Saturday, September 19, 2015

Monday, February 13, 2012

Timeline

1937 – The world’s first superheroic age begins when a super strong, apparently all but indestructible mystery man thwarts a gang of heavily armed bank robbers. Although this mystery man departs (leaping or flying away, no one is sure) before anyone can ask his name, a blurred photograph taken at a distance seems to show a horseshoe shaped emblem on his chest. The press names this mystery man ‘The Mighty Omega’.

The Mighty Omega becomes something of a fixture around New York City well into the 1940s, and in his wake, many more men and women of mystery appear, including Marvel Woman, Mr. Midnight, Redhawk and Bluejay, Felina, the original Night Vision, Lady Lash, Captain Dynamo, Citizen Brain, the Six Guns, the Silver Streak, the Red Ruby, and Mech-X, the Automatic Man. By the time the U.S. enters WWII, it almost seems that every major American city has at least half a dozen homegrown ‘superheroes’ patrolling their own particular neighborhoods and fighting crime.

Over this same period, perhaps inspired by the sudden advent of colorfully costumed crimefighters, a wave of equally colorful, larger than life criminals appears. Renegade scientist Julius Vector uses advanced, outlawed ‘fringe science’ to create many superhuman lackeys, including the Green Terror, Chromedome, the Big Bang Gang, and the Ice Queen. White supremacist Jack Boot and his Blackshirt Brigade rampage through the poorer sections of Chicago, frequently clashing with Chicago’s own homegrown crimefighters Slugger and Brawler. Gang wars break out in Los Angeles between rival criminal factions led by colorful figures like the Brass Dragon, Great White, and the King of the Hill. In Detroit, a mysterious figure named Motorhead consolidates his hold on the city’s most vicious rackets, despite constant opposition by Detroit’s own resident costumed heroes Black Lion and Prince Tiger.

In the city of Milwaukee, 5 local ‘mystery men’ (including one woman) or ‘superheroes’ – Redhawk, Bluejay, Citizen Brain, the Supermagnet, and Winged Victoria - band together as the colorfully named Fighting Five to protect their city from the depredations of villains like Colonel Rage, the Tin Soldier, the King, Queen, Jack and Ace of Spades, and Pluto, King of the Underworld.

Similar heroic groupings appear informally across most of America at this time in local municipalities, battling the seemingly endless hordes of colorfully garbed, melodramatically named ‘supervillains’ who have sprung up in response to the advent of so many masked crimefighters.

In Hell’s Kitchen, New York City, elderly Jewish scientist Ischach Schramm perfects a suit of powered armor designed to look like a huge stone statue. Calling it his ‘Grey Golem’ suit, Professor Schramm hopes to wear the armor to help rescue Jewish inmates of Nazi concentration camps. However, a Nazi agent known as the Black Swastika learns of the power suit and attempts to steal it for Germany, an effort that results in Professor Schramm’s death and his grandson, Avi, donning the Grey Golem suit and battling the Black Swastika and his Bundist goons. During the fray Professor Schramm’s laboratory and notes on the Grey Golem armor are destroyed.

1941 – The U.S. enters WWII. FDR issues a call for all patriotic Americans to enlist in the military and when over a hundred mystery men and women, many possessed of superhuman powers, respond to the Presidential appeal, the Super Soldiers Battalion is formed, featuring many if not most of America’s active 'superheroes'. This Super Soldiers Battalion is divided into three sub-squadrons; one, with the most powerful heroes in it, is sent to fight the enemy directly in the overseas theaters. The two others are deployed to the East and West Coasts of the U.S. to fight saboteurs and spies.

During the course of WWII, it becomes obvious that both Germany and the USSR have been engaged in recruiting and creating their own super soldiers; Julius Vector does work for both nations during this period, bringing into being many super powered Nazi and Communist figures, including some of the most powerful superhuman figures in history, such as devoted proletarian Svetlana X, whose enormous telekinetic powers wreak havoc across two different continents over the course of the great conflict, and Fenris, the gigantic wolfman whose enormous strength and near indestructibility are exceeded only by the unrelentingly ferocious, bestial hatred with which he attacks all enemies of the Third Reich and the Aryan ideal he reveres.

Vector also designs and builds the rocket-wing exoskeletons used by the Hitler Youth superteam known as the Boy Blitzers and, subcontracting for the Japanese, creates the deadly nuclear powered armor worn by the Nipponese super soldier Ion Maiden (originally, the armor had been intended for Japanese ace Daichi Agoto, but as women proved to be both more resilient to the secondary radiation emitted by the armor's power pack, and the more lightweight female frame greatly improved flight performance, Olympic gymnast Hikaru Dewara wore the armor instead, until she died of radiation poisoning in early 1943).

Other super powered Axis operatives whose abilities may or may not have been attributable to Vector include Arguseigen (Eagle-Eyes), the Nazi operative who could, from the safety of a bunker in Berlin, see nearly anywhere in the world; Ironhand, the Italian super soldier; Icemoon, whose control over heat and cold once froze the English Channel solid, and Tyr, the legendarily elusive Nazi sniper-assassin who terrorized the entire Western European theater of operations until he was finally tracked down by the first Night Vision, who gave his life to destroy the German super soldier.

Meanwhile, on the American home front, the lesser powered sub-squadrons of the Super Soldiers Battalion engage in seemingly endless battles with super powered Axis saboteurs like the Black Swastika, Redball, the Baroness, the Screaming Samurai, and the Iron Eagle.

During this period, Redhawk, Bluejay and Winged Victoria restyle their costumes along a more patriotic theme and rename themselves ‘the American Eagles’, referring to each other as ‘Red’, ‘Blue’ and ‘White’ for the duration of the war, which they spend in the East Coast homefront squadron of the Super Soldiers Battalion.

In 1944, Red and Blue are killed attempting to rescue people trapped in a tenement fire set by Axis saboteur Firedrake. White reverts to her previous costume, which she has dyed black, and rechristening herself Winged Vengeance, she stalks and kills Firedrake in a pitched battle on the Baltimore waterfront which the revenge driven superheroine barely survives. In this battle, her winged battle harness and electro-staff are both destroyed.

1945- The war ends. Many of America’s ‘superheroes’ have fallen in WWII -- even the Mighty Omega is thought to be dead for months, after his partially successful attempt to foil a secret German A-bomb test results in him being caught in the bomb blast. Those superheroes that survive return home to find an America that is now becoming obsessed with the ‘Red Menace’; fears that are exacerbated by constant rumors of Soviet ‘super spies’ infiltrating America.

1946 - The newly revived Mighty Omega, Marvel Woman, and several others form a group called ‘the Ultra Americans’ at the request of President Eisenhower. Simultaneously, Executive Order 9206 is issued, prohibiting all unauthorized superhuman activity. A highly classified codicil of Executive Order 9206 establishes the Reconnaissance Observation and Oversight Co-operative Committee, known informally as ‘the Rookery’, a new intelligence branch specifically tasked to keeping tabs on superhuman activity throughout the world. The director of the ROOCC will come to be called ‘the Rook’ or ‘the Raven’ depending on gender; the first ‘Rook’ appointed to run ROOCC is Avi Schramm.

Citizen Brain and the former White/Winged Victoria/Winged Vengeance retire and, in their civilian identities, quietly marry. A few other retired ‘mystery men’ attend their wedding, but it receives no press coverage.

A minor masked criminal calling himself the White Wizard invades a boy’s orphanage in Harlem, taking over the building and threatening to blow it up if his demands are not met. Responding to the crisis, two New York City superheroes known as Felina and the Red Ruby successfully infiltrate the building. Felina engages the White Wizard in hand to hand combat while Red Ruby evacuates the children and orphanage staff from the building, which has been extensively wired with dynamite by the White Wizard’s gang of racist thugs. Although Red Ruby’s evacuation succeeds, Felina apparently cannot prevent the White Wizard from detonating the building, killing Felina, the White Wizard, and most of the White Wizard’s gang.

As if signalling the end of an era, the death of Felina seems to bring the world's first superheroic age to a near complete end. In the decade following this tragedy, only the Ultra-Americans remain active, and they almost never battle any colorful foes, instead routing organized crime gangs as well as Communist spy rings.

1957 – the Ultra Americans discover and raid a vast subterranean complex, discovering that it is the secret global headquarters of Dr. Julius Vector. During this raid, it becomes evident that Vector is in fact an alien spy, and that shapeshifting aliens known as the Krell have at this point successfully infiltrated every level of American society.

Night Vision II and Marvel Woman manage to reverse the frequencies on a ‘cryptowave’ array they discover in Vector’s compound, causing the army of covert alien spies to revert to their true forms. Chaos breaks out across America as the legions of once hidden alien monsters suddenly appear seemingly everywhere, but in response, thousands of previously unknown superhumans who had kept their abilities secret to avoid trouble with the law reveal themselves to combat and destroy this terrifying threat to the American Way. Afterwards, President Eisenhower declares all these previously unknown superhumans ‘great American heroes’ and rescinds Executive Order 206, claiming that America’s ‘superheroes’ have proven themselves to be the nation’s first, best line of defense against ‘abnormal and exotic threats to public safety’.

Before the uprising is finally put down, the Mighty Omega flies into space to attack a ‘Krell mothership’ his super senses have detected. He never returns.

During the Krell inspired violence, Julius Vector is killed, and in response, his human second in command, Hugo Random, forms an organization of outlawed superscientists called VECTOR (Voltaic Electronic Cybernetic Terratonic Orgonic Radioactive) to perpetuate the fallen Vector’s legacy as a superscientific outlaw devoted to reaping rich rewards from the exploitations of ‘fringe’ science.

1958 – The sleepy East Coast municipality of Sparta City is untouched by the violence of the Krell Invasion, apparently having had no alien infiltrators within its city limits, and being one of the few larger urban centers in America that has never produced a ‘mystery man’/’superhero’. After more than a decade of post-War prosperity, however, gang violence erupts in the poorer neighborhoods as several different small crime rings and street gangs battle for control of the steadily growing drug and black market arms trade.

1961 – 1980

Another chapter in the era of superheroics seems to dawn with the 1960s, as a new generation of heroes and villains appears on the scene. In addition to the largely Midwest based Ultra-Americans, a new team called the United Heroes of the World forms in New York City, featuring various NYC based heroes like Kid Scorpio, Champion, Lawman, the Dark Lady, Blackbird, Johnny Skylark, and the Blue Blazer. At roughly the same time, several new supervillains appear on the scene, the most powerful of whom, Red Rasputin, ends up battling with, and being defeated by, most of the individual members of the United Heroes, as well as the entire team. In response to this, Red Rasputin organizes his own team, the Legion of Evil, which features mostly low grade, not particularly successful masked criminals such as Impala, the Ogre, Robber-Baron, Invisibolo, Castellan, and Ice Queen II. Although the various versions of the Legion of Evil will continue to reform over the next two decades, they are rarely more than an irritant to the superheroes of the 60s and 70s.

On the West Coast, a loose alliance of ‘counter culture’ superheroes calling itself the Free Association forms in San Francisco. Featuring such worthies as Maxi-Mod, the Lovers, Skyrider, Go-Goddess, the Blond Blinker, Hep-Cat & Beat Boy, Psychedelique, the Blue Whale, Sagittarius the Archer, and Captain Amazing, the Free Association actually saves the entire West Coast on half a dozen separate occasions from a variety of threats, including an invasion by hostile undersea warriors and deep-ocean monsters directed by evil super scientist Dr. Poseidon, an attempt by a sociopathic sentient computer called Cobalt Core to mind control everyone in California, and several attempts by Red Rasputin and his Legion of Evil to launch world domination efforts are also brought to naught by the Free Association. In one of these battles, Skyrider is killed in combat by Red Rasputin.

1962 – Internal power struggles rip VECTOR in two; its heavily armed paramilitary enforcement branch, under the command of disgraced former Soviet Army general Gorgei Barushkoff, breaks off into an independent criminal group that names itself Red Octopus. The remainder of the Sixties and much of the Seventies will be marred by running global battles between VECTOR’s super powered minions, Red Octopus, various superhero organizations, and the Rookery.

1963 – Rookery agents investigating the activities of Brett Engstrom/Night Vision II discover that he is part of a Soviet conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy. Attempts to arrest Engstrom lead to a bloody gun battle in the streets of Dallas that escalates into a full blown super-skirmish as Soviet supervillains Hammer and Sickle along with the Scarlet Reaper come to Night Vision II’s aid, necessitating the intervention of Johnny Skylark, Blue Blazer, and Lawman of the United Heroes. The battle ends when Lawman kills Night Vision II and the Soviet super-agents escape via a Soviet spy rocket.

Julius Kane is elected Sparta City’s district attorney. Later that same year, Lawman of the New York City based United Heroes reveals that he is actually former Olympic athlete and war hero Wendell Glenn. He retires from superheroics and moves to Sparta City, where he marries and begins to raise a family.

Also around this time, a mysterious crime figure calling himself Ironmask makes himself known, declaring himself the ‘boss’ of Sparta City’s largely unorganized underworld, a declaration he enforces by waging ruthless war against Sparta City’s other crimelords and gangs. Although District Attorney Julius Kane struggles valiantly to contain and curtail Ironmask’s growing influence, he is never able to determine the identity of the enigmatic crime boss, although he does round up and successfully jail many of Sparta City’s lesser criminals during the course of his three terms as D.A., with the aid of savvy Sparta City police detective Wendell Glenn, who in 1970 is appointed Police Commissioner of Sparta City.

1965 - the Mighty Omega is declared legally dead. President Kennedy declares a day of national mourning which the United Nations also recognizes. Memorial statues of the Mighty Omega are raised in various places all over the world, and for the next ten years, ‘Omega’ becomes one of the most popular names for infants in the United States.

1966 – Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson is assassinated by Grace Engstrom, daughter of Night Vision II, who, under the name Lady Grace has become the world's premier professional assassin. President Kennedy appoints his brother, Robert F. Kennedy, as Vice President. Graham Ness, formerly Six Shooter of the Six Guns, is appointed United States Attorney General in RFK’s place.

1968 – Robert F. Kennedy is elected President of the United States. In 1969, he issues Executive Order 11323, ordering all superhumans to report to the Federal government to be deputized and trained as official Federal Marshalls. The United Heroes and the Free Association immediately file a class action suit against the government on Constitutional grounds, arguing that, among other things, this Executive Order violates separation of powers clauses as well as illegally removes various civil liberties without due process from superhumans.

1972 – Aaron Thaddeus Wilco, AKA Captain Amazing of the Free Association, is elected President as an independent candidate and immediately rescinds Executive Order 11323. President Wilco appoints many members of the Free Association to his Cabinet. The stock market almost immediately crashes upon hearing the news that Benjamin “the Blue Whale” Ogoye, an avowed and fanatical conservationist ‘eco freak’, has been appointed Secretary of the Interior, while Lenore “Psychedelique” Weinstein, an outspoken advocate of drug legalization, has become the new Surgeon General, and Maxwell Janus, AKA “Hep Cat”, a far left wing ‘hippie’ with known ties to the American Communist Party, has become the Secretary of the Treasury. President Wilco issues Executive Order 11666, the shortest Executive Order in American history, which states only “Do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the law”.

1973 – Speaker of the House Carl Albert commences impeachment proceedings against President Wilco, forwarding charges of malfeasance in office from the House Judiciary Committee. At the same time, a bill moves through both House and Senate with almost blinding speed authorizing the nullification of the results of the preceding Presidential election, should it be determined that those results were ‘manipulated in any fraudulent fashion on the American people’, or, if it is determined that the sitting President has ‘failed to carry out the Constitutional duties of the office of the President in a proper manner or in a manner indicating that the President’s executive judgment is substantially impaired”. The combination of impeachment proceedings and the new Presidential Nullification Act remove President Wilco from office, declaring Governor George Romney of Michigan the winner of the 1972 Presidential election and retroactively installing him in office.

1974 – President Romney orders the class action lawsuit against Executive Order 11323 settled, issuing Executive Order 11899, which establishes the Office of Federal Training for Superhuman Law Enforcement Officers, creating a program whereby superhumans can apply to a special training academy and, if they graduate, can be assigned to various branches of Federal law enforcement.

In 1975, a new Redhawk and Bluejay appear in Sparta City, primarily targeting Ironmask’s various rackets and criminal enterprises, but also clashing with Red Octopus task forces and VECTOR operatives several times. The new Redhawk and Bluejay are wearing some sort of winged costumes that allow them each to fly and seem to give each of them some sort of resistance to both bullets and energy attacks, which is unfortunately insufficient to preserve their lives when a running battle between Ironmask’s lieutenant Blackthumb and a heavily armed Red Octopus squadron spills over into a secure warehouse storing experimental radioactive isotopes causes a disastrous explosion, which kills all combatants along with several dozen bystanders working in nearby buildings. Former District Attorney Julius Kane, who is now a City Council member, vows to bring Ironmask and the directors of Red Octopus to justice, and on the strength of this promise, is elected Mayor of Sparta City later that year.

1976 – Richard M. Nixon is elected President, defeating President Romney in a bruising nomination fight after campaigning vigorously on a platform of “allowing our greatest American heroes the freedom to protect us as they always have and, God willing, always will”. Nixon appoints G. Gordon Liddy to head the Rookery and rescinds Executive 11899, claiming that “The American people have spoken in a loud voice about their masked, caped protectors, and they do not want their government to interfere with those proud crusading heroes. Henceforth we shall not meddle, we shall not interfere, we shall not onerously over regulate, we shall only offer what humble assistance we can in the ongoing struggle for truth, justice, and the American way.”

In 1977, after a running gun battle with the police, Ironmask is killed. His identity is revealed to be that of Ray Napier, a successful used car salesman and several term Sparta City Council member. For much of 1977 and 1978, Sparta City’s underworld is ripped by bloody street violence as various of Ironmask’s subordinates battle to take over. In late 1978, a new Ironmask emerges, and the Sparta City rackets stabilize again, restoring relative peace to the city’s streets.

1978 – Red Rasputin and Dr. Poseidon scheme to inundate the East Coast with a colossal tidal wave created by setting off a small yield nuclear warhead on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean one hundred miles east of New York City. These plans are foiled and the entire eastern seaboard is saved by last minute intervention from the United Heroes, but in the resultant chaos, both Red Rasputin and Dr. Poseidon are killed, along with Crusader and Lady Lightning of the UHW. Champion relocates to the West Coast, where he finances a new superhero team, Knight Force, based in Los Angeles.

1980 - A field squadron of 10 Rookery agents in full combat gear with 3 pathfinders in Rookery 'ghostsuits' successfully accomplishes the rescue of 52 American hostages from the American embassy in Iran. This allows President Nixon to successfully fend off a strong primary challenge from Ronald Reagan, and to easily defeat Democratic Presidential candidate Edward Kennedy.

1983- President Nixon is paralyzed when a bomb goes off in the Presidential helicopter. Vice President James R. Thompson assumes Nixon’s executive duties for the remainder of his term and is elected President in 1984. Investigation by the Justice Department indicates the bomb was installed in the Presidential chopper by agents of the Rookery wearing Rookery ‘ghostsuits’. The order is quickly traced to G. Gordon Liddy, who is killed by Treasury Agents resisting arrest. Senator Calvin Andrews, formerly known as “Prince Tiger” of Detroit, is appointed as Executive Director of the Rookery, vowing to ‘clean house’.

1984 – James R. Thompson is elected President of the United States. Shortly after his inauguration, President Nixon dies quietly in his hospital bed and is buried with full honors in Arlington Cemetery.

1985 – A new Black Lion and Prince Tiger become nationally famous when they foil a secret plot by the criminal cartel known as the Tarot to overthrow the United States government by replacing key elected and appointed officials, including President Thompson, with mind controlled clones. Several members of the Tarot are arrested, tried, and sent to prison, but the two leaders of the attempted coup, the Emperor and the Hanged Man, both escape.

1988 - William Jefferson Clinton is elected U.S. President. He continues the non interference policy regarding superheroes established by President Nixon, while covertly increasing the Rookery's secret budget to provide them with better equipment and weaponry.

TODAY – Superhumans, both heroic and villainous, seem to be everywhere you look, although in point of fact, they make up significantly less than .01% of the overall population. In an attempt to avoid organized superhero groups like New York City’s United Heroes, Chicago’s Ultra-Americans, and Los Angeles’ Knight Force, many costumed villains appear to have migrated to Sparta City, a mid sized metropolis just off the Atlantic which seems to have no native superheroes. Over the past few years, the quality of life in Sparta City has degenerated as the outlaw paramilitary group Red Octopus battles organized crime lord Ironmask for control of Sparta City’s underworld. Someone claiming to be the original Chromedome has also surfaced in Sparta City, leading a loosely structured gang of super criminals that includes such notorious figures as Kodiak, Mr. Fahrenheit, Negative-Master, and the Asp. Solitary criminals like the Stomper, King Weasel, and the Raptor are also known for their viciousness.

Both the Mayor and City Council of Sparta City have publicly implored any superpowered, public spirited citizens to step forward and help combat this rising tide of supervillainy, and the local Chamber of Commerce has posted a $5,000 reward for the apprehension of any known costumed supervillain. The 1975 deaths of the young Redhawk and Bluejay seem to have had a stifling effect on superheroics in Sparta City, however.