So this is the last of our “objects representing the team” covers (like Chapters 3, 5, and 10) that does not directly homage another. I really like them, but it’s tough to keep coming up with new angles on them that everyone will get, and even the second wave of team members will be pretty established after this. A chapter cover needs to focus on newer elements.

There was a DC Comics puzzle book I had as a kid that had a visual puzzle called “Superhero Boots!” where you identified everyone by their footwear. That might’ve inspired the “guess whose boots are whose” aspect we got here. But this basic image feels like a Phil idea, especially because it’s an outgrowth of “our heroes get stoned,” which is one of the Philliest Phil ideas I can imagine. (Left to right: Frigg, Scipio, Bandit, Rachel, E-Merl.)

This chapter is a bit of a hodgepodge, with six almost unrelated sections divided as per our usual method, but the fireplace scene probably serves as its emotional anchor. There’s some ramifications of the last adventure, leading to a little political intrigue and a bit of a gamble on Bandit’s part, but the overall mood here is calm and relaxed, with the emotional stakes set at a low point. We’ll ratchet things up again after this, but the quiet, funny times are good for making you care about the characters so you’re engaged in the more dramatic moments. Or if you already care, then they’re for making you care more.