The Letters Page: Editor's Note 24
Time for another Editor's Note! Lots of fun and announcements here!
Run Time: 1:23:48
First thing, after mild tomfoolery, we announce the first annual Letters Page Podcast Awards! Two categories, four awards each!
Awards for Episodes
- Best Storytelling Episode
- Best Audio Production Episode
- Funniest Episode
- Worst Episode
Awards for Questions
- Most Revealing Question
- Funniest Question
- Saddest Question
- Best Fan Theory Question
Nominate episodes and questions using this form! Nominations are live until December 13th!
Also, here's the upcoming schedule:
- Tuesday, December 4th: Episode #93 - Inversiverse Dark Watch
- Tuesday, December 11th: Episode #94 - Disparation: Heroes of the Mission Deck
- Tuesday, December 18th: Editor's Note #25
- Tuesday, December 25th: Episode #95 - Happy Holidays!
And here's a photo of our calendar!
Not shown on that calendar is when we're recording episode #93. We're doing that first thing next week, so make sure you get your Inversiverse Dark Watch questions in by the end of this week!
Finally, after all of that, we get to your questions just before the 19 minute mark. In this Editor's Note, we answer questions about:
- Power levels
- Creating realities
- The 4th Wall
- The Sentinel Comics Animated Universe
- Baron Blade
- Miss Information
- The Operative
- The Ennead
- Video Game Art
- Other Questions
- Jansa Vi Dero voice actor
- Stan Lee... 'nuff said
- The Celestial Tribunal
- Grand Warlord Voss
- Argent Adept
- Young Legacy
- The Freedom Five
- Dark Watch
- Mr. Fixer
- Eduardo López
- Sara Scott
- Prime Wardens
- The Paradigms
- Miss Information
- Jansa vi Dero
- La Capitan
- [Ok, so this first question is going into the physics of and equations related to entropy as a thermodynamic property of a system - I am not going to try to replicate these equations in the markdown encoding system that Reddit uses here, nor in the mediawiki format when I port this over to the wiki later, so, I’m going to shorthand this as:] The equation related to entropy in terms of thermodynamics would show that destroying the Multiverse would result in the entropy value being undefined rather than maximized, so why is OblivAeon doing this? There’s a problem with the premise that when we’re talking about “entropy” with regards to OblivAeon that we’re strictly looking at the thermodynamics definition, but even putting that aside OblivAeon isn’t only Entropy, but this weird hybrid thing left over after Entropy destroyed and consumed Preservation.
- Why didn’t OblivAeon bring his full power to bear on the heroes of Earth (simply destroying Earth like we’ve seen The Celestial Tribunal or even Empyreon being capable of doing)? There are two levels of answer. The first is the meta-level, this is a comic book so of course the big bad showing up will lead to a big fight rather than an anticlimactic end like that. In-setting, it’s because of the need OblivAeon has of making this reality similar to others in order to kick off the whole chain reaction of annihilation that he’s been engineering. Destroying Earth in this universe makes it less like other universes and so farther from his end goal.
- If OblivAeon has enough control over time and space to reach out and pull Progeny out of the exploding planet/black hole situation it had found itself in, why not pull similar shenanigans to get himself out of the dicey situations he found himself in near the end of the fight? The important bit here is that these “dicey” situations for him were in the last stage of the fight on Insula Primalis where Harpy was using everything she had in order to keep the place locked down so that OblivAeon couldn’t leave or pull some other trick like that. That was part of the plan.
- Why didn’t OblivAeon catch onto Voss’s plan once he spoke plainly to the heroes in the “Scion’s Aid” page of the ARG or when plotting with Luminary (assuming that all of the coded messages as Tim Cosing were in order to stay off of OblivAeon’s radar)? Why recruit someone as untrustworthy (to keep a subservient role) as Voss in the first place given that without his involvement OblivAeon likely would have succeeded? You’re right that without Voss’s involvement and OblivAeon’s own overconfidence the latter’s plan would have likely succeeded and as such he probably shouldn’t have recruited Voss. Part of his overconfidence is why he bothered with Scions in the first place: he took powerful beings, made them more powerful, and assumed that they would do his bidding because of what he was (or if they didn’t, what does it matter? It’s not like anything they do could actually stop him from doing what he wants). Needing to micromanage them would have defeated the purpose of having them in the first place, so he wanted independent-ish agents. Voss was just too independent .
- Editor’s Note 23 mentioned that Setback “created” the Mist Storm Universe, but isn’t it more like that was the original one and his action created the separate branch of the Sentinel Comics Universe (that is, the “creation” of a timeline is due to a specific action he took in the latter)? Yeah, I guess technically, but since we generally talk about the SCU/Universe 1 as the “main” timeline where the rest of the OblivAeon fight takes place it seems weird for us to want to call it the one he “created”. I guess it might be more correct to say that Setback created the branch point that allowed the MSU to exist separate from the SCU.
- What were the funerals like (if they occurred) for heroes like NightMist, Ra, Scholar, and Akash'Thriya (we know about Luminary’s)? There were definitely memorial-type events for them. There was a post-OblivAeon one-shot issue that was used for some wrap up stuff. Akash’Thriya doesn’t have a funeral, but Argent Adept and Naturalist go hang out at Akash’Flora. Guise does his own memorial thing for Scholar out on his house boat (goes into the fridge and pulls out a six-pack, is about to “pour one out” for his friend, then stops as he realizes that Scholar wouldn’t want him to waste it and he drinks it instead). A lot of heroes have had meaningful interactions with the Scholar over the years, but none of them even know to have a memorial - disappearing for great lengths of time is part of his characterization, so him being off their radar, even after OblivAeon, isn’t notable in itself. Ra, as another hero who’s been around for forever (although usually present, unlike Scholar) has some notable moments from several heroes. They all get statues in Freedom Plaza as part of a memorial thing.
- If Voss cutting the SCU off from the Multiverse results in Guise regaining his 4th wall and losing his knowledge of the publishing universe, shouldn’t that prevent people from being able to perceive the events in that universe for the purposes of reading the comics set there? That’s a good point, I guess we’re done here. *shouts to the people in the back Shut everything down guys!* [cue end music] … Ok, to actually address the question (and Christopher is probably going to regret actually saying this), while Voss uses the majority of OblivAeon’s power to cut the SCU off from the Multiverse and the view of the Singular Entities there, the ability of people in the publishing meta-verse to see into the Multiverse to create content regarding it surpasses the ability of Singular Entities. Readers of Sentinel Comics have more remote-viewing power than Singular Entities. Or to put another way by Adam: The meta-verse if “fictitiously real” while the Multiverse is “fictitiously fictitious”. We here in the real world have even more power as we can see into the meta-verse and actually change things somewhat through the process of writing in questions.
- What gave you the idea for OblivAeon? Things like the Onslaught, Galactus, and Anti-Monitor who caused big possibly world-ending events in comics. In short: superhero comics in general because this is the kind of thing that has just come up so many times. If they’re going to be creating a superhero comics setting that includes a Multiverse that is imperiled in some way (thus needing Sentinels), it makes sense for the end point to be some big cosmic entity looking to destroy everything.
- Why make Voss the main actor in the home stretch rather than the heroes that the players control? The heroes are still the “main actors” as they’re still the ones who do the things that save the day. Voss turns out to be the main villain as it’s a bit of a bait-and-switch. They liked the idea of: sure, you have to fight this giant cosmic entity, but in the end things boil down to a confrontation with an old familiar threat.
- Was the way the encounter played out meant to give a strong following to the new heroes like Tempest, Young Legacy, Sky-Scraper, and others outside of the Freedom Five? Well, none of those heroes you named were necessarily “new” as they’d been around in comics for decades at this point. Legacy taking on a new role is definitely part of it and generally setting the stage for the stuff we’ll see in the RPG, but it’s not like anybody from the comics was absent (unless they were already dead by now) but to take everybody who might have been sidelined for whatever reason and bring them front-and-center for this huge event. Coincidentally, this also makes for a good opportunity to introduce any changes the writers wanted to make going forward considering just how much of an impact the OblivAeon event had in the world. “Why is [character x] doing something radically different from what they were doing a few months ago?” “OblivAeon.”
- Can the SCU have splits in the timeline and start creating it’s own little multiverse cut off from the rest of the Multiverse? It’s unknown. There are no external influences that would allow us to find out and it’s never addressed in the comics. For all intents and purposes they don’t exist.
- Anything super interesting going on elsewhere in the universe during the OblivAeon event? Yeah, there are even more Scions out there doing their thing, but the main action is on Earth as that’s where OblivAeon’s getting the most push-back from the locals.
- What did other universes perceive when OblivAeon was defeated? So, while OblivAeon had been jumping into other realities as part of this whole thing too, right at the end he was temporarily locked down in the SCU on Insula Primalis. When he was defeated, the power was also immediately drained into Voss. If these things hadn’t happened, it’s likely that some kind of “shockwave” of energy would have been perceptible in other realities too, but shortly after that Voss cuts the universe off from everything else anyway. So, the most that might have been noticed would be any kinds of time rifts, mist portals, or related phenomena would shut. Other than that there’s probably no indication that he’s been defeated. As a result, many universes out there probably don’t have a lot of closure on this.
- How does the concept of “every game of SotM is canonical somewhere in the Multiverse” fit in with a battle against a Singular Entity who is, by definition, only defeated in one universe? They’ve kind of talked about this briefly, but yeah it kind of starts to break down in this specific encounter. Of course, it’s also the jumping off point for the RPG which is more of a “your canon is what happens at your table”, so that’s kind of a fitting transition at the end of the Multiverse. Of course, the games of OblivAeon that you lose can easily be chalked up to “Oh, that was just a reality where the heroes lost, not the main reality.”
- Did the Vertex creators really like the animated Dark Watch show (first use of the “Pinion” name, the Operative taking over the Organization)? Yeah, the show probably did influence the Vertex writers, but the thing is the writers of the show were in turn highly influenced by the style of stories from the early ’80s that would have been the reason the Vertex writers were famous in the first place. “Pinion” was just the show writers wanting to change things up - they wanted to go more “magic” and less “birds” and “Harpy” has stronger bird connotations. The SCU writers take up that name just after OblivAeon and so it makes sense for the Vertex people to keep it.
- So, the show changes up the events enough that we have Mr. Fixer alive when the team forms in the first place and Eduardo López was still alive after the Spite events, does this mean that Sara Scott was killed alone, with some other character, or what? This Eduardo isn’t the same Eduardo. They just picked a name to be a nod to this guy who had been important in Wraith stories decades ago. It’s not even like the Spite “event” has happened - the only things that have happened in the Animated Universe are the things that have been depicted in the shows/movies. It’s really easy to fall into that trap of assuming otherwise. [While a vision of Spite appeared in the Freedom Five movie to taunt Wraith, “he’s a murderer who had murdered people” was about as specific as it went.]
- The Freedom Five show was largely based on events in comics, Prime Wardens was even more about doing faithful page-to-screen adaptation, but Dark Watch went off the rails entirely (with events like the death of the Chairman that never occurred in comics); did this cause continuity problems with the other two shows? Not really. The DW show is just so disconnected from the events taking place in the other shows that it never comes up.
- Just how much does Setback’s unluck play into day-to-day life? How did the show depict this? With the comics it’s generally slapstick/goofy (with the exception of some stories/writers who treat it as more grave - it’s also the case where he was more the former in the ’90s and more the latter by the ’10s in the later Dark Watch era). The show depicts it more towards the latter as he’s this guy who just can’t catch a break. The one bit of slapstick in this whole thing as a nod to the comics is when he’s hit with the goose during the Matriarch encounter.
- Were there any stories/characters that the animated writers were disallowed to use? They didn’t have any legal reasons why they couldn’t use a character. Between show-runners there was probably some negotiation of who would use which characters. There’s a lot of stuff that they haven’t talked about in the podcast yet that would have been on the show (like Jansa would probably show up in a later Prime Wardens episode). Because there’s 70 years or whatever of comics history there’s bound to be stuff that doesn’t make it in, but most of the main stories that people know would be in there somehow.
- Did any of the movies win an academy award? None that we’ve heard about so far, but they were well received by critics (which is kind of a first for animated superhero movies).
- Why was Wraith not in the DW show? That’s sort of part of the firewall between shows thing. She’s more light-hearted in FF, so she’d be out of place in DW because of the tonal shift. Cameos/crossovers between the FF and PW shows were more likely (see the movie that was all about a crossover), but DW is so different in tone as to almost be a different animated universe entirely.
- What did parental watchdog groups have to say about this superhero show being so dark and non-kid-friendly? It aired late at night and had one of those disclaimers up front. That doesn’t stop some people from ignoring those and then still complaining, but that’s on them for ignoring the warning. There’s always going to be people who complain.
- Did anything in the SCAU break new ground at the scale of, say, Daybreak or the Paradigms adding to the comics mythos? Not really beyond what’s already been discussed regarding DW. Most of what happens in the SCAU is either pulled from the comics directly or highly inspired by them.
- Why the retcon between the Miss Information Episode where we were told that Blade escaped the Realm of Discord through a reality portal she opened vs. the Burying the Blade episode where he engineered the return himself by co-opting Portal Fiend biology? This was a mistake made in-comics - the writers doing the Miss Info stuff at the time needed to rein her in and Baron Blade was the right person for the job. Where is he at the time? Over in the RoD, so just have him show up when she opens a portal. Then they realize that they needed him still stuck there until Burying the Blade, so they just didn’t use him for anything until then and then retconned it to instead of him actually coming through a portal she opened and then him giving her that reverse-pep-talk, they had the stuff he said to her be stuff he said to a “ghost” of her during those weird flashback type things during BtB that she happened to tap into using her powers to experience as we saw them previously.
- Why does he bother choosing the Luminary name at all rather than just sticking with Baron Blade (it’s not like he sees “Baron Blade” as a bad guy)? He’s not an idiot and is aware of how non-Mordengradians see him. The change is for everyone else’s benefit (including the readers), not his own. It’s a clear break with the past and the associations people have of him. He’s got to pull off this elaborate triple-cross somehow and so needs a reason to get people to listen to him in the first place.
- If somebody showed up claiming to be the god(dess) of the moon, would that get Blade’s attention given his lunar obsession? Yes, but in a kind of “do they have some power over the moon that I can exploit?” way more than anything else.
- As follow-up to the Incapacitation episode, there are a few things you forgot about:
- Chairman-deck Operative? She’s got a bunch of arrows in her, this is from when Zhu Long’s goons ambush and kill her [the guys debate a bit over which episode they talked about this - the details of the ambush were given in the Operative Episode in response to a question, but the fact that she was killed by them was briefly mentioned in the much earlier Chairman Episode as well]. The mechanics (increase Chairman damage, advanced allows him to attack more) are him having to take matters into his own hands more directly without her.
- The Ennead? Atum: shuffles the villain trash/deck - without their leader their actions are more chaotic. Also they wanted at least one of them to prevent deck-stacking. Geb: heroes move a card from top of their deck to the bottom - earthquake stuff. Isis: discarding a bunch of cards from hero decks - magic messing with you. Nephthys: heal the villains: she’s got a lot of death/funerary stuff going on and once she’s down she outputs this stuff. Nuit: shuffle environment trash/deck - she’s the sky and oversees the environment and much like Atum once she’s down there’s chaos. Osiris: destroy the low-HP non-character card - he’s a death god. Set: play the top card of each deck - so much power, but it’s chaotic. Shu: play the top card of the Environment deck - the winds stirring stuff up. Tefnut: each player discards a card - she’s the river washing your stuff away.
- How about some of the video-game incapacitated art/character panels? All of them are meant to be generic bad things happening so that they could be something from any given game.
- Base AA getting sucked through a portal? Just that, sucked into another dimension (explicitly not the Void).
- Chrono-Ranger shirtless (for a reason beyond just Adam wanting to look at Jim)? Battle damage, but mostly just to show off the scars/missing arm.
- Not a question, but special shoutout to edgelord Dark Conductor AA’s incap panel.
- In the Incap episode Adam kept using “Giant” rather than “Huge” when talking about Sky-Scraper, why use one or the other? They wanted to convey “way bigger than a person should be” which some connotations of “giant” don’t cover. There’s also the fact that “giant” is a word that gets used in real world comics (a “giant-sized” issue or “Giant-Man”) so they wanted to go with something different anyway.
- Who voiced Jansa vi Dero in the Animated Universe? Tilda Swinton imdb clip1 clip2
- Given that we have La Capitan and Ambuscade (who speak Spanish and French respectively), do you speak these languages or do you have to use a translator? Christopher loves this question. They get feedback or see other comments occasionally about how they “should have gotten somebody who speaks Spanish to look this over first”. Spanish is technically Christopher’s first language (although he’s better with English at this point due to disuse of Spanish) and he also had his dad double-check it (who’s definitely better with Spanish than English). They don’t speak French, but they did check with one of the RPG writers (Philippe-Antoine Ménard) who’s super French.
- Do you have anything you’d like to say about the late Stan Lee? There’s a lot that they could say. How about this, though: do you know about this think called The Letters Page? That wouldn’t exist without Stan Lee. There were a lot of think-pieces that came out after his death going on about the shady stuff he did and, sure, that’s the industry, but it’s beside the point here. Even if all of those bad things are 100% true, it doesn’t change the fact that Stan made comic books accessible and his early collaboration with Jack Kirby models what Christopher and Adam have (to take the positive stuff about their working relationship and keeping the negative stuff in mind as a cautionary tale). It was a rough week for the both of them regarding his death, but also there’s some sense of relief given how the last year or so of his life had gone (from the public’s perspective) - nobody likes seeing an elderly relative go through the things we saw him going through at the end (his wife’s death, his health issues, the allegations of elder abuse, etc.). It’s not stupid to grieve the death of somebody that you never met if that person affected your life in big ways like Stan did for many of us. Excelsior!