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How Would You Represent the Exarchs as Comic Book Supervillains? (Mostly Serious)

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  • How Would You Represent the Exarchs as Comic Book Supervillains? (Mostly Serious)

    I've been learning about Jack Kirby's take on gods recently, and I came up with a plot hook; a webcomic artist who is unknowingly tuned to Supernal symbols, and they inspire her when she's making characters and plots for her semi-comedic superhero series. By reading, you can get a good idea of what the Supernal world looks like around her area, and insight into Mysteries even beyond her sixth sense.

    As might be evinced by the title, I am debugging how she represents the Exarchs in her work; her version of Apokolips and its ruling New Gods (an inspiration that is quite blatant), a dark planet that has been hollowed out and transformed into a weapon of conquest, a vast Astral Organ who plays endless hymns praising the Gospel of Obedience that are transmuted into solar winds that are spread across the universe and inspires dreams of conquest and compliance-by-force...yeah, this is trying to be a comic book. You should see her version of the Anti-Life Equation.

    Which brings me to my question: I've got her versions of the Father (Deacon Birch, High Priest of Unbending Justification), the Unity (Domina Pure, Queen of Twinned Thought), and the Prophet (Enlightened Tenebrae, Keeper of the Histories), but I'm looking for other slightly silly names and titles to give to the ideologies and concepts the Exarchs embody, especially the Ruin (I have an image of an architect who builds flaws in his otherwise invincible buildings and tells his subjects that the only way to survive is to protect the flaws-not fix, protect), but I'm looking for people a bit more familiar with Kirby's style of character-building than I am.

  • Czernobog
    replied
    Originally posted by Master Aquatosic View Post
    What the Exarchs are actually like is less relevant to this discussion. This is for how they would be interpreted by a Sleeper superhero webcomic writer who is receiving visions from the Supernal filtered through her need for ideas for her comic. Thus, the supernal symbols are being expressed as comic book characters and setting elements. So whether or not the Exarchs still have free will as we conceive it, they are still positioned to be interpreted as major supervillains in this comic
    Ah, so here's the General:

    Bellona, General of the Black Armies

    General Bellona sits on the Tetrarchy of the Black Planet's ruling council. Under her domain the Myrmidons of the Black Armies march - brutal, uncompromising warriors that have destroyed entire planets and dimensions in their lust for blood. There is no nobility or honour in them - only cold-blooded ruthlessness merged with an insatiable desire to destroy. Her domain is one of ceaseless fortresses and factories, all dedicated to a senseless war that exists ultimately for its own sake. The Armies are not mere ground forces - endless fighter-swarms blacken skies under the furious bombardment of dagger-shaped star dreadnoughts as super-weapons channel the Aether between the stars into devastating forces of destructive power capable of rending worlds apart. When two of the Black Armies meet in the course of their ceaseless campaigns, they fight - the one that wins totally destroys the loser, as they do to all others they encounter. If they lost, then clearly they were too weak to live.

    The General is brutal and emotionless with a tinge of malice beyond mere efficiency. Often she leads her hosts directly, covered in a suit of advanced armour that allows her to absorb, redirect and even create from whole cloth all kinds of energy blasts. She is the most direct of the Ten, and the most commonly seen "on the field".

    (I haven't read up on the Exarchs for a long time, but I used to make up comic-book characters myself when I was younger, so I hope this is still good).
    Last edited by Czernobog; 11-06-2018, 02:40 AM.

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  • Master Aquatosic
    replied
    Oh. And if it hasn't been said already, the Chancellor is a Lex Luthor-style impossibly rich morally bankrupt business man and engineering genius. He's currently working as these New God!Exarchs' earthly agent, but is at the head of a secret plot to ascend himself and overthrow them.

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  • Master Aquatosic
    replied
    What the Exarchs are actually like is less relevant to this discussion. This is for how they would be interpreted by a Sleeper superhero webcomic writer who is receiving visions from the Supernal filtered through her need for ideas for her comic. Thus, the supernal symbols are being expressed as comic book characters and setting elements. So whether or not the Exarchs still have free will as we conceive it, they are still positioned to be interpreted as major supervillains in this comic

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  • Czernobog
    replied
    Originally posted by Master Aquatosic View Post

    I mean, he said "semi-comedic", but also Jack Kirby style. I'd go for a Grant Morrison style myself: complex symbolic villains that have modern sensibilities but at the same time hearken back to the Silver Age and early Bronze Age of comics
    I prefer a more abstract take on the Exarchs - they have lost whatever human sentience they had (if they ever had it at all) and are at the core now nothing more than machines mindlessly forcing their principles on the Phenomenal World. They are now just exactly the same as the Supernal gods they overthrew.

    Prophet - Exarch of Time (the Great Man theory of history, and its attendant elitism)
    My headcanon is for an opposite take on the Exarch of Time - "you are just one of the herd, a pawn of wider forces you cannot hope to withstand.Even if you do do anything, you're merely a slave enacting the inflexible laws of history. Any changes you make will fade away like ripples from a stone thrown into a lake, and in the course of time ultimately you will be forgotten over the merciless span of centuries and millennia. Better not to try."

    It's a far more disempowering concept from my POV.

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  • Leliel
    replied
    Originally posted by Master Aquatosic View Post

    I mean, he said "semi-comedic", but also Jack Kirby style. I'd go for a Grant Morrison style myself: complex symbolic villains that have modern sensibilities but at the same time hearken back to the Silver Age and early Bronze Age of comics

    So, no post-Identity Crisis Dr. Light.
    Yeah, that as well; I'm not a comics sort, so I don't know the exact styles of people.

    In answer to another question: Given how I'm talking about the Iron Seals, they are in the New Gods style-or can possibly become as such.

    The Iron Seals being generally what people are thinking of when you invoke the Exarchs, the masters of the Ten Arcana Plus The Abyss.

    The Four Archgenitors, patrons of the current Great Ministries:

    Unity - Exarch of Mind (embodies xenophobia and devaluation of the self in service to the state)
    General - Exarch of Forces (embodies war and the belief that the only measure of worth is abilities in violence)
    Father - Exarch of Prime (embodies dogma and the capacity of zealotry to blind)
    Eye - Exarch of Space (embodies paranoia and how fear of being seen alters behavior)
    And the Lesser Seals, who don't have a Great Ministry-yet. They have less focus, but there's enough to make some assumptions.

    Chancellor - Exarch of Matter (greed and devaluation of others into commodities)
    Nemesis - Exarch of Spirit (ignorance of the supernatural and view of supernatural as inherently hostile)
    Prophet - Exarch of Time (the Great Man theory of history, and its attendant elitism)
    Psychopomp - Exarch of Death (fear of mortality and barring unbelievers from good afterlives)
    Raptor - Exarch of Life (materialistic nihilism and the natural order as an immutable chain prevents/abdicates all free will)
    Ruin - Exarch of Fate (existential pessimism and refusal to even try)
    Gate - Exarch of the Abyss (the one the Seers don't like to talk about, and yet the one that allows them the ability to control the world at all, by enabling the ability to decide "what is" and "is not")

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  • Master Aquatosic
    replied
    Originally posted by HarbingerLeo View Post
    How dark do you want to go?

    The whole world of darkness setting turns down every possibility for a gray or ray of hope in the darkness. Everything about it find the darkest way to be, dives in, and refuses to go anywhere else even then the possibility for hope exists. Comic book villains range from having deliberate flaws and blind spots for heroes to be heroic with to sex and drug addicts the heroes only prevail against through extreme luck at the cost of their lives.
    I mean, he said "semi-comedic", but also Jack Kirby style. I'd go for a Grant Morrison style myself: complex symbolic villains that have modern sensibilities but at the same time hearken back to the Silver Age and early Bronze Age of comics

    So, no post-Identity Crisis Dr. Light.

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  • Master Aquatosic
    replied
    Can a n00b have a list of the exarchs that haven't been covered yet. And do they all have to be New Gods' level/style villains? Maybe you could have a new street level villain be a representative of a Seer destined to become a new Minor Exarch in the future? (that happens once in a blue moon, right?l

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  • nofather
    replied
    I don't think it means heroic, necessarily, as much as there's a solid and usually beneficial end point.

    But you don't have to reach these points by being heroic, a Promethean's pilgrimage can be full of acts that make an Ashwood Abbey veteran blush.

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  • HarbingerLeo
    replied
    Ok, reading up a little I'll grant Geist or Promethean have a tormented hero archetype. I'd still call that a dark setting, but that's me. I may not be the spot on target audience. I'll go the extra mile to be a boyscout even if I have to fight to be. I just comment the setting requires you to fight tooth and nail to do so as a default instead of a option from the start.

    I did mean to ask, in a not rhetorical way, How dark did you want it to be, Leliel? Some tropes would only fit in a Jason movie, some tropes would only fit in 90s or 80s Saturday morning cartoon.

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  • Khanwulf
    replied
    Originally posted by nofather View Post
    While the old World of Darkness was more about everything being evil or bad, Chronicles of Darkness focuses more on the darkness hiding things, mysteries in every shadow.

    Also Inodiv may have been referring to Promethean or Geist.

    Right. And it's entirely possible to have characters (PC or NPC) who accomplish noble or heroic deeds as a consequence of their interrelation with the world, others and its secrets. Not the heroes you want, but the ones you need. This is easy to figure into comic book and story tropes, including (or especially) cycles in which the previous "hero" is now the villain.

    That said, there have been CofD stories, especially in 1e that went over-the-top in portraying characters as irredeemable monsters who need a bullet to the head and a replacement extra. That's... actually distracting to the setting, though certain interactions with denizens of other dimensions (Shadow, for example) call for extreme as a matter of course.

    --Khanwulf

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  • thenate
    replied
    The Warden: This being was a warden over a large prison but was so successful at crushing the spirits of his charges while maintaining order that his government took notice and the leaders brought him in to consult on various planned invasions of their enemies. (They expected guerrilla opposition) He gave them sound advice but released useful details to the opposition. The resulting action was bloody. His government demanded he explain why his plan had failed and he explained that they hadn't given him enough information. They granted him authority as a master of spies, and he swiftly set up a surveillance network throughout the borders. He used this position to mask his overtures to the contesting countries. He began to get them to trade him useful intel. Eventually, he was playing both sides so well that everyone knew that their enemies would know what they were doing before they could do it. He'd ended the war.

    He had key media figures replaced. He had major figured in governments replaced. He did everything through others who simply needed to know and kept his hands clean. Eventually, everyone was too paranoid to act out against Society, the name they put to the strictures that were enforced by nameless agency. This system of terror worked for years. Very few, even inside his network, knew Warden was pulling the strings. No one is completely sure where his Robe of Eyes came from, but it's said that it shows him everything around him for miles or possibly even thoughts.

    Having conquered and established his surveillance state on multiple worlds, he has begun moving through dimensions bringing entire realms into subjection. Warden often ends war, though the peace of his Society isn't restful..Those who speak out against Society disappear; an enormous, inescapable prison dimension called Panopticon is a rumor in all his lands.

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  • Leliel
    replied
    Originally posted by nofather View Post
    While the old World of Darkness was more about everything being evil or bad, Chronicles of Darkness focuses more on the darkness hiding things, mysteries in every shadow.

    Also Inodiv may have been referring to Promethean or Geist.
    Or Changeling, for that matter. CofD seems to have embraced, if you'll forgive the neologism, nobledark as a concept (grimdark, only less cynical and unrelenting-Kingdom Come is a good example). So these are very much villains in the mold of epic fantasy; evil with little in the way of redemptive potential, but undone by their own flaws and meant to be more symbols than characters anyway).

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  • nofather
    replied
    While the old World of Darkness was more about everything being evil or bad, Chronicles of Darkness focuses more on the darkness hiding things, mysteries in every shadow.

    Also Inodiv may have been referring to Promethean or Geist.

    Leave a comment:


  • HarbingerLeo
    replied
    Oh! What did I miss?

    I kind of grumble when I find descriptions of stuff that doesn't have to be dark, but steps out of it's way to be anyway. Villains that are still villains, but could have some even vaguely symbiotic quality.

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