Podcasts/Episode 112

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The Letters Page: Episode 112

Original Source

Primary Topic

Void Guard

Intro

Let's talk more about these powerful heroes!

Show Notes:

Run Time: 1:10:07

This show is a follow-up to our longest episode ever! So, consider that required listening for what we're talking about here.

Adam's eye is ruined and he'll never see again, or something like that. I might be exaggerating here.

About 6 minutes into the episode, we go to questions, which are organized by character (after the first couple more general questions). We cover Dr. Medico, Mainstay, The Idealist, and Writhe, in that order.

Thanks to our (unwitting) sponsor, TheWyrmSuperior! Of course, so many thanks to Trevor for the great editing and producing and making this podcast possible, and also infinite thanks to all of you delightful listeners! We very much appreciate your support. If you're interested in supporting The Letters Page, check out our Patreon!

Characters Mentioned

Summary

Overview

Questions

  • The show notes mention TheWyrmSuperior as the “unwitting sponsor” of this episode. This refers to the fact that they wrote in good letters about each of the four team members, so they will be started each subsection with the letter from that source, but we have a few team-level questions first.
  • We’ve been told that Dr. Medico’s general heroics on Earth and then being out in space put a strain on his relationship with his husband, Caleb - do any of the other members have similar problems (like, does Mainstay have a girlfriend that misses him, does Idealist have a backlog of school work, does Absolute Zero miss listening to records with Writhe)? AZ gets it - space heroics and all that. Idealist is getting home-schooled (space-schooled?) and it’s not like she’s trying to get into college or something. If she ever were to try to get a straight job or into a college or something she might have problems due to missing transcripts or something, but it’s also possible that she’d get a pass on that due to the prestige that she would bring to the organization due to her being this famous hero, but it’s not like she’s around much. She was gone for a few years, came back a little just prior to OblivAeon, and then they left again promptly after OblivAeon. School’s the least of her worries (while she might not be getting that grounding of world history facts that many of us get in school, dealing with events in the vast cosmos has a way of putting the importance of Earth history in perspective). Mainstay doesn’t really have much human attachment outside of the team - he dates, but nothing like a long-term commitment. Besides AZ, Writhe doesn’t have many friends outside the group either - he’s just super creepy, which puts many people off. Medico is the only one with a really significant connection to Earth and things don’t go well.
  • There’s quite a lot of card art depicting the team fighting the Slaughterhouse Six - when did this fight take place and why is Writhe being so creepy? So, part of that is from when the Southwest Sentinels book was wrapping up, there was internal communication about why you shouldn’t use them for now because their return as Void Guard was already planned. Somebody misread the memo and put VG Writhe into the end of The Deadliest Game [which was also wrapping up at that time with its final issue coming out the month after SS wrapped]. It must have been a poorly-written memo because some of the others wound up in places they shouldn’t have been at around that time too, but this is the most prominent example for our purposes. When VG launches 14 months later it gets right into the heavy space stuff with what they’re doing, they also wanted to provide a lighter introduction to get people on board. While VG is still the same kind of self-contained, double-size book as SS was, it’s not as newbie friendly (SS #1 was a great jumping-on point for new comics readers in general while VG #1 is very much not and assumes you’re already familiar with what happened in the earlier title). So, over in Mystery Comics, one of the most widely-read books, they had a two-parter in vol. 2 #506-507 about the Slaughterhouse Six. Glamour reminds the team about that time when one of those chumps in the Southwest Sentinels actually gave them problems (in The Deadliest Game) - he had this weird rock embedded in his head and now he and the rest of the chumps are back, and they all have these rocks and are powerful. Maybe we should steal those to get the power [pretty good bit about what to call this hypothetical improved Slaughterhouse Six - they land on the Massacre Mansion Many (lack of number words beginning with M is tough)]. So, those two issues of MC were about them trying to take on Void Guard. This does not go well for them (although they’d have been more than a match for the Southwest Sentinels). It’s a good showcase of how powerful/dangerous the individual members of Void Guard are, but also that they’re not really working as a real team (the villains in the story are a much more cohesive group). Writhe is being so creepy in the stories because Writhe (and especially VG Writhe) is always creepy.
  • There are some cards with flavor text from Void Guard members citing SS #36 - is this just an indication that that issue is when they got their OblivAeon shards? Yes, that’s what’s going on there.

Dr. Medico

  • On “From the Brink” what caused Expatriette on the brink of death? This was during the lead-up to OblivAeon (when all of the Scions were coming and whatnot) when Borr the Unstable showed up in Rook City and basically just exploded a few times before heading off elsewhere. Dark Watch was there and she got really messed up in the process and Dr. Medico was on the scene to help her out.
  • Do we ever find out what exactly the thing that Medico gives to Writhe on “Prescription Strength” does? It’s a little glowing orb made of Medico’s healing energy. The issue in question was out in space and they’re dealing with Rahazar who’s hurt a bunch of people. In the process of the fight Medico calls out for Writhe to go help those people over there with it. Instead, when he gets to where the people are he retreats into his Portable Dark-Lab through his shadow and does some experiments on it. Then when he returns and the others ask how things went he claims to have not made it in time and that he couldn’t save them. So, rather than using it for its intended purpose Writhe does experiments on what’s essentially his friend’s body, ignored people in need, and lied to his friends about it. So, great job being a hero, Writhe.
  • What caused Medico to become so enraged on “Second Opinion”? Is it GloomWeaver’s influence? There’s some GW influence there, but he’s mainly trying to be intimidating more than being actually angry. So, this is a few months after that MC story with the Slaughterhouse Six. Medico knows that Re-Volt was present at Fort Adamant and is trying to find out what happened there.
  • What is Nixious doing to Medico on his incap art? As they’ve said before, he’s releasing GloomWeaver from Medico’s shard. This makes him Evil until La Comodora does some time nonsense to lock GW away again (although now they know it’s something they’ll have to deal with eventually).
  • Why does Malpractice Medico do Energy damage instead of the Infernal type that you’d assume based on it being GloomWeaver-related? Could he do Toxic damage by giving somebody cancer? That’s probably among the things he threatened Re-Volt with (we know that Re-Volt gets really messed up during that event and winds up… different in later stories). He does Energy damage because he’s still the same being of life energy, he just uses it to destructive ends rather than benevolent ones (and causing cancer probably still fits into this end of things rather than being Toxic).
  • Could he use his power to reanimate a dead body (like, not returning a dead person to life, but just puppeting a body around)? No. He could not get a recently dead body up and moving and then “releasing” it like a zombie and he probably couldn’t even directly puppet one either - if he’s sending his power down neural pathways, it’s just regenerative; he couldn’t control the motor functions. He probably could keep tissue from a recently deceased body from decaying such that things could be used in transplants.
  • [The preceding two questions were from Cult of Gloom - his sign-off, which gets going at around 25:20, includes a medical disclaimer about the use of GloomWeaver. Adam’s reading (which might have been sped up by Trevor for authenticity - I can’t tell) starts at 25:47 and is pretty good - including a nice dig at the Vandals.]

Mainstay

  • Did he design the VG logo on his vest? How long did Adam agonize over it? Adam: “not that long”. It came together pretty quickly. Mainstay had it commissioned by the costume designer person that works out of Freedom Tower. If he’s going to be doing his lone-wolf shtick he wants to remember his old crew.
  • How long was he able to keep Greazer in a head-lock (can’t imagine him being one to just give up)? They can totally see him giving up. He’s the one whose in-game mechanics include giving up. He’s not a “ride or die” type. This basically went down with Mainstay getting in the lock and messing up Greazer’s hair a bit, offering to let him go if he promises to leave, Greazer refuses, Mainstay gets in a few more punches and messes up the hair some more before offering the same deal which Greazer then accepts. The answer of “how long could he hold Greazer in a head-lock?” is basically “Until Greazer gives up.”
  • How did Mainstay ride into the Final Wasteland (or did a Mongolian Death Worm make it into the canon timeline somehow)? He’s in the Final Wasteland because the OblivAeon event resulted in a lot of portals opening to other realities. Mainstay actually winds up on quite a journey through time and space during this period.
  • How many panels of manly punching were involved in the situation on “Mano a Mano”? A bunch, but also not enough. This was the big fight for Mainstay (and Stuntman). That encounter is a major set piece and takes up the bulk of an issue.
  • What’s the story behind “Preemptive Payback”? During that same journey through time and space that took him to the Final Wasteland he winds up in the Block and encounters Sergeant Steel.
  • Does Sweet Rhonda have some Shard in her or is it just a sweet paint job? He infuses her with some of his energy, but that doesn’t require actually putting some of the Shard into her. It is a pretty sweet paint job, though. He’s the only one of the four to not keep his Shard in contact with him all the time, instead having it on the end of the chain. When he does touch it he gets turned into that rock form.
  • Is Void Guard Mainstay what he’s like before or after his episode of [Queer Eye](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queer_Eye_(2018_TV_series))? This would be his after. VG Mainstay is so much cooler than his SS original version. He’s got some distinct style choices going on now and he’s gotten some lifestyle help in terms of things like his jacket design and his friendship with Stuntman. You should see his house now.

Idealist

  • How does she get cell reception in space (or what is she using to sends texts in “Bored Now”)? Did Wager Master just sit there to get blown up? It’s a space phone, which is important for somebody doing stuff out in space. It doesn’t have infinite range, but she can text people on different planets and whatnot. Space technology is just great. Wager Master isn’t just going to sit there and get blown up. He’s going to hold up a sign that says “Yikes!” first and then get blown up.
  • Who taught her the word “shingkt” on “Flying Stabby Knives”? It’s just a sound effect word.
  • Based on the style of karate robots, it seems that she was a fan of (or at least was shown) some ’90s-era anime - any specific favorites or anything more recent? She hasn’t had much chance to see things more recent, but she watched Caleb’s old anime VHS collection (which they bonded over).
  • What is the “Monster of Id”? Is it related to her origin? Is her incap art showing her being taken over by it? It’s the purpose of her original creation - this is what her “mother” made her for. She’s supposed to be a vessel for this vast psychic power that could be used to shape and change reality, bringing things into reality that didn’t exist (which is what Idealist does). This is part of her and she fights against it. Even as a “moody teenager”, Miranda really is an idealist. She sees the world for what it is, but she hopes that it’s better than it looks. She tries to see the world for the vast tapestry that it is, both good and bad, and that just because something is bad that’s ok. She doesn’t want to just decide that she’ll make things better - to make the world whatever she says it is. It’s a theme for the whole group (except Mainstay - maybe there’s something to this whole “don’t constantly be touching this piece of OblivAeon all the time” thing) that they have to fight this darkness within them in some way. For her, as shown in the incap art, she does partly fall to this at one point and has to fight it off.
  • What is Faultless doing to her on her foil incap art? They talk about that in the first OblivAeon episode. [To quote from that summary: “[Faultless] sees the Shard and offers to help her get rid of it - it’s not part of the natural order and is bad news all around. Idealist declines because she needs the power boost it represents right now. Ok, fine, he won’t force her - but at least he creates a kind of "shield" around it to protect her from it. It won’t last forever, but it’s better than nothing and hopefully she’ll be in a position to rid herself of it before it’s too late.] She’s got this ticking time-bomb attached to her (as does Dr. Medico and… well, not Writhe. He got his taken from him, but more on that later).
  • Why is she “Super Sentai” Idealist rather than the more Americanized “Power Rangers”? Did Nick or Caleb choose to show her the original Japanese show instead? Yeah, she’s watching Caleb’s collection as stated earlier. Caleb was the kind of fan who had been so much of a purist that it was kind of annoying, so he had the original in Japanese with subtitles. By this time he hadn’t really cared about/thought about them in years, but that’s what he had on hand and having her around makes him want to “do this right”, so that’s what they watched rather than this Power Rangers thing on TV.
  • Did she base the costume on any specific season? Does she ever try to put together a full team (or could an RPG group be based on that)? No, she just imagined what she would look like as a Super Sentai character and designed something (Adam just kind of looked at a bunch of different seasons when designing it). She sort of gets a team in the form of the group that puts together the Mecha-Knight.
  • [Letter starts with a genericized “Power Rangers” term: “Shower Strangers”, which sends the guys off on a tangent about the best case for that term. Adam posits the shower scene from Psycho while Christopher suggests being in a gym shower where you don’t look at or acknowledge the other person at all. Adam would still rather get stabbed.] Is there an equivalent Super Sentai original and American Power Rangers derivative dynamic in Sentinel Comics (and/or the meta-verse)? If so, how does Idealist feel about them, is she more a fan of classic or modern Sentai, does she have strong opinions on how mecha should work, when/how did she get into this stuff, and does she speak Japanese or rely on subs/dubs? Yes. A lot of our world’s pop culture is also represented in the comics. They talked about some of this. Caleb cares very much about the originals. She cares less and is excited about everything. She’s read/watched some of the more modern stuff and shows Caleb that there’s good stuff besides what he was familiar with. Adam soapboxing moment: dubs have gotten a lot better now and it’s no longer heresy to watch with them rather than in Japanese with subtitles. That carries over to Idealist showing Caleb new stuff too.
  • Her Super Sentai incap art shows her fighting some metal dinosaur thing - one assumes this is a Biomancer creation, but when did this happen and what’s the story? This is a relatively minor, almost solo-story for her post-OblivAeon just getting back to super hero stuff. There’s a big monster, she fights the big monster, she defeats the big monster. [The incap art episode mentions that she fights not only the Biomancer kaiju thing, but a Wager Master kaiju thing during this story].
  • Is she a lot more powerful than the other teenage heroes on the scene, Daybreak (what with hitting OblivAeon with a giant mech and all)? Where does Aeon Girl fall in there? She had help with the mech thing, but yes. She is more powerful than Daybreak, but they hope that by this point they’ve pointed out that she’s also a greater danger to herself and others than they are and that her position is untenable - what with the OblivAeon Shard issues. The members of Void Guard as we’ve seen then in SotM are unstable and will have to change. [Adam throws in a reference to kaio-ken for anybody who’s not familiar with the Dragon Ball franchise]. Aeon Girl actually has a much higher power cap (she’s one of the most powerful heroes ever), but she’s got her own “newly created person” stuff going on and doesn’t know everything about herself yet.
  • Any chance we’ll see her interact with Daybreak anytime soon? Unlikely considering how quickly Void Guard returns to space after OblivAeon. They’re looking for Captain Cosmic, they’ve got to deal with the whole Writhe situation, etc. Void Guard stuff is going to be messy, so they get away from Earth.

Writhe

  • Is Writhe really making Progeny melt in “Cloak Projector”? Is that the power of the Shard? Yes. Direct power of OblivAeon trumps being a Scion.
  • What is happening in “Darkly Dreaming”? Is he tormenting the real Biomancer? It is the real Biomancer - as discussed in Editors Note 26.
  • Is Voss trying to make a pitch to Writhe out of desperation or just trying to turn Writhe into an ally before breaking free on “Grasping Shadow-cloth”? The latter. This is after Writhe absorbed Voidsoul and has kind of lost his mind/is searching for OblivAeon power to consume and manages to follow Voss to his hideout. He ties Voss up and Voss responds with an offer of whatever Writhe wants if he joins the winning team. Writhe just wants to eat the power, though, and so tries to do that. Voss then just breaks free and beats the tar out of Writhe (letting Voidsoul escape in the meantime).
  • It looks like he’s sneaking up on just some random criminal in “Lurking Shadows”, which seems way below his pay grade as a Void Guard member, right? The first issue of the VG title is them in space and not knowing how to get back to Earth and eventually getting back to Earth. Issue #2 is them being in Rook City and handling Rook City stuff - you’re right, they’re very much overkill for the kinds of street level stuff going on in Rook City.
  • In “Sciamachy” [which Adam thought was “Sciamancy” for months before getting corrected by Christopher - he still calls it that a lot - “sciamachy” is a fancy word for shadowboxing], he seems to be copying Re-Volt’s old costume which causes the latter some stress; what’s happened to him in the meantime to cause this reaction? He’s no longer that person and wishes that he was. He used to be a human that happened to have electricity powers instead of this hollow, unstable being of electricity. He’s losing control of himself and Writhe is rubbing it in his face.
  • Not a question, but Somber Tinker looks dope. Adam: Thanks, bro.
  • On “Umbral Siphon”, what is the spike, who is Writhe trying to drive it into, and does Mainstay let him? This is still that Rook City story and they’re trying to get the thug they’ve captured to talk and he’s not talking. Writhe suggests using the spike at which point Mainstay says what’s in the flavortext. Writhe’s like “… No… Maybe we can just put it down here and if he happens to fall on it we can use it while it’s in there.” Mainstay does not let him use it, but we do see him use it later as it’s what he uses to make Progeny melt. It siphons off shadow energy from the target (making them not have a shadow afterwards?).
  • In his foil incap art is he about to be branded? Yeah, that’s from early on in the Void Guard story before Lifeline breaks them out of the Bloodsworn Colosseum.
  • A lot of his card art wouldn’t look out of place in horror movies - were they direct inspirations? A little bit. They’ve mentioned a few times that characters came from comics that Adam drew back in college and Writhe’s hat-and-trenchcoat look was one of these (known then as “The Fly”) and was based on Adam’s friend who loves horror movies. Some of that bled over into how the character looks and moves. The evolution into Void Guard Writhe was just “y’know, let’s just go way monsterier”. Going into OblivAeon it’s fine that he’s far less heroic because of the blurring of lines as the situation is so dire, but he’s basically around just because he may as well since he’s with these other people.
  • How did his teammates (and other heroes) react to his new way of doing things? Not well. To the point that he’s aware of their reactions and starts hiding his tendencies more.
  • Which of his cards is the creepiest? Adam: “Darkly Dreaming” as the smiles are just so creepy. Christopher: “Erratic Form” as the way he’s skittering on the ceiling with his head twisted around is just subtly off.
  • Excitement that we finally got art of Citizen Burn (on “Swallowed by Shadow”, which is the end of him). Man, you guys treated him worse than the editors of Sentinel Comics treated Fashion. Well, to be fair, they treated Fashion that badly too and Stylin’ Shirley was an actually significant character in the history of Sentinel Comics where Citizen Burn never was.
  • What is happening on “Distorted Perception” and why doesn’t Writhe remember doing something horrible to Desert Eagle? Writhe’s lying about having seen Desert Eagle because he’s done something horrible to him. He wrapped Desert Eagle up and swallowed him in shadow. As has been said in the past, when Writhe does this, it sends things to Voidsoul and this typically means the end of them as Voidsoul devours them. At this time, Voidsoul is on Earth and is really busy with all of the prep-work for OblivAeon and so just spits Desert Eagle out. This still leaves Desert Eagle permanently changed, though as this whole process is just terrible. After this, his eyes (which were kind of the special thing he had going on previously) are completely black and all he can see is shadow. When we see him after OblivAeon he has these fancy goggles on that transmit what he’s “seeing” directly to his brain to bypass the weirdness with his eyes.
  • Is this why the Vertex line has him be a villain? Yes. All of this stuff is foreshadowing that he is a villain and will do villainous stuff. In the RPG timeline there’s still a danger of that, but he’s lost his shadow cloak. In Tactics/Prime War he’s just a villain.
  • In the lead up to Prime War, what does he look like? He’s lost his shadow cloak, but does he craft a facsimile to maintain his theme? Does he consider a new name? Is he primarily a tech-based character? Does he retain any of the knowledge from OblivAeon? A lot of this is going to be “time will tell”. You’ll probably see his Prime War art before the end of the year, but in that timeline he didn’t lose his shadow cloak and will be recognizable based on that. It’s the RPG timeline where he loses it and we won’t be seeing that version for a while (although he will have to become a different type of character since losing the cloak). Void Guard in the RPG will change a lot. Void Guard as a group doesn’t exist in Prime War and the only one we see (for now, at least) is Writhe and this is the one who’s gone through all of the Vertex timeline’s awfulness.
  • How different are the Vertex/Universe 1 versions of him? Very different at this point - in execution, direction, and just ability to be saved from himself. Prime War Writhe still has his shadow cloak (and some Voidsoul stuff along with it) but not an OblivAeon Shard, and is full-villain. RPG Writhe still has his OblivAeon Shard, has lost his shadow cloak (and the connection to Voidsoul), but isn’t so far gone.
  • Does he ever think about his Void Guard team that fell by his hand? Yeah, but not wistfully. They were “shackles” holding him back - he tried to be the good guy and all but they were inhibiting him from being himself. He kind of resents them. He’s also a little crazy.