Here it is, what the entire
series has been building towards since The Mark, Volume 1, issue 1. It’s what
we’ve all been waiting for (LOL), the death match between The Mark and The
Archon… and it’s thwarted by Special Agent Pierce, Lisle and Scrub. Talk about
fight-us interruptus. And Mike (Mike Barr, the writer of “The Mark in America”)
called ME “arch”. There’s nothing I could do to top THAT.
Page 20, panel 1: The Mark
bursts into scene, shattering a wooden door with his shoulder, being fired on
by a crowd of hostile soldiers.
Page 20, panel 2: a
commander orders a soldier to stop firing as it may set off the explosives inside
what we now see is an ammo dump. Of course we could see it better if
the commander's hand weren't partially covering both the signage on the
building facade and the shattered doorway the Mark entered through in panel 1.
My bad. The problem could have been easily solved if I had shrunk the commander
by a third and moved him slightly left. Perhaps I'll do just that if "The
Mark in America” has a second printing.
Page 20 panels 3 & 4:
The Mark finds momentary refuge in the ammo depot and immediately sets to work
trying to blow the whole thing up, spreading a trial of gunpowder from a barrel
of the same, lighting it...
Page 20, panels 5 and 6:
...and runs for the exit, running for the exit misjudging how long it will take
the gunpowder trail to burn (he's only human, after all, even if he is super).
The flame reaches the barrel and we scan right to the “BA-WHOOM” sound effect, which
carry the reader into…
Page 20, panel 7: the center of the explosion that blows The
Mark out of the of the ammo dump through foreground soldiers, whom are also
being hurled toward and past camera. I must confess that I find panel 7 rather
inelegant in terms of its use of eye-read. We enter the panel at the sound
effect, are carried immediately down and right by the f.g. soldier’s leg, jump
upward to catch The Mark. That’s all good, but then we notice, off to panel
left, on the other side of panel 6, a glimpse of three more explosion-flung
soldiers. I had originally, set up panel 5 to go to the bottom of the page and
decided including more soldiers was necessary and worth the graphic clumsiness.
Page 21: The exploding ammo
dump on page 20 has the beneficial effect of dramatically igniting the back of
The Mark’s leather jacket as he demolishes the rest of the Archon’s troops.
Mike’s plot outline called for many small panels each one of the Mark
dispatching an individual (or small group) of troops in whatever imaginative
way I could devise. I was deep in my Kirby phase, so I did it all in one large
panel instead. Page 21, panel 1 is my
attempt at a Jack Kirby action full-pager. My main regret is that the letterer
ran the “CRNNCH sound effect over the foreground soldier’s leg. I tried to
compensate by inking through the lettering, which I despise when other
cartoonists do it. Oh well. One thing I’ve learned, its never say what you WONT
do because, sooner or later (usually sooner) you’ll be called upon to do
Panels 3 and 4: Oh boy,
there it is, the big fight at last! Quick, turn the page…!
Page 22: …And it’s a bust.
In panel 1 The Archon strikes a martial arts pose I learned from Tim Gula (a
fellow animation and comicbook artist who studied a new defense method every
year). He told us (my fellow TV Animated Batman artists and I) it was Philippine martial arts, possibly called Selot or Sillot or something like
that, but I can’t find it online, so either I mis-remember or Tim was pulling
our collective leg. Or maybe it’s an Aikido pose (I took Aikido for a few years
around this time.)
But I digress. The Archon is
fresh and ready to kick the remaining shit out of his archenemy. It might have
been an interesting fight, but it is immediately interrupted by warning shots
from The Mark’s posse (panels 2 & 3).
Panel 5 is my favorite on
page 22. The Mark’s unconscious, supine
body works well with the left-to-right, up-to-down eye read, leading us down
from Scrub, looping around to pick up Lisle, then sweeping us back up (that
relaxed, inert hand is just TOO tasty) to S.A. Pierce as she ineffectually
sprays some rounds at the retreating Archon.
These are pages 20, 21 & 22 for "The
Mark" issue 4, volume 2, otherwise known as "The Mark In
America", published by Dark Horse Comics in March 1994. Written by Mike
Barr, Drawn by Brad Rader