Writer's Commentary: Joe Gentile Talks Justice Inc.: The Avenger #4

Dynamite has sent us a writer's commentary by Joe Gentile for Justice Inc.: The Avenger #4 that he co-wrote with Kyle Higgins. Cover for the issue done by Tom Mandrake with interiors by Alexandre Shibao.Justice Inc.: The Avenger #4

Pages 1-2:
This scene has a funny back story. After Kyle and I outlined, and re-outlined this tale, we knew there was going to be a scene where Roberts confronts Bellamy with the amount of truth he knows.

The problem? It just didn't seem interesting to me. Everytime I set about to write it, I would skip the scene and write something else. So … one night … 3 a.m. … I forced myself to write the scene. I just thought about it, and then let my fingers start typing stream of consciousness about the scene.

Sound like I'm going to reveal that what followed that was pure genius? Um, no.

The scene that came out was, yes, Roberts confronts Bellamy with the truth. Bellamy then stabs Roberts with a letter opener (um, who uses one of those things anyway?)! Bellamy then leaves Roberts to bleed out … in the squad room.

So I sent this scintillatingly brilliant scene to Kyle … at 3 a.m. and went to sleep thinking BOOM, nailed that.

Kyle contacted me the next day, but not to pat me on the back. Let's say it was more of a "what the?" "You're going to have Bellamy stab Roberts in the middle of the squad room? Isn't there anyone one around who might say or do something?

In retrospect, I find the whole thing funny … NOW.

In truth, the exact opposite of character getting stabbed works best here … "character leaves room". Doesn't SOUND as exciting, but sure makes a lot more sense.

So, when I'm too tired to stand, and it's 3 a.m. or past … I may write … but I take a look at it the next day to make sure it makes sense before I let anyone read it!

Lesson learned.

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Pages 3-10:
So here we have another big action sequence. It's not just action for action's sake, of course. Two agents need to be rescued. Gotta make sure we continue to show off what makes each of the agents cool.

Plus, we need to have some banter between the agents, as well as show a couple of things about the Avenger. Like what, you ask? Well, like his 'celluglass" vest he wears, or his gun named "Mike", and the Avenger's particular skill with it. I don't recall ever reading about another character that has this particular skill. Very unique … odd, but unique.

And, as usual, amidst showing what the agents can do, we also wanted to show their own unique approaches to those things. Smitty, for instance, has a couple of particular things he does in a fight … his "style," per se.

Smitty uses his strength. Josh, on the other hand, is all about "speed".

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Pages 11-12:
So here is more of a "reveal" and putting the clues together kind of scene. How did the Avenger know all this stuff? I mean, he's a laser-focused genius like the rest of us, but really, the man is a thinker.

Who killed who? What did the Nazis have to do with the murdered doctor? Did the FBI just let Benson walk out of his cell? Who's the double agent?

These are question the agents have for the Avenger. He answers some of them, but then leaves to go take care of "something"… leaving all the agents to wonder: did the Avenger take the car?

Originally, we were going to show all of this in flashback scenes, but there is a lot of ground to cover here, and flashbacks would eat into our page count too much …

Pages 13-16:
Ah, the meeting of the minds … where the rubber meets the road … where most of the final answers are to be had.

You gotta give it to the double agent here, as he clings to all of his bad dreams as if any of it really mattered.

Kyle and I had MANY ways for this scene to unfold.

Does the bad guy get caught?

Does the Avenger give him one of his patented "choices" to make?

Does the bad guy take his own life?

Does the Avenger let the double agent make the wrong choice and just walk away …never losing an ounce of sleep over it?

One of the reasons this scene had many false starts is that we needed to make sure all of our plot points were tidied up here. Plus, we had to decide how much complexity the final answers contain.

We really like the choices we made here. We hope you all agree.

Page 17:
Kind of the basic story denouement where the Avenger tells his crew how it all went down, but …

Page 18:
Nellie breaks the usual story ending here. She wants more. The team needs more. Do we end the series with this scene? Maybe … we couldn't decide, but once it was all down on paper, it became clear.

Page 19:
Here's another scene … we had to decide if this was going to be the end. It is a good place to stop. The Avenger talking to Rosabel … as we get a glimpse (or a couple of glimpses) on what make the Avenger – the man – work. How does he just exist from one moment to the next. These last two scenes are basically what the whole story has been about for Kyle and us. Sure, it's about justice … but really, it's about TRUST. How much do you give … or get. How does that affect the people around you, the ones who care for you?

Page 20:
The "soft ending." It's not an action scene. It's not the start of a new story. It's more of a reminder. The Avenger is how he is because of the loss of his wife and child. Every waking moment he is thinking of them.

He is as driven a man as you will meet. He's got so much emotion inside him, but none of it can show due to the paralysis of his facial muscles. Irony is pretty heavy for him. An anvil to the chest … every day … every minute … every second …

About Dan Wickline

Has quietly been working at Bleeding Cool for over three years. He has written comics for Image, Top Cow, Shadowline, Avatar, IDW, Dynamite, Moonstone, Humanoids and Zenescope. He is the author of the Lucius Fogg series of novels and a published photographer.