The Letters Page: Editor's Note 15
An Editor's Note about Time and Space!
Run Time: 1:12:33
- Tuesday, March 6th: More Settings: Insula Primalis, Ruins of Atlantis, Magmaria, Fort Adamant, Omnitron-IV
- Tuesday, March 13th: Tempest
- Tuesday, March 20th: Prime Wardens
- Tuesday, March 27th: Grand Warlord Voss
- Thursday, March 29th: Editor's Note #16
We cover two primary categories of topics in this episode: TIME and SPACE!
- Time Cataclysm
- Shattering of the Timelines
- Time travel
- La Capitan
- Silver Gulch
- Final Wasteland
- Outside Time
- Wagner Mars Base
- The Apollo Missions
- Captain Cosmic
- Judge Mental
- Bloodsworn Colosseum
Also, at the very end of this month, we're launching a Patreon! Help us keep making The Letters Page, and be a part of the podcast yourself! We'll be putting more information here as we get closer to March.
Next week is Iron Legacy and other alternate realities! It's going to be a lot of ups and downs..
- When did the Time Cataclysm happen in the comics relative to, say, Vengeance? What else was going on in comics at the time? Who were some major villains effected by it? The Time Cataclysm is tied directly to the shattering of the timelines, which happened in the mid-'80s. The first thing that happens in the shattering of the timelines that kicks off the trend of events was the appearance of Visionary ("Wait, there are other realities and you can move between them?") and technically this "era" continues up through OblivAeon, but the majority of this stuff showed up from the beginning in the '80s through the early-'00s (although it never really stopped - Miss Information was a major plot and that only got started in the mid-'00s). Vengeance happened in the '90s, but largely ignored the timeline stuff (like, Doc Tusser [and Hermetic] got pulled in at some point, but not much else). The Dreamer was the first major '90s event, with Vengeance shortly afterwards.
- Side note from them confirming that the Southwest Sentinels did not appear in the '90s as mentioned in previous episodes which will require some retcons on their end [funny as their decks were introduced in the Vengeance product but could not have been present for it].
- CON can move Chrono-Ranger around in time in one reality, but time-travel/reality-hopping is only possible because OblivAeon shattered the timelines; does that mean that after OblivAeon is defeated that CON can no longer perform the time-travel function? Would CON have never been able to do so if OblivAeon had never existed? Yes to both. While there were certainly time-travel stories told in decades prior to the "official" shattering of timelines, this is the act that explains how it's even possible. Because time is complicated, the shattering of timelines in the '80s sends cracks out into the past and future from our limited, linear subjective experience and is the reason that those older stories work (it's not like anybody working at Sentinel Comics in the '80s had OblivAeon in mind as the mover of events, only that the timelines are now shattered and can be used as a plot point).
- Why did CON choose Jim Brooks? Why not open the portal directly to the bunker to prevent his encounter with the rat beasts? Jim was chosen because he was a human who showed up in the Final Wasteland and came to CON's attention before being killed by the various monstrosities. CON didn't make the portal that Jim went through to arrive there - it was just another random timelines-are-shattered effect. If Eternal Haka had become known to CON that would have been great as an option for time-travel-monster-slayer (definitely a Disparation story out there about that one).
- If Chrono-Ranger is time-traveling within one timeline, but he's working to prevent the Final Wasteland, when he's successful doesn't that create a paradox as now CON wouldn't have a post-apocalyptic wasteland to prevent and therefore no reason to send somebody back to stop it from happening? This was sort of addressed in another episode, but as it's complicated here it is again: CON's final wasteland is an eventual endpoint of the canon timeline, but as soon as it starts making changes to the past by sending Chrono-Ranger back (and he does, Jim's adventures are within the canon timeline as well), this causes a split which divorces the Final Wasteland future from the canon timeline. This process is going on all the time anyway as timelines branch off from each other, this is just an odd case due to time-travel shenanigans.
- Does CON/Jim's star create chronal energy based on the bounties or just harvest it as big changes to the timeline are accomplished (and if the latter why didn't talking to Ambuscade change things enough to charge it)? CON is harvesting the energy, but he can't do so from just any event, it's got to be the specific change that has been planned out - the mission was to kill Ambuscade and, as this wasn't what happened, the change to the timeline was off from the calculated result and the energy was lost. It was a similar enough event to gain a partial charge (and so enough to kick Chrono-Ranger out of reality), but not enough to get him home (and so he got stuck outside of time).
- Regarding La Capitan, what is a "chronological hotspot", how do they work, and how does La Capitan cause them? She doesn't cause them, they're something that just kind of happen "naturally" as a conjunction of two or more timelines. Normally, this has no effect. La Capitan, however, can see them and actually cause the overlap to have an effect. The one they show in the game has to do with the events of the issue in question overlapping with a timeline where Naturalist has become something of a chimera (as he does in the Mist Storm Universe) and she brings that across.
- Where/when does La Capitan send Setback? Can she send people to specific other times? She can send people, but it's not super specific (La Comodora has more fine-tuned date-and-time level control, but early La Capitan was much broader - it's much like how her ability to steer the ship to specific times gets better over her lifetime). Setback isn't being sent anywhere in particular, but where he does wind up means he gets to hang out with some vikings for a while.
- Is seems like young La Capitan has less control over her powers in general, but if so how was she precise enough to age an individual (like she did to K.N.Y.F.E.)? I wouldn't say what she did to K.N.Y.F.E. was "precise" - it was more like La Capitan was making a lot of time portals/distortions and this one just happened to have this effect on her.
- Were there any heroes involved in events in Silver Gulch that aren't depicted in the deck? Certainly, due to the fact that Silver Gulch was this legacy location that they brought back often as a "default" time travel thing.
- What other fun western cliches do we see (a bar brawl after somebody is called a cheat at cards, showdowns at high noon, etc.)? Do any of the heroes put on era-appropriate outfits? Definitely, any "wild west hijinks" you can think of probably happened at some point (especially in the early stories so that the heroes would then have to undo the problems caused by those actions). Plenty of dressing up so as to not draw suspicion happened too, of course.
- Any descendants of Sheriff Pratt or the Hayes brothers alive in the "present"? No, Pratt's family died in his tragic backstory and the Hayes brothers aren't really the types to settle down (and die before they have the chance anyway).
- Are any of [long list of cryptids starting at 29:15 and running to 30:02] around in the Final Wasteland? Also, is the library in New Zealand or America? Yes, all of them, every single one. As for where the library is, it's hard to say. It's been long enough that continental drift, environmental cataclysms, etc. have changed the landmasses. Chrono-Ranger's portal that got him there put him in the "same" place, just across time, so CON's bunker is relatively close to Silver Gulch's old location, and it was mentioned previously that Haka's library was on a different landmass entirely, which puts it kind of in the Australasia area somewhere.
- Outside Time: is there anything there (a bunch of clocks, the theory of relativity floating by, an eternity of nothingness except Bugbear shows up occasionally, etc.)? Mostly it's represented as a weird form of space with floating rocks that one could sit on for eternity. In older comics the weird "lots of clocks" trope and other weirdness would show up, but mostly that gets defined later as being some weird dimension where that stuff was going on and "outside time" was this empty space thing.
- It was mentioned that Wagner Mars Base had a pure-oxygen environment, but NASA stopped using that after the Apollo 1 fire; what's different in the Sentinel-verse in terms of the history of space flight? Wagner Mars Base actually first appeared in comics about 6 years prior to Apollo 1 - right as the Space Race got going, the comics writers were like "we're going to win this in comics too" and BAM - Mars base. Take that Ruskies! The pure-oxygen environment was expected at that time, but after the Apollo 1 tragedy there was some handwavy atmospheric widget that was introduced to fix the environment there and make it more like Earth atmosphere (with the teleportation stuff in the Sentinel Comics Universe it's possible that it's literally Earth air - the technology seems to be like a portal that you step through and that takes you there, but it's not like an open window that the air could go though trivially, though).
- How persistent can Captain Cosmic's constructs be? Could somebody pick up a sword that he made and just go hang it on a wall or something? He has to sustain them (otherwise they're just light), which takes focus, but not a lot. Adam likens it to the effort it takes to hold an orange - you know that you're doing it. He's not going to be unaware that the hypothetical sword construct is out there.
- Captain Cosmic and Infinitor got their powers from the same OblivAeon shard, but specifically the Potency and Ego halves of it - do those terms have any specific meaning/significance or did Christopher/the writers just pick cool words? Generally OblivAeon shards' power gets concentrated in one person, rather than split between them. In this case they needed to characterize what was different between the two of them, Hugh got the aspects of the energy dealing with Power and Strength and Nigel got the part dealing with the Self and Mind and they picked cool words to reflect those differences.
- If Nigel became Heroic in the middle of an issue (and only for that issue) when did he get a chance to change clothes? Are his clothes even real or a Manifestation? Both his and CC's costumes are manifestations of their powers and so the change can actually be seen on-panel as it occurs. They've got some "real" clothes on under them, though.
- In Interlude #7 it was suggested that somebody should ask about Judge Mental's importance to Captain Cosmic's story for the latter's episode, but nobody did, so "how is Judge Mental important for Captain Cosmic's story?" They go way back. Judge Mental is one of the earliest CC villains (first appearing in the '70s). He was a barrister in the UK and had the power of suggestion (as mentioned in the Nemeses Interlude and in the Southwest Sentinels episode). His name was Gilbert von Groute. The two of them went to law school together and were rivals (well, kind of a one-sided rivalry as Hugh was top of the class and did things the proper way and was oblivious to the fact that Gilbert was so competitive and wanted to get the best of Hugh by any means - resorting to whatever underhanded tactics he could in order to do so).
- He works as kind of a "civilian foe" for Captain Cosmic - he'll get home after dealing with some Space nonsense and then have to deal with Gilbert's nonsense (and also is a reason to maintain his secret identity as Gilbert would immediately try to capitalize on the info if it got out). Eventually we see Gilbert trying increasingly desperate means of besting Lowsley - hypnotizing witnesses or jurors, kidnapping, blackmail, etc. Nothing ever pans out for him, but he's never caught out either.
- Eventually, Gilbert is working in defense of some nuclear power company (in some rather preachy '70s comic where nuclear power has a negative reputation). As he's touring the plant to get a handle on the case and attending planning meetings (to do whatever it takes to win!), he trips over some control rods or something and gets irradiated (in keeping with the general tenor of the piece that nuclear plants are deathtraps that will irradiate all of us). Afterwards he finds that he has newfound powers of suggestion. Now he engages in this court case, using his powers to influence everybody - and still loses the case (and he finally gets disbarred). Now he's jobless, which gives him plenty of time to dedicate to his true calling - defeating Hugh Lowsley.
- Hugh's now up for a judge job and he's conflicted (Can I do more good as a judge than I do as Captain Cosmic? Is it possible to do both?). Gilbert is now basically stalking him and given the distraction of the internal conflict he's not being as careful about his secret identity, which Gilbert discovers. He also discovers the potential judge position, which is the final straw, so he makes himself a judge in turn. So now he's a foe of Captain Cosmic as well as Hugh Lowsley as Judge Mental. He's also about as effective (his compulsion to defeat CC on his own also leads him to keep the secret identity to himself as well).
- After Vengeance he kind of starts getting used in a wider variety of stories than Captain Cosmic ones, but there are also a lot more impressive villains available. He's still got kind of a Captain Cosmic focus, but despite being a major early foe he kind of gets pushed to the back burner.
- If Captain Cosmic's power has been drained away by the end of the OblivAeon event, does that mean that he's been operating on a finite amount of power this whole time? Did something just "break" at that time? Was the combination of his and Infinitor's power somehow unstable and messed him up? None of those things. His power wasn't drained away from regular use, the power was drained away at a specific time [implication being the incapacitated side of his foil Requital card where OblivAeon is eye-lasering a giant armored figure CC had made to fight him].
- Was the capital city of Dok'Thorath founded to be a planetary capital or something else? Yes, the planet. Even so long ago the planet had been unified under the Thorathian military. It's also worth mentioning that any Thorathian history is basically just retconned in as writers decided to do more stuff with them and there is a lot more "revealed" the first time the story actually makes it to the planet.
- If Greazer worked selling junk out in the Colosseum parking lot, but the parking lot didn't travel with the Colosseum, where did the lot come from? Does the Colosseum always choose a location that has convenient parking already (and what happens to whatever the parking was already for)? When it appears, the Colosseum blasts an area flat around it - it's not like it's a paved lot or anything.
- How did Greazer know where to head next after the Colosseum moves on? How often does the Colosseum arrive on Earth? It shows up on Earth a few times, but a lot more out in space. It doesn't have a "schedule" per se, but once the next location is known Kaargra puts the word out.
- Where do you get tickets? How much are they? Are there different "packages" for admission? You can only buy tickets at the gate and you can't buy like a "tour" ticket or anything, but there are different packages for things like better seats and whatnot. There are people who travel with the Colosseum, which is closer, but it's like a private suite for a set amount of time, which doesn't guarantee a number of different shows. The going rate is in the dozens of space dollars, but this is operating on like the '30s economy where a single dollar is a decent amount of money. Like 60 space bucks would be hundred if not thousands of modern American dollars - you could get quite the nice apartment for 60 a month.
- As Greazer's book went on he got more relatable, before it got cancelled did he ever get friendly enough with the heroes for a team-up? No team-ups. His book was it's own disconnected thing and there weren't opportunities. He only really interacted with the heroes after that.
- Does the Roulette show up in any other books? Occasionally - it's one of a set of "standard" locations that crops up in space-set books, like Greazer, Cosmic Tales, Cosmic Concurrence, and so on. If the Freedom Five were to show up in the Roulette, that's likely to be in a non-Freedom Five title.
- Do any of the gladiators have children? What would Kaargra do about that? It wouldn't be something that the comics would have shown. Kaargra wouldn't have made them fight (she wants bloodshed, but more she wants interesting fights between people with established skills). She'd be more likely to have the kids sent off to be raised somewhere (family or space orphanage) as she's not likely to let a gladiator parent keep the distraction around.
- Did S’Sdari/Fashion ever make it back to Earth after OblivAeon and the destruction of the Colosseum? Did Stylin' Shirley have family she'd left behind? The Colosseum does get destroyed while it's present on Earth (as mentioned, it gets "called" there during OblivAeon). This leaves Kaargra and the surviving gladiators stranded on Earth. Some try to get away, Kaargra tries to keep some around to stick with her (and she has means and so can get off-planet relatively easily). S'Sdari is one such survivor. When Fashion got captured she definitely left people on Earth (as Stylin' Shirley her book was much more about her relationships than it was about fighting and even as Fashion she had her supporting cast - not that those characters were really seen much in the 50 years or so since she was captured).
- We were given some conflicting information about Lifeline's actions between the two Future timelines and his work with Naturalist to repair ley-lines; can you give us the sequence of events to straighten this out? The work to repair ley-lines happens before OblivAeon, pretty much when Lifeline first arrives on Earth (with Void Guard who vouch for him) - it's still in the "lead up" to OblivAeon, but the event proper hasn't started yet.
- While the podcast will continue to be free to listen to, they are starting a Patreon to help keep it going. If you're not familiar with Patreon, it's a crowd-funding system, but rather than being a big lump sum like Kickstarter, it's an ongoing thing where contributors kick in a monthly amount to help support creators create (often getting some kind of special incentive for participation). As they're approaching the end of the story content that they've worked out for SotM already, it will start to take even more of their time to work on new stuff. They have a bunch of ideas for where to go with things, but the Patreon will be a means of making it financially workable for them to continue to spend that time on the podcast. The Patreon can be found here. There's not much there as of this writing, but keep an eye on it.
- The schedules for the podcast for March and April are set, but after that things are up in the air.