By Josh Hechinger
Welcome to From Strip to Script, where I take a page of finished comic art and try to derive a script from it, to see what I can learn from the exercise.
Sometimes…not always, but sometimes…it's kind of pretty easy to figure out what this thing should be about this week, even if I only ever figure out what I'm doing the day I'm doing it. In this instance, hey, guess what just came out?
Hint: Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Did I ever tell y'all my Avengers history, though? Comic book stores were thin on the ground where I grew up, and superheroes, in terms of toys and cartoons, tended to be skewed towards the X-Men (it was the '90s). My sole exposures to the Avengers concept were via this weird little paperback that was like an abridged Official Handbook to the Marvel Universe, and the Captain America and The Avengers beat 'em up game. The latter of which was what really got its hooks into me; I was/am one of those readers who was always more interested in whatever random B and C listers showed up in a comic or cartoon than I was the "main" characters, and that game was chock full of characters who weren't the (frankly old-hat) mutants I was familiar with.
(It's nutty to think of the Avengers as being broadly a B-list team at the time, but it was what it was.)
Also, while we didn't really have a good comic shop around, we did have (dial up) internet, and even back then, I could go online and find reams of information…that I then printed off, and bound as little books, and…look, print wasn't dead back then, okay?
Anyway, it was all stuff like "roster and actions of various incarnations of the Masters of Evil, by issue number" or "Ultrons 1 through whatever, first and final appearances and a summary of what they did". It was a lot of content with no context, until the Busiek/ Pérez Heroes Reborn Avengers came out at just the time that an actual comic shop opened up near me. Which meant I finally had an outlet for all my curiosity about the franchise.
The highlight of the Busiek/ Pérez run is probably considered to be the Ultron arc*, where Ultron murders an entire country and then kidnaps his convoluted extended family to copy their personalities into robots…basically, it's the Avengers against an army of Ultrons (this may sound like a familiar scenario).
The climax is issue 22, which features this following moment of awesome brought to you by Kurt Busiek (script), George Pérez (pencils), RS & Comicraft (let), Tom Smith (colors), and Al Vey (inks).
*the Thunderbolts/Avengers team-up against Count Nefaria is my personal favorite arc, but I'm inordinately fond of Nefaria and Madame Masque
PAGE FOURTEEN (FOUR PANELS)
P1. ULTRON snaps his attention from the other AVENGERS as the wall explodes behind him.
– ULTRON –sooner?
– SFX KSSSSSSHHH
P2. THOR wades through the rubble of the wall. CAP, IRON MAN, FIRESTAR, and PANTHER flank him. Judging by their expressions, and the wear and tear on them, this fight is going to end here. One way or another.
– THOR Ultron
– THOR We would have words with thee.
P3. Close in on ULTRON'S eyes, which flare with energy; he's frothing mad.
– ULTRON You want to die now too, Thor? All of you?
– ULTRON Then come on. Come on!
P4. A Quinjet flies over the ruins of Slorenia.
– CAPTION And…
So, What'd We Learn?
– Hey, what's the biggest panel on the page? Is it the awesome shot of the Avengers showing up to wreck house? Of course it is.
– The balloon placement in panel three overlapping into the panel above creates an interesting effect of Ultron sort of…blurting his speech following Thor's pronouncement? Spitting a rant? There's urgency to it, thanks to the overlap.
– And too, Ultron's eyes literally flaring is a great way to show expression with his static face; the cropping of the panel could also read as him narrowing his eyes.
Philly-based comic writer Josh Hechinger [joshhechinger.tumblr.com] is a Cancer, and his blood type is A+. You can find him being a loquacious dope on Twitter, and read his comic collaborations on Comixology.