Monday, January 31, 2011

Cat-Man is done!

So if you read the blog a few months ago about designing new characters, you'll finally get to see the finished version!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Original Crusader

Archie "Art" Masters was an astronomer and physicist working with Albert Einstein in the late 1930's. Art helped set up a home and research lab for Einstein when he fled Germany and went to the United States. Although shy and withdrawn, Art had a way with people. His father had owned a general store in Tennessee where he grew up and he had a charm that reflected his upbringing. After working with Einstein for many years, Art became a part of the Alsos Mission. He worked alongside baseball player Moe Berg in identifying and recruiting members of the German science community.

German scientist Werner Heisenberg was giving a speech in Switzerland that Berg was asked to attend. If Berg believed the Germans were close perfecting the atomic bomb, Berg was given orders to shoot Heisenberg. The Germans knew that Berg, Masters and others were trying to recruit physicists in Italy and decided to send the Americans a message. They did not want to go after a famous baseball player, but a nervous little scientist no one had ever heard of was fair game. They kidnapped Archie and took him to a remote Swiss farm. In the basement was a prototype particle accelerator, created by a Swiss scientist. In order to determine whether it worked and was safe to transport, the Nazi's figured they would fire the beam at Archie and if Switzerland wasn't reduced to a smoldering crater, they would return later and retrieve the particle accelerator.

Archie was electromagnetically charged then blasted with a highly focused beam of protons and gravitons. Each particle would server the bonds of the molecules in his body, essentially cutting him into the smallest pieces possible. The process took hours as Archie sat in the beam's path, slowly being deconstructed. At least that was the theory, but what actually happened is Archie found his body being phased through multiple dimensions at the same time. Every version of Archie on every alternate Earth that could possibly exist at any moment all found themselves in the path of the particle beam. Archie was able to live five variations of his life and death all at once. When the Nazi's returned, they found what resembled a tornado strike on the farm. Archie was fazing in and out of a strange "Fifth Dimension" and was unable to control the sudden power bursting from him. After tearing the Nazis apart he knew he had to distance himself from the rest of the world and headed for the Swiss Alps.

Archie spent the war years hiding in the mountains, working on understanding and controlling his new abilities. With his strange multi-dimensional Quantum Precognition, he found himself unable to sympathize or identify with the war. After all, when you can see all the possible outcomes, all leading to death and destruction, what difference would it make?

Art had always been curious about the supernatural and unexplained, it was part of the reason he became a scientist. His powers allowed him to search out mystical sources, places where life and death energy bent the laws of physics. Although this was a century of weak mystical energy, Art was still fascinated by the mysteries it offered. It never even occurred to him to return to his original life. Now calling himself the Crusader and wearing a pentacle on his chest, Art Masters became a ghost. Although science had given him amazing abilities it was in the realm of the mysterious that he made his home.


The Crusader is capable of flight, superhuman strength, invulnerability to bullets, and electromagnetic pulse generation. He is also able to see numerous alternative variations of his life, allowing him to see and experience the consequences of his actions.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Dorian Gray - Immortal Villain

Dorian Gray could be described as the world's first "Omega" class villain. Dorian was born on November 30th, 1800. A gifted magician from an early age, Dorian was able to master a unique avenue of mysticism called "Chaos Magic". The difference between this form of magic compared to others at the time was a reliance on sigils and symbols as well as a lack of dependence on religious symbology or "the Gods". Dorian did not sell his soul so much as transfer and lock his soul into a totem object, the portrait of himself.

Once he reached puberty and determined the extent of his magical ability, he used his gifts to track down his deceased parents and claim their forgotten estate. He had no love or kindness toward their memory, in fact he resented the fact they had died and left him an orphan on the streets. Yet no matter how much of their fortune he squandered his wealth would continue to grow. As he indulged in every sin and vice available to him, he soon met Oscar Wilde who began writing a fictional account of his life. When Dorian learned of the "Great Binding" spell that would allow a person to hide within a work of fiction, he decided to use Wilde to bind him to his book. Like Alice Liddell, Frankenstein, Ebenezer Scrooge and Mowgli the Jungle King, Dorian was able to have his life captured in a book. The longer the book stayed in print and in the public conscience, the harder it would become for anyone to remember of prove that those people actually existed in the world. Although the spell has faded with the coming of the 21st century, Dorian is still immortal. Any wound he suffers appears on his portrait; every sin he commits is reflected in the paintings features.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

John Henry Part 3

As the men worked deep into the mountain, digging and laying track, Crodes released the Steam Hammer Robot from the rails. It began slamming into the sides of the tunnel, threatening to bring it down around the men. Quick thinking John Henry and the Foreman were able to get most of the men out but the entrance collapsed on them, leaving John, the Foreman and the Steam Hammer Robot trapped. John had no choice but to confront the rampaging machine and destroy it, a two hour battle that shook the mountain itself. In order to clear the entrance that was blocked with rock, John had to dig with a pick and shovel for 36 hours. He finally managed to get himself and the Foreman out, but the work, the battle and John's age and size were finally catching up with him and his heart was feeling the strain.

Due to the accident the contract was awarded to C&O and Jim Crodes was asked to pack up his scrap metal and move on. John finished the rail line but died quietly in his sleep one night. The men who he had worked with over the years began to spread his story far and wide, particularly among the South where black men were still growing accustomed to freedom. In the end Jim Crodes was forced to find work where it was available, eventually forced to work as a shaker for a small construction firm. He died years later after a blow to the head when the hammer man he worked with missed the nail.

John Henry had a son who went on to have adventures of his own, one of the first black superheroes of the Western Frontier, the Black Rider.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

John Henry Part 2

A hammer man always had a partner. The man who held the spike or drill when breaking large rocks was called a turner, shaker or "melon-head", because they were often the least intelligent men on the work crew. They were also called that because often the man swinging the hammer would miss and strike these poor workers in the head, bruising it like a melon. One of the reasons the men respected John Henry, besides his great strength, was the fact he had never struck a "melon-head" with his massive hammer. It was the rest of the crew who despised Jim Crodes when he arrived. John Henry was too good a man to sink to his level and simply returned the man's cruel barbs with kindness and respect, which of course only infuriated him further. His first night there he tried to make them men afraid of John Henry by pointing out the danger to the 'melon-heads' from John Henry's hammer.
"I see you brought your own hammer," Jim Crodes said. "But other than crushing a poor melon-head, what else can all those muscles do?" John Henry simply smiled at finished his meal of bread and beans. This continued, night after night, as John Henry worked to prove he was better than the Steam Hammer Robot. But even John was not without his limits and he began to tire, both of the pestering and the exertion. One evening Jim Crodes had stood behind John Henry as he worked, bragging about his intellect and taunting John constantly. Other men on the crew tried to shut Mr. Crodes up but John would shake his head no and the men would honor his request.

"You think you are so high and mighty with all those muscles, don't you boy?" Jim said. "But you are just a stereotype, another ignorant nigger who can't do nothin' but jump, swing and run, with no real brains in your head at all. Just another no-good cotton-picking nigger swinging a shovel and a pick or a hammer."

Well John Henry had finally had enough. Being called a nigger from white men was one thing, but to stand next to another black man like himself and hear those words was too much for his giant patience. John lifted his hammer high over his head and towered over Jim Crodes. The men gathered round expecting John to crush Mr. Crodes once and for all. Crodes threw up his hands, covering his head and kneeling on the ground, whimpering. John brought the hammer down on a tree stump next to the tracks beside Jim and it exploded into a shower of wooden chips. When the debris had cleared and Crodes stood up, all the men laughed when they saw the urine pouring down Jim Crodes leg. John merely smiled and walked away, but Jim swore that he would get revenge for being embarrassed, especially when the men nicknamed him Jimmy the Pisser.

It took a long time but eventually John and the Steam Hammer Robot arrived at the foot of the Appalachians in Virginia where the real challenge awaited him. The rail line had to twist north and follow the Appalachians north into Canada, beginning at the foot of a massive mountain known as Big Bend. John had outperformed the Steam Hammer by almost 20%, but getting through the rock, even with the help of a crew, was going to be a huge task.

Jim Crodes spent the early years of his life working on research for an "Iron Man Project". He was a laborer under Thomas Edison's "Steam Man" experiments on the prairies and had studied the works of scientist Frank Reade extensively. It was the stolen notes from Edison's "HADALY" research that got him the job with Chemical X Solutions in the first place. Edison had found a process, which Crodes perfected, of electrically imprinting instructions onto an artificial device that would then direct an attached machine to follow those instructions. It would take three years and a thousand men to complete the passage through the mountain, but only two years for the Steam Powered Robot. But by this point Crodes did not want to defeat John Henry, he wanted the big man dead and buried.