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20: Chicago Knight

This issue takes place immediately after the end of the previous issue, with our heroes in the middle of a big action scene. (Actually, it will open with a "thematic" splash page not actually related to anything happening now, but the main story follows on from ISSUE 19 with no time elapsed.)

Narration in this issue is in the form of KNIGHT OWL's CASE FILES. These captions should be shown in a standard, plain, computer typeface (such as "Arial") and will be clearly indicated in the script as "KNIGHT OWL's FILES".

PAGE ONE. One panel.

Panel 1

A big splash page showing a city skyline (actually Chicago) at night. Plenty of tall skyscrapers. Dominating the scene is a big full moon. Crossing the face of the moon is the silhouette of a man. Arms outstretched, body held horizontally, cape billowing: yes, he's flying (though the means of his flight is not apparent). All we see is the silhouette but it should match the shape of KNIGHT OWL, seen last issue. So we see the cape and the "horned" cowl (small horns like the tufts on the head of an owl (get it?), not big, silly horns).

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

There has always been a Knight Owl in Chicago.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

We just keep out of the headlines.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

I'm the fourth in direct succession to wear this uniform.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

Twenty years ago, the Event stripped superhuman abilities from the world. All the so-called superheroes vanished or retired.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

But not Knight Owl.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

We are not superheroes. We are fighters against crime and injustice.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

And that never goes away.

PAGE TWO. Two panels.

Panel 1

KNIGHT OWL crouches on the roof of a building, looking down through a roof window. This is where we left him in the last panel of ISSUE 19. We won't show what he's looking at -- the purpose of this panel is to give readers their first full view of KNIGHT OWL. Although it is dark, he is lit from below by the light from the window. He wears a full-face helmet/mask (in fact, we can't see any bare skin anywhere on him). It has BIG eye lenses, meant to suggest "owl eyes". That plus the "horns" and the wing-like black cape wrapped around him add to the imagery. But under the cape is a very functional suit. Its colour scheme is black and dark brown, excellent for sneaking round at night. It has a rigid-looking breastplate and the material covering his arms and legs, while flexible, looks equally tough. His boots and gauntlets look like heavy-duty leather. Around his waist is a belt with numerous pouches, presumably containing useful equipment. There is a jetpack on his back, but this is currently (and, in fact, usually) hidden by his cape.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

Tuesday 7 October, 2014.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

10:25pm

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

Two nights ago, men working for the local crime boss stole a high-tech prototype from Forward Technologies.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

For whatever reason, Forward Tech's owner and chief designer, Elmer Baker, didn't go to the police.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

So I took the opportunity to trace the thieves myself.

Panel 2

Now show his POV through the window, and the scene on the warehouse floor far below. Again, it's the scene from the end of ISSUE 19. HARRY, FRED, SARA, and JAMES confront eight men in "ninja" costumes. We can't see CHI-YUN but we can see the pile of crates that she's buried under after her spectacular charge last issue.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

I found a lot more than I bargained for.

PAGE THREE. Three panels.

Panel 1

The battle commences in a big action panel! JAMES takes on two opponents, blocking the kick of one with his SHIELD while punching the other. SARA delivers a leaping kick to the head of a third. The other ninjas manoeuvre into position to surround the group.

SFX (shield):

CLANG

SFX (punch):

WHACK

SFX (kick):

CRACK!

Panel 2

Another big action panel. A ninja kicks at HARRY's head. HARRY ducks back, narrowly escaping the kick. Behind him, JAMES is still fighting two opponents.

SFX:

SWOOSH

HARRY:

What the hell—?

JAMES:

It's karate, Harry. Jerome would know how to fight them.

Panel 3

KNIGHT OWL still looks down. (This only needs a small panel.)

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

I'm torn between finding out more and getting the hell out.

PAGE FOUR. Four panels.

Panel 1

HARRY has grabbed the ninja by the front of his shirt and head-butts him full in the face.

SFX:

CRUNCH!

HARRY:

I don't care what they call it—

Panel 2

As that ninja drops to the ground (unconscious), HARRY has turned and flattened another with a roundhouse punch.

SFX:

SMACK!

HARRY:

And I don't need anybody telling me how to fight lowlifes in my own city!

Panel 3

SARA ducks down as two ninjas kick at her from opposite sides -- and as a consequence, they "accidentally" kick each other.

SARA:

I'm going to gag on all the macho—whoops!

SFX:

THUD!

SFX:

THUD!

Panel 4

KNIGHT OWL again -- and this can be a small panel, with a close-up view of him opening the window with a small tool.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

Curiosity wins over logic.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

The fight covers the sound of my entry.

PAGE FIVE. Five panels.

Panel 1

FRED knees one ninja in the groin. Another ninja stands behind him, arm raised to strike --

No dialogue.

Panel 2

-- and, as the "groined" ninja collapses, FRED turns just in time to be punched in the face by the second ninja.

SFX:

SMACK!

FRED:

Uhhhh!

Panel 3

FRED, on his hands and knees, looks up at the ninja -- who is about to kick him in the face.

FRED:

And the same to you.

Panel 4

The ninja never completes his kick. Instead, he's reeling about, clutching his head in his hands.

NINJA:

Arrrrgh!!!

Panel 5

Meanwhile, KNIGHT OWL drops from the ceiling, rappelling down a line attached somewhere above.

No dialogue.

PAGE SIX. Four panels.

Panel 1

FRED is now lying, apparently unconscious, on the floor. JAMES stands over him and downs the reeling ninja with a solid punch.

SFX:

THUMP!

Panel 2

SARA kicks another ninja.

SFX:

THUD!

Panel 3

And HARRY stomps on the head of one who is already on the floor.

SFX:

CRACK!

Panel 4

And KNIGHT OWL lands in a crouch on the roof of the small cabin that's off to one side of the open area.

No dialogue.

PAGE SEVEN. Four panels.

Panel 1

Now a view from KNIGHT OWL's POV, showing the battle scene. Our side has won. (Yay!) JAMES, SARA, and HARRY all stand surveying the fallen bodies (eight ninja, plus FRED, plus CHI-YUN buried under crates behind them).

HARRY:

Where's this doohickey, then?

SARA:

How's Fred?

JAMES:

Where's Chi-Yun?

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

The guy's got a Chicago accent. Mid-30s. Medium build. Pistol in a shoulder holster, left hand side.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

The girl's Californian. Eighteen or nineteen. Competent kick boxer. Unarmed. Something about her face is familiar. Can't put my finger on it.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

The other guy—

Panel 2

Close-up on JAMES as he kneels next to FRED and lifts up an eyelid.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

Hoooo boy.

JAMES:

He's going to have a lump but he's ok. I think doing a mental blast like that takes a lot out of him.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

The costume belongs to Major Democracy. Superhero. Leader of Strikeforce. All-round nice guy and general pain in the ass.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

But that was twenty years ago.

Panel 3

SARA is pointing off towards where CHI-YUN crashed (that's away from us, if we're still looking from KNIGHT OWL's POV).

SARA:

Chi-Yun smashed into those crates. I think she was using the strength of a rhino and—

HARRY:

—The dexterity of a bull in a china shop. Somebody needs to teach that girl how to fight.

Panel 4

JAMES stands and looks to where SARA was pointing.

JAMES:

Then she'd be really dangerous. She's already too powerful for her own good.

PAGE EIGHT. Five panels.

Panel 1

KNIGHT OWL observes from the shadowy roof.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

What are they talking about? Super powers? Super powers are coming back?

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

I do not need that. I have enough trouble with common thugs.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

Still, it seems that these guys are on the right side.

Panel 2

KNIGHT OWL jumps down from the roof of the cabin, close behind the other three (who are still looking towards CHI-YUN's crash point).

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

So I make my move.

KNIGHT OWL:

Hey—

Panel 3

HARRY has turned and punched KNIGHT OWL, a body-blow to the ribs. But it's a rigid armour plate, remember, and KNIGHT OWL seems unfazed.

6. SFX:

CRACK!

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

My fault. A man in black leaps down and of course they are going to assume he's with the bad guys.

Panel 4

KNIGHT OWL punches HARRY in the face.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

Problem is, from then on I didn't get much chance to explain otherwise.

Panel 5

As HARRY staggers back, SARA has leaped at KNIGHT OWL. She has hit him square in the chest with a flying kick and it's enough to make him stagger back.

SARA:

HAAAAAA!

SFX:

WHUMP!!!

PAGE NINE. Two panels.

Panel 1

KNIGHT OWL crouches, one hand on the floor to balance himself, the other arm held straight out, fingers extended, as if aiming something at his attackers.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

If these people do have powers, I can't afford to let them use them on me. I have to put them down fast, and talk later.

Panel 2

Now from KNIGHT OWL's POV, we are "sighting" down his arm at HARRY, JAMES and SARA (in that order, from left-to-right) advancing on him. From a housing on the back of his glove, three small projectiles launch, one at each target. At least -- that's what he intends to happen. It doesn't quite work. The first dart does hit HARRY but the second ricochets of JAMES's SHIELD. (Use motion trails to show the path of these two darts.) The third dart (aimed at SARA) doesn't fire at all.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

Tranq darts. Designed to take down multiple opponents simultaneously.

SFX (darts):

Fssst! Fssst! Click!

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

Damn. A misfire.

HARRY:

Ow!

SFX (dart on shield):

Ping!

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

Well, one out of three is a start.

PAGE TEN. Three panels.

Panel 1

KNIGHT OWL blocks a high kick from SARA. In the background, HARRY is falling (unconscious) to the floor.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

The girl's good, but I'm better.

Panel 2

JAMES now has KNIGHT OWL grabbed from behind. He has one arm around KNIGHT OWL's neck, applying a "sleeper hold".

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

I might actually be in trouble here.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

But I've still got a few tricks up my sleeve.

Panel 3

There is a sudden blast of smoke and flame from the back of KNIGHT OWL's costume, beneath his cape.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

So I activate the jet pack.

SFX:

WHOSHHHHHH

PAGE ELEVEN. Two panels.

Panel 1

KNIGHT OWL, with JAMES still hanging round his neck, has rocketed several metres into the air, rising on a pillar of smoke and flame from the jet pack. His flight has been angled so that he smashes backwards into a section of the warehouse shelving -- or, to be precise, JAMES smashes backwards into a section of the warehouse shelving.

SFX (jet pack):

ROOOOAAAARRRRR

SFX (JAMES's impact):

KRACK!!!

JAMES:

Uhhhhh

Panel 2

KNIGHT OWL lands in a crouch back on the roof of the small office/cabin. His cape billows up as the jet exhaust surrounds him -- a very dramatic pose. JAMES is no longer holding on to him.

SFX (jet pack):

WHOSHHHHHH

PAGE TWELVE. Three panels.

Panel 1

JAMES lands heavily on the warehouse floor. He's not making any attempt to break his fall -- he's still stunned from the impact with the shelf. SARA is running towards him.

SFX (JAMES):

THUD!

SARA:

James!

Panel 2

KNIGHT OWL's POV of the warehouse floor. JAMES lies still. SARA kneels next to him. HARRY also lies unconscious. And FRED stands off to the side, staring right back at us.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

I thought I'd brought myself a breather. Time to talk.

Panel 3

Extreme close up on FRED's eyes, with KNIGHT OWL reflected in them.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

I was wrong.

PAGE THIRTEEN. Four panels.

Panel 1

KNIGHT OWL clutches his head.

No dialogue.

Panel 2

SARA and FRED both look up at the roof of the cabin. KNIGHT OWL cannot be seen from their POV.

SARA:

What did you do to him?

FRED:

Nothing! I mean—I don't know. I tried to reach into his thoughts to find a weakness but—

Panel 3

Close-up on FRED, looking thoughtful. Note that his eyes are normal now.

FRED:

I think I reached some memory that he just—couldn't handle.

Panel 4

KNIGHT OWL is lying on the roof of the cabin, curled up in the foetal position, immobile.

No dialogue.

PAGE FOURTEEN. Five panels.

Panel 1

A black panel. That's all. Just black.

No dialogue.

Panel 2

Same black panel. But now we have some sound effects.

SFX:

THUD!

SFX:

WHACK!

VOICE:

Get hi—uhhhh

SFX:

CRACK!

Panel 3

Another black panel! Well... this is either incredibly boring or cleverly stylish... but at least it's different!

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

I'm not good with enclosed spaces. I guess the gang knew that, and that's why they picked it as my initiation trial.

VOICE (soft):

Help. Please.

Panel 4

Now there's a chink of light in the black. A blinding white strip. We realise that our POV is inside some kind of big enclosed box, and somebody is opening the lid. We can see gloved hands lifting the lid but little else.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

In those days, I thought the gang was my future. The only way out of the slums. The only way to a better life.

Panel 5

Now the lid is open further and we can see KNIGHT OWL looking into it. And looking up at him from inside the box is a black youth; wide-eyed and scared. KNIGHT OWL is holding out his hand.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

I was wrong.

KNIGHT OWL:

Give me your hand, son.

PAGE FIFTEEN. Four panels.

Panel 1

Back to today (that was a flashback, in case you didn't know), and KNIGHT OWL is still lying curled up on the roof of the cabin.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

He pulled me out of that box and out of that life.

Panel 2

And now he's starting to rise to his knees.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

And now his memory has pulled me out of my mental paralysis.

Panel 3

He's in a crouch now, ready for action.

3. CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

I don't know how that kid messed with my mind like that, but I'm ready for him now. I won't let it happen again.

Panel 4

He has moved cautiously to the edge of the roof and is looking down -- though we can't see the floor from our POV.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

The suit's clock tells me less than 15 seconds passed while I was zoned out.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

So let's see what they've done with the time they bought themse—

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

Oh.

PAGE SIXTEEN. One panel.

Panel 1

A big full-page splash to show us what he sees. Several more of the black-clad ninja types have appeared (the original thugs are still scattered unconscious on the floor). One of them is behind FRED, holding him and holding a gun to his head. Oh yes, they are all armed this time. SARA stands with her arms raised in surrender. Two more of the ninjas hold an unconscious HARRY by the arms and a third drags an unconscious JAMES by his feet. Yes, it's a complete disaster for our heroes.

No dialogue.

PAGE SEVENTEEN. Three panels.

Panel 1

This panel shows SARA and FRED in profile, facing each other, with their thought bubbles forming an interleaving conversation in the space between them. The panel background is plain black (or white), as this is a metaphorical representation of their telepathic conversation, not a face-to-face meeting in "real" space.

SARA (thought):

Can you stop that guy shooting you?

FRED (thought):

In at least three different ways. But I can't stop them all.

SARA (thought):

My luck will keep me from getting shot—

FRED (thought):

—But you can't beat them all.

SARA (thought):

Ok, you're right. We'll play along and make a move when the whole team is awake.

FRED (thought):

I wish I knew what the owl guy's doing.

Panel 2

On the roof, KNIGHT OWL holds and sights down a short tube. Something shoots from the end.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

If I butt in here, I'm just going to get those kids killed.

SFX (tube):

ffft

Panel 3

A close-up of HARRY as a small metal disk strikes the back of his coat.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

So I tag one of them with a tracer. I'll make my move when I'm in a better tactical position.

PAGE EIGHTEEN. Three panels.

Panel 1

A long, high view of two black cars pulling up outside a brick building. The building's sign reads "EAST SIDE MEAT PACKING". A large loading-bay door is open, light spilling out of it to illuminate the cars.

No dialogue.

Panel 2

Black-clad men have left the cars and are heading for the loading bay, dragging our unconscious and/or helpless heroes with them.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

This is what I was hoping for.

Panel 3

A larger panel giving a closer view of the loading-bay door, centred on the figure who stands there. This is POWL THE SAMURAI. He's a large, overweight, Asian man. I mean, VERY overweight -- think of a sumo wrestler. He's dressed in traditional formal Japanese robes. His hair seems to be long but is fastened into a knot on top of his head. And stuck through the sash at his waist are two sheathed swords -- long, curved, Japanese katana. He stares out with cold, expressionless eyes.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

Genchi Powl. Samoan by birth but with delusions of Japanese nobility. Styles himself Powl the Samurai.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

As ruthless as they come.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

He masterminds most of the rackets in Chicago.

PAGE NINETEEN. Four panels.

Panel 1

The thugs have brought SARA in front of POWL. Two of them are holding her arms. He is a head taller than her and several times as wide. He grips her chin in one huge hand, turning her face up to look at him. She seems to be speaking, but we won't show the dialogue.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

The police know he's as guilty as sin but he's too clever to give them any evidence they can use against him.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

But Knight Owl can go where cops can't go, do what cops can't do. In my world, the Bill of Rights doesn't apply to scum like him.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

I'll bring him down.

Panel 2

KNIGHT OWL, on a roof top, looking down on the scene.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

But I need to do it in a way that will stick. I need hard evidence that will put him away for a long time.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

I've been hunting for that evidence for months. Now I have it.

Panel 3

Another look at the scene below. SARA and FRED are being pushed into the depths of the building. Other thugs drag in JAMES, HARRY, and CHI-YUN. POWL THE SAMURAI holds JAMES's shield, examining it closely.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

And luckily I know a cop who will listen to me.

Panel 4

A scene switch -- to show an office door, the frosted glass bearing the legend "Police Commissioner John Harris".

SFX (through door:

riiing riiing

VOICE (through door):

Harris.

PAGE TWENTY. Five panels.

Panel 1

Now inside that office. It's spacious but cluttered with files, a computer on the big desk, maps (of Chicago) on the walls, etc. The blinds are closed over the big picture window.

The man at the desk is in shirt sleeves with a loosened tie round his neck. He's Black, late-middle-aged, running slightly overweight, and with a lot of grey in his short hair. He's speaking on the phone. This is (duh) POLICE COMMISSIONER JOHN HARRIS.

FROM PHONE:

I have Powl the Samurai for you.

HARRIS:

Knight Owl?

Panel 2

Back to a view of KNIGHT OWL on the roof.

KNIGHT OWL:

Of course it's Knight Owl. Now shut up and take this down.

Panel 3

HARRIS again, with the phone wedged under his chin while he writes.

FROM PHONE:

I have Powl here with stolen goods in his possession.

HARRIS:

Where's "here"?

FROM PHONE:

Also five people, some of them minors, held against their will.

HARRIS:

People? What people? Who?

Panel 4

Back to a close up of KNIGHT OWL.

KNIGHT OWL:

They—

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

No.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

I can't.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

Those kids have super powers. That's big. Bigger than Powl.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

If powers are returning, that's a secret I want to keep to myself.

"PHONE" VOICE (from KNIGHT OWL's helmet):

Knight Owl? Damn it, man—

Panel 5

Back at the loading bay, the big door is rolling down and sealing everybody inside.

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

So Powl walks. And until I know who these kids are and where they are from—

CAPTION (KNIGHT OWL's FILES):

They're on their own.

"PHONE" VOICE (disembodied):

Knight Ow—click

PAGE TWENTY-ONE. Five panels.

Panel 1

HUEY's STUDY, at night. HUEY is sitting at his desk, working.

DON (off-panel):

I can't believe you sent them off on a mission!

Panel 2

DON stands in the study doorway. He's supporting himself on the door frame (remembering his injured leg). He looks angry.

HUEY (off-panel):

I didn't send them. They volunteered.

DON:

For God's sake, Hue, they're supposed to be keeping a low profile.

HUEY (off-panel):

I needed help. They offered. What was I supposed to do?

DON:

You could've asked me—

HUEY (off-panel):

You? Look at yourself. You can't even stand!

Panel 3

DON hobbles towards the couch, still angry. HUEY is standing now.

DON:

Well—they shouldn't be charging into danger like that.

HUEY:

It's what heroes do. Remember?

Panel 4

Close-up on DON's face, still angry.

HUEY (off-panel):

Or is your real problem the fact that they didn't ask you first?

Panel 5

HUEY hands DON a drink (scotch over ice) and attempts a "reassuring" grin.

HUEY:

Hey—they've got super-human powers!

PAGE TWENTY-TWO. One panel.

Panel 1

Big splash page to finish the issue on a dramatic cliffhanger. It's a frozen meat store. In the background, huge slabs of meat are hanging from hooks. In the foreground, FRED and SARA face each other. Their breath mists in the air (so the reader can tell it's cold). Both look more than a little concerned.

FRED:

You got a plan?

SARA:

Nope. You?

FRED:

Nope.

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

"How could they possibly be in any danger?"

Next issue: Samurai

Copyright © 2004, 2018 by David Meadows. All rights reserved.