The Letters Page: Episode 259
Writer's Room: Disparation Vol. 2 #108
Let's get EXTREME again!
Run Time: 1:21:52
OK, we get pretty silly with this one, but it's worth it! At least, we think so.
I'm just now on my way back from a very successful PAX West, which I'm sure you'll hear all about in next week's episode, which is Episode #260: Creative Process: OblivAeon Refugees! Get your questions in for that one now!
Talk to you then!
- Once again, we find ourselves in the Extremeverse in August 2011. Disparation volume 2 #108. How do you make Omnitron more extreme? They picked this date for a reason. Over in Freedom Five #736 that same month was the death of Omnitron-X in the fight with Omnitron IV. This issue “makes light” of that other story. We have Omnitron-X fighting the big factory that’s trying to assimilate it. It explodes in order to take them both out and then Unity is sad. Then over in Disparation we have Omnitron vs. Omnitron in Omnitron. Just a wild multi-Omnitron situation.
- Adam’s suggestion: way way back we have a story where Omnitron tries to take over Wagner Mars Base. Here we just say that Omnitron has taken over all of Mars. The whole Omni-Mars is coming to Earth to take it over too. In the Extremeverse Omnitron is just this big planet-sized robot going around space taking over other worlds (and it can send off smaller Omnitrons too - “smaller” being very relative as they can be city-sized or something else ridiculous).
- Christopher posits that the name “Mars” was due to the red color of the planet as seen by ancient people who associated it with their god of war. Now that it’s Omnitron, the red is still indicative of Omnitron’s eye lenses and they call the planet Omni-War (he didn’t like Omni-Mars or Mars-itron or anything like that, so Omni-War is as good as we’re going to get).
- So, one of these smaller Omnitrons that gets launched from the Omni-War has to become “the good one”. What happens to make that happen? Christopher is going to paraphrase something from an internet video from roughly 20 years ago: “Are you for good, or for awesome?” He doesn’t think that this Omnitron is “good” - he thinks it’s “awesome”. Omni-War and the other Omnitrons are, in the parlance of the Extremeverse, bogus. They just suck. Then something happens to one of them and it’s just radical. Good and evil isn’t the important dichotomy in this universe.
- What happened to make this one so absolutely bitchin’ when the rest are so boring (I mean, yeah, sure they took over a planet which is pretty XTREME, but just making everything more of itself is boring)? Do you want a good answer or a funny answer? Funny! Christopher’s starting idea (maybe not the real answer, but the basic type of event) is that this Omnitron was launched down to the planet and it happens to land on a skateboard whereupon it immediately did a kick flip and this changed it. Another option is that it lands in a Guitar Center and its landing produces the sickest riff of all time.
- In case it’s not clear, this is not one of the “taking itself seriously” Extremeverse issues. This is “suburbanite mowing the lawn is ‘fighting’ the grass” territory rather than Freedom Five/Mad Max. They can dial it back some, but in the juxtaposition with the death of Omnitron-X it’s intentionally more lighthearted.
- Oh, you know what’s cool? Dinosaurs! Maybe this is Omnitron-Rex… Maybe not yet as it has to become Omnitron-Rex. But, if this is the XTREME Omnitron-X we should do something with the name too. We could say that the Omnitrons that Omni-War sends down assimilate something they find on the surface and then use that to wage war. Like, the Mars one started at Wagner Mars Base and assimilated that first. These are all supposed to head to technological hotspots to get their start, but this one lands at Insula Primalis by mistake and assimilates a T. Rex.
- That loses out on the fun Guitar/Skateboard thing, though. Hmm… Maybe we keep the assimilation thing and it happens to land near several things in close proximity, like a heavy metal concert near a skateboard factory or something and the confluence of the various cool things being assimilated at once is what does it. They may have to ditch the Omnitron-Rex thing just because “Omnitron, but with a skateboard and electric guitar” is just too fun. Being Omnitron, switching between Skateboard and Electric Guitar modes is on-brand.
- Spitballing things that are a twist on the original “empathy chip/time travel” Omnitron-X origin, Christopher eventually suggests that at the assimilated heavy metal concert there’s some electronic organ that has some AI component to it (this being a 2011 story, the idea of AI-assisted/produced music has a different connotation than it would have today) - it’s got some chips in there dedicated to making it awesome. It takes the keyboardist’s input and the chips help it to determine the best way to make those notes awesome. When Omnitron falls into the concert and assimilates all of the instruments and rather than turning that tech into weapons of war it now knows that their purpose is to make awesome music.
- Adam’s elaboration on this: the robot crashes into the stage and the band asks “Are you okay, robot dude?” And they revive the “dead” robot person by plugging a guitar cable into it and playing the most rockin’ riff you’ve ever heard. The resulting arcs of electricity assimilate all of the instruments along with whatever “awesome chips” they’ve got.
- We need a better name for this. [Trevor edit with a sweet guitar riff to skip unproductive efforts] Omnitron-MAX. When he wakes up the band asks his name and he replies that his designation is Max. So, Omnitron-MAX is the name, but people just call him Max.
- Then Max goes on to fight a bunch of other Omnitrons. He’s got a lot of chrome to his look, but we get a varied set of other Omnitrons that have looks influenced by what it was they assimilated.
- In terms of page count stuff: the Omnitron takes over Mars and becomes Omni-War and the incident that creates Max are probably handled pretty quickly. Then we see him fight… Omni-Truck (Omnitron that assimilated a monster truck) and that’s cool but is also basically a throw-away example. Then Omni-War determines that it needs to send a lot more extreme Omnitrons at Max to stop him and that’s the majority of the issue.
- In working through some further thoughts on that, Christopher considers that “we need more people”, possibly other heroes, but then he considers just having the band that revived Max accompany him. He’s powered by rock, but can also upgrade their instruments into weapons. They can’t really have this be the Crackjaw Crew/Helfyre unfortunately. They’re just too obscure at this point. Adam’s suggestion that delights Christopher is that the band is called Unity. That’s it! The moment that the lead guitarist hits the chord that brings Max to life we get a zoomed-out shot of the stage which is when we see that the band is named Unity.
- So, we get Max and robot-instrument-playing/wielding bandmembers of Unity vs. the Omni-truck. Christopher doesn’t think that the rest of the issue is them just fighting more Omnitrons. Max points out that they need to take the fight to Mars. Max can take the defeated parts of Omni-Truck and turn them into a spaceship, but he needs the power of Rock to do so (they’re imagining that this fight took place while still at the concert venue with the crowd there and everything - they’ve got to mosh like they’ve never moshed before).
- They consider having the spaceship look like a skateboard, but in getting to this point they’ve kind of swung from ’80s rock to heavy metal, which is right for a robot but doesn’t really mesh with the skateboard thing and so, regretfully, they’re just dropping the skateboard angle. After some deliberation they decide that the stage is incorporated into the ship as the basic structure. Like, it’s an amphitheater style venue and we basically just get an enclosure over/around it that makes it look like a giant skull that blasts off into space. It’s an awesome flying head.
- So, is there anything better to end on than this skull-concert blasting off to space, the giant red lens of Omni-War with robotic stuff bristling around it turning to look at it were it sees Max riding on top and then there’s a clash with the band playing and the audience moshing? Like, we could just end the book on that and call it good unless the telling of the fight is more compelling. Hmm… we can probably tell what happens in the fight but then have a coda that makes it clear that Max and Unity have more to do out in space. We leave the moshers on Earth - they were needed to power the launch, but stay behind.
- Okay, so the skull ship isn’t flying to Omni-War, but crashes into Omni-War. The planet that was once Mars is now this robotic hellscape and Max and Unity are heading to the center to fight the Omni-Core. There’s molten lava everywhere and the core looks like a robotic demon so the finale here is a robot and a heavy metal band fighting a robotic demon in “hell”. It’s all very DOOM, which is appropriate.
- They defeat the core and then have to get back to their ship (damaged, but still usable) before the whole place explodes. They have to do some repairs and in the process it stops looking like a skull and is more of a bat. Once they’ve made it out they see something else they’re going to have to deal with out among the stars. They’re teasing the Celestial Tribunal which is a giant glowing celestial figure which is like the original appearance of what would be OblivAeon that was later changed that’s holding the giant sword (but with little guys like the Celestial Executioners, only looking more like Eddie the zombie-like “mascot” of the band Iron Maiden crawling all over the sword).
- So, the cover for this has to be a sweet album cover, right? Adam has ideas, but they’ll talk about it in that section.
- So, Omnitron-X is a time traveler, right? Miss Information and Visionary have one-off time travel in their backstories and a bunch of heroes have traveled through time as part of specific plots here and there, but none of them are time travelers (with the exceptions of La Comodora and Chrono-Ranger for whom it’s their main shtick), but Omnitron-X (and -U?) seem to do it at least occasionally as part of their gimmick, right? What fraction of Omnitron-X’s stories involve time travel? Will there be more representation of that in his Definitive Edition deck? Chrono-Ranger and La Comodora are time travelers in the way that international business people who fly all over the world regularly just as part of their job are “world travelers”. Omnitron-X is a time traveler in the way that Christopher himself is a “world traveler” - having been to multiple continents and traveling internationally a few times a year. That is, significantly more than the average but not to the level of the real pros. Omnitron-X does time travel stuff, but it’s not his primary gimmick that he’s known for.
- We got a picture of XTREME Tachyon in an update for the Disparation campaign which reiterated something we’ve known since the episode that talked about her - that she rides a motorcycle; my question is why? Is this still Meredith Stinson? The reason why is because she appeared in the Mad Max-esque story so of course she’s on a vehicle and her “power” is to make that bike go fast. They talked about the possibility that it’s actually XTREME Krystal Lee rather than Meredith Stinson, but they think it’s better left unanswered. Like, this would definitely have been a question in the in-comic letters page and it would have been left unresolved there too. They both really like the fact that none of the characters in that story are named (as it’s a dialogue-free story) - you just understand who they are. That’s Tachyon and that’s all you need to know.
- Is there any significance to the bike’s design itself (the red circle on the front is reminiscent of an Omnitron eye lens)? The circle is a reference to the red circles on Tachyon’s standard costume.
- Omnitron is known for its tendencies to self-iterate, becoming more capable over time; the Legacy line develops a new power in each generation, becoming more capable over time; Omnitron II was a result of Omnitron being acted upon by the Singular Entity OblivAeon; the Legacy line was a result of the Parsons family being acted upon by the Singular Entity Wellspring - what would Omnitron have been like if Wellspring had been the one to augment it? Cosmic Omnitron was made to be more destructive and dangerous. It was just as much about fighting and destruction as the original (given that OblivAeon wasn’t a concept yet at the time the writers made the Cosmic Omnitron story). The retcon was still in keeping with that and the intention was just to throw some more chaos and destruction Earth’s way. Wellspring would have been specifically doubling down on the iteration idea. Iteration has become a defining feature of Omnitron, but that wasn’t its designed intention. Omnitron II happened because of OblivAeon and Omnitron III happened because of Baron Blade. Following that it becomes more self-propagating, but it had help getting started down that road. Wellspring would push that iterative process as the goal. Some ideas of where that would end up are things like Deep Thought from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that became something of an oracle or a benevolent version of Marvel’s Techno-Organic Virus. There are a few ways that could go.
- Has there been a Disparation story of some incredibly-advanced Omnitron that comes back in time to change the future, Terminator-style? Well, Inversiverse Omnitron-X would be something that would come back in time to make things bad, but they could see something along those lines outside of the specific Inversiverse gimmick too. They don’t have an example ready to go, though.
- While pursuing the details of the “perfect” Omnitron X, did Omnitron IX test some of the capabilities piecemeal? Did it put time travel tech in some drones first before installing it on X? Did any of those test drones survive/change anything? Hypothetically all of that is possible but not addressed. Adam also points out that Omnitron doesn’t really need to test things. It’s not a human doing science - it’s just putting together “known” data in a way that logic dictates will work. Christopher offers a tweak in viewpoint that isn’t contradictory to that in that “everything it does is a test”. There’s little functional difference between those two positions, though.
- What happened to Omnitron IX after Omnitron X was activated? It ceased to exist. When you get a new numbered version of Omnitron it’s because the old one becomes the new one. The weird exception there is in Vertex where it creates the Omni-Drone, but then it’s more like one composite Omnitron running two bodies.
- Is XTREME Tachyon fast? We know her motorcycle is fast, but is she able to run at superhuman speed? In that comic issue, we do not see Tachyon moving while not on the bike. We see her have very fast reaction time and we see the bike moving super fast and there’s cool electricity arcing off of it, but we don’t see her running around.
- Is XTREME Tachyon Meredith Stinson? If not, who is she? They mentioned it as part of an answer above, but it’s intentionally left uncertain.
- What hat would Omnitron wear if he was to wear a hat? Does he ever attempt to borrow or replicate Chrono-Ranger’s hat? They love this question. They think that a bowler would work well for Omnitron’s head shape. A mini-fez popped on top could also be fun. A top hat is good too. They could see him in a beret. Having Omnitron-X in a full cowboy costume as an attempt to “blend in” in Silver Gulch is funny - like regular clothes to hide his robot body, a ten-gallon hat with the brim pulled down and a bandana pulled up to cover his face so you just get this thin slit with a red glow from between them.
- Is there a galactic barrier in the Sentinels universe? No, travel to other galaxies is possible. There are various barriers in space, but specifically like this that’s encapsulating the Milky Way.
- Are there other things trying to invade our galaxy that heroes must defend against? Yeah, all the time.
- Does Captain Cosmic get into space-romances with them? Yeah, all the time?
- Have we seen these beings from beyond our galaxy and I’m just forgetting? They think that Dok'Thorath isn’t in our galaxy (it might be, galaxies are big). [I note that Tempest’s bio mentions that the fleeing Maerynians traveled to “the nearby Milky Way galaxy” implying that they weren’t from it originally and that Voss’s bio mentions that he has a “swiftly growing intergalactic army” which also implies that he’s been to multiple galaxies.] At the very least, they’ve never thought of space as being limited to the Milky Way and there’s no specific differences that distinguish aliens from inside and outside the galaxy.
- Given their status as villains playing in an environmentalism arena, has Morphon Intergalactic ever had a run-in with the Naturalist? That’s certainly not off the table. We know that Naturalist at least winds up in space for a while since we know he’s on Dok’Thorath for a bit. There’s not a huge amount of time for that to happen, but not no time (and it’s not like Morphon Intergalactic is defeated for good by the end of the Multiverse era).
- Do we ever see Lifeline and Dead Wreckon meet up (presumably after OblivAeon) given their similarities? They don’t particularly think of them as similar. They’re both aliens with powers. Lifeline is the last of his people; Dead Wreckon is the last of his clan but there are more Kamilioids out there.
- Do you see any notable interactions between Kamilioids and Maerynians (if there’s anybody out there able to hide some refugees, it seems like it’d be them)? They don’t imagine that Kamilioids make it to Earth - like, maybe one will at some point, but they don’t really see this sort of interaction happening since Earth is the only place with Maerynians now. Well, no - it’s possible that another escape pod made it somewhere else. They don’t know that some did, just that we don’t know about any such group outside of Earth.
- Given that their invisibility works while they’re not moving and that presumably they can also hide clothes and other things on their person, would a gene-bound Kamilioid be a sniper? Snipers or assassins, most likely. Heck, a gene-bound version might be able to remain hidden while moving too.
- Regarding “two people sharing a body” characters (Visionary, Ra, the Ennead, etc.) who has the best relationship with their other self? Probably Ra/Dr. Blake Washington, Jr. The bar is not high and by around the Backdraft era they’d come to a pretty strong agreement on things. Early on there’s more conflict between them, but by the ’90s they’re pretty much a team.
- Are there any Sentinel Comics characters with a more traditional form of plurality unrelated to multiversal or relic-based shenanigans? Maybe Joshua Jennings/Mr. Jitters - they don’t specifically recall what prompted what’s going on with him. Alpha might kind of count - she has different instincts and her personality changes when she’s in wolf form. It’s not so much “she’s a different person” but is more of a “two different expressions of the same person”. We might get a specific Alpha story that’s written like this, especially something that makes her situation allegorical for substance abuse, but it’s not the usual take for her.
- Have there been stories that get into the drawbacks and benefits that come along with sharing a body? If so, who’s the focus? Ra and Visionary both get stories like that. Visionary can only really get the “benefits” angle really early on before what’s really going on with the darkness within her is established. Ra is all about this though. This is basically the entire story of Dr. Blake Washington, Jr. This really makes them want to do more stuff with Dr. Washington - maybe a story where Ra needs him rather than the reverse.
- Christopher kind of wants “The Omni-War” on there somewhere, but the idea from earlier was “album cover” so we’ll have to see if that is appropriate. The different form-factors of square album covers and rectangular comic books is an issue. Unless he draws a record album that’s sitting on a table or something.
- We definitely want Omnitron-MAX on there. Do we want to put the band on it? Christopher suggests a specific album cover (great radio). It has a big red circle and a “robot looking thing” already. It’s the Judas Priest album Screaming for Vengeance. Adam had been thinking of some Dio cover or, specifically, Meat Loaf’s Bat out of Hell but this is too good to pass up given the concepts at play. It also helps the form-factor problem since he can just make the whole thing that yellow background and redo the Disparation trade dress in the Judas Priest logo style.