Today marked the release of the final issue of The Fearless Defenders. I’m really sad to see this book go, but I’m really thrilled to have been a part of it. It was a strange, off-beat book. A lot of people didn’t get it (meaning, they didn’t understand what we were going for. A lot of people didn’t get it–as in they didn’t buy it–either). But that didn’t stop us telling stories that were unlike others on the shelf. It was an unapologetic super hero book with tongue firmly planted in cheek… and, yeah, the cast was all ladies.
Behind the Scenes
This week I’m breaking down the 10th issue of Fear Itself: The Fearless.
This issue was co-plotted by Matt Fraction, Chris Yost, and myself. I handled the script. Paul Pelletier and Mark Bagley did the pencils. Danny Miki and Andy Lanning inked the book. Matt Wilson did colors. This is the Part 10 of a 12-issue limited series.
Here we go!
Page 1. This issue is the first in the series that does not start with a flashback. I wanted to let readers know right away that this issue was the beginning of the end. From this point forward, we’re barreling toward the conclusion!
Captain America injured. Tolor dead! As we’ll see in the next few pages, Valkyrie’s gonna kick somebody’s ass!
Page 2. When I wrote “Valkyrie stands with her sword in one hand, Cap’s shield in the other,” I knew I was setting up one of my favorite panels in the series. Paul didn’t let me down.
By the way, teleportations are annoying to write, especially with limited space to get the idea across that characters are suddenly vanishing.
Page 4. If I had it to do over again, I probably would have added a line somewhere to remind readers that Host (the creepy ninja-looking dude) had used his spider to track Valkyrie. It’s been a few issues since I referenced that.
Page 7. Shield to the face! C’mon. Admit it. Even when Hellstrom was on the side of the angels, you kind of wanted someone to hit him in the face with an adamantium shield.
Page 9. Valkyrie’s interrogation of Innards is one of my favorite scenes this issue. I was kind of proud of her threat: “For centuries I have ushered fallen warriors into the afterlife. Do you think I couldn’t find you no matter where you end up in Hell? Do you think death can protect you from me?”
Pages 10 & 11. Okay. Time for a little exposition. The origin of the Sleepers has been hinted at throughout the series, but I wanted to go ahead and drive home the idea that the Sleepers we’ve seen in the Marvel Universe for years have connections to the Serpent’s Destroyer that Sin has been trying to raise.
Page 12. I know Hellstrom can burn Crossbones to ash and bone where he stands, but I think the Son of the Devil would rather hurt someone emotionally. He has a gift for getting under someone’s skin… and he enjoys doing it.
Page 13. Aww. Sad Crossbones. Here we have Crossbones crisis of faith. Has Sin been using him all along? He may be a cruel, merciless killer, but he’s got a heart. It’s funny. After all the mean stuff Crossbones has been doing this series, all I need to do to give him a little heart is slow him down and give him a few silent panels. Don’t worry. The beatings commence again on the next page.
Pages 15 & 16. Two pages… 22 guest stars. 11-to-1 is a good ratio, I guess. Most of the characters who have appeared in the series so far (and plenty of extras) show up here for the final showdown. The tough thing with this many guest stars is that it runs the risk of taking away from Valkyrie’s story. At the same time, I needed to show that the stakes are high now, and all of these heroes are needed to turn back the darkness.
Also, I love the look of glee on Valkyrie’s face.
Page 17 & 18. The D.O.A. vs. the Avengers. I needed a few pages to show the chaotic battle both sides are plunging into.
Page 20. And now the final chess piece is on the board! The Final Sleeper, fueled by Sin’s soul and armed with all of the Serpent’s hammers, steps out of the pit. The fight is about to go really, really bad for our heroes. The design of the Final Sleeper is great, conjuring images of Odin’s Destroyer as well as the Sleeper robots of the good old days. Putting the hammers on a cat-of-nine-tails was my idea, but I’m thrilled with the way Paul pulled it off.
Many aspiring writers and artists ask me how I put together a comic script–how I format the script, how much description do I put on the page, how much the final product varies from the original script. I think one of the best ways to describe my scripts is to share them. (In fact, I wrote my first comic books after reading some of Greg Rucka’s scripts.) I’m working on putting together a script book, but in the meantime I’ll post some of them here!
To start things off, I’m posting the complete script to The Sixth Gun #1. My format has changed a little bit over the years, but this is still a pretty good representation of how I tackle a script. If you have that issue, you’re ready to compare the script to the finished product. If you don’t have that issue (shame on you!) you can download it for free (and legally) from ComiXology. While you’re there, buy some of the other issues.
Here’s the script:
Sixth Gun Issue 1
I hope this is helpful for you! If you’re an artist interested in putting together sample pages based on this script, I’d love to see what you do! If you’re a writer, please let me know if this proved useful for you! For more about my process, check out the “plot to script” post i did a few weeks back!
Here’s another look behind the scenes at one of the comic books I wrote. This one–Fear Itself: The Fearless #9–came out a little over a week ago, but I’ve been swamped with family obligations and conventions. I’ll try to do better next time.
This issue was co-plotted by Matt Fraction, Chris Yost, and myself. I handled the script. Paul Pelletier and Mark Bagley did the pencils. Danny Miki and Andy Lanning inked the book. Matt Wilson did colors. This is the Part 9 of a 12-issue limited series.
Here we go!
- Pages 1 – 3. This is the last flashback to appear in the series. Up until this point, every issue has started with a look toward the past, almost always from Valkyrie’s perspective. I wrote them to establish some of Val’s motivation without hitting the reader over the head with a lot of exposition. In this case, I wanted to show that the Valkyrior have been forbidden to enter Midgard, but they still serve the warriors of Asgard. The most telling line comes on page 3, when Val tells her companions that sometimes, men got to war because it is the will of the gods.
- Page 3. Speaking of gods, I love that I got to write even a single page featuring old school Thor. But it wasn’t only my inner fanboy that drove me to write Thor into this issue. I thought his appearance played nicely when going into the next scene with its themes of godhood, self-proclaimed or otherwise.
- Pages 4 – 9. I’ve said before that this scene is one that I’ve had in mind since the earliest days of this series. Originally, I had the idea that Val would use some sort of Asgardian relic to turn herself into a lightning-throwing thunder goddess, too. In the end, I decided it was more interesting to have a warrior on a winged horse fighting Storm. Val uses a little trickery to defeat Storm. I wanted to show that Val will take steps to reach her goal that another hero wouldn’t. It’s funny how angry some people got because of this scene. They became spitting mad that Storm was taken out. To them I say: Don’t worry. I’m sure some other writer will tackle a rematch at some point.
- Pages 10 – 13. Speaking of exposition–this scene is loaded with it. At this point in the series, it’s a necessary evil, though. I probably could have handled it differently, but this was what worked for me as I was tackling the script. Again, this scene stirred some ire. “There’s no way Crossbones could beat up on someone as powerful as Hellstrom!” That’s true, but I think that it speaks to Crossbones’ over inflated sense of badassitude that he’s willing to grab hold of the Son of Satan like that. Also, just because Hellstrom could flash-fry Crossbones where he stands, it doesn’t mean it serves his purposes to do so.
- Pages 14 – 17. More exposition!? Yeah, sorry about that. Trust me, the rest of the series is pretty action-packed. But this scene, when combined with the last, drives home the fact that Val’s sanctum is actually a piece of her soul and that when she dies, the place vanishes from existence, taking the hammers with it. Also, I wanted Captain America and Val to come to an understanding. They couldn’t stay enemies, could they?
- Page 16. Valkyrie has a long, complicated, confusing history. That last panel on this page is my way of summing it up so we can just forget it and move on.
- Page 19. I know readers were sitting there saying, “Do it… Shoot the horse…” But don’t you get enough horse violence in The Sixth Gun?