|Jai West by Drake Tsui|
Not too long ago, I read Writing for Comics and Graphic Novels with Peter David. In it, David explains how one should be prepared with three ideas to pitch when speaking to an editor. Heaving tweaked this to twenty pages and cleaned it with some awesome advice, I had hopes that "Return Stroke" would be one of those ideas. However, with the New 52 - Jai and Irey, as far as I can tell - do not exist and aren't going to exist for sometime.
So, without further adieu, here's the revised, comic book script version of "Return Stroke." The next post is the short story version.
Narrations are Barry Allen unless otherwise designated. In one section, they will be Jai West’s.
1—The Flash—Barry—races past a Father’s Day sign on a diner in Central City.
NARR: I’m not a father.
NARR: Not really.
2—Barry races over the bridge from Central to Keystone. A picture of Keystone’s welcome sign greets us.
NARR: I’d like to think that I had some parental responsibility for Wally.
3—Flash zips into Wally’s home.
NARR: I never raised my children, the “Tornado Twins.” Yet I’m a grandfather and a great-uncle.
NARR: Does THAT make me feel old.
4—Barry’s now dressed in his civvies—sweatshirt, jeans, sneakers—as he comes to a stop before Wally in the living room. Wally’s sitting at his couch, worried.
WALLY: I just don’t know what to do with him. Even Linda’s doing a show with a child psychologist hoping to learn something.
1—From behind Barry, we look inside the Wests’ family room, where Jai sits in front of the TV, playing a video game.
WALLY (off): Jai—He sits in front of the Xbox all day or plays his PSP. When I was his age, I was always outside, always running.
BARRY: You can’t relate.
2—Wally looks up, barely holding it together.
NARR: Wally reminds me of the tearful teenager who used to crash on my couch when his parents set up for Normandy.
WALLY: He wasn’t like this before Zoom attacked. I wonder sometimes, Barry.
3—Bottom half of the page—Barry and Jai walking along a busy Keystone street at a normal pace.
WALLY (off, no pointer): When Jai lost his powers, did I lose my son, too?
NARR: It took some coaxing, a growling whine, and a little bribery for Jai to join me for a walk downtown.
BARRY: Your mom and dad are worried about you.
1—Jai stuffs his hands into his jean pockets.
2—Barry looks down at him. Jai’s not looking up at him.
BARRY: Losing your powers, must have been hard.
3—Barry’s expression flashes to surprise.
BARRY: You know any other words other than—oh, no.
4—Barry plucks the PSP from Jai’s hands.
BARRY: I thought we had a deal, kiddo. I take you to GameSpot, and you and I talk the whole way there and back.
5—Jai crosses his arms and pouts.
JAI: We WERE talking.
BARRY: No, I was talking. You were muttering.
6—Barry looks down at the boy, his pout close-up.
NARR: I suddenly feel ancient, like one of those elderly people who shake their canes at the neighborhood kids.
JAI: Why don’t you just RUN us? We’d be there already.
1—Barry pats the boy’s shoulder.
BARRY: Sometimes you have to slow down. Enjoy life and the people within it. Trust me. It’s worth it.
JAI: Is that what you thought when you ran yourself to death?
2—Barry narrows his eyes. He’s getting pissed but holding his cool.
NARR: Captain Cold has nothing on me at this moment.
BARRY: I was thinking of your aunt.
JAI (off): GREAT aunt.
3—Barry’s a little angrier.
NARR: Strike two.
BARRY: Yes, I was thinking of your great aunt and how I’d miss her, but I’d have saved her and your father, and the people I cared about.
4—Jai looks up at Barry finally, his own face contorted with anger.
JAI: Is that what you thought when you didn’t go back in time and save your mom and dad?
5—Barry’s taken off guard.
SCREAM (off): AHHHHHHHHHHH!
1—People dash from the park, screaming in panic. Children are dressed in soccer uniforms and cleats.
2—In a Flash second, Barry gets into his Flash suit, grabs Jai, and heads toward the park.
FLASH: Come on!
3—Flash places Jai behind bleachers at a soccer field and rubs the boy’s head.
FLASH: Stay put.
4—Jai doesn’t look at Barry, his head ducked.
NARR: I can’t help but feel for him.
NARR: This could have been our first run together.
5—Close-up on Flash’s hand upon Jai’s head, where tiny purple lightning bolts zap his fingers.
NARR: Hesitation is not a trait of Flashes, definitely not one of Wally’s, but a darkness, a coldness, brushes my fingers.
NARR: I wonder if it’s just my kinetic energy touching his non-powered skin, but I’ve never felt it against Iris.
FLASH (off): I’ll be back.
1—Flash zooms to meet Double Down on the field, and between them, three people—including one boy dressed in a soccer gear—are dead. They’ve been cut by Double Down’s cards.
2—Close-up on the dead soccer player.
NARR: He’s no older than Jai.
NARR: Double Down killed a CHILD.
3—Double Down smirks, an ace of spades between his fore and middle finger.
DOUBLE DOWN: It was my day with the prince of hearts. Even the dealer said I could see him.
4—Flash’s hands fist at his thighs.
FLASH: So you KILLED him?
DOUBLE DOWN (off): It was time for the burn.
1—Flash slams his fist across Double Down’s face.
NARR: I’m moving even before I realize it.
DOUBLE DOWN: Ugh!
NARR: I should hit him harder. It should have sent his head back onto the soccer field and used it for the ball.
FLASH: Just what kind of sick monster are you?
2—Double Down huddles in the fetal position. Flash’s looking down at him.
FLASH: You killed a child—your own?
3—Double Down smirks over his shoulder.
DOUBLE DOWN: I never said he was mine.
4—Bottom tier—Double Down chucks his cards, and they come at the camera.
DOUBLE DOWN: You’re drawing dead, Flash!
1—Flash zooms about the field, ducking and catching cards before they hit bystanders.
NARR: I only have a few seconds to catch them when I realize they’re not aimed at me.
2—Flash catches one just before a frightened woman’s face.
NARR: They’re aimed at the people who didn’t flee.
NARR: Five seconds, six max, to save them all.
3—From behind Flash, we see Jai peeking through the bleachers with purple lightning clashing about his body. A card heads toward him.
NARR: Sometimes I wonder who’s crazier, the villains who menace or the innocents who watch?
For this scene, narrations are Jai’s.
4—Extreme close-up on Jai’s eyes, from where the purple lightning flickers.
NARR: It happens ALL the time, the purple lightning.
1—Pull out—Jai has his knees to his legs, the purple lightning clashing about his body like a net. Perhaps his head is lifted upward. He’s in pain.
NARR: I’m Jai West, B-T-W.
NARR: I used to be the fastest kid on the planet (I WAS faster than you, Bart!), but when Irey tore the speed from my body, she didn’t take the pain.
2—Behind Jai, we see Barry zipping for the cards, missing the one aimed at the back of Jai’s head.
NARR: Which is KEWL. I wouldn’t want her to have this.
3—Barry catches another card.
NARR: As Great Uncle Barry races toward Double Down, the lightning strikes grow stronger.
NARR: It’ll go away.
4—Barry saves a girl and her dog.
NARR: It always does when my family’s done using their powers, especially my sister, but usually it’s not this bad.
5—Focus on Jai’s clenched teeth, which trap his bottom lip in his mouth.
NARR: It hurts.
NARR: It REALLY hurts.
1— Jai is in the middle of the page with a purple lightning bolt splitting the panel age vertically. The left side background is soccer field; the right side is a cozy living room. Blood is splattered on the walls.
NARR: Barry’s angry, and the speed force knows it.
2—Now we’re looking down at the woman face-down in the living room.
NARR: And then I’m no longer in Keystone but in Central, standing before a woman I’ve never met but I know her.
NARR: I’ve seen in my uncle’s pictures.
3—Jai’s looking down at her, scared and shocked and clearly not able to take his eyes off her. In the right hand side of the cell, we see a yellow-cladded silhouette. Surrounding the house (perhaps we can see it through a window) is the purple lightning.
NARR: It’s Barry’s mom—dead.
ZOOM: Hello, boy.
1—Full Page—Now we’re looking at Zoom, and he’s looking down at us—and he has a creepy, Joker smile. He’s holding his lightning bolt cane. Jai’s now the silhouette.
NARR: This guy—Zoom—he attacked Irey.
ZOOM: Are you prepared to join her?
1—Zoom lunges at Jai, his cane poised to slash the boy’s head off.
2—Jai’s eyes open, and he’s back at the park.
3—Across from Jai huddles a boy by a tree. He’s Jai’s age with sunlight for hair and a nasty, aged scar down his left cheek. He’s wearing a soccer jersey and cleats.
JAI: What are you still doing here?
JAI: Go! RUN!
NARR: I wish I could.
4—Jai whirls to see the card coming at him. It’s an ace of spades.
NARR: I’m not fast enough.
5—Jai sticks out his hand, and the card tears through his palm.
NARR: I never will be again.
1—The card diverts and sinks into the tree trunk, inches from the boy’s face.
Narrations are Barry’s again.
NARR: I want to do more.
2— The purple lightning pumps the blood down Jai’s wrist, and through the bleachers, he watches as the Flash throws Double Down’s cards at him. One of the cards has to knock him out.
3—Flash stands over the fallen Double Down, who’s pinned to the field by his own cards. He’s out cold.
NARR: I want to do more. He DESERVES more, but I won’t give myself the satisfaction.
Jai (off): U—Uncle Barry?
Page split in half vertically; Jai and Wally share a balloon.
1—On the left side—We see a twelve-year-old Wally, standing before a police officer, bloody and dead, looking up at Barry, crying. He’s wearing his original mini-Flash suit.
NARR: When I turn, I imagine Wally there again, standing before the first homicide victim he ever saw, tears welled up in his eyes but he was too shocked to cry.
WALLY (scared): …Uncle Barry?
2—On the right side—Back to Jai. He’s now looking up at Flash in the exact same position that his father was as a child. Jai’s hand is bleeding from the card.
NARR: He truly is Wally’s son.
JAI (scared): …Uncle Barry?
1—Extreme close-up on Jai’s body hand.
FLASH (off): JAI!
2—Flash changes from Flash to Barry again, holding Jai close to him as he’s on a cell phone. They’re away from the bodies.
NARR: I call the police, shortening the “Welcome back” talk from the dispatcher, and I take Jai aside, shielding him from the bloody bodies.
3—Now, Jai and Barry sit on the back of an ambulance, Jai’s hand thickly bandaged. Barry pats Jai on the knee.
NARR: The paramedics stich him up. He’ll be all right…I hope.
BARRY: You did a good thing today, saving Double Down’s son from his father.
BARRY (linked): I’m proud of you.
4— Jai focuses down at his bandaged hand.
JAI: I’m…sorry…about your mom.
1—Barry blows out a sigh and ruffles Jai’s hair.
BARRY: Time isn’t a force to be changed without consequences. I know my mother wouldn’t want me to put all her loved once in jeopardy.
BARRY (linked): Like YOU.
2—Tears finally course Jai’s cheeks.
JAI: Sometimes I can see things…from the past or the future. It happens when Irey runs…most of the time. I saw Zoom and your mom. I—I—
3—Barry pats the boy’s shoulder.
NARR: He’s going to have nightmares.
BARRY: And that’s why you play so many video games. So you don’t think about them.
JAI: Or my powers.
4—Jai puts his good palm to his face to rub away the tears. Barry ruffles Jai’s hair.
JAI: I don’t want them back, Uncle Barry. Irey—Irey needs to be fast enough, and if I had mine, she wouldn’t be.
BARRY: But that doesn’t mean you don’t miss them.
1—Jai holds his hurt hand.
JAI: I was born with them, Uncle Barry. They were MY powers, too.
JAI (linked): My dad’s a hero. My mom’s the most awesome TV reporter ever, and my sister’s gonna run faster than anyone one day
JAI (linked): …What am I gonna do?
2—Barry lifts Jai off the truck by the armpits.
BARRY: I don’t know, Jai, but you’re going to be great at it.
BARRY: I know I have a deal to keep, kiddo, but give me just three minutes. I have to fill out a report for the detectives.
3—Barry looks over his shoulder.
JAI (off): Uncle Barry?
BARRY: Yeah, kiddo?
4—Jai shuffles his feet.
JAI: Dad tried to explain it to me, but what does a fors-in-sac scientist do?
5—Barry offers his hand, smiling graciously. Kid’s talking. All is right with the world.
BARR: Come on. I’ll show you.
1—First three-fourths—Barry kneeling over a dead body, pointing to the dead body with a pencil. He’s holding Jai’s hand, so as not to scare him too much. Jai’s looking interested, if not slightly wary.
NARR: I don’t need time traveling abilities to know this kid going to be a hero, perhaps not just the way he thought.
2—Completely black panel splitting the scene with one no pointer comment.
NO POINTER: When you get older, one of your children is going to destroy your life.
3—Darkened office of Barry Allen’s forensic team. A single computer monitor is on, lighting the panel, and from behind him, we see someone hunched over it with a fast food cup and bag. The person has on a white doctor’s coat and has black, spiky hair.
LOCATION CAPS: FIFTEEN YEAR LATER.
WALLY (electronic): Did you run the test?
1—Close-up on Jai West, hunched over the computer, clicking the mouse. He’s leaning on his elbow, his chin on his fist. Under his white coat is a T-shirt and jeans.
JAI: Yeah, Dad. I already ran it, and I’m just cross-referencing any DNA matches with the JLA database. Chill.
WALLY (electronic): Did you just tell your old man to CHILL?
2—From Jai’s POV, we see on the computer screen a pop-up that says, “ONE MATCH FOUND.” In the corner of the screen, we see Wally’s face. He’s older—late forties—and he’s smiling.
JAI: Yes, I know how futile that was, asking the Flash to actually wait for something. Oh, look. The DNA match on your murderer came in. Is there anything else Central City Police’s best forensic scientist can do for you today?
WALLY (electronic): How about a little less attitude and the name, wise guy.
3, 4—Small panels side by side.
3—Jai’s smiling at his dad.
JAI: Sorry, I hear attitude is heredity in our family.
WALLY(electronic, no pointer): Must be from your mother’s—
4—Same position—Jai’s face blanches; a look of horror sweeps through his gaze.
JAI (weak): …Dad…
WALLY (electronic, no pointer): Jai! JAI! Are you okay? What is it?
5—Close-up on the screen—it’s a picture of his sister, Irey, about twenty-five, smiling at the camera in her Impulse uniform. The words “IREY WEST, 100% MATCH” are underneath it.
WALLY (electronic, no pointer): Who’s the murderer?!