THE FIRST SWEET CHRISTMAS
(A POWER MAN AND IRON FIST TALE)
WRITTEN BY PATRICK BARB
PAGE 1 (4 PANELS)
NOTE: The top ½ of the page features one large center panel of Power Man with two panels of Iron Fist flanking either side.
PANEL 1: IRON FIST—putting that iron fist of his to good use—knocking a GENERIC HENCHMAN into the stratosphere (or at least up against the side of a brick-walled back alley). Energy crackles from his fist and a smile spreads across Iron Fist’s face as he does so.
1 IRON FIST: Luke, watch out there’s–
2 CAPTION: The Awakened Serpent Uppercut: Developed by the Asgardian Monks of the Yggradisil
PANEL 2: POWER MAN (aka Luke Cage) gets the BIG SPOTLIGHT PANEL here. He’s caught ANOTHER HENCHMAN mid-air and is bringing him crashing to the debris-littered ground in a POWER BOMB maneuver straight out of WWE Monday Night RAW.
3 POWER MAN: Got ‘im!
4 POWER MAN: Elevator–goin’ down!
5 ANOTHER HENCHMAN: Whoa, wait, I’m–!
6 CAPTION: Power Bomb: So, Power Man watches professional wrestling. You got a problem with that?
PANEL 3: Again, framing the BIG panel, Iron Fist takes out a THIRD HENCHMAN. This time with a HIGH KICK—once again sending its target FLYING into the air.
7 IRON FIST: --one comin’ atcha. Oh.
8 CAPTION: Winged High Kick of the Madripoor Clans: Developed by Winged Members of the Madripoor Clans.
PANEL 4: The panel here at the bottom of the page shows the results of Cage’s Power Bomb on the Henchman. The “Man” EXPLODES. No really. It’s like a toy dropped on a hardwood floor. Metallic pieces, gears, sparks, everywhere.
9 POWER MAN (OFF-PANEL): SWEET CHRISTMAS!
10 POWER MAN (OFF-PANEL): Dude’s a damn robot!
11 TITLE: The First Sweet Christmas
PAGE 2 (5 PANELS)
PANEL 1: The Henchman…uhh…HENCH-ROBOT…sits slumped against an alley wall. Just a torso and head at this point. Metal skin exposed under one ½ of its face Terminator-style…
1 HENCH-ROBOT: koff! Actually I’m only half-robot, the other half of me was forged in the…
2 IRON FIST AND POWER MAN (OFF-PANEL, SHARED BALOON, TWO TAILS): AHEM!
PANEL 2: Iron Fist and Power Man—standing side-by-side, looking down at Hench-Robot like, “Dude, no one cares where you came from.”
3 HENCH-ROBOT (OFF-PANEL): Right, I’ll shut up then…
PANEL 3: Close on Iron Fist. Hand raised like he’s asking a question in class.
4 IRON FIST: So anyway, I’ve been meaning to ask this for like forever but…
PANEL 4: Power Man has his tree trunk-sized arms folded across his chest and his eyes rolling in an overexaggerated expression of exasperation.
5 IRON FIST (OFF-PANEL): Sweet Christmas? Where did that even come from?!
6 POWER MAN: Aww, c’mon, Danny! You know I hate talkin’ about the past…
PANEL 5: Power Man’s still got his arms folded across his chest. Feet planted with a sharp frown on his face. Meanwhile Iron Fist is behind him, leaning over his shoulder. Mouth right to Power Man’s ear and hands folded as though begging.
7 IRON FIST: Please tell me, Luke. Please, please…
8 IRON FIST: PLEEEEEASSSE?!
9 POWER MAN: Man, I swear…
PAGE 3 (2 PANELS)
NOTE: Panel 1 is a tall narrow panel that fades away on its right-hand side, giving way to a larger Panel 2 covering about ⅔ of the page horizontally.
PANEL 1: Power Man in profile. Reluctantly starting his tale…
1 CAPTION (POWER MAN): You wanna know where “Sweet Christmas” came from?
2 CAPTION (POWER MAN): Ya gotta go back to before my Power Man days…
NOTE: For the purposes of distinguishing between past and present, the flashback Cage will be LUKE CAGE or just CAGE.
PANEL 2: Inside SEAGATE PRISON: All cold, gray concrete, agonizingly bright overhead lighting, and metal bars. Everywhere you look bars, bars, bars. We’re looking down at the prison common area—INMATES out for free time sit around watching TV, congregating in their prison gangs of choice, or just trying to keep a low profile if they’re not in one of the aforementioned prison gangs. There’s a large CHRISTMAS TREE—looking very much out of place—in the middle of this common area. LUKE CAGE in his gray prison jumpsuit sits off in some quiet corner of the panel, reading a copy of THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO…
3 CAPTION: CHRISTMAS EVE DAY. SEAGATE PRISON.
4 CAPTION: BPM (BEFORE POWER MAN)
5 CAPTION (POWER MAN): Prison wasn’t a particularly welcoming place for a guy like me.
6 CAPTION (POWER MAN): And not just cuz of my less than savory activities…
7 CAPTION (POWER MAN): Seagate? That was a NASTY place…
PAGE 4 (5 PANELS)
PANEL 1: Horizontal panel across the top of the page. From an elevated platform, a guard—let’s call him OFFICER ASSHOLE—stands in full body armor and aviator sunglasses—looking down at the inmates in the common area below.
1 CAPTION (POWER MAN): Even the guards were pieces of work, man.
2 CAPTION (POWER MAN): Hell, especially the guards.
3 SHITKICKER (soft): This oughta be good…
4 CAGE (OFF-PANEL): Hey! My book!
PANEL 2: A trio of prisoners dressed in RED, GREEN, and GOLD LUCHADOR MASKS and Run DMC-style BUCKET HATS have Cage cornered. Their LEADER in Gold holds up Luke’s book.
5 LEADER: Oh, whoa, looks like we got ourselves a reader here, fellas.
6 LEADER: All that readin’, not enough bleedin’, I say.
PANEL 3: Cage here is not the jacked-up Power Man, member of the Avengers, Netflix star we know and love. But that doesn’t stop him from holding his hands out in a “Come get some!” gesture to the bucket hat-wearing Luchadors.
7 CAGE: Bring it, then!
8 CAPTION (IRON FIST): C’mon, Luke. Luchador masks AND bucket hats?! Overkill much?
PANEL 4: The Leader and his Red and Green Luchadors have Luke down on the ground and are just beating the SHIT out of him.
9 CAPTION (POWER MAN): You tellin’ this story or me?
10 CAPTION (POWER MAN): Besides, it’s not like I’m painting myself in a good light here…
PANEL 5: Speaking of lights, Christmas tree lights go flying, as Cage goes crashing THROUGH the Christmas tree—snapping it in half, as he’s on his way to hitting the ground HARD.
11 SFX (TREE): KRSMASH!
12 CAGE: OOF!
PAGE 5 (6 PANELS)
PANEL 1: Close-up of present-day Power Man. Rubbing the back of his neck like he can still feel that Christmas Tree injury.
1 POWER MAN: Anyway, guess that Christmas tree was worth more to folk runnin’ things than me cuz…
PANEL 2: Back to the Flashback: SECURITY DOUBLE DOORs are FLUNG OPEN. PRISON GUARDS in full riot gear with BATONS and SHIELDS pour through.
2 GUARD #1: Break it up! Break it up!
3 GUARD #2: Back! Get back! NOW!
PANEL 3: Cage is on the ground, surrounded by Christmas tree debris. He holds a hand up, expecting to be helped up.
4 CAGE: Thanks, officers, I…
PANEL 4: Cage draws his hand back as one of the Prison Guard’s batons CRACKS his knuckles.
5 SFX (BATON): KRAAK!
6 CAGE: Yow!
PANEL 5: Cage helps himself up. Christmas tree lights caught in his hair.
7 CAGE: I swear give a man, a little power and…
8 CAPTION (IRON FIST): Oh, you did NOT say that!
PANEL 6: Officer Asshole stands in the open security doorway. He’s got a clipboard with some paperwork attached to it.
9 ASSHIOLE: Hate to break up the Feliz Navidads, but we got us a transfer comin’ to stay the night, boys.
PAGE 6 (5 PANELS)
PANEL 1: Horizontal panel across top ⅓ of page. Cage’s beating quickly forgotten, the Prisoners line up—licking lips and cracking knuckles—as a new prisoner (SWEET) is led in, sporting an orange prison jumpsuit. Sweet’s a bearded man in his late 50s, somewhat chubby, red-cheeked, and red-nosed.
1 PRISONER (NO TAIL): Oooh, don’t he look SWEET.
2 PRISONER (NO TAIL): Mmm, so Sweet.
3 CAPTION (POWER MAN): Give you three guesses what they called the new guy.
4 CAPTION (POWER MAN): Between his red cheeks and nose, I figured him for some sort of wino. Fit the profile…
PANEL 2: Close on Sweet’s face. Eyes darting to the side. Nervous as all hell.
5 CAPTION (POWER MAN): Yeah, yeah, the irony of me profilin’ somebody ain’t lost on me.
PANEL 3: The Luchador Gang’s Leader stands comfortably close to Sweet. He’s doing the ol’ “thumb across the neck” threat gesture. Sweet looks frozen with fear.
6 CAPTION (POWER MAN): Needless to say, guy like Sweet didn’t really make many friends…
PANEL 4: Back to the Present. Iron Fist holds his hands out palm up, in a “C’mon, man!” sort of gesture.
7 IRON FIST: But I mean, you helped him, right?
PANEL 5: Present and Past colliding. Power Man stands on the left side of the panel, gesturing over at the Cage of the past on the right side of the panel— who’s still picking Christmas tree out of his hair.
8 POWER MAN: You’re kidding, right? I just…
9 POWER MAN and CAGE (SHARED BALOON, TWO TAILS): …got thrown through a damn tree.
PAGE 7 (5 PANELS)
PANEL 1: Medium shot of Sweet in the PRISON MESS HALL. Carrying a tray with a plate and glass on it. The plate is stacked with COOKIES and there’s MILK in the glass. (I swear this isn’t telegraphing anything. No, really. Please believe me.)
1 LEADER (OFF-PANEL): Hey, old-timer! All those cookies…yer gonna give yerself the diabetes!
PANEL 2: The Leader brings his FIST down onto Sweet’s tray, sending its contents crashing to the floor.
2 SFX (FIST): WHUMP!
3 LEADER: ‘ere, let me help ya!
PANEL 3: As Sweet bends down to pick up the spilled contents of his food tray, he doesn’t realize that the Leader and his Luchadors now have him surrounded.
4 CAPTION (POWER MAN): It was the night before Christmas and the rats were sure as sh@! stirring…
PANEL 4: BOOM! Close on a BOOT—the Leader’s of course—as it comes smashing down on a pile of Sweet’s COOKIES.
5 SFX (BOOT): CRUUNCH!
PANEL 5: Worm’s eye view from Sweet’s POV, looking up at the Leader. He offers a malevolent smile, as he holds his boot up, cookie crumbs falling from its treads.
6 LEADER: You want cookies, huh? I got ya cookies here, holmes.
PAGE 8 (6 PANELS)
PANEL 1: WHAM! Cage comes out of nowhere to catch the Leader with a PUNCH right to the nose, sending the man rocking backward.
1 CAPTION (POWER MAN): So yeah I did step in eventually…
2 SFX (PUNCH): WHUMP!
3 LEADER: Oww, the he–!
PANEL 2: Cage stands with fists raised. Putting himself between the bad guys and Sweet (who’s still on the ground picking up cookie crumbs).
4 CAGE: Leave him alone! New guy’s with me.
PANEL 3: Flanked on either by his Luchador goons, the Leader smiles as blood drips from his nose down into his open mouth and on his no longer pearly white teeth.
5 LEADER: Izzat tho?
6 CAPTION (POWER MAN): Bet you can guess what happened next…
PANEL 4: Beaten, bruised, and bloodied, Cage and Sweet have to hold onto each other for balance, as they make their way down a prison corridor to their respective cells. Things OBVIOUSLY did not go well for either of them.
PANEL 5: Sweet has his head tilted up to look at Cage’s bruised, swollen face. Taking it in. Considering. In response, Cage is not sure what to make of all this.
7 CAGE: Yo, you alright man?
PANEL 6: Sweet’s smiling. Reaching a hand up to pat Cage’s cheek. A gentle, paternal gesture.
8 SWEET: You’re not one of the naughty ones.
9 CAGE: Gee, thanks. I think…
PAGE 9 (5 PANELS)
PANEL 1: Double-height vertical panel. Cage lying on his top bunk prison mattress. Eyes closed. Dreaming…
1 CAPTION (POWER MAN): That night…
2 CAPTION (POWER MAN): I dreamt of sleigh bells.
PANEL 2: Close on Luke’s face. One eyelid snapped open. Alert.
PANEL 3: Looking through the bars of the cell, out to the corridor. Sweet is out, walking around without a care in the world. Miraculously, all of his bruises and wounds from before—are GONE.
3 CAGE (OFF-PANEL): Psst, Sweet!
PANEL 4: Cage is crouched down on the floor of his cell . Face pressed against the bars, as he calls out to Sweet.
4 CAGE: Sweet, they’re gonna get you, man.
PANEL 5: Sweet’s nose and cheeks are a rosier red than we’ve seen. His smile is GLOWING, as he lays a finger to the side of his nose…
5 CAPTION (POWER MAN): I passed out after he did that. Woke up back on my bed the next day…
PAGE 10 (7 PANELS)
NOTE: These next 3 panels should be GROSS but not GORY.
PANEL 1: Close on the DEAD face of the Red Luchador, his mouth stuffed full of BLACK LUMPS OF COAL.
1 CAPTION (POWER MAN): But other folks in that cell block?
PANEL 2: The also quite dead face of the Green Luchador, he’s got TWO CANDY CANES shoved through the eyeholes of his mask. Red drips down to his prison uniform below—debateable whether it’s red dye #5 or blood (probably both).
2 CAPTION (POWER MAN): They weren’t so lucky.
PANEL 3: The Leader has had it the worst. The top of his head’s been scooped out and filled with MILK. His JAW open to an obscene degree with cookies spilling out.
PANEL 4: Horizontal panel in the middle of the page. Cage standing in the middle of the prison common area, laughing his ass off. In complete shock and disbelief. Above him, SNOW falls down into the prison. Caused by the SLEIGH-SIZED HOLE that’s been busted in the ceiling. In the periphery, if space allows, GUARDS rush around in full-panic mode.
3 GUARD (NO TAIL): We got another one down here!
4 GUARD 2 (NO TAIL): It’s tinsel, sir! Tinsel!
5 SFX (CAGE LAUGH): Ho! Ho! HO! HO!
6 PAST-CAGE: Sweet…CHRISTMAS!
PANEL 5: And back to the present. Close on Iron Fist. Staring straight ahead. Mouth set. Stunned.
PANEL 6: And then he EXPLODES—so emotional as he yells that it’s like his mask is about to fly off of his face.
7 IRON FIST: NEVER EVER tell your child that story!
PANEL 7: Present Day Power Man laughing his ass off also. A big smile across his face. Pointing back at Iron Fist like “Gotcha!”
8 CAGE: “Sweet Christmas!” Get it? Because he was Sant–
9 IRON FIST (OFF-PANEL): I hate you so much…