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The Letters Page: Episode 249
Creative Process: Rambler Foes
It's Ramblin' time!
Run Time: 1:57:21
There's much to explain about this fellow still, and we get into a bunch of it! Some foes are created, many questions are answered, and there are even a few goofs! There's a lot to get through, and we manage to make it work! Whew!
Join us next week — or live this Friday if you're on the Letters Page Patreon — for Editor's Note #67!
- So… Rambler villains. Spite at least once. GloomWeaver is the original Rambler foe, but it gets complicated once Rambler is no longer directly indebted to GloomWeaver you can kind of see them as supporting cast for one another almost. There’s still animosity there, but there’s rarely direct conflict. The activity of the Cult of Gloom has an arc of increasing activity through the ’60s and ’70s, peaks in the ’80s, then falls off over the subsequent decades. There’s still some activity here and there in more recent years, but much more rare.
- Rambler’s not so much opposing GloomWeaver so much as he knows enough about what GW is up to and how he operates that he can just use that to benefit himself and on GloomWeaver’s end he would be perfectly content if he and Rambler just never had anything to do with one another. It’s not really a “truce”, but it’s a status quo where Rambler only very occasionally messes with GW’s stuff and in such a way that it’s easier for GW to just brush it off as a minor inconvenience than do anything about it.
- There are two more that they’ve got ready to go as well. Papa Legba is there, of course, but a major one (Christopher just had to give a “you know…” look at Adam over their video call to remind him) needs to be discussed on the air.
- They gild the lily a bit more here, but it’s Grimm. Rambler is a “hero” in that he’s opposing the forces of “bad stuff” and is working towards the greater good in the long run, but he’s got his own stuff going on. He’s their most-archetypical “anti-hero”. He frequently works like a villain in that he has long-reaching plots that the reader often doesn’t get to see more than pieces. Grimm operates in a similar way. Additionally, Grimm’s “making people play roles in stories he sets up” kind of fits right into Rambler’s wheelhouse and he turns out to be vital in defeating Grimm… in a book other than Tome of the Bizarre.
- So… what else do they need to say about that other than publicly acknowledging the fact that Rambler is involved in Grimm’s stories? We could have Grimm’s initial run as a villain intersect with Rambler’s GloomWeaver job somehow. Like, Grimm shows up and does a “You’ll play a part in my story…” stuff and Rambler just does not have time for this. We set up some animosity there that can carry on through the rest of the Multiverse era. Rambler doesn’t play by Grimm’s rules and he’s busy and doesn’t have time to engage with this storytelling nonsense. Rambler writes his own stories and so opposes Grimm’s plots. In the process, he enables Grimm’s downfall but not because he’s trying to but more just by not playing along.
- Then, once he’s a free agent and then Grimm shows up again they encounter each other and stuff still doesn’t work on him. His two main bosses have been GloomWeaver and a Fey-creature [the origin finally landed on for Papa Legba] and while Grimm isn’t either of those and might be more or less powerful than them in any given situation, it’s kind of inoculated him to this kind of stuff. Rambler is extremely well-versed in storytelling and various kinds of lore.
- They bring up a comparison to Diamond Diva here - sooo many of the human characters in Sentinel Comics who do magic (including NightMist, Scholar, and Argent Adept) are aware of so many gaps in their own knowledge regarding it. One of the only characters who seems to be totally on top of things and is never surprised is Zhu Long. Then Diamond Diva comes on the scene and she also just gets it and it’s as natural to her as breathing. Rambler is like that regarding “the Supernatural” - but along the lines of secrets and the eldritch rather than the arcane if that distinction helps. He, probably better than anyone, understands the consequences of the things that he does and weighs those options. A lot of people are “I’ll do a thing, which I know has a price, but I don’t know what that price is” - he knows the price.
- Part of the problem that he has with all of these various supernatural things that he’s involved in is that he’s a frequent “dine and dasher”. He knows what the costs are, has nominally agreed to those costs, but then he skips out on the bill somehow. That means he’s got a lot of entities out there looking to collect on past debts. His general strategy there is to hope that by the time [creditor x] catches up to him, he’s leveraged [debtor y] to offset that previous cost.
- All in all, the Rambler/Grimm relationship winds up being something like “Oh, you again,” from both of them.
- Papa Legba is first introduced as this dark voodoo entity. That is not a fair characterization at all, but it’s the decision that was made back in the ’80s or whatever and that’s how Sentinel Comics was treating it. There wasn’t intentional racism going on, but it was just the casual/inadvertent racism of the general approach to voodoo stuff in pop culture generally. The solution wasn’t in response to reader outcry, but it wound up being kind of one-note. So by the time that anybody really paid attention to the “Hey, the origin of this character is really problematic” aspect of it, things had already been retconned to establish him as being a Fey character.
- Adam has an idea here. Introduce a couple of new characters from disparate mythos that don’t to this point have any rooting in Sentinel Comics lore. Writers were trying to do things with a variety of different traditions without there really being an overall plan for them. Christopher has something for this.
- Dolos was the Greek personification of trickery. His deal was that he made a bunch of copies of things to trick people and then when Prometheus saw the results, rather than getting mad he recognized the skill involved and took him on as his apprentice. Sure, he’s going to keep making “lies” but he makes things well and it’s the craftsmanship that Prometheus cares about.
- So, we can have several of these types of characters around in Sentinel Comics and somebody eventually notices that they’re all one-note. Papa Legba leans so hard into the stereotypical crossroads demon/voodoo shtick that it’s almost a caricature. Dolos is just as bad regarding “treachery”. They wind up just deciding that all of these are just guises that a single Fey creature uses.
- What’s another face for this guy? How about Anansi, one of the all-time great tricksters of West African tradition. Along those lines, Coyote) from many Native American stories. That’s probably enough to have been characters in the comics prior to this retcon, but after we establish this whole thing it’s probably established that the Fey guy uses even more identities.
- They want to point out up front that this isn’t a character we’ve seen outside of this context. Lugh’s a shapeshifter, but he’s very malleable and can (and will) change what he looks like in quick succession. He’s not trying to conceal the fact that he’s a shapeshifter. This guy doesn’t do that - he takes on a role and that’s how he presents himself. We might see his true form at some point, but that’s not a common thing.
- Adam looks up likely candidates and one that catches his eye is Gwydion, a trickster from Welsh legend. The overall story there isn’t a great fit for what they have in mind for the character, but it’s not like Lugh, Puck, the Dagda, or the Morrigan are particularly close to their traditional versions either. What catches Christopher’s eye here is that Gwydion would take on shapes of various animals for an extended period of time. He’d change shape, but not back and forth quickly like they imagine Lugh does.
- Anyway, for Fey reasons, it’s not really easy to say whether Gwydion is a good or bad person, but it’s definitely true to say that they’re a foe of Rambler. Gwydion’s approach to Rambler is almost the opposite to how Grimm does in that there’s a specific butting-of-heads going on. Gwydion sees what Rambler’s up to and makes a point to be a problem for him. It’s interesting to see a more active/aggressive Fey character - somebody who leaves the Court to do their own thing, which is often specifically causing problems for Rambler. And it’s not like he’s always coming at him as Papa Legba. You never know what form he’s going to take while doing this.
- Timing! The Gwydion thing can’t really happen before the Dark Watch story that formalized the Fey-Court stuff in Sentinel Comics. That was in 2002 but we don’t need to have it be right in that. Hmm… it could go in a side story somewhere else while that’s going on, though. Let’s see, Dark Watch Annual #3 set up the story and then there were three Fey-related arcs for Dark Watch in a row. Setback getting Fey-touched/Harpy making a deal with the Morrigan for more knowledge, a Kismet story while Setback is Fey-touched (this is the story that actually establishes her role in his powers’ origin), and then the resolution of the Fey-touched story dealing with the Court again. This is a solid year and a half of comics. It’s probably during that last arc, in the latter-half of 2003, where we can have Gwydion show up in some other book. The seemingly logical place to put that would be Tome of the Bizarre, but it’s busy being the Naturalist’s book. Let’s do what we usually do and drop it into Justice Comics - there’s room for a few issues’ arc just before the Polar Express story. Let’s do September-November 2003, JC #580-582. The reveal of Gwydion as himself occurs at the end of #580 after a story involving multiple of his trickster faces. It’s a fun “trickster foes from Rambler’s past” thing ultimately revealing the single character behind all of them.
- So, that covers the one they had already worked out and the one that they knew about but needed fleshing out, they still want to do a new one. There are a few angles to come at this from. One option could be a “monster” that’s been involved in one of his deals at some point. The other option is to have a human who’s a threat to him and in that category the “easy” choice would be a Gloom cultist (active or former). Doing something unrelated to GloomWeaver seems more interesting.
- In choosing this latter option, what sort of person is this going to be? A thought is that it’s somebody who at one point winds up owing Rambler something as part of a deal made. We can make it a case where it’s Rambler holding power over somebody which somehow comes back to bite him. They fight the leash, but Rambler still holds it so he tolerates some attempts to defeat him but there’s always just the threat of calling in the debt and just casting them into the Grey or something if they become too much of a nuisance.
- An idea: some rich collector of magical artifacts who assumes they know enough to get one over on this Rambler guy. This early story is basically just a tale of hubris and is likely way back when Rambler was still working for GloomWeaver. Maybe this guy had one of the GloomWeaver relics in his collection and that’s what Rambler was there to retrieve. The guy makes the deal, but tries to pawn off a fake. This is Bad™ as now Rambler lets him know that he has received payment for a thing he did not hand over as agreed, so now he’s in Rambler’s debt and that can go forever. Oh! He never had the real one! He’s a forger. He’s got some relics, but he makes fake ones and can imbue them with just enough magical power to pass a casual check. He cautions people to not overuse these dangerous things, yadda yadda, but the real reason is that they’d quickly just run out of power. His problem here is that the Cult of Gloom definitely wants to use their relics.
- Let’s make this guy a historian and a “fan” of Ignazio Gallo. He’s nowhere near Gallo’s level, but he just likes the guy and does his best. He figured out the what that Gallo was doing; he just lacks the skill to do it all himself. Maybe early on he managed to acquire one of Ignazio Gallo’s relics and wound up getting cursed by it. He gets through that, but sees the potential here. He is excited by what he’s found and it gives him a direction in life. He was this foppish rich antiquarian, but now he’s a cursed arcane being. This is so cool! Sure, he’s messed up in some way now, but it’s at least something.
- Now, all of that backstory is figured out later. The first appearance is just the “tries to pull one over on GloomWeaver/Rambler” bit mentioned above. When Rambler shows up for the real relic, the fact that he never had it and just made a fake is the problem. He can’t fulfill the debt by just handing it over. Now he’s Rambler supporting cast and it’s in the process of trying to find ways to get out of supernatural debts that he comes across the Gallo stuff and gets messed up, etc.
- They need the nature of the curse he’s under and his name. They can come up with a fun curse and then work backwards. They do a spin on the Midas Touch - this guy cannot touch anything. Like, he slightly repels objects. He floats above the ground. He can “hold” things by carefully levitating them above his hands. He can move stuff around by just pushing them with this “repulsion field”. How does he eat? That’s the thing - it’s a Ignazio Gallo curse so the intent is probably “you die” as a result. However, in the process of doing his forgery thing he’s picked up some skills. This was originally an amulet of protection or something and could keep things at arm’s reach - now everything is at arm’s reach forever. He actually manages to hack this system to also keep his own mortality at arm’s reach. So are his hunger and thirst. He still feels hungry and thirsty, and can never fill those desires, but the harm that not fulfilling those needs is kept at bay. He’s suffering. He has all of these wants that he can’t get, but he has no needs. He wants to eat, but doesn’t need to.
- After going around a bit on the name Christopher suggests Demiurge (it has the “urge” element they’d been playing around with, but also gets a nice “creator” vibe from Gnosticism). He needs a person name as well since he wouldn’t have been Demiurge until the curse thing happened and so, being careful to not step on the Vandals’ very pretentious toes, they name him Rupert Lancaster.
- Appearances: they put his first appearance in Tome of the Bizarre vol. 2 #207, March 1976. Getting cursed and becoming Demiurge happens in TotB vol. 3 #56 in November 1992.
- His motivation as Demiurge is to try to find a way to get Rambler in his debt at which point he can use Rambler’s collection of favors/debts to get what he wants.
- Man, this curse is cool. He’s got this floating thing going on with billowy robes around him that never quite seem to actually enfold him. Since he can’t use any tools on himself, his hair, beard, and fingernails are really long [although I suppose he could probably pull hair out and/or bite through things himself]. He’s just also constantly hungry/thirsty but powering through it to accomplish his goals (and to hold onto the whole vibe he’s presenting to the world - the “imperious wizard” aesthetic).
- So, you’ve finally outright said that Rambler is a hero at the end of the day, but what possible heroic end could justify the means of “creating Agent of Gloom Spite”? What did he get from GloomWeaver in exchange for Spite’s soul? He was willing to trade it because he knew what GloomWeaver had to trade and by trading it he knows that GloomWeaver no longer has access to whatever it was. He also knows that between that and the thing he got from Æternus combined will let him be more effective in stopping really bad things from happening. He also just knows GloomWeaver and has a handle on Spite and makes the reasonable assumption that whatever those two get up to together will be handled by the heroes like always. He’s dealing with “the very fabric of life and death” here. They remain a little cagey here, but the gist is that there’s something going on between Æternus and the Realm of Discord that it would be better to stop before it becomes a reality-rending problem - having a powerful relic from each will enable him to intervene.
- We know that Rambler was a foe for NightMist for a time, is it fair to say that he’s a consistent opposing force for her? Does he have any major alliances/rivalries with other villains or heroes? He’s not a consistent NightMist foe. Sometimes he’s a foe for her. Other times he’s the protagonist of the story as we follow his point of view - we see what he’s doing and at least enough of why that we’re kind of on his side, but then the people who show up to stop him are heroes (NightMist, Fanatic, etc.) who don’t know as much about what he’s doing as the readers do, so we get some fun subverting-expectations in terms of story structure. Even at his most heroic, and within team-up situations, he probably doesn’t get along with other heroes well. If somebody in the Metaverse were to post on Shmeddit their list of top 10 Sentinel Comics Heroes and had Rambler on the list at like 7, there would definitely be arguments in the comments regarding whether Rambler is a hero at all. At the very least NightMist and Rambler do not get along. He might be on decent terms with Alpha.
- Was the story in the Ruler of Æternus update on the Disparation Backerkit campaign canonical? Yes.
- If so, in that story it’s implied that some terrible thing happened to Belagorr - what was it? Was it related to the deal he made with Rambler? Was there a specific story detailing Belagorr’s downfall after the Rambler story? This was along the lines of “remember that time that Belagorr crossed me and I ruined him forever?” (well, ‘forever’ given the nature of things in Æternus with the Princes constantly torturing/killing each other but they eventually get brought back by Æternus itself to keep the cycle of torment going). It’s a warning/threat.
- After a few issues about him I’m still unsure; just what is Rambler’s role in the Multiverse era? Back in the American Folklore episode he seemed like a pretty minor character, but with each episode we get regarding him he seems like a bigger deal than we thought, although maybe operating in the background - we only have one art of him where we can actually see him clearly, but we’ve been told that his outfit is distorted/miscolored [this would be on the Realm of Discord’s “Miasma of Pain”]. Can we just get an overview-style timeline for him like we recently got for Grimm? How about some art showing his more iconic appearance? Or a rundown of what his powers actually are? There is at least one representative art of him in Disparation, so you’ll get to see him there at the latest. Regarding the RoD card, while the color is off because of the chaotic nonsense that is the Realm of Discord, the outfit itself is not an atypical look for him, but it’s also not quite his standard look. His role/importance in the setting is one where if you were not reading Rambler stories you would never get the feeling for “oh there’s a bunch of terrible things happening and it’s a good thing that somebody is stopping them”. Like NightMist and Visionary, Rambler is a character who’s taking care of threats on the margins of the safe portions of reality. Rambler is the kind of character that gets a movie based on him, but since he’s also based on a real person people can see the movie and only find out later that it’s actually based on a comic. His “power set” is in a lot of ways just having bizarre knowledge. Like, just knowing how one can go about banishing a demon. The main power is his ability to make binding deals, but a lot of what he’s doing is based on what he knows more than the actual power he has. Part of the deal making gimmick, though, comes down to defaulted debts. Like with Demiurge above, a lot of times it’s not even “I have made a deal with some demon that I’ll call in now that I could really use a fire blast”, but more like “this demon made a deal with me and failed to keep his end of the bargain and now I own him” and so can get help on an ongoing basis.
- Why the stark contrast in the amount of concern Rambler shows regarding beings he makes deals with (see: Alpha who he seemed sympathetic towards vs. the entities he callously calls in to act as living shields during his fight with Spite)? He’s always very frank about how he’ll make a deal with you, but you probably shouldn’t because it’ll likely end poorly for you. He’ll hold up his end, but if you can’t hold up yours then he’ll own you and that won’t be good for you. Now, that being said, a lot of the entities he’s making deals with and gets leverage over are 1) non-human and 2) evil in nature and he has less compunction about cashing in those debts to save himself during, say, the Spite fight.
- How do the deals he makes with demons and whatnot come about? Do they seek him out? Does he find himself seeking to get one over on them the way that he did with Papa Legba? Is there some demonic convention where everybody’s trying to scam everyone else? Yes to all of that. A lot of them are people/entities/beings/etc. who are in debt to some other being who heard that he’s able to make a deal to transfer that existing debt to him in exchange for something. He’ll do that, and they won’t even wind up in debt to him as long as they do [x]. Of course, most demons will think that they’re smarter than all of those other suckers and of course will be able to pull a fast one on this chump. The implication is that there are plenty of occasions where the deal is agreed to, both sides hold up their end, and they part ways with no ongoing obligations. Those just don’t show up in the comics very often because those aren’t generating future drama. That’s probably the usual ways things go; we just don’t see them.
- Was the inhuman nature of the entities he was summoning in to protect himself why he was so cavalier with their lives for two trinkets or was he summoning in mortals not caring about the ensuing bloodbath? Both! He’d like to hold onto some of those demons as they’re useful, but they’re not useful at all if you’re dead, so using them up it is. Others he doesn’t care about calling in for this purpose at all. The ends justify the means for him and for whatever reason he believes that getting these “trinkets” as you called them is worth cashing out all of those debts.
- Does Rambler ever accidentally summon someone/thing that is unfriendly to him? Say, he were to summon a bear but it was just about to eat, could the bear try to eat him instead or would the summoning process prevent it from harming him? He can’t just summon a random bear, it would have to be a bear that owed him. The beings that he summons are ones that he holds the debt of. They’re not even necessarily alive - there could be ghosts that couldn’t even get off his leash through death. Very few of the things he summons up are regular mortal humans, though. He doesn’t do that a whole lot (plus it’s not very interesting). The people that owe him he’s much more likely to physically go to for a chat when he needs something. However, somebody like Spite he’d probably treat like any of the other monsters as they’d done enough bad stuff for Rambler to not consider them worth the niceties.
- How far up the food chain could he summon? Guise seems pretty easy because of the comedy involved in him getting pulled into a random situation with no warning, but could he summon a Scion or even a Singular Entity like Wager Master? Could a debt owed by Wager Master be paid off in an alternate universe? They don’t think that alternate universes count. It’s so unlikely as to be approaching impossible that Rambler could hold Wager Master in debt. That seems really tough to arrange. A more likely scenario is Wager Master losing a wager he makes (which he would be bound by due to his own personal rules) rather than “making a deal” like Rambler does (although Rambler would also just kind of get that this is just Wager Master’s way of approaching the same kind of thing). Wager Master can pay his debts - it’s not likely to be a situation that will just sit there unresolved.
- How long of a summoning chain could you make? Say, Rambler summoning in something that can summon something more powerful, etc.? He doesn’t do chains like that. It’s too complex for storytelling.
- [Letter from Grimm at around an hour and eighteen minutes in] Rambler seems to have “succeed but with a major twist” written all over him; are there any villains that he’s responsible for their origins/empowerment? Any that might seek revenge? Yes. Very yes. He creates problems all the time.
- Has Rambler ever wound up fighting heroes? Yes, more than any other person labelled as a hero. Adam considers a story moment where Fanatic tries to smite him and he just no sells it because he’s not going to do anything around Fanatic without some smite protection. Christopher elaborates that the way this would play out is that she would yell something about smiting him and he’d not really react and when she’s confused he would point out that he’s not going to explain it. Rambler is very much one to over-explain his deals but under-explain his actions (which is, once again, more of a villain approach to interactions). He’s a very polarizing character where some people are really into what he’s doing and how he does it, but a lot don’t like him at all.
- Why were Visionary/Dark Visionary not mentioned in the list of heroes-turned-villain in the Diamond Diva episode? Part of the deal (other than the “well, it’s technically a separate consciousness taking over the body” technicality) is that the readers on in on it basically the whole time. They can actually envision that some readers got tired of it (“Really, you’re still doing this? It’s been 20 years!”).
- Was Dark Visionary planned from the start or was the separate personality a retcon to explain some of her more questionable behavior? It was not a case where they had to come up with some explanation for her sliding towards evil - it was clear from the start that there was a second entity involved and they were fighting for control. Visionary and Dark Visionary are two people who happen to be sharing a body.
- Could Argent Adept be a potential hero-turned-villain with his Dark Conductor era? If it hadn’t happened so close to the end of the Multiverse, could that have been a potential direction they took the character? He doesn’t turn villain, but he’s a bit edgier and doing more questionable things. He does recover from that and never got to the point where he needed to be opposed by other heroes.
- You said that the “Death of Virtue” story took place in February 2010 which seems unlikely unless there’s a major change to the previously stated timeline as that’s the month of Virtuoso of the Void vol. 2 #100 - the Death of Anthony Drake! Which side of Anthony’s death did Diamond Diva’s heel turn fall on? Her reveal as the villain Diva is in the same issue where Anthony dies to seal away Bal’Taranerach. She sticks around during that interim period with the team of “potential Virtuosos” and is a villain for them until Argent Adept’s return and then she’s a villain for him. Having the only thing approximating a Virtuoso of the Void around being an evil one is bad news which is part of the rationale for the (poorly executed) team of replacements.
- There was an implication during that Virtuosos of the Void period that there was an unknown person out there who would be able to attune to Anthony’s pipes and be a full Virtuoso again - was there a plan for that to be Diamond Diva (since Argent Adept had taken her power in the first place) if the book hadn’t been done so poorly that Sentinel Comics had to quickly back-peddle and resurrect Anthony? The writers did not know who that 5th Virtuoso was going to be. It was intentionally left open ended for them so that they could adapt that narrative point to fit wherever the story wound up going. The problem was that the story went nowhere as they scrapped the whole thing. It was not intended to be Diamond Diva as up through the point where things were cancelled she was the villain of the piece.
- Given that Diamond Diva and NightMist both had stories where they got depowered and then drew new power from the Void, did they ever team up while in there? Was the story called “Diamonds in the Rough”? While they both did a similar thing, NightMist comes out much better in that tradeoff. NightMist was already in and out of the Void years before Diamond Diva had her powers taken, so they never encountered one another there. Diamond Diva was also just considered dead for those 50 issues.
- I thought that you’d said that the Virtuosos of the Void were more of an organization with, potentially, multiple members at once rather than a lineage of a mantle being passed from one to the next; can you clarify how things work? It’s a lineage. Until the ill-fated Virtuosos period after AA’s death there was just one at a time. Well, Diamond Diva is weird here. She would have been training up an apprentice for the whole Virtuoso thing, but when she went into the Void she was assumed to be lost and that apprentice took up the Virtuoso role and things continued normally from there.
- With RPG-era Argent Adept looking for students for the purpose of there being multiple Virtuosos, will that result in a weakening of his own powers as these new ones develop? Akash’Flora! The tree changes things and Argent Adept’s personal powers are in the process of evolving. The role of the Virtuoso of the Void is changing as their main purpose was to oppose Akash'Bhuta, so what do they do now that the Akash spirit is mostly relegated to “being a tree”? That’s the question that the RPG-era story is going to explore.
- Is Diva’s motivation to reclaim her power from Anthony Drake even something that’s possible? If so, if she did so would that start to heal her mind/make it possible for her to recover? Would she know that this kind of transformation was possible and so would take steps to mitigate it? They don’t think so. It’s possible, but very far out there. She would have assumed that when this happened to her she would die so it’s not like taking preventative steps was on her mind.
- A key part of Argent Adept’s story is that he lacked a teacher in how to be a Virtuoso, so after he learned about Diamond Diva what prevented him from taking lessons from her? By the time they meet he’s fully the Virtuoso of the Void. They talk about it in the episode that she recognizes that he’s not doing a great job and tries to show him how to be better, but it’s also a well-established character trait of Anthony Drake at this point that he’s bad at taking advice and working with others. That really doesn’t really start to get better until the second volume of Prime Wardens. This is just another part of that headstrong but untrained Anthony Drake story.
- It seems like Diamond Diva was not an easy character to get along with [True!], but what was the readers’ perception of her character prior to her “death” in VotV #50? Some really liked her as showcasing what a Virtuoso of the Void could/should be. However, she’s also distanced from humanity (although in a different way than Anthony). She’s very exacting, doesn’t care what you think, and is therefore a bit off-putting to many. It’s less “ego” and more not shying from harsh truths. So, as is the case with most characters, readers have varying opinions on her. Unity has pretty broad appeal (with a small minority disliking her). Legacy and Wraith’s detractors are likely contrarians who dislike them just because “everyone” likes them (although it’s probably fair if somebody finds Legacy “boring”). Haka has nearly universal approval, with people disliking specific writers’ runs for the character rather than disliking the character himself.
- Virtuosos of the Void have colors in their names, but what kind of color is “diamond”? Adam’s definition of a “color” is a combination of “value, hue, and saturation” and basically anything can be a color, including “diamond”. He has little time for pedantry.
- How has Diamond Diva survived in the inhospitable-to-humans environment of the Void for so long? Has she constructed a home there? Does her ready access to the Void mean that she no longer needs to sleep or eat? Her ability to survive there is down to her being a very accomplished magic user - much like NightMist (although their execution differed - NightMist basically had to fight the whole time, but as a Virtuoso of the Void Diamond Diva had an easier time of it). There’s some “protective spells” going on, but she also winds up adapting herself to the Void. That probably laid the groundwork for what happened to her when she became Diva. Adam comes up with a metaphor: it’s been said that the most important part of music is the rest, as the Void moves in its musical patterns, she exists in the rests.
- How did Diamond Diva wind up in the Void and decide to stay there permanently? She was sucked in there and trapped against her will, then just made the best of it. Once something happened that allowed her to get out, she’d been there long enough and had adapted to it to the extent that she kind of has to go back (although mostly to prevent Taranerach from doing what he wants).
- Did the readership think that Diamond Diva was a Mary Sue? What did they think about her death? Were they as annoyed by her as they were by Benchmark? Was her villain turn seen as an improvement of the character? There was some of that kind of reaction. Unlike Benchmark, she wasn’t suddenly everywhere upstaging everyone. She was originally just a one-off character that then showed up again rarely, so she never really overstayed her welcome. She was supporting cast for a character, but also introduced a little antagonism in a non-villain way for him. She’s annoying, but she’s also right during her brief mentorship appearances. She’s not carrying the book in his stead, she’s just adding to his story. If she was introduced in comics today she’d probably show up, be better than Anthony in every way, and basically replace him in the book, but that’s not what her role was back then. She avoids being a Mary Sue by not being a protagonist.
- Who the heck is Guy Hampton? Did I miss something in a previous episode? Why do you talk about him like he’s an absolute madman? Guy Hampton was one of the seminal writers in the history of Sentinel Comics. He wrote the kinds of stories that you have to be kind of crazy to write. He’s a good enough writer that he manages to pull them off, but he’s a lot. He’s one of the people that gets pointed to in the “No, comics are art. Look at this story” discussions.
- A magical character who draws power from the Void in a way that fundamentally changes them with “diamond” in their name and with a connection to Argent Adept? How dare you try to copy NightMist? Did you consider those connections at all when coming up with Diamond Diva? They were aware of it, but figured it was different enough and done with a different enough context that it was okay.
- NightMist went into the Void and wasn’t able to return until she’d accumulated enough power, but she seemed to avoid the corruption that Diva suffered… Did she though? When she comes out of the Void she’s not really a human anymore. She’s a Void creature afterwards. Diamond Diva didn’t turn evil just because she was in the Void, but because she was suddenly stuck there without her usual powers. NightMist may have been unpowered when she went in, but she went in intentionally and with a plan. It’s the difference between surfing and suddenly being caught in the undertow [what is this episode - two non-food metaphors from Adam in quick succession]. It’s fair to say that Diamond Diva did not survive this process. Sure, Diva is built on the person that was Diamond Diva, but the change was pretty fundamental afterwards. They’re not different people in the way that Visionary and Dark Visionary are, but at least as much as Nina Arbor and Professor Pollution are.
- Is there any explanation for why NightMist seems to mostly be the same person after becoming a Void creature while Diva is so far removed from her old self? See above.
- Between these two and Scholar of the Infinite we see some pretty drastic differences between how the Void affects people - is that just a quality of the Void itself, or are there other reasons for such disparate outcomes? It’s due somewhat to the individuals involved, but also the methods those individuals used to interface with the Void. Scholar of the Infinite is less “in” the Void than the others. He’s definitely connected to the Void, but he didn’t so much go there and take it into himself. He’s a conduit that it passes through, but it doesn’t become a part of him to the extent that it does for the others.
- Does Diamond Diva join with Soothsayer Carmichael in the “supporting cast for Argent Adept that crosses over into NightMist’s stories” group? Diva definitely fights NightMist.
- Diamond Diva’s instrument was a crystal flute - was this an intentional parallel to Drake’s Pipes? Yes. It’s another “I’m better than you” thing. He’s got these cute little Pan pipes, but she has this highfalutin flute. So elegant. Not that she taunted him about that. Well, until she was just Diva.
- If I remember correctly, Argent Adept being asexual was accidental; he just had never been given a love interest and eventually some writer decided to explain that by retconning him to have been ace the whole time; depending on the timing, did any writer try to make Argent Adept/Diamond Diva a thing? No. The reaction would have been from him (“Oh, she’s so amazing, I think I’m in love”), but his reaction was more “What, no! I’m the Virtuoso of the Void!” He’s more of a insecure child about it. Plus, since we know that he never had a love interest thing, by definition this wouldn’t have happened.
- Total aside for RPG purposes: Who wins in a fight between a werewolf and a wereshark? Christopher thinks that obviously this depends on the venue. If you’re on land the werewolf wins and in the water the wereshark wins. Like, the wereshark still becomes a humanoid with shark features, but they’re still going to operate better in the water than out of it. Adam thinks that the larger bite potential of a shark wins regardless (although they imagine a werewolf to be a bit more durable than the wereshark). At the very least, a fight between them on land is probably an interesting fight that might go either way. In the water there’s no question.