The Dark Knight Returns callback was a deeply weird artistic flourish for me to ask of John, but I was creatively flailing by this point. “Eisner! Miller! TOLSTOY!” Phil had laughed his ass off when I first suggested that the conflict should be resolved with a game of capture the flag: with the visual of the flag in the hands of their opponents at the shore jolting the Fightopians into understanding that this nation of theirs isn’t as “real” as they’ve kidded themselves it is.

But as the story developed, Phil quickly grew disenchanted with the idea. He may have denied that he ever liked it. Cue angry phone calls.

Yet I had to do something with the general concept, because this disenchantment didn’t settle in until after Bandit and Fr’Nj had pursued their side mission, and nothing else really justified the team leader separating from the others except a solid plan to end the fight. So we dithered and debated and, as a result, kept adding pages to the story. I’m not gonna stump for the 24-page-a-chapter rule again just now, but I do think a quicker run time would’ve helped with the lighter, breezier tone I was trying to accomplish.