The Letters Page: Episode 120
We're gonna write a comedy story!
Run Time: 1:10:59
Yet again, we craft a comic from the back catalogue of Sentinel Comics! This one is much more modern than our other Writers' Rooms episodes, as you can tell by the cover.
We had a ton of fun with all the various parts of this story, and we hope you do, too!
Thank you for tuning in! If you're a member of our Patreon, you can join us live this Friday at 11 AM for this month's Editor's Note!
- The Guise and Scholar episodes of the podcast were done before the big timeline project, so there are some errors in there. The biggest thing was from the Guise episode where it laid out a sequence that had the Christmas Spectacular issue before The Guise Book started, which it turns out to not be the case (TGB started in 2012 and the Christmas special was in 2013). In the intervening time, the Deadline event happens and Guise and Scholar are both present. Scholar being Scholar, he forms a mentor-like relationship with Guise at that time and that develops more in the Christmas issue. In the Progeny event, that’s around the same time as the Christmas issue, Scholar and Guise really connect.
- Ultimately, the first 3 years of TGB (2012-2014) is him as a solo character. It’s a comedy book, and Guise is aware of that (because Guise) and he starts to feel like “what’s the point?”. In October 2014, over in TotB we have Scholar start the whole Scholar of the Infinite thing. Then in January 2015, TGB #37, Scholar shows up as a permanent feature of the title until his demise 2 issues shy of the end of the Multiverse (he dies in #58 and the book ends with #60 in December 2016 [the same month as FF #800]). This is the first time that Scholar has really had a “home” comic.
- Issue #37 is the first issue of a 6-issue arc.
The Guise Book #37
- They’re starting with young La Capitan (the La Comodora/Chrono-Ranger stuff began back in 2012, so readers are probably primed for the fact that things are going to be a mess when they see her by now). What is she doing and where is it? Guise lives in Megalopolis and it’s not like he’s going to go out of his way to run into her, so she’s got to be after something there. It’s probably gonna be something goofy for her. The various young Las Capitans have their own motives, so they might not need to spend much time on that in particular. She just needs to show up, cause mayhem, and get stopped by Guise. They’ve only got like 20 pages to work with, so they don’t want to spend more than, say, 4 on this part.
- Adam pitches a super-serious intro page with her doing her thing. Then the next page has Guise just sitting in a cafe or something while that stuff we just saw is in the background with him ignoring it until something crashes into the place and knocks his table over or something.
- So, let’s say she’s opening time portals that are letting the ocean rush into the city, bringing along various types of old-timey ships in the process. Maybe she’s trapped or desperate for some reason and is trying to flood the world, bring in old ships and pirates, and create “Pirate World” in its place. We get her “super serious” plan here in some narration, while being careful to not undercut the ridiculousness that is young La Capitan.
- Because it’s Guise, though, the Cafe has to be watertight so that we can have him turn to look out the window and it’s now an underwater scene like he’s at the aquarium. He looks up, sees a fish swim by the window, then back down at his newspaper or whatever with a “Hmm?” before the window finally gives and floods the building.
- What’s Guise fixated on (because he’s always fixated on something)? “Nobody reads newspapers in 2015” but they decide that he’s reading a tabloid - or at least looking through it for the photos that he took and critiquing their presentation. [This gets into an aside where apparently Guise sends his photos in just in an envelope with “Joseph King” on it with no address - he’s not getting paid as the tabloids don’t know how to get money back to him. Besides, he still has infinite stacks of $20 bills that he got from Wager Master, so he’s not hurting for money.]
- So, he gets flooded out and turns himself into something like an inflatable pool toy to get to the surface quickly. The water subsides quickly (she’s opening these portals that result in huge surges of water, but they aren’t sustained and the water eventually filters down into the sewers and generally spreads out - “Pirate World” will take time.
- How does he foil La Capitan’s plot? Adam pitches the idea that he turns himself into Kevin Costner and just punches her, but they’d prefer him to use some kind of dumb Guise loophole. So, she’s trying to bring in specific sailors but she doesn’t have an intrinsic knowledge of where/when these people are. While she can’t travel into the future now (similar to La Comodora’s problem and why she gets involved in the OblivAeon thing so early - people had been able to go into the future, but “now” can’t do so), she’s done it in the past and has the items from various places. One of the things she has is a record that somebody eventually put together of all of the chronal anomalies that have happened, and she’s using it to pull in ships that had been lost due to their encounters with those anomalies. They workshop the name of this thing briefly and land on “Temporal Manifest”. What the Temporal Manifest lets her do is pinpoint these “lost” ships and bring them back.
- So then, Guise needs to find her (probably accidentally) and then destroy this thing (again, probably accidentally). Let’s just say that when he bobs to the surface that she’s right there - she was doing her thing right outside the window of his cafe and he was oblivious. He doesn’t know it’s the Macguffin, but after he breaks it she’ll have some rant about how she needed it and that it was from the future, etc. to get the details they’ve just talked about across to the reader. So, he winds up attacking her because she’s ruined his breakfast (“Nobody likes soggy scones.” or “Soggy scones sink ships.”) - he also kind of still sees himself as a hero so there’s an excuse.
- We get a page of them fighting. She’s protecting this thing as she does so and opens a portal to blast him away from her with another rush of water. He turns himself into a big squirt gun, contains the water she sends his way, and then just blasts her right back in childlike retaliation. This knocks her back against a wall, breaking the Manifest and water gets in, ruining it.
- Then we get her rant about the Manifest, the unreachable future, and him ruining Pirate World. She threatens to go into the past to kill him before he can show up to ruin everything and then disappears through a portal. Guise is legitimately dismayed by this.
- He just goes home. This takes two pages of the slowest comic book pacing ever as he worries about getting his affairs in order before he just disappears or whatever happens when you’re killed in the past. Wondering about the people that he’s “helped” and what will have happened to them if he wasn’t around (best not to think about how better off other people would be without him having existed). His bucket list won’t even exist anymore since he won’t have been around to have wanted to do those things. Even the colors of the comic pages start getting washed out as this goes on. He gets back to his apartment and slumps down with a bucket of ice cream to eat (but he winds up just smearing it on his mask where his mouth should be).
- After a few pages of that, Scholar knocks on his door and gets called in. “What is going on with you? I was in the area and thought I’d check in and I could hear your crying from down the hall.” Guise explains the situation and how any minute now he’s going to stop existing. That’s not how this works. He’s still here right now, so whatever La Capitan is doing must not have worked. They must wind up stopping her in the future in the past. So how do they go about doing so?
- Reassessing things - the story to this point is longer than they’ve expected and they’ve likely taken half the issue or so.
- Ok, so Guise is still full of “temporal water” (and has been slowly deflating as the pages since the fight have gone on - he’s crying so much as the water has to get out somehow; his couch is just soaked in the stuff now). Scholar asks what the deal is with all of this water leaking out of him. Once he knows what it is he can do some ley line shenanigans with it to get to where/when she is (although they’ll need some other method to get back). He rigs up a portal with the water (which looks just like a puddle on the floor) that they dive into. As they’re traversing the portal on the last page we get Guise make a “where we’re going we don’t need roads” joke, but John “The Scholar” Rhodes says that no, you definitely need him as he’s doing the ley line stuff. “You need to see more movies, pal.”
The Rest of the Arc
- This is the first issue of a story arc and they already have an idea for what the arc consists of. They’re not likely to do an episode for #38 of this book, at least not for a while, so they want to give us an idea for where things go from here because they know they’d get questions otherwise.
- This is kind of a “greatest hits” of Guise’s life, including a lot of Joseph King stuff before he gets powers. This stuff is necessary due to what Scholar will be for Guise going forward - “A live-in, full-time therapist.” They’re going to dig into Guise’s psyche and figure out why he is the way he is and who he is as a person. This was hinted at in the prior few issues with him having a bit of an existential crisis about what the point of his book, and his place in the Multiverse even is. A detail they’d planned but forgot about earlier is that during his “cry on the couch” bit above he talked about that they were cancelling his book - that must be why this is happening to him. When the Scholar comes in he wonders if “they” are transitioning the book to be about him or something.
- That’s not far off, as it turns out. They had 3 years of The Guise Book being basically a comedy title, which did pretty well - Guise is a divisive, but fairly well-liked character. However, the books that did really well were the ones where he got existential about something, so they’re really doubling down on that aspect of things by bringing in the mentor character who’s all about that stuff. Plus, after the Scholar of the Infinite thing we know that something big is on the horizon anyway. The remaining 23 issues of the book are about Guise finding who he is and Scholar helping him with that. If this was just a process with a therapist, he’d likely just talk about his past with them. Since this is wacky comics nonsense, they go live his past (while also fighting La Capitan).
- So, they’ll keep La Capitan from killing off little Joey King and whatnot. They’ll hitch a ride on La Paradoja Magnifica. At some point in the middle of the story La Comodora and Chrono-Ranger catch up to this La Capitan, but remain unaware of what’s going on with Guise so he and Scholar have to get involved. After that La Comodora and Chrono-Ranger give them a lift “home” (rebuffing Guise’s attempt to claim that they’re all part of the Time Force… Bros. or something).
- So they get back to the present and Guise and Scholar keep hanging out (Scholar has an inkling that it’ll be important - we know why regarding the OblivAeon events and the end of the Scholar and how a lot of his abilities/knowledge - but not narrative role - gets passed on to Guise).
- With the focus on Legacy in the first vignette of Disparation vol. 1 #1, why no Felicia in subsequent ones (given her importance in the Invasion story that had just wrapped up)? Because of her prominence in that story and the fact that she really hadn’t been prominent prior to that. It was an interesting one-off thing that happened in the comics, but she wasn’t really prominent otherwise until she went to college. It’s possible that we may have seen a cape or something that would indicate that she was around somewhere, but Voss had won some time ago by this point of the story.
- Why would Wraith’s belt have something in a vial that Tempest could use to kill himself (Wraith’s stories can get dark, but that seems a bit far)? Were there times in this or other timelines where Wraith would carry around a suicide pill? That wouldn’t have been a “suicide pill” (and she has never been depicted as having had something for that purpose) - there are a lot of chemicals that you might carry for certain purposes that, if you were to ingest them, would kill you. He just drank one of those things.
- If Voss was going around eradicating Maerynians for the purpose of wiping them out (to the point of even destroying his gene-bound ones), wouldn’t that eventually get the attention of a certain Terminarch? Would Jansa be able to extract Tempest to make him an Endling? Who would win in a fight, Jansa or Voss? Yeah, Jansa could probably have shown up to make Tempest an Endling, but for the purposes of this story that’s obviously not going to happen. Disparation stories tend to ignore anything necessary to ignore in order for the story to make sense. Jansa would just complicate matters. Sure, you can imagine such a confrontation between her and Voss, but it’s likely she would have won in that she could survive being attacked by Voss - she wasn’t going to attack him (and she’s got the resources to just teleport Tempest out of there if she wanted to). There are more powerful things than her that she’s got contained in the Enclave. She’s just not part of this story - don’t overthink it.
- Why did Guise choose the name “Guise”? Because he’s a shape-shifter and assumes other guises at will. Plus it’s a good joke, right guys?
- What did the tabloids that he continued to send photos in for think of his new appearance? How long did he continue this “job” after getting powers? What did the heroes think of this guy taking pictures of them? They inadvertently answered part of this earlier - he just sends the photos in under the name Joseph King and doesn’t get paid. He probably stops sometime after the Scholar stuff starts, traveling in time and being off-world get in the way and he probably doesn’t pick it back up in the RPG timeline. The professional work he did following heroes and taking pictures of them actually makes him better at heroics himself - he’d followed them and seen the creative stuff they sometimes had to come up with to defeat villains and has a good photographer’s eye for what things look like, so now that he’s got powers to change into whatever he wants he has a good stock of creative solutions to work from. His RPG sheet’s Role-Playing Quality is tied to this. The other heroes think he’s a weirdo, but him running up and taking selfies with them is one of the less weird things about him.
- Can Guise still break the fourth wall? He still thinks that he can in that he still thinks that he’s part of whatever media he’s in for any given situation (comic character, video game character, etc.). They’ve talked about this before, though, that within the confines of the setting of Sentinel Comics, he can’t break the fourth wall as he’s just delusional, he just happens to be right. He does lose whatever nonsense was happening to his consciousness due to the Singular Entity-ness of his powers allowing him to perceive other realities once Universe 1 is cut off, but his mind is still broken in that way. What this means in practice is that he makes fewer pop-culture references - he doesn’t know what current pop-culture things are outside of the comics setting anymore, but he knows the things he knew about beforehand and still thinks he’s a comics character, so he’ll talk about/to readers (but can’t hear the reply) and might make meta jokes about the structure of comics. The comics writers write him as a 4th-wall-breaking jokester, and that continues, but the power-explanation has to change post-OblivAeon/Voss and also because of what he goes through with the Scholar. He’s a bit more serious.
- You’ve mentioned that he’s “more heroic” now - is it still mostly Earth-based stuff or still out in space? Still comedic? He’s mostly Earthly threats and still definitely comedic. They talk about this a bit in the Create a Thing episode that made some teammates for him. It’s mostly pretty grounded threats, but they’ve put together a decent rogues gallery for him and the Neighborhood Watch. He wants to make a difference after what breakthroughs he made with Scholar.
- What does Guise prefer, bananas or Dad’s Burgers? Depends on the mood he’s in. Bananas are his favorite food, but you don’t want to eat that all the time.
- With Universe 1 cut off from the Multiverse you said he’s more focused due to not being distracted by the other realities, with the infusion of the Philosopher’s Stone you called him way overpowered - just how OP is he and what does somebody that insane do with that power? He’s less OP in the RPG than he was during the end events of OblivAeon - the Philosopher’s Stone just supercharged him and he brought that to bear on the fight at hand, but it tones down afterwards. The RPG’s Guise Book will go over some of this. This manifests in the OblivAeon story as him bending reality around him - he’s combining the Wager Master Singular Entity nonsense that he’s made of with the ley line connections that the Stone allows. By the RPG, he’s no longer just changing shape, but transmuting into different materials as well (like, instead of making his fist look like an anvil, he turns his fist into an actual anvil). If he wanted to make himself look like John Rhodes, he could. They’d also stop short of calling him insane - he’s messed up, but he’s a weird guy. “Eccentric” maybe. He still knows what reality is - his problem before was that he knew what so many realities were and so seemed crazy to others.
- If Guise is cut off from the Multiverse, how is it that the [@BestGuiseEver Twitter account](https://twitter.com/BestGuiseEver) is still active? Is this some alternate version of him? Have our timelines just intersected somehow? Does Universe 1 eventually reconnect to the Multiverse? Should I just apply the MST3K mantra? They don’t know who runs that account. They have suspicions. They think it’s some alternate reality version of him. Look at it this way - you get to be in a world where Guise tweets for you to read. Don’t look a gift Guise in the mouth. The MST3K mantra is applicable, just relax and don’t overthink it. While the twitter account is not an official GTG-endorsed thing, it’s just perfect.
- First, Scholar shouldn’t be on the cover as his involvement should be a surprise. They could just go with La Capitan fighting Guise in Megalopolis, but they should probably go weirder than that. The “Guise Chasing La Capitan Through Time” thing should be, if anything, on #38.
- None of the beats from the issue should be there (Guise as squirt gun, say) - maybe take some famous painting like Washington Crossing the Delaware, only replace the characters with the two of them and other famous pirates or something.
- As Christopher spitballs ideas of famous paintings, drawings, etc. of “people on a boat” he stops short as he has it.