The Alternates Game Recap – Episode #2

This is a recap of a game of my Sentinels Comics RPG campiagn, “The Alternates.” If you have no idea what I’m talking about, this post might help! But it might not.

The campaign represents an animated television show on a premium cable network, where each sessions represents one episode. This recap is written as a “recap” of the “episode” from the perspective of a writer who lives in the world where this (imaginary) television show actually exists. Are you confused yet? If not, you still have a chance to leave before reading on!

The Alternates Episode #2 Recap:
“Running Out of Time”

By Eddie Jaczerkowski

This show isn’t holding back, and Episode #2 came on very strong! Here we go with a recap of The Alternates Episode #2, titled “Running Out of Time.”

A lot of bad things are about to happen, so here’s your spoiler warning! As usual, I’m only going to spoil things in this episode, and I’ll keep what I know about the rest of the series to myself!

Episode #2 opens with a scene on an alien world, in a totally different time and place – this is a flashback to give us a bit of insight into the very weird monster-man character, Jersey Devil. Explaining the complex comic history of this character would take more time than we have, even though he has relatively few actual comic book appearances. This scene does give us a bit of an idea of the character’s origins – we see Jersey Devil amongst a shadowy group of inhuman monsters, on a planet made of red sand, under strange stars.

A nihilistic minotaur is giving a speech about a coming apocalypse. (This character is not named in the episode, but the minotaur is called Bayeb, and his origins are possibly even weirder than Jersey Devil.) Meanwhile, a vortex grows in space behind Bayeb, swallowing the stars. The shadowy monsters all panic, and as the Vortex reaches their world, they see the giant entity Oblivaeon step out from the center of it. In desperation, Jersey Devil teleports away, somehow (maybe going through the vortex?), and ends up in the middle of a busy street (in Megalopolis, it seems).

The show cuts back to the present, and Starshadow’s jet, flying over Megalopolis as Oblivaeon destroys Freedom Tower. Jersey Devil tells the other superheros, “Don’t give up. There’s something I have to do,” and then he teleports away in a puff of smoke. Very mysterious!

Nonetheless, the remaining team fly down to the ruins of Freedom Tower (destroyed at the end of the last episode with the Freedom Seven inside), where all the heroes of Sentinels comics seem to be standing in shock and horror. It only takes a moment before we see the mighty Haka howl in anger and leap off toward the towering form of Oblivaeon. The rest of the heroes follow, but Starshadow stops our protagonists – Dr. Comet, Cytoblast, Quasar Kid, and Kid Radical – and informs them that taking the fight to Oblivaeon is not going to win the day. Instead, they need to find any survivors in Freedom Tower.

The middle section of the episode flips back and forth between the battle against Oblivaeon and the rescue efforts of the protagonists at the fallen Freedom Tower.

In the scene with Oblivaeon, we see the heroes first try to pour everything against the giant menace of the Multiverse, but to no avail. Oblivaeon doesn’t even look at them. Moments later, Aeon Men (minions of Oblivaeon) pour out of portals into the streets. They are lead by Aeon Master, who goes toe to toe against potent heroes like Haka and Tempest.

However, flying above them is the hero Benchmark, who is unloading everything he’s got against Oblivaeon’s head. In the first sign that he even notices the heroes, Oblivaeon grabs the “New Standard” Benchmark out of the sky, and squeezes him in his fist. When he opens his massive fist and extends his fingers, all that’s left of Benchmark is sparkling dust.

The other heroes fight Aeon Men, who are everywhere they look. Fanatic is the next hero to go directly at Oblivaeon, and, much like Benchmark, the massive entity is able to grab Fanatic out of the air. This time, however, Oblivaeon flings Fanatic into the sky, and we see her form shrink as her body is thrown into space.

Ra reacts viscerally to Fanatic’s disappearance, and he is the next hero to take the “fire fight” directly to Oblivaeon.

Back at the ruins of Freedom Tower, Starshadow is using his cosmic powers to lift away the wreckage as Cytoblast and Kid Radical stop a dangerous gas leak. This scene has a very cool animation effect when Cytoblast’s plant-monster form stretches and reforms to allow him to dive into a small hole to get underground and stop a dangerous gas leak.

In the wreckage, the heroes pull out the body of the late Miss Conception (who died instantly when the Tower was destroyed), the dying robotic form of Unity, and the cyborg body of Bunker, who is still alive, but barely.

The rescue effort is interrupted, though, as Aeon Men come from around every corner to attack the heroes. The fight is joined! We get to see Dr. Comet erupting in mystical ice and fire, Starshadow blasting the Aeon Men with his crackling black cosmic bolts, Kid Radical wielding his high-tech explosive skateboard and his weapon-grade devil sticks, Quasar Kid engaging his “cosmic metabolism” to toss Aeon Men into one another, and Cytoblast manifesting roots and branches to attack enemies and defend his allies.

Emergency services show up, which isn’t good for the heroes. The police and EMTs are immediately beset by Aeon Men, and the heroes have to rescue them instead of the Freedom Seven. But this gives us a chance to see Quasar Kid fly up over the crowd and use his charisma (and his futuristic “Freedom Legion” logo projector) to convince these emergency personnel to duck and cover.

At this point, Bouncer arrives in his flying car, having made his way from Blackleaf Laboratories. Starshadow is glad to see him, and tells him there’s a major Duality Violation in Rook City. He asks Bouncer to get to Rook City as fast as his flying car will go. Bouncer seems a bit disappointed, but he dutifully jumps into his car and flies off. (He seems to be stuck “bouncing” from city to city!)

The heroes redouble their efforts to find survivors of Freedom Tower, and find two of the still-missing members of the Freedom Seven – Absolute Zero and (Felicia Parsons) Legacy. Absolute Zero (looking like some kind of ice zombie without his suit) seems fine, although he’s stuck under a steel beam. Legacy is unconscious.

Finally, they find Heritage! Half-conscious, Heritage tells them a bit of backstory – he was visited by the time-traveler La Capitan, who brought a near-future version of Heritage himself with her. The future Heritage told this Heritage that he had to call the five of them (Bouncer, Cytoblast, Dr. Comet, Kid Radical, and Quasar Kid) to get Starshadow out of retirement (and to have Starshadow bring the Duality Stabilization Field Generator to Megalopolis). This, says Heritage, is the only chance they have to save their reality.

(This exposition buttons up some oddities from last episode nicely, but it ends some mysteries a little quickly, doesn’t it? Keep us in suspense, show runners! Well, I guess we still don’t know what a Duality Stabilization Field Generator does…)

Starshadow nods and asks the other heroes to help him get the Duality Stabilization Field Generator running. Dr. Comet gets right on it – she loves science a lot more than she enjoys her magical powers (which are actually the result of a curse). More Aeon Men swarm them, and there’s a few more fighting scenes here.

We do get to see Kid Radical use his “real” super power, which is that he can learn techniques and abilities by watching others (and “following their trends”). We see him perfectly mimic a super uppercut as delivered to the Aeon Men by Quasar Kid. Of course, at the beginning of this fight, he also quips, “When the going gets tough, it’s good to be radical!” which… isn’t even a complete thought? It seems like Kid Radical is both “hip” and “square” at the same time, much to the delight of Huey Lewis, I’m sure.

Back at the fight against Oblivaeon, the heroes have finally defeated Aeon Master. Aeon Master’s armor breaches, and energy pours out of the newly cracked Scion of Oblivaeon. Does he die? I don’t know – was he even “alive” in the first place?

It’s then that a gigantic sword comes down from space – the Celestial Tribunal returns! (For fans of the comic – this version of the giant sword/spaceship is a lot smaller.) As it falls from the sky, the sword splits into two halves long-ways, and each half of the sword turns into a giant robot. The robots exclaim, in an echoing robotic tone, “Earth once faced the Celestial Tribunal, but now you face Judge and Jury!” Judge is a spindly robot with two giant swords. Jury is squat robot with a giant pulsating green brain situated behind a glass dome on top of its body. They proceed to fight their way through the mighty heroes who are facing Oblivaeon.

Meanwhile, Ra is floating high above the city, generating more and more heat to roast Oblivaeon. But all Ra’s flame is having no effect! The fire gets hotter and hotter, finally burning as brightly as the sun itself. Everyone in Megalopolis averts their eyes. When they turn back, they see that Ra is still floating in the air, but his form is withered and black. It quickly becomes clear that Ra is merely ash, and he blows away in the wind. The Staff of Ra, floating in midair, falls toward the ground. However, the giant hand of Oblivaeon comes from nowhere to snatch the relic out of the air. Again, Oblivaeon’s fist closes, this time crushing the relic to fine sand.

Back at the ruins of Freedom Tower, the Duality Stabilization Field Generator is humming and whirring loudly, and light starts to stream out of it in brighter and brighter flashes. It sure is doing something! The heroes back off as Starshadow and Dr. Comet stare at the contraption. Suddenly, the machine is releasing a high pitched whine, followed by the distinct sound of the generator powering down.

But as we look over the horizon, we see Oblivaeon blink out of existence! Victory!

Well, not quite. Starshadow shakes his head and says, “Something isn’t right here.” He seems dismayed. And we soon know why – Bouncer comes over the communicator and announces frightfully, “Oblivaeon is here! He’s destroying Rook City!” The episode ends there.

The credits roll over the song “Cities in Dust” (a cover performed by the Brazilian band Pato Fu).

Final Thoughts

First, I got a lot of comments last week about the fact that Tachyon is clearly missing from the lineup of the Freedom Seven, and neither the show nor my article about the show mention her at all! Fear not, true believers – this falls clearly under the “SPOILERS” tag. Tachyon’s fate is revealed in The Alternates comic series, so for now… stay curious!

Now, some rapid-fire observations from a fanboy:

  • This episode had a lot of heroes dying, but this is the end of the world, people! “The Alternates” is not about the main characters you’re used to, and it pulls no punches.
  • I don’t know where Jersey Devil disappeared to, but I am guessing it’s “plot convience” land. Having a teleporting character on scene could have made some of the plot twists too easy to solve. Either that or they’re just building a mystery to reveal to us later.
  • Killing Benchmark first (although technically Miss Conception died first when Freedom Tower was destroyed) was possibly a nod to the many hardcore fans who hated this character after his initial introduction. A little cruel, if you ask me, but it’s not like Benchmark is the star of this series, anyway.
  • It’s weird to see Absolute Zero without a suit. Exactly how he got that way is never explained in “The Alternates” comic series. I suppose it’s too much to hope that the TV show will spend any time explaining it, either. But I can hope – I’m really curious!
  • Heritage refers to the time-traveller La Capitan as “looking much older.” This is most likely La Comodora, but this Heritage has probably never met that version of her. Is this the La Comodora from the “main” Sentinels comics timeline, or some other version of La Comodora? How many La Comodoras are there? These are the questions that keep me up at night.
  • The song, “Cities in Dust,” is originally by Siouxsie and the Banshees. It’s about Pompeii, which was, of course, destroyed by a volcano. Megalopolis and Rook City are being destroyed by Oblivaeon, but you can see where the show runners are going with this. The title of the episode, “Running Out of Time,” is taken from the very first verse of the song. But “Running Out of Time” can also refer to Heritage meeting a future version of himself!
  • Unity’s body is covered with a sheet by the EMTs late in the episode, in the background, so we can assume she died after being pulled from the wreckage.
  • “Judge and Jury” did not appear in the original comic series, and are an invention for this new TV show. However, I would point out (as a superfan) that the whole “brain in a jar” thing is connected to robots called “executioners,” not judges. I’ll let it pass, because giant robots that combine to form a giant sword are super-cool.

See you next week for episode #3, titled “Floating in Space”!

Eddie Jaczerkowski is a staff writer who loves comic books and writes about television.

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