Blue Shadows, Part 1 of 3

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.

Okay, ready?

INTRO PANEL: PoetPhysicianScientist…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.

Capt.: Titan.


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

Sue: So…Rikasa

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: Queen!

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.

Maximus: Yes


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: …No.

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.”


7 responses to “Blue Shadows, Part 1 of 3

  1. WordPress swallowed my post too; but cunningly I had it in an editor, and decided to try again later. Here goes…

    I do like it! But funnily I don’t have as much to say about it, because most of the panels speak for themselves, well enough that there’s not much to add. It breezes along brightly, I think because you now have plenty of character relations (esp. conflicts not at the crisis point) to draw on.

    Tech. note: Saturn is about 9 times Earth’s diameter, and Titan is about 3 times as far from it as the Moon is from Earth. Titan is about 40% of Earth’s diameter. So there should be a shadow, about 1/20 of Saturn’s width. (Narrow cone, narrow penumbra.) If we’re seeing it all from off the solar direction, then Saturn should be full, Titan somewhat gibbous with a dark crescent on one side, and the shadow will be a darkened circle on the same side, a bit larger than Titan itself. As if, indeed, the satellite possessed a dark twin. The rings could be above or below the shadow, and I’m not sure they couldn’t intersect it.

    You start with three pages of interesting conversation, much of it laden with possibility, most of it new information. We see a planetscape, a foreshadowing, a bazaar, and the faces of old friends. Getting our money’s worth.

    Rikasa: It’s very forceful. Very direct. Hands and minds, and nothing more…

    Boy! Doesn’t that bring to mind Alicia Masters and her craggy neoclassical sculptures! You know, I wonder if you aren’t creating not so much a mirror Sue, as a mirror Alicia. Because the latter is also characterized by her special awareness – blind to outward seeming, she perceives inner character, sometimes at surprising range.

    Lamp and Mirror: I get it, it’s pretty close to some of my own metaphysics. Perception seems to go everywhere, and show everything for what it is. We know that’s not true, but in the moment it suffices. We don’t often think of perception as the figure and everything outside it as the ground. But the ground is what Rikasa sees and handles. Her perception operates in the negative space of our own.

    (Rikasa and Daredevil! Who’d win? I suspect she’d be paralysed – DD has to know exactly where things are at a split-second’s notice.)

    Now here’s a gimmick you might like, or not. It’s very symmetrical. You need to sacrifice a bit at the bottom of the Page Two splash to make room for it, a full-width but less than full-height panel:

    Start with the panorama of Saturn. Copy the horizontal strip from the middle, with Titan and its shadow. But now it’s not Saturn, but the Moon, in the crescent aspect we saw with Lockjaw. And smack in the middle of the terminator, the twilight region – exactly where Titan’s shadow was in the original – the Blue Area. A sprinkling of golden highlights on the day side, where peaks are still catching the light; but the blue circle extending a little into the night side. Over the panel, either in the day or night area, the title and credits.

    Onward …

    A smoking *torch*? I would have expected a bioluminescent light-stick or suchlike, but heck, when you visit Maximus you carry neither technology nor living creature that the insidious bastard could suborn. It has a medieval flavour which suits the theme of captivity and accusation, so it’s the right cliche. Make it a yellow and red brand, encompassed by Kirby-spots which sweep up to make the smoke plume, and you’d pretty much achieve the old level of outrageous dissonance, eh?

    And a whole page of Hannibal Lecter!

    Good on multiple levels. Let me think.

    Medusa is being Medusa when she’s imperious, with passion running below the surface. If it weren’t for her family allegiance, she’d be the Ayesha-like queen of a lost civilization. Put her on her own, and that’s the way to play her. Right. Maximus is being Maximus when he can turn your brain inside out. Right again.

    But there’s a bit more to it. The Problem With The Inhumans, Part II. They were created *in order to be mysterious*. In order to keep us FF readers in suspense for six thrilling episodes. Once we’re properly introduced to them, though, the initial mystery is gone, and things are never quite the same again; they’re in danger of becoming merely the family across the street from the FF, which is pretty much what happened.

    When they have a new mystery to face – an intimate mystery, a skeleton in the closet, a revelation yet to be made about their very nature – when it’s back to torches and betrayals – then the Inhumans are once again being the Inhumans.

    On to Page Five… A shattering! and not before time.

    Gonna make another Rikasa suggestion, in all temerity, since the last one was so kindly received. We can see that it’s stepping stones and power pixels. We could make it a little more spooky, without changing the drawing at all:

    Rikasa: Karnak, this way!

    Rikasa: Don’t look down!

    I like the approval of the Senior Girls.

    Page Six. Yes, you see how it works with Triton. The Inhumans in concert are a band of siblings, team-playing and squabbling by turns. Medusa, Gorgon and Crystal play extrovert parts, usually, but the others are all indispensable. Perhaps their reserve maintains something of that Inhuman sense of mystery – obvously with Black Bolt, but it can be Karnak or Triton too. Then when they finally lay down their cards, it’s conclusive.

    Pages Seven & Eight. Structured as a double payoff.

    I’ll wait to comment on the genetic crisis, until I see how it plays out this episode. I think it’s interesting how you give it a special weight by having Medusa explain it (confess it) to Reed. If it poses a problem to Reed Richards, then it’s a problem for sure. It’s also interesting that it’s not spelled out explicitly – as if we can’t work it out, although we can pretty much anticipate it, but Reed can.

    The Genetic Council – are they still around? I can’t remember having seen them. If not – and it would put our Inhumans in a precarious situation indeed, right off their own map – maybe this is where to say that Maximus had them *executed*. And all for love.

    You’ve every right to be pleased with this. It’s one thing to be able to imitate the little twists and turns, but here you have a whole well-made episode. I hope you feel you’re getting the insights into The Craft that you were after.

  2. Thanks, Jonathan!

    I’m definitely plugging in that tweak about Rikasa’s dialogue, it’s great! Won’t put in the Titan/Moon mirror effect though (I would slip it in at the top of the page, myself, where Mentor’s caption is), because that I missed thinking of that detail should count, I think, in terms of the exercise. It’s an excellent suggestion, though!

    (Hey, Rikasa vs. Daredevil! Ha. She’d be freaked out, I think, not even understanding how he’s doing it…he’d be like a power-dampener to her…)

    I think I’d like nothing better than to say the Genetics Council had been executed, but I think that’d be playing a little too fast and loose with Inhumans continuity…I do believe there was a lot of business with them at some point. And in fact, I’m kind of founding the genetic crisis on what I perceive that business to have been, so…

    Yeah. I am actually kinda pleased with this one: it’s definitely getting easier to do. So, I should be webcomicking in no time!

  3. No sooner have I sent you notes on the previous script than I read this one…and realize I needn’t have bothered, because you’ve already adjusted your approach in the ways I’d hoped to suggest. And with Jonathan’s insightful comments into plot and character, I’ve got nothing left to add!

    At the rate you’re zipping along…well, I shudder to think what you’ll be capable of in six months.

    (Memo to self: add Jonathan to list of people I must eliminate in a fit of jealous rage. That quick estimate of Titan’s shadow on Saturn was just too damn clever, you ask me…)

  4. Ha!

    …But you know, you’re right about that suspiciously quick astronomical estimate…and just look at his worthwhile suggestions, hmm…he may become a threat to both of us. Of course I despise everything you stand for, RAB, but in this instance I feel we should work together against our common foe…

    Oh, I should point out, in case you missed it: where the script now reads:

    Rikasa: Don’t look down…

    It once read:

    Rikasa: …Stepping stones…

    I do believe that was also a nod to Morrison, actually. I seem to have a few of those in here. Anyway, Jonathan’s line is much better, so in it goes, but in the name of showing all work…that’s what his fix was for. Clever, no?

  5. See how easily I flushed you out – you did all the work yourselves! HAHAHAHAHAHH !!

    Said it was a privilege, plok, and it is. It’s been a funny year, I’ve been inhibited about the net, almost e-autistic. Nattering about the Inhumans though – yeah, I can do that; it’s restorative.

    My best to Merrie, I hope she has fun with this.

  6. Well, we’re going to be doing something a bit different. Don’t worry, I’ll let you know! But it may take quite a while to publish, since there are multiple learning curves involved, and also time for Merrie is scarce, as it is for all brilliant people.

    Pleased you’ve chosen my blog to chatter in, then, Jonathan! I’m certainly enjoying this back-and-forth, but then why wouldn’t I. However, let me tell you, I’ve been thinking about that Titan/Moon symmetry panel all day, and the truth is, that’s much more of a dropped stitch than I thought. Because I don’t even set up that they’re on the Moon in this one, do I! Cripes. That’s twice as elegant to me now. Very nice.

    Now I think I’ll go get a bottle of beer, and try to write something that freaks RAB out again…

  7. Oh! And that bit about Rikasa seeing and handling the ground, instead of the figure…very nicely put, thanks very much for that.

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