The Letters Page: Episode 157
Creative Process: Fanatic Supporting Cast
We're gonna bring the flavor, show you how!
Run Time: 1:49:10
We just kept going on this one. Probably would have continued, but time was - and is - of the essence. The essence of what? Well, let us keep SOME of our secrets, dear listeners.
After a few minutes of banter, we get into adding people to Fanatic's story. Not all of them are sad stories! Not ALL of them.
A bit after the 1 hour and 12 minute mark, we answer the letters you've written to us! Including a bunch of old letters that have languished in our dreaded inbox for far too long!
Join us this Friday for another livestreamed Publishers' Note, if you're on the Patreon. If you're not a Letters Page Patreon supporter, totally cool - we understand. Our self esteem is definitely not just based on our listenership. We're individual people with our own stuff going on. Really. Anyway, if you don't love us that way, NBD - you'll get that Publishers' Note in audio form next Tuesday!
- They did a little preliminary work off the air this week as they dove into the timeline spreadsheet to familiarize themselves with what happened when for Fanatic’s story. This prompted the realization of just how kick-ass the Absolution book was. [We haven’t actually heard much about it - the flavortext from Fanatic’s “Absolution”, “End of Days”, “Final Dive”, and “Wrathful Retribution”; Apostate’s “Apocalypse” and “Profane Summons”; and NightMist’s “Astral Premonition” are the only references in-game and we haven’t been told a lot about it otherwise. Its only mentions in the recap episode were pointing out when it began and ended and we got just a brief description (Fanatic doing really metal stuff while we got more backstory with her and her sword/armor) back in her own episode. That being said, if we can assume the card attributions still hold, those are some big-deal cards to be associated with it.]
- While this is a supporting cast episode for Fanatic, back when she was introduced (September ’74, Mystery Comics vol. 1 #338) as supporting cast for Wraith for the better part of the year. While Wraith was this stealthy, planning things out, careful hero, Fanatic has a different approach. Her introduction also results in Wraith’s story having her looking into occult stuff and is part of the general “Mystery Comics gets derailed in the ’70s” thing that eventually leads to the rebooted second volume in the ’80s. Anyway, Fanatic shows up and pops up here and there for around a year without really getting any explanation. Funnily enough, writers acknowledge her origins. Like, Fanatic can show up in a later story to help Wraith with something and their dialogue shows familiarity that new readers might be confused by given how different they are.
- In May ’75, due to both reader interest in the character, but also the fact that she doesn’t really fit into Wraith stories they give her a solo title Fanatic. This book pointedly doesn’t delve into the character backstory. There are some vague, handwavy hints thrown in occasionally but it’s never clear cut. We get the initial stories about the Right Reverend Samuel Humphrey and Apostate. Then the title is cancelled in April of 1980 at #60.
- So, for those first 5 years of having a solo book, surely she has some kind of supporting cast. Basically all we know of her up to this point is 1) Angel and 2) Smiting things. All smiting all the time could work for a while, but at some point there would have to be some attempt to humanize her a bit. Those attempts could fail, but they would have happened.
- Adam’s thought process here: if he’s a comics writer in the ’70s and he’s got an angel character without much else in the way of characterization, he’s probably going to have other angels in there somewhere (coming to help fight, admonishing her for losing her way, something). That sounds good. By the time we get to Absolution and her actual backstory you absolutely couldn’t include other angel characters because she’s not really an angel. But in this early period they hadn’t established that yet so, sure, why not? Let’s have 2 of them, one that comes to fight and one to admonish a bit later, but we want them to show up prior to Apostate’s appearance in #25 in ’77 (as he’s the one “angel” that carries over into later stories as his characterization of looking like an angel specifically to mess with Fanatic still works). Additionally, these should probably be “named” angels, so your Michael or Gabriel.
- They land on #8 (December ’75) as the one where the archangel Michael shows up to fight alongside her. He probably also addresses her by name rather than as Fanatic.
- Brief note to make it clear - in this early period they’re making up stuff that happened in the comics, but is later retconned into not having happened/are not true. Michael 1) showing up in the first place and 2) calling her by an “angel name” are not considered canon even just a few years later when Absolution starts up.
- Anyway, back to her “angel name”. Do they want to make one up or choose a pre-existing name from some source? Oh, or do they want the name “Helena” to first show up here (even though the backstory of her as a little girl hasn’t been invented yet)? That sounds good. So, up until this point she was just Fanatic (and unlike later on, it would have been a self-applied name as well), but Michael calls her Helena. That’s fine, but here on Earth she’s Fanatic! and Michael just rolls with it. So, she’s Fanatic, but we get the seed of “Helena” being another name for her.
- That’s good, it leads into the option to have Gabriel show up and address her as Helena, calling her back. She’s becoming too attached to this world/is losing her angelic nature. At that point she can claim that “Helena” isn’t a name that has any meaning for her anymore, that she’s Fanatic. This can set up the idea that maybe she’s on a path to a Fall. Then we have the “actual fallen angel” Apostate show up. This probably means that they don’t want a lot of time to pass between those two events, so they put Gabriel’s appearance in #22 (February ’77) when he calls on her to return to the Heavenly Host.
- Adam thinks that we should have some explanation about these characters. Like, they’re something besides angels and still existed in the comics rather than being retconned out entirely. That explanation doesn’t have to be timely - it can wait until after the Host story explanation from ’04. They don’t even have to be around for very long - like Apostate can kill them, just we get some acknowledgement of the history and a justification for their presence. He might even kill off one of them (say, Michael) during this early period. More on this stuff when they actually get to that point.
- Along the naming lines, do they want “Apostate” to be called Bezaliel from the beginning or do we want him to be introduced as Lucifer or Samael or something more recognizable? They stick with Bazaliel. So, his early story is that he shows up with the “you and I are the same” pitch that’s his classic move, mentions Gabriel bothering her too, invites her to go do some smiting (which she’s definitely down for), lets on the whole “fallen” thing (which she supposes that she did kind of say she was ok with that path), then we get into the deceiver/betrayer stuff with him.
- Ok, so there’s the angelic cast, but in 60 issues surely there was a human cast member too. Adam throws out the idea of some “mother superior” character who’s retconned into being the one that helped raise her as a child once the story in Absolution gets told, which is apparently exactly the direction Christopher had in mind. Some random old nun who seems to know more about Fanatic’s history, which is just never addressed in this title. Christopher’s thoughts are that this nun wasn’t the mother superior in charge who raised her, but was a younger nun who was more of a contemporary (well, at least closer in age - she’s be like 20 when Fanatic was a young girl). He likes the idea that she’s this young woman in Fanatic’s backstory, but is old in the “present” of the comics - showing that Fanatic isn’t aging normally. Anyway, when Helena grows wings and starts claiming to be an angel of the Lord the mother superior turns her out, but this other nun is the one who keeps in touch/helps her out occasionally.
- So, who is this nun? They need a name, so there’s some discussion there. This involves choosing a setting-appropriate name for her, given that in Absolution we know that Fanatic’s backstory happens in Argentina. That geographical detail can actually also be something that was mentioned in this earlier phase and just kept when fleshing things out in Absolution. The name they land on is Mother Josefina (who would be known as Sister Maria Josefina in the backstory bits later in Absolution #1-3 and then in the “present” again as Mother Josefina sometime after #14).
- They want her early on (before the other angels), but it can’t be right at the beginning because of the Idolater story, so they introduce her in issue #6 in October ’75. We don’t need a whole lot of characterization for her as she’s basically just around to be somebody Fanatic can go to for wisdom. Stereotypical old nun who disapproves of many of Fanatic’s choices, but obviously also has a place in her heart for her. There’s probably at least one story several dozen issues into the run where Fanatic is all messed up in a fight and Mother Josefina shows up and drives off a vampire with her crucifix before dragging Fanatic to safety or something.
- Adam imagines that in the ’80s or ’90s her characterization is kind of down-to-earth, which is a perspective that Fanatic herself often has trouble keeping in mind. Why is she smiting things in the first place? Gotta keep that in mind too. Christopher also imagines that in the late ’80s or early ’90s we find out that the nunnery that she’s in charge of is essentially just ruins and she’s the only one there anymore. She’s something of a hermit and her isolation, while keeping on with her work, mirrors Fanatic’s.
- Moving on to the Absolution book proper - issue #1 is her making the sword and armor in her sleep and naming the sword, #2-3 flashes back to her childhood (young girl dies, comes back and is raised as Helena in the nunnery, Sister Maria Josefina is there, wings, kicked out, etc.). We get details like the angelic runes that she kind of understands in here too, but also the question of whether she’s actually an angel or not (from her perspective there’s the certainty that she’s an Angel of the Lord, but what does that actually mean?, granted she would never voice that thought).
- Issues #4-6 pushes that question even more with more Right Reverend Samuel Humphrey stuff (joining his flock, figuring out he’s bad, burning his church to the ground and burning the cross into his face - he’s not called “Idolater” yet).
- Issue #7 is Apostate. It’s less “we’re the same so we should go do stuff together” and more “hi, we’re both angels, but what even are angels?” aiming to undercut her confidence [the story given in his game bio and back in his episode was along the lines that he’d killed God a long time ago and he created her]. Issue #8 finishes up their fight and she “kills” him. Issue #9 he returns and they fight some more, he stabs her this time and we have the “death of Fanatic”. Issue #10 she comes back, gives him the Wrathful Retribution treatment.
- The next few issues are a bit of a respite, #14 has the first appearance of The Idolater (by that name).
- That’s it for the major notes they have for the title for a while (there’s a NightMist crossover and another Apostate story in ’81, the latter really nailing down the fact that he can keep coming back, although the major body-hopping story isn’t until later).
- Christopher starts to pick a point for Mother Josefina to show up again, but then decides that having an older Sister Maria Josefina show up first to establish the “you were cast out, but I’m still going to help you” thing first, with her becoming Mother Josefina later on (like in Fanatic volume 2). With that thought, they want her to show up early on before the Right Reverend Samuel Humphrey story to get the “there are still helpful Church things” idea planted before the bad guy shows up.
- With the thought of having her show up as Mother Josefina so late, they like the idea of there being a story in Absolution involving the nunnery getting destroyed somehow and Fanatic feels responsible, and it’s only when we return to it later and Josefina is still there keeping things going. We can specifically have Josefina’s age thing come up at that point; she’s aged a lot and Fanatic not at all. She’s also had some feelings of responsibility as she’s the one who would go out to help Fanatic - she brought the destruction down on them in that way. They put the destruction story in issues #62-63 (June-July ’85). Huh, we’re getting a little Writer’s Roomy here [Writer’s Room audio cue from Trevor - a gag that’s used 3 times throughout the episode as they comment on how much story stuff they do in this episode].
- Issue #62 has the nunnery under attack by some kind of demon monster thing. Fanatic shows up to fight.
- Issue #63 has the big ol’ fight, which is pretty cool, but it damages the structure so that the building collapses and kills all of the nuns. Fanatic realizes that she was so intent on fighting the monster(s) that she didn’t actually wind up saving anybody. Over the last few issues of the title remaining, this failure can lead her directly into the decision to join an explicit Hero Team in the form of the Prime Wardens. She’s had other run-ins with heroes: NightMist, Wraith, a 4-issue crossover with Ra (issues #53-56 - not their first meeting, but the first thing that toys with their god/angel of a different God thing as a duo, no romance on the page yet but they become supporting cast for one another after this).
- Note on the “I am an angel of the Lord” and “I am the god of the sun” thing - at this point in the comics they’re basically both right, although both would later be shown to be wrong. At this point Ra is more right as Fanatic at least has those “am I really?” thoughts and Ra has no such doubts.
- They want another few people to show up in Absolution. Between the origin stuff (“two years of exposition, exposition, exposition”) and that Ra story they also know that there’s the NightMist and Wraith crossovers, another Apostate story, some dark magic/occult stuff. Just the bread-and-butter “Fanatic stories” - fighting and smiting things. What kind of character would be helpful for these kinds of stories?
- Hmm… They’ve established in the Christmas story in the ’80s that she lives in the bell tower of an old, abandoned church. Maybe there’s still a groundskeeper. Some retired guy who just takes it upon himself to prevent the place from completely falling apart. He notices that she’s up there and talks to her sometimes (she ignores him, but that doesn’t stop him from talking to the angel he knows is up in the tower). It’s another salt-of-the-earth point of connection. Keeping her grounded despite her best efforts. Christopher especially likes the idea of him having been a traveling shoe salesman, but now an old man in the ’80s - a product of a different era. Like, he had 4 older brothers and lost them to wars - one of which was thought at the time to be the war to end all wars. He just keeps talking at her about his life, what he’s seen, and putting his humanity out there whether she wants it or not.
- She can be really distrustful of this guy at first. She fears he’s just another Idolater. Nope, this is more or less a hobby. Those chains and stuff on the door? Those are his - he’s the one who locks the place up so bored kids don’t come in and break stuff. Nobody asked him to do it. It’s a way to get away - he cleans up and just sits in this calm place that’s been forgotten by most others.
- Fun story idea - at some point later on some kids get in and do some graffiti. Fanatic returns from some fight somewhere and catches them in the act. She chases them off. Later, the old guy returns to find Fanatic inside with a can of paint, covering the graffiti.
- They introduce him in issue #26 (June ’82). They really like the way that the supporting cast members they’ve invented for her so far are 1) old and 2) models of temperance, which is a virtue she herself lacks. Starting at 46:16 through 47:04 or so Christopher does the semi-rambling monologue of how the guy introduces himself to her, which is pretty great if you want to give it a listen. He’s Archie Luckstrim (formerly the fabulous shoe salesman Archibald Quintin Luckstrim).
- While there isn’t a big story around his death, they do want to have him die of old age and there be a funeral for him. They think that the readers come to love this guy very quickly, but also very quickly come to the conclusion that the writers are going to kill him off so there’s this Sword of Damocles quality to his character from the readers’ perspective, but they never actually go that route. Oof… Even better, there’s a story where she’s off doing stuff for a while and comes back and he’s not around. She spends some time wondering where he is, cleans a bit since he’s not there to do it, then finds out that he died while she was away. She even missed the funeral. She discovers this because he had newspapers delivered to the church and he’d read it there. She starts looking at one on the pile that’s accumulated and she finds his obituary. Sad silent panel of her standing in the rain at his grave, wings drooping.
- From there she continues being the caretaker of the church and will occasionally return to his grave to put flowers on it.
- Timeline: if he died in Absolution then he could only have been around for a few years and they think he’s around for longer than that. Probably not something they deal with in Prime Wardens, so let’s put it in the second volume of Fanatic. Having him be around for her to talk to after the team falls apart is good.
- Dialing back on the gut-punch of his death a bit, they add that he left a letter for her that she doesn’t find until after visiting his grave (like, she’s upset and knocks over a lectern at the church, realizes that that’s the opposite of what Archie would want and replaces it, and that’s when she finds it). He hadn’t seen her in a while, but could tell he was on his way out and so wrote her something to express how much having her to talk to meant to him. If we put this after the Host stuff and have him still addressing her as an angel, that would be a nice touch. Over the years things probably got to the point where she may have confided her own uncertainty to him, so having him reaffirm how he sees her despite knowing her doubts is a sweet touch.
- There’s a very small window between the Host story and the Congregation story (the former ends in issue #28 and the latter begins in #31), so they put it as an epilogue to the Host bit in issue #29, March ’04 [the recap episode implied that this month was the beginning of the Apostate story, not the end, but they may have just misspoke back then]. Most of the issue is a montage of her waiting around the church because she wants to talk to Archie about it. Waiting, cleaning, waiting, newspapers pile up, obituary, graveside, return to church, knock some stuff over, sulk, put stuff back because it’s what Archie would want, find the letter, end. They like the idea of the issue being largely wordless. We get the diegetic words of the newspaper, gravestone, and letter. The letter is the next-to-last page, with the final one showing some genuine, tender human emotion on Fanatic’s part. Crying and smiling at his words.
- They also like the idea of the obituary mentioning in the “survived by” section that he’s got some grandkids, but also a friend he called Helena in his last days.
- Ok, who else? They’ve got Apostate, Idolater, and the Seer as foes that mess with her beliefs in some way. So far we’ve balanced that with Mother Josefina and Archie who help her and make her better. Then, there’s Ra who’s a rival, but the rivalry turns into something more later on. They could use another Ra-like rivalry character. Somebody she’s on friendly terms with, but it’s still a rather prickly relationship. It’s hard to think of somebody who’s not either another hero or an antagonist in some way (say some modern Christian firebrand who sees her as a false idol or something). She’s just so isolated. That’s kind of part of the Absolution story up to and including how the nunnery gets wrecked, leaving her even more alone until she joins a team.
- Even then, the Prime Wardens have to spend a bunch of time getting her to be a team player (as opposed to Haka, Captain Cosmic, Tempest, and Argent Adept). They probably don’t want to add supporting cast in PW for a while at least, but let’s talk timeline. PW starts up the month after Absolution ends (#1 in January ’86). It starts off with Akash'Bhuta, then Voss at the end of the year. The “Haunted Fanatic” arc that kicks off in December of ’88 (over in Tome of the Bizarre vol. 3 #9, just at the very end) and lasts until October ’89. She’s significantly different during that time, but we’re also a full 3 years into the progress the Prime Wardens have been making on her. This makes a good opportunity for adding a new supporting character.
- Given that we’ve established that she’s haunted, let’s make this character dead already. She’s become something like a lightning rod of the undead, so if she’s around a ghost it will just jump on board with the rest of them. We can have some of them become recurring named ghosts that she deals with occasionally (while still having a bunch of just transient ones that flit in and out around her). Adam proposes one that’s a kind of Virgil-like character - somebody who’s been dead a while and can show her the ropes.
- They introduce him in PW #38 in February ’89 (the prior issue being the first one actually dealing with her being haunted). Christopher proposes a woman who died in her 20s - somebody who judging by Fanatic’s apparent demographic she should be able to relate to, but can’t because she’s Fanatic. In talking through this, they realize that over the course of these 8 months or so Fanatic figures out that the approach to ghosts can be “lay them to rest” rather than just Smite! That’s how she eventually gets un-haunted. The helper ghost doesn’t seem particularly restless at first and doesn’t know why she’s a ghost (figures it’s just her job to help Fanatic put the rest of them to rest) and figuring out what’s going on is part of the story. They name her Stevie.
- Ghosts. What are they and what does smiting them even do? So they start off as people who died with unfinished business and are the remnants of their spiritual essence/soul/whatever. If they stick around long enough without finishing things they get all twisted up and that’s when they turn bad. Smiting them destroys them, so they’re not around causing problems anymore, but smiting ones that haven’t gotten to that twisted stage isn’t exactly the most compassionate approach. Fanatic is fine with that up until Stevie gives her reason to reconsider.
- What is Stevie’s unfinished business? Christopher’s idea is that an older relative (parent, grandparent) died when she was in her teens and it wasn’t a good way to go, leaving them with unfinished business who then haunted her. She tried for years to help resolve that unfinished business to help put them to rest, but was unsuccessful. Over time she watched it twist into the bad type of ghost, which then killed her. Her unfinished business is helping other ghosts finish their business, but in particular resolving the story of her older relative who by now is this really old, powerful ghost. Y’know, somebody for Fanatic to deal with. But that’s the twist. She actually needs to help redeem/untwist the ghost and then resolve things for it - maybe there are hints that Stevie is headed in this direction if she doesn’t do something, like the more Fanatic fights the big ghost the more twisted Stevie becomes.
- Having NightMist involved in the lead-up to the finale as an outside consultant on the problem who can exposit the situation a bit for the readers would also be helpful. She’s not there for the actual final encounter, though. The initial confrontation involving the three of them are in PW #46, but the actual finale of the story is over in TotB #19 that same month.
- They’re glad that Stevie had a good end. They also think it’s fitting that Fanatic has this experience, it’s resolved, and then 2 issues later is involved in a compassionate thing for Tempest with the whole Val’Maera holiday issue.
- One last thing, picking the issue for when Mother Josefina reappears in Fanatic vol. 2. They want it before the Host stuff, but it also needs to be after the Fall of Prime Wardens stuff, so they put it in issue #16 in February ’03. They think that she survives through the end of the Multiverse. She’s really old at this point, but Fanatic’s really going through some stuff as the post-OblivAeon era kicks off, and so she could really use a character like this. After the Host stuff happens all she’s got are the Prime Wardens, Ra, and Mother Josefina. The PW break/reform again. Haka’s just gone. Ra dies. She needs somebody.
- They recently had a chance to clean out a bunch of Fanatic questions from the backlog. As such, there aren’t a lot of them left for today. After they get through the ones that they do have about her, they’ll do a batch of some of the oldest questions in the queue that aren’t being held up by a planned story reveal in some way.
- Does she keep in contact with anyone at the nunnery? Has she talked to anyone there about her recent losses (e.g. Ra)? See much of the preceding episode they just did, which kind of answers all of this. She only really kept in contact with Maria Josefina, she was involved in the building’s destruction and the deaths of the nuns, turns out Mother Josefina is still there.
- Does she have any supporting cast members who thinks they also have God-given powers? Does her belief in them make them actually have those powers/make them stronger? That’s more the territory of her foes (like Idolater and Seer) than it would be for her allies. This does prompt them to circle back to the “angels” - they show up, are quickly retconned out of existence, only to get retconned again over the course of the 6 months of the Host story (12 issues between Fanatic and Mystery Comics [basing things off of the earlier comment of Fanatic #28 ending the arc, this would make the Host story take place in Fanatic vol. 2 #23-28 and MC vol. 2 #361-366, from September ’03 through February ’04, assuming that the issues aren’t offset a month between titles - in theory MC could start and end a month earlier)]. They’re not going to Writer’s Room that right now.
- Is there any spiritual leader/religious scholar that she gets advice from regarding the supernatural? What religion did such a person follow (and did that change during Fanatic’s ill-advised “trying out all religions” period)? That “all religions” thing was a blip - it was only a couple of issues and was just a bad idea. We know that she goes to NightMist for help regarding occult/magic stuff. The religious person she goes to the most would be Mother Josefina, but the advice she gets from her isn’t generally about the religious/supernatural stuff, but more practical advice. They can see it being the case that Fanatic goes to her for advice on religious doctrine stuff, but that’s not what she actually gets. This prompts Christopher to consider there being some person who studies religions and whatnot in an academic sense without being a believer themselves - they don’t believe that Fanatic is actually an angel for a moment (finding her fascinating), but they help out when she needs information. They decide to add this person during the period when Mother Josefina is MIA, presumed KIA. Professor Thomas Riley is introduced in Tome of the Bizarre vol. 3 #37 in April ’91. Some further bits about their interactions prompts the idea that he’d be really into learning about Host stuff, but they don’t think she’s talked to him about that yet. She may not have talked to anybody about that yet as the person she wanted to talk to was Archie.
- If there was a person who was obviously a ghost working around Freedom Plaza, how would she approach this? Attack on sight? Try to convince Heritage that something should be done about it first? Depends on when this is happening. If we’re talking her as she was ca. 2012 or so, she’d probably be able to approach it in the calmer, “let’s put you to rest peacefully” way. Post-OblivAeon? She’s got some serious rage problems so convincing her to go that way is probably possible, but more difficult. Before her haunting she could not be so convinced. Assuming the question is pointing at Muerto in particular, the problem there is that his “unfinished business” is “being a hero”. Putting him to rest as a goal is kind of antithetical to how you’d go about doing so. He’s got some interesting problems that we’ll have to see how things go.
- Note on the RPG (which was also mentioned in a recent RPG Kickstarter update, but I’ll mention it here): The estimate from the printer in terms of turn-around time is November for the beginning of fulfillment. Subject to change as all things are, but it’s what they know as of this recording.
- Assuming that there were something like “supporting cast” while the Prime Wardens were on Dok'Thorath, which Thorathian tried to connect with Fanatic? Did she talk about her faith with somebody there? Any kind of spark of the old Thorathian religion that was suppressed by Voss’ regime? There’s not likely any kind of proselytizing on her part, but the main effect she has in this area might be prompting people to examine the concept of “faith” again. There might be some Thorathians who are interested in “spiritual fulfillment” but aren’t allowed to voice such thoughts under penalty of death, but Fanatic’s presence might fan those flames a bit. Interesting bit of theory-crafting there.
- The Parse, Black Fist, and Visionary all had some kind of petty criminal informer (the latter had a pre-super-suit Ray Manta), but Fanatic doesn’t seem the type to let a “sinner” go, no matter how minor - how does she get the information she needs? Does she believe that her power will guide her to where she needs to be? There’s a little bit of that. She’s not dealing with “crime”, but with supernatural enemies of some form or another. They posit that Stevie actually fits your model, though - she’s a “bad guy” (from Fanatic’s perspective - a ghost) who gives her intel on other bad guys.
- Is there an issue where all of these “informer” characters all get together for a heist but then all try to sell one another out to the heroes? Or maybe they just meet at a bar to commiserate? The latter sounds more likely. There could be a one-off issue of Mystery Comics [why not Rook City Renegades?] that’s from the perspective of the bartender of the Wretched Hive. Like, a scene of some mid-weight villains talking over drinks, a bit where somebody busts in proclaiming that they’re a hero who’s going to take them all down (just getting the attention of everybody, they’re really a villain - “Aw, you got us good there”), then these informer guys all sitting around as they need to “keep up their credibility” but they’re really beat down, somebody threatens the bartender and then somebody else kills that guy because there are some things that are just not done (the bartender knows too much about everybody - don’t mess with him). The “Day in the Life” of the bartender is a fun idea.
- What would happen if Fanatic were to take up the Staff of Ra now? Probably nothing. She is not the right person for the Staff of Ra. If Disparation were still a thing you could maybe tell a story where it works - some interesting internal struggles between the power of Ra and the Host stuff as she switches back and forth between those idioms until an equilibrium is reached and now we’ve got something new and interesting as we wind up with a “Host-powered Ra”. She probably becomes the hero Horus (Ra plus Bird). There we go.
- Does she have specific beliefs about angelic lore/hierarchy or does she just not think about that kind of thing much? If so, what kind of angel does she believe herself to be? She’s not the type to think about it. Professor Riley is, though, so he’s probably gone on about it before (“Hmm… Not a seraphim. Not enough eyes or wings…” etc.).
- When creating the Oni mythos, you mentioned that it originated with a sorcerer who tried and failed to revive a dead loved one before discarding the mask; it was later retconned so that the sorcerer was Zhu Long, but was the “loved one” aspect retained? Who was it? How did Zhu Long find out about the Oni if his “failure” was ultimately used by some beggar after it was discarded? When the transformation happened, Zhu Long could feel the magic activate (like, he set up the power there and it was still connected to it so he could feel that it finally did something, even if he wasn’t there to witness it). After investigating the scene after the fact he figured out what had happened and developed the masks as we see them now. They don’t want to talk too much about the loved one. They have plans for an eventual full-on Zhu Long episode, and we’re not there yet. He’s been around a very long time and at some point in there he fell in love with a “mortal” (relative to him, not that he’s “immortal” by any means, but he sure seems that way to most regular people). The way this story would have been told would be in the form of a Chinese fable of some sort (ancient evil sorcerer falls in love, she tries to change him, he tries to change her, things go wrong and there’s destruction and misery).
- Would an Oni mask work on an alien? Would it turn them into the same sort of creature as it does with humans? They think it would work on sapient aliens, yes. It’s gotta fit, though. Like, Tempest could probably put one on fine, but you’d likely have to make one special for Bloogo to wear. They’d probably look and act somewhat different as they think that they’d take on some characteristics from the base person (so a Maerynian Oni would have some lightning effects or whatnot). The main effect of the spell would remain the same, though.
- What would a Mr. Fixer Oni be like? Would it even work on his DW “haunted zombie” version? They figure there’s some issue where he finds a mask, and puts it on briefly in a “what’s this thing?” kind of way, before discarding it. It just wouldn’t work on him while he’s technically dead.
- What about Fanatic? Probably wouldn’t work on her either. Also, she doesn’t believe it would. It might explode or it might send her into a rage that she actually fights through successfully before burning out the mask, but no Angel Oni for you.
- Is there any possible way to redeem an Oni? Like the person has their family “killed” in front of them, puts on the mask, but during the transformation it’s revealed that their family survived, could that change in emotional state stop the effect? Hypothetically possible to save somebody during the process (but not likely after the transformation ends), but this kind of relieve/love/happy emotions thing isn’t gonna cut it. Likely some high-test magic of some sort.
- Given that it’s revealed that the “Villainous Weaponry” cache on Mars wasn’t just Alien Warlord-level but Scion of OblivAeon-level, what were the researchers thinking putting such things in Wagner Mars Base? The actual answer is that there were some weapons there and it would be cool to show Voss taking advantage of that during an event that’s a spoiler for way down the line. The idea is more that there are weapons there and Voss is taking them and generally messing with things at that time - the art is a bit misleading as it makes you think that his new look is because of the weapons he found. In retrospect Adam would probably do something different for that card. It was more of a tease than an accurate depiction of what was going on.
- Given the incapacitated art for Sergeant Steel’s foil card, does Jack Steel actually survive Becky’s blast? Was the statement that the bomb was the end of Sergeant Steel yet another carefully worded way to mislead us? How dare you accuse them of using carefully worded statements to imply a character had died when they hadn’t. That doesn’t sound like something they would do. [*cough*GrandWarlordVoss*cough*]
- How does Sky-Scraper take to the idea of Halloween? Does she get into it ans participate? Oh yeah. For costume purposes her size changing powers give her a lot of options. She likes the idea behind trick or treating, even if she messes it up occasionally (although being able to be child-size lets her get away with it). She likes handing out candy.
- Does Fanatic view Halloween as “devil worship”? No, but she often has to go deal with the “real” stuff on this night when the veil between this world and the next is so thin, so she can ignore this frivolity happening over there.
- How about Guise? He’s a Halloween Scrooge. People dressing up like people/things that they’re not? That’s his thing and everyone else is bad at it. He’s also the “well, actually” guy who can’t help himself and so he always decides to join in at the last minute and so has bad costumes or a mix of things because he can’t decide. He also has bad experiences with holidays.