least, there is no money on the table. Though there is a notepad and pencil next to SARA.

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

I can't explain it scientifically. But then, there are a lot of things I can't explain at the moment.

SARA:

Come on, Fred, your play.

Panel 2

FRED looks down at his cards. We can see he has two kings and two tens.

No dialogue.

Panel 3

Close up on FRED's eyes. In them we can quite plainly see a spread of four aces and a six.

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

Fred's power is psychic in nature. Psionic, some texts call it. Telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition. Maybe some other abilities he hasn't shown us yet.

Panel 4

Fred throws his cards down in disgust.

FRED:

Aces again? Gimme a break!

Panel 5

SARA lays down her cards -- four aces and a six!

SARA:

Sorry. I told you, that's why I don't gamble. It's boring!

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

Sara's power is her luck. I could talk of quantum probabilties and blah blah—but, frankly, it's supernatural. I can't explain it.

PAGE EIGHT. Four panels.

Panel 1

FRED walks to the window, his back to SARA. She is writing something on the notepad.

SARA:

You owe me—umm—four and a half million dollars.

Panel 2

She flashes him a smile, which is largely wasted on his back.

SARA:

I'll take an IOU.

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

Her powers give her everything. Literally: anything she needs falls into her lap, no strings attached. She lives from one happy coincidence to the next.

Panel 3

Her smile gone, she looks unhappy. FRED still stares out of the window, oblivious to her.

SARA (softly):

Or a milkshake.

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

So why does she hate the power so much?

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

Because it makes her different? No, it's something deeper than that.

Panel 4

Close up of FRED looking out of the window and down into the street outside. It's light outside (actually late afternoon/early evening), but we can't see anything from this panel's POV.

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

Fred is a different matter entirely. I have the feeling that his powers have brought him a lot of grief. Made him the loner. But he accepts them. He's always pushing them, testing his limits.

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

And I think his limits could terrify us all.

PAGE NINE. Four panels.

Panel 1

Another flashback! I'm full of them today. This is to action previously unseen -- taking place between the end of last issue and the start of this. It's early morning and the group (SARA, JAMES, CHI-YUN, and JESSE (not PAUL) are in a car park, standing around the SUV with FRED's motorcycle in the background. FRED walks towards them from his motorcycle, his helmet in one hand. They wear similar (not necessarily the same) clothing to that worn on PAGE 2 of this issue, though the location is obviously different. (We might see a sign for a BATES MOTEL somewhere in the background of one of these panels but it's not the same motel as that seen in ISSUE 9.)

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

I don't know how much longer he'll stay with us. I thought we had lost him after we split up in Vancouver.

CAPTION:

Yesterday.

JAMES:

Nice of you to join us, Fred.

FRED:

You thought I was going to run off?

CHI-YUN:

I did!

Panel 2

FRED has reached the group and put his helmet on the roof of the SUV.

JAMES:

You have to wonder.

FRED:

Yeah. Well. Safety in numbers, isn't that what Don told us?

CHI-YUN (softly):

Thought, I meant. Not run off.

Panel 3

Close-up on FRED and JAMES as FRED lights a cigarette.

FRED:

So, mutant baby all safe?

JAMES:

We returned her to her mother, yes.

CHI-YUN (softly, off-panel):

Of course I didn't run off. I'm still here.

Panel 4

FRED leans against the SUV and looks round that the others.

FRED:

But you didn't find out who was behind it? Or why?

JAMES:

Our job is to help people. We're not detectives.

CHI-YUN (softly):

I mean, I thought Fred had—

SARA:

Chi-Yun, just shut up.

PAGE TEN. Five panels.

Panel 1

FRED turns his back on the others and begins to walk away.

FRED:

I'm starved. This place serve food?

Panel 2

The others begin to follow FRED. He speaks over his shoulder.

FRED:

And, if anyone's interested, the cops have the guy behind the babies-for-drugs racket. I convinced him to turn himself in.

JAMES:

Oh. Well, that's good work, Fred.

JESSE:

His sins will catch up with him. All men are judged in the eyes of the Lord and all are found wanting!

Panel 3

SARA has now caught up with FRED. The others are lagging behind. He gives her a "what-the-hell?" look.

FRED:

Has he been like this the whole time?

SARA:

All night.

JESSE:

Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord—

Panel 4

Close-up on FRED and SARA. We may be able to see JESSE in the background -- he's still ranting but we won't show the dialogue.

FRED:

Never thought I'd wish to have Harry back.

SARA:

Fred—

Panel 5

SARA and FRED are at the door of a run-down diner. He is in the act of pushing the door open but he's turned to look at her, frowning.

SARA:

—When you said convinced

SARA (softly):

You mean mentally—with your power?

FRED:

So what if I did?

PAGE ELEVEN. Three panels.

Panel 1

Back to the present, FRED is in the same position as before the flashback. He's smiling.

CAPTION (SARA in voice-over):

"That's so cool!"

Panel 2

FRED is still in the same position but his expression has changed. Whatever he can see now has surprised him -- shocked him, even.

FRED (softly):

What the—?

Panel 3

A big panel, Looking down into the street from FRED's POV. Opposite the hotel is a jeweller's store. People and cars in the street -- a regular afternoon in the city. Except for the explosion. In the middle of the road, an explosive blast sends flames and debris up through the air.

SFX:

BOOM!!!

PAGE TWELVE. Three panels.

Panel 1

We're still looking at the action from above, FRED's POV. As cars screech to a halt, a man strides out of the jewellery store. He has a mask pulled over his face, a bag (of loot, presumably) in one hand, and a sawn-off double-barrelled shotgun in the other hand.

No dialogue.

Panel 2

FRED turns to SARA, who is sitting oblivious to all the noise and chaos.

FRED:

Come on!

SARA:

What? Where?

FRED:

Can't you hear—?

Panel 3

Looking through the window again. Except this time there is no explosion, nor any sign that there was one. The street looks normal.

No dialogue.

PAGE THIRTEEN. Four panels.

Panel 1

FRED leans his forehead against the glass.

FRED (softly):

Nothing. Never mind.

Panel 2

Looking through the window again, a close-up (from FRED's high POV) of a man walking down the sidewalk. He's dressed identically to the figure in panel #1 of the previous page (although he is not masked) and carrying the same bag (but no shotgun: the bag should be large enough to carry the weapon). Now he's not masked, we should be able to see he's an old man: grey hair; thin, lined face.

FRED (off-panel):

Wha—

Panel 3

FRED has turned away from the window, talking to SARA as he crosses the room. She just sits and looks at him.

FRED:

Get the others. There's gonna be a robbery, outside, with explosions and—

FRED:

Well, come on!

Panel 4

Another door into the room opens and CHI-YUN pokes her head out.

CHI-YUN:

Did somebody say explosions? Cool! Where?

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

At 16, Chi-Yun is the youngest member of the group. And definitely the least mature.

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

Also, ironically, the most powerful. She can take on the attributes —and form—of any animal. Even those of completely different mass to her. I don't even want to think about the physical laws that violates.

PAGE FOURTEEN. Four panels.

Panel 1

FRED opens the door, the others behind him. JAMES is in the corridor, wearing full costume, mask, and SHIELD.

FRED:

Somebody want to shout for captain boysc—

JAMES:

I'm here. What's happening?

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

James claims to be the son of the original Major Democracy—one of the greatest heroes of the last generation.

Panel 2

The four head swiftly down the corridor.

FRED:

There's a guy—old guy, white hair, I can point him out when we get there—who's gonna rob a jewellery store—

JAMES:

Developing a social conscience, Fred? Aren't you always harping on about not getting involved?

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

He wears the costume, carries the shield, but won't use the name.

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

I don't know why.

Panel 3

Now on the stairs, they head down them at a run.

FRED:

He's set a bomb.

FRED:

People are gonna get hurt.

Panel 4

They burst out of the front door of their hotel. Curious pedestrians stare at them but the street is otherwise normal.

JAMES:

First priority is the bomb. We have to find it and get people away from it.

FRED:

I know, why don't you take charge?

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

But I've never known a man work so hard to live up to something.

PAGE FIFTEEN. Five panels.

Panel 1

Close-up on JAMES and FRED. JAMES looks at FRED, whose brow is furrowed in concentration.

JAMES:

Fred?

FRED:

I don't know—it was in the road—

FRED:

Maybe underground?—I don't know!

JAMES:

Sara—?

Panel 2

SARA skips out into the road, holding up her hands to stop traffic (one car has skidded to a halt inches from her). A large white DOG is at her heels.

5. SARA:

I'm on it!

Panel 3

SARA has stopped in the middle of the road. She looks down at the dog. We should see that SARA is standing on a manhole cover. (That's a metal access hatch down to the sewers and underground pipes/cables. I'm not sure what they call it in America (or even Canada).)

SARA:

Can you sniff out explosives?

Panel 4

Same panel from the same POV but now the dog has been replaced by CHI-YUN, crouching where it was standing. (You knew it was her all along, didn't you?)

CHI-YUN:

I could if I knew what explosives smelled like!

SARA:

Terrific.

Panel 5

Back at FRED (now alone -- JAMES has gone elsewhere), who is pointing (at SARA, but she can be off-panel) and shouting.

FRED (shouting):

Sara!

FRED (shouting):

You're standing on it!

SARA (off-panel):

Yikes!

PAGE SIXTEEN. Six panels.

Panel 1

Back in the middle of the road, SARA stands to one side while CHI-YUN bends and hooks her fingers under the manhole cover and lifts.

CHI-YUN (thought):

Gorilla.

CHI-YUN:

Uhhhh

Panel 2

The cover removed, CHI-YUN and SARA lie flat and look down into the hole. The hole goes down into blackness and we can see pipes, cables, conduits, stuff like that. (Maybe show this from a POV above them, so we're looking down past the back of their heads.) Taped to a pipe, quite some way down, is what looks like a plastic-lunch-box-sized object.

SARA:

See it?

CHI-YUN:

Uh-huh.

Panel 3

Now looking at them from the side, they are both stretched full-out in the road, their heads hanging over the hole. CHI-YUN has one arm stretched down into the hole. (No need to show the arm actually s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g: what she's doing should be obvious from context.

CHI-YUN:

I can get it!

CHI-YUN (thought):

Octopus.

Panel 4

CHI-YUN has the object! It is a plastic lunch box, wrapped with tape (and broken tape hangs down from where CHI-YUN tore it free). They kneel, looking at it, while CHI-YUN tears it open.

No dialogue.

Panel 5

A close-up of the opened box in CHI-YUN's hands. There are several sticks of dynamite (or a dynamite look-alike, it makes no difference), a timer, and of course the mandatory red and blue wires. We can clearly see the time. It reads 00:00:03

CHI-YUN:

Oh—

Panel 6

Identical panel. The timer now reads 00:00:02

CHI-YUN:

Cr—

PAGE SEVENTEEN. Five panels.

Panel 1

Inside a jeweller's shop. The man FRED saw (we'll call him ANGUS) is in the process of robbing it. Two employees are backed against a wall, hands up, looking terrified. He covers them with his shotgun. His bag is on a counter and a third employee is shovelling in the contents of a display case.

ANGUS:

That's right. Every wee piece. And nobody gets hurt.

ANGUS:

An' ye needn't try the silent alarm after I leave, neither.

Panel 2

ANGUS looks at his wrist watch. We should be able to see that it's showing a countdown timer reading 00:00:01

ANGUS:

'Cause all o' that will be taken care of right about—

Panel 3

The same image, with the watch showing 00:00:00

SFX:

Whump!

ANGUS:

Whump?

Panel 4

ANGUS looks out of the door.

ANGUS:

I was expecting a boom.

Panel 5

ANGUS grabs his bag off the counter.

ANGUS:

Och, tha' wee bugger.

PAGE EIGHTEEN. Five panels.

Panel 1

Outside, CHI-YUN is kneeling on the ground, hunched over, arms wrapped against her abdomen. Smoke comes from within her wrapped arms. The impression should be that she has cushioned the bomb's explosion with her own body. A concerned SARA looks at her.

SARA:

Chi-Yun? Are you ok?

CHI-YUN (softy):

'sokay, I'm very tough.

CHI-YUN (softy):

Go help James.

Panel 2

ANGUS strides out of the jeweller's, bag in one hand and shotgun in the other, just as in FRED's vision. But JAMES stands on the sidewalk, blocking his way.

JAMES:

Sir, please drop the weapon before anybody gets hu—

Panel 3

ANGUS has raised the shotgun and fired! The impact hits JAMES squarely in the chest and flings him backwards.

SFX (shot):

BOOM!

JAMES:

uuuUUUUU!

Panel 4

JAMES lies in the road, stunned (though it should be obvious that his costume has absorbed the lethal impact). ANGUS steps forward, gun ready for a second shot --

No dialogue.

Panel 5

-- when SARA kicks the weapon out of his hand! (SARA's foot can come in from off-panel, to convey the sense of an unexpected attack.) The gun is flying up into the air.

SFX (kick):

Whack

ANGUS:

Wha—?

PAGE NINETEEN. Four panels.

Panel 1

A wider view of the action, showing SARA and ANGUS. He still stands as if holding the gun, surprised to find it not in his hand. She catches the gun as it flies through the air -- in fact, it should drop conveniently into her waiting hands, illustrated by motion lines or something.

SARA:

James, use the shield, damn it!

JAMES (softly, off-panel):

I hate shotguns.

Panel 2

ANGUS steps towards SARA, hand held out for his gun. She holds it loosely -- not pointing directly at him.

ANGUS:

Gi' it here, lassie.

SARA:

Come and take it!

Panel 3

JAMES is now standing behind ANGUS and has an arm clamped around his neck -- the classic police "control hold" (or sleeper hold, if you're a wrestling fan).

JAMES:

Please surrender quietly, sir. I would hate to have to render a senior citizen unconscious. Besides—

Panel 4

Same positions. ANGUS, still held, isn't struggling. SARA is now twirling the shotgun like a baton.

JAMES:

—My friend isn't used to firearms and I'm worried it will go off accidentally.

PAGE TWENTY. Four panels.

Panel 1

The same scene shortly afterwards. Our heroes are no longer here. ANGUS is, though, along with two or more police officers. One of the officers is handcuffing ANGUS as he speaks. ANGUS is no longer wearing his mask and looks angry.

OFFICER:

Well, now. Angus McAllan A.K.A. Aberdeen Angus. Up to your old tricks, eh?

Panel 2

Close-up on ANGUS's face.

ANGUS:

And I would have gotten away wi' it, too! If it wasnae for those meddling kids!

Panel 3

The second officer scratches his head under his cap and looks around, puzzled.

OFFICER:

Who was that masked man?

Panel 4

Elsewhere, the group's SUV is driving out of town with FRED's motorcycle riding in convoy.

No dialogue.

PAGE TWENTY-ONE. Five panels.

Panel 1

Close-up on PAUL, driving.

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

And so it goes. Another city, another good deed.

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

Another bug-out before our pursuers get too close.

PAUL:

So, you went after the villain even though your job is to "help people"?

Panel 2

Close-up on JAMES in the passenger seat. He's in his usual costume-under-coat disguise. The SHIELD is cradled protectively in his arms.

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

The team roles are already being defined, although not everybody realises it.

JAMES:

I trusted Sara and Chi-Yun. If they couldn't stop the bomb, there was nothing I could have done.

Panel 3

SARA and CHI-YUN are in the back seat, talking together.

CHI-YUN:

—And I didn't know how to disarm bombs—

SARA:

I bet I could have found a way!

CHI-YUN:

—So I just thought, become something really tough and—

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

And it is a team. We complement each other and we work well together.

Panel 4

Close-up on FRED, riding his motorcycle.

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

But it's a fragile team.

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

There is friction.

Panel 5

A longer view, showing both vehicles on the highway again.

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

It's been less than two weeks since Don brought us together and saved us from the Krai. We still have a long way to go.

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

Don's the man with the vision and the resources. If we're ever to stop running and find a real purpose, we need him. His experience. His guidance.

PAGE TWENTY-TWO. One panel.

Panel 1

A completely new scene, and a big one-page splash panel. It's daylight. Dense forest (North American, deciduous) on a sloping hillside. But the thing that should grab the reader's attention, in the background or middle distance, is the unmistakeable shape of DON's huge, green recreational vehicle. From its position, we can gather that it has driven down the slope. And from the way it is crashed head-first into a tree, we can gather it has, well, crashed. The front should be severely buckled, windows broken, maybe some smoke or steam rising. The driver's door hangs open.

And in the foreground, we have DON. And he's not in good shape. He's sitting with his back against a tree. Blood runs down his face from a cut on his forehead. And he's holding his gun ready, not aiming it but as if expecting to.

CAPTION (PAUL's NOTES):

The sooner he gets back from his mission, the better.

Next: Meanwhile...

See also: Los Angeles Globe Headlines

Copyright © 2003, 2016 by David Meadows. All rights reserved.