Podcasts/Episode 261

From Sentinel Comics Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Letters Page: Episode 261
Writers' Room: Rook City Renegades #100

Rook City Renegades 100.png

Original Source

Primary Topic


The most extreme non-extremeverse story!

Show Notes:

Run Time: 1:15{6

According to Trevor, this may be our most gruesome episode since the Spite episode! Fitting. Also: sorry!

This is the week of recording lots of episodes, so get your questions in now Now NOW!

Join us next week for Episode #262: Robert Johnson vs the Headless Horseman!

Characters Mentioned



  • So… here we are. Before they can get to the topic issue for the day, they’ve got to set the stage a bit, starting with Rook City Renegades #69 from May 1989. That’s the issue that introduced a new character. He was designed and introduced with the purpose of being totally radical so as to appeal to “the kids”. There’s some validity there in that the character’s creator asked his own children to weigh in on what was cool. They liked skateboards, so this guy gets a jet-powered skateboard. They thought that characters who used guns or swords were cool, so this guy got both. Also, spelling the name wrong is a sure-fire way to make them awesome. His name is Ollie Carver (where Ollie is presumably short for Oliver, but that’s never actually confirmed).
  • Spoilers, but part of the reason we don’t get a lot of detail about his life (like his full name) is that he’s only around for around two and a half years. In that time he probably shows up around 20 times in comics (give or take 3).
  • The writer is intentionally copying the grittiness of the early-’80s comics, despite the tone moving on from there in the meantime. There’s still gritty/grim aesthetics, but things aren’t as oppressive about it by the end of the decade. We’ve moved from angst to huge explosions. At the beginning of the decade the “goal” of the grit was to have the violence be more “realistic” but that has gone out the window by ’89. They kept the grit, but now the violence is ridiculously unrealistic again.
  • The artist is somebody who does a super-exaggerated style that’s a bit divisive. Who cares about accurate anatomy, anyway? For real, though, that can go either way - you can try out a lot more cool/out there stuff if you’re not beholden to reality, but it’s just that when you miss you miss big and likely get people making fun of scans of your art on the internet for years in decades to come. (Cards on the table, this era of art is the time when Christopher and Adam were first getting into comics and so while they recognize when things don’t work and can acknowledge that, on the whole they think this approach to not caring about whether people’s arms can really work that way leads to cool stuff overall.) Another way that the grit works out here is that if your character is the type to have a lot of stuff with them, that means lots of pouches on their costume to hold that stuff.
  • Anyway, Ollie aka Sk8Blayd (see, misspelled in the coolest way possible [note that this is at odds with a previous spelling we were given like 4 years ago, so them updating it isn’t terribly surprising given how little impact he has]) is introduced in mid-1989 and has a glorious 32 month run ending in December of 1991. That latter year had a bunch of stuff going on. The Exordium limited series started up in the summer which will lead to the Vengeance event.
  • In the meantime, this guy has had a general m.o. of patrolling Rook City and fighting crime. If you see an issue has Sk8Blayd in it, you know that you’re in for shooting, stabbing, explosions, etc. He’s just a very violent fellow. There will be blood. Also angst - we don’t know why, but they imply things about his past here and there, but nothing is actually explored.
    • In delivering some ridiculous sample dialog, Christopher suggests that he’s imagining that after he says these things Sk8Blayd shoots somebody at close range, despite the fact that he’s also got a sword (“with more blades than you might imagine”). A possibility is that he primarily uses the sword to cut off opponents’ gun hands so that he’s the only one with a gun. So dumb.
  • Anyway! Getting back to 1991. In August there is a major announcement in basically every Sentinel Comics title - Sk8Blayd is not well liked. He’s not universally hated, but overwhelmingly hated. He’s liked by a very small number of people and those people are probably the types that like him because of the things that Christopher and Adam have been joking about for the last 10 minutes or so.
    • That’s another thing about ’90s comics that Adam’s talked about before, but brings up again now. They were in on the joke. The people making these ridiculous characters/stories knew just how ridiculous they were and were leaning into that because it was entertaining. Nobody thought that they were playing it straight.
  • Of course, just because they like him doesn’t mean there’s not a reason to kill him off. That’s what the ad was about. He was getting written out of Sentinel Comics regardless due to how unpopular he was. Nobody really knew what to do with the guy in the first place and they weren’t being written well. The ad was for a reader poll regarding the fate of Sk8Blayde. There were two 1-900 phone numbers [for the young’uns in the audience, those were numbers that you would be charged for calling - just an extra fee on your phone bill]; calls to one were counted as a vote to kill him off and calls to the other counted as votes to let him live. Thousands of people called in (something on the order of 10k total calls) between when the vote opened on September 15 and when it ended a few days later. The public didn’t know the results right away, though.
  • October: RCR #98 introduces a new character - RazorRacer (one of the proposed names for Sk8Blayd back when they first made him up) was a hockey player who was an enforcer for his team, but had a tendency to go a bit too far and ultimately got banned from the sport. He is out for revenge against the various people (refs, coaches, etc.) who got him kicked out and while he’s doing that Sk8Blayd runs across him while on patrol. Issues #98-100 are all about this conflict between the two of them.
  • As the name implies, RazorRacer has a lot of blades all over his outfit and goes really fast - his shoes are roller blades, but XTREME ones where they’re platform deals such that the wheels can be stored in the soles so that he can also just walk around in them, but the wheels themselves are also metal blades [I’m imagining this guy rolling around on 8 or 10 pizza cutters]. He calls them his “razor blades” instead of “roller blades” despite that term meaning something else.
  • So, issue #98 is where RazorRacer is going after people for revenge, Sk8Blayd comes across him, and they start to fight. Issue #99 is the conclusion of that initial fight where RR is defeated but escapes, plotting revenge. Then #100, today’s issue, is where RazorRacer is coming for Sk8Blayd himself. The important thing to know before they get into the issue proper is that the readers didn’t know that he was going to die until it happened. There’s probably an implication that one of these guys will die, but not which.
  • This issue is not nuanced. It opens with RazorRacer stalking Sk8Blayd. Better, maybe he’s baiting Sk8Blayd out by killing people. Do we have it be people actually close to him? Is this the death of not only Sk8Blayd but also his supporting cast? Does he have a supporting cast? He’s probably got like 2 people who have shown up here and there and, sure, let’s kill them off too. This story is scouring any remaining plot threads of Sk8Blayd from the setting.
  • Let’s say he’s got a tech guy who works on his skateboard and an informer type who tips him off on stuff that’s going down. Oh, it’s a tech lady who’s kind of a romantic interest while also kind of being mean to him (Adam mentions the anime trope of tsundere). Really, though, these characters just haven’t been around for long enough for this stuff to get fleshed out much.
  • We open with RazorRacer in her workshop with her already bloodied. She’s not a fighter and has basically just been throwing tools at the villain. It’s not a long fight scene and he kills her on-panel. It’s brutal. Christopher suggests that Marina (her name is Marina now) says to tell Sk8Blayd that she loved him with her dying breath, to which RazorRacer says no. Maybe later while fighting Sk8Blayd he even goes so far as to lie that she said that she hated him.
  • He uses her blood to write a message on the wall (something like “one down, see you at the racetrack”) to taunt Sk8Blayd and set up where he’ll be. The informant guy (Teddy, try to keep up) loves betting on the ponies. Sk8Blayd doesn’t even have time to mourn Marina’s death (insert an implication that this isn’t the first time he’s lost somebody - “Not again!”, just real over-the-top) as he’s probably already too late to save Teddy.
  • Adam suggests that when Sk8Blayd arrives at the racetrack he finds Teddy impales on one of RazorRacer’s blades already. Christopher has another idea. It’s nighttime, no races happening right now. It’s raining. In a flash of lightning we see that the pools that have collected on the muddy racetrack aren’t just pools of water, but of blood. There are several dead horses. Why? Because RazorRacer is a murderer and is just awful. We also see Teddy tied to a pair of horses facing different directions. When RazorRacer sees Sk8Blayd arrive, he says “Glad you could make it,” and then fires a starting gun. The horses take off in opposite directions, tearing Teddy apart in the process. You wanted extreme right? Okay, fine, it’s seen in silhouette against lightning to spare too much gore. Maybe it’s the lightning/thunder that sets off the horses rather than him actively firing a starting pistol.
  • Okay, leaning into this ridiculous scene. RazorRacer opens with a taunt about how the next time lightning strikes, your friend will die. Teddy however just yells to “Get him! I can hold it!”. After a lightning strike we see that Teddy can indeed hold the horses. We get a page that’s a series of wide panels. Fight in the dark between Sk8Blayd and RazorRacer, lightning strike showing teddy managing to hold together, fight in the dark, lightning, fight in the dark, etc. until the last panel that shows that Teddy eventually loses it. The death wail from Teddy as the panicking horses finally tear him apart distracts Sk8Blayd. Is this the moment? No, this is only halfway through the issue.
  • RazorRacer manages to get a good cut in across Sk8Blayd’s ribs, taking out a chunk of his midsection, and then kicks him down into the mud. Christopher and Adam have a brief disagreement over whether this then becomes a chase scene with Sk8Blayd chasing RazorRacer or vice versa - eventually agreeing that Sk8Blayd is being chased. Teddy’s dead, he’s injured, he needs to get away. He can’t even manage to ride his skateboard, though. RazorRacer spends a panel just laughing and taunting him about this (including cheesy lines about how he can’t skate and that his blade is broken or something - just bad wordplay on his foe’s name).
  • He does manage to get back on the board and get away, until it runs out of fuel or whatever. He ducks behind a dumpster for cover as he takes a moment to rest and take stock. He knows that RazorRacer will be able to track him this far and he’s losing a lot of blood. He takes some bandages out of one of his many pouches and between that and a sleeve he tears off his coat he manages to fashion a workable field dressing to stop the bleeding. He pulls a small battery-looking thing from another pouch (with a stuck on label - “For emergencies only, numbskull”, which prompts more angst-filled grumbles about Marina), plugs it into his board. Wait, is the thing he rides on also called The Skateblade? Of course! Anyway, Sk8Blayd plugs this battery thing into the Skateblade - it’s an experimental power source and it lets him ride this thing faster than ever before as it takes off into the sky.
  • RazorRacer sees the blue fire propulsion blast off and he says “So be it” and activates the rockets on the backs of his boots so that he can skate up the side of a building to follow. No, not rockets. Lasers. The wheels go into the boots and then the lasers come out. Now they’re his Laser Blades which obviously makes him go fast. He comes up the side of the building and then proceeds to do “roller blade parkour” from rooftop to rooftop in pursuit.
  • He catches up enough to use a grappling cable thing to snare the Skateblade and pull it to the “ground”, where now it’s towing RazorRacer. Sk8blayd eventually manages to cut the line, but it’s only after he thinks that he’s in the clear that we see the grappling thing damaged the new power source (or damaged the Skateblade so that the power is not well-contained) and the thing explodes.
  • He crashes on an adjoining roof and RazorRacer lands (stowing the lasers) shortly thereafter. He gives a monologue about how Sk8Blayd brought this on himself because he couldn’t leave well enough alone and it’s his fault his friends are dead and that he’ll soon be dead as well. We need a glimmer of hope here, though. Sk8Blayd takes this opportunity to draw his sword with a “You talk too much!” and stabs RazorRacer, and now it’s a fight.
  • They are both using blades, Sk8Blayd probably manages to shoot him in the leg too. It’s during this last bit that the lie about Marina hating him comes out and that might be what ultimately trips him up. RazorRacer has cool, serrated claws attaches to the back of his wrists and Sk8Blayd has one of those swords that’s got two blades. [This isn’t what we see in the original art that was part of the video that first mentioned him publicly, and Adam mentioned during the cover art stream that it was a “mistake” made while recording, but they keep it in, so apparently Sk8Blayd acquired this double sword at some point.] For the most part the sword is better for this fight, but eventually RazorRacer manages to get the sword trapped between the claws, lies about Marina, and twists his wrist to snap the sword blades.
  • Hmm… it’s probably now, after both the Skate and the Blade have been broken that the “You killed Marina and Teddy” stuff gets said. Then he picks Sk8Blayd himself up and impales him right through the back. He’s got two blades protruding from his chest and it’s very obvious that there’s no coming back from this. He gets chucked off the roof and the final shot of the issue is Sk8Blayd’s broken body in the alley.
  • Man, do we have any kind of indication in this issue that RazorRacer will eventually be brought to justice? There’s probably a caption on that last page asking the question of “With the fall of Sk8Blayd, can anyone stop RazorRacer’s rampage?” Spoilers: in issue #102 he’s defeated by the Wraith. That’s probably a pretty good fight too given how brutal they’ve set this guy up to be (although she doesn’t kill him).
  • Sk8Blayd was created in part to address the “problem” of “the kids don’t connect with the Wraith anymore”. He did boost sales, but only really in a “what in the world is going on here?” kind of way. Having the Wraith clean up the mess is nice then.
  • Oh, man. Christopher suggests in #102 that RazorRacer asks “Is this because of what happened with Sk8Blayd?” and Wraith replies “Who?” Maybe not because that’s a bit much, but it’s funny to think about. Does she have any crossovers with Sk8Blayd? We know Alpha did. He never made it into Mystery Comics - Christopher thinks that he’s probably only in Rook City Renegades. It’s possible that there is an issue where both of them appear, but that doesn’t mean that their stories cross over. They’re probably aware of each other. Adam thinks that with things like the Alpha story that we know that the two of them crossover in RCR that he might make an appearance back into Alpha - they might try floating him here and there in cases like that but only in very limited ways and Christopher knows he wasn’t in MC.
  • So, there we go. They introduced and killed off a character in the same episode. They think he’s cool as hell, but they don’t mind him being gone. What makes him “cool” is the whole arc of his existence. If you’re looking for more of this level of XTREME, you’ve still got RazorRacer out there. That vibe is better suited for a villain, really.


  • I thought that I was decently well-acquainted with the universe(s) that you’ve created, but I have to ask: who is Sk8Blayd? Did I miss some previous episode about him such that an episode about his death was voted in? Is this an elaborate prank at my expense? You are right to not know anything about him. Other than knowing that such a character existed and then died there wasn’t much to know ahead of time.
  • Was Sk8Blayd invented by an out-of-touch creative team who was trying to connect to youth culture? How much was he forced on comics readers? Was this edgy character made in reaction to some more wholesome character (possibly with a team-up to bring out the best in both of them)? Any chance of the next phase of his story, Sk8layd in Æternus? He was pushed medium-hard as a new character. Not nearly as hard as Benchmark was. He was made with the assumption that readers would love him rather than being a pet project that got an editorial push. What would have helped him was a Mystery Comics crossover and some “not just Rule of Cool” writing for him - give him some real substance. If he had been introduced a few years earlier so as to still be gritty but less “explosiony”, and then “earned” the explosions later or in the early ’00s as a throwback gritty/explosion character he may have worked better. Christopher puts it this way: “Sk8Blayd died so that Darkstrife and Painstake could live.” They were introduced before he was but he was the example of just how far the creative team thought they could push that kind of extreme and after he died that might have incentivized readers to check out what else was around that also had that edginess. Also, it’s entirely possible that this isn’t the last appearance of Sk8Blayd as you might get the occasional writer showing their street cred by including him in an appropriate flashback. Like, you wouldn’t get a flashback story where he’s the main character, but you could get stories where there is a flashback to an event he was present for - a glorified cameo. He’s used as a flex of canon cred. As for in reality, Darren and some others made some “documentary” videos about the History of Sentinel Comics stuff several years ago and Sk8Blayd was featured in one of those briefly. Adam did an art of him for that and then he shared it on Discord at some point - people liked how ridiculous he was based on that art and he’s been kicking around in the fandom since then. [That minute or so of video that talks about him was the majority of what we knew about him at all prior to this episode.]
  • Why bother? Most comic character deaths are usually for one of two reasons; the death is meaningful in some way, or it’s a case of the character jobbing to show how dangerous some threat is [they break in to mention that there’s a third option], but the impression I’ve gotten is that Sk8Blayd isn’t particularly powerful or interesting or popular with the readership and the context we have seems to be that the Organization is behind it and they have plenty of street cred already [they break in again - there is a story involving Sk8Blayd and the Organization, but that happens before this - it’s the card from the Operative’s deck that represents Sk8Blayd’s sole appearance in game materials - although RazorRacer does work for the Organization on occasion, just not by the time of this story; he goes on to become a mercenary/jobber]. So, assuming that a hero death is filling some larger narrative function, why Sk8Blayd? Was he originally more popular than I thought? Did a writer just not like him? Was the company just trying to cut their losses on a character who didn’t connect with an audience (and possibly trying to make some money from collectors who might think that they need to have the issue where a hero dies)? You got there by the end. This was a character who was not working and so the company pulls a publicity stunt with the voting. They could have all three issues except the last couple of pages done and ready to go before the voting closed. They establish this new brutal, but not necessarily “important” villain (it’s useful to have a roster of characters to pull from as needed - plus this way we also have the follow-up story with him vs. the Wraith). Like, Spite is a brutal killer guy too, but also has the inhuman monster stuff going on. This is just a guy. Why did they do the episode? They feel that it adds another dimension/layer of verisimilitude to the Sentinel Comics conceit. They crafted an issue that they would have loved to read as teens. They wouldn’t have thought that Sk8Blayd should have lived, just that it was an awesome issue. Looking back as adults they’d agree that it was pretty dumb (but also that it was still awesome). And it’s not without artistry - the fight at the racetrack is flippin’ cool and took some creative effort (they’re not sure if this issue was done by the same artist who introduced the character, but it might be - they’ll investigate that kind of thing, it’s definitely a different writer, though).
  • We first heard about Sk8Blayd in the 5th of the “Sentinel Comics: The Untold Story” videos on YouTube - several other details first mentioned in those videos have since also made their way into the podcast (writer Guy Hampton, for example). As you’ve neared completion of The History of Sentinel Comics, how much of those old videos have remained accurate? Any notable alterations you can think of offhand? They think they’re still accurate. It helps that the videos are very much a high-level, broad-strokes sort of the book. When the book comes out there will probably be details that the listeners here can call them out on, but they’ve retconned things before. What will probably happen is that “the book wins” once it’s out, especially when contradicting things said off-the-cuff while recording an episode and the videos might wind up having a few minor things wrong here and there as well. That’s a major part of the editing pass that Christopher’s doing on the book at the moment - just continuity checking and that process has resulted in a few tweaks here and there, but nothing major. He’s hoping to finish that particular editing pass this year.
  • If you were a reader of Sentinel Comics at the time of the poll, would you have voted to kill him? The easy answer is that neither of them would have called in. They would have gotten in trouble for calling a 900 number. They posit a situation where they were at an older friends’ house and he was going to call in, but wanted their input. Adam would not have voted to kill him as he would have totally been into the nonsense that Sk8Blayd represents. Christopher would have voted to save him just because while he may not have been super into the character he wouldn’t think the guy deserved to die. Now, having the vote go the way it did and him then reading the resulting comic he could well have come around on it being the better option. Adam brings up what is still one of his favorite comics issues, a Marvel one-shot titled Hearts of Darkness that was Ghost Rider, Wolverine, and the Punisher fighting Blackheart and it’s the most ’90s thing ever and Sk8Blayd fits right in with that.
  • We know that in at least one universe Omnitron made it through ten iterations (Omnitron-X), but what version number did the XTREME version get to? Surely it destroys the previous iteration rather than just lamely installing a new program, right? Yeah, explosions galore. They think that it easily got into the hundreds in becoming Omni-War (note that this letter was not actually follow-up to the recent XTREME Omnitron episode) - it possibly even made it over 9000.
  • In episode 116 (the Shear Force Creative Process) you mention that Shear Force and K.U.D.Z.U. team up at some point against some alien threat as a last-ditch effort to drive interest in the brand - Shear Force was eventually retconned into being part of the Extremeverse, but not until after OblivAeon so Omni-War couldn’t have been that threat - could their joined forces have stood a chance against Omni-War? Of the Shear Force lineup, who would have been best suited to be Omni-MAX’s supporting cast (assuming there was one outside of Unity)? They think that, ultimately, if Shear Force vs. Omni-War was a story being told, the narrative would be that they win. Who could be supporting cast is tricky - even looking at the list it’s not like anybody has the “music” connection that was kind of the vibe of this whole thing. There might be somebody in the entire roster, but they don’t know everybody. Greenhouse is kind of techie, as is Rangefinder. Let’s say Greenhouse and call it good.
  • Are there uncool things in the Extremeverse? Is the axis from XTREME to meh one that’s often explored in stories? Do the forces of awesometly good and metal evil team up against the forces of the destructively boring? It’s not explored that much because it’s not so much the fact that “meh” is the villain, it’s that “meh” doesn’t exist. There is no meh in the Extremeverse. They could see some post-OblivAeon Disparation story that involves an incursion of some bland universe into the Extremeverse. Oh, the Extremeverse version of The Grey making an incursion doesn’t even have to be post-OblivAeon. There might not be space for it, but it could happen.
  • Does Extremeverse Casa-Nova appear in the follow-up issue where Omnitron-MAX and Unity face down XTREME Celestial Tribunal? The answer is no and here is why: there isn’t a follow-up issue for this story. This is one of the many one-off stories of Disparation even if it’s set in a universe that’s visited occasionally. It’s possible that somebody eventually picks up this thread and runs with it, but it hasn’t happened yet. Your idea is not wrong - that’s a perfectly legitimate direction for such a story to go. It’s also worth noting that Casa-Nova is largely forgotten until Neighborhood Watch. It’s possible that this could have been one of the rare occasions where a writer bothered including him in anything as a deep cut.

Cover Discussion

  • There are things that this cover needs to do. Make it clear that we’re going to have a big, bloody battle between RazorRacer and Sk8Blayd (but not who wins). It should have words on it - Christopher is tempted to put something like “Because you demanded it” on there. Adam points out that that phrasing isn’t great because this wasn’t something being demanded in the letters page, it was something the company asked readers to weigh in on. “By Your Will One Must Die” is what they use instead. Christopher suggests adding “Many will fall, one will stand” somewhere on there too. Adam thinks that is redundant (Christopher agrees as that badness is part of the point) and that 1991 shouldn’t have that much text. Having that much is more of a ’70s thing, so they axe it.
  • It is just the two of them slashing the crap out of each other? They both suggest real comics covers as inspiration (“Something like this, but more violent?”), which is just great radio. Just getting up in each others’ faces.