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Meanwhile...

This issue is set in various locations and at different times of day so I won't make any sweeping statements here. For a change, the issue has no first-person narrator. Everything will be carried in on-panel dialogue, with "location" captions to identify scene changes where necessary.

PAGE ONE. Four panels.

Panel 1

A poker table. Not some professional casino, this is somebody's kitchen table. Cards, chips (both kinds), and beer bottles are scattered around. Three people sit around the table though we don't need to show them in this view (maybe we are looking down on the table from directly above?). These are the three Canadian RCMP officers seen in ISSUE 12 PAGE 18: MILLER, LaROQUE, and PIKEY. Yes, it's a stereotypical cops' poker night.

MILLER (off-panel):

—So I said to them, but Toronto is on Lake Michigan!

LaROQUE (off-panel):

Ahh-hahahah—too funny, Sarge!

PIKEY (off-panel):

The Superiors—hahahaha—dumb superheroes!

CAPTION:

Vancouver, British Columbia.

Panel 2

Now we'll have a regular view of the room, including all three police officers: older, heavy-set, balding SERGEANT MILLER; red-haired, female CONSTABLE LaROQUE; young, muscular, grungy CONSTABLE PIKEY. All are in casual clothes. We might see that PIKEY has a firearm in a shoulder holster over his t-shirt.

MILLER:

That's it. It was all about image in those days. The clever name, the fancy costume—

LaROQUE:

And those kids the other day—?

CAPTION:

Monday 29 September 2014

Panel 3

PIKEY is standing and stretching. The others remain at the table.

MILLER:

I don't know, Rocky. It's twenty years since anybody's tried to do what they're doing.

MILLER:

I'm not sure the world needs superheroes any more.

PIKEY:

Cash me out guys. I need some sleep tonight.

CAPTION:

1:15am

Panel 4

PIKEY heads towards the door, putting a jacket on as he goes.

MILLER (off-panel):

Roll call at 0800, Pikey!

LaROQUE (off-panel):

Come back next week, I'll clean you out again!

PIKEY:

Yeah, yeah.

PAGE TWO. Three panels.

The page should be dominated by panel 3, a big splash of action. Panels 1 and 2 sit above it, occupying only as much space as they need to set the scene effectively.

Panel 1

A city street at night. PIKEY is walking along, hands in pockets (same clothing as the previous scene), whistling.

No dialogue.

Panel 2

He stops and peers into a dimly-lit alley. Maybe he's taken a step into it. There's a man in the darkness but the silhouette should be very indistinct. PIKEY is reaching into his jacket where (readers should remember) he has his gun.

PIKEY:

Hey!

Panel 3

This is the big panel. A K-MAN, in wolf form but still wearing human clothing and the familiar long black coat, is lunging at PIKEY. One clawed hand swings and bats the gun from PIKEY's hand -- very violently, as his torn sleeve and splattering blood should illustrate. PIKEY wears a look of fear and pain.

PIKEY:

Holy Mother—

K-MAN #1:

Rrrrrrrrrrrrraaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrr

PAGE THREE. Four panels.

Panel 1

The K-MAN attacks again, a downward slash of the claws which opens up PIKEY's chest. Again, we need lots of blood to highlight the real violence of the attack.

K-MAN #1:

Rrrrrrrrrrrrr

Panel 2

PIKEY is now on the ground, though we don't need to show him in the panel. The K-MAN is standing over him, not striking. Behind the K-MAN, a second man is now visible. This is another K-MAN, as his identical clothing should indicate, but he's in human form. This second man has his hand on the first's shoulder, as if to hold him back.

K-MAN #2:

We were supposed to question him, not kill him!

Panel 3

Same scene but the first K-MAN is now in human form.

K-MAN #1:

He was going for a gun—

K-MAN #2:

Jesus, you killed him!

Panel 4

K-MAN #2 has spun K-MAN #1 round to face him and is shouting in his face.

K-MAN #2:

You killed a Canadian cop!

K-MAN #1:

It was an accid—

K-MAN #2:

That's not an accident, that's a freakin' diplomatic incident!

PAGE FOUR. Six panels.

Panel 1

A bedroom. Night. In the darkness, we can make out the balding head of a sleeping man. It's the GENERAL but it may not be possible to recognise him, out of uniform and from an unusual viewpoint. Note that he's sleeping alone. On the nightstand, a telephone rings.

CAPTION (voice-over, continuing the K-MAN's speech):

"The General's gonna be so pissed.

SFX (telephone):

Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiing

Panel 2

The GENERAL answers the phone.

GENERAL:

Hammerstein.

VOICE (from phone):

General, we have a problem.

Panel 3

The GENERAL's conference room, last seen in ISSUE 11. The GENERAL and the SPY are both present. The GENERAL is in Marine Corps uniform -- no need to conceal his affiliations with the US military any more, I think the readers have had enough clues.

CAPTION:

K-Men Headquarters.

CAPTION:

Three hours later.

SPY:

There's no way to spin this, General. We have to pull the men out and deny all responsibility.

Panel 4

Close-up on the GENERAL's sweating face.

GENERAL:

God damn it, if the Canadians link the attack to us—

SPY (off-panel):

General, if any word of this program leaks, it's game over for your career.

Panel 5

The GENERAL raises a glass of water to his lips as he regards the SPY.

GENERAL:

Pull them out. And do whatever you need to hush it up.

Panel 6

The SPY is now raising a telephone to his ear, presumably about to give orders.

GENERAL:

But don't stop the search. I need results soon.

SPY:

Five kids, alone and untrained? Not a problem. We just need to anticipate their next moves.

PAGE FIVE. Five panels.

Panel 1

Daylight. A city. Specifically, the exterior of a shopping mall. If it's not obvious what it is, we can include a sign: "QUEENSTOWN MALL". (Name unimportant -- just something to set the scene.)

CAPTION (voice-over, continuing SPY's thought):

"Where are teenage runaways likely to go?"

VOICE (from inside mall):

This is absolutely perfect!

CAPTION:

Winnipeg, Canada.

Panel 2

Inside the mall. It's a female-clothing store. SARA is wearing a big, sky-blue coat trimmed with white fur -- just the thing for the Canadian winter. (It's fake fur, of course. I know there's no way to convey this point on a comic panel, I just thought I ought to mention it.) She's examining the coat in a full-length mirror. CHI-YUN sits on a nearby chair, looking bored.

SARA:

What do you think, Chi-Yun?

CHI-YUN:

Sara, your power lets you find anything you need. Why does shopping take so long?

Panel 3

SARA turns an exasperated look on CHI-YUN.

SARA:

You just don't get it, do you?

CHI-YUN (softly):

No.

Panel 4

SARA is sorting through a rack of clothing.

SARA:

Just try something on!

CHI-YUN:

I don't need clothes. My skin can look like whatever I want.

Panel 5

SARA holds out a horribly cute pink jacket with flowers or hearts or something.

SARA:

Don't you get cold?

CHI-YUN:

Never.

CHI-YUN:

And I'm never going to wear that.

PAGE SIX. Six panels.

Panel 1

An ordinary city street, elsewhere in the city. FRED is riding his motorcycle down the street, minding his own business. (If the reader can't recognise him from the bike, leather jacket, and helmet -- well, tough, I'm not going to give any more clues in the dialogue.)

CAPTION (voice-over):

"Huh. I should've brought Fred shopping."

Panel 2

A woman emerges from a store, carrying a bag or package (it doesn't matter what). She's looking at FRED and her look is... perplexed. She has long, straight blonde hair and is wearing a white fur coat. Perceptive readers should be able to recognise FAITH, minion of the TEMPLE OF UNITY from ISSUE 6.

No dialogue.

Panel 3

FAITH is now climbing into the back of a big, black, expensive, Cadillac-type car. Waiting for her in the back seat is BROTHER THOMAS of the TEMPLE OF UNITY.

THOMAS:

You look perplexed, Faith.

FAITH:

It's nothing, Thomas. I just saw something—

FAITH:

No, nothing.

Panel 4

They sit side-by-side in the back of the car as it pulls away.

THOMAS:

Tonight, we will take Todd Jasen into the Temple.

FAITH:

Thomas, his mother is this city's mayor! Taking him will jeapordize our—

Panel 5

He turns and cuts her off angrily.

THOMAS:

Faith!

THOMAS:

You identified his paranormal ability. That's all we need to know.

Panel 6

An exterior view of the car as it turns on to some kind of big empty lot. There is a large marquee in the background and in the foreground we need to see a large billboard saying:

TEMPLE OF UNITY
HELP FOR BODY AND MIND
ALL WELCOME

(This is mainly to remind readers who haven't yet connected these people with the TEMPLE in previous issues.)

THOMAS (from car):

My decision is final.

PAGE SEVEN. Five panels.

Panel 1

A large, high-ceilinged, windowless office. Walls and floor seem to be austere white marble, with pseudo-classical half-pillars lining the walls. A single large black desk (possibly also marble) is the main feature of the room. On the wall behind the desk is a world political map. Sitting at the desk is a single figure reading from a screen mounted on the desk. He is dressed immaculately in a dark grey suit. It's PARSIFAL, last seen in ISSUE 7.

CAPTION (voice-over, continuing THOMAS's speech):

"And I am confident Parsifal will back up that decision."

CAPTION:

Black Zero Headquarters.

CAPTION:

Brazil.

VOICE (off-panel):

Parsifal, a status report from Faith.

Panel 2

A second man is now standing at the desk and handing PARSIFAL a sheet of paper. This man is tall and slim with very short blonde hair. He is dressed in a black uniform: just a buttoned-up, high-collared jacket and plain trousers tucked into knee-high boots, but the effect should be vaguely military in appearance. On the jacket's collar is an emblem: a silver "0" with a line through it. And at his waist is a sword: a duelling sabre with an ornate hand guard. I will label this man's captions with his code name, WEAPON MASTER, though PARSIFAL will refer to him by his real name, JOHANN, in this scene. (Anybody noticing a faint Germanic theme going on here? Am I being too heavy-handed?)

WEAPON MASTER:

Thomas Hale takes too many chances. He is a liability.

PARSIFAL:

Agreed. However the Temple of Unity has not yet outlived its usefulness, Johann.

Panel 3

PARSIFAL stands, back to WEAPON MASTER, regarding the map.

PARSIFAL:

As our models predicted, superhumans born since The Event are reaching maturity. The Temple is perfectly placed to find them and bring them into Black Zero.

WEAPON MASTER:

The risk is too great.

Panel 4

PARSIFAL turns angrily on the WEAPON MASTER.

PARSIFAL:

You may be head of security, Weapon Master, but only by my leave.

PARSIFAL:

Remember your place and leave strategic decisions to me.

Panel 5

WEAPON MASTER stands stiffly at attention, with the demeanour of a man who doesn't usually tolerate people shouting at him.

WEAPON MASTER:

With respect, sir, Thomas Hale is a link directly back to you—

PARSIFAL

I am aware of that. But we can rely on Faith to silence him should it become necessary.

PARSIFAL

Besides, who would be looking for me?

PAGE EIGHT. One panel.

Panel 1

Big action splash panel! It's an indoor scene: a small warehouse. The background has shelving with various crates and boxes. All innocuous stuff: TVs, computers, and similar electrical goods. In the foreground, however, are a couple of open crates and our POV should allow us to see that these hold weapons -- assault rifles. And this is obviously neither a police nor an army building, so the reader can hopefully deduce that the occupants are up to no good.

But all that is incidental. The focus of the scene is SPIRIT. She's dressed in dark, tight-fitting "Western" garb, not her usual bulky Chinese robes. And in each hand she holds, at the ready, a TONFA (a martial arts weapon; we saw her with them in ISSUE 9). Her hair is bound into a long braid. And she looks mean. In fact, she looks, meanly, at a man who is backed against a wall (or shelf, or something) and is in obvious terror of her. He's big, Caucasian, muscular -- he's a foot taller than her and over twice her mass, making their poses incongruous (even though she's armed and he isn't). But the sweat of fear on his face is unmistakable.

Oh, and his fear may be explained by the bodies of three other big, tough guys that lie around the place amid unmistakable signs of a fight.

CAPTION (voice-over, continuing PARSIFAL's speech):

"Nobody is even aware that I am alive."

CAPTION:

Miami, Florida.

SPIRIT:

Where is Parsifal?

CAPTION (voice-over, leading into speech on next page):

"This is a strange place to find—"

PAGE NINE. Five panels.

Panel 1

A busy city diner. People are eating lunch, talking, and generally behaving exactly as you would expect people to behave in a busy city diner. In the foreground, a casually-dressed man sits reading a newspaper (the sports pages) over a cup of coffee (decaf) and a bagel. This is ROGER STEVENS, mayor of New York City, as subsequent dialogue will hopefully explain. He's in his 50s but youthful, tanned, and athletic. He has steely blue eyes, a square jaw, and short blonde hair which we can't see because of his "NEW YORK YANKEES" baseball cap. He's sitting by a window but we don't need to see out of it in this panel.

The woman who is standing next to his table and speaking is of similar age and is also dressed casually -- but while he's in "blue-collar" clothes, she looks like she's come from the office. Her hair is also short and blonde, her eyes are also blue, and she is also in good shape. She may be close to 50. This is STEPHANIE ELLIOT.

ELLIOT:

—the Mayor of New York City, Mr. Stevens.

CAPTION:

Manhattan, New York.

Panel 2

STEVENS looks up at her and raises an eyebrow.

STEVENS:

I could say the same about the Director of the FBI, Ms. Elliot.

Panel 3

Now he is standing and they are hugging.

ELLIOT:

It's been a long time since we could do this, Roger.

STEVENS:

Good to see you, Steph. I know it's not easy to make time these days.

Panel 4

Now they are sitting opposite each other while a waitress pours ELLIOT's coffee.

ELLIOT:

Slipping the minders so we could meet in private, that's not easy.

STEVENS:

Tell me about it. I can't sneeze without reporters hearing about it.

ELLIOT:

Not like the old days. Do you miss—

Panel 5

She watches the waitress walk away.

ELLIOT:

—Having a secret identity?

STEVENS:

Yeah. I miss being about to take off the costume, leave Defense League headquarters, and come down here for coffee. Anonymous.

PAGE TEN. Five panels.

Panel 1

Close-up on STEVENS as he sips his coffee.

STEVENS:

Still the worst coffee in Manhattan.

STEVENS:

You know that super-powered kids are appearing?

Panel 2

Close-up on ELLIOT.

ELLIOT:

I'm the head of the FBI. You think I would have missed something as important as that?

STEVENS (off-panel):

No...

ELLIOT:

It's what we were expecting to happen. Just because none of us regained our powers after The Event, doesn't mean they can't emerge in a new generation.

Panel 3

Wider view of the two of them again. In the background, people go about their business.

STEVENS:

How widespread is it? Is it a problem?

ELLIOT:

Not widespread at all. A few low-key incidents. But will it become a problem? I don't know. Why—

Panel 4

She delivers the next line just as STEVENS is drinking coffee. His reaction is to spray coffee all over the table.

ELLIOT:

—do you want to put the Defense League back together?

STEVENS:

Pfffffffft—ack—God, no! I'm not going to lead a group of super-powered teens. You think I'm crazy?

Panel 5

STEVENS is mopping up the mess on the table.

STEVENS:

Heck, no. I do that and the next thing you know we'll be up to our ears in second-generation superheroes, Major Democracy will be reforming Strikeforce—

PAGE ELEVEN. Four panels.

Panel 1

A hotel suite. JAMES, wearing his costume but not his cowl, sits talking with PAUL SMITHSTEEN. The SHIELD is on the floor, propped against JAMES's chair.

CAPTION (voice-over, continuing STEVENS' speech):

—Do you think anyone's ready for that?

PAUL:

James, you'll always have people recognizing the costume. Why don't you use the name?

JAMES:

Because I'm not Major Democracy.

CAPTION:

Winnipeg.

Panel 2

Close-up on PAUL, showing his "concerned" look (remember, this man is a trained psychiatrist).

PAUL:

You can't keep dodging the issue.

Panel 3

An angle showing JAMES looking at the SHIELD -- with the SHIELD as the main focus of the panel.

PAUL (off-panel):

What are you afraid of?

Panel 4

A wide view of the room to include the door -- which has burst open to admit an excited CHI-YUN and a more restrained (and shopping-laden) SARA.

CHI-YUN (shouting):

We're back!

SARA:

And we brought shopping!

PAUL (softly):

Terrific timing, kids.

PAGE TWELVE. Five panels.

Panel 1

CHI-YUN throws herself into a chair next to JAMES.

CHI-YUN:

I've been thinking!

JAMES (softly):

Uh-oh.

CHI-YUN:

No, this is serious. I've got a good idea—

FRED (off-panel):

It's a terrible idea.

Panel 2

FRED is standing in the door behind CHI-YUN, helmet in one hand, unzipping his leathers. CHI-YUN turns to look at him.

CHI-YUN:

But I haven't told you yet!

CHI-YUN:

Did you read my mind?

FRED:

I don't need to do that to know any idea you have is bad.

Panel 3

Wider view to include SARA in the conversation. She's trying not to laugh.

SARA:

Give her a chance, Fred.

SARA:

Go on, Chi-Yun.

CHI-YUN:

We all need ... costumes and code names!

Panel 4

A view of the entire group. Everybody looks at each other.

No dialogue.

Panel 5

Same view as the previous panel -- everybody looks at CHI-YUN.

SARA:

That's a terrible idea.

PAGE THIRTEEN. Six panels.

A bit of a talking-heads page -- sorry, I can't think of a way to make this visually interesting but it's got to be here.

Panel 1

Close-up on CHI-YUN and JAMES.

CHI-YUN:

Why? James wears a mask anyway—

JAMES:

It's to protect my family from reprisals if—

CHI-YUN:

Exactly! You're not the only one with family, you know!

Panel 2

Close-up on PAUL.

PAUL:

She's got a point. We're hunted, on the run, and we don't seem capable of keeping a low profile. So why not—

Panel 3

FRED is sitting away from the group or, more likely, leaning against a wall (which he seems to like to do for some reason).

FRED:

I'll keep a low profile, thanks.

Panel 4

SARA and CHI-YUN:

SARA:

Chi-Yun, you can look like anybody you want. And my power should stop me being recognized—

CHI-YUN:

Oh? Like in Seattle?

SARA:

If we start using code names and costumes ... well, it's going to draw more attention than it diverts.

Panel 5

CHI-YUN and JAMES again. CHI-YUN pouts.

CHI-YUN:

Well, I think it's a good idea.

JAMES:

Well ... I suppose we could put it to a team vote—

Panel 6

Close-up on FRED again.

FRED:

We're not a team.

PAGE FOURTEEN. Three panels.

Panel 1

The alley seen on pages 2 and 3, now in daylight. And it's a police crime scene (no surprise there). This should be a big panel to establish the scene properly: uniformed officers, medical examiner, man taking photographs of a body, and so on. Except we won't show the body -- there isn't really any need. LaROQUE and MILLER are here, in plain clothes. MILLER talks to a uniformed officer while LaROQUE just looks at the (off-panel) body with an expression of shock and horror.

CAPTION (voice-over, continuing FRED's speech):

"We're a mobile disaster magnet."

CAPTION:

Vancouver.

LaROQUE (softly):

oh my God

Panel 2

MILLER turns LaROQUE away from the scene with an arm around her shoulders.

MILLER:

Easy, Constable. Breathe.

Panel 3

She looks up at him.

LaROQUE (softly):

His parents are in Europe—

MILLER:

You let me worry about that.

MILLER:

You want a coffee?

PAGE FIFTEEN. Six panels.

Panel 1

In some kind of coffee shop, MILLER and LaROQUE sit alone at a table. She cups her coffee in two hands as she sips it; his is on the table.

LaROQUE:

I don't understand how a bear could—

MILLER:

That was no animal.

Panel 2

She puts down her coffee and looks at him.

LaROQUE:

The M.E. said—

MILLER:

I don't care what he said. I worked in the forest for 20 years—

LaROQUE:

With my father.

MILLER:

—with your father. And no animal attacks like that.

Panel 3

Close-up on his face, wearing a puzzled frown.

MILLER (softly):

No Earthly animal.

Panel 4

He is standing, his hand on LaROQUE's shoulder. She looks up at him.

MILLER:

I need you to go to work. You gonna be ok?

LaROQUE:

Sure, Sarge. What do you need?

Panel 5

She's now standing next to him; a calm, efficient cop once more.

MILLER:

Good girl. Hit the files. Everything there is on the kids from the other night. Look for sightings of "Major Democracy".

Panel 6

She calls after him as he walks away.

LaROQUE:

Where will you be?

MILLER:

I have to call a man about a dog.

PAGE SIXTEEN. Six panels.

Panel 1

The exterior of a large but nondescript building. There is no clue as to what might go on behind the many windows -- but a uniformed RCMP officer guarding the main door and a Canadian flag should give the reader the idea that it's somewhat official.

CAPTION:

Ottawa, Ontario.

SFX:

Ri-i-i-ing

VOICE (from inside building):

Y-ello! Makepeace answering!

Panel 2

An interior office. It's fairly small and lined with shelves overflowing with files. The computer on the desk is almost hidden by stacks of paper. A man sits at the desk, or rather lounges with his chair tipped back and his feet on the desk, and talks into a telephone. (It should be a cordless phone because I might want him to get up and wander around the office in a minute.) This is SEBASTIAN MAKEPEACE and his name should be displayed on a plaque clearly visible on his desk. He's probably in his late 40s. He wears an immaculate suit and has short, neatly-groomed hair -- his appearance is much tidier than his office. He has a wide grin on his face.

MAKEPEACE:

Sure I remember you, Constable Miller.

MAKEPEACE:

Sergeant, is it, eh?

MAKEPEACE:

Hee hee.

Panel 3

He now sits upright and looks serious.

MAKEPEACE:

Well, golly.

Panel 4

He's now walking across the office (aha, told you). (In fact, his phone probably shouldn't be cordless because it will be funnier if he's struggling to disentangle the cord from around the junk on his desk.) Now that he is standing, it might be possible to see that he's extremely tall -- at least 6'8" (or over two metres, as the Canadians would say).

MAKEPEACE:

Yes, you were right to call me. Give me all the details.

MAKEPEACE:

Uh-huh.

Panel 5

With the phone wedged under his chin, he's using a small key to undo the locks on a long, narrow, metal case that sits on top of a cabinet.

MAKEPEACE:

Uh-huh. Don't worry, Sergeant Miller. I have something that will handle the situation.

Panel 6

The case is now open: it's a gun case and it fills this panel. And inside is a HUGE shotgun. I mean, this is the mother of all shotguns. This is the kind of shotgun you use to hunt polar bears. Giant, armour-plated polar bears.

MAKEPEACE (off-panel):

Hee hee.

PAGE SEVENTEEN. Four panels.

Panel 1

Two figures walk through Central Park -- ROGER STEVENS and STEPHANIE ELLIOT, dressed as they were in their previous appearance. It's now probably late afternoon. This can be a long view of them, to establish the park setting.

CAPTION (voice-over, continuing MAKEPEACE's speech):

"Let's keep the Yanks out of it this time."

CAPTION:

Manhattan.

ELLIOT:

We need to get on top of the situation before it escalates like last time.

Panel 2

Same scene, closer in on them talking.

ELLIOT:

I want to put together an inter-departmental committee to study ways to contain superhumans—

STEVENS:

Contain?

ELLIOT:

Contain the problem. I need a panel of advisers—

Panel 3

They have stopped walking and are facing each other.

ELLIOT:

—And I was hoping you would chair it.

STEVENS:

Steph, I can't get mixed up in it. Being Mayor is a full-time job.

ELLIOT:

Rog, I need you. I need a policy in place to deal with this. Because if I don't—

Panel 4

Extreme close-up on their faces: serious looks as she hold his eyes.

ELLIOT:

—Other people in the administration will.

STEVENS:

What? What do you know?

ELLIOT:

Nothing official. Just rumors. From the Pentagon.

PAGE EIGHTEEN. Five panels.

Panel 1

A doctor's office or laboratory. The walls have monitors which show various anatomical displays: things like skeleton, blood flow, body temperature, etc. None of it needs to actually mean anything. There should also be a display of at least one K-MAN (I mean, they are all K-MEN images, but one needs to be an "exterior" view to make it obvious). One wall has a wide picture window which looks into another large room but this does not need to be seen clearly in this view.

The GENERAL and the DOCTOR (not seen since ISSUE 1 are both present. She is obviously very angry about something.

CAPTION (voice-over continuing ELLIOT's speech):

"Some kind of program—"

CAPTION:

K-Men Headquarters.

GENERAL:

All I need to know is, Doctor, is Drake able to return to duty?

DOCTOR:

No he's not able! That the third time he's killed—

Panel 2

Now we can show the view through the window, over the GENERAL's shoulder as he stands looking through it. The room beyond is a gymnasium with a variety of equipment -- weight machines, free weights, treadmills. Three treadmills are occupied: one by a K-MAN in HUMAN form (and suitable work-out clothing) and the other two by K-MEN in WOLF form (naked).

GENERAL:

I am not interested in your opinion of his actions, Doctor, I'm interested in your appraisal of his physical and mental state.

Panel 3

The Doctor is studying some graphs on a wall monitor.

DOCTOR:

His adrenal response to metamorphing is too high. His endorphin—

GENERAL (off-panel):

In English, Doctor.

DOCTOR:

He gets excitable. Unpredictable. Berserk.

GENERAL (off-panel):

Then I suggest you find a way to fix the problem.

Panel 4

She turns to confront him; he's facing her, back to the window.

DOCTOR:

What the hell do you expect? You trained him to be a killer.

GENERAL:

I trained him to be a soldier.

Panel 5

The GENERAL leaves by the office door. She stares after his retreating back.

DOCTOR (softly):

You just don't get it, do you?

GENERAL:

Your job is simply to keep them functioning, Doctor.

PAGE NINETEEN. Four panels.

Panel 1

A large, opulently-furnished room which seems to be hosting a high-class cocktail party. The walls are hung with heavy drapes and art nouveau scupltures rest on small tables. A small gathering of people, no more than 20, stands in small groups sipping champagne and talking. Most of the men are in well-tailored suits. In the foreground, the focus is on two figures who stand out from the norm. One is a huge, muscular African-American, possibly 30 or 40, who wears a loose, open robe that shows off his bare chest and muscular arms. This is THE LEOPARD. Speaking to him, and quite petite by comparison, is a woman -- the only woman visible in the room. She wears a long blue gown, has her hair arranged elaborately on top of her head, and wears large diamonds in her ears. And readers will hopefully recognise her as SARA's mother -- SYLVIA ROTH.

CAPTION (voice-over continuing GENERAL's speech):

"America needs superhumans it can trust, now more than ever."

CAPTION:

San Diego, California.

LEOPARD:

Whoever can control the new superhumans will be a very powerful man.

SYLVIA:

Indeed?

LEOPARD:

Or woman, Sylvia. Or woman.

Panel 2

She sips delicately from a champagne glass.

SYLVIA:

Well, if you believe there are such super-beings, Leopard...

LEOPARD:

Come, Sylvia, don't be coy. A new Major Democracy appears and you don't know anything about it?

LEOPARD:

It's well known that Sylph and Major Democracy were—

Panel 3

She smiles sweetly up at him and puts one hand against his cheek in a friendly (condescending?) gesture.

SYLVIA:

Despite your poor attempt at innuendo, you know nothing of the sort.

SYLVIA:

Attend to business in your own city and pay no attention to rumors from any others, there's a dear.

Panel 4

She moves off.

SYLVIA:

Now, if you will excuse me, I've just seen Jacques arrive.

PAGE TWENTY. Five panels.

Panel 1

CONSTABLE LaROQUE sits at a computer terminal in a tiny office. Through the glass walls of the office we can see a police squad room: several detectives at desks and (just to make it obvious where we are) a couple of guys in RCMP uniforms. In the background, a figure in a long, disreputable raincoat is talking to a uniformed officer who indicates LaROQUE's office.

CAPTION (voice-over continuing SYLVIA's speech):

"—I really must talk to him about Seattle."

LaROQUE:

Seattle—Vancouver—Calgary—

LaROQUE:

Where next, kids?

CAPTION:

Vancouver.

Panel 2

The door to the office is now open and the man in the raincoat is looking in. We should now see him clearly. He's middle-aged, has an untidy shock of black hair, dark stubble, and a crumpled shirt under his raincoat. Think of Peter Falk. He's also wearing a "visitor" badge on which the reader might be able to make out his name: PAUL CHANT.

CHANT:

Excuse me, Constable LaRoque, ma'am, might I ask you a few questions?

LaROQUE (off-panel):

I'm busy. And who the hell are you?

Panel 3

We can now show both of them as he steps forward and holds out his hand (which she, still seated, ignores).

CHANT:

Beg pardon, Constable, the name's Paul Chant. Maybe you've heard of me?

LaROQUE:

The writer?

Panel 4

He has taken a step behind her to study something on the wall (a map or chart or something). She swivels to face him.

CHANT:

That's right ma'am. I write about the paranormal.

LaROQUE:

And you're talking to me because—

Panel 5

He has now turned to face her and she seems unaware of the fact that he's reading the computer screen behind her. (We don't need to actually show the reader what's on the screen. In fact, it's probably hard to convey that he's reading it but the conclusion should be there for any reader that wants to draw it.)

CHANT:

Well, ma'am, some funny things have been happening in Vancouver. And everybody I've asked in the police department today—

PAGE TWENTY-ONE. Six panels.

Panel 1

Another hotel suite. SPIRIT exits the bathroom and crosses the room. She's wearing a big fluffy white bathrobe, of the sort you get in hotel rooms, and is drying her hair with a towel.

CAPTION (voice-over continuing CHANT's speech):

"—Well, they've pointed to you, ma'am."

CAPTION:

Miami.

SPIRIT:

There are signs that point to Parsifal's survival but I am no closer to finding him.

Panel 2

She sits on the bed (not a chair -- she doesn't like chairs) (no, don't ask me why) and begins brushing her hair, wincing as she pulls the brush through it.

SPIRIT:

It is obvious that Black Zero has been covertly rebuilding its operation for several years. Fennec did not—ow!—Fennec didn't shut it down permanently.

Panel 3

A laptop computer, on a desk in the same room. We should be able to read the screen quite clearly. It displays the following text:

09/29/2015 18:52 EST
There are signs that point to Parsifal's survival but I am no closer to finding him. It is obvious that Black Zero has been covertly rebuilding its operation for several years. Fennec did not ow Fennec didn't shut it down permanently. But the structure is very cellular. It makes it difficult to_

SPIRIT (off-panel):

But the structure is very cellular. It makes it difficult to—

Panel 4

The same screen with the same text but a new window has popped-up on it (probably obscuring some of the text). The message in the window reads:

INCOMING TEXT MAIL
SENDER: DON NEWMAN

SFX:

Baa-ding!

Panel 5

SPIRIT stands and is moving towards the computer.

SPIRIT:

Stop log recording. Encrypt under my voice print. Display mail.

Panel 6

The view of the computer screen again, this time showing an e-mail message window. The window contains the following text:

TO: Spirit
FROM: Don
SUBJECT: Final Mail
I'm going to record everything I can. Because if you're getting this it probably means I didn't make it. I let the wolves get too close. I'm copying this mail to the kids, too. Maybe some of it will help them avoid the mistakes I made. Kids, do not, I repeat, do not, under any circumstances

(The window should cut the text off at this point. There is more text but I don't want to reveal it all yet, though some of it will be in the caption on the next page.)

No dialogue.

PAGE TWENTY-TWO. One panel.

Panel 1

A big splash panel of SARA. She's wearing the over-sized t-shirt that she likes to sleep in and standing in a doorway, looking directly out-of-panel at us. It's dark but there is light coming from the room behind her, back-lighting her. She has a hand-held computer in one hand, and though she's not looking at it the light from the screen illuminates her face. (That all sounds nicely artistic.) Her face shows a mixture of shock and grief.

CAPTION ("computer" typeface, continuing DON's e-mail):

"do anything stupid like trying to rescue me."

SARA (shouting):

We have to rescue Don!

Next: A Dark and Stormy Night

See also: Los Angeles Globe Headlines

Copyright © 2003, 2017 by David Meadows. All rights reserved.