This is the first actual use of Morty’s (and Noah’s) transformation ray since the final chapter of Phase One. I kept it away from the students in Phase Two because it’s kind of a miraculous device. It healed Jen’s mortal wounds after transforming her into a were-poodle and back again, and with the kind of dangers the kids face every chapter, it would have become the dreaded deus ex machina of this series. At that point I started coming up with the germ of the story that’s unfolding here, where the ray is at the crux of villain Ken’s ambitions, and created the subplot that ran through Phase Two where Jen had confiscated the ray to prevent this kind of misuse.
All of Katsuko’s bears are designed to protect children, so I figured it would make sense if some of them were capable of acting as baby monitors.
This page takes its title from the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “The Changing Face of Evil.”
I felt this scene was crucial for this story to stand on its own two legs. One hard lesson I learned in past comics is that if you don’t pay enough attention to your main villain, the narrative loses a lot of weight. Here, Ken’s flaws and attitude are explored a little and we find that he’s not actually a despotic mastermind, he just thinks he needs to act like one to get what he wants. As for what THAT is, I tried to find ways to drop hints through their dialogue, but couldn’t think of anything that wouldn’t outright spoil, so it’s still very vague at this point.
In the first draft, Kestrel became more accepting of Ken’s plan at the end and didn’t display a conscience. While working the script over, I couldn’t help but compare Ken and Kestrel to Magneto and Mystique–in particular the versions of the characters from the original X-Men film trilogy. I tweaked Kestrel’s dialogue from what I originally wrote to keep her from being an outright Mystique clone. I mean, she’s even got the “I have to be nude ‘cuz I’m made of camouflage” thing. Give Ken a helmet and they are basically X-Men LARPers. Sometimes coincidences are just coincidences, but when a creator realizes one exists, they need to make sure it stops being such a close comparison.
The page title comes from the sixth season cliffhanger of Star Trek: The Next Generation. An earlier page was titled “Redemption”, and after a bit I realized that “Redemption” was coincidentally the title of STTNG’s fourth season cliffhanger. I thought “Cool! I can foreshadow the upcoming cliffhanger by naming all of the rest of the pages with Star Trek cliffhanger titles.” But when I looked through my options, there weren’t many that could be used that matched the context of what was going on in the pages. The only one that fit was “Descent”, so that’s all that ended up being used.
The scene in the maintenance room was going to dismiss Morty as useless and then immediately focus on Jen’s worsening problem, but I just had to add a comment about the irony of Cass putting hope in Morty.
With this page I realized that Ken and Kestrel appear to be Magneto/Mystique expys. This was not what I was going for at all. Kestrel being a chameleon made sense as far as her function in the story (a ninja saboteur) while Ken is the end result of how certain entitled individuals with low regard for others would push back against an institution that placed rules on them. I’m not going to deny that Ken and Kestrel have a lot in common with Magneto and Mystique, but they definitely do not have the same interpersonal relationship as we saw in the X-Men films.
The page title is not a true French phrase. It’s a play on “coup d’état”, swapping the French word for “state” with the French word for “school”.
When I was a kid I wanted there to be a day where things in school just went nuts, like they would on television. Shows would have an episode every so often where some disaster or quirky thing would happen that would affect everyone for an episode. The power could go out, or due to flooding everybody would be trapped in one room together, or some other extremely awkward or gimmicky situation. I enjoyed seeing a familiar location get thrown into chaos, because it temporarily pushed aside status quo and caused the characters to behave differently than we’ve ever seen them.
My point is, Flint is literally living his days like this and I’m a little envious of him.