Podcasts/Episode 238

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The Letters Page: Episode 238
Writers' Room: Mystery Comics Vol. 2 #200

Mystery Comics Vol 2 200.png

Original Source

Primary Topic


Issue 200?! What a major issue!

Show Notes:

Run Time: 1:13:53

This episode represents a cross over from the end of January, into the month of romance, shipping, and longing glances across a crowded room. The story in this episode probably won't give you your romance story fix... but next week will be... worse?! Probably. Anyway, we cover a bunch of issues in this episode! Listen and find out!

We also answer many questions on a variety of topics! As per usual!

Join us next week for Episode #239: a romance the fans hated! Hoooo boy...

Characters Mentioned



  • Unlike the last few episodes where they already had big chunks of it worked out, this one hasn’t had any prep. “A time when Montgomery Industries had a hostile takeover” is the prompt. Given the schedule slip that pushed this one into February, let’s go ahead and make the “villain” of the issue Valentine.
  • If we’re making him the opposition, Christopher feels like this is a ’90s or ’00s story rather than something like the ’70s. The ’90s is the point where Valentine reveals that he’s actually fallen in love with the Wraith (and she doesn’t believe him). Do we want this to be before or after that point? Before: first, given that this is the first Valentine story they’re telling as a major episode feature they should probably make it a “standard” one (although this could be the issue where he catches feelings for her at the end). Second, if this was after that point, the corporate takeover thing would have to be something he did because of his feelings for her (either as some weird attempt to get her attention/into her good graces or as a “jilted lover” spiteful move) and they feel like the plot would be better if it’s before that point.
  • With that decided, let’s choose the issue. Do we want it before or after Vengeance? Before sounds better, so that really restricts things to 1990 or ’91 if we want to keep it in the ’90s generally. Christopher suggests that it could still be in the lead-up period where Exordium was happening, but Adam doesn’t want it “touching” Vengeance - this was the first big, company-wide crossover where every book had the branding on it. Adam doesn’t think that was true of even the main Voss event from a few years prior (some of the minor side books probably weren’t roped into that one). Oh! Is this “issue #200-worthy”? Yeah, okay. Mystery Comics vol. 2 #200 from April 1990 it is. Valentine may not be appropriate for this kind of issue on his own, but they can make this plot enough of a “turning point” kind of thing to make it work and having it be not only a Wraith plot but a Maia Montgomery plot is cool.
  • The realization that this “Valentine” plot is in April convinces them to expand this out to a three-issue arc (titled “Valentine’s Day” because of course it is) beginning in February and ending with issue #200. This is after it stops being a twice-a-month title (that ended in December ’86) and MC has been heavily Wraith-focused since then. Somewhat after this point it goes back to being “mostly Wraith, but also plenty of other stuff”.
  • So, issue #200 ends with him realizing (to his horror) that he’s actually in love with Maia. Does he also realize that Maia is the Wraith and that he’s in love with both? Yes, but he probably discovers her secret identity in issue #198.
  • We can have the story begin with him starting up his next plot: using his powers to take over Montgomery Industries. Just get all of the board of directors and whatnot under his sway and take it over. At the end of that issue, he’s succeeded and then, with unfettered access to Montgomery Industries he’s able to piece it together.
  • Adam disagrees. He thinks that rather than this being a 3-issue story where she loses and regains the company that it should be a 3-issue story detailing her losing the company and then she spends 6 months to a year without it before she gets it back. That gives us an era of her story where she has to work without the vast resources of her family company (conveniently brushing aside the fact that her connections to the Freedom Five can probably get her whatever she needs anyway).
  • That’s fun. It also gives us the point at the end of issue #200 where Valentine is sitting at the top of his new business empire. He’s acquired everything he set out to, only to realize that he’ll never have the affection of the woman he loves.
  • We start in #198 with him getting his plot rolling, coming in as a consultant or something. Then by #200 he’s completed that mission. As such, the latter issue probably is the one that gets the “Valentine’s Day” issue title specifically. The fact that this issue lands in April probably irritated some readers. That’s probably the “correct” move for how this shook out, though. Christopher’s suggestion of #198’s title: “Be Mine” because he wants the company. We need another for #199… “Check Yes or No” which works because it can include stuff like people signing contracts or something.
  • Okay, so #198 gets the plot rolling and by the end of it he discovers that the CEO of the company he’s attempting to take over is actually the Wraith. He doesn’t really know Maia Montgomery, but he knows the Wraith. He’s been working his way to Maia Montgomery through the various board members and whatnot but hasn’t managed to get into the same room as her. She knows who he is and has been dodging him intentionally.
  • Do we want his discover to finally be when he manages to get into the same room as her just as she’s in the process of taking off her mask? That’s fun. The original thought was that he’d managed to figure it out now that he’s got access to the company records or whatever, but Adam doesn’t think that he’s smart to the point that piecing things together like that is in-character for him. He’s all about manipulating people via their emotions. Oh, no, this is good: he uses his powers on people who divulge information about Maia. He does this to enough people to piece it together and so he’s waiting in her office when she returns from patrol, like a parent staying up to catch their kid sneaking in after curfew.
  • Issue #199 is a cat and mouse thing. They’ve had that “will they/won’t they” thing over the last several years of his existence as a character. The thing that he’s doing in this story is by all appearances all above-board rather than criminal (there’s the mind control thing, but that’s hard to prove). There’s just not much here that Wraith can “fight”. He spends this issue wooing her and attempting to use his powers on her. This ain’t her first rodeo, though, and she’s got various devices or pills of some chemical she’s worked on to counteract his powers and otherwise keep him at bay. He spends this issue being incredibly successful with everybody else in the company that has power, but not her.
  • The idea for #200 is, then, that Valentine needs to keep Maia away from a crucial board vote where they’ll elect him as the new CEO. To accomplish that, he arranges for minor villains to show up and keep Wraith busy [Christopher does a good bit here in the 25th minute of the episode as Labyrinth and pointing out that we still don’t know at this point why he builds these mazes - they don’t even have traps or anything; they’re just mazes].
  • So, for most of the issue Wraith is dealing with a bunch of her classic rogues gallery villains. It’s a big double-sized issue that’s a who’s who of Wraith villains. Spite’s not going to be there, but we’d get Ermine, Crossword, Skeleton Key, Hangman, the Entertainer, Mr. Hideous, Doctor Rubber, and Saw Man (but not Bloodless or Comrade Cockroach). They wind up nixing Ermine due to the proximity to Vengeance - not that she couldn’t get away at the end here, but it’s more fun to have Saw Man but not Ermine to confuse the readers. Then she gets a big spotlight in the big event on the horizon.
  • Some of the villains are just fighting her. Some, like the Entertainer, actually have plots going on that she has to go out of her way to foil. All of the villains manage to get away in the chaos - she just doesn’t have time for everything going on. Wraith’s inner monologue the whole time is worry about getting back to the board meeting before the vote and maybe she radios her assistant between fights to try to stall, etc. She eventually gets to the board room and it’s empty except for Valentine at the head of the table. She asks what he’s done to the board. Oh, they’re off enjoying their retirements with the handsome payouts they received as severance. “You see, Ms. Montgomery. Or should I say ‘the Wraith’? You’re looking at the board.” He offers her a place with him here at the top, by his side. “I want this. I want us!” She’s not going to fall for his tricks, though, and so she’s escorted from the building with her things.
  • In the coda we have him thinking about how his offer was genuine and that he wasn’t using his powers. He wanted her by his side. Is there a way to make that clear without just having him say it? How about he’s contemplating a note from some RevoCorp scientist that’s explaining that the device they had him wearing for the last week to try to reactivate his powers hasn’t appeared to work - they’ve registered no change. He takes off the watch that he’s been wearing this whole time and crushes it. He managed all of this with just his natural charm, persuasiveness, and other mundane resources, not powers. He can get his powers back later, but the coda here is just establishing that for whatever reason he didn’t have them for this story and so his appeal to her was genuine.
  • When does she get her company back? Let’s put it after Vengeance - we can even have it coinciding with the building of Freedom Tower. The “debrief” issue of Freedom Five where we see the plans for Freedom Tower was #506 in June ’92 so let’s put her reclaiming of Montgomery Industries that same month, Mystery Comics vol. 2 #226. We don’t need to decide how she gets it back now, just making notes so they know definitively when she doesn’t have it. This is probably really annoying for the continuity nerds out there in that Freedom Five stories likely don’t really show how losing the resources of the company would effect her access to some gadget that, historically, she could only use because of Montgomery Industries stuff while Mystery Comics would have her deal with not having the thing in question.


  • How well-respected within the corporate structure of Montgomery Industries is Maia (considering she was a recent graduate in a technical field who was just handed the leadership of the business by her parents)? Did she ever have to fight to maintain her position as CEO? Does she ever struggle within that role? Does she have advisors or members of the board that she trusts as advisors? Yes to all of that. Much more so in the ’70s. By the ’80s the board is mostly in lockstep with Maia. There’s probably a few detractors in there as the story requires, but they’re a minority. There’s also likely some going back and forth on that depending on the writer as well (which is where Valentine steps in since his opening moves are probably to approach the people who are not in agreement with Maia). It wasn’t a great look for this “trust fund brat” to be handed the company, but she does the legwork over the years to earn respect in the position.
  • How does Maia’s crusade change without Montgomery Industries’ backing (changing up her equipment to be more reusable, using older less tech-reliant costumes, resorting to more questionable funding sources, etc.)? She definitely does some of that - going from “devices that fire projectiles” to “throwing projectiles by hand” for example. There’s probably even some scenes showing her bothering to collect things that she’s thrown after a fight. She probably “runs out” of things at least once. The point is to impose some constraints on this character who’s been super competent for so long. She’s still competent, but she has to lean more on her ingenuity now that her endless wealth is unavailable (not that she’s destitute). Again, this is all in Mystery Comics - her characterization in Freedom Five is basically unchanged, with maybe an offhand comment here or there about her ongoing struggle to retake the company. That’s par for the course - her adventures with the Freedom Five never seem to care about what her solo stories in Mystery Comics are doing (having her be somewhere in space and doing stuff in Rook City in the same month, say). They like the idea for her having to do more shady stuff… There’s room for her to make a deal with the Chairman in early-to-mid ’91. Maybe in the fallout of today’s story Montgomery Industries puts out a press release about previous leadership of the company was okay with occasional contact with the Wraith, current management does not condone vigilante justice. Then the Wraith is approached by a representative of Pike Industries to offer her “sponsorship” so that happens for a few issues - like, she knows it’s bad but needs some resources to help take down some bigger problem. Oh, simultaneously the Organization is making a big push since the Wraith is less of a problem for the time being and Pike decides to play both sides of this thing. Wraith gets “sent” on some out of the way missions unrelated to what the Organization is really doing. They put this as a two-part story (MC #214-5 in June and July ’91) called “The Hand that Feeds”.
  • Assuming that Montgomery Industries is a publicly traded company, why have the Chairman or other “business villains” allowed it to exist and fund the Wraith? What did such villains think of the reveal in the April Fool’s Day issue where Maia’s identity was revealed? There have definitely been stories where we had Pike vs. Montgomery “business stories” where he tries to take it over or otherwise put it out of business. It’s never been fully successful, but it’s there as a threat. Pike’s methodology for that kind of thing is less corporate/legal and more simply attempts to make the company bleed money through sabotage or whatnot. Following the April Fool’s episode, Maia arranges something to “prove” that she and the Wraith are separate people. They also don’t think there’s enough time between the reveal and the “proof” for anything to really happen. Like, Mark Benedetto or Vince Snyder might hear about it and then start spinning up some plot to take advantage of it, but before anything really gets moving she “proves” that the reveal was erroneous.
  • Has she ever fought a corporate-type villain as Wraith and lost only to then win as Maia Montgomery using her business acumen instead? Was that villain Mark Benedetto? We know that exact thing happens with Mark in the story that her DE card Leverage depicts. That’s a story from August ’89.
  • In Editor’s Note 52 you mention that Katie Vance knows about her brother and the Wraith’s relationship; does Katie know that Tyler is dating Maia or just that he’s dating the Wraith? She knows that Maia is the Wraith. Tyler always acts like she doesn’t.
  • In episode 236 where you created a new RPG adventure you mentioned the Paradigms Initiative getting off the ground and implied that the Paradigms doesn’t have a set roster, but does have some “anchor” characters like Benchmark, Unity, and Omnitron-U; given that RevoCorp is trying to turn over a new leaf, will the team include any villains-turned-heroes? If so, can you reveal a few? First up, Omnitron-U isn’t on the team [I note that they’ve said that the heroic Omnitron in the RPG era is just “Omnitron”, so this is at least one of those exact wording things where it’s accurate that Omnitron-U isn’t even if it turns out that Omnitron is]. They have confirmed out lound/on purpose Benchmark and Unity and then accidentally that Parse is. The team including former villains sounds like a solid maybe. They can’t reveal any, sorry. They’re doing some special things with that roster and it’s too early.
  • In Editor’s Note 63 it was mentioned that Haka was one of the occasional teachers at Freedom Academy; what does she teach? If it was still Aata the “obvious” answer seems to be history, but since Arataki is from another universe, was her history similar enough for that to still be a good choice? They imagine that there’s enough wrong that she couldn’t teach history like Aata could. She would be a good history teacher, but she’d have to do a fair amount of prep work to double check that things for accuracy first. The other thing she could teach is multiversal theory stuff. Not from a theoretical standpoint (as even the people who are experts there don’t really understand it fully), but dealing with other realities and the people from them. “Multiversal social studies.” Also: P.E.
  • You’ve said that the Freedom Five are a squeaky-clean team (what with their status as a very public arm of the government), but also that Tachyon is responsible for supplying Expatriette with her specialty ammunition; does this mean that the US government has been supplying an illegal alien with high-powered munitions with the express intention to use them against US citizens?
  • Lacking resupply from Tachyon, which of the following methods has Expatriette used:
    • Making it herself (seems more possible for some types than others)?
    • Asking NightMist for help?
    • Getting somebody outside of either team to supply them (although the team seems perpetually cash-strapped so paying with cash seems like it might be difficult)?
    • Stealing stuff from local multi-billion-dollar corporations?
    • Montgomery Industries; say, just finding the ammunition she needs coincidentally in the dumpster out back?
  • [Answer to the above multi-part question] We know that there’s a gunsmith named Girder (pictured on Expatriette’s DE “Black Market Contact”) who made Pride and Prejudice for her. Sometimes she gets stuff from Tachyon, sometimes from him. Montgomery Industries is a great option for funneling resources to her [they tell a story briefly about how businesses call lost/stolen merchandise “shrink” when balancing the books - Expat once tells Setback that she’s going to talk to her shrink and he is all proud of her taking this step, etc. In reality, “Shrink” is the nickname for this guy in Montgomery Industries who is responsible for selling her lots of gear at steep discounts for favors.] The stuff from Tachyon is mostly “here is one special bullet because we know it will take out the bad guy we’re fighting and we need you to take the shot” (but then it turns out that Mr. Fixer winds up being the one who needs to take the shot because Expat gets taken out or something). Anyway, it’s stuff like that where Tachyon supplies things for a specific situation, but then Expat reverse engineers them so she can make/get more.

Cover Discussion

  • Adam knows what he wants for issue #200. Wraith jumping/action pose in the front. The faces of all of the villains behind her. Do we want/can there be words? Looking things up you can go either way; both “no words” and “way too many words” were era-appropriate, so we’ll see what Adam works out.