During the late 1980s or early-1990s, I wrote a couple of scripts for South American artist Pablo Marcos (famous for his work on Marvel's Conan and just about everything for DC Comics), who packaged Suko, The Eternal Samurai, a Conan rip-off he had created for a Mexican comic book publisher. The script speaks for itself.
(c) respective copyright holders
1 (We open with a CLOSE-UP of the window of a bombed out old building, looking out the window at some of the other bombed out old buildings that make up this city, which looks like something out of your basic post-Apocalyptic world. It’s morning, the sun just coming up.)
2 (SAME AS ABOVE, except now a spider is descending into the scene on a single line of webbing.)
Cap: The spider spins.
3 (The spider is descending towards the sill, sunlight glinting off the single strand of webbing.)
Cap: It does not question. It does not wonder.
4 (The spider has reached the sill and is starting to spin its web in the corner of the window opening.)
Cap: That is simply what it does.
Cap 2: That is its nature.
1 (CUT TO: a LONG ESTABLISHING SHOT of a flat, empty field at the edge of a densely grown dark forest of tall, old gnarled trees, a thoroughly threatening looking place. It’s dawn, the field covered with a thick morning mist. In the distance, walking towards the reader across the field is SUKO, packing whatever travel gear he carries in his backpack, his sword slung at his side. He’s partially obscured by the mist, looking like a ghostly figure.)
2 (SAME ANGLE AS ABOVE, except SUKO has drawn closer to the reader, still shrouded in the mist.)
3 (SAME AS ABOVE, except now SUKO is in the foreground, in MEDIUM-SHOT, and is visible through the mist. He’s turning in surprise in reaction to an off panel scream, coming from deep within the forest.)
4 (As the screams continue to come from the forest, SUKO is drawing his sword as he charges towards the trees.)
1 (SUKO is in the forest now, dashing through the thick foliage that grows on the forest floor...)
2 (... And then stops short, in the SPLASH-PANEL, as his way is suddenly blocked by a horrific sight: a wall of bodies -- both human and animal -- in various states of decomposition, from fresh kills to skeletons. They’re strung between the trees, hanging from a diaphanous curtain of some fine, silken material, like a gigantic spiderweb, which in fact it is.)
Suko (burst): GODS!
Title: THE CULT OF THE SPIDER
3 (CLOSE-UP OF ONE of the faces of the bodies hanging from the web, twisted in a grimace of horror at the moment of death.)
1 (CLOSE-UP of SUKO, his face a cold mask .)
Suko (whisper): Gods.
2 (But there’s no time for SUKO to figure out what this horror may be all about as the air is torn by yet another scream from off-panel, this one coming beyond the curtain of corpses.)
3 (SUKO is slashing through the grotesque tapestry in front of him, charging deeper into the dark, forbiding forest.)
4 (ANGLING FROM BEHIND SUKO as he races towards a clearing ahead of him in the forest, visible through some of the trees. There’re some shadowy figures visible through the trees, but not clear enough that we can make out who or what they are.)
From clearing (burst): NO-- S- STOP...
1 (SUKO bursts into the clearing, sword in hand, ready to confront whatever he may find there. And what he’s found is a small open area with yet more of the webs strung between the trees, holding the bodies of more human and animal victims. In the center of the clearing are five men and a woman. The men are WARRIOR members of a Spider Cult, wearing some sort of samurai-like outfit with a spider motif, each wielding a sword of their own. The woman is young and beautiful, named TOMIKO, and she’s being seriously menaced by these men, who are forcing the struggling young girl up onto the webbing to join the grotesque menagerie already there.)
Tomiko (burst): ... PLEASE... sob!... DON’T DO THIS! I’ll do ANYTHING you ask...!
Warrior A: SHUT UP, woman!
Warrior B: You’ve been CHOSEN... ACCEPT your fate. There’s NOTHING for you now-- except DEATH!
Suko: If anyone’s going to die here--
2 (Four of the WARRIORS are turning to face SUKO in surprise, drawing their weapons as he walks towards them, pointing at TOMIKO, who’s being held by the fifth WARRIOR.)
Suko: -- It’s NOT going to be the girl!
Warrior B: WHO--?
Warrior C: What’d you want, stranger? This is none of your concern.
Warrior A: Yeah, get lost before you get HURT!
3 (CLOSE-UP of SUKO, a cold, bloodthirsty smile on his face.)
1 (Before the WARRIORS can even realize what’s happening, SUKO has attacked, charging into them with his sword flashing, cutting down the first WARRIOR in that split second.)
2 (The others have recovered their wits and are on the defensive against SUKO’S attack as he stands crouched, at the ready, over the body of the downed WARRIOR. They’re all facing him, swords up. The fifth WARRIOR is in the background, holding TOMIKO.)
3 (The first of the WARRIORS is charging at SUKO with his sword swinging.)
1 (SUKO has sidestepped the attack and deflected the WARRIOR’S blade with his own.)
2 (SUKO is whirling, slashing the WARRIOR across the back. The other two WARRIORS are charging in to join the fray.)
3 (The wounded WARRIOR is starting to turn to strike at SUKO...)
4 (... But SUKO’S faster, driving his sword into the man’s belly to the hilt...)
1 (... Then whips it out and whirls, trailing blood from the blade in an arc through the air, to face the other two men. This happens so fast the body of the last kill hasn’t even had time to hit the ground yet.)
2 (SUKO has leapt straight up in the air, over the blades of the two warriors as they move in for what they think is the kill.)
3 (At the height of his leap, SUKO is kicking out his foot, into the face of one of the WARRIORS.)
1 (Even as he lands, SUKO is driving his blade at the fourth WARRIOR, who’s countering the stroke with his sword.)
2 (SUKO ducks under the fourth WARRIOR’S next slash...)
3 (... And drives his sword up, into the WARRIOR’S chest...)
4 (... Then whirls, to drive the hilt of his sword into the face of the WARRIOR he kicked, delivering the killing blow.)
5 (SUKO is turning, to look across the clearing towards the last WARRIOR, the one holding TOMIKO. The bodies of the four fallen men are scattered at his feet. SUKO has his sword clutched in both hands.)
Suko: YOUR turn, friend.
1 (The WARRIOR is shoving TOMIKO roughly aside as he smiles, preparing to meet SUKO in combat.)
Warrior: My PLEASURE, swordsman. Come and GET me!
2 (SUKO and the WARRIOR are rushing across the clearing towards one another as TOMIKO cowers on the ground in the background, watching.)
3 (The two men are meeting in the middle of the clearing, swords coming together.)
1 (Some fancy swordplay between the WARRIOR and SUKO...)
2 (... The WARRIOR deftly turning his body to avoid SUKO’S sword thrust...)
3 (... Then slashing at SUKO with a backhand thrust, which SUKO blocks with his forearm against the WARRIOR’S forearm...)
4 (... Then pushing WARRIOR backwards, sending him stumbling back, off balance...)
1 (... And follows through with a roundhouse kick that sends WARRIOR flying backwards, towards the webbing slung between the trees, SUKO coming towards him, for the kill--)
2 (-- Which he delivers by grabbing hold of the dazed, downed WARRIOR’S throat...)
3 (... And throwing him with a neck-snapping toss into the webbing, where he sticks, alongside the rest of the kill already hanging there. He’s sailed right over the prone TOMIKO, who’s watching in horror.)
1 (SUKO is sheathing his sword as he surveys his handiwork. TOMIKO is getting to her feet, looking gratefully towards SUKO.)
Tomiko: Yo- you... SAVED me...!
Suko: You were in trouble. I was here.
Suko 2: That’s all.
2 (SUKO is kneeling beside one of the slain WARRIORS, examining his get-up as TOMIKO comes up behind him, looking uncertain, not knowing what to do.)
Tomiko: But you could have been KILLED!
Suko: Not by THIS bunch. Who were they? What did they want?
Tomiko 2: They’re members of the SPIDER CULT--
3 (CLOSE-UP OF TOMIKO, hugging herself, shivering with fear at what almost happened to her.)
Tomiko: -- The MASTERS of the city where I live. Every month... they come... to take one of us to SACRIFICE to their dark gods.
Tomiko 2: This month they... they chose me...
1 (TOMIKO is looking towards the web-curtain and its grisly assortment of bodies, her eyes wide with fear. SUKO is rising to look at the girl.)
Tomiko: ... To join... THAT!
Suko: Your people just LET them take you?
Tomiko 2: You talk as if they had a CHOICE!
2 (SUKO is turning to leave, to be back on his way. TOMIKO is startled, calling out to him.)
Suko: I guess that’s just something they’ll have to deal with when you return home. Good-bye.
Tomiko: WAIT! Where are you going...?
3 (SUKO is walking towards the reader, the startled, upset TOMIKO visible behind him, over his shoulder, calling out to him. There’s nothing on SUKO’S face to betray what he’s thinking or feeling.)
Tomiko: Bu- but you can’t just LEAVE!
Tomiko 2: PLEASE! Yo- you’re the FIRST one who’s ever been able to stand UP to them...!
4 (SAME AS ABOVE, except SUKO is closer to the reader in the foreground and the mucho agitated TOMIKO is farther behind him in the background.)
Tomiko: Did you HEAR me?! We NEED you...
Tomiko 2: ... I need you...
1 (SAME AS ABOVE, except now the distant TOMIKO has collapsed to her knees, burying her hands in her face and sobbing. SUKO is stopping dead in his tracks, starting to turn to look back at her.)
Tomiko: ... They’ll... sob!... send OTHERS... to bring me back...
2 (TIGHT ON TOMIKO, still on her knees, sobbing into her hands.)
3 (TOMIKO is looking up with a tearstained face as SUKO’S shadow -- with SUKO standing just off-panel -- falls across her.)
4 (SUKO is holding out his hand, helping the disbelieving TOMIKO to her feet. He doesn’t look at all pleased with himself for giving in to her emotional plea.)
Suko 2: Let’s GO, girl. I haven’t got FOREVER, you know...
5 (CUT TO: a CLOSE-UP of the spider in the window we saw on PAGE ONE. The web it’s spinning in the corner of the window is further along than when we last saw it.)
Cap: The spider spins.
Cap 2: The intricate weaving of patterns UNIQUE to itself.
1 (The spider is spinning along as we move in closer to it, starting to angle the shot so that we can see out the window, down onto the street. A common housefly is buzzing into the scene from outside.)
Cap: There is a purpose to its workings.
2 (CLOSER IN STILL, so that we’re looking down past the web that’s being spun, into the street below. The area is a slum, that rings the gleaming, towering futuristic city in the center of this city. This is an old area, of stone and brick buildings, built long before the stainless steel and glass towers at the center. Along the perimeter of the slum are evenly spaced guard towers, topped by spider-shaped structures at the top, manned by (we’ll later see) more WARRIORS from the cult army. Think South Bronx. Walking down the middle of the street are SUKO and TOMIKO.)
Cap: There is a purpose to EVERYTHING.
Suko: This is where you live, eh? A pretty MISERABLE place, isn’t it?
Tomiko: It wasn’t ALWAYS like this.
3 (Move on down into the street, to tag along with SUKO and TOMIKO as they walk along through the South Bronx-like city streets. SUKO is looking around in disgust.)
Suko: Nothing was. Once.
Tomiko: We were promised this would be torn down and replaced by LIVEABLE buildings.
Tomiko 2: But that was BEFORE...!
1 (MOVE IN for a TIGHT-SHOT of the two, TOMIKO looking very sad.)
Suko: Before the Spider Cult?
Tomiko: They KILLED our old leaders and made us all their slaves... the slums are BREEDING FARMS for workers and sacrifice victims.
2 (SUKO is looking up at the nearest guard-tower, the spider looming over the slums.)
Tomiko (off): They’ve made THEIR spider-demons OUR gods and we must worship THEM or die...
Tomiko (off) 2: ... Sooner than later...
3 (SUKO is pointing to a half-collapsed old building, turning to enter it.)
Suko: Why don’t you FIGHT? You’ve got the superior numbers.
Tomiko: We’re factory-workers, not warriors. Besides, what do we use for WEAPONS?
Tomiko 2: Here. This’s where we live.
1 (Inside the building it’s as bad as it looked from outside, basically a big open space interrupted by what remains of a few interior walls. The ceiling is half collapsed. A large, extended family lives here: grandfather, his son and wife and their young children, the widow of another son and her DAUGHTER, TOMIKO’S MOTHER and her younger brother, TAKEO. Also there, among the family, is the sour old maiden AUNT. They all live in this space, which is furnished with little more than the basic necessities, like sleeping mats, habatchi-type cooking area, crates for their few possessions. SUKO and TOMIKA are entering the scene.)
2 (INSERT PANEL: SUKO’S MOTHER is looking up from whatever domestic-type thing she’s doing and seeing her daughter come in. She’s wide-eyed, astonished to see the girl alive.)
1 (Having dropped whatever she’s holding, MOTHER is racing across the room into TOMIKO’S arms, the two of them sobbing. SUKO is looking on.)
Mother: TOMIKO-- my CHILD... sob!... yo- you’re alive! Sob! ALIVE!
Tomiko: It... it’s all right, mother!
2 (TOMIKO is introducing SUKO to her tearful mother, who’s grabbed the WARRIOR’S hand in gratitude. He looks uncomfortable at the display of emotion.)
Tomiko: THIS man SAVED me...
Mother: I... I didn’t think ANYONE could stand up to them... oh, THANK you, warrior... thank you for my daughter’s LIFE!
3 (MOTHER is pulling SUKO towards the cooking area, furthering his discomfort. TOMIKO is slightly amused by his embarassment.)
Mother: COME! Please be SEATED... you must be FAMISHED. We would be HONORED to share our food with you.
1 (SUKO is seated on the floor before a low plywood table as MOTHER fuses with the food on the fire to serve him. TOMIKO is greeting her brother TAKEO and AUNT. TAKEO’S happy to see him, AUNT is a sourball who saw TOMIKO’S death as meaning more food for everybody else.)
Takeo: Tomiko... it’s a MIRACLE! NOBODY’S ever come back from the SACRIFICES!
Tomiko: Things are going to be DIFFERENT, TAKEO--
2 (TOMIKO is looking towards SUKO with something close to worship in her eyes. SUKO is reacting to what she’s saying, as close to startled as he ever gets.)
Tomiko: -- Now that SUKO is here!
3 (SUKO has scrambled to his feet, looking grim, speaking harshly to the startled TOMIKO and TAKEO.)
Suko: I KNOW what you’re getting at, girl... but FORGET it.
Tomiko: Bu- but... you CAN’T see how we’re made to live and not HELP us!
4 (SUKO is making big strides towards the door, getting his tail out of there. TOMIKO is racing after him, calling to him.)
Tomiko (burst): SUKO! WAIT...!
1 (TOMIKO is racing after SUKO, who’s well ahead of her, reaching for the door...)
2 (... And yanking open the door as we look towards it from the street outside. SUKO is stopping cold dead in his tracks.)
3 (And we pull back for a wide shot of the street, showing SPIDER WARRIORS loading men, women, and children into transport-trucks -- whether on wheels or air-jets or whatever mode of transportation is used in this era -- at weapon point. The people are intimidated into submission as they march with bowed backs to the trucks under the threat of the WARRIOR soldiers. Their weapons are futuristic rifles. SUKO is still in the doorway in the foreground, seeing his from his P.O.V.)
1 (With a snarl of rage, SUKO is starting to draw his sword to make a move towards the WARRIORS, but a hand is reaching out from the doorway to grab for his arm and stop him.)
2 (SUKO is whirling to face whoever has grabbed him. It’s GRANDFATHER, a little, wrinkled, washed out old man, tired beyond even his years.)
Grandpa 2: Others have tried to STOP them from taking us... the warriors always KILL the prisoners FIRST.
3 (GRANDFATHER has turned to walk back into the dwelling. SUKO is closing the door, watching the old man.)
Grandpa: There is ANOTHER way.
Grandpa 2: Come.
1 (CUT TO: the spider in the window, weaving its web, which is growing in size and complexity.)
Cap: The spider spins.
Cap 2: Fragile, silken threads grow from the center, spreading outward into beauty...
2 (CUT TO NIGHT: night, in TOMIKO’S home, where we find everybody asleep. SUKO is alone on a sleeping mat, off in a corner away from everybody else. His sheathed sword is at hand.)
3 (A TIGHT CLOSE-UP of a booted foot, making its way across the floor, kicking a small pebble of plaster into something else, making a small noise.)
4 (CLOSE-UP OF SUKO, his eyes snapping open as his hand moves to his sword.)
1 (SUKO is rising on his side to look towards the door, where he sees a dark, shadowed figure moving cautiously towards the door.)
2 (SUKO is starting to rise but freezes at the sound of an off-panel whisper, coming from the other direction.)
Whisper (off): Suko...?
3 (TOMIKO, wrapped in a kimono, is walking towards his sleeping mat. He’s watching her.)
Tomiko (whisper): I... I’m sorry. Did I wake you?
4 (TOMIKO is kneeling beside SUKO’S mat, holding her robe closed.)
Suko (whisp): I hear something...
Tomiko (whisp): That’s my brother. He FORAGES for food at night.
1 (SUKO is settling back onto his mat, watching the girl kneeling beside him.)
Suko (whisp): And for what do YOU forage in the darkness...?
Tomiko (whisp): It... it occured to me... that I haven’t properly THANKED you.
2 (CLOSE-UP of SUKO, impassive.)
Suko: No thanks are OWED.
3 (TIGHT ON TOMIKO, starting to pull off her robe. The darkness and shadow blocks the views of all her naughty parts, but there’s no doubt she’s naked beneath the robe.)
Tomiko 2: They ARE...
1 (CUT TO: the surface of a highly polished piece of wood across which a spider is scampering.)
Priest (off panel): ... Then they shall just have to work HARDER, won’t they, my dear Prince?
2 (A hand is reaching down into the scene, over the spider. It’s a man’s hand, soft and pampered, weaking expensive rings, with long manicured, elaborately painted fingernails, silhouettes of spiders painted on them.)
Prince (off panel): Is that wise? Those poor devils are dying off fast enough as it is.
3 (The hand has extended a single finger, scooping up the spider on the long nail.)
Priest (off panel): What matter? We’ve an AMPLE supply of workers in the slums.
Prince (off): Still... we can’t push them TOO far, can we?
1 (We pull back to see we’re in the luxurious penthouse apartments of this city’s titular head, the PRINCE, a frail, soft young man of about 20, dressed in expensive, elaborate robes, reclining on a stack of pillows next to an ornately carved table, holding up the spider before his eyes. Standing before him is the PRIEST, a middle-aged, hard-faced, cold-eyed mother in black robes and cape, a hood over his head. There’s some sort of recurring spider-motif everywhere, from the furnishings to their clothing. A glass cage full of spiders is on the table near PRINCE’S (arf arf) elbow. A view of the magnificent city and the outlying slums are visible below through the windows of this towering structure.)
Priest: YOU can do as you PLEASE, Prince Itcho. Your will is sovereign. It is so ordained.
Prince: So you’ve TOLD me.
2 (The PRINCE is rising, carefully balancing the spider on his hand as it scampers around. He looks bored.)
Prince: Very well, do what you MUST, priest. The CITIZENS mustn’t be deprived of their standard of living.
3 (PRINCE is depositing the spider into PRIEST’S hand.)
Priest: As you WISH, my prince.
Prince: Well, if there’s nothing else, I think I’ll NAP. Here...
1 (CLOSE-UP of PRIEST’S outstretched hand, the spider in his palm.)
2 (TIGHT ON PRIEST’S face as he watches the prince leave.)
3 (BACK TO PRIEST’S hand, closing over the spider, squooshing it.)
4 (CUT TO: an ESTABLISHING SHOT of the roof of an old building in the slums, the following night. There are two silhouetted figures -- SUKO and GRANDPA -- standing on the roof, all alone. The modern city is visible in the distance, shining in the night.)
Suko: That’s your plan, old man?
1 (MOVE IN ON THE TWO of them, SUKO regarding the old man with arms crossed over his chest. GRANDPA is smiling in resignation, shrugging.)
Grandpa: A meager one, I know, but it’s ALL we have.
Suko: I seem to be doing all the work.
2 (SUKO is rubbing his chin thoughtfully as the old man reaches out and touches SUKO’S sword.)
Grandpa: From what my granddaughter told me, you are UP to the job.
Suko: I wasn’t in the middle of the enemy’s house then.
3 (CLOSE-UP of GRANDPA, dismissing this with a wave of his hand.)
Grandpa: You can do it, warrior. I can see it in your eyes. You’re no stranger to impossible odds, eh?
1 (CLOSE-UP of SUKO, the briefest hint of a smile curling one side of his mouth.)
Suko: No. We’re well acquainted.
Grandpa (off): Then you’ll help us...?
2 (SUKO is gripping the hilt of his sheathed sword in his fist and walking towards the stairs.)
Suko: Why not? Lost causes are a hobby of mine...
3 (CUT TO: later that night, in the streets of the slums, as the WARRIORS have come again to gather more workers. They’re herding these poor unfortunates out of the buildings into the streets, marching them towards the waiting transports.)
Warrior: Let’s GO! Move it along!
Warrior B: The FACTORIES are waiting for you, dogs!
To be concluded...