The Letters Page: Episode 133
You didn't request an episode about the death of Legacy, but here we are!
Run Time: 1:19:54
As per the topic, we tell a story about a villain vs a villain, but with unexpected twists!
We get to the Overview just after 10 minutes in, questions at the 38 minute mark, and talk about the above cover at around 1 hour and 14 minutes. Note: the last question we answer is one of the best questions with one of the best answer, and also this is one of my favorite covers that Adam has ever done.
Catch you next time!
- The topic for this one is “Villain(s) vs. Villain(s)” and there’s a lot of ways to approach that. Which villain haven’t they talked about for a while? Strangely enough, Baron Blade (they don’t seem to really cover the Freedom Five and their main rogues gallery as often as you’d think because they think they’re talking about them all the time). Another that they haven’t touched for a long time is Omnitron (as a villain). For their purposes today, Blade is the better option as it’s easy to come up with a reason for him and another villain to be at odds.
- Given the prompt of those two villains, Adam, ever on the lookout for an excuse to do a ’90s cover, suggests doing something in the ’90s shortly before Vengeance. Blade has to get the stuff together to build the Omni-Blade at some point. So maybe he has to fight another villain who’s also after the parts or he even has to fight Omnitron itself to snag some of it. Omnitron is dormant, though, so the former is more likely. The parts are generally hero-defended rather than villain-defended (maybe RevoCorp?).
- To the spreadsheet to see what’s going on at the time!
- We land in August of ’91 (the same month that Exordium #1 comes out) in America’s Finest Legacy #236.
- Stuff they’ve got in mind before getting into the real creative meat of this story:
- It opens with Legacy fighting Baron Blade as usual (which is never really a good time for Blade), but we see Blade inject himself with something. That’s when he turns all buff and proceeds to punch Legacy through a wall. Then we get some good back-and-forth brutal fighting.
- Eventually Legacy has Blade down, but as he’s giving some speech Blade grabs his leg to bring him down too and then twists his head clean off. This shocking development might start the reader wondering if this is some kind of dream or something - but no, it’s really happening, but it’s not really Legacy. Legacy shows up off-panel calling for him to stop his evil ways or something - so he’s over there and is just fine. The head has some robotic bits dangling from the neck. Then another Legacy says the same thing from the other direction. There’s just a whole bunch of Legacy-bots for some reason. Great.
- He keeps fighting them, eventually he punches one and it hurts his hand. “It’s wearing off. Time to try vial #37” (or something like that, maybe a long string of characters - the important bit is that it’s clear that he’s been doing this testing for a while now) and he injects himself again. It’s also important to make it clear that this isn’t a field test - he didn’t make these Legacy-bots as part of his formula testing. This is a legit fight that he’s just using as an opportunity to get some testing in (and he says something to make this clear at some point during the fight).
- So, rather than making himself super strong (as his muscled physique “deflates”), this one makes him super fast - he’s still shown as in good shape, but more of a lean swimmer’s figure than the muscle-bound look he had previously. More Legacy-bots keep showing up so it gets to be something like 8 vs. 1 at some point.
- How many more powers do they want him to test? Maybe “regeneration” or something after the fight to heal up. Maybe also something that he abandons in the final version - he gives himself laser eyes, but while that one’s active he’s blind and can’t turn them off. He gets dog-piled by the robots, but then they get blasted away by the electricity powers he just gave himself, but that doesn’t simultaneously give him electrical immunity, so he’s being hurt by them too. He’s got reasons to not continue to use those two. That’s when he tries Regeneration to heal back up/disable the things that aren’t working.
- Also, these robots aren’t as strong as the real Legacy. While he can manage the 8-on-1 thing here, it’s not clear that he could really go toe-to-toe with the real deal.
- So that’s easily a quarter to a third of the book, and it establishes that Blade is doing some testing on himself to make him pretty scary. That’s not the point of the book, though. His goal here is to get Omnitron technology. Where is he getting it? It’s also worth pointing out that there have been more than two “Omnitron incidents” over the years, so their numbering scheme to this point is a little misleading - this is after the Cosmic Omnitron/“Omnitron II” event, though, and there are no “active” Omnitrons at this point.
- A better way to instigate the villain fight might not be that they’re both going after the Omnitron tech, but that one already has it and Blade is trying to take it from them. Who has it? Biomancer, if you hadn’t guessed by now.
- So, Blade is trying to infiltrate Biomancer’s hideout that he’s built underground in some forgotten, lower sewer system in some city that’s old enough to have been built on top of itself like that. Let’s go with Rome as it’s the kind of place that people know about but also wouldn’t be surprised at the idea of there being really old forgotten stuff deep under it.
- We’re going to say that Blade has some means of tracking Omnitron tech and he got a ping off of something down there. How long does his search go on before “Biomancer” is brought up/that he learns that he’s involved? Certainly by the time he’s fighting a pile of fake Legacies it’s probably obvious. Does he just keep fighting Legacy all the way down (possibly with them getting “weirder” as he goes) or does he fight other characters too? Maybe we have him fight a homunculus in a beat-up Legacy outfit eventually [they specifically name-check Bizarro in here, which is fitting]. Yeah, after he sends out the good legacy copies he sends out the failed ones - think the various Spites from Sentinel Tactics: Battle for Broken City only based on Legacy instead. They’re “failed” in that they would never pass as a Legacy imposter, but they work just peachy for the last line of defense of your secret underground hideout.
- It would be good to continue to show him using the experimental vials, but maybe eventually running out and falling back on his tried-and-true technological tools. When he eventually gets his hands on the Omnitron stuff, he could then use it to his advantage somehow too. Like, he’s planned for this, so he has some stuff with him that he can use to power it up and program it, making it into a prototype version of the Omni-Blade that helps him turn the tides and win the fight - like he turns the eye-stalk part into a laser gun that he can blast the Legacies with. Biomancer shows up to slow-clap Blade’s efforts. Very impressive. “Looks like you were doing some experimenting of your own during that, so it seems we both got useful data out of this.” Blade’s obviously going to have left a pretty decent amount of his DNA around the place, for one thing.
- Stepping aside for a moment, the reason that they have this story happening when it does is because Exordium #1 is when the Omni-Blade shows up but the RevoCorp material isn’t enough, so this AFL issue is where he gets the CPU or whatever he was missing to complete it (they also throw around the idea of the eye-stalk bit as that’s iconic, but “what makes Omnitron Omnitron” is the adaptation/evolution element, so maybe something related to that.
- So, this is kind of a “win” for both of them. Baron says he’s taking the stuff, Biomancer is fine with that as he’s already gotten what he needs from this situation, but it feels like there needs to be some actual conflict between them. Blade doesn’t like the way that Biomancer said that, which is good because Biomancer phrased what he said to make him feel that way. They are not colleagues and there’s some level of “You’re doing science wrong!” coming from both of them. There’s some really good ad lib work on how this conversation goes from 32:45 through 33:20 with Biomancer goading Baron Blade, which eventually leads to how they’re going to conclude this.
- Biomancer prompts Blade to go into a long diatribe about killing Legacy and how every step of the way here has been to that purpose, etc. We see this play out on a grainy security feed, which we then see is being viewed by Legacy. Biomancer sent the footage to him (anonymously). Legacy knows that Baron Blade is up to something, and they should be concerned about it.
- One last idea to throw in there for the wheels-within-wheels plotting of Biomancer. Maybe he’s the one who “fixes” Blade’s serum here as well. During the diatribe portion of the conversation Biomancer brings out another fake Legacy that he injects with something (while lamenting that Blade’s own serum didn’t provide the benefits for very long and that he was obviously missing a key compound). The Legacy gets all ’roided up and will stay that way for longer. Biomancer gives him some of the stuff, which he will do his own extensive testing on before using it himself. Naturally.
- We close out with Biomancer looking at some tubes for growing duplicates in and he puts what we assume is some Baron Blade blood he’s collected into one and the featureless blank in the tube takes on features that are distinctly Baron Blade. We get a “Just as planned” ending (although this particular plan doesn’t bear fruit for something like 10 years of publication).
- So there we are. They knew going in that this was probably going to be Baron Blade because his pride makes it very easy to have him have conflict with other villains. They didn’t know what he was trying to get or that Biomancer had it ahead of time, but things worked out wonderfully given their love of “big fights with machinations behind them.”
- [This is kind of hilarious. The first letter opened by complimenting their beards and then that got them off on a huge tangent about shaving for something like 8 minutes starting at around 40 minutes in.]
- In looking through which hero decks don’t have Equipment, I thought it odd that Luminary has Devices which don’t count as Equipment - what’s different about them? Are they somehow less technological than Equipment? They’re probably more technological given that things like Argent Adept’s instruments are Equipment. Or Fanatic’s sword. “Equipment” is an object that somebody has equipped. It says nothing about the nature of that object. Devices aren’t things you equip - they do their own thing (like, his Black Hole Generator is something he wants as far away from himself as possible). Generally, though, the difference is just that Heroes have Equipment and Villains have Devices, and Luminary is still Baron Blade at heart (plus things like Mordengrad benefit Device users, so he still has that going for him when on his home turf as Luminary). So there are both story and game-mechanics reasons for the difference (the latter explaining why some equipped Devices are still Devices).
- We see the Orbital Death-Laser and Terralunar Translocator get used during OblivAeon, but was his third Doomsday Device, the Explosive Reconstructor, used as well? It was used and while there is a specific reason to still qualify that as a Doomsday Device, it is also kind of a stretch to do so. Sure, the other two do big impressive things that’s easy to call “Doomsday” - this one was just sort of this weird thing off to the side. Is it a generator of some kind? Who knows? Then, during the course of a fight we see Luminary using all of these other devices that just get wrecked. You think he’s out of options, but that’s when he activates this weird generator thing, which pulls in and rebuilds all of the broken things around him. He was out, but now he’s back near full capacity. It’s a contingency plan to essentially “reset” his gear which is what’s Doomsday about it. You think you’ve got him? You don’t!
- What’s the story behind the card “Bared Blade” where Luminary is fighting Nixious? That’s in Scion Strike #4 (which is the same time as OblivAeon #1 [which is info I don’t think I actually had yet regarding the timing of the OblivAeon-centric limited series, so that’s fun]). Both Scion Strike and OblivAeon have just huge issues with a lot going on in them. Lots of chaotic battles. During one such battle, we see Nixious show up in a set of ruins where nobody else is around. He’s going to set up some cosmic space-magic ritual of some variety to help out his master (this is kind of the whole point of the sacrifices that were made to make him “the chosen”). Luminary just shows up. He’s a science guy and says “fie” to this magic nonsense. They fight, Luminary is kind of falling back the whole time and there’s some good monologuing the whole time. Eventually he gets Nixious to over-extend as he chases him around, eventually luring him far enough away from the ritual site that Luminary can activate the devices he casually left around the place during the fight. They blow up the prepared ritual site, ruining Nixious’ plan. So, Luminary “wins” in that he foiled the plot, but neither of them is really defeated and show up plenty of times later.
- What are Baron Blade’s feelings towards Mordengrad and its citizens? He loves Mordengrad and its people. Truly, genuinely loves them. Sure, it’s a kind of selfish version of love, but it’s as close to that as he feels towards anything. He’s prideful of himself and his people.
- How protective/prideful is he of Mordengrad? Very. Extraordinarily nationalistic. The best shot Baron Blade would have at killing Legacy would be if Legacy were to attack Mordengrad.
- If Spite were on the loose in Mordengrad would Baron Blade get involved to stop him? Would he let local law enforcement handle it? He would definitely get involved. Spite would be vaporized at the earliest opportunity. Blade will work his people to the bone, but he makes sure they’re fed and they do get free time (to dance with the goat, say), but if some outsider comes in and kills one person? That doesn’t go well for that killer. He’s one of the most benevolent tyrants you could imagine. Adam really likes the phrase “merciless benevolence”. The local law enforcement would probably be the ones to escalate things to his attention, but since that role is filled by the Blade Battalion, it’s not like they’re exactly slouches.
- We actually get some interesting detail about the Battalion. So, of course we know that Mordengrad has 0% unemployment (because even if you’re sick and bedridden, you can have a pile of parts to sort brought to you). Some people go into the Blade Battalion, which serves as both military and police force. If you’re doing the hard work of going outside Mordengrad to fight and eventually come back, you might get moved into a slightly more “cushy” investigative police-type job. There’s honestly not a lot of crime there and the local “police” force is more busy keeping non-Mordengradian people out.
- If Mordengrad was destroyed, would he retaliate? Would he sacrifice himself to save Mordengrad? Mordengrad getting destroyed would probably also destroy “Baron Blade”. Don’t get the wrong idea; he would wreak terrible vengeance upon the responsible party, but without Mordengrad he loses most of his purpose in life. Mordengrad without Baron Blade could probably continue to function (depending on who stepped into the leadership role), but Baron Blade without Mordengrad is a shell of a man who likely goes out in an extended rampage (whether he succeeds in taking the world down with him is another matter). No more monologues, no more big plots, just push the Big Red Button to end the world without fanfare. Would he sacrifice himself to save it? Probably, but we’re talking about Baron Blade here so he would have to blow through the countless contingencies and whatever else he can think of to save it without sacrifice first. He’s said for so long that everything he does is for the glory of Mordengrad. In the end, he wouldn’t make himself a liar.
- If time is a construct, would Captain Cosmic ever make time for his friends? Time is a construct that’s beyond the means of Captain Cosmic’s powers. Just because he makes constructs doesn’t mean that he can make all constructs. You know what else is a construct? Society.
- You mentioned that Fanatic is “racist against ghosts” [Adam flubs that reading as “racist against goats” which is also apparently now canon], I once led ghost tours for Anoka County (the self-proclaimed “Halloween Capitol of the World”) and one stop was a house said to be haunted by a Civil War colonel who the family claims has actually intervened to prevent disaster; would Fanatic have a problem with benevolent ghosts like that? Yes. Hearing about such a ghost she would still head right over to get rid of it. Casper? Smite. Doesn’t matter how friendly, ghosts aren’t supposed to be here. A helpful ghost is a “scam” somehow.
- To get rid of a ghost, would she help the ghost take care of whatever unfinished business is keeping it here, or is she always on more of the “I cast you out!” track of ghost elimination? The latter. You should have finished your business while you were still a person. smite
- Would the next issue in the “haunted Fanatic” arc be something to submit as a topic, or do you want to leave some more time before getting to it? Go ahead and put it in. They’d be tempted to hold it back for November (y’know, the spooky month), but who knows.
- [Bloodsworn Professional Wrestling letter at 1:07:04 with some more hypothetical matchups, Trevor killing it again with the production value]
- Akash'Bhuta vs. Omnitron: who causes more collateral damage? Akash’Bhuta. Omnitron is more organized, so in the “who causes more damage” fight it comes out behind given it’s more ordered takeover of a place. If we consider the rematch and swap in Omnitron II it’s probably closer as it’s more out for destruction, but still goes to Akash’Bhuta.
- The Megalopolis Museum recently acquired a gem that would be useful to both Baron Blade (part of some device) and the Ennead (focus for a ritual) - who takes it home in a Vengeful Five vs. Ennead throwdown? Ennead. The Vengeful Five doesn’t have enough cohesion, plus the Ennead’s shtick is just better. Additionally, the Vengeful Five don’t have specific beef with the Ennead - they’re much more effective against the Freedom Five specifically because of the personal history (for most of them). They’re outnumbered, outclassed, and just not up to the challenge. However, that kind of sets up Ennead vs. Baron Blade himself, which is a much different ballgame and could easily go Blade’s way.
- Professor Pollution vs. Green Grosser - which C-list villain in desperate need of a paycheck comes out victorious in a greenhouse grudge match? Christopher thinks that, if one were to distill characters’ “power levels” down to a number, Green Grosser would actually be slightly higher, but the problem is in this specific match-up Professor Pollution’s shtick would take apart what Green Grosser actually does. Adam disagrees, he thinks that she would have the “higher number” given that Green Grosser, really, just has clever bombs - it’s the level of machination that he puts into his plots that would put him on top. He also has fewer compunctions about fighting dirty (not that they don’t both fight dirty) - she’s got some twisted philosophical point about ecology that she’s working for. He just wants to kill you. In keeping with the rematch theme they have going - round one goes to her as he makes plant bombs that she kills with her poison. Round two starts that same way, only now he’s engineered the bombs to “feed” on her pollution.
- Adam gets to do a ’90s cover!
- Baron Blade killing Legacy on the cover is the obvious choice. It gets a classic “death of the hero” teaser to draw readers in. Sure, they could do a scene with Blade fighting a bunch of Legacies, but that gives away the twist. So, a nice ’90s-bloody hero death cover with some text spelling out it out as well. They’ll play around with composition and do some looking into how ’90s covers would have phrased things to get the details.