Full page. We’re in a small North Am military outpost or encampment on an alien world. The world is a hot, seething environment—maybe an alien jungle. The outpost, meant to protect some mining or resource-gathering operation, has been trashed. There are several dead North Am soldiers around, and many destroyed robs. One last soldier, tattered, wounded and scared is trying to defend himself… but he’s being stalked by a Predator in his invisible mode.
Note: North Am soldiers, like all North Americans, are usually wusses. These Deep Space patrols, however, are the hardiest and bravest souls. Possibly we should give the humans some kind of breathing-assistance gear, to add to the feeling of “alien environment.” Make it comfortable-looking. This is the forty-first century.
- The soldier, fighting his own terror as much as his assailant, steadies himself. He mutters something like “where is he?” There is a badly damaged, immobile but still-alert robot nearby.
- The robot, whose optics are superior to human eyes, makes the Predator and informs the soldier where he is.
- The soldier fires, wounding the Predator.
- The Predator hurls his smart weapon.
- Killing the soldier.
- The Predator takes his trophy in two or three panels at your discretion.
- Immediately after raising the gory skull and spine in traditional triumphant fashion, the Predator is gunned down. Emphatically.
- Enter Colonel Hartwig, the toughest, most macho man in North Am’s army. With him are several human troops (no North Am soldier is less than a lieutenant) and a squadron of robots. One of his robots is reporting that the Predators’ vessel has been found and captured after heavy fighting.
- Cut to the captured (mostly destroyed) Predator ship. A whole flotilla of North Am’s ships surround it, and a few downed ships are in evidence.
- Colonel Hartwig and a number of soldiers and robs are inside the ship, examining it. It is clear that the Predators fought to the last from the bodies and debris. Hartwig is examining their trophies. One is in a particular place of honor—an X-O Manowar headpiece.
- Hartwig hefts the X-O helmet. A soldier, looking ill (these guys are a little wimpy) asks, rhetorically, what sort of creatures these were.
- They’re hunters says Hartwig, as if relishing this intriguing thought. He’s still holding the X-O helm.
- Minutes later, a shuttle leaves the area of the Predator ship (taking Hartwig back to the huge cruiser-mother ship in orbit). We can see the Predator ship and environs below.
- KABOOOM! The entire area goes up in an awesome blast, buffeting the shuttle. All evidence of the Predators is destroyed (except the helmet, which Hartwig took with him).
- Hartwig reacts. Clever, these devils! His aides are shaken, upset. Show the helmet here.
- Cut to the edge of the blast area. An exceptionally tough-looking Predator is surveying the destruction. He’s the one who blew everything up.
- The Predator looks up (at the departing shuttle). We get the feeling he plans to get his X-O helmet back. Note: Show that he has in his possession the X-O trigger ring, on his finger if possible.
- Cut to North Am, about a year later. A humanoid freewill robot ala Tekla is fleeing through the lower levs toward Goph Lands from something we don’t see yet. A device fastened to her head prevents her from using the comm-link to call for help.
- More of the same, but now we see a hint of her pursuers. They are:
Senator Church, a pompous politico. He’s really sort of a wimp, but he hunts to impress his young, sexy babe girl friend who always tags along. He’s more concerned about protection than anyone else, and wears too much body armor and protective gear. He caries a big gun that hits a wide area—the futuristic equivalent of a sawed-off 10-gauge. The babe, call her Poochie for now, is never scared, always reckless. Danger turns her on.
Squire Shnupp, a former Goph, who got rich peddling vice to cloud-cloddies and bought his way back into polite society. He’s the ultimate social climber. The others resent him. He’s obnoxious, dresses too flashy, and is obscenely nouveau riche—picture the Rodney Dangerfield character in “Caddyshack.” He hunts in comfort—a flying sedan chair, with bar, etc. He’s a sadistic pig.
Note: Feel free to make these people different race, ethic and/or physical types except for V’ril Trent.
3. Hartwig draws a bead on the quarry.
4. Oops! Shnupp (or one of his robot servants) bumps or distracts Hartwig, on purpose.
5. The shot wounds the rob-girl, but she scurries away.
- Hartwig yells at Shnupp, tells him to keep his distance. Meanwhile, Trent zips by (all of these hunters have anti-grav equipment).
- Trent’s “beaters” have the girl-rob cornered.
- …but her gun-bearer rob glitches (shoddy workmanship) and gives her the wrong weapon. The girl-rob is slipping away.
- The girl-rob ducks into an ancient tunnel or somesuch—maybe the rotting fuselage of a 747. Poochie points that out to Church…
- Who fires, blowing away half the fuselage…
- causing an ancient fuel truck behind it to go up as well.
- Hartwig yells at Church. You idiot! They probably heard that on lev twenty! Meanwhile, Shnupp zooms by.
- The girl-rob is limping away. Shnupp closes…
- Draws a bead…
- Suddenly, a powerful hand grabs his gun. Hey!
- It’s Magnus!
- Shnupp orders his servant robs to attack.
- Magnus chops them up. Squeee.
- Shnupp fires with his sidearm, hitting Magnus in the side.
- Magnus, unhurt, due to his tunic, slaps the gun away and grabs Shnupp by the shirt front.
- Shnupp begs for mercy, offers bribes, etc., as Magnus drags him to cover (Magnus is no fool. He knows there are others around.) Include the girl-rob in this shot. She’s shouting a warning.
- Suddenly a shot grotesquely, mortally wounds Shnupp.
- Magnus shields Shnupp from further harm with his own body as he carries Shnupp to cover. Again, his tunic blunts the energy.
- From cover, Magnus looks for the others, and asks Shnupp who they were.
- Shnupp tells him an address with his dying breath.
- Cut to Magnus smashing in a door to a hidden “hunting lodge” on a lower lev.
- He looks around inside. There are various things you’d expect to find in a hunting lodge, including trophies of familiar and future/alien animals.
- In a special place of honor, Magnus finds the X-O helmet. It’s like the America’s cup—given to the hunter who wins their annual contest.
- Magnus shatters the trophy case…
- And closely examines the helmet.
- Cut to the home of V’ril Trent, an incredibly lavish milespire penthouse. A chauffeured air car is approaching, bearing Senator Church and Poochie.
- Church and Poochie are ushered in—she’s practically draped onto him—by a robot. Trent and Hartwig are waiting, having a drink. It’s about time, says Hartwig.3. Church asks what’s the situation? Trent tells him that Magnus found their lodge, stole their trophy.
- Of course that particular trophy can be traced to Hartwig. The only good news is that Magnus took it with him, and isn’t on good terms with the police…
- What do we do, asks, Church, scared. Why, we do what we do best says Hartwig.
- We hunt him. And kill him. And regain our trophy.
- Cut to North Am’s Space Defense Center. A rob is reporting to a human supervisor that an intruder ship has been detected entering local space. Send an interceptor, says the supervisor.
- Cut to Magnus, in civvies, riding up a tube from Goph Lev. He’s carrying the X-0 helmet in a bag or somesuch. He also has flowers.
- Cut to Leeja’s place. She’s opening the door to admit Magnus. Leeja is devastatingly sexy, but not in the bimbo-ish way she used to be. Make what she’s wearing elegant, womanly, grown up and sophisticated as well as sexy.
- Leeja leads Magnus into her nice but relatively modest home (compared To V’ril Trent’s). One serving rob is setting a candlelight dinner, maybe on her balcony(?). She’s telling the rob to get a vase.
- They dine. The robot cooks at tableside. Being romantic, Leeja is having the rob use an old fashioned Hydrogen Grill. Things taste so much better cooked on a Hydrogen Grill… Leeja tells Magnus all about her political career. She’s trying to reform North Am working within the system.
- More of that. Mag would rather organize a revolution, but he respects Leeja. He has something to show her, indicating the bag.
- Cut to the Space Defense Center. A rob reports that the intruder ship has been brought into the interceptor’s main bay. They had reported one life-form, but now can’t find any.
- Magnus shows Leeja the X-O helmet, explaining what he knows about it. Leeja examines it curiously.
- Mag thinks it might be useful as evidence. He thinks if he gave it to authorities, whatever evidence it represented might be squelched—but maybe Leeja can use it against the corrupt North Am types. Leeja says sure… but not tonight. She wants romance.
- Leeja and Mag kiss. Feature the X-O helmet prominently in the foreground, here.
- Leeja tells Magnus she has the strangest feeling they’re being watched. Mag asks how can that be?
- Leeja says it’s this thing, indicating the X-O helmet. It’s alive! Mag says give me a break.
- Leeja tosses the bag over the hat. She’s empathic, and she knows this helmet’s watching!
- She turns romantically to Mag again, perhaps undoing his tie (if any) or something. That’s better, she says—now that its “eyes” are covered.
- Cut to the Space Defense Center. The rob is reporting that the interceptor is headed for North Am at flank speed and does not respond to hailing. What? says the supervisor.
- The rob says it’s slowing, but flying erratically. It looks like it will crash land on the shore of Lake Ontario. The supervisor says scramble emergency crews!
- Cut to Magnus and Leeja making love. Leeja is looking sidelong suspiciously toward something off-panel. Mag says still not enough?
- Leeja says…um…the heck with it. Feature foreground the helmet buried under their clothes, the tablecloth, anything handy. Be discreet about Mag and Leeja’s state of undress and compromising position.
- Cut to the interceptor ship crash landing on the shore of Lake Ontario. The Predator ship, perhaps delineated by the explosion, flies out just before impact.
- Emergency crews enter the huge ship.
- The approach the command deck. It’s well protected, so the humans aboard are probably okay…
- On the bridge, however, they find the corpses of the humans—murdered in Predator fashion.
- Cut to General Hartwig, being contacted by City Security Command. They’re reporting the incident with the interceptor.
- Hartwig says send all available City Security to that sector. Ignore low-priority calls from other sectors and especially Goph levs until they find the perp—probably a malfunct rob.
- Hartwig turns to his fellow hunters, now in full hunting regalia. Perfect, he says. A diversion! Let’s go get Mag.
- Cut to Mag, dressed again, about to leave Leeja’s place. She wants him to stay, but he can’t.
- She asks him to leave the helmet. She seriously does think it’s alive. Really? asks Mag.
- Leeja says yes. She thinks she might be able to use her empathy to get info from it. Mag says okay, but be careful. There are people who’d kill to get that back.
- As Mag and Leeja kiss, the Predator stalks them. Your choice of how to show this.
- Magnus leaves.
- The Predator closes in on Leeja’s place.
- Leeja does a “poor Yorick” with the helmet.
- The Predator bursts in!
- Leeja orders the rob to stop the Predator.
- Predator kills the rob. Leeja picks up a carving knife, bg.
- Leeja tries to stab the Predator, but he knocks her back into the table (near the Hydrogen Grill).
- The Predator moves in to kill stunned Leeja.
- Cut to Magnus’s home. The hunters are scoping it out—Hertwig using sophisticated spy gear, and Trent using a clumsy big-eyed big-eared rob—the equivalent of a hunting dog. Church is saying there’s someone coming!
- The hunters hide as Magnus approaches. Should we kill him now? says Church. No, says Hartwig. The X-O isn’t inside and he doesn’t have it. We can’t kill him yet.
- The hunters confer. What’ll we do? asks Church. Hartwig says we watch and eavesdrop for a while. If no clues emerge…
- …We wait till he’s asleep and take him alive. We’ll psychoprobe the info out of him if we have to . Bg this shot, show Magnus through a window, puttering around, getting ready for bed.
- Cut to Leeja. As the Predator grabs her, she grabs the grill…
- And, turning it up to full, blasts the Predator with very hot flame. It isn’t hurt bad, but it drops her.
- Leeja with the X-O in hand sprints toward the tubes while the Predator recovers. She’s empathic enough to know what it wants.
- The Predator pursues.
- Cut to Magnus’s house. The clumsy robot “dog” of V’ril’s trips and bumps Poochie, who screams.
- Magnus hears and reaches for his familiar red combat tunic.
- Outside, Hartwig is furious with Church, his bimbo and Trent. The bimbo, unconcerned, says somebody’s coming.
- They see it’s Leeja, with the X-O!
- She enters Mag’s house.
- Trent says let’s strike. Hold it, says Hartwig, listening on his spy gear.
- No, he says… let’s watch. Show the Predator coming here.
- Magnus gets the story from Leeja…
- The Predator enters through the open door. (Note: At this stage it doesn’t realize that Magnus, weaponless, is a threat. It’s not particularly cautious.) Magnus faces it.
- Magnus attacks the Predator, hitting it hard enough to knock it backward through a window.
- Magnus dives toward the Predator.
- The Predator slams Magnus with its staff.
- The Predator blasts Magnus with its laser. The Tunic protects him mostly, but the laser catches some exposed flesh on Mag’s side, wounding him.
- Leeja, weilding a broken wooden piece of the door starts to run to Magnus’s aid—
- But Hartwig slams her in the head from behind with a gun butt!
- Hartwig and company drag the stunned Leeja away and takes the X-O helmet. They’ll set a trap for the Predator after it kills Magnus. They’ll blame everything on the Predator!
- The Predator throws his net…
- …nailing Magnus to a wall. He looks helpless.
- The Predator throws his smart weapon… it looks like the end for Magnus.
Never thought i'd ever get a chance to read your rendition Mr. Shooter, many thanks.
George, thanks a lot for mentioning this! I see that it is available digitally at wowio.com, and I am going to get it as soon as possible! 🙂
George E Warner
I suggest tracking down a copy of Mantlo: A Life In Comics by David Yurkovich and Michael Mantlo. It was was published by Sleeping Giant Comics/Creations and is an excellent read. It truly is a tragedy what happened to Bill.
George E Warner
Interesting! Yeah, Claremont would have been hard to stop once he got going back then, but even he is actually doing fairly sparse stuff now. I haven't decided if that's an improvement, however… I always loved Bill Mantlo's stuff. If his plotting was brief, I guess that's a testament to how good the artists he worked with were. Mantlo exemplifies what I consider one of the cardinal virtues of superhero storytelling: he would tell a story that did not necessarily have anything to do with the main character or his powers and background, yet making it mesh extremely well with those. With that kind of writing, you never know what to expect (which is a good thing); every new story could feature anything from a current real-world theme to a new take on a piece of classic literature. Mantlo, to my mind, was one of the best storytellers out there.
Marvel plots vary from very sketchy, a few paragraphs describing very basically what happens, to panel-by-panel, in great detail. Depends on the writer and who he or she is working with. If you're working with a Kirby, Ayers or Ditko, no need to spell everything out. Claremont's plots were like the Manhattan directory (do they still make phone books?). Some of Len Wein's plots were pretty spare, but he was usually working with heavy-duty talent. Bill Mantlo's plots were brief. Marv Wolfman's plots were terse, but page-by-page, and pretty much each sentence was a panel. Also, even if the plot was sparse, the writer and artist would often discuss things on the phone. I didn't know who was drawing Magnus versus Predator when I wrote the plot (it was Dark Horse's choice, and Lee was a brilliant one), so I made it a detailed plot.
Whoa, this is a "plot"? It describes every page and even every panel! I thought the Marvel style was much, much loser than this. If it's actually this tight, only needing the dialogue and captions to be fully formed, then it suddenly makes a lot more sense to me why it was so successful! I always wondered how such great results could come from a lose plot that was only scripted after it was drawn. Thanks, you just made me smarter! 🙂
Thanks for your reply. I'm sorry I brought this up. I knew that this was one of the last things you worked on at VALIANT and I feared it might trigger unpleasant memories. I should have known better, but I was hoping you might have dialogued part of it before you left. Now that I know the script wasn't yours, I'm content to read your plot and not read the comic.
The plan was for Lee to work Marvel style, from the plot, dialogue and captions to be added later. I had nothing to do with the script, which was written after VALIANT was stolen from me. It was all Ostrander. I've never even read it.
I've somehow managed to avoid all things Predator since the first movie came out, but after reading this plot, I'll make an exception for your two-issue miniseries.
Did you intend Lee Weeks to directly work off this plot, or was this plot for editorial approval prior to writing a full script? (My guess is the former, since I assume you wouldn't need a panel-by-panel plot for approval.) What determined whether you wrote Marvel style or full scripts at your own companies?
The GCD credits both you and John Ostrander with the script. Assuming that's correct and knowing that the plot is yours, how did you divide dialogue duties with him?
Hi Jim, love your blog and love the Predator/Magnus story. So this is the perfect moment for me to leave a comment. I already liked Lee Weeks art a lot, and seeing how well it follows your plot makes me like it even better.
My thanks to you and JayJay for all the stories, memories and information you share here.