The Letters Page: Episode 189
Creative Process: A Sticky Subject: All About Adhesivist
Run Time: 1:17:44
There is less history to this character than many, but that doesn't stop us! If anything, we're excited to build him out! Especially with all the great folks that have given to much to The Adhesivist. Not sure what I'm talking about here? Listen and find out!
At the end of the episode, we talk about how the schedule is about to get weird: rather than the regularly scheduled Editor's Note #48, we'll have a interlude-type-thing, just for fun. Then, the NEXT week will be the Editor's Note, followed by Episode #190, though now off by a week. Which is OK! Everything will be fine! The Patreon supporters are already hard at work, voting for the episodes they want to hear in October AND November! If you're on the Letters Page Patreon, go vote now! And, if you're not a Patreon supporter, you can be, and immediately get access to that voting! What are you waiting for? Get in there!
We'll catch you next time!
- Absolute Zero
- Dark Watch
- Prime Wardens
- Fright Train
- The Yeti
- The Hippo
- Baron Blade
- Professor Pollution
- Judge Mental
- The Southwest Sentinels
- Citizen Dawn
- Daniel Montgomery
- Fyodor Ramonat
- Road Rash
- They’re talking about somebody sticky today, which starts off strong on a tangent about how Wager Master looks like he might be a bit sticky. Guise is somewhat tacky, in all senses of the word. Today’s episode is really about the Adhesivist, though; somebody who doesn’t show up very often and is never important. He’s a jobber - somebody that the writers use when you just need somebody for the heroes to dunk on for a while. Sometimes he’s a mid-to-high-level minion for other more important villains. But after his first few appearances (where his creator likely hoped that he’d be the next big thing), the most notable thing he does on his own is likely something early in the post-OblivAeon era that got depicted in the Sentinels of Freedom video game, and even then he’s not a main villain.
- To show just how low on the list of important characters go, this guy didn’t even have a name for a long time. Adam drew a few pictures of him - one in Vengeance in the Sentinels deck on the “Blackout” card just as part of a group shot and in Visionary’s “Wrest the Mind” in her Sentinel Tactics deck (both times working with Highbrow). At the time it was just Adam drawing a guy “who does glue stuff, I guess?” and he was decided almost immediately to be a super minor villain. The more they talked about him, the more they wanted him to have this dumb alliterative name and then just moved on. His name at that time was Glue Globes Glenn.
- While he’s always been the Adhesivist, this historical detail of his creation here in the real world lives on in that his name is Glenn Gluemann. While the little floating glue globes are a thing he uses, that was a later addition to his load out. They think that Guise or the Idealist at some point calls him “Glue Globes Glenn” in a mocking way, though. Maybe it’s another villain that calls him that. It’s played for a joke. “It’s ‘the Adhesivist!’” “Sure, Glenn, whatever.” “Stop using my real name!” Basically, after the first time he’s captured and sent to jail everybody knows that “Oh, that’s just Glenn” and nobody takes him as seriously as he wants them to.
- Anyway, that’s his status as a joke later. When he was originally created in the Silver Age, he was not intended to be so silly. Adam has read a lot of Silver Age comics and there are two things that were treated as so much more effective than they are in reality. One is rubber masks, but the other is glue.
- Talking powers, it’s just technological. He developed, just, the best glue, and the tech needed to use it the way he does. He doesn’t have anything like “glue control” powers. He’s also much more simple than Writhe’s trajectory - he’s not “The world doesn’t recognize my genius and so I’ll turn to villainy” so much as “Hey, I’ve invented these glue things. I’m just gonna rob people with them.” He’s not particularly ambitious (or even business savvy - patented/marketed properly his adhesives could probably make him extremely rich, but noooo).
- They decide the way that the glue works is reactive. The more you pull, the stronger it holds you. The way to get out of it is to move very slowly and deliberately while to detach it from yourself. Anybody can do that to escape, but it’s harder to do when you’re in the middle of a fight and need to move fast. It’s strong enough to hold Legacy and Tachyon’s speed makes her very susceptible to getting caught in it. Wraith probably starts carrying some kind of solvent in her utility belt after a few run-ins with this guy.
- With those basics out of the way, let’s talk first appearance. Justice Comics #341 [September ’68 - also the issue cited for the DE Megalopolis card “Hostage Situation” that features him] - he’s in Megalopolis doing some glue stuff and that’s basically the story. He’s going to rob a bank and take a hostage or something. Most of it is “Oh no, I can’t fight him because I’m stuck!” Let’s say that this is a Legacy/Wraith team-up issue. They’re hanging out when they get an alert about a robbery at the bank. When they arrive they find people stuck to walls and the vault open. They free somebody who tells them about the guy with the glue. Wraith has some kind of solvent on her, but it doesn’t work on this stuff that’s made from chemicals rather than horse hooves or whatever.
- By the end of the issue they definitely apprehend him and send him off to jail, but he’s got a capsule of whatever chemicals his glue requires and so can combine it with the mashed potatoes or whatever food they give him at the jail and his escape is his next appearance a few issues later.
- How did they catch him? Probably by rupturing the tank of glue he has on his back. He’s not immune to his own glue and while he’s usually clever/careful enough to not get himself stuck, by rupturing the tank there’s nothing he can do to avoid it. “Agh! Hoisted by my own glu-tard!” Something that is true about this guy is that he constantly makes glue puns, but he’s terrible at it.
- His first several appearances (up through the mid-’70s or something) likely showcase his perfection of his glue tech (like a Teflon suit to make him immune to his own glue). The glue globes likely don’t happen until the ’80s, but stuff like different settings on the glue gun, “projectile” glue that can bounce a few times before sticking so he can do bank shots, different formulations he can change up on the fly to deal with unexpected situations (spraying a quick-drying kind on his arm to make a kind of “armor” or something).
- The globes probably don’t show up until he starts working with Highbrow - it’s even possible that they’re something that she makes for him and are a bit of a technological leap for him. The glue in them is so sticky that it would even stick to the inside of his tank so he’s got to employ some kind of anti-gravity technology to keep it from touching anything until he uses it.
- His association with Highbrow (who is much more intelligent than him) continues off and on, right through the end of the Multiverse era. He’s not sent to Fort Adamant like she was, though - the test subjects are all being worked on because they have powers. He probably helps her once she gets out. Anyway, after OblivAeon, Highbrow does a thing where Project Cocoon becomes a different thing when she takes control of the thing. Adhesivist does some work for her in the process of that plot and is about the coolest he’s ever been. It helps for him to have some outside direction so even if she’s losing her mind (in a few ways), having her telling him what to do works for him in a lot of ways.
- That’s… pretty much his whole story. Like they said, he’s a really minor character. There’s certainly more stuff they could invent for him, but then we’re kind of getting into Writers’ Room territory as basically the only thing to do would be to make up a story involving him. His various names and his first appearance issue were all they had ahead of time, so the rest of that really was Creative Process.
- Fun historical anecdote about him, though! Back in 2015 or 2016, Christopher had a week-long meeting with the SCRPG development team (Cam Banks, Dave Chalker, and Philippe-Antoine Ménard) where they all came to St. Louis and he told them just everything about Sentinel Comics. At one point Dave asked about this guy on that one Southwest Sentinels card with the glue balls. Oh, that’s Glue Globes Glenn. They keep meaning to give him a real name and whatnot, but he’s just so low-priority it never gets done. Dave just suggests “The Adhesivist” off-the-cuff and was perfect.
- What’s his real name? Is it Elmer? Did he turn to crime after his genius invention as a chemical engineer was stolen by his employer and/or not given the recognition it deserved? He’s Glenn Gluemann. They suggest that maybe his middle name is Elmer, except that it’s almost certainly something that starts with a G, if not GL. This prompts another way in which other characters make fun of Glue Globes Glenn. “What’s your middle name? Glarfield?” - they just take a G name and add an L in there to make it silly. That’s when he protests that it doesn’t even start with a G! Then he has to reveal that it’s, in fact, Elmer which doesn’t help him avoid mockery. More character background work: he worked at a “science lab”, but was an accountant or something (and not an honest one, he was embezzling a lot of money), but after hours he would sneak into the lab and mess around with the chemicals and whatnot and it’s in playing around that way that he discovers his revolutionary glue. He’s eventually fired and has to break in to get his discovery back, and then simply turns to glue-powered crime.
- Is his costume made of a non-stick material/does he have solvent dispensers built in or does he constantly get caught in his own traps? He gets trapped in that first appearance, but now his costume is non-stick to avoid that problem. He doesn’t have solvent dispensers built-in or anything (Adam, deadpan in-character: No, I do glue.“) There are probably several appearances where”damage his costume to the point where he can get stuck" or otherwise finding ways to turn his glue against him is how the heroes defeat him.
- He was in the Animated Series as a member of Sergeant Steel’s F.I.L.T.E.R. team; did he have dialogue? What kind of voice did he have? He had a few lines and his voice is not dissimilar to the one we hear in the SoF video game.
- Did XTREME Adhesivist deal with sniffing glue as a drug high? Was Inversiverse Adhesivist a respected hero? Inversiverse Adhesivist is a fantastic hero, but he’s known there as simply Glue-Man. Man, XTREME Adhesivist never shows up in comics, but yeah the glue-sniffing thing probably comes up. Maybe he did something to himself and now he just sweats glue or some other ridiculous thing like that. Oh, his blood is the glue, but it doesn’t get sticky until it touches the nitrogen in the air so he bleeds glue. He dies by somebody forcing nitrogen into his body and he basically becomes a statue as the glue hardens.
- Do other science-minded characters recognize his glue as impressive? Yeah, Tachyon is frustrated by the stuff in the field, but it gets her attention. They can easily imagine some solo Tachyon story where she goes to him - they need to do a thing that requires that they stick two things together and so… we could use your help. excited gasp from Glenn He’s all atwitter about being asked to help the heroes and be part of the big time. By the end of the story he’s back to crime, because it turns out that it wasn’t as life-affirming/changing as he expected it to be.
- Do we see him fighting Aeon Men during OblivAeon? Yeah, he’s probably in the corner of some panel gluing up a bunch of them or something.
- Will he be in the Guise book for the RPG? If not is he just not humorous/low-powered enough to qualify? He is definitely both of those things, but he is not in the Guise book. It’s almost like there’s some other book that’s better suited for him to appear in.
- Does he take himself seriously? When heroes make fun of his gimmick, does he get mad? He takes his glue seriously and he thinks of himself as a serious villain (just not one of those “take over the world” types - he knows where he stands there), but he’s also having fun with it. He tries so hard with his glue puns, but he’s just bad at it. He’s more real in a lot of ways because of this. He’s able to both take himself seriously when he wants to, but will be goofy as well. He’s self-aware.
- Which hero does he fight the most often? They see him as being primarily a Freedom Five villain - in particular because he seems to be well-suited as a foe for each member. His glue is a great “answer” to Legacy’s strength, Tachyon’s speed, Wraith’s gadgets, and Bunker and Absolute Zero’s suits. He also doesn’t really fit in with Dark Watch since they’re not likely to engage with the joke given their grittier vibe and the Prime Wardens are so far out of his league as to not need to spend any time bothering with him (like, maybe Haka could be interesting for Legacy reasons, but if anything he’s the one guy strong enough to overcome the glue). He wouldn’t be interesting to have up against them. He could maybe be a decent solo-Setback villain. He’d fit right in as a Guise villain. He’d also do well as a Southwest Sentinels villain.
- Has he ever approached anything like a “win” or is he a perennial jobber? His first appearances were probably more successful than later on, and he’s got occasional stories where it seems like he may have finally gotten one over on the heroes, but not really. He’s basically always just a challenge to overcome.
- Now that he’s had more episodes devoted to him than Bugbear, will he have a larger presence in upcoming products? He’ll have a presence in coming products.
- What’s the story involving he and Highbrow dealing with Writhe that we see on “Blackout” given that it’s definitely not really happening in Vengeance #5? It’s got to be sometime in the first few years of The Southwest Sentinels being a thing [issue #1 was March 2011]. Highbrow and the Adhesivist make a good villain pair for that team as they’re threatening enough for the team to have to take seriously but not so threatening that it would make more sense for other heroes to be involved. The two of them have cooked up some scheme and run into Writhe who does creepy Writhe stuff. The real answer here is that they simply don’t know where that encounter happens yet because they haven’t gotten to that deck for DE purposes (or if a Writers’ Room gets to that beforehand).
- Congratulations to Dave for his successful campaign to get this episode topic made and to Braithwhite and the video game voice actor for bringing such a goofy character to life; can you include at least one example please? Yeah, for context, Chris Burton aka Braithwhite is a game developer at GTG and did a lot of the grunt work in terms of script writing for the SoF game, especially the chapter 2 stuff. Christopher and Adam also wrote out all of the VA lines for people to say and listened to so many auditions. After choosing the various actors, they also sent along notes for how to better exemplify the characters they’d be portraying. They got varying levels of success in this regard. Some are spot-on perfect, others are only “pretty close” (they want to stress that nobody wound up wrong), but there were a limited number of voice actors they could even work with due to the way the agency they worked with does things. But, in this process, they got 5 or 6 people auditioning for the Adhesivist but the one they chose did something different that they did not expect. This actor’s take on the character was right and all of a sudden made him “alive” now in a way that he hadn’t been for them before. The actor actually wound up improvising several of the lines (still the basic idea of the script, just tweaked a bit) and this was the correct move as it actually made the character in that moment. He went from being goofy jobber with a gimmick to funny - he’s goofy, but self-aware. All the fun characterization that they’ve been talking about this episode basically came out of their reaction to how the voice actor delivered the lines. [They play a few of the audio clips right around the 41 minute mark.]
- Any particular reason for the design change between the SotM and ST art where he’s got noticeably darker skin to his depiction in SoF and the Definitive Edition “Hostage Situation” art where he’s lighter skinned? In their minds he was always kind of dark-skin Mediterranean in complexion. They’re also less in control of the SoF character stuff (the cat is the wrong color too). Stuff like that happens. For the DE card, in the ’60s there was a very restricted set of color options to use in general and even fewer that could be read as “skin tones”. He probably is pretty consistent in appearance through the mid-’70s when writers stop using him for whatever reasons and it’s likely that whenever he shows up again in the ’80s or ’90s after he’s been absent a considerable time that he’s got that mid-tone Mediterranean look that he has from then on and they originally envisioned for him. For comparison, take a look at how Haka is depicted across Definitive Edition - his skin tone is all over the place due to how limited the color options were for much of the character’s existence.
- We see him on the DE “Hostage Situation” card, which cites JC #341 which is an older issue - just how long has this guy been around? That was his first appearance [in September ’68].
- Who is the red-haired lady he has taken hostage? Just some random lady who was at the bank he was robbing in that issue.
- How did a glue gun wielding villain rise to the point where it required Legacy to take him on? It was both Legacy and Wraith and he managed it by having been created by a writer who wanted him to stick around - having him up against those heroes gave him legitimacy.
- Is he any more than a C-list villain at best? No. He has an appropriately C-list amount of popularity in the readership, though. Most think he’s forgettable, but a fair number recognize him as being funny (when writers treat him well). He’s notable enough to have had action figures made of him (maybe 3 over the decades).
- What are his typical goals when he runs into heroes? To stick them to stuff so that he can get away. He’s trying to steal stuff, so if he’s actually run into heroes things have gone wrong.
- Does he team up with any other villains for bigger goals? Yeah. Really the only time he has “bigger goals” are when he works with other villains because he’s working towards their goals at that point. He is not a mastermind.
- Supposedly he does a lot of puns on his gimmick - in a contest with Fright Train, whose puns are better? Fright Train by a mile. He’s good at puns. He loves trains and thinks about them a lot. He’s living that train life and puts the work in. The Adhesivist likes glue, but the level to which he works on his puns is basically just to try to fit “glue” as a syllable into whatever else he’s trying to say. He’s the kind of guy who only thinks of the good pun afterwards as the police are taking him away in handcuffs, so he’ll shout it back at the heroes or something, but has totally missed the opportunity.
- If you were playing in an SCRPG game with a legally distinct plot that’s totally not Suicide Squad, which C-list villain with a modicum of heroism in him would you want to play? Christopher would play as Equity. He’s got a cool power set and even if he’s being “heroic” he’s got an attitude of “nobody will ever know I was here if I do my job right.” Adam thinks maybe he’d go with somebody really obscure like Yeti. Christopher likes the idea of using a character who’s got a well-established shtick to play into, but Adam wants somebody who’s a one-off or minor-repeating villain with very little characterization already established so that he can fill them out more during play. Hippo would also be fun, though.
- Which gimmick villain could step up to the big time if they just put more effort into it? Are there stories where a normally minor threat has their day in the sun and pushes the heroes to their limits? Yeah, that sort of thing would have to have happened. Having the power set is really less important than ambition - look at Baron Blade whose “power” is “I build things”. <conspiratorial voice> Ammit is certainly somebody who’s been relatively minor over the years but who could definitely cause problems if given more ambition and an opportunity. </conspiratorial voice> Highbrow manages this. Professor Pollution or Judge Mental could. Honestly, most of them could.
- How well-regarded is he in the villain community? Was he on the short list for the Vengeful Five or the Slaughterhouse Six? Have any of the Ennead had their relic break and needed his help to glue it back together? This prompts a fun one-off story idea for a comic that starts in medias res with Baron Blade ready to pull the lever on his doomsday device du jour. When he does so, something in the machine makes a loud clunk and nothing happens. Then he has to work with other villains to fix his device. In reality, however, most of the time this sort of role would be filled by Ray Manta for invention stuff. You get the Adhesivist not because you want him in particular, but because you need somebody and he’s available. You get the idea that a lot of the jobbers are drinking buddies and generally know one another, but that doesn’t mean that he’s “well regarded”. He was not on a short list for any of the mentioned teams.
- What is the most glue that he’s ever deployed at one time? Too much. The first time we see him, his entire tank of glue gets ruptured and deployed at once, much to his dismay. There’s probably some story where the setup of the story is “Oh no! The Adhesivist’s glue lab exploded!” and the heroes have to deal with a blob of the stuff that’s already covering a city block and is continuing to expand. Getting into some world-building stuff - the tank is a concentrated, but inactive chemical. He’s got to add another chemical to it to activate it and at that point it expands considerably. (They make a 2-part epoxy comment in here, which leads to a good 2-part Adhesivist story title “Epoxy on your house!” [a play on “A pox on your house”, in turn a reference to Mercutio’s “A plague on both your houses!” from Romeo and Juliet. Don’t ask me why “pox” has crept in to replace “plague” in a lot of places over the years.] Another fun idea is that occasionally other people in stories involving Adhesivist will make really good glue puns and he doesn’t get them.
- Who do you think he should be shipped with? Christopher can think of a few that make story sense, but the more he thinks about it the more he wants it to be an actual romantic subplot rather than a shipping thing, so he’ll hold off on that for now. Maybe it’s time for another shipping episode in February. It’s been long enough since the last one.
- If he was a card in the game, whose nemesis icon would he have? Would he even have one or would he be that minor? If he’d have one, they think Bunker. They talked earlier about who he makes a good foe for, but the mechanics of Bunker’s suit makes the prospect of a lot of glue a real problem above what other people have to deal with.
- Who faces off with him the most (Wraith and Dark Watch is my guess unless I’ve severely misread his power level)? Wraith and Freedom Five more than Dark Watch. He’s certainly not a Dark Watch team villain, more occasional individuals like Setback. He does have a relatively low level of “power”, but with the right setup he can get to be a problem for the Freedom Five as a team.
- Any fun story where he’s up against a hero way above his weight class? Ra would work. An entire issue of him running in panic from Fanatic could be fun. Or a team-up of the two of them against him where he’s basically the protagonist of the story as you’re rooting for him to just get out of that situation.
- Did he get a dark and gritty ’90s reboot? Any other silly villains that got this treatment? There are probably some writers in the ’80s or ’90s that treat him seriously, but it’s just hard to justify making him “gritty”. Like, you might give him a black costume at some point or they go with a “realistic” costume that’s just regular clothes and maybe one of those ponytail mullet hair styles. There’s no “story reboot” to make him grim, though. A lot of villains who were, well, let’s say “campy” rather than “silly” got this treatment. A lot of characters created in the Silver Age fall into that category kind of by default. Baron Blade is one of the the most serious villains in all of Sentinel Comics was definitely campy in the Silver Age. They started that by saying he was the most serious villain, but Voss probably takes that title and was never campy.
- In the Expatriette Foes Creative Process episode, you said that about the only thing that Amanda can do to get her mom’s attention beyond “shooting at her” is “developing powers”, but I recall a previous mention that if Expatriette were to have a child that developed powers, Dawn would want that kid. I don’t want to get into spoilers and ask whether Expat and Setback would have a child and will settle for: If they had a child with powers, what would the powers be? Any relation to Dawn’s powers? Would Setback’s luck and/or physical augmentations get passed down? This is all theory-crafty and so any combination (or new stuff) could be true if that’s what the writers decided. That being said, it could be fun to have a story about a kid that’s preternaturally lucky and has perfect aim. Call them Sure-Fire or something. Another option is to consider that you’ve got Dawn’s genetics and Setback’s luck involved - this kid is going to be too powerful. Oh, or have twins and one is super cursed and one is super lucky. Lots of options, but note again that this is all theory crafting.
- Does Baron Blade know that Wraith’s dad died during OblivAeon? Is there any scene where they talk about this given how motivated he was by his own father’s death? That’s not likely to have happened yet, but not out of the question. Adam begins with a comment that she didn’t even know during OblivAeon, but Christopher points out that part of the reason to do it is so that she has to deal with that during the latter half of the OblivAeon conflict generally. By the time they’d even have a chance for it to come up, it would be well after the “Off the Rails” adventure that they put out.
- Did Road Rash ever fight Mainstay given the shared biker aesthetic? Yeah, that’s got to have happened at some point.
- [Not a question, but a statement that Lowlife’s story reminded them of The Picture of Dorian Gray.] That wasn’t a specific inspiration for them, but it’s one of Adam’s favorite books.
- Lowlife’s ability to shift negative consequences off onto people that he’s got some kind of control over seems rather ill-defined and almost like some kind of pact - what’s the nature/source of Lowlife’s power (magical, psychic, empowered by the Singular Entity of Negative Externalities, bitten by a radioactive slumlord, etc.)? The source of his powers are never explored in comics due to him just not being around very long. It’s implied that it’s magic/psychic in some way, but it’s important that he have powers that are internal to him for Expatriette story reasons.
- You named her “Bloodletter/Blood-letter” and never once mentioned vampires or blood magic… You even gave her blood-based body control and undead-like part detachment and the concept was ignored. And then you made the transforming motorcycle guy magic. Really? Yup. They like to zig where you expect them to zag.
- What’s XTREME Blood-letter like? She’s a blood magic vampire that absorbed the powers from some guy who was part motorcycle and also drained the life of a radioactive slumlord. Also, all the letters she writes on things are swears.