The Letters Page: Episode 18
It everyone's favorite robot builder: Unity!
Run Time: 68:10
First thing, right off the bat, we talk about a survey. This is a link to that survey! Please do take a moment to fill it out, as it will help us grow and improve The Letters Page.
Then, we're on to talk about television! Because that's what this show is about!
Adam requested just after 12 minutes into the podcast that I put his address in the show notes. No one tell him that I'm not doing that. Just trust me; it's for the best.
We talk about Unity's parents' history a bit, and how her mom was injured during the Yom Kippur War.
At about twenty minutes in, we quickly give away that during the OblivAeon event, Unity builds a massive T. Rex bot. It's pretty dang cool.
And then! We go right to questions! Flying in the face of tradition! What is even happening?!
Lots of great info in today's Q&A segment. We're getting more and more free with information. Which is good!
Just after the 28 minute mark, we go into a bit of Unity's naming guidelines.
In a question we read around 32:45, we reveal the history of a couple minor figures in Sentinels lore, and even some of their story that is yet to be seen in the Multiverse!
As promised, here is a link to the OblivAeon lead-up ARG. If you haven't gone through it before, I highly recommend it. Very cool things happened there.
Just after the 44 minute mark, we read another fantastic limerick from Arcanist Lupus. The question in that limerick leads to us revealing who it was that captures Unity and kept her in a glass case far from all metal. So many reveals!
We even spill the beans a bit about her future relationships! She's dating someone? And joining some other team? (We get to that part in the Future segment.) But who? You'll just have to listen to the episode to find out!
Once we get to the Future segment, hold on to your hats for some time-traveling information. Not information about someone doing time-traveling or how time travel works. Nope. Information that has come back in time to us from the future! Bizarre!
Thanks for listening! So many exciting things on the horizon! Also, don't forget to fill out our demographics survey. Thank you!
- Adam loves animated TV shows. Unity (much like Harley Quinn) debuted in a '90s animated adaptation of the comics - the Freedom Five animated series. The show ran a few years, but she wasn't a popular character - she was the annoying teenage sidekick (and not even a really fleshed out one, she didn't even have a full name, she was "Debbie" or just "Unity") complete with catchphrases ("Sparks!" as a minced oath, "Bot-tastic!" when something good happens, etc.). She's just there for the kids to relate to since all of the heroes are grownups and the writers contrive ways for her to save the heroes.
- However, she did catch the eyes of some of the comics writers as having potential and they imported her backwards into Sentinel Comics, introducing her in FFA #11 (in the mid-'90s for anyone else out there trying to put together a publishing timeline) as Devra Caspit (no longer "Debbie"), Tachyon's new intern. They changed up her character enough (aged up from 14-15 to 18-19 for one thing) that you couldn't even be certain that it was really meant to be the "same" character - she wasn't introduced as Unity up front, only by the end of the issue. This issue was a "fairly lighthearted" FFA involving Ambuscade hunting Haka and Tachyon. This might seem like it wouldn't be lighthearted, but they characterize the interaction between Ambuscade and Haka as a little like the Road Runner cartoons.
- This was not embraced by the readership right away as they associated her character with the annoying cartoon sidekick. She was mostly in the FF-related books, but would occasionally wind up in others. This never tested well with the audience.
- Forward to FFA #12 - a more normal issue. The Freedom Five are trying to foil some terrorists and have traveled to Washington (Legacy has to defend the White House - see "Heroic Interception"). The simultaneous side-story, though, is FFHQ being attacked by Magmen. This leaves Unity there to single-handedly fight them off - an event that sees her creating her bots that resemble the Freedom Five. This was the first story that audiences really connected with her - she goes on to being one of the most popular characters in Sentinel Comics history (complete with a bunch of people claiming to have been fans even back on the TV show #BringDebbieBack #Sparks #Bot-tastic - blatant lies as nobody liked her on the show).
- Backstory that gets told over time in the comics: Eli and Mira Caspit immigrate to Ofakim, Israel from Europe in the late '60s or early '70s and are there during the Yom Kippur War (October 6–25, 1973), when Mira is seriously injured (spending months in the hospital) and Eli turned to drinking out of despair. Mira recovers for the most part (still has a limp to show for it), but Eli never really pulls himself out of the drunken stupor. Devra is born into a very unhappy family situation - a useless drunk as a father and a mother who's become very bitter about everything. Her ability to build things with her mind developed when she was still a child and worked through her time at a few different schools (she was smart and knew how to build stuff, but wasn't a great student in general), when she came to Tachyon's attention and got hired as an intern. Devra was happy to get out of Israel and her family situation and her parents aren't a part of her stories outside of how her childhood shaped her outlook. Her over-the-top cheerfulness was something of a coping mechanism (she decided to be a positive person to combat the alternative of wallowing in the depressing situation around her) and is also an indicator of how amazing stuff is now compared to how things were then.
- She gets along well with Tachyon - although as has been mentioned in the Tachyon Episode, Tachyon is very much a by-the-book person and Unity isn't - and they grow to be friends. She also becomes very close friends with Omnitron-X and they learn a lot from one another.
- She takes part in Vengeance, she fights Miss Information, during OblivAeon she builds a giant T. Rex bot, but there aren't any real Unity-specific story as she's 1. a fairly late-addition to the Multiverse timeline and 2. spends most of that time as a sidekick/supporting character, only really stepping out of that right at the end of the Multiverse era.
- The guys freestyle a new question-time song after the official one at around 21 minutes and then call out Jean-Marc).
- We've seen bots in other decks besides her own (and in the ARG), does she have bot-versions of other heroes besides the FF? Could a hypothetical Unity-bot recursively make more bots? How far does the rabbit-hole go? Are we listening to a Christopher-bot and Adam-bot read and answer questions? First, they are definitely the normal human persons and not robot duplicates. She makes lots of bots all the time - it's a common misconception that her bots stick around for a long time. She makes them with her mind and they operate without her needing to really expend a lot of concentration on them, but they probably only stick around for 10 minutes, max, unless she's actively keeping them going. She's not building and coding behavior for robots like Tachyon would. She's made robot versions of lots of heroes and villains, several types of dinosaurs, animals, just whatever occurs to her as something that would work well or at least be funny.
- Do any other bots get fun names like Mr. Chomps? Well, Bee Bot looks more like a hornet (fun story: Christopher had written "Bee Bot" and Adam responded with "Hornets are more fun to draw." and the "'Bee Bot' is more fun to say" explanation was a reference to that - there's also a fun anecdote about an interaction Christopher had with a young Unity cosplayer at a convention). Even though she doesn't constantly have a raptor bot around (see above about how they don't last long) whenever she makes a raptor bot, it's always Mr. Chomps (I imagine in the same way that Punxsutawney Phil has been the same groundhog since 1886), even when there's a bunch of raptor bots at the same time - this gets under Tachyon's skin a little bit.
- Do the bots talk, does Unity do funny voices for them, or do the bots talk but sound like Unity doing funny voices? The bots talk, but they sound like a bad robot impression of the person they're a copy of. She could probably make the voices better, but it's funnier this way (especially Speed Bot).
- Is Unity Jewish (the tie-in with "Golem")? Yes, the legends of the golem are explicitly why she makes "Mechanical Golems". The Wraith is Jewish by heritage, but Unity is a practicing Jew as well. She even has a little bit of an accent due to English not being her native language (although, no grammatical errors as she's perfectly fluent).
- How did Unity wind up as an enemy of not 1, but 2 dudes made of fire? It's actually 3 dudes, except of those 3, only 1 is actually made of fire. The first is Magman - one of the Magmen who invaded in FFA #12, and that fight is the source of animosity. The second is the Radioactivist, his odd appearance really is just his gross, orange skin (caused by the nuclear energies that power him) - he was a weird creepy fanboy of the Freedom Five, and became kind of a stalker with regards to Unity once she joined the group. In an event where a bunch of robot drones were attacking a nuclear plant, the FF and Unity went to stop them, and he followed them there. He got dosed with a bunch of radiation when the drones caused some part of it to overload, turning him into the weird creature he is now - for which he blames Unity and the FF. The third is Char (originally going to be called "Firearm" but that was a bit too on-the-nose) - he shows up at Fort Adamant during Termi-Nation (he'd been a test subject there) and winds up fighting Unity (hints that he'll be in the upcoming environment deck as her nemesis, along with other mini-nemeses for the other heroes involved in that event - the Kickstarter update shows who I assume is Re-Volt as another test subject).
- Is pink her favorite color or does she just default to that given the glow when she uses her power? It's kind of the reverse of the second option - pink is her favorite color and her power signature is pink for that reason.
- Are the pink hair streaks that Termi-Nation Unity has related to her interactions with Chokepoint (who also has pink hair)? She'll never admit it, but it's not a coincidence.
- Unity is described as Israeli, but most of them serve in Israel's armed forces; did Unity serve in this way? No, she left the country right around the time that she would have been expected to serve (helped out by Tachyon's explanation of what she would be doing instead) - that didn't go over super well, but her service as a superhero kind of mitigates it.
- When does Platform Bot make its appearance? Is that the real Baron Blade? Did she actually encounter an MDP or was she just working off of descriptions? During Vengeance, it's a Blade-bot (this is while Blade and Legacy are in the Realm of Discord), and MDPs are more common than just the FFA #1 event, so most people would be familiar with them even though she obviously wasn't there for that early appearance.
- Did she build Augustus and if so, why couldn't she make him understandable? He's a library bot she built specifically to understand a coded transmission they'd received. She did this too well and he only speaks in code.
- How'd she wind up in the glass prison on her incap art (this is Arcanist Lupus' limerick question mentioned in the show notes - right around 44:45)? Revo-Corp captured her at one point and used that room to keep her away from any metal that she could use to build anything. Other heroes break her out eventually.
- Is she in a relationship with anybody (or even just have a crush on anyone)? She's younger than the other heroes (18 to her early 20s the whole time from her introduction in the mid-'90s until OblivAeon - gotta love how comic-book time works), and has been on a lot of dates (mostly guys, a few girls, even an alien once), but nothing really lasts until fairly late in the Multiverse storyline when she starts pursuing a relationship with a hero, Randall Butler (Benchmark!), he's a few years older than her, but not a whole lot, and both have a history with Revo-Corp to bond over.
- Most golems seem purely mechanical - Freedom Six Unity has a skeleton, Termi-Nation Unity's incap art shows them side by side (presumably the creation of the Golem Unity), what all is going on? Chronological: TN Incap art with her hooked up to a Unity Bot is an event from a fight with Biomancer and he had made one of his flesh golems with some mechanical bits, but he was unable to replicate her powers - he's trying to steal her powers and put them in his creation without removing her brain (he's stopped before he can try this, it probably would have left Unity brain-dead). Next, in the Iron Legacy timeline Biomancer attempted this same thing, also she and Mr. Fixer had become close friends due to the circumstances of them being in hiding, and him mentoring her, etc. Eventually, Unity is mortally wounded in a fight with the Iron Hand (Legacy's guards/shock troops). Fixer remembers the Biomancer incident and tracks him down and makes him do a full transfer of her mind. She dies, Fixer buries her, then the Unity bot comes online and he tells it that she's really Unity, only patched up with metal and stuff. She has some inklings that she's not really herself (moreso after Fixer's death and she takes his cap), but she never really gets a chance to come to terms with that before the end of the Multiverse.
- Tactics - Unity is part of the Freedom Five in all but name (despite the name not changing). The team members all have a FV logo on their belts, hers is FVI (the "I" is for "intern" obviously, what, that looks like it's a Roman 6? That's funny.) The guys end by saying that she'll eventually be an official member of the Freedom Five, and putting a bit of a lampshade on that statement - foreshadowing a death/retirement?
- RPG - she leaves the Freedom Five after OblivAeon. She's gotten an offer from Revo-Corp (obviously under non-Blade management now, right?) doing science stuff, but also as a part of their team, the Paradigms (with Benchmark - they're not a Setback/Expatriette pair yet, but it's still furthering their relationship).
- Do the golems run off programming or just off her powers? Does she program them with her power? Does she have to split her focus among all of the active bots? Range/duration of her golems if she leaves or is knocked out? Does she actually see her bots as characters? Is Mr. Chomps inspired by a trip to Insula Primalis or just her interest in dinosaurs? This can be summed up as "how do her powers work?" and like many other examples in prior episodes, the answer is "nobody knows". Tachyon hasn't been able to figure out the source of her power, as far as everything appears she's a normal human but she can make these bots with her mind. There's a reason this question was saved for the Future section of the podcast, though. The answer will appear in future issues of Sentinel Comics (in the RPG timeline - man, we're really getting into the weeds here talking about storylines that the guys have made up for issues of their fictional comic book publishing company, but which have not appeared within that fictional publishing history yet, like if somebody at Marvel was telling us about Wolverine's Origin in the mid-90s, years before it was actually written). Here we go: in her family backstory we hear about how Unity's mother, Mira, was injured in the Yom Kippur War. There was a powerful entity, referred to as a Chaos Witch, Rose Griggs who was drawn there. Rose was blowing stuff up with her power, and some of the shrapnel from that was what injured Mira (and some is still in her hip, the source of her persistent limp after her recovery). This didn't effect Mira, but some of the latent power coalesced during her pregnancy with Devra and that's where her power came from - she's a "magically powered" hero, despite the technological appearance of how it manifests.