The Letters Page: Episode 172
Writers Room: A Day in the Life — Absolute Zero
Time for a nice tall frosty one!
Run Time: 1:33:19
We do some marketing goofs, at least partially inspired by Sentinels of the Multiverse: Definitive Edition currently on Kickstarter!
But then! We get into telling the story of the issue, which we actually do in a very non-sequential/chronological way! The actual order of the stories in the issue is clear and unpackable, but we get a bit obtuse about it. But that ends up creating some moments that we're particularly proud of. Anyway, enjoy!
After all that storytelling, we get into your questions, starting off with a historically long question from Liz C.! She gets to a lot of the good stuff, and yet we still take even more questions!
And then we talk briefly about the cover, which can be seen above.
Don't forget to check out Sentinels of the Multiverse: Definitive Edition on Kickstarter! And join us next week for our return to Disparation for the first time in a long time!
- So, way back in episode 16 they actually told (at least some) of the story of A Day in the Life: Absolute Zero, so some of their work is already done. They're not going to just redirect listeners to that episode, though, they'll go through the whole thing here.
- This issue is the fifth in the A Day in the Life series (although they're not sequentially numbered - more treated as one-shots that share a structure and theme) and was published in May 1986.
- Back in episode 16 they has said that this was a "later Absolute Zero story" - because everything happened in the '90s. What it means now is simply that he's been around long enough and has had enough character growth over the almost-three decades he's been around for him to be ready to have these stories told. He's gone from total misanthrope to member of the team; from nihilist to "okay, fine".
- The "big" story of the issue is the one told back in the old episode. To the point that while they're still doing 3 stories in this issue, that one takes up roughly half of the pages. Oh, or maybe there's enough there to make the old story parts 2 and 3 on its own - there were already to "parts" to the story told.
- We start with something in the Cryo Chamber as that's what most of his days are about anyway - so probably something with him and Tachyon. She's in the lab, he's in the Cryo Chamber and we get several pages of them interacting in that setup. We've had a bunch of that over the years as short things, maybe even only single panels here and there, but here we get a longer piece where we get to see their dynamic a bit more.
- The rest of the book is the story already told. The first bit is the fight against Omnitron in Megalopolis where there's some static between Legacy and AZ. Start off with friendship. Head into conflict within the team. End with the story of him visiting the guy in the store.
- Adam is not convinced that the Omnitron fight works as a complete story on its own rather than just being an intro to the last one. Christopher thinks that he's got it and so we start with that in order to see if Adam agrees. They'll come back to the first story after this.
- We start in medias res with the Freedom Five fighting the giant, rampaging Omnitron in Megalopolis. How is this happening given the timeline? Don't worry about it - it's just an isolated story beat.
- We're following AZ around the city as he deals with things and he's mad. He's on a tear about "not having time for this" and whatnot and it's coming through in the way he's going about things in the scale and brutality of it (think giant spires and other structures out of ice) while we see the rest of the team doing team stuff in the background. It seems like he's not really working with the team, but we see that he's playing a bit of a strategic game as the big structures wind up constraining where Omnitron can go.
- However, often when Omnitron runs into these barriers they'll partially collapse onto buildings or whatnot and the others will have to rush in to prevent collateral damage/save bystanders. Legacy gives AZ a bit of a verbal admonition to pay attention to what he's doing while AZ notes that he's getting the job done. Basically, AZ is doing a good job, Legacy is on his case about it, and we have some inter-party conflict.
- We end with AZ doing the Impale panel, pinning Omnitron in place. He has places to be while the rest of the team is busy showboating. Let's get the job done and get on with our lives. Legacy acknowledges the good work that's been done, but stresses the need to be careful and avoiding collateral damage. AZ gets in his face. Usually, when we see the two of them at odds we have Legacy giving his speech and AZ grumbling/making snide remarks. This is new.
- AZ sees himself as collateral damage with respect to the team and you're going to lecture him on it? Sometimes you gotta break some eggs to stop the bad thing and the longer we take in doing so the greater the chance there is of somebody getting hurt anyway.
- Legacy gets the point, but they're still doing a bit of yelling at each other about how they're in agreement before AZ storms off because, once again, he has places to be today. Legacy wants to follow to continue the hashing-out of things, but Tachyon stops him because she knows what AZ's plans are for the day.
- Basically, the "expanded" version of the story is just getting more into the argument but also showing that during the argument there isn't a loss of respect. They aren't friends, but they acknowledge the other has a point.
- Adam's not entirely convinced since it feels like the story is left unresolved. That prompts the thought that maybe they do that intentionally with the first one too. Then we hit readers with a story that's all about something being resolved.
- Tachyon and Absolute Zero story. Adam immediately thinks of the "classical conflicts". The second story looks at first glance to be "Man vs. Machine", but it turns out to be really a "Man vs. Man" story in terms of the important conflict. The third story winds up being "Man vs. Self" in terms of AZ coming to terms with his own issues. It might be neat for the first story to be "Man vs. Machine" even though the surface level is him talking with Tachyon. It could be about his relationship to the Cryo Chamber and his suit rather than "Man vs. Self" - all of the stories in the issue could be something that looks like one story type on the surface, but is really another. That could be interesting if we can make it work.
- So we can start with Tachyon working on his suit in the lab. She's asking him about what the problems are that he's experiencing with it (like some part doesn't feel right when he's moving it, etc.). The overall idea we can get from their conversation is that he doesn't feel like himself when he's in the suit and he doesn't feel like himself when he's not in the suit.
- His problem is when "you" think of Absolute Zero, you think of the face plate of the suit and Ryan Frost is just the guy who supposedly died in a cryo accident. He's most himself when he's able to be out and about in the suit, but that by its very nature puts up a barrier between him and the world. He's basically relying on what amounts to a full-body prosthetic.
- He's got to come to terms with the suit and becoming "comfortable" in it. Accepting being the sum of himself and the thing that lets him interact with the world. Man vs. Machine becoming Man + Machine. Adam suggests framing it along the lines of how one might discuss using a prosthetic arm or something.
- Christopher has an "aha!" moment at this point. We're setting up dominoes in the first two stories that get knocked down in the last one (playing into the "unresolved" nature of the first two stories). This first story has him leaving things off with him thinking of the suit as "not mine", this external thing. The second has the exchange with Legacy who asks something like "What's gotten into you, Frost?" where he basically has to defend himself with "Nothing's gotten into me. I'm always this way. This is who I am. You're not the only one looking at the big picture." He leaves, Tachyon stops Legacy from following.
- That's when we have him go to the second-hand store that employs ex-cons. He finds the guy he's looking for and asks if the name Christine O'Neil means anything to him. The guy starts to panic as this guy in a glowing suit of armor has tracked him down to ask about the woman he killed as a drunk driver years ago.
- But no. Ryan's changed a lot since then, as he's sure that this guy has. Her death isn't even the biggest change in his life at this point. As much as he held onto the idea, for a long time, that that was the moment that his life was ruined, he can point to many other points at which his life was ruined since then - and each of those moments has led him to be the person that he is now.
- Adam wants there to be something like how when his own accident first happened all he had to do was sit in a freezer and blame this guy. He comes up with something like "that was the coldest part of it" but wants the words to be better/to work. That can be the refrain, though - he kept having things happen and, at each point, he figured that that was the worst/"coldest", but then something would come along to take things lower.
- And not just him, bad things happen in the world. But! Every one of those bad things is also part of what made him who he is and the world what it is today. I guess that's a long-winded way to get around to asking, "How are you doing, man?"
- The guy is taken aback - bad? He was in jail for a while after all. "Yeah, and now?" He's 6-years sober? "See! That's not nothing. Good! These things are terrible. They're the coldest moments, but they make us who we are and our ability to survive that cold makes us the people we are."
- A single page of him back in the lab at night. He's in one of his "temporary" suits at the table where Tachyon was working on his main suit. He's got a little laser thing or other tool and he's etching something into the inside of the breastplate to make it his. Christopher's not sure what exactly that should be, though…
- It's not something about Christine as that was just resolved. They don't think it's like a list of stuff to take care of that he's crossing off the drunk driver's name or something.
- Maybe something as simple as "Absolute Zero is Ryan Frost. Ryan Frost is Absolute Zero." as an affirmation. It's just for himself. (And somewhere out in the world Henry Goodman calls out "What the heck?!")
- That seems pretty good - circling back around to the first story they should have something for AZ and Tachyon to be talking about in addition to the "problems" with the suit. The subtext of the conversation is the actual "text" of the scene, but we need to figure out what the text of the conversation is. The obvious option is their book club. Christopher's immediate suggestion is The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. It's got a lot of "who am I?" theming as the protagonist is dealing with bipolar disorder and depression.
- The fact of Sylvia Plath, writing under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas, about a semi-autobiographical character Esther Greenwood who often seems detached from the events of her life has all kinds of useful meta-commentary that they can be discussing. Eventually getting to the point where they talk about "Esther Greenwood is Sylvia Plath and Sylvia Plath is Esther Greenwood" so that the post-script of the issue can be an intentional callback to this discussion.
- [The first, long letter starts off with a bit of praise for a realistic/relatable depiction of somebody with Depression. In particular, the "Better bored in here than dead out there" line has always been noteworthy in showing that Depression doesn't always equal suicidal, which so many other depictions in pop culture get wrong or at least simplify to remove the nuance.] Adam admits that Depression is also something that he himself struggles with (and is medicated for), but has also never been suicidal, so he understands as well. Christopher points out that he, Adam, has been "doing the work" to manage it and that's good to see. It's not a matter of there being "a solution" so much as, to the extent that there is a solution it's "being involved in it". It's one of those illnesses that have people say "There is no cure for this but treatment is available" - it's something that can be managed and for him. It also spikes really bad in the winter (and the cold and gray winter we just had was rough - but as soon as the sun comes out he's like "Oh, I'm a person again"), but he knows he has that response and can work around it. Imagine what that's like for a character for whom it's always winter. He notes that being open about this stuff is hard, but it's also helpful. Seeing other people being open about it is what makes it possible for him to do so. [Note - I also cleared putting this part in the summary with him.]
- Is the triangle on AZ's suit meant as a chemistry/physics pun (the triangular Greek letter Delta, Δ, often being used as shorthand for "change" and specifically in relation to the amount of heat in a reaction)? They've brought this usage of delta in the Magic Freedom Five Disparation episode, but Adam confesses that he did not know this at the time that he designed AZ's outfit. Christopher thinks that's hilarious as it's what came to mind immediately when he first saw the design.
- What does AZ wear when he's not in his suit (or maybe not wear *waggles eyebrows suggestively*)? He's frequently shirtless, but no nudity (thanks Comics Code). There might be some tasteful fog obscuring things, or at most we get some "tasteful side butt" [thanks, Christopher, for putting that phrase out there in the world] as he's sitting on a bench or something. He's frequently got the equivalent of biker shorts on. He also has "utility suits" with minimal functionality that he can wear around, but can't go very far as they'll need to be plugged back into the Cryo Chamber soon. He probably doesn't cover up a whole lot in the Chamber. For one, anything he wears would have to be rated for such low temperatures without freezing to the point of becoming unusable. He likely has one suit (like, an actual business suit type of outfit) that he can wear when, say, he's being visited by outside people while he's in the Chamber (there's also the suit that he can put on over his cryo-suit - or it's the "formal-wear" version of the AZ suit that's just styled like that itself) but generally he doesn't want to be covered up much.
- What was his personal style/personality like back when he was a college graduate with a fiancée? Given that he was somebody who wrote about music back in the '50s [they say '60s, but his first appearance was in '58], you can look at your "average" outfit of collared shirt, maybe a vest, and nice pants rather than jeans as the baseline. He was maybe beatnik-adjacent.
- Given that he was a college grad, presumably White guy who liked jazz and blues was he a "hipster" in the original 1940s definition of the term? Like that, but a little too late. "Beatnik" is probably still the closest.
- Given that many of the incorrigible punsters in Sentinel Comics are played for comic relief (Fright Train, the Adhesivist), how is it that the very opposite end from "comic relief" character of Ryan Frost is right there with them on the wordplay front? He's serious, but he's witty and likes showing that off. When he sees an opportunity for the ice pun, he takes it as it would be a shame to waste it, but it's almost in a begrudging way and with a very sarcastic tone.
- What was Christine like (it occurs to me that we know he's had at least 2 prominent love interests, but we know virtually nothing about them/what his "type" is)? She's not given a lot of personality in the comics - she's intentionally this lost opportunity that isn't coming back. In a lot of ways she's put on a pedestal and we're left to assume the best about her. We get the sense that they argued a bunch, but that's also given to us through the filter of Ryan's self-blame and that of course they argued, he was wrong and should have just agreed with her. I had to be contrary and if I had just seen that she was always right she'd still be alive, etc. The truth is likely somewhere closer to them both being right about some things, but his trauma has him just blaming himself entirely. We likely get some scenes where he talks about her, but hardly anything actually featuring her in flashback.
- I note his RPG bio specifies that he liked the fact that she could make him laugh, when it's often the other way around with men appreciating women who laugh at their jokes; I also wonder at how happy their marriage actually would have been given their arguments? They already talked about this dynamic a bit, but yeah. They probably would have had something like an "average" life. Even before all of the accidents he was already this biting, sarcastic guy. Not necessarily glum, but serious, and he was an art critic and so had that angle to his outlook. She could crack his shell and make him laugh. He takes the wrong lesson from her death in that he treated it as a lesson to not put himself out there - it only led to pain for himself and others. That being said, just because you argue doesn't mean that your relationship is bad. How you argue is more important than that you argue.
- In the Arcane Wonders Freedom Five game materials we've seen so far, there is a personal task for AZ for him to attend a family reunion - this makes me consider that Ryan was likely young enough when the accident happened for his parents to still be alive; what did they make of what happened to their son? How much damage control did Pike Industries have to do regarding his accident there? What friends and family does he still have at this point? Are there enough non-Freedom Five people around from his life to suggest an Absolute Zero Supporting Cast episode? Christopher posits that it's actually an O'Neil family reunion. He was very important to Christine and is warmly welcomed by the family to such events, although up to this point he's declined for "all my fault"/"I'm just a dumb robot now" reasons. Adam thinks that AZ might not have much family left, and what is left is possibly estranged. Christopher breaks in with an "I'm gonna murder them.": Ryan was an only child of a couple who did not plan on having kids (which would have been strange for the era), and then whoops he comes along when they're in their early 40s. They were never super "close" to him to begin with, but after Christine's death they do reach out, but he pushes them away. Too little too late in terms of emotional support. Then the cryo accident happens and he's in a coma, and they die in the meantime. He has no living relatives in the world he wakes up to.
- What does Pike Cryogenics even do? How does what they're doing fit into the storylines we know? Pike is doing all sorts of shady stuff, often involving experiments on people. Like many other segments of the company, the cryogenics division is working on another possible angle by which Chairman Pike might extend his own existence. It could be a means for him to "skip" time that he doesn't need to be around for - he can set up a bunch of things, enter a cryogenic state, let a few years pass on the outside while only "minutes" for him have passed.
- Regarding AZ and Tachyon's friendship, do they ever have the classic Science vs. the Humanities disagreements? Definitely - why pair the two of them up if not to have fun with that. She's doing all her Science! stuff and he can chime in with a "Have you considered books?" or whatever. Also, having him there to pipe up with a "Do you think that's entirely moral?" is a nice check on any possible mad science tendencies.
- AZ listens to her talk about Science stuff and will go along to her magic shows, but what does she do to support his interests? The book club for one, and they're likely mostly his picks. She'll listen to his music with him, and to his tirades about music. For a long time she'd have been the person actually controlling the music, but asking him what it would be in the lab today and seeming kind of begrudging about his choices. Her building and unveiling the record player for him would have been a nice "you really care" moment.
- Did AZ and Writhe ever really hang out beyond that one time? Eh… here and there. Writhe is around in comics for such a short time before he winds up in space, and then is around for another very short period before the RPG era kicks off, at which point he's out in space again. They connected pretty well, and on a relatively deep level, in the short time they would have had a chance to know one another, though.
- Does AZ really talk with any of the heroes besides Tachyon on a friendly level? Depends on the era. Early on he's not really talking to anyone. By the ‘70s he's got the friendship with Tachyon going. By the late '80s he's' friendly with the rest of the team except Legacy - they just continue to butt heads too often. The '90s have basically everyone else become more "edgy" for '90s reasons, but during/after Vengeance we see more of AZ's heart with respects to the team. By the '00s he's mostly "a typical person", but then the Schema stuff winds up undermining a lot of that. That being said, the '00s and '10s Freedom Five is when they're at their most "well-oiled machine"/family status as a team. They mostly start as a group of co-workers at the team's origins and the transition through friends to family by the 2010s is a slow one.
- Who's older, Heritage or AZ? Heritage by a bit. They're definitely the two oldest on the team followed by Tachyon, Bunker, Wraith, and Unity in descending order. Keep in mind that due to comic timeline weirdness the exact dynamics would have changed a bit over the years.
- Who's the therapist that AZ's working with? Is he a specific hero-therapist or just a normal one who got pulled in to work with AZ? Did Ryan continue to see this guy? Was it his idea? They think he's a metahuman-specific therapist, but they kind of want to define that character more. They like the idea that it wasn't Ryan's idea. A Writers' Room episode about this guy could be interesting (they bring up a famous issue of X-Factor where the team members have sessions with Marvel's resident therapist Doc Samson [that would be X-Factor vol. 1 #87 True Believers!]). The challenge for both of them would be to do that sort of issue without just copying what it did and still feeling like it's good enough to deserve to exist alongside it. As such, they can't really answer off-the-cuff. There might not even be a single issue like the X-Factor one - or there might be a later one after the guy's shown up a bunch as a supporting character, like Brianna Hawke, without being a focus.
- Speaking of the ARG comic with the therapist, everyone latches onto the bit about Writhe, but what is he talking about regarding team members losing their powers and villains acting like friends? The villain pretending to be his friend was Wager Master. There have been multiple stories over the years with Legacy or Tachyon losing their powers for whatever reason.
- How does the Schema Process-controlled suit work remotely without Ryan in the AZ suit - without him in it, shouldn't it lack any kind of "cold powers"? It fills the interior of the suit with a cryo-liquid cell like what would charge the suit or the Cryo Chamber to keep it cold that it uses to simulate his powers.
- In the recent Hero HQ episode, you mentioned a non-combat version of his cryo-suit that isn't as bulky and lets him get around when he's not expecting to need to deal with villains; who developed it? Tachyon.
- Is it on the same kind of government payback "contract" as the original? No. This "teaching suit" was a gift that Tachyon made for him in the RPG era. He'd had "utility" suits prior to that, but those were wrapped up in the same bundle as the main AZ suit and the Cryo Chamber in terms of obligations.
- From a "return on investment" angle, couldn't they just have had him video chat from his Cryo Chamber for teaching duties rather than develop an entirely new suit? As anyone who's been paying attention for this last year or so could tell you, Zoom-mediated teaching isn't the most effective option. If they care about quality of the teaching/learning experience, in-person is far superior.
- It seems like Montgomery Industries and/or Eaken-Rubendall Laboratories would be the likely candidates for production of a non-combat suit, right? Yeah, that's basically what happened.
- Don't you think that having a character that only exists as "Absolute Zero's dead fiancée" takes the Women in Refrigerators trope a little too literally? First off, Christine has a name, which is better than nothing. Second, this is an intentional reference to this specific kind of motivational tragedy/back story that happened in comics. Adam also has a bone to pick with the trope on its face as well as it's cherry-picking "bad stuff happening to women" when bad stuff happens to everybody in comics all the time. Adam would place this in a more general "loved ones in peril/killed" trope [that would include such figures as Spider-man's Uncle Ben, not just Gwen Stacy]. As alluded to earlier, part of the point of having her just be part of this tragic backstory is so that we don't have a full picture of her as a real person, only AZ's self-loathing-filtered memory of her. That becomes something of a trope in itself as people (including the therapist guy) point out that the version of her in his head isn't real.
- Does AZ have any pets (including the possibility of some kind of Ice Elemental)? Well, Freedom Pets suggests that Icy the penguin is "his" even if it lives at the zoo. It doesn't show up anywhere else. While Spangle and Shadow are canonical pets for Legacy and Wraith, Corporal eventually gets a nod as existing elsewhere by Bunker, and there's even a throw-away comment at some point about Tachyon and Dana (a scientist and fashion model) keeping some luxurious, long-hair rabbits, there's never any acknowledgement of Icy existing in the main continuity. They like the idea of a scene happening at a zoo where AZ's passing the penguin enclosure, he looks over at one, it looks back at him, and they both just kind of nod at one another.
- Is there a team-up involving Ra and Absolute Zero? It seems like there should have been a team-up event at some point - what would it have been called? Would it have involved them fighting each other? There isn't a Limited Series or anything, but you're right that of course a team-up would have happened at some point, even though they normally operate in such different circles. The Freedom Five book features stories about the individual members occasionally, and there's probably a 2-3 issue arc here and there where Ra and AZ are duoing for some reason. They workshop the name "Melting Point" for a good event title for such an occurrence.
- Hadn't you already done a Day in the Life story for AZ? Does that mean this one is about Henry Goodman? When would that have happened as these sorts of things didn't tend to show up in comics until the '70s at earliest? It is about Ryan Frost - they had already told some of this story in the original AZ episode, but they've fleshed it out and, hopefully, made it better now. Henry Goodman wouldn't have gotten one since, as you pointed out, these didn't get started until the '80s.
- Regarding the Definitive Edition conversion guide, it says that only cards that are in play can have effects, so things like Tachyon's "Hypersonic Assault" become Ongoings that are automatically destroyed during Tachyon's Start Phase instead of being one-shots - is that to just make it harder for players to forget active effects? Doesn't this rule constrain design space going forward? Yes, a lot of stuff they've done for DE is to make it easier for players to remember what effects are happening (also why they've included Nemesis tokens). Yes it constrains design space, but so does every rule for every game that's ever been written. They feel that the constraint of "only text that is currently in play can affect the game state" is a good constraint that should have been there from the beginning.
- In the Hero HQ episode you mention that Freedom Tower is "one big broadcasting antenna"; is this used as part of the city's communication infrastructure? Yeah. It's used as a general signal booster in addition to the team's own needs.
- Any self-respecting villain would want to be able to take over all televisions in the city to deliver a threatening monologue, does Freedom Tower let the heroes prevent such things (either by preventing a general signal hijacking, while being able to view the villain's feed themselves, thus preventing a general panic or by requiring such a hijacking to need to be done from Freedom Tower itself, thus adding a significant barrier as a first step)? The heroes might think that any villain would need to break into Freedom Tower first, but those tricky villains sometimes find ways around that.
- What is the history of Diamond Manor? Passed down from Grandpa Joe? Something NightMist acquired herself or grew up in? Joe lived there (and it goes back in the family well before him), but Thomas noped out of this nonsense. It's when Faye was going through the stuff in her dad's storage locker that she finds out about it. Like, her dad had mentioned it and that you couldn't get there anymore, but she had assumed that it had been torn down or something in the meantime. It was a matter of finding the right door in Rook City, which she then does. She expects the place to be in rough shape after having been disused for so long, but it's been kept up by various magical things.
- You've said that it was originally in Rook City, but was relocated to the swamp - did NightMist move the house herself? No. It was originally in the city, maybe one of the city's oldest extant buildings, but it got moved to the outskirts/the swamp some time prior (before Joe even). The original location got built over, but that one door can still get there.
- If Calfix considers Void Guard its own collection of "flesh babies", could the team be known as the Criterion Collection? Eh? Eh? I'll see myself out.
- You said that "most" of the Prime Wardens could fly, but then noted that Tempest was one that couldn't - could he not generate enough of an updraft to let himself fly? Nope. He might be able to, but he doesn't. If you think about other weather-controlling heroes who fly, generally the use a cape or something to help them get lift, or they generate a cyclone around their legs or something. We see Tempest hold himself up with water cyclones occasionally, or swim really fast to launch himself up into the air, but not flight per se.
- Who are the mooks getting beat up on Tachyon's new "Accelerated Assault" card in DE? Citizens of the Sun. This was early on, before the Sunrise arc, when there weren't really many named Citizens with distinct personalities/power sets.
- Given that Aeon Men showed up in the existing core set as a hint to OblivAeon, does their appearance in the DE set hint at an even bigger OblivAeonAeon or something? A DE OblivAeon, you say… I'm not sure that such a thing would be winnable. Who's to say?
- In the Fashion episode (and later follow-ups) you've mentioned that the Bloodsworn Colosseum's travel through space results in some amount of time dilation for the inhabitants, so that much more time has passed on Earth than had passed for Shirley; is that the norm for space travel in Sentinel Comics (the only other time I can think of it being mentioned was regarding the weirdness that K.N.Y.F.E. experience in the issue of Headhunter we got - other space-faring adventures don't seem to be affected by it)? "Spacetime works super weird in comics." - Adam Rebottaro. Some writers try to get this sort of thing right, others don't know or don't care and it's handwaved. Some stories will have time pass at the same rate for the space travelers as it does for Earth, some faster, some slower. It's just not consistent. Early writers especially didn't care. The more serious hard science fiction writers wouldn't have shown up in comics until the '70s at the earliest. Later on you might even have the comics company recruit somebody who's an established/well-regarded sci-fi author to come write something.
- Is Paige Huntley's new name "Rival" or "Ryval"? Or even "R.Y.V.A.L."? Rival and Vantage are both spelled like the normal English word. Very purposefully, neither are acronyms.
- When do we get action figures for the Scravengers? They're kind of cool. You know how, if you're careful, you can take the various limbs off of an action figure and reattach/mix them up between figures? The Scravengers come disassembled with the expectation that you put them together in a customized way to evoke their haphazard nature as a bunch of weird alien creatures. Each set of them comes with enough parts for 3 complete figures, but there are a few different "Scrav Bags" for even more variety.
- [Postscript from Chaos Clockwork about how they used the podcast as a helpful distraction/source of humor during a prolonged pandemic unemployment situation. Thanks for helping me get through a rough year.]
- After NightMist's loss, how many of the various dangerous items that she'd been keeping an eye on of wound up being sent to Soothsayer Carmichael? Was it so many that he's annoyed that he has to deal with all of them or so few that he's annoyed that she didn't trust him with the responsibility (or did she send the exact right number for him to feel like he got the right amount, leaving him annoyed that he doesn't have anything to be annoyed about)? She sent him a bunch. Well, four with an asterisk. Three were big major items that were really powerful. One was what turned out to be a collection of items (so we kind of get both the "too few" and "too many" options). This is a big part of his job in the RPG era - being the custodian of this collection of things that are, honestly, a bit above his pay grade, but not beyond his knowledge.
- Have we already seen one of the items he was supposed to receive? Was the box that resulted in Myriad and Headlong on its way to him (thus giving him an excuse to be annoyed with Headlong)? Yes. You got it.
- Why haven't we seen any card art of NightMist's box of feathers? How many feathers (on average) are in the box?
That was a joke.There is still time. We don't see it because she keeps it hidden in her coat. You never know when you might need to surprise somebody with them and you don't want to just leave it lying around where somebody could take it. There are, on average, somewhere between the "mid 20s" (Adam's answer) and 524,287 (Christopher's).
- Adam has an idea already. He wants to do a thing where it has Ryan Frost's face, but pieces of it have been "taken off" and we can see the Absolute Zero mask underneath. It fits in with the Barry Windsor Smith homage stuff he did for the Bunker issue, and lets him do something evoking the Machine Man miniseries BWS did the covers for.