Podcasts/Episode 274

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The Letters Page: Episode 274
Writers' Room: Cosmic Tales Vol. 2 #107-#108

Cosmic Tales Vol 2 107.png

Original Source

Primary Topic

Intro

NOW we're REALLY back! For a few weeks, at least. But still! TWO COVERS!

Show Notes:

Run Time: 1:43:48

Right off the bat, a new upcoming schedule!

  • Wednesday, February 28th: Record Episode #275: Choke in Megalopolis
  • Tuesday, March 5th: Release Episode #275: Choke in Megalopolis
  • Friday, March 8th: Record Editor's Note #77
  • Tuesday, March 12th: Release Editor's Note #77
  • Tuesday, March 19th: Release Surgery-sode!

After that, things depend on how recovery goes, and whether or not I go to PAX East. We'll keep you updated as we know more! Sorry for things still being so up in the air, but it's for very good reasons, at least!

And then, to the episode! Do we tell a tale? YES! Emphatically yes. We cover a lot, and we do the whole thing live!

Remember: we're recording the next episode TOMORROW! So, if you have any questions, now is the time to submit them! SUBMIT!

Characters Mentioned

Summary

Spine Watch 2024

  • Surgery is scheduled for March 13 - much earlier than first indicated. As such, the recording schedule mentioned in last week’s Editor’s Note is adjusted thusly:
    • Wednesday, February 28th: Record Episode #275: Choke in Megalopolis
    • Tuesday, March 5th: Release Episode #275: Choke in Megalopolis
    • Friday, March 8th: Record Editor’s Note #77
    • Tuesday, March 12th: Release Editor’s Note #77
    • Tuesday, March 19th: Release Surgery-sode! This is going to be a filler thing.
  • There will likely not be a recording done on March 22. This is because if Christopher is doing well, he’ll be in Boston for PAX East. If he’s not doing well, he won’t be up for recording anyway. They’ll have to play everything post-surgery by ear.
  • Even with as soon as this has turned out to be happening, an earlier slot opening up is still something Christopher will be taking if offered, so this can all still be upset by that happening.

Overview

  • While Christopher did compile questions for the episode, they haven’t worked on the story yet. It’s “Baron Blade vs. a non-Freedom Five team” - do we think that the “team” here is an actual team like Prime Wardens, or just a group of assorted heroes (or even just one hero)? They don’t have a preference. It might help to figure out when the story is happening as that will determine which heroes or teams are available. Baron Blade is a man of many plots (and failures).
  • Maybe it could be fun to do a story from before the Prime Wardens were a team, but kind of works to put them together as a proto-team. The late ’70s or early ’80s could work for that. There’s some “Baron Blade in prison” stuff they have to work around, but it’s doable. A lineup that Christopher proposes is Fanatic, NightMist, Captain Cosmic, Tempest, and Haka. It’s very close to being the Prime Wardens, but isn’t. Hmm… Maybe we include Argent Adept instead of Haka. Haka and Ra have been around forever but the others in the proposed list are all relatively recent at this point. NightMist, Fanatic, and Argent Adept in particular are all coming out of fairly recent developments/benefiting from limited series exploring them in more depth. Tempest and Captain Cosmic are the two heroes doing “space stuff” and sharing Cosmic Tales.
  • Oh… having the three magic heroes and two space heroes working together makes sense if… Baron Blade is doing a magic thing in space. That sounds fun. They haven’t had Baron Blade do magic stuff before and they need to be careful about how they handle it. Although, the late ’70s is about the perfect time to do so. Like, maybe he takes some magical relics and plugs them into his inventions to do a thing here, but after this story it’s kind of an unspoken agreement at Sentinel Comics that Baron Blade doesn’t mess with magic stuff. They tried it, it’s not the right direction for Baron Blade, so let’s not do it again.
  • So, in the late ’70s four of the heroes are well-established. Then there’s Fanatic - this would be before her “relaunch” with Absolution and so her “lore” is still pretty iffy. If they do this in the ’80s instead she’s going to be more recognizable to her modern incarnation.
  • Back to the Baron Blade prison situation. He’s in and out of prison through the ’70s and into the ’90s. The Mad Bomber plot was in 1971. Christopher thinks the earliest they could do this is ’78 so they have a few years where they could put it to still have that older version of Fanatic, which could be fun to do a story for here. They haven’t done a lot of “Angel of the Lord” stuff with her as opposed to the Judgement/possibly unreliable narrator stuff.
    • [In looking for placement options, Christopher mentions doing it “before the Spite Killer story” - I’m not sure what this is at this point. Prelude of the Soulless wasn’t until ’83, well past our discussion point. The first “Spite Killer” story I have mentioned was the one that introduced Jonathan Donovan as a murderer who was called that, but that story was back in Mystery Comics vol. 1 #214 back in 1964 from the last we’ve been told. My guess: when they redid the overall Spite story to make him a recurring “slasher movie villain” kind of guy, they may have moved Jonathan’s story up to be closer to the Prelude of the Soulless thing that combined him with the earlier Maniac Jack character. We had an earlier statement that Freedom Five Annual #8 was a Spite story (and that would be in May 1980 and so possible for what we’re looking at now), but we know that got retconned and that FFA #8 is now something involving a (robotic) Baron Blade attacking Freedom Tower. It’s possible that whatever story they had in mind for that slot simply got moved to another book.]
    • [A humorous aside here too is that Casa-Nova is introduced in CT vol. 2 #100 in June ’78. Then his “last” appearance is in February ’80. He shows up in minor stuff here and there after that, but his “main” run was as a backup story character in Cosmic Tales for about a year and a half.
  • Anyway, real options: Virtuoso of the Void is a possibility. As is Fanatic, but that seems like a weaker contender given that it’s going to end in April ’80 and with the character lineup we’re imagining so far she’s kind of the odd one out. Sure she fits the “magic” category, but she’s not a magician like NightMist or Argent Adept. Tome of the Bizarre is Haka-focused in this era. Arcane Tales is currently busy being Ra: God of the Sun. Justice Comics doesn’t exist right now. Cosmic Tales is the other strong contender. So, is this a space thing that we bring magical characters to or a magic thing that goes to space? They decide that Cosmic Tales is the way to go. Having Baron Blade doing something in space is on-brand enough that then throwing the magical stuff into the mix is interesting. Plus it is something to distinguish it from the inciting incident for Prime Wardens in a few years.
  • So, if they put it where they’ve been thinking, that means there’s a non-zero chance that the issue has a Casa-Nova backup story. Even more so if this winds up being a multi-part story. The late ’70s have a lot of 2-issue stories with the occasional 1 or 3 issue thing. They put this in January and February 1979 - Cosmic Tales vol. 2 #107-108.
  • Adam brings up a helpful point for having it be 2 issues in Cosmic Tales - it can easily just start as a space thing and the magical heroes aren’t brought in until later. It’s also something of a… “cash grab” may not be the best phrase, but something to try to make something of some characters. Fanatic’s solo book is on its way out and while we know now that it/she is being rebooted, maybe this was an attempt to try to figure out what to do with her. We’ve got Baron Blade, a weird mix of 5 heroes, and a Casa-Nova backup story. That’s a weird book.
  • Let’s get started. Captain Cosmic and Tempest are doing something in the solar system. We open with them fighting some kind of space monsters in an asteroid field. Yes, we know that the real asteroid belt isn’t like what we see in Empire Strikes Back, but that’s what we get here. Some quick exposition about how this asteroid broke open, releasing these strange beasts that then started chewing on their space ship. Or rather, let’s say that there was a mission where some astronauts were sent to this asteroid to mine something from it and it’s their ship the critters are endangering and the heroes are there to save the astronauts. Just some weird metal-eating space beasts that never show up again. This is maybe 2 pages before things are done and the astronauts thank the heroes for their help.
  • The ship is damaged enough that the mission has to be scrapped, though. The heroes accompany the ship as it returns to Earth. We get some Mission Control radio chatter about their approach and there’s some strange satellite in the way as they approach Earth’s orbit. Mission Control doesn’t know anything about it. As they approach it becomes obvious that it’s a Baron Blade thing. The color scheme has a lot of red and purple. It’s got a fairly Mobile Defense Platform look with force fields and whatnot. The guy has a recognizable aesthetic.
  • As they approach the satellite it releases a pulse of energy that shuts down the electronics on the spacecraft. As it plummets to Earth, Tempest does some weather stuff and Captain Cosmic does things with his constructs to try to mitigate the disaster. It crashes into the ground, big “explosion”, and when the dust clears we see the shield that Captain Cosmic created to protect the crew. The mission has been a complete failure (well, other than the knowledge that the type of ship they used can get there and back - it’s just weird circumstances that got in the way this time), but at least the people involved all made it out safely.
  • Captain Cosmic and Tempest discuss what happened with the satellite - Tempest explains his powers (as one does periodically with one’s fellow heroes) and that the energy pulse affected his ability to use his powers. We can actually showcase that a bit in the preceding action scene by having him not able to do stuff with the weather like he would want. Like, Tempest should have been able to just gently set the ship down, but couldn’t. Thus the crash landing and Captain Cosmic shield reveal. If it could affect Tempest’s powers like that it couldn’t be something as “normal” as an EMP. Baron Blade is clearly up to something weird.
  • Is this “something weird” enough of a reason to go talk to NightMist? That’s a bit of a stretch. Let’s just have this conversation end and then we scene transition to some of the magical heroes noticing something odd and talking to one another about it. Argent Adept goes to NightMist and explains his powers/deal (as one periodically does with one’s fellow heroes, especially when appearing in a title that is off-genre for you). He can feel that whenever he’s doing his thing, he still succeeds, but can feel a portion of his power being drawn straight up instead of wherever he’s trying to actually accomplish something. NightMist has noticed something similar.
    • [They have a quick aside here about the writer trying to use actual music terms and getting it wrong, like AA says that his music being drawn upwards results in it being “diminished”. Like, they’re really trying to make the effect here match the musical terminology and just whiffing entirely.]
  • From there, we can just move on to “Baron Blade does a thing”. He shows up somewhere outside some heavily-guarded facility with plans to walk in and take a bunch of equipment. Guards tell him to stop or they’ll open fire, but then a beam of energy hits him from the satellite and tracks him as he walks in. The guards fire on him, but he’s impervious to harm.
  • Let’s tweak that a bit to make this different from just a force field, which we know he can already do. It’s some kind of dimensional shift thing. The bullets aren’t stopped; they just vanish when they hit the energy. They wind up Elsewhere. Given that this is before Fanatic’s reboot and before Æternus is established so she’s just a literal angel fighting literal demons. This can be a “demon field”. He is using the satellite to summon demonic energy. When the bullets hit the field, there’s a ripple effect as they disappear, but the view through the ripples looks more demonic. Like, if you see his face as the field prevents a headshot, he looks like he’s a demon himself for a moment. A tank fires on him and for a moment we see a fully infernal, Demon Prince Baron Blade [Æternus Variant when?]. He’s got some kind of demon-tech guantlet - he can raise his hand and the tank is dismantled and then the parts disappear. He goes in and comes back out with some metal briefcase containing whatever it was that he stole from the lab. He makes it back out past the guards and everything, raises his hand again, and voops up into space (like the beam transports him up - a distortion effect showing him “stretched out” or whatever to show that he’s obviously going up with the beam).
    • Jumping ahead a bit, Adam suggests that this issue ends with something they hate and don’t do often: heroes fighting heroes. Fanatic runs into the others and thinks they have something to do with all of this and they fight. He doesn’t exactly know how to get there yet.
  • Anyway, we can follow Blade up to the satellite. What’s he put together here? He’s stolen the experimental whatever from the government who obviously didn’t know what they were dealing with. Only Baron Blade has the genius to devise the proper means of harnessing this power! He’s on the satellite, but it’s very similar to the deck of a Mobile Defense Platform. Except for the arcane portal made of black stone carved with glowing runes, portal itself a glowing purple energy where demonic faces and hands are pushing against some barrier trying to force their way through. That’s new.
  • Yes, the demonic forces of whatever’s on the other side of this portal getting free and running amok in our dimension would be bad, but the straining they do against the barrier is essentially unlimited free energy if you can find a way to harness it, which he has. There are No Downsides™ so stop looking at him like that. He delivers this in a classic comic-villain self-directed monologue. Then we transition back to the heroes.
  • Back at the lab, after things have calmed down but still soon enough after that the cleanup effort is still ongoing, Captain Cosmic and Tempest arrive since “something from space” happened here and NightMist and Argent Adept noticed “something magic” happened here (and the deflection effect went sideways instead of up, so they were able to triangulate). They all know each other and compare notes. Tempest and Captain Cosmic’s mention of a Baron Blade satellite prompts a response from somebody who works there that Blade was in fact the one responsible for the attack. NightMist and Argent Adept put their heads together at the place where Blade disappeared and manage to conjure up a bunch of residual demonic energy.
  • Adam suggests that they even cause a few demons to show up - Christopher’s going somewhere with this, so let’s just see if that’s warranted. As our magicians are doing their thing, a similar effect happens. Whenever Baron Blade was protected from harm by the energy field it would show him as demonic. That happens here - the two heroes appear demonic as well as they draw in what’s left of the effect. And that’s when Fanatic shows up and tries to smite the “demons”. Since they’re busy with the ritual, it’s up to Captain Cosmic and Tempest to protect them from Fanatic.
  • That’s the end of the story in this issue. It’s not the end of the issue, however, because…

Casa-Nova Backup Story, Part 1

  • Casa-Nova is way out there in space. One might even say far out. Just floating through space as he jams out to the music of the cosmos. Then some jagged purple/black wall of energy that’s totally ungroovy washes over him. It’s some harsh metallic sound. It’s not his jam, but is some of the most powerful music he’s encountered. Normally the music of the spheres is psychedelic, but this is really rough and heavy. Where is it coming from?
  • He follows the path, riding the backwash of the energy (surfing isn’t the right metaphor for him, but that kind of thing). He’s got to really keep grooving on his guitar to survive the bad vibes. He eventually arrives… At the Milky Way Galaxy.

Back to the Main Story in Part 2

  • Issue #108 opens with the hero fight in progress. Because we’re at the start of the issue, the fight dialogue recaps the situation. It’s a standard (especially in the era) “misunderstanding” fight and gets resolved in relatively short order. The ritual is completed and NightMist and Argent Adept are back to their normal selves. Fanatic blasts them with a Consecrate and they’re fine, so it really was a misunderstanding. Whoopsie. Oh no, the Consecration also wiped out the demonic energy they just got done harnessing and so she’s undone their work. Double whoopsie. But, it’s good to know that she can do that - it will probably come in handy when they take on whatever Baron Blade is doing now that they have to head to his satellite to deal with him rather than using the ritual here to disrupt things. Oh, there are more demonic forces to vanquish in the heavens? That’s basically Fanatic’s favorite thing, so let’s go.
  • So, they all manage to get up to the satellite that has the ability to disrupt powers and electronics. Captain Cosmic is able to get them there just fine? Why? How? Don’t ask questions! (Later readers in retrospect chalk it up to being OblivAeon-powered, when at the time it was just story expediency.) It’s a team effort. Captain Cosmic makes a “vessel” out of his constructs to carry them and NightMist and Argent Adept provide the power to get them there and cloak them so they’re not noticed.
  • They fly up. The satellite’s energy disruption blasts seem to be basically indiscriminate - it wasn’t specifically targeting the spaceship last issue. It’s just “off-gassing” the infernal energy it’s generating and that’s the effect this has. Anyway, it’s a Mobile Defense Platform-esque half-dome bubble shield thing. Fanatic just cancelling stuff outright from here will likely have unintended consequences in terms of where stuff goes, so they have to make their way in first to see how to do things in a more targeted fashion. NightMist can do a mist portal to get them from out here to in there, but then whatever energies are in there will be able to affect them, so they’ll have to move quickly.
  • So, we have regular Captain Cosmic, righteous but beleaguered Fanatic, and low-powered Tempest, Argent Adept, and NightMist vs. Baron Blade and his demon gauntlet in front of a shimmering portal to hell. Baron Blade has a fun monologue about power and how it doesn’t matter where that power comes from but what you do with it and as long as he’s the one in control it will be for the glory of himself and Mordengrad.
  • While even having 3 low-powered heroes, the fact that it’s still 5 on one goes about as well as you’d expect for Baron Blade. Eventually he just says “Fine” and uses his gauntlet to tear down the veil and now monsters pour through the portal. He can still have some modicum of control via the gauntlet and so they’re basically “Demonic Blade Battalion” guys. Fanatic is very happy, or at least enthusiastic with this turn of events.
  • There should be some exposition here about where he got this stuff. It can be as simple as “I found it” but there should be something that’s a nod towards explaining. Let’s say that in his Power Equals Power monologue he mentions that he found references to some ancient god-king’s tomb and decided to investigate. Upon doing so he found that it was just some other form of “technology”. The gauntlet is a control device. The portal is a power source. The details hardly matter. It’s all the same to Baron Blade.
  • The heroes work together to destroy the portal. Sure, Argent Adept’s power isn’t working all that well, but the portal can’t stop the music and so can still serve as the means of carrying an effect. NightMist and Fanatic can work on using the music as a carrier wave for other effects. They shove some demons back through the portal, vent others into space, and ultimately destroy the portal itself.
  • So… narratively speaking Baron Blade has to be dragged through the portal too, right? Like, he’s dealt with by being hoisted on his own petard banished through his own demon portal and presumed dead. The next time he shows up it’s either explained or it’s not. Anyway, as the music hits the demons they lose more and more of their Blade Battalion-ness and when they’re fully demon again they get pulled through the portal. One of the last ones manages to grab Blade as it’s getting pulled through and takes him with it. He’s dragged to the portal, the gauntlet clawing at the ground along the way. He’s pulled through, the energy draws in to a point, then explodes. Captain Cosmic once again shields everybody as the satellite is destroyed.
  • The heroes return to Earth and have a bit of a “and that’s why you don’t mess with demon stuff” conversation. Whatever MacGuffin that Blade stole from the lab is lost - either destroyed in the explosion, lost in space, or he had it on him when he was dragged through the portal. It’s probably lost for good. Don’t worry about it.
  • Wrap up hero conversation involving team-ups and whatnot lays some ground work for Prime Wardens becoming a thing later on.

Casa-Nova Backup Story

  • He approaches the Milky Way Galaxy, riding the most gnarly music he’s ever encountered. Adam imagines that he leans back as he plays and rainbow stars carry him forward. The music that’s pulled him here are the remnants of Argent Adept’s music as played through the Demon Portal. Xander Groovitation arrives in orbit around Earth and finds the remnants of the satellite and has to clean up what’s left of the demon energy by basically having a guitar battle with a demon.
  • This story doesn’t get resolved here, though. As very short backup stories, the Casa-Nova stuff is basically just one story spread out across all of the issues he’s in. Maybe the demon goes down to Earth and winds up at a rock concert and Casa-Nova has to rock out there too or something. Or maybe as they’re “fighting” one another they wind up having their music wind up harmonizing and they become buddies, and fly off to have an adventure together - he manages to basically win over and transform the demon into something less antagonistic. [Insert discussion of how “accepted” heavy metal/hard rock stuff was in the zeitgeist of 1979 - the conclusion is that “rock” can be good if you’re good while you do it.]

Questions

  • Do you ever relisten to your old episodes? No. Adam has only ever listened to a very small number of them (like, the very first episode way back when just to see if what they’d made was any good and then a few on the way to Gen Con last year to introduce it to friends in the car).
  • In episode 3, you talk at length about Baron Blade and the blending of man and machine that he becomes post-OblivAeon I wanted to ask about some of his tech. In Cosmic Contest we see him defeat Fanatic by using an energy blast that gathers strength the further it travels before hitting the target - is this the Fission Blaster that he has in Sentinel Tactics? Is it related at all to the Adaptive Murcurium Limb he has in the RPG? Yes and yes. They really liked his Fission Blaster from Tactics and so reworked it into other things.
  • Why does he use his Nether-lens Monocle on his damaged eye? Does he not actually need to see through it for it to work? Did he install some kind of socket on his face to hold the monocle? His damaged eye can still see, it just sees a little “strangely”. The monocle also causes the world to look strange, but you can also see into and through places so that seems like the correct eye to use it with. He definitely installed a socket for it. He can also control it via the implant so that he can see more “normally” or use its other effects with a thought via the cybernetic nature of the implant (that is, he controls how he uses the Discordian-nonsense lens by installing it into a housing that he can control - now that you mention it, there’s likely a through-line here with the “Baron Blade uses magic” not showing up again until he’s forced to deal with the Realm of Discord - at which point he decides that Discordian Magic is much better for his purposes than Æternal).
  • What even is the Organic-Sustaining Module? The Nether-lens monocle has its own origin story in Burying the Blade, but all we know about this thing is that it’s something embedded in his chest that makes his heart go, which seems like a good thing to have - what is it? Does it give him any other powers? What do the power lines on his suit do? It’s a power source for various technology bits in his body (like the arm). If it were to be turned off or destroyed he wouldn’t die immediately, but things would be pretty rough for him and he’d have to find a way to get it back online. Unsurprisingly, Baron Blade has gotten himself wrecked a number of times (and then he got fully healed and then completely wrecked again).
  • Given how long Baron Blade has been around, were there any notable heroes from the Multiverse Era whom he never encountered? If so, was there a deliberate reason? The first that jumps to mind is Akash'Thriya as the arc of Baron Blade stories was at an ebb when she’s around. He’s certainly run into the Naturalist. Maybe Chrono-Ranger, Harpy, or K.N.Y.F.E. but they can’t say for sure. They don’t think Stuntman either. For that matter Lifeline (if we care about him as Lifeline). Benchmark probably solos Baron Blade in an early Benchmark appearance because that’s the kind of thing they’d have him do during the initial push.
  • Are there any heroes that Baron Blade has come to truly respect over the course of the Multiverse era, and why? He respects Legacy as a foe, but the real answer here is Tachyon as she’s his intellectual peer. He has disdain for basically everyone else. Like, he may respect Haka’s strength, but considers him a simpleton otherwise (which isn’t true, but it’s Blade’s opinion - he’s a mean guy, almost like he’s a villain or something).
  • Prior to OblivAeon, were there significant stories/events that took place in Mordengrad? Do the heroes have to deal with just how beloved Baron Blade is among the people there? Definitely a bunch. There’s likely a feeling of “we don’t go to Mordengrad unless we have to because he’s the good guy there.”
  • What was the doomsday device supposed to do (if it hadn’t been fake) in The Trial of Baron Blade? You’ll have to wait until they do that story.
  • When did he allow himself to be arrested and when did he get out (asking due to the timing of the Trial story relative to when the experiment that resulted in Setback getting powers happened)? He’s in prison a bunch of times. He’s in and out of prison. He’s in and out of “being dead”. He’s supposed to be in prison during times we see him doing stuff and robot versions are either an intentional narrative device or a retcon to explain away an error.
  • [The Intern For Apostate letter starts at 1:04:30 - the presentation is worth a listen. The content is about how various non-Freedom Five teams would approach Baron Blade.] Would the Southwest Sentinels/Void Guard treat him as a terrorist leader? Is he well-known for trying to destroy the moon or blow up Megalopolis? Would they be reticent to take him on like you might be if you were to encounter [insert major real-life terrorist here walking down the street]? They don’t think that they’d be afraid of a major terrorist leader if they just saw him walking down the street - that seems like the least dangerous time to be around them. But Christopher also thinks that if he were to recognize a terrorist who’s running out of a building, he’d probably try to trip them. Anyway, would the Southwest Sentinels be too afraid to take him on? No. They’re heroes. They’d think it would be hard, but that wouldn’t stop them from trying.
  • Neighborhood Watch? How much does Blade hate Guise? He really hates Guise. Guise has definitely foiled Baron Blade plots in embarrassing-for-Blade ways.
  • Prime Wardens? When they take over the Ruins of Atlantis, how much of stuff leftover from the Moonfall plot do they find? Do they get into any shenanigans with Blade tech down there? They definitely find stuff left over from Moonfall. They don’t get up to “shenanigans” with it. If anything, it might help them set up shop down there. Or it’s a trap that was left behind and they have to deal with it first. It’s not a major plot point.
  • Dark Watch? Does Setback frustrate Baron Blade? Does NightMist being so powerful in such a different way than Legacy is annoy him? Dark Watch would be a tough team for Blade to deal with. They are all pretty powerful and they work well as a team. The fact that they’re not up to the “standard” of his usual foes in terms of power, intellect, etc. likely bugs him when they do well against him just due to their synergy as a team. He also doesn’t know them as well as he knows the Freedom Five and so his counters to them wouldn’t be as immediately workable and trying to work out how to neutralize any given one in isolation doesn’t work because you’re never dealing with just one member of Dark Watch.
  • Other than Legacy, who does Baron Blade view as the most dangerous member of the Freedom Five? Probably Tachyon since in addition to her powers she can figure out his tech, but there’s a possibility here that he has an advantage against her in that he can more regularly anticipate how she’ll respond to a situation. The real answer might be Absolute Zero in terms of his unpredictability and a lot of things that work on other people will just fail to work against him plus the fact that a “fail state” for AZ is actively dangerous to the people around him. Absolute Zero also probably doesn’t fully understand just how powerful he is while Baron Blade does. “I can’t leave this guy active to mess up my plans - gotta mess up his suit immediately.”
  • Give the number of stories involving him over such a long time period, it seems odd that we don’t seem to ever learn about any specific named underlings for Baron Blade - does he have any consistent supporting cast back in Mordengrad for him to monologue to? Would there be enough there to warrant a “Baron Blade Supporting Cast” episode? They don’t know that there’s enough there for an episode. There likely are some named characters who are at least around for a while. None of them who show up really “stick” long-term, though. The narrative purpose of Mordengrad is an entire nation of sycophants. When you get somebody bold enough to try to step into a leadership position when Baron Blade seems to be out of the picture, that character doesn’t last long.
  • Does Baron Blade just not try the Terra-lunar Impulsion Beam again out of some sense of professional pride? It seems like the beam itself was working fine, he just needed more security to defend it while it did its thing, so why not try again? You don’t go to the same well twice (which is a funny phrase because if you’re somebody relying on a well you go to the same well every day - sometimes multiple times a day, but we digress).
  • Given that our primary way to interact with the character is via the card game, we tend to view him as very Moon-focused but is that sense of him shared in the Metaverse? Yes. He probably does do a Terra-lunar plot more than once. Like, there’s probably a redux story in the ’90s or ’00s. Moonfall is his most famous, most well-regarded, and certainly the most reprinted story. People still buy trades of Moonfall. Villains don’t really need a whole lot of different stories to become notable - you only need one if it’s impactful enough.
  • What powers the city of Mordengrad? Given the houses we’ve seen, do they actually get power in the residences or does it all just go to the Industry stuff? It was probably something futuristic like a nuclear plant back when it first showed up in comics, but by the ’00s it’s probably some outlandish, novel, proprietary power generation thing. Like, Baron Blade managed to synthesize some radioactive isotope that he calls Bladium and somehow it’s used to generate power. It’s wild that it took until 2024 for them to come up with the word “Bladium” but that’s definitely a thing that’s happened in the comics. Anyway, lets say that a gumball-sized ball of it powers Mordengrad and something like a pinch of it is what’s in the Organic Sustaining Module that runs all of the tech in his body post-OblivAeon.
  • What determines what job a given Mordengradi citizen has? Is there any choice involved or is some metric used to assign it (and if the latter, what is it)? It’s probably assigned, at least to a degree. Everybody is in the Blade Battalion for a while as a conscription thing, but there’s also probably a lot of brute force “this is the job that currently needs to be done, so basically everybody is working on that job for the moment.” Adam also imagines a bit of medieval structure to it - we need bakers, so at least some people get apprenticed to an existing baker.
  • What’s the local transportation like? Does Baron Blade know how to drive a car? He absolutely does know how, but we also probably never actually see him do so. There’s likely something akin to busses or trolleys as a public transit thing, but it’s small enough that walking or the occasional horse is probably sufficient for most purposes. There’s probably also a bit of Authoritarian Urban Planning involved so that people mostly stay right where they need to be and don’t often have to cross the whole place (which on foot probably takes a 4-5 hours on the outside). At the least, there’s likely a tram type platform thing to get to the Battalion barracks. The Blade Battalion itself has access to VTOL vehicles to get where they need to go.
  • Are the Blade Battalion responsible for police duties within Mordengrad itself or is there some other dedicated force? There are “military police” type divisions in the Blade Battalion and they would serve this function as well.
  • As we know, the name Paul is outlawed in Mordengrad - but how do the Mordengradi people refer to public/historical people like St. Paul or Pope John Paul II? What would be the punishment for naming The Goat Paul - death or just banned from dancing with The Goat (a fate worse than death)? The Goat is named by the state - any given person can’t name The Goat. When referring to a person with that given name… in writing they’d write Pxxl. Christopher suggests that if/when it’s necessary to speak about somebody with the name, you’d just pronounce the leading /p/ and people know what’s meant. That being said, given that comics are a print medium the speech bubbles probably use the Pxxl convention.
  • Baron Blade’s hair is depicted with various shades over time, sometimes with streaks of gray - does he dye his hair? Is it a P.R. thing or just depending on the artist? There is a bit of an “artist variation” situation going on, but there are also very specific eras they play around with. He starts with some gray, gets more over time, but he gets rejuvenated at one point.
  • You mentioned that you hadn’t pinned down where the missile on Heroic Interception came from, but is it possible that Baron Blade just had a lot to say to the US President and so sent an over-sized message missile? Possible. He’s a verbose guy.
  • Are there any powered Mordengradi citizens? If so, how does Baron Blade deal with them? As of now, there are not. If there are, it’s not some well-known guy. It’d be more like somebody with minor powers who keeps them secret. They could also see an issue where somebody winds up with powers, Baron Blade finds out and tries to use them as a weapon - experimenting on them to really jack up their powers. They explode at the end of the issue. It’s a standard Baron Blade plot where he overuses his resources in ways that are dangerous to himself and others.
  • What would Blade do if the Parsons line were to simply die off (rather than somebody else “stealing his kill”)? Would them dying in a freak accident make him angry? Sad? Without his quest for revenge would he feel bereft of purpose? Probably. They’ve mentioned before that he’s worked with heroes on an “if anybody’s going to kill Legacy it’s going to be me” basis in the past. Or somebody boasting to Baron Blade that he’s going to take care of Blade’s problem for him at which point Blade just quietly goes about undermining the guy’s plans. The freak accident thing would make him sad, but also likely causes him to undergo an existential crisis of some sort - just the idea that something like that could take out Legacy when Blade himself failed so often.
  • Does Baron Blade’s tendency towards self-destructive plots indicate a problem with thinking long-term? Yes.
  • We know he could drop the moon onto the Earth, but I can’t help but think that he could go even bigger if he were to just plan it, right? [say it out loud] sigh Yes, he could certainly go bigger, but the moon is in his family crest and everything. Besides, it’s right there.
  • Has Baron Blade actually ever won? Like, he comes up with a plan and carries it out successfully and it doesn’t get undone (besides killing Felicia which happened in another universe and his Triple Cross as Luminary)? If so, can we get some issue numbers to request? The Triple Cross definitely counts. Him having major plots that succeed, as mentioned earlier, isn’t what gives him his staying power as a villain. Any one of his doomsday plots would work and would be Bad. He also has the resources at his disposal to keep trying. Therefore he keeps popping up with some plot or other and the heroes have to stop him every time. He never becomes a chump. Christopher can think of one, but he doesn’t want to give an issue number - it will come up when it comes up. Just between Moonfall and Vengeance he has more major events than most villains, and those were two of the biggest events period.
  • [Suggestion that the Captain Cosmic vs. Veneer story makes for a pretty good “starter” episode of the podcast. Simple story with minimal background knowledge necessary, expresses the meta portions of the podcast pretty well.] Yeah, that one doesn’t have a lot of inside-baseball stuff.
  • I also just like that in that story Captain Cosmic feels like somebody with “captain” in his name should - it just bothers me that he’s not the leader of the Prime Wardens - how often do we actually see him in a leadership role? How often do we see other characters respecting the title of “captain”? First off, the Prime Wardens don’t really have a leader. Argent Adept kind of winds up being in that position in a lot of people’s heads due to his plot being the one that instigated their formation, but he’s not the leader. We definitely see Captain Cosmic in leadership roles with some frequency, but about the only member of the Prime Wardens who you probably could definitely say isn’t the leader is Fanatic. They all provide different types of leadership. Why should anybody respect the term “captain” as applied to him? It’s not a rank that he earned. It’s just his hero moniker. That being said, they do think that this kind of “commanding” take-charge characterization did happen a bunch in the earlier stories like the Veneer story, but he’s still good at that kind of thing and we see it a lot - buffing/augmenting teammates fits into the leadership/make the team perform better kind of role.
  • Man, you really have it in for Captain Cosmic don’t you, given that the “unambiguous success/victory” story involves the destruction of not only the planet he was on, but also an entire second planet - that’s like 200% worse than most Earth-based heroes. Anyway, is he licensed to practice law in space? Does he ever solve a space problem through legal means rather than the application of cosmic, glowing violence? He has definitely had “arguing cases in space court” stories. Licensure is not something we worry about, or at least if there are places he encounters that require passing some test he’ll do so (although the nature of the test might be more… dramatic than taking the bar exam in the US).
  • Was Captain Cosmic involved with the Trial of Baron Blade? No, that’s a Freedom Five story.
  • How does he keep himself up-to-date on the UK’s case law while out in space? He does a bad job of it. He has to cram whenever he makes it back to Earth (like, we might see him reading after coming back and somebody asks and he explains that he’s got to catch up on important cases he missed). As long as the comics acknowledge it, it’s fine. He’s catching up on case law the same way that Expatriette reloads. Off-panel. You see it happen occasionally, but most of the time it’s assumed to be happening off-panel.
  • Does he ever feel doubt about acting as judge, jury, and executioner when dealing with Space Crime? He doesn’t do a lot of executionering. Not none. Most of what he does is capture people. He’s more of a space cop than space court system.
  • After Darzon II becomes the new Darzon I, what do the refugee Darzon Oneians call themselves? Darzonians - they don’t have a planet of their own anymore, so they just refer to the system.
  • Do we ever get a story of an ancient prophecy that tells of some important Macguffin on Darzon II only for Captain Cosmic to realize halfway through the issue that it would have meant the old Darzon II? That’s a fun story device, but they don’t think they really wind up in this system very often. Three or maybe four times sounds about right, during the Multiverse era.
  • Does Captain Cosmic ever hook up with a Darzon Oneian? Almost certainly. Probably not on page. Man, is there an alien species (other than Endlings) that Captain Cosmic doesn’t shoot his shot with? There are a lot of species out there, I guess.
  • How would the Court of Blood (or Blood Magic in general) work against life forms that lack blood, like Darzon Oneians? The answer is yes with an asterisk. Anything with a “life fluid” of some sort likely works as “blood” has a fairly loose definition to begin with. Darzon Oneians are crystalline people and might lack this sort of thing, though, which could make them resistant/immune to Blood Magic.

Cover Discussion

  • Let’s talk about both covers just in case.
  • The first feels like some kind of space thing. Like Captain Cosmic and Tempest pinwheeling through space with a satellite in the background? Anything else is giving away too much. Christopher likes “Infernal Heavens” as the name of the main story and “Music of the Spheres” as the Casa-Nova backups.
  • The cover of #108 kind of has to be Demon Blade in front of the portal, right? There, done. Ship it. Maybe something like “Corruption of the Stars” on there. Maybe something involving “What dread malice plagues the orbit of Earth?” Captain Cosmic saying it could even work as we can have word bubbles on the cover in this era.