The Letters Page: Editor's Note 62
It's the end of the year! Let's do another one next year!
Run Time: 1:34:18
Trevor made us a bunch of fancy new music for this one! The recording was pretty unhinged, as well, so Trevor ended up cutting a LOT. Interested in hearing the sorts of things Trevor cuts? You should join the Letters Page Patreon! Patreon supporters get to watch the Editor's Notes live, and also have access to the YouTube recordings of past Editor's Notes.
Just figured I should mention that. ANYWAY!
Adam coached me on how to draw a tree!
And our delightful listener Churro drew this amazing and definitely canonical box art for the next expansion for Sentinels of the Multiverse: Definitive Edition:
And holiday times were had! Letters were read! Questions were answered! Huzzah!
Oh, and here's the upcoming schedule for January, 2023!
- Tuesday, January 3rd: Holiday break
- Tuesday, January 10th: Episode #236: Creative Process: Make an SCRPG One-Shot
- Tuesday, January 17th: Episode #237: Writers’ Room: Busybody?!
- Tuesday, January 24th: Editor’s Note #63
- Tuesday, January 31st: Episode #238: Writers’ Room: Hostile takeover of Montgomery Industries
See you next year!
- [First letter is from Demoncat about their very fast progress through the stages of Sentinels fandom - discovering Sentinels via TV Tropes only in 2020, but now being a presence in the Letters Page both as a letter writer and in the patron Discord as well as being a playtester. It’s a great community and a pleasure to be part of it.] It’s wild that somebody got into Sentinels via TV Tropes. There’s so much there that people stumbling upon the Sentinels corner of it seems like an outlier.
- [Nevermore’s 6-year-old son has started playing RPGs with him and his wife. His first ever RPG character, Night Shadow, was built in SCRPG - thanks for creating a game that’s got enough going on with it that old-hands are still engaged by it, but simple enough that complete newbies to role-playing can get it quickly. Night Shadow’s nemesis is the Hippo.] Thanks! Adam thinks it’s one of the better gateway RPGs. A 6 year old is impressive for RPGs too, so good on your son.
- What’s the most evil thing that the Hippo has done (possibly explaining Night Shadow’s vendetta)? Probably the school bus with the kids. Most of what he does is less evil than that. He’s a jobber.
- Last time it came up you posited that the Metaverse version of the “Jingle Bells, Batman Smells” song would be about Dark Watch, but this playground staple originated during the run of the live action Batman series in the late ’60s, decades before Dark Watch; as a result, I would assume that the equivalent Wraith show would have been the target of the parody. As such, enjoy the following:
Jingle bells, the Wraith smells
Tempest laid an egg
Wraithmobile lost a wheel
and Ermine got away
- Is this jingle lore-appropriate? Could it have been the origin of Maerynians being egg-laying or was that already established? Did Wraith have a sidekick in the show who could have been slotted into the “Robin” slot instead? Great job with the song. There was a show in that era that fills the same space. They don’t think that there’s a sidekick (although they don’t know for certain that there wasn’t at some point) or that Tempest would have ever appeared in it. Certainly, egg-laying Maerynians were a much later addition. The show would have been pretty insulated from the broader Sentinel Comics characters outside of Wraith’s immediate orbit as a solo hero.
- Is the Freedom Five more of a “secret santa” or “white elephant” team? They’re small enough that they might just all exchange gifts normally. They’ve probably done both of the mentioned activities, though. Secret Santa is likely a more extended “Freedom Tower” event (the team, all of the support staff, any other heroes living there at the time like Sky-Scraper, etc.). Both of them need a minimum of something like 10 people for the activity to really even work right. So, both types of things have happened within the context of the larger Freedom Tower “family” but the Freedom Five members probably also get individual gifts from one another outside of that context.
- I forget if this has been answered but is Project Ironclad just the Army or is it inter-banch operation? It must be inter-branch given that the first thing Project Ironclad did were the ironclad ships during the Civil War and so at least at that point was a Navy thing, so it’s probably involved all the various branches by now. We might not have actually seen all of them in the Multiverse era, but they had plans for a Vertex thing where we’d have seen all the branches’ involvement.
- I would like to give you the opportunity to give a gift to us all: will the January Kickstarter update contain bad, good, very good, or excellent news (I ask because we recently received emails to confirm our addresses, and was hoping for a holiday miracle)? What they would consider “very good news” is “your games are already on their way to you” and that will not be the case. Excellent news would be “people are receiving them already”, which is also out. The January update, they believe, will be “the cargo container(s) are off the ocean and are on a train en route to the St. Louis warehouse” which means by the end of the month things will start shipping out and by the February update we’ll have the “very good news” category [Note from the future: the February update was actually beyond even the Excellent news category in that shipment from the GTG warehouse was complete by the February update].
- So Tempest can make rain, hail, lightning, etc. but, can he make a gentle snow happen? Something perfect for a Prime Wardens holiday party with some Haka baking in the background? Yeah, he can do that.
- Now that RCR has reached the final lap, have you guys started with provisional plans for Disparation KS, and are there any reveals you feel free to share? Yes, plans have begun. It will happen after the RCR Kickstarter is 100% fulfilled. It will also be on Backerkit instead of Kickstarter.
- Has there ever been an arc where a shape-shifting villain impersonated a hero but was caught out by that heroes supporting cast because the villain was too affectionate or attentive (I’m thinking either Tachyon or Epatriette would be shoe-ins, but a dark horse candidate might be Dr. Medico)? They like that - Tachyon being all “I love you” with Dana rather than rushing off to wherever she needs to be that day would be notable (Dana knows that Tachyon loves her, but she doesn’t take time to say it). Tachyon “planning a date night” is super sketchy. They don’t really have a straight-up Mystique character whose shtick is being an infiltrator of that type. The closest they have is Apostate who has a different vibe with it. Glamour to a certain extent too. Biomancer is the one who fills that narrative role, but he goes about it in a much different way.
- I have a trolley problem! Wager Master has trapped the Scholar and three innocent civilians onto a rail and Guise has 4 choices: Save the Scholar, save the civilians, call Wager Master’s bluff, or try to do some goofy thing to save all of them? The goofy thing to save all of them is probably the right answer here. If he didn’t have “goofy” as an option, he’d save the civilians since he knows that Scholar can handle himself. Calling Wager Master’s bluff could be written to work, but it could also be part of the goofy thing. He could also pull the lever to send the trolley towards the Scholar, but then throws himself onto the track to gum up the works.
- We have Santa Guise and Space Santa, Guise spent time in space: was there a crossover of Guise and Space Santa? They don’t think so. Whatever story Guise is in, he’s kind of automatically the goofiest part of that story. Space Santa is already funny (as a concept, in-universe he’s awesome). It’s not impossible, but it’s unlikely.
- How much power would GloomWeaver gain from a depressed Balarian? Potentially a lot if it’s all of Balarian. That’s a lot of depression, but it is still only one “entity”… It’s hard to measure. Is the depression that leads to Iron Legacy more than that of an 8 year old mourning the death of their pet hamster? Is a city worth of general malaise due to incessant rain for several days more or less than the total felt by one individual who has lost everything? It’s really hard to quantify. GloomWeaver probably knows and there’s probably actually been stories that try to get into it in a way. Say the heroes put in a bunch of effort to get rid of what they consider to be a big problem that’s fueling GW, but he didn’t actually care about that since this other thing is better all on its own, etc. Depends on how it’s written.
- If Harpy found out that GloomWeaver was summoned/sealed into an OblivAeon shard, what would she try to do? Send him back to the Realm of Discord? Split up his power and seal him into various items/artifacts? Something else? She definitely wouldn’t just try to send him back into the RoD, which is his seat of power. Not that him being here is “good” - it’s strictly worse if he were to succeed in getting free, but she’d likely try to pull a NightMist and put the sealed evil in a can into some protected box somewhere for safekeeping. Some kind of pocket dimension where he’s technically outside of “reality” but is also somewhere that can be monitored.
- Could Biomancer create a Fleshclone of Dr. Medico if he had some of his energy dust stuff to replicate from? Would he be able create, a least visually, the crystal and red energy lines? No. Dr. Medico doesn’t have flesh and the “stuffs” that Biomancer makes is not the “stuffs” that Dr. Medico is. He could make something that approximates the look of Dr. Medico with some kind of projection system, but the illusion would be pretty easy to notice.
- So, this is a question I’ve been wondering for a while: we know Sky-Scraper has got a thing for K.N.Y.F.E., so she’s definitely into girls; and we know she sorta-dated Theodore Cassell at one point, but that relationship fell through due to Portja’s PTSD - but I also got vibes from the whole affair that felt like “This relationship feels wrong for me but I’m not sure why” with her not being into dudes, but not aware of that fact - is Sky-Scraper gay or bi? That’s a fair interpretation. They both have thought of her as being bi. That’s a spectrum, though, and it’s certainly possible that her preferences do actually skew a bit more towards being attracted to women. Being in a relationship with a man doesn’t feel fundamentally wrong to her. That one relationship had a very specific reason for falling apart and it wasn’t a “relief” for her when it ended. They think she actually still has regrets about how that went down. K.N.Y.F.E./Rival aside, she may have had more luck dating women than men, but that’s because “dating dudes is awful”; well, dating people can be awful in general, but the type of awful tends to be different.
- At the end of this week’s episode, you mentioned that for the year 2001, Justice Comics was Sky-Scraper-focused. Why was that? Why did it end? How did it work? Was there one big story line for her, or were they just trying out giving her her own book? There was a whole year where JC was focused on her. That year happened to be 2001 and 2/3 of the way through that year things got complicated and focused on other things. It was largely intended to just be a year, but also a testing ground for whether readers were interested in Sky-Scraper-led books. Ultimately the answer was no, but the question of whether it failed because people weren’t interested in her or because the other factors derailed the experiment is an open one. It may be a little of both, but some of it was likely that Justice Comics readers were used to it being a book with a rotating cast. It still was, but it was rotating team-ups for Sky-Scraper stories. It was on the same kind of level of thing as when Naturalist took over Tome of the Bizarre.
- Dear, Christopher and Adam, I have some questions about the recent holiday episode, Justice Comics #583, specifically Santa Yeti on the cover art. Was it intentional that the Yeti isn’t obviously the Yeti? Was it intentional in the Metaverse that the Yeti isn’t obviously the Yeti, and might actually be Santa? Finally, when the villains change their looks to become Santa’s elves/Santa, does Yeti switch from being his normal self to Santa? Or does he look more like a Yeti in the comic, with a Santa hat and such? Yeti’s regular outfit is pants and a vest with a fur collar. That’s it. He doesn’t care about being cold, but about being sexy (not that they think he’s particularly successful in accomplishing the latter). He is the age that he is, has those abs, and wants everyone to know. When he’s Santa, it’s the same outfit, only red and with a Santa hat. Readers would probably be able to recognize him from the context of Absolute Zero and other villains in holiday outfits. It wasn’t intentionally obfuscated, but if you’re not a regular reader who knows the general villain roster you might not recognize him immediately either.
- In the OblivAeon event the Nexus of the Void is destroyed along with all the spirits on the island with the exception of Akash so if only for a brief moment is Akash an endling? This raises a question of whether the spirits from the Nexus of the Void are a species… They don’t think they are. Adam thinks that there are other Earth spirits that didn’t live on the island anyway. Sure, Akash is a weird edge case, but that doesn’t mean that there weren’t others too (say, one living in the core of the Earth or the poles or something).
- I’m New to Patreon and Discord but technically started listening back in 2017 then the pandemic hit and stopped listening but now back after re-listening back into new content. Currently on Publisher’s Note 5. My question for you might already been answered. I sneaked ahead to listen to an episode about the edgiest of twins Painstake and Darkstrife. Are we gonna see them anywhere in Sentinel Comics in the future whether it be RPG or anywhere else? Yes.
- [Liz C writing in] So, while I may not have suggested the Polar Express story specifically, I think I may have inspired it by occasionally suggesting an Absolute Zero/Fright Train story so that we’d have the setting’s two most prolific punsters dealing with each other; there was only one pun in the episode and that was in a listener’s letter - Christopher, you were handed this setup on a silver platter and you completely missed. We tried, we really did. shakes head Well, you’re right and Christopher really dropped the ball. He provided some ice humor and train humor, but not puns (Adam on the other hand counts this as a victory since he didn’t have to hear them).
- Christopher has never seen the Polar Express movie - here’s a game: these are 10 characters from the movie, Adam will read the list along with their role and Christopher will then cast them with characters from Sentinel Comics (the trick is that Adam has also only seen the movie once, like 20 years ago, so we’ll see how this goes):
- The “hero boy”, Chris, the protagonist who loses the bell and whatnot: Setback.
- The “hero girl” (not actually a book character beyond maybe being a background character in the art) who shows Chris the ropes regarding the train: she’s not Chris’s sister? Then Expatriette.
- The “know it all” - an “antagonist” on the train without really being an antagonist: the Hippo.
- The “lonely boy”, Billy: A character that Adam doesn’t think needs to exist. By having this lonely, kind of pathetic character on the train the audience would expect them to be the one that gets the gift. Anyway, Absolute Zero.
- The conductor (Tom Hank’s role): Legacy.
- Smokey and the Steamer (the train operators - also Tom Hanks, he plays every adult in the movie apparently): Well, if they’re all just the same figure in different character positions, then also Legacy. But because we can, they’re all different Legacies (Paul 8 is the Conductor and these two are Paul 7 and Felicia).
- Elf Lieutenant (the one who brings you up to Santa): Guise.
- Hobo (guy on the roof of the train): NightMist
- Santa: Also Tom Hanks, but he’s Scholar here.
- [I imagine that Santa leaves coal for Fright Train every Christmas, but Steven interprets this as him being on the nice list since he can use it in some of his antique locomotives.] As they’ve discussed, the only real Santa is Space Santa but that’s fine. There’s certainly been some story where the punchline the story builds to is Fright Train being given coal for Christmas and he is excited. If Santa were real, he’d know that coal would be a good present for him and so would give him something else.
- In thinking about a character who is sufficiently powerful, old, and sneaky enough to create and perpetuate the myth of Santa, I came to one conclusion. The only person who is powerful enough to get into billions of homes at once, yet not so powerful as to not be disinterested in doing so, is our #1 FleshDaddy, Biomancer. Is he behind the Santa myth so that he can have a cover for stealthily entering homes via flesh children? If not, is there any proverbial boogeyman, myths, or legends that have been created to describe the actions of Zosimos? There are probably lots of boogeyman myths that ultimately do lead back to him, but the Santa one probably isn’t. The sort of stories/events that could then lead to Santa don’t really correspond to activities that Biomancer would be getting up to. They should do a Tome of the Bizarre story that explores this “weird event that results in the Santa story” thing, though. Somebody submit that for like October or something next year.
- The “villain” created in the Bunker Foes: Creative Process, the one who had suffered due to the Military Industrial Complex, is it fair to assume he is a villain for Tyler Vance, but not Bunker? As in, would he be trying to get the Bunker production, along with other aspects of the Military Industrial Complex, defunded, but has no particular beef with Bunker? On a similar topic, are they powered or just a regular antagonist to Bunker? The main misunderstanding here is that they scrapped the “villain” angle on this person entirely. They could not justify that person as a villain. At worst they’re somebody who is part of something bad, but then turns a corner and becomes supporting cast. There’s story stuff there, but not a character who could really be considered a “Bunker foe/villain”. They’ll do something with them eventually. Give them some time since there’s a lot they have to unpack regarding what they want to do with them and they don’t know what that will ultimately be.
- As you demonstrated during the Scions episode, a lot of people correctly guessed in the lead up to OblivAeon that Voss was the redacted Scion. Looking back, were there any other guesses as to that scion’s identity that you remember as being particularly popular, hilariously wrong, or otherwise memorable? Their memory for the stuff that doesn’t happen is not good. It’s important to not get false information mixed in with the true stuff. They really don’t recall specifics.
- Has Tachyon created an eggnog equivalent for Absolute Zero to enjoy? He can’t taste or smell things, so Tachyon’s rigged up is a device to directly stimulate his brain to make him experience the taste of [whatever].
- Is there a Host spirit of Cheer? Considering how the existence of the Host was problematic for some readers, is it mentioned in modern Sentinel Comics much at all? It’s probably mentioned more in late stories than it was early on. When the Host stuff was first suggested there was a strong “this is cool” or “I hate this” dichotomy and Sentinel Comics had to decide which way they were going with it and they chose to accept it as the truth and so it got used more. By the ’10s, Host stuff is just canon. It’s an interesting case, though, where different people had problems with it for different reasons. Some hated Fanatic not being a “real angel” (while others loved it for explaining Fanatic in a satisfactory way).
- Do the citizens of Megalopolis decorate Akash’Flora around the holidays? Does the essence of her being perform any exciting holiday miracles around that time aside from providing heaps of power to the city? There’s two big ways to go. One is that Megalopolis leans into the Giant Christmas Tree angle. The other is people try to decorate the big tree and a rugged Anthony Drake steps out of the tree and asks people to maybe not hang stuff from the tree. Christopher has an idea: this is just a side-plot during other stuff going on in Megalopolis, but people try to decorate the tree and Anthony Drake asks them not to put trash on the tree that people will have to clean up later, “how would you like it if people hung decorations on you?”, etc. but eventually the tree starts growing “decorations” on its own. Or given the size and energy output of the tree, when it snows there’s still going to be this big area around the tree where there’s no snow and it’s sheltered and warm, but the tree itself starts to change; the leaves turn white and it grows “icicles” and whatnot to get more into the season. It’s not fully turning itself into a “Christmas tree”, but it changes itself somewhat to match the vibe. The main joke is that Anthony Drake is going on and on about it being “disrespectful” and whatnot, but then the tree gets into the spirit on its own. The end result is that people don’t need to decorate it. The tree has become the heart of the city and the spirit of the populace is reflected in it in ways like this. Oh… Does it do a similar thing for Halloween? Heck yeah! Spooky tree!
- Game show question in isolation due to not getting the rest of the game show ready in time: which one of these characters has NOT been in a Christmas story: Greazer, Visionary, Unity, La Capitan? They guess Visionary. They know Greazer and La Capitan were and think that Unity is tangentially related to places where Christmas stories would be going on (in addition to her own Hanukkah stories). [Visionary was correct. Unity was in the Guise Biggest Book Ever Christmas Spectacular.]
- If the Freedom Five are trapped in a illusion of all their greatest desires who breaks free first and who is the hardest to get free? Absolute Zero is first out. You give him all of his desires? He rejects that reality almost instantly. Hardest to break out… Let’s say Unity isn’t there as she might be hard to break out. The choices are going to be between Legacy, Tachyon, and Wraith. Tachyon’s a weird case because that fake reality is basically the actual reality. That might make it difficult to get her to recognize that it’s weird, but it’s not really interesting for a story. Christopher thinks it’s Wraith and in the illusion she isn’t the Wraith. She’s successful CEO Maia Montgomery and there’s this mysterious crime fighter known as the Wraith, but it’s not her. In her fantasy, there are still problems and the Wraith is handling them, but she doesn’t have that burden herself. Legacy’s is probably something like being old and being surrounded by his very large family including great-great grandkids or whatever. Several generations of Legacies who haven’t died in battle.
- On the topic of Sky-Scraper & events that happened in 2001, did she experience a temporary name change or go by Portja for a period after September 11th since the call sign Sky-Scraper maybe felt a bit awkward? They don’t think so. They don’t recall there being an association in everyone’s minds between any tall building and 9/11. What probably happened, if anything, is that the book continued featuring her, but maybe pulled the Justice Comics Presents: Sky-Scraper trade dress for the old one without her name (Adam doesn’t even think that they changed the trade dress for her in the first place).
- Which fan nickname for a character do you hate the most? Sky-Sky. It just rubs them the wrong way.
- Can’t take credit for this as I got it from the Reddit: can we call the series Just Ice Comics now? Absolutely.
- Has there ever been a snow day story (just where everyone is stuck at home because of the snow, and some light shenanigans happen)? Yeah. Heavy shenanigans are more likely, but the snow day setup is a thing.
- Is there a Guise, Naturalist, Akash’Thriya, and Unity team up for Tu BiShvat? Probably not. A Naturalist Arbor Day story is more likely just because American readers would be more familiar with it. It’s possible that a Jewish writer could want to do a story for that holiday, but less likely to have happened.
- Random Cards Against the Multiverse style question… What was the last google tab that Mia Montgomery closed? Some spreadsheet about something a member of the company staff was working on.
- Has there ever been an arc or story where the Freedom Five were indisposed, thought dead, etc. so they were replaced with an “all new all different” team made up of “the 5 heroes who happened to be at Freedom Tower in this era?” If so, who made up the backup team? There’s a good era for that. Sky-Scraper, Setback, and Unity could be on the team. Somebody suggest a Writers’ Room for this as it could be fun.
- Is there a character named Holly Day? Maybe. Somebody somewhere has almost definitely made a character with that name.
- [Letter from Adam 2099: We’re reaching into the past, to avert the mooching slime-wombats taking over the government in about 30 years it’s vitally important that you tell everybody the secret, you know the one!] Well, it’s certainly nice for future Adam to have given us this warning. They don’t have any secrets that they’re looking to hold onto for 30 years, though. Maybe it’s a butterfly effect deal and they just need to tell the secret now as opposed to a few months or years from now. They also don’t really have secrets - they certainly have some plans. Like, there’s story stuff that they’re telling, but it’s not overt and if they start being overt with it it’ll ruin the surprise. It’s either no stakes or all stakes. Something from Disparation seems like no stakes since it’ll start being revealed in a few months anyway. Here we go, we’ll do the title of 1 card from each of the 6 hero decks. No, wait. We’ll do the title of 1 card from each of the 7 hero decks in Disparation: “Justify the Means”, “Systems Iteration” [mentioned as being “interesting” since making who it is non-obvious was difficult), “Take Out the Trash”, “Forget What You Saw”, “Reprioritize”, “Optimize Efficiency” [also tough to not give away], “Enthrall”.
- [an assignment given during the first “let’s go to the chat” bit was for somebody to do a “Visit from St. Nicholas” poem that’s full of really inside-baseball stuff regarding the Sentinel Comics/Letters Page fandom - at 1:25:15 we get into a bit where user Raccoonoo gives us this:]
’Twas three days before Christmas, when all through the chat
several people were typing, and icing up rats.
The questions were posted and left with due care.
In hopes the creators would soon see them there.
The cultists were lurking, all smug in their cloaks
While visions of gloom danced among all the folk.
And Zosimos schemed to start the new year afresh
By replacing the listeners with children of flesh.
When out in the meta arose such a chatter.
They ceased their great scheming to see what was the matter.
Away to the Patreon people all flocked,
And even the villainous lords stood there shocked.
I think I’m flagging?
This poem has 14 lines.
- User Wynn used ChatGPT to write this as well.
- So, on the topic of Akash’Flora decorating herself, does that mean part of Naturalist teaching Akash’Thriya to be a person was showing her a bunch of holidays? Yeah, that came up. Human traditions and stuff.
- Best Christmas drink? Adam thinks this is hard. He likes mulled wine, eggnog with some whiskey in there, hot chocolate, Irish coffee, and a Puerto Rican drink called coquito that he loves (also the first thing mentioned that Christopher is also into). Other than coquito, Christopher’s not really into sweet beverages and most Christmas drinks are sweet.