The Letters Page: Interlude 7
The longest interlude we've ever recorded, by far! So many questions answered! The name of this episode is most certainly not "Lightning Round".
Run Time: 83:50
We cover tons of characters in this episode. A ridiculous amount of them. And almost as many different stories. Ready for hopping all over the place? Strap in - it's going to be a bumpy ride!
Just after the 50 minute mark, Adam and Christopher have a debate about who would win in a fight between two villains, and Adam actually convinces Christopher! It's a surprising outcome for everyone.
Rather than listing all the characters we talked about, here's a list of the things we didn't talk about, even though we did get questions about them!
- Major Flay
- Green Grosser
- Blood Countess
- Zhu Long
- All Slaughter-House Six members
Those characters all do count as Nemeses, but their stories have to wait for the episodes they are important in, so feel free to ask more questions about them.
Here's the next month's schedule!
- August 1st: Argent Adept
- August 8th: Akash'Bhuta, Akash'Thriya, and more!
- August 15th: Visionary/Dreamer
- August 22nd: Revo-Corp/Benchmark
- August 29th: Gen Con Live!
- August 31st: Post Gen Con Retrospective Interlude
If you're at Gen Con, come to the Gen Con live recording on Saturday at 3:00!
Get your Argent Adept questions in now! See you next week!
- Vengeance Five
- Baron Blade
- Argent Adept
- The Freedom Five
- The Ennead
- The Hippo
- Judge Mental
- Captain Cosmic
- Prime Wardens
- Doc Tusser
- Greazer Clutch
- Grand Warlord Voss
- Mayor Overbrook
- Fright Train
- Plague Rat
- Crackjaw Crew
- Wager Master
- Professor Pollution
- How are the minor villains in Vengeance organized (like, why are they paired up with the Vengeful Five member they're with and/or not working on their own)? The nemeses show up in the deck of a character whose stories theirs intersected with (like, Revenant is in Friction's deck because he was sent to watch over her not because he's working for her). Baron Blade went around getting everybody on board with the Vengeance plot, but who's in which deck doesn't imply an organizational structure. One difference is Proletariat's deck where the people in it are put there in order to help continue the subterfuge needed to get him to work on the team in the first place.
- In Gloomweaver's episode, it was mentioned that he had sent Ruin after Nightmist, but Ruin sensed the Virtuoso of the Void's presence and went after him instead. However, since Nightmist does a power-up-in-the-Void thing, wouldn't he have been attracted to that as well? Argent Adept is more innately attuned to the Void rather than Nightmist simply siphoning power from it and so Ruin would key into that more easily - he also just encounters AA before Nightmist at all. Also, Nightmist doesn't really do her Void thing until after Vengeance anyway.
- Did any of Radioactivist's stalkery fan letters and whatnot make it to Unity, or does the Freedom Five have a robust screening process? His letters and whatnot weren't graphic or anything and weren't really a problem until there were too many of them - the volume was more alarming than anything. He's a creep, but not a pervert. He stopped writing letters after he became the mutated radioactive creature - it's hard to hold a pen when they melt.
- The Tomb of Anubis description mentions that not all of the Egyptian "deities" are people empowered by Relics, calling out Anubis - if that's the case, what's his deal? Does he judge over all the dead, or only when there's Egyptian magic weirdness going on? Does he have it in for Ra or the others? What happens when he's incapacitated? He's not really the "god of the dead" as there really isn't one of those in the setting - he is are guardian of the gates of the underworld and there isn't necessarily only one gate (or even one underworld), but he tries to keep things in there from escaping and to keep people from going in and out. Similar to the other "deities", he's a powerful entity from ancient Egypt that was once a person, but unlike the others, he never died to pass his power into his Relic (until OblivAeon) - that is, he didn't acquire his power from a Relic like Ra or the Ennead did, but once he dies that process begins as the Rod of Anubis becomes the same sort of empowering artifact.
- Did Anubis ever interact with the Cult of Gloom or Biomancer? How does his power level compare to Gloomweaver? Biomancer is not raising the dead and so doesn't really factor in to Gloomweaver's or Anubis' shtick. Goomweaver and Anubis are aware of one another, but only really interact in one issue of Ra's book where Gloomweaver tries to draw on Anubis' connection to the underworld to power more zombie shenanigans. Ra intervenes.
- Ammit doesn't seem to get out much (especially outside of Ra stories) - what's she doing in Bugbear's deck? She's in Bugbear's story operating in her wheeling-and-dealing of power mode - finding people with power who don't necessarily understand or appreciate their power (and Bugbear fits this to a T). In the story involving Nightmist he winds up banished from reality and Ammit made a deal with him previously that resulted in this (deals with bad consequences being a common theme with her). More on Bugbear later, but keep this in mind.
- What is Ammit (how does she fit into how the other Egyptian-themed characters operate)? She's a monster. Not a "god" like Ra or the Ennead (or an old entity like Anubis). She kind of started out as a pet of one of the entities that they had summoned ages ago and she acquired power over the ages, but she never drew the attention of anything that would try to destroy her and so she stuck around. She's very cunning and good at flying under the radar and is only just now starting to make a more overt play. I'm sure nothing will come of/could go wrong with this.
- Is Calypso an actual sea nymph, somebody with a Relic like Ra and the Ennead, or just somebody with water powers who named herself after the mythological character? Any other Greek beings like this? She's the latter (just a person with powers), there aren't any other pantheons besides the Egyptian one represented in Sentinel Comics.
- Who is The Hippo and what are/where did he get his powers? He's pretty buff, but he can't be stronger than, say, Mainstay, so why take on Haka? Why the impractical (and somewhat silly) costume? How did he get involved with the Vengeful Five? [This is a pretty funny question directed at the Hippo at around 16:35] Hippo is probably their most insecure character - a dorky kid named Edward Wagner (surname pronounced the German way, like the Mars Base - he's part of the same family - his great aunt was some bigshot scientist) who now goes by Eddie Wagner (pronounced the Americanized way where the first syllable is the same as the word "wag") because he was picked on for his name as a kid. He geeked out on animals, specifically, and always wanted to go to the zoo. Once, when viewing the hippos and commenting on how cute they were he was informed by a person that actually they're very dangerous (one of the most dangerous in Africa). He internalized this knowledge of "hippos = vicious, dangerous animals". Years pass and he becomes a professional baseball player (a member of the Rook City Renegades, a team known for their thuggish behavior as they're all felons) - a relief outfielder and isn't particularly good. They're sponsored by Pike Industries, though, and part of the training involves the corporate water bottle, supplements, and steroids. They encourage not taking too many to not be too obvious about it, but he winds up taking all of them to give him an edge. This makes him very obviously on something and so he's caught pretty much immediately and is kicked out. The Organization scoops him up as hired muscle as an occasional enforcer (although he does his own jobs too). He wants more steroids to keep his edge in his new profession too, and the yardstick he uses to measure his own strength is Haka. He's not specifically out to punch Haka like Ambuscade might, but one of these days, if he gets strong enough, he'll be able to beat him in one of the occasional fights they wind up in (he doesn't).
- Is Judge Mental an actual judge? What kind of court? What kinds of truths is he interested in (tied to the Idealist?)? First off, you need to go to 23:15 or so to hear Christopher's proper pronunciation of his name. He's not an actual judge (he was a barrister in the UK at one point and wanted to be a judge, but instead became Judge Mental). He wants to "expose truths" by "implanting truths" - he has a power of suggestion and he wants people to believe the truths that he desires. He's important in Captain Cosmic's story - so get some questions in for that episode.
- Is Balarian an individual or a species (there's a few of them on an Argent Adept incap)? Both - this is a bizarre alien, extraplanar entity that has one identity spread out in multiple bodies, so there are a lot of them, but they are all Balarian. Kind of like a hive-mind without a central "core". The Prime Wardens only really interact with one or two Balarian at a time as they're mostly outside of our reality.
- So, why did the troll Doc Tusser decide to become a cowpoke? He's not like a "fantasy" troll, he's just kind of troll-ish. He's as close to a "troll" as exist in the setting, though. There's this ancient offshoot of humanity that's kind of gross, but are long-lived and have great regenerative ability, but most of them do what they can to disguise themselves to hide from and/or blend into society. Doc Tusser is dressed up in his "cowpoke" outfit just as his attempt to blend into his time and place. His presence in Vengeance is a result of him being pulled forward in time. He called himself "Doc" Tusser because his explanation of why he could return healed of whatever injuries was because he used to be a doctor and could just treat himself in the interim.
- How did Rahazar (and Galactra) get involved with Greazer? Why is he Parse's nemesis? Rahazar is a something like a "minor landed Baron" where his "land" is a planet. Kind of Grand Warlord Voss-lite he takes over this planet and sets up a mining operation to send resources back to his own people (he's not important there, he's just a guy who went off and is now sending materials back). He's set himself up as a "ruler" type in his new planet's area and demands tribute of people passing through, etc. - Parse is hanging out with Captain Cosmic at one point and they wind up encountering him. They realize that he's really subjugating the people and stripping the planet and decide to do something. She kind of dismantles his whole operation (because she's able to see the weak points, naturally) and he hates her because of this.
- Jim Brooks has descendants that he's not aware of, Rook City was founded by the Overbrook family - it's a longshot, but is Mayor Overbrook related to him? No, that's a clever theory, but they're unrelated.
- Does Mayor Overbrook generally run unopposed? If not, does he have them eliminated or is he just more charismatic/less corrupt than the alternative? Why doesn't he have a publicist as "The Barber" is a terrible nickname? To explain this last one, he's called "The Barber" because he always takes a little off the top - meaning he takes a cut of whatever shady dealing are going on in the city. The Overbrook family had been out of power for a while, but when Chairman Pike came to power, he made a deal with the future Mayor Overbook to help bring them back to prominence in exchange for help. He doesn't run unopposed as there are always other candidates, but it's a rigged game (more through voter intimidation than actually tampering with ballots, although that probably happens too). It's all Pike Industrial and the Organization, though, and he's more of a figurehead.
- What's the deal with Equity? He's an assassin for hire. Nobody really knows where he came from, he's very enigmatic. If you have a grievance, he can be brought in to balance the scales. He's got a really rigid code, but not really a villainous outlook. He's just a normal guy named Andrew Jones living in suburban middle-America with a wife and three kids where he works as an insurance auditor (providing a handy reason to go on business trips all over). One power is to change form into the look he has in the card-game appearance. He can also destabilize things on a molecular level so that he can then pass through it (not like at a full run - I'm thinking more of the speed that the T-1000 walked through the bars in Terminator 2 only the environment is moving around him instead of the reverse). His other power is his "Unsettling Gaze" - if he has eye-contact with you, you cannot see him (you might look away and see him in the corner of your eye and look back, but won't be able to see him - then he slits your throat; he's very hard to fight).
- What exactly happened to turn Tony Taurus into Heartbreaker? Was the events in the Bloodsworn Colosseum part of this? He was a cop in Rook City until he realized the level of corruption there - not so much a single event, but the years and years of futile police work just got to him, and so he quit to become a private investigator (his Rook City card appearance). This didn't stop his interactions with the worst in people, though, since he's still in Rook City. Then the Bloodsworn Colosseum shows up and he's stuck in there for a while and forced to fight. He survives, but he's lost a lot of his morality in the process. He's just a broken man by now and eventually becomes Heartbreaker - just a remorseless murderer. People are terrible and deserve to die and nothing means anything anyway, may as well make some money off of it in the meantime. It's a sad story as he was genuinely interested in helping people at the beginning, but now he's been broken in as much a way as it's possible for a person to break.
- Now that Vyktor is on his own, what happened to Voss's other lieutenant (banished along with him by Nightmist)? Why is Vyktor more of a sadist now? He was always a cold-blooded sadist, so this wasn't any kind of character derailment. He might have seemed more mellow just because he's operating under Voss's direction, but he's always been terrible. Field Lieutenant Tamar died during the initial Voss invasion arc. Vyktor was the one behind the gene-bound slaves, apparently - tearing apart people (aliens) and putting them back together as the gene-bound forces.
- We first see Man-Grove in Nightmist's deck in a swamp which makes sense, later we see him in Fright Train's deck in a sewer - how did he get there? Man-Grove originated as a grove of trees in a swamp near Rook City where a bunch of chemicals were dumped by Pike Industrial and where a bunch of Gloomweaver cult activity took place (because swamp magic). Between all of this, the trees animated into a man-like entity. It eventually wanders into Rook City's sewers. It started out pretty mindless, but developed some sentience over time.
- We know some of what happens to Man-Grove in the Tactics Timeline, but what about the RPG timeline? In RPG, it's still around, but has a different direction taken. In both timelines it interacted with young Vanessa Long, which coaxes it out of just being a swamp monster - in the RPG timeline it doesn't find what it wants with either people or trees. It's still a villainous character and very protective of plants, but kind of is a wandering entity.
- Who would win in a fight, Man-Grove or Plague Rat? They've encountered each other in the sewers, but neither has anything the other wants and so they've never had any reason to fight. If they did fight, Christopher thinks that Plague Rat has more direct offensive ability, but Adam counters that there's plenty of thorny/constrictive things that Man-Grove could do to kill Plague Rat in a battle of attrition while it would be difficult for Plague Rat to actually do enough damage to it to "kill" Man-Grove. Christopher concedes the point.
- Who are the Crackjaw Crew (friends, family, both)? What's the deal with the girl in the chair (paraplegic or just a fancy battle-chair)? What are their names/powers? They're a band - which is how they know each other. The vocalist is Screech. The bass player is the plant guy, Deep Root. The guitarist (with fire hands) is Blister. The drummer is the girl in the chair, Snare (her eye beam isn't a "laser" but is something like a limb that can grab things). One day, they were practicing in a garage (they're not good) and Wager Master showed up. He was into their music and thought it would be cool if they also had powers and so gave some to them (along with Snare's hover chair - she is paraplegic). They were a bounty for Chrono-Ranger, he showed up and blew up the hover chair which allowed the Sentinels to arrest them. That's their only encounter with CR, but they became recurring foes of the Sentinels.
- Is Screech related to the Shrieker? Nope, they just both have yelling-related powers.
- How is Tantrum a nemesis of Sky-Scraper (it seems weird that an alien gladiator would have a nemesis on Earth)? It's often more useful to keep her around if SS isn't as well, what's she like? What we know about her from the card game: Tantrum looks like a small child who is very strong and is angry with Sky-Scraper. More info: she's a full-grown adult, but is stuck looking like this. She makes forcefields - this is helpful in defense, but also when she punches something it's the forcefield hitting them, allowing her to impart a lot of force without it having that "equal and opposite" force on her directly. She's also very hot headed. She's only a nemesis in that during the general Vengeance events she was sent to fight SS and there was a notable encounter there and there's an ongoing rivalry between them in stories when SS is on Earth.
- Given the backstory, why don't Professor Pollution and Akash'Thriya share a nemesis symbol? Is she a radiation-based mutant? Is she actually a professor or just a fan of alliteration? She's not a professor. The OblivAeon-based heroes all have the OblivAeon as their nemesis because it's the general reason for all of them becoming heroes. While the backstories touch on one another, Professor Pollution isn't really in any fights with Akash'whatever (like how Akash'Bhuta is involved in the Naturalist's backstory, but they're not nemeses). She's highly irradiated and has mutated based on that enough that she can survive it, but Sentinel Comics doesn't really have "mutants" as a specific category.
- Is Cueball a pool hustler that Guise interrupted a shot for? Where does one get a mask/helmet like that? He can see out - it's like a one-way mirror. It's also got a lot of heads-up-display stuff that lets him control stuff he's set up (he's a tech-based villain) which includes his suit, which includes the powers of every pool ball (what, you didn't know that each pool ball has a distinct power?). He can shift his suit to use each of them (it'll change color to match whichever one he's using at the time). The pool ball theme is one he came up with after developing this suit with different powers - he liked pool so why not?
- All of Guise's nemeses seem fairly wacky except Argentium, how did this rather serious-seeming character wind up involved? Argentium is not really a Guise villain, but a writer noticed that they have similar powers (shape-changing) and it would be funny if they fought. Argentium was pulling a job at a power plant and Guise happened to be the one who stopped him. Argentium was always good as escaping when heroes had him on the ropes. Guise was just the first one to pull out a fire extinguisher and be all "Hey, it's like in Terminator. Get it?" and it actually worked, freezing him in place and allowing Argentium to be captured - thus the animosity.
- Why is Highbrow Parse's nemesis (so far we've heard about her in relation to Setback and Kismet)? Why is she not more of a major villain given her intellect? She doesn't lack the drive, intellect, or anything to be a major villain - she's just fairly new. She's Parse's nemesis because she's largely introduced as a intellectual threat and the two of them match wits during Vengeance.
- Is Hermetic an ancient alchemist kept alive by his own (red) philosopher's stone or is he just into steampunk? Any other philosopher's stones out there? Is he important somehow ("Do you know who I am?")? He is an ancient alchemist kept alive by his alchemy, but the red stone isn't keeping anybody alive. It's a blood stone (about the opposite of a philosopher's stone). His "cures" are for mortality - he's trying to cure life itself. He shouts the "do you know who I am?" stuff due to his inflated sense of importance, not because he's nobility or anything. He's been around for a long time, but doesn't do anything really notable (until he does...).
- What was the biggest tantrum that Tantrum ever through? Adam: She didn't get dessert and so punched through Asia (there's an argument had here about the actual question implied by asking about the biggest tantrum - the cause of the tantrum or the effect).
- What is the most consecutive games of pool that Cueball has played? He's in the middle of the session right now; currently at 304.
- Where did Doc Tusser get his medical degree? School of Hard Knocks?
- Does Professor Pollution have tenure? Yeah, but they pay her in radioactive isotopes.
- People skipped (for reasons) and where those stories will appear:
- Galactra - in Captain Cosmic episode.
- Quetzalcoatl - in the Sentinels episode.
- Major Flay - Visionary episode.
- The Seer and The Idolater - Fanatic episode.
- Revenant - Revo-Corp episode.
- Green Grosser - a major Guise villain for his episode.
- Blood Countess Bathory - the Court of Blood interlude.
- Zhu Long - for the Zhu Long interlude.
- Slaughter-House Six - both the Ambuscade episode and their own interlude
- August 1st: Argent Adept
- August 8th: Akash'Bhuta, Akash'Thriya, and more!
- August 15th: Visionary/Dreamer
- August 22nd: Revo-Corp/Benchmark
- August 29th: Gen Con Live! (actually records on the 19th)
- August 31st: Post Gen Con Retrospective Interlude