As before, Sundar may look like a goofball, but he is saying the things that someone really needed to say, even if only to be wrong.

At the start of this chapter, I mentioned that Prill saw Penk as “real-life Batman,” but as I said earlier, we were more directly inspired by Captain America. And like Cap, Penk represents the best of what his country is supposed to be, hoping to use his authority to influence what it actually is. 

Obviously Penk was never going to repay the Peacemakers’ aid with treachery. But I think that before seeing what they’d lost, he might not have offered the hospitality of his settlement to them. “Go in peace” is different from “Stay as you need to recover, then go in peace.” The latter means that he will have to order all his surviving people not to harm these enemy combatants, and I’m sure Fleck and Gravels will have opinions about that choice, to say nothing of the difficulties of continuing to restrain Hammerhead. It is a more meaningful gesture, and a firmer step on the path to what he will become.

One last note about this story, which I couldn’t figure out where else to put. We briefly considered having Rachel’s power serve as a kind of antidote to the Corruptor Beast’s, allowing her to reverse the otherwise irreversible process of derezzing, since she understands better than anyone that her power is pure life and thus the opposite of unlife. This would’ve maybe added some thematic resonance and made the climax more surprising, but it would’ve made it very hard to prove to you that Rachel was absolutely 100% D-E-A-D dead without getting so graphic as to feel sadistic. And she would have died, in any case. We’d decided this fate for her at least a year before. Sometimes, there are things you have to do for the good of the series, even if they hurt.