The Letters Page: Episode 73
An episode about America's Newest Legacy!
Run Time: 1:17:20
(Sorry about this one being 12 hours late - we ran into a technical issue this morning and had to do a bunch of extra work today to get this one up. Thanks for bearing with us, everyone!)
We begin with the history of Pauline Parsons in Sentinel Comics, starting with her first appearance in the '50s! We go on from there through the rest of her appearances, and how her story - and the story of the Legacy line - change across the decades of publication history.
Even given all that, we are treading Legacy stories you're at least somewhat familiar with, for the most part, so it's only a bit after the 23 minute mark that we get to your questions! And we start off with a "song". Yeah. Let's go with "song".
As we talk about around the one hour and thirteen minute mark, earlier today was the first ever episode of Sentinel Comics LIVE! It went great, and we had a decent pile of folks show up to watch! (Here's the videos saved by Twitch. They got broken into part 1, part 2, and the bulk of it in part 3 for some reason. We'll be uploading the whole thing to our YouTube account in high quality at some point soon.) Join us next Tuesday at 1 PM Central.
Also, if you're a Letters Page Patreon supporter, the voting for July's episodes is up now! Go and vote - let your voice be heard!
- Grand Warlord Voss
- Emily Parsons
- Iron Legacy
- Jessica LaPorte
- Marissa Snow
- Jason Wong
- Iron Curtain
- Miss Information
- Absolute Zero
- Baron Blade
- The Freedom Five/Sentinels of Freedom
- Aeon Girl
- First appearance, June '55 in issue #182 of Justice Comics when she was born. Her father had been the active Legacy for a few years at this point and the history of the family was detailed by now, but the new arrival is a girl, which was kind of a big deal given the long line of Pauls.
- She shows up occasionally in comics over the years, but it takes something like three decades of publication before she starts showing up as an adolescent rather than a small child. She's not much of a character in this time, just kind of a plot device in Legacy stories (getting kidnapped or something).
- It's in America's Finest Legacy #151 in July of '84 that we get a story with her as a character in her own right - she's in her early-to-mid teens and starts insisting on being "Felicia" instead of "Pauline". This is partly an editorial thing in that they're finally fleshing out Legacy's family a bit here, but "Pauline" was a name that you could get away with in the '50s, but by the '80s they recognized that it's kind of an old lady name (in addition to the awkward situation of having both a Paul Parsons and a Pauline Parsons to talk about), so they retconned in the middle name and had her prefer to go by that. She's aware of the family history and wants to be a crime fighter - she knows that she'll be "Legacy" one day, but doesn't want to wait. Oh, and she has eye lasers that manifest in this issue.
- Time passes, she makes her desires known, her dad says that she's not ready and needs training, the teenage kid feels that her parents are holding her back, etc. In AFL #167 in November '85 we see her put on a costume for the first time. It's the iconic Legacy look, but it's an outfit she's put together herself and it's kind of a mess. Regardless, it gets the job done. While her father is off doing stuff elsewhere there's a gang causing trouble in Megalopolis - the Hyenas (a bunch of non-powered thugs in dog masks who laugh a lot and blow stuff up and robbing bank vaults). She shows up to stop them, but she's not disciplined yet and an explosion spooks her. She turns quickly with her eye lasers on full blast, which winds up cutting through both the wall of the building they're in, but also through the sky scraper across the street, which she then has to try to hold together while the crooks escape. Then her dad shows up and takes care of holding the building in place while directing her on where to weld stuff with her eyes to fix it. Then he gives her a lecture on how it's not enough to just punch the bad guys and discipline and whatnot [from the tone of voice the guys use it's not a browbeating, though - he's proud of her, just stressing the need for training and control].
- Her next appearance in costume is the Akash'Bhuta event in Freedom Five Annual #10. It's an "all-hands" situation and she more or less just gets a background cameo appearance where we see her doing something as a signal that the heroes have to call in everybody [my timeline places this at around September of '86].
- Next up is the Grand Warlord Voss events that have been discussed previously (Freedom Five #440-442, December '86 through February '87) with Legacy getting knocked out by the giant cannon on Voss's flagship and Felicia stepping in with Emily Parsons giving her daughter a Legacy outfit that she made in AFL #181 (January '87) - this is the outfit we see her wearing in the game. Her parents knew that she would need it eventually, and now's the time. Go get 'em. So she's acting as Legacy for the rest of this story, but it's also where the phrase "Young Legacy" gets used in reference to her.
- So, while the AFL title has been around as a solo book for Legacy that included stuff involving his family (not just crime-fighting), the end of this big Voss event coincided with the reinstatement of the Justice Comics title that had been in legal limbo since the early '70s. Now, with that resolved, the AFL remains Legacy's solo heroics book, with JC being more about the Parsons family. It's something of a duo book with a lot of detail given to Paul taking his daughter out and teaching her how to be a hero. We also get more on Emily and her role as a Senator here, but she also brings in some "What is 'Justice'?" aspects, teaching her daughter about more than just punching bad guys. Plus more of Spangle the dog who gets introduced.
- October '88 has the Iron Legacy event in The Fall of Legacy One-Shot, more on which in the Legacy, Iron Legacy, and Legacy Supplement episodes, with additional stuff surrounding it happening in the various Legacy-adjacent titles. Things are kicked off when that reality's version of Young Legacy gets killed off. While she didn't have her own solo book or anything, she still had her own personality and fans and so her death was eye-catching.
- Meanwhile, stuff's been going on in the publishing meta-verse. Justice Comics was, historically, the Gold and Silver Age book of Legacy punching bad guys. Then it went away in the '70s and the new America's Finest Legacy title started up, but had all of this family life stuff in it rather than just being heroics. Now that JC was back, it was weird for it to be the family-focused title and felt almost like a soap opera. The staff used the Iron Legacy event as an excuse to make some changes to JC again. Felicia gets fed up with all the rules and responsibilities that her parents are putting on her and Legacy's like "You're a Parsons. You have a responsibility to be a beacon of hope and justice." Felicia responds by quitting the hero thing and hangs up the cape to just be a normal student (this is her "rebellious teenager" phase that lasts a while, but also means she kind of slips back into the background for a while other than the occasional supporting-cast appearance).
- She makes a comeback in December 2011. JC #679 has a Parsons Family Christmas issue and marked the last family Christmas before she would go off to college with that detail dropped in what seemed to be a piece of throw-away dialog as cover for the writers to excuse this largely unused character further off-screen. Turns out, it was the opposite: this leads into a new arc for the character starting in August 2012 in issue #687 when she leaves for college. For the next year of JC issues, they end with very short backup stories about her at school (and her assumed name of "Felicia Fields" to try to not draw the attention that Legacy's daughter would otherwise - she wants to have a normal experience noting that while her father has always been for the people, he's never been of the people). Where it's true that her father is Legacy first and Paul Parsons second, she wants to be Felicia (or even Pauline) first before becoming Legacy (and when she does, this distinction is a thing that comes up).
- She attends Wright University in Fairville, Indiana [described as a "decent-sized city with a couple million people", which if we're talking metro areas puts it in the top 30 or so in the country and if just the city, in the top 5]. Basically, it's not just a "college town" where that's pretty much all there is and is big enough that there's crime happening that she can foil. She also chose a school that was explicitly less exclusive than, say, an Ivy League school (given who her parents are, that wouldn't have been out of the question) as that would also have separated her from the common experience she was looking for. This is also where we start getting introduced to the people that would become her supporting cast.
- Jessica LaPorte, her best friend.
- Marissa Snow, her arch-rival (not like a villain, just another girl she doesn't get along with and competes with in life in general).
- Jason Wong, her nerdy guy friend that she has a will-they-won't-they thing with.
- These short back-up stories really are the kind of teen comics they sound like (friends, rivalries, relationships, etc.) and were kind of a test run. After this first year, which were more popular in themselves than the "family stories" that preceded them, America's Finest Legacy transitions to a new format. Issue #498 was the last under that title, with #499 being the retro story America's Greatest Legacy, and #500 (in August 2013) seeing the transition to America's Newest Legacy with Felicia as the lead character (starting with her sophomore year of college) and Justice Comics becoming Legacy's book full-time again. Comic Book Time rears its head again, though - while the first year of "Felicia in college" stories took up a years' worth of books, she remains in college until the end of the Multiverse era (at the end of 2016). During this time she does fight crime (once going on a date with a guy who turns out to be a supervillain, oh no!) - very "teen drama" with her trying to live her life, go to classes, work a part-time job, while still occasionally doing the hero thing (although rarely actually in costume because "Felicia Fields" has to keep that a secret).
- This era America's Newest Legacy lasts around 40 issues, but the last quarter or so of them are more her doing the Young Legacy thing because of OblivAeon instead of the "Felicia Fields at college" thing.
- My birthday is the day before the episode airs, can I get a double song? Well, the episode is airing after your birthday, but they're recording it beforehand, so sure they'll sing it but you're not allowed to listen to it, so please skip from 24:18 to 24:36 so that you avoid hearing Christopher singing "Tubthumping" by Chumbawamba while Adam sings "Theme from New York, New York", most well known from the version done by Frank Sinatra.
- How much personal information do we get about Felicia? What's her college major? What music does she like (is she a bigger Katy Perry fan than Tempest)? She's a bigger fan of Katy Perry than of Tempest (she never listens to any of Tempest's music at all). She's a Communications major (and actually winds up using it!). The book she's in is a teen-focused book, so she likes whatever the pop music of the day is so as to connect with the readers (and they do the thing where they put lyrics of what she's listening to on the page and it relates to whatever she's doing/going through, and it will have been pulled from the Top 40 chart at the time).
- In her comics and/or the Animated Series was she first introduced as a run-of-the-mill teen, waking up late, running to get to school, etc. before we're clued in that she can fly or whatever? Or the other direction, was she the perfect teen, doing the dishes or other chores, etc.? In her own book she's the quintessential teenager who's late for things because she was up late last night fighting crime or whatever. Her solo stories through the end of the Multiverse were primarily about this struggle for balance between her normal life and heroics. Up until the switch to "Felicia", her appearances in comics were either "plot device" or "perfect daughter" as the Parsons family was very much one of those Leave it to Beaver style Platonic ideal of a family until they decided to start telling stories about the family.
- Is there a prom story (dance crashed by a villain, dad chaperoning, etc.)? No real high-school stories. There are college dances (which, sure, some villain wrecked), but not so much with the dad stuff. The villains in her book tended to be nameless freak-of-the-week ones as the focus is on her juggling the work/life balance more than the interactions with a rogues gallery. She has to keep enough of a low-profile so as to not clue people into the fact that there's a powerful hero around Fairville.
- We've been told about what America's Newest Legacy #500-540 was like before, but how segregated are her "real life" and heroics? Do her college friends have cameos during OblivAeon where they foil some minor plot (since pretty much everyone has a cameo during OblivAeon)? When she shows up in other books (like Freedom Five or Justice Comics) she's typically there in costume as Young Legacy. In her own book, even during OblivAeon, she tends to not be in costume so much because she has to keep her secret identity. As we get to the end of the Multiverse era she does confide in her friend Jessica, but makes her promise to keep the secret.
- How did physical education classes work for her? Did coaches ask her to take it easy on the others or just have her skip it entirely and take another class instead? This is more of a high school thing. In college she could just not take those classes. In high school her identity was public and teachers telling students to look to her as an example (which no teen wants) was a part of her wanting to be anonymous in college. High school was that era where she was actively avoiding the hero thing as well.
- To the people who care about her opinion of them, is she Pauline, Felicia, or some other nickname? The only person who continues to call her Pauline is her dad, but through her college years he at least starts to catch himself when he does so (even more so since her identity as "Felicia Fields" needs to be maintained). Her parents visit occasionally with her dad in disguise as Paul Fields, wearing a suit and glasses, slouching to try to obscure the fact that he's in such ridiculous shape. Then of course there's some kind of villain they have to take care of together which makes it even harder. He's not good at not being Legacy.
- How has the family dealt with paparazzi in regards to the daughter's privacy? It's well-known that Legacy has a daughter and that she's worn a costume to fight crime, but she "disappears" in her mid-to-late teens. Between Wraith's money, Tachyon's gadgets, and various government contacts, it's not that hard to keep her off the radar, despite the media's curiosity. Her schools also have sufficient security to keep paparazzi away and nobody knows who she really is at college.
- Did she attend public school or private? What sorts of extracurricular activities? She went to public school in Megalopolis and this is also part of what shaped her desire to attend a more "normal person's" college as well. She was into writing for things like the school paper [they say "news things" which I assume to mean there was some official publication, even if only a newsletter or something], the A/V club, short things for the theater program, PSA skits for school assemblies. She's interested in communication more than the creative act of writing, which is where her choice to be a Communications major comes in.
- Which characters does she interact with, both as a hero and in her personal life? Who are her friends? Who does she get frustrated with? Anybody she notably doesn't work with? In the Multiverse era she doesn't team up with many people (most that do occur are in that post-Voss, pre-college period and involve other younger heroes). She does get along with Expatriette, which is interesting given their different views of Legacy. She gets along okay with Unity - it's a not-quite-rivalry based on one of them being part of Legacy's life and the other being a part of Paul Parsons' life. Most of the time when she teams up is in cases when everybody is there. Once she gets her own book she's largely absent from other events and that book is meant to be disconnected so that you don't need to be reading everything else to follow it (until OblivAeon).
- How old is she during the major comics events? For most of them she's in her late teens, by OblivAeon she's like 22 or so. Her appearance in the Akash'Bhuta event would have been at around age 15 in the mid-'80s but she's only "five to seven years" older by OblivAeon in 2016. They bring up again here that Wraith has only aged like 3 years since her introduction due to how weird comic book time is. "When you see her in costume, she's a teenager" up until OblivAeon.
- Does she get her own supporting cast or just inherit the ones from her dad's adventures? They mentioned her friends earlier. There are very few recurring villains that become part of her story that are from her dad's story.
- Any Young Legacy-focused villains, major or minor? While there are few recurring villains in this run of books, she has to be particularly careful about them as they're more likely to result in her identity being revealed. Issue #498 of America's Finest Legacy was mentioned in episode 66 to wrap up the Iron Curtain character. The America's Newest Legacy books do introduce a new Iron Curtain, the original's daughter. Full-on-crazy mode Miss Information shows up. The most interesting one, though, involves dramatic irony - the readers know that Felicia Fields is Legacy's daughter, and they also know her physics professor, Nathan Gregory, is really the villain Antimox (some weird black and purple cosmic roiling-energy creature that disguises itself as a person) who is actually responsible for most of the minor villains she fights (giving them [ironic] powers and setting them to various tasks), but neither of them is directly aware of the other. She knows there's some mastermind at work and he knows that there's some hero foiling his plots, and the mutual ignorance is played up occasionally (tense scene in a classroom where he almost figures it out or his disguise will start cracking and he feigns an illness and dismisses the class or something). This was meant to eventually come to a head, but at the end wound up dropped and left unresolved in this title when OblivAeon happened, though.
- How powerful are the eye lasers and how do they work? Very powerful. "When she looks at something it shoots a beam of atomic energy light from her eyes into that thing." There's some heat to it, but it's more a physical force/penetration than fire. She's got to hold back a lot as they can punch through a lot if she's not careful.
- Are there going to be any other heroes around her age in the RPG-era? By the RPG she's in her early 20s and there are heroes of all ages, but she does work with Daybreak, who are all younger than she is [Adam says "teenagers" but we know that Aeon Girl is not literally that old, but it gives a feel for what we should expect].
- How does she interact with the rest of the Freedom Five (or other heroes in general)? Mostly as aunt/uncle figures as they've been around since she was a kid. Being "friends" with them is tricky. Wraith is she's super serious about work stuff all the time. Tachyon is hard to pin down as she's just busy with things constantly. Absolute Zero is probably the easiest to talk to in general, but kind of depressing and not that interesting for a teenager (he's not very cool).
- How about heroes like Unity or Idealist who are closer to her age? Is there a "girls' night out" story? The latter is the sort of thing that we'd see in her solo book, but she's the only powered person and dealing with whatever bad guy without giving herself away is the drama more than seeing a super-team having their night out interrupted. She doesn't want superhero friends.
- In the Legacy Supplement episode we're told that there are stories about her dating, but also that their identities were public - were there guys who dated her just because they wanted a connection to the Parsons family? During high school there would have been some guys for whom she would have been a "prize" for that reason, this is another major reason for her wanting the anonymity later on. It's also true that what the high school experience was in general was a lot different for her than it would have been for prior generations.
- What are the stories about the relationship/friendship between her and Expatriette? Is Expat a mentor or influence on her? Well, if she's an influence she's not a great one - wait, let's walk that back a bit: in her high school years, it was probably the case that Felicia wouldn't have really appreciated her father (as teenagers are wont to do) until Expat comes in and provides stories of the counterexample of how superpowered parents can go bad and how Legacy's doing things right. So, while Expat isn't really the kind of person you'd want as a role model, she does have a specific good influence on Felicia in this way. They're not really "palling around" friends that would go to a movie together, though.
- Any particular reason the creators decided to make the kid a daughter? It was kind of to buck expectations. The explanation of the family history was given about a decade prior and they wanted to mix things up by having the new generation be a daughter. It's also not like the comics writers in the '50s were expecting these things to still be around for as long as they have been, nor would any of her creators have had it in mind that she'd eventually be a hero - the ramifications of that decision weren't considered.
- Did she know her grandfather or did he die before her time? [He died in the September '48 issue of JC and she was born in June '55.] She knows about him from stories and there are stories about him told in the format of her dad telling her the story.
- When she eventually has children, will she consider changing the inscription on the Legacy ring? Not likely. If for no other reason than the fact that it's a 200+ year old heirloom and you don't just go doing that on a whim (or she could just have "4" added before "father's" to make it talk about her "forefathers" - also not likely).
- If she has a son would he be Paul Parsons IX or would she break the naming tradition? It's a little early to say. In general she'd be of the mindset to name the kid Paul, though (although if she'd been a teen mom it's possible she'd have rebelled in that way too).
- Does Baron Blade have a specific animosity towards her as well? Any Felicia-specific plots on his part in the main timeline? For all of his bluster about destroying Legacy and everything, he really is fixated on this one guy, Paul Parsons. You'd think that since Baron Blade killed Paul VII that Paul VIII would have more reason to be going after him, but the nemesis relationship is very much from Baron Blade to Paul VIII [I'm getting a "and your little dog too" kind of opinion of the daughter - she's there in a "sure, I hate you too, I guess" way]. The only plot to speak of is the event in Madame Mittermeier's Festival where he brainwashes her to think she's his daughter instead. As much as it's a fun story, it's also kind of a throwaway event with no further complications.
- What is Wellspring's intent when empowering the family? Is it trying to "do good" or what (considering how things wind up with Legacy of Destruction)? If the line is ended, would Wellspring re-invest power somewhere else? Wellspring, as was mentioned previously, is a Singular Entity that is an embodiment of Progress (although, without a body... it's complicated just roll with it) and was the being that jump-started the whole Parsons family powerset thing. All of the various Legacies out there in the various universes still progress the world in some way - they move things forward, even if the thing being forwarded isn't what we might consider "good". Wellspring is getting exactly what it wanted out of this process - understanding the motivations of a Singular Entity is hard for humans.
- [Cult of Gloom starts off talking about how, since the Scholar situation resolves itself for them, their next most worrisome hero going forward is Legacy (as opposed to Heritage, her father) and her leading this whole new crop of heroes.] How do the rest of the Freedom Five think of her joining as a full-time member (given her inexperience contrasted with them and the public having her dad around in a leadership role)? Any tension there? Well, it's the Sentinels of Freedom now, for one. She comes in with a level of respect, but keep in mind that the SoF are more than just the old FF team - if it was just her coming on board to lead the existing crew it might lead to some tension (frankly, just having her swap in for Legacy on the FF team, the "leadership" position would likely fall to one of the others - Bunker, Tachyon, or a Bunker/Wraith duo as "leader" were all suggested). The SoF will go out and fight crime when necessary (the upcoming video game is about such an occasion), but they're also largely focused on training up the next generation of heroes (which is their primary role in the RPG).
- Does Unity resent that Felicia got called up to the team when she had to go off to start her own team with the totally-not-shady-anymore RevoCorp? Not "resent" - she decided to make the change and go off to RevoCorp before the Legacy switchover happens (the RPG starter kit has her as the "former intern" already while the Freedom Five are still active). She's approached by RevoCorp during the OblivAeon event as they are already trying to turn over that leaf and she takes them up on it as part of a way to stop being the FF's "mascot". Later on, she thinks that if she'd stuck around she would have become a member, but by then she's already moved on. She's not jealous of Felicia for getting called up, but she knows that, to some extent, any team with Tachyon would have her filling the role of "Tachyon's intern". Not because Tachyon's overbearing or anything, it's just been so long and it's hard to break patterns. Their relationship is better already by the time of the Starter Kit and she's able to assert her position as a peer who's there to help.
- How worried should the world be now about Heritage given that his daughter is now out in the world doing the hero thing and, therefore, is more likely to come to harm? He'd be mad, but wouldn't go down the Iron Legacy spiral at this point. They're different people and he's had more time to accept the realities of his daughter becoming a hero and the dangers that go with that than Iron Legacy had.
- Why is she joining the FF/SoF rather than leading the team of new heroes, Daybreak? She's present in their stories as their teacher/mentor as well as something like a dispatcher. She will help from time to time, but is not there to hold their hands. She's not the only one. All of the SoF show up occasionally, as does Time Slinger. They go off on their own adventures (even if they're not supposed to yet, but their teenagers). Legacy has her own solo book in addition to the Sentinels of Freedom title, she's just the most mature regular character for Daybreak as well (even though she's only 5 years older than the oldest member). Daybreak members for those not paying attention to the show notes: Rockstar, Headlong, Muerto, Muse, and Aeon Girl (who's not technically a teenager, but she fits the personality well enough). They're a teen team and Legacy is no longer one.
- Why not include her more in the Starter Kit (considering that her dad gives up the title to her despite her not being involved in the events)? The story is about her dad coming to the realization that he doesn't need to be the only hero. Another story they're putting out later [I'm guessing the Preview Pack they mentioned during the last Extrasode] will have more on that process that will include her. They did talk about her being in the Starter Kit briefly, but they didn't want to include two such similar characters and also thought it would be better to have her doing stuff elsewhere at the same time.
- How does Sentinel Comics keep from falling back on the "reset to the status quo ante" thing - having her in the Legacy position for a few years before bringing out the old (likely more marketable) team? This is the sort of thing that other publishing companies would do, but a difference here is that Sentinel Comics has set this up a long time ago - it's been established since the early days of the comics that "Legacy" is a generational title and will be passed on and readers in the present would have been aware of this and expecting it pretty much as long as they've been reading comics (since she's been around since the '50s, she's been referred to as "Legacy" and had a costume since the '80s, and had her own book for several years by the time of OblivAeon - this was not a surprise, although the option for her to step aside as Beacon in the Mist Storm Universe is another valid option). It's similar to Harpy stepping into NightMist's place in Dark Watch - the had been established for long enough that she was being trained up, if not explicitly as a replacement, that her "inheriting" NM's role wasn't a huge leap.
- Mist Storm Universe - She takes up the name "Beacon" as her own hero identity, an explicit call-back to the lecture/pep-talk her dad gave her back in high-school before she stepped away from the hero thing for a while. This world is less trusting of heroes, but it's also one where Legacy decided to not step aside and he plans on continuing with it until he dies. If that's the case, she's going to make her own way and so comes up with the alternative name. By the time the Sentinel Tactics game gets going she's been operating as Beacon for a few years.
- Sentinel Comics Universe - Her dad has stepped down as "Legacy" and is now going by "Heritage", letting her take up the Legacy mantle herself. She does maintain a secret identity and her juggling her life as Felicia Fields (now in Megalopolis) alongside her role as a hero remains a feature of her life. The first story of her after OblivAeon is both her college graduation and her assuming the Legacy role. Her college rival, Marissa Snow, graduated before her and had gotten work at an energy company in Megalopolis and actually recommends Felicia for an open job position - Marissa respects Felicia as the person who challenged her and pushed her to be better and can't think of anybody she'd recommend higher than Felicia and they become very good friends out in the real world as they've grown up. As alluded to earlier, they are going to release an RPG story later this year that will be set around the "Graduation" story era and is before she's become the Legacy.