The Letters Page: Episode 14
This episode has arrived before it even left!
Run Time: 79:15
Three and a half minutes in, we mention that there's an upcoming Freedom Five Episode. We do a lot of, "We'll talk about that in the [some character] episode," so I figured I might as well give you the official schedule through the end of May, at least.
- Today: Tachyon!
- Next Week: Lilian Corvus (Matriarch, Harpy, Pinion)
- May 2nd: Absolute Zero
- May 9th: Vengeful Five
- May 16th: Unity
- May 23rd: Freedom Five
- May 30th: Chokepoint
Worry not! We'll still do an Interlude about the upcoming schedule at the end of this month. I genuinely have no idea how many of our listeners read these show notes.
At the start of the Questions segment, we do a bit of Talking About How To Questions. We get SO MANY questions, and we love them. But they've gotta be tagged properly or we might miss it. And that would be sad! We don't want to miss your questions.
Oh, boy. At just after the 55 minute mark, we're gonna say a thing about Tachyon that you're not all going to love. But it's true!
At 58:15, we reveal the name of a foe that has never been publicly named before!
At around the hour mark, we dig into the Iron Legacy timeline: Tachyon's role there, some things she does, some things that happen to her - it's all pretty rough.
At the end of the question segment around 68 minutes in, we talk about a Tachyon story that happened in Fanatic's book Absolution. We do some defining of blood magic and vampires, too!
See you next week to talk about Tachyon's cousin!
- Dr. Meredith Stinson was around long before "Tachyon" was, primarily in Justice Comics and the original run of Freedom Five books. She was Legacy's go-to scientist contact (I'm reminded of staff at S.T.A.R. Labs in Superman comics, but my memory might be conflating them with some other group). She started out as a generalist (whatever weird sciency thing was happening in any given issue she could help with), but later this is refined into specifically being a particle physicist.
- The FF book wasn't doing great, so the editorial team decided to shake things up - the popular characters were Legacy, Wraith, and Bunker, so they were the ones kept on the team (although passing the torch of "Bunker" to a new, younger character). They decided to include Dr. Stinson on the team (with new powers) because she was a popular character too - the books she appeared in generally sold better. She still wanted to be doing science stuff instead of crime-fighting, but was convinced to join up with the promise of research funding in compensation.
- Spoiler? They mention that Tachyon was then part of the "Freedom Four" for a few years until "the new Absolute Zero" joined - implying that one of the mystery members of the original team was also "Absolute Zero".
- "She's around for a lot of things, but she's not central to anything." Much like how she was originally a supporting cast member, she never really has any solo work or story arcs really about her. She had a solo comic title, but it lasted less than a year.
- Her role in the team dynamic wasn't just "go fast, punch people" or the scientist who knows everything, but was to be the voice wanting to resolve situations without violence. Not a pacifist, but speaking in terms of efficiency. "She's about solutions."
- The reorganization into the Freedom Four was in the mid '70s. A decade later, it was revealed that her roommate/college friend/supporting cast character, Dana Bertrand, was her girlfriend (a topical retcon, but still an actual "coming out" event as it was Tachyon revealing this to the team rather than it being an attempt to imply that it had "always been this way" - this was made a bit easier since the writers had never bothered putting her in any relationships before this point). In the late '90s they had a big wedding event issue (in grand comic book tradition). This was about 5 years before gay marriage was actually legal in any State in the US, but it was in the Sentinel Comics world. This was a controversial move at the time.
- The Matriarch fight was a relatively early fight she took part in, but was a good example of the non-violent-solutions style of conflict resolution - she talked Lillian down/convinced her to put down the mask and turn herself in.
- Krystal Lee and Devra Caspit weren't Tachyon's only interns, but the earlier ones had just been background characters. Krystal was kind of an airhead (still could do the science stuff, or she wouldn't have gotten the job), but inattentive and lazy in the "takes shortcuts" way. Outside the lab, Tachyon is lighthearted and easy-going, but is all business in the lab and Krystal's personality is not a good fit and gets fired (thus laying the seeds for her becoming Friction later). Unity becomes the longest-running intern character (and a popular Sentinels Comics character in her own right).
- Since most "big event" stories involve the Freedom Five, they involve Tachyon. She's an important part of those fights, but today they're focusing more on stuff that impacted her specifically.
- After Vengeance, the next big thing for her was the incursion of Kaargra Warfang near Megalopolis. She winds up in a 2 vs. 2 fight (teamed up with Tempest). She determines that the way to win this isn't just to beat up the gladiators, but to win the crowd's favor - instead of doing her "most efficient" thing and just trying to end the fight she's doing a lot of flashy moves to impress the audience, which sometimes requires her to slow herself down just so that the spectators can actually follow what she's doing. As part of this "show" she turns heel and attacks Tempest - turning this into a long-drawn-out battle. Tempest eventually manages to tag her with some lightning and takes her down. Kaargra awards her the title of Chaos Lord anyway, partly for the "might attack anybody" reputation she gets for betraying Tempest. The relationship between her and Tempest becomes strained after this, though (gee, I wonder why Tempest might have issues with betrayal).
- Next is the Progeny fight. The guys talk about how Tachyon's character doesn't really have any negatives - she's faster (mentally and physically) than everyone, smart scientist type, etc. but it's not like her powers had a weakness/drawback. Progeny makes her push herself to her limits, which she's never really had to do before, and still doesn't manage to do anything to it. She collapses in exhaustion in front of it, leaving herself wide open to a strike from it. This attack (knocks her a good distance, hitting a tree at the end) winds up breaking a lot of bones - it's the worst injury she's received. She recovers over time (annoying for a speedster who can't move) - but she's not 100% afterwards, she could literally shake herself to pieces. She develops a new speed suit for herself to help control this, but she's not as fast or as durable as she had been. She's apparently the one to finally defeat Scion!Progeny, though, so she's got that going for her (we're apparently eventually getting a Scion episode prior to the main OblivAeon episode).
- Meta Question Discussion! So many questions (which is good), not all of them are tagged correctly on the web form (which is not). They use a spreadsheet to keep track of questions and sort based on the tags, so tag as, for example, "Tachyon" not "That speedster lady" - don't get cutesy with the tags. Also, since there's a lot of overlap in the question topics, if you want your question to get read on the podcast the way to do that is to have the best-written, most-thoughtful version of that question. Challenge issued!
- How fast can she go? Without injuring herself? How to villains even hit her? How do her powers work (time manipulation or something else)? She doesn't really have an upper limit for how fast she can go. However, pretty much anybody else who got her powers the way she did wouldn't last long as they're not as meticulous, scientifically-rigorous as she is and probably would have blown past the "safe limit" immediately without testing things. This allowed her to build her speed suit and goggles to help protect herself. The "safe limit" is at least a few multiples of the speed of sound [mach 3 or mach 8 are thrown out there as speeds that they've mentioned she can go in various pieces of text but these sounded like ballpark figures to me rather than things they looked up specifically to have on hand for this podcast]. The "Pushing the Limits" art of her circling the Earth several times is pre-Progeny and was in a time when the writers didn't really see any defined downsides to her power (she was "kind of a Mary Sue" for a long time). Post-Progeny was a reaction to that to instill some actual limits on the character. How does her power work? "Look, she was hit with a stream of tachyons, which are these theoretical particles that can arrive before they leave and that's why she can move so fast." She's able to more completely transfer kinetic energy into other things, so if she gets a good run-up to hitting somebody, all of that energy from movement can get transferred. It's not a time-manipulation effect, she's genuinely operating faster than what is normally possible.
- Does she have particular opinions on misuses of science (like Baron Blade or Graham Pike)? Does she have trouble relating to the "magic" characters like Gloomweaver or Argent Adept? What's her non-hero working relationship with Unity like? She uses her scientific acumen to better society, but she sees the scientific villains as selfish and as wasting their talent. She's aware of magic and acknowledges that it exists, but it's nonsense to her. Everything she does is A+B=C whereas Argent Adept is more like A+Fish=Turning the Universe Upside-Down. She doesn't particularly like fighting magic people, she's glad to have allies who can do it, she has no interest in being involved with magic. Relationship with Unity relatively positive. Unity seems more on board with the demanding nature of Tachyon's expectations re: lab procedure and doesn't take it as a personal slight. By OblivAeon they work really well together and are good friends. Unity has a more freeform/art approach to it which is a nice complement to Tachyon's approach.
- What's the deal between Tachyon and Glamour? One of Tachyon's hobbies is going to magic shows (stage magic as opposed to the "real" kind) and she likes trying to figure out how they did it (she's bad at it if the magician is any good). They're nemeses because they've fought a bunch (Glamour robs a bank and Tachyon fights her) and the story just kind of works out that way, but Tachyon looooves to fight her because this kind of trickery is all she does and Tachyon likes dealing with this illusion stuff. This irritates Glamour (just beyond the always losing the fight reasons).
- On a scale of 1-10, how annoyed is Tachyon at the prospect of having to ride on public transit? "Is there a number higher than 10 in existence?" What kinds of things does she, as a person with super-speed, find annoying that normal people would take for granted? Tachyon is actually pretty patient with the world around her. She was pretty comfortable with being the fastest thinker in the room well before she got powers (she was already in her 30s by that point). She's also got stuff to do (mentally if necessary) if she is delayed by something. One exception is sleeping - she still needs 6-8 hours a night just like anybody else and the time spent doing "nothing" annoys her.
- There are implications that she eats a lot (possibly to maintain a suped-up metabolism); does she ever run out of energy mid-battle? She doesn't run out of energy through lack of food. She's invented a bunch of methods of offsetting her need for caloric intake (energy bars, protein pills, etc.). She still loves food, though. She brings a crate along and stops off for a snack during a fight.
- Since getting her speed powers has she ever been late for anything? Not really. But she wasn't really the type to ever be late for things even before that (see: the whole efficiency runner through this whole thing).
- [Amanda! includes some lead-in stuff about how, as an LGBT+ woman, she really loves the inclusive nature of SotM in regards to that] What's Tachyon's relationship with her own sexuality, does she identify as a lesbian or something else, when did she know that she was LGBT+, did she struggle with it, and is she an icon within the world of Sentinels Comics or the "real" world they're published in? Going in reverse: Yes, she's an icon within that world: she came out in the mid-80s and got married before it was legal in our world. This was a big deal in a positive way. She identifies as lesbian. It's always been important to her (since that story in the 80s), but not the most important part - the guys stress that they don't want any of their characters to be that one-note.
- How did she and Dana meet? How do they manage marriage at two different speeds? They met in college, both were moving to Megalopolis for different reasons afterwards and moved there together, they started dating after that. Dana was a successful model, started managing herself after a while, and now helps other younger models get started. She does a lot of humanitarian events and whatnot. Also just really busy. It's convenient that Tachyon can zip across the country, if necessary, to still have lunch or something with her.
- Children? No. Pets? No. They're both rarely in the house since they're both so busy. They do well with each other, but wouldn't do well with other living things that they're responsible for.
- Dana in a lot of danger given her spouse's public identity as hero? Well, first Dana is a very high-profile person in her own right and so has been a target. MMFFCC card involves her (Glamour captured people in the Shooting Gallery). It's not frequent (her role isn't to be the damsel in distress), but has happened.
- Does Tachyon actually like the hero business or just a means to the end of research funding? How does she find the time for this plus finding a wife? She found the person who became her wife before the powers. At first she didn't particularly like it and it was pretty mercenary. She's come to like working with the Freedom Five and Unity and everybody, though.
- Why was Tachyon against Omnitron-X being rebuilt and did she ever accept him? She doesn't view Omnitron-X as having personhood. It's a programmed AI, not a complete person (it's like a toaster). This really upset Unity considering her friendship with it. She doesn't ever really get to the point of accepting it either. Whether this is true or not, this is treated as a negative aspect of her personality in the comics.
- Who are the the ice and whirlwind characters in her incap art? Maerynians. One is named Leviathan (seen before, but not by name) the other is a disciple of the cult that Leviathan works to start.
- On "Quick Insight" she's being attacked by a fighter jet; what's happening there? Jet is piloted by Ambuscade doing his action hero evil thing.
- What happened to Freedom Six Tachyon after her run-in with Ambuscade [I assume referring to that card's incap where she's been kneecapped]? In Iron Legacy timeline she is, initially, on-board with the efficiency that comes with Legacy's vision of "heroics" as a more authoritarian pursuit. When this brings him into conflict with their friends, she quickly reverses on this position and goes into hiding. She recruits some former allies and leads a covert resistance. Meanwhile, Iron Legacy gives some foes that he captures a chance to work for him and Ambuscade takes him up on this - becoming The Iron Hand. Ambuscade gets the drop on her, disables her (incap art), and then kills her. The Iron Legacy timeline is the worst timeline that the guys have shown.
- How fast is she compared to Friction? Way faster. Friction has an upper limit capped by the suit, which isn't even up to what it was designed to do.
- After Vengeance, did she and Friction settle their differences? Krystal burns herself out - see the Friction incap art. "Krystal Lee does not survive Friction."
- Why does she try to invent a speed suit? It's a great thing to have! Imagine if every firefighter or surgeon had one, or whole soccer teams. Tachyon's more of a scientist than a hero and if she could reproduce her powers in a useful, safe way why wouldn't she do so?
- "Supersonic Response" shows her attacking Writhe; we know that he started as a criminal, but what's the event shown here? Mainstay, Dr. Medico, and Idealist were fighting him, as he was an early foe for them. There was a small break in the action and suddenly just keels over. Tachyon had noticed what was going on during a trip across the country and just knocked him out and kept going. The Southwest Sentinels didn't even know what happened.
- On "Infecting an Heir" we see the Countess feeding on her (presumably infecting her with vampirism). Who cured her and how? Did vampire-speed augment her own speed? Did the Countess target her specifically and, if so, why? This was a story from Absolution, Fanatic's solo book. Fanatic is fighting her way through the vampires in the Court of Blood. She bursts through a door and finds that the Countess already has Tachyon chained up (this was a surprise as it hadn't happened "on screen" in any prior book). While Fanatic is fighting the other vampires, Bathory mocks Fanatic and eventually infects Tachyon with her blood magic. Vampires in-setting are creatures of blood magic (more on this in the Fanatic episode, probably at least a few months away, and maybe an Interlude). Fanatic dispatches the other vampires, but now has to fight both the Countess and Tachyon (who's not as fast due to the disorientation of becoming a thrall to another). Things aren't going well for Fanatic, but Tachyon eventually manages to overcome the Countess's control somewhat because her fast metabolism is able to fight against the blood magic. That's a turning point as they are able to take down the Countess and escape. The metabolism also sped up the transformation process, though, which is bad. Fanatic used her faith power to "cleanse" her system and save her.
- Tactics - Card game leaves off with her having created a new suit for herself to try to stabilize her body. During the intervening years she's still doing the hero thing and it takes a toll (at one point she shatters some vertebrae and leaves her in even worse shape overall). She needs a series of new gadgets to protect her speed and otherwise help control her powers. She's still pushing herself, to her own detriment, and just is relying on gizmos to keep her going.
- RPG - As part of the Sentinels of Freedom she has a bit more time to slow down and take an administrative/training role (particularly with science-minded heroes). She can also focus more on her recovery and is in better shape than in Tactics, but, still, her precision when it comes to controlling her power is a bit off - often going faster or slower than she intended.