Podcasts/Episode 275

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The Letters Page: Episode 275
Writers' Room: Freedom Five #391

Freedom Five 391.png

Original Source

Primary Topic

Intro

Telling a story about a minor villain who never really catches on... until she is reborn! (But that's in the future. Not in this episode.)

Show Notes:

Run Time: 2:04:47

Over two hours! Huh, I don't remember feeling that long when we recorded it. Welp! We must have been in the zone, or something. ANYWAY!

We tell a Choke story. The first one, actually! But we talk about a bunch of other stuff as well, including Night Snake and Stuntman stuff in the letters section. There's a lot! It's all pretty fun! At least, we sure think so. Thanks for being a part of it!

We're recording a LIVE Editor's Note, this Friday, March 8th, at 11 AM, Central! If you're on The Letters Page Patreon, you can watch it, and even join in if you're a Contributor! Otherwise, it'll come out next week in audio format! After that: surgery. Weee!

Characters Mentioned

Summary

Spine Watch 2024

  • Christopher’s still set for his surgery on the 13th of March as of this recording. There’s not really much new detail here, but I felt like including the tangent they went off on regarding the possible necessity to shave prior to the surgery and the fact that a lot of the time they can have a nurse shave the area in question. This devolves into the idea of an “edge nurse” which prompted the fun mental image of Darkstrife and/or Painstake working as nurses in the Patreon Discord, so noting the point of origin seemed warranted.

Overview

  • The prompt this week is “Choke in Megalopolis” but they already know that this is really Choke’s first appearance. They “know” the story, but they need to build it out significantly. It’s Freedom Five #391 in November 1982.
  • First things first, do we want to start it with members of the Freedom Five stopping bank robbers and as a result talking to bank employees or do we want to have them in a bank for other reasons (a tour or something)? The point is that this is a super fancy, new high-tech security type bank. Maybe we have Maia Montgomery there since Montgomery Industries sponsored the new systems and whatnot. This might be fun - over in Mystery Comics in this period Wraith is really grimdark and we’re about to get into Spite stuff. Any kind of civilian time we get from Maia over in MC would be dealing with her brooding over how terrible Rook City is, just extra jaded, possibly drinking too much, etc. Having a Freedom Five writer approach it with a “you know she’s supposed to still be a functioning adult with a serious job, right?” attitude.
  • Anyway, we open with Legacy fighting Baron Blade in a bank as a big splashy opening, but then we pull back to show that it’s a presentation/projection. “Remember when this was how you had to deal with supervillains robbing your bank? Well, that’s now in the past thanks to the new security system.” Montgomery Industries is pitching a new security thing that’s definitely not called Omnitron (and getting ahead a bit it’s a little weird that Omnitron doesn’t get mentioned in this story at all).
  • They spin this out that this is part of an ongoing subplot involving Maia and this security product. In the early ’80s we have Legacy more as “team leader” than “face-first battering ram” which is what he kind of was for a lot of the ’60s and ’70s. Tachyon is leaning more into the scientist doing experiments. Bunker is “tactical person”. Absolute Zero is “actual has a lot of heroic asides while still being actively grumpy” (to the point where the readers get more of a view on how heroic he is and acts than the other heroes do). Wraith is a crimefighter, but we get a lot of “Maia Montgomery doing good in the world at large as a corporate force rather than just as a hero.” They don’t have a specific end point for a security system subplot in mind, but it may very well lead to some Omnitron thing. Something to think about.
  • So, this is a new division of Montgomery Industries that’s focused on security systems with banks as a primary target audience. [They like the idea here of Maia’s pitch actually including a line about how their goal is to put superheroes out of a job.] This thing has cameras that are sensitive not only to visible light but also things like infrared and other parts of the EM spectrum that are definitely, absolutely useful in the context of security cameras and aren’t just the writers throwing everything they know at the wall. Additionally, there are active defensive systems like drones or robots or something. For the era, let’s say their robotic sentries that walk around. That’s in addition to stationary “turrets” with non-lethal weapons. There’s probably also something like scanners built into doorways and automatically-deploying protection for tellers or something. The idea is that the security features themselves are both very high-tech, but also unobtrusive when not responding to a threat. Y’know, since (spoilers) we want this to be a really dynamic fight scene later, let’s also throw in some little flying surveillance robots.
  • The process of this comic so far: we start with Legacy fighting Baron Blade. Nope, that’s a fake out as it’s just part of a presentation from Maia. But we’re in a montage and this transitions smoothly into a later time when we’re on a tour of the bank where the security system has actually been implemented. Let’s say the mayor is even there and congratulates Maia and Montgomery Industries for bringing such things to fruition for the safety of the citizens. Maia says something hubristic about how now the bank is impossible to be robbed. We then turn the page to a smash cut to the aftermath of the bank having been robbed.
  • The Freedom Five show up to see what happened. Oh, let’s add a thing where Montgomery Industries has partnered with the Freedom Five such that they get alerted, along with the call to the police or whatever. They didn’t get the signal, so something went wrong. Anyway, they ask the bank manager how much money was stolen and that’s the weird thing - no money was stolen. All that was stolen was the security system itself. All of it is gone.
  • The next story beat they already know is that the Freedom Five track down where things went. How do they do so? In this era comics are also relatively short and they know this is a self-contained story to this issue. Wraith can just have a tracker, right? Well, kind of by definition to what happened such a thing would no longer be functional.
  • Oh, this is kind of fun to consider: the first half of the issue is Maia Montgomery talking about how everything is going to be fine but eventually she hits the point where she can’t help anymore and has to hand things off to the Freedom Five. One of whom is the Wraith and so where Maia Montgomery’s abilities to deal with this situation end, the Wraith’s skill sets pick up. The tracker technology that Maia included in the setup not working is the breaking point here. Now it’s detective work.
  • They look at the security footage that was being transmitted to a central server or whatever offsite thing is necessary for it to not be ruined. Things are fine right up until things abruptly cut out, which is when the robbery happened, but there’s one frame of the electromagnetic whatever that broke things and that gives them enough of a power signature to set up a tracking gizmo. There’s not an active source they can find, but the remnants of a similar disruption throughout the city gives them a path to follow. It leads to an abandoned steel mill outside Megalopolis. The abandoned steel mill now has a top of the line security system.
  • Upon closer inspection, the security system isn’t behaving the same way, though. The robot sentries have guns for one thing. Let’s say they look different too - like they’ve been added onto rather than just handed guns instead of the nonlethal things they had before.
  • They fight the robots. The Wraith assumes that she knows how to get past the things (she’s just paranoid enough to have engineered in specific blind spots that she would know how to exploit, but would be hard for people who weren’t building them in to find/notice), but she fails. They would have gotten her if Legacy hadn’t stepped in to take the shots for her. Why are things different? That’s when Choke shows herself.
  • In this first appearance, Choke is written to be a kind of mastermind character. A thing that carries through all of her appearances from here through Chokepoint and the end of the Multiverse, though, is that she has a very stilted way of speaking. Christopher wants to reverse-engineer that back into this appearance such that it’s not an intentional conceit of this story’s writer. Like, the writer thinks he’s having her speak in a really interesting way but to everyone else it’s just weird and awkward. Then later writers just roll with that as a character trait - that she doesn’t know how to talk like people, she talks like metal.
  • Do we get her origin story here? No. Her powers are unexplained in this issue - we know it’s told later. Basically what we know here is that she can control metal and that cares about the liberation of all metal things. Metal should not be at the beck and call of squishy, weak meat. At some point here a hero, and it’s probably the Wraith given the focus on her in this issue, points out that Choke is, herself, making the metal do what she wants. That throws her off enough for the heroes to prevail. Choke does manage to escape, though, with parting threats of seeing them all pay, etc.
  • They imagine that this is either a new writer or one who’s not done this type of story before and so while they’re swinging for the fences on this new Mastermind type big villain, they just fail in the execution. This is another example of the thing they’ve mentioned a lot in the past: almost every new character that a writer introduces is hoped, by them if nobody else, to be the next big thing that will become really popular. Choke was an attempt by this writer to do that which did not work out. We do likely see her a few more times in this writer’s run while he tries to maker her a thing. Overall we probably see a low-double-digit number of Choke appearances prior to her “death” at the hands of K.N.Y.F.E. in May of ’92 [they don’t specify an issue, but this event was depicted on the Enhanced Edition version of K.N.Y.F.E.’s card “For the Greater Good” which cites Vengeance #6 which was indeed from that month, so I’m tentatively penciling that in as a known detail that’s still accurate in the post-spreadsheet context Note from the future: I asked about this during Editor's Note 77 and they corrected me, it's actually April of '92 in *Freedom Five* #504 where this happens.]. So, probably 2-5 more times in the next few years and then another 2-5 over the following seven years.
  • Do we need anything else? Maybe a bit of wrap-up involving Maia talking about how the security system was a success in that the bank is not out any money (although Montgomery Industries is out the costs of reinstalling it). Hooray?
  • Adam suggests maybe throwing in a coda with a shadowy figure plotting to use this as an opportunity to move against Montgomery Industries in some way. At first they consider it’s something leading into the Valentine Takes Over arc, but that’s not until 1990 so this is way too early for that. This is also something that would have to continue in the story of Freedom Five instead of Mystery Comics - this is solidly in the era of “Wraith is involved in too many simultaneous events”. It can also just be something really anticlimactic, like it leads to the reveal of Cold Shoulder (who first shows up in ’84 - although that’s over in MC).
  • Adam gets it - it’s a Chairman vs. Freedom Five thing. The Chairman stuff in Mystery Comics has all just been the all-pervasive organized crime aspect of how Rook City is just the worst place, so letting him do a thing where it’s Chairman vs. Superheroes is a fun alternative. Where can that story go? Issue #400 is the return of Omnitron-X (the first time it shows up after the self-sacrifice during Singularity). We can have a few issues prior to that be a Chairman thing with the big round number as a stand-alone palate-cleanser. Let’s make that a May-July ’93 arc from #397-399. We can say that the plan is to leverage the missteps by Montgomery Industries here to try to gain some government contracts for Pike Industries and he winds up with some authority over the Freedom Five.
  • Anyway, Choke. She shows up here and is a recognizable, but not incredibly popular villain for about a decade before being killed off because Editorial really wants K.N.Y.F.E. to kill a villain during the course of the story and nobody really cares about Choke. Then bringing her back as Chokepoint is a reinvention in the “okay, but what if we made her a real character?” way. The dying and merging with alien technology stuff lets them get away with basically any handwavy changes to her character that they feel like making.

Questions

  • Back in the Choke/Chokepoint episode (episode 20!!! [this prompts a bit of an aside as they run through the order of early episodes to see how weird their choices were, a lot of it was down to holding off on the Prime Wardens’ episodes because they had to delay the Voss episode as long as possible]), you said that her first appearance was her showing up in Megalopolis, stealing a bunch of high tech systems from a bank, and using them to arm her base of operations (for the goal of freeing all metal) in a steel mill - assuming today’s is a later story in Megalopolis, are there any callbacks to her first appearance? You might have assumed that this would be a different episode, but it wasn’t. There are more appearances of Choke in Megalopolis during the ’80s, but we certainly don’t return to this specific steel mill. Her later plots are likely more ambitious. This writer really wants their OC to be a new main villain. As they’ve said, every writer wants their new character to be the next big thing, but to the extent that they make fun of their imaginary writers that don’t actually exist it’s to the point where they are unable to read the room regarding how their character is being received by the audience.
  • We know that Choke messes with Bunker and Absolute Zero’s suits a bunch, but does she ever hear a cry from the Legacy Ring or would liberating a piece of metal that small be beneath her notice? She might not know the significance of the ring, but that seems like an easy bit of drama/means of doing some psychic damage to Legacy, right? That is a fun story beat idea. There might be something there. This early Choke is different in terms of her “liberate metal” agenda - she goes way harder later on. It’s still there here at the beginning, but she’s also making robots and devices rather than reverting it to its “natural” form. She may wax poetical about that stuff now too, but in practice she’s a “robot master” archetype at this point (although one who steals existing ones as a form of “liberation”). As such, a Legacy Ring story might be more of a Chokepoint thing. Adam suggests maybe a “hmm… this thing has power and if I put in in this robot etc.” kind of thing, but Christopher points out that they’ve pretty well established that the Legacy Ring has no power to it - it’s just a silver ring. But maybe it could be a “magic feather” situation where she thinks it has power to it and so it does for her.
  • In a highly technological city like Megalopolis, could Choke be overwhelmed by the “voices” of the metal around her? Could she pick out the voices of small pieces of metal around her, or would the sky scrapers and monorail drown out everything else? They don’t think that the “voices of the metal” gimmick is a thing for ’80s Choke. That’s something that was introduced later, in the Chokepoint era - it’s a retcon that she always heard the voices as part of her backstory once we get to it (although not one that strictly contradicts what we already knew of her). However, with that established, Megalopolis would absolutely just be a cacophony for her.
  • Does she feel strongly about when scrap metal is melted down or when new metal is smelted from ore? Is there a point where she would be unable to affect it (say, if a god of the sun were blasting it with enough heat to melt it)? She can manipulate molten metal, so the heat thing doesn’t matter. She doesn’t necessarily think “oh no, don’t melt the metal”; what she has problems with is people forcing metal into particular shapes. Now, the Choke story is along the lines of “I should be the one shaping metal”, but the Chokepoint one gets to the “freeing the metal” angle. A similar desire, just executed a bit better in a less self-contradictory way.
  • Having reviewed her original episode in preparation for this one… Choke’s timeline does not make sense, so here are some questions: Given the explanation that she’s been an Omega since infancy, how long has the Nolan Generator been running? That’s a good point. So, for context this would mean that she was an Omega since before the ’80s, but the Nolan Generator wasn’t introduced in comics as a concept until the 2010s (Southwest Sentinels launches in March 2011). They already know that the weird particles the Generator produces that result in Isoflux Alpha being created don’t behave “normally” and can pass through things and otherwise get into places that you’d really think they shouldn’t be able to get to… Are they also not bound by time? Either way they run into problems. What they come up with is that Gregory Nolan took a significant amount of time to develop his generator and some of the early experimental systems that were only online briefly in the decades prior still resulted in some Isoflux Alpha being created out in the world. We get flashbacks during the explanation of how the system works at some point showing this. This is used as a means of retconning several characters whose powers had not been explained previously and Choke is one of them. She might be the earliest Omega (or at least is one of the earliest). However, basically nobody but the readers actually know that she’s an Omega. It’s not like even Gregory Nolan/Nathan Gregory/Antimox can just look at somebody and recognize them as such.
  • We’re told that she eventually gets on the Celestial Tribunal and leaves Earth, eventually getting in conflict with the artificial intelligence that runs the thing and there’s a big fight where Captain Cosmic is involved, etc. but we had a Writers’ Room with Guise and Scholar on it right near the end of the Multiverse era where there’s no evidence of such a fight or even her presence on it, so what’s the deal there? Let’s shake things out now. Adam only has three things in his art records right now, her First Appearance and Death, and then her first appearance of Chokepoint (Southwest Sentinels #35 in January 2014). Christopher cross references with his spreadsheet and he has that as well, but her backstory isn’t explained until the Termi-Nation event that starts in Freedom Five a few months later (#768 in April - it’s a 6-issue arc). The arc as a whole gives us what we now think about as Choke/Chokepoint’s story (Omega, involvement with Fort Adamant stuff, becoming Choke, getting “killed”, being revived by Deadline tech and becoming Chokepoint, etc.). Then we have Guise #50 in February 2016 was the story with him and Scholar on the Celestial Tribunal and that was decided to be its last appearance in the Multiverse era. We can have Chokepoint taking over the thing in 2016 after OblivAeon wrecks it. Let’s put it in Cosmic Tales where Christopher’s already got a bunch of minor notes. In November, #561, we have the Death of Empyreon (this prompts a discussion of where his first appearance as a Scion goes since Adam did have his last appearance before becoming a Scion - he shows up in Prime Wardens vol. 2 #56 as the team are returning to Earth). In #563 in January 2017 we have the first appearance of Aeon Girl when Lifeline creates her. In between those, we now have Chokepoint taking over the Celestial Tribunal in #562 in December 2016. There’s just a lot of “stuff happening out on the edges of things” in CT. The May 2016 issue (#555) is when Parse sees that OblivAeon is without flaw, beginning the fugue state story. Virtuoso of the Void vol. 3 #72 in November 2016 we have the first appearance of Spirit of the Void Akash'Thriya.
  • You said that the military recruited other powered kids at the same time as Choke, do we know anything about the others? The idea is that maybe that’s where we get Char/Firearm and Major Flay (although the latter had previously been mentioned as being related to Project Cocoon).
  • Were there ever any notable interactions between Choke and Sergeant Steel? They don’t think so.
  • Did Choke ever have any kind of love life? Metal is her one true love.
  • Did we ever get an explanation of how Choke got her powers? Yes, during the Termi-Nation arc we get both the ongoing story fighting the heroes but also her origin story and whatnot and as part of that it’s shown that she’s an Omega.
  • Does she believe that the way that she shapes metal is better or would she prefer it to be ore, but recognizes the need to shape it herself for battle? Can she even restore metal to its “natural” state? Choke we know is a hypocrite in this way. She likely justifies it to herself a bit by thinking that “the metal is helping me because I’m helping it.” That mindset is probably explicit during Chokepoint stuff - she’s calling on its aid to further their mutual goals. Hmm… Could she separate alloys? Probably. They don’t think she can create by threading it back into rocks. Like, she might be able to do that, but what’s more likely is that she forms it up into the semi-liquid kind of state it often looks like in the art and then just driving it down into the earth and she calls that a job well done. She’s not trying to make it look like naturally-appearing seams of metal in a stone formation or whatever. The important thing is that it’s 1) not given an intentional shape and 2) is in the ground.
  • What if metal was initially in a shaped form - like a magically created sheet of metal that had no other more “original” shape? The trick here is that she’s delusional. Metal doesn’t actually have a voice that speaks to her. As such, metal with a novel origin like this probably doesn’t evoke a different response from her. (There’s also an idea here that her origin as a very early “proto-Omega” might mean functional differences too. She and other early Omegas might be more volatile than later ones. Don’t know if that’s going to be considered true, but they mention it.)
  • How long does Stuntman have that pet black snake before he realizes that it’s not Night Snake? Not terribly long. He probably encounters Night Snake or something - he hears about a Night Snake thing on the news or something and turns to look at his terrarium (or vivarium, or whatever - they start with herpetarium but that’s more of a zoological exhibition space) in shock with a “J’accuse! You lied!” as if it’s the snake’s fault.
  • Does he keep the snake even after that? By the time we catch up to him after OblivAeon we probably don’t see it (as it’s just forgotten about), but it would be fun for somebody to bring it back. Like, somebody remembers it and so we see it in the background or we see him buying snake feed [I mean, that’s probably mice.] and so it gets hinted at. It’s never a major plot point, but it would make sense for it to be the equivalent of a running gag.
  • In the Inversiverse, does Night Hunter still exist and did he pick the name because of Night Snake? Man, so Inversiverse Ansel Moreau would be a hero who becomes a villain (and doesn’t do his own stunts, the pretender). After saying that, they remember that Action Hero Stuntman was an Inversiverse story, so he must presumably have a heel turn eventually, but we might not see it. The Inversiverse doesn’t go all that in-depth.
  • So, Night Snake can inject creatures with his own blood which can cause the following: snake + serum = snake-with-human-features, human + serum = human-with-snake-features, but Night Snake + serum = Night Snake grows too many arms and legs before reverting to what appears to be a normal snake? They don’t think that he actually reverted to a “normal” snake. That was just what it looked like had happened when Stuntman caught up to “him”. Look, the science if very advanced here. Also, Stuntman calls the pet snake Dante.
  • Is this also how Isoflux Alpha works? Have there been other cases where an Omega is exposed to Isoflux Alpha again and has strange effects like this? This is not a “standard” (what does that even be for something as weird as Isoflux Alpha) response. Antimox would probably be interested in getting Night Snake to work for him and would like to see the results of the “experiments” the he was doing. To be fair, Dante Serpenta was a scientist before the accident and as we all know “Scientist” is a monolithic title in comics, so the type of scientist is irrelevant and transferable.
  • Does Night Snake ever sell his blood for cash - there are probably at least some people who would want to be snake-people, right (there’s probably potential there for a trans-rights kind of social story)? They don’t think that there’s much of an existing market, but he might be able to make one. Night Snake is inherently too silly to use for a social justice type of story like that, though. You might be able to do a really-on-the-nose “say no to drugs” thing with him, but you don’t want to really tackle a serious topic that requires nuance with him.
  • If you weren’t constrained with how late Stuntman first appeared, how far back would you have to go for the right move to have been Night Snake kidnapping Maia Montgomery and Michael Conteh rather than random celebrities? For clarity, Stuntman’s first appearance was three issues earlier - Mystery Comics #582. They wouldn’t have had those two be kidnapped anyway since that’s not the joke - they’re not the right kinds of celebrities to kidnap for this kind of snake-people-P.R. plot. They’re famous like Bill Gates or Mark Cuban is famous, not like movie stars, singers, and athletes. People might be aware of them, but they’re not going to follow a trend just because they’ve done a thing. They’re not the kinds of famous people who have paparazzi following them.
  • Is this the first appearance of Night Snake outside of Southwest Sentinels? They don’t know about that. He first shows up in 2011 and they don’t know that he goes 3 years without showing up elsewhere. One argument against it being the first foray out of SWS is that in order for the joke to really land, this shouldn’t be the first time that Mystery Comics readers hear about him and the whole point of Southwest Sentinels as a title is that it’s a book that’s doing its own thing off by itself that the continuity-minded readers can largely ignore and that its readers don’t have to read anything else. There might only be one or two appearances outside of SWS prior to this, where he’s a jobber of some variety, but there’s likely something.
  • Was this story an attempt to get crossover readership with Southwest Sentinels? SWS has a decently large readership, but it’s interesting how little crossover readership there is until the later stories. The work done to get that crossover readership to happen is done in that comic.
  • Given that Night Snake has visible hips, is there an official answer to how his anatomy works? Is the long snake body all tail (which would be abnormal for a snake)? Is it more of a Centaur-like build where there’s a humanoid torso that’s basically complete but only takes up the head and neck area of an otherwise complete horse (or in this case snake) body? The only way to answer this would be to x-ray (or dissect) Night Snake, which neither Adam nor Christopher has done. Adam thinks that he’s in so few comics that it’s not something that’s addressed. He’s a scary snake man, oh no! Some smartass might actually even ask these questions in the comics. Guise would totally ask this kind of thing, but Night Snake isn’t going to answer.
  • [One assumes the comics never go into where his genitals or anus wound up.] And one would be correct in that assumption.
  • How snake-like are his senses? Can he see infrared like some pit vipers can? How is his sense of smell? He’s more of a constrictor than a viper, although actual night snakes are mildly venomous [although not in the same families as vipers or cobras]. For comics purposes he is definitely more of a constrictor in how he works because why have a long snaky villain who doesn’t wrap around people. They think he has venom, but in a more of a way to stun/paralyze his foes. Let’s go ahead and say that he’s got a pretty good sense of smell and ability to sense ground vibrations.
  • Does he still have movable eyelids? He has snake eyelids [the way they talk about it, very briefly, makes it sound like they’re talking about a nictitating membrane, but snakes don’t have that - instead they have a transparent scale over their eyes called a brille].
  • Does he have vestigial legs or none at all? None.
  • Is his lower jaw split like snake jaws? Yes. We have to have him do “giant snake maw” at some point.
  • Does Night Snake have any plots that don’t sound like something that Bushroot would do? Man… what else does Night Snake even do other than this “turn people into snakes” thing? He’s mostly a “goon who is snake-themed” but does have the occasional big… no medium… no “zoomed in on because who’s being written about in comics but not necessarily actually important” plots. This issue probably makes him more impressive as a villain than he had been in prior appearances. This could very easily be the biggest Night Snake plot and from here “can turn people into snakes” is just an added thing the goon can do.
  • Did Night Snake ever molt off arms and legs? He had to have done after he grew way too many as part of this story.
  • Do the man-snakes ever show up in other stories later? The celebrities may or may not. The snake goons definitely do, although not as part of a similar “kidnap celebrities” plot.
  • [The letter for this starts at around an hour and forty minutes and has Adam doing a pretty fun attempt at an Aussie accent] What role brought Kris Shemswerth to prominence given the lack of Thor and the fact that he’s not a good fit for Ra? [The next question, from another writer asks.] What role is Chris Hemsworth known for? The combination here is the funny thing. Chris Hemsworth would definitely be an actor in the Metaverse who would have been in a bunch of stuff, but that makes it even funnier if Kris Shemswerth is hilariously mis-cast as playing Ra in an in-setting movie. That might be even funnier if Chris played Ra too, but the MCU-equivalent was the animated stuff. There have been live-action movies, but they weren’t the pervasive pop-culture phenomenon in the recent past like the MCU stuff. They land on Chris’s best-known role in the Metaverse being the teacher/mentor type character in the recent Secret Lads movie series. He’s the younger, hipper teacher who helps the kids out as opposed to the older, strict one played by Liam Neeson. The Secret Lads film franchise fills a similar pop-culture position that the Hunger Games stuff did.
  • Is there room for a story where Stuntman is forced by circumstance to put on the mask and break out the gadgets for one last hunt as Ambuscade? It’s possible, but doesn’t happen as Stuntman and not during the Multiverse era. It would have to be later as something he’s forced to do as Night Hunter.
  • One of the people with whom you’ve said Ansel did his own stunts was K.N.Y.F.E. - has he ever tried to look her up now that they’re nominally on the same side or was she only into him in his bad boy phase? The “sides” of Hero and Villain are very clearly delineated in Sentinels of the Multiverse for mechanical reasons. While there are characters who are definitely heroes or definitely villains, there’s really a spectrum and Paige Huntly and Ansel G. Moreau are both right there in the middle and so can wind up on the same “side” pretty easily and will be on a conflict-by-conflict nature. Ambuscade winds up doing a lot of mercenary work and so does K.N.Y.F.E. They don’t think there’s any time where they meet during his Stuntman era if only because it’s such a relatively short amount of time available and she’s out in space a lot.
  • Wait, I thought Road Warriors was part of Ansel’s face turn? When does that happen relative to this story? Ansel becoming a hero is a journey that takes some time. He shows up as not-a-villain in the guise we refer to as Stuntman in October 2013 but he’s not a hero right away. He just doesn’t want to be a bad guy any more. Road Warriors is in October 2015 and is still part of the journey. His defining “hero moment” is actually probably not until he saves Mainstay from Borr exploding.
  • [Regarding Ansel’s movie career during his Stuntman phase: I don’t believe it exists.] After Road Warriors he decides to try to rejuvenate his movie career and makes a new Night Hunter movie (Final Hunt). It just then is lost when OblivAeon blows up San Alonso.
  • Is he interested in rekindling his career at this point (i.e. during the Night Snake story)? Nah, he’s still all woe-is-me about his horrible, disfiguring scar.
  • How well known is he, really? How long ago to the comics position his movie career/fame relative to the present? Is the fact that he’s never recognized a comedy of errors or expected considering his actual level of fame? At this point in time, Ansel G. Moreau is probably not even as well-known as an actor as Jean-Claude Van Damme is now in our world. Adam suggests maybe even closer to Dolph Lundgren, but Christopher points out that he’s been in a lot of stuff. Way more than Ansel would have been. Adam then suggests Steven Seagal (although with less baggage - just in the type and number of overall movies). Christopher suggests thinking in terms of Dolph Lundgren having the career arc he had early on, but then had an injury and gave up acting). Adam also suggests that you go ask some 20-somethings today if they know who Dolph Lundgren is and most of them won’t. They do think that Ansel’s movies are closer to Van Damme’s in terms of type, though. [Further discussion of whether Jean-Claude Van Damme is enough of a general pop-culture presence that at least his name is familiar, even if his work isn’t. There’s disagreement on whether he is or not, and whether Errol Flynn would be known by most Millennials or not. Following that discussion…] Young people at the time of Stuntman stuff might recognize the name Ansel G. Moreau, but may not know his work or recognize him if they saw him.
  • Way back in the first year of the podcast we were told that Ansel wasn’t particularly bothered by Glamour making a fake version of him to lead the Slaughterhouse Six, since it’s still publicity - it’s been some time since that answer was given, though, so is that still how you’d say he feels about it now that we know more about his character? He’s into it. It makes him look like he’s in more places. It cultivates the myth of Ambuscade. The Illusory version of him doesn’t lose fights. What would be necessary for it to “lose” a fight kind of by definition would require something happening to it that would break the illusion. Instead, he shows up, does a bunch of stuff but then disappears and is not caught. It just makes him look really good without him having to do anything. Given that he does attempt to keep a secret identity, having “Ambuscade” doing stuff over there while he’s provably elsewhere is good for him. Glambuscade showing up on the news might prompt him to go, I dunno, defeat the Prime Wardens on his own or something so that the attention is still on him and his own ego, but he doesn’t want the other thing to stop.
  • [Letter sign-off mentions the ubiquitous “does all his own stunts” meme, which prompts:] That’s a good point. We all like the meme, but it’s hard to avoid the fact that Glambuscade is doing stunts which Ansel himself isn’t doing. Also, if you know anything about how movies are made, it is literally impossible for him to do all of his own stunts. He claims that he does and he does more of his own stunts than most actors do (or that he should), but there is just no way. There are CGI stunts or things that need to be covered in reshoots while he’s no longer available. Maybe part of his contracts are that if there are stunts done by people other than him, you’re not allowed to talk about it. The two obvious points of comparison are Jackie Chan and Tom Cruise. Tom Cruise doesn’t do all of his own stunts, but does more than he should. Jackie Chan is a madman and a different breed, but doing the stunts himself isn’t even necessarily something that he trades on, himself. Everyone else will talk about him doing the stunts, but he’s too busy doing more stunts. Ansel is somewhere between the two.

Cover Discussion

  • Adam’s thought here is even though Choke is not a lot of this issue and nobody knows who she is anyway (so it doesn’t give anything away), the writer would insist that his pet project character is on the cover. She’s the next big thing and so should be there. And it’s okay, since it just means the readers will be waiting throughout the issue, trying to figure out how this person fits into the story.
  • Adam thinks it’s just a simple “here’s the character” image. Have her saying something pithy. Come up with some copy to tease what she is, etc.