Podcasts/Episode 64

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The Letters Page: Episode 64

Original Source

Primary Topic

Sentinel Comics Animated Universe

Intro

Let's get animated!

Show Notes:

Run Time: 2:29:40

There is a lot of stuff in this episode! The first season of the SCAU (Sentinel Comics Animated Universe) is made up of 26 episodes and a movie, and we get into ALL of that!

We talk about the episodes for over an hour, going pretty in-depth on many of them.

At around an hour and 28 minutes, we start in on the movie.

Then, at the one hour and 51 minute mark, we get to your questions.

Also! A future section, about two hours and 21 minutes in!

Voting on topics for May is up now on the Patreon! Vote and help decide what happens next on The Letters Page!

Characters Mentioned

Summary

Overview

  • They didn't really do a good job defining what was meant by the title here. This isn't the '80s-'90s show [where Unity was introduced] or any other precursor show - this is going to be about the later SC Animated Universe series [mentioned in the Gen Con live episode]. This started in the late-'00s and represents its own continuity. For those keeping score at home we have the main "Multiverse-era canon universe" that most comics took place in up until OblivAeon and is what SotM is largely concerned with, the "Sentinel Comics Universe" that was the continuation of comics immediately following OblivAeon that is also the continuity of the SC RPG and Sentinels of Freedom video game, the "Mist Storm Universe" of grittier comics started up several years after OblivAeon that is depicted in Sentinel Tactics and Prime War, the weirdness of Disparation being lots of different continuities as its whole point of existence, and now this "Sentinel Comics Animated Universe" that ran parallel to the comics (in addition to the meta-fictional publication universe that ties all of this together).
  • This SCAU consisted of animated series punctuated by theatrical movie releases. It kicks off in September 2008 with The Freedom Five for a season of episodes followed by a movie (that was eventually broken into four parts for later television release during reruns of the show). It's your standard 22-minute (30 with commercials) show, with 26 weekly episodes in the season (although with some surprises), normally airing on Tuesday nights.
  • This series was done in-house by Sentinel Comics rather than being farmed/licensed out to some other production company as had been done for previous shows. They had a specific continuity in mind for what they wanted to do (although not keeping in-continuity with the comics).

Episode 1 - "Freedom Five, Part 1" - 9/23/08

  • The show opens with the Freedom Five against the Matriarch, with the Shrieker still on the team in the fifth slot. Shrieker is doing good stuff here - she's able to use her powers to disorient not only the birds themselves, but also the Matriarch (and therefore her control of the birds slips). This does have the effect of making her into the primary target for the Matriarch who sends a lot of birds at her, ultimately driving her off a cliff to her presumed death. This show is not pulling its punches and will be pushing envelopes where it can.
  • We are introduced to Ryan Frost here as well, with the whole cryo-chamber, refused to be part of the team thing.

Episode 2 - "Freedom Five, Part 2" - 9/30/08

  • Matriarch faces off the against the remaining members of the team and is getting the upper hand, but then Absolute Zero shows up.
  • Now we get more of Ryan Frost's backstory leading to his decision to come help and eventual victory for the heroes.
  • Absolute Zero is much more sarcastic in this incarnation than he ever was in the comics, although a bit less cynical. "More edge to what he's saying, but a more likeable person."

Episode 3 - "The Glowing Red Eyes" - 10/7/08

  • Mostly a throw-away episode. People are acting strangely, the heroes investigate at which point they discover that the people are actually robots (if you ask a question they're not set to answer their eyes will start glowing and they attack). Lots of robot punching, but serves to set up the team dynamic and also individual character personalities/shtick (e.g. Tachyon is really fast and a scientist or the team not really working until Legacy does his leadership thing).
  • The episode does end with a black screen that has a red lens/eye flicker on as some foreshadowing.

Episode 4 - "The Baron of Destruction" - 10/14/08

  • Opens with Legacy (by himself for unstated reasons) fighting Baron Blade on a Mobile Defense Platform followed by the familiar story of Blade using the Regression Serum to defeat him.
  • Blade's plot here is to get to Megalopolis, extend the MDP's force field over the whole city, and then ignite the atmosphere within it (apparently not considering the fact that he'll be in there at the time too - this kind of disregard for his personal safety in his plans is par for the course with him).
  • From here it's the classic FF vs. Baron Blade fight with him ultimately getting away in an escape pod.

Episode 5 - "Heroes Hunted" - 10/21/08

  • A shadowy figure hunts and takes down heroes (brief cameos of the Naturalist, K.N.Y.F.E., and Fashion).
  • Action moves to the FF HQ (much more like the original comics HQ than Freedom Tower). There's a power failure, a shot rings out and Legacy is incapacitated immediately, and the remaining members are in trouble as they're now being hunted.
  • This episode introduces Aminia Twain as well - she comes out concerned for Legacy but the others send her off to the safe room for her own safety.
  • Over the rest of the episode the attacker manages to take down AZ by disabling his suit when we see that the assailant is just some woman with purple hair and a lot of guns/traps/gadgets. Expatriette is hunting them for some reason. She takes down Bunker and Tachyon as well, so it's just her and the Wraith.
  • Lots of verbal sparring here too - Expat can't find any weaknesses to exploit (because that's kind of Wraith's deal) and starts getting into things with her about why is she helping these horrible powered people who obviously look down on her, etc. (although it's pretty clear here that they need Wraith and she's never felt that about the team). Wraith wins, locks Expat up in their holding cell, gets the others back on their feet.

Episode 6 - "The Root of All Evil" - 10/28/08

  • Lots of vines growing up out of the sewers of Megalopolis, breaking through concrete and generally causing a lot of damage.
  • FF go down to figure out what the source is and fight their way through the vines and roots and eventually find Man-Grove, which they assume must be what's behind it. At that time, Haka (whom the heroes know) also shows up and warns them off of attacking.
  • Flashback to show Haka's backstory and his general outcast status no matter how much he tries to help the people around him.
  • Back to the present, he goes into how Man-Grove is also misunderstood - it's just come into being (well, as more than the grove of trees it was originally) - and how the heroes need to understand it rather than punching it. The root of all evil is prejudice. The episode ends with Haka and Man-Grove walking off together with Haka reassuring it that he will help it figure things out/find a place for it.

Episode 7 - "Run of Luck" - 11/4/08

  • The Megalopolis Museum of Fine Art is putting on a special exhibit of Viscount Archibald Kalheed's collection which included three large dice (like 2-3 inches on a side) made of diamonds with black pearls inset as the pips. Kismet breaks in to steal the collection and the dice in particular catch her eye.
  • Now, given her power set, there's a large amount of collateral damage happening as a result of her break-in. The Freedom Five show up, but we also get introduced to a character working as a custodian at the museum at the moment, Pete Riske. During the fight he's running around trying to protect the various pieces of art that are in danger (he's already on thin ice with the management) - he largely fails in his attempts to save the art, but in the process he also manages to incapacitate Kismet by happenstance. He gets fired, but in the post-fight-scene wrap up with the heroes he makes some comment about not wanting to be too much of a setback for them.

Episode 8 - "Sunrise, Part 1" - 11/11/08

  • In a trope that definitely comes up in the comics too, but never gets shown, Citizen Dawn shows up on every TV in the world and announces that she's in charge now. Everybody has 12 hours to get with the program or be destroyed.
  • As the FF is discussing how bad of an idea this is, they get an alert from the holding cells. Their purple-haired prisoner from Episode 5 wants to talk to them. She knows who Dawn is and what resources she has (volcanic island base in the arctic, dinosaurs, Citizens of the Sun, etc.) and how to take her down, but they'll need her help. They ask if she's a Citizen of the Sun if she knows so much at which point she scoffs; "I'm the opposite of a Citizen of the Sun. I'm Expatriette and Citizen Dawn is my mother." She's even willing to come back to the cell after - she just wants a shot at Dawn.
  • The 6 of them go to Insula Primalis (the plane gets shot down by some Citizens, so they crash in the jungle). They have to fight some dinosaurs as they work their way through the jungle, eventually coming in sight of the Citadel, but also of dozens of Citizens. Things look bleak for the heroes.

Episode 9 - "Sunrise, Part 2" - 11/18/08

  • After the "previously on The Freedom Five" recap we open with the heroes already in the middle of a fight with some Citizens. Eventually Dawn steps out on a platform above the fray and rains down a Devastating Aurora, and walks back into the Citadel. In the process the heroes are in rough shape, but Expat has managed to slip away in the confusion.
  • The heroes fight their way into the Citadel. Here's where we start getting cameos from Citizens we'd actually recognize (Hammer & Anvil, the Seasons, Blood Sweat & Tears, etc.). They eventually reach the throne room and Dawn herself. She taunts them in a "you made it this far, but what do you think you'll actually be able to accomplish against me?" sort of way. That's when Expat pops up behind her with a gun to her head, "I just wanted a chance to get the drop on you."
  • Verbal confrontation, ultimatum of "you've lost, call off your plan", Expat doesn't want to kill Dawn as she's a better person than that (to which Dawn replies that refusing to kill her is what makes her a worse person - and then she uses her power to "set off" the volcano). The FF narrowly escape the erupting volcano/collapsing volcano lair, but we don't see anybody else do so.

Episode 10 - "Stranger in a Strange World" - 11/25/08

  • A space cop, Officer Clutch (he's got a badge and everything; he's definitely a real space cop and not an imposter), comes to Earth on the hunt for a fugitive, one M’kk Dall’ton, and approaches the FF to get their help tracking him down. They agree to work with him.
  • The FF find M'kk first and hear his story about being refugees and whatnot. The jig being up, Greazer blows his cover and activates the traps he's got set up to incapacitate the heroes. Tempest then has to fight on his own until the heroes recover and eventually drive Greazer off (it "not being worth the money" at this point). The heroes basically give Tempest and his people the go-ahead to stay on Earth. Tempest becomes something of a side-character in the show from this point (much like Aminia and Setback have kind of been in the background since their introductions).

Episode 11 - "Fires of the Underworld" - 12/2/08

  • Some importance here, but largely a filler episode. Earthquakes shake Megalopolis and lava erupts from beneath it, whole blocks are swallowed by sinkholes. Of course the heroes investigate and discover Magmaria.
  • Baron Blade has convinced the Magmarians that the surface world is a danger to them, and that they need to preemptively attack (and this area where Megalopolis is in particular). While they do that, he's off boring into the center of the Earth on his own (to harness the energy there to power his doomsday devices).
  • The heroes get the Magmarians to stop and start getting them and the city back to normal, but in the process Baron Blade's face gets badly burned by some lava.

Episode 12 - "'Tis the Season" - 12/9/08

  • The obligatory Christmas episode. We see little vignettes with the team spending time with their families (Wraith and her parents, Legacy with his wife and daughter, Tachyon with her wife, and Bunker with his sister). AZ is sad because he doesn't have anybody (well, he's sad just as a default, but he's got this in particular here) and is just walking the streets of Megalopolis at night, feeling sorry for himself. He does come across a toy store that's being burgled, though.
  • The burglar happens to be a very large man in a hippo suit, who's in there stealing the toys (not the money). AZ freezes him in place and is like, "Why are you stealing toys, Hippo?" Turns out that he gives toys to kids at the orphanage he grew up in (apparently meaning that he knocks over a toy store every year to get them). AZ is feeling generous, so they take a look at what he's got in the bag already. As they leave the store we get a shot of the cash register with an I.O.U. from the Freedom Five.
  • There's a montage of Hippo and AZ giving the toys to the kids, playing, singing carols, etc. The episode ends with Hippo thanking AZ for what he did for him and then holding out his wrists. AZ: "Well this is embarrassing, I left my handcuffs in my other suit. I'll go get them. Just wait here." Hippo: "Wait, what? Seriously?" AZ: "Well, it's Christmas right?" fin

Episode 13 - "The Fabric of Despair, Part 1" - 12/16/08

  • FF vs. the Cult of Gloom and Gloomweaver. The Cult is there doing their occult stuff, summoning weird demony things and eldritch blasts of energy and whatnot. Argent Adept shows up with a "We have to hold back the tides of Gloom!", that they need to keep Gloomweaver from entering this realm. They ultimately fail to prevent this and the episode ends with the ground cracking open and Gloomweaver laughing his glowing-skull head off as he manifests fully. The show then goes on hiatus over the holidays.

Episode 14 - "The Fabric of Despair, Part 2" - 1/6/09

  • Argent Adept is facing off against Gloomweaver. He's got a bubble of energy around himself and his instruments floating around. "I can't hold him much longer!" at which point Nightmist arrives on the scene. She appears out of mist and it's not clear at first if she's evil or not.
  • She's an expert on this stuff, and she lets them know the most important thing is to not let Gloomweaver into our realm (whoops!). Ok, so the next thing to do is to enter his realm, which they might not be able to return from. She opens a portal to the Realm of Discord and they all go through except AA who stays behind to keep GW contained as well as he can.
  • This episode gets real trippy as they let the animation crew go wild with the RoD weirdness. The heroes fight through monsters and other perils, eventually reaching GW's throne. He's not there (obviously), but they can see the veil of reality where he's crossed through. Nightmist's plan isn't to defeat him as he's too powerful, but to make him think that they're stealing his power somehow. They set things up, and Nightmist goes to sit on the throne, but as soon as she sets a hand on it Gloomy tears a hole back into the RoD to comes back through to stop her. She's siphoning off his power and the FF need to make it back into reality and seal the way behind them - they call out to Nightmist to come with them and she says she'll be right there. After the team makes it through, they turn to get Nightmist's attention so she knows it's her turn - at which point she reaches out and slams the portal shut with her still on the wrong side, but trapping GW there with her. AA wonders where the mysterious mist mage went and then explains that nobody survives the Realm of Discord. A Pyrrhic victory for the heroes as one of them is lost.

Episode 15 - "Science and Progress" - 1/13/09

  • A lighter episode than the last few. This one opens with a big, ex-army guy, Steven Graves, and socialite Cassandra Lilya who have been given weapons/tools from this Raymond Mantey guy who works at this place called RevoCorp (we've seen the logo here and there, but this is the first story actually dealing with them). They're robbing a bank. Steve's gear gives him some kind of momentum-gathering ability (like, he can run forward and punch through a wall without hurting his hand) and Cassandra has some little anti-grav pads that she can use to deflect projectiles and other small force-field like effects.
  • It's a pretty straightforward episode. They're robbing a bank complete with hostage situation inside as the cops arrive, then the FF shows up and fight the villains. The heroes win, the bad guys go to jail, but the heroes are starting to get suspicious of this weird stuff coming out of RevoCorp. The epilogue has Raymond lamenting the people he outfitted being captured, but noting that he's got more where that came from as the camera pans past more gear that comics readers would recognize as belonging to other minor villains (Revenant or Desert Eagle for example).

Episode 16 - "Cold War" - 1/20/09

  • This episode is the first time (other than things like flashbacks, but even those are mostly in the recent past) that the show takes us away from the "present". The whole thing is animated in sepia tone and whatnot to look more era-appropriate. It's a story of America's Greatest Legacy as a post-WWII agent fighting alongside a Soviet hero, Proletariat. Even if their countries are at odds, they'll still work together against this new threat to both of them: this guy Fyodor Ramonat who's got war Zeppelins and walking tanks and other dangerous weapons (even having coopted a fair amount of Nazis he's got working for him).
  • They ultimately succeed in defeating the villain, but while Legacy gets to return home, he mourns the loss of his comrade-in-arms, Proletariat, who got hit by Fyodor's ice beam and was frozen solid.

Episode 17 - "Baptism by Fire" - 1/27/09

  • Fanatic shows up asking the FF for help against this evil "god" calling himself Ra who's burninating the countryside. Much like Haka's appearance, Fanatic is treated as a known entity by the heroes.
  • This is another rather straightforward episode of fighting, with Ra much more like his Golden Age incarnation, a guy who solves problems by setting them on fire. He's treated very much like a villain here, but in his defense Fanatic does just rush in with the smite first, ask questions never thing which couldn't have helped his state of mind.
  • Anyway, as the fight goes on Tachyon is taking readings and she finds some weird quantum nonsense around him like there's two people there. They start approaching this as a situation where there's a person there who's possessed - eventually getting the Staff of Ra away from him and then calming him down, eventually turning him back into Dr. Blake Washington Jr. He had apparently only just found this staff thing and it turned him into this rampaging fire thing - he thanks them for turning him back. The heroes keep the Staff.

Episode 18 - "The Bloodsworn Colosseum" - 2/3/09

  • The Colosseum and Kaargra show up in Megalopolis and press the heroes into fighting - complete with all of the weirdo alien gladiators you know and love, but there's also this human guy in there. Captain Cosmic is Bloodsworn! He's been trapped there for as long as he can remember. So, the plan becomes not only "fight so that we can get out of here" but also "save this Hugh guy".
  • They fight through everybody until they can challenge Kaargra herself. She claims here that if someone were to defeat her, they'd get the Colosseum, but the heroes just want freedom for themselves and Captain Cosmic. It's got to be one-on-one, though, so Tachyon steps up to be the one to face her.
  • Now, if Kaargra could land a single punch on Tachyon that would end the fight, but (much like the comics prior to OblivAeon when they try to rein her in a bit) the show is kind of has a blind spot in how it treat's Tachyon's power; it just kind of shows speed blur before putting her wherever she needs to be - no real indication of any kind of limits or downsides to her speed, which makes her crazy effective/powerful (again, matching the time period in the comics as writers are fully exploiting the implications of her power set). Tachyon just dismantles Kaargra and as a prize she gets the freedom of the FF, of Captain Cosmic, and a promise that the Colosseum will leave Earth forever.
  • Captain Cosmic declines to stay on Earth, stating that he has to find his brother.

Episode 19 - "Nightmare World" - 2/10/09

  • This powerful psychic, Visionary, tears her way from her own reality into this one to defeat the local version of herself who's this evil, destructive force. It's also a little girl - the Visionary and Dreamer stories are rolled into one here (with the Dreamer's badness being presented much more as something "evil" rather than just "accidental").
  • Visionary, with the help of the FF, is able to neutralize the Dreamer but then have to rein in Visionary who wants to kill her so that she can't do this again. This leaves Vis a bit more at odds with the FF at the end of this than might otherwise have been the case.

Episode 20 - "The Doctor is In" - 2/17/09

  • The Head Doctor story (for the comics version of the story, see the Parse episode - although she's not involved in the animated story). He's siphoning mind power from victims, the heroes defeat him, but the episode epilogue does show the origin of Highbrow as the comic story did, although this one kind of leap-frogs straight to the Ft. Adamant-era version of her, skipping the Vengeance-era one.

Episode 21 - "F.I.L.T.E.R." - 2/24/09

  • F.I.L.T.E.R. shows up to capture Tempest, who's currently staying at FFHQ. The task force that shows up here is led by Sergeant Steel, but only one member of the team is somebody we'd normally associate with F.I.L.T.E.R. - although she's going by Becky Blast (this is actually the first time that name is used in any continuity). So its the two of them, the Adhesivist, Radioactivist, and Equity. The people behind the show weren't planning on the F.I.L.T.E.R. task force being a recurring group, so rather than have the more standard team they included a bunch of other recognizable characters they didn't have other plans for to make it a bit more superhero-like instead of just military.
  • The heroes fight the F.I.L.T.E.R. agents off, but in the course of the fight they learn that F.I.L.T.E.R. has captured some other Maerynians, and so Tempest goes off to deal with that/free them.

Episode 22 - "Playing Dice with the Cosmos" - 3/3/09

  • Adam's favorite episode.
  • In a cameo-heavy episode, Wager Master shows up at FFHQ and just starts turning people's powers against them - Legacy becomes old and frail and senses danger everywhere, Tachyon can only move in slow motion and is extremely dumb, AZ is on fire all the time while Ra is an icicle, Wraith is bad at everything - everybody we've seen to this point in the show makes an appearance just so we can see this gratuitous montage of how WM is messing with them. They even play around with having the voice actors switch up parts for an extra level of weirdness.
  • Furthering the continuity of the show, Pete Riske is now a janitor at the HQ building and he wanders into the fight with his headphones on and Wager Master makes him the opposite of himself too - this being a huge mistake as now Pete Riske is really good at everything and only makes mistakes very infrequently. He steps up as a hero to stop WM, who tries and fails to undo this because he's make Pete just too lucky. Now as Setback, he defeats WM who finally reverts everything he's done as the only way to get out of this situation before disappearing.

Episode 23 - "Singularity" - 3/10/09

  • All of the FF HQ computers glitch out. This is similar to what happened in the Expat episode, only this time all of the defense systems are turned against the Freedom Five. They have to shut down/hard reboot everything, even the AZ and Bunker suits have to be put in a lockdown mode, taking Ryan and Tyler out of whatever fight is going on. Ultimately, the heroes get things under control and as they're (carefully, one at a time) bringing systems back online, Tachyon finds references in the code to something called Omnitron.

Episode 24 - "A Day in the Life" - 3/17/09

  • Christopher's favorite episode.
  • The least actiony episode in the season. We get more of the heroes' supporting casts and the team acting as a "family" at the HQ. Just doing stuff together other than fighting crime (AZ/Tachyon book club, Wraith and Bunker fixing a car - with inklings of their relationship, Legacy's backyard barbecue). Just a nice episode.
  • The show pans way out, pulling back until it becomes more like a grainy CRT screen. Then we see who's watching it - Baron Blade.

Episode 25 - "The Vengeful Five, Part 1" - 3/24/09

  • Baron Blade assembles his team, getting Steven Graves and Cassandra Lilya out of jail and giving them new, better gear (and in Steve's case, powers - he's Fright Train now). Ermine gets active stealth camo. We get some backstory of Krystal Lee (whom we haven't seen before in the show), having been an assistant of Meredith Stinson years ago and got fired/stole some gear. Then Proletariat gets thawed out and manipulated by Blade to fight the capitalists. So we wind up with the Vengeful Five, mostly looking like their comics counterpart, only updated slightly to fit the decade-later aesthetic, only Baron Blade is using his power armor here (kind of somewhere between the original one and what it winds up looking like in Tactics).
  • Most of this one is in that team-gathering stuff. The episode ends as the fight with the FF just gets underway, only showing enough to establish that the villains have the upper hand.

Episode 26 - "The Vengeful Five, Part 2" - 3/31/09

  • This is the biggest fight of the series to date, and the worst-looking one for the heroes. By the first commercial break the heroes have lost and are going into hiding (good ol' Aminia Twain manages to send in a drop ship for evac before it's too late) as the villains take over Megalopolis.
  • The heroes hole up in HQ, under siege as Megalopolis is overrun by Blade Battalion members. They have to come up with a new plan to get out of this situation. The plan has two parts: getting help from everybody else they've encountered over the season (so we get a cool shot of all of them coming in fresh to the fight and managing to tie up all of the mooks), and then the FF head to city hall where the VF have set up. The heroes come in and the fight begins, then they do the standard "switch enemy" strategy - Bunker/Baron Blade (battle of the mechanical suits), Wraith/Friction (Wraith is used to working with a much faster speedster and outsmarts her), AZ/Ermine (Ermine steals part of his suit, he just uses that as a new place to blast her from), Tachyon/Fright Train (kind of like the Kaargra fight again, only Kaargra is at least pretty nimble while FT just charges), Legacy/Proletariat (Fight comes down to a chat about his father working with him and that Blade is manipulating him).
  • Blade's suit eventually gets disabled, but he's got plenty of contingencies (of course) and it winds up being him against the FF. He's eventually defeated and captured.

Freedom Five: The Movie, June 2009

  • Released theatrically first, then in reruns of the show as a 4-episode arc.
  • Opens with the FF fighting some tech-based villains: Desert Eagle, The Hippo (now with a suit with technological upgrades - see the Hippocalypse look from Sentinel Tactics), and Ray Manta (first time we see him in-costume in the animated version - he's also got a bunch of drones). They're trying to take over some of the city's infrastructure, but the heroes defeat them. This is a decently big set-piece for the movie that is there to introduce the heroes (individually and how they work as a team) in case anybody in the audience wasn't already familiar with them from the comics or TV show.
  • Back at HQ, the heroes are discussing how they need to do something about RevoCorp given the gear that these bad guys were using. However, just as they're getting started on working that problem (research, etc.) the base is rocked by explosions. The maintenance bay for all of the Bunker suits, Tachyon's research lab, the lobby, all are shown being destroyed. The heroes get out, but not unscathed and their base is now in ruins. They also find Aminia's glasses, but not her - it seems that she died in the attack. The assumption is that RevoCorp is behind this tragedy, but where to go to regroup? Wraith has bases to spare, so they head to one she's got set up under the Montgomery Industries branch office in Megalopolis ("We didn't know this existed." "Yeah, that's the point").
  • They settle in, checking supplies, doing some diagnostics on AZ's suit, and Tyler gets in the Bunker suit to run through some maintenance - which promptly boots up, seals him inside, and starts firing concussion grenades into the room. Nothing Tyler does can stop the suit from attacking his friends. AZ's suit starts reporting catastrophic failure despite Ryan still feeling fine, but he can't override that either and it goes into emergency shutdown, immobilizing it. While the Wraith has her simple tools still at her disposal, none of her more high-tech gear is working either.
  • Between the three heroes who are able to act at all, they manage to damage the Bunker suit enough to stop it and get Tyler out. Tachyon then manages to at least get AZ's suit set to at least let him move again (but that's it, none of the other functions are active). Wraith manages to get her computer to come online again (not the rest of her gear) and starts tracing where these overriding signals are coming from - a RevoCorp facility near Rook City. They hop into one of Wraith's jets and head off, only to have it immediately nosedive into the river. Everyone blacks out.
  • They wake up in a dark, warehouse-like space. They eventually recognize that they're actually back in the subbasement of their HQ - basically just storage at this point (it's got a bunch of old animatronic figures from the old superhero museum and other junk from their past). Everybody's still in the kind of shape they were in at the end of the fight against the Bunker suit (meaning that Tyler Vance is just there with his sidearm). As they take stock of their situation, a 30-ft. tall figure shows up - female, long brown hair, blue dress with an 'i' insignia, stone full-face mask. It's Miss Information! Nobody in this continuity has any idea who this is (and her VotM look isn't in the comics yet, so this is a first appearance of sorts). She taunts them, the heroes attack (and she's solid, they can actually punch her and everything) - eventually they knock her over, but in such a way that she lands on them. As she lands, the figure bursts into stone and dust.
  • The heroes find that they're unharmed by this, but as the dust clears each is alone and in some new location. Each gets conflicts tailored to their "inner demons" or something. Legacy has to fight his (disapproving) father. Wraith fights a Spite (also a new figure in the SCAU - but while they don't want to get into the specifics of what Spite is/did they hint at it), taunting that she's been unable to stop him. AZ sees friends and loved ones, but as they get near him they freeze solid and shatter, eventually leaving him alone in a frozen wasteland. Tyler Vance is in an empty space until a Bunker suit lands next to him and starts attacking him, so he has to fight it with only his sidearm. For Tachyon, her wife is on the monorail tracks and Tachyon is trying to rush to save her and finds that she's not fast enough (slow-motion sequence of her calculating her top speed vs. how far she needs to go - stuff like that).
  • We come back around to Legacy who's not handling the verbal abuse from his father during the fight, but eventually he snaps out of it - he remembers times when his father was disappointed in him and this isn't his father, the imposter has overplayed its hand and the illusion is shattered. Legacy finds himself back in the storage room - he sees the other heroes running around dealing with their scenarios (and not handling things well), but he can't snap them out of it either. He returns to the center of the room and cries out "Freedom Five!" - this call to action gets through to them in their delusions and frees them.
  • Miss Information (now normal-sized) shows up and tries to reestablish her illusions, but she can't overcome the power of teamwork and it fails. Since she can't take control of their minds again, she just uses her control of the environment instead - activating the various automated defenses, animatronic figures, etc.
  • New fight scene - Tyler puts down some animatronic raptors as he rushes for something, Tachyon's running around the perimeter to pick up speed, Wraith just sort of disappears (as she does), Legacy flies up to get a vantage point to direct the others. It's a neat set-piece by the creative team to showcase just how good of a team these people are. Eventually we see a (clearly) old Bunker suit come crashing into the scene, smashing up some of the robots. Tachyon's building up some electrical charge and manages to generate something like an EMP with it, shutting everything down. AZ freezes his suit's gauntlets to make them brittle, smashes them on the ground to expose his hands, and goes to town in a reckless manner (form ice spikes over his hands, attack something, break a spike to allow him to blast something else before a spike reforms, repeat - this is not something he'll be able to keep up for long, though - one of the most impressive "bad-ass" demonstrations we've seen of what AZ can do to this point in history, however). Miss Info sees things are not going her way and nopes out of there - as she rounds a corner in her escape she runs into the Wraith who's been waiting for her. Punch to the face, villain knocked to the ground, mask breaks, Aminia Twain's identity revealed, Wraith and others shocked at the betrayal, etc. The villain monologues about the heroes' shortcomings and when they move to actually capture her she throws out a "If I'm going down, I'm taking you with me" style taunt and activates a self-destruct of the building, bringing it crashing down on everyone present.
  • External shot of the ruined building site/new crater. As camera zooms in the hand of the old Bunker suit breaks through and uncovers an ice bubble that AZ formed to shied the remainder of the team, although Miss Info is nowhere to be found. Wrap-up scene with the team hanging out somewhere, somber but glad to have made it through as a team. Final shot pans over the blueprints on the table for some new building called Freedom Tower. Roll credits.
  • Post-credits scene: the new building is in the process of construction and people standing around have the blueprints pulled up on tablet devices. We see one of these tablets flicker to show that red eye/lens thing briefly from way back in episode 3.

Questions

  • Because of the confusion about which series this episode was going to be about, they got a lot of questions about the '90s-era show that introduced Unity. They're holding onto those questions for a later date (possibly an Editor's Note). Stuff like that show (or even Golden- and Silver-Age comics stories) are parts of the "history of Sentinel Comics" category of things - they gloss over them a lot as they're there in the background, but aren't necessarily as central to what they're really trying to build here.
  • Animated superhero shows tend to have "that one episode" that goes as dark/scary as the censors will let them, what would qualify as that episode for this show? The Gloomweaver episodes (implied human sacrifice on top of everything else already discussed) and the Dreamer episode (nightmare Projections, plus Visionary advocating child-murder) are both pretty dark.
  • Are there films in-continuity with the show, or at least iconic voice actors who get brought back to reprise their roles? Intentionally in-continuity and so the voice actors are consistent. Earlier shows (like from the '80s and '90s) often had voice work that was so on-point that they either got those actors back when they could or used their work as the target for what the current actors should be going for.
  • Do the animated heroes show up in the OblivAeon crisis? There are some massive group shots and there might be cameos of the animated versions in the back somewhere (so you might have the SCAU Wraith next to the X-Treme Tempest and Golden-Age Captain Cosmic - everybody in in those shots), but there were no explicit actions showcasing those characters in particular in the comics.
  • Can Adam do the voice of the animated AZ, Bunker, or Legacy? [time code: 1:56:52 for Tyler Vance, but they note that he should be a bit more baritone]. None of those three are really the ones that Adam is best suited for - maybe America's Greatest Legacy would be better, he can sort of fit AZ [1:57:22 for the sort of scratchy, depressed thing that he's always done for AZ] but it always needs the modulation that the suit would impart to his voice.
  • How popular was the show with kids/parents? How faithful was it to the source material? What kind of animation style did it have? Very popular with kids, even more-so with teens/young adults (who were also the primary market for the merch). Parents could watch it with their kids. It plays things mostly serious with limited "kid humor" - most of it was written for universal appeal. It was fairly faithful to the themes and types of stories of the comics, but they're definitely their own things. The animation style is hard to describe, obviously, but think somewhere between Disney-style 2d animation and the Bruce Timm style. Crisp, clean, "hand-drawn" animation style (with some CG modeling used for backgrounds and whatnot).
  • Does the series have a theme song, does it have lyrics, and will we ever get to hear it? Yes, no, and no (unless somebody were to make it - Jean-Marc's theme for the video game is more what they intended for the sound of the '90s show, but something along those lines updated for the times).
  • How much studio/network meddling was done in the show? There was oversight, but not "meddling" because the show was made by Sentinel Comics. There are Standards and Practices guidelines, but they can work within that framework. At first Expat had regular guns, before having them swapped out with laser guns and stun weapons that you more often see in kids' entertainment - it's harder to have her transition to a hero if she's been killing people in the show. The writers had a fair amount of leeway, but they're also not dumb and know what should be off-limits here.
  • Unity had catchphrases ("Bot-tastic!", "Sparks!"), does anybody else? Not in this show - the '90s series referenced was more friendly to that kind of thing, but this one isn't the sort to have them.
  • Was the show taken seriously by the Sentinel Comics company or just a quick cash grab to sell more action figures (and how awesome was the Ansel G. Moreau action figure [editor's note: he wrote this letter])? Well, is anything released commercially not a cash grab? The show was made to make money, and therefore there was a lot of merch for it, but the creative teams behind it were serious about the stories they were telling (granted, most episodes introduce new characters to merchandise). Ambuscade did not appear in Season 1 and so there wasn't one!
  • Were there any romance, comedy, or romantic-comedy episodes? No specific romance in season 1 - there's acknowledgement that romantic relationships exist (there were hints at the Bunker/Wraith pairing in episode 24 and the movie - their comics relationship was just kind of getting started around this time). Comedy shows up in basically every episode somewhere, but the Wager Master episode was explicitly a funny episode and the Kismet one was likewise pretty slapstick. The more serious ones (like the Gloomweaver ones) has some dark humor (see the thing about Nightmist saying that Gloomweaver has to be kept out of our world after he's already done so).
  • Did less kid-friendly characters like K.N.Y.F.E., Expat, or Spite not appear in the show or did they get watered down in some way? All three appear in some fashion. Expat has the most screen-time, but definitely gets watered down in the process (non-lethal weapons from the start). Spite is the least altered in his presence, but his "I'm a murderer who's murdered people" is all in the past rather than on-screen.
  • Cartoon villains in the '80s and '90s tended to be goofy/inept, was Baron Blade like that? Who was the main arc villain? Baron Blade shows up the most - he's in both an early and the final episodes, so there's an arc there, but the movie is set up over the course of the season and doesn't involve him. It's not like if you watched the show but not the movie you'd feel like something was missing, though you'd likely start season 2 wondering where Aminia went. The villains weren't played for laughs (well, other than Wager Master and Hippo who are that way be design).
  • Any controversial episodes that ran once and never again? Not in this series - by this point they know what they're doing. There's certainly stuff from previous shows that would have crossed a line (if in hindsight if nothing else), but the closest we get here is one that got heavily edited after the initial airing (no official home-media releases have the original version either): the "Cold War" episode had swastikas all over the place in the original airing, which were redone with another design so as to not run afoul of any rules regarding Nazi symbolism (say, in Germany for the international release) and to respond to viewer backlash.
  • Most cartoons are there to sell toys, is that the case here? Which characters? Were there "play sets" or other weird merch? Any sell notably better than others? By this point everybody involved is good at not only telling stories in an animated show, but also in knowing what to make merch from. There were lots of action figures and also sets built around specific episodes (with accessories that could then be used with any of the characters - if you want Wraith's hair dryer you've got to buy this set that has a bunch of other stuff you don't care about - or pay even more for just the hair dryer via eBay). What they don't do is sell you a billion Wraith figures - there might be a few versions of the heroes, but they recognize that once you've got them you've got them and they move on to other stuff. The trick they pull, though, is to split the main cast into different sets, so if you want the whole team you're going to wind up paying for a lot more than just 5 characters. An aspect of the publishing universe that they don't get to mention much is the line of merch that is attempted but fails utterly - some fly-by-night company tries to make a table-top card game based on the characters and stories of Sentinel Comics multiverse era. Nobody buys this dumb thing. It does so poorly that it almost becomes a collectors' item.
  • Did any character (other than Unity) get introduced in a cartoon and then imported back into the comics? No characters are invented for this series that wind up in the comics later, but several developments of existing characters are introduced here first (Miss Info's VotM look, Hippocalypse, "Becky Blast", etc.).
  • Did the show alter character personalities and, if so, did any of that wind up in the comics? Captain Cosmic was this grizzled gladiator type (rather than "Space Dad") and this is a bit closer to his personality near the end of the multiverse era as he deals with this brother more. Dreamer's very different. Miss Info is different in that they simplified her origin - she's just a bad guy here rather than having the whole alt-reality explanation for her turning against the heroes. AZ was a bit different as mentioned up top, but his personality in the comics was kind of in flux at the time anyway.
  • Any character costumes different in the show that influenced their design in the comics? The show outfits were simplified versions of the existing ones [presumably to make the job of animating them easier]. A few decisions on things like detail Bunker and AZ's suits that were retained in that process because they've been a constant kind of became a list of things that comics artists then made a point of also retaining.
  • Can you give us a rendition of the show's theme song? [2:19:59 - Christopher starts in (like a second or so) with the chip-tune video game theme while Adam starts on the "Reading Letters to You" song which prompts a discussion of just what the theme of this show is.] They can't/won't do the cartoon theme. If Jean-Marc puts one together they might bring in Paul and Craig to do a barbershop version.

Future

  • Everything covered in this podcast episode can be considered "Phase 1" of the Sentinel Comics Animated Universe. Phase 2 would consist of season 2 of The Freedom Five, the first seasons of the Prime Wardens and Dark Watch shows (which are shown on different types of television and so have different length seasons), and two movies that come out in the spring and summer of that year (but they're not spoiling the titles). There's at least a Phase 3, but that's even further off.