Podcasts/Episode 148

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The Letters Page: Episode 148

Original Source

Primary Topic

Heroes

Intro

We're all over the place on this one!

Show Notes:

Run Time: 1:47:38

This episode took us longer to record than anything else we've made in... a long time. We got started started around 11 AM and didn't finish until 4 PM. Whew!

Anyway, enjoy these additions to the world of Sentinel Comics! Do these characters seem not much for you? Well, yeah, that's why they never really took off - D-List all the way!

At around the 57 minute mark, we finally get to questions. We answer questions about D-List heroes, but also about various Thorathian topics, just because there were a lot of them in the backlog.

We hope to see you Friday at 11 AM (Central Time) for a LIVE Editor's Note! Want to watch it live and even take part? Join our Patreon!

Characters Mentioned

Summary

Overview

  • Looking to some previous creative episodes, maybe they should break things down by era to make characters that fit particular trends.
  • To start, they’re thinking “late ’70s/early ’80s” for one (maybe somebody who came out in that era who didn’t fit the coming dark/gritty zeitgeist and so didn’t manage to build readership at the time). Books in that era included: Cosmic Tales, Tome of the Bizarre, Mystery Comics, and the more character-focused titles like Freedom Five, Virtuoso of the Void, Ra: God of the Sun, Fanatic, etc. Having somebody who showed up in backup stories in MC but didn’t make the transition to vol. 2 after #405 could work.
  • What kind of stories to tell… Adam suggests maybe something that has that ’70s sitcom feel as that wouldn’t make the jump to the gritty ’80s. Christoper looks to music - hippies were more ’60s, punk rock fits the ’70s but also has the counterculture thing going that wouldn’t be out of place in the ’80s. Maybe something more glam rock. Have somebody Ziggy Stardust-like in Cosmic Tales. Bringing peace, love, and rock & roll to the stars. Gonna play guitar and sleep with aliens. This is the approach they go with.
  • In Cosmic Tales we have some Tempest stuff, mostly Captain Cosmic at this time. We get Galactra’s backstory in ’76. Maybe somebody introduced in issue #100? Silver Age and later would care about milestone issues like this, so let’s say he first shows up as a backup story in vol. 2 #100 [June ’78] and gets largely forgotten after #120 [February ’80]. He might pop up occasionally after that when there are cosmic crossover things where he’s a MacGuffin or something. Probably visible in the background for one panel during the big OblivAeon fight.
  • He’s got to have a guitar. Does he have one with him or does he conjure it up from the fabric of space when he needs it? Let’s go with that latter one. He conjures a guitar of the stars and upon it plays astral chords. They do the thing that Adam hates in comics where music is depicted by wavy lines. Also they have somebody come in to write for this guy who’s in the music industry or something and they’re putting the opera in “space opera”. Adam brings up an issue of Fantastic Four where there’s a rapper who is a big fan of the Thing and writes about him - so we have Mark Waid, middle-aged white guy writing a rap to appear in-comic. It’s terrible, but is the exact sort of thing they’d want to go for with this guy.
  • So the angle they’re going for isn’t exactly superheroics, even though he’s in a superhero book. Rather than solving problems with conflict, he finds places where there’s already conflict and resolves them with his music. Something like he plays his guitar and the evil alien warlord turns to stardust and everyone he was just fighting is now in a dance party. It’s weird. There’s not even really things for him to need to overcome. Like, maybe one time somebody takes the guitar away and he has to put together a band and teach them (possibly while on a planet that doesn’t have music already - this allows another music connection to “2112” by Rush that came out in ’76). They like the idea that it is riding the coattails of popular songs, but only after they’ve established themselves as popular. Like, Ziggy Stardust was 6 years before this character first shows up - it’s always lagging behind what’s contemporary.
  • Naming break: they come up with Xander Groovitation (he’s got a groovitational pull). His “hero name” is Casa-Nova.
  • So he’s not terribly popular and when the ’80s grittiness sets in there’s just no room for him anymore and so gets dropped.
  • Another dumb thing they like for this guy is that there’s recommended listening for each story. Like they work in a particular song somehow so it’s what you should be listening to when you read it or something.
  • Moving on to make an ’80s character. Not music based (although they lament the missed opportunity for a White Snake/Night Snake thing). Things in pop culture in the ’80s: Cabbage Patch Kids, Sony’s Walkman. Adam brings up the Garbage Pail Kids and Toxic Avenger stuff, but that’s more late-’80s into the environmentalism/Captian Planet stuff in the ’90s and that’s Naturalist’s turf, but maybe something based on the gross-out factor that such things represented. Christopher brings up the teen movies of John Hughes as something in the zeitgeist - something using a touchstone of the larger popular culture (movies) instead of the trends within comics.
  • How to get that teen angst vibe in a comic that can’t rely on readers seeing every issue? The first part of any John Hughes movie lacks any growth or payoff and are only justified by the end of the film. Maybe introduce one specific source of misery or ennui per story and that thing gets resolved by the end of that specific story. So… what they need to do is to invent Spider-man, but as a D-List hero so it can stray into pandering to its audience and just not really working.
  • The reference point they bring up is Punky Brewster, but a little older. Maybe a runaway or something, so we have this down-on-their-luck teen dealing with the gritty ’80s awfulness. They’re thinking Mystery Comics, probably starting as a backup story, but not ruling out the possibility of having entire issues on the non-Wraith slot.
  • Christopher has a thought that this could be a D-List hero back in the ’80s who fades into obscurity, but could get reinvented as a C- or B-List hero as an adult in the ’10s or even post-OblivAeon.
  • Pitch from Adam: have a kid with superpowers who lives in the mall. As a kid, that would have seemed so cool to him. Eats at the food court, knows some of the janitorial staff who might also slip her food, lives in the air ducts, dodges the security guards, etc.
  • Christopher’s suggestion for how to make this kid a “hero”: they’d place this kid’s story before the movie existed, but have him be a hero in a Home Alone kind of way. She foils robberies in the mall at night with Kevin McCallister-style traps. Let’s say that there’s only one elderly security guard for the night shift who likes the kid (as opposed to the day shift who are out to get her) and the thieves knock him out before they break in and so the kid has to step up to save the day. So that’s the introductory story where later ones might have her dealing with people selling drugs in the mall or maybe even occasional crime-fighting outside the mall.
  • Name break: During this process they also realize that they need to push this into the ’90s, and that’s fine. The different “eras” thing was just a way to approach today’s topic rather than being intrinsic to it. As they discussed her deal they realized that it depended on fads that weren’t around until the ’90s, so they pushed her creation to Mystery Comics vol. 2 #228 in August ’92 (for timing reference, Vengeance had wrapped up in May).
  • The Lucero family had been driving through San Alonso on a rainy night. While southern California drivers aren’t particularly known for being good drivers in the rain, that was more of a complicating factor in the tragedy as a meteor crashes into the road in front of the car. They swerve, go through the barrier on the side of the road, and into the ocean. Mom and dad drown, the daughter pulls herself out and makes it to shore. She sees a well-lit building in the distance and makes her way there. It’s the mall. It’s locked up for the night, but in walking around it she spots an open air duct that’s within reach, so she climbs in to get out of the rain. That’s how Lisa Lucero comes to live in the mall.
  • The next day a maintenance guy is looking for the source of the water that’s pouring out of the air ducts and he finds her there. She’s still sad and sobbing, and is just as wet now as when she first climbed in. Her hero name is Wipeout and she has water powers. She can make finger guns and shoot streams of water, or full blasts of it from her hands, stuff like that. She’s got to keep a rather tight hold on her emotions, though, as if she starts loosing it/crying water just pours off of her from everywhere.
  • So that story they told above still applies - she doesn’t just lean on the water powers but uses the mall against the crooks. She shows up occasionally in the ’90s and ’00s as a minor side character that never really connects with the rest of Sentinel Comics. She is popular enough to stick around and even gets a 4-issue limited series in ’94, but “lives in the mall” and “kind of a surfer” is such an era-specific gimmick that it’s hard to keep it going much beyond her origin.
  • She has a kid’s scope for heroics. An adult hero defends a city. For her, that’s just her mall. They’re not sure if she even has a secret identity, but there’s plenty of angst to be had for not being able to do normal stuff like go to school like the other kids she hangs out with in the mall, but the people who are more her friends are the old night watchman and the maintenance guy who found her.
  • They’ve had a few ideas of D-Listers for a while, so this episode is also an excuse to actually flesh them out. One is from the late-’90s. A new ongoing series starts up in September 1998, but it doesn’t last long and so winds up little better than a limited series - Fahrenheit X, a team that’s very weather-based for whatever reason. They focus on eco-disasters and eco-terrorists at first. They are: Doppler, Stormchaser, Galeforce, and Tornado and the team is assembled by the Weatherman who also acts as a dispatcher for them. He doesn’t appear to have powers of his own, but by observing weather patterns from his incredibly sensitive weather station/computer he can somehow forecast crime patterns. Sure, it’s a ridiculous conceit, but remember, D-List superheroes.
  • This book is never popular and only makes it 50 issues, until October ’02. It’s likely got a small cult following and they eventually get into some “thought-crime” stuff as the Weatherman starts predicting crimes before they happen and we get into the ethics of capturing a person before they’ve actually done something wrong and there’s obviously something planned regarding the Weatherman (can we trust him? etc.) but things trail off before they get there. It’s possible that there’s not even something specific planned out ahead of time - it’s a problem for the future to figure out where to go with it, but that future never happens. They still show up occasionally in other books, but are never a major presence.
  • A major villain is introduced in issue #3, Drought. He’s in a big metal suit with a full face mask and a cape, so it’s not clear how big the person inside even is. His plots center around creating a lack of something, not necessarily just water.
  • Members:
    • Stormchaser - Leigh Trevarrow. Probably was an actual storm chaser and doesn’t have actual powers, but possibly devices of some sort (like, stuff she can through up into a storm to create an effect). Probably the audience surrogate for the book. Adam suggests rollerblades as a means of keeping up with the rest of the team. It’s also neat if the devices are more of a support thing (think “buffs and debuffs” from video game perspective). She sees herself as still chasing the “storm” that is this team. In addition to the devices, she’s probably also doing other “mundane” stuff for the team (like being their driver or pilot or whatever).
    • Doppler - Luke Christian. He’s got detection/sensory awareness powers. Adam also likes using the excuse of the connection of sound to the Doppler Effect to give him an ability to clap to make sonic booms to propel himself - it’s less “flight” and more “flinging himself”, but it gives him a more active/combat role than his sensory powers alone.
    • Tornado - Judy Frank. She can make and control little wind cyclones, but not by spinning herself or anything. She can make them of different sizes and can use them in relatively targeted ways. She can produce them from her hands, which you might see speedsters do, but she’s just conjuring them rather than moving her arms around really fast. If a room is full of poison gas, she could make a cyclone of just that to remove it from the room, or she can use them as “arms” to manipulate things - she’s got very specific “air” control. What she’s not doing is what Galeforce does.
    • Galeforce - Brian Brees. The more classic “creating blasts of strong wind” power. They also envision him as the “big guy” on the team. Like, having a strong wind around and him not being blown by it is cool, as is the idea that he creates wind to augment a big punch.
  • In the introductory issue it’s clear that Tornado and Galeforce were already duoing before the Weatherman recruited them. Doppler was brought in separately (possibly before the other two) and Stormchaser was roped in as she was already present at the storm that the others’ first mission took them to. The fact that Stormchaser wasn’t part of the Weatherman’s plans/predictions leads her to be the most suspicious of him.
  • While it is a Sentinel Comics title, Adam can see it being some kind of imprint where it’s canon-adjacent. Stuff doesn’t really seem to cross over with it even while it still makes references to things like Megalopolis or Rook City that acknowledges that it’s in the same setting.

Questions

  • What is a “D-List Hero”? What would define A, B, C, and D in the first place? Who are good examples of each tier? Where does Setback fall? A-List are “your grandma” or “the general public” knows who they are. Everybody knows who Superman is. The last decade plus of Marvel movies has bumped many characters up the rankings, but likely not as many as you’d think to A-List status because, once again, that’s the “everybody knows them” level. Iron Man is A-List now, but he definitely wasn’t before. Spider-man on the other hand has been A-List for forever. Superman and Batman have been too. On the Sentinel Comics side, Legacy and Wraith definitely are, probably the rest of the Freedom Five, maybe some members of Prime Wardens, and likely nobody on Dark Watch (who are all B-List, including Setback). B-List is the kinds of people who probably made it into a video game adaptation at some point, maybe the occasional movie. People with a cursory knowledge of comics and comics-adjacent media would know B-Listers. C-List are the people that you have to actually be into comics to know about. If you’ve got a deep enough bench of characters you might see some of these in a game or a movie (the upcoming slate of Marvel movies are getting into C-List at this point [presumably until they get around to new versions of Fantastic Four and X-Men stuff]). D-List are the real deep cuts that only people who have been into comics for a while would know or care about. No D-List heroes appear in Sentinels of the Multiverse - the Southwest Sentinels are the lowest we get at C-List (they waffle on some others like Scholar, Parse, and Naturalist, but land on K.N.Y.F.E. as a likely additional C-Lister). Dark Watch, Prime Wardens, and Freedom Five are all A- or B-List.
  • Of the characters you’ve just described in this episode, who would fare best against everyone’s favorite D-List villain, The Hippo? They think he’s actually C-List (maybe even B-List). The letter categories don’t really have to do with power level so much as they deal with popularity in the “real world”. Hippo isn’t particularly powerful or smart, but he’s got a distinct enough look that he might get a bit more recognition than some. That said, Hippo probably falls for the Peace, Love, and Rock & Roll thing easily. If he’s trying to start stuff in that mall, Wipeout would probably take him apart pretty easily but not in other settings. Any two members of Fahrenheit X could probably take him out (Galeforce vs. Hippo on his own would be a fun fight, but add in some support from Stormchaser and it goes the heroes’ way easily).
  • Are any of these characters still getting comics? Not actively, but they could pop up occasionally. Some of them are more likely than others.
  • Any notable team-ups with heroes we already know about? Nope. They could see an early Wipeout story crossing over with Expatriette or something - crossovers could happen, just nothing particularly notable.
  • Did any early Sentinel Comics D-List heroes get a second chance or reimagining later on? A reboot where a new writer was able to take an old character in a better direction? Maybe stuff that doesn’t even necessarily touch on the main continuity? On that last canon-adjacent thing there’s Fahrenheit X. All of these characters would have featured somewhere in the cameo panels of the OblivAeon fight. Unfortunately, the somewhat disappointing answer for this type of question has to be “not yet”. They have developed plans for some of these, but they’re not ready to tell us the what and how on that yet.
  • [Birthday notice: “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen]
  • [Pretty entertaining Cult of Gloom bit about how they don’t consider anybody lesser than any other and how such mistreatment by others declaring them to be “D-List” might make some heroes turning evil, which you’d think would at least rate an appearance in Tome of the Bizarre or something] Any D-Listers wind up meeting grisly ends in the old horror comics? The semi-romantic interest they introduced for NightMist that one time [probably meaning Virgil Miller, mentioned in the Development Hell episode] would have been D-List, but if you’re talking about the era of horror comics pre-Comics Code people dying in that were more one-off characters rather than being anywhere on the tier system we’re talking about.
  • You’ve said that there were not many child/teen heroes/sidekicks featured in Sentinels products so far because they tend to be D-List, but here we are; can you tell us about some of these now? Wipeout fits the bill. Sentinel Comics is a different kind of company to “real world” publishers in many ways, and this is one of them. Modern comics publishing kind of steers away from the kid/teen thing anyway because it’s nonsensical. You can get away with making a team either made of the kids entirely or as part of a family team, but a sidekick where you take an existing adult hero and staple a kid to them? Not really done anymore (y’know, the whole “child endangerment” thing). Daybreak are all teens, but they’re specifically in training to become heroes later and aren’t really supposed to be doing the hero thing now. They sneak out or just happen to run into trouble, but they’re not supposed to be going up against major threats yet. Unity fits there too in her origins, but she’s the exception rather than the rule. Sentinel just did it so rarely compared to other companies.
  • [Letter from the Tenacious Taffyman] So… anybody know a good way to move up the ranks from D-List before some writer has you killed off as cannon fodder for some “event”? Anybody move up by latching onto an existing hero (say a new music/void person hitching their wagon to Argent Adept)? Maybe somebody taking up a mantle when a hero was incapacitated? There were the “new Virtuosos” that got introduced in the wake of Argent Adept’s death - they weren’t kids, but were on the younger side. Like around college age. There aren’t really situations where a D-Lister “takes over” for a more popular character (“that’s what C-Listers are for”). The universe they’ve created is one that’s turned out to not really be D-Lister or Sidekick friendly - they can and do happen, they just need to stretch things a bit to make room for them. Southwest Sentinels are the exemplar for low-tier heroes making good and moving up the ranks.
  • Are any current Sentinel Comics villains former D-List heroes who got tired of the low status (or the reverse of a D-List hero that was a former villain)? Shrieker/Glamour comes to mind (although Shrieker was B-List, C-list at worst in the original run - she was certainly a D-List levels of being forgotten by everybody by the time she becomes Glamour, though). Choke getting upgraded to Chokepoint is a change in tier for a villain. For a real-world example, the Marvel hero Bishop is probably C-List at the moment (maybe even D-List), but in the ’90s he was likely B-List.
  • Besides Naturalist (in a general sense) we only have Ermine, Hippo, Harpy, Ray Manta, and Desert Eagle as “animal-themed” characters (although the last is also a “gun-themed” one), and most of those are minor characters - is there a greater number of D-Listers who fall into the “animal-themed” category? Was there a conscious decision (either by you or the SC editorial staff) to steer away from such characters? The first answer is that SC exists in a world that just happened to not lean into that creative space as heavily as our “real world” comics publishers did. The other answer, from Adam and Christopher’s perspective is that “all the good animals are taken”. They’ve got to avoid stepping on other existing IP, so there’s just not many options out there. You’re noticing that there are a lot of real comics characters based on animals, which is precisely why there aren’t very many in Sentinel Comics. It’s the same reason they don’t have a lot of [whatever]-man (or similar) characters and not for lack of trying - they often look to fit one of those names in for just about every character they create, but there just aren’t a lot of good options left.
  • How did the “Strike Force Invasion” story end? Presumably the heroes won, but were the Thorathian invaders captured by F.I.L.T.E.R., did they escape back into space, or something else? Are there still some left stranded on Earth? Yes all around. Some captured, some escaped, some stranded who might have wound up working as muscle for other villains occasionally.
  • About how many Thorathians were involved in this story (i.e. how many were deemed sufficient to succeed in the mission)? Adam starts out with “a few hundred?” but Christopher’s opinion is that to be a “strike force” it’s likely under 100. Maybe 60-80 in all, but they have very specific plans derived from in-depth intel on the heroes.
  • What kind of episode would be more appropriate for the full “event”, Writer’s Room or Creative Process? They could do a broad strokes thing in a Creative Process episode, but it might be better suited to have it for a few Writer’s Rooms. They’ve already established a fair amount about the event, so it shouldn’t take quite as much effort to flesh out the rest of it. They don’t imagine such episodes getting voted in, though (they could be proven wrong, though - it’s happened before in terms of what they expected people to want).
  • Why were Dark Watch, and NightMist in particular, not targeted by Strike Force Invasion given that NM was responsible for Voss disappearing? The Dark Watch team didn’t exist at the time that this story happened [“SFI” was March-May ’99, where DW didn’t start until July]. NightMist herself was unavailable [Christopher says something about her doing her Void thing in here, which is a little off. She had returned from her time in the Void a few years prior, but as mentioned in episode 75 (the DW #1-6 story) the positioning had her having trouble controlling her powers and locking herself away at the end of her solo book in September ’98 and was not seen again until DW starts up]. Mr. Fixer was busy being dead. Setback and Expatriette would have been duoing at this time and so could have been fair game to show up in one of the other books for the event.
  • Considering the fact revealed that Thorathians rarely have a single child (and skipping past questions of population growth), did Sky-Scraper have any siblings? What happened to them if so? She has a younger sibling. Portia, being the “rebel” of the family who went off to fight the system, is contrasted by the sibling who stayed with the family. The sibling likely got invoked along with her parents in Censor’s pitch in that issue of Justice Comics. The sibling is about as important to comics stories in general as her parents were, though, which is to say “not much”. To actually speak to the population growth thing, though, Christopher wound up writing a whole thing about Thorathian family dynamics after that episode. So, because of the importance of duality in the culture, 2 children is the most common. A 3rd happens generally as a result of “we had 2 and then ‘oops’, we had another.” If that happens, they’re actually more likely to try for a 4th as well, to the point where 4 kids is more common than 3. So 2 is most common, followed by 4, then 3 far behind that, and then 1 being as uncommon as 5 or more. Population is pretty manageable. They’re fairly long-lived in general and the birth rate is over simple replacement without being so high as to run the risk of overpopulation.
  • The RPG core book has an example Lieutenant that’s a Thorathian named “Colonel Tre'Vek” so where does the Tre’ prefix land in the naming convention? The first kid is Kir’, second is Kel’, the third is Kav’, the fourth is Kom’. Fifth or higher are all Tre’ which is the genealogical equivalent to “etc.” As such, for Tre’Vek to have fought her way up to being a colonel shows some significant hustle on her part. That’s impressive.
  • If Censor can “cancel” Sky-Scraper’s size changing by striking her at pressure points, how fast does her size-changing actually happen? If he hits her, does she get stuck at whatever size she was already or would she “reset” to her default size? The size-changing is fast, but not instant. Think on the order of 3-10 seconds depending on how much of a difference. [They don’t address the second question, unfortunately.]
  • How widespread in the Thorathian military is Censor’s power-cancelling fighting style? Adam’s thought is that it’s not a standard part of Thorathian military training because of the value they place on powered individuals. It’s not necessarily something that he’s entirely worked out on his own (he probably had a teacher of some sort - likely not even a Thorathian one), but it’s still an extra thing that he’s put in the effort to learn that is unique to him. Adam’s thought is that there may have been some prisoner of war situation where the whole culture could do this thing that Censor tortured the secrets out of one of them. That’s appropriately horrible enough for the Thorathian military.
  • Do the Thorathians have a traditional martial arts form that makes use of their bone spurs? Not as like “a specific style that’s built around using them” because they’re just natural strike points for their biology. Any Thorathian system of hand-to-hand combat is going to make use of them as a matter of course. This also means, however, that when fighting Thorathians those spurs are points to attack as well as you might be able to hook your opponent’s spurs to get leverage on them. As such, those techniques are only really applicable against other Thorathians and not, say, humans.
  • From Voss’ perspective, is NightMist a bigger nemesis than Tempest (obviously Tempest’s ire for Voss is unmatched, but Vognild Prime was just another planet for Voss and NightMist had the temerity to send him outside reality)? Up until the point where he gets banished outside reality Tempest is a bigger deal just for being a Maerynian who opposes him and continues to be a thorn in his side. The first notable interaction between Voss and NightMist also happens to be the last interaction between them since she’s busy Being the Gate by the time he actually comes back to Earth. He may have had plans for revenge, but we never see them because it’s too late for him to actually do anything about her.
  • Did the Strike Force know NightMist’s role or did they just know that Voss vanished? They don’t know what happened to him or even much about Earth magic. He could simply have been killed for all they know.
  • [Birthday request: “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” by They Might Be Giants]
  • Powered Thorathians have 2 powers, but are they typically “opposites” (like Growing and Shrinking)? If so, is Voss an exception or are Fire and Cosmic Energy opposites somehow? The idea of “Thorathian powers speaking to their Duality” is (within the meta-verse of Sentinel Comics) a retcon. Voss was different from other Thorathians when he was introduced and he had these energy blasts. Whatever. It was later writers who went into the 2 hearts, 2 moons, 2 powers, etc. stuff and so powered Thorathians who were introduced later have more overt “opposite” powers, but the explanation for Voss’ is that they’re representative of the opposites within him - he’s a hothead who wants to burn everything down (chaos - Fire) but he also wants to conquer and rule the cosmos (order - Cosmic Energy).
  • When Voss returned from his exile, he offered his brother the same choice he got, exile or death; which did he choose? If exile, is he still around and possibly still available to come and reclaim the throne following the civil war? Christopher is glad that you noticed that they left that open ended. He feels bad about not answering, but not bad enough to not include this letter at all. Adam: “I feel like you’ve answered it by not answering.” [So, yeah, they likely have plans for him.]
  • Where does Sky-Scraper live when she’s not actively doing the superhero thing? Later on she’s doing the “hot rodding around the universe” thing with K.N.Y.F.E. By the time she shows up “The Freedom Five” is kind of established enough as being a larger organization than just the five of them. Sky-Scraper is one of the hangers-on who lives in the HQ/Freedom Tower. She’s not anything as formal as a “sidekick” or whatever (like Unity is), but she is definitely associated with them in a broad sense.
  • So, StarCrossers sounds pretty cool, like a cross between Space Opera and Soap Opera [you hit the nail on the head there], and while you had also mentioned the Rival/Vantage thing in passing a while back, had we ever had other indications of Sky-Scraper’s romantic preferences? Does Thorathian culture put much emphasis on the distinction between same- and opposite-sex relationships? Is this a new thing that Sky-Scraper is learning about herself? There wasn’t a lot of room in her stories for this sort of thing for a long time considering how much her stories focused on struggle - first being enslaved in the Colosseum, then we got into the civil war stuff, etc. We’ve seen her grow close to various people over her history, but it wasn’t really explored. On a meta level they hadn’t really defined what Thorathian culture thought of it either. We don’t see a lot of Thorathian social mores. However, given the culture’s focus on duality, they probably don’t look on same-sex relationships favorably. Having so much of what we see of Thorathian culture being heavy on tradition gives her exploring same-sex relationships yet another angle of rebellion, though. However, this is also something new for her - she’s probably as surprised as anyone else at this attraction.