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The Letters Page: Editor's Note 12
An editor's note! About Things! So many things.
Run Time: 1:11:18
- December 5th: Captain Cosmic & Infinitor
- December 12th: Cosmic Contest
- December 19th: Cosmic Settings: Wagner Mars Base, Dok'Thorath, Celestial Tribunal, Enclave of the Endlings
- December 26th: Kaargra Warfang and the Bloodsworn Colosseum
- December 28th: Editor's Note #13
Topics of today's Editor's Note:
- Wager Master
- The Scholar
- The Wraith
- Rook City
- The Chairman
- The nature of time
Don't forget, the deadline for getting your Cosmic Contest entries in is Wednesday, December 6th!
- Dec. 5 - Captain Cosmic and Infinitor combo episode because their stories are so closely linked.
- Dec. 6 by 11:59 PM - the deadline for Cosmic Contest bracket submissions.
- Dec. 12 - the Cosmic Contest episode itself.
- Dec. 19 - Cosmic Environments (Wagner Mars Base, Dok'Thorath, The Celestial Tribunal, and Enclave of the Endlings), make sure to tag your questions with the name of the specific environment you're asking about.
- Dec. 26 - Kaargra Warfang and the Bloodsworn Colosseum.
- Dec. 28 - Editor's Note #13
- We didn't get any detail on Wager Master's origin (despite new knowledge of his being a Singular Entity and whatnot), so what's the deal with the first Wager that he lost (that nothing would happen)? The outside of space and time locality that is that complicated to talk about is where Chrono-Ranger and La Capitan/La Comodora get stuck at various points. However, the idea of what happened or existed "before" the universe is outside of the scope of Sentinel Comics and therefore outside of the scope of the podcast. They are intentionally sidestepping the question of what the "origin" or "creation story" of the universe is except to say that it's "the same as our universe", whatever that is.
- Follow up on Guise, who's not here anymore, Obviously [Just go away already!], we're told that Scholar and Guise worked together during the Deadline event, but we're also told that they didn't "team up" until Progeny, so which is it? Scholar, Naturalist, and Guise were all working together (mostly the first two) were working to fix ley lines well after the Deadline event, not during that event.
- Why is the first appearance of Santa Guise listed as The Banana Game, shouldn't it be his Christmas Spectacular? Yes, it should be the Christmas issue.
- What was the name of the series that featured the Guise/Scholar team-up? That primarily happened in Guise's solo title that he had by that point, The Guise Book (like, you'd see the numbering like Guise #3 or whatever, but the cover always said "The Guise Book").
- He's the best hero ever, why so mean to him? It's a two-person recording room and him showing up uninvited just got on their bad sides. They really like him and are sorry for treating him so mean.
- Where does Guise live that a farmer's market is going to have bananas? The Megalopolis farmer's market often has bananas and he's generally able to get some there.
- Can Guise travel in time in the comic (breaking through the gutters between panels to interact with things out of sequence)? They could see this being a specific gimmick for a single book and it's all built around the mess caused by this. From others' perspectives it would look like Guise was walking in circles talking to himself or making a duplicate of himself out of his body to have a conversation with. He would think that he's traveling through time or whatever, but he's not really.
- If I sleeve my copy of Guise's deck, would he suffocate? Guise doesn't need to breathe (he needs oxygen, but it absorbs through his skin and the sleeves won't be enough to keep that from working. He acts like he does and would gasp and mime like he's drowning or whatever, but he'll be fine.
- Is there an alternate-universe Guise who's totally serious and not funny? Sure, somewhere in the multiverse there's a Joseph King who got powers from Wager Master and is totally sane and goes around doing serious hero stuff. There's even a Disparation version out there where the "Gritty Reboot" grimdark version is his usual self.
- If Wager Master and OblivAeon are on similar power levels, does that mean that Guise was created out of something like a Shard? Does that make him on a power level near, say, Void Guard? "That's extremely accurate." Even before the Philosopher's Stone thing he's incredibly powerful, just too unfocused and crazy to make much use of that power.
- If Guise is delusional in thinking that he's in a comic/game/etc. does that mean that our Universe doesn't exist? Within the "card game universe", no, our universe doesn't exist. Within the Sentinel Comics setting, the bullpen of the Sentinel Comics company exists as characters creating the comics that they are part of (in the '60s there were a lot of jokey comics about fictional versions of the actual writers/artists that were never really meant to be in-continuity), but the reality in which the guys are writing about these characters and making games and whatnot doesn't itself exist within Sentinel Comics.
- What kind of comics exist within the setting of Sentinel Comics (that would be the basis for Guise to think he was a character in one of them in the first place)? Any of our favorite heroes fans with their own favorite characters? There are comics. There are some about characters within that world but they're fictionalized stories about them (there are Legacy comics, but the events depicted aren't "real" Legacy stories). There are comics about fictional heroes too, but the guys didn't go that deep in the creation process - two levels is far enough.
- The reason they make jokes about mispronouncing the word "Scholar" is because of the hours they spent looking at typeface options for the title on his deck and after enough time it stops looking like a real word. They eventually chose one, but then later Jenn (who has since become their creative director) was told this story and she whipped up something in like 5 minutes that was much better.
- Was the specific detail of Scholar's parents being on an Alaska expedition actually important for the source of his powers? It's been said (e.g. in the Argent Adept episode) that you can be born with a level of magical aptitude, just as you'd have a natural aptitude for any number of mundane skills. Scholar's magical aptitude was higher than pretty much anybody else's and that's why he could sense the ley lines (we're talking similar to Mozart's natural musical aptitude, Fischer's chess aptitude, or Michael Jordan's athletic aptitude here or higher). If he'd been trained as a wizard, he'd be one of the most powerful ever, but instead he's "just an old man with a rock and a boat."
- If his magical power was tied to his birth, would he have passed this on to his children and down the line through his descendants? Is Guise a descendant? No, Joe isn't related to him. There are descendants (although they don't know that), and while there's some magical aptitude, nobody reaches the height of the Scholar and there aren't any notable stories about them.
- What do the markings on his incapacitated art and "Mindbreaker" mean? They're alchemical markings, having to do with his disconnected state from reality. They're transmutation markings (which aren't strictly necessary now that he's got the stone), but they increase power at the cost of greater instability. Incap art is to show that he's been overcome by his own power. Mindbreaker are general look and feel of the kinds of things that happen in the Colosseum.
- How did the Hermetic actually take the stone from Scholar? First, that art is a cover, and covers lie. The two of them have met several times and Hermetic understands what he could do with the stone. This particular issue has an encounter between them where Hermetic manages to get the drop on him and gets a hand on the stone, immediately starting the process of infecting it before Scholar gets it away from him. Hermetic does get knowledge from this encounter, letting him get his blood stone as powerful as he does.
- Why no mention of an encounter with Biomancer and Scholar given their nemesis status? They never actually meet face to face. Biomancer is aware of the Scholar as soon as he picks up the Philosopher's Stone (having set up wards and whatnot) and Scholar is naturally skilled at magic in ways that Biomancer covets. Biomancer is very skilled, but will never be able to get to the point where Scholar was naturally and this is a big source of consternation for him. Biomancer sends a lot of homunculi after him, but Scholar recognizes them as things that shouldn't exist and generally just shuts them down with a touch. Biomancer is terrified of the Scholar as Scholar could undo him just as easily. That's a big reason why Biomancer couldn't be a major player in the Multiverse Era - one of the other main players could just kill him outright, but Scholar's gone now, which Biomancer can tell immediately, giving him the option to now get more involved.
- When Scholar became "of the Infinite" he's being torn apart by his connection to the Void, right? What does this mean regarding the Philosopher's Stone and how it manages the Void? What about other characters with connections to the Void like Void Guard and Argent Adept? First off, Void Guard don't have connections to the Void, they're just dealing with its incursions into reality. Argent Adept, as a Virtuoso of the Void, is a matter of manipulating it more than being "connected" to it and, while me makes more use of it, he's also taking measures to keep it out of himself. The Philosopher's Stone is "safe" from the Void as it's "practically a ley line itself" and is a conduit of natural magic, but can become dangerous for a person wielding the stone if they start mixing that with the Void.
- Other than being able to move ley lines, what does Scholar actually get out of his connection to them? What function do they serve? Does Scholar get some kind of "sense" from them to tell what's going on? Initially, he can just kind of sense where they are which might draw him in certain directions. Later, he can draw on them as a source of power to do magic. What you want to avoid doing is moving or twisting them from their natural place - they're naturally where they're supposed to be, so messing with that is bad news (breaking them like Deadline does is even worse). If something big enough is happening to disrupt them (e.g. Deadline) he's able to feel it. He feels something wrong going on with one to the point where he follows that out into space to deal with it on Dok'Thorath. He's using them for this information channel and as a conduit for powering other things more than "wielding" them himself.
- Besides Scholar's transmutations, what all can alchemy actually do (hazy on what Biomancer does with it)? Biomancer uses necromancy, which could be considered a subset of it as he's using a combination of magic and science. He's started out as an alchemist, and used that in his attempts to create a philosopher's stone (which were ultimately unsuccessful), but transitioned from that into necromancy to achieve the goals he was after. In theory an alchemist could create a homunculus as well, but it wouldn't be the fleshy kind that Biomancer makes, more of a construct instead. Alchemy is kind of a general-purpose magic that is based around "making things to do stuff" and the transfer of matter from one form to another and the energies involved in that. A Philosopher's Stone makes alchemy easier and lets your outputs be more powerful.
- In the Apostate story we heard the story about Scholar going to Tepeaquilla to deal with the dangerous political situation, how was that resolved after he helped Apostate? The political wrangling is outside of his skill set, but Gustavo Garasa was the type to be all bluster with no follow through and without Apostate pushing him just a little farther, things kind of wind down on their own (and within a few years he gets overthrown).
- If alchemy is the combination of magic and science, does that cover Unity's power as that's kind of how that was described back in her episode? What Unity does is real close to alchemy, but due to the lack of understanding of what her power actually is, it's unlikely that she'd ever go that route and become an alchemist. If she did, she'd have an ability for it, but that's not who she is as a person (although alternate realities and whatnot where 1. somebody with the ability recognizes what she's doing, 2. they offer to teach her, 3. she's of the right personality to accept that - this last is a major hurdle as the canonical Unity is interested in Science!, but we'll call this an "official" Disparation version out there).
- When the Chaos Witch, Rose Griggs, caused an explosion that resulted in Unity getting her powers, what happened to the rest of the "magical shrapnel"? Is it responsible for Choke? If not, was Choke's origin at least part of a similar process? Choke's origin is not from that incident. She's an Omega (which was a concept revealed much later in the Southwest Sentinels episode).
- Why "Unity"? She experienced very little unity in her home life and the thing about her powers is that she's able to "make friends" (which is something she's pretty bad at with people). There's something to the idea of her unifying parts around her into one "friend", but she also likes the sound of it.
- Most of her bots are temporary, but it sounds like there are some permanent ones (Augustus, the repairs to Omnitron), so are those more pure engineering? How much of that is her power just helping her to assemble working bots that she otherwise wouldn't have been able to put together manually? Augustus is also temporary. She has built 2 permanent bots that we see in the card game, using robotics as a skill and her powers as, essentially, just extra hands to help put it together. That's part of why she gets involved with Tachyon, to get better at doing this for real instead of just faking it with her power. One of the permanent bots is the medic robot in Freedom Tower, the second is her repair work on Omnitron (there's also a possible third that's a surprise, which still relies on her power a fair amount).
- We've gotten two versions of the story of Freedom Six Unity - one involving Mr. Fixer and Biomancer, another with her on her deathbed doing so herself with a medical bot, so which is it? Unity makes the medical bot into a facsimile of herself and attempts the transfer (unsuccessfully), Mr. Fixer then brings Biomancer in to put the fleshy bits on and fix the mind transfer. Biomancer, not really having a choice, agrees, but warns that while he's good at making a copy, doing an actual mind transfer is tricky and he's not going to guarantee results. The results are an incomplete transfer which is why she doesn't remember everything.
- What are the differences in power between the Golem Unity and the real one (citing art with the former affecting a whole Mobile Defense Platform)? Being part machine, she's able to interface with the MDP. Given that it's not really her anymore, this is a case of a Biomancer Clone "faking it" in terms of her power, which are technological now rather than magical (with an internal generator powering electromagnets to create the telekinetic effects normally associated with her powers).
- In Termi-Nation we see a tattoo, when and why did she get it? She got a tattoo because she's a young person who likes tattoos and so she got one at some point between when she became Tachyon's intern and the Termi-Nation event. Not every appearance change has to represent a story event.
- Prior to the introduction of "Rook City" as a specific location (which we know happened after the introduction of Black Fist in the '70s), where did Wraith operate? Was it just a generic run-down city or did they specify different real places for different stories? Was there a specific city and she later "relocated" to Rook City and, if so, did characters like Sara Scott, Eduardo López, and Maniac Jack get relocated too or were they introduced later? Were there explanations about Wraith and Black Fist having operated in the same city? What does the "Rook City Wraith" version represent as opposed to her base version? As was explained in the Urban Settings episode, it was just in an "unnamed urban environment" before the writers created Rook City and established that it's the worst city ever. They did a good job going forward of pulling detail from the old Wraith and Black Fist stories (and other stories in the "bad city") and being internally consistent. Rook City Wraith is kind of a result of her just being a generic crime fighter to being the protector of a specific city (although that role kind of gets pushed aside by the later Freedom Five involvement with that mantle then falling to the street-level heroes, e.g. Dark Watch) and the need to have her focus on detective work instead of being solely a strike-from-the-shadows fighter that she'd mostly been up to that point (and this detective work was where she got into the Jonathan Donovan story).
- How did the Montgomery family make their money? Montgomery Industries is an urban development company but not the real estate end of it as much as the infrastructure/sustainability/urban planning/etc. side. How to make urban development "work" instead of buying and selling individual properties. They're very good at this and have had lots of success all over the world, just not in Rook City for some weird reason, despite being headquartered there and putting in a lot of effort.
- Do the Wraith's parents ever figure out who she is? The Montgomeries are lovely people, and are real pie-in-the-sky big-picture focused. Sure there are these superheroes around, but it's not like Wraith was showing up in photos in the newspaper right away for them to make the connection and if they eventually do see a decent picture they're not the types of people to make the jump that their daughter (who has shown no indication that she has this big of a secret) could be this Wraith person. They'd be shocked to learn it (and they are shocked in the Mist Storm Universe when she goes public).
- Why do the original game materials not mention Wraith's home life or business (or anything not having to do with her life as a superhero)? It doesn't show up in her deck because, like the rest of the heroes, her personal life doesn't have much to do with crime fighting. She actually gets more of it in there due to the art on "Trust Fund". All of the characters have backstory or mundane life stuff predating their release in the game, and some of them get more as time moves on and they have more ideas, but it's never the case where they release something without the story behind the scenes (the process of doing the art and writing the flavor text for the cards being the most productive period in defining these things).
- Who's the guy on "Trust Fund" and what's Maia trying to get from him? He's a mid-level guy in the structure of The Organization/Pike Industries and she's talking him up as somebody who does business stuff in Rook City and we should talk about that, I sure know nothing about crime, teehee. She's not presenting herself as brainless, but is still pretending to be a bit naive about things in a bid to get him to talk about what Rook City is really like (spilling a bunch of information about the Organization). [Note from the future: In Editor's Note 16 they instead say this is Mark Benedetto. Retcon?]
- The flavor text on "Trust Fund" is from Mr. Fixer's Transmission of Honor book, is this a team-up book/limited series or what? It's a Mr. Fixer story and is something that's happening in the background of his story (he looks in a window and sees this going on - it's more of a cameo/Easter egg for the Wraith than anything). It's pre-Dark Watch and isn't a team-up series or anything.
- What does Mr. Fixer feel about aging while Wraith, who's been around at least as long, hasn't really? Back in the Black Fist era, there wasn't a lot of cross-title continuity going on. Sure, that's shortly before the whole idea of "Rook City" happened, but there was no cross-over between Black Fist stories and the Wraith. Part of Mr. Walker's story is that he's getting older, then disappears for a while, and shows up again even older, while the Wraith's stories are just about her as she is, lacking that change over time as an important detail.
- On "Rook City is Mine" we see The Chairman and some goons with the Wraith - when is this and why would Pike reveal his identity? He doesn't - she figures it out and busts in to confront him. His response is a cool "Go right ahead, Miss Montgomery, if you must." This was supposed to be a big coup for her, with building excitement from the readers that "she's going to get him!" and then it's revealed that he also knows who she is for a giant gut-punch. She can go to the press, but nobody will believe her (nobody even knows who Chairman Pike is) and business will continue as usual and calls her bluff as the public outing of her identity will have far greater consequences for her than his will for him. He doesn't even bother threatening her, he's so confident in his bulletproof status in this town.