These are some observations in response to the Letters Page podcast episodes, as I listen to them in their original order.

(Please ignore the broken quote blocks; at the insistent of the board moderators, these posts are clumsily copied from their original locations, and the forum software doesn’t seem to handle such formatting properly.)

From topic: The Letters Page! Episode 1 Discussion (Legacy) - #30 by The_Justifier


This is a new series of posts where I respond to anything noteworthy from the Letters Page episodes, as I go through them all in order for the second time. In some cases, I may just want to highlight an interesting tidbit from the podcast which isn’t super-obvious, but for the most part I hope to add my own touches to the lore being revealed here.

First up: Legacy, or rather the first Powered Paul Parsons, long before the Legacy name is applied. The episode states that he has “exceptional athletic ability” but is “not in any way superhuman”. I want to contradict that right off the bat, because with what we later learn about how Legacy’s powers function, I officially declare it Not Cool for the first “power” added to Joseph Parsons’s original danger sense to not really be a power at all. Therefore, I will specifically posit that Paul Parsons The First inherited Danger Sense from Joseph, while also gaining a very specifically superhuman power: he developed exceptional athletic ability without really trying. We don’t know anything about the physique of Joseph Parsons, but I posit that he was a fairly ordinary person by the standards of the day (in better shape than the average 21st-century American, due to the need to do a lot more manual labor and go on long walks and so forth, but entirely typical of the age he lived in), and that if Joseph had never gained his powers (and had somehow survived anyway, and had the exact same child in all other respects), his son would have been equally average. Although anyone can develop “exceptional athletic ability” if they’re willing to devote themselves sufficiently to exercise and nutrition and so forth, the second superpower of the Parsons lineage is specifically the ability to develop to the peak of human physical condition just through the circumstances of an ordinary life, which is most certainly a paranormal ability on the order of Danger Sense or the superhuman speed developed by his son “Lucky” Paul.[/quote]

From topic: The Letters Page! Episode 2 Discussion (The Wraith) - #56 by The_Justifier

[quote]Justifications #2

My first Justification was a very specific observation that I very much felt I needed to make; this one is a good bit less pointed, just a vague sense of an underlying theme that I can’t fully articulate. This episode talks about two things which are a persistent subtext in the imaginary Wraith comics over the decades of Sentinel Comics publishing, but which aren’t really clearly depicted in the card game (if at all). One is the fact that a lot of her 50s-era comics had her fighting Communists, which could lead to some interesting talk about her status as a multi-millionaire heiress, but there’s probably not a lot to add on that topic, so I’ll brush over it. The other, though, is the idea that Wraith struggles constantly to avoid succumbing to her darker impulses. Hinted at on the Maze of Mirrors card in Madame Mittermaier’s Fantastical Festival of Conundrums and Curiosities, and providing the secret story behind the Price of Freedom promo from the Iron Legacy timeline, this aspect of Wraith is never blatantly spelled out in the cards, but with the podcast making it explicit, I have something to say.

Comparisons between the Wraith and Batman are basically unavoidable, and the idea that both of them struggle with the temptation to kill is one of the notable similarities; Gotham and Rook City both feature endless streams of criminals that never seem deterred by any of the crimefighter’s efforts, and so the idea that some of them - the worst ones, at least - ought to be summarily executed is hard to avoid thinking about. But while it makes a great deal of sense for Batman, the eternally brooding crown prince of grim morbidity, to struggle against crossing that line, the psychology of the Wraith is very different. Batman became a bat to strike fear into the hearts of others; Maia became The Wraith to make herself feel safe in fearful circumstances. So it’s a bit odd to think that she came from virtually the exact opposite starting point, only to wind up facing much the same moral conundrum.

That’s all I’ve got on this one, hopefully it makes some amount of sense.[/quote]

For topic: The Letters Page! Episode 3 Discussion (Baron Blade)

Justifications #3

This series of posts may contain spoilers of future podcast episodes; I’ll try to limit them, but the assumption of this discussion is that you’ve listened all the way through at least once. With reference to this episode, without saying what the later revelation actually is, I’m just going to point out the hilarity of claiming that Luminary doesn’t play a very pivotal role in the final battle with OblivAeon. With the benefit of hindsight, that statement is highly amusing, and I just wanted to point it out way back here.

For topic: The Letters Page! Episode 4 Discussion (Expatriette)

Justifications #4

There were a lot of things in this episode that I almost commented on, but Ex-Patriette is not my favorite character, nor do I feel I fully understand her, so I ultimately only feel ready to speak on one aspect of the story, and it’s one that isn’t really about her. Wager Master shows her a vision of Citizen Dusk, who almost certainly exists in some alternate reality, and offers her a chance to gain those powers and that life, which Amanda declines. Now, we never learn in the comics where exactly Citizen Dawn gets her powers, nor any of the other Citizens of the Sun, but I do think we know exactly where Citizen Dusk’s powers would have come from - the same dark dimension which empowers Writhe, complete with the creature known as Voidsoul who lurks within it. I believe that if Amanda had taken WM’s deal, Eugene’s experiments in harnessing dark matter would have been fruitless, and there would never have been a Writhe. What the ripple effects of that would have been is difficult to guess at, but Writhe’s status as a nemesis to La Capitan makes it seem likely that the consequences of his removal would have been far-reaching. And, given how much mental instability Expat is prone to as a result of her traumatic upbringing (when by contrast Gene appears to be fairly sane prior to his time as Writhe, and might well have remained so if not for Voidsoul’s influence), I think it’s a good bet that any contact between Voidsoul and Citizen Dusk would have probably ended up with OblivAeon having one more Scion wreaking havoc during his attack.

EDIT: Another observation from later in the episode. C&A point out that Expatriette gave her two special pistols the names “Pride” and “Prejudice”, in large part because she grew up among the Citizens of the Sun, and saw that there was an established pattern of the citizens getting special new names. While the Citizens may take a certain measure of pride in those names, I think that from the perspective of both of the Cohen women, the Citizens have those names because they are tools, and therefore Expatriette is specifically naming her guns in the same spirit. Expat uses the guns as objects, because they are objects; Dawn uses the Citizens as objects because she’s the kind of person who uses “lesser” people as nothing more than devices to enact her will, and is egotistical enough to want special names for those utilities. So Expat mimics the naming convention as a sort of wry commentary on her mother’s status as a user.

Justifications #5

For Topic: https://forums.greaterthangames.com/t/the-letters-page-episode-5-discussion-citizen-dawn

This is probably going to be the longest Justification I ever post, or at least the longest for quite some time. Citizen Dawn is one of my favorite characters in the game, and even more than with characters I like more, she’s the one that I feel the most passionately about certain aspects of the characters, to the point that I kinda want to fight C&A over ownership of her, because there are certain aspects of her backstory which I feel as though I understand better than they do. (Many authors occasionally speak about a character having “told” them something they didn’t other realize, as though the character exists somewhere outside of the author’s brain and the author is merely discovering rather than inventing the truth about that character; if there’s any truth to that concept at all, then I make the claim that I have “discovered” certain “facts” about Dawn Cohen which C&A have not. I don’t think C&A would dispute me that this is at least possible, since they have invoked the “the character told us to do this” concept at least once in Letters Page history; I’ll point it out when we get there.)

The most singular aspect of the Citizen Dawn story as it’s told in this episode is the part where Dawn holds up a city council, demanding all of their gold, and then kills them all anyway after they give in to her demands. This treacherous act is probably the single most vile thing Dawn has ever done, since if the councilors had realized she was going to kill them anyway, they could have at least refused to turn the treasury over, forcing her to go track it down herself. I want Dawn to be a character who has some degree of integrity, and her ability to go back on her own deal here demonstrates the opposite. What really bothers me about it though, even more than the murdering and the deal-breaking, is the fact that she bothers to explain why she’s killing them before she kills them. This is a pretty obvious case of the character talking to the reader, and thus it comes across as a form of “as you know”, since if Dawn thinks the non-powered are so worthless, she wouldn’t even bother to tell them why she was killing them, she’d simply do so. Therefore, if I was writing for an animated show or something, I would definitely rewrite this scene heavily, perhaps to make her let the councilors go as per the terms of her hostage situation, but more likely to have her display her contempt for them more blatantly by killing them without a word of acknowledgement as soon as she sees the gold. (Also, while C&A describe this as a pretty old story where the killing happens off-panel, I would want to go full Xtremiverse on the death scenes; there wouldn’t be any blood since all the wounds are instantly cauterized, but I would have her do things like slicing heads off with a fingertip laser, or firing a full-power blast which reduces the victim to a charred skeleton.) Probably, what I would do is mix the two outcomes, by having her say “Very well, as we agreed, I won’t kill you. But since you are worthless un-powered sheep, you deserve no compassion from me. Therefore, I leave you with your lives, and nothing else.” And she brutally maims them all in a nonlethal but utterly horrific way, such as burning all the skin off their faces or amputating all of their limbs. (This would be far more work than just disintegrating them, but I think it’d be worth her taking that level of effort, in order for her to be a more Lawful Evil kind of character, rather than a complete ax-crazy monster. There are surprisingly few of these “faustian Devil” kinds of villains in SOTM, even though they are a comic book staple.)

The fact that the Sunrise story ends with Visionary taking out Citizen Dawn with a Mind Spike has always kind of bothered me; while Mind Spike is the most direct-damage-dealing card in Visionary’s deck, it doesn’t compare very well to the damage output of your average hero, and it certainly doesn’t strike me as being the card that single-handedly demolishes a villain who previously seemed nigh-invulnerable. I’d like it a lot more for this purpose if it did damage equal to the cards in Visionary’s hand, or something of that nature; even making it into a Brain Burn which somehow allows redirecting the self-damage to another target would fit better for this narrative purpose. But since we’re forced to accept the Mind Spike as being the felling blow, it makes me wonder about how Dawn felt after she woke up back in her volcano citadel and had to be informed of the failure of their attack. In particular, I’m looking ahead to the Citizens’ Imperative era, where Citizen Hammer and Anvil go out hunting for Visionary. We’re told canonically that the main reason to seek her out is because she’s so incredibly powerful, but I can’t help but think that part of the motivation is Dawn’s desire for revenge, or at least a desire to gain control over someone who once bested her.

A very interesting one-off comment, dropped very casually during the question about Ra’s “sun-off” with Dawn: “Ra thinks of Dawn as this era’s mad conqueror, as if he hasn’t seen dozens of those over the aeons”. I really, really want to see an entire episode talking about the original Ancient Egyptian Ra having a career spanning a couple thousand years, as one Egyptian dynasty after another rose and fell around him, where he battled all manner of figures which may or may not have appeared in the mythology that has come down to us since that time.

There are probably more comments I could add here, but I’m going to have to call it good enough for today, as I can only stand to sit and listen to the same podcast episode over and over so many times, before I have to move on to the next one. (This is one of the reasons why I protested over the mods telling me to start posting all of my Justifications in a single thread, rather than in the original Letters Page discussion topics. Because I have to have everything in order here, once I post Justifications #6, I can’t just post a sequel to #4 anymore; I’ll have to do something like editing my additional commentary into this post, then putting a link in the end of the post telling people who may have already read through the thread that Post #5 has been updated on sucha-sucha date. It would have been far better if every response I had to Episode 5 had been allowed to go in the episode 5 thread, even if it has been inactive for years. But clearly the mods don’t care how much their rules are inconveniencing me, so until I gain the power necessary to crush them utterly and seize their authority as my own, I guess I’m stuck doing things their way.)

As a footnote, I think I said this before somewhere, but in response to the bit at the end talking about dice, my bet is that the people who default to thinking of something other than a d6 or a d20 are thinking about a d10, because they are players of the White Wolf series of roleplaying games, of which the best-known is Vampire the Masquerade; all of those games rely exclusively on d10s.

Justifications #6


I’m tempted to go very far up my own fundament on the issue of how Setback’s powers work, since “luck powers” in comic books and other media are often handled in a way that irritates me greatly, and I’d very much like to put a lot of my Justification energy into “fixing” them so they aren’t such a blatant insult against all current scientific knowledge of how reality actually works. But I’m not here to say “Setback is a terrible character and I hate him”, so I’ll can that rant and talk about something else instead.

The most comment-worthy part of this episode to me is the mention of Setback’s confrontation with Miss Information, where she’s sprung a trap on every member of the Freedom Five, and Larry Hilburn goes and gets Setback to help him escape. First off, while the folksy discussion that C&A describe for Larry is quite charming, it’s hard to reconcile with the idea that the Freedom Five are in deadly peril and Larry has rushed off to get help. I don’t want this conversation to be rushed, though, so I’m going to say that when I retell this story (which at the moment means me doing it through text right here and now, although I’m going to fantasize that it’s me writing an animated show or the like), the otherwise thoroughly deranged and murderous Miss Information has a soft spot for her fellow service workers, those who do the underpaid and thankless task of supporting a bunch of super-people in their charitable efforts. So after she manages to catch the FF in her traps (all of which are designed to keep them helpless and torture them for an extended period of time rather than killing them, even though a somewhat serious and very smart villain like Missy should know better than to succumb to this kind of Bond-Villain Syndrome), she puts out a P.A. announcement telling all of the FF’s employees to vacate the building within such-and-so a timeframe, expecting that most of them are going to take that time to clean out their cubicles and steal some office supplies and so forth, but Larry instead uses that opportunity to go talk the depressed and resigned Setback into coming and helping out.

The other part of this story which fails a bit is the trap that Setback falls into, and the big problem here is that Missy doesn’t have any powers (apart from the ability to scream in frustration whenever her plots are foiled, with sufficient intensity to deal the same damage to all heroes that Huge Sky-Scraper deals to all non-heroes with a Thunderous Clap). She’s exclusively a villain who succeeds through planning and calculating and accounting for all variables, using her intimate knowledge of the heroes and everything they’re doing. So she could easily set a trap for every hero based on the knowledge that the hero always does thing X at location Y at time Z…but we already know that she has Tyler Vance captured already when Larry leaves, so why is there an extra Bunker-specific trap for Setback to fall into? This is what I meant about Setback’s powers annoying me, because his powers don’t (or at least shouldn’t) reach back in time from the moment when he’s foredestined to fall into a trap, and cause that trap to actually be created so that he can fall into it; rather, Missy just happened to create an extra trap for Lt. Vance which was “maybe ten feet” inside the headquarters entrance, and another trap elsewhere which actually caught Tyler, even though that’s a waste of resources and she shouldn’t have done it. Additionally, I very much see Miss Info as the monologue-reciting type of villain (which is partially the aforementioned Blofield foolishness, but also a very reasonable reflection of her broken mental state, so I’m fine with leaning into it). So when I envision the scene in my head, it features Setback in his garbage-stinking costume falling into this mechanical-constriction trap, and a little speaker somewhere inside the machine plays a recorded message from Missy saying “Haha! You see, Lieutenant Vance, I’ve always wondered what it might feel like to control a powerful machine like the Bunker suit, but I guess I’ll have to settle for sitting back and watching while you’re stuck in a machine which you cannot control! Have fun growing steadily more helpless as this steel coffin crushes you to death an inch at a time over the next five hours! MWAHAHAHA!”…or words to that general effect.

There, that’s enough Writer’s Rooming for me for now.

Justifications #7

From Topic: https://forums.greaterthangames.com/t/the-letters-page-episode-7-Kismet

My comment here is “no comment”, but not because I don’t have something to say. I very much would like to discuss a topic which this episode brings up, but that subject is probably a little too controversial to fit into the “lighthearted and welcoming” imperative which the moderators have handed down as being the Mandatory Fun principle for this forum. So if anyone wants to have a serious discussion about an important issue in society, they should send me a PM, and I will happily tell them what I have to say about the not-fun-at-all concept which this episode accidentally touches upon.

I think what they care about is moreso that conversations don’t end up leading to just personal insults and attacks. If what you say garners no comments or has reasonable discussion it should be fine. I’d say post your thought and if it’s really an issue a mod will say it.

1 Like

I’ll wait to hear that from an actual mod at this point. I don’t feel like they have any desire to accommodate me at this point.

Justifications #8


My main comment here is that, as far as I can recall, they never did an entire episode on Termi-Nation as they said here they would; the story got told in pieces across other episodes, mostly Sentinels and Chokepoint, but we never get the story from the perspectives of Bunker and AZ and Unity, nor did we get terribly in-depth about the four captured Subjects and what they went through (which is fair, they are pretty low-tier foes, but I’d still have liked to know more than we were told).

Have you reached out to @moderators ?

Justifications #9


“Why don’t humans eat people?” I guess Christopher hasn’t watched one of the fifty thousand YouTube videos explaining why the plot of The Matrix absolutely does not work from a simple thermodynamics perspective. Clearly, the thought of cannibalism would not occur to Omnitron-X, at least not in terms of a caloric survival strategy. I think that’s about all I’m going to have to critique about this one; following the multiple timelines is too much mental heavy lifting even for me, so while C&A might not have done the absolute best possible job of explaining it all, I very much doubt that I have anything to add.

Justifications #10


The parable of Charley’s death is a pretty spot-on one, and a story that I can’t recall hearing too many of. Because Charley cooperates calmly with all of the thugs’ demands, they assume he must be hiding something from them, and they kill him; the moral message is obvious, “tyranny cannot be appeased, only opposed or suffered under”. While obviously a useful motivation for a superhero story, I think it’s also a more generally applicable moral for day-to-day life; it reminds me of the old saying, “If once you pay the Dane-Geld, you’ll never get rid of the Dane”. My lifelong habit of drawing hard moral lines and always pushing them to the ultimate extreme is largely based upon this type of logic, and while I do believe that fiction often steers us wrong with lessons that don’t actually hold up in real life, I don’t consider this to be one of these cases.

Mister Fixer’s origin story is very interesting to me. The fact that he has no idea who his parents are instantly makes me want to know; statistically they are probably just a couple of random people who weren’t ready to have a kid, so they just abandoned it, but this is comic books, so it makes me want to think that they’re secretly watching from the shadows and pulling various strings to turn their son into this ultimate weapon for some sort of grand purpose. Meanwhile, I’m also very curious to know more about Venerable Master Zhang, who I don’t believe we’ve ever heard anything else about anywhere in the Multiverse.

Justifications #11


Lots to say about this episode, even though the character isn’t one I’m terribly fond of. The most central point of interest is the idea that if you’re a villain and you have a child, your child will most likely murder you and take over (nevermind that Graham Pike’s father was by no means villainous, but it is still probably pretty valid to assume that Graham chose never to have a child because he assumed it would have been just like him, despite him not resembling his father at all). I’ve mentioned before how fiction can often teach us damaging lessons, and this is one example; in real life, many of the most villainous actions are taken specifically with the justification of “think of the children”, either those of society in general, or toward one’s own family. The character of Equity, who we later learn is both a decent family man and the world’s most fearsome assassin, is a good example of someone who commits evil deeds largely to provide for his wife and children; this is by no means an uncommon thing, but in fiction it’s quite rare. The concept of a child usurping his father’s power tugs at our heartstrings in some primordial way, and so it makes an easy rhetorical device for writers to resort to, when they’re not feeling like doing something bold and innovative. The fact that Baron Blade actually looked up to his father and is driven by the desire to avenge him is actually fairly unusual among fictional villains, and is one of the reasons Blade is a better character than Chairman IMO (though still far from one of my favorites in the Multiverse).

The compare/contrast between Baron Blade and the Chairman is worth expanding upon, I think; I also believe that the two of them would be an amazing team-up, if either of them could stand the thought. Blade is the creative genius of the team, but he’s a loose cannon whose obsessive nature constantly leads him to sabotage himself; the Chairman by contrast is perfectly sane and has unimaginable patience. The thought of Blade cooking up his various self-destructive inventions, and then the Chairman taking those and processing the flaws out of them to create something reliable, is a pretty scary scenario to envision. But of course, a man as careful as the Chairman would recognize the famously unstable Blade as a liability he can’t afford, and Ivan’s ego would have difficulty tolerating even as humble and spotlight-averse as Pike, so we’re fairly safe that a partnership like this would never happen. (But if we imagine an alternate universe where slightly different versions of these two personalities were able to reach an accord…well, that’s frightening to consider. Had the Supply and Demand universe not already been revealed as the work of Count Barzakh, this “deadly alliance” would be another possible explanation for how such a world could exist.)

There’s more I’d like to say on this episode, but I’m not sure it’s worth saying; these two heavy topics don’t really want to be overshadowed by my more petty observations. (For example, this episode features a letter from Benton “Pricey Provinces” Winfrey; Adam jokes about him having a brother named “Cheap States”, and we later start getting letters from a “Cheap States” Winfrey who speaks of being Benton’s brother. So does Benton actually have a brother, or did he just lean into the joke? I didn’t really need to bother talking about this, and did so only as an example of what level of other things I’m choosing not to get into. You think I talk a lot? You can’t even imagine how much I refrain from saying.)

EDIT - Okay I was wrong; I thought I was done talking, but there was one subtle point that I missed until about my fourth (third consecutive) listen-through of the episode. We later learn that Tony Taurus turning into Heartbreaker was mostly the result of his experiences in the Bloodsworn Coliseum, but in this episode, C&A describe the Organization as having “converted” Tony to the side of evil. So there’s clearly still some missing information about how Tony fell from his status as the One Good Cop on the RCPD. I hope a Heartbreaker episode happens eventually, since he seems to be one of the most standout villains in the game who doesn’t have a full character card, and we’re getting podcasts about far more obscure characters (Grace and Owen Charles, anyone?).

Justifications #12


Nightmist is one of my favorite characters, but I don’t have a ton to say about her episode; I could try to really lean into the revelations we got about her character (several details of which don’t make it into the card game at all, such as the fact that her mist-form especially activates in darkness), or I could try to picture an Arkham Horror scenario which canonically played out in the past of Sentinel Comics since we know they’re connected universes, but overall I don’t have much to work with. There was one idea I had though, which I think is going to be my headcanon for the character from now on.

Nightmist’s fashion choices seem to be primarily informed by the genre that she exists within; she sort of seems to exist on the borderline between noir and steampunk, though it’s possible that I’m remembering her inaccurately. But one idea which I thought was cool was to say that when she first started to turn to mist, some of her clothes would have failed to transform along with her and would have just slipped off (and no I’m not doing a “Jessica Alba as Invisible Woman” thing, I just mean that she like lost her jacket or her nylon stockings or something like that). Eventually what she figured out was that any clothes which were hand-made from natural materials could transform into mist along with her body, but synthetic cloth or factory-stitched cotton or the like was unaffected and would simply fall through her body whenever her flesh decided to vaporize. This occurs because technologically-produced textiles are somewhat incompatible with magic, not enough so that you could use this for tactical advantages, but enough to inconvenience her in day-to-day life. So now Nightmist exclusively dresses in tailor-made clothing composed of natural fabrics, which might make her seem like a fashionista if they were well-tailored, but she’s no wealthier than any other private eye, and thus often has to purchase very inexpensive homespun clothes.

I forget exactly which comment in the episode touched off this concept, but I’ve become firmly convinced of its truth, and for right now it’s my main takeaway from the episode (besides Man-Grove, who doesn’t require elaboration).

Justifications #13


Lucky number 13 for a dread voodoo god; that’s neat. I had an idea of what I wanted to write about as soon as I started listening to this episode (for the second time ever), and then by the time I had finished it, I had forgotten what that idea was, despite my believing I couldn’t possibly do so. Only after about five more listens did I finally remember again.

There’s a throwaway joke in this ep about why Legacy (who at this point in comics is pretty transparently a Superman analogue with a dash of Captain America thrown in, as the metaverse at this point hasn’t started to grow into its more unique stories that will separate it from what DC and Marvel did in “our” world) doesn’t spend much time fighting against the Cult of Gloom, who are “a bit below his pay grade”. The bit is not one of Christopher’s better jokes, it seems like he couldn’t quite think of what to say, but it gets the point across, and touched off my inspiration. When the cultist says “we’re doing dark magics”, Christopher kind of fumbles Legacy’s response, and Adam comes in and partly salvages it by saying “That’s your right!” Though this exchange is clearly unrehearsed and clumsy, it forms the seed for the work I find myself wanting to do.

I now envision a story, akin to The Trial of Baron Blade in theme and tone, where Legacy becomes swept up in one of The Wraith’s or Nightmist’s or whoever’s operations to bust the latest upswelling of Cult of Gloom activity, and when they go in and bust the cult, they’ve been led to believe that some hapless victim is being dragged off for sacrifice, but then the situation takes an unexpected turn. It turns out that the entire point of this cult’s current “ritual”, if not the point of this current cult cell as a whole, was to bring Legacy in and then prey upon his America-First principles by claiming that this whole situation is a freedom of religion issue. Some eloquent college-educated lawyer or historian or the like is the leader of this cult cell, and she or he spins a story to Legacy and the Wraith about how the Cult of Gloom is an ancient and venerable cultural tradition of some group of oppressed Africans who were brought to America as slaves, and their once-pure belief system was splintered and became degenerate as a result of the hardships they endured. This person claims that the more obviously evil Gloom cults that Wraith and Black Fist and such have been fighting for decades are these retrograde groups, whose founders went mad from their suffering and created broken, antisocial versions of the original pure traditions of the cult; even the existence of an actual Gloomweaver god, assuming such has yet appeared in comics at this point, is explained away by this cultist as having been a pretender, a magical parasite which simply disguised itself as the god which the fallen cultists thought they were venerating. But the True Cult of Gloom, this leader argues, has actually done nothing wrong, and the Wraith’s or whoever’s sting against them is a violation of their American civil liberties, their freedom of religious observance, so long as they don’t actually break any laws, which they have been very careful not to do (or at least not in any way that the Wraith can prove).

This entire thing is of course a ruse, but it’s an extremely well-crafted one; Gloomy himself isn’t known for working in this smoke-and-mirrors fashion, but the original cultist has managed to convince the dread god that Legacy’s status as a beacon of hope is a sufficient threat to the cult’s operations that he has to be taken down, and that going without a few blood sacrifices and inspired nightmares is worth it, if they can manage to undermine Legacy and perhaps even turn him into an unwitting pawn of the cult. Of course, the plot ultimately fails, and Gloomweaver devours the soul of this cult leader for having disappointed him, but in the end Legacy is sobered by the realization of how America’s principles can be used as a shield for evil, and that he must ever be vigilant against those who pay lip service to Freedom while actually working against it.

Justifications #14


Over on TVTropes.org, which I used to be a frequent visitor of (before it started to censor itself in order to protect people’s feelings, and tropes with formerly iconic names were replaced with blandly unmemorable replacements that couldn’t possibly offend anyone), one of the tropes they point out in comic books is called “Reed Richards Is Useless”. This is in reference to the idea that comic books are full of brilliant super-genius scientists who can invent things that are far beyond any technology that exists in the real world, yet they can never seem to have any effect on the problems in the world which affect us the most in real life. Mr. Fantastic and his fellow superhero inventors can build a portal device that lets you step through an archway onto another planet, but that device will only ever be used to jaunt through various adventure zones, not to create offworld colonies that will alleviate the housing crisis in major cities. They can create nano-technology which lets them take down a villain with bulletproof skin by forcing him to inhale tiny robots that plug into his brain and shut him down, but nobody will ever apply the same science to curing cancer.

The reason for all of this is obvious - the story of superheroes is a story about powerful people living among us in a world much like our own, and thus anything that makes it not like our world anymore is a step in the wrong direction. But it does tend to reflect negatively on the character who is supposed to be a super-scientist, when they persistently fail to invent something as seemingly obvious and critically necessary as a cancer cure. Tachyon as a character seems to have been invented in large part as an aversion to the Reed Is Useless trope; Sentinel Comics is more willing than DC or Marvel to make drastic changes to day-to-day reality, such as by building the Wagner Mars Base and making extensive use of it, or by having the entire world actually notice the OblivAeon event and be changed thereafter. C&A state in later episodes that the overall technology of the Sentinels world is about 20 years ahead of our own, and Tachyon is probably a large percentage of the reason, since most of the other super-inventors in that world are at least partially villainous (Baron Blade has a hero turn as Luminary, and Writhe is a hero for most of the time we see him, but both of them started out as criminals and end up becoming villains in the post-OblivAeon future).

Justifications #15

In this episode, Christopher promised us a future Celestial Tribunal interlude, which I don’t believe we ever got. I have a lot to say about the Tribunal, but I’m not sure this is the place to say it, so I’ll continue listening to the episode and see if another good topic comes up.

EDIT: Oh boy, did other good topics EVER come up. This is going to be my longest post so far by a large margin. There are so many distinct topics that I’m going to have to number them; they’re sequenced based on the order they come up in the episode, but I may later re-edit them to put the most important ones first, or maybe bold the numbers of the more significant points, since the first couple are just kind of offhanded observations from the last time I powered through the episode, and not the major ideas that were touched off when I first re-listened to it.

  1. The way the mask hit 1000 (to reference the later Ignazio Gallo episode) on Lillian is weird, because it didnt backfire the moment she put it on; she was able to summon the birds and get away from the prison, and then the birds started to attack her. It almost makes me wonder if she stumbled on a rock while running into town, and the mask fell off her face when she hit the ground, and only when she put it back on again did the curse activate. Except that if she was away from the prison and close enough to safety that she could escape and recover from the bird attack, then why did she put the mask back on at all? This is a fairly obvious plot hole, a typical example of how storytellers will often not stick consistently to their own rules about how things like magic work in their universe.
  2. Apostate using the Realm of Discord to launch his attacks (which I believe might be his last pre-oblivion appearance, Ill have to check that when I get back to his episode) is a super cool story, but it also makes me wonder why exactly Apostate is ever not attacking. Hes not a human being, he has literally nothing to do with his time other than commit villainy, so why does he not just operate constantly forever until someone figures out a way to permanently destroy him?
  3. This is the big one, the thing Ive been planning to say since the first relisten, but not wanted to sit down and pick out the exact words until I could devote my full attention to it. In the Ignazio Gallo section, C&A describe examples of other artifacts Gallo sabotaged, and one of them is credited with the sinking of the Titanic. I absolutely HATE it when fiction writers pull this. We KNOW how the Titanic sank IRL; inventing a fictional-historical explanation for something whose cause is very well understood is bad writing, plain and simple. I can forgive a few gaffes from writers as prolific as Christopher, but I can still wish they didnt resort to this tired well of cliches. Borrowing a famous historical event to try and make your story sound important can be done well; if you wanted to make a story about a time traveler have more depth, having them simply be on the Titanic when it sinks. But having them cause the sinking somehow? As Game of Thrones puts it, That was ill done, my lord. (As a footnote, the Gallo section also seems to contradict the later episode, in which it seemed to be more implied that Gallo created the artifacts entirely, rather than just applying a curse to someone elses perfect creation. Ill have to relisten to Gallos episode to be sure if Im misremembering this.)
  4. The other main thought I had at first was about the vultures. To me, when I first looked through the Matriarchs deck, the connection among all the birds she could control seemed obvious - they were almost all corvids, but they were absolutely all carrion eaters. The idea of her controlling more innocuous birds, such as jackdaws and starlings and even pigeons, bothers me more than a little, since it seems to be diluting her character into something more generic. But if we ignore that whole concept and just go with her deck, then the vultures do more than just proving she can go beyond corvids; they also seriously call into question where in the USA Rook City must be located, since Im pretty sure most parts of the country dont have vultures anywhere nearby. It seems almost inevitable that RC must be somewhere in the Southwest; its status as a crime capital makes me think of Las Vegas immediately, but it could also be somewhere in Arizona or Texas or even southern Colorado, and it could also be in California, although San Alonzo makes that seem less likely. But in any case, its almost certainly not on the East Coast, which strongly undermines any parallels to Batmans Gotham or other expies thereof.

Whew, at last I think thats every major thought which this episode touched off in me. I find myself hoping I never again have this much to say in a single Justification.

FYI: Episode 48 is the Cosmic Settings ep, which goes into details on environments like the Celestial Tribunal. :+1:t2: Don’t know if that’s what you were looking for, but at least it’s a start. :slight_smile:

And anytime you have a suggestion for an episode, you can post in the episode suggestions thread in the Lore area (or even join the Patreon for the podcast and suggest it yourself)! :smiley:

Joining the Patreon costs money, none of which I can spare. So I can make an unofficial selection in the Lore thread, but someone else would have to like it enough to formally submit it.

AAACK! I accidentally edited my post above, and then the forum auto-reloaded the draft I had open in another window, so I couldn’t restore it. Can you guys access previous versions and revert?