Thursday, November 17, 2016

Who Killed Scorpio?


In the conclusion to the story of Scorpio which took place in the Defenders' 50th issue, Scorpio met his end in a scene that played out off-panel but which left no doubt that Scorpio's threat was ended.



But... take another look at the scene.

There are two things here that aren't adding up. Can you spot them?



For whatever reason, I happened to be looking at this scene again--probably because it occurred to me how Nick Fury, in this story's follow-up, seemed to just drop his investigation after drawing the same quick conclusion that Jack Norriss did when Norriss and Moon Knight came upon the scene--that the Fury Life Model Decoy unit was responsible for Scorpio's death, despite the fact that the scene gives the impression of Scorpio taking his own life. Both Fury and writer David Kraft leave it at that, with the LMD neither confirming nor denying Fury's take on it.

But I suppose the scene can be interpreted in several ways, depending on how you think Kraft is wanting it to come across--and there are two things in particular that make the matter more complicated.

Here are my own observations:

1. The LMD is seen holding the smoking gun, of course--and it could have either (a) taken the gun afterward, or (b) taken the gun back from Scorpio before he pulled the trigger and actually done the deed. Fury assumes that Scorpio instructed the LMD to kill him--and perhaps that's the story Fury wanted to make certain went on record, out of some measure of respect he may have had for his brother. (He drops the matter awfully quickly, considering it's the difference between a murder investigation and a suicide.) There's no discernible reason for the LMD to retrieve the gun if it was Scorpio who fired--and at the pace Norriss and MK were running, it probably wouldn't have had the time to do so and step back. On the other hand, it could have happened that way.

Yet take a look at the panel where Norriss and MK are running--specifically, the fact that there appear to be three gunshots ringing out. Suicide victims using a gun on themselves get one... er, shot at it, not several. On the other hand, the way that letterer John Costanza is handling the sound effect, it could be just one shot echoing through the factory (take a close look at how the words recede in intensity). Neither of these men exclaims, "Gunshots!" (plural); instead, Kraft makes it clear that they're still not close enough to be absolutely sure it is a gunshot they hear, which makes the echo effect plausible.

2. In the panel where the gun is handed off, Costanza also mistakenly reverses the dialog balloons--but obviously by this point the lines have blurred so much for me that I'm no longer able to distinguish between mistake and intent. The Fury LMD's speech pattern makes it clear which dialog belongs with which character--while the motion lines of the handoff (as well as the LMD's words) definitely indicate the gun being handed to Scorpio, even though it's the LMD we hear from that direction. The other tip-off being that it's the LMD that has no free will--but so far, that's being called into question a lot.

In a perfect world, the panel would actually look like this:



There isn't a big enough No-Prize you could offer me to sort all of this out and attempt to make sense of it all. Smart money places the Fury LMD as the culprit, since Kraft seems to be placing special emphasis on its tendency to deviate from its programming where Scorpio is concerned; on the other hand, since all roads seem to lead to that conclusion, it could simply be misdirection at work, though you could argue that misdirection is all over the place here. Perhaps Mr. Kraft will stop by and put all of this into perspective.  There's a cold can of Schlitz in it for him.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've always wondered about that myself. At first, I assumed it was a mistake on the part of the guy who put the word balloons in there. It happens. But yeah, there's the Fury LMD holding the smoking gun.
Did the Fury LMD snatch the gun out of Scorpio's dead hand to make it look like a murder, and not a suicide, so as to give Jake Fury some dignity in death? Like he never gave up and went out swinging?
I just dunno. Puzzling.
I don't like the fact that they brought Jake Fury back later. It ruins the impact of stories like these. Ran out of ideas, I guess.
M.P.

Jonathan Hendry said...

In the last panel, is the LMD kneeling? If so that would suggest that it knelt to retrieve the gun.

On the other hand, I'm not sure why Scorpio's hand in that panel is positioned seemingly as if Scorpio were still standing.

Comicsfan said...

M.P., your theory seems like the one the story leaves us with, since the Fury LMD isn't bothering to disavow the claim (from either Fury or Norriss) that it pulled the trigger--as well as the fact that it appears dejected over Scorpio's death. Or it could simply have done so out of sadness, not wanting Scorpio to be seen in such a state.

Jonathan, I'd taken a long look at that last panel trying to determine the same thing. The Fury LMD's calves and feet don't appear to be extending in back of it, so my guess for now is that it isn't kneeling; on the other hand, it could just be the glare of the light from outside the room at work. *shrug*

Warren JB said...

I read your articles about this story as you posted them, and it's still difficult to say just how I feel about them. One thing's for certain, it kept me hooked, and underneath all the deathtraps, android birthing, and Hulk-baiting, it's a surprisingly gripping story of a man steadily falling apart. I'm tempted to look for a reprint or something to see the full story. Thanks for posting all this, CF. Much appreciated.

Comicsfan said...

Thank you, Warren! It was fun revisiting it.

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