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.”
The inspiration for Katsuko’s bears comes from an unlikely place — Action Comics #657. It’s the earliest Superman comic I owned, and in it, Toyman kidnaps kids using sleeping bags that transform into giant plush bears that carry the children inside while they’re still asleep. It was creepy then, and it’s creepy now. I love it.
Disclaimer: Katsuko did not invent these bears to kidnap children.
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”.
The explanation for Jen’s de-aging was meant to come a lot earlier, and would have been discovered by the students themselves when they’d test Jen. I completely reworked the second half of this chapter to make the plot flow faster, jumping straight to Jen seeking the advanced equipment for her cure, and Ken’s team pouncing on them, which proved to be a good place to finally give the exposition.
This page features an appearance by a Patreon supporter, who came up with the details for his student character. His placement at this point in the chapter was by design. I wanted Jen to interact with a character who wasn’t “in” on her transformation.