Monday, September 29, 2014

Ms. Marvel - It's Not Easy - Grant McLaughlin

I'm leaping ahead (pardon the pun) (you'll get what I mean in a moment) and looking at what the moment where Kamala reveals her secret identity to Nakia might look like.  I imagine that it probably won't play out this way in the book, but a man can dream.

1 - Outside shot of Nakia's house.  Night time.

CAPTION (KAMALA): Hopefully she'll take it as well as you did.

NAKIA (from within house): Get.  Out.

2 - Kamala and Nakia are sitting on a couch.  Nakia looks surprised and amazed.  Kamala is in her Ms. Marvel uniform (sans mask), wearing a big, proud smile and nodding her head repeatedly (in the cartoony vein that Adrian Alphona sometimes uses - exaggerated expression, ghosted images of Kamala's head in various parts of the nod to show how quickly she's doing it, and so forth).

NAKIA (1): You're Ms. Marvel.

NAKIA (2): My best friend, Kamala Khan, is Ms. Marvel

3 - Nakia springs into excited action, latching onto one of Kamala's arms as she peppers her with questions.  Kamala is taken by surprised by this turn of events.

NAKIA: Are you part of the Avengers?  Have you met Spider-Man?  Did they give you a signal watch to get in touch whenever trouble calls?

KAMALA: Whoa, slow down, Nakia!  Not an Avenger.  Haven't met Spider-Man, but Wolverine is nice.  And I have no idea what this signal watch thing is.  It's not like trouble just falls out of the sky.

4 - In similar positions to last panel, Nakia and Kamala stop their conversation and look towards the basement window due to a loud sound outside.  Nakia looks in worry and surprise; Kamala looks with determination, polymorphing her mask into existence (Visibility?  Either way, it's in the process of showing up here.).


NAKI (quietly): What was that?

5 - Outside in the Nakia's backyard.  Kamala leads the way to find a figure crumpled on the ground.  Nakia follows behind, a frying pan in hand.  There is something of a impact crater / buildup of dirt as the figure clearly landed with some force and skidded along the ground with the impact.  It's dark and hard to see who or what it is.


KAMALA: H-hello?

MYSTERIOUS FIGURE (woozy word balloon to reflect their state): Ughhhh...

KAMALA: Are you okay?

6 - The mysterious figure is none other than the Fantabulous Frog-Man!  Unfortunately, he is looking somewhat worse for wear, with lots of visible wear and tear to his suit.  He also seems to have landed quite awkwardly, as dirt is coming out of his mouth as he gets up.  He doesn't seem overly concerned / aware of this, as he is back on his feet and next to Ms. Marvel.  He grabs her excitedly, his arms on her shoulders (maybe shaking her a little through his overexcitement).  She is surprised, but not threatened.  Nakia is kind of freaking out again.

FROG-MAN: Oh thank goodness!  Ms. Marvel, I really need your help!

Ms Marvel - What's on the Inside - Ben Rosenthal

1.  Kamala Khan is walking home from school in her civilian clothes.  In front of her so the reader sees his back) a man in a fedora and a trench coat is approaching her.

Excuse me Ms Khan.

Yeah.  Ohmygoodness!  It's you---

2.  Reverse angle of the previous panel.  The man in the fedora is Scott Summers.


Not so loud Ms Khan.  I need to talk to you about your powers.

3. Closer on Cyclops, however the oversized fist of Kamala is punching him right in the face.

Mutant or Inhuman, your gift can he--OMFF

Give me a break 'Cyke'.

4.  A high angle.  Kamala is standing over Cyclops.  However he has began to shape shift into Mystique.

I can spot shifting molecules a mile away.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Ms. Marvel - Biggest Fan - Travis M. Holyfield

Splash Page with four inset panels. Inset panels are circular and are located at (1) top-right corner, (2) center-left, (3) center-right, and (4) bottom-left. Reading order on the inset panels is designed to replicate Kamala's "lightning bolt" insignia.

Splash Page: Exterior, daytime. A New Jersey street corner. Ms. Marvel, KAMALA KHAN, is fighting THE SANDMAN. They have both grown in size. Sandman's lower torso is a wave of sand, whirling around Kamala's legs. He throws a punch, his hand in the form of a giant sand-hammer, which she avoids by bending out of the way. At the same time she is also throwing a punch, her fist growing into one of her trademark giant KAMALA-FISTS, which puffs harmlessly through Sandman's chest.

Inset Panel 1: Close-up of Ms. Marvel, speaking. She is highly animated and visibly excited.


MS. MARVEL: I know I'm geeking out! I'm sorry! But you're THE ACTUAL SANDMAN!

Inset Panel 2: Another close-up. Ms. Marvel continues to speak, excitedly waving her hands for emphasis.

MS. MARVEL: You were part of the Sinister Six! You worked with the Enforcers! And Hydro-Man! You fight Spider-Man ALL THE TIME!

Inset Panel 3: Close-up of Sandman, looking confused and oddly flattered.

SANDMAN: Wow. So you're, like, what? My biggest fan?

Inset Panel 4: Close-up on Ms. Marvel throwing one of her giant punches.

MS. MARVEL: What? Oh, no. Not your fan. SPIDER-MAN'S fan.

MS. MARVEL: What's he like in real life?

Why Ms. Marvel?

Because everyone should get to be a superhero.

In February of this year, Marvel Comics gave us the newest character to go by the name Ms. Marvel. Kamala Khan, a  teenage Pakistani American from New Jersey, who, after exposure to the Inhumans' Terrigen Mists, finds herself with the ability to change her shape. A superhero fangirl, whose personal idol is Carol "Captain Marvel" Danvers, Kamala finds herself inspired to use her newfound powers to help people.

 Created by editor Sana Amanat, writer G. Willow Wilson, and artist Adrian Alphona, Kamala represents the first Muslim character to ever headline a Marvel Comic book. And to me, she represents something else - the idea that EVERYONE can potentially be a superhero. Kamala is a teenage Muslim girl, and her story provides a window into that world of experience, but she is not defined by any one attribute or label. She is brave, charming, likeable, and utterly relatable, and my favorite new character to be introduced at the House of Ideas since Miles Morales. Every issue of Ms. Marvel has made me smile, has made me laugh, has made me cheer, and has made me learn something.

Everyone deserves to be a superhero. Kamala Khan is proof of that.

Cosplay by Riana Elliott. Photo By Pat Loika.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Phantom - The Madding Crowd, Part 6 (exposition again) - R.A. Wonsowski

This goes back to the hint from last week's episode, filling on some backstory on the mysterious black diamond....

The top of the gutter around the page should be the coastline of Bengalla, the Skull Cave in the top right corner. The rest of the gutters and the space between panels should be the greenish blue of the sea, but the further down the page we go, it should transition from blue-green to near black...

GUTTER CAPTION: 1890. Bengalla, Africa.

Panel 1 - The Professor and the Mercenary have found the legendary Heart of Darkness, a giant black diamond that fell from the stars long ago, in an empty cavern. The giant ebon stone is cradled in a makeshift stone rest. We have arrived mis-en-scene, as the Mercenary has just "ensured" that he is the only one to profit from the discovery, bloody machete in hand. The PHANTOM stands silhouetted in the mouth of the cavern.


Panel 2 - The PHANTOM leaps forward, and mightily THWAKs the Mercenary across the jaw with his fabled skull ring. And yet, the Mercenary still grins.

PHANTOM: You have no idea what you are dealing with.
MERCENARY: Ah, but I do.

Panel 3 - Wide panel - On the left, the PHANTOM in a menacing stance, one fist up ready to fight, the other hand pointing at the giant black diamond, which stands foreground and center panel. On the right, the Mercenary regains his footing, rubbing his jaw, but leaving his machete on the ground.

PHANTOM: This stone poisons my country from within! My people are sick from its darkness...
MERCENARY: I offer a way to heal your land and its people.
PHANTOM: This corrupts to the soul.
MERCENARY: I am already corrupt. And its power is too great to be left whole...

Panel 4 - Zoom in, and we are seeing through the black diamond, so everything has that warped glass look about it, and the colors are varying shades of violet, inked in midnight blue. The Mercenary has his hands wide apart and low, empty an nonthreatening. The PHANTOM lowers his guard.

MERCENARY: There is a man I know in London, a cutter. He will render it down to smaller stones, a thousand perfect shards.

Panel 5 - From over the Mercenary's shoulder, we see him offer his right hand to the PHANTOM, who wears a weary, saddened look upon his face as he considers the deal he is offered.

MERCENARY: I promise, no one man will possess them all. They will be scattered to the four corners of the globe.
MERCENARY: What do you say?

Panel 6 - A ramshackle steamer leaves the coast of Bengalla, thunderclouds in the sky. They cast a shadow over the left 2/3 of the face of the Skull Cave. The cloud can hint at the shape of the head and shoulders of the PHANTOM, a guilty posture that almost says "what have I done?"

CAPTION: So the Heart of Darkness was spirited out of Africa. And the Ghost Who Walks wept for the outside world... be continued...

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Phantom - Fairy Tales - Travis M. Holyfield

Panel 1: Interior. Night. MR. COOPER sits in his office chair, behind a magnificent desk - the desk of a powerful and influential man. His corner office has floor to ceiling windows, and he has a magnificent view of the city. Cooper sits facing one of the windows, only the right side of his face visible to us in profile.
COOPER: It's a sound plan, Lawrence. But what about opposition? Do you propose to stride into Bangalla and take this treasure with no resistance?

Panel 2: LARRY stands facing Cooper's desk. He is wearing a suit, but it is crumpled and fits badly. He is trying (and failing) to maintain an aura of confidence in front of Cooper.

LARRY: What resistance, Mr. Cooper? It's a bunch of primitives with loincloths and spears.

Panel 3: Cooper at his desk again, still not looking directly at Larry, still only giving us that profile view of his right side. He has tented his fingers in front of his chin, thoughtful.
COOPER: It is said there are other things to fear in the jungles of  Bangalla than spears.

Panel 4: Larry shrugs, and tries on a casual smile.

LARRY: Seriously, sir? "The Ghost Who Walks?" It's a jungle boogeyman. A fairy tale!

Panel 5: Cooper's face has gone dark at Larry's last comment.

COOPER: Fairy tales, Lawrence?

COOPER: Like "Hansel and Gretyl"? Like "Little Red Riding Hood"?

COOPER: Do you know what a fairy tale is, Lawrence?

Panel 6: Cooper turns now to face Larry, and for the first time we see the left side of his face, a mass of scars circulating out from the clear mark of a skull imprinted on his left cheek.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Phantom – Bad Phantom – MK Stangeland Jr.

The following comic works a lot better if done in comic strip form than comic book form.

(4 Panels)

Panel 1: THE PHANTOM is standing with JOE EVERYMAN (a generic stand-in.) Next to PHANTOM is his wolf, DEVIL.

JOE EVERYMAN: Thank you for saving me, Phantom!

PHANTOM: You are welcome, citizen!

DEVIL: Ruff!

Panel 2: PHANTOM punches JOE EVERYMAN with his left fist.

PHANTOM: I shall now mark you with my seal of protection!


Panel 3: PHANTOM leaps off-panel as JOE EVERYMAN keels over. DEVIL follows PHANTOM off-panel.



JOE EVERYMAN: [Angry Grumbling]

Panel 4: JOE EVERYMAN looks in a mirror at the mark PHANTOM left on him.

JOE EVERYMAN: [Angry Grumbling]


Monday, September 22, 2014

The Phantom - Legacy - Grant McLaughlin

1 - The Phantom walks across the room, one hand to his chin in classic thinking pose and the other behind his back.  The edge of a table is visible in the foreground of the panel.

THE PHANTOM: I'm not saying I haven't done great things or made a difference, but who am I to say what my son must or mustn't do?

2 - The Phantom is pacing back the other way, his fretting increasing - he now has one hand up on his head, as if he was passing it through his hair in confusion / desperation.

THE PHANTOM: What if he wants to be a doctor?  An artist?  A rock star?

3 - The Phantom is pacing back in his original way, clearly making little progress.  His hands are thrown up in despair,

THE PHANTOM (1): Why shouldn't he get the luxury to chose his own destiny simply because he was born to the Walker name?

DIANA (off-panel): Kit...

4 - Switch angles to the other side of the table.  Diana Palmer, wife of Kit Walker, sits at the table, feeding an obviously very young child who is sitting in a high chair next to her.  Kit Junior is not being incredibly cooperative in this goal, with food pretty much everywhere but in his mouth - this side of the room is messy.  Diana looks at Kit Senior with some bemused frustration.

DIANA: I think we have some time to consider the question.

The Phantom - Who Walks - Ben Rosenthal

1. A shady looking criminal is looking around, scared in a a dark room.  High in the rafters the white eyes of The Phantom can be seen by the reader, but not by the crim.

Jim?  Mack?  Where are you?

CAPTION (Phantom)
A picture says a thousand words.

2.  The Crim is startled by a thud from behind him.  He doesn't know what it is.

sfx: THUD.

GAH! Wh-who's there?

CAPTION (Phantom)
A ghost only needs one.

3.  A close up of the Crim's face, but only the left half is on panel.  It takes up half the panel.  The other half is made up of the Phantom's face whispering in the Crim's ear.  However it is darkened out, barely visible.

Leave this place.


CAPTION (Phantom)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Phantom - Mistakes - Simon McDonald

Arthur Dalley (new character) is driving his decade-old sedan, on his way to a job interview. He’s dressed for success: suit and tie, hair swept back, shaven; but there’s no hiding the skull mark on his chin; an eternal consequence of the Phantom’s form of vengeance.

CAPTION: I made a mistake, and was punished for it. I did my time.

CAPTION: I was determined to make something better of my life.

(These panels are of equal size. Dalley appears progressively more dishevelled, and crushed, through each one, as he is rebuffed by three different employers)


PANEL THREE CAPTION: I tried, damn it.

PANEL FOUR CAPTION: But they can’t see past the mark.

Dalley is sitting on the edge of his bed, dressed in shorts and a singlet, a multitude of beer bottles and liquor bottles dotted around his filthy room. He is holding a revolver, staring at it like it has all the answers he needs.

CAPTION: They can’t see past the mistake.

The Phantom is standing in Dalley’s room, looking down on Dalley’s body. Blood has pooled on the floor. The Phantom is holding Dalley’s suicide note.

CAPTION: Can you see past yours?

Why The Phantom?

I never loved The Phantom like I did Batman and Superman, but as a kid, sometimes all I had was $1.50 in my pocket, which wasn’t enough for a DC or Marvel Comic, but was just right for a 32-page black-and-white Frew comics starring Lee Falk’s Ghost Who Walks. Over time I amassed quite the collection; even as I got older, I’d occasionally flip through the comics; while the stories were never deep or complex, some of the artwork was fabulous. 

Kit Walker is the 21st in a line of crime fighters that originated way back in 1536. The original Phantom, Christopher Walker, swore an oath on the skull of his father’s murderer following a brutal pirate attack, and established the legacy that would be carried down for generations, bringing to fruition the notion of The Phantom being an immortal ghost – “the Ghost Who Walks.”

I’ve never been totally enamoured with the storytelling presented in The Phantom comics I’ve read, but have always felt the character has a ton of potential to be modernized; not re-imagined, but refreshed, to bring new eyes to the character. Dynamite Entertainment attempted a revival several years ago; now it’s our chance.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Shade The Changing Man – Everything is Real – Travis M. Holyfield

8 panels. Put together, these panels essentially create a splash page. SHADE stands at the back of an O.R.C. meeting hall. His back is to us, and we are looking past him down the hall. DOCTOR Z.Z. is at the end of the hall, delivering a sermon to a crowd of eager parishioners seated in long wooden pews. The hall itself is unornamented, plain except for some Metan imagery at the podium where Z.Z. stands.

Again, the idea with each panel is that we are scanning down Shade's body, starting with his left shoulder in panel 1 and then continuing right and downwards until we reach his right fist in panel 8. The rest of the panel is taken up with the surrounding layout of the O.R.C. center.

Panel 1: Shade's left shoulder.

DOCTOR Z.Z.: You have come here because you want to know The Truth! You have come here because you know that THEY are keeping The Truth FROM YOU!

Panel 2: Shade's right shoulder.

DOCTOR Z.Z.: You are here because you see over two dozen celebrities, actors, actresses, musicians! You see a United States Congressman, and you know that THEY know The Truth!

Panel 3: Shade's left upper arm.

DOCTOR Z.Z.: The Truth that our beloved founder Wizor died to bring this world! 

Panel 4: Shade's right upper arm.

DOCTOR Z.Z.: The Truth that we here at the Occult Research Center protect and cherish, and that we invite you to be a part of!

Panel 5: Shade's left forearm.

DOCTOR Z.Z.: And The Truth, my friends is that IT IS ALL TRUE!

Panel 6: Shade's right forearm.

DOCTOR Z.Z.: Everything you have ever dreamed, everything you have ever believed, is TRUE, and it is REAL, and it is THERE FOR YOU TO TAKE!

Panel 7: Shade's left hand.

DOCTOR Z.Z.: Join the O.R.C., give yourself over to our trust, and we will pull back the secret skin of the multiverse! We will show you Meta and BEYOND!

Panel 8: Shade's right fist now begins to crackle and distort with the strange energies of his M-Vest.

DOCTOR Z.Z.: FOLLOW US! And no one in this world or any other will ever stand in your way again!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Shade The Changing Man – Buried on Sunday – MK Stangeland Jr.

(7 Panels)

Panel 1: SOLOMON GRUNDY is walking through a swamp.

Panel 2: SOLOMON GRUNDY continues to walk, but his body is showing signs of transformation – his face looks twisted and blurred and his limbs are slenderizing.

Panel 3: SOLOMON GRUNDY – has come to a stop and is looking at himself, but he’s not exactly SOLOMON GRUNDY anymore. He’s now more of a ‘SHADE GRUNDY’.

His face resembles that of SHADE, and while he’s less bulky than GRUNDY normally is, he’s still got SOLOMON GRUNDY’s basic posture.

Since the dialogue from both comes out of the same ‘person’, there should be some kind of indicator as to who is actually saying the lines. Possibly a difference in their speech balloons or a little face of whoever’s speaking next to what they’re saying.

GRUNDY: Grundy feel weird. Not like self.

SHADE: Did I just say that?

Panel 4: SHADE GRUNDY is paralyzed in position as SHADE tries to keep moving forwards while GRUNDY simply wants to stand there in confusion.

GRUNDY: Grundy is very confused right now.

SHADE: Oh $#*^, I did say that.

Panel 6: SHADE GRUNDY starts to move forwards as SHADE conjures up enough willpower to at least start them moving forwards.


SHADE: This has to be the worst…

Panel 7: SHADE GRUNDY falls over face forwards into the swamp as SHADE fails to keep moving fast enough to actually catch his footing before the body simply topples over from lack of balance.



Monday, September 15, 2014

Shade, the Changing Man - Ever After - Grant McLaughlin

This page is somewhat reliant on you knowing how Peter Milligan's run ended, in that its main visual is what that series ended on - Shade, Kathy George, and the door and stoop outside Kathy George's house.  Let's go with a classic 9 panel grid.

While the entire page takes place in the same location, the important thing to note is that there is a leap in time between each panel.  It should perhaps be subtle at first, but Kathy and Shade should be older in every panel - hair thinning, wrinkles emerging, postures stooping, and all that jazz.

1 - We're outside Kathy's door.  It's nighttime.  It's the same 3/4 angle from issue #70.  Heck, it can even be the same night.  Shade runs out from the door, covering his head as Kathy throws her diary out the door after him.

CAPTION (SHADE): Of course, nothing ever works out quite the way you plan it.

2 - On that same stoop, Shade and Kathy hold each other close, the diary in Shade's hands (as if he's picked it up).

CAPTION (SHADE): But we'd always pick up the pieces

3 - Kathy pushing Shade away, the diary falling from his grasp.

CAPTION (SHADE): Only for them to fall apart all over again

4 - Kathy stands in the doorway, looking down at Shade, who is sitting on his rump as if he's just landed.  Kathy's expression has softened and she puts out a hand to help Shade up.

CAPTION (SHADE): We kept going around in circles.

5 - Rotate the view slightly to look more directly at the doorway.  Shade knocks Kathy's hand away, and they being yelling at each other - you could even have those little sound lines to indicate the volume.

CAPTION (SHADE): It was maddening.

6 - Focus on Shade sitting alone on the stoop the diary beside him.  He is crying.  The panel should be angled so as to not be able to see the top of the closed doorway.

CAPTION (SHADE): I thought I could find the answer to fix everything, blind to the actual problem.

7 - Kathy has come back outside.  She stands behind Shade, her hand on his shoulder.  Shade has managed to stop his tears, although Kathy's expression is not visible as it is off-panel.

CAPTION (SHADE): I shouldn't be surprised that Kathy helped me see.

8 - Shade looks over his shoulder up towards Kathy, a hopeful look on his face.  We've changed angles again to have Shade facing the reader and to have Kathy with her back to them, her expression unseen.

CAPTION (SHADE): I'd done so much to find a place where I was content.

9 - Shade and Kathy sit together on the stoop.  Kathy places her head on Shade's shoulder as they hold hands, smiling.  Please remember that they have been aging the entire page and are now a pair of veritable geriatrics for this final panel.

CAPTION (SHADE): When I should have been looking for one where we both were.

Shade the Changing Man - Who I use to be - Ben Rosenthal

1.  A busy suburban street at night.  Shadows of street lamps line the walls as people hurry about.

I've got no body.

Both figuratively and physically.

2.  Kathy is walking along a path, head down.  She doesn't want to be noticed and just wants to get to her destination.

I gave up everything for her.  Everything.

3.  Side on view of Kathy walking past one of the street lamps, it's shadow up against the wall.

And now all I can do is watch from afar.

4.  The same as Panel 3, but Kathy is almost out of the panel.  However, a shadow is stepping out of the street lamp shadow, yes there is no one there.  This is Shade - he has no body an lives just in the shadows of this world.

A shadow of the man I use to be.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Shade, the Changing Man - The Madding Crowd, Part 5 - R.A. Wonsowski


Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

PAGE 10:
We are back in the monitor-lit lab beneath MetaPharma. Some of it, however, has been trashed after a fight between DR. SKOLOS and SHADE...

Panel 1- A furious SHADE has DR. SKOLOS pinned to the wall by the throat with his madness-distorted hand. A nearby video screen is cracked, but still displaying fluorescent Aramaic script. A second closed-circuit TV shows JACK RYDER cartwheeling off of padded cell walls in the fashion of the Creeper. SKOLOS flashes his rictus grin at the raging SHADE.

SHADE: Dammit, Skolos, I'm not asking again! Where's Kathy?!

SKOLOS: Rrghn...she's in the... Area...of Madness...

Panel 2- SHADE's madness-fist fades, dropping SKOLOS to the floor. SKOLOS rubs his neck where he was strangled, his grin a little bit wider. SHADE is confused, sadly bewildered.

SHADE: What?

SKOLOS: Heh. You idiot. All that time, connected to it by the Vest. And you never knew...

Panel 3- SKOLOS laughs and points at a working video feed, showing a dessicated corpse in a white T-shirt and black jeans. Black hair wisps and flakes of skin are blowing in an unseen breeze. The body floats in the brown air above a mud flatland. SHADE is devastated by the sight of Kathy's body, dead in the Area of Madness.

SKOLOS: You call us "necrologists". Students of Death.

SKOLOS: But you, Shade...You were the true pioneer! The first NECRONAUT!

Panel 4- Our view moves in, as the video picture moves out: Kathy's corpse is distant, but the focus is a fleshless floating skeleton wearing only the Ditko-designed Madness Vest. SKOLOS is laughing, bearing shark teeth in his mouth.

SKOLOS: Your Metan corpse has lain there for how long? You ignorant tourist!

SKOLOS: The Area is the Next World! The Afterlife!

Panel 5- SKOLOS backhands SHADE across the face with his fist with one hand, digging into a pocket with the other. SKOLOS's face should be in the shadows only his fanged smile gleaming, and his feet should be planted apart, a combative stance.

SKOLOS: There is no Heaven! No Hell! No Entropy or Order!

SKOLOS: Only Madness!

Panel 6- Close-up: SKOLOS's face. The face is demonic, the goatee Dali-esque and exaggerated, the shark-toothed Glasgow smile, the fiery eyes, and darker on the right (panel left) 2/3 of his face. In front of his eye, between his thumb and forefinger, a black diamond, a sliver of the Heart of Darkness, sparks...

SKOLOS: God is an absent parent, necronaut. Kathy's dead.

SKOLOS: And so are you.

... To be continued...

Why Shade, the Changing Man?

You mean, besides being another Ditko creation and being a character in my ongoing saga?
Shade by Mike Allred
Because Shade is, in my opinion, the greatest love story in modern comics. Better than Lois and Clark. Better than Peter and MJ. Only matched in maturity by Sue and Reed, Shade, in both Ditko's and later writer Peter Milligan's hands, is the "Ditkosian" philosophy applied to the romantic ideal.
Steve Ditko's Shade
Rac Shade is a secret agent with a poet's soul for an extradimensional world called Meta. Meta and Earth are separated by a membrane called an M-Zone. The most dangerous part of crossing between is the Area of Madness. When he was accused of treason by his fiancée, Mellu, he stole a prototype "M-vest" and escaped between worlds. The vest distorts both the wearer and reality, and is attuned to the madness brought on by emotions strong enough to warp one's perspective.
Shade's circumstances took a turn for the worse when his body died in the Area of Madness. With the M-Vest linked to his metaphysical self, he punched a hole in the dimensional membrane, and inhabited the body of freshly deceased serial killer Troy Grenzer. The execution-gone-wrong was witnessed by a young woman named Kathy George, whose parents were murdered by Grenzer. Together they go on a sick, slick road trip across the Altered States of America.
Love, Vertigo-Style...
What follows in Milligan's run on the character is a study of selfless love versus selfish love. Shade, who bebops from body to body as he goes, is defined only by his romantic, poetic nature. Kathy is broken and confused, spiraling in and out of alcoholism, and Shade believes that if he sacrifices himself over and over again, or if he could somehow change her, she would come to love him. As the saying goes, insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result.
...and it does get insane.
The problem is that Shade doesn't know who he is either. He is literally "without Self" and is surprised and hurt time after time when Kathy doesn't reciprocate his romantic ideal. The love is empty, so that when she dies giving birth to Shade's baby, he resents the child and removes his heart, locking it in a box, and hiding it in the Madness stream.
Pfft...who needs it?
It's only after discovering himself and accepts his own broken heart, that he decides to go backwards in time, and try to stop Grenzer from murdering Kathy's parents in the first place. By restarting her reality, she could live a normal, happy life, and he can let her go. Like Sting sang, if you love somebody...
Yes, they made a cartoon version.
That realization, that you are what you are, and that loving someone means saying "Yes" to everything you look up to in them, is central to Shade. His need to sacrifice all at Kathy's altar is not out of love, but pity. He wants to be what she wants him to be, and it's not until he is who he is meant to be that his heart is given meaning.
Before you can love someone else, you have to love yourself first.
I always was a comic book fan, but Shade the Changing Man is the first series that I truly loved.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Invisible Woman - Villain's POV - Arby Moay

Panel 1
We are in the POV of some random villain whose identity is not really all that important. We see a street in New York that has been completely devastated. Rubble everywhere, and some burning buildings. The Fantastic Four are lying unconscious in the middle of the street. Mr. Fantastic looks like he's been flatened. Johnny does not have his flame on. Ben's left leg has collapsed and become rubble. Sue is lying on her stomach.

CAPTION: If you are a villain, then there's a chance that you might've been lucky enough to see something like this.
CAPTION: You've given it you're all, and you've finally defeated the superheroes.Victory is at hand.

Panel 2
Same. The villain POV walks closer to the Fantastic Four. Sue is now starting to get back up.

CAPTION: Unfortunately for you, it's not the end of the story.
CAPTION: You see one of your enemies get back up time and time again.
CAPTION: And you realize...

Panel 3
Same. Sue raises up her left hand towards us, and engulfs our head in a force field.

CAPTION: ...that while you were busy trying to conquer the world to impose your own ideals upon it...
CAPTION: ...she was busy trying to defend the world. But beyond that, she had people, loved ones, that she had to protect, willing her to live on. To always get back up.

Panel 4
Panel's all in black.

CAPTION: So you see all along...
CAPTION: picked the wrong fight.

Invisible Woman - The Madding Crowd: some answers - R.A. Wonsowski

Panel 1- SUSAN STORM is cheerfully waving hello to the reader.

SUSAN: Hi. I'm Susan Storm. Ray recently got promoted and is in training classes this week, so he asked me to fill in.

Panel 2- SUSAN is walking to the right of the page, past her wedding photo with REED and Warhol's Campbell soup can painting, both hanging on the wall.

SUSAN: Ray's been working on his story arc, and some people have been asking, "Where's all of this going?" "What's it all about?"

Panel 3- SUSAN points to a hanging portrait of Carl Jung.

SUSAN: Well, he's not about to give up his ending, but I can tell you where it began. With this man, Carl Jung.

Panel 4- SUSAN now gestures to a sepia-tone photograph of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, sitting on a university park bench. In the corner, a tiny DEADPOOL holds a placard that reads: "WARNING! Educational Content!"

SUSAN: While Sigmund Freud had advanced psychology a great deal with his theory of id, ego, and superego, they only accounted for conscious mental states. They didn't take into account the subconscious.

SUSAN: Freud believed much of our subconscious was down to suppressed physical urges. Jung, however, believed it was an amalgamation of repressed sexual identity.

Panel 5- SUSAN is standing between SHE-HULK (in her old FF uniform), who has a 1000 lb barbell lifted over her head with one hand, and the THING, who is wearing a summery flower print dress, grousing and holding the hem daintily between his rocky fingers.

SUSAN: The idea that a woman couldn't be feminine if she was strong or authoritative, or that a man wasn't a "man" if he was sensitive or passionate, was expressed through what Jung called the animus and the anima.

THING: ...wotta revoltin' development...

Panel 6- SUSAN stands in front of the cover of FF v1 #281

SUSAN: The animus, or subconscious masculinity, and the anima, or subconscious femininity, are, however, part of our "shadow aspect".

SUSAN: That's the part of our Self that, when expressed, leads to creativity and discovery. Or, if restricted, can lead us to our darkest impulses.

Panel 7- Head and shoulders shot of SUSAN, winking knowingly at us.

SUSAN: Just imagine what would happen if that "shadow aspect" was set free, made manifest in reality...

SUSAN: Keep that in mind when we see you next week. Bye for now!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Invisible Woman – Indomitable – Travis M. Holyfield

Panel 1: Susan Richards, The Invisible Woman, stands facing Mentallo. Her fists are clenched, and her mouth is set in a determined grimace. Beads of sweat dot her forehead. Mentallo's helmet emits a (Kirby) crackle of energy.

MENTALLO: You're only hurting yourself, Mrs. Richards.

MENTALLO: A.I.M. has improved my psycho-helmet. It's boosting my powers to levels even Charles Xavier never reached.

Panel 2: Focus on Mentallo's face. His helmet continues to pulse with energy as he smiles a cocksure grin.

MENTALLO: Please just open your husband's lab for me, before your brain dissolves into taffy.

Panel 3: Continuation of previous panel. Mentallo's helmet continues to pulse, but he's no longer smiling. Sweat is starting to pour down his face, and he looks panicked.

MENTALLO: How.. how are you resisting? It's...

MENTALLO Your willpower... Never seen anything like...

Panel 4: Susan thrusts her hands towards Mentallo. A cylinder of invisible force extends from her hands to smash Mentallo against a wall.



Panel 5: Sue takes a moment to collect herself. She leans against a wall, breathing deeply. Mentallo lies in a crumpled heap on the floor.


SUSAN RICHARDS: I've been married to Reed Richards for ten years and I haven't smothered him in his sleep with a pillow.

Panel 6: Susan steps over Mentallo's unconscious body, striding boldly towards her next challenge.

SUSAN RICHARDS: You have NO idea what willpower is.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Invisible Woman - Just Desserts - Grant McLaughlin

Three rows.  Panel 1 is the top row, panels 2 and 3 are the middle row, and panels 4 and 5 are the bottom row.

1 - Reed Richards stands in a doorway, smiling candidly at Susan and Ben (off-panel within the room he's looking upon).  He's been leaning on the doorframe, as if he wasn't planning on being there long.

REED (1): ...all that to say that I was somewhat taken aback by Henry's comparatively unconventional views on molecular cosmic metabiological chemistry.

REED (2): Thanks so much for listening!  Usually you guys leave at the first opportunity when I get going on these topics.

2 - Susan Richards and Benjamin Grimm sit at an empty kitchen table, looking back at Reed (and the reader).  They have big, fake smiles on their faces.  As well, Sue looks a little distracted (maybe holding a hand to her temple or looking to the side distractedly).

SUSAN: N-no worries, hun!

BEN: Yeah... anytime, Stretch.

3 - Repeat panel, except Susan and Ben now wear looks of relief on their faces.  They slump into their seats, exhausted from whatever scientific gobbledy-gook Reed has been going on about.  On the table in front of them, a delicious looking cake (cheesecake?) starts appear (as Sue removes the invisibility shields she'd put up around it).

SUSAN: Oh, thank god.  I thought he would never leave!

BEN: Was that really necessary?

4 - Sue takes a fork and starts in on the cake.  She looks seriously in Ben's direction.

SUSAN: Are you kidding?

5 - Cake on the end of her fork, Sue (brow still a little furrowed) points it accusingly towards Ben, who holds his arms up in surrender / apology.

SUSAN: It's bad enough I have to share any of this with you!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Invisible Woman – Just Another Day – MK Stangeland Jr.

(7 Panels)

Panel 1: Panels 1, 2, and 3 should all sit in the same row.

SUSAN STORM RICHARDS – the INVISIBLE WOMAN – is in the kitchen of the BAXTER BUILDING. She is facing the panel, and looks like she’s recently gotten up on the wrong side of the bed. In her hand is a cup of coffee.

Panel 2: SUSAN has the same position in the panel, but is drinking from the mug in her hand.


Panel 3: SUSAN – in same position - is looking much better as she holds the coffee in front of her.


Panel 4: SUSAN – same position – is glancing over her shoulder as she holds up JOHNNY STORM and THE THING in force field bubbles behind her.

SUSAN: I’ll let you out when you promise to stop trying to kill each other.

Panel 5: SUSAN – same position – has a knowing look on her face. She’s in REED RICHARDS lab, which is currently on fire, and has put force field bubbles around the flames to help put them out.

REED (1): That didn’t go at all how I calculated.

REED (2): There must be a variable I’m unaware of…

Panel 6: SUSAN – same position – is on top of the BAXTER BUILDING rolling her eyes. DR. DOOM – probably just a DOOMBOT - is in the air behind her. While he’s floating, he’d been knocked off-center by one of SUSAN’s large force-field bubbles.


SFX: Klonk!

Panel 7: SUSAN – same position – is sitting on a couch. Behind her are FRANKLIN and VAL, while standing behind them is a monster of which we can only see from the lower-legs down.

VAL (1): He followed us home. Can we keep him?

SUSAN (1): Is it an animal most people would recognize?

VAL (2): May-

SUSAN: (2) No.


Why the Invisible Woman?

Let’s see…

Ben Grimm, The Thing? Check.

Reed “Mr. Fantastic” Richards? Check.

Johnny Storm, the Human Torch? Checkaroo.

Hmmm…that makes three of the Fantastic Four, which means someone is still missing.

Somewhat appropriately enough, that means the only one we haven’t seen yet is Susan Storm/Richards, AKA the Invisible Woman. But she is certainly isn’t the least of them by any means.

As has been previously stated, Thing is the everyman, Mr. Fantastic is the brainy leader, and Human Torch is the guy that best represents what everyone would like to be.

So what does that make Sue? Well, she’s the team’s adult. Someone has to be the responsible one. With Ben brooding about being a rock monster, Reed getting lost in SCIENCE(!), and Johnny busy living it up as a celebrity, that leaves Sue with the job of being the most Fantastic member of the Foursome. Because it takes real strength be the one person who keeps everyone in line, especially when she’s also got two exceptional children she’s a mother to on top of it all.

It’s probably a good thing she’s such an exceptional hero, because a villain in her shoes probably would have just killed them all years ago out of maddening frustration. Especially since she’s got the power set to make it happen.

Hero, Mother, Wife, Sister, Friend – and with patience like hers, she’s practically a saint, too.

There's actually a picture here, but it's invisible.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Dex Parios - The Madding Crowd, Part 4 (exposition) - R.A. Wonsowski

Previously: A crazed SHADE (the Changing Man) separated JACK RYDER from his alter ego, the CREEPER, but with the wrong mind in the wrong body. Vampire ANDREW BENNETT has hinted that two DOCTORS from JACK's past may be behind it, as part of a bigger plot...

PAGE 7: (done in the Stumptown art style)

Panel 1- Skyline of Portland, Oregon. Foreground, in a grassy field, homeless men and women cooking over a trashcan fire and putting up trash bag tents.

CAPTION (Andrew): Portland turned out to be the perfect place to stage first trials. With local authorities criminalizing the city's homeless...

Panel 2- In the parking lot of a public park, a short line of homeless people wait in line to see DR. SKOLOS and DR. YATZ, who are giving "inoculations" at their white Ford panel van: a stylized logo reading "MetaCare" is stenciled on the side, and SHADE can be seen waiting behind the wheel, watching in his side-view mirror.

CAPTION (Andrew): They had a perfect supply of four thousand human guinea pigs, marginalized to the point that almost no one would miss...

Panel 3- DEX PARIOS sits at an outdoor table at a local coffee shop. The WOMAN (mid-30s) sitting across from her wipes her eyes with a tissue as she passes a photo of her brother.

CAPTION (Andrew): Almost. A local investigator was hired by a local woman looking for her addict brother among the underpass dwellers...

Panel 4- The woman's BROTHER is slumped over blankly on a graffitoed cement bench.  DEX's hand is on his shoulder as she signals to PARAMEDICS in the background, who are running and carrying their kits.

CAPTION (Andrew): The brother was found in a catatonic state on a park bench. Police assumed an overdose...

Panel 5- The BROTHER is out like a light on a hospital bed hooked up to all manner of machines. Background, we see through a large observation window DEX is taking notes while talking to a DOCTOR reading from her clipboard.

CAPTION (Andrew): But a tox screen taken while he was in an induced coma showed only trace amounts of methadone, and no other medical anomalies...

Panel 6- As ANDREW describes...

CAPTION (Andrew): As the brother was being admitted into intensive care, his identical twin was found pummeling a bank security guard with a discarded length of rebar.

Small Inset Panel- ANDREW BENNETT talking to the CREEPER (standing like Jack Ryder listening during an interview).

ANDREW: Except he never had a twin brother.

Panel 7- DEX with military field glasses to her eyes. Reflected in the lenses is the MetaCare van.

CAPTION (Andrew): She turned up another fourteen cases of mysterious duplication. One twin on the edge of madness, the other comatose...

CAPTION (Andrew): ...and in each instance, a white panel van standing sentinel nearby.... be continued....

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Dex Parios – Too Good to be True – MK Stangeland Jr.

(7 Panels)

Panel 1: DEX PARIOS is wearing a bathrobe. She holds a cup of coffee in one hand as she goes through her mail. In front of her she holds one piece of mail – a bank statement – that has caused her to freeze as she tries to repress a spit-take.

DEX PARIOS: (Text Box) …

Panel 2: DEX swallows her coffee. She puts both her coffee mug and bank statement down the table.

DEX PARIOS: (Text Box) One billion dollars?

Panel 3: DEX tries to clam herself and keep a cool head as the bank statement sits on the table in front of her.

DEX PARIOS: (Text Box) How does my bank account suddenly have an extra one billion dollars?!

Panel 4: DEX holds the bank statement in front of her, but folded so that she can’t read it as she prepares to open it again and make sure she didn’t make a mistake.

DEX PARIOS (1): (Text Box) Why am I questioning this? It’s a billion dollars!

DEX PARIOS (2): (Text Box) How could I not question it? It’s a billion dollars!

Panel 5: DEX opens the bank statement again.

DEX PARIOS (1): (Text Box) It’s too good to be true.

DEX PARIOS (2): (Text Box) There’s a saying about too good to be true.

Panel 6: DEX PARIOS looks at the bank statement to see that she didn’t make a mistake. She really has no idea how to react.

DEX PARIOS: (Text Box) No, I’m not seeing things.

Panel 7: DEX PARIOS slams the bank statement on the table in front of her. Her attitude shouldn’t be one of joy or frustration – it’s far more neutral out of a confusion about how to react to this mysterious turn of events.

DEX PARIOS (1): $#*^!