(Featured image by Adi Granov––from Captain America: Living Legend.)

So a couple of weeks ago, I wrote that I wish somebody would write a Captain America comic that tries to be topical––but by doing something other than simply casting Trump and the alt-right as supervillains. That worked fine for Secret Empire, but I want a Captain America book that deals with questions and ideas in American life that go beyond America-has-been-taken-over-by-a-fascist-dictator! (#Resist!).

So because I’m the kind of person who likes to put his money where his mouth is (not really), and because I’m the kind of person who is happy to put himself out there for public scrutiny (actually, I’m a big coward; please be nice to me!), I decided to write a script for the first issue of a hypothetical Captain America limited series called Captain America vs. The Punisher: A Walking Shadow. I wrote it for a number of reasons, but the main reason was to show what kind of book I was asking for in my previous post. I want a Captain America book in which Cap has to face questions that real Americans ask, and I want it to present those questions in a nuanced and fair way––in other words, not by depicting one side of the political divide as supervillains. I don’t think that what I’ve written here is a perfect comic book script, but I think that it does do what I’m asking for.

I have only written the script for the first issue, but I have a rough outline of the entire limited series. Marvel will never pick it up, of course, but it was fun to write nonetheless (and hey, C.B. Cebulski, if you happen to read this and like it, I’d be happy to send you a full pitch for the series!).

Comments, critiques, criticisms, and praise are welcome. If anybody out there wants to illustrate or letter this script just for the heck of it, let me know! As I was writing, I imagined the book drawn in the style of Andrea Sorrentino or Alex Maleev.

–––––

Captain America vs The Punisher: A Walking Shadow

Issue #1

Script by Armond Boudreaux

PAGE 1: Nine-panel grid. We’re in an Atlanta movie theater immediately following a shooting.

PANEL 1.1: Close up of a hand lying on a puddle of blood and loosely gripping a cell phone. Before falling down, the caller had been texting someone named Darius.

TEXT CONVERSATION ON THE PHONE:

DARIUS: So now you’re going to ignore me?

DARIUS: Hello??????

RESPONSE (TYPED BUT NOT SENT): oh my god theres a guy here with a gun i think its the pu

PANEL 1.2: Someone in boots steps over the hand.

PANEL 1.3: Still a closeup of the hand. Now there’s a boot print in the blood.

CAPTION (RED): You could stop this. You’re one of the few people who can stop it.

PANEL 1.4: Close-up of the side of a carbine and a hand on its grip.

PANEL 1.5: Close-up of a man lying on the floor, his eyes wide, blood covering his shirt and leaking from his mouth. We can see that there are other bodies around him.

PANEL 1.6: The man raises his hand as if to ward off an attack.

CAPTION (RED): But I don’t think that you want it to stop.

PANEL 1.7: The view moves closer to the man’s face. We can barely make out a figure reflected in his eyes.

MAN: No, don’t . . .

PANEL 1.8: Now the view is very close to the man’s eyes so that we can make out what is reflected there: the torso of a man in body armor with the Punisher skull painted on his chest.

MAN: No . . . please . . .

PANEL 1.9: Completely black.

CAPTION (RED): Because if you really wanted it to stop, it would stop.

–––––

PAGE 2: Full-page splash. We’re looking up at seats in the movie theater from a POV close to the screen. The projector shines from the back of the room across stadium-style seats that are littered with bodies. Many of them lie draped over the backs of chairs. Others lie on the stairs on either side of the seats. All are dead. The man with the gun is walking out the side door. He’s silhouetted against the lights in the hallway.

CAPTION (WHITE): I don’t hate guns. Hell, I own a gun. Where I live, you got to own a gun.

CAPTION (WHITE): But come on, man . . .

CAPTION (WHITE): We can’t keep letting this &$%@ happen.

–––––

PAGE 3: Six-panel grid.

PANEL 3.1: We’re looking down a hallway in the movie theater. Posters line the walls. There are several bodies, blood puddles, purses, and scattered popcorn and drinks. At the other end of the hall, doors into the screening rooms stand open.

CAPTION (BLUE): Do you think I want it to stop any less than anybody else? I have a daughter in high school.

PANEL 3.2: Same view, but now add two police officers securing the area.

CAPTION (BLUE): You think I don’t worry about something happening to my baby girl?

PANEL 3.3: Same view. Now add more officers and investigators. People take photos. 

PANEL 3.4: Same view. Now Cap stands in the foreground as people crouch over the bodies and take pictures. He’s not wearing his cowl. The shield is on his back.

CAPTION (BLUE): Let’s say they take away ARs or some other kind of gun. Fine. I obey the law.

PANEL 3.5: Same view. Cap walks down the hallway. Everyone has turned to watch him.

CAPTION (BLUE): But that’s not going to stop the bad guy. It just means that I won’t have one if I need to defend myself against him.

PANEL 3.6: Same view. Cap has nearly made it to the screening rooms. Everyone in the hall stares at him.

CAPTION (BLUE): And you. You got all that strength. You got that shield. You don’t need a gun.

–––––

PAGE 4: Four panels. Three take up the top third of the page. Panel four takes up the rest of the page.

PANEL 4.1: Cap stands at the foot of the stairs in the screening room from pages 1 and 2. Three investigators are taking pictures and gathering evidence.

CAPTION (WHITE): People’s rights are important, but man, you got dudes walking around with guns they use in the army.

PANEL 4.2: Close up of Cap’s eyes as he looks down at something on the floor.

CAPTION (RED): We fetishize death. We care more about the right to a weapon than we do about protecting lives. Children’s lives.

PANEL 4.3: We see what Cap sees: a woman’s body crumpled on the floor in front of her seat. In her last moment, she was trying to pull something from her purse: a .38 Special.

CAPTION (BLUE): It’s fine for you heroes to have your strength, your gadgets, your weapons, your powers. What do we get?

PANEL 4.4: Close up on Cap’s face. We see anguish and a feeling of powerlessness.

CAPTION (RED): When will we care more about our kids than our guns?

CAPTION (BLUE): I have a right to protect myself.

CAPTION (WHITE): People got to be safe, man.

DETECTIVE KHADIJAH BARROWS (OFF-PANEL): Captain.

–––––

PAGE 5: Nine panel grid.

PANEL 5.1: Cap turns to face Barrows. She’s a black woman in her late forties or so. She’s been on the force for almost twenty years; her experience shows on her face and in her stance.

BARROWS: I’m Detective Khadijah Barrows. Thanks for coming.

CAP: I’d say, “My pleasure,” but . . .

PANEL 5.2: They both look around at the theater.

PANEL 5.3: They walk among the bodies.

BARROWS: I assume Sharon told you that the shooter wore Castle’s symbol?

PANEL 5.4: Cap crouches beside a dead boy, probably a young teenager.

CAP: She told me. It wasn’t Castle. He’s a killer. A brutal one. But this isn’t what he does.

PANEL 5.6: Barrows and Cap climb the stairs toward the top seats and the projector.

BARROWS: I know it wasn’t him. But there’s a reason the shooter was wearing the skull. I’m going to find out what that reason is. I bet Castle is going to be interested, too.

PANEL 5.7: They pass an investigator taking pictures. He looks at Cap with what might be suspicion or fear.

CAP: You think that the Punisher is going to come gunning for this guy, and you want me to keep him from . . . what? Complicating your investigation?

PANEL 5.8: Close up on Barrows’ face.

BARROWS: This is the third time our shooter has killed in Frank Castle’s name. He might be just as skilled as Castle is, he has the same firepower, and he’s more brutal.

PANEL 5.9: Barrows looks Cap squarely in the face.

BARROWS: I need someone like you to make sure that the Punisher doesn’t start a $&#!ing war while we try to figure out who this guy is.

–––––

PAGE 6: Eight panels. The first panel takes up the top third of the page. The other seven panels take up the bottom two thirds.

PANEL 6.1: Close up on Cap. He looks away from Barrows toward the bodies.

CAP: Punisher is just as likely to come after me as he is the shooter.

PANEL 6.2: Barrows looks at him.

BARROWS: That Hydra thing wasn’t you. Everyone knows that.

CAP: Castle doesn’t.

PANEL 6.3: Barrows looks exasperated.

BARROWS: Look, I see that you’re still messed up over that Hydra @#$!. I get it. I’ll take my chances with Castle–

PANEL 6.4: Cap turns to Barrows.

CAP: No, you don’t understand. Castle’s angry because I—the other me—got him to serve Hydra. He’s angry. He feels betrayed. That might be an advantage for us. For me.

PANEL 6.5: Close up on Barrows while she looks around at the theater. She considers what Cap just said.

PANEL 6.7: She looks at Cap.

BARROWS: I think I see what you mean.

PANEL 6.8: Cap starts down the stairs.

BARROWS: Where are you going? I need to set up some kind of coordination between–

CAP: You find the shooter. I’ll find Castle.

–––––

PAGE 7: Six-panel grid. Cap is racing down a freeway on his motorcycle. Lots of movement on this page.

PANEL 7.1: Cap leaves the movie theater parking lot on his motorcycle. He spins his back tire as he goes.

CAPTION (RED): When will it stop, Captain?

PANEL 7.2: Cap whips in and out of traffic as he goes down a freeway. He’s driving fast, almost recklessly.

PANEL 7.3: Kids stare out car windows as Cap races past.

CAPTION (WHITE): There’s got to be some kind of compromise.

PANEL 7.4: Cap lane-splits between two cars.

PANEL 7.5: Cap exits the freeway onto a dark country road.

PANEL 7.7: Cap races down the country road.

CAPTION (BLUE): Ban thirty-round clips? AR-15s? Fine. But it won’t do any good.

PANEL 7.8: Cap approaches an abandoned school building out in the middle of nowhere. The school is surrounded by a chain link fence with signs that read DO NOT ENTER.

PANEL 7.9: He turns into the driveway and throws his shield to break the chain holding the gate closed.

–––––

PAGES 8-9: Two-page spread. In the first two or three panels, Cap parks his motorcycle out front and goes inside. After that, use as many panels as needed to depict Cap working out frustration by running, leaping, and throwing his shield. He bounces the shield off of walls, doing trick shots. Eventually, he ends up in the gymnasium and leaps from the top of the bleachers to grab onto the metal rafters. He swings, runs, jumps, and practices doing difficult throws with his shield. By the end of the page, he sticks a landing in the middle of the gym floor, cracking the wood with his shield.

Be creative with the layout, and place captions where appropriate.

CAPTION 1 (CAP): This school has been here for fifty five years. In that time, they won five state championships in football, and students from here placed in a ton of science competitions, debates, and other contests. One student won several art competitions and got to have her work shown at the Metro in New York. I attended that exhibit and met her. Shondra was her name.

CAPTION 2 (CAP): Five years ago, a disturbed student named Caleb Dillon walked through the front entrance with an SKS and started shooting. He killed six people and severely wounded eighteen others before police cornered him. 

CAPTION 3 (CAP): Finally he put the barrel of the SKS in his mouth and fired. He was sixteen years old.

CAPTION 4 (CAP): Caleb’s mother was the mayor of this town at the time. His father, who was a Methodist minister, had died nine years before. Everyone who knew him said that they weren’t surprised about the shooting. Dillon had been a loner who always seemed depressed and angry. The only time he spoke to anyone was to ridicule them, especially the religious students, the popular students, and anyone who seemed too “normal” to him.

CAPTION 5 (CAP): When they were coherent enough to understand, Caleb’s diary entries spoke of a struggle between order and chaos. He saw himself as the only person in the world who knew the truth: that order, society, and goodness are all illusions.

CAPTION 6 (CAP): I still remember these words: “Listen to the nothingness. Look at it. Touch it. Breathe it. Let myself slip into it.” 

CAPTION 7 (CAP): Those words sound like an angsty kid’s bad imitation of Friedrich Nietzsche, but they still send a chill through me. I’ve heard similar things said by the likes of Thanos, Zemo, Red Skull, and other murderous men.

–––––

PAGE 10: Four-panel grid.

PANEL 10.1: Cap leaves the gym and walks into a hallway. He carries his shield by his side.

CAPTION (CAP): After mass shootings, everyone in America starts screaming at each other about gun control. Some want to repeal the Second Amendment. Others want to arm teachers.

PANEL 10.2: He’s in a hallway lined with lockers. Kids have sprayed the lockers with graffiti. Some of it reads, “RIP Humanity” and “In memory of Lacey McMillan.”

CAPTION (CAP): I can’t help thinking that both sides are missing the most important question:

PANEL 10.3: Cap sees several bullet holes in one of the lockers.

CAPTION (CAP): How did we make a society that produces so many Caleb Dillons?

PANEL 10.4: Close up on his gloved hand as he reaches out and touches the bullet holes with his fingertips.

CAPTION (CAP): And why does it seem like we see more and more of him every year?

–––––

PAGE 11: Three panels.

PANEL 11.1: Cap looks at more graffiti. It reads, “Mikell and Jaida died here.”

PANEL 11.2: He moves on to another piece of graffiti. Someone has painted a picture of a horrible face that covers several lockers from top to bottom: white with black eyes, its features stretched, its mouth twisted into a hideous grimace. A message next to it reads, “The monster was real.”

PANEL 11.3: Cap stands in the middle of the hallway staring at the graffiti. We’re looking right down the hallway with Cap in the middle.

–––––

PAGE 12: Splash page. Cap slams the edge of his shield into the painted face. The locker doors cave in. Some of them break off their hinges. We need to see lots of movement and violence in this image. Cap is furious.

CAP: rrrrrrrrraaaaaaaAAAAAAAGH!

–––––

PAGE 13: Eight-panel grid.

PANEL 13.1: Cap stands with his hand on the ruined lockers, staring at the floor.

NICK FURY (from off-panel): You know, when I was a teenager, I wanted to tear up my school.

PANEL 13.2: Cap looks down the hallway toward the voice.

FURY (from off-panel): Hated the damn place.

PANEL 13.3: Nick Fury (Jr.) leans against the wall at the other end of the hall, his arms folded.

FURY: But I’m a little surprised. I thought you were more straight-laced than to vandalize private property.

PANEL 13.4: Fury starts walking toward Cap.

FURY: I guess being impersonated by Hydra and made into a fascist tyrant will make even you a little angsty, though.

PANEL 13.5: Cap puts his shield on his back.

CAP: I don’t need this right now, Fury.

PANEL 13.6: Fury and Cap stand in front of the ruined lockers.

FURY: You’ve seen all kinds of horrible $#&@, and now you’re going to pieces?

CAP: Give me a break, Fury. It’s been a long few years. What do you want?

PANEL 13.7: Looking over Cap’s shoulder at Fury.

FURY: Well, I have some information about your shooter . . . if you want it.

PANEL 13.8: Fury looks at the ruined lockers.

FURY: But if you’d rather stay here and smash up an abandoned school . . .

PANEL 13.9: Close up on Cap’s face as he looks at the lockers, too.

–––––

PAGE 14: Five panels. We’re in a dark room in an old shed. The walls are made of wood, and there are no windows. We see several handguns, three different types of carbine, as well as a bolt-action sniper rifle lying around on workbenches. Several laptops are open and running. There’s body armor lying on one workbench with the Punisher’s symbol painted on it. One of the laptops is playing news footage.

PANEL 14.1: We see a pair of hands disassembling a carbine (the same gun used in the shooting at the theater) for cleaning. In the background we can see a news channel on a laptop. In the footage we see two people being interviewed: an older man and one who might be young enough to be a high school student.

YOUNGER MAN: You don’t need a––beep––assault rifle for hunting.

OLDER MAN: There’s no need for that kind of language. The right to own firearms isn’t just for hunting. It’s for self-defense and to protect citizens against the threat of tyranny–

YOUNGER MAN: Even if that was true–

PANEL 14.2: Now we’re closer to the laptop. The young man on the screen looks with derision at the older man. A ticker scrolls across the bottom of the screen: “. . . AS THE RACE TIGHTENS. THEATER SHOOTING IN ATLANTA: AT LEAST FORTY TWO DEAD. THE X-MEN RESCUE PENNSYLVANIA MAN FROM . . .” 

YOUNGER MAN: –what good is it going to do citizens to have assault rifles when the government has tanks and helicopters and planes? Is an AR-15 supposed to protect you from a Stealth Bomber carrying a nuclear––

OLDER MAN: A tyrannical government isn’t going to use nuclear weapons against its citizens on its own soil.

YOUNGER MAN: Then why do you need an assault rifle?!

PANEL 14.3: Now we’re looking at the shooter while he oils the parts of the disassembled gun.

OLDER MAN (FROM OFF-PANEL): Because if the government ever did become tyrannical, they’d–

NEWS HOST (FROM OFF-PANEL): Mr. Milosz, Mr. Jackson, thank you for speaking with us tonight, but now we have to move on to a new segment.

PANEL 14.4: More cleaning and oiling.

NEWS HOST (FROM OFF-PANEL): Social media giants all face new scrutiny as Congress questions CEOs of three major Silicon Valley companies about their role in recent revelations–

PANEL 14.5: He reassembles the gun. We still don’t see his face.

NEWS HOST (FROM OFF-PANEL): –of foreign attempts to manipulate American public opinion using social media services.

–––––

PAGE 15: Nine-panel grid.

PANEL 15.1: We see the shooter from behind as he picks up the rifle and carries it over to an open door on the other side of the room.

NEWS HOST (FROM OFF-PANEL): Representative Lisa Hinds asked Harvey Richardson, creator of the Shine Chat app–

PANEL 15.2: He places the gun inside a safe in the room.

NEWS HOST (FROM OFF-PANEL): –what measures his company has taken to ensure that operatives in China, Russia, and other places cannot hijack the popular messaging application in order to spread misinformation about political candidates.

PANEL 15.3: He gets two more guns and puts them in the safe.

HARVEY RICHARDSON (FROM OFF-PANEL): We’ve always made the privacy of our users our top priority.

PANEL 15.4: After he has put all the guns inside the safe, he closes it.

REPRESENTATIVE LISA HINDS (FROM OFF-PANEL): I’m glad that you care about the privacy of your users, Mr. Richardson–

PANEL 15.5: Then he moves the body armor to the room, as well.

REPRESENTATIVE LISA HINDS (FROM OFF-PANEL): –but I’m asking you how you plan to prevent foreign operatives from using your site to spread . . . I really hate using this phrase . . . fake news.

PANEL 15.6: He closes the door and padlocks it.

HARVEY RICHARDSON (FROM OFF-PANEL): As I said, Mrs. Hinds, I think that the privacy of our users–

PANEL 15.7: He closes the laptops.

PANEL 15.8: We see him stepping out of the shed door, but we still don’t see his face.

PANEL 15.9: Outside the shed, he padlocks the door.

–––––

PAGE 16: 8-panel grid. We see that the shed that the shooter stores his guns in is surrounded by woods.

PANELS 16.1-16.2: We see a single image across two panels: the shooter walks into the woods that surround the shed.

PANELS 16.3-16.4: We see a single image across two panels: he’s walking through the forest, his hands in his pockets. We still don’t have a good look at his face.

PANELS 16.5-16.6: We see a single image across two panels: he leaves the woods and enters the back yard of a log house.

PANELS 16.7-16.8: We see a single image across two panels: now we’re inside the house, and the shooter is coming through the back door. A man and a woman (his parents) sit in the living room as he comes in. They’re both staring at their phones. They sit on opposite sides of the room, ignoring each other. They don’t look up as the shooter walks in. We still don’t see his face.

–––––

PAGE 17: Same layout as page 16.

PANEL 17.1-17.2: We see a single image across two panels: Same view as 16.8-16.9. The shooter walks across the room toward a hallway in the background. We can’t see his face. The man and woman (the shooter’s mother and boyfriend) don’t look up from their phones.

MOTHER: (WITHOUT LOOKING UP FROM HER PHONE): Where have you been all day?

PANEL 17.3-17.4: Same view. The shooter walks down the hallway. He doesn’t respond to his mother’s question.

BOYFRIEND (WITHOUT LOOKING UP FROM HIS PHONE): Probably out in the woods looking at porn on his phone. I’ll bet he’s got a spot out there where he j—

MOTHER (WITHOUT LOOKING UP): Shut up, Murphy.

BOYFRIEND: Kid needs to get a job. He’s too $&!#ing old to be—

MOTHER: Shut up, Murphy.

PANEL 17.5-17.6: Same view. The shooter disappears into a bedroom. The mother and the boyfriend continue to stare at their phones.

PANEL 17.7-17.8: Same view. Neither the boyfriend nor the mother looks up.

MOTHER: Did you see the video my sister just shared? People are so stupid.

BOYFRIEND: Hang on. I’ll go find it.

–––––

PAGE 18: Nine-panel grid. Now we’re in the shooter’s bedroom. We see a television with a gaming system, soda cans, empty water bottles, dirty plates. He has several posters of women, but he’s scratched or cut out all of the women’s faces.

PANEL 18.1: Th shooter sits on the side of his bed looking at his phone.

PANEL 18.2: Zoom in on his phone’s screen. He has a social media app open (looks like Twitter)  on the search feature. He types into the search field “#atlantashooting.”

PANEL 18.3: Still on his phone screen. Now we’re looking at the search results.

RESULT 1: This is a news article with a photo of a movie theater and the headline “‘The Worst In American History’: Shooter Kills Dozens in Atlanta Theater Shooting”

RESULT 2: praying for everyone involved #atlantashooting

RESULT 3: When are we going to do something about guns?????!!!!! #atlantashooting

RESULT 4: prayrs and thoughts #atlantashooting

RESULT 5: if u still believe in the 2 amendment after this block me #atlantashooting

RESULT 6: Calling all high school girls! Find a lonely classmate and give him some $#&$%! Take one for the team and save the world! #atlantashooting

PANEL 18.4: Zoom closer on the search results.

PANEL 18.5: Zoom closer on Result 6.

PANEL 18.6: Now we’re looking at the shooter again in a profile view, but we can’t see his face. We can only see his torso, the hand holding the phone, and a little bit of his chin and mouth.

PANEL 18.7: The same view as 18.6, but the phone dings with a notification.

PANEL 18.8: Close-up on the shooter’s phone. The screen is black except for a field for a password.

PANEL 18.9: We’re still looking at the black screen, but now there’s a message: “He’s found you. Move now.”

–––––

PAGE 19: Six panels. We’re on a S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier in an intelligence room. There are computers everywhere. An agent sits at one of the computers. She has pulled up a map of Atlanta and the surrounding area. There’s a red dot indicating a location on the map north of the city in a rural area.

PANEL 19.1: Fury and Cap stand behind the agent, looking down at the computer screen.

Fury: Twenty five years old. Served four years. Did a tour in Afghanistan and in Iraq. He was fired from his last job for harassing a female coworker. He went to college, but that only lasted a couple of semesters.

AGENT: It’s a wonder he didn’t shoot up the college after they kicked him out.

PANEL 19.2: Zoom in on Cap.

CAP: PTSD?

PANEL 19.3: Fury looks at Cap.

FURY: Never diagnosed.

PANEL 19.4: Zoom out. We’re looking at Cap and Fury from behind.

CAP: Where does a guy who lives with his mom get his hands on weapons like the ones he used at the theater?

PANEL 19.5: Close up on Fury’s face. He knows something that he isn’t telling Cap.

PANEL 19.6: Cap looks at Fury. If he realizes that Fury is holding something back, he doesn’t say anything about it.

CAP: Barrows asked me to find Castle and keep him out of her way, but if we can stop the shooter first, then the problem is solved.

FURY: You believe that?

–––––

PAGE 20: Nine-panel grid.

PANEL 20.1: Cap and Fury stand on the back loading ramp of a S.H.I.E.L.D. quinjet (is that what they’re calling them after bringing them to the comics from the MCU?). They’re hovering in the air over a wooded area. Cap is wearing a stealth suit similar to the suit in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. (But the shield is still red, white, and blue.)

CAP: Tell your men to hold back unless I signal. I want this kid to make it out alive.

PANEL 20.2: Close-up on a pair of feet running through the woods.

FURY (FROM OFF-PANEL): Kid like this won’t be redeemed, Cap.

CAP (FROM OFF-PANEL): It’s not about redemption. We have to know why.

PANEL 20.3: Bird’s-eye view of the quinjet hovering over the house in the woods. We can only see an outline of it because it’s in stealth mode. We see Cap jumping out.

CAPTION (CAP): What scares me about kids like this is that we might not ever know why.

PANEL 20.4: We see the shooter running into the door to the shed where he hides his guns.

PANEL 20.5: Cap lands in the back yard of the house and does a roll.

PANEL 20.6: The shooter suits up in his body armor.

CAPTION (CAP): And really, will it do us any good to understand why? That question scares me more than anything else.

PANELS 20.7-20.9: These three panels show a single image: a bird’s-eye view of the shooter’s house and yard. S.H.I.E.L.D. agents have the house surrounded and approach it in a circle formation, their rifles aimed. We see the light from their flashlights shining across the yard toward the house. Cap is running toward the back door.

–––––

PAGE 21: Nine-panel grid.

PANEL 21.1: The shooter, dressed in body armor and well-armed with pistols and extra magazines, grabs the fully-automatic carbine that he used in the theater shooting.

CAPTION (CAP): Can anything really explain a person who wants to see everyone dead and the whole world put to the torch?

PANEL 21.2: Cap steps through the back door of the house into the living room.

CAPTION (CAP): I don’t have any illusions about what people are capable of.

PANEL 21.3: The shooter loads a banana clip into the rifle.

CAPTION (CAP): But even the Red Skull had a goal that made sense in his own twisted logic. He had goals that he thought were actually good.

PANEL 21.4: Cap sees the mother and the boyfriend sitting with their heads leaned backward. Their phones are still in their hands, the screens still lit.

CAPTION (CAP): But people like this kid . . . they want evil and horror. That’s their goal.

PANEL 21.5: The shooter steps outside the shed.

CAPTION (CAP): I can’t understand that. And I’m afraid that there is no understanding it.

PANEL 21.6: Closer view of the mother and boyfriend. They’ve both got bullet holes in their foreheads.

PANEL 21.7: The shooter stands in front of the shed, his rifle held across his body, muzzle pointed at an angle toward the ground.

PANEL 21.8: Cap walks toward the back rooms of the house, speaking to Fury through the com in his helmet.

CAP: Rogers to Fury: I’m inside. The mother and boyfriend are dead. No sign of the shooter.

PANEL 21.9: Close up on the shooter, but we still don’t see his face. We see him from the chin down.

–––––

PAGE 22: Nine-panel grid. 

PANEL 22.1: Cap stands in the shooter’s bedroom looking at the map with the marks on it.

FURY (FROM OFF-PANEL): Alright. I’m sending forensics in. We need to start a search.

PANEL 22.2: We’re looking over the shooter’s shoulder at the woods.

PANEL 22.3: Close-up on the map. There are now four marks: three red and one green.

PANELS 22.4-22.6: These three panels show a single image: a profile view of the shooter as he stares into the woods that surround the shed. We see him from the jawline down.

SHOOTER: I know you’re out there!

PANEL 22.7: Cap walks out of the back door of the house.

CAP: I don’t think he’s been gone long, and I think I have his next target.

PANEL 22.8: Close-up of the shooter’s hand on the grip and trigger of his rifle.

PANEL 22.9: Close-up on Cap while he talks to Fury over intercom.

CAP: We need to fan out and search the woods. Send out drones, too. I don’t think he’s gone far.

–––––

PAGE 23: Nine panel grid.

PANELS 23.1-23.3: These three panels show a single image: the shooter sprays the woods with gunfire, yelling.

PANELS 23.4-23.6: These panels show a single image: Cap hears the gunfire and runs into the woods toward the sound.

PANEL 23.7: Close-up on tree trunks as they get peppered with bullets.

CAPTION (RED): I know you stand for the Constitution, Cap.

CAPTION (BLUE): We’re talking about a constitutional right!

PANEL 23.8: Cap is running through the woods.

CAPTION (RED): But why can’t you see?

CAPTION (BLUE): It’s just that simple.

PANEL 23.9: Close-up on the shooter mouth as he shoots. We see the light of the gunfire on his face. He grits and bares his teeth as he fires.

CAPTION (BLUE): Guns ain’t the problem.

CAPTION (RED): Guns are the problem.

––––

PAGE 24: Nine-panel grid.

PANEL 24.1: Cap still running through the woods. He leaps over a fallen tree.

CAPTION (WHITE): My sister almost got raped. Ain’t no cop or superhero saved her. It was a .357. That’s what saved her.

PANEL 24.2: Same view as 23.9. Intensify the grimace.

PANEL 24.3: Cap is still running through the woods.

CAPTION (RED): We have more guns in this country than we have people.

PANEL 24.4: Same as 24.2, but now the view has shifted lower. Imagine a camera tracking downward and curving slowly around to his side so that we start off staring straight at his mouth and begin slowly shifting to a profile view.

PANEL 24.5: We’re looking at Cap from behind as he runs. We can see the edge of the woods ahead.

CAPTION (CAP): God, how do we stop this?

PANEL 24.6: Continue the motion begun in 24.2 and 24.4. Now the we see a profile view of the shooter’s torso. We see half of the Punisher skull on his chest. The muzzle flash lights it up in red and orange.

PANEL 24.7: Cap reaches the edge of the woods.

PANEL 24.8: The movement through 24.2, 24.4, and 24.6 continues. Now we’re looking at the muzzle of the gun as it fires.

PANEL 24.9: Cap throws his shield.

–––––

PAGE 25: Eight-panel grid.

PANELS 25.1-25.2: We see a single image across two panels. Similar to 24.8, but now we’re slowing down time in this image and for the rest of page 25. We see the muzzle flash and three bullets in the air.

CAPTION (WHITE): Man, the kids these days—they’re just different. Heartless. Even the decent ones . . . they just ain’t like we used to be, you know?

PANELS 25.3-25.4: We see a single image across two panels: Think of this panel as a shield’s-eye view of the scene. Our POV is close to the shield as it flies toward the shooter. We see that the shield is spinning. We see the shooter and the shed in the distance. In this view, the shield is nearly horizontal.

CAPTION (BLUE): You don’t stop bad people from killing by disarming the good ones.

PANELS 25.5-25.6: We see a single image across two panels: Same as 25.1-25.2. Change the position of the bullets to indicate the passage of a second or two.

CAPTION (RED): If you don’t do something, Cap, then you don’t deserve to wear those colors.

PANELS 25.7-25.8: We see a single image across two panels: Still the shield’s-eye view. We’re close to the shooter now. The shield is starting to turn to a vertical orientation as it hurtles toward the shooter.

CAPTION (RED): There’s blood on your hands.

–––––

PAGE 27: Nine-panel grid.

PANELS 27.1-27.3: We see a single image across three panels: We’re looking at the muzzle of a different gun. This one is a sniper rifle with a silencer. It fires, and we see the bullet at the end of the muzzle flash.

CAPTION (CAP): People always looked to me when they were disillusioned or afraid, when they didn’t understand their country.

CAPTION (RED): The right to a gun is a right to kill.

PANEL 27.4: The shield strikes the shooter’s automatic rifle, breaking the rifle in half.

CAPTION (CAP): When I put on my uniform, I put on a creed, a belief, an ideal.

PANEL 27.5: Close up of the shooter’s head as the sniper’s bullet strikes him in the forehead and forces his head back.

CAPTION (CAP): It’s a burden that I have to decide every day to keep carrying. 

PANEL 27.6: Cap runs toward the shooter.

CAPTION (BLUE): If you don’t stand up for our rights, who the @!#$ will?

PANEL 27.7: Close up on the sniper’s rifle as he pulls the bolt and ejects the spent shell.

CAPTION (CAP): When they question the ideal, the look to me for inspiration and answers.

PANEL 27.8: We see Cap’s hand as he picks up his shield. In the same image, we also see the face of the dead shooter and the bullet hole in his forehead. His eyes stare at the sky. This is the first (and last) time we see his face in the book.

CAPTION (WHITE): Why does this $&#! keep happening?

PANEL 27.9: Cap runs toward the woods.

CAPTION (CAP): But sometimes I don’t have any answers . . .

–––––

PAGE 28: Full-page splash. We see Cap from behind. He has stopped to stare at the figure who steps out of the woods. It’s the Punisher.

CAPTION (CAP): . . . and sometimes it feels like my spirit might fail.