Annotations: Heroes #14

by David Meadows 28. January 2017 13:06

In the absence of a proper update this week, here's something I wrote a while ago and wasn't sure if I should use: "annotations" for an issue of Heroes. It's a page-by-page run-through of issue 14, which is fully of cryptic references and call-backs that won't mean much to most readers. While the story ought to be entertaining on its own merits, I thought giving a bit of context to some of the references might be interesting. Plus it's an insight into how I put the story together, which is what I originally intended this blog to be for. 

I'm not sure if I should do something similar for every issue. I could, but it would be a lot of work and I don't know how interesting it would actually be to anyone. So for possibly the only time, here is the Annotated Heroes.

 

Heroes 14: Meanwhile ...

 

PAGE 1

The Superiors was a superhero team we created as a break from using Strikeforce (we'll get to them around Strikeforce chapter 150). I wanted the group to be based in Toronto, Canada, and the geographically-challenged players decided (cleverly, we all thought) to call them "The Superiors", because of the lake.

The joke here is that Toronto is nowhere near Lake Superior.

So anyway, this opening scene features the three police officers from Heroes issue 12. They were never meant to be recurring characters, but here they made a convenient link to the on-going K-Men pursuit sub-plot.

PAGE 4

Not much happens to advance the plot here, this is really just foreshadowing future developments and revelations about the K-Men.

PAGE 5

This scene is really just an excuse to make some defining statements about Chi-Yun's powers. We've seen her shape-change into different clothes before, but I though the implication that she never actually *wears* clothes is pretty interesting. And much more logical than invoking "unstable molecules" that cause her clothes to change when she changes form.

PAGE 6

Back in Heroes issue 6 Fred and Faith (both with psychic powers) became aware of each other without being aware of each other. 

Trust me, there's a lot more of this sub-plot to play out.

When I plotted the Game, the players were meant to investigate the Temple in Winnipeg, and learn more about them (and hopefully rescue Todd Jasen from their clutches). For some reason I don't now recall, they skipped the pointers completely and left town without doing anything about it. This happened fairly often in the Game. I can't force the players to do any particular thing, and so I have numerous ideas plotted that had to be abandoned. 

But the Game isn't a sequence of fixed encounters that wait, frozen in place, for the players to interact with them. I plot it as an evolving story, and if the players miss out part of it then the non-player characters involved in that story line will still play it out (in my head). Sometimes it peters out and isn't worth recording, other times it snowballs into something that the players can't ignore. the Temple was one of the latter, a major plot element that's going to keep pursuing its own agendas until the players step in and stop it.

PAGE 7

And Parsifal, though barely seen in issue 7, was always intended to be a major character. I haven't given the players any opportunity to interact with him yet, but I'm constantly plotting what he's doing while put of sight. If the players don't eventually deal with the Temple (and thus get to Parsifal), he's going to become a significant problem for them.

I have a whole encyclopaedia entry to write on Black Zero, but I want to wait until I've revealed more in the story.

PAGE 8

Ahh... Spirit. She's another of the links back to the Strikeforce era, she clearly knows a lot about what's going on, she's best pals with Don, and yet the players are still not directly aware of her existence. I had big plans for her in the Game, but I could never find a way to make her and the players' paths cross. So I give her the occasional scene in the story to remind readers she's there, but you're probably all wondering why. By rights she should have her own on-going story, but there's no way I could ever find the time to write it.

There are three vitally important non-player characters that run through the Strikeforce and/or Heroes stories, and Spirit is one of them (and you've actually met all of them).

PAGE 9 - 10

This may seem random, but it has a pay-off in a few pages. Read on ...

PAGE 11

There's meant to be a big mystery over who James's father actually was, so it's gong to be bubbling along as a sub-plot until it's finally all out in the open. Again, if you're reading Strikeforce, you'll be coming to understand the origins of the costume and shield. 

PAGE 12-13

This is mainly me self-indulgently addressing a peculiarity in the the group being a "super-hero team" without actually adopting any of the trappings of a super-hero team (except for James, who half did, making it even more peculiar). This was the players' choice of approach, and it caused some problems for me as a GM trying to rationalise things. It cropped up in conversation occasionally as the players thought about changing the approach, but I think most of them struggled to see how any change would make sense for their characters. Attempts at adding "code names" always seemed artificial. (This may be a commentary on modern comics.)

PAGE 14-15

So we pick up the K-Men sub-plot again. This is laying seeds of a plot that never actually played out in the game (whoops, I've given that away now...) and the Canadian cops will now fade from our story. 

But there's also a nod to the past buried here -- not that it will mean anything to any readers yet. Twenty years ago a younger Miller and LaRoque's father worked "in the forest". And they had an encounter with the team already mentioned, The Superiors. They were very minor guest stars, but I always liked them and wanted to use them more. So, when I needed some Canadian cops to use in issue #12, I remembered Miller and updated his history to put him Vancouver with the daughter of his old partner "Rocky" LaRoque.

I'm sure the players had completely forgotten Millar and Rocky, and never made the connection. But that's how I plot things.

PAGE 16

Makepeace was a member of the Superiors. I don't think I'm giving any spoilers by saying that. But if you want Spoilers: unlike Miller, Makepeace will reappear soon.

PAGE 17

Major foreshadowing alert! Elliot's "inter-departmental committee to study ways to contain superhumans" will be become very important, eventually.

This whole conversation (pages 9-10 and here) is an example of a scene that the players knew nothing about at the time, as their characters had no part to play in it. But I knew that these characters were meeting and why, as the committee thing was a major plot point. So this was part of the Game's story, even if not actually seen in a Game session. Again, this is how I plot. Everybody has a story, even if the players don't see it.

I could have ignored this scene in this narrative and just presented the committee plot as a fait accompli when the characters encountered it, but it fitted in this issue so here it is. And really, I just wanted to look at a couple of favourite characters (of mine), and show where they are now. If you're reading Strikeforce, you'll already know about the Defense League of America, of course. The "Event" (which has been mentioned numerous times though never really explained...yet) affected every super-human, including all the ones you've met (and will meet) in Strikeforce. The Defender (for it is he) obviously came out of it ok. We'll soon be looking at some people who didn't come off quite so well.

PAGE 19

We know Sylvia, of course: Sara's mother and (in Sara's words) a gangster. We talked about Jacques as her rival in a different city. And now here's the Leopard, with "his own city". About now, I was starting to get the idea that there was a cartel of mob bosses each based in a different city around the US. I didn't flesh them all out, but the framework of the idea gave me a lot of hooks to base future plots on in different places.

Have I mentioned the name Sylph before in the story? I honestly can't remember. I think this is the first reference, and a deliberately cryptic one. Don't forget it, it's vitally important.

PAGE 20

Paul Chant is another one that got away. He was meant to be a major player, and I'd worked out his whole shtick and backstory, but I just couldn't get his path to cross with the players'. So he's here in a fairly pointless, orphaned appearance, and will now fade away. 

Trivia: there's a very small mention of Paul Chant in one of the "LA Globe" news pages

 

END OF ANNOTATIONS FOR #14

 

 

 

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The Heroes Universe is an ongoing work of fiction, conceived and chiefly plotted by David Meadows, with help from a group of friends, over a 30-year period.

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