The Letters Page: Episode 176
Writers' Room: Justice Comics #651 & #652
Two issues?! In this economy?
Run Time: 1:33:36
Adam and I are in rare form! We're always in rare form, though — not fully cooked. Half baked, if you will.
We tell a hero/villain team-up story, as requested. But it takes us more issues than we thought! You get twice as many issues (and twice as many team-ups) as anticipated!
Then, a variety of letters on a series of topics. You know, like we do. But different! Or, at least, unique.
Next week is an Editor's Note, so if you're a contributor to the Letters Page Patreon, join us this Friday for a live show!
- The Freedom Five
- Doctor Demikahv
- The Organization
- Zhu Long
- Fright Train
- The Hippo
- Grant Warlord Voss
- Baron Blade
- Wager Master
- Miss Information
- Argent Adept/Argent Artist
- Mr. Fixer
- Professor Pollution
- Jacqueline Hyde
- Absolute Zero
- The Discordian
- Oracle of Discord
- They’ve tried to tackle this hero/villain team-up prompt before and wound up making up the story arc where Expatriette posed as the villain Eclipse while working with Redeye. Neat story that got into some really good interpersonal drama stuff - absolutely failed as a response to the prompt.
- It might help to stay on-task this time to focus less on the “who” and instead look at the “why” (and then pick appropriate characters for that story).
- The first option is a villain comes to a hero to ask for help. That also gives an opportunity for an early action piece where the hero goes to punch their nemesis until the villain can explain, but that does leave us in a “how does this not end with the villain betraying/tricking the hero?” situation for how it ends. They don’t want that - they want the ask for help to be legitimate. That’s also why the reverse doesn’t work - if the hero is approaching a villain for assistance, there’s no reason for them to not stab the hero in the back eventually.
- Another option is that a hero and villain are both trapped in a situation together and the only way out is together.
- They could try to think of others, but at a top-level, no details view, they basically boil down to one of those two. For the latter, deciding where/why they’re trapped somewhere is basically all they need before just telling the story. What could “assisting a villain” look like where the ask isn’t something nefarious. One option there is that a fellow villain is losing control and needs to be stopped before things go too far.
- From the amount of time talking about the two options so far, it sounds like we’re going with the “helping a villain” option. Something the story will need is some kind of twist, but by design for this episode it cannot be a backstab. Hmm… it could be that “fellow villain is losing control” plot, but that aspect of it is hidden from the hero. Like, the ask is just that there’s some pending disaster that they need to head off, but it turns out that this involves helping another villain gain control of their powers. That might not be enough of a big deal to make the omission worth it.
- Let’s let that sit a bit and figure out what genre we want to work in today. “General super-villainy”, “spooky stuff”, “space stuff”?
- A digression into how this could be a “spooky story” involves a Cultist of Gloom showing up at NightMist’s place asking for help dealing with something dumb that his underlings did. That isn’t enough of a “villain”, though if it’s just a guy. Okay, so the guy walks up to NightMist’s door but when she opens it the guy’s eyes roll back and GloomWeaver’s voice comes out and he apologetically asks for her help dealing with something bad happening in the Realm of Discord that’s bad for him as much as it’s bad for humanity. The twist here is that NightMist expects the backstab at any moment the whole time, but nope; GW really did just need help with a thing. That story works, but Adam’s not really feeling in the mood for “spooky” today.
- In terms of what Christopher’s feeling today, he’s thinking general super-heroics, but also not the big names. No Legacy/Baron Blade team-ups, so let’s put the A-List aside and think more on the level of a Setback/Kismet team-up. Oh, here we go:
- Some villain shows up at Freedom Tower to ask for help, but the Freedom Five are busy off somewhere else and Unity has to step in. Or Unity and Omnitron-X together - they’re always a fun duo. So, we have Unity (definitely a hero), a villain (who’s definitely a villain), and Omnitron-X (who is pretty strongly set up as a hero if they set this in the later era they want, but he’s also harshly analytical and so might push back on helping a villain).
- Okay, so if Omnitron-X is involved, it’s got to be before his “death” in 2011. If the Freedom Five are “busy” we should look for a good slot where there’s some event going on in their book where we can drop this story into Justice Comics alongside it.
- In 2009 we have the story involving Tachyon and Ambuscade on Mars, but that’s just involving her, not the whole team. Maybe that can actually be a thing - for a while around that time (from maybe late 2008 to early 2010 or something) Freedom Five covers overlapping stories where the heroes are all dealing with their own solo adventures. As a result of those solo issues, the other regulars at Freedom Tower just kind of get sidelined, but also leaving room for this story with them in JC.
- Now that we know who the villain is getting to help (“Where are the Freedom Five?” “Buddy, you got me and a robot. Why should we trust you?”), that gives an idea for why there could be a secret kept from her in particular - the other villain that they need to save is Radioactivist (sets up a good bit when the heroes find out where she says something about how he’s a jerk and wouldn’t have helped if she’d known, at which point Omni-X brings up her argument that convinced him to help from earlier).
- Most villains are available in 2009, but the question of “who would try to help Radioactivist?” leads to a wonderful pairing considering the heroes involved: Ray Manta. Unity doesn’t feel great about helping a villain in the first place, but agrees. Ray doesn’t like the fact that this robot is involved and is simply incapable of not sounding like a jerk when he talks (including during his initial ask). Nobody is happy with this situation.
- Christopher’s imagining a two-issue story at this point. Ray Manta shows up at Freedom Tower to get help. Nobody he expected to get help from is there, just Unity and this robot, but that’s his only option at this point. They agree to join forces to deal with the problem (some bad radiation “storm” or something) and it’s revealed as a cliffhanger that Radioactivist is at the heart of it. The second issue involves them rescuing him, but then all four have to team up to fight something (maybe Unity makes a golem to absorb the radiation, but that causes it to “mutate” and gets out of her control). Over the course of the fight they each end up saving one another and at the end they basically all agree that nobody should ever know about this.
- Adam’s idea for how it ends is that Radioactivist gets injured or something at the end (Christopher suggests that he gets badly hurt in the process of saving Unity) and then Unity, in order to save him, calls up a contact at Fort Adamant to help (because they have sufficient containment to safely deal with him). This eventually turns out to be a betrayal as that’s how they get their hands on him for experimentation, but we don’t know that yet. Hmm… or maybe Omnitron-X is the one to make the call during the fight or something - he would know about Project Ironclad and Bunker’s contacts there from the files at Freedom Tower and the need for “containment” of some sort would have been something he would have considered already.
- This gets into something regarding storytelling that doesn’t really get showcased in Sentinels of the Multiverse due to the nature of the game - but forgiveness, or at least getting over past wrongs and moving on is a sign of character growth and this is an example of that that happens after the point where the game would have ended (i.e. once the bad guy has been punched enough). About the only game event that approaches this is the Dreamer story.
- Placement - they put it in August/September of 2009, Justice Comics #651-2 “Enemy of my Enemy” 2-parter. Synopses:
- Part 1: Ray Manta comes to Freedom Tower to get help from the Freedom Five to stop this massive radiation storm. Unity and Omnitron-X are there and, being not too far removed from the Miss Information story, they’re all that are available there while the FF themselves are out. They follow Ray to the problem and discover that it’s Radioactivist and that Ray Manta himself is to blame (he was trying to help Radioactivist find a way to contain/control/redirect his energy better - something went wrong and now its gotten out of hand).
- Part 2: They three of them work together to make some kind of conduit to draw off the excess radiation. With these three characters, having them building some device while out in the field is a good setup - Ray can design what they need, Omni-X can blueprint it up using his hard light projectors, Unity can assemble it. However, given that it’s all being run by Unity’s powers, it has that extra spark of “life” to it and the radiation interacts with that in an unforeseen way to cause it to take on a life of its own outside of her control. They fight it, Radioactivist saves Unity’s life near the end and is injured in the process, and after they win Omnitron-X contacts Fort Adamant to take custody of Radioactivist to “help” him.
- There’s some good stuff in there about the dynamics between heroes and villains and being a good guy or a bad guy (and good people doing bad things and bad people doing good things). The primary thing for Omni-X here is the take away that it’s not just about stopping evil, but about helping those who need it. Like, we’re finding the difference between their enemies being “bad people” and just “people who make bad choices” (granted, many of them make a lot of bad choices over a long period of time). We’re not fighting the person because of who they are, but because of their choices and actions. It’s easier to put people into well-defined categories like that.
- We don’t have any inkling at this time that sending Radioactivist off to Fort Adamant is a “bad thing”. If anything, it’s presented here as being “okay, good - he’s going to get some help”. It’s in the later story where Unity and Omnitron-U would have a flashback to this scene and realize that they were responsible for his presence in Fort Adamant.
- Aside, Doctor Demikahv is a known character at this point, but we don’t know she’s at Fort Adamant or associated with the Ironclad Project.
- That came together pretty quick. It’s a case of heroes saving villains from themselves, but it still manages to answer the prompt.
- On character dynamics: they think that this is late enough that while Radioactivist is still a villain, he’s not really the “creepy stalker guy” regarding Unity that he started as. She still held some resentment towards him because of that past, and while she helped him out now she doesn’t feel the need to spend any more time around him than was necessary. She did have that moment where she found out that he was the problem here that they could just, I dunno, drop a satellite on him and that would take care of things before Omni-X talked her around (not because he was trying to needle her about it - he was earnestly trying to fit her behavior/attitudes into his understanding of the dynamics at play, but when he just outright states the “Oh, so this guy isn’t worth saving?” that she was implying she comes around).
- What lasting consequences does the story you told today have for the characters involved? Any new-found respect and leniency? Further rivalries? Any lasting beef with the third party they team up against? There’s a degree of softening on the stances of both Unity and Omnitron-X. Omni-X is still growing as a being with regards to his understanding of humanity. Unity has her own feelings about things challenged in a big way and she grows as a result. Ray Manta might possibly have had a take-away here that maybe robots aren’t all bad. Then he finds out what happened to Radioactivist at Fort Adamant and doubles down on what he already “knew” about them. The radiation golem isn’t an ongoing thing to have lasting grudges with anybody involved. The point at the end of nobody ever speaking of this is on-point. There’s no way for them to paint it in a good light for anyone involved and it’s not like anybody is becoming friends as a result. Things are learned, though. Adam didn’t think that Ray Manta came away from this experience with additional insights into Unity - he already had her pegged as well as he was going to, but Christopher disagrees (at least on the “learning things” generally, he certainly doesn’t in regards to interpersonal relationships or anything). He thinks that having Ray work alongside this technopath and this robot to build the radiation conduit showcases his approach to inventiveness, but the exchange also advances his knowledge and intuitive leaps - to the extent that some of his more “inventor” aspects in the RPG could be traced back to this.
- Did any villains help the heroes in major events (say the Voss invasion, Deadline, or Progeny events)? Even if not happening on the page as they happened, maybe at least mentioned in later issues that they were doing so “off screen”? Not central to the plot, but having some street level villain (or even just Organization thugs) fighting against a wave of Gene-Bound is a fun idea in a “these streets are ours!” kind of way (even more fun, a Mexican standoff involving the Organization, Zhu Long’s minions, and some Gene-Bound). A scene of some thugs shaking down a shop for “protection” money only to have Aeon Men show up outside (“What’s the protection money for if not this? Do your job!”) is a fun idea. Or flip it around and have the mom & pop couple getting the shake down attack the whatever with a broom or something while the Organization guy cowers behind the counter and then they ask him for protection money. Later issues show that he starts working at the shop on weekends and they leave the place to him when they die. There are places on the edges of stories for this sort of thing to happen over time for observant readers to catch. We always get some level of detail like that in major stories, even if it’s just seeing the expression on the faces of bystanders during a fight - however, this sort of slice-of-life thing will be discussed somewhat in the Guise RPG book since it’s more or less about the smaller-scale heroes that might be operating closer to the ground in that regard.
- Have there been any hero/villain team-up where the hero is scarier and goes a bit farther with things than the villain is comfortable with (I can see something like Expatriette, Parse, or Writhe taking things a bit farther than one of the more goofy villains like the Hippo)? Yeah, they can see that sort of thing happening. Especially with Writhe. Heck, they have that whole story about him going all horror-movie-monster and picking off the Slaughterhouse Six one at a time. A specific team-up is maybe a bit trickier in general. They could see something happening with Expatriette, but her position on the hero spectrum is kind of precarious to begin with. Same with Parse. However, Wraith might be interesting as they can imagine a situation where she agrees to help somebody for one reason or another and then winds up taking a much more brutal, straight-line solution to a problem than might have been expected. The villain is taken back a bit with a comment like “Oh, I thought we were going to sneak around a bit or something” with her response being along the lines of “Sometimes you’ve just got to act.”
- Did Bunker and Fright Train ever have to work together due to something they both witnessed back in their service together? There’s space for that. It’s more likely in the RPG era than in the Multiverse era.
- Did Heartbreaker ever get help from a hero due to a criminal that he’d put away as Tony Taurus coming back for revenge (possibly in the form of a ghost or something to trigger his phasmaphobia)? Probably not - he falls into the villain/hitman role pretty heavily and there’s not a lot of room in Heartbreaker stories for supernatural stuff.
- Was Hippo particularly protective of his aunt or the Mars base? Nah.
- Did Equity’s odd sense of fairness ever require him to work with a hero or ask for their aid? He wouldn’t ask for help. They could see a case where he’s somewhere on a job and sees something unrelated happen that he feels like he needs to step in, helps a hero, and then disappears again before anybody really has a chance to register what’s going on. They like the idea of there being a one-off story somewhere that shows a day from his perspective and we get some of his really odd detached demeanor/behavior. “He’s a weird dude” but villains with strict codes that they follow, while remaining villains, are interesting.
- Way back in the Tempest episode, he’s the hero who hates his nemesis the most [yeah, probably - to the point where it bleeds over to hatred of his nemesis’ entire species, Fanatic hates Apostate a bunch too… Most heroes don’t have that much hate in them and that’s something Tempest has to deal with a bit.], but which villain hates their nemesis the most (my guess is Miss Information as that’s the whole of her motivation while some villains have motivations beyond the vendetta)? That’s a good one. You’re probably right. Baron Blade is up there, but it’s almost just an obsession in a “this is what I’m supposed to do” sense rather than being specifically fueled by hate at this point. Wager Master hates Guise, but he could also just destroy him - but he’s bound by the “rules” of Wager Master, which is a good thing. If Wager Master was allowed to throw out the rules, it would be bad. We’ll say that you’re right about Miss Info, though.
- Which hero/villain would you most like to watch a wacky sitcom where they have to be roommates? Well, the obvious answer is Guise/Wager Master as that’s actually a story that happened - they might not want to watch that sitcom, though. Since you didn’t specify nemeses, let’s open things up a bit. It might be interesting if they both have a secret identity and have to hide it from each other. That limits it a bit. Ra, Wraith, you could make an argument for Argent Adept (he doesn’t really have a secret identity, but nobody actually cares either), Setback, technically Mr. Fixer. Setback is just the obvious choice for a wacky sitcom. Pete Riske/Ansel Moreau is a fun one to consider (although, like the Wraith, why does world-famous movie star Ansel G. Moreau need a roommate?). Villains are tricky since, while a lot of them have secret identities, not many of them have anything approaching a “normal” day-to-day life. A few Slaughterhouse Six people could qualify, but you need to avoid any villains that are Setback villains in particular because Setback and Pete Riske are so obviously the same person if you ever knew him in both guises. A lot of villains are too grandiose to really fit in an apartment lifestyle. If the magic stuff from Dark Watch were compartmentalized a bit, it could be fun to pair him with Jacqueline Hyde. Choke/Chokepoint is to busy being weird about metal all the time. Professor Pollution is an option. Any woman villain also invites some love triangle stuff. Setback/Ermine would be fun on that note (although she’s also rich enough to not need a roommate - like, she’s not particularly good at managing her money, but it doesn’t matter). Setback/Adhesivist would be really out there, but there might not be enough difference in personality there. They don’t have a good answer here. If they were actually writing a sitcom they’d take creative liberties with the source material and invent some setup where Ermine lost all of her money or something.
- Bloodsworn Professional Wrestling is back once again for another round of match-ups, the guys wreck their voices and Trevor brings the quality once again at around 55:45. Today’s program, brought to you by Wager Master, is titled Nemesis and is a tag-team event.
- This double date went off the tracks - Bunker and Fright Train vs. Wraith and Ermine in the Wretched Hive bar: that’s rough. If they’re in that bar, that does negative favors for Bunker and Fright Train, but they’re also likely to not be in the bar for long (or rather, the bar isn’t likely to last for long). If we take the situation to mean that the venue is relevant - for the purpose of the match the walls have been reinforced, turning this into something like a cage match. The contents of the bar are fair game, but the building itself is indestructible. In that case, due to the lack of freedom of movement, they give it to Wraith and Ermine.
- Legacy and Baron Blade vs. Mr. Fixer and the Operative on an empty Mobile Defense Platform: If Legacy and Baron Blade are teaming up in earnest, then it could go to them. Legacy can hold off both of them long enough for Blade to whip up some kind of gadget. However, Baron Blade just cannot help himself in terms of backstabbing his “partner” in this situation. There’s also the factor to consider that our martial artists can do the stealth thing and pick their moments. Blade can’t hold them off indefinitely himself and they only have to get through to him once and Legacy can still be planned around (pressure point strikes, a big hit at some point to “use up” the power that negates those, maybe eventually trapped in the elevator and just jettisoned from the platform).
- Guise and Green Grosser vs. Headlong and Myriad in an old Kansas farmhouse: okay, so the farmhouse isn’t indestructible in this one, the setting is to provide somewhere for the Green Grosser to get plants and Myriad to get bugs. The safe bet is Guise and Green Grosser - Headlong doesn’t have the experience here. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it goes their way, though. While Headlong doesn’t have a ton of experience, once he gets up to speed he’s surprisingly powerful and hard to hit. Myriad’s bugs are also a pretty handy counter to whatever plants that Green Grosser is messing with (and even if GG makes plants that kill the bugs that eat it, Myriad doesn’t care because he has infinite bugs). Like they said, Guise and GG are the safe bet, but maybe put your money on Headlong and Myriad because they’ve got a shot, the payout would be better if they won, and it’d be a more interesting fight overall if they did. If this was part of a story with multiple rounds of fighting, you kind of also want Guise out after the first round if it isn’t specifically a Guise story.
- Akash'Bhuta and Argent Adept vs. Skinwalker GloomWeaver and NightMist in an overgrown, marshy cemetary: this is about the best balance between the teams so far. AA vs. NM and AB vs. GW are both solid match-ups. Specifically being Skinwalker GW might put him at a disadvantage, though. Actually, thinking about it, they’re going to change it to being Akash'Thriya just to make that more interesting - AB’s scale is just too big of an advantage otherwise and so it goes to AB and AA no question. Even changing up AA’s partner, Skinwalker is just not too big of a threat. The reason he was a problem in the comics was down to who was available to fight him. AA’s magic can unmake the body or AT can just run a bunch of roots through the body and decompose it rapidly. [The guys missed the setting detail specifically putting this in a cemetery so there are plenty of bodies for him to use, but whatever. I’m not sure it would have made a difference in how things go.]
- Has there been a story where a villain teams up with a hero to help “reclaim” that villain’s “theme” from a pretender (say, for the sake of example, that Spite’s going on a murderous rampage, but leaves crossword puzzles at the scene - and not even good ones, come on, man - would Crossword help a hero take him down)? Yeah, they think there’s fun to be had for a villain to come to their nemesis to plead innocence/that somebody’s framing them. The most fun they can think of offhand would be Ambuscade coming to the heroes to help deal with Glamour’s fake version of him, but we know that this doesn’t happen. They actually don’t have as many “gimmick” villains for this to really be a common issue (at least to the extent where the gimmick would be something they cared about being trodden on by others). They could come up with something, but they’d have to think about it first rather than on the fly for an answer here.
- Was there an issue that happens after Setback and Kismet realize who the other is where they have to put aside their history and team up for some reason? They do work through who they were for one another and their history, and that was good comics drama, but it wasn’t a specific reconciliation so that they would then team up or something.
- Did Sentinel Comics ever tweak a comics title when there was a hero/villain team-up to reflect that pairing? They don’t think so. You do get story titles that might go more than one issue (“Enemy of My Enemy” for today’s 2-parter, the “Backdraft” arc for Setback and Ra, etc.), but not tweaks to the actual book title. As for those other subtitles, they don’t want to try to make up more of them without actually coming up with the story first to make sure they fit. They rarely name things before fleshing them out a bit first (basically only in cases where the name is so evocative that you pretty much know the deal as soon as you hear it).
- In SCRPG, if the heroes manage to convince a villain to work with them (even if only temporarily), how would you model them: a full hero sheet, as a lieutenant, etc.? If they had abilities that help their minions normally, that wouldn’t help the heroes, right? They’d probably run them as a lieutenant. That’s the general approach for NPCs in general. Adam mentions a time where a campaign had them encounter a bunch of other heroes over the course of the game and they all showed up to help support the team in the climactic battle at the end - basically, every player was just given a lieutenant to control. If the villain that was convinced to help was a way to introduce a PC to the team, however, then they should generate a full hero sheet for that character.
- Did you ever consider something like a player-vs.-player or traitor mechanic to SotM, like a hero who wins/loses with the villain instead of the other heroes? No. People have been asking about some kind of PVP mechanics since the early days of the game and the answer has always been a resounding “no” - that isn’t the type of story the game is meant to be modeling (or, just generally speaking, the type of game they wanted to make - there are plenty of PVP games out there for you if that’s what you want to play - indeed, Christopher feels that there are too many superhero-themed games that are competitive). They’re not saying that there isn’t a market for that sort of thing, just that they’re not the people to make it.
- We’ve seen enough to have a feel for how Absolute Zero interacts with Legacy and Tachyon, but what’s his relationship like with Bunker and Wraith (or Unity)? He and Bunker get along pretty well as “comrades in arms”, but AZ pokes fun at and is somewhat resentful towards him (“oh, you can just get out of your suit whenever you want” kind of mentality). In general, he’s kind of a jerk to everyone, especially at first. By OblivAeon, everyone knows him and can see past the prickly exterior, plus he’s softened a bit by then himself. He understands that people are on his team and care about him as a person. By OblivAeon, the FF are kind of a “family”. Adam starts slotting Legacy into a “dad” role and thought that Tachyon is kind of the “mom” but Christopher points out that she’s not “warm” enough for that stereotype - if anything Legacy is both dad and mom, with the rest of them as the siblings (with Unity being the surprise baby of the group - being young enough that the others are all grown up while she’s still a “kid”). Unity is especially annoying to AZ at first. Instead of getting to have deep, thoughtful conversation with Dr. Stinson while they’re in the lab, there’s this young person around. Over time he comes to enjoy her more “human” personality than Tachyon’s. They hope that this answers the question. “They care, but they fight. They’re all very different people, obviously.”
- Does AZ listen to just blues/jazz, or does he enjoy other styles/genres as well? He’ll listen to just about anything, and has opinions on it, but beyond that he does enjoy quite a lot of it as well - it’s just that “the blues” are his specific favorite. “This is what humanity is.” He was a music critic. Even if something isn’t right up his alley, he’s going to listen and engage with it/take something away from the experience.
- You said that the Argent Artist is a “Vessel of the Void”, himself becoming a conduit for Void energy, as opposed to the Virtuosos who channel it through an external conduit (the instruments) - given how dangerous Void-related things, or even just magic in general are, how much more danger is the Argent Artist in compared to his multiversal counterparts? Does he experience any ill effects that Argent Adept doesn’t? Is he more powerful/does he have less control? The most important part of all of that is the final bit - he’s kind of more powerful and in less control. Argent Artist’s stuff tends to be more flashy and powerful - when we’re looking at Primal Wardens stories, we don’t want to just see him doing the same stuff that Argent Adept does, only with painting instead of music, and that’s how the difference manifests. How do you think Jackson Pollock and J.S. Bach would go about something differently. Argent Adept is doing an improvisational, letting-the-music-flow-through-you kind of thing, but he’s still very precise with what he does. Argent Artist is more aggressive and bold, which translates into being more dangerous to himself and others. While there are types of experimental music that tries to mess around with what we think of as the “rules” of music, that’s not what Argent Adept does - he’s working “within the lines” whereas the “rules” of painting are less restrictive in terms of what Argent Artist will do.
- [No question: regarding a joke about the Discordian’s true name being unpronounceable because it has to be said from multiple places at once (because of portals, one presumes - a detail that I’d omitted from the write-up at the time) I now imagine that his name is Nicola shouted into the Swiss Alps so that the echo comes back from multiple directions. As such, I now imagine all Discordians to speak with a Swiss accent.] It’s not an echo, it originates from multiple places. Nice try, though.
- Do we ever see a ramification from somebody interacting with the Oracle of Discord - i.e. do we see somebody acting based on information they got from such a visit? Anybody dealing with the fallout of what they were shown? Are the Disparation stories just kept too segregated away from the main continuity? That sounds like a whole Writers’ Room. There’s definitely going to be stuff in the main continuity that shows that interacting with the Oracle of Discord can have an impact. Like, there could be a whole story arc that’s dealing with actions somebody took as a result of such an encounter. [I mean, what’s the point in calling something an oracle if you’re not going to have somebody trying to cheat fate, somehow?]
- Which one to do? As far as concepts go, the second one is kind of a gimme. You have the four established characters fighting the thing (and likely looking more like a “team” than they actually ever were in the book). Like, the cover could almost make you think that this is going to be a new team or something.
- The first one could have Ray Manta looking really sinister with the radiation storm behind him or something. Christopher starts launching into cover text that would ask “Can the heroes defeat Ray Manta…” and so on before Adam jumps in to point out that this is 2009. It just says “Enemy of My Enemy Part 1”. The feeling of “Oh no, Ray Manta is here” with everything looking scary can still be there, but the era was one that wouldn’t have much text. There’s a bit of a bait-and-switch given that the story would quickly show that he’s coming to get help, but it’s still fun.
- Adam thinks that 2009 is an “easy enough era” and they’ve worked out the details enough that he may just go ahead and do both [spoiler alert: he did].