In November, Marvel is going to begin an anthology series called Marvel Universe Double Shot (similar to the Marvel Knights project of a similar name) that will offer frighteningly diverse takes on characters within the MU. The creative roster includes names like Christopher Priest, Greg Rucka, Jai Nitz, Rob Haynes, Kia Asimiya, Bill Morrison, Sean McKeever, Darwyn Cooke, Michael T. Gilbert, and newcomer Marlan Harris.
And it nearly included mine.
For those who don’t know (saving myself the potential and likely embarrassment of falling short once again), I pitched for my second Marvel anthology a couple months back. The editor tasked with assembling the project had been kind enough to read a handful of samples offered over a period of months, and tipped me off to the possibility that his MU Double Shot series was going to require brief, yet original takes on Marvel characters. He suggested writing a tale around a wildly popular Marvelite, thereby increasing my Q rating and the likelihood that the viewing public would be at all interested in what I had to say. It wasn’t long before I drifted out of the box again.
I’m reminded of that scene in The Empire Strikes Back, Skywalker on the muddy, desolate home of Master Yoda as the instructor prods him, “…control, control, you MUST learn CONTROL!!!” I should’ve written a FF story. An Ant-Man story. A Hulk story. ANYTHING but what inspiration threw into the word processor. Something forced me to pen this story for the dreamers, the legion of hopefuls confident that they’re meant for something more. That the pursuit of dreams is what we’re meant for, but that pursuing one’s calling with dangerous passion can do more harm than good. Because dreams are never as bright as they appear. They’re blurry in their focus, and when realized threaten to suffocate with cold reality. But, hell, if it were easy…everybody would be doing it.
Believing that it may prove slightly interesting, I’ve decided to present all eleven unpublished pages of a tale called The Reserve. Let me know what you think.
THE RESERVE, PG. 1 OF 11
PANEL 1: Establishing shot of a suburban home. Nothing excessively fancy or extravagant present, a normal house that normal people live in.
PANEL 2: Someone is watching a television in the living room. The screen is filled by the form of a panicked reporter holding a microphone and attempting to ignore the destruction he’s witnessing.
PANEL 4: Close on his father and main character JACK TOWER, white male in his late twenties with black hair and brown eyes, staring at the television like a deer caught in a blinding set of headlights, and sporting the stubble of a man that was just dragged out of bed.
ENDANGERING THOUSANDS OF LIVES…
APPEARS TO BE NERVE GAS IN THE SUBWAY SYSTEM…HYDRA HAS RELEASED NERVE GAS IN…
PANEL 8: The reporter on the screen is wearing a large grin, pleased at being the bearer of good news.
THE AVENGERS ARE HERE…
THE RESERVE, PG. 2 OF 11
PANEL 1: Jack Tower, wearing a suit with sport jacket resting securely in the back seat, is making his way to Stark Financial and listening to the radio in his family sedan. He’s also sporting a cool pair of Ray-bans.
PANEL 3: Zoom in for a quick shot of the Avengers I.D. on the seat.
PANEL 4: He turns his attention back to the road, confident that it will be today.
PANEL 6: Zoom back in on the I.D. card. No sound.
PANEL 7: The card floats across the car to Tower’s outstretched fingers.
PANEL 8: He places it close to his ear. Maybe it’s broken?
PANEL 9: Maintain shot.
PANEL 10: The radio indicates the crisis has passed, triggering a disappointed reaction.
THE RESERVE, PG. 3 OF 11
PANEL 1: CU of Jack Tower, looking intense and somewhat annoyed, as if someone has just asked him a stupid ass question.
PANEL 2: Keep tight on Tower, but pull back slightly. There’s dialogue coming from an off-panel source.
PANEL 3: Tower has a slightly puzzled look on his face after the voice implies something highly unlikely.
PANEL 4: Pull out for a larger panoramic shot resting in the center of the page with Jack and the previously unseen figure now identified as CRAIG (slightly older, slightly more overweight, with a slightly more obvious bald spot than our protagonist). The two men are in Tower’s office, with Jack sitting behind a large oak desk on the left side of the panel. Strangely, instead of occupying the seat in front of Tower’s desk, Craig is suspended in mid-air a few feet behind it as if held fast by a set of invisible strings. He’s leaning forward in what looks to be an uncomfortable position, not quite horizontal and not quite vertical, but his friend tells him that using his telekinetic powers relaxes him and so he’s taking one for the team.
TOWER: AND WHEN DID KANG DO THAT THING WITH THE WORMHOLE AND THE WHITE HOUSE?
CRAIG: LAST THURSDAY.
CRAIG: I THOUGHT THIS KINESIS STUFF RELAXED YOU. OR I SHOULD JUST FEEL SILLY?
PANEL 5: Bring the camera back on Tower as he runs a hand through his short hair.
TOWER: IT DOES…NO…FORGET IT. IT’S JUST…I JUST…KNOW I SHOULD BE DOING MORE. I SHOULD BE…
PANEL 6: Tower braces a chin on his pair of crossed arms, eyes pointed downward.
YOU COULD DO ANYTHING. ANYTHING. WHY IN THE HELL DO YOU ALL WANT TO ‘SAVE THE WORLD’?
THE RESERVE, PG. 4 OF 11
PANEL 1: CU of Craig, disbelief and bewilderment on his face.
PANEL 2: Same shot of Craig looking as if his friend is speaking another language.
I’VE SEEN THAT STUPID OUTFIT OF YOURS, IT’S GOTTA BE CHICKS,
PRETTY HOT ONES.
TOWER: IT’S NOT THE WOMEN. WATCH YOUR STEP.
PANEL 4: Panoramic shot as Craig takes the seat in front of Tower’s desk and they continue this exchange like normal people.
THE RESERVE, PG. 5 OF 11
PANEL 1: CU of a fork twirling through a plate of spaghetti.
PANEL 2: Pull out for a larger shot of a kitchen table with Jack Tower and wife SIMONE (a beautiful Hispanic woman in her late twenties) attempting to enjoy a nice dinner over a large bowl of spaghetti that sits between them in the middle of the table. Simone is on the left of the panel excitedly explaining her day to her husband, while he wears a highly disinterested look.
SIMONE: JACK? JACK!! ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING TO ME?
PANEL 3: CU of Tower, appearing quite bored.
PANEL 4: CU of Simone who appears just a bit pissed.
IT REALLY IS, BUT…
PANEL 6: Simone angrily stands up from the table.
PANEL 7: Simone has made her way to the sink and is rinsing off her plate.
PANEL 8: Back on Jack, whose level of irritation is definitely reaching its height.
THE RESERVE, PG. 6 OF 11
PANEL 1: A boxing glove violently impacting a punching bag.
PANEL 5: Another flash of the past, this time with Cap’s face in full view.
WE RAN THE NECESSARY BACKGROUND CHECKS AND EVALUATIONS.
PANEL 9: Tower is ascending the staircase that will take him back to the house’s main level, carelessly leaving the I.D. card in the darkness on a stool.
THE RESERVE, PG. 7 OF 11
PANEL 1: Simone is on the living room couch, wrapped in a blanket and reading a book with the aid of a pair of designer frames. Tower’s dialogue coming from off-panel.
PANEL 4: Panoramic shot, all black to create a bit of separation to indicate time lapse.
PANEL 5: The two of them lay beneath a blanket on the living room floor, holding hands and enjoying each other’s company.
I CAN’T STOP LIVING UNTIL THEY DO.
SIMONE: STILL…IT WASN’T FAIR…I HAVE NO IDEA HOW MUCH…HEY…YOU HEAR THAT?
TOWER: WHAT? NO. JASON’S NOT BACK UNTIL TOMORROW…
SIMONE: NO, NO…SHH…LISTEN…YOU DON’T HEAR THAT?
SOUNDS LIKE IT’S COMING…
PANEL 6: Panoramic shot of Tower’s eyes, wide with shock.
THE RESERVE, PG. 8 OF 11
PANEL 1: We’re going to transplant Tower from his living room floor and the inviting surroundings of his lovely wife to the battlefield of aggressive negotiations. We’re going to do this literally in the span of an eyeblink, duplicating the last panel from page 7 and repeating it here to use as a transition. The expression of wide-eyed disbelief is the same, but Tower’s mask is clearly present, and flames are bouncing off his retinas.
PANEL 3: Focus on a small child’s hand emerging from a pile of rubble.
PANEL 4: Medium shot of Tower’s shocked face. He’s never seen anything like this before and never intended to.
PANEL 5: Pull in closer as tears threaten to emerge from beneath the hero’s mask.
PANEL 6: Tower bends over as he becomes sick to his stomach.
THE RESERVE, PG. 9 OF 11
PANEL 1: Tower wipes his mouth and tries to regain his composure.
PANEL 4: Extreme close-up of the child’s hand.
PANEL 6: He stops in his tracks.
THE RESERVE, PG. 10 OF 11
PANEL 1: CU on Tower again, a new determination riding over him.
in nearly every direction.
PANEL 3: Close on Tower’s tightly clenched fist.
PANEL 4: He inhales a deep breath, preparing to meet fate at last.
PANEL 5: Shot of Tower’s feet as they slowly leave the ground.
THE RESERVE, pg. 11 of 11
PANEL 1: Gorgeous splash page that sees Jack Tower taking to the sky to fulfill his destiny, occurring at a time and place not of his choosing, but occurring nonetheless. I envision this preferably as an upshot, with the young hero vectoring in on a luminescent full moon that throws uncomfortably bright light in every direction. This shot is the true pay-off to this man’s dreams, and the image needs to have a certain dreamlike quality to it, almost as if this isn’t really happening. Surreal and spectacular in one breath.
(other credits to follow)
Back in seven…