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.
Everyone loves Batroc, right? To know Batroc, with the leaping, and the kicking, and the accent, and the picking fights with Cap, and the leaping (yes, twice, he leaps a lot, he is a leaper, THE leaper, even), is to love Batroc, n’est-ce pas?
Well, maybe not everyone. Certainly I do, though.
Okay, how about thoughtful deconstructions of superheroes? Like, just really cerebral examinations of what makes these formerly-four-color and morally-simplistic characters tick? I know all y’all love that, it’s basically the foundation of the last forty-odd years of superhero comics.
Captain America and Batroc by Renato Arlem (art), Nick Filardi (colors), Kieron Gillen (script), Damien Lucchese (production), Blambot’s Nat Piekos (lettering) is part of a long lineage of “a day in the head of a previously goofy character”. It’s Batroc, a character whose primary role in a narrative is to have fights of varying quality with Captain America, examining himself, and why he does that. Besides the fact that people pay him to, of course.
Let’s look at a page of Batroc, out getting his cardio on in preparation for a fight with L’Capitan, having just discussed the philosophy of being a traceur (one who practices parkour) with two young Parisians
PAGE SEVEN (FIVE Panels)
P1. CASUAL BATROC sprints away along the rooftops, brow furrowed in thought, LOUIS waving at his departing back, SEBASTIAN still eying the jump.
– BATROC (cap) I pluck my truth from the mouth of babes.
– BATROC (cap) This is what it’s about. This is what I always was, and never knew. A traceur.
P2. CASUAL BATROC swings effortlessly through the open window of his darkened apartment, his face blank.
– BATROC (cap) The original Captain—this Steve Rogers? A freak of science and a freak of nature.
– BATROC (cap) The only survivor of a serum that destroys men.
P3. CASUAL BATROC pulls a case from under his bed.
– BATROC (cap) The new one? Who knows. Obscure training. Lunatic science. Cybernetic enhancements.
P4. CASUAL BATROC opens the case, solemnly.
– BATROC (cap) They broke the mold they used to make Captain America.
– BATROC (cap) Who knows what tools could carve this super-soldier replacement.
P3. It’s the bright purple and gold costume of BATROC ZE LEPAIR. And there’s a shaving kit on the bed as well.
– BATROC (cap) I am no super-soldier.
So, What’d We Learn?
Nobody’s the villain of their own story, but you’d probably already heard that. Batroc showers contempt on the heroes Captains America (Captain Americas?) Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes, mostly based on the fact that they’re both enhanciles of some sort. At the same time, he’s a sneering villain, but he’s not wrong that, say, the serum that makes Rogers superhuman has a history of dead men behind it, and that Bucky’s Cap is enhanced by a patchwork of fringe science and training. To this end, Batroc declaring that he is no super-soldier is a point of pride, and you can kind of see where he’s coming from.
- This isn’t the first page we see “Casual Batroc” in the comic, so I skipped describing that look, but I think it’s important to differentiate between fully-bearded, borderline-grim Batroc and the colorful Leaper. “Serious Batroc” would’ve also worked, and is probably a little funnier, but ah well.
- Similarly, the actions of the panels are easy enough to describe; trying to psychicially impart a mood to the artist is the trick. Emphasizing Casual Batroc here as being dour and thoughtful,
- Color choices to call out: Batroc’s the bad guy, so he wears cooler colors, has a dark face in both beard and expression, his apartment is similarly colored to be dim. The young traceurs are positive influences on Batroc, so they’re dressed brighter, with more open clothes than Casual Batroc’s tracksuit, the sky of their Paris is an angelic pale yellow. Batroc’s business suit is brightly colored, but garishly so; Batroc is a bad guy (purple being a “cool” color), but even with his sneering monologue, he’s a fun bad guy (the golden cowl, gloves, and boots).
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.
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