Monday, October 20, 2014

Frog-Man - Fitting in - Ben Rosenthal



1.  From behind Ollie Osnick as he sits in the vastness of the Negative zone, staring out into space.  His arm is missing, so this is modern day Ollie after the fight with Venom and the fall of Prison 42.

VOICE (off panel)
Do you ever think you will get home?


2.  From front on.  A pair of legs either side of him.

VOICE (from the pair of legs on Ollie's left)
You have family that wonders if you are alive or dead.
Friends as well.

OLLIE
I ran away years ago. They would have found me by now if they cared.
I would have returned if I did.


3.  A the two men who were standing next to Ollie are now sitting next to him.  To the left (the one who was speaking off panel) is Frog-Man with Toad on his right.  They are dressed as when they were all members of The Initiative.

FROG-MAN
This is the arm thing, isn't it?
I think you're just afraid of how people will look at you.  That you won't fit in.


4.  A close up on Frog-Man.

FROG-MANOne arm or five--


5.  A wide panel, front on showing Ollie sitting by himself.  He is thinking - a small spark of positivity as lit.

CAPTION (FROG-MAN)
--you always were a Misfit.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Frog-Man - Hopalong - Grant McLaughlin

1 - Frog-Man skitters across the ground, bouncing a couple times as he slams into a wall.  His costume is burned, charred, and generally messed up to show how much he's gone through already.

VILLAIN (off-panel): Stay down.

SFX: SLAM!

2 - Shot from Frog-Man's prone form looking up towards the oncoming villain: Electro!

ELECTRO: I've already taken out Spider-Man and Daredevil.  What chance could you possibly hope to have?

3 - Focus on Frog-Man as he tries to get up.  He's down on his face and trying to push himself up with his arms.  Again, he and his costume are in a bad way.

FROG-MAN (1): You're right.

FROG-MAN (2): I'm not half the hero they are.

4 - Frog-Man has made it up to his knees.  Even the effort to do that looks like it's taken a lot out of him.

FROG-MAN: But I am the Fabulous Frog-Man.

5 - Frog-Man is up to a pseudo-crouching position.  Electro is approaching, striding confidently towards the downed hero - perhaps charging up some electricity to attack with.

FROG-MAN: And as long as I live and breath.

5 - Frog-Man turns his position into an attack, leaping towards Electro in an attempt to use his own body as a battering ram.  While somewhat surprised, Electro looks ready to meet him.

CAPTION (FROG-MAN): I'll keep trying.

Why Frog-Man?

When it comes to what I think of as some of the best comic book characters, the heroes and villains that I'm routinely most excited about reading, I rarely turn to the best and brightest.  No, I am far more drawn to the mediocre and the middling.  They aren't the greatest, strongest, smartest, or any of those -est words you'll think of, but they are perhaps some of the most dedicated.

Their time will never truly arrive.  They'll never make it to the top of the totem pole.  They're doomed to spend the rest of their existence playing second fiddle (if they're lucky) to those around them.  Some of them know this in the core of their beings.  Others have no idea and never will.  But in each and every case, they go out there and give it their all anyways.


I first came across Eugene Patillo, the Fabulous Frog-Man, in the Spider Island: Avengers one-shot and loved the ridiculous and hilarious portrayal that Christopher Yost gave the character.  He was hapless, kind of pathetic, and strangely charming.  Despite being a perennial loser, he had an upbeat outlook on life, believing that everything would work itself out in the end.

Beyond the great amount of humour associated with him, Frog-Man is a prime example of the phenomenon I describe above.  The son of failed, small-time villain Leap-Frog, Eugene decided to "borrow" his father's suit to make up for all the misdeeds of his parent by becoming a superhero.  He has one of the most ridiculous names, the gaudiest costumes, and the least respect of any hero you can think of (that is, if anyone bothers thinking about him at all), but none of that matters, because Eugene's going to go out and be the best hero he can be.

Day in and day out, he will be there, doing his best.  His name isn't going to make the papers.  He isn't going to be trending on social media.  But that isn't why he does it.

He does it because that's who he is.


Frog-Man's never gotten a moment in the limelight.  To be perfectly honest, he probably never will.  All of his stories involve him achieving victory through dumb luck at best or thoroughly embarrassing himself at worst.  And yet, he never gives up.  He always puts that suit back on.  He always goes out to do his part to make the world a better place.  It may not be the biggest contribution, but it's his.

And no one can ever take that away from him.

Frog-Man is a joke to many, but his commitment to his hopes and dreams are laudable as hell.  He's never going to give up and never going to say die.  If that's not something we should all be trying to live up to, I don't know what is.

Plus, there was that one time where he defeated Flag-Smasher by throwing up on him.  That was hilarious.



Saturday, October 18, 2014

Norman Osborn – Final Interview– Travis M. Holyfield


Panel 1: NORMAN OSBORN sits behind a magnificent desk in his lavish office. Our POV for the entire page is that of the young man sitting across from him. Norman is perusing a piece of paper – the young man’s C.V.

NORMAN: Undergrad at Wharton. MBA from Harvard. Letters of recommendation from several of your professors. Internships with Houlihan Lokey and PwC.

NORMAN: Very impressive, Peter.

Panel 2: Norman continues to read the resume.

PETE (OFF-PANEL): Thank you so much, sir. It’s always been my dream to work for Osborn. I think I can bring a lot to the company.

PETE (OFF-PANEL): Oh, and you can call me Pete. That’s what I go by.

Panel 3: Norman has looked up from his reading and is staring at the young man. There is a faint touch of a smile now on his lips. The resume is starting to crumble in his hand, which is clenching.

NORMAN: Pete. Pete. Pete.

NORMAN: Petey. Pete. Peter.

NORMAN: Heh.   

Panel 4:  Norman puts the resume on his desk and reaches into a desk drawer with his other hand. His face has resumed its mask of normalcy and sanity.

NORMAN: I agree, Pete. I think there IS a great deal you can offer us.   

NORMAN: There’s just one more thing I need you to do for me.

Panel 5:  Norman reaches across the desk, offering the young man a cardboard box.

NORMAN: Could I trouble you to try this on for me?

PETE (OFF-PANEL): Uhm… Of course sir. May I ask why?

Panel 6:  From our POV as the young man, we look into the box, which contains a cheap Spider-Man Halloween costume.  
NORMAN (OFF-PANEL): So I can murder you and then throw someone you love off a bridge. Standard practice, really.  
 

Norman Osborn - The Madding Crowd, Part 8 - R.A.Wonsowski

See last week's post for the full skinny...

Panel 1 - Another early Ditko vibe...NORMAN OSBORNE, black suit with green turtleneck, foreground, is looking out his conference room window. DR. SKOLOS, cheap suit and white lab coat, background, sits at the long mahogany table for his midnight meeting, papers and blueprints scattered all over it, and he's losing patience, but trying not to show. NORMAN's face is obscured by his hands as he looks outside pressed up against the window.

SKOLOS: ...mind telling us what's so interesting out the window?
OSBORNE: There's a yellow man with binoculars scoping out your pharma labs down the way...
OSBORNE: (small print) ...could be one of the spider's amazing friends...
SKOLOS: No matter. If we could get back to the offer on the table...

Panel 2 - OSBORNE turns to the conference table, foreground. We can now see a blueprint of what looks to be some kind of scienc-y laser cannon with a seat and console attatched behind it. OSBORNE's head should not be visible, in fact the panel frame top should cut him at the shoulders.

OSBORNE: Ah, yes. Your pet project. Quite morbid, studying death.
OSBORNE: Why you need black-ledger experimental weaponry for your research is beyond me.

Panel 3 - SKOLOS leans back in his chair as he tosses a letter-sized manila envelope on the table, toothlessly smiling as he twirls his pointed goatee.

SKOLOS: Let's just say that the work is at a critical...phase.
SKOLOS: Is the deal not fair?
OSBORNE (off panel): Oh, no. It's more than equitable.

Panel 4 - OSBORNE has picked up the envelope, open at the end. We can only see his arms and hands above the table. One hand has tipped the open envelope, and something shiny and black, the size of a deck of cards, slides out and into his other hand.

OSBORNE: And you can stop psychoanalyzing me. I knew if I'd take your...deal...in the first fifteen seconds of our meeting.
SKOLOS (off panel): Then, why? If it's all so facile for you, why deal at all?
OSBORNE: Well...

Panel 5 - Close-up: NORMAN OSBORNE holds a large black diamond sliver, about four inches long, to his face. His right (our left) 2/3 of his face are in a Green Goblin-ish expression, but the skin is blackened. The normal third is dead serious.

OSBORNE: ...it appeals to my...baser angels...

...Next episode: the Creeper returns!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Norman Osborn – Marvel Babies: The Cranky Cabal – MK Stangeland Jr.


(6 Panels)

Panel 1: MARVEL BABY versions of NORMAN OSBORN (in IRON PATRIOT armor), DR. DOOM, TASKMASTER, RED HOOD, and LOKI.

The five of them are meeting inside a treehouse. OSBORN, TASKMASTER, RED HOOD, and LOKI are standing around a small, wooden table. DR. DOOM stands apart from the rest of them group.

DR. DOOM: DOOM demands to know why you kicked out Namor and Emma!

OSBORN: Because Namor and Emma are both stupid tattletales!

Panel 2: DR. DOOM stands angrily on his side of the treehouse, pointing at Taskmaster as he stomps his foot.

DR. DOOM (1): And you replaced them with him?

DR. DOOM (2): I demand you let them back!

Panel 3: NORMAN OSBORN slams his fist on the table.

OSBORN (1): No! This is my club, my treehouse, and my rules!

OSBORN (2): And my rules say no tattletales!

Panel 4: DR. DOOM starts to float in the air, arms crossed in front of him.

DR. DOOM (1): Fine, be a stupid head!

DR. DOOM (2): DOOM will start his own secret treehouse club! And it’ll be way better than your stupid secret treehouse club!

Panel 5: NORMAN OSBORN looks like he’s about to throw a temper tantrum. DR. DOOM points at TASKMASTER.

OSBORN: Nuh-UH! You can’t do that, you stupid copycat!

DR. DOOM: Oh yeah? Big talk, coming from the stupid head that recruited someone who’s nothing but a copycat!

Panel 6: TASKMASTER looks offended and upset as DR. DOOM sticks his tongue out at him through his mask.

TASKMASTER: What did you call me?

DR. DOOM: DOOM called you a copycat, you stupid copycat!


(END PAGE)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Norman Osborn - Out to Brunch - Grant McLaughlin

Three rows of panels.  Row one is made up of a single panel, row two is panels 2 through 4 (panel 2 is thin, while panels 3 and 4 are of equal size), and row three is a single panel as well.  Row two should be the main focus of the page.

1 - A large, heartless room.  It is the Osborn dining room.  Norman and a young (maybe 10 or so) Harry sit at opposite ends of a long table, separated by its size.  Harry should be on the left side of the panel, Norman on the right.  The table is covered with various lunch foods - sandwiches, cold cuts, cookies, and so forth.  Harry asks a questions curiously, while Norman pensively puts down his cutlery, considering the inquiry.  If possible, have a clock showing a mid-morning time (maybe 10:30 or 11).  Also, having the perspective being somewhat pulled back to make the table look a little small within the size of the panel / room (instead of filling it out) wouldn't be the worst thing.

HARRY: Daddy, why don't we ever have brunch?

NORMAN: ...

2 - Switch scenes to Norman leading Harry down a winding, medieval-castle-esque stairwell.  He can be holding a torch / there can be sconces on the wall and everything.  Norman is determined; Harry is nervous.

CAPTION (NORMAN): Come with me.

3 - At their destination, we find a panel of Harry and Norman looking upon a strange altar filled with various damaged and destroyed waffle paraphernalia (mostly broken waffle makers of various ages and eras, along with things like mixing bowls, measuring cups, and the like).  It should look nefarious and strange in the dim lighting.

HARRY (quietly): What is this place?

NORMAN (1): A shrine.  A dark altar dedicated to our oldest enemy.

NORMAN (2): Brunch's cruel overlord.

HARRY (quietly): I-I don't understand.

4 - Norman holds one of the broken waffle irons in one hand and points at his signature haircut with the other.  His face is a horrible rictus grin of madness, made all the more awful by the poor lighting of the strange chamber.  His word balloon should be large and wild to parallel his attitude.  The caption box should be tucked into the bottom right corner of the page.

NORMAN: Don't you see?  How else could we have gotten this ludicrous haircut?!

CAPTION (generic): ...what?

5 - Switch scene.  Various Avengers, including Hawkeye, Spider-Man, Luke Cage, Tony Stark, and really anyone you think would be appropriate sit at a table, mirroring Norman and Harry's position from the first panel.  They can either be at the Avengers Mansion being served by Jarvis, at a public restaurant, or whatever.  The important thing is that they are eating brunch (you could even try to slip another clock into the background to show that).  Hawkeye has a look of surprise on his face, while all his colleagues look super unimpressed - feel free to throw in some facepalming, head shaking, glares, and so forth.  Hawkeye should also have a stack of waffles on the end of his fork, ready to eat them.

HAWKEYE: You guys have a better explanation?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Norman Osborn - Change of Face - Ben Rosenthal


1.  Carlie Cooper is standing at an open door. We see her from behind an individual who has just opened the door to her.  Outside is bright while inside has the curtains closed.

CARLIE
Peter, you're late for---Peter?

2.  Reverse angle of a desheveled looking Peter Parker inside his apartment.  He is stressed out, looking like he hasn't slept in days.

CARLIE
Are you ok?

PETER
Get inside.


3.  A large panel.  Carlie is in Peter's apartment.  It is a mess - pizza boxes everywhere.

CARLIE
What's going on?

PETER
It's Norman.

CARLIE
Osborn?

PETER
Only by name.  He doesn't look like Norman any more.

CARLIE
What do you mean?


4.  A close up of Peter, looking between the cushion and the back of a couch.  He is frantic.

PETER
He can change his face.  He could be anyone.
He could be you.


5.  Carlie has turned and is walking towards the door.  A hand is sliding into her purse.

CARLIE
I think I may come back when you're feeling more like yourself.


6.  Front on panel of Carlie opening the door with Peter in the background running towards her, smiling evilly.  In his hand is a syringe full of green goblin formula.

PETER
Aw, where's the fun in that?
AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA!


Why Norman Osborn?



Spider-Man's greatest foe isn't the Green Goblin.  It's Norman Osborn.




But why?  What makes this character one of the most dangerous in comics history?  For that, one needs to look at the psychological make up of the man.



Norman was always driven to succeed.  Ruthlessly, so as not to become like his alcoholic and abusive father who drove them to bankruptcy.  And he succeeded because of this.  But as the saying goes, the apple doesn't always fall far from the tree.  At least in this instance.

Norman's son Harry was always a disappointment to him.  One could argue it is because he never lived up to Norman's expectations of a son but I would argue it started as soon as Harry was born. Norman's wife died giving birth to Norman.  One could argue that Norman's resentment to his son began here.  He took away the one thing in life that Norman loved.  Harry never had a chance.

In the fear of bankruptcy Norman tested an experimental formula on himself, which later became known as the Goblin Formula.  It drove him mad, gave him super strength as well as a healing factor.  But from all we have seen of Norman before he took the formula, did it truly make him mad or was it just an excuse to to be more ruthless.  The part of his psyche that knows right from wrong would need justification for the acts he was about to commit.  The 'madness' of the Goblin Formula was what he needed to justify his evil deeds to himself. The Goblin was a way for Norman to control his feelings on inferiority, jealousy, vengeance, anger and worthlessness.  He was personifying the negative sides of his personality, putting on the mask allowed him to deal with these issues less they corrupt him.



When Norman met Harry's best friend Peter Parker, he saw in Peter what he wanted Harry to be.  A naturally gifted scientist.  He admired Peter.  Took pride in him.  That is why he took it as a personal insult when he found out who Peter Parker really was.  The one person who could bring everything down around him.  Peter was his arch nemesis, Spider-Man.



We are given a glimpse into the vulnerability of Norman during Sins Past.  In it, Gwen sees the scared individual that no one else sees.  She sees Norman without his mask.  However did Norman truly open up to Gwen, or did he simply manipulate her to get at Peter.  Either way it spelt the end for Gwen Stacy.  



The death of Gwen at Norman's hands can be looked at from different angles.  Was she used as a way to attack Peter, a way to get control of the kids he sired with Gwen?  Or was it something much more deep rooted.  Norman took from Peter the love that Norman had been denied. Norman saw himself in Peter - what his life could have been, and hated it. He blamed Peter for his choices, but was really blaming his dead father - an unseen force which guided his hand.  It is because of this that we can see why Norman was obsessed with destroying Peter's life.  Driving Peter insane was retribution for what he 'did' to Harry.  He was punishing Peter because in his eyes Peter was he.

He orchestrated the Clone Saga in grand plan to send Peter mad - making Peter think he was a clone, kidnapping and faking Aunt May's death, killing his child.   However, because Norman only sees people as a way to achieve his goals he did not take into account of he and Ben Reilly bonding.  It was this bond that gave Peter the determination to pull through, to persevere the Clone Saga. This is when Norman knew that he had to return to New York and take more direct role in the life of Peter Parker.

Norman returned and purchased the Daily Bugle purely to mess with Peter.  To show him how he has and will continue to control every aspect of his life.  And yet Peter did not break.  He came close, attacking Norman in his home (and being set up by Norman because of it).  But Peter still pulled through.  And Norman hated him more for it.
How dare Parker find the strength to make the best of a situation even after he had driven him through hell. Norman was jealous that Peter had this ability, where Norman held on to things.

Norman realised that he was never going to beat Peter.  He was resolute and strong willed, just like Norman (in his own eyes).  Therefore Peter was the true heir to the Goblin legacy - his legacy. Instead of torturing Peter as a bizarre form of punishment, he wanted to make Parker like him - to justify the choices he had made in his life. To prove that no matter the choices made, they would end up in the same place each time. He laced minute quantities of the Goblin Formula in Peter's tooth paste, and slowly began his manipulation of turning Peter into the next Goblin.  However, Peter once again triumphed.  He was able to  knock back the one thing that Norman could not - the excuse to do what ever you want.  The excuse of the Goblin Formula.  Norman realised that Peter was a better person than he was or could ever be.

After this Norman realised that Peter would not be turned, and for the first time looked at himself and his life choices. Norman, for the first time was making choices without justifying it, and Norman became severely depressed because of it.  He injured Flash to lure Peter into a final confrontation - to be killed by his better. Only Peter was worthy enough to do so. When Peter refused to kill him, instead sentencing him to something worse than death - to live a life with the knowledge of what he has done. Norman is left to live in his own private Hell. The Goblin Serum could not heal him from this. Peter had control over Norman.



After he is outed as the Goblin he seeks to regain the power that Peter has over him.  He forces Peter to compromise his morals and break him out of jail.  In his mind, Norman had once again established himself as Peter's better. He was no longer The Goblin, but Norman Osborn. Being unmasked publicly meant he was free of that persona - or so he would believe.

Once again using all his charisma and influence he managed to become the leader of the Thunderbolts.  However the Goblin side of his persona - all the fears and feelings of failure he had felt and personified which he had believed he had buried was not done with him yet.  These feelings of worthlessness and abandonment (which exhibited themselves in the form of vengeance, jealousy and violence) would not stayed buried, and the Goblin came back extracting revenge on his Team, killing The Swordsman.

It is from here that Norman focused on getting back the power that was taken from him. Taking it back from Peter was only the start.  He needed more.  He yearned and hungered for it.  By taking more and more power he was showing to himself that he was not a failure.  He was stronger than the depression that once claimed him.

From here a balance was found between Norman and The Goblin.  Norman was able to manipulate his way into ruling Hammer.  His confidence and peace with his goblin personality (ie his issues) feeding his ego.  He was the most confident and most dangerous he had ever been.  So much so he saw Peter as below him.  He did not need to worry about such an insignificant bug any more. He saw himself as a true hero - which is why he became the Iron Patriot.
 
It was during the Siege of Asgard that it came undone.  He was revealed to be wearing the goblin face paint under the Iron Patriot mask - something that completely threw him off.  But why was he wearing the face paint? It was his ego - he was secretly using it as a way to laugh at the people who he believed looked at him as a hero.  While they believed him to be a hero and changed man, he was secretly showing that he was the same Norman. What's more, he did not want to let the Goblin go.  Norman found comfort in having the Goblin close to him.



This is highlighted in Kelly Sue Deconick's OSBORN miniseries.  We see a throwback to the Goblin Cabal from Clone Saga (formally the Scriers) . In this series Norman comes to accept the Goblin as a friend.  He is not at peach with the Goblin - they are a team.  The Goblin would always be shown to be looking after Norman.



After gaining more power Norman christens himself The Goblin King.  He has  regressed fully into his Goblin persona - the safe zone.  He came so close to becoming more of a person, but in the end was not strong enough to follow through with the process. Making matters worse for Norman was that Doc Ock had managed to do what Norman never could - not only 'kill' Peter but become a superior Spider-Man.  Because Norman sees his personality twinned in Peter, Norman took this as an insult and set about destroying Spider-Ock in a much more ruthless and aggressive manner than he has ever attempted before.

It was Peter's return to his own body, and subsequent removal of the Goblin Formula by him that stopped Norman's rampage.  With the ability to change how he looks (thanks to becoming a Super Adaptopid in New Avengers) Norman has a new lease on life.  The Goblin Formula/fear and insecurities have been stripped from him, and he is free.  Free to do whatever he wants as Norman Osborn.

We are yet to see the choices he makes.








Saturday, October 11, 2014

Harry Dresden - The Madding Crowd, Part 7 - R.A. Wonsowski

Previously: Jack Ryder has been split from his alter ego, the Creeper, by Shade the Changing Man, but with the wrong mind in the wrong body. This has been done under the guise of a medical trial, but may be mystic in origin, as the main researchers have been using black diamonds to separate people's "shadow aspects" from their minds in order to explore the afterlife.


Layout: ok, try to think of this as one of those classic Dr. Strange pages, the ones with no borders, but changes POV and creates an overall story flow. This is a realm of magick, so the artist can go as abstract and geometric as he wants for backgrounds, maybe with a few Batman '66 camera angles mixed in to keep everything off kilter. Last element should be straightforward, though...

Upper-left corner - HARRY DRESDEN, dressed in a cheap gray suit, no tie, stands in a doorway of light upon a band of energy, arms outstretched in mystic summoning.

DRESDEN: Lords of Order! Hear me, Dresden, your servant! Come forth and--

Upper-right corner - foreground, the profile of SAS combat magician WILLIAM GRAVEL, clean-shaven and white hair cropped close to the scalp, scowling as he shouts. Background, DRESDEN looks shocked at GRAVEL.

GRAVEL: Oy! Lords of Chaos, yada yada, wankers all, when Gravel speaks, ya bastards best come runnin'!
DRESDEN: ...Jesus, William...

Middle left - a glowing Metatron's Cube and a black gelatinous blob floating and looming large in the aether before DRESDEN and GRAVEL, foreground, who should be small silhouettes, to give the Lords a sense of scale.

LORD OF ORDER: IT DARES.
LORD OF CHAOS: iT thINxss to cOMmANd iTSss LOrDzzz...
DRESDEN: No! We only want to beg your wisdom--
GRAVEL: Idiots, both of ya! Your Creator's discarded Wrath is returned, and you daft buggers're frigging about protocol!

Middle right - DRESDEN (right) elbows GRAVEL (left) aside as he addresses the Lords. They should be looking up and off page at us.

DRESDEN: ...JEEsus, William! Please, Lords! We ask only to... It's time.
DRESDEN: Release your Avatars!
LORD OF CHAOS (off-panel): yEZss...ssO bE iT!

Bottom third of the page - Same POV as previous panel, but zoomed in to just head and shoulders. The light is brighter, but two bird-shaped shadows fall upon their faces, one on each, a raptor-like shape on GRAVEL's (who's grinning wide) and a smaller one over DRESDEN's (whose mouth is agape).

LORD OF ORDER (off-panel, above): SPIRITS OF WAR AND PEACE! SAY YOUR TRUE NAMES AND CLAIM YOUR RIGHTFUL POWER ONCE MORE!
(off-panel): HAWK!
(off-panel): DOVE!

...to be continued...