Hi, just read your script, and in terms of story, I did like it, but there are two things that for me detract. The first is that it reminds me very much of ‘Do We Really Need A Superman?” (I may have the title slightly wrong there), and one of the great things the author of that story was able to do in that particular iteration of this theme was get into Superman’s head and make him wonder if he really was doing the right thing by saving people. It provided both great character depth and a morally interesting theme. I know you only have five pages here, but given that I’ve seen the premise before I can’t help making the comparisons.
The other thing that strikes me about the content of your story is something that may be a product of my unfamiliarity with the character. To me, the fact that the premise was taken towards the easier end of the morality spectrum makes it feel a bit like the sort of story we read as kids. Again, from what I’ve heard of Huck (and why I haven’t picked it up), this is probably in keeping with the tone of the source material, and therefore entirely appropriate. But given that I avoided the original because it’s not the kind of thing that speaks to me, this was for me a negative. You’ll know better than I, though, whether this is the correct tone for this entry (and I suspect it is).
On that, note, though, I think even in the mode of a children’s storybook, there are a few lines that could be made less explicit, especially near the end. I think panel 2 on page 4, in particular, is way over the top: we know what Whittaker’s going to be feeling and thinking, and have been expecting it since about page 1 (given that it felt like a morality tale from very early on, and as such the ending was foregone). As a bit of advice, I would say that with these big emotional beats, you should tend to bring them down, if the set-up you’ve done has us expecting them. It will help the beat to feel more real, and less melodramatic. I think this panel could just be replaced with a stoic Whittaker looking on, and the work of the townspeople being reflected in his glasses. A small quiver of the mouth (and no dialogue) would convey everything you wanted to convey, without being bombastic.
Normally the positive aspects of a review or critique come at the top, followed the constructive criticism. But with yours I wanted to leave the positive till the end, because it’s so good that I don’t want it to be overshadowed. In particular, while I felt the story was in danger of hamming it up a bit, you hit me with that last line. It was perfectly crafted as a call-back, and was exactly the kind of subtlety I mention in the previous paragraph. You actually played with my expectations, too, because I presumed we were going to end on a lesson for Whittaker, whereas really you went for a lesson absorbed by Huck. I think the fact that you came back to that interesting premise (“Should you use whatever powers you have to help those without?”) rather than the more well-trodden “You should have empathy for others because one day you might need them” was another great thing to bring home all in that one line.
And I think that this is indicative of the strength of the script overall: you have a great sense of structure. I’m reading Metamaus at the moment, and Spiegelman talks about how he treats his pages like each one is a paragraph. It’s one of those hidden things in Maus that I loved but that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, and you’ve done it beautifully as well. That’s particularly important in a five-page story, where most people struggle to actually even conceive of what a five-page story would be.
My only other note is that some of the panel descriptions are a bit confusing. After reading them a few times, one can understand them; but for the most part I’d imagine it’s better to have the panel descriptions be immediately obvious to the artist and the editor, to ease workflow. For instance, with the line, “There should be a large dead tree near the store (it ends up falling on it)” it wasn’t immediately clear what the ‘it’ in the parentheses was. I was also unclear as to how the artist was going to render that – eventually, I figured out that you were talking about something that doesn’t happen in this panel; but, originally, I was thinking “Is he asking for the tree to be falling in this panel? Do we have multiple images of the tree in different positions, like Spiderman swinging across some rooftops?”
It wasn’t hard to figure out, but there were quite a few things like this, so overall it could slow the artist/editor down. I would say just remove the parenthetical information, as it’s completely irrelevant in this panel description. In general just think about what you want the artist to draw, and tell them that. Another related example from that same panel is where you ask your artist for a bird’s-eye view and also ask him/her to present information on a vertical plane (the ‘General Store’ sign). How is an artist to render this? What would that actually look like? Do we have massive curvature in this panel? If so, say so.
So, to sum up, we have masterful five-page storytelling, a great premise (but unfortunately one that’s been touched upon in a Superman story), a tone that isn’t catered to my tastes but which is probably in keeping with the Huck project, and panel descriptions which maybe aren’t fully keeping in mind exactly what you want to see on the page.
As with all feedback, these are only my thoughts, but I hope that in some small part or way you find them helpful or productive. Cheers!