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 #4 Recap:
By Eddie Jaczerkowski
Episode #4 of “The Alternates” – titled “Falling Star” – is here, and the utter chaos in this alternate Sentinels comics timeline continues to unfold! As always, spoilers for this episode follow (but no spoilers for future episodes).
As Episode #4 opens, we’re treated to another character flashback. Last episode started in the 1940s, but this episode begins in the distant future (sometime in the 30th century). The earth is idyllic and utopian, with beautiful trees lining futuristic streets. In this bright future,a sprawling silver retro-futuristic building towers in the midst of a shining city, complete with rings and domes.
The camera tracks through the door of the building, which has a familiar logo on it. The symbol is an “F” much like the one the Freedom Five uses, but it is surrounded by rings with small circles in each ring, like planets orbiting the sun or electrons orbiting the nucleus of an atom. (For those unfamiliar with this symbol, it represents the Freedom Legion, a league of superheroes who exist in the far future.)
Inside the building, the staff of the Freedom Legion rush around busily. There are hundreds of people in colorful tunics and black slacks, as well as a dozen or more young people in superhero costumes. The camera pans upward through the many floors of Freedom Legion headquarters to an office in the upper floors.
In this office, a grizzled man in a uniform decorated with medals sits behind a desk. An assistant enters and tells the man (called “Commander Shepard”) that “the kid” they sent to Vosgoron Prime has reported an emergency. The Commander cracks that he sent the kid “on a milk run” and “he’s as green as Yaploxin tomatoes” and, finally, that the kid “is probably calling because he couldn’t find a bathroom.”
The screen activates, and it’s none other than Quasar Kid on the other end! Quasar Kid greets the Commander and tells him there’s a large number of “thaumaturgion” particles on the planet. The Commander seems doubtful, but Quasar Kid assures him that he calibrated his instruments and it’s a real measurement. This shocks the Commander, who tells the kid to get his “patootie” off-planet immediately.
The camera cuts to Quasar Kid on this purple alien world, where the young hero says, “Sir, I can handle this.” But a deep, growling voice behind him says, “No, you cannot handle this.” Quasar Kid whips around to see a man wearing no shirt, with a cybernetic arm, a bionic eye, and big, black mechanical wings on his back.
Quasar Kid gasps and shouts the name “MechApostate” – this is a future cyborg version of the well-known 20th-century villain Apostate. (He’s obscure, sure, but MechApostate first appeared decades ago in comics featuring the future with the Freedom Legion.)
Quasar Kid immediately takes a boxing stance and tries to sock MechApostate in the jaw. He misses. He swings with a left hook and misses again. He finally throws an uppercut that MechApostate effortlessly catches in his hand. Quasar Kid’s punch explodes with energy, but MechApostate is unfazed. He casually throws Quasar Kid through the air, into a magical red portal swirling nearby.
Quasar Kid tumbles through a tunnel in reality, but he twists himself and tries to break through the “walls” of his strange magical wormhole. This move launches him into the upper atmosphere of the Earth, approximately in the 1990s. He falls (like a “falling star”) through the sky, and lands in a suburban neighborhood, right on someone’s compact car. The car’s alarm starts going off with a loud klaxon.
A man in a lawn chair in front of the nearest house stands up, mouth agape. He holds up a remote and clicks a button, turning off the car alarm with a “boop boop”!
The show then cuts back to Rook City, where the protagonists – Cytoblast, Dr. Comet, Jersey Devil, Kid Radical, and Quasar Kid – stand near the fallen bodies of Heritage and Haka, along with Bouncer and Starshadow. The remaining heroes gather around – Absolute Zero, Argent Adept, Harpy, Legacy, Naturalist, Setback, and Tempest.
(The last episode ended with the reveal of Grand Warlord Voss standing and overlooking Rook City, but that was a reveal for the audience. None of the heroes are aware that he’s nearby.)
Cytoblast delivers a short eulogy for Heritage on the spot, talking about how his sacrifice saved this world. The other heroes stand silently for a moment. Argent Adept breaks the silence, suggesting the heroes search the city to make sure no more of Oblivaeon’s forces remain. The heroes all nod.
Starshadow tells the others he’s going to investigate Oblivaeon’s machine (referring to the giant Oblivion Engine that towers over Rook City). He asks Dr. Hemlocke (Cytoblast) and Dr. Aster (Dr. Comet) to accompany him.
Jersey Devil now wants to pursue Oblivaeon and destroy him, but Starshadow tells him he has no way to go wherever Oblivaeon is, and no way to destroy Oblivaeon, either. Jersey Devil teleports off to the Oblivion Engine, examining its structure and makeup as he teleports all over it.
Starshadow, Cytoblast, and Dr. Comet study the Oblivion Engine. While they’re messing around, a self-destruct sequence starts, and massive energy begins to channel into the machine. As the scientists start working to fix it, Quasar Kid spots some apparent enemies approaching – ape-like creatures that resemble bigfoot, wearing some sort of skintight suits! The team is clearly puzzled by this twist, and a battle begins!
In this scene, each member of the team goes from trying to figure out how to deactivate the Oblivion Engine to fighting the ape-beasts, back to helping with the Oblivaeon Engine. Jersey Devil teleports around, attacking the apes. Then, Kid Radical mimics his movements, and somehow pulls off a similar attack without teleporting (just by bouncing around the street on his skateboard). Dr. Comet deciphers the Oblivion Engine’s controls, then unleashes her magical ice attacks on the sasquatch monsters.
Jersey Devil teleports away from the scene, retrieving one of the giant swords left behind by the Scions Judge and Jury. He then leaps from a building, using his teleportation (and conservation of momentum) to perform a powerful charging slash that cuts through the ape-monsters. Quasar Kid siphons power out of the Oblivion Engine as it begins to deactivate, then unleashes that power on the ape-beasts.
At this point, Quasar Kid and Cytoblast realize that these “ape-creatures” are actually Gene-bound Humans, meaning Voss’s gene-binding technology is to blame. Is Voss nearby? The heroes don’t have time to ask!
At this point, the show shifts to another part of Rook City, where we see Grand Warlord Voss walking through the rubble. Voss has clearly become a Scion of Oblivaeon. The alien conquerors has crystal shards protruding from his back (where previously he had bony protrusions), and his form crackles with power.
The scene zooms out, and we see the Ennead, the Egyptian gods themselves, have surrounded Voss.
Voss says, “I expected to see the same old Earthlings rising to defend their world once again, but I see none of them here. What are you, then? Costumed performers? Are you here to dazzle me with one of your world’s dramatic plays?”
Clearly indignant, Atum replies with a booming voice, “Would-be conqueror, you face the gods of Egypt!”
Voss smiles and says, “Then show me what meager power passes for divinity here.”
The Ennead closes on Voss, magical energies flaring.
And the show cuts back to the team, deactivating the Oblivion Engine. Cytoblast uses his plant-monster form, turning his fingers into long, root-like tendrils, and sucks away the power from the self-destruct sequence. He then is able to reach into the technological innards of the Oblivion Engine and deactivate the self-destruct sequence.
The heroes breathe a sigh of relief, but they see a bright flash off in another part of the city, so they rush to investigate. As they move through the ruins, they find the bodies of all the Ennead, beaten and dead, strewn about a ruined block of Rook City.
They cross through another street and reach a massive pile of rubble that was once City Hall. Sitting atop the pile of rubble is Grand Warlord Voss. Around him, the fallen bodies of the other heroes – Absolute Zero, Argent Adept, Harpy, Legacy, Naturalist, and Setback – lay bloody and broken. Before Voss kneels Tempest, still alive but severely hurt.
Voss insults the heroes, telling them he doesn’t even recognize any of them except Starshadow. He gloats about the defeat of all the heroes, and offers the protagonists a spot in his army. (He promises he won’t even gene-bind them.)
Starshadow rushes Voss at top speed, but Voss is prepared and runs him through with a short crystal blade. The crystal dagger disrupts Starshadow’s form, and his body begins to dissolve into the black dots that make up the signature visual effect of his power.
Voss asks Starshadow, who is coughing as his body comes apart, what his “contraption” did, and how he defeated Oblivaeon. Voss reveals that he intended to betray Oblivaeon, but now Starshadow has cleared the way for Voss to conquer Earth… and the universe!
Starshadow disintegrates, leaving behind only a burst of black bubbling dots as he fades from the world. Voss, still gloating, waves his crystal blade at the remaining heroes, telling them that he will delight in killing each and every last one of them and conquering their planet.
“But I’ll admit,” he finally says, “I will have help.”
Voss points to the sky, and we see dozens of “falling stars” – drop ships bringing Voss’s invading army down to the surface of the Earth.
The credits roll as “Catch a Falling Star” by Perry Como plays.
What?!? Starshadow died? Well, that is not a thing that happened in the Alternates comic book series. Well… I guess we’ll have to see where that goes. Maybe this version of the story is going to go a different way.
The flashback story for Quasar Kid was fun, and gave the episode a nice, comical beginning before we dove into yet another set of tragedies.
Speaking of tragedies… I can’t believe they killed the rest of the heroes off-screen, especially Legacy! I get that we were supposed to assume the flash of light was Voss fighting the Ennead, and that was a little story twist, but seriously… you can’t just end the Legacy line off-screen! That’s awful!
Each episode gets more desperate, somehow. This story was all told through flashbacks in the original comic series, and there weren’t an abundance of detail. How do the Alternates defeat Scion Voss and his entire genebound army? I don’t know. But I guess we’ll find out next episode (or else this series is going to be tragic and short).
Finally, I can’t believe they brought MechApostate into this show. Even as a very short, tongue-in-cheek reference, this scene has probably quadrupled the number of people who are aware of MechApostate’s existence.
That’s all for this week! I’ll be back next week to review Episode #5, titled “The End of the Beginning.”
Eddie Jaczerkowski is a staff writer who loves comic books and writes about television.