The Letters Page: Episode 61
One of the most terrible villains of the Multiverse is here! Tremble before Grand Warlord Voss, Earthlings!
Run Time: 2:13:34
We get right into it by talking about the first appearances of Thorathians in the history of Sentinel Comics.
Then, we jump to the 60s to introduce Grand Warlord Voss himself!
After that, the next divergence is talking about space stuff - the space race, space exploration, and the wonders of space as a genre, so to speak.
Then, finally, we actually get to the origin and backstory of Rainek Kel'Voss! Which takes a while. About as much time as everything leading up to that. Reasonably!
Just after 35 minutes in, we get to the mid-80s, and stuff starts getting intense. Big stories. Big meta-information. Big reveals. Everything's big.
Whew! What a wild ride! OK, right, moving on. Almost halfway through the episode - a few minutes before the one hour mark - we get into your questions.
There are LOTS of great questions that make us dig into more of the story of Grand Warlord Voss and the Thorathian people. We answer almost all of your questions!
We get into Thorathian naming practices at around an hour and 43 minutes in! Fun stuff, there.
At 2:04:40, we do the quickest future section we've ever done!
Don't forget, today is the last day on our Patreon to get your votes in on the polls about topics for April! Let your voice be heard!
See you Thursday for an Editor's Note!
- Starting with Thorathians in general: Freedom Four #24 came out in 1952 and was the first appearance of the Thorathians. Interesting note, the first 23 issues of the title served as an anthology book with separate stories for the four heroes (Legacy, Wraith, original Absolute Zero, and the Shrieker), but this was the first issue with them operating as a team of heroes in one story - a story where they're fighting some throw-away alien "space Nazis" that are called Thorathians. The idea of heroes forming teams eventually becomes a mainstay of Sentinel Comics in general over the decades, and this is the genesis of that.
- The Thorathians keep showing up, but always as kind of a generic threat that can safely be disposed of by the heroes. One detail that crops up is the occasional "For the Grand Warlord!" or similar bit of generic battle cry. The Grand Warlord never shows up, it's still just set dressing.
- That is, until 1962 and Justice Comics #261 when Grand Warlord Voss finally shows up - and the colorist screwed up by making him red instead of blue. Thorathians had always been that kind of blue color, and still were over in Freedom Five #141 the same month as the JC issue, but it worked out that because he was the only Thorathian in the JC issue they could invent a reason for him in particular to have reddish skin rather than trying to explain a bunch of them. All of the previous detail we have about the two kinds of Thorathians stems from this one colorist error.
- Anyway, the story going on is that the (modern) Freedom Five team is fighting Thorathians in the FF title while Legacy's facing off with Voss in his solo book. The latter really showcases Voss as a threat as Legacy has always been able to handle pretty much whatever comes his way, but he can't defeat Voss. We also finally start getting the feeling of the Thorathians as having actual goals and organization, and now they've come in force to defeat these people who've actually stood in their way. Oh, and they're led by somebody who's a real threat on par with superheroes rather than just being a military organization. Even in the "weird space monster" types of stories to this point they hadn't run up against something that a team of heroes couldn't take down. [Ok, so how did this story end/how was Voss pushed back?]
- The next year, in FF #157, a Qubrin (big-head, bulging eyes, scrawny body gray alien) shows up in Megalopolis calling for aid for his people who are under attack by Voss. The heroes agree and jump in his spaceship to come help. When they arrive, the planet is already a wasteland. As the heroes offer their condolences that they're too late their new friend replies with a "Oh, you're right on time" before they're all knocked out from behind - it was a trap! This was the introduction of the "Gene-Bound" aliens (the Qubrin are the Soldiers in the deck) - there had been other aliens the heroes fought before, but they weren't shown to have been working for the Thorathians at the time and this kind of introduces the idea of Voss taking over a planet and experimenting on the survivors to create new troops. Voss steps out at the end of the comic and starts monologuing about how they've left their planet unguarded and now they're doomed, etc. (all the time delivering this speech to the unconscious heroes - gotta love comics in the '60s).
- The next issue opens with the heroes awakening in cages on a spaceship with Voss operating some control panel - he is glad that they'll be awake for him to demonstrate his "experimental, flagship mounted ultra-laser destroyer cannon" which can wipe out entire continents from as far away as Earth's moon and the survivors will be gene-bound, etc. Legacy won't have any of that, jumps up with a "no you don't, evil-doer" style comment and charges the bars of his cage, which shock him and throw him back. Voss laughs and monologues some more. Wraith and Tachyon are trying to figure out what to do, Absolute Zero is still in his real sad-sack era and is just sitting there, and Tyler Vance is outside of the completely drained-of-power Bunker suit trying to get it to work. Wraith and Tachyon figure out how the cages work and convince AZ to create a sliver of ice to impale a particular control panel to overload the cages while Vance connects some cables from his cage to his suit to power it back up (actually overcharging it, because that makes it more powerful, obviously) and drain the cages at which point the heroes break out. Legacy and Voss wind up having another brawl that eventually leads to the bridge while the others destroy the big cannon and steal a ship for their escape. They fly around to the bridge, lower a ramp with a turret-mode Bunker on it to blast it open before Legacy is defeated (which seems likely, he's just keeping Voss busy but is on his last legs), Legacy flies out to the ship and they get away as the flagship explodes (apparently "killing" Voss, but this kind of off-screen "death" happened a lot back in the day).
- We next see Voss and the Thorathians in Stranger in a Strange World when they show up on Vognild Prime to wreck up the place. After Tempest's ship escapes and successfully (crash) lands on Earth we don't see them again until issue #9 when we have one of the first major cross-over events in Sentinel Comics, in this case with Cosmic Tales #300 and then back to SiaSW #10 as discussed in the Tempest episode. It's notable that this is the first real on-screen defeat of Voss in a fight (rather than the situational losses in previous encounters) and he's forced to retreat. Tempest gets real scary here for a few panels of him summoning a storm (complete with over-the-top caption narrations of what's happening in those same panels - again, gotta love the '60s) and destroying the shuttle before Voss gets away. Then the rest of the fleet leaves.
- The Thorathians show up occasionally for the rest of the '60s, but there's no sign of Voss. We don't even really see them at all in the '70s as the zeitgeist around space stuff has kind of changed. With the space race and the moon landings (and cultural stuff like Star Trek and eventually Star Wars) space is now an exciting place just beyond our grasp and so the "threats coming from outside in the form of monsters or space Nazis" idea is kind of out of place, replaced instead by ideas that people can go out there themselves. Space goes from "where the scary stuff comes from" to "where we go to have adventures". Thus we get the second volume of Cosmic Tales with the new Captain Cosmic (although 1974's CT #54 does involve Captain Cosmic going to Dok'Thorath and fights a bunch of the military there - no sign of a rebellion at this point, but they do start laying the groundwork for the powered vs. unpowered Thorathians as concepts).
- In late-'76 through early-'77 (starting right after the Singularity event) has Voss returning to Earth for FF #320-325 in a major story. This one is much more about Voss than the heroes and goes into his backstory. Rainek Kel-Voss was the second son of Emperor Voss and had a desire to be a powerful military leader/conqueror. This time before his ascent shows that the Thorathian Empire had a military, but wasn't particularly warlike - it was looked to as something like a respected "leader state" by its neighbors, if one with a very rigid social structure under its emperor. Rainek wouldn't be the emperor anyway (due to his status as the younger son) but he wanted to go beyond the defensive posture of the empire anyway.
- He started getting involved in weird science experiments and was led a kind of black-ops team in the military, the Nyxian Scourges, that he used for a lot of unsanctioned missions that were then covered up. However, there were still rumors that Rainek was up to some terrible things and there was enough evidence that the emperor had to act; sentencing him to public execution. His older brother, Joruun Kir'Voss, cared about his brother and, while unable to sway their father in private, interrupted the execution with a public appeal that killing a member of the Voss family would be dishonorable and convincing the emperor to exile him instead (to the ice planet of Gadrion Delta).
- He salvaged enough of the craft they used to send him there that he was able to continue his genetics experiments on the local lifeforms, let's call them "ice dogs", attempting to alter them genetically so that they would forever be loyal to him as his slaves. He succeeds, and so he now has his first Gene-Bound servants, the Frost Hounds.
- Meanwhile, the rest of the Nyxian Scourges had been quietly working their ways up various ladders in society, positioning themselves for a takeover when Rainek returns, which he does with his army of Frost Hounds. The Thorathian military could have defeated him if it weren't for the Scourges taking these important positions so that much of the military was loyal to Rainek himself and so changed sides. The coup is successful basically overnight. The emperor is killed and Joruun is offered exile in return for the mercy he gained for Rainek. Grand Warlord Voss now goes about restructuring the whole of Thorathian society to support an expansionist, conquering military.
- A major point of the backstory is to introduce the other Nyxian Scourges, unpowered Thorathians that are loyal to Voss who has ensured their positions at the top of the social structure and who are now showing up on Earth. They attack important things in order to destabilize humanity's ability to resist (power plants, military bases, assassinating world leaders, etc.). There are plenty of run-ins with heroes and while there are a bunch of gene-bound around, this is still not quite a full-scale invasion but some targeted attacks - one of which is against the Maerynian camp led by a gene-bound Maerynian who was an old friend of Tempest (as mentioned in his episode). Can Tempest rescue his friend? Is there hope that there are more Maerynians out there who can be freed? Nope. They've been too greatly genetically modified to ever hope to "fix" and Tempest winds up having to kill his old friend.
- While this is all going on, Voss lands and just walks right into the Eaken-Rubendall Laboratory, kills a bunch of guards and monologues yet again (this time on the topic of how much he admires humanity - that if we would stop fighting each other we'd be a force to be reckoned with in the galaxy given our ingenuity in weaponry - that we're a "terrifying infant" and it's a shame to have to snuff us out so soon). The whole "invasion" has been a diversion - he's here to steal the Particle Yield Enhancing Wavelength prototype teleportation device that gave Tachyon her powers. Eventually the heroes succeed in driving off the invaders, but Voss got this device and nobody's sure exactly why he wanted it because it never really worked.
- Leading into the early-'80s there are occasional minor stories involving Scourges, gene-bound, or Thorathians, but nothing really major. We're getting into the era in comics that repudiates the weird space and magic stuff that the '70s were so into and, outside of the Cosmic Tales title, returning to more street-level stuff and a new dark and gritty tone.
- There's a sense that they've "over-corrected" though and a bunch of stuff happens in 1985/86 - the Prime Wardens form, the big Akash'Bhuta story happens, Visionary shows up from the futuristic year of 2018 as the Timelines get Shattered. There stops being as much of a cohesive feel across all comics (all weird/space/magic stuff or all gritty crime stuff) to an era where the company is telling lots of different types of stories all at once. Up until around now, there were few enough titles published that it was feasible for kids to be able to buy all of them with their allowance if they wanted to, but now we start getting a lot more titles in various genres.
- This brings us up to 1987 and the Voss invasion story that's modeled by his SotM deck - and this was such a big event that even if Voss had been a new character who never showed up again afterwards, it would still have justified a deck. This started with Freedom Five #440 and was a company-wide crossover event across all titles.
- It's revealed that Voss has been hanging out on Mars for some time now and has turned Wagner Mars Base into a giant gene-binding facility (no writers had used the base for a while and it's explained away that the base losing contact with Earth isn't that uncommon - solar wind interference, etc.) and now he has the Quark-Drive Translocator that he developed out of the P.Y.E.W. he stole several years back. This allows him to not only send his troops directly from Earth, but also to bring in entire ships from other galaxies. His capital ships are also now outfitted with those death cannon things and his flagship has an even better one.
- The attack on Earth begins in FF #440 and the heroes are trying to stop them and build shields and whatnot, but the flagship is just destroying cities. Legacy flies up into the cannon and destroys it from the inside. The resulting explosion sends him crashing back to Earth (his original incapacitated art where his daughter is holding him is from this event, which is a fake-out "Death of Legacy" event as the concurrent America's Finest Legacy book is quick to show that he's not actually dead, but in a coma with a high-school-age Felicia taking up the mantle for the time being).
- Meta story interlude! Years ago in the publishing universe's Golden Age there was another regional publisher called Justice Comics (the idea being that all of these comics publishers were based in different geographical regions and didn't really compete). As the companies grew, some got bought out and absorbed by others. Sentinel Comics was the biggest such company, but these regional differences never really brought SC and JC into competition with each other, but the fact that SC had a title called Justice Comics for their flagship character was still kind of weird and eventually there's a legal suit brought by JC to claim ownership of the JC title. While this is going on (and more on this will be told in the "History of Sentinel Comics" book eventually), SC stops publishing that title and replaces it with America's Finest Legacy. Eventually, SC retains the rights to the Justice Comics title and right when all of this Voss stuff is going on, they bring back JC with issue #381 and the return of Legacy, so now we have two Legacy-centric titles and, at least for a short time, Paul and Felicia fighting side-by-side in costume (with the term "Young Legacy" created to distinguish them).
- While it's a world-wide invasion, Voss really seems to have it in for Megalopolis in particular and that's where the Freedom Five are tied down trying to keep things under control. Then the Prime Wardens show up to help - they've got plans on how to take the fight to the source if the FF can handle things here on the ground for a while. When some more gene-bound troops get teleported to Megalopolis, the Prime Wardens "follow" that path back to Mars using a device Tachyon based on the P.Y.E.W. that she uses to key into what the aliens are using.
- So the next few issues of the PW book are on Mars fighting enemies there and trying to shut down the gene-binding facilities. They're ultimately successful in shutting down the Thorathian operation there, but there's still plenty of spaceships out there already not to mention the gene-bound already on Earth. The plan is for Tempest to stay behind long enough for the others to go home, then he'll destroy the Quark-Drive Translocator and use one of the Thorathian craft at the base to fly home (as he's most familiar with alien technology). Instead of going to Earth after taking out the QDT he heads towards the fleet and crashes into the flagship and just starts wrecking the place from the inside out. He eventually fights his way to Voss to end this even if it means his own death - their epic battle continues to tear the ship apart.
- Meanwhile, back on Earth the other Prime Wardens relay the plan to the other heroes, but Nightmist can tell that Tempest isn't on his way back and that he's on a suicide run to take out Voss. Argent Adept is not going to take that lying down, so he and Nightmist have a side adventure in Tome of the Bizarre as they travel into the Realm of Discord to try to get to Tempest in time. In their attempt to rescue Tempest by pulling him directly into the Realm of Discord from where he is, they wind up accidentally pulling in the whole flagship (complete with splash page of the ship crashing into the chaotic landscape of the RoD). Now we've got a few issues of the fight in the RoD between Voss and the survivors of the ship's crew vs. Tempest, AA, and Nightmist. Eventually the heroes manage to fight their way free long enough to make their escape back to Earth, stranding Voss and his forces in the Realm of Discord.
- Turns out, having the flagship with the Grand Warlord on it just kind of disappear has a demoralizing effect on his remaining armies. A lot of them start to panic and flee. Vyktor and Tamar try to hold to their orders and stick around to continue the fight, but the rest of the Nyxian Scourges retreat to be ready for the return of their leader. Vyktor makes it through things, but Tamar eventually dies (in the Ruins of Atlantis when attacked by a Kraken) and the invasion story wraps up. The Nyxian Scourges eventually start in-fighting, which leads to the situation on Dok'Thorath that has been detailed in previous episodes. Thorathians still show up occasionally, but without the leadership of Voss they're a lot less terrifying.
- In 1990, we get Nightmist #61 - the first half of the issue is about Voss and his situation in the Realm of Discord with his remaining minions and the wreckage of his ship. Having survived in much harsher (if more predictable) conditions with much less before, he goes about using the leftover technology in the ship to begin experimenting on the portal fiends (which he had noted for their ability to use portals to travel around within the RoD). He manages to create a single gene-bound fiend and taps all of its inherent power for his one shot at escape - getting it to open a single portal back into normal reality. He and most of his remaining troops make it out. The first thing he does is use a communicator to call for an extraction, with a dreadnought showing up in orbit right away.
- Now, Nightmist is keyed into things and can tell that something has just come through a really janky portal while a lot of people (including the Argent Adept) notice that this big Thorathian ship has shown up so soon after the invasion. This is when we get the scene on AA's card "Cedistic Dissonant" where he breaks Xu's Bell in order to destroy the ship immediately. Similarly, Nightmist tracks down Voss and rather than simply stranding him somewhere that he might eventually escape from again, she banishes him nowhere, outside of reality (on her card "Mistbound"). That's the last we see of Grand Warlord Voss.
- What can you tell us about Rainek's life before becoming the Grand Warlord (childhood, his family, etc.)? Some of that was covered above. His father the emperor wasn't the first, the empire had been around for some time. So, Rainek was born into this (powered) royal family surrounded by opulence, but lack of drive. He would get along with Citizen Dawn in some ways, although going about things in different ways - he has power and therefore others should bow in awe of him (whereas Dawn thinks others should leave her alone because she has powers). He wants more power for himself to the point where he'd see strength in others and wants to make it his own (an in the process uniting them behind him). By adolescence he was a bully, but one that dominates the others and then incorporates them into his own gang as long as they toe the line. Not only was he greedy for more power that he lacked, but he was very prideful of what he had. Pride is not unfounded, he's got his natural powers, but also his tactical genius backing things up. He's an odd example of an extremely prideful character whose hubris is not actually part of his downfall (unlike, say, Baron Blade). His brother probably was groomed for leadership (in peacetime) from infancy and probably would have been even more into the culture of the Thorathians than his father was and Rainek would have wanted none of that peace junk. We don't know much of his mother from the pages of Sentinel Comics beyond the fact that she died (presumably of natural causes) sometime before Rainek's banishment and that, possibly, the emperor was somewhat harsher without her influence.
- What was the government/society of Dok'Thorath like before Rainek's conquest? What did the average citizen think of the emperor? What was their relationship like with neighboring societies? Was the military already a huge enterprise just waiting for a leader to use it or did it have to be built up? The Thorathian Conquering Fleet was present just as the Thorathian Navy - it was powerful, but not a "conquering" force per se, although it didn't take a lot of work for Voss to get it there after the whole planet's production capacity was transitioned to war. Prior to that, Dok'Thorath was "the planet you don't screw with" - you don't start a war with them because you'll regret it. The founding of the empire as a unified entity did come at the cost of some other Thorathian cultures in the past, and there were still wars (the last emperor was even something of a warlord in his youth in order to maintain the peace that he protected later in life). Not a lot of aliens really ever went there - the rigid society was not really welcoming of outsiders and so most stayed away even before the Voss takeover.
- How old is Voss for a Thorathian? It seems like he's been around for a long time, is that natural, part of his powers, or what? He is solidly middle-aged for a Thorathian (and would probably live a few hundred more years). There was an early bio of him that said that he was 92, but that's inaccurate as he's into his second century at this point (there are a lot of biographical and issue-number attributions for him that are wrong as mentioned so far in the 2018 podcast episodes that have started to correct them). The upper limit of Thorathian lifespan is probably around 500 and , generally speaking, powers don't in themselves effect that (although some might wind up shorter due to the tolls that their powers subject them to.
- The Sky-Scraper episode mentioned that the red/pink Thorathians have powers and two hearts; what are his powers? Do they have to do with his skills at genetic manipulation? His power is simply the ability to generate blasts of energy from his fists (fire from one, some kind of cosmic radiation energy from the other - the two hearts also representing a kind of duality to their powers, so he has two types of energy blast).
- Does having two hearts grant any benefits to the powered Thorathians on their own? They require less rest and generally have a more active life. They tend to be a bit more robust as well (stronger/more durable), but it's not universal.
- Any way to get ahold of Voss's genetics research or is it lost? He's gone so you can't ask him directly. Most of the research data is probably lost due to the societal upheavals since his disappearance. A lot of the records would also have been on his flagship as that was his normal base of operations anyway and that's not only crashed, but in the Realm of Discord. He was also very covetous of his research/methods and so it's unlikely that he would have left it lying around anywhere where others could find it anyway.
- What is the nature/function of the spikes on Thorathians? Bone spurs that grow through their skin. Evolved as a natural weapon in the distant past, but now just a normal part of them (even somewhat inconvenient in some ways). They'll grow back if broken or whatever (although they're not like fingernails that need to be trimmed).
- Did Voss's name come about just because of a typo about somebody trying to refer to an "alien boss"? The name "Voss" was taken from the last name of an old friend of C&A because it's a cool name for a villain. Originally it was to be "Grand Admiral Voss", but they decided that "Warlord" was better.
- How did Voss decide which order to conquer worlds in (considering that earlier ones would have fewer types of gene-bound minions at his disposal)? He starts with the Frost Hounds before even ruling the Thorathians. So by the time he's starting his Conquering Fleet days he has himself, the Frost Hounds, powered Thorathians, regular Thorathians, and the Nyxian Scourges (regular Thorathians, but an elite squad of them). The order of conquest doesn't really even matter that much as most races he subjugates at first are peaceful that he turns into beasts of war.
- Were there more ships besides the TCF Conqueror and Stalwart? Could they fit through a QDT? They can't fit through the QDT, but their drives can interface with it in order to use it in a similar way. If you look at the Stalwart card there are a lot of other ships - the Conqueror is meant to be representative of the ships in general. When you're playing against this deck it's only representing that small portion of the invasion that a small group of heroes could be expected to deal with at one time, not the entire fleet. The "bombardment" that the ships cause at the beginning of the Villain Turn is meant to represent the fancy cannons mentioned earlier, though.
- What ideologies does Voss (claim to) exhibit to gain his followers? His "platform" is pretty straightforward: Thorathians are the best and deserve to have all the power, so we're taking it. This is easy for Thorathians to get behind as their society is already built around this powered/unpowered split. If the powered ones are already on board with "you have power and therefore naturally deserve to be in charge here" that's easily generalized to cover other civilizations too and will drag the rest of Thorathian society along with them (even if we're the lowest level here, we're still Thorathians and better than everybody else).
- What does Voss do for fun (working out, listening to bombastic military music or recordings of his own speeches)? He certainly spends time in the gym, but he doesn't really have hobbies at first (unless "conquest" is a hobby). He's got a spark of talent for the genetics stuff, but most of that is him directing the real scientists. We don't see a lot of his downtime, though. The hobby he does develop will be discussed in a few questions.
- Human history is full of explorers/conquerors eating whatever animals were to be found in a new land, did Voss ever eat any of the beings that would eventually become gene-bound? If so, which was his favorite? No. Voss would not have eaten any of the gene-bound races.
- What kind of personal weaponry does Voss favor? Does he rely more on his powers and/or his armies and a "bombard them from orbit" mentality? He'll definitely use whatever, but his personal martial ability is probably on the low end of his resources in warfare as he generally doesn't need to be particularly skilled in this way. I mean, he's strong enough that he can trivially kill humans with just his fists (without using his energy powers). He does have a collection of weaponry, not that he actually uses them - this is the hobby mentioned earlier; he collects weapons of his defeated foes as trophies. What weapons of a people look like/how they're designed tell you something about them if you know how to look, and this is what he was alluding to in his monologue during his raid on Tachyon's lab, about how much potential humans have in this regard.
- Does Voss accept the service of non-Thorathians [I assume in a non-gene-bound capacity] and, if so, what remuneration do they receive? Have any humans worked with Voss? No, he'd never do this - "There's Thorathians and then there's everyone else who are beneath them" (this racism is contrasted with Tempest's racism which is more "There's Thorathians, who are terrible, and then there's everyone else"). Anybody who "volunteered" to serve him would promptly be shown to the gene-bound chambers to be turned into something more useful.
- Who builds the Quark-Drive Translocator? Some other cards indicate that he's got scientists working for him, so does he have others making them or is he smarter than we think? He's probably smarter than you think, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have experts working on stuff for him. He's the "big picture" visionary type - he's the mind who could imagine such a thing as the QDT, but then has his servants actually bring it into existence (possibly killing some scientists to incentivize others).
- Is the symbol we see on a lot of cards his personal one, that of the Voss family, the Nyxian Scourges, or what? Definitely not the Voss family crest - he is the only one who matters. It's his personal symbol that he comes up with when he comes to power (although one derived from that of the Nyxian Scourges).
- Vyktor's flavor text in Voss's deck indicates that he has no time for torture or anything, but by Vengeance he's set up a torture lab? What's going on there? The implications in his original card are that while he has no time for torture it's because his job is to kill quickly and he doesn't get to inflict the pain he would like to. He wishes that he had time for it, and after he's stranded on Earth, he has that time.
- How did the unpowered Vyktor and Tamar work their ways into leadership positions in the very power-conscious Thorathian society? They (and various others of his lieutenants) worked their ways up from nothing and into Voss's military science/black ops team in the Nyxian Scourges with their cleverness, ruthlessness, and capability (as in, 9 times out of 10 you're better off with them by your side in a battle than you would be with a powered Thorathian). This in itself granted them no status in society as they were part of this secretive group. Voss exploited this - they were never going to get anywhere in Thorathian society due to being unpowered and he was never going to get the primary leadership position that he wanted unless they tore the whole thing down and took over. They get to the high positions they do by betting on Rainek and rising with him.
- Even with the element of surprise, the Maerynians are powerhouses so how did Voss take over Vognild Prime so easily? Was it just a matter of numbers of gene-bound, a stealth strike, or what? Part of it is the Maerynians being somewhat lax in terms of defense - they're powerful, but also isolated and without much of anything that other societies would want to take from them. They kind of assumed that since everybody likes them (their ambassadors are respected to the point that warring planets might call a ceasefire if a Maerynian is currently visiting one of them) that they would also be left alone. That anybody would invade Vognild Prime was an alien concept to them - and it's also the turning point with which the interstellar community sits up and realizes that the Thorathian problem is really serious. As for how - 1) the Nyxian Scourges are experts on destabilizing planets by this point as they've been doing that sort of thing forever, and 2) the massive amounts of gene-bound that they pour in at once.
- Without a leader, do the gene-bound go rogue or what? Can they be freed? How does the "loyalty" aspect come into play in the creation process? The gene-bound kind of go crazy without a leader as they're programmed to obey Thorathians. Part of the issue on Dok'Thorath in the civil war era is the attempts to regain control of the gene-bound armies. The gene-binding process is more than mental conditioning - it really is reworking the race's genetics to make the most of whatever abilities they have (to make better weapons of them), but also to make them inherently slaves. See the Psi-Weavers as an extreme example of this - they're not just the brains of the Piunites plucked out and put in a mechanical construct body, the brains were engineered from Piunite genetic material from the ground up. The Shock Infantry is less extreme than that with both the mind and body getting put through this genetic modification so that, say, the first one that Tempest encounters is still recognizable as an individual he used to know despite the alterations that came with the gene-binding process. There's a variable amount of sapience between the types of gene-bound. The former-Qubrin Soldiers can still display some agency and aren't mindless beasts (as they continue to use ranged weapons - thus the Projectile damage type), whereas the former-Trodcullons Firesworn are just angry little yelling rock/fire critters now.
- Any planets (or alliances of planets) besides Earth that have managed to fight off the Thorathian Conquering Fleet? Nope. Some tried, some were able to slow him down (as the heroes of Earth managed in the first few stories with Voss as they temporarily halted his plans without actually "defeating" him), but Earth is the first that manages to prevent the takeover entirely.
- Did Voss ever try to genetically modify his lieutenants to grant them powers? No. The processes used in the gene-bound projects take the original being and destroy it, tearing it down completely to rebuild it. Using these methods to grant his trusted lieutenants powers would be counterproductive. Beyond that, he likes to keep a short leash on his flunkies - giving them powers as well as status would be inviting trouble.
- Is what he did to Vognild Prime the standard operating procedure (razing it to bare earth and gene-binding any survivors) or does he sometimes just incorporate conquered people into his war machine (farm labor, mechanics, etc.)? He has no interest in working with any race besides Thorathians, therefore any conquered races are gene-bound as a matter of course. Some planets might be turned into farms or factories or whatnot, but any non-Thorathians working there are still gene-bound. Most are just destroyed, though.
- Does the "Device" keyword on the QDT card indicate any connection to Baron Blade? No - there's no interaction between the two of them. A Device is a technological Villain Target.
- Did any other major villains interact with Voss? No, his stories are very Voss-centric and are such a big deal that it's not worth sharing the focus of the story.
- How many races beyond the ones shown in his deck has he gene-bound? Not over 100, not under 20. "Dozens of races."
- Any other Nyxian Scourges do anything notable? Other members do important things but aren't even really named as they don't stick around long enough to be important. The Dok'Thorath conflicts later on have some room for that, but it's just not really something they're interested in exploring in depth. Vyktor's the only one who's really around for long enough to matter (Tamar was notable mostly in that she stuck around when the others fled).
- Do any of the Endlings of races that Voss wiped out ever plot against him? Has Voss ever encountered Jansa? No stories deal with Voss and Jansa interacting, but he probably knows about her. Most Endlings that are such because of him definitely have some anger towards him, but they don't leave the Enclave. What could they do? They could, at best, field a small strike force if they were to try. There's just a disparity in story styles - the Enclave is about how weird and interesting things can be out in space while Voss stories are about the terrifying things that await out beyond the stars.
- Any encounters between Captain Cosmic and Voss's forces prior to the invasion? Yeah. Nothing super important.
- It was mentioned that Tempest can't return to Vognild Prime as it was rendered uninhabitable, what exactly was done to it to be so? Was that standard procedure for a planet being conquered? The oceans are boiling - the ultra-laser destroyer cannons can chip parts of planets away. This level of destruction is partly a way of leaving a message for other planets ("surrendering is easier"). This kind of "signpost" message means that he leaves planets more or less intact, simply uninhabitable.
- How do Thorathian naming conventions work? When he first showed up as "Grand Warlord Voss" and later given the name "Rainek Kel-Voss", they were just things that the writers threw together without any meaning behind things (similar to when Sky-Scraper was introduced as Portja Kir-Pro). Later somebody came up with what things meant - the first name is a given name much like "Christopher" or "Adam" the last part of the second name is the family name (so "Voss" or "Pro" would be like "Badell" and "Rebottaro"). The first element in the second name indicates the individual's position in their family - "Kel-" indicates that he's the second child where "Kir-" is the first.
- Given that several Endlings are of species otherwise incorporated into the gene-bound armies, how efficient is Voss's enslavement program in general and how big are his armies as a result of enslaving whole civilizations? How big is the gene-binding division? If he had succeeded in taking over Earth, what kind of gene-bound would humans have become? He doesn't enslave/gene-bind entire races, he kills the vast majority of them and enslaves the remainder to the last individual. There are certainly races that he's gene-bound that don't have an Endling associated with them as there are members still extant out there, whether that's because they managed to escape (as the Maerynians on Earth did) or because they were already spread out onto multiple planets. Humans would get rebuilt into something different of course, and if he'd succeeded in early attempts we'd probably get the "mining planet" treatment given the resources here. After that he would have been out for blood, though, and he would not have preserved the planet.
- Have there ever been gene-bound Endlings? Would Voss and Jansa scuffle over them, would he make a deal with her in exchange for some tech, or would he kill the individual himself to spite her? While the idea of Voss destroying the last of a gene-bound people just to spite her is a fun image, it wouldn't come up. Jansa doesn't consider the gene-bound abominations to be sentient species worthy of being preserved as Endlings.
- How many planets has he conquered and did any submit without a fight? Lots, about the same "dozens" as mentioned above in terms of numbers of gene-bound races (but strictly more planets as there are some that he conquers without bothering to keep any survivors around to gene-bind and because some races he conquered were spread out on multiple planets). A few have submitted without a fight, thinking that maybe they can avoid being gene-bound if they don't fight back, but this doesn't go any better for them as a people.
- Were some species more easily specialized than others? He often takes them and leans into whatever makes them most weaponizable and, certainly, some were more weaponizable than others (the ones we see in his deck are the exemplars of these - the Qubrin were the least such).
- How big are all of the gene-bound minions (Haka's "Punish the Weak" and Tempest's size gives us an idea that the Soldiers and Shock Infantry are relatively small and the Psi-Weaver card shows a small human figure implying they're really big, but what of the others)? The Psi-Weavers are probably the biggest. The Guards are the next-biggest, but they're not as tall as the average Thorathian (Thorathians > Guards > Humans on average), although more massive. The rest are smaller (with the Firesworn being tiny).
- Egg-bearing Maerynians can absorb genes from other sentient races, did this have an impact on the gene-binding process or Voss's decision to invade? It doesn't really impact the gene-binding process as that process basically "hollows out" the body to just be a power vessel. The question of if an egg-bearing Maerynian were to touch a gene-bound species is an interesting one. Theoretically some of the "binding" genetics could be inherited by that child but it would be diluted by a lot of other stuff, so who knows. That's not something they've dug into.
- Comics tend to have trends in whatever "sciency" concept is in vogue for granting powers (radiation, toxic waste, nanotechnology, etc.) and "genetic manipulation" was somewhat recent in our world; it's been stated that the gene-bound concept has been around for quite a long time, so why did the writers use "gene-bound"? You're right that "genetics" were in vogue in our world much later than the period in question for Voss, the writers in the '60s picked genetics as Voss's tool, although it wasn't necessarily well-defined at the time, they just came up with the phrase "gene-bound" which would at least have involved a known scientific concept [the structure of DNA was discovered in the early '50s, here at least]. While there are trends in this pseudoscience stuff, it's not a hard and fast rule that everything in one period has to be related to it.
- What would Voss have done with Earth and its people if he'd won? I can see him wanting to bind superpowered individuals, but what of the average person? Adam suggests our outcome would be similar to the Gene-Bound Soldiers, but Christopher has a different opinion. While he agrees that's likely if Voss were dealing with "our" Earth, the fact that he's had to deal with superpowered humans so many times changes that. He's more likely to round up everybody who has powers, harvest everything out of them in the Gene-Binding facilities, and use that to give some kind of standard power load-out to everybody else.
- Has a "Voss victory" situation ever been a Disparation story? How does he deal with all of the other, non-hero powers that might contest him (Omnitron, Akash'Bhuta, Baron Blade, the Citizens of the Sun, etc.)? There are certainly stories that take place out in space where humans are just a remnant species that have been wiped out (and if we see them as horrible gene-bound versions we can assume that it was due to Voss, for example). Then there are the stories where Voss has taken over Earth, but has to deal with active resistance from other parties (we see an example of such a situation in Visionary's deck with the statue on "Precognition" and Nightmist's "Mists of Time"), but this is a less-likely scenario than him just wiping the world clean.
- In Editor's Note #15 we are told that Voss is the last corset villain, but it's hard to imagine any of them wearing corsets; is he also the first? Are these special, evil corsets he uses for conquest in some way? What color are they? *sigh* Core. Set.
- In the Spite episode it's mentioned that Omnitron has taken more lives than Voss, but that seems unlikely? Voss has killed less humans in the pages of Sentinel Comics than Omnitron has, although more people total. [The point made in the Spite episode if I'm remembering right is that Voss personally has killed fewer - his armies kill a lot more.]
- Where the heck has Voss been since Nightmist #61? He specifically calls out "You have not heard the last of me!" and then we don't hear from him again, but that seems an unlikely end for him, right? Other less important characters that Nightmist banished, like Bugbear, get to show up again, so why not Voss? He's gone. Lost beyond time and space. Sorry. [Summarizer's note: this is a really glib delivery, even for them.]
- In it's entirety: "There is no future for Grand Warlord Voss."
- They make a point of pointing out how this is a nice complete story with no loose threads, further teasing us about the fact that his "disappearance" is not a really satisfactory end to his story.
- Voting for topics on Patreon is now live. Current options as of this airing: Progeny, Legacy Supplemental, a story-arc episode on The Trial of Baron Blade, The Animated Series season 1, the Disparation Dark Watch from La Capitan's "¿Quando? ¡Ahora!" card, Wraith Supplemental, Nightmist's little black book of weird creatures she's encountered, story-arc for Sunrise, La Capitan's crew, and Extrasodes on Legal Advice, Food, and the GTG Origin Story. The Extrasodes are not really competing against the others. The four with the most votes will be the April episodes plus the winning Extrasode.