From Strip to Script – A Jack Kirby Fight Scene

By Josh Hechinger

Welcome once more to From Strip to Script, where I take a shot at reverse-engineering a script from a finished page of someone else’s comic.

This time, I’m going to attempt to script what I consider to be the unscriptable: a Jack Kirby fight scene. Not just any Kirby fight scene, but one that Stan Lee himself decided to leave with the bare minimum of dialogue (I mean, y’know, for him).

To that end, I’m going to leave off Stan’s captions, and just focus on trying to script the beats of the fight.

I’m pulling this from the back half of the Captain America and Batroc one shot, which reprinted the section of Tales of Suspense 85 by Frank Giacoia (inks), Jack Kirby (Kirby), Stan Lee (Lee), and Sam Rosen (lettering).

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P1. BATROC primes a punt as CAP charges forward, leading with his left/shield.

P2. CAP dodges BATROC’S punting kick by switching to his right for an uppercut.

P3. CAP backhands BATROC to the ground with his right hand.

P4. A prone BATROC sweeps CAP’S legs.

P5. A prone CAP claps his free hand on BATROC as ze Lepair starts to rise.

P6. CAP’S up on one knee as he pops BATROC with a hook punch.

P7. Now standing, CAP throws an overhand with his free hand…

P8. …and follows that with an uppercut.

P9. BATROC’S on all fours, CAP’S circling him (shield first) to see if he’s going to get back up.

So, What’d We Learn?

– Well, I don’t know that you can 100% script Kirby’s dynamic combat anatomy, but the actual flow of the fight mostly makes sense…Cap charges in leading with the shield on his left arm, throws a right uppercut and then just keeps landing hits with his right hand until Batroc is down, at which point he’s leading left in case ze lepair gets back up.

The main thing that threw me on this page is that Cap doesn’t really hit Batroc with his shield at all. Cap just throws various right punches, instead of slapping down ol’ Georges with that big disc of metal he’s got on his arm.

– Give or take impact effects and dynamic motion, this is a nine-pic grid where you see both combatants, head to tails. At no point does Kirby cut to close ups of the combatants’ expressions and/or thoughts…there’s nothing but these guys throwing down, semi-equally. That’s pretty impressive.

– P4-P5…I dunno if I follow that flow. Batroc sweeping Cap’s legs is a great panel, don’t get me wrong, but…I guess Batroc sweeps, does a kip-up, but Cap rolls over and catches him by the trapezus halfway through?

– Kirby has Cap’s punches obliterate whole chunks of the panel/Batroc. Batroc’s sweep erases a little bit of Cap’s kneecaps, but every single hit Cap lands radiates throughout the rest of the panel. The only calm backgrounds are when mere-mortal Batroc is taking shots or crawling around.

Philly-based comic writer Josh Hechinger is a Cancer, and his blood type is A+.

About Hannah Means Shannon

Editor-in-Chief at Bleeding Cool. Independent comics scholar and former English Professor. Writing books on magic in the works of Alan Moore and the early works of Neil Gaiman.

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