SFP

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  • Dean

    Despite Brad and Daniel’s appearances, it never really occurred to me that so many biodynamics would be so physically different from the norm. I guess I’d better check my humaniform privilege.

    Also, one assumes that there may be biodynamic individuals out there who are even more divergent than the members of Brad’s group, who can’t interact with others or even live comfortably on the Earth’s surface. What happens to them?

    • Tylikcat

      Well, one supposes that a lot of them died. If the change came on quickly, you’d have to have a lot of tech infrastructure and people would have to be really on the ball to save them.

      Which, in effect, means a lot weren’t saved.

      • Yeah, If your metabolism switches to depend on a different atmospheric mix, you’re going to suffocate long before anyone figures out what the problem is. Other stuff they might, if you suddenly need an extra amino-acid, because you’ve lost the ability to produce it, then you might last long enough and the symptoms be indicative enough to allow the medics to figure it out. No cat-forms there that I can see, but you could easily hypothesize one losing the ability to produce taurine.

        • Tylikcat

          It’s also going to depend on allocation of resources.

          If we assume everyone started manifesting at more or less the same time (or maybe there was some kind of distribution window, or whatever), we’re mostly talking adolescents, not babies. Then, there’s a question of what kind of range of changes we’re talking about – I mean, obvious, innates exist as a subtype. Did we have a large population of people who got something like the inability to produce an amino acid (or my inability to produce ubiquinone, at least in anything like appropriate amounts) but don’t get anything else, or at least anything else that’s obvious?

          There’s a bunch of stuff that we test for in infants. And babies are monitored fairly closely (if you’re in a developed country and have access to healthcare). But when this kind of stuff shows up, there isn’t a great play book to go by. A lot of that stuff we test for? Used to kill babies. My ubiquinone problems I figured out mostly for myself, partly by guess and by golly, and partly because hello, biochemist and neurobiologist, and hence I spared myself the pain of flunking out of grad school – still, wasn’t that a lot of fun? I don’t know how bad it would have to have got before / if someone else would have figured out what was going on. It wouldn’t have been much longer before I hit some kind of collapse, I’m pretty sure – that six week long migraine was not my best neverending bundle of moments. (And that’s another thing that mostly shows up in young children. I have a hypothesis about what might have happened in me, but I don’t know of it’s a testable hypothesis…)

          I suppose we’re making a lot of guesses about the range of the biodynamic effects. There might be some limitations imposed by… I dunno, switches in the human genome or something. There may be a general tendency to stick with templates that work on Earth – hell, gills are awesome, they just mess up your social life.

          What I’d worry about is that if a number of adolescents started showing up with various failure to thrive type disorders and also weird powers and/or obvious visible changes, there might be a general tendency to figure that whatever has happened to them is too weird to be solvable, and anyway, they might be dangerous, so it’s for the best. I suspect you’d also have a few folks who would not only work really hard to save them, but would also do major public awareness stuff, but it’d be tough going – every one would be a zebra.

          …it does also make me wonder, again, about the early supervillains. I mean, they were all kids, weren’t they? Or were some of them kids being used by someone else?

          • ‘too weird to be solvable’.

            Ugh, that hits close to home. Ehlers-Danlos has been described as the most under-resourced of the common rare diseases (and there’s a lot of suspicion incidence might be closer to 1 in 200 than the claimed 1 in 2000, but under-resourced…) and part of that’s because of the sheer variety of symptoms screwed-up collagen can generate. Dropped dead of an aneurysm? Hello EDS-Vascular Type. Joints dislocate if you look at them the wrong way? Hello Hypermobility Type. Faint when you stand up because all your blood just pooled in your legs and your heart is going berserk to compensate, hello Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. Stomach trouble, you guessed it. And then there’s the co-morbidities – autism, all the specific learning difficulties and so on. We call ourselves zebras, because doctors are taught ‘If you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras’ . So the standard reaction to someone with our weird symptoms is “You can’t be a zebra, that’s rare!”

            Average time for EDS diagnosis – 13 years. Being seen as a zebra, which a lot of the biodynamics will be, just isn’t going to work well in a health emergency.

            WRT teenage supervillains, the school bully with superpowers and raging teenage hormones isn’t going to be a good combination, and the combination of a mind-bending biodynamic power with sociopathy or narcissistic personality disorder could be particularly nasty.

            Looking at you, Patrick.

          • Tylikcat

            We’ve had this conversation in other fora, haven’t we? My hypermobility (which is both familial and relatively benign, but possibly because we excel at muscle tone) has been diagnosed, but I haven’t pursued it. There might be some comorbidities to look into, but until I get a full gene scan done, I’m mostly leaving it alone.

            Cleaver’s case might be unusual – he already had cancer. It’s hard to say what range of changes we’re looking at.

          • Probably 😉 But, mea culpa, I’d actually forgotten. But EDS is still a good model for medicine throwing up its hands and going Waa! in the face of confusing symptoms. Bad news for any future gene-scan is Hypermobility type doesn’t have a specific marker – I strongly suspect because it’s a whole set of different syndromes in it’s own right.

            And agree on Cleaver, he’s too atypical to be a good model.

      • ∫Clémens×ds

        Also have we ever gotten a substantial answer on whether the biological changes were utterly random? Most powers make less sense than magic, sure, but to me it just screams “human intent” if all the supers, not matter their dimorphism, are even viable.

        And since the origin of the Storm is not something I feel we’ll ever explore because it doesn’t sound super interesting, I take it to mean it was a natural process and, like, 90% of biodynamics died while mutating. So much plain ol’ cancer.

    • Tylikcat

      (I mean, don’t get me wrong – I can imagine, I would even expect that it would be likely, that some number of physicians, most likely with ties to teaching hospitals and research dispositions of some kind, started noticing what was going on and sent out some kind of alert and big effort.

      But, but. A lot of people are going to be in places without a lot of tech infrastructure. Plus, it’s going to be a huge guessing game – you can come up with facilities that provide temporary support to the more common types but identifying what someone needs and rigging up something in time to provide it can be really hard, not to mention expensive.

      Now keep in mind that they’re doing this just as biodynamics are becoming a thing in the public mind, with all the panic that went along with that. I mean, maybe I’m a horrible cynic, but I just can’t imagine that would help. Then again, I came of age in a gay neighborhood during the eighties, and got to watch a big chunk of my community die while my government tacitly approved.)

  • chaosvii

    Man, being a fish person would get old real fast.
    I mean not only would you have to go around in a tank all the time, but you’d get all these geekwads stumbling over themselves to come up with taunts about how lame your Superfriends-era Aquaman powers would have to be.

  • Now you’ve got that song stuck in my head.

  • It’s good to be be able to drop in on friends like that.

  • TCGM

    Is Danymorph supposed to be misspelled on the door?

  • MrSing

    Oof! The one in the fish tank has it rough! Imagine being wheeled around in a small glass jar filled with air at the bottom of the sea. They don’t even have enough room to stretch their legs.
    Couldn’t they have made a reverse diving suit or something for them?

    • Weatherheight

      Something for Lisa to work on.
      Hope Alison remembers to tell her. 😀

      Although, that person seems to have either a phone, tablet, PDA, Gameboy, or control device in his/her/its hand. Maybe the tank is motorized and controlled from that? That would be cool.

    • bta

      Maybe their unique physiology doesn’t allow them to walk.

  • ∫Clémens×ds

    That fern? Right behind the kiwi-person?
    That’s a super too. And that’s the best one.

    • Weatherheight

      I sort of thought that was some form of evergreen…
      which would be even better – “I am … EVERGREEN!”

      Powers includes resistance to dehydration and cold, a flechette-round attack, area of effect pollen attack that is particularly effective against those with hay fever and allergies, and a ridiculous bonus to hiding while in the woods.

    • Dean

      So is the backpack, lower right in panel 1. S/he’s just getting a lift to the meeting…

  • Nathanaël François

    Danymorph? A support group form people who look like Dany?

  • So have Brad’s powers been getting stronger too? What would that even be like?

    • Tylikcat

      Wings!

    • SuddenFan

      Loud screams. Sub-sonic vocalizations. Echolocation.

      Having a bat-face is just part of his powers.

    • bta

      He started sounding like Kevin Conroy.

  • William Lancaster

    It’s really nice to see the other side of the super scene. Alison got really lucky with her powers.

    Hmm… any Cauldon tattoo’s around?

  • bta

    Internally: “How come I’m the bat and she’s the one that can fly?”

    • Kid Chaos

      “And if one more person calls me ‘The Goddamn Batman’ when they think I can’t hear them…” 👹

  • Markus

    I gotta say that pun in the last panel was really Brad.

  • JohnTomato

    Guy in the wheelchair could use some bigger guns. You build up serious muscle when you are the motor.

    General question; Is there a time when comments aren’t moderated? Or is that a “forever” deal?

    • Weatherheight

      He could have super strength that has no physical manifestation and hugely brittle bones, so much so that his bones cannot handle his full weight resting on his legs. In one of the Wild Cards books, there is a Joker who is 15′ tall, perfectly proportioned, and absolutely gorgeous – so why is he a Joker? His leg bones can’t support his full weight so he’s forced to be in a really big wheelchair.

      There was a character in the New Universe comics by Marvel (years ago) who, as I recall, was, in appearance, the typical nerdy 98 pound weakling, including horn-rim glasses and bad haircut. He was also invulnerable and nearly-Hulk-class strong. And yeah, he was mostly a villain – big chip on his shoulder from all the years of abuse prior to the White Event (the sky turned white all over the world at the same time as the Star Brand erupted – no racist thing was intended).

      And yeah, since this comic produces strong opinions from strongly opinionated people (in which group I include myself) due to its excellent writing, Brennan and Molly have been forced to moderate strongly to keep out the trolls. They usually update moderated posts twice a day (usually morning and evening).

    • It depends, Spinal injuries, yes, a lot of them do, but I suspect a lot of us with genetic/systemic issues find it difficult to build up muscles. I switched to a chair a bit over a year ago, after 15 years of crutches, and I don’t have any noticeable muscle development from either.

      As a side-note, it’s nice to see a wheelchair user in a comic, we really don’t turn up that often, I guess people consider the chair difficult to draw. OTOH he’d be better off with an active user chair, which should actually should be simpler to draw – simpler L-shaped frame, no armrests, bar footrest, low back, often with no push-handles.

    • ampg

      I wonder if they would consider eventually moving to a system where you could earn the right to unmoderated posts after a probationary period (X number of posts over Y number of days/weeks). I do appreciate the conscientiousness of the moderating, though.

    • Kid Chaos

      As far as I know, all comments are moderated, all the time. Hope that helps. 😎

  • Crimson Doom

    That speech bubble is placed… oddly. Until I realized it was a speech bubble, it looked like Alison had learned how to fire energy blasts…

    That being said, this is a nice page. Kudos to the artist for being able to pack so much detail into that first panel!

  • Olivier Faure

    Danymorphs, the famous kids book series by K.A. Dapplegate. The support group is for kids traumatized by the last two books and the bolivian army ending.

    • Oren Leifer

      Honestly, I can imagine Tobias attending the meeting Allison is about to go into

      • Thunder

        You mean that’s not him in the suit? Behind the woman with four arms?

  • Donald Simmons

    And… scene!

  • Interesting that Alison appears to be the only dynamorph whose powers don’t manifest themselves as a physical mutation.

    Also, is that sign behind Brad supposed to be misspelled: “Danymorph”?

    • Weatherheight

      People affected by the storm are called biodynamics.
      Biodynamics who deviate significantly and (most likely) obviously from the humaniform norm are called dynamorphs.

      All dynamorphs are biodymanics.

      Not all bioadynamics are dynamorphs.

      Pretty sure Alison is just here to visit Brad and this was the easiest place at which to find him (time and place were probably announced publicly and this event is his baby, so to speak).

      • Some guy

        Plus she still has to make good on her offer to help out, which was totally genuine and not at all a way to distract from her asking him how to get ahold of Moonshadow

        • Weatherheight

          This. Totally forgot that promise.

          +1

      • Thanks! I remember that distinction being explained previously, but it never really stuck with me. Maybe this time it will!

  • Gus Snarp

    Is that an actual Joe Camel?

    • Tylikcat

      This scene in particular reminds me a bit of the Wild Cards books, just in terms of the diversity of biodynamic changes and the effects they can have on people.

      (As a side note, I’ve also at times been reminded of Seanan McGuire’s Velveteen Vs. stories, mostly in the way that the corporatization of superheroes is explored there.)

      • The other similarity with Velveteen is a powerful superhero enlisted as a child soldier who choses to walk away from the superhero life.

    • Weatherheight

      Since he’s lacking the lovely long ears of a donkey, you’re likely correct.

  • screechfox

    I would definitely read a comic about three-eyed well-dressed smoking lady. Or the red guy in a wheelchair. Or that literally-black person. Or the fish person.

    Or just any of these people to be honest.

    • Paradoxius

      *cracks knuckles* Alright, let’s give it a whirl. (Here’s presuming that these characters won’t all be given real backstories)

      Three-eyes is Julia Leblanc, alias: Cypher. Has a range of extrasensory perceptive abilities, particularly linked to objects in her vicinity. Has worked extensively with the FBI and many local law enforcement agencies as a highly skilled investigative consultant. Very cool under pressure. Has a taste for the finer things. Has recently been contacted by an old teammate whom she fell out of touch with after “the Incident”. He wants her help on a case, but can she trust him after all these years?

      Red guy is Wyatt Vespers, alias: Sunburst. Has the power to emit powerful bioluminescence. When he was a kid, his power was very unwieldily. He was unable to use less than maximum power, so he could destroy entire buildings and little else. A few years back he had a run-in with a biodynamic gangster who claimed to be able to steal powers. This was a stretched truth, but long story short Wyatt became a human flashlight for a while. But he has since learned to control his power and can effectively modulate the strength of his light bursts.

      Literally black person is Sam Salazar, alias: Silhouette. Enhanced agility and touch-based energy absorption make Sam a nearly undetectable infiltrator, and resistant to most force-based injuries (punches yes, bullets no). This has put them in the unenviable position of being deployed as an *alternative* to SWAT teams. Has been fighting to get less dangerous missions after a few close calls. Big into Star Wars. Saw the new movie five times, and even bought a ticket two of those times!

      Fish person is Nick Tsontou, alias: Aquarius. Has the ability to breath water and survive under high pressure, as well as enhanced agility and strength. Can survive out of water, but it’s very uncomfortable for him. Works with the Coast Guard on “scuba” missions. Is often assigned deep water diving missions that would be dangerous for most people, but are a walk in the park for him. Was already kind of a loner when he got his powers, and has been further isolated since.

    • Markus

      I feel like a moron because I just assumed she had Picasso face.

    • I keep wondering about the 4 armed woman.

      • Grant

        Katherine Chen, nickname Kali. Increased strength compared to a biotypical person, and damn do her legs show it. She works in an automotive shop, because her four hands give her increased dexterity and manipulation, but secretly wants to be an action movie actress (Four hands, four guns, four times the Rambo. Or martial arts stuff!).

        The man she’s talking to, with the antelope head, is Linus Meyer. Grew up in Vermont, but after his powers developed (Increased speed and agility, and the head transformation), he looked into, and developed an interest in, anti-poaching efforts in Africa. He’s currently an expat living in Zimbabwe, training as a ranger for the IAPF. Currently on vacation and came to this event after a call from Brad; they and the other dynamorphs with similar animal changes, like the bird-dude and Nick Tsontou from the person above you, all keep in touch. It’s a small world for biodynamics, but it’s even smaller for dynamorphic people.

        • I’m not sure – the fact that she’s holding her phone and her dress sense screams businesswoman or office worker to me. In my mind she’s an expert multitasker who can have three conversations and use two computers at once

      • Matthew Dowd

        The one talking to Dik Dik Van-Dik?

  • Nathan B Earl

    Oh man, bird-lifeguard… I have a new favorite character.

    • Rumble in the Tumble

      There’s also a sharply dressed birdman in a suit.

      His name’s Harvey, probably. ᕕ( ᐛ )ᕗ

  • Lepidolite Mica

    Are “danymorph” and “dynamorph” two different terms, or is one of them a typo?

  • Dogwood

    Ready, set…. unleash the Zootopia jokes!

    • phantomreader42

      Given the next comic, what comes to mind is “some of my best friends are predators”. Which I could see Judy Hopps saying and then quickly realizing that makes the situation worse, not better.

  • Lostman

    Someone is going to make a attpment on his life, aren’t they.

  • I know the parallel is intentional, but I can’t help imagining the American Disabilities Association getting in a snit over the acronym. xD

    • Mujaki

      Or the American Dental Association?

  • M-D November

    Is it my imagination, or is “dynamorphic” spelled wrong in the Support Group’s sign in panel 2?

    • Thunder

      It is. That’s why Brad is putting up a new sign 🙂

    • Arthur Frayn

      Yes, it appears to be an error on the part of the sign printer in the SLP world. People do that.

  • Weatherheight

    For those of you who haven’t read the Wild Cards books, edited by George R. R. Martin, this is a classic trope pretty well explored in that series. In the novels, superpowers are the result of an alien retrovirus released on Earth by a humaniform alien race called the Takisians (from the planet Takis – and yes, there is a type of chip named Takis, makes me smile every time I see the packaging – and no, I refuse to eat them based on the explanation following).

    The virus has been weaponized in two ways – it can be passed reproductively if either parent has the Wild Card and regardless of whether or not it is active (although not via sex like an STD – well, in a few very specific cases it can, but those are really special cases) and it has the ability to encase itself in a protein coating much like a fungal spore. So it can be spread in an airborne fashion or passed on to one’s child or children.

    Of those who contract the virus/spore and activate it (trauma is the usual method, either physical or psychological), 90% will die horrifically as the virus tries to re-write their DNA, usually going through massive physiological changes. Of the 10% of those who don’t die, 9% will develop some form of physical deformity, from minor or extreme (from fine scales around the eyes to being a sentient mound of mucus). The remaining 1% will get enhanced abilities of varying strengths while remaining human-looking.

    The 90 out of 100 who die are referred to as “Drawing the Black Queen”.
    The 9 out of the 100 who develop physical deformity or disability are referred to as “Jokers”.
    The 1 out of the 100 who develop super powers are referred to as “Aces”.

    There is some overlap – some people with physical deformities also have powers related to their deformities that are well above the norm. One very beautiful woman who has wings and can fly exceedingly acrobatically is called Peregrine; another character looks like a D&D troll and is nearly invulnerable and amongst the strongest of characters and is called Troll – both of these folks qualify as Joker-Aces (there is some debate in the books over this, which is fun).

    There are some Aces whose powers are exceedingly minor – these are referred to “Deuces”. An example of this is the guy who can change his skin color but otherwise looks perfectly normal. He has an act where he changes his skin color while singing songs who have a color in them – “My love is like a red red rose”, “the Yellow Rose of Texas”, “Greensleeves”, “Love is Blue”, and so on.

    In most cases, once one has contracted the virus, you get one shot to draw an Ace or a Joker. One character, Croyd Crenson, has the ability that the virus is continually re-writing his DNA where he sleeps (hence his sobriquet, “The Sleeper”). He once woke with the power to spread his virus and that virus could reactivate in anyone, including those who had already had the virus active in them. So most of those infected again got the Black Queen and died, a few Aces became Joker-Aces, and at least one Joker became an Ace (the aforementioned Mucus Pile known as Snotman, who gained inertia absorption and redirection powers and then began calling himself Repeller [although nearly everyone else kept calling him Snotman]).

    If you haven’t read the series, it’s really quite good. Many of the writers involved are well known for their short stories and novels in science fiction and their writing for movies and television and comics (Roger Zelazny, Lewis Shiner, Walter Jon Williams, Pat Cadigan, Howard Waldrop, Leanne C. Harper, Chris Claremont, Victor Milán, John J. Miller, Melinda Snodgrass). There’s a few novels toward the end of the first cycle that are weaker, but still a decent read.

    Here’s the link to the Wikipedia entry:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wild_Cards

    • Mechwarrior

      The first couple of novels were good. Unfortunately, they were written as collaborative efforts between a large group of authors who didn’t really seem to compare notes too well and things went off the rails pretty quickly.

  • Weatherheight

    Pretty sure the sign that is printed is a typograph intentionally made by the Brennan so that Brad / Sonar can tape over it with the corrected sign.

    The most-like likely name of the group is American Dynamorphs Association based on the sign Brad is taping up.

    Dynamorphic would imply shape changing ability (dyna is short for dynamic, or “changing”, and morphic being an active form of the word morph, which implies “shape or form in process of change”) as opposed to dynamorphs, which is the static form of the word. But that’s probably debatable.

    • Rumble in the Tumble

      I don’t know a lot about the differences between ‘morph’ and ‘morphic’, but the use of ‘anthropomorphic’ and not “anthropomorph’ for ‘static’ characters, would suggest that it does not really matter very much :v

  • bta

    I’m not sure which animal head, if any, the smoking person on the left with the cool glasses is supposed to have. A llama?

    • phantomreader42

      I’m thinking camel just for the joke

  • motorfirebox

    Oh, very nice, from support group to association. Awesome!

  • Urthman

    Not sure if the green thing in the back is a dynamorph or just a shrub.

    • I think that it’s just a shrub.

  • May he (or she) may only need it when they want to be somewhere on land. Also it depends where that person is on the extrovert — introvert line. I can see it being a problem if they are an extrovert.