The Letters Page: Episode 80
This is a big one... in a lot of ways. But well worth it for what's to come.
Run Time: 3:11:29
You read that run time correctly - this episode is over 3 hours. However! It is only our second longest episode, losing to the Southwest Sentinels/Void Guard episode by 7 minutes!
That said, we cover a TON of stuff in this episode, so let's get right down to it!
We start off by going through the meta-verse of the publication company of Sentinel Comics. What led to the Mist Storm Universe? How was it handled and published in the world that Sentinel Comics were real actual comics? Who wrote these books and why? What sorts of decisions were made? We get INTO IT.
After revealing all that, including a name of a comics line that we've never said publicly before, we finally get into actually talking about the stories and timelines of the Mist Storm Universe at around 24 minutes in.
So! Then! Just after the one hour mark, after talking about the stories from several comics series, we get back into the meta, talking about decisions made by the publisher. That doesn't take too long, and after a bit of banter, we're into the stories of each of the books from those decisions.
Then we go BACK to the meta verse around an hour and 14 minutes in. Stuff is happening! Things are falling apart! Why? Well, that's what we're talking about! Listen on, dear friends!
From then on, we're jumping back and forth between in-comics stories and meta-publishing-universe stories right up until we get to the stories that end the Mist Storm universe.
At around an hour and a half in, we cover one of the big ending stories that we think you'll be excited to hear.
Throughout the episode, we keep saying things like, "oh, we'll get to that soon." Well, just after an hour and 41 minutes in, we get to the stories of those characters. Whew! It's a lot of stories about a lot of characters.
Around two hours and 23 minutes in, we get into the story of the Prime War limited series. Larger than life stuff, there.
Finally, at the two-and-a-half-hours mark, we finally dig into your questions. Though, we do speed through them, as we've already covered a LOT up to this point.
We do have a notable future section at 2 hours and 51 minutes in, which covers what titles come out of the Prime War series. More cool stuff there! This episode just keeps giving!
Then, just before the end of episode at around 3 hours and 4 minutes, we read all of the Patreon backers at the name-reading levels. Whew! A big finish to a big episode!
See you next week for another big episode about a lot of stories: the Multiverse recap episode!
- The Freedom Five
- Miss Information
- Fright Train
- Baron Blade
- Citizen Dawn
- Absolute Zero
- Becky Blast
- Captain Cosmic
- Dana Bertrand
- Argent Adept
- An Imposter Anubis
- The New Ennead
- Dark Watch
- Mr. Fixer
- Prime Wardens
- Blood Countess Bathory
- Dr. Medico
- Kaargra Warfang
- Bloodsworn Entity
- The Seer
- Void Soul
- K.N.Y.F.E./Paige Huntly/P.R.I.S.M.
- Jansa vi Dero
- Wager Master
- Catastrophe and Verge
- Citizen Pain
- Black Frost
- Wind Walker
- Night Terror
- Count Barzakh
Publishing Metaverse Through Prime War Event
- A few years of publication after the OblivAeon event (side note - a big part of what they were wanting to do with the history of Sentinel Comics was to put together a plausible-sounding comics continuity spanning 60 years or more of publishing and so a lot of events had firm dates assigned to them - a '60s story would feel different from an '80s story for example - but now that we're post-OblivAeon and more or less caught up to the present they won't be doing that so much going forward), a tight-knit group of established writers for Sentinel Comics (who rose to prominence in the '80s and '90s - stuff like some of the Mystery Comics twice-a-month run, Parse, Expatriette, Vengeance, the War of Heliopolis, etc.) came to the editorial staff with an idea. Some of these guys had, in the intervening years, gone on to do other things, found or at least work with other companies and whatnot, but they were getting the gang back together for a new Sentinel Comics project.
- See, the post-OblivAeon landscape was this super-hopeful setting where heroes were there to make the world a better place and things were going great, but in the process some other stuff had been left behind which led to some mixed reactions in the fandom. For one, there was no longer a Freedom Five book (the Sentinels of Freedom book was not the same). These writers wanted to tell stories that instead of "being a hero means making the world a better place" that "being a hero means making the tough choices" - making sacrifices and dealing with bad breaks. So, they roll into the SC offices as something of a dream team - this group of writers who have been out of this company for two decades, but who did a lot of well-regarded stuff when they were around come in asking to have a chance to write these other stories. The management (who were at least in part people who grew up reading the stuff these people had been writing back in the day, but also see all of the dollar signs this team represents) are on board, but with a caveat. They will not be rolling back the continuity that's been going on in Sentinel Comics since OblivAeon. If we're taking things in a new direction, it will be in one of those alternate realities that have been cut off from the main comics one since OblivAeon. An added bonus for this approach - given who these people are, they are given free rein to do what they like in this new continuity. Since they are not impinging on the mainline comics they can go to town on these other ideas with no oversight on who they use or what they do and they're given a large budget to do so. The name given to this new line of comics is Sentinel Comics: Vertex (like, the normal SC logo with a edgy, hand-written style font for the "Vertex" below [so, similar to the Marvel MAX or DC Vertigo imprints].
- The first thing they do is punch up all of the "grown up" features - more violence, more sex, more heroes fighting heroes or even heroes allying with villains, more crossover events, and more variant/gate-fold/foil/you-name-it covers. Just more of everything. They also step up the print quality and charge a premium price for everything. And they get away with it (at least at first) - they've got the name recognition of the creators involved and the fact that they've brought back things like the Freedom Five title that grabs fan attention (issue #1 of the relaunch has 8 different variants and they each cost $10 and people buy into it big time). Gimmicks like having one specific book that includes some special cellophane glasses that can see "invisible" content on a few pages, but then every other title that month also has content that is made visible with those glasses. Augmented Reality apps with QR codes in the books to use with it. Having internet "celebrities" (think YouTube stars or Twitch streamers) have cameos in the books (and in fairness, famous people - and sports stars in particular - have gotten this sort of treatment in comics since forever). Just anything they can do to chase a trend, they do it. They are intentionally trying to recreate something of the speculation boom of the '90s [the logical breakdown being that Golden Age comics that were selling for huge sums at the time was because they were rare - between wartime paper recycling, moral panic comics bonfires, and the simple fact that comics were seen at the time as disposable entertainment for children there just weren't many copies of those old comics around - and in the speculator's market people were assuming that new first issues of a title would be worth the same in the future didn't account for the fact that thousands of other people were doing the exact same thing].
- This is actually an example of Christopher and Adam looking at a particular part of comics history and pointing out the flaws of the system where so much of their work otherwise has been more along the lines of "love letters" to the comics industry. The excesses of the speculation boom were dumb and they're poking fun at it here. The Sentinel Comics Universe is how they would wish comics would work. The Mist Storm Universe is a cautionary tale of what not to do.
Vertex Phase 1
- So, the Vertex line launched with three titles and they added an additional three every 6 months (so the first summer started three books, then in winter they were up to six, then the next summer they were up to nine, etc.). By that second winter (at twelve titles) they had noticed that they'd managed to pick up readers who were buying everything (this slow roll-out made it appealing for people to get in on the ground floor - "it's only three books" - and then continued to do so as they added more ridiculous things. Things were going great business-wise.
- Those first three titles were Freedom Five (because you need one of these), The Wraith (which is about her as a street-level crime-fighter as opposed to her more managerial/instructional role in the main line book she was in), and Sentinel Sagas (a prestige-format book where each month has a full story as opposed to the 6-issue-arc based storytelling in the other two titles). They hit the ground running with cool stories (it's also kind of starting in medias res as the Vertex line specifically notes that it's starting several years after OblivAeon - more years post-OblivAeon than had passed in the publishing metaverse between OA and the start of the Vertex line), but they're also pushing those boundaries mentioned earlier - higher body-counts both in terms of the villains killing more civilians, but also with the heroes being more willing to take out a problematic villain permanently. While the Sentinel Comics Universe had had several stories about the recovery process following OblivAeon, it's clear that while the world has recovered in some ways, that process wasn't as complete here and things have gotten insular and distrusting of heroes - the public blames heroes for what happened.
The Freedom Five
- The first FF arc is a Miss Information story where civilians are definitely dying and it ends with her falling to her death - at this stage she's not specifically killed by a hero, but it does demonstrate the change in approach.
- We then also get stories with Fright Train and the Omnitron arcs (Omnitron-V coming online and assimilating Omnitron-X then building the Omni-Reaper [the dual-nature Omnitron-V/Omni-Reaper combination constitute Omnitron-VI]).
- Then we get to Baron Blade infiltrating Megalopolis, taking the fight to the hero. It says a bit that the Baron Blade story is probably the lightest of the stories to that poing - he's doing more high-charisma villain plots here as stage-setting for later things.
- After that, we get a Citizen Dawn arc. The Citizens had been off the radar since OblivAeon (in either setting) but they show up here trying to accumulate OblivAeon shards for Dawn.
- Wraith finds herself fighting Spite, thought long-dead. She kills him, but then his body is gone, so it's unclear if he was really back or a hallucination or what. It's a dark story - some of the same writers who were around for those initial Spite stories are in charge here and while those dealt with her inability/unwillingness to be the one to kill him then, she's able to do so now. There's no actual resolution here for the readers, but in following stories she'll be dealing with something and Spite will be there again as something like a hallucination which she tries to ignore at first, then he starts taunting her, then starts noticing things that she missed (say, a clue at a crime scene), progressively having portions of her subconscious being represented by this phantom-Spite, which just says great things about her mental state.
- Along with those problems, it's worth noting here that as part of the new status quo, Wraith had gone public. She revealed her identity, liquidated Montgomery Industries, and used those funds to "buy out" the Freedom Five (stepping away from the prior governmental affiliation given the public sentiment regarding heroes as well as paying for Absolute Zero's suit) and making it "self sufficient" financially. So, while she's now more able to focus on the street-level stuff given the lack of responsibility with her old company, it's yet another major change in how she relates to the world.
- Assorted stuff that happens in the title: work with the Freedom Five, appearance by the Visionary or other heroes, a fight with Glamour (and it's unclear for a time who's behind the mask now - this early on it's probably still Aislin Allen, but the heroes/readership don't know that).
- Ambuscade is another character that these writers thought had been derailed (one of these guys was the one who created the character in the 80s and these modern writers reinvented him as the hero Stuntman?) so they brought him back as the wisecracking hero hunter he had been, but now more willing to kill [reminder here that as Ambuscade he hadn't actually killed anybody in the old comics]. He gets used a lot in the Vertex line.
- We start to get into the Broken City storyline here with what's left of Rook City and how bad everything is. Where the Freedom Five stories are more about the major threat stories, the Wraith's solo book is very much focused on the street level stuff and even, to some extent, her operating as something of an oppressed minority (i.e. distrusted superhero) where before she had held a very privileged position.
- Because there are only 2 other titles at first, this is the book that they use for big crossover stories and other characters that don't figure in the other books. Notable stories they bring up:
- Issue #6 has AZ vs the Operative (who's starting her infiltration of Megalopolis and setting the stage for later events involving her and the Organization). Ambuscade blowing up the Megalopolis monorail and Unity getting involved to defeat him.
- Issue #10 sees the first mention of the Mist Storm. Visionary is trying to save people on the island of Lanoperdo as the Mist Storm is expanding over it. Proletariat is also around trying to acquire some OblivAeon shards, which seem to be a frequent MacGuffin - people trying to gain power by collecting these things, OblivAeon being a big enough deal to explain both why they're powerful, but also why they're bad news. This is in opposition with the other main continuity where OblivAeon shards crop up here and there, but the plot is generally about containing/destroying them to remove them as a threat rather than stockpiling them.
- Other stuff: Beacon vs. Bugbear, Tachyon dealing with Becky Blast explosives set around. These all kind of feel like what you'd otherwise see in an Annual issue, but they're all meant to be setting up stuff for later. Speaking of which, we get to the next set of titles.
Vertex Phase 2
- Another "complaint" was the lack of a Legacy-centric (as in Paul VIII, not Felicia) book, so we get another America's Finest Legacy book, starring an aging Paul - Felicia and he are a bit estranged with her becoming Beacon to distance herself from the "Legacy" thing (and so there's also a Beacon title). The third title is Lucky Shot, the unnecessarily-sexually-charged duo book starring Setback and Expatriette. It's about their relationship, their crime-fighting, and their work smuggling people out of Broken City. Expat's old mercenary life crops up again as a possible source of income, but with associated moral shadiness and Setback wondering if he can really trust her. Basically, they've picked apart the foundations of the characters' relationship for the sake of the drama, which is obviously never the wrong move, artistically.
- As one would expect, AFL crosses over with the FF book frequently, including the Baron Blade story which also serves to introduce the new Ra (more upbeat than the old Ra, but we don't find out much about his backstory for a while even if he's making appearances in a bunch of books).
- Where AFL is about trying to hold things together in a dangerous world, Beacon is about moving things forward. It's also about Felicia trying to distance herself from the "Legacy" identity and do her own thing, which is complicated by the inevitable interactions with the other heroes who know her as Legacy's daughter.
- Then there's Lucky Shot which starts out with the two of them being hunted by Ambuscade. This is where Setback learns about Expat taking those jobs on the side as they are why Ambuscade comes after them - those should be his job and he's coming after them to get her to back off. The first Vertex appearance of Citizen Dawn is actually in this book before the plot in FF. Dawn's plans are more behind-the-scenes scheming here than her usual attempted-world-takeover style. LS only runs for 20 issues, though - it gets rolled into the new Dark Watch at that point.
Vertex Phase 3
- The titles we get here are The Supersonic Tachyon, The Inhuman Tempest, and Captain Cosmic. The latter two haven't really featured in Vertex stories to this point, but we'll come back to them here in a little while as there's a specific thing they're doing here (quickly - CC starts with the stuff he's doing out in space, but he eventually returns to Earth, IT has Tempest doing Plavu'Col stuff, but different than we've seen prior as the Maerynians have left - he's also still got the prejudice of the people of Earth thing going again, but now just as part of the general distrust of people with superpowers in this timeline).
- To the extent that there are heroes that do still have some measure of public support, Tachyon is one of them. The direction the decide to take Tachyon is to have her realize that she could be doing so much more with her powers to benefit mankind. She just decides that she just doesn't need to sleep anymore and basically stops eating (she develops some "food pills" that get her all the calories she needs to keep going). She's also pushing her limits more than in the past - she develops a device that she can wear on her arm that allows her to go faster than she had previously could without injury. She's just always on (crimefighting, scientific work, etc.) and her personal life is suffering (including her relationship with Dana). She starts forgetting about things and starts showing up late to things (or not at all) as she piles more and more stuff on herself ("I can take care of this real quick before heading over").
- The most notable result of this winds up creating a villain. She's doing some testing in the lab that needs a higher power output. She rigs up a track that she can run around to generate power, skimps on the safety checks (just a quick once over and assumes everything's fine), and while she's generating the power she's also zipping off the track to the control room to actually run the experiment (they describe this something like she's "time traveling to now" - she's going so fast between the two places that it seems like she's in two places at once). In any event, the whole thing explodes and a lot of scientists die. The Tachyon in the control room was able to outrun the explosion, the one who was generating the power did not and winds up becoming some kind of inverted version of herself made of "semi-sentient velocity" who is determined to stop Tachyon at every turn - this being becomes known as Quantum. This winds up being one of the most troublesome villains that Tachyon has to deal with given how well matched they are. She eventually "defeats" Quantum by running through it while at the same velocity that she was moving at the moment it was created, which absorbs it into herself. This is not a great outcome for her, though, as the Quantum personality traits come through periodically - this doesn't make her a villain during these episodes, but she is something of a jerk (as opposed to her positive personality traits that have been the usual for her).
- Another event from the Tachyon book was the second major Vertex Omnitron story (the first being the Omnitron V creating Omnitron VI one), this being an event where Omnitron VI reactivates the Omnitron IV facility, trying to perform another update into an Omnitron VII iteration. This doesn't pan out (Omni-VI is defeated before this can be completed), but the Omni-IV facility being up and running again is strictly a negative.
Vertex Phase 4
- We get Ra: God of the Sun (preceded by a one-shot, but more on that shortly), the Uprising limited series (so these phases get going every 6 months/issues, but this is only intended to run for 6 issues with the understanding that in the next summer phase transition that it would be replaced by something else), and Fanatic (again, more on this later).
- The Uprising book is what the Sentinel Tactics expansion was about - the Operative has taken over the Organization and is infiltrating Megalopolis as she rebuilds. Simultaneously, RevoCorp has been accumulating OblivAeon shards (and we find out that Proletariat and Ambuscade have been involved in this process) under the direction of a mysterious figure (revealed in previous episodes to have been Vyktor - his molecular cohesion isn't doing so great, he's basically goo being held together by the Revenant suit). Uprising is basically there to answer some questions and bring some of the background stuff into the foreground so readers are aware of it - mostly dealing with the accumulation of OblivAeon shards and the Mist Storm (although these two things aren't yet explicitly linked to one another).
- Ra is one of the only mostly positive changes in this universe, though. Thiago Diaz didn't die here like he did in the main line of comics. Thiago was another character created by one of these writers as this wannabe hero and his death was another bone they had to pick. The one-shot previously referred to was Song and Flame which introduced the Vertex Argent Adept as well as explained the backstory of this iteration of Ra - that Argent Adept helping the new Ra deal with who he is (which is complicated - he's Thiago Diaz, aspiring hero, he's Thiago-as-Ra, who is much more upbeat and positive than we'd seen Ra be in the past, and there's the original Ra entity that was the basis of the Blake Washington iteration's personality, which was this fiery fury tempered by his scholarly temperament). This winds up leading to something like an internal struggle. Thiago has a very strong personality and the "original" Ra constantly thinks he's doing it wrong and should just burn it all! So, we get a lot of internal dialog between the two of them.
- This leads into the Ra title which goes between the heroic adventures and the internal struggle. A major theme is actually dealing with the "power vacuum" left by the death of the members of the Egyptian "pantheon". Some stories include: him fighting an imposter Anubis (just some guy, not wielding the appropriate relic), the eventual piecemeal appearance of members of the Ennead (Atum as a villain for Ra, but others cropping up here and there [see episode 28's Future section for a rundown of who everybody is] - Alexander Ward, the old Atum's son, is Atum now and wants to lead the Ennead again, but not everybody is on-board. This Atum is generally scheming for ways to dispose of the members who are at odds with him so that he can hand out their relics to more like-minded people).
- There have continued to be Freedom Five Annual issues in the meantime here and we'll discuss the first four (although #3 and #4 come out after the point we've reached above).
- The first is a big Baron Blade thing (and is the culmination of the stories he's been involved with to this point), but when he's defeated it's revealed that we've been dealing with a Blade-bot. We come to him in Mordengrad where he's offended at the suggestion that he'd be involved in such petty plots and that somebody must be setting him up. He's coming to the US (and elsewehre) as a diplomat and witness to how dangerous people with superpowers are - see, Mordengrad doesn't have anybody with superpowers and see how well things are going there? He wants a seat on the UN Security Council (which he gets) and recognition as a major power (which he gets). Then he moves forward with giving technology to other nations to help them deal with the superpower problem.
- The second is Ambuscade hunting the Freedom Five (par for the course, really).
- The third has them facing Omni-drone versions of themselves (fallout from the Omni-factory being operational again). This isn't far enough along to get a new version number, but it's still a new development with Omnitron making simulations of heroes.
- The fourth is about Citizen Dawn and her attack on Megalopolis. While the heroes are involved, it's really a war between the Citizens of the Sun and RevoCorp over the OblivAeon shards. Dawn comes out on top in this situation.
- We also get another one-shot in here somewhere - Return of the Dragon that is about Zhu Long sequestering himself away while the Operative is off doing her thing on her own. They haven't exactly cut ties, but they're not really working together either. It's kind of implied that she's getting some funding that might be coming from his organization. It's unresolved as we get to...
Vertex Phase "Whoops"
- As they've been going along things have been going well for the Vertex crew. They've got readership despite all of the publishing shenanigans and they have some choices to make. They could just go with the standard "three new titles" thing, but they also have the Uprising series ending that would leave a gap otherwise, and they want to expand Lucky Shot into Dark Watch, so they've got to pull in the other characters for that. They release eight new titles this go 'round - with all of the standard variants and assorted other junk they can pull with #1 issues: Virtuoso of the Void, Dark Watch, Unnatural, For Profit, G.L.A.S.S., Prime Wardens, Stinson-Montgomery Labs, and Unity.
- Unity finally has her own book, but she's still in this "intern" situation but the new m.o. of running around and hiding rather than being this respected hero group doesn't mesh well with her firebrand personality.
- The Stinson-Montgomery Labs book is quarterly and is kind of a behind-the-scenes technical book about the stuff that Wraith set up for Tachyon after she revealed herself as Maia Montgomery. The book covers what's going on in these places. There's not a whole lot of actual story or conflict involved in this title until late in the run. This is kind of a book that nobody wanted (people picked it up initially, but it didn't do well in general).
- The PW book launches strong with Akash'Dharsha (the new iteration of Akash'Bhuta after having acquired a number of OblivAeon shards) and AA putting the team together again - notable, however that Haka isn't present with his slot being filled by Sky-Scraper.
- They'll talk more about G.L.A.S.S. in a bit.
- The For Profit title is a villain team of Ambuscade, Operative, Hippocalypse, Glamour, Heartbreaker, and Becky Blast. Dark and gritty title with the main cast pulling heists. Re-Volt is on the initial lineup, but is killed by the Operative in the first issue (motivated partly by his "wildcard" nature, partly by the fact that payouts get split too many ways as it is). It's meant to establish that these are the bad guys and it's not going to be about them redeeming themselves or anything. A particular note is that while Glamour has appeared in Vertex comics prior to this, she's different here and seems more powerful than we tend to see her.
- Chimera, formerly the Naturalist, is the main character of Unnatural. His powers are really out of whack with all of the different animal forms he'd tried to get (and only partly succeeded at - gaining aspects of different animals rather than full forms). We start this with Ambuscade hunting him, because of course that's who you'd have in that role.
- The new Dark Watch replaces Lucky Shot and includes Pinion (rather than the "Harpy" persona we'd seen in earlier titles) who's more focused on the magic end of things as she's progressed and Mr. Fixer who's way more into the martial arts stuff than we've seen him (that is, he lacks the auto-mechanic vibe from the old comics and the "at peace" persona from the later ones in the Sentinel Comics Universe - turns out he's even going by a different name there that we haven't been told yet). He's much closer to Black Fist than we've seen him in a long time. Wraith and Tachyon show up in the first 6 months of issues as they wind up fighting the various Spite clones that the Chairman had created (the five listed in the Battle for Broken City expansion materials, but when the heroes reach the facility they find that there are hundreds of these things down there).
- And Virtuoso of the Void, which will also be discussed a bit more later.
Publishing Metaverse After They'd Gone Too Far
- So, by the time they reached the "whoops" point they were already pushing things past where the readership would put up with it, so pushing out 8 new titles instead of 3 likely just accelerated the end rather than causing it directly. People were getting burned out. The readers were getting tired of the extent of how extreme things were being taken (that they may have accepted more readily in Disparation-like chunks rather than years of content) and the writers were showing their age a bit - some of them are older now and while they made some bold moves back in the '80s and '90s, they're a bit out of touch with what readers expect now (plus, there's a dichotomy in what they're even doing here between "returning to basics" in the kinds of stories they want to tell with the characters and the "new and outlandish" model for how to actually produce/sell/market the comics). As a result, around here the sales start to drop off drastically.
- So, several months into that last Phase of comics, they start cutting titles: Wraith (cut after 40 issues - losing out to the other option for reading Wraith stories available on the shelf), Captain Cosmic (Prime Wardens is doing well, no need for a solo title about his internal angst so it's cut at 28 issues), G.L.A.S.S. (16 issues, some characters gain traction elsewhere). And another 6 months later they cut more: The Inhuman Tempest and Fanatic (more Prime Wardens characters who had been pushed in rather odd directions in their solo books), Dark Watch (Broken City is really depressing and this was the most "adult" of the comics and so had been pushing things as it stood), and Stinson-Montgomery Labs gets cut after 8 quarterly issues. Then another round of cuts 6 months after that: Sentinels Saga, Beacon, VotV (more Prime Wardens stuff), For Profit (people weren't into villain main characters), and Unity (people like fun Unity, not beaten-down Unity).
- This leaves Vertex with Freedom Five, America's Finest Legacy, Supersonic Tachyon, Ra: God of the Sun, and Prime Wardens. The grand experiment of Vertex failed and the writing is on the wall (over nearly 5 years they sold a lot of books, but in these last phases they've wound up losing more than they'd brought in), though, and there's a mandate to wrap things up. They do some crossovers - FF/Tachyon and Ra/PW are called out and we're going to talk about the former here.
- When For Profit ended, they did so with a "and they all went their separate ways" kind of thing and the book never revealed who Glamour was at this point. Glamour is the main antagonist in this FF/Tachyon story where she takes over most of the city. As part of the heroes' response, Tachyon's job is to run around to deal with whatever collateral results there are to the fight. At one point in her book during this she has a moment of the Quantum influence and decides that the team is just holding her back and that she can handle this situation on her own. Tachyon runs up to Glamour and snaps her neck (crossing a line that Tachyon really hasn't to this point). Glamour falls to the ground, then a hand lands on Tachyon's shoulder as Glamour's body fades away. The non-illusory Glamour says something condescending and pulls off her mask - it's Miss Information, who then guts Tachyon (really graphically on-page). That was in issue #48 of that book, with #49 being one showcasing the world's reaction to not having Tachyon around and #50, the final issue, having the funeral. This last one being kind of an odd duck - they bring in a non-Vertex writer to handle it and it's kind of a slap in the face to the tone they'd been going for, but it's also played up as this big event (The Death of Tachyon!) even though it's in this alternate universe and she's still doing just fine over in the main line of comics.
- Going forward, the team is a bit demoralized (which Miss Info exacerbates: she recorded the incident and provides footage of Tachyon killing Glamour, betraying whatever heroic standards she'd had just before Miss Information killed her in turn). The heroes eventually stop whatever plot Miss Info had going on, but it's still Miss Info's victory due to the damage she's caused to the team's morale and public image.
- We get FFA #5 - are they just the Freedom Four again now? Wait, here's Unity, she's finally a member of the team (another grudge with the main line of comics was her just up and leaving to form another team)! This fell flat with audiences - nobody cared. AFL wraps up a few issues later (after some plot involving frozen/reanimated Nazis because that's who Legacy should be fighting, right?) at issue #60. FF only makes it a few months after that at #70. Management fires the original Vertex writers and bring in some younger writers (with some older, but still non-Vertex writers on hand as "mentors") to try to salvage this mess and close things down.
- Meanwhile - the Prime Wardens book is the one that had been doing pretty well. They had the Akash'Dharsha story to kick things off, there was an Omnitron story, a big Gloomweaver story where he takes over Dr. Medico's body and then bursts forth in this dark Gloomweaver form (killing Dr. Medico), Writhe becoming a full-blown villain afterwards, and some stuff with Blood Countess Bathory and Apostate. After those new writers were brought on board, one of the first things they do is another Gloomweaver story for the Prime Wardens.
- Gloomweaver, still anchored to Dr. Medico here, has reestablished his connection to the Realm of Discord. Opposing him we have the Prime Wardens, Ra (crossing over again from his book), and the Visionary. Visionary hasn't had her own book this whole time, but over the course of her appearances we've pieced together that she's been telekinetically animating her own body this whole time (also carrying around a non-trademark-violating version of the puzzle cube invented by Erno Rubik as a crutch to keep her mind focused on what she's doing). Visionary winds up using the last of her psychic energy to sever the connection between Gloomweaver and the RoD, "locking him in" and allowing the other heroes to defeat him - we see her puzzle cube fall to the ground as this finally succumbs to her brain injury and collapses.
- The next issue has Vis in the hospital and it's explicitly spelled out about how she's been paralyzed from the neck down and has been moving herself around like a puppet this whole time. She's done what she needed to and she's done (and dies surrounded by people who care about her - in contrast with Tachyon or other heroes' deaths which the new writers thought was typically mishandled and so this is intentionally different). This last bit where she says that is a cathartic moment for a lot of Vertex line readers who feel the same way about how things are going.
Wrapping Stuff Up
- In the Ra title, he's off doing his adventures and dealing with his internal conflict. Fanatic is a recurring feature here, but it's an odd dynamic given her relationship with the Blake Washington iteration of Ra. They fight against Shardlings, creatures born out of OblivAeon shards that seem to be drawn to the edges of the Mist Storm.
- Meanwhile over in PW, after Visionary's death, the new writers look around for any major unresolved threads and they had latched onto the Mist Storm as a seemingly-important feature of the world introduced really early on that wasn't really dealt with. So, that's what they focus on as the thing that's causing the end. The Prime Wardens' approach to this is just to head to the Mist Storm (which is now covering a significant portion of the world - say 1.5 times the size of Australia and expanding rapidly) and save what people they can. In PW #40, Captain Cosmic winds up within the Mist Storm creating a construct bubble/tunnel to provide shelter from/means of escaping the storm for some refugees, but his construct is failing. As the people finally escape and the rest of the team call for him to get out himself, the construct fails and he's taken by the storm. Then, through the mists, they see a figure walking towards them - some big figure growing closer. It's Haka - our Haka who's been unseen since OblivAeon, who's carrying a severely injured Captain Cosmic. Haka thinks this must be a very strange universe indeed for these people to be so different from the ones he knew - nope, given the split point for this universe from the main one was around the time that Haka went missing, these really were the people he was teamed up with. This lets the writers use Haka as an audience-surrogate as a "how did you guys get so messed up?" kind of way. Here's where the Prime Wardens title gets wrapped up in the limited series...
Prime War Setup
- This is kind of the upside of everything that's been going on. These new writers have been given no budget, tons of oversight, a cutback on print quality (back to newsprint - lower quality than standard comics of the day by this point), and a mandate to wrap things up, but in the year they've been going they've been doing some great stuff (which only the core of dedicated readers, who are all that are left at this point, notice). Management gives them a choice: they can be rolled into the main comics line to work there, or they can try to resurrect something from this mess (failure leaving them without a position here). They opt for the latter. Lets do this.
- They start this 6-issue limited series, Prime War that will be the destruction of the Mist Storm Universe and involves a lot of characters being pulled out of this reality by powerful beings known as Prime Aspects.
- We know a lot about what the characters in Sentinel Tactics had been up to during this whole thing, but now we're going to go into the Prime Wardens and associated characters (heroes and villains) that they've been putting off discussing until later. It's later.
- After OblivAeon, he was out drifting in space. His book starts off with a summary of what happened between then and when the Mist Storm books begin. He was recovered by Galactra who was glad to see him defeated, but she's got some conflicting passions about this situation - she wanted revenge for all the times he defeated her, but she also loves him and she decides that it's ultimately more important to her that he exists than for her to do so. She sacrifices her power to infuse him with it to revive him. So, when he returns he's got his original power, his brother's power that he inherited after Nigel's sacrifice, and now Galactra's power also from a sacrifice (he wakes up in time to see her die). So he's got a lot of weight on his shoulder to make their sacrifices "worth it", but also in terms of having his brother's madness and Galactra's passions that were tied up with their powers.
- We get his adventures in space and then his return to Earth and joining up with the Prime Wardens, but his book is largely about this inner conflict. He was a very ordered person in terms of his original powers, but now he's got two additional chaotic (in different ways) aspects to deal with.
- We start with him turning Plavu'Col into some kind of climate-controlled utopia that he plans to use to feed the planet. The other Maerynians have left Earth by this point (humanity's reaction to people with powers didn't sit well with a society made entirely of people with powers, so as soon as they could identify a workable alternative, they left), but Tempest stayed on his adopted home. He's inviting farmers, refugees, and others to come to the abandoned Plavu'Col to continue to use it as a refuge of sorts. It's not a nation, but it's a place designed to produce enough food for everybody and drive in this regards kind of makes him develop something of a messiah complex.
- As the Prime Wardens become a more and more public team (as opposed to the Freedom Five who are more and more in the fringes) they're operating in a more bombastic "we're here to help, deal with it, good luck stopping us" kind of mentality as they go. Tempest really gets into this, but it kind of winds up going in a weird direction. The Mist Storm eventually overcomes Plavu'Col, killing everybody there (and further giving people "proof" of the problems that powered people bring).
- Enough time has passed since OblivAeon that she's no longer actively grieving for Ra, but she's still different from this experience. We open here with her as this really punishing character - her faith has been shaken and she's no longer sure what she believes anymore (and Fanatic not being sure of what she believes makes her a very different character). She's still kind of putting up the same old front of who she is, but sometimes her powers will fail her and she finds that she's not at her most powerful when she's leaning on her faith, but when she's being most honest about who she thinks she is. More identity issues! This is not helped by the fact that a kind of cult starts to form around her. People who have heard out about her come to her and tell her that she's who they believe in and pray to. This doesn't sit well with her at all, but things keep happening to her that reinforces what they're saying about her and this really messes her up. Then Argent Adept calls her up to help with Akash'Dharsha and she's very grateful to have something simple like a giant OblivAeon-shard-powered tree spirit to punch and the Prime Wardens is a good place for her to deal with all of this other personal stuff.
- While the PW book is going, she's working through things. She may be unsure about a lot of what's happening to her, but she knows good from evil and she's going to do the former while/by stopping the latter. She discovers that she can "remove the sin from people" - she reaches into them with her power and cuts out the tainted portion of their soul, bringing it into herself and she has to deal with their burden. What she's actually doing, though, is removing stuff dealing with free will - taking away their ability to do bad things and putting them into herself. She has to exercise immense self control through this process to not lash out while she bottles it up. She's doing this to bad guys she fights, but the more she does it the more she starts to see this little badness stain on everybody and she starts to think that she could cleanse the world. That's where we leave off with her.
- As mentioned, he got the PW band back together for Akash'Dharsha. He's been collecting more of the previous Virtuosos' instruments (of note beyond those in his SotM deck are Franz Vogel's, the Crimson Conductor, baton and Ruairí O'Ceallaigh's, the Chartreuse Chanteuse, fiddle), as he needs whatever power he can get due to the increased power that Akash'Dharsha has. The more he uses them, the more they're starting to pull bits of him into the Void (collecting other Virtuosos' instruments is not how things typically work). As mentioned in the Future section of episode 29, he gets Pinion to help him out and together they create a songbook, the Libretta Obscura, that they use to help manage all of these instruments at once - he's connected to the book, and he can use the book to control the instruments instead of doing so directly. This is ill advised, but now he's seemingly got a "firewall" between himself and all of the power the instruments represent, so why not just continue to collect them (or any/all other ways that people have accessed the Void as "perfect access to the Void" is what he thinks he needs)?
- Through the end of the PW book, we see him becoming more concerned with this quest for power than the superhero/saving the world stuff.
- When AA was calling the team together again, Haka was notably absent. To round out the team, he approached Sky-Scraper to fill in as she's worked together with everybody. She doesn't have a solo book, so much of her personal story is either told in the occasional Sentinel Sagas issue or on the sidelines of the team book.
- During the OblivAeon fight, the Bloodsworn Colosseum is summoned to Earth and Kaargra and the gladiators fight OblivAeon and it's awesome. As a result, the Colosseum is destroyed, though [they aren't sure if this had been mentioned before; it had been in Kaargra's episode]. Some gladiators are killed as well, Kaargra and some of them go back out into space, and some remain on Earth. In the Sentinel Comics Universe, we don't really see any indication of the Bloodsworn entity again and it's just sort of left at that - the general treatment being that once the Colosseum was destroyed it ceased to be a factor. In the Mist Storm Universe, the Bloodsworn entity is still around and had reached out to Sky-Scraper. When she and the other heroes defeated Kaargra, Sky-Scraper should have assumed control of the Colosseum and Kaargra's power, but she just wanted to leave instead. Now that the Colosseum has been destroyed, the entity still needs a champion and Portja's the girl for the job if she wants it. She accepts (the taste of the additional power she got with Luminary's help made the deal tempting). She becomes even more physically powerful and foregoes the devices that Luminary made for her as well as the Links (and the stealth-based approach that goes along with them) in order to fight for glory. The movement of the Prime Wardens into a more public group was at her instigation as part of this. While some on the team hold back on this at first, it kind of works for them. They're really powerful, so who's really going to be able to stop them regardless of how well-known they are? Additionally, Portja doesn't really suffer any real negative effects from this - she's more bombastic and aggressive in her drive to fight and win, but it's not like she has her morality altered.
- So, once Haka walks out the mist and sees "space messiah" Tempest, soul-lobotomizing Fanatic, and power-obsessed Argent Adept, and a pulled-in-three-directions Captain Cosmic he's just dumbfounded that these actually are the people he knew for so long. Haka's been wandering the Mists. He had been in another reality on a mission when OblivAeon was defeated and the ways between realities were locked. At the last moment, he attempted to dive back through a mist portal to get home, but wound up in the portal when it closed, which resulted in him being trapped in the mists (and he doesn't know how long it's been). The mists are antithetical to life and they try (and succeed multiple times) to kill him, but he's Haka and that's not going to be enough to stop him. He eventually finally hears a voice calling out in the mists - Captain Cosmic, and coming to his friend's aid was how he finally found a way out.
- As mentioned in his episode, his form winds up almost unusable and he winds up inhabiting a really big OblivAeon shard that he makes into a sword. At first, he waits for/induces somebody to pick it up at which point he takes over their body. This is a really short-term thing, though, as the process wears out those bodies as well in a matter of hours. If only he could do this to somebody who already has a bunch of power as that might help them survive the process. Enter the Seer - somebody who's already mixed up in a bunch of Host stuff (see the Fanatic and Apostate episodes for how this stuff works) and so he's got a connection there. Once he picks up the sword, however, Apostate realizes that he can forego the possession plan. He just straight up drains all of the Seer's power instead, which gives him enough mojo to simply manifest his own usual body. Apostate is really the sword, but he's got this body that he can use to get around (and it's somewhat off - it looks even more demonic than was usual for him).
- We get all of this is bits and pieces. He first shows up in Fanatic's story where he's infiltrating this cult that's formed around her, but when he actually gets to her and sees what's happened to her, he kind of just leaves again. She's super messed up and doesn't know what she is anymore, which isn't fun for him if she's done it to herself. So, now that he can halfheartedly pull out the Mission Accomplished banner, he kind of goes on a journey of self-discovery. He's kind of moved beyond the "spirit of deception" thing he had going on at first and is his own entity. He fights Ra and Chimera at various points. He's in some Prime Wardens and Sentinel Sagas stories here and there. He's mostly just out for chaos.
Blood Countess Bathory
- Still pretty much the same old Blood Countess. She sees the Big Picture more than a lot of other characters and how the world has changed (public opinion re: superpowers, the Mist Storm itself, how technology has reached the point where it's harder to keep the whole "legend" thing going, etc.). She is not happy with how things are going. She spends less time with the Court of Blood as she seeks a ritual or whatever that will let her maintain (or revert to) a reality that she would prefer. She shows up in a bunch of stories, but this seeking power plot is what underlies her appearances prior to Prime War.
- So, Writhe has had 2 primary power sources: the Shadow Cloak that he created and the OblivAeon shard. During OblivAeon, he winds up killing the Scion Void Soul (more in later episodes), and uses its body (which is some kind of shadow energy body rather than a physical thing) as a new power source after he loses the OblivAeon shard. He's now basically just always on the lookout for more power sources as he's gone through three so far and each as progressively fed more into this chaotic nature. At this point he actually becomes something of a primary villain for the Prime Wardens.
- Doesn't really fit in the "hero" or "villain" categories, but necessary to talk about it. The General Liaison Administration for Super Safety is a not-for-profit advocacy group - it's for people sympathetic to superheroes to donate to for legal (and other kinds of) support, up to and including helping people step away from being a superhero and establish a new identity out of the spotlight. There's also an internal function to the group that's a bit more... extreme: the Guerilla Liberation Army for System Subversion, which is fighting to break super-powered people from prison or other forms of incarceration, getting rid of things like the bounties mentioned above that Expat and Ambuscade were involved with, etc. Lots of tearing down of systems that were put in place to oppress supers. This second section of G.L.A.S.S. has a few strike teams in play (organized in cells - the members don't know one anothers' full names, or maybe even their real first names and may or may not have powers themselves), one of which is:
- P.R.I.S.M. (Personnel Recovery, Infiltration, and Sabotage Maneuvers) - Paige, Rebecca, Isaac, Solomon, and Malcom. Paige, the leader of the group has power. Back in the K.N.Y.F.E. episode we learned that during OblivAeon, K.N.Y.F.E. encountered hundreds of versions of herself from alternate realities in the Wagner Mars Base and they were all killed there. When that happened, there was all of this energy released that all "knew" itself to be this Paige Huntly person and so found the one from this reality (remember that "our" K.N.Y.F.E. wasn't a native to the main timeline's universe) and empowered her. This is not a pleasant experience, but she manages to eventually learn to control it and now has this bright green energy control thing going.
- The most interesting character story for her is a one-shot, Highland Robbery, where the P.R.I.S.M. team break into a super-suppression compound/prison to rescue the powered people there (heroes, villains, or just other people with power since OblivAeon). This includes some big-time, noteworthy villains and she's just busting everybody out regardless of who they are. The job is to free the people with superpowers. It's clear that her motivation is just universal freedom.
- The public-outreach side also has somebody noteworthy in its ranks. Somewhere in the administration sections is one Kim Howell. She's the one funneling the funds from the public side to the covert side. She's also really weird (and that's saying something for Parse) - she never really recovered from the Fugue State and is still "pretty connected to OblivAeon". We've got all of these OblivAeon shards floating around in this reality and several people are in the habit of collecting them, concentrating the OblivAeon power in specific locations and this is what she's still connected to. Additionally, she's one of the people collecting shards. She doesn't even know why - she's got a vague sense that she needs to do so to fix things, but that the ones she has are broken. However, she can see how to make them perfect, reforming them into bolts/darts/small projectiles that are no longer "shards" with all the jaggedness that implies. She keeps them on her person and she has complete control of them (like, she can manipulate them mentally - she can fire them off or return them without any other device/equipment like a bow). Nobody is close enough to her to be able to notice/tell her how dangerous to reality she's getting with these things.
- She does get a one-shot, Syntax Error, where she's coming out of the Fugue State to the status described above. She's got dysphasia during this process and can't really communicate effectively while she's going through all of this and kind of figuring out what's important to her now. It's got a lot of her thought bubbles, but even these are highly disjointed.
Prime War Story
- We have to know about the Prime Aspects (some, but not all of whom are Singular Entities) who are "warring" [there was some hesitation before using that word]. This goes back to the beginning of the Mist Storm Universe. Jansa vi Dero had taken the Enclave outside time and space and was in a position to observe these Aspects discussing things from the vantage of Ur-Space. The humans are collecting and using these OblivAeon shards and are going to destroy the universe (likely without realizing that this is what's happening). Jansa doesn't think that they will; that humans will manage to avoid that and she says so. A voice chimes in with a "I'll take that bet." A wager is made and the Prime War begins.
- The Prime War begins with Wager Master basically having power over Ur-Space. Five Prime Aspects come forward to champion certain aspects of reality. These are:
- Preservation - Jansa vi Dero, not a Singular Entity, but a being who's all about preservation and is operating at this level as a Prime Aspect.
- Progress - Wellspring [the Singular Entity that's responsible for the Legacy line.]
- Chaos - Wager Master.
- Conquest - a Singular Entity that we haven't heard a name for yet, although it's been operating on the fringes of some events, Malavox.
- Glory - the Bloodsworn entity (not a Singular Entity), with the destruction of the Mist Storm Universe, it winds up in Ur-Space and takes part in this.
- Each of these picks champions from disparate realities for the conflict. People from the Mist Storm Universe are over-represented due to its status as the instigating reality, what with all of the OblivAeon shards and the Mist Storm. The Prime War limited series starts off by setting up this conflict and the drafting of the first set of champions.
- How does the unpopularity of heroes with the general population actually manifest (booing Bunker on the street, etc.)? Mostly it's a public distrust and an outcry for authorities to treat them as vigilantes. When powers are on display in public, people jeering/throwing things isn't unheard of. An interesting knock-on effect is that you don't really see magician buskers anymore as you don't want to give anybody the impression that you have powers.
- How was the prologue portrayed in the publishing meta-verse? The question might be referring to two things - the story in the Mist Storm Universe just kind of jumps right in and "history" is filled in later. There wasn't an up-front explanation of how things had gone down since OblivAeon or whatever, you were expected to pick up on things like "heroes are distrusted" from context. Given all of the detail above, they don't want to give the impression that these were badly-written stories - they were frequently really well-written and so this stuff did get across to the readers. The problem is that they made bad story choices rather than that they were bad at telling stories. If you meant Prime War, the limited series began with the setup, as mentioned above.
- Way back in the Argent Adept episode, we were told that he and Pinion making his songbook was a bad idea - what about it makes it so? What are the consequences for having done so? He's no longer using the instruments to access the Void as a Virtuoso should. He's banked everything on his ability to channel the Void energy through this one book and he's drawing as much of that energy as he can. It's like he's plugged all of his instruments into a surge protector and then jammed a fork in it - there's only so much it can handle. The big takeaway here is that people should not have as much access to the Void as he's accumulated.
- What's the status/location of the Nexus of the Void in this reality? The Mist Storm has prevented it from re-forming. The Mist Storm formed around the Nexus of the Void; that's why it's there. It bloomed out of the Nexus and is drawing energy from it. This also means that there is now no Nexus in this reality as it hasn't been able to re-form and this is a problem (and is also tied to why AA is trying to find other methods of accessing the Void).
- [Letter sign-off laments the lack of Thiago!Ra after this reality ends and the guys don't contradict that statement]
- Earlier episodes mentioned that in this reality Tempest was the last Maerynian on Earth - just to clarify is this because the others died or simply left Earth? As mentioned above, they left because of the climate of anti-powered sentiment and settled on another planet (of course, eventually the Mist Storm kills everybody anyway).
- Given that Prime War indicates the end of the Mist Storm timeline, does this mean that the Prime War game is the last product to be set there or would any subsequent ones just be from earlier in the timeline or some other kind of timeline shenanigans? There are definitely shenanigans, but "end of the universe" is as dire as it sounds. It is unlikely that further products would be set in the Vertex line (but they can't rule out some very specific thing cropping up), but Prime War launches a new line, so more on that in the Future.
- Were you always intending on destroying this timeline or did you decide to do so after Sentinel Tactics flopped? In short, yes it was planned that the Mist Storm [introduced in the Uprising expansion that was funded/produced the same time as the Flame of Freedom base set] would eventually destroy the universe. There was initially a different plot planned for that, tied to the OblivAeon shards and whatnot from the beginning. Once it was clear that Sentinel Tactics as it stood needed to be shelved while they took things in a new direction, they also decided to accelerate the story and use the end of the universe as the new jumping on point and will work in elements of what they'd planned prior to this elsewhere. They don't want to give the impression that they have written/planned everything out and that's that - they plan things out, but remain flexible in how things play out. Having said that, this is the biggest course-correction they've had to do within that "flexible" framework. They're still happy with how the story wound up to this point - they got to tell some interesting meta-verse stories involving the Vertex writers and whatnot and so got into the extravagances of the comics industry that they might not have otherwise.
- What is Guise doing out in space as you never indicated that he came back to Earth? These writers didn't like Guise. They eventually (because of fan requests) included him near the end of the solo Captain Cosmic book. CC encounters Guise just sitting on a moon babbling incoherently. He's been fighting in space battles and has grown in power, but he's broken somehow (even for Guise). The thing is, he's babbling about true things - Singular Entities, the multiverse, and how he can see how it's all connected. Captain Cosmic chooses to just leave him there, though. Sure, he's powerful, but he would just be too dangerous to have around given his disconnectedness.
- Why did Miss Info take up the Glamour role? What did she do to Mittermeier? Well, the Glamour she "replaced" was Aislin Allen. Miss Info has faked her own death and so kills Aislin in order to take over the Glamour identity to keep that charade going.
- What role to Catastrophe and Verge [characters from the shelved Battle for Broken City expansion for Sentinel Tactics] play? Will they show up in Prime War? They're side characters in the Dark Watch stories - they were just some kids in Broken City who got powers and are trying to help. The instability of their powers are meant to point at what's going on in Broken City. They're not in the immediate plans for Prime War, but it's not off the table.
- Is it ever confirmed that the Mist Storm is directly related to NightMist's Mist Portals during OblivAeon? Yes, explicitly here and in the pages of the comics.
- Is the Dark Watch team able to salvage Broken City? No - and then the universe ends anyway.
- How is Renegade still up and going? Barely. He shows up in Broken City to try to make things better, but one story eventually has him and Exemplar facing off and the latter just caves Renegade's skull in and kills him (showcasing what Exemplar is physically capable of given that up to that point he hadn't really gotten into direct fights). They needed to set that up prior to his final confrontation with Dark Watch (which results in his death).
- What happens with an OblivAeon-shard-powered Citizen Dawn? What were her plans with a resurrected Citizen Pain? We don't really see. She loses the initial conflict, and she's still around collecting shards and they were going somewhere with this, but then the universe ended/comics got cancelled. The plan with Pain was to resurrect him, crank him to 11 with shards, and use his powers to wipe out vast swaths of non-powered people. The writers chose to use him because his history was one of the edgiest stories back in the day, so why not bring that back up and do more with it.
- You've used Ur-Space in prior episodes (generally as a synonym for the Beyond/Outside Time and Space thing), but the Prime War blurb makes it sound like it's a new thing - so which is it? Ur-Space is that Beyond Time and Space thing - it's outside of all realities and is a "place" from which powerful entities (not exclusive to Singular Entities) can access individual realities. In Prime War - it's the vantage point from which the Prime Aspects are observing things, pulling people out of individual realities, and either creating places for these champions to battle in (mimicking parts of specific realities) or sending their teams into specific realities on missions (recruit this person from here, go change/preserve what's going on there, etc.).
- What role do the Prime Aspects play in the comics? In the game are the players taking the role of them? Where they specific, named characters? The last they talked about - who the five of them are. The players aren't taking on that role in the game (you're playing your character - I guess if you are playing multiple characters at once you could kind of consider yourself to be playing as a Prime Aspect, but that wasn't really the intent). In the comics, the idea of "Prime Aspect" was new for Prime War. While "Singular Entities" had been around for a long time, that term has been around a shorter time and is more of a meta-level descriptor than an in-setting status that a being has and could identify themselves as. They're the main characters of Prime War with the heroes/villains as more minor characters. As things progress into Disparation later, they fall into the background a bit - they're directing things, but their champions are the main focus (and don't necessarily even trust their patron). Prior to all of this, these things are generally used to fill the narrative role where writers wanted characters to interact with a "god" - some nigh-omnipotent being - and it would wind up being one of these things.
- Plans to have a video game adaptation of Prime War or just tabletop? There has to be demand for it. They're making a board game now. If it sells well and there's enough call for an electronic version, then that might happen. They're excited about the game, so they'd like it to happen, but business is business.
- Vertex as a comics line ends here. Prime War is technically a Vertex title in the way that publishing works, but the Vertex branding isn't on them and it doesn't expect you to know anything about the Vertex line to this point (given that it opens with the Prime Aspects doing their thing outside reality, talking about a universe on the verge of destruction, then the destruction happens and they pull individuals out of it - the setup doesn't require you to know more about that reality in particular). It does give a brief blurb about what each of the characters have been up to/what's happened to them. After this, we get two new books that are part of the official Sentinel Comics line (not a separate line like Vertex had been; these books continue Disparation. The post-OblivAeon era of publication didn't have a Disparation title. Here we have two books, each about one of the Prime Aspects' teams and they're doing the stuff that the Prime Aspects are directing them to do, but for the time being they don't actually cross over into the main Sentinel Comics Universe.
- One book is Wardens of Disparation and follows the Preservation team (within the comics referred to just as the Wardens - the "Disparation" part of either title is just branding) directed by Jansa and their missions tend to be about recruiting new members or going into a reality to repair something that aligns with her goals. Lots of reality-manipulation stuff - finding the parts of realities that are working and keep them running.
- Then we have Mavericks of Disparation which follows team Progress directed by Wellspring. It's a more radical team more about shaking things up to try to get them moving forward rather than stagnating.
- These two teams are at odds despite both being "good" teams (the way the whole Prime War thing is set up are that there are 2 "good guy" teams, 2 "bad guy" teams, and one neutral self-serving team, but that doesn't mean that the good or bad teams get along with their counterparts - or even that they're made up entirely of good or bad people). They cross over between the books occasionally, but they're much more likely to run into the other three teams.
- Who's on the teams (at least the starting lineups)? Note that they don't get to choose their own teammates:
- Preservation: Captain Cosmic [Mist Storm Universe], Haka ["our" Haka who wound up in the MSU by the end], Blood Countess [MSU], and Black Frost [the inverted universe version of Absolute Zero].
- Progress: Parse [MSU], P.R.I.S.M. [MSU Paige Huntly takes the team name as a personal moniker], and Man-Grove [from an unspecified universe where it rose up against Akash'Bhuta as a hero, although not a Virtuoso, defeated her and took her role as Earth Spirit - this required the same dormant state that Akash'Bhuta had to do and it was during this phase of its existence that it was pulled out for Prime War]
- Glory: Sky-Scraper [MSU - not all teams have a leader, but SS is the leader of this one], Tempest [MSU - Tempest, working for Sky-Scraper, and for Glory of all things? This is where his whole story has been leading], and Wind Walker [alternate reality Chrono-Ranger type character - she's featured as the central character on the "Be the Gate" cover for Dark Watch vol. 2 #18].
- Chaos: Apostate [MSU], Writhe [MSU], and Night Terror [Expatriette from the Disparation vol. 2 #10-14 arc featured in episode 62].
- Conquest: Fanatic [MSU - Malavox chose her due to her current tendency to conquer others' will to make them "good"], Argent Adept [MSU - he's trying to conquer the Void and he'll have the opportunity in these disparate realities to seek out other Virtuosos and take their instruments], and Count Barzakh [Supply and Demand Benchmark's home reality and featured on that variant card's incapacitated side - side note: MSU Benchmark was killed off, the Vertex writers thought he had been pushed too strongly as the new best thing at the end of the Multiverse and so just unceremoniously killed off]