8FOLD/TEB: Annotations for the Compleat History of the Red Hart in Nine Acts

Tom Russell joltcity at gmail.com
Sun Mar 1 20:47:35 PST 2015


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(1) "the ruins of Las Vegas"
In Andrew Perron's story 'Open Letter' (MIGHTY MEDLEY # 1), which
introduced the Dyzen'thari, it was hinted that something had happened
to Las Vegas when the Dyzen'thari invaded our reality. Said invasion
was depicted in JOLT CITY # 22-23, and is dated as October of 2008.
RED HART begins five years later.

In mathematics, the octonions are a normed, nonassociative,
noncommutative divisional eighth-dimensional algebra over the real
numbers. And if that makes sense to you, congratulations. I knew that
I wanted to go with a maths theme for my pantheon of space-gods, and
that I wanted something esoteric.

The character Octonion I modeled somewhat consciously after the Kirby
"prophetic elderly father-god" figures like Highfather and Odin.

(3) "deadly Venus, wand'ring Mars"
This is of course a reference to the ORPHANS OF MARS corner of the
Eightfold Universe, in which Venus is home to dread and unspeakable
horrors. Though no one in-story really puts it together, the reason
why the walls between parallel worlds are weakest on Earth-- making it
a focal point for all sorts of weirdness-- is because of its proximity
to Venus. (Eightfold's scientists *have* figured out however that this
weakness is heightened during the Transit of Venus.) If not for Venus,
the Dyzen'thari may never have broken through at all, and thus the
cosmic dam would not have broke, and then the Pulse War would not
happen, etc., etc.

(4) "more pleasing than the cosmic night's!"
Writing in iambic pentameter is hard, especially for yours truly, as I
really seem to have a remarkably bad ear for stressed and unstressed
syllables. I had to do several searches in online dictionaries for
relatively common words. In cases when it was a choice between a
nice-sounding line and one that scanned properly, I went with the

As hard as "normal" meter was, it was much harder with the sonnets, of
which this was the first. Octonion's argument here is that
civilization and technology is more beautiful than nature-- that not
being able to see the stars at night due to urban growth is a small
price to pay. While I'm pretty damn pro-human and pro-civilization, I
don't know if I'd go as far as all that, but then I'm not a
mathematical space-god. It makes since that Octonion and Sedenion
would have this opinion, though, as they are acting in opposition to a
"natural" phenomenon, the god-flood.

The sedenions are, like the octonions, a normed divisional algebra
that is both noncommutative and nonassociative. (Unlike the octonions,
they are not alternative, and have sixteen dimensions.)

The character Sedenion is less Kirby-- his antagonists, for all their
merits, are seldom conflicted or introspective-- and more
Shakespearean, a tragic figure in some ways. Working towards a noble
end, he freely uses the "tools" of the Never-Lord, and is aware that
he is doing so, while never being aware, until the end, that he is
himself the Never-Lord. Though there's some stuff in there about the
Never-Lord corrupting him, and about Sedenion being a host to the
Never-Lord in the same way Sharp plays host to the Red Hart, the crux
of it really is that Sedenion allows himself to be corrupted. There's
something sad about that.

(6) "The god-sea trickles out into the night."
The first of the story's cosmic dooms. As explained and hinted at
throughout the series, the god-sea annihilates reality itself, and
threatened to destroy the universe in "time before time". The cosmic
dam was built-- probably by Nox, the absolute oldest survivor of the
various pantheons we encounter-- to contain it because it cannot
itself be destroyed.

(7) "Five years ago, the Dyzen'thari broke"
This is the same event mention in our first note, as seen in MIGHTY
MEDLEY # 1 and JOLT CITY # 22-23. As Octonion explains, this event
caused a fracture in the fabric of space and time, which is what
(eventually) sets this story, and the Pulse War "event", into motion.

(8) "And there together break the seven seals?"
A obvious biblical/apocalyptic allusion. Sedenion's plan is to unleash
another ancient universe-ending threat (Red Hart and the Never-Lord)
in order to deal with the threat of the god-sea. Octonion's plan, by
contrast, is to unleash another ancient universe-ending threat
(Awides) in order to deal with the treat of the god-sea. What I'm
saying, I guess, is that neither of these are great plans.

(9) VAN
Vanessa "Van" Morrison is a tip of the hat in two directions: to Van
Morrison, of course, though really that's just because I thought it
was funny. And to Grant Morrison, whose cosmic Kirby-infused run on
JLA was a major influence.

I like Van, and I think that's because she knows herself very well;
she knows exactly who she is and what she wants, and she doesn't budge
on that. She refuses to be anyone other than herself. There's a
selfishness in her, to be sure, but it's not malicious and she has her
own sense of right and wrong that comes to a head in the penultimate

(10) "I left it when I was a wee girl"
As should be obvious here, and as confirmed later on, Van is a Scot.

(11) PULSE
The Pulse Collective is an ancient space empire that, at this point in
Eightfold history (late 2013) has yet to make contact with Earth. They
will early in 2014 through the person of Tina Wazowie. What is never
explicitly stated but should be implicitly understood is that Wazowie
was chosen precisely because they thought her a poor representative
who would be likely to make a mistake that they could use as a pretext
for war.

(12) "Yet on the fault-line sits the human race!"
Another reference to the fact that the walls between parallel
universes are weakest on Earth. This is why the Dyzen'thari were able
to come through as devastatingly as they did, damaging space-time
enough to eventually unleash the god-flood.

(13) "Into a counter-Earth, the god-sea seeps!"
So the Pulse's plan is not to unleash another doom upon this universe,
but to shunt the god-sea into a parallel universe...

(14) "An empire infinite! Of countless suns!"
... and then use the ruins of our Earth as a base to conquer all
universes. So, generally, not very nice people.


(15) "Will Red Hart save us, or heap doom on doom?"
The second sonnet, and Sedenion's first. Basically, Sedenion is
awfully pleased with his power and his cleverness-- being awfully
pleased with himself being a well he returns to fairly often. But he's
still smart enough to acknowledge that there's a pretty big risk
inherent in his actions, as he'll be unleashing both the wild,
untamable Red Hart and the insidious Never-Lord on the cosmos. Before
they were sealed away, their battles nearly destroyed our nascent
universe. But Sedenion's willing to take that risk, banking on an
ancient prophecy that describes Red Hart as the last true hope who
will finally triumph over both his uncle and the god-sea.

I don't have too much to say about the Warning, as his purpose-- to
say "hey, don't touch that"-- is pretty self-explanatory. But it might
interest the reader to know that, if this thing were ever to be
staged-- which, okay, that's never going to happen-- but if it were,
my intention would be for the Warning to be played by the same actor
as Octonion, and to serve as an independently-functioning aspect of
the god.

(16) "For evil-heart must beat in time 'gainst good."
This is one of those lines that gets repeated fairly often over the
course of the story. I'm not going to pretend that it has much depth
or significance-- "good cannot exist without evil" is fairly trite.
But a big feature of the Kirby space epics from which I'm drawing some
inspiration is smart-dumb philosophizing about good, evil, and the
nature of free will and of violence.

(17) "For death is only just if once was Life."
The god-sea ends the universe by erasing it from existence; Red Hart
and Never-Lord would end the universe by destroying it. While Sedenion
hopes Red Hart will fulfill the prophecy and save the universe, his
position is that if the universe has to end, the latter apocalypse is
preferable. Also, for "Life" in this line, one could easily read "free
will", as Sedenion believes the two to be the same at this point.

(18) "I broke the seventh seal, and played my part!"
The third sonnet, in which Sedenion breaks the seals, and wonders at
the cycles of life and death.

(19) "But where's the uncle dread, the Never-Lord?"
Red Hart's essence visibly flees the prison in search of a host, but
the Never-Lord's doesn't. Sedenion assumes the Never-Lord destroyed,
but the truth of course is that the Never-Lord didn't have to go that
far to find a suitable host in the proud and arrogant young god. As
Baudelaire noted, the finest trick the devil has is persuading you he
doesn't exist.

(20) "For I did fail to bring the beast to heel."
Octonion does a pretty neat little job of summarizing what will be the
four big threats of the story, any one of which can end the universe.
There's one more, but Narok won't show up for quite some time.

The sentient death-moon of the anti-planet Dis. Awides takes his name
from an earlier pronunciation of Hades, and Dis is likewise a name for
Satan, Pluto, and the lower circles of hell.

(22) "And you! So young and sexy-sex! A bite!"
Awides is a crazed, perverse, and ravenous version of Galactus-- less
a primal force of nature and more a deranged, slobbering beast. While
he still speaks in meter, I consciously made it less flowing and more

(23) "I said no!"
Van's murder of Octonion is an assertion of her own agency and free
will, and a refusal to become host to some cosmic destiny. She knows
who she is, and she likes who she is. For me, this is what makes her
sympathetic, even when she does things that I personally would
disagree with or that appear to be short-sighted.


(24) The Dark Sleep
Because every bad guy needs an evil lair.

Featureless humanoids who have been reduced to extensions of the
Never-Lord. Though I never described them, visually I had in mind
something like the Putty Patrol from the television program Power

(26) "These soulless souls may be of use to me."
In his third sonnet, Sedenion realizes he has travelled to the
Never-Lord's home, and recognizes the Never-Lord's minions, who in
turn recognize him.

(27) "In name of Love I'll wield the tools of Hate."
Being clever, Sedenion hits upon the idea of pretending to be the
Never-Lord so as to use the Shades to "help" Red Hart. Of course, the
dramatic irony at play here is that he doesn't know until near the end
that he's "pretending" to be himself.

Tina Wazowie, the Polish Princess of Punk Rock, front-woman for Zero
Below, an all-girl band with ice powers. She first appeared in JOURNEY
INTO # 18. She's the first of several tomboyish, laid-back yet manic
young women who have popped up in my work lately. I had originally
intended to have her pop up again later in the story, and to show the
Pulse contacting her, but at a certain point it got in the way of the
narrative momentum.

Wazowie, by the way, is the Polish name for the Swedish House of Vasa.

Fahrenheit Man is a member of the Seven Wonders, who first appeared
way back in JOURNEY INTO # 2. He didn't have a whole lot of
personality there, but when we did the never-released "Human Zeppelin"
radio program, he became very hokey and square-jawed. That impression
carried over into his next appearance in JOURNEY INTO # 18, and here
as well.

(30) "You shut up your face."
This may or may not be something my wife and I say to each other on a
regular basis.

Like a lot of things in RED HART, Matt's modeled consciously on some
Kirby motifs. One thing Kirby comes back to again and again is the
idea of someone transforming into a superhero. There are permanent
transformations, like Steve Rogers becoming Captain America, but there
are also heroes that switch back-and-forth between mundane and heroic
identities, such as OMAC, the Black Racer, and the Demon.

One thing that's fascinating about many of these characters is that
they don't really have much of an inner life or personality in their
"normal" identities. While Clark Kent can be as interesting as
Superman, and Peter Parker more interesting than Spider-Man, no one
cares about Buddy Blank when he's not running around as OMAC. And
mostly this works, because Kirby's stories aren't really about
characters. Buddy Blank works because he makes OMAC that much cooler.

I tried to make Matt Sharp a bit of a blank slate to ape this
contrasting effect. He didn't turn out completely blank; he has an
undercurrent of sadness which contrasts nicely with Red Hart's
grandeur, and which informs his horror at the destruction Red Hart
leaves in his wake.

I had the idea for a cosmic hero with battle-antlers about a year
before the first issue of RED HART made its way onto RACC. I struggled
with trying to tell a story about the character, because the appeal of
it was so visual, and hard to translate into a prose narrative.
Really, all of Kirby is supremely visual and primal, and that feeling,
that style, really can't be translated into prose narrative. One
reason why I went with this specific stylistic device is that it
seemed more amenable to Kirby's bluntness, and made it easier to tell
a story in that vein.

So, Red Hart himself is the Prince of All Forests, a primal
life-and-nature god, wild and untamed, violent and proud. He is older
than the universe, but not as old as Narok, who is in turn not as old
as Nox. His powers are vast and ill-defined in the best Kirby

(33) "In double hearts now beats Forever-Pulse,"
One of the earliest things that occurred to me when I came up with Red
Hart was that he would be animated by a "Forever-Pulse". I still have
no idea what this actually means.


(34) The Lighthouse
Headquarters of the Seven Wonders in New York City. This is as good a
time as any to touch on the Seven Wonders, who were basically
Eightfold's version of "the" team-- cf. the Justice League, the
Avengers, etc. The Wonders have been around in one form or another
since the 1940s. They're the pros, the ones all the other heroes look
up to or envy, the ones who are constantly called upon to tackle
world-ending threats, and the ones who always come out on top.

One of the original Wonders, Pharos, was Jolt City's first costumed
hero. His lair was underneath a church, and now serves as the Green
Knight's hideout, the Knight's Den.

First introduced in JOURNEY INTO # 2. Possessing super-strength,
flight, and nigh-invulnerability. Married to the Max Lang, the Human
Zeppelin-- and, at least initially, slightly horrified that he
eclipsed her and other "serious" heroes in popularity. She got over
it, though, and has continued to be a capable, competent professional
who doesn't take any crap and brings out the best in others. At some
point between 2005 and 2013, these qualities led her to become leader
of the Seven Wonders.

(36) TALOS
Not much to say about Talos, really; he's a gizmo guy. Note that when
Julie needs to call in Derek, himself something of a gizmo guy, she
does so through Talos.

(37) "I'm partial to problems I can solve by punching them."
Julie gets the best lines; that is all.


(38) "But mine alone will bend them to my art!"
In his fourth sonnet, Sedenion realizes that all of the Never-Lord's
powers are at his disposal, and wonders how this should be possible.
This is the first mention of the dragon, Narok, who will appear

(39) "With dragon free, all life shall join his cause."
Sedenion unleashes yet another doom upon the universe. The conscious
part of him rationalizes that this threat will unite the universe
under the Red Hart, allowing him and them to triumph over the three
dooms (god-sea, death-moon, and dragon-king). What he doesn't know of
course is that there is a fourth doom, Sedenion himself.

Derek Mason, the Blue Boxer. In 2007 and 2008, he was the partner of
the second Green Knight, as chronicled in JOLT CITY # 12-23. He was
seen as something of a joke by the media at large, and still isn't
taken all that seriously by those outside the costume set. Within that
niche, however, he was in 2008 beginning to be respected, having
played a not insignificant part in stopping the Little League of Doom
(JC # 19), the Gorgon (JC # 20), and FEVER (JC # 21-23). In these
cases, it was less his ability to fight (which is limited) or his gear
(which often doesn't work) but more his brain. It was more coming up
with the idea that others executed, and those others typically got the
glory. He is a "superhero's superhero", the way someone might be an
"actor's actor". It is his talent for problem solving and finding
unusual angles that Julie's calling upon in this case.

Sometime in 2009 or 2010, Derek forms a new sort of superhero group,
the Daylighters. Unlike the Seven Wonders, this is a large and
loose-knit sort of superhero social network, originally built to act
as an anti-FEVER task force. It's largely derided-- at one point Julie
compares it unflatteringly to MySpace-- especially in 2013. But they
continue to attract high-profile talent like Knockout Mouse and (after
the Wonders disband in 2014) Fahrenheit Man, their star-- and
Derek's-- will rise.

(41) "...with Snowden with all the rest of you."
Edward Snowden, of course. In the Eightfold Universe, his leaks of
classified information also included "The List", a government document
listing the confirmed true identities of several costumed adventurers.
As we later see in JOURNEY INTO # 20, the List is incorrect in at
least one case.

Celebrity literary scholar, best known for his works on Shakespeare
and the Bible.

(43) "My husband is ninety percent gas."
Julie's husband is the Human Zeppelin, who inflates at will, and is
nigh-invulnerable in that state.

(44) "We should get Fay to look at his biometrics."
A reference, of course, to Dr. Fay Tarif, inventor of the perpetual
motion machine, mad genius, and atrocious flirt. Like many characters
from JOLT CITY, she started local and has made a name for herself in
the whole wide world. She unfortunately doesn't actually appear in
these pages; I could never quite find an excuse to work her in.

(45) NAROK
The final doom is a dragon of enormous, incomprehensible size. Narok
is older than Red Hart and the Never-Lord, who are themselves older
than time itself. (Don't ask me how that works, it just does.) The two
things I wanted to emphasis with Narok were his cunning and his sheer
bigness. He's too big to fit on any stage, too big to be controlled by
even the Never-Lord-- who, as we'll learn, managed to bring Nox under
his control-- so big that he is beyond our morality or understanding.
He's like Galactus in that regard, only without the hunger or need to
feed-- which makes him a little scarier, I think.

(46) "And you, the least of thy thin pantheon."
So, here we get some backstory, which should be pretty easy to follow:
Red Hart was one amongst a group of gods, which were all of them slain
by Narok before time began, at the behest of the Never-Lord. Red Hart
alone survived, and managed to chain, but not defeat, the dragon.


So here, the language of the stage begins to give away to something
more consciously cinematic, something which becomes more prevalent as
we come into the back half of the story. Another shift worth noting:
there's less meter and more prose as the Earth-born players take on
more agency in these proceedings.

(48) "I thought to use them well but was too bold."
In his fifth sonnet, Sedenion realizes that maybe unleashing Narok
wasn't a good idea, and that perhaps he has doomed the universe's last
true hope. He persists in saying that the Never-Lord is dead, and
wondering how he can have the Never-Lord's powers-- but I think he's
starting to become aware of what's really going on, or at least is
afraid of it.

(49) "Tis true, as far as gods and Naturals go."
By Naturals, he refers of course to the Natural Numbers. This bit may
be a bit difficult to parse, but basically, the dragon is
mathematically demonstrating that one-eighth is greater than
one-sixteenth, and that the Never-Lord's powers are primarily divisive
and subtractive, rather than additive, in nature. Which makes sense,
as by his very nature, the Never-Lord takes away and diminishes life,
rather than add to or amplify it.

(50) "This universe I'll save, decreed by fate!"
When this was first published, Mr. Perron heaved a SIGH at this line,
and yeah, I know-- this guy, right? But I'm not unsympathetic to
Sedenion's position here. Everything he's done has been motivated by
his belief in the Red Hart prophecy. (Remember, Sedenion's not a human
being, who has the luxury, and perhaps the responsibility, of looking
askance at "destiny" or "prophecy"; gods, even mathematical ones,
would take this stuff way seriously.) When it seems like the Red Hart
is done for, he's trying to find some way-- any way-- where the
universe can be saved, and where he hasn't ruined everything. Sure,
he's a hubristic and self-aggrandizing little jerk, but he's also in
some ways a very human one.

(51) NOX
Nox, also called Nyx, is in mythology the Greco-Roman goddess of night
and shadows-- really, it's more that she *is* night and shadow== who
is so beautiful and so powerful that she can only be seen in glimpses,
and that even Zeus/Jupiter fears her. She is the mother of several
other gods who are the personifications of abstract concepts (Dream,
Death, Doom).

A lot of this carries over to the Eightfold character that shares her
name: she is the beautiful Queen of Night, a being older than all the
other pantheons, and as far beyond them as they are beyond us. She's a
mother-goddess-- I wouldn't go so far as to say she created the
universe, because big bang, but certainly there would be cultures (and
other gods) that would worship Nox and give her credit.

So, we're talking about someone-- or something, really, because she's
sort of a primordial force, in the same way that the god-sea is
primordial-- that is revered, sacred, ancient, wild, and free. And so
the Never-Lord's imprisonment and subjugation of Nox is, as Van
intuits later, a terrible and unspeakable crime. This is what actually
incites the conflict between Red Hart and his uncle before the
universe (and our story) begins.

(52) "I am she who nicks and knocks."
A punning reference to her two Greco-Roman names.

(53) "absolute zero on Kinsey"
The Kinsey scale, which goes from zero (exclusively heterosexual) to
six (exclusively homosexual).

(54) "Which do you want more, their lives or yours?"
This only becomes clear in her two subsequent appearances, but as Nox
is a thrall of the Never-Lord, she is "filtered" through him.
Formally, this means that she uses the same iambic pentameter as the
other cosmic beings this time around. But this also means that her
role this time around is primarily that of a corruptor and temptress--
that is, the sentiments she expresses are not really her own, but the


(55) JAMY LO
Jamy Lo, theoretical biologist from the planet Lo-lox-gar. Jamy
presents as feminine by Earth standards, but who knows how their
reproduction works or how many sexes/genders they may have. (This is
probably the only reason why Blue Boxer doesn't flirt with her.) Her
major function in the narrative is to explain to Matt what happened to
the Rowdar system, and to provide our heroes with access to a

(56) "That's where it was. Everything's dead now."
This is obviously a direct reference to the genocide of the D'Bari in
UNCANNY X-MEN # 135. The telling difference here is that, while Dark
Phoenix unintentionally committed genocide by intentionally eating the
star, here the destruction of the Rowdar system and its star was
cosmic collateral damage, which of course Matt, as a decent human
being, finds overwhelming and horrifying.

(57) "People? You mean, how many organisms?"
Science fiction, and especially comics science fiction, tends to have
a strong bias toward "civilized" species with languages and cultures.
Jamy has no such bias, which I think reinforces the enormity of what's
happened to Rowdar.

(58) "We have a saying on Earth, a proverb."
It was important to me that, as a soldier, and particularly a modern
soldier engaged in presumably urban warfare, Matt take a more nuanced
approach to the nature of warfare and the inevitability of collateral

(59) "Venus. Say that again. To be sure."
Of course it goes without saying that "Venus" is not the
Car-lo-lox-gar-car word for the Dread Planet-- this is the Red Hart's
universal translator doing its thing-- but it makes sense that they
would have a word for it. This also helps to explain why alien contact
with the Eightfold Earth isn't as frequent as in other superhero class
universes; most significantly advanced species would know to steer
clear of it. As was touched on in NONFICTION # 3, most of Earth's
would-be conquerors have been "universal locusts" who plan on draining
the planet of its resources before moving on. They're just stopping in
for a snack, so to speak. Whereas no one in their right mind would
want to be that close to Venus for an extended period of time. The
Pulse are an exception, as their plan is to use Earth as a launching
ground for conquest of all realities; for that, yes, they'll risk the
wrath of dread Venus.

(60) "...crushed by infinite gravity."
So, I'm not big on "heroes" who kill, and am a pretty big proponent of
"superheroes shouldn't kill unless it is absolutely necessary, and
good writers don't create situations where it is absolutely
necessary." Or, as Blue Boxer later puts it, "there's always another
way." But there is a line, and I think being a genocidal death-moon
crosses that line. I also like Derek's plan, because it makes Red
Hart's accidental destruction of the Rowdar system an integral piece
of the puzzle and not just a motivator for Matt's crisis. It all fits
together, people. Mostly.


(61) "Tis said that something broke in time ere time."
The corruption and enslavement of Nox is the original sin of the
Eightfold Universe, and also the real inciting incident of the whole
Red Hart saga. Really, the universe can't be saved from its myriad
dooms unless that first wrong is righted. Without a free Nox, Matt
could not control Red Hart, and neither Awides nor Narok (nor
Sedenion) could be defeated. Van is, in the end, the one who is
responsible for Nox being freed-- really, she is, despite and because
of her flaws, the hero of this story.

(62) "I'm an atheist."
Van is using humor to mask her fear. She knows that the only reason
why the pistol gag worked on Octonion was that Awides was feeding on
the god's energies. She knows it couldn't hurt Sedenion, but she's
hoping that he doesn't know that. Of course, while she knows that he
is or is at least in some way connected to the Never-Lord, she doesn't
really know what that means, and like the rest of Earth, she "knows"
that "mind control isn't real."

(63) "Please don't."
... So, Van dying is something I always knew was going to happen, and
that I was dreading, since I liked her, a lot, and I figured the
readers would like her as well. I don't like killing off characters,
and if I do it, it has to count for something. It might seem at first
that Van's death doesn't "count", which makes it sadder. But as we'll
soon find out, and as I mentioned in an earlier annotation, Van's
death-- her one selfless and redeeming act, because she could just hop
into her new spaceship and leave Sedenion with the box-- is what
rights the primordial wrong and sets our last act into motion. Still
sad, though.

(64) "To save us all, I'll be the Never-Lord!"
This originally was a sonnet, but I just could not for the life of me
get the ideas in there in a way that adhered to the correct rhyme
scheme. So other than the rhyming couplet at the end-- because really,
nothing's better than a rhyming couplet at the end-- I took a more
free-form approach. In a succession of three speeches in this scene,
Sedenion agonizes over, and then rationalizes, what he's done to Van.
He finally comes to the conclusion that free will is a luxury and a
liability the universe cannot afford. And really, though I don't agree
with him, I'll cop that the sequence of events in this story seems to
support that. Free will in the malignant hands of Caracalla and FEVER
is what brought on the Dyzen'thari, and as a result the god-sea; free
will in the hands of the well-intentioned, like Octonion and Sedenion
himself, account for the other dooms. But compare this, of course, to
Sedenion's earlier equation of free will with Life itself.

(65) "Wowza!"
In her second appearance, Nox-- or, as she says, "the tiniest droplet"
of herself, an aspect-- is filtered through Van, and speaks with her
mannerisms and verve.

(66) [The god-in-the-box... begins to stir.]
We are of course witnessing the birth-- or rather the conception-- of Monad.

(67) "He chose you, because you can keep him in check."
To be clear, I don't think this is a case where Matt needs to find out
he's always had the power all along. I don't think he really has the
capacity to keep him in check until after Rowdar, because until then
he has no idea of what the Red Hart is truly capable of. He needs that
moral outrage, and he needs this scene with Nox.


(68) [AWIDES is sucked into the black hole and dies.]
So, it's at this point where the whole thing goes full bonkers, with
an impossible succession of spectacles presented at a lightning quick
speed. I have no idea how one would go about staging a sentient death
moon being crushed by a black hole that would do it justice, but at
this point in the story, the whole stage-play conceit just goes flying
out the window.

(69) MONAD
Monad is the first cosmic being to show up who doesn't speak in iambic
pentameter (not counting the filtered-through-Van and
filtered-through-Matt incarnations of Nox and Red Hart, respectively).
Her speech is certainly elevated in that philosophical wanderer Stan
Lee kind of way, but as she says, "I am new!"

Her "plot" role in this story is fairly minimal-- really, she's just
there to buy Red Hart and the universe a little bit of extra time. But
character-wise, and thematically, she's incredibly important. If Van
is the true hero of the series, than this reincarnation of her
completes her character arc, and is a reward for saving the universe.
In terms of theme, this act in particular is about crazy spontaneous
new things taking the place of the old-- and Monad fits that to a "t".

Incidentally, Monad has shown up in a couple issues of MIGHTY MEDLEY.
In both cases, she's explicitly cast as a thing apart from other
things, a wanderer, an observer, passive and uninvolved yet free and
moral. Which is Van all over.

Monad is explicitly referred to in the text as a "space robot", and
what this means basically is that she should look something like an
all-black Rom.

(70) [Emerging... is RED HART, now glowing... white.]
I probably should have renamed him WHITE HART here, as this is an
explicit rebirth, both for Red Hart and the Impossible Sun. By
igniting it, he frees Nox who, in her full glory, enables him to
destroy Narok and create life from his ruins. Certainly, I intended
his new costume to have symbolic value, and looking at it now I wished
I had made it more explicit with a name change. This would also
parallel Van's rebirth as Monad. Ah well; a missed opportunity.

(71) "Let the Hero, born of woman..."
So, Nox is at last revealed in her full glory, and so speaks with her
own voice: not iambic pentameter, not goofy prose, but in a different
meter, with fifteen syllables to a line. But even this is filtered;
all three of her lines are a direct quotation from the Battle Hymn of
the Republic (as Scott Eiler recognized). In the actual poem/song by
Julia Ward Howe, the "Hero" in question is the Christ, the woman is
Mary, the Mother of God, and the serpent is Satan.

(72) "I was the hero...!"
I do kinda feel bad for Sedenion. He really was trying to do the right
thing. It should be noted I've used this ending-- the whole "disperse
great cosmic power among all living things to dilute it" thing--
previously and /fairly/ recently, in JOLT CITY # 19. I liked it there,
but like it better here.

(73) "She usually does... when things go agley."
This scene serves as a very Shakespearean kind of epilogue. This line
in particular is me tipping my hat, letting everyone know that, yes,
Van lives on in Monad.

I hope you enjoyed this series, and that at least some of the
annotations presented here were of interest.


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