The Letters Page: Episode 94
Let's talk about all the heroes from the OblivAeon Mission Deck!
Run Time: 1:03:42
Only a few minutes of goofs and gags before we get to a brief overview! Then, just after the 4 minute mark, we're right on to your insightful and exhaustive questions!
The first question goes through ALL of the mission deck heroes, so that takes up the bulk of the episode. The question after that asks about the Be The Gate heroes, who cross over a little with the Mission Deck, but not entirely! Still, fair game.
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- Setback, Lucky Break
- Legacy, Everyman, El Mejor Legado
- The Freedom Five, The Freedom Foundation
- The Paradigms
- Bunker, Cold War
- Absolute Zero
- Tempest, Citizen Storm
- Citizen Dawn
- The two Hakas
- Prime/Primal Wardens
- Argent Adept/Artist
- Chrono-Ranger, Chronoist, Wind Walker
- La Comodora
- Omnitron, Omnitron-U, Omni-Unity
- Parse, Cursor
- Captain Cosmic
- Akash'Thriya, Akash
- Portja Kir'Pro - Tempest
- Fanatic, White Knight/Bannerette
- The proposed topic for this episode was “Heroes from the Mission Deck”, but the connection between them is stronger than just the game-mechanical grouping. They are all heroes who came to fight against OblivAeon once NightMist became the gate between realities and so includes those on the “Be the Gate” cover from the ARG.
- So we heard all about Seraph already in Episode 91, but did he have any particularly awesome moments in the OblivAeon fight? This is a good starting point as it applies to all the Mission Deck heroes - they are all important to the OblivAeon fight as they (and the other thousands of heroes that came through - like page after page of them all fighting OblivAeon in an extended montage of the events as they’re all helping) were necessary to be there in order for OblivAeon to have been defeated, but it’s also true that their actions were not meant to upstage the “regular” heroes.
- What’s Lucky Break’s universe like and how do his powers compare to Setback and Legacy? The universe is similar to the canon one in terms of how things are going, but most details are just tweaked a little bit. For example, rather than the government-sponsored team called the Freedom Five based in Megalopolis, we have a corporate-sponsored (the company is RenoCorp) team called The Paradigms based in Megatropolis. RenoCorp is a company who uses science/technology to help people who have powers, but are struggling with them in some way. For example, Peter Riske had this general bad luck around him and the company’s treatment (in addition to unlocking some other latent powers like super strength and flight) altered his luck powers such that he can push on the luck of others to make good things happen to them. Now, that effect is still variable so the good luck might manifest in only a minor benefit or an incredibly lucky break, but it’s now always positive.
- What are the circumstances of Cold War’s world (is it a result of the USA/USSR conflict ending in a more violent way)? Is this Soviet-themed Bunker/Absolute Zero looking guy a hero (given the tendency for Soviet-themed characters to normally be flavored as antagonists)? This isn’t a nice world - it has more in common with the Final Wasteland than just about anything else. The heroes aren’t fighting “villains” so much as “monsters” - the cold war did end with everybody hitting the nuclear button and very little of the human population survived. Those that did are in underground bunkers hiding not only from the expected effects of nuclear winter, but also from the mutant abominations left on the surface. One Soviet bunker held a man named Techek Vanzin, a mechanically-inclined soldier. Along with some scientists in the bunker with him they developed a suit that could harness the cold weather outside as an energy source [take that, thermodynamics!]. He uses the suit to go out and battle the monsters out there and protect the bunker.
- What drove Citizen Storm on the warpath given that Tempest was so diplomatic? Does his change of heart (he stops fighting you and joins forces to fight OblivAeon) represent a change he’ll take with him back to his home reality or just expedience/a temporary acknowledgement of the heroes strong enough to face him? His back story is very much Tempest’s backstory right up until a pivot point where it suddenly becomes Citizen Dawn’s backstory. An important difference is that when his planet is destroyed, he’s the only survivor as far as he knows. He travels to Earth in his escape pod and F.I.L.T.E.R. does their thing when he arrives. Having fled a hostile force, and then having some time to ruminate on his loss, and then arriving to find another hostile force, he just says screw it and goes full-Dark Side and kills the F.I.L.T.E.R. team. He just wants to be left alone and finds this island with nobody on it (but plenty of dinosaurs), but other powered people hear about this place and go to join him and the Citizens of the Storm thing happens. Under his leadership they’re both more aggressive and more successful than their more solar counterparts from the main universe. They take over their world and are opposed by the Primal Wardens - a team that’s forced to live out in the wilds away from civilization because you either join the Citizens of the Storm, get killed by the Citizens of the Storm, or hide from the Citizens of the Storm. When Citizen Storm shows up in the main reality he figures he took over one Earth, so he may as well take over this one too now that he’s here. Of course, then there’s all of these powered people fighting already, but not him. They point out this giant reality-ending OblivAeon guy and Citizen Storm justifiably recognizes that this should probably have priority.
- We’ve heard a fair amount about Arataki by now, but how did other heroes react to her presence/“our” Haka’s absence and what did she do in the OblivAeon fight? Yeah, they’ve talked about her before - she’s the Haka of her world (the same one that Citizen Storm is from) and has a similar boisterous/jovial personality, but the situation of the Primal Wardens there is a bit more strained than that of the Prime Wardens here. She lacks the open warmness that Aata has and is slower to trust and quicker to anger as she’s seen a fair amount of betrayal - many heroes that she called friends ultimately joined up with the Citizens of the Storm rather than continue the resistance. Post-OblivAeon we know that she fights Tempest because she mistakes him for Citizen Storm (this plays out in the Prime Wardens vol. 2 #67 issue that makes up part of the RPG Starter Kit), but winds up becoming a founding member of the new iteration of the Prime Wardens. She’s got a lot of adjusting to do, but so does everyone else given that she’s familiar but also a big change from their old friend. They don’t treat her as if she was the same person as Aata and she doesn’t assume that the people she “knew” are the same as these new people either. The closest to that is Argent Adept as our Anthony Drake is very much like hers, only with music instead of painting. During the OblivAeon event she did a great job as a brawler, taking on lots of Aeon Men and whatnot, pretty much exactly what you’d expect Haka to do in that fight.
- Everyman has been revealed to be his universe’s Paul Parsons - what other powers does he have besides duplication (and if he has a child, what kind of powers could we expect him/her to develop)? The family starts off pretty similar (Danger Sense and Exceptional Athletic Condition for the first two generations), then we diverge to Expanded Situational Awareness (instead of Super Speed) - he’s very good at knowing what is going on around him to the degree that he almost seems to know what’s about to happen (the guys describe is at something approaching a combination of precognition and echolocation, but distinct from either of those) and so is very comfortable in the chaos of combat. The next three are the same (Super Strength, Single-Attack Negation, and Vitality), which brings us to the World War I-era generation (who was the first “Legacy” in the main timeline) - instead of flight, the first Everyman is the one who developed the Duplication power. This interfaces with older powers in an interesting way - between Danger Sense and the Expanded Situational Awareness he kind of gets something like a neural net across all of the duplicates active at the time - all duplicates are sharing sensory information with all other duplicates. This means that he can manage having a lot of duplicates better than Proletariat does his clones. Each duplicate does get a reduced share of the physical powers (strength, speed, etc.), but it’s not zero-sum - if he makes 1 duplicate they aren’t both at half strength, but there is a noticeable reduction. The next generation is the one who crosses over for the OblivAeon event and he gets Individual Clone Autonomy (so missing out on the Keen Eyesight and Bullet-proof Skin powers for the comic-book Legacies) - he can “disconnect” a duplicate (or a group of them) from that network to have him go off and do something unrelated to whatever the main group is doing and then “upload” all of his experiences to the group once he returns. Sending individuals off for reconnaissance missions or having small groups broken off to do squad tactics without interference from non-members, etc. We don’t know if Everyman had any child in that universe - Christopher and Adam have talked about what kinds of powers the next generation could have that would be neat, but they didn’t decide on one.
- What’s the world of El Mejor Legado like? It’s very different. The places we know of as First World nations have all fallen over time due to a series of successful Villain plots - they were just more successful here than in many other worlds. As a result, what had been less-advanced countries wind up as the “more-advanced” ones due to the attrition at the top. It’s not a post-apocalyptic wasteland, just one with a much different (and dangerous) geopolitical landscape, but one that still has hope for the future. Buenos Aires, Argentina is the home of one Paulo Parsón, El Mejor Legado. He’s “pretty much exactly Legacy”, only from Argentina and relating to its history instead of that of the United States.
- What’s the deal with Chronoist other than saving Chrono-Ranger from Pompeii? Does he have similar control over time that La Comodora has? Does he show up in Disparation stories leading up to OblivAeon? How long has he been at this time traveling thing? He’s his world’s version of Chrono-Ranger rather than being something like La Capitan/Comodora. As was mentioned back in Chrono-Ranger’s episode, we know that his version of CON is named CHE. La Comodora has run across him on several occasions, but mostly in passing - she didn’t have the ongoing work relationship with him that she had with Jim Brooks. He’s a Greek guy named Brygos who was a hero of his era who fought lots of monsters (Minotaurs, Hydras, etc.) and during one of these fights he was fighting a group of Gorgons. He’s victorious, but as he’s walking away one of the severed heads still has a snake that’s alive, which bites him. As his legs are turning to stone he uses his shield to sever his legs at around mid-thigh, so he’s no longer turning to stone but is now bleeding out. Then he falls through a time portal, like you do, and he winds up in a dark distant future where a robot tends to him, makes him new legs, and gives him the job offer that Jim got (rather than cryptids, this world has been overrun by creatures from what we’d call Greek myth/fable and it’s less of a “wasteland” and more of a “monster civilization”). So, where the canon timeline has Gorgons still around and living in hiding, after he’s done his job Chronoist’s universe doesn’t because he’s taken care of them.
- What is the fully-assimilated Omni-World like and how does a being from there like Omni-Unity deal with being in a world that hasn’t been taken over? Since the world is populated by people that her progenitor was obsessed with destroying, did she need to be ushered out of the main reality quickly once she was done helping out with OblivAeon? Ok, we need to start by talking about who Omni-Unity is - like the Mission card says, this world is one where Omnitron has succeeded in assimilating everything (which means some pretty terrible stuff happened if you think about it). However, once Omnitron succeeded, the world is peaceful and idyllic (y’know, since everything is part of everything else). You know who gets tired of this situation after a while? Omnitron. All that time when it was fighting humanity, what it was really all about and had gotten used to was change and iteration. Now that’s it’s won, all of that stops and it kind of gets bored. Yearning for companionship and ideas that are not its own, it creates a “child” for itself that is not connected to the rest of the Omnitron programming - it’s still using that programming, but it’s not wired in and so can develop new experiences separate from the core of Omnitron that makes up the rest of the world. Around that time is also when the Mist Gate opens and she figures that this is why she was created, and so crosses over. Seeing this reality-ending threat, she’s even more convinced that this is what she was made for and so joins in the fight alongside Unity, Omnitron-U, and the rest of the heroes. During this, she sees the strength that comes from diversity. Unlike most of these characters whose ultimate fate they want to keep up in the air for now, they explicitly say that when the Mist Gates were about to shut, she chooses not to go back to her own universe with its singular existence - there she’s wanted, but here she’s needed. Think of how much better things would be if all of these different beings’ neural nets were interconnected with everyone else’s and everyone understands each other perfectly. She’s going to stick around and save this world by continuing the mission of Omnitron.
- Cursor, a Captain Cosmic/Parse mashup is the coolest thing you’ve ever drawn for this game, so kudos, but how did she bring about the liberation of Dok’Thorath? Also, given that Captain Cosmic and Parse are both characters whose origins are tied up with OblivAeon directly, how is she even a thing here? This Kim Howell was a low-level analyst for the British government (well, low-level within a secret government organization, so it’s all relative), and she’s monitoring all of these weird signals from space that have been coming in. One such signal is in the form of some code that streams across her monitors. When she sees it, she kind of becomes a passenger in her own body which gets up, walks down to a hidden security door that she didn’t know was there, puts her hand on a pad that scans it and lets her into the room that she should not have access to, and enters the lab and picks up this weird glowing rock that was being analyzed. Once she’s got it, she becomes a beam of orange light that blasts off through the roof and into space. She becomes the preeminent hero of her world. She’s also often out in space, though, and at the time of OblivAeon had just finished helping the liberation of Dok’Thorath. She can see the weaknesses in things, but she also can make these cosmic arrows that she can imbue with whatever quality is necessary. She can make it a fire arrow if the target needs to be set aflame, but it’s not limited to something that mundane. She can shoot a person with an arrow that will affect their mental state - shooting somebody with compassion (used a lot in the Dok’Thorath fight). One of their favorite examples of what she could do that they thought of is shooting Baron Blade with doubt (he almost entirely lacks the ability to doubt himself so making him do so is pretty funny/rude). She’s not really making Constructs like Captain Cosmic and the weaknesses she perceives are less like the physical variety that Parse sees and more “what is necessary” - she also lacks the incredible precision of Parse. They also throw out the comment that while there are a very small number of OblivAeon Shards out there, this reality happens to have one of them (which implies that this is not a multiversal copy of one of the 6 we’ve been told about before).
- On the “Be the Gate” cover from the ARG [Dark Watch vol. 2 #18], is that Akash'Thriya? Is that different from the one we know? This is from a world that’s very attuned to nature (featured in an early Disparation story), she’s just called Akash there and is an earth spirit with a sacred grove that people can come and ask for help as people are better at coexisting with nature here.
- Can you tell me everything about Wind Walker, please? No. She’s super-cool, but she’s part of Prime War and they don’t want to spoil stuff. She is a Chrono-Ranger type character and a member of the Lakota people.
- Is the lightning-Portja just a pink-skinned Thorathian whose powers are weather control? Yes. This is Portja with lightning/weather control powers. Her “hero name” is Tempest and, like you’d expect of Tempest, she fights Grand Warlord Voss and allies with the heroes of Earth.
- What is Ermine doing as a hero? This is probably the least-interesting story today. This is Ermine and it’s still Cassandra Lilya, only in this reality she was childhood friends with Maya Montgomery instead of rivals. After Maia became the Wraith, eventually she told Cassandra who insisted on joining her and trained up as a sidekick named Ermine. Eventually Wraith dies in this universe and Ermine steps up to take up her role in the world.
- Who’s the other statue on Lucky Break’s card? The other statue shown on the card is of his co-leader of the Paradigms - she was initially a Golden-Age hero of this reality named White Knight and was a pretty straightforward armor/sword/shield type fighter. A later story had that character die, but then she showed up again - she was reanimated by the Host, and this isn’t a secret thing like with Fanatic - and her name is changed to Bannerette and while she has costume changes over the years she still fights with sword and shield, but now also summons spectral knights to fight with her - members of the Host that she can call forth.
- [From around 47:17 until 49:16 we get a letter that’s pretty good - it’s about how we could tell that Chronoist is a Chrono-Ranger variant not only because of the time shenanigans, but because of the extreme attractiveness of the character. This prompts some quality joking around regarding who he might hook up with. The answer is that there’s “No time for love, Doctor Jones”, but a lot of people probably see him and just go “Wow.” The word Adonis comes to mind.]
- Is there a “Freedom Five” team in the Everyman’s universe? Is he a member? Who else is on it? There is a group called the Freedom Foundation, but it’s a much larger organization - whoever happens to be around at the time will respond when needed. Everyman is the leader and a lot of the other members would be recognizable (although naturally with some differences).
- Given the theming, it seemed likely that Cold War would have joined Perestroika, but given that he didn’t what happened to him after OblivAeon? He goes through a mist portal at the end - that doesn’t mean that he would wind up home. The Mist Portals exist to get heroes from their reality into this reality; going the other direction is less controlled. The vast majority of characters leave through portals as the fight is wrapping up, but that also means that many of them wind up places they did not intend. “Our” Haka, for example, gets lost in the mists entirely for quite a while, but others just wind up in the wrong reality in a big jumbled mess. A big part of the later Disparation and Prime War stuff is about dealing with that fallout - the good news is that all of these realities still exist, the bad news is that they’re a mess because everybody wound up in the wrong places.
- We’ve been told that while Aata has had a number of children, that he’s not really part of their lives; is this also true for Arataki? Yes, she’s had some kids. Aata’s kids have all died of old age by now (with him attending their funerals) and that’s similar to her situation in her home reality. She’d have descendants back home, but she’s no longer there.
- [Traditional singing-two-songs-at-once birthday thing for some people - song begins at 54:05]
- What’s the deal with the big bird you have to fight to get Arataki’s help? It’s just a big, flightless, terror bird - these were real animals, extinct here but still around and dangerous in her reality. The Mist Portal opens and she kind of just rolls through fighting one of these things. The idea of having one round to deal with it is the choice the heroes could make to turn aside from whatever it was they were already doing to help her and if they didn’t the wrestling match would take her right back through the portal.
- Are there any heroes you wanted to, but didn’t/couldn’t include in the Mission Deck? So many. Really they could have put the “Be the Gate” heroes here to answer this question because they would qualify, but really there are infinite heroes they could come up with to include here. They could have made this thing 5 times the size and all heroes (instead of 2/5 heroes) as basically everything they’ve ever thought of for Disparation was on the table for inclusion and then some. Heroic Luminary was initially a choice for the Mission Deck, but they made her a promo/variant instead. 15:30