The Letters Page: Interlude 9
A team of villains, led (sort of?) by Ambuscade! Let's learn more!
Run Time: 92:50
This interlude is pretty much just an entire episode. Yes, we're aware we need to revisit what we're calling interludes. We'll explore that on next Thursday's... whatever it is we call it. But, yeah, this has a ton of story, including some major reveals!
We start off by talking about Ambuscade, Re-Volt, Desert Eagle, Ray Manta, Magman, and Glamour. We do some backstory and overview stuff. Then! It's time for your questions, which we kick off by digging into the biggest reveal of the whole Slaughter-House Six story.
The questions are mostly organized by character, but they do jump around a little bit. You'll figure it out - I believe in you!
About 72 minutes in, a conspiracy theorist leads us down a twisting trail of what the future will hold with AI and such. Christopher reveals his secrets. Some of them, at least.
Upon this episode going live, you still have a few hours left to get in your questions about The Sentinels/Void Guard!
- As mentioned previously, the team was introduced in Freedom Five Annual #11 when Ambuscade brought along some additional villains in his attempt to take down Haka. He recruited them by the clever, outside-the-box strategy of calling up Revo-Corp and asking them to round up a team for him. The resulting Slaughter-House Six team is:
- Ambuscade - Ansel G. Moreau - the nominal leader we all know and love.
- Re-Volt - Sean Vargas - a hired enforcer that Revo-Corp hires out to people, he actually is a salaried employee of Revo-Corp. He's got lightning/electricity powers resulting from his time as a test subject there around the same time as Setback's backstory.
- Desert Eagle - Mikal Jadoon - another Revo-Corp employee like Re-Volt. He's got a wing suit that lets him fly and laser eyes (which aren't an attack, but a cybernetic "Eagle Eye System" that lets him see farther, more accurately, through objects somewhat, and even adjusting the part of the EM spectrum he's able to see (say into infrared or ultraviolet). If he's got a "visual lock" on a target he can also fire bolts from his wings, more accurate the longer he's locked on, and generate a protective shield.
- Ray Manta - Raymond Mantey - Not a hired soldier like the other two, but a scientist/researcher who develops stuff for Revo-Corp. More involved in the tech side of things like the Eagle Eye project. His suit is something that he'd put together on his own and when he was asked to put together gear for the others he did so on the stipulation that he got to go out into the field too. The suit has a tail stinger and utility/monitoring equipment (he's particularly interested in keeping track of robots) and he's "kind of a loser" but they'll get into that later.
- Magman - "Fred" - a Magmarian. We get some detail on Magmarians here - they feed on the crystals that grow in their homeland and one will last them for a few decades. On the surface, he needs to eat something that isn't as filling - gems (or really any crystal). So, he'll take part in heists or whatnot that have a chance for him to get some sustenance. He thinks that these guys are his friends who are helping him get food.
- Glamour - Aislin Allen - Mostly uses technology to create illusions, but she's got some of her own "power" going on too (we know from previous episodes that this is, in fact, Shrieker - a member of the original iteration of the Freedom Four/Five.
- Ambuscade pulls in Glamour separately. The others weren't, strictly speaking, new characters created for the team, but they were pretty minor and hadn't really been used much. Glamour was a ringer brought in as somebody who had a track record of actually being able to get the upper hand against heroes.
- Why is the VotM version of Ambuscade so much weaker than his solo deck incarnation? This has to do with the timeline of the background story. The FFA #11 fight is a serious fight for the heroes, but this isn't the one modeled by the VotM deck - that's a much later, post-Vengeance story. The big reveal here is that the FFA #11 fight was the only time that Ambuscade, Ansel G. Moreau, was working with the SH6. They kept operating as a villain team, with "Ambuscade" as a member, but he's one of Glamour's illusions. Since he'd abandoned the team and was the only member to escape, Glamour wanted to just forget him and take over leadership of the group. This didn't go over well, so she just started faking it - fooling everybody. Ambuscade even hears about how "he" is still leading this Slaughter-House Six group out there and kind of just shrugs since it's adding to his mystique/reputation for being in lots of places. Ambuscade is still the nominal "target" or focal point (and therefore has the character card), but this is really kind of the Glamour deck.
- Why the change from Haka to Naturalist as the nemesis for Ambuscade? Well, now that we know the last answer, it adjusts how we look at this. Glamour has Tachyon as her nemesis, and this story starts with Glamour trapping Tachyon "in a mirror" and then Glamour starts impersonating her. The heroes catch on that something's up and the situation develops into a Slaughter-House Six fight. The heroes that get involved here are the ones represented on Nemesis cards (so, Naturalist, Haka, Unity, Omnitron-X, Setback, and Tachyon herself). Naturalist's involvement and him specifically going after Ambuscade is what results in his capture by Glamour and his subsequent imprisonment in Madame Mittermeier's Fantastical Festival of Conundrums and Curiosities. It's another one of those asymmetrical nemesis situations - it's not that Ambuscade was gunning for Naturalist, but the other way around.
- We know that Glamour is a legacy character with multiple people taking up the name at various times, do they all spell it that way instead of the American way? This is a misconception, generally held by people in Commonwealth nations, that any time you see a word spelled with that 'ou' that the American version lacks the 'u' (like "colour" vs. "color"). This isn't one of those cases - "glamour" is the standard spelling here too. As a result, the characters have always spelled it that way.
- How many Glamours have there been? Up through the Multiverse era there have been four, with a fifth in the Tactics timeline.
- Madame Marjorie Mittermeier - she of the Fantastical Festival of Conundrums & Curiosities. She's the Golden Age era Glamour, a Master of Illusions whose powers were always just kind of vague. Some standard tricks involved tarot cards that would then do/become something, various carnival stuff, but it's kind of generic "magic" stuff. She eventually just kind of disappears due to a writer error - the writer wanted to do a Glamour story, but couldn't actually remember her name. This resulted in...
- Melissa Morris - shows up in that writer's story and it's only noticed later that it's the wrong person. This results in a retcon in which Madame Mittermeier has mysteriously disappeared, lost in her carnival as so many carnival-goers had in the past. Melissa sticks around as a Silver Age and on into the '80s as a minor villain. There is a notable story that involves Glamour being captured and unmasked, revealing her to be...
- Dana Bertrand - the best friend (and at this point in the comics, starting to be developed as love interest) of Tachyon. But shouldn't it be Melissa Morris? Nope, she shows up in a morgue. So there's been some scenes for a while that in hindsight paint Dana as having been acting strange, and the theory is that at some point Dana killed Melissa and took over as Glamour (and given that Dana's a model the name is a pretty good fit). This is a big red herring (although we still "count" Dana as the third Glamour even though she never actually acted as her); the actual person who framed Dana is...
- Aislin Allen - former member of the Freedom Four/Five as the Shrieker. The readers eventually become privy to her identity, but she's actually very good at keeping her identity secret from everybody in the comics. She's burnt out her shrieking powers (dealing sonic damage), but still has the ability to mess with people's inner ears, making them hear voices or other sounds, throwing her voice, or perfectly mimicking other people which augments her technological illusions. The mask is important here since it covers her mouth and allows her to get away with this stuff (she's not a ventriloquist). Later on, she also manages to track down what happened to the original Glamour's carnival (sans Madame Mittermeier herself - she was already old even back in the Golden Age), figures out how it works, and takes over.
- Aminia Twain - in the Tactics timeline, the former Miss Information takes up the name.
- From the GenCon Live episode, we know that the carnival is tied to Glamour and should be asked about here - hypothesis: is Madame Mittermeier some kind of extraplanar entity who somehow benefits from the people "trapped" by the carnival and gives power to people (Glamour and Kismet for example) who lure people in? Some of this is rendered moot by the stuff already covered. She's a human, not some extraplanar thing. She's got some paranormal abilities, and she's a master of those abilities, but she's not calling up Glamour or anybody else to bring people to the carnival before her own disappearance. The carnival itself is designed to be interesting/to attract people to it (and trapping people in the pocket dimension), which makes it useful for the later villains who enact schemes there. Kismet is one of the villains who uses the carnival, but she doesn't really know it like Glamour does and they're not working together.
- What happens to people trapped in the pocket dimension? They're stuck in a kind of "carnival limbo" where they're forced to interact with twisted versions of carnival attractions (trapped on a carousel forever, playing and losing weird games). It's pretty horrible.
- How long has the carnival existed in its current or former state? It's pretty much the same as its ever been. Madame Mittermeier's fortune telling tent isn't staffed since she's gone, but now it kind of just runs itself. It's been around since (late) in the Golden Age of comics, although it was out of sight for a long time there.
- What does Glamour gain from the carnival? Nothing. Mittermeier created it and it was kind of a focus of her power, but it's nothing more than a good location to mess with heroes. It's a better option for Glamour than some other villains considering it's "can't trust what you see" aspects play to her strong suits, but it's not like it's bestowing extra power on her or anything.
- Does anything happen to previous Glamours when she's defeated due to their connection to the carnival? No, other than the original who was "lost" in the carnival. Or at least presumed to be lost there. She actually lives in that pocket dimension since she doesn't age in there (and it's not as bad for her as it is for everybody else as she's the one running it) and only comes out rarely - and hasn't for some time by the card game events, only coming out after OblivAeon. She thinks that the current Glamour is doing pretty well with the carnival, getting more people trapped in the pocket dimension and whatnot, and is content to just let her continue.
- Tachyon's episode mentions that Glamour isn't actually doing "magic", so are all of the weird things going on in the carnival just smoke and mirrors? Depends on the Glamour - the first is straight up doing magic, the second was reigned in and is just using technological means, the third (the one represented in the Ambuscade deck) is leaning heavily on the tech stuff, but has her own vocal superpowers for extra oomph. The first is a manipulator type character out for eternal life, the later ones are just criminals.
- How is the mantle of Glamour passed on? Nobody's passed it on intentionally, it just kind of taken. The second Glamour
was retconnednoticed that the first had simply disappeared and just took up the name as it was useful for the illusion gimmick (as is the "never know what to expect" branding inherent in new people using the same name). Aislin specifically killed Melissa/framed Dana in order to establish herself.
- Do the various Glamours use their other powers (if any) in addition to the illusion stuff? The first's powers were the illusion stuff, the fourth does use her vocal powers as described (but can't use the "shriek" anymore). The Slaughter-House Six in general is a pretty tech-reliant group.
- Do Legacy and Wraith know Aislin's identity as a former teammate? No. Nobody does (except the readers).
- What happened to each Glamour/how is the name passed on? Already covered.
- Do any of them besides Aminia have powers or all they all charlatans? Already covered.
- What is Glamour's interest in the Slaughter-House Six? Aislin wanted to take down the heroes, but while she's good with fooling the heroes she lacks the actual capacity to take them down herself, so the team was promising.
- Is she the second in command of the SH6 given how much planning it probably takes to set up/make use of her illusions? Funny that. As stated, she's really the one in charge and so can arrange this stuff like you said.
- What's that red thing she's doing in the "Hunting Pack" card? It's a mind-altering/hallucinogenic gas - she's got a variety of things like that.
- If Re-Volt were to fight Tempest, would his suit protect him from Tempest's lightning attacks/could Tempest redirect his attacks? The suit isn't generating the powers, it's his own genetically-modified powers. They don't really ever fight (Tempest deals with large-scale threats and Re-Volt is more street-level). Neither is immune to the other's power (big electric shocks can mess both of them up). As an analogy, apparently Christopher is good at fighting with spears, but that doesn't mean that he's therefore immune to spears.
- Is Re-Volt made of electricity (given the art on "Hunting Pack")? No, he can excite parts of his body to become like electricity for brief periods, but he can't do things like travel along power lines or anything.
- It's mentioned that Re-Volt has an off-again/on-again relationship with Kismet, how does that work, does that inform Re-Volt's feelings towards Setback, and how does Setback feel about Re-Volt? The Nemesis relationship between him and Setback is unrelated to Kismet - they just all run in the same general power-level and so run into each other. Re-Volt and Kismet don't quite have a love/hate thing going on because neither of them feel strongly enough about it to "love" or "hate" the other - they get along, then have a bad breakup around an argument, then get back together, etc. Neither of them is really good for the other (or good for anybody, really). They met in a villain bar and bonded over their "hate" of Setback (Kismet has it in her head that she "hates" him even though their past doesn't warrant it, Re-Volt's is almost a friendly rivalry just due to running into each other so often and so would totally say that he hates Setback, but doesn't really introspect much about how much fun he actually has). The guys can totally see a universe in which the three of them sit down and work through their problems and could actually be friends.
- Do Re-Volt, Char, Radioactivist, and Highbrow bond over their Fort Adamant experience and work together later or do they never want to see each other again? Re-Volt isn't a target in the deck, but he's definitely there like the others and going through some stuff. Char probably comes out the best given the situation. Highbrow's probably the worst off, but she doesn't mind it so much because she's weird. They were all criminals who were captured and forced into these experiments. They certainly encounter each other during the events there, but they go their separate ways afterwards.
- Desert Eagle claims familiarity with Haka's backstory from centuries ago; how does he know? Desert Eagle, a mercenary even before getting the Revo-Corp enhancements, is also very interested in history. He managed to piece together Haka's backstory just by going down the rabbit hole of information he could find. He doesn't know the source of Haka's power, but he figured out that these stories about Aata being cast out from his tribe/returning from death were about Haka. He's after Haka in particular because he wants whatever secret Haka has for his increased vitality/lifespan/etc.
- Desert Eagle's character design/art seems at odds to his mechanics (eye beams, but deals projectile damage, etc.), so what's going on? Mentioned some of this earlier about the Eagle Eye system and his charging up. His complicated setup (having target lock leading to his attack and charging up abilities) is difficult to actually depict given a single card.
- Does Ray Manta have an aversion to every iteration of Omnitron? He doesn't like any Omnitron as he's particularly concerned with robots taking over (even before the original Omnitron event). He thinks that Omni-X is a trick and that you shouldn't trust it.
- How did Ray Manta find out the TRUTH! about robots and why don't people believe him? A lot of people have distrust of technology due to Omnitron (which probably why there isn't more advanced tech out there in the Sentinel Comics setting given characters like Tachyon being around). It's even a thing in the real world that AI and technology are distrusted by people as a threat in the not-to-distant future. Ray Manta is more or less just a conspiracy nut whose always been worried about this stuff, but Omnitron gave him a tangible example to reinforce his beliefs.
- Why did Ambuscade pick Ray Manta who seems like a tin-foil-hat-wearing loony? First off, the Ray Manta suit actually does have a tin-foil layer throughout. He is a 100% conspiracy theory loony. He's still very competent in terms of making and maintaining this tech stuff and isn't dead weight on the team - it's just that his high-level of knowledge on this lets him see a potential threat down the line and he's simply gone around the bend on it. Ambuscade didn't pick him, he was just part of the group that Revo-Corp sent his way.
- What does Ray Manta have to gain from working on the team if they're just out to hunt down the (non-robotic) dangerous game? Does he follow other conspiracy theories? Yes, he's on-board with most/all conspiracies (and is the kind of guy to say "Wake up, sheeple" multiple times per day). Ray wants to go out into the field where he might actually be able to go after some robots/prove his theories.
- Is "Ray Manta" his real name or a secret identity? Did he have an encounter with the original (destructive) Omnitron to instigate his hatred of robots? Does he see himself as a good guy despite being on a team called the Slaughter-House Six? [Special shout-out here for the Animal-verse addition of "Gloombeaver" - that's a good one] Everybody knows about Omnitron, but he was a "robots are bad" guy before that too. He doesn't view things in terms of "sides" and he just knows that he has goals (re: stopping robots) and he's willing to work with whomever it takes to further those goals.
- Why is Magman so much weaker than other Magmarians (lower HP, not immune to fire damage, etc.), wasn't he supposed to be their king or something? He wasn't the king, he was actually a criminal who was exiled for stealing lava crystals (which is their "food"). The crystals take a long time to form and are carefully cultivated, but "Fred" took three when he was supposed to just take one and so they kicked him out (from a human perspective it's a surprisingly straightforward affair: Shamans - "You have taken more than your share. You must leave." Fred - "That is true. I will leave."). Once on the surface, he's basically constantly dying given the changes in the environment compared to what he's used to (colder temperatures, different gravity, etc.) which explains why he's weaker than his fellow Magmarians. He's got to keep himself going with whatever crystalline "food" he can get. He could do well for himself for a while if he were to just find a quartz mine or something, even better if he could get set up with a scientist somewhere who's cultivating crystals in a lab, but given that Revo-Corp is the group that got their hands on him immediately, they're not going to be so altruistic and instead hire him out.
- Can Magman hang out with the rest of the team in their downtime? Like, can he even exist in the same room as them without melting through the floor? Can he play darts or have a beer with the others? He can consume food and drink in that he can put them in his mouth and they are consumed by fire - he gets no sustenance from it. He can control his heat output, so it's possible to be next to him without him burning through the floor or setting things on fire if he wants. He could play darts, but he's fairly clumsy and so wouldn't be good at it.
- Tactics - For Profit kind of takes the place of the Slaughter-House Six. Well, kind of - Glamour is a new Glamour (formerly Miss Information) and Ambuscade is there, but he was only really on the team that one time.
- RPG - there's still a Slaughter-House Six team, it's mostly recognizable (there's a few new members), and Glamour is openly the leader now.