Podcasts/Episode 222

From Sentinel Comics Wiki
< Podcasts
Revision as of 21:46, 8 September 2022 by WalkingTarget (talk | contribs) (Created page with "{{Podcast |title=Writers' Room: Freedom Five #293 |primary=Aminia Twain |link=https://theletterspage.libsyn.com/episode-222-writers-room-freedom-five-293 |character1=Glamour |...")
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Letters Page: Episode 222
Writers' Room: Freedom Five #293

Freedom Five 293.png

Original Source

Primary Topic

Aminia Twain

Intro

It's an older story, but it still checks out!

Show Notes:

Run Time: 1:31:35

We had a lot of fun telling this story! As we mention on the air, we knew many elements of this story going into it, but the stuff we DIDN'T know really bloomed over the course of the recording. We hope you enjoy it, too!

Join us next week for another Writers' Room about another early story: "The Last Temptation of Helena!"

Characters Mentioned

Summary

Overview

  • They come into this week knowing some things about the issue already. It’s Freedom Five #293 from September 1974 and is an Aminia Twain story. Given the year, this is when Aminia is the loyal secretary/administrative assistant for the team and is basically just running the whole show, leaving these pajama-wearing weirdos plenty of time to go fight crime or whatever it is they do. She’s the one who Gets Stuff Done behind the scenes to keep everything running. Adam asks if she does the team’s PR stuff and by the time that they have PR at all it’s probably in the Freedom Tower era at which point they have “PR people”, but they don’t have direct access to, say, Legacy, but they go through Aminia (well, at least until the Miss Information thing).
  • Anyway, by the point of today’s story we’re far enough along that everybody knows who Aminia is and what she does for the team and we’ve had several stories that involve her being kidnapped or similar and the team has to save her. That’s not today’s story, at least not exactly. We’re doing a story where Aminia Twain gets kidnapped, the Freedom Five need to save her, but the situation is such that the team needing to be on top of their own logistics/the stuff that Aminia typically handles for them is causing them problems (which is played for some comedy), and eventually Aminia has to figure out how to free herself. She doesn’t go on to fight the villain herself but does her “working in the background” thing to clear the way for the heroes to actually succeed.
  • So, who is the one doing the kidnapping? Glamour feels fun - Aislin Allen at this point (she’d been Glamour for 3 publication years by now). She knows the team well enough that making them look inept is more justifiable than many villains. Being Glamour would even have it make sense to be “a PR thing” where the villain is broadcasting the heroes’ ineptitude.
  • This is in “henchman era” too, so Glamour has a bunch of thugs wearing mirror masks (Mirror Minions?) [see “Bank Heist in Progress” from DE Megalopolis], so there are more people to have to deal with than just Glamour herself without actually involving other Villains.
  • What’s her actual plot, then? Just a smear campaign? She knows how crucial Aminia Twain is to their operations and so sends in her minions to kidnap her. We likely don’t even specifically need to know the “how” of that. Y’know what? This is coming together smoothly enough that let’s just tell the story.
  • The book opens in a fight between the Freedom Five and something else (some other villain, a monster, some mooks, etc. - not something that Glamour set up). As part of the fight we can have a bit where Bunker blasts the monster or whatever into a building, which causes some damage. We then have a panel where Wraith “calls that in” to Aminia - reporting the damaged building so that Aminia takes a note of what needs to be repaired after the fight. Just getting the idea across that there’s constant communication with her back at HQ. Then somebody tries to call something in/ask for details on a situation and she no longer answers.
  • Adam jumps in: he wants to see what’s going on with her. So, he imagines that we have the above scene playing out, but it’s a page or two of parallel action showing both the hero side of things and Aminia’s. That way, we don’t interrupt the scene that’s in progress or have to deal with a flashback, but we still get to witness the abduction. Two columns of 5 panels split between the two points of view. In the 3rd on Aminia’s side we see something in the background (a light going on in a doorway or whatever), then in the 4th we see silhouettes of hands obscuring much of the scene, then in the 5th she’s gone. They imagine an opening splash page of the fight, a page of “normal” action showing what the heroes are up to, then this page where she’s taken.
  • The heroes finish the fight and GTFO back to HQ to see what’s going on. While they’re looking around the big TV display turns on and we get Glamour gloating about what she’s done with Aminia tied to a chair in the background and with an invitation to the specific address to find them and the fact that it’s a warehouse filled with traps. Adam thinks that it’s also a public broadcast issuing a challenge to the Freedom Five (it’s stepping on the toes of The Entertainer’s shtick, but for this era it’s probably still fitting for Glamour). Christopher’s initial “read” of how this is presented was very silly, but he reminds us that Glamour takes herself very seriously and that’s the actual tone this would have. She wants the world to see that she’s gotten one over on the Freedom Five by stealing their most useful asset and then defeats their attempts to get her back.
  • The next several pages are “and then they do so.” There might be a quick few panels of the heroes planning - not because the act of planning is interesting, but because we get to see them making plans while already out of sorts. Maybe a bit of bickering and obviously missing Aminia’s influence. They’ve learned nothing from her after all of this time other than that they’ve come to need her.
  • They joke about Glamour having named her hideout and Glam-O-Drome gets tossed out there. They decide that the place looks like a warehouse, but we’re talking about Glamour here. That’s an illusion and as soon as the heroes step onto the property it looks all snazzy. Why not? The front of the building is a big screen showing Glamour’s “face” as she begins doing essentially a sports broadcast of the heroes’ attempts. The first bit while the heroes are still outside takes the form of taunts where she basically tells them exactly what they’ll be facing (of course, that leads to some second-guessing - Tachyon in particular is prone to overthinking the whole situation).
  • We don’t need to see every bit of nonsense that the heroes are stumbling through, but we get something like the 2nd big monologue from Glamour (once the heroes are inside the Glam-O-Drome proper) from Glamour’s perspective, so we see the minions working at screens around her and Aminia in the background and whatnot. After she’s done with the taunts she makes a comment about how dumb the heroes are and how they’re going to get hung up on such-and-such an obstacle and we get enough background detail to confirm that’s what happens to them. We don’t need all of the minutia.
  • Anyway, sometime in here we also get a conversation between Aislin Allen and Aminia Twain where the former is basically asking the latter what she wants out of life/everything and telling her that she could absolutely take the heroes apart with what she knows about them. Even if what she wants to do is “good”, bypassing these costumed jerks and just acting directly with her knowledge could accomplish a lot. This was the era in comics where the writing moved into more introspective social commentary stuff and so this message fits in with that trend. Glamour’s showing some self-awareness here, but Aminia turns that around on her - which doesn’t really work. Glamour is out to make the heroes look foolish and make money in the process and is well aware of what it is she’s getting out of this.
  • So, we have a few things that Aminia still has to accomplish in this issue. She has to get free, somehow foil Glamour’s plan, and make the Freedom Five “not look like doofs in front of everyone” - like, not just help the heroes get out of this situation, but look good in the process. From the public’s point of view, the Freedom Five will have saved the day, but from Glamour’s point of view, she just got completely dismantled by Aminia Twain.
  • Well, given that Glamour’s shtick this time around is to tell the heroes what to expect and then when they mess things up she gets to taunt them about being so inept. Maybe she somehow slips and does the same thing with Aminia during their conversation - telling her what she needs to know to get out and foil the villain, only Aminia is on top of things enough to actually capitalize on the information. It’d be fun to have a coda for this issue where Aminia visits Glamour in jail (she’s not there long, don’t worry) and goes over all of this. It has a nice symmetry for this story and shows how these two characters are both very intelligent and are adept at manipulating events, just one of them (until much later) does so to do good.
  • The first thing, then, is to figure out how she gets free. She’s tied to a chair because that’s the classic image. Do we go beyond that? We could say that the chair bit is just for the optics (because Glamour) but that she’s also in a force field or something. There’s little reason for that to be the case, though, since Aminia Twain is just a normal person without anything like escape artist training or anything. Maybe it’s not there to stop Aminia from getting out but to keep the heroes from getting to her. That way it’s presence could be key to Aminia’s escape. Maybe it projects force outward, so that if she manages to get the ropes/chair up against the field it’ll get eaten away until she’s free and then she finds something to short out the field. The problem with this is that it sounds “loud and obvious” so she must trick Glamour into leaving the room.
  • The way to do that is to have Aminia pull Glamour’s own trick here. Glamour wants to get access to the Freedom Five’s communication channel so she can get better audio for her broadcast or something. Aminia does the “there’s now way for you to do that, you’d have to [she explains the way the system works] but you can only do that from Freedom Five HQ and there’s no way you’d get in there alone” thing so now the adversary has been given precise knowledge of how to proceed, but framing it as a challenge. She just needs Glamour and her goons to leave the room for a few minutes. There can even be a bit where Glamour is onto the fact that this is a ruse of some sort, but Aminia claims to “not be good at that” and that her hope is that Glamour’s absence gives the team enough time to get to her. “That’s where you’re wrong!” We’re in this modern year of 1974 and Glamour has a hand-held device that she can use to keep watching/taunting the heroes from wherever she goes. Oh, well that certainly ruins Aminia’s plans. Darn.
  • So, there’s still a few Mirror Minions left, but they’re big dummies. She does the thing to get free from the chair and their response is to say something like “stop her!” at which point they shut off the force field so that they can get her themselves rather than just letting the field continue to contain her. She ducks under them as they collide trying to tackle her and then she turns the field back on to trap them.
  • We cut to Glamour as she succeeds in doing the stuff that Aminia Twain told her about and she goes about just setting up there in FFHQ since “monitoring the Freedom Five” was what Aminia had the whole thing set up to do in the first place. It makes sense for her to just continue to broadcast from there, which conveniently keeps her out of Aminia’s hair back at the Glam-O-Drome.
  • So, now we get to the fun part where Glamour is now on the heroes’ comms, they’re worried about that, but then Aminia starts putting up messages just out of sight of the cameras that Glamor has set up “Hey guys. It’s me. Take the third door” kinds of things.
  • Adam feels like we need to have a big robot in here. We can have the heroes separated at some point so we have Tachyon overthinking which door to take, meanwhile Legacy’s off somewhere fighting a big robot, etc. They’re dealing with their individual challenges and have compromised communications, but Aminia’s there to get them back on track. Importantly, Aminia’s feeding the heroes information they need to succeed, but neither Glamour nor the public can see those messages.
  • They like the idea of also having Glamour setting up in FFHQ backfiring by the automated security systems getting activated as well. Glamour’s plots are foiled and she’s angry/annoyed, but “At least I still have their headquarters!” Then Aminia walks in behind her and the automated security system traps Glamour and the Mirror Minions in force fields as well or something. You think you can come in here, into my house, and take over?
  • Meanwhile the heroes have all caught up to one another at the robot fight and they succeed in defeating it. Normally it would be rigged to explode, but Aminia, now back where she belongs, talks them through defusing it.
  • And so the heroes are triumphant. They come back to base and unmask Glamour. Then we get the scene at the jail between Aminia and Aislin.
  • There we go. A fun ’70s story that they wouldn’t feel they’d wasted their 25 cents on. Something that gives some new perspective on exactly what Aminia’s role is.
    • The 25 cents thing gets them going off on a tangent for a while - comics are too expensive these days. Adjusting for inflation, a comic going for $0.25 in 1974 would still be under $2 today and Marvel and DC are $4 minimum with many being $5 instead. This bit runs from 41 the minute mark through 46 minutes and goes into a lot of stuff regarding paper and printing.

Questions

  • What is it like for Aminia working at FFHQ? How does she feel about it? What is her relationship with the FF like? Do the heroes ask how her day is/do nice things for her? How long is she at the HQ daily? The answer varies by writer. Some will have her be there from before the sun is up until after dark and happy to be there the whole time. Others might show things from her perspective where she’s overworked and unappreciated. The “truth” is likely somewhere in between. This story in particular likely comes close on the heels of one such example of the latter type and is likely a turning point in how she’s portrayed with regards to how it’s shown that the team treats her going forward. Wraith was likely pretty bad about treating her appropriately, but Absolute Zero was probably better than the rest on that score. Even Legacy kind of treats all citizens the same, but AZ would get it even if she’s putting forward the chipper happy-to-help face. He stands up for himself by being grumpy at people in return, but she doesn’t even do that much and he would stand up for her on “feel free to tell them ‘no’ if you need to” kinds of things. Today’s issue’s coda likely even touches on some of these topics in terms of “yeah, sometimes they’ve had a bad day” but she still puts up with them because it’s all in service to the greater good that they’re all working for. They can see Tachyon asking how her day is in the middle of a string of other questions/requests and moving on before she has a chance to actually answer.
  • Who did Aminia’s job after she became a villain? She seemed pretty central to the Freedom Five’s success prior to that heel turn, so who’s doing that job afterwards? It’s a team rather than a single replacement. Part of that is just that she was so good at the job that it’s hard to find a single suitable replacement, but there’s also a bit of compartmentalization for safety/redundancy reasons. It’s also worth noting that from Miss Information’s betrayal through the end of the Multiverse era, it’s kind of a chaotic situation at Freedom Tower. If anybody could be seen as “running things” at Freedom Tower after Aminia’s no longer doing the job, it’s probably Legacy and he does not have time for this. They mentioned that the PR team likely didn’t have direct access to the heroes before, but now they do and so the team has to deal with that as well. This all plays into the restructuring of the team in the Sentinels of Freedom era. It’s more of an actual organization rather than just being focused on 5 people.
  • Who’s the Steph Dismas person that’s listed as being a contact in the Freedom Plaza write-up in the RPG book? Is the last name a religious reference (“St. Dismas” was the repentant thief crucified next to Jesus)? Her name is not a reference to the saint. She is not the “new Aminia Twain”, but is simply the person in charge of scheduling meeting spaces and events at Freedom Plaza. She’s one of many people at that kind of level. She is not “important.”
  • While the Scholar predates the concept of Omegas by a long while, they’re these weird characters who gain powers from this science source involving ley-lines (Isoflux Alpha’s creation relies on them) which makes them seem like a natural match-up for him; if Scholar became aware of them, could he “cure” Omegas with alchemy? They think “no” - they’ve been irrevocably changed by Isoflux Alpha. You might be able to do something with temporal shenanigans by reverting them to an earlier state, but alchemy couldn’t do it. We likely don’t even see Omegas in Scholar stories that much (outside of their convenient use as a retcon for a previously-unexplained villain power source). He’s more active in the history of the Multiverse era rather than the latter parts of it where Omegas actually start showing up (at which point he’s mainly in his working-with-Guise mode).
  • It doesn’t seem like Scholar is all that willing to be “active” with his alchemy outside of severe circumstances, but does Biomancer know about Isoflux Alpha? Would he use a promise of “fixing” their condition as a means of gaining servants? Scholar isn’t inactive with his alchemy, we just don’t often see it on the page where he’s mixing things and whatnot. It’s just not often very interesting visually in terms of what they choose to put on the page. Not that it’s never shown, just occasionally. Something they’d glossed over earlier, though, they don’t think that Scholar knows about Isoflux Alpha (so few people do, after all). Does Biomancer? Not pre-OblivAeon (or if he does, it’s not really clear to him what it is but he knows there’s something and has an inkling about it - certainly at least that there are these weird powered individuals showing up all of a sudden without an obvious reason), but they think he does in the RPG era (or at least is starting to figure things out). We haven’t yet seen Biomancer actually making use of this knowledge yet, though.
  • How would the villains from the Scholar Foes episode react to the Scholar’s death? Do they even remember him (maybe Waykeep would have the best reason to still remember)? None of them react because nobody remembers Scholar except Guise. They think that there’s a chance that Waykeep could be reminded of him if she were to encounter some remnant of his power or something. She might be somewhat aware that something is missing, but she doesn’t know what. There’s still evidence that something was here and messed with the ley lines, but she can’t remember what that thing is and that’s a problem for her.
  • Assuming Waykeep’s human body was destroyed during OblivAeon, could Waykeep’s “spirit” be the key to returning John to existence (I can’t think of a better option given her connection to the Scholar and we’ve got to find some way of bringing these dead heroes back, am I right?)? Wait. You can’t think of anyone who’s a better direct connection to the Scholar? Anyway, they kind of feel like Scholar is gone. Speaking very candidly directly to the audience: they don’t treat death as the revolving door that it is in most mainstream “real” comics. That is a strength of their storytelling, but it is also one of the biggest failures of their attempts at comics verisimilitude. Due to that latter point Adam feels a little joy whenever they manage to sneak in a “death of [x]” story earlier in the comics history because at least that’s something. Mr. Fixer and Argent Adept are the main “real” examples. Never say never, but they don’t have plans for bringing Scholar back. There are other characters who are “gone but can be not-gone” but he’s not one that they have plans around. They strongly feel that anyone who died during OblivAeon would feel like cheating even more than usual to bring back as it cheapens their sacrifice.
  • How does Waykeep feel about Guise post-OblivAeon? Does he continue to warp ley lines due to his connection to the Philosopher’s Stone? Is this a wait-and-see situation? Guise doesn’t warp the ley lines like Scholar did. Scholar was actively pulling/pushing on the ley lines to do his thing. Guise might leave ripples across the system when he does things, but it’s not nearly as sharp as the distortions that Scholar was causing. He’s a vague anomaly rather than an active “threat” to the system. Scholar was transmuting things and Guise is himself a transmutation - he has been/is continuously transmuted. The thing that he does to the ley lines has already been done rather than him doing more things. The Philosopher’s Stone is just part of him now - think like the Isoflux Alpha thing above. It was joined with him and is now just part of him - it’s not “within” him, it is him. You likely couldn’t remove it from him again as it’s not a separate thing. They think that somebody with the right tools and skills could likely use Guise as the basis to create a new Philosopher’s Stone (which might just kill him), but even then it might be easier to just find a way to use Guise as a Philosopher’s Stone. That seems really difficult, though.
  • Was there a story where Unity fought Thorny Devil? If so, did Mr. Chomps defeat the chompy mister? If Unity ever fought him, there was definitely a Chomps-off. The timing works for them to have met and that could be a fun Justice Comics issue (or at least a backup story). They could see that being either a funny story or a really serious “see how bad this dude is, taking bites out of Mr. Chomps like it’s nothing” kind of thing.
  • Does Lyin’ Man really never tell the truth? Man, that’s fun. They can totally see a Southwest Sentinels story where this guy shows up, declares that he is Lion Man and gets really frustrated when people play up the mondegreen.
  • [Fun Princess Cool - not Princess Kewl - letter at 1:15:50 playing up more fleshchild replacements of Adam/Christopher nonsense that we haven’t seen for a while.] Could you, Christopher, judge Adam’s behavior to make sure he’s not a fleshchild (I know I can trust you since your fleshchild was defeated back in the Biomancer episode)? Lately Adam’s been killing it on the art - if he’s a fleshchild that’s probably for the best.
  • Could you ship Scholar/Guise? They would not, but that never stops anyone. It’s weird to them due to the large age gap between the two of them. [Christopher then hates himself for going with: maybe if Guise initiates it? Scholar would protest because he’s like Guise’s teacher. “That’s what makes it hot.” Instant regret for putting that out into the world. I had to hear it so you have to read it.]
  • Have any of the fan nicknames for the characters been used in the Metaverse/Comics universe? Here is a short list, but feel free to add others that you know: [Quick answer: the ones that fans use here are almost assuredly the same things people would use in the Metaverse. Some shortened names likely happen in comics too, but not all.]
    • Legacy = Legs? No, unless someone’s doing it in a jokey way. Maybe Unity
    • Absolute Zero = AZ? Yes, but “Zero” is also used a lot since it makes more sense as a spoken thing.
    • Expatriette = Expat? Definitely.
    • Argent Adept = Argent? No.
    • Argent Adept = Adept? Maybe, as kind of a title. More likely for a villain using it.
    • Captain Cosmic = Cap? Yeah, but not a lot and only when addressing him.
    • Chrono-Ranger = Ranger? No.
    • Dr. Medico = Doc? Yes. Mainstay likely calls him that 90% of the time. People call Tachyon “Doc” as well (especially Unity and AZ).
    • Scholar = [the weird mispronunciations you guys joke with]? That’s not really a nickname/mispronunciation.

Cover Discussion

  • First thing, it’s the ’70s so they get to do the thing Christopher always wants: Words on the cover! The cover needs to convey the story is about Aminia getting kidnapped (not how she gets out of trouble or that the villain plan is to make the Freedom Five look foolish), so we can just have her being carried away by somebody. Probably not Glamour herself, but have it be one of her thugs and observant readers can figure it out (but Adam can also just have the figure in shadow or something). Christopher suggests that our words are “Secretary Stolen!” but that’s a bit awkward, so we go with “Secretary Seized!”