Blue Shadows: Conclusion

So, I’m back. Just until Monday.

Going to try and crank out some stuff before then, if I can.

So, in the unlikely event you were waiting for it (and unless your name’s Jonathan, you probably weren’t), here’s the conclusion to my Karnak script experiment. I rushed it a little bit, I’ll warn you — I freely admit that many (if not most) of RAB’s very sound and generous suggestions went unheeded in this last-minute dash for the finish line…but oh well, better roughly finished at the end of July than immaculately unfinished at the end of September, eh? Anyway, thanks for the comments, those who commented. Weirdly enough, I think I had a bit of a learning curve here.

Okay, ready?

Fair warning: if geeky fan-fic is not your thing, there’s no point reading further…

Okay, really ready?

Here goes…

PAGE FOURTEEN

Sixgrid.

Panel 1: Double panel. The street outside Gorgon’s apartments again, still deserted.

 

Panel 2: Double panel. The same street, only this time it’s bustling with activity some hours later. “Morning” in Attilan.

 

Panel 3: Karnak and Rikasa face each other over the breakfast table.

Rikasa: …A flaw?

Rikasa: What kind of flaw?

Karnak: Hmm, well…that’s just it, I can’t see it clearly. It isn’t like a block of stone. There’s nothing to look at or to touch.

Karnak: It’s just a feeling.

 

Panel 4: Different angle on the pair.

Rikasa: But…it’s still your gift, to have such feelings.

Karnak: Possibly.

Karnak: But, I can’t be certain. I am part of the invisible structure of Inhuman society, too. I can’t stand outside it in order to discern its weaknesses

 

PAGE FIFTEEN

Sixgrid

Panel 1: We’re still looking at the breakfast scene.

Karnak: …And in any case, it isn’t my function to do so.

Rikasa: No.

 

Panel 2: Breakfast.

Karnak: I’m glad you agree.

Rikasa: No.

Rikasa: You misunderstand. I don’t agree.

Karnak: Eh?

 

Panel 3: Breakfast, still. We’re looking over Karnak’s shoulder at Rikasa, perhaps.

Rikasa: Black Bolt and Medusa can’t do everything, Karnak. That’s what the Royal Family is for.

Rikasa: Don’t you see? In my lifetime, our Great Refuge has survived more intrusion, upheaval, and disaster…

Rikasa: …And progress

 

Panel 4: More breakfast, different angle. Looking over Rikasa’s shoulder at Karnak?

Rikasa: …Than it has in the last thousand years. But without you, and Gorgon, and Triton, do you really think it would have?

Karnak: Well, you must know it was only because of Maximus that we ever…

Rikasa: No.

 

Panel 5: Again, again! Rikasa points a spoon at Karnak.

Rikasa: Maximus is Maximus, and Black Bolt is Black Bolt…but you are you.

Rikasa: Where would we be, if there were only Black Bolt and Maximus? Slaves to the Kree, probably, despite Agon’s great gift.

 

Panel 6: Last breakfast scene. Karnak fingers his chin as Rikasa finishes her speechifyin’.

Rikasa: We Inhumans rely on our Royal Family, to do what Black Bolt alone sometimes can’t. Maximus may have thought of you as mere pawns in his intrigue, true

Rikasa: …But then, where are Maximus’ intrigues now?

Karnak: Hmm

 

PAGE SIXTEEN

Ninegrid

Panel 1: Triple panel. Inside the Palace, there’s a meeting of bigwigs going on: in this panel, we just see Black Bolt’s forehead and antennae, maybe his eyes as well but I don’t know if that’s quite right for the effect I want, which is some suggestion of awe that goes a little bit beyond a standard film/TV close-up. I almost want Black Bolt to be like a monument or something, here, depersonalized except for the activity of his power. But in any case the antennae are the focus anyway — they’re crackling with weird energies, Kirby dots etc. Maybe the eyes would be good, I don’t know. You tell me. Yeah, you’re probably right. Anyway, Karnak’s dialogue continues in caption.

Karnak (capt.): “Yes…I confess I wonder about that sometimes myself…”

Medusa: (off-panel) Black Bolt appreciates your swift response, Lady Thena…

Thena: (off-panel) It’s just Thena.

Thena: (off-panel) And you’re most welcome. I apologize for Ikaris not being available

 

Panel 2: Double panel. In a slightly darkened Royal audience chamber Black Bolt and Medusa and Thena stand in a rough scalene triangle-like formation, Black Bolt in back, Medusa somewhat in front of him and perhaps to the right-hand side, Thena in the foreground, possible with her back partly turned to us, on the left of the panel. Of course I may have got these positions exactly reversed from what they ought to be! But in any case the effect should be just a little bit reminiscent of trees standing in a forest: we’re almost looking through or between these characters, instead of directly at them.

Thena: But I’m afraid I just don’t know quite where he is, at present…

Thena: Anyway, I should really be thanking you. Although this is a…a somewhat upsetting discovery, to tell you the truth. This poor kinsman of mine…

Medusa: Kinsman to us in a way, as well. Black Bolt understands that you are familiar with the Inhuman genesis

 

Panel 3: Thena’s thoughtful face, maybe a graceful hand to her chin or something.

Thena: Yes…

Thena: Yes, of course. The Eternalsgene-matrix, spliced by the alien Kree into a tribe of ancient humans

Thena: Weaponized.

Thena: Ikaris told me…

 

Panel 4: A Sixgrid panel. Back to the “forest”, only maybe from a different angle.

Thena: …And my father Great Zuras, before him.

Thena: It must have been very painful for you, to find the body of this grim Prometheus buried below your feet. All this time

 

Panel 5: Another Sixgrid panel. The forest rotates again.

Thena: And now you’ve found him, you must wonder…

Medusa: What to do with him, yes.

Medusa: You understand that of course we could never disgrace him. He is far more a victim of the Kree than even we are. We honour him…

 

PAGE SEVENTEEN

Ninegrid.

Panel 1: Double panel. Thena’s eyes, reminiscent of our first meeting with her, only now not washed out in cosmically golden light, but with regular hair colour, skin tone, etc. Also she’s not looking straight ahead, but her gold-green eyes are wandering off to our left, as though she’s remembering something.

Medusa: (off-panel) But the problem is…

Thena: …The problem is, he’s alive.

Thena: Yes…I can feel what’s left of his mind. Fragmented. So much pain…so many pieces

Thena: It would be kindest to kill him, perhaps. Black Bolt, you have the power…even for an Eternal’s body…

 

Panel 2: Black Bolt’s contemplative, compassionate face. In profile. Maybe with his head very slightly lifted. The antennae still crackle.

Medusa: (capt., top of panel) “Yes, Thena. He does.”

Medusa: (capt., middle of panel) “But do you wish him to do it?”

Thena: (capt., almost the bottom of the panel) “No…”

 

Panel 3: A Sixgrid panel. Thena’s face, looking at Medusa, who obtrudes into the edges of the foreground, with just nose and chin showing, and flowing, animated hair. The emotion’s in the hair, you see.

Thena: No. I will take him home. To Earth.

Thena: Where he belongs.

 

Panel 4: Another Sixgrid panel. Thena and Black Bolt face each other in profile.

Thena: The Eternals are grateful to you, O Black Bolt. Once again you prove the worth of Ikaris’ pact with you.

Thena: I doubted it, once. Now, no longer.

Thena: May I, from this day, count us as friends?

 

Panel 5: Triple panel. Out on a broad plaza in front of the Palace, Makkari and Gorgon watch over the body of the fallen Eternal. Just behind them is a large, attractive, almost spherical spaceship that Makkari has whipped up especially for the journey to the Moon. Its polished surface gleams impressively in the sun, as Medusa’s dialogue continues in caption.

Medusa (capt.): “Nothing would please my liege more, O Thena, than to consider us so…”

Gorgon: …

Gorgon: It is solemn, is it not?

Makkari: It is, one called Gorgon.

Makkari: But I’m afraid I am not well-suited to it.

 

PAGE EIGHTEEN

Sixgrid

Panel 1: Closer up now, we’re looking at the two perhaps a bit from the side.

Makkari: I am made more for mirth, than for melancholy. And Eternals rarely stray far from their natures, as you must know.

Gorgon: Well…I did not.

Gorgon: But, now that you say it…

 

Panel 2: More of us looking at the unlikely pair. From the other side, now? Makkari eyes Gorgon, friendly but interested.

Gorgon: …Perhaps we have that in common.

Makkari: Yes, no doubt. For example, I suspect your nature is one of action. Am I right?

Makkari: You must have found it fatiguing, to stand this long watch.

Gorgon: I rarely tire.

Makkari: …Ah.

 

Panel 3: Black Bolt, Medusa, and Thena approach the spacecraft.

Makkari: It’s a shame, then, friend — for you won’t be able to share my glorious sense of relief, now that the rest of our band approaches.

Thena: Makkari!

Makkari: What news, Thena? What has been decided?

 

Panel 4: They all meet; Makkari bows elegantly to Black Bolt and Medusa.

Thena: We will return the kinsman to Earth.

Makkari: The noble King and Queen are gracious.

Medusa: The King and Queen are thankful, Makkari, to have your help in resolving this sad circumstance.

 

Panel 5: Weird spindly robot-things emerge from Makkari’s ship at his command, and rather like mobile gurneys they proceed to gather up the Eternal body. The other figures are cast in silhouette, maybe, with Gorgon leaning against the ship’s hull a little way to the right.

Makkari: Well, as the Eternals know, milady…it’s rare enough that any circumstance is resolved.

Makkari: So when it is, we must all strive for thankfulness. If we can.

 

Panel 6: Suddenly a little extra light shines down on the scene, as they all look up at an as-yet-unseen figure above them, which is Starfox. Maybe his foot arches down into the frame from the top right. Thena in particular has snapped her head sharply up to look at him.

Starfox: (off-panel) Well, if it comes to that, Makkari, you will make me exceedingly thankful if you’ll only stop speeding to this resolution!

Starfox: (off-panel) One’s nature can also lead one into trouble, you know.

Thena: YOU!!

Starfox: (off-panel) Yes…

 

PAGE NINETEEN

Ninegrid

Panel 1: Two-thirds mini-SPLASH of Starfox dangling in the air above them.

Starfox: …Me.

Starfox: Greetings, cousin Thena. Your uncle, my father, sends his regards.

Starfox: But I’m not sure he’d want me to deliver them, if he could see what you’re about to do.

Thena: What are you doing here, Starfox?

Starfox: Please, call me Eros, cousin. And I hope I’m about to stop you from making a terrible mistake.

 

Panel 2: Starfox is touching down in the midst of all of them, not yet quite on the ground.

Thena: I don’t know what you think you meancousinbut Makkari and I have already

Starfox: Your pardon, Thena. A moment, please.

 

Panel 3: Starfox kneels in ostentatious humility before Black Bolt and Medusa, head slightly bowed. Thena fumes. Makkari grins.

Starfox: Great King. Generous Queen.

Medusa: Please get up, Starfox of Titan.

Medusa: This is a very bad time, and you are not expected.

Starfox: Yes, I know it. And I apologize. But it is still a lucky chance.

 

Panel 4: Starfox is standing now.

Medusa: Oh? Why?

Starfox: Because as Thena knows, the solemn pact between our two fathers guarantees non-interference between the space-born Titans and the Earth Eternals

 

PAGE TWENTY

Ninegrid

Panel 1: Double panel. Starfox points to the body of the fallen Eternal, Gorgon just beyond it it the background, still lounging against the ship, but alert.

Starfox: …And I’m afraid that that unfortunate is a Titan!

 

Panel 2: Thena, irritated, faces Starfox.

Thena: What?! Nonsense!

Starfox: Not at all, dear cousin. An Eternal’s exile is forever, even in these changing times.

Thena: Ridiculous! You visit Earth every other year!

 

Panel 3: Triple panel, a triptych: Thena and Starfox are seen roughly from above with the others grouped generally around them and to our left…Starfox continues to point to the right, to the fallen Eternal’s body, with Gorgon beyond it. The spaceship’s curve perhaps goes right through the bottom of each frame in a smooth curve.

Starfox: And here you are, on the Moon, right now.

Thena: I am here by invitation!

Starfox: And I’m not, of course…

Starfox: …But then, we’re not talking about me.

Starfox: That poor soul was a direct party to the pact, and living or dead he can not break it. My own embassy aside, my father has not put a foot on Earth since the first Uni-Mind, and he will not

Starfox: …But the pact must hold!

 

Panel 4: Starfox in the background, Thena turns to face Black Bolt and Medusa in the left foreground.

Thena: Black Bolt, I don’t know what to say. This is an embarrassment

Medusa: Just a moment, Thena, if you would.

 

Panel 5: Black Bolt bows his head as if in sadness, thinking.

 

Panel 6: We see the assembled folks in the background, framed by Black Bolt’s hand as he holds it up, fingers apart.

Medusa: Black Bolt does not wish his visitors to become discountenanced. He urges calm.

Medusa: We will wait one day, and allow the two parties to confer. Tomorrow

 

PAGE TWENTY-ONE

Ninegrid

Panel 1: Triple panel. The Fantastic Four (minus Reed), lounge around a spacious and comfortable apartment, cooling their heels. Johnny makes fire-shapes in the air, bored beyond belief. Ben is reading a book. Sue is standing by a window, looking out. Medusa’s dialogue continues in caption.

Medusa (capt.) “…Tomorrow will be soon enough to seek our conclusion.

Johnny: This sucks.

Johnny: Where’s Reed?

Johnny: I don’t remember them ever cooping us up like this before. What do you think’s going on?

Johnny: …

Johnny: What do you think Reed’s doing?

Ben: Whaddaya think he’s doing, match-head? He’s prob’ly got his nose buried in a test tube or sum’pin.

Ben: S’why I allus bring a book along with me now.

Johnny: Well, I’m bored.

Ben: An’ that’s how come the book.

Johnny: Well, I’m…

 

Panel 2: Double panel.

Sue: Oh, for heaven’s sake, Johnny. Crystal’s coming back any minute now. Can’t you just wait?

Johnny: You know, I’m really tempted to fly out that window, take a look around

Ben: Me, I’m kinda tempted ta throw ya out of it.

Johnny: Har har.

Sue: I put force fields up around all these windows ten minutes ago, by the way…

 

Panel 3: Johnny’s eyes light up as he hears a knock at the door.

Johnny: Finally! Hope she brought those sandwiches

 

Panel 4: Johnny opens the door, his back (mostly) to us, so we can’t see who’s there. It’s Karnak, of course.

Johnny: Hey, Crys! We were starting to think you…

 

Panel 5: Surprise!

Johnny: Oh, uh…hi, Karnak.

Karnak: Human Torch.

Karnak: Am I interrupting?

Johnny: Uh…no. No, of course not. Come in, come in!

 

Panel 6: Karnak enters in front of Johnny as Sue walks over to greet him, and Ben looks up from his book.

Karnak: My thanks. Is Dr. Richards with you, by chance?

Sue: Reed’s not here, Karnak, but can we help you?

 

PAGE TWENTY-TWO

Sixgrid

Panel 1: Karnak moves further into the room, hesitantly, as Ben gives him the once-over.

Karnak: I’m…not sure. I had hoped to speak with him in private

Ben: Haw! They all say that, short-stuff, but if there’s one thing the FF ain’t, it’s private!

Ben: But, waitaminute

 

Panel 2: Ben, in close-up, gives Karnak the once-over again.

Ben: …Am I nuts, or is this the first time we ever seen ya all on yer lonesome, Karnak?

Ben: Seems ta me, ya usually got a couple other guys hangin’ around…

 

Panel 3: Karnak sits down on the couch, Sue behind him, Johnny to the left, Ben to the right foreground.

Karnak: That is true, Ben Grimm.

Karnak: But I fear my fellow Inhumans would not understand what I have come here for today.

Ben: Izzat so? They’re kinda judgemental types, huh?

Sue: Ben, hush. Let Karnak speak.

 

Panel 4: Sue comes around the couch, faces Karnak.

Ben: (off-panel) So who’s stoppin’ ‘im? Yeesh…

Sue: What is it, Karnak?

Karnak: A matter of the very keenest importance, Fantastic Four, and yet of the greatest delicacy and danger, too…

 

Panel 5: Double panel. Karnak’s face is surrounded by (is placed in the middle of) montage-y images, left to right: Maximus’ laughing big-Kirby-toothed face through his dungeon’s bars, Medusa sobbing into her hands in front of Reed, Black Bolt’s inclined profile from his meeting with Thena, Gorgon’s upturned face out of the earlier Eternals escape scene from “Mirror And The Lamp”, Triton’s turned face and clenched fist from the Vitruvian Eternal discovery, and finally Crystal looking ruefully out over the lake at the Kree excavation on Earth.

Karnak: …For I have just now realized that Black Bolt’s mad brother Maximus once again schemes to conquer the Inhumans

Karnak: …Only this time, I myself am to be his TROJAN HORSE!!

 

 

BOTTOM OF PAGE: “Next Issue — Black Bolt Speaks, Gorgon Visits The Watcher, And Prime Eternal Ikaris Comes To The Moon! Tempers Flare, Powers Are Matched, And Secrets Are Revealed, In A Tale We Could Only Call…SNOW LEOPARD! Miss It Not!”

(Heh…couldn’t resist…)

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9 responses to “Blue Shadows: Conclusion

  1. And now a little annotation, or list of retcons, or both:

    Gorgon’s secret is that he’s sterile. That no one calls him “Lord” is actually a mark of recognition and respect: he’s every Inhuman kid’s ersatz Uncle. Also, he misses Earth the most out of anybody, with the possible exception of Crystal. Karnak misses Earth the least.

    Makkari’s ship’s name is “Mousetrap”.

    Medusa’s terrible declined choice was to allow Black Bolt and Crystal to produce a royal heir, while she and Maximus did the same…Maximus did indeed alter the Royal Family’s genetic records deeply, but he also did it subtly, using his more blatant vandalism as cover. In reality, the pairing of Medusa and Black Bolt, while not the most compatible there ever was, has a decently good long-shot chance of working.

    The genetic “compatibility” being spoken of has nothing to do with ensuring viability of the average Inhuman foetus, nor even with preventing the rise of “extreme” superpowers, but instead has to do with ensuring that Terrigenesis continues to work properly in the Inhuman population.

    The Terrigen Mists are (rightly) believed by the Inhumans to have been what saved them from the genetic destiny implanted in them by the Kree’s manipulations…in other words from being “merely” weaponized Eternal/human genestock.

    Every Inhuman undergoes Terrigenesis. In the Conway/Perez series, Iridia’s plea to Black Bolt was to let her be exposed to the Mists again, because they had “uglified” her. Who knows what her original “gift” was? Probably telepathy, or something. And I’ll just leave it undefined whether Black Bolt has the power to influence what effect the Mists will have on an Inhuman.

    Crystal marrying Quicksilver really screwed up Maximus’ plans to put Black Bolt and Medusa through hell.

    Maximus sees himself as the greatest reforming influence Inhuman society has ever known…and he’s right. He’s evil; but he’s a reformer. In a way. Anyway he’s certainly been an influence.

    Rikasa’s name is in keeping with Inhuman naming practices, in that it’s a messed-up version of Rakasa or Rakshasa, the shapeshifting Indian demon. Uh…it is a shapeshifting Indian demon, right…?

    The title “Blue Shadows” (in case anyone missed it) gloms together the FF’s costumes, the blueness of the Earth as seen from the Moon or Titan or pretty much anywhere out in space (versus the extraterrestial environments where the Inhumans, Titans, and various other exiled “cousin-groups” live), my knuckleball homage to FF #1 in the composition of Karnak’s “team” and the way they start on their adventures…they’re explorers too, just of their own past…the shadow of the Kree, obviously, as well as the Blue Area of the Moon that they created, and also the long twilight the Inhumans are living through at the time this was set. But will there actually be another day after it? Blah blah blah, etc. etc.

    The Vitruvian Eternal is the last existing case of pre-Chronos Celestial genetic design, and so — I hate to say it — extremely valuable.

    Can’t think of any more right now, except: this was fun. Oh, and if things had gone on the way they started, Karnak would’ve had way too many kids for the political situation to be stable in the long term — part of Maximus’ plan was to “deactivate” Karnak as a counsellor to Black Bolt, and it was working — also I regret not being able to show a couple of the “little mothers” whose children can expect to be reared (or at least educated) at the Palace.

    Oh yeah! And Karnak (as we would have seen in “Snow Leopard”) is a few years older than Black Bolt. Some “I, Claudius” stuff there, maybe.

    Yawn. Little tired now. More later.

  2. Yo pillock b’wana

    Thanks for taking the trouble to finish up Blue Shadows in mid-break. Keep the sticks and pebbles handy, they fortify the soul.

    You’ve handed us something rather subtle with this ending. The thing I have to keep in mind is that it’s the final part of a 22-page issue, which began with the Titans, led through a visit to Attilan to the revelation in the lab, and now ends setting the stage for a denouement. Reading this section in itself, I think, “It’s sure getting crowded round here, and talky; how many ‘factions” are dealing with one concern or another … six?” But reading the whole issue, I think more, “Wow, the plot is thickening now!”

    That I have these two reactions says something about the storytelling, and something about the story you’re trying to tell. Mainly that we find these emblematic action heroes, not in action, but in reflection and negotiation. Not, if you will, in a comic book, but in a science fiction story, concerning the past and future of a species.

    As SF, it’s being done perfectly well. The diplomats meet, with the weight of millenia upon them, and we are pleased to see them behaving with the dignity and reason that senior representatives of advanced races should. We notice the absence of Reed Richards, and are cued to imagine him bent over the gene charts, in a private battle of wits with Maximus. And whatever the real problem is going to turn out to be, we see hope for a surprise twist resolution in the chance personal accord between a shrewd elder and a forthright youngster. All very appropriate.

    But it’s still a comic book. So these things have to be signified graphically.

    This, I submit, is where the shadows-and-satellites motif that you started with Saturn can pull its weight. I would actually scrap the opening panel on Fourteen with that strip of the Moon, only now with the shadow line way off to the left of the Blue Area, which thus lies isolated in the night. But then! The pylons and plazas of the city, lit up like Vegas and teeming with life. Then Karnak and Rikasa. (1) It’s another world. (2) We are in an alien utopia. (3) And here are two of its significant inhabitants having breakfast and talking seriously. Get the sequence of visuals right, and you strongly imply the centrality and agency of our couple. And you answer that question about what Inhumans do with themselves at breakfast, i.e. they go on finding out who they are and what that means for their civilization.

    The artist gets extra points if she can bring out Karnak’s character, now that he’s out from under his mask and helmet. If she can make him distinguished, composed but attentive, an attractive man overall. That would make him the right man to be breaking the case open on the final page.

    Now to the meetings of the leaders and their subalterns. Not much I can add here; obviously they will be drawn as formal and regal. Perhaps Black Bolt’s eyes would be more revealing than his antenna, in conveying that he’s going to a lot of trouble to communicate precisely via Medusa. I would make the background emphasize a few unadorned verticals, as much as to to say, these people manipulate really big structures, and do it with grace.

    That’s pages Sixteen to Eighteen, now Starfox enters and seems about to break it all up. This is tricky, because we readers don’t know what’s really at stake. Overtly it’s the Terms of the Exile, but why exactly are they so important? One guesses it’s really about who the Victim originally was, but that’s for another time. The best I can think of is to signify the discord, by going from the formal, whole-body poses of the previous pages, to close-ups, with Thena, Medusa’s and Starfox’s faces at somewhat oblique angles. The assured postures giving way to uncertainty and emotion, conflict threatening. But still against the backdrop of the Moon and Makkari’s Chariot.

    See, what we’d have then would not be comic book continuity, so much as a pulp SF magazine cover, or a movie poster. Such scenes do not tell the story, they epitomize the story that’s going to be told, so you’ll anticipate it.

    We come to the FF, and a nice bit of characteristic business. Good pacing, because we’ve just had two scenes really about a mystery yet to be revealed, but this Four stuff is WYSIWYG. It’s a relief. But then in comes Karnak, and yes, the case has cracked! Whatever far-reaching calamities have been indirectly referred to, in last issue’s Karnak-Medusa and this issue’s Medusa-Maximus-Reed exchanges, Karnak has discovered them and is ready for direct action.

    And it is so correct that your chosen graphic mode for it should be … a classic Lee-Kirby Splash Intro Page! As above, the Epitomal Tease. Originally placed at the beginning of the issue, to get you to choose it from the spinner rack; but with the gathering confidence of the Marvel Bullpen in the great wild Silver Days, placed instead at the end, so that you’d be sure to grab the next issue. In itself (even without the hairy Next Issue blurb) the culmination of the grand old words, To Be Continued.

    Okay! It’s a wrap, your task is done. Take a bow!

    It’s been very interesting, having to look hard at the cadence and symbolism of the comic page and the comic tale. I’d say, let’s do it again sometime, but the just retort would be, “Right, your turn then!” and eek.

    There’s more to be said; keep watching this topic. But not about your story, more about the cosmic mode in Marvel, how much of it only exists as tease and how much can be realized. And this is the place for it. There is plenty of excellent comics bloggery going on, as you know. But your spot here is one of the few where the author holds focus, relentlessly, on the subtle implications of the superhero genre, until the words and concepts come through, and the bizarre true intentions of the genre swim into view. You got an audience for that.

  3. Referring to the Inhumans as “weaponized” by the Kree is utterly delightful. This is the kind of thing I value most in the finest comics writing — the kind of hypercompressed meaning where a single apt word carries more weight than pages of lengthy exposition possibly could.

    And dare I say, your version of Ben Grimm clearly takes a cue from Gerber.

  4. RAB: Hey…you may be right about that!

    Jeez, that Ben Grimm’s a great character — one thing I’m happy to have shoehorned into this mess is a closeup of him, y’know? The vestigial nose, the baby blues…seems like an FF comic’s just not an FF comic without focussing on his face all by its lonesome at least once an issue. Also I wanted to show him with a book — my theory of Ben is that he reads a lot.

    Also, heh, I’m very fond of that “weaponized”, too. Don’t know where that came from. Maybe just from trying to get the word-count down!

    I’ve actually come to like this story quite a bit. The Gaiman interpretation of Thena has a lot of possibilities in her, I think.

    Jonathan: Wow, your notes about the art direction are so spot-on I’m tempted to go back and change everything! You’re quite right, once again I blew off my own “satellite” imagery for no good reason — for God’s sake, what is wrong with me?! I swear it’s like scoring zero on an IQ test. Of course the way I show that Karnak and Rikasa have spent the night together is tremendously ham-fisted, and I suck all sense of time right out of it, and don’t even really successfully highlight the way that the quality of the light stays the same while the time goes on…once again, that’s a good catch. Not to mention the excellent distinction you draw between Showing and Epitomizing! Those are good words, I think. Also, pleased to hear you suggest some vertical lines in the background of Thena and Black Bolt’s meeting — that’s just what I was thinking, too.

    The entry of Starfox I’m not a hundred percent happy with — not quite as swooping in to save the day as I would’ve liked, not as much suspense relieved/increased by his appearance, but I ran out of panels to set that up in, and I did want to get in that mini-splash, because…

    Well, because Lightray is underrated, I guess.

    One art note I failed to include is that, Starfox being a Starlin creation, he’s a little set off from the Inhumans and Eternals in terms of his visual simplicity. He kind of looks like a streamlined spaceman in my mind’s eye, when set against the heavily ornamented symbols and patterns and paraphenalia of the Kirby creations which so obviously hearken back to some past or other…and so I hoped that would add an intriguing tone of freshness to his arrival. But, maybe it’s a bit too intriguing: he’s there to mess things around a little bit, but as you imply, we get into that Terms of Exile thing pretty darn quick, and the purpose of it isn’t readily apparent. It’s a bit of a fast infodump, and I’m not sure it wouldn’t just plain lose a new reader totally. The conflict, the suggestion of an unknown history being referenced, that’s the sort of thing I gobbled up as a young MTU junkie, but the specifics about Exile, the sudden requirement of understanding what the relationship between Titans and Eternals is…I think it’s a tad muzzy. And of course I don’t get into the meat of it — as you say, what’s the big deal here, exactly? Well, there is one, but obviously the reader doesn’t get to know what it is this issue, and maybe that’s a bit of a dirty trick. As much of a dirty trick as making the reader wait ’til issue #3 before people start punching each other! Makkari vs. Starfox (winner: Starfox), Starfox vs. Thena (winner: Thena), Thena vs. Black Bolt (winner: Black Bolt), Black Bolt vs. Ikaris (draw). Funny, isn’t it, how the fights are so important?

    I’ll say it again: the commentary on this has been both educational, and flattering. So thanks a lot. And, I’d be damn interested to read a little thing from you about Marvel’s idea of “cosmic”, Jonathan! So you’ve got an audience now, too.

  5. Couple more notes: one, the promised “Black Bolt Speaks” in the Next Issue blurb actually refers to a flashback sequence in which he’s a small child. Two, Starfox has a good reason for making much of the Terms of Exile — for one thing, the Exile effectively restricts the Eternals to Earth’s surface where (in Starfox’s opinion) they belong. They can’t start coming out into the solar system and messing with the Titans! To Titanic sensibilities, the Earth Eternals are throwbacks, mildly dangerous hyperpowered fruitcakes who’ve stewed in their own juices too long…and Exile was a blessing in disguise, in that it cut the Titans free from Celestial-imposed destiny, and allowed them to find a more progressive path, gadding about the cosmos, trading and travelling, doing their thing. Also, let the Eternals once start being major players out in space on a regular basis, and the chances are good that at least some younger Titans would be interested in visiting semi-legendary Earth as a sort of tit-for-tat…and that could lead to various Bad Things.

    Then there are the Inhumans themselves. Mentor is interested in them, but he won’t be able to pursue that interest if you’ve suddenly got Thena crawling all over them, for (I wouldn’t rule it out) semi-dark purposes of her own. To the Eternals (or at least, some of them), the Inhumans might well seem like a loose end of the Eternal story that has resisted being tied up for a long time. Eternals are pretty single-issue folks, when compared to the cosmopolitan Titans and reclusive Uranians, and they live so long that everything’s like it just happened yesterday to them…in other words, they’re not safe, and there’s every possibility that the Inhumans need a certain amount of protection from their reactivated interest. Starfox has a lot of sympathy with the Inhumans: to him they look like the Avengers, his friends the superheroes, and they’re a very interesting out-of-the-way culture that he’d like to see remain unspoiled by Eternal or Galactic entanglements…as he himself is happier flitting about everywhere, than he is running little errands for his Dad. So even with the identity of the Vitruvian Eternal unexplored, his presence on the Moon is the site of a clash between two distinct superhuman cultures, and their wish to bring Black Bolt’s people into a sort of resource pool of their own. Especially since Thena and Makkari suspect that the Inhumans have lately intruded into their own affairs, and so are getting a bit more activist themselves! Well, this is true, as witness the ongoing research efforts of Karnak’s “team”…and Gorgon’s hooves are a dead giveaway, really: what was that earthquake, back in Olympus or Titanos or wherever it was? Hmm…

    But, one more thing: Starfox isn’t Mentor, so he’d actually like to see the Inhumans more secure from outside interference. So he’s in the middle. And between him, Karnak, and Reed (and Ikaris, when he finally gets there), that’s what’s going to (eventually) save the day.

    You see there’s a madness to my method! Lots of groups of three, with a few key players that slide around to make temporary foursomes. I guess you could blame Jim Roeg for that, if you wanted to.

    I continue to toy with the idea that Snow Leopard would’ve been narrated by Gorgon, to the Watcher.

    Christ, I can’t stop thinking about the bloody thing, now!

    Oh yeah, forgot to say — Starfox’s appearance should have recalled Iridia’s startling of Karnak in issue #1 — except I didn’t at all set that up well enough.

    Okay, enough blather!

  6. Matters cosmic and epic will be waiting for you when you come back; there’s a lot I have to throw, as you say, against the wall.

    Just for now: I like “weaponized” too, because it’s the best story about the Terrigen Mists I’ve ever heard. We were made to be living weapons, but with the Mists we get to be our own real selves (however trying that can be to get used to). Praise to Agon!

    It’s a more meaningful story than we got from Stan and Jack. Why the Mists? Aren’t the Inhumans powerful because of what the Kree did to their genes? Why isn’t it just hereditary? I suspect those two of wanting to have the remote glittering peaks of evolution only without the icky reproductive stuff.

    Till soon.

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