A Look at the Script for CABLE # 83
Hopefully, you've read the article on this website with my advice How to Write. Now, it's time to take a look at an actual comic book script and see how well I follow my own advice.
I write what's called "full script." That is, I write the plot and the dialogue all at one time. Marvel Comics likes the dialogue done separately after the art as done, so I do go back after receiving xeroxes of the art and do some minor editing and rewriting of the dialogue and captions to fit the page and the art. Otherwise, this script is pretty much the way it ends up published. I'll add a few comments where appropriate.
CABLE # 83
By Bob Weinberg
The page is divided into four large squares.
---panel 1 - Focus on Randall Shire, standing on a stage, talking into a microphone. Behind him is the usual banner, with the words "Peace, Unity, Harmony" and a white dove. In the background, at the edge of the stage, stands Wall. For a dramatic look, let's change Wall's outfit as per Mark's suggestion - go with a dark turtleneck, dark pants, and dark gloves. I think dark sunglasses would be pushing it too far. Shire let's have in a tuxedo. As a man preaching harmony and peace, dressing him all in black would make him too cliched.
Randall Shire is a psycho-morph, a mutant whose voice sways emotions. Possessed by Semijan, one of the Undying, Shire plots to conquer the world. His unwilling allies include Key, a super-hacker, and Wall, an invulnerable bodyguard. Tonight, Shire is scheduled to address thousands in New York City at Madison Square Garden. Only a very few know the importance of that event.
---panel 2 - We are in an alley, looking from the back toward the front. (a few garbage cans, some trash on the ground. A poster on the wall, with a dove and "Peace, Unity, Harmony" on it. Near the poster is Domino, dressed in shiny black material, her usual outfit. She's pressed flat against the wall, her hands on either side of her. She's trying to blend into the background. Beyond her we can see a police car driving past the mouth of the alley. The mark of the Undying is on her forehead.
Domino, mutant warrior and member of X-Force, has been possessed by a being named Aentaros. Another one of the Undying.
She has one purpose in life. To destroy Randall Shire.
---Panel 3 - A scene from Harmony. A little girl riding on the back of a saber tooth tiger in front of a huge, decorated fountain. A man and woman talking, both with tattoos and weird costumes. A huge tower behind the fountain.
If Shire dies, the future belongs to Harmony. It's a timeline in which humanity achieves utopia.
But it's a world of strict genetic control. Where deviation from the norm is not allowed.
---panel 4 - In the ruins of a city. A group of Eliminator robots marching forward, firing ray blasts at several aliens (Kree perhaps?).
If Domino fails, history takes a different path. The Ranshi timeline comes into existence. A galaxy-wide military empire, it's ruled by Earth's mutants.
(this page and the one that follows were done so that anyone new picking up the comic starting with this issue could hopefully understand the story.)Page 2:
---full page spread. Credits at the bottom of the page. Stan Lee Presents CABLE by Robert Weinberg and Michael Ryan. Inker, lettering, etc. as well. The title of this story is REALITY TREMBLES.
Cable, on the deck of the time ship, as seen last issue. He's dissolving into a beam of light. On one side stands Eyla, dressed as last month. On the other side of him stands Princess Sandella. The two women are staring at him as he is being transported off the ship.
Time's running out for Nathan Summers, the man called Cable.
The future of mankind rests on his shoulders.
He's the nexus of time and space.
Born in the present, he was raised in the future...
And returned to the present to prevent his timeline - a dead-end for humanity - from ever taking place.
Now two other timelines fight to take its place.
Three mysterious beings, three witches possessing incredible powers over space and time, have thrust him into the middle of that war.
Cable's the one whose actions will determine which reality exists and which fades into oblivion.
It's not a position he enjoys.
Equally important, Cable doesn't like being treated as a pawn.
All his life he's been used.
He's tired of it.
His destiny is his own.
Four long panels stretching across the width of the page, one beneath another.
--- panel 1 - top quarter of the page. Cable, in trench coat, in his safe house, in Blaquesmith's workshop. Blaquesmith is there, and is handing Cable what appears to be a thick handgun. Cable looks grim.
They let me go. They didn't want to, but they had no choice. Without me, neither future exists. I'm the nexus of space and time.
The three witches, boy? What about them?
Nothing. But the night's not over.
The girl? The one named Eyla?
She's very special, Blaquesmith. It's as if we were drawn together...
"Soulmates? I don't know. I felt this way about Aliya. Now, there's Eyla. I'm very confused."
"Even the Chosen One is permitted to have emotions. Never forget, Dayspring, we are Clan Askani. A family of outsiders. Our feelings are what make us human. Our feelings are what make us strong."
--- panel 2 - 2nd ¼ page, stretching from one side of the page to the other.
We're looking in the front window of a police car. There's a light on the top. The window takes up most of the picture, but on the sides we can see the city streets of Manhattan. Domino, wearing a policeman's hat, is driving, her both hands holding the steering wheel. She's grinning. The mark of the Undying is still visible on her forehead.
Death, blood, Shire, death.
--- panel 3 - Cable, standing at the entrance to Madison Square Garden (as seen in issue # 81, with the big banner proclaiming "Peace, Unity, Harmony" hanging over the doorway). He's wearing his trench coat and is staring up at the sign.
Domino and X-Force disappeared months ago. Neither Cable nor Blaquesmith's been able to find a trace of them - just rumors. Now, she's back. Controlled by Aentaros.
Cable knows Domino manipulates chance and circumstances, making her incredibly lucky.
She's also one of the world's deadliest fighters.
Possession only makes her more dangerous.
Stopping her isn't going to be easy.
---panel 4 - The bottom ¼ of the page. The police car with Domino driving being waved forward by a police man directing traffic in front of the Garden. His face is half turned so he's not even looking at her. She's heading into an underground parking lot.
Domino's never noticed. Never. Not even by people paid to notice.(Domino's a great character and has a long history with Cable. Unfortunately, I could only use her in this one issue as she was appearing in X-Force. I cut back to her often to hopefully build up the tension developing as readers await the confrontation between Cable and his one-time girlfriend.
When writing anything, but especially a comic book series character, doing the unexpected is always a plus. Given the relationship between Cable and Domino, it seemed perfectly natural to me to devise a scenario where they would be involved in a battle seemingly to the death.)
--- Four panels, laid out the same way as the previous page.
---panel 1 - Tight focus on Cable, still dressed in trench coat holding out an empty hand to a ticket to a ticket taker. He's wearing a turtle neck shirt. He's in a doorway to MSG, with glass walls on the sides. He looks grim and determined. There's a bunch of people behind him. Young woman is the ticket taker.
Big crowd tonight, Cable says.
Yes sir. Dr. Shire packs them in. He's wonderful. I bought tickets for my entire family.
Caption 1: Being an extremely powerful telepath has its advantages. Especially when you need a ticket for a sold-out lecture. Or at least the image of a ticket...
---panel 2 - Domino pulling the cop car into a parking space directly next to a concrete wall marked "Elevator to Madison Square Garden." The light over the parking space is burnt out.
Domino's never has a problem finding the right parking space. In dim light, where nobody's around.
---panel 3 - Cable standing outside a door that says Skybox 5. Two uniformed offices, holding rifles at attention, stand on either side of the door. A third man, in a neat business suit, black suit, tie, black shoes, white shirt, slicked down crew cut hair (obviously CIA or NSA or SHIELD) stands slightly in front of the two. He's nearly as big as Cable and does not look friendly.
I'm here to see Commander Bridge, says Cable.
I'm sorry, sir, but the Commander's very busy at the moment. If you'd care to tell he your problem, maybe I...
I'm here to see G.W. sonny. You tell him Nathan's waiting. No stalling, no excuses. Just tell him.
---panel 4 - Domino in a large elevator. Still wearing the police outfit. A black visor pulled over her eyes so her distinctive features aren't so noticeable. No one's in the car with her.
She always seems to miss the crowds. Rides empty elevators.
Three pictures. 1st and 3rd panels are each a half page (going across the width of the page). 2nd panel, with Domino, is done in a circle, in the center of the page, wedged in the middle of the other two panels.
---panel 1 - Inside a large skybox. It's crowded with army men, with all sorts of equipment on the walls, computers, high speed tape decks, video cameras, lots of weapons. Ten different men are engaged in ten different jobs. Lording over the whole mess is G.W. Bridge, big, black, with a short white beard. He's glaring at the CIA man from outside.
I thought I said, No visitors.
He insisted Commander. Says his name is Nathan.
Nate, huh? I should have known. Show him in, then go back to your post, Garrett. You did your best. Nobody punks out my old boss.
---panel 2 - (done as a circle) Domino on an empty floor of the building. She's pulling open a door marked "Authorized Personnel Only."
She walks through hallways unnoticed. The doors she tries are always unlocked.
---panel 3 - Cable standing at the side of G.W. Bridge, looking out the glass window of the Skysuite. It's high up the Garden, near the roof. A row of them run all around the entire circumference of the stadium. Difficult to make out details, the people in seats, the rows, the food stands. Everything looks so small. People in the room are moving around all sorts of electronic instruments, playing with big computer systems. Only Cable and G.W. aren't rushing around.
Came to see Dr. Shire, huh? I'm glad you listened. This man's words will change your life.
Not if Domino gets to him first.
Dom? What are talking about? Nobody's seen her in months.
She's after Shire. You've got to cancel the lecture.
Never. Dr. Shire would never agree. If Domino's hunting him, she'll be stopped. Six Pack days or not, I can't let her interfere.
Your talking about Dom, G.W.
I don't care who it is, Nate. If Domino tries to hurt Shire, she's toast. Shire's got to speak. Understand. Nobody stops him. Nobody.
Five panels on this page.
---panel 1 - Top quarter of the page, going across lengthwise (as before) Domino, out of the police uniform, strapping a row of dynamite sticks around her waist. She's smiling and the sign of the Undying is glowing on her forehead.
And extremely lucky.
It's a combination that makes her unstoppable.
---panels 2, 3 & 4 go across the page, which is double the size of the top panel (these three panels are approximately half the page. Hopefully this makes sense)
---panel 2 - Half of the section. Cable and G.W. are looking straight at each other. Glass window behind them. It offers a view of the seats in the Garden past the window.
G.W.: I've scattered over a hundred of my best agents through the crowd. There's a dozen marksmen located on the upper level. Everyone's hooked together by a computer net. Anyone tries to reach Shire, my men will shoot to kill
Cable: You've given live ammo to snipers in a crowd of 19,000 civilians? That's dangerous, G.W. Not like you at all.
G.W.: Don't tell me my job, Nate. Shire must speak tonight. That's all that matters.
---panel 3 - (next to panel 2, 1/4 width of the page) close up of Cable's face, looking to the right. There's worry lines on his face, an expression of concern.
Dom's being forced to do this, G.W. This isn't her style. You know she hates these lone gunman style confrontations. You can't shoot her. She's one of us.
---panel 4 - (next to panel 3, again 1/4 the width of the page. Combined with # 2, this makes up a section the same size as panel 2) close up of G.W. Bridge's face, looking to the left (so the two panels combined to have the effect of the two men staring at each other). His eyes have the glazed look of someone totally under the control of Shire. He answers with an expression of a zombie.
Dr. Shire brings a message of peace and harmony to a troubled world. That's more important than friendship or loyalty, Cable. If Domino tries to take out Shire, she dies.
---panel 5: (bottom ¼ of the page) Domino zipping up her new outfit, a maintenance man's uniform, overalls, with thin stripes on them, a big flashlight hanging from a utility belt, a bunch of keys dangling down, and a baseball cap with MSG on the top, with thin stripes, the brim hiding most of her features.
Controlled by a monster willing to die completing its mission, Domino makes a perfect assassin.
(What better way to show readers - instead of telling them - that Shire controls minds than have one of Domino's closest friends, G.W. Bridge threaten to kill her if she tries to stop Shire from speaking. Villains shouldn't talk about their powers -- as a writer, you need to show their powers in action.)
Three panels. For a change, let's have them vertical, stretching from the top to the bottom of the page. Maybe even at an slight angle.
---panel 1 - Cable walking in a crowded corridor near a hot dog stand. A slender man dressed in black approachs him from the rear.
Caption: He knows Domino better than anyone. But even Cable's not sure he'll be able to stop her in time
--panel 2 - Cable still walking. On one side of him is Greg (Clarity's assistant). Coming up to them from behind, also dressed in back, is Lea, Greg's wife and Clarity's other assistant.
Glad you were able to make it. Any news?
Clarity's located Dr. Berger says Greg. Small mountain range in the Sinai desert. Pretty barren territory.
I've been in deserts before. Boring. One looks just like another
So I've heard. Lea's got the coordinates.
---panel 3 -The three are stopped, right before an entrance leading into the seating area. Cable's holding an empty hand out to the ticket taker.
Must be nice always getting the best seats in the house says Lea.
I like to be on the aisle, says Cable. Don't like narrow seats.
You have a plan? asks Greg.
Not exactly says Cable.
What does not exactly mean? Asks Lea.
I'm going to improvise a lot says Cable.
That's comforting, says Greg.
(Writing dialogue can be fun. Especially because you can have characters say stuff that's both important and funny at the same time.)
...meanwhile, five miles above Manhattan...
Divide the page in half lengthwise (so each panel in the comic would be about 3" wide by 10" high).
---panel 1 - inside the Ranshi timeship, as seen in Cable # 78. Sandella is standing on the same circular platform as in # 78, with Captain Holdyne at her side. The lower decks are crowded with the entire crew of the ship. The same crew members are at their stations as shown in # 78. However, everyone including the crew members, Sandella, Holdyne, etc. are all staring upward at the big screen on the rear wall (as depicted in # 78). Only half the screen is in this panel. It stretches from approximately 6" up the page to the top of the page. It is on the right side of the panel and is about 2" wide. It touches the edge of the panel. On the screen is Cable, with MSG in the background. Half of the picture is in this panel. The other half will be in the other panel, which will also have a viewscreen.
---panel 2 - this panel takes place in the Harmony time ship. A similar picture, with Eyla and her father, Manuel, standing side by side. A sabertooth tiger is by Eyla, and her hand rests on the creature's neck. They are looking upward, as are other crew members in the vast chamber (where Cable teleported in issue # 82). Again, there is a gigantic screen the same size and dimensions as the one showed in panel # 1. The two screens combine to form one large picture, that of Cable in MSG. I.e. both pictures share the giant video screen. (hopefully this is clear).
Even the dialogue will overlap between the two panels.
It's fifteen minutes till the zero moment. Both Sandella and Eyla hope that Cable does the right thing. That he destroys the other timeline. Together, each woman feels certain, they could be very happy together.
Both women wonder aloud what it will be like if the other wins. What it will feel like to disappear into nothingness, vanish into the shadows.
Both Holdyne and Cire tell them that's not going to happen. Changes in the time line ripple forward like waves into the future. The further they travel, the greater the impact. The present remains the same. We're here, not 2,000 years from now. We exist in this time. Thus, neither ship is going to vanish. None of the crew will disappear. However, one timeline will vanish. One ship, one crew won't be able to return to their future, because their future will no longer exist. They'll become orphans of the time stream, but they'll still be alive in the present.
And, as both women realize, with their advance science and technology, they'll still have a chance to affect the future. Just like Cable.
(this was one spot where I didn't write the actual script until the art was done. I wasn't sure exactly how much dialogue and how many captions would fit on the page. But I made sure that Michael Ryan knew exactly what was going on, so he could put together the art to fit the scene and the emotions of the characters. Any comic writer needs to make sure he's always being clear to his artist on what the scene shows and means.)
--- six panels on this page. Three on top half, three on bottom half. Size can vary on the individual pictures as needed. It's important we convey the sense of approaching a deadline by the numbers in the top of each panel.
---panel 1 - In the top left corner of this panel, Ten minutes. Cable holding an empty hand to an usher at one of the ramp entrances into the Garden. Again, a big crowd of people behind him. The usher, a tall thin man in a blue uniform is looking at Cable's imaginary ticket with a flashlight. In the crock of his other arm, the usher is carrying a big stack of white programs.
"Follow me, sir. I'll show you to our seat. Dr. Shire's scheduled to speak in approximately ten minutes. I heard his lecture last night. Really inspirational!" ---panel 2 - Domino, in the maintenance worker uniform, carrying a long metal toolbox, walking down a crowded hallway. She has he face tilted downward and the cap pulled down over her eyes. There are a number of people in casual clothing walking in the other direction. In the left upper corner of the panel, nine minutes .
Caption: Ordinary people ignore building personnel. They blend in to the surroundings like furniture. Not a soul notices Domino. It's as if she's invisible. She feels certain of success.
"Death, Shire, blood, death." She muttered softly.
---panel 3 - In the upper left hand corner, eight minutes. Cable in his seat, white program book clenched in one hand. He's sitting in the 2nd row before the stage. (the stage is just in the background here.) It's around 20 feet square, raised two feet above the floor, with light blue carpeting, and decorated with curtains on the rear (hanging from a metal frame) with the white dove on the blue background. The only item on stage is the microphone on the top of a wood podium.
Cable's sitting on the aisle. There's one row of people in front of him. Big, heavyset woman beside him. She's staring at the stage with pin point eyes. She's munching on a hot dog, "Peace, unity, harmony." Next to her sits a well-dressed black man. He's wearing glasses, has short cut hair, and is reading the program booklet handed out by the usher.
The people in the front row are all dressed in fancy clothes, as if going to some fancy restaurant or the theater...
Caption: There's plenty of familiar faces here at the Garden tonight. The rich and powerful of America and more than a few notables from the United Nations. Gaining control over them would make Shire the most dangerous man in the entire world.
---panel 4 - Domino at a door marked STAGE: POSITIVELY NO ADMITTANCE. THIS MEANS YOU. Two undercover guards talking. They are big, powerful men wearing suits. One is holding a pistol. The other holds a rifle in both hands. They have their back to Domino, don't see her. A third man, sitting, is in an usher's uniform. He's leaning backwards, the top of the chair grazing the rear wall. He appears to be asleep. Seven minutes.
Caption: Domino's luck continues to hold. A few more minutes till Semijan walks onto the stage. Then, explosion time. What a glorious murder it will be!
---panel 5 - G.W. Bridge, in the sky box. He's leaning on the counter in front of the big window that overlooks the Garden audience. His face is grim, though his eyes have that same weird expression as all those under Shire's power. Six minutes.
"Are all our agents ready?"
"What about the marksmen?"
"Focused on the stage, sir."
"Good. Very good. No mistakes tonight. Shoot to kill."
---panel 6 - Close-up of Cable's face. He's tense. Sweating. Looking grim. Staring forward at the stage. Five minutes.
Caption: One timeline must perish. Harmony or Ranshi? Stop Domino or let Shire die? Two thousand years and billions of lives depend on his decision. It's not easy being the nexus of time and space. Why did the three witches select him? Why?
(again, a countdown to raise suspense. And some inner thoughts from Cable to forward the long running back story of the Three Witches who are manipulating Cable for reasons that won't be revealed for many issues to follow.)
---two panels on first row. One panel on second row. Four panels on third row. One long panel on fourth row.
---panel 1 - Black man in the third seat in the row is looking at his watch. Fat woman holds the half-eaten hot dog in one hand, is raising a soda pop to her face. The black man is saying:
"Five more minutes. Seems like..."
---panel 2 - The black man and the fat woman exactly as in panel 1. Frozen in the moment. Cable's looking at them, his brow furled (or any other way to make him look suspicious).
Caption: The arena's silent. All motion's stopped. Cable's outside of time. He knows he's not alone.
---panel 3 - (2nd row) Cable's on his feet and we're looking over his shoulder. Dense smoke hides the audience and most of the background. The three witches, as seen in issue # 79 are standing right in front of the stage, about ten feet from Cable. Same outfits, same features as before. Big cauldron bubbling in front of them. All three witches have their hands on a huge wooden rod which they're using to stir the much inside the cauldron.
By the pricking of my thumbs, Something wicked this way comes.
---panel 4 - (3rd row) Tight focus on Cable's face.
Why am I not surprised? I thought I'd see you three again.
---panel 5 - (next to 4) tight focus on 1st witch's face.
History gives us many names.
---panel 6 - (next to 5) tight focus on 2nd witch's face.
Witches, Furies, Fates and Norns.
---panel 7 - (next to 6) tight focus on 3rd witch's face.
We are the Three yet unborn.
---panel 8 - (4th row) we're looking at a side view at the Three Witches. They're in an what appears to be a Roman temple. Several tall columns, the usual temple look. The Three are standing at the foot of a series of wide steps leading upward. Two huge bowls, one at each side of the steps, have fires burning in them.
Probability is our master.
Possibility is the key.
Time is the river.
The universe is the sea.
(Again, a writer working on a series needs to plan ahead. The witches mention they are yet unborn. So they must come from the future. And they also mention the forces of Probability and Possibility, who are discussed again in future issues of Cable.)
Five panels arranged in three lines. 1st and 2nd on first line. 3 and 4 on second line. 5th panel across the bottom of the page.
---panel 1 - (1st row) Prof. Berger standing in front of the twin doors of the Undying as seen in past issues. In the top left corner of the panel is an insert of the 3rd (the oldest) witch. Beneath her, the word, Past...
---panel 2 - Randall Shire, standing in front of a microphone, talking. The sign of the Undying is on his forehead. In the top right corner of the panel is an insert of the 2nd (middle-aged) witch. Beneath her, the word, Present...
---panel 3 (2nd row) Eyla, with a saber-tooth tiger at her side, facing Sandella, with an Eliminator robot. In the center of the picture, at the top of it, is an insert of the 3rd (the youngest) witch. Beneath her, the word, Future.
---panel 4 - a picture of Domino, the dynamite around her waist, her face twisted in a maniacal grin, the mark of the Undying on her forehead. Above her in an insert are all three witches.
And by your hand,
---panel 5 - Cable, still on his feet, unable to move. The three witches are dissolving back into mist.
Who are you? What do you want?
This is the first judgment, says the first witch.
Why are you doing this?
It is not the last, says the third witch.
Why me? Why me?
Learn that, Nathan Summers, and all questions will be answered, says the 2nd witch. All secrets will be known.
Three panels on the top half of the page, the rest of the page is one large panel. Panels 1,3 are the same size, with 3 below 1. Panel 2 is as big as 1 & 3 together. All three panels fill half the page. Panel 4 is the other half of the page.
---panel 1 - top of the page, about 1/8th the entire page. four minutes. Pull back slightly, so we are looking over Cable's shoulder. He's settling back in his chair. There's nothing in front of him. The witches are gone. People are moving again. Time is running once again. Yet, still, as he sits down, a soft, gentle voice echoes in his mind. He recognizes the voice of the 2nd witch, the one dubbed "Present." The words melt into his thoughts. It is your destiny, Nathan. It is your birthright."
(my editor asked this scene be changed slightly to keep things a little more obscure. So it is slightly different in the comic.)
---panel 2 (next to panel 1. This panel is about ¼ the size of the whole page. It is double the size of panel 1, and is equal to 1 & 3 together). A view from the rear. Domino, still in the maintenance man's uniform, standing behind several people sitting at a huge sound and video console. Two women, two men. One of the men is black, young; the other is Caucasian, with white hair and is obviously much older. One of the women is Asian with long black hair, the other is Caucasian, with a short blonde ponytail. They are ignoring here, looking into the monitors on the console. A bunch of switches and lights are visible on the console. Beyond the people, the stage is visible. They are located to the rear and right of the stage. At the very front is the podium and microphone for Shire.
"Three minutes till show time," says the black man.
"Sound check complete," replies the woman with a pony-tail.
"Video system is working fine," says older man.
"Looks like we're ready to rock and roll," says the Asian woman. "Lights go dim in thirty-seven seconds. Then cue the usual announcements. Go to black one minute before showtime. Soon as Dr. Shire appears, hit the stage lights."
"I'm ready," says the black man.
"Blood and death," murmurs Domino softly. "Tonight Shire dies."
---panel 3 - (this panel is right below panel 1, and is the same size as panel 1. It is half the size of panel 2. 1 & 3 together form a panel the same size as Panel 2.)
G.W. Bridge stands in the doorway of his skybox, holding a pistol in one hand. Face has the blank look of one of Shire's disciples. He's talking to his men.
"I'm going down to the stage. Domino's still on the loose. She's going after Shire. "
"Only way to stop her...
"... is with a bullet."
---panel 4 - (this panel is the bottom half of the page) Two minutes in the top left corner of the panel. It's a view of the audience from the front of the stage. Not many people are visible as the lights have been dimmed. Cable can be clearly seen, as can some of the other people in his row. Most everyone else is hard to distinguish in the near darkness. A number of faces have the blank stare of someone already under Shire's spell. Most of the people do not. Caption: Ladies and gentlemen...
---panel 1 (this panel is on the top half of the page. It is about 2/3rds the width of the entire page. It is twice as big as panel 2 that follows and fills up the rest of the line) - Shire, Key and Wall in Shire's dressing room. Shire is dressed in his suit. Wall is in black turtleneck, slacks, and with black gloves. They are standing. Key is sitting at a desk, with his laptop on top of the desk in front of him. Shire is smiling.
"A lot of important people in the audience tonight, Key?"
"More than you can count. A bunch of Senators and Congressmen, plus a sizable number of delegates from the U.N. There's even some of the Pentagon's top brass."
"How stimulating. Wall, are you ready?"
"That woman, Domino is still on the loose." Says Key.
"I fear nothing. Not even one of my own kind. I am Undying.
Caption at top of panel: ...Welcome...
---panel 2 (this panel is about half the width of panel 1. Along with panel 1, it fills the top half of this page) - Wall, with Shire standing behind him, waiting by two crew men wearing Stage Crew jackets. Behind them is a large curtain, split in the middle, but closed. Each man has a hand on a side of the curtain, which they will draw back when the time is ready.
"A great honor to meet you sir," says one of the stage hands.
"You should run for office," says the other. "I'd vote for you. Everyone would vote for you."
Caption at the top of the panel: ...to...
(panels 3,4,5 and 6 & 7 form a second row of panels. 6&7 are two small boxes, with 6 above 7, that together form a panel that's the same size as each of 3, 4, 5)
---panel 3 - tight focus on Key, entering information into his portable computer. He has extra long fingers and is dressed as shown in previous appearances. His face is focused on the computer screen, nothing else.
Caption at the top of the panel: ...Madison...
Caption at the bottom of the panel: Key knows that Shire plans to kill millions, maybe billions. He's against it, but there's nothing he can do. He's trapped, like everyone else who's heard Shire's voice.
---panel 4 - One minute in the top corner of the panel. View from over Key's shoulder. His head is up, looking straight ahead. Standing on the other side of the computer monitor is Lea. Dressed in black as before. She's staring at Key and smiling.
"Who are you? How did you get in here? I didn't hear a sound. Besides, the door's locked. And the security system's on."
"Is it? I didn't notice.
"My name's Lea.
"You contacted my boss, Clarity. Sent him an email. You needed help.
"A problem with Dr. Shire. Dealing with possession."
"Can you help? Will you help?"
Caption at the top of the panel: ...Square...
---panel 5 - Key, with portable computer under his arm, standing up. Greg is in the room now, alongside Lea.
"This is my husband, Greg. He must have not noticed the security either.
"We can help of course. That's why we're here.
"For the right price."
"Wh-what do you want me to do?"
Caption at top of the panel: ...Garden.
---panel 6 - (along with panel 7, below it, this forms one panel the size of panels 3,4,5. ) Close up Greg's face
"Nothing now. Just watch and wait."
"Our friend, Cable, plans to stop Shire tonight."
---panel 7 (below panel 6, same size. Together, it forms a box the same size as panels 3,4,5). Close up of Lea's face.
"Afterwards he needs your help.
"Listen to what he has to say.
"Then make your decision."
(More countdown stuff. And a new plot direction. Always keep the readers on their toes!)
---panel 1 - Thirty seconds in the top left corner. Another view of the technical crew. The stage is barely visible, and the audience beyond can't be seen at all. Domino is nowhere to be seen.
"Ready to bring up the lights."
"Starting background music. Crescendo in exactly thirty seconds."
"Dr. Shire is waiting."
"Let's rumble," says the Asian woman.
---panel 2 -> panel 6: (five panels, one next to another). In a caption box that stretches across the bottom of all these panels. Three, two one... Now!
---panel 2 - thin narrow picture of Cable, rising out of his chair. No longer in trench coat, he's dressed for war. Clenching his psimitar with both hands. Artificial eye is glowing. On his head, he's wearing some sort of metallic ear muffs. One of Blaquesmith's toys, designed to distort the sound of Shire's voice though reporting his words, insuring Cable won't be captivated by the psychomorph.
---panel 3 - G.W. Bridge, bounding down steps of MSG, set between rows of people. He has his gun drawn, pointed in front of him. Determined look on his face.
---panel 4 - Sandella Ranshi, lips press tight together, watching the screen on the far wall. Shire, with Wall at his side, walking onto the stage. "Stop her, Cable. Stop her."
---panel 5 - Eyla, with tears trickling down her face, watching a screen with the same picture on it. "Let Shire die, Nathan. For us."
---panel 6 - Domino, no longer wearing the maintenance outfit, standing behind a curtain, as Shire walks forward. She's grinning, the sign of the Undying glowing on her forehead. "Death and destruction!"
---panel 7 - Panel stretches across the entire bottom of the page. We're looking at the stage and seats in front of it from a viewpoint to the left of Cable. Cable, with his psimitar glowing, is in the aisle. G.W. Bridge is a foot ahead of him, pistol pointed towards Domino. Dom's moving from the far left side of the page towards Shire. Shire, with Wall at his side, is standing at the podium with the microphone on it. He's speaking into the microphone.
"Good evening, my friends. My name is Randall Shire. Tonight I bring you a message of peace, of unity, and most of all, of harmony."
(four panels, each ¼ of the entire page)
---panel 1 - Cable swinging his psimitar at G.W. Bridge. Bridge is sent flying back a dozen rows, crashing into a bunch of people. "Sorry, G.W., but I don't think your popgun's much good against Aentaron."
---panel 2 - Wall pushing Shire behind him. Shire is snarling, showing his teeth. His face has the same wild look of the Undying. "Keep back, Professor," says Wall. "Can't get hurt if you stay behind Wall."
---panel 3 - Domino in the midst of a group of stage hands and MSG security people. She's kicking and chopping with her hands and feet, sending people flying. People are tripping on stuff on the floor, falling over boxes when pushed, tumbling off the stage. Her luck is helping her in the fight, but she doesn't need much. Not with her power boosted by Aentaron. And her strength ten times usual.
---panel 4 - Cable, with the thick pistol given him by Blaquesmith, shooting what appears to be an energy web out of the gun at Domino. She's bent over backwards, arcing her body so the net sweeps over her and catches a security guard instead. Oath, curses Cable.
(What could be more fun than throwing everybody together into a big confrontation scene? Obviously, Cable vs. Domino. You don't build up to a big scene then not deliver.)
Page 16-17 (double page spread):
Okay, this is what the customers are paying for. Domino, sexy, tough, and dangerous, fighting Cable. He's big and rough, controls telepathy and telekinesis, but we know, deep down, he doesn't want to seriously injure Domino. Aentaron, whose fought Cable three times now, has no such worries. He's willing to blow himself up if he can somehow take Cable and Shire along for the ride. I'm going to put together an outline of the fight, but not with lots of details. As long as the main points listed happen, then any other spots are fine. The best art possible, the neatest poses, the most unusual fighting moves, all sounds great to me. We just need the right beginning, and the right ending. The stuff in the middle has artistic freedom written all over it. Remember that Domino shapes her luck, so having Cable stumble over things, look clumsy at times is okay.
Let's treat the two pages as one huge page. Art can go all over it, up and down, sideways, back and forth, etc. Only requirements.
---panel 1 - Cable has the gun raised for another shot at Dom. She lashes out with one of her feet, catching the steel with her boot. The gun flies out of Cable's hand and onto the stage floor. Cable can't chase after it, as Dom's bearing down on his with brass knuckles on one hand, cat claws (brass knuckles that end in sharp curved claws for slashing someone's throat) on the other. She's as athletic and graceful as ever. She's just nuts.
In the background, the audience is screaming. There's cops and SHIELD agents everywhere. Shire's microphone is still undamaged, but he's hiding behind Wall and not near the instrument. Shire's face looks insane, like all the Undying when they get upset. Wall stands like a wall, blocking any view of his boss. The authorities are afraid to start shooting. It might start a riot and in such close quarters, with 19,000 people they can't promise no civilian casualties. Cable and Dom battle back and forth across the stage. Cable's loath to hit Domino with all of his might, but she's not bound by that rule. Cable gets pretty beaten up. Still, using his telekinetic powers, he manages to rip off the sticks of dynamite from her outfit and send them flying off into the balcony. The only way Domino's going to be able to kill Shire is by her bare hands. Dom howls like a wolf. Whatever the method, she'll destroy her enemy. Blood blood blood! So Cable fights Domino for the two pages. At the bottom right corner of the second page, he crashes down hard on the floor, but falls on top of the gun that was kicked out of his hands at the beginning of the fight. Domino is only a few feet away, with a steel pipe raised up over her head. She's stepping forward so that she can drive the metal right into Cable's chest. (I'll have some captions throughout the fight, but not much. We'll have Domino, possessed by Aentaron, remind Cable how he treated Domino so badly. How she cared for Cable, but Cable never cared for her. That this was a woman who deserved the best and Cable gave her the worst. He never appreciated her, drove her away. If anyone's responsible for her death, it's Cable. Etc etc. Otherwise, we want the fight to speak for itself)
(Having a terrific artist like Michael Ryan helps in scenes like this. I knew I could let Michael take charge and he would deliver a great fight. And he did!)
---full page spread. Cable's lying on his back, his body a mass of cuts and bruises. Towering over him is Domino, the metal pipe raised high over her head, ready to smash in Cable's head. But, Cable's regained Blaquesmith's special gun. Before Dom can act, Cable has the gun twisted upward and fires. Domino is caught in a glittering energy net that wraps around her entire body. If she's holding stuff, it's bound to her. She can't move an inch. Not a micron. She's frozen solid. It's the best way to keep an Undying from killing itself. Caption: Despite his remarks to Greg and Lea, Cable's planned for this moment. Schemed to make it happen. Now it's time to bring the two Undying face to face. And let the enemies talk.
---panel 1 - Cable on his feet. Domino standing as if frozen in space, her face twisted in a grimace of hate. She still holds the iron bar in her hand, raised over her head in a killing blow. Only the burning in her eyes gives any indication she's still alive. The house lights are on in the auditorium, and the crowd is on their feet, ready to riot. Police are hurrying down the aisle to the front of stage. G.W. Bridge is slowly struggling to his feet. (not all this has to be shown in first panel)
Caption: Mentally, Cable could sense the hate pouring out of Domino like the heat of a blast furnace. <
---panel 2 - Shire, with Wall standing slightly behind him, staring at Domino. Shire's face is twisted in hatred. There are other people, crew and cops, on the stage now. Cable still stands close to Domino. Carefully, he eavesdrops on the telepathic exchange between the two monsters.
<<Fool,>> Shire is saying to Dom, telepathically. <<Cheating. Breaking all the rules. For nothing. The game is mine. Soon I'll feast on rivers of blood...>>
<<Death! Blood! Destruction!>> replies Domino.
---panel 3 - Domino struggles madly against the force field that holds her. The field flickers as Cable presses a switch on the side of his weapon. Free for an instant, Domino lunges forward an inch, her hate so powerful that even Blaquesmith's science is barely able to contain it. Shire steps back, baring his teeth like a rabid dog. For a moment, he forgets where he is.
"Fool. Simpleton! Idiot," Shire screams. "You disgust me! I loath you!"
Caption: That's a dangerous mistake for the world's most powerful psycho-morph to make. Especially with an open microphone nearby. It's not exactly what Cable had planned, but a good field commander takes advantage of every opportunity.
---panel 4. At the top of the panel, several word balloons.
"Fool. Simpleton! Idiot. You disgust me! I loath you!"
The people are standing in their seats, in the aisles. They look unhappy, angry. A few of them are shaking fists in the air. That's when Shire's negative emotions roll out into the crowd. Intense, potent, overwhelming, they are the thoughts and feelings of a being whose words charge emotions. Swiftly, the mood of the audience worsens.
---panel 5 - another view of the audience. Now, most of them are angry, screaming, filled with rage. Throwing stuff at the stage. Fighting in the aisles. The police are trying somehow to keep order. The crowd is surging towards the stage.
Caption: Shire's transformed in a moment from most loved to most hated. Horrified by what he's done, he grabs the microphone. But the power's off. Cable took care of that.
---panel 6 - Wall holding a struggling Shire high in the air, gripping him by the back of the neck. His other hand is covering Shire's mouth so he can't speak. There's a mean grin on Wall's face.
Caption: Once servants are now enemies. Gone is Shire's chance to rule the world. Gone is his influence over anyone.
(Having the villain defeat himself is always an interesting way of showing how evil doubles back on itself. In this case, it was the best way to defeat Shire and rescue the people he had enslaved.)
(page is divided into thirds, each section going across the page. Top 3rd of page is divided into 3 panels. First panel is most of the page across. Panels 2,3 are both boxes, with 2 above 3, and are at the right side of the page, each about an inch and a half square. Together with 1, they fill up the top 1/3rd of the page)
---panel 1 - top of page. Cable standing on the stage. He's holding Blaquesmith's special gun. Domino's frozen, Wall's holding a squirming Shire, one hand still over his mouth. G.W. Bridge is standing next to Cable, a puzzled expression on the big SHIELD agent's face.
"What happened here, Cable?" G.W. is saying. "This afternoon I thought Shire was the answer to the world's woes. Now I hate the guy. Makes no sense. Any explanations?"
"Too long a story to tell right now," says Cable. "Gag Shire and put him in solitary. Don't let him talk to anyone. Domino should stay frozen for days. Just in case, keep her locked up in a maximum security cell. Keep her safe, G.W.. Given half a chance, she'll kill herself just to free the monster controlling her mind. You can't let that happen."
---panel 2 - (small box) close up of G.W. Bridge's face.
"You going somewhere?" ---panel 3 - (small box) close up of Cable's face.
"I'm flying off with a few friends. It's payback time for thousands of years of blood and death."
"Yeah. Sure. Whatever you say."
---panels 4,5 are in the middle of the page, taking 1/3rd of the entire page, with each box being half of the middle section.
---panel 4 (this is 1/6th of the entire page) Sandella and Captain Holdyne standing on the control circle of the Ranshi time ship.
"Communication with the Empire broke off the instant the audience turned on Randall Shire," Holdyne is saying.
(the rest of the dialogue will be shared between panel 4 & 5)
"Cable's fault. He prevented Shire's death but then discredited him. His actions destroyed our timeline, and that of Harmony as well. Both possible timelines ended tonight. Neither Harmony nor the Empire exists."
"What do we do now?"
"Contact the other time-ship. We need to negotiate..."
---panel 5 (this is 1/6th of the entire page) Eyla and her father looking at an instrument panel on their time-ship.
"Communication with Harmony ceased the moment Cable stopped Domino from killing Shire," Manuel is saying.
"Cable's fault. He prevented Shire's death but discredited him. He destroyed our timeline, and that of the Ranshi Empire as well. Both possible timelines were destroyed. Neither Harmony nor the Empire exists."
"What do we do now?"
"Contact the other time-ship. We need to negotiate..."
---panel 6 - bottom 1/3rd of the page. Cable, with Wall and Key.
Cable is saying: "If we don't stop the Undying, they'll haunt us for the rest of our lives. The monsters won't stop until we're dead.
"Besides, you want your friend back. Alive. I want Domino the way she was.
"It's time for us to strike back. Put an end to the Undying. "With your special talents, and a few allies, I think we can do that. Are you willing to try?"
"You can count on me," says Key.
"Wall ain't afraid of nobody," says Wall. "Even the Undying."
(this issue is finished. So let's put in a few hooks to snare readers for the next issue.)
---full page spread, with an insert boxes at the left top corner and bottom right corner.
---insert box. Close-up of Cable, from the waist up, turning his head to the left, as he hears a voice.
Caption: <<Big brother. Help me. Please!>>
---full page illustration. Rachel Summers (appearing the same as she did in issue # 82). This time, Rachel is standing on a desolate plain, with dried, cracked earth. A few volcanic gysers in the background and a few stunted bushes. Rachel's hands are in front of her, close together, and are linked together by a very thin chain (that dangles down from her hands about to her knees. Her head is bent, as if she's dead tired. There is a similar chain linking her ankles. Another chain is connected to the one around her wrists and the end of that is held in one hand of the man standing next to her.
Our villain (of the next plot arc) is very tall - seven feet or so - and very very thin. Almost stick-like in appearance. He's dressed in a 19th century black broadcloth suit, with a stovepipe black hat that makes him look even taller. He's wearing a ruffled white shirt and black bow-tie. His face is very lean and narrow, with deep-set eyes and sallow cheeks (maybe some thin lines going down the side of his face to emphasis the gauntness of his face?). He has thin lips which are twisted in a slight smile. He's looking straight forward, as if having his photo taken.
Behind him and Rachel, set back a small distance, is the same house from last issue. It's a huge Victorian mansion, made of wood, three stories high, with two turrets. The building is in good condition, with the curtains half pulled down. There are lights in various windows of the house but no one is visible from inside. There are wide wood steps leading to the front porch of the house. The door of the house (at the rear of the house) is open, but nothing is visible.
There's thunder in the sky which is purple with red streaks slashing across it. There are mountains, sharp crags, surrealistic and pointy, stretching from one side of the page to the other behind the house. And, the very old sun is behind the house and is huge, forming a semi-circle of sorts behind the house and touching on both sides of the horizon. The sun is red, with long whispy tendrils of flame coming out from it.
Caption: <<I'm trapped at time's end - in the House on the Borderline.>>
---insert box in bottom right corner. Cable's face and Key's face.
Key: "Cable? Something wrong?"
Cable: "Something's very wrong. And I intend to fix it.
"As soon as we deal with the Undying."
(Editors wanted a more futuristic looking villain, so Gaunt lost his 19th century clothing. I would have preferred him with the old fashioned clothing just to give him an image that suited his unusual house.
The House on the Borderline was a tribute to one of my favorite horror novels, The House on the Borderland It deals with a very strange house that seems to exist in both the present and at the end of the world. And, there a pig-like monsters in it, thus the pig-men in my story. Gaunt's name comes from Captain Gaunt, another book by the author of The House on the Borderland, William Hope Hodgson.)
---full page spread. Professor Berger and Sheik Hamid standing in front of the giant doors of the Undying. Berger is holding his portable computer open in his hands and is looking down at the screen.
"Better start cooking some chickens, Sheik. Appears that some friends will be arriving in a few hours. Man named Cable and his associates. Life's about to get interesting."
Next Month: Cable and a few "special friends" in THE UNDYING REVEALED!
(That's it. Hope it helps. Remember, the only way to become a writer is to write!)
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