The Letters Page: Episode 63
The dread scion! It only exists to exercise the will of OblivAeon!
Run Time: 1:20:24
We start off with an overview of when and how Progeny first showed up in the pages of Sentinel Comics, starting with the Freedom Five book.
Just before the 18 minute mark, we briefly get back into the debate of "does Progeny's head blasting off into space look cool." Spoilers: there is no real resolution to this argument.
Just after 19 minutes in, we get to the Progeny origin story, which is told in the pages of Prime Wardens, Vol. 2, after that first Progeny story.
Then, just after the 24 minute mark, Progeny goes to space! A cool K.N.Y.F.E. and Captain Cosmic story is told.
We start in on your questions 30 minutes into the episode.
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- Prime Wardens
- The Freedom Five
- Dark Watch
- The Southwest Sentinels
- Absolute Zero
- Argent Adept
- Captain Cosmic
- Aeon Master
- Wager Master
- La Comodora
- Jansa vi Dero
- Dark Mind
- Citizen Dawn
- Miss Information
- The First Appearance of Progeny isn't the first chronological appearance in the internal timeline. Freedom Five #763 in November 2013 was the first time we see it, but it's introduced as this thing that just finished wiping the floor with the Prime Wardens on the other side of the world. It's emerged near Rook City and is on its way there. Although this is the Freedom Five book, none of the heroes actually involved at this stage of the fight are the Freedom Five. It sometimes must be frustrating to be a FF reader as it's often just this general book about whatever important thing is going on, whether the FF team themselves are involved at any given moment. They're present for like 90% of the stories in the title, but sometimes, like this one, there are whole issues without them. The initial team on the case consists of Dark Watch and the Scholar.
- This team can't really do much as Progeny shifts between its various elemental forms and tosses them around like rag dolls. Everyone's incapacitated but Nightmist, who attempts to use her powers to simply bind it and halt its progress, but that's ineffective (and this is Nightmist at the height of her powers, so this is kind of a big deal).
- The next issue opens with Progeny reaching Rook City and starting to wreck up the place, but the FF and Dark Visionary (still ostensibly "heroic" although the readers might be more suspicious than the other heroes would be at this time) finally show up and try protect the city/civilians, but the heroes are having a hard time of it. Legacy tries to go toe-to-toe with Progeny in an effort to give the others some breathing space, and manages to get the fight out of the city itself and into the surrounding wooded area, but he gets knocked out. Visionary had stood by passively watching that exchange and nopes right out - teleporting away. Progeny heads back to the city, but the heroes present are beat up enough that they need help, at which point the Adamant Southwest Sentinels show up.
- The next issue features the Sentinels vs. Progeny and is not a good fight. They're self-aware enough at this point to know that they've got to use stalling tactics rather than direct confrontation (Mainstay gets a good squared-off punch in, but that doesn't end well for him). The Freedom Five uses this time to try to recover and Tachyon spends her time trying to actually gather intel on their foe - taking readings and suggesting tactics to the Sentinels to test hypotheses out; lots of counterintuitive-in-a-fight stuff just to see what happens rather than actually trying for the win.
- The next issue (we're up to FF #766 now) is when more heroes show up individually - Parse, K.N.Y.F.E., and Chrono-Ranger. So now we have these new arrivals and the Sentinels fighting with Tachyon still observing and making suggestions. It's a very strange fight, but it's meant to show that it's an all-hands situation and they're still getting pushed back. There's a turning point where the fresh arrivals all hit Progeny (as it's about to destroy some buildings with a bunch of civilians in them), at which point it stops, straightens up, and simply starts walking out of town - towards Megalopolis.
- The next issue of FF is one of those rare (for the era) instances where it's just the FF vs. a foe - Progeny reaches Megalopolis, and the heroes are ready and operating like the well-oiled machine of a team you'd expect them to be at this point. Legacy doing his leadership thing while being right in there with Progeny, but mostly as a means of creating openings for the others. Tachyon using the info she gathered in the latter half of the RC fight to direct the flow of things (specifically dealing with how the various shifting forms of Progeny have specific weaknesses that go along with them). Wraith helping with the aspect of the fight having to do with "how to fight a foe that we can't allow to hit us once" that she's more used to in general. This all leads into Absolute Zero blasting Progeny with cold, prompting the response of it shifting into a Frost form, at which point Bunker nails it with some incendiary munitions, finally actually making some headway in damaging it, which hadn't really been accomplished at this point. This also seems to have angered Progeny and it starts acting less methodical and more chaotically, increasing the danger as the fight goes on to them and the city.
- That same month, Feedom Five Annual #29 comes out to continue the story. FF, Dark Watch (plus Harpy), Scholar, Parse, K.N.Y.F.E., Chrono-Ranger, and now the Prime Wardens arrive. Dark Visionary is still not around (with some lampshade-hanging from the other characters commenting on her being helpful if she was around, while the readers largely still don't trust her). The Southwest Sentinels aren't here either. After their appearance in the FF book a few months ago, they'd gone back to their own book, doing some stuff in Fort Adamant, at which point they disappear - they're off to become Void Guard here in the middle of the Progeny event. This fight continues the trend of the fight from the previous FF issue - changing up element/energy types quickly to hit a weakness before Progeny adapts again. Megalopolis takes heavy damage, but less than Rook City (Megalopolis is more prepared for this type of thing in the first place, for one).
- As the heroes are making headway, Progeny starts to lose cohesion. As this goes on, the sigil on its head starts glowing, the head detaches entirely, and rockets off into space. The debate rages on as to whether this is cool or not. Either way, the heroes have won, but it's pretty clear that this isn't the last they've seen of Progeny and/or whatever it's the progeny of. K.N.Y.F.E. wants to go after it to try to stop it from doing whatever it's doing out in space and prevent its return, which kicks off her Headhunter story line.
- The next month actually gets to the backstory of all of this - Prime Wardens #36 and the "first appearance" of Progeny prior to the events in the FF books just described. This is another five-issue arc. It begins with Progeny climbing out of the earth and just standing there, followed by a flashback to "a thousand years ago" and a spark of something landing on Earth and burrowing underground. There are a few things going on here, there's the story of the PW fighting Progeny and losing, which we already knew, but also them using their non-combat resources to find out more about this thing (Haka going underground to consult the Magmarians to see if they know about what this thing is, Argent Adept looks into magical texts and communes with the Void, Tempest talks to Maerynian chroniclers to see if there's anything they knew about this from the days back on Vognild Prime, Captain Cosmic goes to the Enclave of the Endlings and talks to an individual whose planet was also destroyed by a similar thing, and Fanatic spends some time in prayer, but mostly goes off to fight it and keep it busy while the others are off doing their research - she's kind of built for this kind of punishment, holding out right about until the time the others finally return, but then they all fall in turn). This research process involving space stuff is why they call it Progeny - that's where the hints that this is just the forerunner of some other major baddie start really coming into play.
- Concurrently with that story, over in Cosmic Tales, is K.N.Y.F.E.'s Headhunter arc. She follows it around to various planets/environments and fights it until it leaves again. The head is going around, "plugging into" the new environment it finds itself in to exploit whatever it has going for it and builds a new body based on that. This means that K.N.Y.F.E. is fighting a different Progeny every time, but as they're newly-formed, they're not as dangerous as the original was on Earth and she can keep it on the run without landing a final defeat (and she knows that she's going to run out of steam before it does). She eventually runs into it on a ruined husk of a planetoid (Rahazar ran a mining operation here and she's familiar with his work). Her knowledge of what Rahazar does allows her to plant some explosives and basically collapse the whole place on Progeny, trapping it in the core of this place, so it's unable to escape, but still there gathering power and will be a problem in the future.
- Meanwhile, Captain Cosmic is dealing with a high-population solar system that's got a black hole problem (there's a specific story about where this is coming from, but that'll have to wait for a later episode). The important thing is that there's a black hole forming here and will eventually consume the whole system. That's when K.N.Y.F.E. shows up with her problem with Progeny and this planetoid. The plan they come up with involves rigging the planetoid to explode and to chuck it at the black hole. K.N.Y.F.E. has to go back to the surface to make the arrangements while CC tows it to the black hole. She makes her daring escape from the surface while there's this massive explosion, combined with the power of Progeny deep within it, as it's crossing the event horizon. Somehow this works out to destroy all of the problems; no more black hole, no more Progeny. Things were bad, but now everything is good forever. Or until July when they do the Scions episode.
- What we've seen of the OblivAeon content so far, some Scions seem to be created by OblivAeon (like Sanction) and others were existing characters that were empowered (like Empyreon and Infinitor the 10th Scion? [nice try there]), which type is Progeny? Progeny is entirely created by OblivAeon, almost a part of OblivAeon. If Aeon Master and the Aeon Men are manifestations of the internal power of OblivAeon, the life-blood coursing through him, and OblivAeon shards are pieces of his very form (and substantial ones at that, it's not the equivalent of a fingernail or something), Progeny was a creation of the very will of OblivAeon, something from the "life spark" of his being. He's done this sort of thing before, which is what the Endlings knew about, he can plant a piece of his will in a planet and wait for it to grow, then it can go about its task and, when done, could be reabsorbed, set to a new task, casually destroyed by OblivAeon - whatever. Progeny has no autonomy, though, it's just programmed for destruction. It's the first such entity seen in comics, though, and is the first direct sign of the hand of OblivAeon at work. While there was some entity that was responsible for Cosmic Omnitron, that wasn't planned to be OblivAeon, and while what would later be called "OblivAeon shards" had been around for forever, they weren't explained in those terms either - the first was likely the one that powered Proletariat, but that was just this weird Soviet space rock at the time with the first that "acted" like an OblivAeon shard was the Captain Cosmic/Infinitor one, but that was, again, some weird space rock.
- Why Earth in the time of heroes rather than some random asteroid without as much potential opposition? Was the presence of the heroes itself a necessary catalyst? Is this another "fixed point" scenario? The OblivAeon event happens on Earth, on other planets, and in other realities simultaneously. OblivAeon isn't interested in taking out individual planets, he's working on all of reality and that involves him doing his "matching things up until they overlap and annihilate one another" trick. The sticking point here is that (well, for one the stories of Sentinel Comics focus around Earth and so that's where the important stuff happens, but also that) Earth and its heroes in this one reality in particular is messing up his plans and so has to get directly involved. Progeny (and other Progeny-like entities in the past) are mostly there just working plans of destruction to get things ready for his overall plan. OblivAeon and Wager Master are both "singular entities" but the former seems so much more powerful than the latter mostly as a function of OblivAeon having worked on this plan for forever now while WM has no plans and just goofs around.
- If Progeny was planted on Earth thousands of years ago, but the advent of heroes on Earth are a relatively recent phenomenon (and an anomaly given just how far above "baseline" humans most heroes are in terms of capability), does that mean that there are thousands of potential Progenies out there or was there something about Earth that was knowable that far in advance? Is there any specific meaning of the silver/gold coloration based on placement (silver due to something on Earth, gold due to having these thousands of potentials recalled and combined)? There are lots of planets with potential Progenies, but part of the deal here is that while OblivAeon needed to have placed the spark of what would be Progeny in the center of the Earth thousands of years ago, he has the advantage of being able to decide that he would do so a few decades ago - being an entity with an outsider's view on time and space and a power set to match is handy for such shenanigans. Earth was the first place that managed to drive a Progeny away, however. The colors aren't tied to something in the Earth - the silver form is kind of the "standard" Progeny look with the gold being a result of something new that OblivAeon does for that specific iteration, alluded to in the OblivAeon rule book bio for Progeny [it mentions that OblivAeon ripped Progeny from the heart of the new planet it had been put in, shattering the planet in the process].
- Given Progeny's apparent relationship to various elemental powers, does Scholar have any particular advantage when using alchemy against it? Unfortunately, Scholar was one of the first heroes to fight it and so was trying this sort of thing out before they had much data on what they were dealing with. The form-shifting abilities of Progeny are such an intrinsic part of what it is that when Scholar attempted to transmute it into something they could deal with more easily, it instead drew power from that and assumed a form that Scholar couldn't really do anything to at all. Scholar spends most of the rest of that conflict trying to undo what he'd just done while fighting defensively - things just did not go well for him.
- Chrono-Ranger's present in the fight, so did CON send him there for a bounty? This is later in the Chrono-Ranger chronology where he has some more autonomy but is still working the known problems (although this is after the introduction of the Best of Times iteration of him while he's palling around with La Comodora - time travel is fun!). He was sent here to this specific time carefully because his elder self wasn't there. He is there to be part of "the defeat of Progeny" which is ultimately successful and so he can claim the bounty.
- Is Progeny and Endling? He's not a sapient being that's part of a culture that needs preserving; Jansa would have no interest.
- Can Visionary make contact with its mind? Does Dark Visionary/Dark Mind get any ideas here about the existence of OblivAeon that might come in handy once she's removed from Visionary's body? In the time that this is being written, Cosmic Contest isn't being written/plotted out yet, so there's no opportunity to "look ahead" to that state. If a psychic were to try to read Progeny's "mind" there's simply not much there other than the mandate to "destroy". There's not really a mind there.
- What was Progeny's path? Did it have a specific destination? No specific end-point; the idea is just "destroy - yes all of it". It's there to pave the way for OblivAeon and soften things up a bit. It's drawn to places of powerful conflict/sources of power. Earth isn't the first "problem planet" for OblivAeon as he's generally able to just chuck a Progeny spark at them with the directive to wait, grow up, destroy and this has generally gone just fine with no hiccups until this time.
- Who named "Progeny" as it's got a very specific meaning? Did they know about OblivAeon and try to warn people about it? Was the name just a comic book narration that the heroes didn't know? Talked about earlier - when it first showed up the name was already known by the heroes as applied to this thing that the Prime Wardens lost to. Then in the PW book later on we got the story of how they arrived at that name by interacting with other people who knew more about it. They don't know about OblivAeon in particular, only that these things are the progeny of some far worse thing.
- What's the symbol on Progeny's head? Did the artist just make something up or does it have some real-world significance? It's a cool-looking design, but it still has meaning. It's meant to represent the "programming" that OblivAeon gave it - the three smaller circles connected to one another and the larger circle by a triangle is meant to be emblematic of OblivAeon's goal of collapsing different realities into one. It's a symbol of convergence. We'll leave it to you to ponder the significance of the gold Progeny's symbol being a single circle for the time being.
- K.N.Y.F.E. has experience with Progenies in other realities, are they all similar? Yeah. The gold final Scion version is a new development. While she's doing the Headhunter deal the ones she runs across are weaker, but still identifiable as the same kind of thing. Manifestations of the Will of a Singular Entity would tend to be fairly consistent everywhere (although Wager Master is protean by intention - he'll change himself up to play whatever game that reality presents, but he's weird).
- How long was it from his first appearance in comics until his defeat and head-launching? How long from then until the start of the OblivAeon event proper? It was 6 issues across 5 months (5 issues of FF with the finale in FFA #29), but then we get the backstory across 5 more months worth of PW. From the defeat until OblivAeon was around 2 years.
- Did Sentinel Comics readers feel that this was a bit of a rehash of the Deadline arc? No, they're very different stories. They were both "massive destruction" stories, but it's a difference between mindless destruction vs. a reluctant, very dark savior figure (sacrifice my own morality and kill 2/3 of you to save the remainder). There's also the difference in that Deadline is instigating natural disasters rather than personally wading into town and wrecking things. He's also a thinking being that can, in theory, be reasoned with.
- When Progeny eventually makes it back to OblivAeon, what does it convey? Kind of a false assumption. It leaves Earth with the "plan" to find somewhere to reform and build strength and then continue its job, K.N.Y.F.E. just doesn't ever let it do that. When she and Captain Cosmic do the black hole thing, OblivAeon does reach in to grab that spark of will and uses it to form the gold one eventually. Progeny doesn't need to "report" to OblivAeon, though - OblivAeon can pretty much just see through it already (or just watch stuff from his cosmic vantage point already).
- What were the heroes' reactions to Progeny showing up in Cosmic Contest and what did they think of Citizen Dawn taking it out on her own? The event itself was a bunch of weird nonsense, so having it show up was a concern, but no stranger than a lot of other stuff going on. The surprise was Dawn taking it down. This would have been a Progeny somewhere between the initial Earth encounter and the later Headhunter-era ones in terms of strength anyway. The round-1 matches would all have been going on at the same time anyway, so there wouldn't really have been much spectating going on, but the reader reaction was big.
- Progeny's power set is confusing - the game has it use two elemental Scion powers at once, but is that accurate or is it more like Omnitron swapping between platings? Does Progeny have a gender? It's an it. The point in the card game of it having two scion forms at a time is to indicate that it's always changing form, never just standing around as one thing and while it's moving from one to another it'll still have aspects of that previous one, but by the time it moves onto a third form the first would have dropped off completely (with the Advanced rules indicating that as the heat of battle rages it'll be going through this process faster so aspects of multiple forms overlap more).
- On "Obvious Futility" we see it mimic Mainstay, is that a reflexive action? Does Progeny copy other heroes and would that copy "fighting styles" or powers? Progeny's shtick is to change form to copy what's being done to it as a reflexive defensive measure, so when Mainstay punches it, it's copying him and his punch-centric attack strategy (note that this doesn't take anything from Mainstay). See also: when Progeny uses Scion of Frost it doesn't just get cold, but generates ice shards as part of its body. The Mainstay example is also more of an artistic choice to inform the reader of the intimidating nature of this thing - they still happen in-story as well, but a lot of stuff happens in comics because the reader needs to be able to see it happen given the lack of non-visual sensory input. Another examples are that if Visionary would lift something with telekinesis, the purple glow effects are there for the reader to show what's happening and, as mentioned elsewhere, Kismet's power has a green signature in the comic art, but neither of these are effects visible to the other characters.
- Miss Information's card "Diplomatic Envoy" has a figure in silhouette that looks like it could be Progeny - is it? Does Progeny's assault on Earth happen before or after the Miss Information stories? That does look like Progeny (although Progeny's not really one for the long tentacle thing), but we need to back up a bit. Argentium was captured during Vengeance after Guise blasted him with a fire extinguisher, he spent time in jail, breaks out, did some more villainous stuff and then was captured again a few years before the Miss Info plot. The heroes wind up sending him off into space as a means of dealing with him. During Miss Info, this hulking silvery thing shows up destroying things. Miss Info says that there's this "diplomatic envoy" from some other galaxy or something. The heroes go out and it turns out to be Argentium who's been powered up by some cosmic nonsense while out in space (explicitly not from OblivAeon from what the guys tell us here) and is kind of out of control - the heroes have to find a way to siphon the power off of him somehow to save him as well as everyone else. He's more or less back to normal, but not reformed (Guise's Christmas Special is after this point).
- Has Progeny appeared/starred in any Disparation stories? There's a few that Progeny shows up in (and generally looking the same as the extension of the will of a Singular Entity - although the animal- and plant-verse versions probably play along with the conceit somehow). There is one particular story that it "stars" in. One of the final multi-issue runs of Disparation (because the title continues to run during the OblivAeon event, which goes on for a long time - enough to justify two podcast episodes), we get a world where OblivAeon has planted this spark and, as Progeny draws on the energy of the planet itself, it also drew on the thoughts of the people inhabiting it (maybe this world is one where everybody has some small amount of latent psychic power or something - it's unclear). So, this Progeny has absorbed not only the power of the world, but something of its spirit. After it emerges, rather than just standing there working through the impetus to destroy that it gains from OblivAeon, it's also gained some small amount of free will - and a sense of identity. It chooses to, rather than destroying the world, to save it. Progeny fights against OblivAeon! It doesn't cross over to the "main" reality and so it won't be appearing in the Mission deck in the OblivAeon set or anything, but it was out there during the event, doing its thing.
- The Scion episode will talk about the futures of all 10 Scions (if they have one - "at least one Scion dies"). All they can really get into at this time is simply that Progeny returns as a Scion in the OblivAeon event, as mentioned previously.