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#4138656 Mar 27, 2011 at 04:43 PM · Edited 6 years ago
684 Posts
Action, Adventure and Mystery! The Pulp Age

The 1920s and ’30s, known as the “pulp era” due to the popular magazines of the time, saw the first true flowering of the costumed adventurer concept. The number of “mystery men” and adventurers and their adversaries increased dramatically, and the concept of costumed crime fighting firmly entered the public consciousness.

1926 saw the first appearance of the enigmatic Raven. Battling mobsters on the streets of Hudson City with the aid of his assistants, the lovely Velvet Phantom and the Midnight Brigade, the Raven was armed with phenomenal accuracy and fast reflexes, and a mysterious deck of tarot cards which reputedly allowed him to foresee the future.

In 1929, Black Mask VII died, and the mantle passed to his son, Jeffrey Layton Ward, who was also a policeman in Vibora bay. And in 1932, the brilliant scientist Jimmy Tompion first appeared in London fighting the machinations of the villainous Air King.

It wasn’t until the mid-1930s that the floodgates really opened, however. For example, in 1936 Bill Jeffries declared his personal war on crime in Philadelphia, developing two alternate identities: the street thug Lefty LeGrand, who would learn of some crime about to be committed; and the mysterious dark avenger Black Owl, who would then thwart it.

In 1937, King Oceanus of Atlantis was betrayed and killed by Dargon the Usurper, a political rival who opposed Oceanus’s plans for peaceful first contact with the surface world. Turning the army against Oceanus with carefully-constructed lies, Dargon and his ally, the wizard Nereus, seized the throne. Dargon intended to legitimize his claim by marrying the young princess Mara, by force if necessary, but she fled the castle. Mara wound up on the rocky coast of New England, where she first befriended “landers". Later that year, she rescued the crew of a sinking destroyer off the coast of Massachusetts, and the press gave the mysterious figure the nickname Sea Hawk.

Other crimefighters and adventurers whose names frequently made the front pages during this period included: the Cobra, who used martial arts abilities learned in the mysterious Orient to battle crime in New York City; the fast-flying, foe-fighting Futurian, with his fantastic Rocket-Pack and fearsome Electro-Pistol; Nick Danger the indestructible man and the Grey Guardian of San Francisco.

Despite the fact that some of the early adventurers of the 1800s and the pulp era may have possessed minor paranormal abilities, or used unusually advanced technology, the true Age of Superheroes was yet to come.

[Note- a lot of this post has small editing or additions to reflect BWD lore, those should be pretty obvious.]
"There are two secrets to becoming great. One is never to reveal all that you know."
#4138658 Mar 27, 2011 at 04:44 PM · Edited 6 years ago
684 Posts
Lifting the Ban, Supermen, and Justice! The Golden Age pt 1

In the summer of 1938, as Hitler planned the conquest of Europe, his Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels was secretly assembling a team of powerful mystics,Reich’s Office for the Safety and Security of National Cultural Items, or RSvKg, led by the mysterious Erich Hessler. Seeking a magical weapon to use against Germany’s enemies before her armies commenced their march across Europe, the sorcerers gathered in a mountain redoubt on May 1st and performed several powerful occult rituals. But their spells did not have the outcome they expected. Instead of leading them to artifacts that would satisfy their masters, the arcane energies they released somehow enhanced, or perhaps unleashed, the latent elasticity of the physics underlying all reality set tight after the Ban against the gods of myth. thus making the creation of true superhumans possible.

Th ere were two immediate effects. First, Hessler’s conjurations successfully summoned a powerful demon, who merged with his body and transformed him into the horrible, skeletal creature known as Der Totenkopf, or the Death’s Head. Second, and much more importantly, the heightened mystical energies and breadth of physical laws now active in Earth’s dimension created the world’s first true superhuman, transforming an ordinary soldier named Walther Flenners into the superpowerful Sturmvogel. Scant days later, the cosmic scales were balanced when Don Randall, of Haynesville, Kansas, was endowed with the superpowers that made him Captain Patriot.

Soon superhumans began appearing around the world, though at first mostly in America and Europe. During that summer, for example, Robert MacDonald traveled to Egypt and visited the Great Pyramid. While there, he had a vision in which he encountered the god Osiris and was granted powers of light and darkness. Returning to Harlem, he adopted the identity of Dr. Twilight.

From the Land of Legends stepped the living incarnation of the Greek God of War, Ares.

Scientist Harrison Chase also traveled, in his case to Yellowstone National Park, where he found a mysterious rock that gave him vast energy-manipulation powers as long as he was in contact with it. He carved the rock into a ring, and became the crimefighter Meteor Man.

Takashi Osuru was caught in a horrible chemical fire, but instead of dying emerged with the power to psychically create and control fire, and fought for the Japanese military under the code name Tasho, or “Flamethrower.”

And Albert Stebernow was subjected to a series of strange medical tests by Totenkopf and emerged with massive strength and the ability to grow to over thirty feet tall. When he went to the front he was called Donner, or “Thunder.”

Bernie Machewitz was hounding for parts for his cab in a Detroit junkyard, he saw a strange light in the sky, the strange object struck the junkyard and destroyed the junkyard and Bernie. Or so it seemed. Nearly a week later the debris was being melted down and Bernie walked out of it. Only Bernie wasn’t himself. He was a flowing tower of liquid metal. It took him weeks to understand how to control it but control it he did. The Detroit Titan was born.

Of course, even with superhumans emerging, there were still other new heroes who put on costumes and battled evil without powers. Young millionaire playboy Drake Wilson adopted the identity of Optimus as he sought perfection in matters mental, physical, and ethical.

“Kid” Brown, a trickshooter with The Funtime Family Circus also secretly acted as a bounty hunter under the moniker Cowboy.

And a San Francisco showgirl named Leticia Henry put on a mask and skimpy outfit, called herself the Nightingale, and soon had criminals lining up to be captured.
"There are two secrets to becoming great. One is never to reveal all that you know."
#4138660 Mar 27, 2011 at 04:45 PM · Edited 6 years ago
684 Posts
The Defenders Of Justice, the First Superteam! The Golden Age pt 2

America was still neutral in the growing conflicts overseas when a completely different threat manifested. On October 30, several alien spacecraft landed near Grovers Mill, New Jersey, and the passengers
swiftly massacred several policemen and a National Guard unit before assembling gigantic tripods armed with heat rays and poisonous gas.

All the superheroes in the greater New York area wound up working together to destroy the tripods and defeat the invaders, later identified as Sirians, before they could do too much damage and decided to remain together as an organization in case of trouble too big for any one of them.

The group, christened by its members the Defenders of Justice, had Optimus, Dr. Twilight, Cowboy, and Sea Hawk on its first roster.The press quickly began referring to them as “the DOJ” for short.

In 1939 the DOJ recruited the more members, Captain Patriot, and Meteor Man, while continuing to battle menaces such as Liquidator, Xenophobe, Sub Zero, The Mink, and the Bundist spy organization called the Black Legion. As war heated up abroad, Captain Patriot also participated in forming the secret government organization called the “Haynesville Project,” a team of scientists working at a hidden base in Cap’s old home town to study the nature of superpowers and how the government could control and artificially create them.

At the same time, Der Totenkopf and his counterpart in Japan, the powerful sorcerer Iron Father, cast a series of interlocking spells to protect the Axis nations from Allied superbeings — any enemy superhuman who entered Axis territory would suffer a terrible wasting sickness, first losing his powers and then falling into a lifeless coma.

Th e DOJ continued to battle criminals through1940, while the war continued in Europe. Meteor-Man’s wife Abigail found a magical spellbook and became the mystical heroine Lady Mystery, while Sir Peter Tanfield used his phenomenal skill with the bow to battle Nazis as the Scarlet Archer. Several of America’s most powerful criminals united under the name of the Society of Evil and went on a crime spree that summer, hard pressing the DOJ before the heroes’ eventual victory.

1941 saw increased concern, as Germany pressed its advantage on all sides in Europe, and more Übermenschen seemed to appear every day. Arlequin, Loge, Moorbrand and Nordwind struck fear into the hearts of their enemies, even superhumans like the Russian General Winter and the British Lady Lightning. Dargon pledged assistance to Hitler from Atlantis — not only did his forces plague Allied shipping in the North Atlantic, the mighty Atlantean warrior Steel Shark joined the Übermenschen.
"There are two secrets to becoming great. One is never to reveal all that you know."
#6431853 Jul 23, 2012 at 10:13 AM · Edited 6 years ago
684 Posts
World War II

On December 7, America finally entered the war after a sneak attack on Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces. Few are aware that the third wave of attackers, strange dragon-riding warriors from another dimension summoned by Iron Father, was only barely thwarted by the DOJ. Th e DOJ attempted a counterattack on the Japanese mainland, only to fall victim to the defensive spells and barely escape with their lives.

Once America was in the war, the DOJ pledged their services to the War Department and became part of the Haynesville Project. Major Leslie Groves divided the team in two. Th e superpowered members remained in the Defenders and were assigned to protect the home front against Axis spies and superhumans, including new members like the super-fast Streak, the high-flying American Eagle, and the World’s Mightiest Non-Com, Sergeant Battle. Optimus took command of the other team, a unit of mystery men and supersoldiers called the Freedom Battalion, who were unaffected by the Axis protection spells and thus able to fight in Europe.

In addition to the Scarlet Archer and Nightingale, he also recruited crimefighters like Swashbuckler and Bulletproof, who wore a suit recently created by the Chinese scientist Dr. Ping. The Defenders were also aided by the scientific genius of Professor Michael Maven, whose inventiveness provided them with vehicles, weapons, and other devices to battle the Axis.

Over the course of the war, these two teams had countless adventures, and some tragedies. American Eagle disappeared in action in 1943, and Lady Lightning was killed by Sturmvogel in 1944. However, Sea Hawk and Optimus, who had fallen in love, were able to kill Dargon and retake the throne of Atlantis — their wedding was one of the rare happy moments during the war, though it meant both had to leave the DOJ to rebuild her nation. Cowboy, who had changed his name to Liberator, led the Battalion for the rest of the war.

Finally, in 1945 the Freedom Battalion led Allied forces into Germany in time to witness Hitler’s suicide. Th e fi nal battle between the Übermenschen and the Allied heroes was a bloody and tragic one, with losses on both sides. Liberator and Swashbuckler were killed, as was Sturmvogel. Within a couple of months, America dropped two atomic bombs on Japan and forced its surrender, and World War II was over.
"There are two secrets to becoming great. One is never to reveal all that you know."
#6431903 Jul 23, 2012 at 10:23 AM · Edited 6 years ago
684 Posts
Operation Rookmaker and Operation Junk

Operation Rookmaker was an effort to recruit and use superhuman and other ‘mystery men’ heroes as a covert effort to aid the war in Europe. It was similar to the Eagle Squadrons but on an covert basis. Rookmaker's biggest success was the Blackhawk Defenders and their non-flying arm the Blackwatch Defenders. Both volunteer groups pledged to quietly fight evil at home and abroad.

A newer effort, Operation Junk, was meant to blunt superhumans fighting for the axis in China. While Chennault was forming the soon to be famous ‘Flying Tigers’ he suggested that some ‘capes’, especially anyone who could fly a fighter or fly on their own would be of immense value. A few of the each group of Defenders joined operation Junk.

As it turned out, they were awaiting transport to China on December 7th at Pearl Harbor. While they was unable to effect the outcome of the battle, from then on Blackhawks were officially at war. The teams fought on nearly every front that the Americans did. The Defenders challenged superhuman foes from every Axis power or ally.

War's End

With the end of the war, several heroes retired, but the remaining members of the DOJ reformed the team into a unit of crimefighters. Captain Patriot, MeteorMan, and Lady Mystery retired within months of the end of the war, and Bulletproof disappeared after a battle with a mysterious alien. Dr. Twilight left the team to concentrate on street-level crime after several debates about the violence of his methods. Streak, Nightingale, and Sgt. Battle tried to keep the team together, but there were few costumed menaces to fight, and eventually the remaining members of the DOJ voted to disband in 1948.

The Blackhawks disbanded or were folded into the new Air Force. The Blackwatch on the other hand split, many retired or had given their lives for freedom. A small core kept the idea alive to fight crime and 'watch' for the next threat on the horizon. Meanwhile, after several years of marriage, Optimus and Mara were having trouble, and decided to divorce in 1948. Optimus returned to the surface world and went to work with the United Nations, later helping to form UNTIL in the mid-1960s.

The early 1950s saw little in the way of superhuman activity, though Scarlet Archer and Black Mask remained active and Captain Patriot regularly appeared in public as an associate of Senator Joseph McCarthy. When Dr. Twilight’s true identity and former Communist party connections were revealed, the DOJ and superheroes in general were disgraced publicly. By the time McCarthy himself was finally discredited, the first generation of heroes had largely retired or gone underground.
"There are two secrets to becoming great. One is never to reveal all that you know."
#6432063 Jul 23, 2012 at 10:55 AM · Edited 6 years ago
684 Posts
The 1950s and ’60s

But a second wave was soon to arrive. National Park ranger Tom Teller found a meteor fragment similar to Chase’s, and began using it quietly to rescue people from disasters. When Chase found out about this, he gave his blessing (and some training), and Teller became the second MeteorMan in 1956. That same year saw the debut of the ninth Black Mask, David Matthew Ward, and also the first appearance of El Espectro, a Mexican wrestler whose enchanted silver mask enabled him to find and destroy the vampires, mummies, and zombies that plagued his country.

Still, the superheroes of the so-called “Silver Age” were cautious, acting behind the scenes and shunning the spotlight. In 1959, however, all of that changed. Jeffrey Sinclair found an alien artifact that transformed him into the flying powerhouse known as Vanguard. He became New York City’s leading hero and revived the Justice Squadron, a superteam whose members had mostly retired after the war. The Blackwatch was revived from is semi-retired status by the heroine Confrontation. Around the same time The Detroit Titan volunteered to aid in the Korean crisis but was rebuffed by President Trueman.

That in turn seemed to signal a revival of superheroes across America, and the world. Alan Betts put on the suit of armor designed by his old friend Potter and became Rocketman, defender of the American South. And five friends traveled into space on a homemade ship to protect Earth from a comet, which turned out to be the home of a mysterious alien race bent on colonization. Exposure to strange radiation while thwarting that plan turned them into the Fabulous Five (Amazing Man, Siren, Streak II, Diamond, and Kid Chameleon.)

As if in response, the costumed villains began to return as well. Each hero seemed to bring with him a “Rogues’ Gallery” of villains, some comically inept or bent only on humiliating their foe, others deadly serious and menaces to all of society. The Gargoyle, Dr. Macabre, Rockslide, Bookworm, Doctor Zero, Humbug, and Cyrax the Conqueror, among others, all first appeared in the late 1950s. By the early 1960s, the supercrime problem had reached such proportions that the United Nations established a new agency, UNTIL, to address it.

In 1961, the computer intelligence Ultivac tried to take over the world by seizing control of the United States’s and USSR’s nuclear missile launch codes. His plan was thwarted by an unlikely team-up of heroes, who chose to remain together as The Sentinels. The original lineup, which stayed together until 1965, included MeteorMan and Rocketman, as well as Microman (a brilliant physicist who developed the Shrinking Ray), Dr. Phantom (the daughter of Professor Maven, and a brilliant scientist in her own right, who invented a dimensional phasing device), and Beowulf (the legendary warrior-king summoned by a mild-mannered college student).

This team seized the popular imagination like none before, and its members became international celebrities. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for several other heroes debuting in the early 1960s — the teenage hero Hornet always seemed to run into more than his share of mistrust from authorities, as did the monstrous Mountain (transformed into a hideous creature by a demon) and Dr. Scarab (the son of Dr. Twilight, who fought a mystic secret war against his brother Serpentine).

The world needed the efforts of every one of these heroes in the 1960s, as new menaces seemed to appear every day. The villainous agency VIPER first appeared and became a public menace during this time, and mad villains like Revenger, The Guru, and Plague struck terror into the hearts of millions. The Mocker, Jack Flash, and Typhoon, among many others, committed their crimes and battled their respective foes.

The turbulence of the Sixties affected the superhuman community in turn. Several supers manifested during the conflict in Vietnam, Detroit Titan and Rocketman were only the most famous of American heroes to volunteer to serve overseas, battling the few indigenous supers and the Soviet military superteams also on hand. Other heroes, like Hornet and Dreamsinger, actively opposed the war and became symbols for the “hippie” movement. (Dr. Scarab was probably the most popular hero of the peace and love crowd, but he was mostly bemused by their affection and did nothing to encourage it.)
"There are two secrets to becoming great. One is never to reveal all that you know."
#6432130 Jul 23, 2012 at 11:07 AM
684 Posts
The 70's

As the Sixties ended, a new generation of heroes came to the fore. The Outcasts, a band of freaks and monsters who stayed together mostly for self-protection, took up residence in Vibora Bay. The Chinese-American martial artist Mantis joined the Sentinels, as did the Iroquois weather-controller Rainmaker, the first two minority members of that august collection of heroes. The Blackwatch on the other hand had been led by a minority woman for almost a decade before she retired in '72.

In 1970s Amazing Man and Siren retired from their life of adventure and exploration to raise their infant son Peter; the Fabulous Five continued on, with the addition of the alien birdwoman Kestrel and the young wind-controlling mutant Scirocco.


Th e early 1970s were a quiet period. Several heroes from the beginning of the Silver Age retired, like Rocketman and Beowulf. In 1972, the active members of the Sentinels traveled to the other side of the galaxy when they were caught up in an intergalactic war, and were believed dead for several months. When they finally returned, there was a great deal of public celebration and attention, but also a certain tinge of resentment over all of the public ceremony and mourning that had been unnecessary. From this point on, the public frequently refused to ever believe that a superhero was actually dead, and “sightings” of deceased heroes in truckstops and island resorts became commonplace (and topics of humor on late-night TV).

In 1974, two separate scandals rocked the public’s faith in their government. The first was the Watergate scandal, in which President Nixon was discovered to have participated in the cover-up of a burglary. Th e second was that an UNTIL agent, Pavel Borovik, had used his access and authority to serve as a highly effective Soviet spy, passing secrets on the U.S. nuclear program that he had acquired when UNTIL had supported the Sentinels in thwarting one of Plague’s schemes. This incident only confirmed to many Americans the wisdom of having never signed the UNTIL treaty or allowed UNTIL agents to operate on U.S. soil


The relatively peaceful years of the early 1970s gave way, in 1975, to a half-decade of supervillainous mayhem that left the world reeling. On March 5th of that year, the most feared supervillain in world history — the awesomely powerful and utterly ruthless Dr. Destroyer — made his first appearance. Using powerful gunships equipped with gravitic flight technology and mounted blasters, Destroyer and his minions attempted to conquer California as a prelude to conquering the world. With the U.S. military largely blinded and crippled by Destroyer’s initial attacks on their communications and command systems, the superheroes of America responded. The Fabulous Five, the Justice Squadron, The Blackwatch Defenders and the Sentinels, aided by several independent heroes, clashed with Destroyer near San Francisco.

After a day of fierce fighting, the master villain’s forces were routed, and he himself forced to escape via a teleportation device — but victory was not without its price. Kid Chameleon of the Fabulous Five, Ocelot of the Justice Squadron and Dangaurd and Rust of the Blackwatch were killed by Destroyer’s powerful energy bolts, and over a dozen other heroes suffered serious injuries.

Destroyer was not the only villain to make his debut during this time. Others included Leviathan, the Slug, Buzzsaw, Rictus, Dark Seraph, and the Griffin. An even greater blow was the loss of the superheroine Scirocco, who turned to a life of crime after struggling with depression and mental illness. Doctor Zero also re-emerged trying to conquer England with an army of giant snails.

Some of the most spectacular supercrimes ever committed, including the Griffin’s looting of the Antwerp diamond exchange, Leviathan’s sinking of the cruise ship Windward, and the Slug’s almost-successful attempt to transform all the citizens of New York into Elder Worms, took place during this period. The Pyrrhic victory over Destroyer, and the
increasing tide of villainy, seemed to take the wind out of the sails of many heroes. The Fab Five reorganized for the last time, adding two young mutants named Draco and Dart, but the group disbanded in 1979. The second Streak was hired as a morning television personality by ABC, and Diamond
(who seems not to age) joined the Sentinels.
"There are two secrets to becoming great. One is never to reveal all that you know."
#6432155 Jul 23, 2012 at 11:11 AM
684 Posts
The 1980s, 1990s, and TODAY

The 1980s brought a new explosion of superheroes onto the scene, as if in answer to the villainy in the previous decade. Th e early years of the decade saw the debut of several new solo vigilantes, such as the sword-wielding Crusader in New York City and Brainwave in San Francisco. A new MeteorMan joined the Sentinels. In 1985, Great Britain’s official superteam, the New Knights of the Round Table, rescued a superintelligent gorilla called Dr. Silverback from the clutches of his creator, Dr. Phillippe Moreau, and helped him establish his legal rights in a landmark court case. Silverback has since gone on to become one of the foremost scientists on the planet.

But evil never rests, and as the 1980s wore on several of the most dire super-menaces threatening the world today launched their first schemes. In 1985, Mechanon appeared, nearly taking control of America’s nuclear arsenal and using it to destroy all life on Earth before the Sentinels managed to defeat him. In 1987, Takofanes the Undying Lord cut a swath of destruction across the eastern United States, killing half a dozen superheroes in the process. A bizarre accident in 1986 led to the creation of the fearsome Grond, who has caused billions of dollars of property damage over the decade. Eurostar, perhaps the most dangerous villain team in the world, got its start in 1988.

The Superhuman World — and indeed, all of humanity — was rocked by tragedy in 1992, when Dr. Destroyer attempted to conquer the United States from a secret facility in Detroit. With the world’s superheroes arrayed against him, and defeat seeming inevitable, Destroyer triggered a suicide device that killed him, dozens of heroes, and tens of thousands of people, and razed the city. Over the past decade, America and many prominent corporations and charities, together with numerous superhumans, pitched in to rebuild Detroit as Millennium City, the City of the Future. Today Millennium City is a hotbed of superhuman activity, home to the young superteam the Champions, as well as the venerable Blackwatch Defenders

Around the country, other new heroes have emerged to take the place of ones slain battling Destroyer: Shugoshin in San Francisco, Straight Arrow in Baltimore, and Proteus in Seattle, to name just a few. Th ere is even now a new Black Mask, daughter of the last, operating in Vibora Bay.

New villains have arisen, too: Gravitar, mutant mistress of gravity; Firewing, an alien super-gladiator who arrived in 2001 to challenge the heroes of Earth; the lunatic Foxbat; the powerful gang called the Ultimates; Freakshow; and countless others — including the long-thought-dead Dr. Destroyer.

The Champions Universe is a dangerous place, but thankfully there are always heroes willing to put their lives on the line for humanity every day.
"There are two secrets to becoming great. One is never to reveal all that you know."
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