The Scoop

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"The Scoop" was originally published in Kurt Busiek's Astro City Vol.1 No.2

Synopsis[edit]

At the offices of the Astro City Rocket, a young, unnamed reporter is hired by Elliot Mills. The two plan for a lunch at the Press Club, but have a few minutes to kill beforehand. The new hire looks at the framed newspaper pages on Mills' wall and asks his new boss about one small snippet framed among a number of front-page stories.

Mills tells a story about his earlier days as a journalist in 1959, a time in which a new era of superheroes was only just beginning; for example, Mills mentions that the Silver Agent had only been around for three years at this point.

During one encounter between the Agent and a crew of bank robbers, Mills attempts to break the story but is interrupted by a senior colleague who takes over getting the scoop. At the reporters' hangout, The Deadline, Mills takes some ribbing from his friends for his early attempt to get a front-page story.

Later, after walking his date home, Mills stumbles onto a potential headline: a number of shadowy figures in robes sneaking into the subway. Mills follows them, where he witnesses a ritual involving the cult sacrifice of sharks to some otherworldly power.

The ritual is interrupted by the Silver Agent, who identifies Karnus as the cultists' ringleader. Unfortunately, just then everyone is transported to cavern in which an image of Shirak the Devourer appears and provides the cultists with his power and hunger, transforming them into shark-man hybrids.

As Shirak proclaims that the Silver Agent cannot possibly defeat him (and his servants) alone, the Agent reveals that he has assembled the forces of the newly formed team Honor Guard, along with the Bouncing Beatnik, to assist him.

The two groups clash, and Mills continues to watch from the shadows. He realizes that Honor Guard is losing the fight, and as he begins to despair, the Old Soldier appears--seemingly walking out from solid rock--and enters the fray to turn the tide of the battle.

The Soldier points out the weak spot of the ritual--the altar itself--and the Silver Agent manages to shut down Shirak's hold on the world. As a result, the cavern is filled with the incredible force of a massive "drain-plug" being pulled (to use Mills' description), and everyone other than Mills--who holds on tight to a stalactite--disappears. Mills finds himself suddenly in the subway tunnel he had originally entered, along with the sacrified shark (which falls on the tracks).

An oncoming train manages to stop before it hits Mills, who promptly heads to the Deadline and demands a typewriter, where he proceeds to type out his account of the previous evening's events. His friends, looking over his shoulder, are entirely incredulous.

Naturally, Mills' editor refuses to run the story due to its inability to be substantiated by any other witnesses. Mills is instructed to "stick to the facts [he] can back up" as a result. After numerous rewrites, the story is finally published in the form displayed on Mills' wall in the present day.

His new employee is shocked, given the details of Mills' eyewitness account. Mills tells him that he took a lot of flak for the changes from his first version of the story to its final, printed form, but he adds that it taught him a valuable lesson: the Rocket prints what can be proven.

As Mills and his employee head to lunch, we (the readers) get to see the printed story: a short, five-paragraph piece titled "Trolley delayed by shark," about the presence of the shark on the tracks and the lack of available information as to how it ended up there.


Notes[edit]

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