Well, if anybody’s liking this Inhuman fan-fic at all…
Then I think you’ll like this bit.
And I gotta say: I feel like I’m getting it, a bit more than I was. Hopefully that’s not just self-delusion.
INTRO PANEL: Poet…Physician…Scientist…Adventurer! Minor prince of the secretive superhuman race known as the Inhumans, his is the power to determine the weak spot in any object, and destroy it with a single well-placed blow! Brother of Triton, cousin to Black Bolt, Stan Lee Presents: KARNAK THE SHATTERER!
Sixgrid; All double-sized panels.
Panel 1: SATURN! And floating just in front of it, Titan. Don’t know if Titan casts a perceptible shadow on Saturn’s atmosphere, but if it does in life, then that’s what it’ll do here.
Panel 2: The silhouetted figures of Mentor and Starfox stand looking out through an observation window (well, what other kind is there?) at the planet below them.
Capt.: Largest moon of Saturn.
Starfox: …Well, I don’t want to go. By every account, all they’ve ever wanted is to be left alone.
Mentor: Not alone. In peace. There is a difference, my son.
Mentor: And, I don’t intend to threaten their peace. I only wish to know them better.
Mentor: While they lived on Earth, I respected their arrangement with the Eternals there, as I respected my own.
Panel 3: We’re up by the big window now, looking along the gently-curving corridor that it’s set into. Saturn is on our right. Mentor is in the foreground, as we look over his shoulder at Starfox. The light is low.
Capt.: Mentor and Starfox.
Mentor: But, they aren’t on Earth anymore. And they have always interested me.
Starfox: But why, Father? What have they to do with us?
Mentor: Perhaps little. Perhaps much. Have you really never sensed any kinship at all with them?
Starfox: No. Should I have?
Mentor: Very possibly, yes. After all, their unique evolutionary history has enabled them to escape the design of the Celestials. Just as we of Titan have done…
SPLASH: Mentor’s dialogue continues in caption, as we see Sue Richards, Crystal, and Rikasa walking through what is apparently an Inhuman open-air bazaar. The mood is light; the golden glow of twilight is everywhere (but more importantly, so are the long blue shadows!), and the everyday Inhumans bustle happily in their stalls and kiosks around the threesome.
Mentor (capt.): “…That is, of course…unless we haven’t.”
Sue: Crystal, this is amazing! I’ve never seen this before!
Sue: But…what do the Inhumans need with a marketplace, anyway? You don’t use money…
Sue: …Do you?
Crystal: Art is the only true currency of the Great Refuge, Sue. Every Inhuman makes it…
Crystal: …Or is it…
Crystal: But, just like on Earth, it’s still a question of getting it out there! Without money driving the commerce of art, most Inhumans never get to see what all their neighbours are creating…
Rikasa: The Sunset Bazaar is our Lady Crystal’s own innovation, Mrs. Richards. All Attilan is grateful to her for instituting it…
Crystal: Well, it’s very kind of you to say that, Rikasa…
TITLES (along the bottom border of the page): “BLUE SHADOWS”. Below this, the credits.
Panel 1: Smiling, Crystal turns her head over her shoulder to address Rikasa.
Crystal: …But I can hardly claim much credit. The market is a success because our people make it one.
Inhuman Vendor: (off-panel) Lady Crystal! My daughter has made something for you! Will you see?
Panel 2: Crystal walks lightly away at a right angle from Sue and Rikasa, towards our perspective. Her head is turned fetchingly back (again!) so she can address Sue. She’s in motion!
Crystal: I can’t wait, Ursollo!
Crystal: Will you excuse me for a minute, Sue?
Sue: Of course…
Rikasa: Mrs. Richards?
Panel 3: Sue looking friendly, inquisitive, funny.
Sue: What kind of art do you make?
Rikasa: Oh! My gifts do not incline in that direction, I’m afraid.
Rikasa: My grandfather is a noted composer of music, but I did not inherit his talents.
Sue: Ah! Inhuman music…
Panel 4: They converse, walking along. Bit of business, here.
Sue: …I love Inhuman music! It’s so…so mysterious. So surprising. Do you Inhumans find it that way, too?
Rikasa: Well, some do call it the music of possibility…
Sue: Reed’s fascinated by your sculpture, but I’ll take the music any day…
Panel 5: More conversation.
Rikasa: Oh? Personally, I find Inhuman sculpture a bit too abstract. Human sculpture, on the other hand…
Sue (surprised): You like our art?
Rikasa: It’s very forceful. Very direct. Hands and minds, and nothing more…
Sue: Oh, dear. I almost hate to tell you…
Panel 6: Sue’s dialogue continues in caption, over a dark underground scene of Medusa walking towards our perspective, carrying a smoky torch, down a dungeon corridor to Maximus’ cell, which is the most prominent door and viewing-grille that we see on the left-hand edge of the panel. Lots of reds and blacks, and a little white because that’s what Maximus is dressed in, and what the colour of the light is that comes leaking out of his cell as we watch…and this will pay off later…anyway a bit of colour-mood reversal, here: for a moment, Maximus will look like the good guy.
Sue (capt.): …But there’s a lot of bad in with the good, on Earth.
Sue (capt.): It’s not like here…
Panel 1: Over Medusa’s shoulder, we see Maximus’ grinning face (oh, how I wish we could have some old-fashioned square Kirby teeth, here!) pressed up against the grille in the door. He doesn’t really look “good”…
Maximus: Why, cousin Medusa!
Maximus: Sister Medusa!
Maximus: Not that I don’t enjoy seeing you, but am I not even to be permitted the dignity of having guards, anymore?
Panel 2: On an angle so that while Medusa faces into the cell from the right (that’s just a suggestion – it could be the left if you want), taking up much of the panel, we can also see Maximus looking out. Or if you have a better design idea: please. Save me. Anyway old Maxie doesn’t actually look that crazy right now, come to think of it…
Medusa: No, Maximus. You’re not to be trusted with guards. Do you not think we know that, by now?
Maximus: You trust yourself with me, though, Sisterqueen.
Medusa: Only because I know – as you know – that I will never be possessed by your mental power again.
Panel 3: Now we’re inside Maximus’ cell, facing towards him from an angle near his waist, as he strides away from the door, where Medusa’s face still shows behind him through the grille. His hands are clasped behind his back. See, Mr. Campbell? I’m not a slave to the cinematic focus…
Maximus: …I do know that. Which means the manner of play must change…
Maximus: Not that I could do anything now anyway. Were I not an Inhuman, I wouldn’t even be able to stand, after my long comatose months…
Panel 4: He looks back at Medusa over his shoulder, in other words back at our perspective. Her face is pictured closer against the grille, now, so we can see it better. She practically fills the foreground. She’s in about one-quarter profile, hair everywhere. Maximus is in the middle distance, his cell extending on behind him. It’s actually pretty big.
Maximus: You could post guards, if you wanted to. I couldn’t do a thing to them.
Medusa: And so guards are not needed.
Maximus: What do you want, Medusa? You know I won’t be sane, until after my peak…
Panel 5: Close-up on Maximus’ smiling, deluded face. We’re all into the white light of his cell and his costume, here. He really has stopped looking like the good guy. White is the new black-heartedness.
Maximus: I know. You want to know why the Inhuman breeding program is at a choke point. Why things keep getting worse, when they should be getting better.
Maximus: Well, it was all for love, Sisterqueen. Believe me.
Panel 6: Medusa recoils in horror from the grille and door, seen on a steeper angle now; we only see Maximus’ word-balloons (unless you have a better idea). Medusa’s hair flies around in shock.
Maximus: How is Karnak, by the way? Getting a little tired of you, yet?
Maximus: Do you think you’ll eventually have to ask him to breed with his own daughters?
Panel 1: Triple-sized panel. Karnak is on a street in Attilan, crouched down in the foreground with hand raised karate-chop style, his body the biggest object in our central view. Very Bruce Lee. Triton and Gorgon, at some distance around him, are keeping passersby off this block. The Thing and the Human Torch are helping. Meanwhile, Karnak has determined the precise weak spot of the pavement (or whatever it is) underneath him, and is preparing to strike.
Karnak: It is here.
Karnak: Just here.
Panel 2: Triple-sized panel. Karnak karate-chops the street, we are looking over his shoulder down at his hand striking, with phenomenal crumbling, shattering effect on the pavement below. There’s a sound effect: “SHRAKKKTA-BOOM!”
Panel 3: Karnak from mid-torso up, looking amazed and shocked. He’s never been this close to the epicentre of one of his destructive blows’ effects before. Rikasa’s hand is reaching into the panel from the right (unless that doesn’t make sense), grabbing him on the upper arm, to tug him away.
Rikasa: Quickly, Karnak…
Panel 4: Their feet, stepping on the quavering shards of pavement after Karnak’s demolition blow…finding shards to step on, improbably, I should say…maybe in between where they step there are some fuzzy big pixels showing that Rikasa is using her power to get them to safety…their feet move to the right of the panel…
Rikasa: Don’t look down…
Panel 5: Sue and Crystal stand in a head-and-shoulders shot, observing, looking slightly to our left.
Crystal: What do you think, Sue?
Sue: It’s like looking into a mirror…
Panel 1: Triple-sized panel. From above: dozens upon dozens of Inhumans cluster around the crumbling semi-circular edge of the crater Karnak has created, but Karnak himself, and Gorgon and Triton, and Rikasa, and Crystal, and Sue, and Ben and Johnny, are in the middle of the picture alone, right over the big gaping hole. Sue’s arms are spread wide. Her force-field holds them up; is about to be their elevator down into the Kree depths.
Sue: We’ll probably need a supply of fresh air.
Karnak: And we should strive to contaminate the site as little as possible.
Crystal: How fortunate we are to have an elemental along then, hmm?
Crystal: Don’t worry. As long as we keep together, I can take care of our environment…
Panel 2: Triple panel; a triptych. Sue and the Inhumans descend into the hole in the city. They are all in interesting postures. Crystal’s face dominates the left-hand panel; she’s smiling mischievously, eyes darting to our right. At: to our right, behind her, in the next panel over, Johnny rubs the back of his neck awkwardly with one hand, while Ben slaps him on the shoulder and guffaws. Karnak and Gorgon next, doing whatever they’re doing, Karnak probably crouching down to (needlessly) look over the edge of the force-field platform, Gorgon possibly looking back up at the shrinking circle of daylight over their heads, so we know they’re dropping…then at the rightward edge of the last panel, Sue and Triton stand next to each other.
Crystal: …So no flying off, Johnny.
Ben: Haw! She’s got ya there, squirt!
Johnny: Aw, c’mon, Ben…
Sue: So…I guess you already know what’s down here, Triton?
Triton: Not really, Mrs. Richards. It’s an unusually large enclosure, and I could not afford to take much time exploring it.
Triton: However, I have my suspicions…
Panel 3: They land: we’re looking past Sue and Triton to the mouth of a tunnel dimly illuminated with blue light. Sue’s head is slightly turned to Triton.
Sue: Ground floor; everybody off!
Sue: …You sound apprehensive.
Triton: There is something I’ve been expecting to find down here for a long time…
Panel 4: We’re looking at the explorers as they step forward into the gloom, and then the blue light. Mostly at Sue and Triton, although we can see Johnny lighting up one of his hands next to Crystal. Gorgon and Ben walk side-by-side, obviously talking in low voices.
Sue: And you think you’ve found it now? Is that it?
Triton: Well, Kree technology of any era looks very much the same…
Triton: …But yes. I do.
Panel 5: Triton entering the tunnel, as Sue watches. I’ll let the superior artistic eye rig this, only pointing out: note how the words and the deeds are at odds. Triton is a brave man. Additionally, Medusa has some dialogue in caption that runs near the bottom of the page. I’m making it up to Jonathan for the “don’t you see, woman?” line here, I hope…
Triton: And I fear it.
Medusa (capt.): “Thank you for agreeing to meet with me here, Reed…”
Panel 1: Reed and Medusa sit facing each other over a large and ornate stone desk, papers and what looks like computer disks or memory sticks or something scattered all over it. Reed has one of the memory sticks, crystals, slivers, whatever, in his hand.
Reed: Well, anything I can do to help, Medusa, you know that…
Reed: …But I’m not quite sure I understand what the problem is. Nor why you seemed so secretive about it.
Medusa: No. I know you don’t…
Panel 2: Looking over the top of Reed’s head at Medusa, now.
Medusa: …But that’s because this is more than just a delicate matter, Reed. This is the Inhuman life’s blood.
Medusa: Not even you should be being made privy to it. Not even in a crisis.
Medusa: But…this is a crisis.
Panel 3: Over Medusa’s shoulder, we’re facing Reed, who’s looking serious and contemplative, scientist-ish, his brow furrowed and his hands to his face, the little memory crystal between his fingers.
Medusa: And I just don’t know what else to do.
Reed: Tell me everything.
Reed: It concerns the Inhuman genetic program, I take it?
Medusa: Yes…specifically, it concerns our records. The detailed gene-profiles of every Inhuman citizen.
Panel 4: This a flashback panel in washed-out colour, with a tiny version of Medusa’s face in full colour at the upper left-hand corner, next to the caption box (unless that’s just too, too Seventies for words). The main picture is of a smiling Maximus, wearing the Inhuman crown, being carried in a palanquin through the streets of Attilan (when it was on Earth) by the chained and beaten forms of Gorgon, Triton, Karnak, and Medusa.
Medusa (capt.): (top of page) They’re worthless. They have been for years. You see, when Maximus first deposed Black Bolt, years ago, on Earth…
Medusa (capt.): (bottom of page) …One of his first acts was to dissolve the Genetics Council completely.
Panel 5: Maximus’ cackling face, crowned, illuminated in sinister fashion as he hunches over the same desk Medusa now sits at. He’s looking into a screen? Maybe.
Medusa (capt.): (top of page) And he tampered with the profiles. Not all of them. But most of them.
Medusa (capt.): (middle left of page) Enough of them.
Medusa (capt.): (bottom right of page) He masked compatibility factors. Fabricated interfamily connections. He added profiles that didn’t exist, and swapped their details with real ones that did…
Panel 6: Back to the present. Reed’s face, over Medusa’s shoulder: he’s shocked.
Reed: Good Lord.
Medusa: It has been a catastrophe.
Reed: But…the Royal Family? What of your own records, Medusa?
Panel 1: Medusa in close profile, head bowed, hair waving: thoughtful. Facing left. Her hand may be to her chin, or mouth.
Medusa: Thankfully, the Royal Family’s records were not – at least not deeply – altered. In fact, we’ve been able to reconstruct them completely.
Medusa: But, it hardly matters. The entire system has been infected with uncertainty.
Panel 2: Reed’s profile, facing right.
Reed: Yes…yes, I see.
Reed: Still…the Royal Family is just large enough…and, most of the population has surely already produced offspring…so, theoretically, if the known compatibility factors allowed it, you could…
Panel 3: Medusa’s head is in her hands. Hair waves around, expressive of despair.
Medusa: The Royal Family’s overall compatibility is low. Black Bolt hardly even…
Medusa: He hardly…
Medusa: The irony is, Crystal has the highest set of compatibilities, of any Inhuman. But she’s…
Panel 4: Reed comforts Medusa. Her face is still covered.
Reed: …A she. Yes, I understand, Medusa.
Medusa: Do you, Reed?
Medusa: Do you, really?
Medusa: I thought about it for a long time, Reed. I thought about it forever. But in the end…
Panel 5: Double panel. Medusa’s dialogue continues in caption, as Karnak, Triton, Sue, et. al. enter a blue-lit metal chamber deep under their city. They look out onto what appear to be two high-tech medical pallets, and a bank of machinery, all seen as though a fish-eye lens.
Medusa (capt.): “…In the end, even though I wanted to, I still couldn’t do what I was supposed to do.”
Karnak: This is it!
Medusa (capt.): “Because I just didn’t have the strength for it.”