Argent Adept/Comics

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Argent Adept Virtuoso of the Void Standard Front.png

As long as human cultures have existed, there has always been a Virtuoso of the Void. A master musician who holds back the tide of chaos and destruction through their connection to the primal forces of the natural world. There is only ever one Virtuoso of the Void at a time, and each of these druidic songsmiths faced down the avatar of annihilation known as Akash'Bhuta as she rose time and time again to break all order in the world.

The Virtuosos of the Void always passed on their chosen instruments. The new Virtuoso would learn their fate when handed the instrument, the artifact itself imparting the title and the knowledge that order must be preserved. When a young bartender named Anthony Drake happened across an ancient Chinese bell in a cultural arts museum, he learned more about the ways of the world, as well as his own destiny, than he ever could have imagined. He was the newest Virtuoso of the Void and should have already been training in the ways of the Void, but Akash'Bhuta had disrupted the cycle early. She, over time, learned to destroy the instruments of the Virtuosos, and she had broken the fiddle of the previous Virtuoso of the Void before it could be passed on to his successor.

Anthony Drake set out, leaving his mundane life behind him. He sought the remaining instruments of past Virtuosos in order to learn to channel his new-found power. Calling himself The Argent Adept, he fights as an agent of order and restoration against the discord sewn by all manner of vile beings.

However, Akash'Bhuta is already aware of this newest Virtuoso, and she knows that the sooner she destroys him, the sooner she will be able to break the cycle of the Virtuosos entirely, leaving the world her domain to do with as she pleases...

Previous Virtuoso's of the Void

There have been many Virtuoso's. Since the first human's learned of music and the Void learned of them, there has been a Virtuoso. Many of their names and their instruments have been lost to time, but some remain.

The Amber Accompanist - Akpunku, a woman from Africa. Her instrument was a drum.
The cerulean Sorcerer - Telamon, an ancient Greek Lyra player.
The Jade Jinx - Xu Lo-hua, a woman from the Han Dynasty in China. Her instrument was a bell.
The Sallow Skald - Eydisar Ragnarsson, a Norseman whose instrument was a horn.
Sister Saffron - Tomasina Musaragni, an Italian Nun during the Renaissance, whose instrument was a Harp.
The Crimson Conductor - Franz Vogel, a German conductor. Franz was the last Virtuoso before Anthony Drake.

Franz Vogel, due to the influence of Akash'Bhuta, mixed Blood Magic with his Void powers, causing him to seek out other's who could have been apprenticed as Virtuoso's and stealing their power for himself.

    • He was introduced in the early '70s in the 5-issue limited series Toll of Destiny. In issue #1 he's fighting the Cult of Gloom #2 finds him fighting monsters in the Realm of Discord where he also runs into a toothy, one-eyed, tentacle monster known as Balarian (the grin is supposed to look "almost friendly, except instead it's horrifying") the hive mind aspect wasn't in place at this stage, however, he's just a big monster that AA confronts. That issue ends on a cliffhanger with AA on the ropes.
    • Issue #3 is a flashback telling the story of Anthony Drake, working at bars in California and just living life. He goes to a museum exhibit showcasing a lot of old artifacts and he's drawn to this old, bronze bell from the Han dynasty of China. It's not the same kind of compulsion to touch it like the Staff of Ra had on Blake Washington Jr. - but it's still intriguing and so he reaches out to touches it (drawing a reprimand from none other than Blake Washington Jr. who's in charge of the exhibition).
    • As soon as he touches it, it rings out as if struck and his mind is filled with knowledge and portents of his destiny. It's as if everybody else present is held in place as he lifts the (large and heavy) bell and runs off with it. He has learned that he (should be) the Virtuoso of the Void - a tradition that's been dormant for hundreds of years, but is necessary to protect the world from some vague, chaotic threat of the natural world. Cue flashback-within-a-flashback to tell the story of the Virtuosos of the Void, back into history and beyond into prehistory as the Virtuosos passed on training and wisdom to their successors through the ages. The remainder of the issue is a montage of him traveling around, collecting additional instruments, each one adding to his knowledge as the Virtuoso. He winds up with 5 instruments of past Virtuosos in total, although he himself is more of a singer and didn't have an instrument of his own, so he summons a set of silvery pipes from the Void itself (bringing his total complement to 6 instruments).
    • The final issue of Toll of Destiny returns to the Balarian fight where he summons all of his instruments at once and plays them magically in concert to defeat it (up to that point he'd generally been using one at a time). Then the Virtuoso of the Void ongoing title picks things up from there - quickly pointing out that him playing everything at once is very draining and he can't do it often - it's his last-ditch move.
  • He becomes a regular feature in Sentinel Comics - showing up for guest appearances in lots of books. He becomes a pretty major character across the brand, but he's somewhat problematic for the writers in that he always wins, which runs the risk of him being less interesting than other more vulnerable characters. The better part of the '70s passes with him mostly having one-off stories rather than ongoing arcs - lots of cool and/or crazy stuff is happening in these things, but the overall shape of any story is pretty much the same as any other.
    • They remedy this in the late '70s by finally deciding to do something with the vague threat mentioned in his origin story by introducing Akash'Bhuta. Up until this point the vague threat was just assumed to be the ongoing nature of his fight with these weird monsters and whatnot rather than one specific entity. Akash'Bhuta shows up in VotV as his primordial nature spirit who already knows all of his tricks, is immune to a lot of his magic, and is just generally a tough fight. She becomes a recurring threat and they fight a bunch of times, neither one of them decisively defeating the other.
    • This all builds to another major fight, but it's seemingly fitting the same trend as his past stories (it's a struggle, he buckles down, gathers his power, unleashes his power, he wins, the end) except this time once he unleashes his power, she just absorbs it and lays him out - a definitive loss for the Argent Adepts. He escapes, but utterly drained. It turns out that while the Virtuosos are necessary for defeating Akash when she turns up, she also is able to absorb the Void energy they use and so, over the course of several encounters, actually gets stronger faster due to their conflicts. More about her next week, of course.
    • That brings us to FFA #10 from the early '80s. This is a big crossover with AA, the Freedom Five, and others he'd worked with over the years (name-checks to Haka and Fanatic) as well as relatively new characters like Tempest and Captain Cosmic (so giving us ballpark date ranges for their introductions). The plot involves an attack on Megalopolis by Akash'Bhuta - the setting gives the Freedom Five element, but it's still really AA's book since he's so central to the conflict - that even if he's not as strong as previous Virtuosos, he has other heroes to back him up (Teamwork!). They still almost lose - see Chrono-Ranger's episode for why they win.
    • The aftermath of this fight is when the non-FF heroes involved decide to formally team up - the advent of the Prime Wardens. As a programming note, we'll get an episode on the Prime Wardens as a team after the members' individual episodes have come out. They still don't have their own title, but they do show up in each others' solo books and do a lot of cross-over work (including many FFA books that tend to be big crossover events themselves - also they mention that these tend to come in batches, that there will be several years in a row that have issues, then a gap before the next chunk of them).
    • This makes him start operating as more of a Super Hero than previous general monster-stopping or being on watch for Akash'Bhuta (now that she's been defeated she's gone for quite a while). He's around for the Voss invasion, he teams up with Visionary a lot, helps out against Baron Blade, is present for the Cosmitron fight, etc. When something big is happening, he shows up.
    • During the Voss fight, a notable event is that he destroys one of his instruments in order to take out one of the spaceships (he destroys the bell, see the art on "Cedistic Dissonant") - this was done by binding the bell to the ship and then when he destroyed the bell the ship suffered the same fate. This has unforeseen consequences that had lasting effects on him, but that they'll discuss later.

Variant: Originally received from the Wrath of the Cosmos preorder event for 100 copies preordered.

A team that was formed to aid a neophyte Virtuoso of the Void against Akash'Bhuta, the Prime Wardens were led by The Argent Adept in that conflict.

After a terrible loss to Akash'Bhuta - nemesis of all Virtuosos of the Void - Anthony Drake knew that he was not prepared to take on the force of Nature's Chaos. Without allies, Akash'Bhuta would end the line of Virtuosos with the death of Drake, and the world would be in great peril.

Calling out to those heroes he'd fought alongside, the Argent Adept assembled a team to face Akash'Bhuta. Each who joined him in the fight brought their own skills, abilities, and considerable powers to bear, but without the entire team, they would not have defeated the Avatar of Creation and Destruction. The Argent Adept, Captain Cosmic, Tempest, Haka, and Fanatic joined in battle, though even they would been lost if not for the momentary appearance of an unknown figure with a broad-brimmed hat and a six-shooter.

Now, that team still stands firm against threats from this world and others. Known as the Prime Wardens, the five heroes protect our world from otherworldly opponents and beings from beyond the known cosmos. However, their greatest challenge is still yet to come...

See Related Stories on the Prime Wardens Story Arc Page

First Appearance: Virtuoso of the Void #58

The villain known as Biomancer had crafted a twisted flesh golem in the guise of the Argent Adept. This fleshchild wielded a true instrument of the Void, a dark baton that belonged to former Virtuoso of the Void, named Franz Vogel. Upon the defeat of Biomancer, the baton was taken up by the current Virtuoso of the Void.

With the recovery of the instrument, Anthony Drake set ot learning what he could from the baton's connection to the Void. What Drake didn't know until too late was how Vogel had used his instrument - in pursuit of blood magics. It was little wonder that Biomancer had been the one to locate Vogel's baton, as it was strongly attuned to powers of blood and flesh, and amplified those powers through the Void.

As Anthony Drake mediated on the power of the baton, his connection to the Void became perverted by the residual blood magic energy of his predecessor. So, while the Argent Adept continued fighting against the forces of evil, he also began to take on some of the darkness exhibited by the Crimson Conductor.

aka: Dark Conductor Argent Adept

Variant: The Kvothe version of this card was originally announced by author Patrick Rothfuss on his blog in November 2014. The character Kvothe is originally from Rothfuss' Kingkiller Chronicles books, and Christopher has stated that Argent Adept was originally developed as a direct reference to Kvothe. "Dark Conductor" replaced that card in the Variant Pack due to Rothfuss owning the Kvothe card rights.

All sale proceeds from the card are donated to Heifer International, a charity that helps people raise themselves up out of poverty and starvation by promoting education, sustainable agriculture, and local industry all over the world.

If you wish for a copy of Kvothe, please support the charity, and do not print and play that version of the card.

Argent Adept: Dark Conductor is the replacement in the Ultimate Variant Pack. He has the same power as Kvothe.

Variant: Originally received from the OblivAeon Kickstarter.

The XTREME Prime Wardens were first revealed during the ARG Event in the Time vs. Time comic.

See Related Stories on the XTREME Prime Wardens Story Arc Page

AA isn't a big part of Vengeance since the magical/extra-planar stuff doesn't really factor into the Vengeance plot, but there is Ruin to discuss. As has been mentioned in earlier episodes, he was a denizen of the Realm of Discord who wanted was sent by Gloomweaver to go after Nightmist, but once he's in the physical plane he runs into AA and can recognize the large amount of Void energy he contains. If he were to syphon off that Void energy, he'd be strong enough to dethrone Gloomweaver. So Ruin winds up fighting Argent Adept instead, and being able to feed on Void energy, AA's normal tricks are just making him stronger. This requires him to change tactics - instead of using his Void powers directly against Ruin, he has to instead use them to utilize the elements of the physical world around him that then, in turn, works out as an attack against Ruin (this is an instance where AA's powers wind up looking more like recognizable "magic" than his powers generally do - I'm assuming this is what's going on in the art for "Scherzo of Frost and Flame"). He freezes Ruin and then shatters him. Baron Blade has been watching this while AA was distracted with Ruin - and he knows that AA is very powerful and needs to be dealt with somehow if his plot is to succeed. He sees an opportunity when AA is fatigued after taking on Ruin and just sucker punches him to knock him out (this is likely just prior to the art on "Vengeful Assault"). He's largely absent from the rest of the story. This (along with, say, Nightmist having been Regression Darted) is a big reason why Baron Blade winds up trapped in the RoD for so long at the end of the story - most of the people who could have gotten him out were rendered incapable of doing so earlier.

See Related Stories on the Vengeance Story Arc Page

Next up, the Ennead fight (see the Ra and Ennead episodes) where his major contribution was to try to counter the magical protective bubble created by Isis and to allow the heroes into Egypt. This is within his abilities and it would have worked had not Shu, y'know, stabbed him through the torso (see "The Grave Beckons").

See Related Stories on the The Ennead Story Arc Page

    • Then there's Progeny. He arrives to try to protect the cities Progeny's attacking - he's able to hold him off single-handedly long enough for the other heroes to regroup (see "The Inevitable"), which is pretty impressive. Progeny does eventually overwhelm his shield and knocks him out (and so AA wasn't helping during that last, finally successful stand against Progeny), but he was instrumental in making the final confrontation possible in the first place.
    • AA is one of the most important heroes in both the lead-up to OblivAeon and in the actual fight. First up, he goes to the Nexus of the Void (which among other things is kind of a bridge between the Void and reality) and uses his connection to the Void to awaken some potent Void creatures to come to the heroes' aid (he's there along with Naturalist and Akash'Thriya). He also reaches into the Void and summons his instruments to call forth past Virtuosos - who even after death they are still more connected to the Void (Adam does an Obi-wan voice and they have a brief discussion about the Void and the Force - they're not the same, but there are interesting similarities).
    • In the OblivAeon event he helps the Idealist with a side-project, but since it's her story we'll get to hear about it in the Sentinels/Void Guard episode.

See Related Stories on the OblivAeon Story Arc Page

Legacy Wants to Remind You!

This information is from the Miststorm Universe, one of two branching timelines. Products in this timeline are: Sentinel Tactics (and expansions). Prime War (and expansions)

Tactics - AA is seeking more instruments and power. He's already gathered Vogel's Baton and learns to manage it, then he gets Ruairí O'Ceallaigh's instrument, a fiddle - he was the Chartreuse Chanteuse. He's gained enough power that he can no longer contain all of it within himself. He goes to Pinion to see if a magician can do anything to help him maybe contain this some other way so he can keep accruing more. She finds a ritual in a book that she hadn't had a use for but might work, and Nightmist isn't around to tell her otherwise, and so they use it. This creates a book, the Libretta Obscura (approximately "Dark Booklet" - a "libretto" is the text of an opera or other long vocal work so it could also be "Dark Songbook") that wasn't conjured from the Void like the instruments were, but is still a songbook of his power, from within him. This also attunes all of the instruments to the book, rather than to himself. He uses the book, to then use the instruments. He's also got to deal with Akash'Dharsha in this timeline, but more on that next week.

Tachyon Speeds By to Remind You!

This information is from the Sentinel Comics Universe, one of two branching universes. Products in this timeline are: Sentinel Comics RPG.

RPG - At the end of OblivAeon, Akash'Thriya was injured to the point that she needed to absorb Void energy from the Nexus of the Void (becoming somewhat Void-like and giving her an even stronger connection to Argent Adept). She releases a part of herself, which begins growing into a giant tree in Megalopolis - known as Akash'Flora - just enormous, at least 20 stories tall with roots going throughout the city. The rest of her form is destroyed by OblivAeon and so this is all that remains of her. Where we pick things up (in the RPG starter kit), AA is communing with the tree as a kind of magical, musical groundskeeper - helping her integrate with the city and protecting her. He also manages to learn more stuff from what's left of her consciousness regarding the actual history of the Virtuosos and how in the past they train each other up rather than his self-taught methods. It's not a job for one person, but something to pass on. He learns about instruments that she's destroyed and others that she's just buried (if the associated Virtuoso is already dead she'd rather slowly absorb the Void energy that they can provide). He goes about gathering more instruments, not to necessarily gain power like in tactics, but so he can learn what he can from them and use them to find additional people with the requisite combination of attributes necessary to be a Virtuoso of the Void (you know, like a potential PC out there in RPG land).