Podcasts/Episode 241

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The Letters Page: Episode 241
Creative Process: The Naturalist & Akash’Thriya Foes

Original Source

Primary Topic


Let's get natural!

Show Notes:

Run Time: 1:58:14

We have a variety of ideas for foes, and we don't even explore all the ideas we mention! That fine — this episode ended up coming in on the long side, anyway.

You asked us a bunch of questions! We answer many of them! Keep asking more! We like it.

Join us next week for a Writers' Room episode about Rambler vs. Spite!

Oh, and about an hour after this episode goes live, the Sentinels of the Multiverse: Disparation campaign goes live!

Characters Mentioned



  • Naturalist and Akash’Thriya foes! Who could possibly not like those two? Well, there are a lot of people who would probably be justified in not liking Akash. Naturalist’s tendency to bust through the door and shame people for polluting likely rubs them the wrong way too. Have some tact, guy!
  • They’ve got a narrower window here than they do for many of these kinds of episodes given how short a time Akash’Thriya was around. They can do an earlier Naturalist one - this doesn’t have to be just foes of the pair together. They probably want to do at least one enemy for each of them individually and for them together. It might be fun to make a villain who’s been around for longer than either of them that winds up becoming a particular foe of theirs. Like, somebody who was made to be a Tempest villain but then were reused more effectively for this duo.
  • Who do we already have? Professor Pollution, Terrorform, Bugbear, Equity, Necrosis, RevoCorp generally… ’90s polluter villains is the main theme. They could maybe use another one of those - Naturalist has a long enough run that having one more isn’t too much.
  • When Tome of the Bizarre becomes TotB Presents: The Naturalist at volume 3 #100 in July ’96, that was probably preceded by a number of stories in that book that prompted the idea; he showed up often enough that they just decided to make it official. Akash’Thriya first appears in #170 (May 2002) - shortly after that the book becomes a “duo” book (without being renamed or anything: much like how Terminal Ballistics went from an Expatriette solo book to her duoing with Setback). Probably that happens probably sometime in 2003 - let’s say March in issue #180.
  • An obvious Akash’Thriya foe seems like somebody who has a specific grievance with Akash’Bhuta. The problem there is that the people she was a villain “for” are throughout history. She only had a few modern appearances within the modern context of the comics. She was around for a short period as a villain (more appearances than, say, Matriarch) and then was mostly in the background as a “force of nature” for things like how Naturalist got powers in the first place.
  • They haven’t really said a whole lot about her transition to being a hero, just that it was a Professor Pollution thing. The general types of damage that the Prof. was doing was weakening the slumbering Akash’Bhuta and Naturalist helped “wake her up” early to prevent her death. That by necessity required her to change/evolve as she pulls a form together with what power she’s got left and then she’s Akash’Thriya. This was in TotB vol. 3 #170 mentioned above.
  • They could do a “Void thing” - they have Voidsoul later, but that doesn’t mean they can’t do one here too. That’s not bad - let’s sort out some categories. Void for Akash’Thriya. Some kind of “backlash” thing for Naturalist; they’ve done enough pollution-themed ones, so maybe some kind of corporate guy. Equity kind of qualifies in that he was sent after him by corporate guys. Someone who was running a company that, if not polluting directly, were tied into bad stuff and Naturalist gets them shut down and the guy has a vendetta against him for that. They could also go the route of somebody who was a victim of the bad stuff that Conteh Energy was doing for a while there and turned into a monster as a result. Somebody with legitimate grievances over something that happened in the past, but is in the “villain” category due to the way they’re going about things now.
  • That latter one is something they could even work in fairly early in the Naturalist’s history. Probably before he took over TotB, but it could likely be something that was involved in the run-up to his tenure. Justice Comics is the other book that makes the most sense, but they could also drop him into a story in Alpha or The Savage Haka or something. That being said, TotB is probably the right place and so we’re dropping this one into volume 3 #66, September ’93.
  • Adam proposes somebody “made of pollution” here (like, muck or radiation, etc.). Christopher likes “made of muck” as the gimmick since it gives them the “shape” of a character type that they don’t really have yet. Magman is kind of there, but being made of lava is a different kind of hazard. Somebody whose body can just kind of “blorp” is hard for, say, a rhinoceros or a crocodile to injure. The name they come up with is Sludgeon (like “bludgeon” but with sludge). This kind of guy gets some good angst potential later on. He gets some kind of containment suit or whatnot and has plans to just be “normal” again, which of course doesn’t work out.
  • Christopher’s idea is that Sludgeon’s natural state is just a puddle of sludge. He can exert himself and through sheer force of will powered by anger he can form up into Sludgeon. If you can calm him down, he’ll just revert back to an inanimate glob. Having somebody whose “powers” are tied to emotions is also something they haven’t really done before.
  • Let’s say that he was a worker at Conteh Energy who discovered that the company was just dumping waste somewhere and was going to blow the whistle on it. He reports it to Vince Snyder who wants to know more. They’re going to blow this thing wide open with the police and media and everything, but he wants to see it for himself first. Then Vince just pushes the guy into the sludge. The site gets paved over, but over the course of a few months sludge starts to ooze up from beneath.
  • They think that this happened before the whole “Michael Conteh shows up after becoming the Naturalist and cleans house” thing, which means that the backstory for Sludgeon is told in flashback. Years elapse between him getting pushed into the gunk and emerging as Sludgeon. We get a montage between the two showing the advent of the Naturalist and the company changing course afterwards. Things keep cutting away to the new parking lot that shows the sludge seeping up over time.
  • Eventually, Michael’s doing a walk-and-talk with an employee out to the parking lot when this sludge monster crashes up through the floor. He’s not articulate at this stage. Anyway, the employee gets knocked out in the attack, leaving Michael the opportunity to go into hero mode and change shape. They do the thing mentioned earlier where the rhino charges through him and whatnot but can’t be hurt. As we go, more and more sludge gets pulled up into his form that gets bigger and bigger, eventually it cries out that “You! You are responsible for all this!” as the head of the company. Stilted as the sentences are, it’s enough to show that there’s a person in there and that they might be reasoned with. During the rest of the fight he tries to get this thing to calm down, which ultimately succeeds.
  • So, at the end of that first fight Sludgeon just turns back into ooze that seeps back down into the ground under the parking lot. Adam thinks that some later story has to involve the company catching/containing him and trying to do something about it. Of course, he eventually breaks out and causes problems. Part of the corporate intrigue there is that Michael Conteh is very interested in helping this guy and figuring out what happened, but Vince Snyder has very good reasons to not want this guy “fixed” since he’s pretty sure where it came from. Anyway, there’s probably at least one bit where during a fight Naturalist gets thrown aside and Sludgeon goes after Vince - his focus becomes so complete that he manages to form his old face for a moment, which is the point where Vince absolutely knows what’s going on.
  • Tragic villains are something they don’t have a lot of. It’s really sad that the only time this guy can even start to approach “humanity” is when he’s fully enraged, which is no way to live.
  • A bit earlier Adam threw out “Jeffrey” as the guy’s name, and so that’s who he is now. They go with Jeffrey Liu.
  • Let’s jump forward to make up a Void thing for Akash’Thriya and then back to the middle ground for the duo foe.
  • Do we want to do this after 2009 when their duo book ends? Akash’Thriya has to still show up in solo stories, but they’d just be minor things here and there. They could still just put her in Tome of the Bizarre after that point in volume 4 (after the old host of the book is reintroduced). Well, maybe they shouldn’t do that because of the narrator stuff, but getting into why is something they’ll have to just handwave for now - they aren’t Writers’ Rooming it, though, so maybe it’s okay to just talk about the villain they make up.
  • That could work - a lot of the narrator stuff is “cautionary tale” kinds of things and we could have her take a trip to the Nexus of the Void to try to reconnect with things or learn something and we get a “you can never really go home” kind of beat as the “story” element from the narrator. How about she goes there to reconnect with the Void in some way and in the process winds up letting something out (rather than the foe being one of the Nexus guardians or something - we want the enemy to be able to leave the Nexus).
  • Adam is concerned that this is too close to Voidsoul, but Christopher looks up/confirms that Voidsoul isn’t from the Void but is some kind of hungering thing that’s just trying to consume it. The proto-Akash’Bhuta fought the Voidsoul things for millennia not because they were in the Void and trying to get out, but because they wanted to get to the Void which would destroy the Nexus. Maybe the angle we go with is that since becoming Akash’Thriya she hasn’t been able to do the “job” of guarding the Nexus and her going back is part of that. This story could actually be where we establish some stuff about the Nexus that then comes back around during OblivAeon. We get some ideas formalized that had been handwavy before.
  • Anyway, she gets back to the Nexus, fights and/or talks to some of the guardian spirits that are still around, and sees that things are not going well. Without Akash’Bhuta, the spirits are not enough to adequately protect the Nexus. What she decides to do is add to their ranks. She can’t take up her old role, so she’ll bring forth something new from the Void to help take up some slack and that winds up being a bad choice.
  • So… What lives in the Void? “Lives” is a complicated word to use here in the first place. There’s a bunch of stuff that should probably be kept in there (see the time NightMist goes there). Why would Akash’Thriya even consider letting anything out - the job is to keep Earth stuff on Earth and Void stuff in the Void? Hubris - the elemental guardians of the Nexus are all things that are of both Earth and Void and Akash’Thriya thinks that she can just “make” another such thing.
  • So, how does this work. Akash figures you can just take some Earthy thing (animal, elemental quality, something) and join it up to a Void thing/energy/etc. and we’re good to go. NightMist’s story tells us that there’s constantly Void things trying to get through. The Void thing she winds up grabbing for this process is one of the more malevolent types. Adam suggests that it doesn’t even have to be bad at first - everything goes to plan and Akash makes the new thing exactly how she wanted it to. Then she starts to “show it the ropes” and it’s an emergent quality of the newly-combined thing’s personality that causes it to rebel or whatever.
  • The way they think this manifests is that rather than being something content to guard and protect the Nexus, this thing is super into the Void and wants to bring more of it through. Akash and the other guardian spirits manage to drive it off this time, but now it’s out in the world with a general “hmm… but what if we had more Void right here?” attitude wherever it is. Trying to make some more of those Void incursions that the guys mentioned would be a Bad Thing™ if it happened on Earth a few episodes ago.
  • This needs to happen before 2014 - if they do it in 2013 (and a little prior) then the Naturalist is on Dok’Thorath which is a good excuse for him to not be with her. Let’s put it in December 2013 in Tome of the Bizarre vol. 4 #49 (one month before the Wager Master/Madame Mittermeier romance). What’s this thing’s name/appearance? It’s got to be natural-world-meets-Void like how Akash’Thriya is a Void spirit who’s also a tree person. Adam suggests that its first villainous act is to kill another of the guardian spirits and take its power, that gives an excuse for this thing to present a few different “nature” things to make it a bit more interesting (that also matches up nicely with Akash’Bhuta’s story). They think that “water” is the first thing used (Christopher had spitballed “wind” so as to be everywhere, but Adam doesn’t like that and suggests water instead); it can play a bit of a surprise as water as connotations related to tranquility and healing but it winds up being a dangerous/destructive/untrustworthy force. Maybe it needs to “drink of the Void” with some regularity, which can be done at the Nexus relatively easily, but its take on that need is just to open the floodgates and bring the Void here everywhere. This need leads it to be somewhat desperate as well once it’s driven away from the Nexus.
  • Design time: Adam’s starting with a base of “purple water”. What kind of spirit does it kill/absorb? Christopher suggests fire, but “water that’s on fire” is kind of hard to depict cleanly. Maybe let’s hold off on defining the other part of it until after they name it. [In spitballing names Christopher nixes “Abyss” because they already have a “Mister Abyss” and later a “Miss Abyss” which is news to me.] After a few more rounds they come up with Drought, but that’s already the main villain’s name from Fahrenheit X (first introduced in issue #3 in November ’98). Thinking about it, though, it’s entirely realistic for a character to have a name, then that character is discarded for whatever reason and then another entirely unrelated character is given the same name. That’s comics. The Fahrenheit X comic made it from September ’98 through #50 in October ’02 and was obviously a pet project for somebody at Sentinel Comics because it was never popular and was barely connected to the main continuity (it might make reference to Rook City and Megalopolis, but there were never crossover stories involving these characters). Even if that Drought was present up through the end of the book, it’s still been over a decade since he was last seen in this side project comic that hardly anyone read.
    • They get impressively sidetracked talking about Fahrenheit X at this point. They think they did some good work here and think it’s funny how both Casa-Nova and Wipeout were created in that same “D-List Heroes” episode and managed to achieve some minor notability with Sentinels fandom while nobody seems to care about Fahrenheit X. The complete lack of crossover between its characters and the “main” super heroes might be explained as it being an outside creative project that wound up getting absorbed by Sentinel Comics. Like, somebody left the company to do their own thing, they made this property, and then it was subsequently acquired by Sentinel anyway. Something analogous to Jim Lee’s project WildC.A.T.s that he started at Image but eventually got purchased by and rolled up into DC’s catalogue.
  • So, now that we’re picking the name off of the leavings of an unpopular property, what does the name even mean for how a water-spirit looks? Christopher’s idea is that when you look into the water, it’s just a black void. This is water that you will not drink - water without life/sustenance.
  • Okay, moving on to the villain for them as a duo. What do we know happens with them so we can pick a good time. Their duo period begins in 2003. They fight the 2nd Terrorform in 2004. There’s a Fey-Court thing in 2006. Let’s do it between those last two. Adam wants to go “technological” with this one - Christopher points out that Necrosis is already in that category. Adam puts him in the “pollution villain” box (“but he’s a techy pollution villain…”). Anyway, we’ve got plenty of people who want to pollute (even Drought is in a way - polluting the world with Void), so what other motivation can some bad guys have for fighting these heroes in particular?
  • Hmm… maybe we make it a Fey thing. We know that Akash’Thriya and Ogma have a positive interaction (where Ogma gives her some insight into her own feelings). The flip side of that can be some Fey entity that decides to mess with the two heroes. Christopher’s imagining something that’s not even part of the Court, just some weaselly critter that decides to mess with them. Adam doesn’t think that rises to the level of “villain”. That’s not wrong - maybe this is a story that happens, but it’s a side thing going on during their other Fey dealings.
  • Moving on, they circle around a bit before landing on the tack of “We already made a victim ‘villain’ and a hubris/created-by-the-hero villain, what we need is somebody who’s doing wrong just because they want to” - they land on somebody in like a “blood diamond” mining operation kind of thing. Somebody who’s not really polluting, but are doing natural resource extraction in a bad way and who the heroes oppose. We can start with a diamond mine thing, but he doesn’t have to be limited to that and so can show up with other plots in subsequent appearances.
  • Christopher suggests “The Prospector” as he’s somebody who’s always got his eye out for another resource to exploit. Adam thinks that that name was definitely a Silver Age guy who looks exactly how you’d expect a Western character with that name to look and it’s too silly. Christopher agrees! This goes back to something they mentioned at the beginning about an old enemy that’s been around for longer than either of them but gets repurposed. This could totally be that silly Silver Age character who’s basically a throw-away villain who’s then brought back in the modern era. He’s made more serious and the name is cut down to Prospect.
  • Let’s drop him in the early ’60s as a minor Ra villain (because he’s digging up stuff that Dr. Blake Washington Jr. and Ra think should be left buried). He first appears in July 1962, Arcane Tales vol. 1 #179. From the late ’50s through the end of the first volume AT was primarily about Blake Washington Jr. doing archaeology stuff/having action-adventures with Ra only making the occasional appearance (this was in an era of “the readers are tired of all super heroes all the time”). The Prospector is doing his thing and Dr. Blake Washington Jr. is the one who defeats him. The Prospector has another appearance here and there, but is super minor and is basically forgotten. He’s presented as a Yosemite Sam-like, “gold rush” old west caricature.
  • He reappears as Prospect in TotB vol. 3 #204 in March 2005. Here he’s got more of a safari look to him - just equipped to be going out where there’s not a lot of other people. He’s not really a “business” guy, but his attitude is along the lines of “people want diamonds, but nobody wants to know how the sausage gets made.” He’s a rough-and-tumble, hard edged, cutthroat kind of guy.
  • What kind of “powers” does he have? He’s the kind of guy to have minions at the least, but he’s got to be able to fight on his own too. He’s likely got slave workers and mercenary soldiers (so they’re in it for the money, not loyalty like the Blade Battalion). Christopher thinks that in the Silver Age maybe he can sense what’s underground (gold or whatever he was after at the time) and can punch the ground to cause cracks to open and stuff. “Mineral sense” and the ability to create “seismic disturbances” by doing violence at the ground. Maybe we make the first his only innate power and he does the ground thing through technological means.
  • They think due to his underworld contacts and available resources he’s very slippery. His mercenaries are often sufficient for him to get away from any given encounter and he’s able to just kind of slink into the shadows and pop up somewhere else in the world with some new scheme.
  • Christopher suggests Damon Krast as his name and that’s really good, but is definitely something that wasn’t invented until later. In the Silver Age he was definitely just “The Prospector”. Basically the shtick of “can sense minerals underground” is the only through-line between the two versions of the character. The modern version probably has a variety of later extrapolations of what he can use his power for (can sense the mineral composition of his opponent’s armor and so he knows how to break it, etc.).


  • A previous discussion about the Terrorform being a “car” instead of a “robot” (because it’s a thing people drive around) got me thinking about the flip side of its character card: the Heart of the Machine has its own smaller Terrorform body - is that at least a robot for our discussion? Has RevoCorp cracked the AI problem/does it have a personality? The heart robot is an AI, but it’s AI like we have now in the real world. It’s not self-aware or anything. It’s at the point where the Revokers driving the thing can give a command like “walk over there” and the Heart robot programming is capable of maneuvering the giant mechanism to the indicated spot.
  • Is the Revoker leader on “Send Everyone!” a named character who gets significant screen time? It’s not like RevoCorp is putting anybody on the Terrorform who could incriminate them if captured. His name is Patrick Smith and he just got this job. He likes model airplanes and spends a lot of his free time painstakingly assembling them. He finds it therapeutic. He used to be an architectural engineer who got sick of his designs getting thrown out by people who lacked vision, so he got into management and found he had a knack for it. He got a job at RevoCorp for a hot minute before very publicly getting fired. He was then approached with the Revoker job with an explanation why the firing had to go down the way it did. He likes the new job as it fits his management skills and keeps him in money for his model plane habit. [The delivery here very much seems like they’re making it up on the spot to the point where it’s quite the acting job if they aren’t.]
  • Does Akash’Thriya have many foes that are people who have grudges with her from her Akash’Bhuta days? After the “Disrupt the Field” incident wouldn’t the government probably want to not let her keep walking around, just in case? Well, yeah, if they knew about her. What’s the government going to do about this tree/rock lady who can just disappear into the ground at a moment’s notice? Most people also probably don’t really connect the two of them in the first place. One, very few people are around who has seen Akash’Bhuta as an individual rather than just as wide-ranging destruction and it’s not like her big events happened when social media/smartphones were a thing and so images of “her” aren’t common. There probably are people who’d hold grudges, and they flirted with that idea as a basis for one of the created foes today, but they didn’t wind up using it. It’s not off the table. They can see at least a story about such a person, if not a recurring “villain”.
  • We’ve seen more interaction between nemeses in DE (Setback and Kismet both having Lucky and Unlucky cards, the Apex’s deck dealing with werewolves outside of his deck, GloomWeaver stealing relics from NightMist’s house) - is it hard to manage such interactions if/when they span multiple boxes of content? Not that hard, because they have things planned out ahead of time this time. It’s only really feasible because it’s the Definitive Edition and not their first go ’round. The prior version(s) of the game had some ideas for the kinds of things they wanted to do, but not really how they’d go about them. That’s not to say that everything is planned out - before today there couldn’t have been a plan for a card depicting Prospect, for example. For the sake of clarity: the three villains they created today are new. This isn’t one of their fake-out things where they already had ideas and pretended to do it live (not to say that it’s totally disingenuous when they do that - those are typically “we have an idea, but we need to flesh things out” at the very least). It’s easy in cases (like the above examples) where they’re happening in the same set, but even for cases where they’re split across boxes it’s mostly a matter of knowing that you want to connect things and then seeding relevant Keywords appropriately. Then sometimes you get a situation where Tempest is good at fighting against Grand Warlord Voss because Voss fields a lot of minions and Tempest is good at clearing the field. There’s no baked-in mechanical gimmick there, just a synergy in the way the decks operate generally.
  • Did Akash’Thriya (with or without Naturalist) fight any other ancient evils that Akash’Bhuta may have encountered over the course of her long existence? Voidsoul fits into that category. Presumably there would be more things that work. They don’t have anything specifically in my now. Adam had considered (but hadn’t mentioned) something relating to the Virtuosos that came back around to bite her in one way or another. The issue with it is that it’s more likely as an Argent Adept foe. She might show up in an Argent Adept story here and there, but it’s still his story.
  • How specific are Naturalist’s communication skills? Is he limited to vertebrates? Could he talk with Myriad’s insects? How about the Kraken? Various Cryptids? Myriad’s bugs are demon bugs so no. He can talk to the Kraken (Adam thinks that we know he does, but wasn’t sure on the matter). “Are cryptids ‘animals’?” is a good question. There is likely a spectrum there… They land on Yetis being “animals” rather than “people”, but Mothman might be more man than moth. Tengu are “demon”, and while they’re still “people” they’re off the “person-animal” spectrum (see the “demon bugs” example). Adam would find it interesting to see Christopher play through a Dark Souls or Bloodborne game and put the various demons in the “person or not” categories. Then there’s “undead” things - zombies aren’t “people” but vampires are. Vampires and Tengu both have intelligence and self-awareness, zombies don’t.
  • Could he talk to the numerous mites or other microscopic critters living on, say, criminals’ eyelashes to find out what the person did/had been up to? They don’t think so. Alternately “they’re too small/he couldn’t hear them” and “if he can talk to bugs, they’re too dumb to get useful information from”.
  • What happens to his clothes when he changes shape? It’s a comics inconsistency. Most of the time when he changes form his clothes and reasonably-small things on his person just disappear and reappear when he changes back. Sometimes the story has him bursting out of the clothes he had on at the time. Or sometimes he changes back and he’s just in his superhero costume and other times we get things like he’s a gazelle in a busy city and that’s awkward but he “can’t change back, because then I’d be a naked person in the city and that’s worse” or something.
  • Rhinos are known to stomp through their droppings to then walk around and mark their territory, does Naturalist just carry a lot of hand sanitizer with him and/or do other heroes avoid shaking his hand? The thing is that he doesn’t always behave like a normal rhino. He likely did in his initial “cursed” phase and he might still if he’s really trying to blend in. That being said, it’s magic and when he changes back the poop doesn’t stay on his hands. Something to point out here as well is that while often when he’s a rhino it’s a big green one with the Naturalist symbol on it - he doesn’t have to be that conspicuous. He can make himself look like the normal animals too.
  • Do people get confused about his name and expect a Naturist (i.e. somebody who likes to be naked out in nature) to show up to help them? That’s a different character. Also, it’s not like people get advance warning that this green animal guy is coming to save them like he calls ahead or something.
  • Does Naturalist eat meat (given that raising livestock for food has negative environmental implications, but he’s also a crocodile sometimes)? “He only eats non-farmed meat” is a thing they can imagine being true.
  • Does he only eat what he hunts? Does he get “crocodile urges”? To expand on the previous point, when he’s a gazelle or a rhino he’s going to be vegetarian and they think that Michael Conteh is also vegetarian, but will eat meat as a crocodile. It’s entirely possible that as a “trendy businessman” kind of thing he may have even been vegetarian before getting powers.
  • How big of a problem are Akash’Flora’s leaves in the fall? The big tree doesn’t shed its leaves - it’s a deciduous tree in appearance, but it keeps its leaves year-round.
  • Recent studies have found that trees are far less competitive than previously thought (sharing nutrients and whatnot through connected root systems, etc.) - does Akash’Flora share OblivAeon power with other trees in the city? Over time will other trees become something like substations for OblivAeon power? Yes. The local flora of Megalopolis is being affected by the presence of Akash’Flora. They’ve said before that the tree and the whole city are one big symbiotic system.
  • Regarding the “takeover of Montgomery Industries” episode: who’s this Valentine guy and what’s his deal? He was first talked about in the Wraith’s Rogues Gallery episode. That was far enough back that they didn’t go into as much detail on any of them as they tend to in more recent “make up enemies for an established character” episodes, so forgetting about him isn’t that strange. The level of detail on his “deal” in the recent episode is likely more than they gave him back then. He has “romance powers” where he can bring people under his sway - he can’t just do full mind control, though, so he’ll use his natural charisma to get you to like him a little and then he just blows that all out of proportion. His full name is Roman Valentino.
  • The point about “Wraith on a budget” got me thinking: does Wraith just leave Rook City/Megalopolis littered with double-bladed projectiles and razor-sharp knives? How many kids have poked their eyes out playing in the street with things she’s left behind? In Rook City, she flings sharp objects all over the place. The thing is, it’s Rook City so that doesn’t make the place any more dangerous than it already is. Megalopolis, city of the future, has “city-scale utility Roombas” cleaning up the place. Additionally, most of the Wraith’s projectiles aren’t being left around anyway as most of them wind up embedded in a criminal’s leg or whatnot.
  • Is there a reason why Wraith’s company was able to be bought out from under her in the first place or is it just comics? It’s a comics-level understanding of how business works. It’s a publicly-traded company and so anybody can just buy up a portion of the stock whenever they want if they have the money (rather than people who own the stock being willing to sell in the first place) and then she’s able to come back in due to some rule somewhere. It explicitly doesn’t make real legal sense. It’s “comics business” in much the same way that Tachyon does “comic science”.
  • Now that Valentine is a bit more fleshed out, here is a list of Singular Entities; can you please explain how his powers would change if he were to become a Scion of each of them:
    • Wager Master (Chaos)? That’s pretty easy - Valentine just finds situations where there’s a person present who’s emotionally likely to upset that situation given the right circumstance and then he goes about creating that circumstance. Love triangles are great for this kind of thing. Check out the plot of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
    • Fesauthia the Fervor (Passion)? That’s basically what he’s already doing. He can push on emotions that are already there to enflame them. Just do that to everybody all the time. Whatever they’re feeling, crank it to eleven.
    • [Letter writer makes a mistake and says Wellspring is Preservation, they’ll do that anyway first]? He’d go find places where things are in danger. Then track down either the people who are causing the most danger or who could rise to the occasion to prevent it and either calm them down/inspire them to greatness respectively.
    • Wellspring (Progress)? This is a tough one since the people most responsible for progress happening are usually already pretty passionate about doing so. The move here is likely to find people who are lukewarm about putting in effort to make a thing happen and then get them all jazzed up to go out and do it.
    • Malavox (Conquest)? Man, that puts a dark angle on the whole “Lothario” aspect of his character. That one kind of writes itself so they’ll leave it to the listener.
    • Veil (Secrets)? He gets people to tell him their deepest, darkest secrets. He doesn’t do anything with that info. He just likes collecting them.
    • Hul (Unknowable)? It’s hard to know how this one would go. In execution, you’d probably have him be doing a lot of varied stuff without any explanation for why he’s doing it.
    • Akash’Flora (Tree)? Man, this one is only technically true and only up until the moment the sandwich bag is opened and Universe 1 has an opportunity to split again. Let’s play along with the Tree thing, though. He’d be something of an environmentalist. He’d likely be doing a lot of the kinds of things that Argent Adept does regarding the tree.
  • Are there any throw-away Singular Entities here you’d suggest as better fits for him? Fesauthia the Fervor (and Malavox in a weird/bad way) are good fits for him.
  • [Letter concludes with a point about Valentine apparently not being on the Mystery Comics #200 cover and comparing him to Stuntman] You’re right that he’s not on the cover. He’s more of a “romance novel dreamy” look with longish dark hair and chiseled features. Not full-on Fabio style, but closer to that than he is to Stuntman. “Stuntman is ‘pretty’ and Valentine is ‘beautiful’” and it’s left to us to consider the distinction. If the two of them were to hang out there’s two ways it could go. Either they’re both really insecure about it or they just acknowledge each other in a “lookin’ good!” kind of way comparable to how guys at the gym might compliment one another.