A blog entry from my old Marvel blog in which I reproduce some story notes I sent about SECRET INVASION #1.
People constantly ask what editors do (and the snarky ones talk trash about it whenever there’s something they don’t like in one of our books.) Among other things, each editor reads and responds with feedback to each and every script that comes in, working with the writer to make the story as good as it can be.
So I thought I’d post one of my e-mails here responding to a particular script, so that you could get a sense of exactly what I went back to the writer on. However, I clean out my e-mailbox frequently to avoid running out of space (which is a real possibility when you’re talking about the size of some of the art files that we e-mail around), so as it turns out I don’t have a good e-mail between myself and a writer about a published book.
So instead, I decided to share the following comments that I sent over to Brian Bendis after reading his first draft of SECRET INVASION #1. Now, because we’re still a few months from debuting the series, I’ve had to block out some of the commentary below–but hopefully there’s enough left here for you to get a sense as to how this communication goes. After receiving this e-mail, Brian and I call one another, and we hash out the relevant points to both our satisfactions, and then he makes any necessary changes.
Here’s some feedback on SECRET INVASION #1, all relatively easy stuff to nip and tuck. This issue came together nicely.
1) From Nick Lowe on SWORD:
S.W.O.R.D. isn’t a wing or subsidiary of S.H.I.E.L.D. or the US gov’t. It’s a completely separate entity that has worked with S.H.I.E.L.D. on occasion. They’re an intergalactic peace-keeping organization that doesn’t operate under any government or world’s control. In ASTONISHING, Brand mentions to Maria Hill that the only reason that S.H.I.E.L.D. knows that S.W.O.R.D. exists is because of her relationship with Nick Fury.
Possible solution- Rather than an inspection, Dugan’s reason for coming to the Peak (what the ship is called) could be one of a regular meeting they’ve set up to share information. It could still be special that it’s Dugan coming (maybe Maria Hill is the usual rep from S.H.I.E.L.D.) and I could imagine that Brand has a prior relationship with Dugan since she had one with Fury. And I could also imagine a few of the S.W.O.R.D. agents being really into meeting him.
Agent Brand’s characterization- She’s not really an excited school girl. She’s a sarcastic, all-business, hard-ass who has little time for…anything, really. But, like I said before, I could see that she and Dugan might have a positive relationship. But we usually treat her like she’s the one with the knowledge. She doesn’t ask questions too much. One place in particular that I might ask for a simple change would be reversing the dialogue on pages 18-19 panel 5 so that the agent asks the question and Brand answers it. The only other thing that I might ask is that Brand, rather than radioing the Helicarrier, might be trying to radio S.W.O.R.D. HQ and it might be jammed by XXX XXXXXX.
2) Tony seems very casual about leaving the autopsy—which is about the most important thing he’s dealing with right now—to go chase the XXXXXX XXX, which is also important. So perhaps he should indicate that he’ll continue to monitor their progress remotely from his armor while en route, just so it doesn’t feel so much like he left two guys he can’t 100% trust alone with his only clue to the conspiracy. Also, a minor thing, you indicate that Tony has his helmet off in this scene, yet we see his POV from within the suit. So he should keep his helmet on for this to work.
3) Minor point on Page 12, Iron Fist has been in the Savage Land before, so maybe give this line to Echo.
4) I expect it’s all a matter of space, but Luke and company respond almost too quickly and too positively to XXXXXXX XXXX’s call. They know XXXX stole the body and XXXX XX XXXXX XXXX XX, and they know they’re all wanted men, and that the Mighty Avengers have tried to ambush them at least once before. And yet, Luke immediately jumps to act on the info without even considering that this could be a set-up. So maybe what we need somewhere in here is a line that indicates that XXXX’s info might be shady, but that this is important enough to take the risk on.
5) The Marvel Boy scene in the Cube doesn’t really link up properly with where we left him at the end of CIVIL WAR. At that point, he had liberated himself, and taken over the Cube. I think this is easy enough to address, though—it just means that Marvel Boy isn’t in his cell when XXX XXXXX XXXX, but is instead in the Warden’s quarters, or some other place of authority. And maybe he needs some sort of “It’s time.” Kind of sentiment as he heads towards the hole in the wall and his destiny.
6) I’m not sure the connection between XXX XXX and XXXXX exploding connects clearly enough. All we see is XXX XXX XXXXXX XXX XXX XXX and then the base goes up. I think we need to see some sort of minor action—his pressing a button or something—that makes it a hair more obvious that he’s responsible for the detonation as a suicide bomber. Or even him saying “As it was written…” like the other Skrull agents.
7) When XXX XXXXXXXX XXXX is expanding into XXX XXXXXX XXXXXXXX, I think it would be a good idea to clarify the visual you’re looking for a little bit, so that Leinil draws the right thing. Are pieces of the building just disappearing, as though a bite has been taken out of them? Is there strange crackling XXXXX-energy seeming to consume parts of the building? How do you see this working?
8) Just to make sure that Leinil can draw it properly, in the sequence when the XXXXXX XXX opens and the XXXX XXXXXX come out, I think it would be helpful to specify when it’s X XXXX XXXX XXXXX XXXXXXXX, XXXXXX XXXX XXX XXXXXXX XXX XXXX XXXXX XXXX XX XXXX XXXXX.
So far, so good!