The Letters Page: Episode 164
Sentinel Comics Lore Crash Course
Welcome to the Multiverse of Sentinel Comics!
Run Time: 1:59:14
Hello, listener! This is (hopefully) a decent jumping-on episode. At least, it is in terms of content - Trevor (our producer) wants me to make sure it's clear that our audio quality used to be a ton better back before Adam and I were each recording in our own homes, and hopefully we'll be back in studio again before the end of this year. Blame the pandemic! Sorry about that.
We follow the standard-ish format of a bit of goofing around, followed by the Overview (the meat and potatoes of the episode). After that, we eventually get to the questions at around an hour and 15.5 minutes in, which help flesh out even more of the story!
In this episode, we have a notable SPOILER segment! If you don't want any spoilers for the "Off the Rails" adventure issue that was released at the same time as the SCRPG core rulebook, skip from 1:43:25 to 1:46:59! (I claimed that it would be over 5 minutes on the air, but I underestimated how quickly we talk sometimes.)
How did it go? Did we succeed at a jumping on/overview episode? Do you have questions you want us to answer? Submit those questions here!
"See" you next week!
- They originally thought that this was going to be the Lore crash course specifically for the RPG, but then they realized that there was too much backstory necessary, so instead this has turned into a general Sentinel Comics Lore Crash Course - a long requested on-boarding point for new people. This episode isn’t necessarily going to be an example of what The Letters Page is like, since it’s pretty much impossible for a single episode to be, but it’s meant to be a good place to start if you’re new to Sentinel Comics in general.
- Stuff they do in other episodes that won’t be covered this week.
- Creative Process episodes where they more-or-less live create a new thing that exists in Sentinel Comics (possibly something that has existed in the comics for decades, just that they didn’t think up until now).
- Writer’s Room episodes where they plot out a specific issue from the history of Sentinel Comics. Adam even draws up a cover for it.
- Historically, they’d do individual character episodes where they’d pick somebody and tell their story from start to finish.
- Something kind of like this episode were the two episodes where they went through the entire OblivAeon plot arc (episodes 83 and 84), but those covered about a year’s worth of comics in great detail as it was the largest “event” in Sentinel Comics history. Another kind of similar episode was the Multiverse Recap (episode 81) where they gave us a publication history timeline (pegging story elements that they’d told us about before to specific issues of specific titles from specific dates) - this episode is more narrative than that one was and will cover both the pre-OblivAeon era and the post-OblivAeon era where the Sentinel Comics RPG will be set by default.
- Between the Multiverse Recap and the individual character episodes, they aren’t necessarily going to go into great detail on timing and who people are, just enough to get the idea. If you find somebody interesting, feel free to check out their other episodes too. [Although I, you’re friendly neighborhood chronicler might drop some specific details in for some additional context.]
The Multiverse Era of Sentinel Comics
- We start way back with the first superhero comic books produced by the Sentinel Comics company.
Golden Age and Early Years
- The very first of these heroes is Legacy [Paul Parsons VII - first appearance in Justice Comics #1 May 1940], an all-American hero who paved the way for both super heroes as a concept and specific books featuring them. He was primarily a wartime hero, fighting during World War II and for a few years after.
- This eventually gave way to a different type of hero. Between the war ending and some of the different directions the radio serial had taken the character, he is replaced by his son as a new Legacy [Paul Parsons VIII, a supporting character until this point - first appearance as Legacy in Justice Comics #102 in October ’48]. He typifies more of what we expect from the term “super hero” these days and fought major threats like the mad scientist Baron Blade [Ivan Ramonat, first appeared in Justice Comics #61 in May ’45].
- Additionally, another major character was introduced at the same month as the new Legacy. The Wraith - a more street-level detective/vigilante type compared to the larger-than-life heroics of Legacy [Maia Montgomery, fist appearing in Mystery Comics #27].
- An important “monster hunter” characters were also introduced that month: Haka [Aata Wakawarewa, an ancient Maori warrior first appearing in Arcane Tales #14] [They also mention another “monster hunter” in this same bit, Ra (alter ego of the Egyptologist Dr. Blake Washington Jr.) but his first appearance wasn’t until Arcane Tales #83 in July ’54. Either way, in these early days they’re both mostly just fighting “freak of the week” monsters all over the world.]
- That sets us up for the Freedom Four, the first “hero team” [issue #1 in May 1950] and it was notable for being the first real acknowledgement that these various heroes occupy a shared setting. While there were some vague hints that they might have before, the world was pretty generic to this point (even the city or cities the heroes were in weren’t named yet). [While there was an earlier lineup the “classic” team that appears here in issue #88 in August ’57 consists of: ] Legacy, Wraith, Bunker (a hero piloting a large armored “suit” who had appeared in various war comics up to this point [Tyler Vance first appeared in The Indestructible Bunker back in Nov. ’52]), and Tachyon (a scientist who’s now a speedster as well [Dr. Meredith Stinson had been an unpowered supporting cast member for Legacy prior to now]).
- About a year later the team fought a villain called the Matriarch (actually Tachyon’s cousin [Lilian Corvus made her first and, for a long time only, appearance in Freedom Five Annual #2 in Aug. ’58]. The title got changed to the Freedom Five because the team is also joined by the new hero Absolute Zero [Ryan Frost also first appearing in this issue]. This is the lineup for the Freedom Five through the end of the OblivAeon event in 2016.
- Shortly after the Freedom Five are established we enter a period that they sometimes call…
The Era of New Heroes
- Named such due to the rapidity with which new characters are introduced. It’s one of the most important periods in terms of establishing characters, both heroes and villains.
- One is a reworking of an existing character, the Scholar [John Rhodes first appeared in Mystery Comics #1 in Aug. ’46] whose story is reworked and expanded in this era.
- The cursed investigator NightMist [Faye Diamond, another reworking of a much older character from the ’40s but new as a superhero in Freedom Five Annual #6 in Aug. ’62]. She and Scholar both have magical abilities, and her stories in particular have a rather noir vibe to them.
- The alien refugee Tempest [M’kk Dall’ton first appearance Stranger in a Strange World #1 March ’65].
- Captain Cosmic (and his nemesis, Infinitor, later revealed to be his brother) doing things out in space. [Hugh and Nigel Lowsley both first appeared in Conflux #1 in March ’70]. While Tempest is an alien, his stories take place on Earth and deal with his status as a refugee while Captain Cosmic’s adventures take him far afield.
- Argent Adept [Anthony Drake, first appearance in Toll of Destiny #1 Dec. ’72] is also magical stuff, but often dealing with other strange dimensions and really out there magic things as opposed to the more, for lack of a better word, “grounded” magic stories for Scholar and NightMist.
- Fanatic [given the name Helena, original name unknown, first appeared in Mystery Comics #338 in Sep. ’74] is an “avenging angel” type with looks ripped straight from a heavy metal album cover.
- Grand Warlord Voss, a conquering alien warlord [Rainek Kel’Voss first appeared in Justice Comics #261 in Jan. ’62 while a larger event involving his invasion forces was happening in Freedom Five that same month].
- Citizen Dawn, who leads a group of super-power supremacists [Dawn Cohen first appeared in Freedom Five #201 in January ’67].
- Akash'Bhuta, an ancient, malevolent Earth spirit and major nemesis of the Argent Adept [first appeared in his book Virtuoso of the Void #12 in April ’74].
- Omnitron, a borderline-sentient robot factory that decides that the best course of action is to kill all humans [first major plot kicks off in Freedom Five #312 and the simultaneously-released Singularity #1, but there had been lead-up rumblings going on for several months prior].
- Infinitor (mentioned previously).
- A few major threats that come from other realms of existence: GloomWeaver [otherworldly “god” with an active cult on Earth and is NightMist’s nemesis, introduced in the same issue] and Apostate [Fanatic’s nemesis, a “fallen angel” type introduced in her book Fanatic #25 May ’77].
- Additionally, a lot of minor villains are introduced over this time who stick around long enough to be notable. One such is Glamour [several people had used this name - this one is Aislin Allen and she first appears as Glamour in Freedom Five #270 in Oct. ’72].
The Gritty Era
- Where things had been getting bigger and weirder over time, this was a period where comics trends had been brought more down to Earth in a “grim and gritty” way that results in a lot more street-level characters getting attention. The Wraith gets the opportunity for some more home-turf, street-level stuff in Rook City. Much of her solo rogues gallery has always been street level, but we get some major stories here involving villains like Spite, Plague Rat, and (a bit later on) Heartbreaker.
- We’re also introduced to Citizen Dawn’s unpowered daughter, Expatriette [Amanda Cohen, first appearing in Mystery Comics vol. 2 #21 in March ’81] who has no powers and starts off as a killer specializing in targeting people with super powers. She’s Sentinel Comics first real anti-hero.
- Mr. Fixer is the premier martial artist in Sentinel Comics and is a reworking of an earlier hero Black Fist [Harry “Slim” Walker, first appeared as Black Fist in Justice Comics #129 in Jan. ’51, but appears as Mr. Fixer in Mystery Comics vol. 2 #145 in May ’86]. He’s considerably older in this modern incarnation and still works as an auto mechanic. He lives and works in one of the more dangerous parts of Rook City, which itself is a crime-riddled metropolis that becomes kind of the focal point of this gritty era. This is in stark contrast to Megalopolis, the home of the Freedom Five, and which is always positioned as more of a “shining city of the future”. In any event, Mr. Fixer’s main story is his fight against the crime in his city as exemplified by the criminal organization run by the Chairman and his right-had muscle the Operative (a former student of Mr. Fixer).
- Another character introduced in this era is Parse [Kim Howell, first appearance Mystery Comics vol. 2 #97 in May ’84]. Her “powers” are basically that she’s a “human computer”, but in her earliest appearances she has a lot of overlap with Expatriette in terms of what her stories were like - she perceives things that are wrong with the world (like crime) and sets about removing those problems (by killing the criminals).
- Unlike the previous era, many of the villains from this era don’t really make it out alive (due to the prevalence of characters who are willing to kill). Ambuscade is a notable exception as somebody who starts as a “hero hunter” [Ansel G. Moreau, first appearance in The Savage Haka #1 in April ’88] and eventually becomes something of a jack of all trades as far as villains go.
New Wave Era
- This represents a fair amount of shake-ups to the status quo.
- This kicks off with the founding of the team known as the Prime Wardens (Argent Adept, Fanatic, Haka, Captain Cosmic, and Tempest). They specialize in really over-the-top threats. Magic stuff. Otherworldly stuff. You name it. The Freedom Five tends to be up against more “normal” villain threats (mad scientists, rampaging robots, alien invasions, etc.), but the Prime Wardens fight the weird stuff.
- We also get a few time travelers in here. Visionary [Vanessa Long first appearance in Freedom Five #422] is a psychic soldier who’s only a one-time, one-direction time traveler - she’s come from the future to try to save her own younger self from what happened to her. The other is Chrono-Ranger, another re-worked character (this time from old Western comics) [Jim Brooks first appears as Chrono-Ranger in Freedom Five Annual #10 in July ’86]. He was a sheriff in the old west, but falls through a time portal to a far future wasteland and is enlisted by an artificial intelligence to become a bounty hunter throughout time to try to prevent that future from happening. Much of this explanation isn’t given right away and a lot of his story from his first appearance is told non-chronologically.
- Sky-Scraper is a size-changing alien (from the same species as Grand Warlord Voss - she’s notable as she’s the first member of the Thorathian race that we encounter who isn’t an antagonist). She’s first introduced as a gladiator in a cosmic arena [Portja Kir’Pro first appears in The Hero in the Arena #1 in mid-1985] before we discover her backstory as a freedom fighter back on her planet of Dok'Thorath. After being freed by the other heroes she becomes a hero on Earth herself.
- Here we also get Guise, who’s one of the major comedy characters of Sentinel Comics [Joseph King, first appearance as Guise in The Best Book #1]. There had been issues/stories here and there that were played for laughs occasionally over the years, but Guise is the first character invented to be comedic in nature (you could argue that his nemesis Wager Master [first appearance Freedom Five #174 in October ’64] was comedic as well, but while he himself was wacky and cartoonish, there was generally a darkness and sense of danger underlying the proceedings as he’s this powerful cosmic being who comes to Earth and forces the heroes to play in his stupid games - one such appearance was the origin of Guise himself). Guise was an average, everyday kind of jerk who gets powers. Along with that comes the ability to see through the conceit that he’s a character in a comic book and so he frequently addresses the reader directly, steals things from outside the comic, and breaks the 4th wall in a variety of other ways. Beyond that specific gimmick, his stories are also always ones written for comedy as he’s the most cartoonish character in Sentinel Comics (complete with being so resilient that there’s plenty of opportunity of slapstick violence without lasting harm).
- K.N.Y.F.E. [Paige Huntly, first appearance in this persona in Out of Time #1 April ’89] is an operative of an organization that’s been around for a long time (F.I.L.T.E.R.) that hunted down aliens and then branched out to hunting down heroes too. She can produce energy blades out of her body and is a real brawler type.
- A bit more on F.I.L.T.E.R., it really started even further back as a general “spy” thing, but got reimagined as they used it for various stories. The alien-hunters thing caught on when it was used as antagonists in Tempest’s early stories, but by the time we’re talking about here they operated across multiple realities monitoring and, when they deemed it necessary, capturing beings with superpowers. This is an aspect of this “new wave” era - the idea of the Multiverse coming into focus.
- There had been things like time travel stories or going to weird dimensions like the Realm of Discord, but as more and more stuff like that shows up and we get into continuity snarls as things don’t always line up properly, they decided that the explanation is that there is a Multiverse of many different realities where things might play out differently. They tried to nail down what was the canonical stuff that was true for the main reality that Sentinel Comics is usually telling stories in and relegated the stuff that doesn’t fit neatly into having happened in some other reality in the Multiverse. It’s at this point that F.I.L.T.E.R. is reinterpreted as being and organization that polices the Multiverse - operating from a base that’s outside of any specific reality in the Multiverse.
- If this sounds like maybe F.I.L.T.E.R. is maybe… not good, you’re right. K.N.Y.F.E. eventually realizes this herself and goes rogue, becoming a hero.
- More new heroes from this era:
- Unity [Devra Caspit, first appearing in comics in Freedom Five Annual #11 in June ’90] is a technopath who can make robots with her mind. She’s a fun character who becomes an intern for Dr. Meredith Stinson and a sidekick for the Freedom Five, but she’s also notable that she was originally created for a Freedom Five cartoon and was imported back into the comics from there. There had been a number of adaptations of Sentinel Comics characters in other media (Legacy had a radio serial back in the ’40s and there were Legacy and Wraith TV live-action shows in the intervening decades - Unity was in an animated show that was produced shortly before her introduction in comics). Her introduction into the comics was a divisive move that was vehemently resisted by some readers for a time, but she comes to be pretty well-loved on her own merits over time.
- The Naturalist [Michael Conteh first appeared in Tome of the Bizarre vol. 3 #24 in March ’90] capitalizes on the hyper-environmentalism of the era. He’s a corporate executive that learns the errors of his ways after he gains the ability to magically transform into a few different animal forms. His stories tend to fall into the cautionary tale/fable/public service announcement end of things.
- Major events from this era:
- Akash’Bhuta has a major event where she fights the Prime Wardens and, ultimately, the Freedom Five and other assorted heroes.
- Possibly the biggest event of this period (and indeed one of the largest events in Sentinel Comics history) is a large scale invasion of Earth by Grand Warlord Voss and his forces. This started with the notable event of Legacy being knocked out of the fight near the beginning by a huge laser blast. This is a huge blow to the heroes to have him taken down so quickly and prompts his teenage daughter to take up the Legacy mantle briefly in his absence [Pauline Felicia Parsons, born in Justice Comics #182 in July ’55, takes up arms here in both Freedom Five #441 and America’s Finest Legacy #181 in January ’87]. The line of Legacy heroes all inherit their predecessor’s powers plus a new one of their own, so she has all of her father’s powers plus the addition of laser eye beams. She’d been around as supporting cast for her father for a long time, but having her show up in costume was a big rallying point here, as was the return of her father to the field after his recovery with them fighting side-by-side. A major bit of fallout from this story is that Voss himself winds up banished outside of normal reality (first to the strange Realm of Discord and after a brief return is banished outside of reality altogether by NightMist) - his absence creates something of a power vacuum and destabilizes things happening out in space.
- The Iron Legacy story (first told here [America’s Finest Legacy #201 in Sep. ’88 and The Fall of Legacy one-shot issue the following month], revamped and expanded a few more times over the years) tells about one reality in the Multiverse where Felicia Parsons is killed by Baron Blade. With her dead, the line of Legacies dies with her father, who overcompensates by becoming an authoritarian tyrant and shows just how bad things could be if Legacy isn’t being a hero. At first it’s just a story showcasing this alternate universe, but crossover events into the “main” reality happened occasionally.
- Another is Vengeance. Baron Blade’s plots have failed again and again over the years. This time he puts together his own anti-Freedom Five team of villains, the Vengeful Five: Baron Blade himself (using mad science to try to give himself comparable physical might as Legacy) as well as specific opposition for the other members. Ermine [Cassandra Lilya] is a thief and longtime rival/nemesis of the Wraith. Fright Train [Steven Graves] a former squadmate and rival of Tyler Vance who’s undergone experimentation to make him a giant bruiser and a match for Bunker. Friction [Krystal Lee], a former intern of Tachyon who stole an experimental suit that gives her super speed as well, if not as controlled as Tachyon’s own powers. Finally, Proletariat [Aleksandr Tsarev], a former hero of the Soviet Union (first appearing as an ally of Legacy during World War II, later a Cold War villain) who could make duplicates of himself and had been cryogenically frozen, then thawed out by Baron Blade and manipulated into joining his team as a counter to Absolute Zero. Beyond this, Baron Blade also recruits as many other villains, major and minor, on Earth and off, as he can to all attack the heroes at once. This is a major shake-up in terms of the status quo and results in the destruction of the long-time Freedom Five headquarters, but in the aftermath a new one is constructed in Megalopolis itself: Freedom Tower (a skyscraper that looks like a giant F - it becomes something of a lightning rod of villain attacks afterwards, which it may as well as that means they’re not attacking other parts of the city).
- There is an important appearance of Kaargra Warfang and the Bloodsworn Colosseum and the introduction of the hero Sky-Scraper (mentioned earlier). The Colosseum had been an occasional feature over the last few decades (it shows up on a planet with a bunch of alien gladiators that people from the new planet have to fight - losers often get conscripted to remain as new gladiators; it’s not a funny situation but the comics are often a lot of fun considering the potential for interesting fights), but this one fleshed out the details a bit more and has some interesting side stories that have ramifications later on.
- The Dreamer event centers on a young girl named Vanessa Long - this reality’s version of the hero Visionary who may have been successful in preventing young Vanessa from having the same fate as herself, but that didn’t prevent her from manifesting her psychic abilities. Young Vanessa is comatose and her nightmares are taking physical form and causing problems. An additional twist in this period is that the Visionary is apparently not exactly what she seemed - she’s still acting as a hero, but she’s turned into what becomes known as Dark Visionary and the readership knows that her current heroism is an act and that she’s actually doing bad stuff in secret. It’s quite a long time before any of the other characters discover this.
- The War of Heliopolis was a story where the Ennead, a group of 9 Egyptian gods, show up opposing Ra. They defeat him and he has to make some changes to come back to defeat them. This story is important for both Ra and Fanatic who is a major supporting character for the arc (and lays some groundwork for a relationship between them).
- Another important story rivaling that of the Voss Invasion is Sunrise - a major Citizen Dawn story where she attacks Megalopolis with her Citizens of the Sun who had previously mostly just anonymous minions (with a few important ones named here and there) but now they’re fleshed out with a lot of distinct characters for the first time. This showcases just how dangerous they are individually, but also when they’re working in teams. The plot coincides with a solar eclipse which Dawn’s own powers can take advantage of and it’s a big deal. This large event can be seen as the end of this era of the comics bringing us into…
The Modern Era
- This really gets going with the creation of the team Dark Watch. This is made of Expatriette, Mr. Fixer, NightMist, and Setback [Pete Riske first appearance Mystery Comics vol. 2 #212 in April ’91] who had been around for a while and who had been a regular feature in Expatriette’s book.
- Some big character changes happened before this team formation, though. Mr. Fixer had actually been killed in a confrontation with the Operative and the Chairman and gets reanimated by a magical foe as an inciting incident for the team’s formation. NightMist had spent a long (subjective) time in an otherworldly magical realm and this experience fundamentally changes her.
- After a short time, the team also gains a new member in the Harpy, a rehabilitated Matriarch who starts as NightMist’s student in magic before, eventually, joining the team proper. A modern retelling of the Matriarch story is published to bring modern readers up to date on who she was/is.
- Another character who had also been around for a while is Omnitron-X. The tenth iteration of the Omnitron artificial intelligence was the first to attempt to understand humanity’s empathy. Upon installing an “empathy chip” into itself it immediately saw the evil of its prior versions and had time travelled back to help the heroes defeat the earlier version mentioned previously (along with further iterations in this timeline: a cosmic powered upgrade shortly after the original fight and then a version rebuilt by Baron Blade as part of the Vengeance event). Now we have the 4th iteration, a barely-self-aware factory that’s just continuously producing drones. Omnitron-X is involved in a major story now to shut it down for good, but in an apparent self-sacrifice. Unity eventually rebuilds it as Omnitron-U.
- A new addition to Sentinel Comics in this era are the Southwest Sentinels team. Their self-titled book [#1 in March 2011] is explicitly intended to be a self-contained, very new-reader-friendly book that doesn’t rely on knowledge of the broader continuity of Sentinel Comics. They’re popular enough that, inevitably, they wind up getting pulled into broader events after a few years, though.
- Another shake-up is the introduction of Akash'Thriya - a potentially-heroic version of the Akash’Bhuta Earth spirit after she’d been interfered with. She’s smaller, on a more human scale, and is shepherded along through this process by the Naturalist and the Argent Adept. [This version of her first appears in Virtuoso of the Void vol. 2 #87 in Jan. 2009.]
- A new character from this period was one that there was an attempt to editorially engineer a fan-favorite, which never works but they tried anyway: Benchmark [Randall Butler, first appearing in RevoCorp Presents #1 Jan. 2012]. He’s over-the-top good at everything, overshadowing established characters, and it all falls flat. Eventually they figure out how to use him right and he picks up some popularity, but it takes a while.
- New villains of this era include Miss Information [Amenia Twain first appeared in Freedom Five Annual #3 in Aug. ’59], she had been a secretary/administrative assistant/etc. for the Freedom Five almost since the beginning, but here [Freedom Five #657 in Jan. ’05] due to some cross-reality mind-swapping she turns on the Freedom Five as a traitor and sabateur. It’s a real rough time for them to be betrayed by somebody so close to them, but she is defeated (although she sticks around and eventually gains some reality-warping powers).
- Let’s rapid fire some more notable villains introduced here:
- La Capitan is a time traveling pirate.
- Deadline is an alien who comes to devastate Earth under the mistaken belief that doing so will stave off a greater disaster.
- Biomancer who makes bio-mechanical clones of people, inserting them into society to further his inscrutable plan (a running gimmick is that even in defeat he’s shown to still have that be part of whatever his larger plan is). He is also “gross” (with the whole bio-mechanical clone business being rather icky).
- Chokepoint - and update of a slightly older character (known then simply as Choke) who “hears” metal talking to her and she can manipulate it with her mind.
- The Operative no longer works for the Chairman, but was killed and brought back by the same ancient sorcerer that brought back Mr. Fixer who she now serves. That would be the Dragon Master, Zhu Long, who has been a side/background character for a long time as well.
- Citizens Hammer and Anvil were two of the more notable Citizens of the Sun [the guys here, once again, go into how handsome and amazing these two are - for newbies, that’s because the character designs are explicitly based on Adam and Christopher themselves] who are, in this era, operating on their own on a mission to find new recruits for the Citizens. Lets not say that everybody wants to be their friends, but you don’t want to be their enemies. Anvil is strong and steadfast and Hammer is
insanefocused and can set things on fire.
- Plague Rat has been contained by the corporation RevoCorp (first introduced back in the Gritty Era as a convenient “big company that has a good public face but does extremely shady stuff all the time” - they’re the Bad Science company) and used for various things. RevoCorp has been responsible for a variety of villains over the years, but they were also the ones behind Benchmark (he was part of their PR efforts).
- Anyway, all of this leads up to the OblivAeon event [lots of preliminary, leading-up-to-it stuff, but the event proper took place over the course of 2016]. This is the biggest crossover event in the history of Sentinel Comics and things have been building to it for a while. In that process, the Sentinel Comics staff went back through the history of the setting and found a bunch of events that hadn’t really been explained. Using those as inspiration, they crafted a story of what tied them all together. This let them retroactively say that there were a lot of major events that were all leading up to this story.
- OblivAeon is an extremely powerful cosmic entity that is trying to destroy the entire Multiverse. This involves taking all of the disparate realities that make it up and smashing them all together, annihilating them. As such, this is the biggest event in history. It crosses over into every title being published at the time and brings in not only the main reality’s heroes, but a lot of alternate realities’ heroes for the big battle. They can’t possibly go into it all here, but they recorded two entire episodes just to tell this story (Episodes 83 and 84 of this podcast).
- Several fan favorite heroes die, big parts of the world are destroyed and rebuilt, and the end of the event ends the Multiverse Era and leads to a new status quo. In true “I told you that story so I could tell you this one” fashion, we can get to the nominal reason for this episode which was a setting primer for the Sentinel Comics RPG.
The Post-OblivAeon Era
- One consequence of the OblivAeon story is that the “main” reality for Sentinel Comics winds up cut off from the Multiverse. This means that all of the things that required a connection to the Multiverse (alternate reality versions of our characters showing up, most ways to time travel, etc.) are no longer possible. Other planes of existence that are still part of this single universe are still around (like the Realm of Discord and other similar places), but alternate versions of the universe are currently inaccessible.
- This era kicks off with an acknowledgement that the OblivAeon event happened a few months ago and devastated a lot of the world. Many cities were completely destroyed and millions of people died. It was a major, world-wide tragedy.
- At this point, Megalopolis (the “shining city of the future” where a lot of stories take place) is still in the process of rebuilding. It was one of the hardest-hit cities that wasn’t just entirely obliterated like the southern California city of San Alonso was. Megalopolis just happened to be a place where a lot of the fight took place. Freedom Tower was destroyed, for example. Rook City winds up probably about as damaged as Megalopolis was, but it lacked the functional infrastructure and so is slower to rebuild.
- A notable event that took place during OblivAeon is that Akash’Thriya sacrificed herself to protect a bunch of heroes and mitigate the destruction in Megalopolis. This resulted in a staggeringly huge tree growing in the middle of the city (known as Akash’Flora). It’s big enough to dominate the skyline and has proven to be a key component to the rebuilding process as it’s tied itself into the city’s power grid and provides (seemingly) unlimited power - although the city leadership advises everyone to be cautious and responsible as this is a new development. We really push that idea of Megalopolis as a “city of the future” here where it’s able to also start being extremely eco-friendly as it both lacks a need for traditional power sources but needs to take care of “nature” in the form of not killing the tree. It’s not a realistic “green city” by any means, but that’s the direction it’s going.
- Another consequence of OblivAeon is the world’s view on super heroes. While, yes, they’d been around and were well known for a long time, this potentially-world-ending event that left millions dead that was only stopped by the action of the heroes really made everyone else sit up and pay attention in a way that hadn’t been the case before. A response is that the Freedom Five ceases to exist - instead they reform a larger organization called the Sentinels of Freedom and open the Freedom Academy with the explicit purpose of training up a lot more heroes.
- The Sentinels of Freedom still operates as a hero team and the former Freedom Five members are still part of it, with one exception. Paul Parsons VIII retires from active heroics, with his daughter Felicia stepping into the Legacy role full-time. This is notable as it’s the first time the mantle has passed due to retirement rather than the death of the previous Legacy. Paul takes up something as more of an administrative role (and an ambassadorial one with a new organization G.L.O.B.A.L. that will be talked about shortly) under the name Heritage.
- Legacy (Felicia), Tachyon, Bunker, Wraith, and Absolute Zero are often joined by Time-Slinger, formerly Chrono-Ranger, who still has some ability to manipulate time (and has the AI that he worked with uploaded into cybernetic replacements for much of his body), but after this reality was cut off from the Multiverse can no longer time travel as he once did.
- They all teach at Freedom Academy (as do other established heroes on occasion), which is largely teaching teenagers to be a new generation of heroes, but there are also adults who have either only recently acquired powers, have had them a while but are only now working to get in on the hero thing, or even people without powers but who have some kind of angle they’re leveraging to be a hero anyway (like Wraith did).
- Unity, the former Freedom Five sidekick, has moved on to be part of her own team (more on this later).
- A notable set of students at Freedom Academy are the team Daybreak (notable in that they get their own comic title at the beginning of this new era of comics - they’re meant to be fairly representative of what students at Freedom Academy are dealing with, though):
- Headlong [Brandon Bradley] - a speedster type that works by manipulating friction.
- Rockstar [Megan Lee] - a brawler who can form “rocks” around parts of her body (and also has aspirations to be a famous musician).
- Muse [Vanessa Long] - now a few years older than she was when she was the Dreamer but haunted by the horrible things she caused, even though they were outside of her control (her family hates/is scared of her for example). She’s the youngest member of Daybreak and also has one of the darkest stories, the competition she has for that “title” is…
- Muerto [Thiago Diaz] - he had been a fan-favorite supporting cast member in Rook City stories for years. He was a good kid who wanted to help out and was excited about one day being a superhero himself. He was also in Freedom Tower on a field trip when OblivAeon destroyed it. The weird cosmic energy involved in that action, along with the variety of weird mystical relics and strange technologies in the tower’s museum combined to cause him to come back as a “ghost” that normally appears as something of a “robot” made of wreckage from the tower, but who can also haunt/possess electronic devices.
- Aeon Girl [Windy Farrum] - This is very complicated to explain. She’s basically just a bunch of cosmic energy in a shell. There’s a whole Daybreak episode that goes into it. [Bonus context! The villain Deadline, after being defeated in his earlier attempt to stave off a disaster for Earth returns in a more straightforward “heroic” mode of operation as Lifeline to help fight OblivAeon. He’s turned to using Blood Magic as his modus operandi for this purpose and part of what that means is the ability to manipulate the essence of other beings. One such action he took involved collecting a lot of OblivAeon’s own power into himself and, to use it up so that it wouldn’t be destroyed by it, he used that energy to create a new being. That’s Aeon Girl - a blank slate being of enormous potential that is made of OblivAeon’s own power, but focused through a hero’s actions. Lifeline’s name is Tarogath Farrum and she picked “Windy” as a first name just because she liked it. So one could say that she’s younger than Muse as she’s only a few months old at this point, but she’s kind of a special case for most things you’d say about her anyway.]
- Rook City was probably the hardest hit of cities that were affected by OblivAeon without being totally destroyed. There are a few factions involved in its reconstruction.
- Pike Industries - this was a large company headquartered in Rook City and run by longtime CEO Graham Pike, known to some heroes and to the comics readership as The Chairman. Graham had been running things in the city much longer than you’d expect - he was reclusive and so the public assumed he was extremely elderly by the present, but he’d been using various chemical and mystical means to remain in peak physical condition. After OblivAeon, Pike Industries steps up to help rebuild and, as far as the public is concerned or aware, this is just a local corporation taking a leadership role in rebuilding the city. This sets up some difficult situations for the heroes as they need to oppose him for the shady stuff the company does behind the scenes and the role the criminal Organization he runs has in the city’s criminal operations, but on a public front he’s a savior and philanthropist.
- Montgomery Industries - they hadn’t mentioned this yet, but the Wraith’s civilian life is as the CEO of her family’s company (so a lot of her solo stories involved the balancing act between corporate life and nighttime vigilante). It’s got branch offices all over, but the Montgomery family was from Rook City and so they’ve always had a presence here as well. She’s also putting a lot of corporate efforts towards rebuilding the city, while also keeping her heroic identity a secret (and undermining the influence of Pike Industries).
- RevoCorp - the company that’s working at cross purposes with both of the others, is likely held with the most suspicion by everybody, but also likely actually doing the best job in the process of rebuilding. “But wait” one might say “isn’t that the ‘evil science’ company?” Yes - but there’s a lot of corporate intrigue here involving yet another company, Aldred Industries, the company responsible for the creation of Omnitron. After growing up seeing the fallout of her family’s company’s creations (although in this case “accidentally evil” rather than “purposefully evil” like some of the others), Aviva Natasha Aldred decided to take things in a different direction. She takes her share of the family fortune from Aldred Industries and creates the Aldred Foundation - initially an environmental non-profit. Eventually they absorb an international energy company (Conteh Energy - the Naturalist sells her his controlling share in the company for $1, gives her a bunch of dirt on the other shareholders, and he washes his hands of the whole thing to be a hero full time). Aviva quickly rolls Conteh’s resources up into the Foundation and uses that to buy RevoCorp. It still operates in the US as RevoCorp, just now as a division of the Aldred Foundation. The difference now is that the public-facing “good company” image is the reality of how the company operates now rather than just a front. The various role-reversals in public perception vs. reality is some of the fun story stuff going on here.
- This is the named city that actually got things the worst during OblivAeon, in that it was (almost) entirely destroyed as OblivAeon’s first overt, personal action on Earth in this reality. It was a west-coast city [in California - Megalopolis and Rook City are in Connecticut and Pennsylvania respectively] that housed a movie company, Champion Studios. This is the only part of the city that wasn’t destroyed for complicated plot reasons explained in detail in the OblivAeon episodes [short version, one of OblivAeon’s servants was setting up a double-cross and set up something of a base of operations in the studio and protected it].
- What’s left of Champion Studios acts as a nucleus for a new city that springs up in the aftermath, San Lazarus. Given the position of being OblivAeon’s first strike, the city growing here stands as a testament to human resilience.
- Mordengrad is a small, eastern-European principality. It’s a city-state that is the home of and ruled by Baron Blade [and kept independent through his actions]. It’s industrial capacity is responsible for the mad scientists various doomsday devices over the years (which have a tendency for backfiring on him somehow).
- A notable occurrence during OblivAeon was a non-insignificant number of villains teaming up with the heroes. Baron Blade was one such, working with the Freedom Five under the name Luminary. The heroes were justifiably suspicious of his motives, but he brought a lot of technical know-how and inventions to the fight.
- Of course, he eventually double-crosses the heroes. He’s been working with the villains the whole time.
- But wait! Then he triple-crosses the villains! The heroes were in on the ruse and it got Luminary in close enough to the villains to sacrifice himself at the end to win the day and save the Multiverse. Even Legacy had to admit at the funeral that, at the end, Ivan Ramonat was a hero.
- He faked his death and was back to his old ways within a few months. This isn’t the first time he’s had to so so. He’s quickly captured by the heroes just a few months later once he gets up to his old schemes again and is currently in prison. The people of Mordengrad are happy to know that he’s alive, though.
- Due to various injuries over the years, Baron Blade has had to replace one of his arms with a metallic, nano-tech prosthetic that he can use for a variety of purposes besides normal arm stuff.
- Insula Primalis is an island in the arctic circle that, due to its active volcano, remains nearly tropical. Another interesting feature is that it has a lot of dinosaurs living on it.
- This is also the location where Citizen Dawn built her Citadel of the Sun (inside the volcano) as a base of operations.
- If dinosaurs that will try to eat you, an active volcano, and a group of superpower supremecists aren’t dangerous enough, recent events have also resulted in this island becoming the new Nexus of the Void (the Void being another magical, extra-planar realm - heroes recently had to travel there and brought back a Void Sliver which was implanted on Insula Primalis). Each reality in the Multiverse has a Nexus tied to a physical place in the normal world, if the Nexus is destroyed a new one will eventually form, and Insula Primalis is in the process of becoming the new one as Nexus Primalis after the previous one was destroyed by OblivAeon.
- By the present, the Citizens aren’t an active presence on the island anymore (nobody actually knows where they went - don’t worry about it), but the process of becoming Nexus Primalis has resulted in the flora and fauna of the island (and the volcano itself) are being infused with Void Magic and the elemental spirits that were native to the Void. So we get some really cool elemental spirit dinosaurs out of this whole process. Good times.
- Prime Wardens - they’ve had some shake-ups. A lot of this is established in the 6-issues that comprise the Sentinel Comics Roleplaying Game Starter Kit.
- Argent Adept is still nominally the “leader”, but while before he had a very broad “protect the world” kind of mandate, he’s got some particular areas of focus now. First, he’s become something of a “spiritual gardener” as he tends to Akash’Flora. Second, he’s actively looking for more people who could become Virtuosos of the Void (yes, that Void just mentioned above) like he is and do the same kind of music-based magic.
- Fanatic is still going through a rough time in the process of grieving Ra, who she’d had a… rather intense relationship with given their similarly over-the-top personalities. He had died in an early phase of the OblivAeon event along with the rest of the Egyptian gods who were around at the time (the Ennead and Anubis, guardian of the Underworld), striking the first blow to actually injure OblivAeon. Until that point, nothing the heroes threw at him had done anything. The 11 of them cracked his defenses, opening him up to further attacks, but the counter-attack destroyed them all. Fanatic is not over him. Additionally, Fanatic had broken her own sword, Absolution, quite a while ago. During OblivAeon, La Comodora (an older version of the time traveling pirate La Capitan who, like other villains, had changed her ways by now and was a hero) gave Fanatic a new sword that had belonged to another Fanatic from an alternate timeline. This black-bladed sword is called Course (not as in “rough”, but as in the flow of a river, or blood in your veins). That Fanatic wasn’t as pure-of-heart as ours, though. I’m sure that will probably never be a problem.
- Haka is different. Our Haka spent a lot of time going through the mist portals (see the OblivAeon episodes) to other realities to recruit additional heroes to help in the fight. In the process, he got lost out there somewhere. However, one of the heroes who came to the main reality to fight and is now stuck here (because the Multiverse got cut off) was another version of Haka, a Maori woman named Arataki Wakarewarewa. She’s recognizable as “Haka” (and for reasons explained in previous episodes is the only other Haka in the Multiverse at this point), but has had different life experiences and is her own distinct person from the one readers have known for decades.
- Visionary, freed of the Dark Visionary personality that had hitched a ride in her head for years, is now on the team.
- Anubis. Yes, the Egyptian god had died fighting OblivAeon, but part of how they work in Sentinel Comics is that they each empowered a relic that contains their essence and so they can live on by finding a suitable person to take it up and become their avatar (as Dr. Blake Washington Jr. had taken up the Staff of Ra to become the fiery hero). This was actually the first time that the original “god” had died and so this is the first person to be empowered by his relic - Marty Adams, Dr. Washington’s research assistent (who, due to a situation involving a curse many years ago had actually had the occasional run-in with Anubis). While the Rod of Anubis has obviously survived, the whereabouts of any of the other relics (or even if they’re still in existence after OblivAeon’s attack) are unknown. While the “position” of Ra involved a lot of “setting things on fire”, Anubis’ role has more to do with the knowledge of life, death, and everything in between.
- Dark Watch:
- NightMist no longer exists (it has to do with the “mist portals” mentioned previously - she was responsible for the portals to other realities that allowed additional heroes to come to fight OblivAeon, but she expended herself in the process).
- Setback is a good deal more responsible than ever before.
- Expatriette’s tactical, planner nature makes her a good leader for the team.
- Pinion (formerly Harpy, formerly the Matriarch) is still doing stuff with both birds and magic, but is also still learning. She’s inherited all of NightMist’s old tomes and other magical artifacts as the team now operates out of NightMist’s old home. She’s trying to step into NightMist’s old role on the team and, honestly, isn’t quite ready for that. However, she does have a pretty good mentor figure who’s still around.
- Mantra (formerly Mr. Fixer, formerly Black Fist). As alluded to earlier, when this team first formed, Mr. Fixer was not exactly himself as he had been resurrected in a weird way (a close approximation is to think of his body being restored and reanimated, his spirit being summoned as a ghost, then forcing them together in to a “ghost haunting its own zombie” situation). This left him not only in a strange technically undead state, but also in spiritual disharmony - he was a bitter, bitter person during this period. However, during the OblivAeon event, the team helped free a powerful cosmic being that had been taken over by OblivAeon and, as partial repayment of that debt, it “fixed” him - since his body and spirit were already together, it just tweaked things so that he was just alive again. He’s now once again at peace and in harmony with himself, and that person is now Mantra. He’s still a capable combatant when necessary, but is very much leaning into the mentor/teacher role now.
- G.L.O.B.A.L. - as a result of the greater awareness of super villains/cosmic threats in the world, the United Nations started a new project that has since spun off as its own organization, Geocentric Limited Operations for the Benefit of Advanced Lifeforms. It’s a team that’s more or less the “super hero U.N.” with members from countries all over the world. Its administrator is the former U.S. Senator from Connecticut, Emily Parsons, wife of Heritage and mother of Legacy. Towards the end of the Multiverse Era there were even hints of a storyline where she’d have run for President, but instead she thinks she can make a bigger difference in the world through this group. The U.S. representative hero is Heritage himself (there’s a fun bit of dialogue near the beginning of this stuff where he jokingly says to her, “Well, Mrs. Parsons, it looks like you’ve got more power than I do now.” To which her response is along the lines of “Oh, I’ve had more power than you for a long time now, dear”).
- So, the OblivAeon event was used as an excuse by Sentinel Comics to kind of do a soft-reboot to a lot of the ongoing continuity. A hard break point where they could reset some things and establish some simpler rules for the world given that they are no longer allowing some of the crazier things like time travel.
- As such, there is a line-wide relaunch of titles. Some returning with new volumes, others are entirely new (although possibly with returning characters). See the previous episode Publisher’s Note 3 for a more full description of each of them, but the titles themselves are:
- Legacy - starring Felicia Parsons
- Wraith - the first time she’s ever had her own self-titled comic instead of just being a main feature of Mystery Comics
- Cosmic Tales - a returning title of more space stories
- Mystery Comics - another returning title, but now an anthology book telling the street-level and/or Rook City stories that it always had, just specifically no longer Wraith-centric.
- Sentinels of Freedom - about that team fighting crime, but also featuring their work at Freedom Academy.
- Prime Wardens - another returning title, although now with the new team composition.
- Daybreak - about the teen hero team.
- Time-Slinger - crime fighting, teaching, but the real meat of this book is him dealing with the residual weirdness around time travel now and how OblivAeon’s defeat didn’t fix everything.
- Justice Comics - another returning book, one of the longest-running original titles, but now being explicitly a general crime fighting one that can involve a lot of fun and interesting team-ups with a variety of heroes. It’s meant to be a good on-boarding book for new readers.
- The Paradigms - It’s a team established by the under-new-management RevoCorp as part of their PR efforts with “sponsored” heroes. This is where Unity wound up after leaving the Freedom Five to establish her own identity beyond being just their sidekick (with her own lab and everything provided by RevoCorp). Benchmark is also here and the two of them are essentially co-leaders for the group.
- StarCrossers - a duo book starring K.N.Y.F.E. and Sky-Scraper (who have both assumed new hero names: Rival and Vantage respectively) having space adventures together. Their first mission being the transportation/extradition of a war criminal who’s captured after the OblivAeon event back to his homeworld for trial.
- Haka - Arataki’s solo book detailing her journey to find her place in this new world and the fact that she’s stepping into the shoes of another beloved hero.
- Arcane Tales - another long-running book that previously was the usual home of Ra, but is now the solo book for Anubis.
- Dark Watch - the latest iteration of that team’s book.
- Wildlife - the solo book for the hero formerly known as the Naturalist. His powers are starting to get out of his control while he’s still working to save the natural world.
- Fashion - Many decades ago, Sentinel Comics published a teen romance/fashion comic called Stylin’ Shirley. They eventually rolled that character into the main super hero comics line, but people didn’t like her being shoehorned into the hero role and her title was dropped. Eventually, she was seen again as a prisoner of Kaargra Warfang as a gladiator in the Bloodsworn Colosseum - during OblivAeon the Colosseum was destroyed while on Earth, so now she’s home, but has had quite a strange experience. This is her return as a hero (now going by Fashion) - she has a lot of inventions incorporated into different outfits, so she can change outfits to change her “class”. They will be doing an episode that goes into more detail on her in February.
- Tome of the Bizarre - another very long-running anthology title. This is the general weird/creepy/magic catch-all title. At this stage it’s often pretty campy (intentionally), but you still occasionally get some good horror stories in here.
- Guise - shortly before OblivAeon, the Scholar had become an important mentor figure for Guise, but during OblivAeon the Scholar had to sacrifice himself to save Guise by fusing his Philosopher’s Stone with Guise’s body. This act also greatly changed Guise’s nature (before he was mostly a plasticy shape-shifter, but with some of the Scholar’s alchemical powers infused with him he can actually transmute his body into different materials). Guise is still getting up to his standard issue hi-jinx, but is also trying to live up to the sacrifice made on his behalf.
- G.L.O.B.A.L. - the book featuring a large cast of international heroes.
- Virtuosos of the Void - Argent Adept’s “solo” book, where he’s on the hunt for other potential Virtuosos of the Void out there in the world because there are threats in the Void that only they can be properly equipped to handle.
- Now, if there’s stuff they’ve talked about in this episode that you want to know more about, there’s probably an episode (or more) that goes into greater detail. [The official Sentinel Comics wiki has a podcast index page that’s likely easier to navigate than the podcast website, but each episode’s page has a link directly to the episode in question.] This episode is meant as more of a one-stop-shop broad overview to get people ready to play around in the world of Sentinel Comics.
- Additionally, all of the characters they’ve talked about either have or will have a bio in RPG materials. A lot of them are in the core rulebook that’s out now, but others might be slated for future supplemental titles.
- For the newbies: this is a standard part of most episodes where they read questions submitted by listeners (on this form and answer them (or give cryptic non-answers if there are spoilers for stories they haven’t told yet).
- What are the requirements to enroll at Freedom Academy? Do you have to have super powers or can anyone who wants to fight the forces of evil enroll? Can non-powered people design suits or other tech to aid them in crime-fighting? Are there age limits (either minimum or maximum)? Are people ever sought out and recruited? There are unpowered individuals, but you need to have some preexisting angle that you can apply (e.g. top tier gymnast who could be an excellent hand-to-hand fighter with some pointers, etc.). There’s probably also a psych profile done to try to weed out potential supervillains (although some sneaking through is a good potential plot point). There aren’t really age limits as long as you are fit enough to be effective as a crime fighter. There is even a relatively secret program for handling/training young kids - like if your age in years is a single digit, but you’ve developed powers that need some control there’s a place for you. They don’t want knowledge of that to be widely known as it’s a potential vulnerability. There’s also likely a sliding scale for tuition along with other financial aid kinds of things and corporate sponsorships (Montgomery Industries sponsors a lot). Tachyon’s various patents also likely help pay for things. Along those lines, the school would help with designing suits and other tech for students who fall along those lines, but it’s going to be along the lines of helping to refine an idea that the person already has - they’re not going to just hand this stuff to non-powered people, it’s helping non-powered people who already have that edge to become better. There are definitely people who get recruited. The Sentinels of Freedom might be involved in a fight somewhere, somebody jumps in to help and then gets the sales pitch for enrolling. They likely get a lot of non-powered people trying to enroll just because, though, so that screening process is likely very important (and also likely results in a fair amount of “why don’t you join the police/become a social worker?” responses as legitimate ways to help that aren’t the difficult road of being a non-powered superhero).
- Is all schooling done on-site or would children of school age attend normal schooling elsewhere? Are there extracurricular activities (sports or theater or something)? They have normal classes so you can just enroll there for your entire education, or you can take normal classes at another school and just come in for the hero-related stuff (even if that’s on nights or weekends - they have flexible options). They might have some club sports, but not an organized “school team” for anything. Same with things like theater. They have enough liberal arts courses to cover these things without there being officially sponsored extracurriculars. The logic here is that you’re attending this school to become a hero, not to become an actor. They do have partnerships with the local schools to allow students to participate there if they desire, though.
- If a student wants to maintain a secret identity, do they go around masked in classes too? Some students do have secret identities and it’s part of the culture of the school that secret identities are sacred. If somebody is maintaining their secret identity, you don’t ask, you don’t tease, you don’t treat them any differently. They do have the occasional class that is segregated into students with and without secret identities, but that’s not universal. Revealing somebody else’s identity is grounds for instant expulsion and there are legal ramifications for doing so even after you’re out.
- Does the Wraith risk revealing her identity in hand-to-hand combat training? She’s used to fighting/training in costume, so it’s not hard for her to maintain [plus, I’m not particularly worried about her not being in control of a training situation considering her skill level)].
- Does Heritage have a database of students that could theoretically be compromised? The Academy in general does rather than Heritage in particular, but between people like Tachyon being in charge of the tech and the simple fact of where it is makes it probably one of the most secure servers in the world.
- [This letter references the Cult of Gloom - the villain GloomWeaver has a followers in the Cult of Gloom within the world of Sentinel Comics; it’s also become something of a running gag in the letters over the years for people to write in as members. It’s a lot of fun.] You’ve mentioned in the past that there were “space cops” but that they’re gone now - were these the Order of the Knights Cosmic (a group featured in the RPG livestream games that Christopher ran a while back now)? What did they do other than “have giant mecha” and “fight laser dragons”? Ever any run-ins with the Cult of Gloom or would that be below the scope they generally deal with? The easy part is that the Cult would be below their scope. You nailed it, though. The “space cops” were the Order of the Knights Cosmic. The heritage of that order is something that is present in the background of some events in Sentinel Comics, but it hasn’t really come to the forefront yet.
- In episode 144 you said there were 5 members of the Paradigms; you said that Unity, Benchmark, and Parse were on the team but that you weren’t going to tell us the other two, but by process of elimination you have! (assuming that you’re not pulling a fast one by having characters on multiple teams):
- NightMist, Scholar, and Akash’Thriya are dead (for various definitions of dead), La Comodora is stranded outside of Time and Space, and our original Haka is lost out in the Multiverse.
- Time-Slinger (formerly Chrono-Ranger) and Heritage (Paul Parsons VIII, formerly Legacy) are teaching at Freedom Academy and Legacy (Felicia Parsons) and the rest of the former Freedom Five are now in the Sentinels of Freedom.
- Captain Cosmic is lost in space and Void Guard (formerly the Southwest Sentinels: Mainstay, Dr. Medico, Writhe, and Idealist) are having adventures in space along with Lifeline.
- Dark Watch, minus NightMist, are still doing their thing in Rook City where Stuntman (Ansel G. Moreau, a reformed Ambuscade) is now a private investigator.
- Prime Wardens are now Argent Adept, Fanatic, the new Haka, Anubis, and Visionary.
- Daybreak are new, but they’re on this team.
- Sky-Scraper and K.N.Y.F.E. (under new names) are also out having space adventures.
- Luminary is back to being Baron Blade.
- I think I recall you saying that Omnitron-U specifically wasn’t on the Paradigms.
- Tempest is in G.L.O.B.A.L. and working with the U.N.
- Guise is starting his own team, the Neighborhood Watch.
- That just leaves Naturalist and the new person who picks up the Staff of Ra - Naturalist’s back story would give him a head start in dealing with corporate things and making sure that RevoCorp is sticking to its guns on this whole “not being evil” thing and it’s possible for the new avatar of Ra to be a tech person - possibly a RevoCorp scientist who was studying it. I guess it’s also possible that they’re two entirely new heroes, but it seemed less likely given that there were 2 spots left and 2 heroes I hadn’t accounted for anywhere.
- Those were some fine guesses, but wrong on both counts. They’ve talked about Naturalist becoming Wildlife and getting his own book and they’ve never said that anybody has taken up the Staff of Ra (indeed, earlier in this episode they’ve mentioned that the Rod of Anubis was the only Egyptian relic discovered so far).
- In episode 94 [which discusses a bunch of alternate-reality heroes who came to help against OblivAeon] you said that Lucky Break and Bannerette were co-leaders of a team called the Paradigms - you’ve been careful to not mention the final two members of the new team in the current era, so are they (or some other members of that other reality’s team) the remaining two here and that’s the reason for the name? No, that is not the reason the new team is called that in-universe. It’s a case of the writers of Sentinel Comics reusing a name.
- Why is Fright Train so into trains (it seems a weird fascination for a soldier)? Everybody has an interest in something - who would be the “normal” kind of person to be into trains? Anybody can be a “train guy”. The question is “who is his interest in trains hurting?” and the answer is “a lot of people” (and not just because he charges into people and things, but the sheer quantity and quality of the train puns are truly harrowing).
- Why does Ermine have white hair in the card game but blonde hair in the RPG? The intent has always been that she’s a platinum blonde, which sometimes just gets drawn as white.
- You’ve mentioned that Atlantis [context: the Ruins of Atlantis are a major recurring environment in the history of Sentinel Comics] was built to stave off some calamity and then fell into ruins - who constructed Atlantis and how did they foresee the event they were trying to prevent? It was built by the Atlanteans and who they are is also how there were able to foresee the problem. Their ancient civilization was made of practitioners of the most ancient, raw, and powerful form of magic - they were the most powerful magicians the world has ever seen and likely will ever see. Them going about their business regarding that drew the attention of some otherworldly being from beyond reality that came to the mortal realm to consume them - so them stopping that being was them dealing with a problem that they themselves had created.
- What was Atlantis built to stop? Well, it was built to just be the city where the Atlanteans lived. They reworked it in its entirety to become a magical seal to hold back that dread entity, though. Then they sank their own city to the bottom of the ocean to keep it away from anybody who might ever accidentally undo that seal.
- Where they trying to prevent OblivAeon or some other terrible thing? Something other than OblivAeon. It’s less bad than OblivAeon broadly speaking, but likely just as bad for Earth in particular. There’s also a different level of intelligence involved as OblivAeon was a very calculating, planning sort and this thing is more just “devour everything”.
- What happened to the inhabitants of Atlantis? Almost all of them died. This was part of the spell used to create the seal.
- What happened that either killed them or forced them to abandon Atlantis? See the previous answers. While they’ve been cagey through their answers here, if you have the core rulebook already, the answer of what this entity is can be found there - xxtz’Hulissh.
- You’ve mentioned that Cueball [a minor villain with a pool-ball theme] has 15 powers corresponding to the 15 standard pool balls - what are those powers? Their cheap cop-out answer here is that it’s never spelled out in the comics what the 15 powers are and, indeed, over the years he’s exhibited more than 15 powers. The deal here is that he’s an inventor and the suit has 15 “nodes” for where he can assign a device to, so he just swaps them out as he sees fit. Flight, lasers, clouds of power-suppressing gas, etc. He’s versatile, the writers just have him have whatever powers they need him to have for the story, and there’s not a consistent layout for what number is any given power.
- How does G.L.O.B.A.L. go about recruiting new members? What benefits are offered? How much political oversight does it provide for heroes (say, teams like Dark Watch that can tend towards extreme solutions to problems)? G.L.O.B.A.L. doesn’t provide oversight for outside heroes like that. It’s an international organization that has member heroes from the various nations of the world. That being said, Heritage might come back from a meeting or something and have some suggestions for what some U.S.-based heroes should be doing. They’re not “giving orders” so much as monitoring everything and working with its member representatives to make sure that things that need dealing with are dealt with - especially international or global threats. For example, if somebody is setting up a death ray on an oil rig in international waters, G.L.O.B.A.L. would try to see if there are any heroes in the nearest countries who are available to go handle it. One of Emily Parsons’ main goals with it is to keep the number of hands involved in this process low - you want to be able to respond to threats quickly without needing to spend a lot of time in committees. As such, they try to remain agile with just the best-of-the-best from each country (or maybe better to say the one who’s best able to represent their nation in this regard) so that they can make the necessary decisions quickly. They also try very hard to remain out of politics.
Section on the “Off the Rails” Adventure - Spoilers Ahead
- What happened to Thermos? For context, this adventure features a number of Lieutenant-grade minor villains. Two of them [Current and Cold Shoulder] had been mentioned in previous episodes as having worked with a heat-manipulator named Thermos [pronounced /θɚmos/ not /θɚməs/ like the vacuum flask company - yes the jokes at his expense are part of the gimmick]. The answer here is that Thermos probably doesn’t warrant being sent to the moon. He’s still around somewhere.
- Had Current and Firestarter appeared in the pages of Sentinel Comics before? If so, under what noms de guerre? They appeared under those names. Current worked with Thermos as mentioned above and Firestarter was a minor Legacy villain (mentioned in the Lightspeed story arc episode and the Shipping episode respectively).
- Friction is dead? I don’t buy it - this sounds like another “There is no future for Grand Warlord Voss” fake-out, do does her consciousness carry forward into the energy that she dissipates into or what? They’re not going to answer this. Funny, this sounds like a question that was asked a long long time ago rather than specifically for this adventure. I wonder what it’s doing here… Anyway, on to the next question.
- When I was reading through the adventure, I saw that the villain’s alias was Krystal Lee - what is she doing back and what are her plans/what will she be doing? Oh, that’s why, Krystal Lee was formerly known as Friction and is now back under a new name. The bio in the adventure goes into what happened to her - the jist is that she’s now always moving so fast that she has to slow herself down enormously just to interact with normal reality at all. She’s almost a reverse-speedster now in that she has to slow down in order to do things. It takes such focus that distractions or other things that break her concentration send her molecules back into a too-fast-to-interact-with-things state.
Back out of Spoilers for One Last Letter
- Question for Adam, you’ve mentioned before that you have a long list of artists that you consider to be better than yourself, but looking at the card game and now the RPG shows that you’re no slacker yourself. While it’s clear that you’ve improved over time, that evidence itself is promising to people like me who are still early in their art journey. Regarding the RPG, what did you struggle the most with? What strategies did you employ to help? Any tips for people just getting started as digital artists or who just want to branch out of their niche? First off, it’s important to note that the RPG is the first Sentinel Comics product to feature art by people other than Adam, so not everything in there is by him (although a lot is). Regarding the long list of “better” artists - it’s important to remember that there’s always a list like that for everyone (regardless of creative field). Know where you stand. Have people to look up to. He’s glad that the old art is encouraging, but that doesn’t make it less difficult for him to look at given that he knows he can do better now. His biggest struggle were the comic-panel examples-of-play because they were tedious. Accent art and the random characters were fun since they were unique and you get to play around more and cut loose with the creativity. Another tricky thing for him is perspective. Which leads into tips for a digital artist: ditch Photoshop. Use Clip Studio or a few others like it. He uses Clip Studio and it has perspective rollers built in. Learn to draw on paper first. Get used to drawing fast, big lines and draw by rotating from your elbow, not the wrist (this makes for smoother lines). An important way for creative people to improve is to be able to know the ways in which you are currently not good and working to shore up those aspects of your work. That’s often hard, but one way to do so is to absorb the work of others. Christopher gets better at writing, in part, by reading and specifically reading a variety of kinds of things. You want to be on a trajectory such that you’re able to see how you’re bad at something, work to improve that, and by then you’ve hopefully gotten better to the point where you are able to recognize the ways that you’re still bad and then work to improve there, and so on. Getting out of your niche? Try to emulate a variety of artists, but don’t really worry about “your niche” as much. That will just come naturally. Work on your fundamentals. There’s a saying “Style is all the things you do wrong.” There’s also just the amount of practice you do - try new stuff and even if you don’t succeed in what you were going for, use that ability to analyse why it went wrong and use that experience to improve. They forget Malcolm Gladwell’s name, but bring up his idea that it takes basically 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at anything. You’ve got to put in that time. Adam also brings up one that everybody’s got 100,000 bad drawings in them, so better to get them out now.
- I’ve wondered if I could find the courage to put my work out there in public, but it’s nice having you as a role-model and it makes me feel like I will eventually and maybe like I’m a real artist. Yes, do that as soon as possible. Like, just make a DeviantArt account and start posting things. Learn to have a thick skin and how to take criticism. The life of an artist is fraught with insults. Learn to take even mean comments as a learning opportunity. If somebody says that your hands look terrible, practice drawing hands. Use these things as sign-posts in how to direct your work to always be improving rather than just as something that shuts you down.