The Letters Page: Episode 253
Writers' Room: Cosmic Tales Vol. 2 #536
This episode is a bit shorter than average these days... but we talk about several issues of Sentinel Comics, so that makes up for it, right?
Run Time: 1:10:51
We start off with some jokes, some banter, that sort of thing, but then we gotta get down to business! Stories to be told!
The original prompt was "Greazer in La Comodora's brig". Did we answer that prompt? We certainly attempt to do so! Several times! But... did we do it!? Who can say.
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- They actually workshopped some stories before the episode, but kept throwing them out since they liked the stories but the prompt was “Greazer in La Comodora’s brig” and the stories were him after being in the brig. So, Christopher has an idea, but hasn’t told Adam yet.
- They’re doing Cosmic Tales volume 2 #536 from October 2014. This is close on the heels of some Headhunter K.N.Y.F.E. stuff (#530), Fashion vs. the Scravegers (#528) and her team-up with Greazer (#531-533), and the Lifeline/Anvyrre the Answer thing (#534-535). We’re kind of all over the place, but they figure that people buying Cosmic Tales at this point know what they’re getting into - it’s space stuff, but it’s going to be changing up who’s being featured regularly. There isn’t a single creative team that’s doing a major run in the title so you get lots of variety.
- Anyway, Greazer Clutch. We recently saw him successfully helping the person he was supposed to be taking down (Fashion) and making an enemy of Card Shark. He’s still a bounty-hunter type of guy and so generally gets jobs to do. We don’t start with a job here, though. He’s getting some more tech.
- The gear he’s picking up now is a “predictive transponder” - a device he can install on the Pink Lady such that instead of having to go through the trouble of finding/tracking somebody when he takes a bounty, this thing does some time-travel algorithm nonsense to predict where they’re going to be and so he can just ambush them there. So much easier! He gets it from some kooky space inventor guy.
- Adam asks how well this thing works. Christopher starts having the guy set up a demonstration involving a 9-legged space mouse thing. Before we get into that, Adam has an idea that Greazer’s getting this thing in lieu of payment. This guy had hired Greazer with a bonus situation if he managed to bring in the mark and his whole gang by a certain deadline. This shouldn’t have been possible, but it’s nice to start a story showing Greazer succeed spectacularly. Anyway, the guy can’t pay the whole amount and the transponder is what he offers to make up the difference. Nah, more of a snake-oil, magic beans kind of thing. The guy could pay, but doesn’t want to and smooth talks/tricks Greazer into accepting this gizmo instead. In fact, after the guy talks it up and gives the space-mouse demo Greazer winds up paying him for the thing.
- So, instead of getting money so that he could pay some debts, he has this thing that he hopes will allow him to make more money more easily. Of course, by the end he will have paid nobody and his creditors likely will be after him as he dodges their calls or whatever. “Solving problems is antithetical to a Greazer story.”
- With his new tool at his disposal, he pulls up the space bounty board and checks out the highest payout available, the Tempermental Tharvold - a guy known for his unpredictability and his speed. Nobody knows where he’ll go next and it’s hard to just follow him. But Greazer has this prediction tech now. He punches in all of the data and turns it on. It promptly opens a temporal wormhole in the parking lot where he’s sitting. A figure charges through the wormhole at him saying that he must be the one causing all of the problems.
- Greazer claims that he can’t be responsible since he just got the thing. “Yeah, from your perspective.” There have been a number of people that this thing has been causing problems for where they wind up disconnected from their own timelines or something and they need to stop him. To stop burying the lede here since the prompt kind of gives it away, this is somebody working with La Comodora who’s amassed a bit of a crew.
- We know that she’s been working with Chrono-Ranger (in his Best of Times role) but we also know that she worked with Chronoist as he’s involved during OblivAeon. She also works with this character - this issue is her first appearance (also the predictive transponder’s first appearance, but it’s just a McGuffin to get the story going). They describe her in somewhat vague terms since Adam doesn’t want to commit to the costume details and whatnot until he’s drawing the cover (because she’s definitely on it), but the basic idea they get across is a ninja with red hair. She’s the Kinetic Ultimate Neutralizer Arresting Imbalance (K.U.N.A.I.) - Paige Huntly from the Anime-verse.
- Chrono-Ranger and La Comodora are usually busy dealing with all of the other La Capitans out there causing problems, but there are other temporal anomalies that need dealing with as well and that’s where the rest of the crew is involved. K.U.N.A.I. has been/will be dealing with Greazer and the predictive transponder that’s causing these wormholes. This will involve taking him and his ship through the various wormholes to close them.
- Christopher suggests that he tries to just hand the transponder over if that’s the problem but she says that all of this is linked to him and the ship too now. Adam wants to go a different direction. Greazer paid a lot for this thing, so rather than hand it over, he’ll just use it to get away. punches in more data that opens wormholes under his ship and another under K.U.N.A.I.
- We get one big chase scene of a story where Greazer is jumping through a bunch of spacetime wormholes willy-nilly as he’s pursued by K.U.N.A.I. who’s using La Comodora tech. Over the course of the story the crew grows as he continues to make a mess of things across more timelines (resulting in more “refugees”). It’s kind of weird that it’s in Cosmic Tales considering all of the timeline/alt-reality jumps but it’s not too out there. It’s fitting since it’s the book we most recently saw Greazer in, it starts in space and looks like it’s going to be a space story, but it then becomes the transition point between this title and the one where Greazer will be for the rest of the Multiverse.
- So… while the problem is something that will land him in the brig, what story point occurs to get him there? How about a Greazer vs. Greazer head-on collision? If he’s jumping through spacetime wormholes and making a mess of things, it’s only a matter of time until he causes problems for himself. Is there any reason for it to not be the Extremeverse Greazer? That is where they wind up going fairly regularly when they need a bad guy, but they’re also going to be doing an Extremeverse story soon afterwards. So, we wind up with Greazer fighting his Extremeverse counterpart and K.U.N.A.I. saves him. We close out with the two of them fighting XTREME Greazer until La Comodora can get a “lock” on them for extraction since the snarl that Greazer made of everything made finding them difficult.
- Ooo… do they want the cover to be Greazer Vs. Greazer? Eh, that might be giving too much away. It’s probably Greazer and K.U.N.A.I. but they’ll discuss that more later.
- What is XTREME Greazer like? Christopher’s idea: Greazer is a space alien embodiment of Rockabilly. Extremeverse Greazer is Psychobilly. Half-skull-face “tattoo” (space tattoo that actually shapes the flesh under it to really sell the effect), neck bolts, etc. Instead of a “hot rod” kind of space ship like the Pink Lady it’s some hearse-like monstrosity. He’s probably got some vaguely necromantic powers of some sort.
- Anyway, that fight with the three of them is the end of the issue. They kind of blew past it, but the bulk of this issue is the crazy chase scene where we get a bunch of fun one-off alt-reality gags and the indication of the people that are all getting displaced by his nonsense. It’s also an advertisement for Disparation in case Cosmic Tales readership wasn’t already aware of it. Y’know what, let’s just make it explicit and have this be a two-part story with the second part in Disparation #146 that same month.
- They did it again… they still didn’t get Greazer into the brig. Although that’s obviously where things are heading. Disp. #146 starts with the end of the fight and the extraction by La Comodora and by the end Greazer’s in the brig of La Paradoja Magnifica.
- Episode 184 covered Disparation #150, which was a massive issue that covered a bunch of La Comodora/Chrono-Ranger in the Extremeverse stuff (a plot that continued for several more issues). Greazer’s in the brig on the ship that whole time. He’s still entangled with all of the wormhole stuff that doesn’t get resolved here and they don’t trust him to cooperate with fixing it, so they leave him locked up until issue #155 (the end of the XTREME La Capitan story) where, basically out of desperation, they let him out to help deal with La Capitan and he proves instrumental in resolving that and becomes a “valuable part of the team going forward”. He sticks around and helps out while only sometimes messing things up for everyone else as he continues to look out for himself.
- Are there any characters that Greazer hunts on multiple occasions but fails to capture? The way his EE deck worked implies that he didn’t have an actual nemesis, but is there anybody he interacts with on a regular basis? Any characters that he actually gets along with well? He goes after both Captain Cosmic and Sky-Scraper more than once. He crosses paths with K.N.Y.F.E. (and various versions of her) several times, but they don’t think she’s ever a bounty target. The Greazer book doesn’t have a lot of crossover with the rest of the titles - it’s mostly about him hunting down people “who are more scum than he is” and most people in that book are unique to that book outside of the occasional guest appearance of somebody to try to boost sales. They’d like to do more stuff with the Greazer book - it’s part of the Multiverse, but was largely something you could read exclusively and not need to know what was going on elsewhere. It was scummy people doing scummy things In Spaaaace! in a fun, over-the-top fashion. Think a “crime” book where you get all of the plots and hidden motives/manipulation stuff that you’d see in, say, Sin City, but with a much different vibe (less dour and more goofy, for certain uses of “goofy” - it’s certainly still violent). Man, recurring foes/allies… do we want to even try doing a Greazer Foes or Supporting Cast episode? That could maybe work.
- Given that he winds up in La Comodora’s brig, there’s a chance for him to be in other universes - how well would he work with other versions of himself (I could see it going either way with him being best buds or immediately butting heads with himself - or making fun of their hair even if it looks exactly the same)? It’d be funny if when the Pink Lady and the… [gropes for a name for about half a second] Black Stallion crash into each other Greazer and his XTREME counterpart both get mad at one another for wrecking their ride and start fighting, calling names, etc. they can’t help but compliment one another’s hair. There’s a strong “I’m the genuine article; accept no substitutes” attitude from every Greazer, but they all respect the hair. There is probably potential for Greazers to get along (in fact, in other circumstances even XTREME Greazer and “regular” Greazer probably could have gotten along). The one he’s least likely to get along with is “Peacenik Greazer”. Oh, they’ve talked about a “Lawman” version who’s like this Lawful Good type that also probably wouldn’t get along with the others. They haven’t really explored what Inversiverse Greazer is like.
- Previously the idea we had of how Unity’s power was that her bots were basically just extensions of herself like extra limbs - sure, Mr. Chomps acted independently, but it was really just Unity. However, the Scavenger Unity story shows that it’s possible for her to invest enough power into one so that it becomes uncontrollable (i.e. the T. Rex bot attacking her). This of course prompts the question: Just how do her powers work? She invests power into things. They act independently while still at a basic level being an extension of her will and personality, but she isn’t puppeteering them around. She can make a bot and want it to accomplish a task and it will seek to do so; she doesn’t have to guide it along every step of the way, but the power invested in it does draw on her finite willpower. In the same way that the T. Rex became a problem, she also couldn’t make hundreds of raptor bots. Adam brings up blinking - most of the time it’s automatic, but you can do so intentionally and sometimes you can get into your own head about it and wind up blinking “too much” since you’re paying attention to it. That’s not a perfect analogy to Unity’s situation, but it’s along the same lines. Like blinking or breathing, this is something that she just does.
- When Unity wakes up in the Final Wasteland she doesn’t have enough metal around her to make bots and so has to run away from the cryptids; what about her electricity powers? Couldn’t she just zap them? What is her connection to electricity in general given that we know her powers are actually magical? Unity’s “power signature” looks like lightning. When she does things it presents as lightning. The way they think of it is that when she’s doing “lightning damage” it’s a byproduct of the energy in the metal that she’s animated. Without her power being invested in metal somehow, she can’t just shoot lightning bolts at things. That’s abstracted a bit in the card game to allow her to use her powers in an offensive way (and “lightning damage” is the closest to what it is) but the idea is that it’s like a “charge” between her and the conductive metal over there.
- How long was Unity in the Final Wasteland? A few days is what they imagine. Not weeks.
- Unity is an intern for the Freedom Five - are there other interns? Do they have a lounge in Freedom Tower? How many were killed when OblivAeon blew the tower up? Most importantly: who was Absolute Zero’s intern and what kinds of ridiculous tasks was he given? They often say that “Unity is the intern of Tachyon” but the more precise phrasing is that Devra Caspit is the intern of Dr. Meredith Stinson. As part of that, Devra has an attitude that she has these powers and wants to be part of the Freedom Five and the official line on that is absolutely not. But then things keep happening and she winds up more and more involved in the superhero stuff rather than just helping out in Dr. Stinson’s lab. The perception of readers is that she’s a sidekick and/or intern for the whole team and she kind of de facto serves as an intern for the team, but officially she’s just associated with Tachyon in her non-superhero role. All of that being said, by Sentinels of Freedom time post-OblivAeon it is possible that the core members of the team have interns/trainees.
- In the Scavenger Unity episode it was established that Omni-Unity has 2 parents, but since Omnitron is what “birthed” her, it would be her mother and that makes Unity her father. We’ve also previously established that Omnitron-U could be considered Jewish since Unity is kind of its mother and Jewishness is typically reckoned matrilinearly. However, that would mean that Omni-Unity wouldn’t be considered to be Jewish since Unity was her father. How does Omni-Unity deal with this knowledge as she becomes more invested in the universe she finds herself in post-OblivAeon? Omni-Unity is more machine than man and doesn’t care for theological questions. Let’s game this out, though. Christopher has a friend whose dad was Jewish and mom wasn’t, so genetically and “good enough” for a lot of people could have been considered Jewish, but in order to be an Orthodox Jew as she wanted to be actually had to go through the conversion process as an adult even though she’d been raised in an observant household. As such, it might be possible for Omni-Unity to convert, but we’re at the end of our hosts’ knowledge and they aren’t sure if a robot could convert to Judaism if it wasn’t already by virtue of its creation.
- [Letter preamble mentions that NightMist is the writer’s favorite. This leads to their first question.] How dare you?! Look, if nobody died there would be no stakes. Also, NightMist’s popularity wasn’t as high when they made that decision. Popularity wouldn’t have changed that decision, but they weren’t going out of their way to kill off so many people’s favorite character (well, in the real world - she was definitely a fan favorite in the Metaverse when she was killed off and they knew that at the time, it’s just that her popularity here is approaching parity with the comics readership). There is the question of whether her popularity here has gone up because of her heroic sacrifice.
- You mentioned that one of the alt-reality Legacies that convinced La Capitan to give up the Sliver of Creation was her reality’s NightMist; What!? Tell me more! Also: was this incident the deciding factor in La Capitan becoming La Comodora? Also, how dare you? For sure the Sliver of Creation stuff leads right to La Comodora. The Legacy who is NightMist is a thing that happened in one reality of the Multiverse. She is a powerful leader and an arcanely-attuned individual. She’s known for her compassion and her inhuman coldness when she’s giving in to the mists. Maybe a bit of that “seems like she’s not compassionate but actually is” vibe.
- Is the OblivAeon event La Capitan’s fault? Was the Sliver of Creation somehow sustaining timelines such that OblivAeon couldn’t destroy them (or speeding their creation so he couldn’t “keep up”)? They don’t think that Sliver hypothesis is the case. They don’t think it was “sustaining” the timelines. The way that they’re related is that stopping the OblivAeon event wouldn’t have been possible without first having the Sliver of Creation story. That experience is what gave La Comodora the insight she needed to get involved (and The Time Trust story in particular is a direct outgrowth of the Sliver story). The La Capitan we see in the Sliver of Creation story is the latest (in her subjective experience) we see of her before we run into La Comodora and she needed that experience to prompt her to change her ways such that she becomes the La Comodora we see when she “next” shows up. She had that arc off-screen, but it didn’t affect OblivAeon’s plans. Taking the Sliver of Creation out of play in this way might have made his job somewhat cosmically easier, but not in a way that would have prevented it otherwise. It would undercut things to have La Capitan be responsible for OblivAeon. It would also be weird given that OblivAeon itself was a huge retcon/explanation for tons of weird stuff related to the Shattering of the Timelines and related phenomena.
- There are a few options. Really it’s down to either Cosmic Tales #536 or Disparation #146 - they could maybe do Disparation #155, but getting into any of the La Capitan/Extremeverse stuff is a bit off topic. CT would probably be something depicting the chase scene - maybe figures falling into/through portals while Greazer flies off in the Pink Lady with an “oh no” expression. Disparation would be the Greazers fight. Adam will default to the CT cover for sure, but if he has time/feels like it he’ll do Disparation too.