Superhero Scripture: A Comic Compendium One-Shot

Would you want to read a comic book and then read a prose version of the exact same story? Of course you wouldn’t! Ed has another geeky rant

Has anyone else noticed that occasionally publishers add scripts to the back of their comics as “additional extras”? Without scripts, we wouldn’t have films, plays or soap operas. And while I could do without the latter, disposing of them completely would mean that I’d also have do without some of the best comics out there, which would includes masterpieces like Astro City by Kurt Busiek, J.M. Straczynski’s run on Thor, and Kingdom Come by the genius that is Alex Ross (even if he was assisted by a hack named Mark Waid). This is not an existence I would like to contemplate. Without the script, the additional images and artwork would not be able to create the same wonderful experience by themselves, and instead these “comics” would actually be named “books” or “screenplays.” It’s partly because of how important scripts are to the overall story that including it in the trade collection itself baffles me. I certainly don’t understand how this is to supposed to make a collection a “Special Edition.”

It would be much better if comic companies would follow the example of collections like Ultimate X-Men: Ultimate Collection Book One, which includes a script that’s different from the comic you’ve just read. That the X-Men script was the original draft by Brian Michael Bendis just happens to be the icing on the cake. I can’t really understand the reasoning behind including the exact same script with the story, though, as if I’ve just seen an adventure played out in beautiful images that surprise and excite and had it replaced with something that eschews all of those things. Did you think that reading instead of enacting Shakespeare in school was pointless? Well this is much, much worse. Although I wouldn’t call myself a comic purist, I’m not exactly a slouch either, and I can’t imagine why even the most “hardcore” fan of any comic would want to read an exactly identical script, as you gain nothing but lose valuable moments of your life reading the same thing that you’ve JUST FUCKING READ.

I’d rather see unused or original art at the end of comic books, especially when you see the development of characters, scenes, and even the cover art. If you’ve ever read an Astro City book, you’ll have seen Ross’ development of the covers with different models used for different poses and their various permutations. You also see development for multiple characters and, in the first collection, you even see how they’ve created this entire universe, with some of the details hinted to in the first batch only coming to light in the sixth and seventh collections, fifteen-plus years later. The amount of forethought that must have gone into the entire series is absolutely staggering, and seeing the development and evolution of the series is wonderful.

As previously stated, I have no problem reading unused scripts or those that differ in major ways to the final product, and that is something I take great pleasure in discovering. If you need additions to the collected editions to make the increased price worth paying, then the comic companies need to do more than adding scripts, a practice that is nothing more than the worst sort of filler. It’s like when a “Special” or “Collector’s Edition” music CD only contains near-identical demos, remixes or radio versions of one or two songs. Unless you’re a compulsive collector or fan, it will never be worth the extra cash…