Sentinel Comics #135: Hero… to Zero!
LAST TIME (SC #134) (you should read this before continuing), Absolute Zero of the Freedom Five was joined by the solar-powered Ra and the mysterious Haka to find and destroy Baron Blade’s Terralunar Impulsion Beam. The good Baron had the decency to establish his base camp amidst the ruins of Atlantis, off the coast of Madagascar, which made for pretty easy pickings for our unlikely squad of heroes. Unfortunately, the moment the Beam was deactivated (and the world saved, incidentally), Baron Blade himself showed up with one heck of a grudge. Already weakened by their attack on the Baron’s camp, our heroes sure are in dire straits, in…
Sentinel Comics #135: Hero… to Zero!
But first, a word from our sponsor, The Board Game Box Review!
As we have discussed before, we here at The Board Game Box Review (also known as TBGBR, for those who don’t like the mouthful of our full title) grade our board game boxes on a three-star scale. One star is no bueno (that’s Spanish for “not as good as it should be”), two stars is good (and may be purchased by enthusiastic board game developers who want to avoid a one-star rating—check the contact info at the top of the page), and three stars is excellent (though, sorry designers, it isn’t currently possible to buy three stars!).
Unfortunately, the box for Sentinels of the Multiverse earns ★. Upon opening the box, you’ll discover that you have no way of protecting your cards. As any Sentinel of the Multiverse can tell you, protecting the weak is one of your greatest responsibilities—and no matter how durable they are, paper and cardboard are counted as weak by the superbeings of the Multiverse. Here at TBGBR labs, we found that four Deck Boxes were enough to protect all the cards in the base game, though this made the game box impossible to close all the way. This isn’t a bad tradeoff, as the box is still sturdy thanks to the Deck Boxes, but we wish the packaging had just been better in the first place.
Not all of today’s news is bad, however! The game designers must have heard about The Board Game Box Review’s discerning gaze, because the game’s expansion, Rook City, earns ★★★ for its well-protected cards. Well done, Greater Than Games, LLC!
And one more quick word from our co-sponsor, Space-Biff!
One of the mechanics I like best in Sentinels of the Multiverse is shown in the top pic. When your hero is eliminated, he isn’t entirely out of the game. Rather, you’re still permitted to take an abbreviated turn, choosing one of three options from the “defeated” side of your Hero card. These options help out your luckier comrades in a variety of ways, perhaps healing them or buffing the damage they inflict or letting them play an extra card. How the fallen hero is helping out is vague: perhaps through tattered assistance or by the second wind that most heroes naturally get when they reflect on their deceased super-buddies.
Regardless of the justification, it’s a nice mechanic because it keeps everyone involved. Plenty of games struggle with player elimination, but SotM’s solution works well enough that every time I’ve seen a player knocked out of the game, they’ve remained engaged enough to continue making excruciating decisions alongside their surviving friends—and that’s simply good game design.
Okay, enough with the sponsor messages. What will happen to our heroes?
Unfortunately for Absolute Zero, Ra, and Haka, Baron Blade’s battle-armor has been designed as a match for even superheroes, having been built during the Baron’s embarrassing exile on the Red Planet (SC #110). So when the Baron does this—
—the result is that Absolute Zero’s faceplate caves in, leaving him barely alive on the hot stones of Atlantis. As he slips into unconsciousness, feeling his core temperature gradually increase to one degree Fahrenheit, Absolute Zero realizes that they’ve never asked why Baron Blade is hellbent on destroying both the Earth and the Moon. Unfortunately, this thought is hardly the cold consolation that Absolute Zero needs to stay functional.
Not everyone is wasting time thinking about evil motivations and bad puns, however. Ra is leaping into action, using his godly powers to channel the heat of the sun to give Baron Blade a taste of his own fiery medicine.
Baron Blade just laughs at this attempt and activates a tracking device that alerts more of his minions to the fight. Within moments, five more of his absurdly-dressed henchmen and a remote turret burst into the clearing, further complicating things for the two heroes left standing.
Fortunately, Absolute Zero has roused himself from unconsciousness just long enough to weakly press a few of his suit’s function buttons, channeling unexpected energy from his dying suit into Haka. Absolute Zero falls unconscious again, but Haka—despite being surprised that Absolute Zero’s suit even had that power—takes advantage of this invigoration to make an impassioned assault on everyone in camp:
This brutal attack manages to smash through all of the Baron’s reinforcements at once, which in turn charges the dark powers of Savage Mana that Haka has been maintaining throughout the battle. Haka briefly ponders on the use of this dark witchcraft, wondering if he would be able to defeat the Baron without further damning his soul, before shouting towards the sky and unleashing every ounce of energy that he had stolen from his enemies. The result is suitably horrific. Which is a relief to Haka, since he is selling his soul over it.
The energy of Haka’s fallen foes channels into Baron Blade, filling his body with stinky toxins and making him deathly ill. With little time left to live, the Baron channels his suit’s energy and flees from battle into the jungle. This turns out to be ill-advised, as his dazed escape puts him directly in the path of a set of mystical Atlantean defenses. His screams roll through the jungle and inform our heroes that they have been successful in defeating the Baron once more!
Haka suspects that the Baron isn’t dead, and will one day return to menace them, but he’s so relieved to have survived this battle that he’s happily performing his haka war dance for his companions when he realizes that victory has come at great cost.
Both Absolute Zero and Ra lie in a crumpled heap. It takes Haka a moment to realize that he defeated Ra with his empowered rage. A worthy sacrifice to beat up Baron Blade, but still, sort of depressing.
Haka checks his companions and finds them without pulse or flicker of life. This makes him even more depressed, until suddenly he stands up straight and squares his jaw. Haka has a plan—a daring plan to descend into the Underworld itself and reclaim his new friends from whatever insidious forces lurk there. After all, what has he got to lose?
And besides, sometimes that’s just how it goes in Sentinels of the Multiverse!