The Letters Page: Episode 42
Of all the villains we've talked about so far, this one is possibly the most evil.
Run Time: 113:40
To reiterate what we mention in content warning at the very start of the episode, you might not want to listen to this episode with your kids. Or, at least, pre-screen this episode for content. Spite's pretty awful.
In this episode, we reference both The Wraith's episode and GloomWeaver's episode. They're both pretty important to what's going on here, so you should probably check them out, if you haven't already.
We start the question segment just after half an hour into the episode, but we spend the first couple minutes just talking about Spite before actually reading any of your questions. Yeah, that sounds like us.
A bit after 45 minutes in, we talk about a misleading quote on a card and how the flavor text actually comes from a much earlier comic than the art depicted on a card, and why we did that thing. Not an error! But it sure looks like one.
A couple minutes after the hour mark, Christopher reads the longest letter we've ever received. No, that is not a challenge. Don't try to beat this letter. Please. We almost canned this letter just based on length.
Send us your questions about environments!
- As mentioned back in Episode 2, one of the Wraith's early recurring villains was "Maniac Jack" - just kind of a chaotic thief/vandal. He'd break into places, steal or otherwise wreck stuff, but he never kept anything that he stole. She eventually caught him and he went to prison. The End.
- Around that time in Mystery Comics there were also a number of "unsolvable murders". Generally, the Wraith would get involved in some murder mystery and she'd solve it, but occasionally there would be one that was written to be intentionally unsolvable. A lot of that was a function of showcasing how dangerous Rook City was and setting a tone for the comics - even the Wraith can't solve all of the city's crimes. In some ways this winds up being "scarier" than Arcane Tales or Tome of the Bizarre because often the terrors there are weird nonsense monsters that of course don't really exist, while the horror of Rook City is all too real.
- As things moved along, more of these are attributed to a certain criminal - not much is known, just that they fit a "type" without having an actual pattern. They just assume that he's "killing out of spite." The "Spite Killer" is on the Wraith's radar, and he's a pretty terribly serial killer and a hard one to get a handle on. He leaves a blood-spattered scene, nothing is missing or out of place from the victims, and there are no witnesses. She just always seems to be a step or two behind him. Until, that is, she comes across an oddity in a newspaper article.
- A victim, a writer who lived alone, was in a story that included a photo of his home office. Everything in the photo seemed to fit into his life as a writer except for a bowling trophy on a shelf behind him (which was even called out in the article). Wraith did not remember ever seeing that trophy and went back to compare with crime scene photos and, sure enough, the space for it on the shelf is present, but the trophy itself is absent. This was the clue that let her start to unravel the killer's m. o. - the murder weapons were items from the scene that he'd take with him (the writer's death by blunt trauma with the trophy as the weapon). Nobody had been looking for the bowling trophy as it wasn't an item of value to anybody but the writer.
- In future cases, she'd now be on the lookout for tell-tale absences of items (a bare patch in the dust on a shelf, etc.). Eventually, the pattern also emerges that all of the victims are loners in one way or another - people who aren't likely to have anybody stop by randomly (that is, the killer is careful enough to avoid witnesses in this way). Through analysis of the types of people and locations that the killer is prone to target, we get a scene in which the Wraith manages to interrupt an attempted murder - coming on the scene after the killer, Jonathan Donovan, has his next victim in a headlock, but before he's started injuring her. There's some back-and-forth dialog between them with Wraith saying that she was taking him in "one way or another" and his response is that if that's the case, he may as well kill the hostage, which he does (off-panel).
- Jonathan Donovan has killed 43 people (not all are cases that had been shown in the comics) and he's sentenced to death row and is executed. The End.
- Some years go by and eventually a writer has the idea of "What if Maniac Jack and Jonathan Donovan were the same person?" The artwork back then was generic enough that two "dudes with brown hair and an average build" could easily be explained away as being the same guy. So, we get the retcon that Maniac Jack did his time and got out of prison, started breaking and entering again but eventually was surprised by the owner who wasn't supposed to be there. He grabbed a small bronze statue and bashed the person's head in. This was a huge rush for him as he finds that murder is more fun than the petty larceny he'd been up to before. He takes the statue with him and gets away with it.
- This is the turning point from vandal to serial killer and the story is told in a new comic one-shot, Prelude of the Soulless, which continues on to the death of Jonathan Donovan. Good ol' Pike Industries has sent a representative to talk to death-row inmates on the down-low, offering the chance for them to become test subjects in some drug trials instead of execution. Most of the inmates take them up on the offer, including Donovan. Most subjects die in the first round of testing anyway, and more die in each subsequent round of trials (this isn't unexpected - they've done this "round up a bunch of death-row inmates as lab rats" thing before and they fully expect that nobody's going to survive given the highly experimental nature of these things). Donovan not only survives each trial, but seems to be actually thriving and getting stronger and changing him from the inside out as they continue to throw more combinations of drugs/mutagens at him. Eventually, he's able to draw the life energy from the other (dying) test subjects around him, breaks free of the restraints, proceeds to murder everybody in the lab and wreck the place, and escapes out into the city. Cue a big cover up from Pike, complete with a gas leak/explosion they engineer as part of the story and to complete the destruction of all the records of what's been going on.
- So, now we have this chaotic criminal with a taste for murder who's also now significantly more powerful and also can draw on the life essence of dying things around him (and, in fact, needs to do so to maintain his form/strength now after all the experiments). This is Spite.
- Here's where we get into the string of "copycat" Maniac Jack crimes from the Wraith's episode. Somebody's breaking into places like Maniac Jack did and leaving the stolen items behind in the same places. Detail that might be new as I don't remember it from that episode: the copycat crime scenes were now also murder scenes [we knew that there were a bunch of senseless murders happening, but I didn't recall them being linked so directly with the copycat crime scenes]. As mentioned before, the Wraith recognized the pattern and was able to arrive at the scene of the next crime beforehand and caught this copycat criminal. He wasn't the murderer, though - he was just a guy that Spite had paid to redo the thefts (and then Spite would come in later to murder somebody). Spite has recognized the danger that the Wraith poses to him and has set this trap - once his patsy has been apprehended, Spite starts tailing the Wraith back to her hideout.
- Aside on the characterization of Maniac Jack/Jonathan Donovan: Maniac Jack was not portrayed as particularly intelligent initially, while Donovan was very intelligent - when they combined the characters, they kept the intelligence and explained it away as being without a focus or direction at first, but now he has some reason to apply it methodically.
- From there, Spite now knows who the Wraith is and where her hideout is, but she isn't aware of his existence. She doesn't know that Maniac Jack and Jonathan Donovan are the same person (and as far as she's aware the latter is dead), let alone that there's this super-powered version of him around now. This lets him kind of lead her around by the nose for a while, continuing to do his terrible things. She becomes aware that there's some killer out there with powers now (and he's a lot sloppier as he doesn't care as much about witnesses), but can't get a handle on him. Meanwhile he's almost becoming this urban legend boogieman kind of figure in the city. This arc ends with Wraith finally coming face to face with him, but it also results in the deaths of her friends Sara and Eduardo López as described in Episode 2 - she decides she can't deal with him on her own.
- Mystery Comics had, up to this point, been primarily been stories of the Wraith dealing with crime stuff in Rook City by herself (as opposed to other books she appeared in which were more team-centric). After this, MC has a lot more guest stars helping her and the title moves from what had been strictly a "street level" book to a more "superhero" one.
- Spite shows up in a bunch of stories, and most end with his "death" (building collapses on him, he falls off a bridge, etc.). He's this monster of a figure who shows up, kills a bunch of people, requires a whole team of heroes to stop him, he's eventually taken out due to some environmental hazard, and he's "presumed dead" until the next time he shows up. Readers pick up on this pattern pretty quick that he's this character that just won't die. Like a slasher movie villain.
- This brings us to a later story in the '90s - as mentioned in last week's episode, the Comics Code Authority rules had been changing for years and while Wager Master was a reversion to "fun" stories from before the changes - Spite was used to push every new boundary; to see what they could get away with now. Post-Vengeance, Spite is back and is terrorizing Rook City. The fight with the heroes saw them defeat his really drugged-out form, but he manages to slink away and grab a hostage before they can capture him.
- In the intervening time since Spite's first appearance, Wraith has put together the Maniac Jack/Jonathan Donovan/Spite connection due to general Organization investigation to piece things together (a big reveal that the readers weren't privy to before her discovery [Wait, wasn't that revealed in the Prelude of the Soulless comic and therefore known to the readers?]). The current situation is an intentional call-back to the first time that Wraith had tracked down Jonathan Donovan and she and Parse are the first to find him. While Wraith is going through the same old "we know how this is going to go down" and "you've killed enough people" kind of discussion with him, Parse just puts an arrow in his brain because she could see how things were going to happen. This is the first on-panel, here-he-is-as-a-dead-body death for Spite. He's finally dead, for real this time, and is buried. The End.
- Next time we see him is when Gloomweaver was putting together his Skinwalker plan (more detail in the Gloomweaver Episode, but this plan in general has been referred to a lot as it's a major event immediately preceding OblivAeon and so is useful as a timeline benchmark). He puts Spite in a new grisly undead body with orders to go out and do his standard murderous mayhem thing with the promise to be allowed to continue to do those things. Spite's all for this plan, but he fails spectacularly, with the heroes shutting him down almost instantly. The End.
- Introductory statements about how he's definitely a character for a limited audience. He didn't really show up in a wide variety of comics titles because of this limited appeal (which they also guess is true of the card game - assuming that he doesn't hit the table often relative to other villains due, in part, to the subject matter).
- Did Jack Donovan have a "type" of victim or were they based on opportunity? We need to break this up a bit due to the publishing history of the character "Jack Donovan" is the later amalgam character known as Spite, and that was already covered (he needs to kill people to feed on their life essence). Jonathan Donovan, "the spite killer" who killed 43 people before being captured and sent to death row, was going after loners - people who he could kill and get away with it. The "chaos" aspect that could be linked back to Maniac Jack was that he didn't go after a particular type of person that could be readily identified (even something broad like "blonde women" or something) - he was going after people whom he could observe for long enough to determine that he could get to them without being noticed. It's also the case that this is a comic book version of what a serial killer is like, so it's not going to 100% match up with the pathology of real serial killers.
- Serial killers tend to have a standard set of tools or did he just use what was at hand? Kind of both - the original reason for going into the homes was to steal something, and he wound up using those somethings as the murder weapons (in such a way as to always wind up with their blood literally on his hands - which was important for him). He also kept all of these murder weapons - when Wraith eventually found his hideout she found the first 42 victims' items that he'd stolen. This was at odds with the Maniac Jack practice of taking a valuable thing and either destroying or at least discarding it.
- Did he have a "signature" to his killings (slow and methodical vs. messy and chaotic, for example)? How could you tell it was his work? "Violent and chaotic" but also quick. He wasn't there to make them suffer a lot of pain - what was important was the death. The room was, necessarily due to the importance of getting blood on his hands, always bloodied. He wouldn't kill somebody in a bloodless way. Given that he's picking up objects to hand, they were generally also bludgeoning deaths, although if the item was sharp enough already there could be some stabbing. This ties into Dr. Tremata's role in the Wraith stories - she needed info from a blood-spatter analyst.
- What exactly happened to Jack when he got his abilities? Nobody exactly knows 100% of the medicine behind what happened to him. Jack did have a disease, polycythemia vera - a type of blood cancer where too many red blood cells are produced (in a joke here they mention off-hand that he was around in the 1960s, so we've got at least that as a lower-bound for his origin in comics). And for comic-book-pseudo-science reasons, having these extra blood cells made him more likely to survive the testing as many of his fellow subjects died, in part, from anemia caused by the drugs killing off blood cells.
- Where did he get the mask and why does he wear it everywhere? He's not disfigured enough to require the mask, although some of the drugs he takes can cause some weird physical effects (the 5 "canonical" ones in the game are the ones that culminate in his giant drugged-out form on his card's flipside that shows up a few times in the comics, but he's got a lot more that he uses in general), but generally he's just that nondescript 6-foot Caucasian guy with brown hair. In addition to the PotS one-shot that told his origin at the Barzakh Wing of Pike Industries, there was another book titled Abomination of Desolation that showed stuff like him raiding labs and whatnot to get more drugs. Whenever we see any of the test subjects in these books, they've all got white masks that are similar to the one he wears (to dehumanize the subjects and disguise their identities from the scientists who don't know that they're all death-row inmates). The red color comes from a few things - after his first kill, with his hands all bloody, he pushes the hair out of his face (incidentally smearing blood all over his face too) and this is mirrored intentionally when he escapes from the Barzakh Wing and he does the same thing, smearing blood all over the mask (that also got cracked during that fight). He takes the mask off sometimes if he needs to interact with his future victims without immediately scaring them.
- Why do the Spite clones from Tactics have the masks? Theming - the Chairman was intentionally evoking Spite's reputation when setting them up.
- On most of his card art he looks the same, but the drug cards show a lot of deformities - how does he maintain his cover before going full-on abomination? As mentioned, the changes aren't permanent and he carries vials of the drugs that cause the exterior transformations with him for when he needs them.
- Who patrolled/guarded the safe house that Spite was so readily able to break in? Rook City police - they're just the worst.
- What's his motive beyond revenge on the Wraith? Revenge, chaos in general, the need to feed on his victims' life force. He's weird in that he's both highly intelligent and also entirely based on id.
- Card info suggests that he's a very early character in publication history, but how do characters like Nightmist and Parse encounter him? Did Mr. Fixer encounter him as part of the general Rook City group? Interactions with the three of them happen in various Spite stories - Spite was an early villain, but he was around as late as Vengeance. One red herring is that in Parse's deck the card "Snap Decision" features Spite in card art, but the pull-quote is from MC #98. This is a case where the art and text aren't from the same scene - the art is from just before Parse kills him and the quote is actually from "Jonathan Donovan" in his first encounter with the Wraith, just before he kills his last victim (again, showing the symmetry in the two stories).
- What made the writers choose him as a herald of Skinwalker Gloomweaver and why did he fail so quickly? He lost quickly because editorial staff mandated that writers wrap things up quickly to make the push onto OblivAeon and so he needed to be defeated right away to get onto the next two phases of the story. It was still a big confrontation/fight, but they didn't get the chance to do the thing where Agent of Gloom is around for a while slowly working his way to success in the Plan before being defeated that would have been more satisfying. As for why him? It's because Spite is the monster that you kill and keeps coming back and this was a great way to play into that yet again.
- What's the deal with Mynd-Phyre and Demon's Fist given that they're names are less clinical than the other compounds? They're all coming from Pike Industries labs that he's raiding at various points. The clinical ones are still in testing phases (presumably the ones that started this whole thing with him), the others are the ones that "unlock" the major changes when he gets all gross and come from other secret programs developing street drugs that could be used by the Organization's enforcers to amp them up, hook them to make them dependent on the Organization for the supply, but also burn them out (because you don't want your minions to be these supermen). They also have names because they're "finished" at this point rather than being in the testing phase.
- When Spite heals off his victims he's just feeding off their energy, right, and isn't a cannibal? Correct, he's more of an "energy vampire" than anything and he's not literally consuming the bodies of his victims.
- It's been mentioned that if a character always has an item with them (Scholar's stone, Parse's bow) then they don't have cards associated with them, so what are Spite's vials? If they're his drugs, then why the Lab Raid and individual drug cards? As mentioned, Spite has a lot of different drugs and he's always got some that he's taking, but the 5 we have cards for are the ones that he needs to raid specific places to get (and are the ones that were vital in the Abomination of Desolation story that took him from "drug-crazed serial killer" to "drugged-out monster"). [Mega-heroin and uber-meth were the drugs mentioned back in the Chairman episode.]
- Why does he kill people? Pre-Spite it wasn't indiscriminate, but what he wanted to do is to kill people and not get caught. As Spite he has to kill. As Agent of Gloom he's given the opportunity to kill with impunity (but also has to kill to keep Gloomweaver from taking over). "He just wants to watch the world bleed."
- How does he do Energy damage on the front side of his card? The energy damage that he's doing is representing him draining the life force of his victims (and is just an abstraction to a damage type - it's not the "same" as what, say, Captain Cosmic would deal to you). The glow around his hands is more representative of the Infernal damage type that Demon's Kiss allows him to do.
- After being captured by the Wraith, he wound up going after her two closest friends - does he do this as a means of demonstrating how dangerous he was to her or was it just out of spite? Does he see Wraith as a nuisance or is there an actual vendetta there? It's definitely a vendetta, and he views her as almost a "project" - she's done the most negative things to him, so he's trying to destroy her piece by piece. He wants the Wraith to know that he is hurting her and this also lets her know that he knows a lot about her, while she knows nothing about him. Note that the method of killing them he uses (dropping them off a roof) doesn't even let him consume their life energy (nor does it get his hands bloody) - it's just a power move to work on the Wraith, to make her terrified of him.
- Was "Maniac Jack" a name he came up with or one that the news landed on to describe him? News. It's also worth noting that this is from an era of comics where characters just have these weird names that everybody uses and nobody really questions that which winds up kind of creating a chicken-and-egg situation with regards to where the names "came from" in the setting.
- In the bio, we know he's taken to the Barzakh Wing and barsakh is an Arabic word referring to the period between somebody's death and their resurrection, was this name chosen to reflect Donovan's story of "dying" and being "reborn" as Spite, or more indicative of Pike's ego over his supposed control over life and death? The name was chosen to represent the inmates going there after their "execution" and eventually resulting in the new drugs. The in-comics reason it was chosen was the death of Jonathan Donovan and the birth of Spite. The double meaning was intentional.
- In Lab Raid we see the mask in the wreckage of what's, presumably, the Barzakh Wing during his origin story - who made it and why is it there? Already covered, all inmates had masks.
- How has his modus operandi changed over his criminal career? Why target a priest or children if he needs funds from robbing his victims to pay off the copycat? The biggest missing piece of information prompting this question is the publication history involving the combination of Maniac Jack and Jonathan Donovan, originally two distinct characters. The only time he would have needed money was during the initial copycat phase, but that was at the beginning of the Spite story, before any heroes even knew he existed. He doesn't need food as he lives off the life force he drains and he doesn't need a home to keep his stuff as he doesn't really have stuff. The priest and children are from later when he's being less discriminating, but they're also targets that the heroes can save.
- Just how lucid is he over the course of his story as it sounds like something (like the testing) made him snap and start killing people? His mind was never really there, but he's got a lot of intelligence. More of this is, again, predicated on not knowing the character history.
- What's happening on "Surprise Shopping Trip"? Nightmist helped the Wraith deal with him once.
- Any interactions or parallels drawn between Spite and Plague Rat (or Miss Information after her dousing in chemicals)? Spite never worked with other villains. The only real connection between them is that "Pike Industries makes monsters". Early on in comics, that's pretty much what Pike was known for - "that's where monsters come from" and it had to be retconned in later that they must be doing other stuff to as a legitimate cover.
- In the publishing universe, what was the reaction to him in the culture? There was definitely controversy when Spite was introduced because he was written to push the envelope of what they could do in comics. So there were sensationalist news hand-wringing about what terrible things Sentinel Comics was publishing, but also people praising the storytelling.
- Has he had any reservations about his violence or shown mercy or remorse? Nope. While, generally, characters are better when they're written to be something other than "all evil" there's not a lot of room for that here. He's got a lot of "slasher movie villain" in him and that archetype doesn't lend itself to this kind of nuance. Maniac Jack could have had a different arc, but they didn't go in that direction. Spite is an all-too-human inhuman monster of a character.
- Do any of the potential victims from his deck survive (besides Thiago)? There are 4 Victim cards, but there are a total of 6 people shown as victims in the deck (and these are all just a subset of victims from a specific arc in the comics where Wraith, Mr. Fixer, and Expatriette have fallen in with one another to try to track down Spite). Innocent Bystander has two people on it, the initial victim and the witness - the witness runs when he sees what's happening and gets "saved" by the heroes, Spite kills the initial victim and then catches up to and kills the witness in the safe house later. The business man shown in On the Prowl doesn't survive. The Good Samaritan tries to help him, and the book looks like it's leading in the direction of maybe some redemption for Spite, but nope. Thiago is saved by the heroes, as is Susie the Lost Child. They manage to save some more people as well, but more die than are saved.
- Why did a hero actually, intentionally kill him? Is that weird? Were there repercussions on hero reputations? It's certainly an anomaly and was a result of a split-second decision (and "what Parse does is split-second decisions"). It was intended to be a shocking thing, but also kind of a response to the old reader question of "why doesn't a hero just put Spite down for good?". Generally, heroes aren't going to stoop to that level, but Parse (while not "dark and gritty") is definitely one to weigh the net benefit of a situation and act accordingly - in this case, it's for the greater good for Spite to not be around anymore. Parse wasn't the first hero to kill, though, since Expat has been around for a while at this point and her backstory was full of murder (although that was generally off-panel stuff). Spite's death was relatively high-visibility, however, as this was the climax of a rather big Spite storyline.
- Just how much stronger is Agent of Gloom compared to normal Spite? It depends on how you're measuring. Agent of Gloom is more of an implacable, unstoppable threat while classic Spite is more vicious and has to calculate more around his own mortality. The drugs also make Spite more of a wildcard in what he's able to throw at you.
- If Agent of Gloom's plot had succeeded, would Gloomweaver have altered the deal to keep him around as a right hand minion or would Spite have been able to go off on his own? Spite would have been more of a leashed dog than a "right had minion" if that was the case, but really it was more likely to be that he might call on Spite to do more jobs later, but he'd give Spite something in return in payment. Gloomweaver feeds on nightmares, Spite gives people nightmares, so Gloomweaver benefits from having Spite around and Spite gets to continue existing (and killing people), so even in Gloomworld, that's a nice feedback loop to keep running from their perspectives.
- Why is Agent of Gloom still Wraith's nemesis rather than Parse? Agent of Gloom thinks that Wraith killed him (for the same narrative perspective reasons that we all thought that she had until we got the reveal back in Episode 2 that it was actually Parse). Even if he knew that Parse had done it, he'd still be Wraith's nemesis - he hates her and wants her to hate and fear him.
- Can you break down the whole process connecting Agent of Gloom and Skinwalker Gloomweaver (it initially sounded like Skinwalker was just taking over Spite's zombie body, but then both of them are present in the Cosmic Contest)? The crux is to remember that we've been told that the Skinwalker form of Gloomweaver has appeared well before the Agent of Gloom plot. In Cosmic Contest, Agent of Gloom had been around doing his thing, but Gloomweaver was getting all ready to make his play into reality when he got yanked into the Contest for comics "everybody fights" popularity context reasons. There are a few things in the Cosmic Contest that have actual bearing on the normal events in the comics, but a lot of details of what happened there gets hand-waved away afterwards.
- Did Spite have some kind of innate mystic ability that he just hadn't tapped into that allowed Gloomweaver to use him as a vessel more easily? No, Spite had no magical attunement at all. Agent of Gloom isn't in a reanimated Spite body, he's in a gross corpse body that was made out of magic for this purpose. The specifics of making Spite into this undead horror are a bit more complicated than a run-of-the-mill zombie, but Spite's residual anger/hatred kind of make it easier to work with, so more effort but bigger payoff.
- What was Spite's body count? A lot of other villains (Omnitron, Voss, Ennead, Akash'Bhuta, and Citizen Dawn) sound like they would have higher casualty numbers, so why do his murders hit us harder? The smaller numbers make it more personal - after numbers of casualties get high enough people have trouble keeping things personal as it gets more abstract. Jonathan Donovan's 43 murders is easier to wrap your head around how horrible it is than a larger disaster's 4000, and while Spite's total gets into the triple-digits, he's doing them one at a time and never hits that point where your brain starts abstracting them away. Also: Ennead destroyed a city and so beats his total, Akash'Bhuta definitely has over the centuries, but the others, while having big battles might not have as high death counts. Dawn in particular is more about fighting the heroes than killing anybody and Voss personally isn't killing people (although the gene-bound armies chalk up some terrible numbers in the invasion since it was so wide-spread and would have involved military responses worldwide). Omnitron was also all about killing humans, but we're also looking at eras in comics where the heroes would save the day and so the body count might not actually get very high.
- Is the connection between Spite and the Chairman ever revealed? Did the Chairman think the drug trials were a success? No, Chairman is very good at covering thing up (and there's plenty of levels of plausible deniability/obfuscation separating him from any of this stuff). Some drugs would be seen as successes, but a lot of records were also destroyed when the facility was wrecked.
- Nightmist and the Matriarch have hair-color changes (from dark to white) as part of their power-acquisition signifiers, does Mynd-Phyre (which turns Spite's hair from dark to white) give him some kind of magical abilities? More "psychic" than "magic" (and it also gives it kind of a purple glow).
- He looks blond as Agent of Gloom, is that a hold-over from Mynd-Phyre or what? That's more just corpse body signifiers.
- As the Broken Vessel his hair looks more purple, so what's going on here? That's the de-pigmented corpse hair being filled with the unnatural death energy as he goes full zombie monster.
- Are all of these design choices just for cool comic imagery and I'm overthinking it? That too. They did discuss the reasons behind it, but the designs were more for the style of the thing. Adam says he makes, like, 95% of his design choices for the aesthetics as he uses that to reinforce what he wants you to feel about the character.
- Who are the Spite clones in the Iron Legacy timeline and the Mist Storm Universe - was the Chairman really dumb enough to take a look at Spite and think "I should make more of those"? In Iron Legacy, they're functionally the same thing as the Mist Storm ones - Chairman is definitely dumb enough to think that making more Spites that now work for him is a quality plan that can't possibly go wrong. The difference between the two settings is that in the Iron Legacy timeline the facility where he's growing them isn't destroyed and so Pike winds up with an army of fully-matured Spite clones (which Legacy winds up co-opting). In Mist Storm, the Broken City events winds up destroying most of them and the ones that survived are corrupted, but are all that Pike has left.
- Mist Storm Universe (Tactics) - There are 5 corrupted Spite clones, each is kind of a focused result of one of the canonical drugs from the card game: Demonfist, Mindphyre, Grudge, Karnal, and Cyst. They work for the Chairman (now Exemplar, who's kind of crazy). The fun story point mentioned is when the heroes are investigating Pike's underground labs and they see all of these vats with Spite clones (but they're all dead) before the reveal of the 5 viable ones that they have to then fight. They are all clones of the original Spite that are then genetically modified - they weren't other people first that were then altered.
- Sentinel Comics Universe (RPG) - Spite's dead and gone. It's certainly possible that there's this army of clones being grown in vats beneath Rook City - we did see the Chairman escaping into some underground facility at one point, but who knows? As for the "original", well, remember that his big theme is to be this slasher-movie-style monster of a guy who just won't stay dead.