Justice League: The Untold Stories
The First Super Hero Era
“Prologue”: Captain Justice (I)
The First Super Hero Era technically began in the 1960’s, but the world was first introduced to super heroes in 1939, with the debut of the first Captain Justice. A masked crusader possessing super human strength, speed, and durability, he waged a one-man war against the powerful McCairn-Fiorelli mob, eventually apprehending the leaders of both families, and revealing the extreme corruption in the City’s police department. Although he did not serve in World War II, he was used in recruiting materials, including movies (in which he played himself), comics, radio dramas, and pulp novels which recounted entirely-fictional accounts of his wartime exploits (including the still-pervasive myth that he could fly). The Third Reich apparently believed that his super human powers were an invention of American propaganda, and sent their own “superman,” a fierce German bodybuilder using the name “Kapitan Blitz,” to publicly defeat Captain Justice and reveal him as a sham. This ended up being a very painful experience for Kapitan Blitz. In reality, Captain Justice was a modest man named Tom Schwartzman, the son of German-Jewish immigrants, who was somewhat relieved to retire shortly after the war (excepting a few 1950’s films decrying Communism, which he regretted later). He worked in a deli for most of his life, before finally going public about his identity and retiring in luxury in the eighties. The First Super Hero Era isn’t said to have begun with him because Captain Justice didn’t inspire any immediate imitators. However, his career is, in a sense, responsible for the existence of every superhero who followed.
Captain Justice II
Sam Smith was born in Kansas in 1937, to hardworking Christian parents who raised him with an upright moral code. Extremely patriotic, he lied about his age in 1952 in order to enlist and serve in the Korean War (he was fifteen at the time). During a battle, he was finally forced to admit something he had tried to avoid all his life: he had super powers. Like his predecessor he had super strength and speed, but unlike the first Captain Justice he could also fly. Upon returning to the States in 1953, he offered his services to the federal government. For the rest of the decade he worked covertly, cleaning up some loose ends from the war (although he did not, as we know, change its outcome). And then in 1961, he went public, and was revealed as the new Captain Justice with much fanfare. He was a true icon, his presence sending ripples through American society. In the words of General Jeff Sampson in my first “Man of Tomorrow” post (in the JL thread): “Nuclear annihilation did not seem quite so terrifying, the Soviets not so threatening. Although his actions in Vietnam failed to have any effect on the overall outcome of the war, his presence kept the American Dream alive at home, even as the country was divided from within.” Indeed, one of the primary reasons behind the government’s decision to allow him to go public was that he would boost American morale and frighten the Soviets in the midst of the Cold War.
Unlike his predecessor, Captain Justice (II) inspired others to take up the hero’s mantle themselves and, perhaps more importantly, inspired super humans to reveal themselves to the public eye for the first time. When President Johnson sent Captain Justice (whose aging process, it should be noted, slowed down when his powers manifested in full) to Vietnam in 1965, several super heroes emerged to fill the gap at home. These included Joe (super hero name unknown), who protected America from his nemesis, Xylophor, Lord of the Underworld (real name Bob), two characters who were spotted planning a comeback in one of Ann’s earlier posts. The hippie heroine Flora and her husband debuted during the Summer of Love (1967) in San Francisco. It was also during the late sixties that a teenaged Crimson Avenger began her career. Crimson Avenger’s star rose through the seventies, especially after she married Dr. Henry Evans (known to the public simply as the Doctor), descendent of the famous City policeman, Everett Evans and the two began to fight crime together. The early seventies also saw the debut of Gauntlet, a college student named Griffin Gardner who gained the ability to fly and generate energy from his fists after getting too close to a volatile experiment on a mysterious substance called Krythium. Gauntlet was one of the first super heroes to embrace his roll as a sex symbol, having all of Captain Justice’s flash and good looks, and none of his righteous moral code. There was also a hero named Marvelous Man who was particularly beloved in the City – a statue of him stands downtown. Others included the Raptor, the Scarlet Shadow, Liberty Belle, and Ms. Mystery.
In 1975, Captain Justice returned to America to find that the skies were a lot more crowded with capes and masks. Despite the sheer amount of super heroes, however, they weren’t being terribly efficient. And so he met with some of America’s premiere super heroes to discuss better ways to organize their efforts. The result was America’s first super hero team: the Guardians.
The Guardians (1976-1986)
The Guardians was a somewhat loose team (they didn’t have a shared headquarters or anything) comprised of Captain Justice (II), Crimson Avenger, the Doctor, Gauntlet, his boy sidekick Fisticuffs, and occasionally other allies. Various enemies arose to challenge them, including Lady Napalm, Black Hole, and Captain Destructo. The latter was by far the worse, an extremely powerful super human with the ability to generate pure energy. He was strong, fast, brilliant, and viciously insane – the dark reflection of Captain Justice. To quote Sampson again: “While Captain Justice seemed Old Glory wrapped in flesh, Captain Destructo was the embodiment of terror, discord, and chaos.” His mental state deteriorated throughout his career, making him more and more dangerous. The Guardians defeated and imprisoned him several times, although he always found a way to escape, eventually.
The first real blow that the Guardians took was in the early 1980’s, when Gauntlet’s sidekick, Fisticuffs, betrayed the team. The young man had always been a bit unstable – a mix of his abusive past, immaturity coupled with immense power, and an unrequited crush on Gauntlet. Eventually he made a scene one night when Gauntlet was entertaining a lady friend at dinner, and the Guardians’ PR people asked Fisticuffs to retire. Cracking under the strain, Fisticuffs re-branded himself as a super villain, the Scourge, and became one of the Guardians’ deadliest foes. During one battle in 1982, Gauntlet drove his former sidekick through a passing bus in order to prevent him from detonating a bomb under the Miller-Leintz Skyway. Although he did succeed in preventing the bomb from going off, Gauntlet also killed fifteen passengers on the bus (including Bo Powers’ fiancée, Rachel Wisniewski) and was brought up on manslaughter charges. He pleaded guilty to the charges, but received a reduced sentence for his heroism. This event weighed heavily on Gauntlet and he began to engage in even more self-destructive behavior than usual, drinking more and being sloppy about his dalliances with groupies. Crimson Avenger and the Doctor had also pulled back a bit from Guardians activities that year, due to the birth of their first child, Anne.
The Guardians’ final act as a team was their ultimate battle with Captain Destructo in 1986. The arch-villain escaped from prison again, more insane than ever, and was only narrowly defeated in a titanic battle above the City. He was sent back to prison, housed in a special cell loaded with the earliest versions of power dampeners (this cell is constantly updated over time, as the technology advances). While this was a great victory for the beleaguered team, it also demonstrated just how tired they were. Afterwards, the team did not work together in any major capacity again, although they continued to fight crime and did partner from time to time.
During the late eighties, there were a number of protests on college campuses around the country (not as much as, say, the sixties, of course – people liked money too much in the eighties) calling the Guardians out for not doing more to address the root causes of the crack epidemic that was creating so much violence in the inner-city. In 1990, Gauntlet was finally and irrevocably disgraced when a jilted groupie came forward to reveal that not only was she pregnant, but also had been seventeen when she and Gauntlet had sex. Matters were made even worse when the Scourge, thought dead at this point, reemerged and murdered the girl in order to get back into Gauntlet’s good graces. Gauntlet responded by beating the Scourge into paralysis. This was one scandal too many for Captain Justice, who retired to a more simple life in his native Kansas. Around this time, Crimson Avenger and the Doctor’s identities were revealed to some enemies by Charles Hunter, a friend of their daughter. The Doctor lost an arm, and Crimson Avenger was killed.
Few new super heroes emerged through the early to mid Nineties, and this time is considered the dénouement of the First Super Hero Era. It officially came to an end, however, in 1999, when Captain Destructo broke out of prison for the last time.
Captain Destructo’s Last Stand
The most frightening thing about Captain Destructo’s powers was that they evolved. While he had already been immensely powerful at his debut, over the course of his life his powers grew exponentially. At some point in the late nineties, they had even evolved to the point of making him resistant to the sedatives that Stillwell Maximum Security prison were constantly shoving into him. By 1999, he became able to resist the power dampeners in his cell, and broke out. He immediately sought revenge on the Guardians, murdering Captain Justice in his home after a brief fight, and almost killing Gauntlet. He then headed to Liberty Square, where he intended to kill everyone in the surrounding area, and then, presumably, the City itself. S.W.A.T. surrounded the square, but were unable to penetrate Captain Destructo’s glowing aura. But at a crucial moment, he was distracted when a woman stepped away from the crowd and began to talk to him. What she said is unknown, on the public record, but Captain Destructo was distracted enough to lower his defenses, and a S.W.A.T. sniper named Redman removed half of his head with a single shot. This is the moment, historians agree, when the First Super Hero Era ended.
But with endings come new beginnings, according to that song by R.E.M. and everyone in my high school yearbook, and so it was that, on that very night, several new super heroes who had begun to emerge in the late Nineties received invitations to join a brand new team: the Justice League.
(Note: The woman who spoke to Captain Destructo was a former lover named Gail Kimmel. I don’t know what their whole history is. What she told him is, “You have a son. His name is Gregory.” Gregory – as another side note – is Captain Destructo’s real name. As he was trying to process this, Redman blew his head off.)
The Origin of Isomorphix
No idea. I’ll fill this in if I get the information from Umar. Until then, Iso remains a mystery!
The Origin of Sticky Spectre
Sticky Spectre was born Liese Taylor on October 25,1979, in Philadelphia’s Manayunk neighborhood. She attended the Julia R. Masterman School from junior high through high school, where she excelled in both Social Sciences and World Languages. There she met Curtis Wilkins, a pudgy gay nerd for whom school was a refuge from his North Philly neighborhood. Her powers of adhesion manifested while she was in high school, and (after building a pair of custom “tape launchers”) she became Philadelphia’s first super hero in over a decade. After finishing high school, she decided to forego college in order to focus entirely on her crime-fighting career. Curtis, who had assisted her through high school, continued to do so while studying at the University of the Sciences. Sticky found a rival in SuperNova, an arrogant super heroine from Conshohocken who wanted to be Philadelphia’s sole defender. She also had a quasi-flirtatious relationship with Michael Carter, a thirty-something homicide detective who often called her in to help on cases. Carter, however, was a rarity on a police force that was largely suspicious and/or resentful of Sticky’s vigilante justice and the popular acclaim it earned her. Her parents were also less than thrilled, and stopped speaking to her (I get the sense that their relationship was always strained, and this was just the final nail in the coffin).
The actual origin story I planned on telling for Sticky (and even started writing, at one point) was about the events that led to her leaving Philadelphia and joining the Justice League. It begins with Sticky battling a local villain, Megalith, who uses an ancient mask and glowing tattoos to control the earth and stone around him. After defeating him, she’s called in by Detective Carter. We learn that in the past few months, a serial rapist has been terrorizing the University City area. While his violence has been escalating, all of his victims survived… until now. The most recent victim has been recently murdered, and Carter wants Sticky’s help finding the rapist before he can hurt anyone else. Carter reveals that the University City Rapist’s crimes actually bear a number of similarities to an earlier string of rapes in North Philadelphia’s “Badlands” area, but that the crimes didn’t get as much attention (or pressure from City Hall and the brass) because the victims were poor, mostly prostitutes, and a bit more spaced out. All of this strikes a chord for Sticky, and she promises to help.
With some assistance from Curtis, and relying on her own detective skills, Sticky is eventually able to figure out that the University City Rapist is a man named Julio Raiford, who lives over a Laundromat on Girard Avenue. Her investigation has made her angrier and angrier, so that she’s really looking forward to beating the crap out of him. When she and Carter go to his apartment, Carter makes an off-hand comment about the low conviction rate for rapes and how they’d probably be doing the world a favor if they just killed the guy. As Carter heads up the stairs and covers Raiford’s front door, Sticky slips in through a window. She confronts Raiford and, when she sees trophies from his crimes laid out on his bed, completely loses control. She uses her tape launchers to strangle Raiford, killing him. And it’s then that Carter walks in. He informs Sticky that he’s just found her murdering an unarmed man. It turns out that, like most of the PPD, he’s resented her presence the entire time, and has been manipulating her to put her in this kind of a position (it’s also implied that SuperNova’s connections at City Hall may have had something to do with this). He tells her that if she leaves Philly for good, he won’t expose her for killing Raiford. Sticky is shattered and betrayed, not least of all because she thought that something might actually happen between her and Carter. Sticky decides that she has no other choice, and prepares to leave. As luck would have it, it’s at this same time that she receives a personal invitation from someone named Studmuffin about a new super hero team…
The Origin of X-Raytor
X-Raytor’s origin, as I planned it, actually begins in late 1997, when he’s sixteen. But, obviously, there’s some other stuff to be said, notably regarding his confusing freaking family tree. I’ll do the breakdown by family, the Jansen side and the Adamski side.
The Jansens, believe it or not, are the branch from which X-Raytor gets his Irish heritage (not that it was going to be from the Adamskis). The family first came to the States from the Hague, Netherlands, attempting to escape the lecherous reputation of its patriarch, Caspar Jansen (b. 1850). His son, Harold (b. 1877) used hard work and charm to ingratiate himself to entrepreneur Crenshaw Howlett. When Howlett founded The Sentinel newspaper in 1913, he appointed Harold the first chief editor. During his rise to this position, however, he formed some criminal ties (Harold was something of a conman before befriending Howlett), and as an attempt at further social climbing, encouraged his sister, Dolores (b. 1882) to entertain the courtship of Ambrose Vance, the patriarch of the Vance crime family. They married, and had their first son, Caleb, in 1900. Caleb, for reference, is Jordan Vance’s grandfather, making Dolores Jansen his great-grandmother. Since Jordan is actually the son of Richard Moonn and one of Caleb’s daughters, this means that the Jansens are distantly related to the Moonns. Meaning X-Raytor is distantly related to John, Lord of Darkness (Dum Dum Duuuuuum!) and the Tri-Leaders. And Bo Powers. And Insipid Justice (the O’Shannons are related to the McCairns, who are related to the other major crime families, all by marriage). And Fi. This also means that I should never be allowed within thirty miles of family tree building software.
Anyway, none of this is important, so I’ll speed it up: Harold married Georgia Katz (an immigrant from Prague) and had a son, John (b. 1895), who had the good taste to marry a Philadelphia girl named Alice Schwartz, in North Philadelphia’s Church of the Gesu, in 1920. They had a son, also named John (b. 1923), and this is where it starts getting relevant.
This John (who we’ll call Grandpa John) was X-Raytor’s grandfather. He married an Irish immigrant named Jennifer McCarthy (b. 1925 in Killarney). Their kids grew up in Deerfield Heights, wedged between ethnic Jewish and Irish neighborhoods, although by the time the older kids were in college, the family had moved out to the suburbs of Lowell County. Speaking of those kids, they had a whopping seven of them: John, Peter, Martha, Richard, Erica, Rose, and Caitlin. John (b. 1957) was X-Raytor’s father, so more about him later. The second eldest, Peter (b. 1954), eventually became the CEO of a small software company. During a business trip to Japan he met Eri Matsumoto, whom he would eventually marry. They had two sons, Kai (b. 1980) and Naota (b. 1986), and lived in Pasadena, CA. Next was Martha (b. 1955), bitter and prickly, who inherited the old family home in southern Lowell County. Richard (b. 1956), the youngest son, was always something of a fuck-up. He married Mary Crogan in 1979, and they had a daughter, Rebecca (b. 1982). They got divorced in the late Eighties, and Rick remarried Melinda Fairbanks in 1994. They had their first son, David, two years later, and were living in New York City. Erica changed her name to Arika after college, and married a man named Ted Wilson. They had three children, Det (b. 1987), Akira (b. 1991), and Bob (b. 1993), and lived in Wilmington, DE. Rose, an outgoing and vivacious woman, married a dull, sullen man named Walter Braddock. They also had three children, Tom (b. 1979), Seraphina (b. 1980), and Aaron (b. 1994). Seraphina is, obviously, X-Raytor cousin Sera, star Sentinel reporter. Tom was a jerk growing up, and Aaron seemed to show some of the same traits. It’s always been something of a mystery as to why Rose married someone like Walter, but, again, more on that later. They lived in Long Branch, NJ. Finally, there was the baby, Caitlin (Caitie) (b. 1962). The most Irish looking of the siblings, she embraced this identity, marrying a man named Bill O’Hagarty, and naming their children Nuala (b. 1988), Rhiannon (b. 1990), and Oran (b. 1983). They lived in Midtown, PA (which I think X-Raytor actually references in JohnWorld 3006, while visiting that universe’s version of Midtown).
While the siblings were very close, the family dynamic was not what you’d call healthy. Grandpa John had borderline personality disorder, which is characterized, in part, by unstable and intense relationships. Their moods swing wildly, and are often pathologically concerned with avoiding real or imagined abandonment. Growing up in this house meant that the seven Jansen children were constantly caught between their father’s illness and their mother’s willful ignorance of it. X-y’s dad dealt with this by accommodating his father, and trying to stay out of his way when he was angry. Martha became withdrawn and bitter. Rick became extremely needy for attention. Rose intentionally sought out toxic relationships. Even Peter, Arika, and Caitlin, who grew up mostly well-adjusted, had to deal with the aftershocks of their chaotic childhood. X-Raytor’s grandfather and grandmother passed away in 1994 and 1996, respectively, so they had no direct bearing on his origin story, except as ghosts from the past.
Paul Adamski (b. 1922) was a second generation Polish longshoremen, working on the City’s eastern docks. He married Anne Juspeczyk (b. 1921), and they had two children, Jane (b. 1957) and Robert (b. 1959). The Adamskis were a conservative, blue collar family, their home suffused with the values of Roman Catholicism and hard work. Paul’s entire life was the waterfront – beer and a fried egg for breakfast, a long day of off-loading cargo at the City Port, and then more beer with his brothers from the local chapter of the International Brotherhood of Stevedores afterwards. It was expected that Robert would follow in his footsteps, as Paul had followed his own father. Jane (“Janey”), however, was given higher hopes. An exceptionally bright and driven child, her parents encouraged her studies and lauded her every accomplishment – May Queen in eighth grade at St. Stanislaus Kostka’s May Procession, valedictorian in high school, given a full ride to Campion University. She graduated from Campion in 1979, and attended med school at Georgetown, eventually returning to the City to become a doctor at a hospital in Geauga County. She was her parents’ pride and joy.
Robert was another story. Despite the community tradition, he had no interest in a life on the waterfront. He resented Janey because their parents fawned over her so much, most often to Robert’s detriment (the fact that Janey was never on the receiving end of one of their father’s beatings didn’t help either). As a young man, Robert began to dabble in minor crimes. He and some other neighborhood punks formed a small gang, starting with shoplifting and vandalism, and eventually moving up to fencing (they would steal goods from cargo ships and sell them to various buyers in the City). He gained the nickname “Bubba” while running with this crew. His parents, of course, were humiliated, especially after he began dealing drugs fulltime following the end of high school. At some point in the Seventies, Robert was introduced to Jordan Vance, the black sheep of the Vance crime family (probably by some remnant of the largely defunct Polish mob that used to run the eastern docks, back when the Chovys were a major crime family), and the two embarked on some more ambitious criminal enterprises. Robert’s connections on the docks were actually instrumental in allowing Vance to open up the first major heroin pipeline to the City. While Robert maintained a low profile, he was paid handsomely for his efforts. He had also, at this point, begun to develop a heroin habit. At some point in the late Seventies, while high, Robert choked a former-classmate-turned-dockside-prostitute to death. The feeling he got from doing so was such an enormous thrill that he made a habit out of it, becoming a quiet, patient serial killer, committing a murder every six months or so.
Big changes happened for the Adamskis in the eighties. Jane met John Jansen, an electrical engineer, and they married in 1981. Her parents were not happy about this union for two reasons. First of all, John was a professed atheist, and resisted having a Catholic ceremony. Second, when they did get married, Jane was seven months pregnant. Paul and Anne left in the middle of the wedding, and broke ties with their daughter soon after that. These events exacerbated Jane’s already steadily-growing drinking problem. Meanwhile, Robert was arrested in 1984 by the organization that would eventually become M.O.R.P.H.Z., due to his connections to several criminal organizations in the City (including some ties to emerging business/criminal power player Bo Powers). The current director of the organization, Roger Sampson (Jeff’s uncle) offered him a deal in exchange for information about his criminal employers, but after Adamski offered up the information, Sampson had him thrown in prison for most of the late 1980’s (during which time his parents, hoping to save their family from further embarrassment after disowning Janey, claimed that he was living on the West Coast). He was eventually released, and found that he had been blacklisted by most criminal organizations for turning state’s witness. He “retired” on the huge amount of money he had hidden away, and mostly lay low through the 1990’s, becoming an investor officially and relegating his criminal life to the sidelines (he probably dealt a little, but mostly bought drugs to feed his addiction). Also, every now and then he would commit a quiet murder in his basement.
We’ll get into the rest of Jane’s story in the next section but for now, a few final notes about Robert. In the mid-nineties, Jordan Vance got him involved in distributing a new brand of heroin, which included a prototype of Crescent Moonn’s human enhancement serum, in order to test its effects on human subjects (something they couldn’t legally do in her labs). Almost everyone who shot the stuff died, and Adamski was, again, picked up by M.O.R.P.H.Z. Major Jeff Sampson, now in charge, cut another deal with him in exchange for information (although Crescent and Vance covered their tracks too well for it to go anywhere), but he was disgusted that he couldn’t punish Adamski for being such a piece of shit. However, when he was mutated by X-Raytor in 1997, Sampson personally volunteered Adamski for some of Dr. Fallow’s more aggressive experiments (particularly an attempt to make “x-particle” holders switch between states at will). He became even crazier, combining both Sampsons in his mind and focusing his rage on his nephew, James (whom he still called John).
After his first battle with X-Raytor, when he plunged into the Ohnoee River, he survived by swimming to safety. He washed up on one of the small islands that dot the Ohnoee River, where, coincidentally, he had stashed a kilo of the serum-laced heroin he’d peddled for Crescent Moonn. He used the drugs to give him a power boost that allowed him to transform back into the Green Penguin, but the drug scoured his mind further, confusing his memories. He returned to the City and, contacting Vance, was able to get several MoonnCorp scientists to help him devise a serum based on the heroin and his own blood, which allowed him to change states at will. Successive mainline injections of this ridiculously risky concoction drove him even further off the deep-end, and so his memories on the subject are somewhat confused (as you can see in the revised version of the second Green Penguin arc).
One more brief discussion, and then we get into the actual story. John and Jane Jansen had their first son, John James Jansen, at 9:25 p.m. on June 30, 1981. Their second son, Alexander, was born on March 22, 1983. The boys started life in a rather happy state, growing up in the manicured developments of Chamberlain, Geauga County. Their family dynamic became a bit tenser as they got older and their mother’s alcoholism got worse. While she was generally a dutiful and caring mother while sober, Jane would become sarcastic and verbally abusive when drunk, particularly towards Alex. Her husband, who had coped with his father’s mental illness by tiptoeing around the problem, did something similar here. So while X-Raytor’s memories of his pre-super-hero life are generally happy, there was always a darkness lurking beneath the surface.
The actual origin would have begun when James was sixteen, a junior at Hugo Danner High School. The very first scene would have featured him placing first during a fall cross-country meet, where his parents and brother (who worships him) cheer him on from the stands. We also would have met his friends, Bill Naumann and Elena DeSantos, both on the cross-country team as well. He’s had a crush on Elena for the longest time, but has never had the guts to do anything about it (one of many relationship patterns that will follow him throughout his life). Which is not to say that he’s innocent, by any means – young James lost his virginity to Stacey Parker freshman year, which was a good two years after “What’s-Her-Face” (as he refers to this poor girl in one of the later posts) went down on him in her basement after a seventh grade party. He dated several girls throughout high school, with the term “dated” being somewhat loose in most of those situations. The closest he’s ever had to a serious girlfriend was Ashlee Markland, a cheerleader, who he dated over the summer and for most of fall semester of junior year, before the whole tumultuous relationship imploded in an inevitably loud and public fashion. He has already begun to drink at this point. Elena eventually asks him to Homecoming, and they go together, beginning a relationship. We would also see his relationship with his cousin Sera, another of his best friends whom he sees most weekends (and who has a flirtatious relationship with Bill that makes him extremely uncomfortable).
Now, while the cross country and track teams aren’t exactly football, James was certainly popular at Hugo Danner, both for his athleticism, looks, and sense of humor. He and Bill had a little entourage of other cross country/track guys, pretty good friends but mostly just guys you could drink with (and James is, indeed, drinking quite a bit by this point). These guys, who probably thought they were cooler than they actually were, also have a tendency to pick on a classmate by the name of Greg Kimmel. While Greg receives most of his abuse at the hands of a guy named Link, he hates James and all of his friends equally (and it’s not like James ever stands up for him, or anything… he used up his social transgression quota by protecting Alex from bullies). We get the sense that Greg is more than just an angry nerd, and that he has a developing violent streak, but James isn’t terribly concerned.
His relationship with Elena develops (including getting to the point that he starts to suspect that everything isn’t all right at her house), and in January 1998, she invites him over while her parents are away for the weekend. They make out, but when they’re about to have sex, James finds that he can’t get an erection. He’s humiliated, even though Elena assures him that it’s okay. (As for why this happens, I don’t really know – I think I was inspired by hearing about spontaneous instances of impotence in young guys, but I also think there were probably some psychological factors at play here, too. James also might have been drunk, which can certainly play a role. As an additional fun fact, this event was referenced specifically – if vaguely – during a few of X-Raytor’s brooding moments. The only one I can think of specifically if from “Sacrifices,” when he remembers this exchange:
“It’s- I can’t… I can’t get it to… I can’t…”
“It’s okay. It’s okay. We don’t have to now. We can just, you know, sit here.
So there you go. Anyway, back to the story.)
This experience throws him into a deep depression. He avoids Elena, starts drinking a lot more, and alienates all of his friends except Bill and Sera. He eventually even pisses Sera off, saying something really offensive to her while he’s drunk which causes her to stop speaking to him for a while (I never figured out exactly what it was – I think she may have cheated on her boyfriend with Bill or something, and he called her out on it, despite his own obvious man-whoreishness). Elena eventually confronts him about avoiding her, they have a big fight, and officially break up. At some point he takes his frustrations out on Greg Kimmel.
At some point in April, he ends up at the hospital where his mom works while he’s completely wasted. He happens to discover that they’ve just installed a new high power x-ray machine and decides, in a moment of drunken inspiration, to find out what’s inside of his eyeballs. He doesn’t find out, but he does go temporarily blind and ends up in a hospital bed for a few weeks. When his vision slowly returns, he discovers that he can see through the walls of his hospital room, not to mention people (which is not a terribly pleasant experience). He’s freaked out until he realizes that he has super powers (pretty cool), and that he can now look through girls’ clothes (really cool).
He spends the next month-and-a-half/two months learning how to use his powers. He discovers how to control the various layers of his x-ray vision. School provides the perfect testing ground for peeling away different layers of visibility (i.e. girls’ clothes). His eye lasers manifest by accident one day while he’s trying out his x-ray vision, causing him to burn a sizable hole in his bedroom carpet that he has to cover up. He practices this skill, too, figuring out how to turn the laser up or down, somehow discovering that he can use it to “stun” people (I’ve never explained that, but I imagine it works in much the same way as a taser – it gives you a violent shock that incapacitates you). Of course, he doesn’t realize at this point that he’s dousing everyone who he looks at on a regular basis with radiation (he’s isolated all of his friends, including Bill, by this point, so that really only means his parents, Alex, and the girls he ogles – he’s certainly not paying attention to his teachers). A few people get sick, but they chalk it up to a stomach virus.
In May, there’s a big Jansen family reunion. James wakes up with his eyes burning, and tries to get out of it but isn’t able to. For whatever reason (maybe this is right before his lasers develop), the radiation coming from his eyes is at peak levels that day, and everyone in his family who attends the reunion (which means everyone in the family except Sera, who is attending her boyfriend’s senior prom at Henry Hudson Regional) gets a double dose.
June 30, 1998, is James’ seventeenth birthday. Because he doesn’t have any friends left to party with (except Alex, who he refuses to let drink because he knows how much it’s messed himself and their mom up), he decides to sneak off into the City by himself, and use his powers to watch a show at a strip club for free. In order to disguise his identity, in case he gets caught and someone calls the police on him, he brings a black ski mask. He also wears his black Hugo Danner Cross Country sweatshirt (which he was wearing in the very first scene of the story), using black electrical tape to hide the words “Hugo Danner.” He doesn’t have enough to cover up the big white X in the middle, however, and decides to just leave it. He takes a bus into the City and ends up in the back alley behind a strip club, watching through the walls (which isn’t terribly effective, because he’s actually pretty far away from the stage), when he hears shouting. He looks around a corner, sees a mugging in progress and, almost instinctively, uses his powers to chase the muggers off. The people he saved are more puzzled by him than anything else, but James feels really good about what he’s just done. On his way back to Chamberlain, he reflects that he’s been using his powers selfishly, when he really should have been using them to help people. He imagines that becoming a hero, doing something good for the world, will eventually help to solve all of the other bad stuff in his life. It’ll finally provide that sense of purpose he’s always lacked. He’s very pleased and excited about this…
… Until he gets home. His parents are on the kitchen floor, their bodies twisting and changing, the radiation finally catching up with them. The last thing his father is able to say before his tongue grows too thick and inhuman to speak is: “James, take care of Alex.” But his brother isn’t anywhere to be found. James calls 911, and then receives a call from Elena, telling him that something really bad has happened. Just then the police and an ambulance arrive, and James, overwhelmed and scared, sneaks out the back door and runs to Elena’s house. But when he gets there, the house is surrounded by black vans. He creeps around the side of the house, and looks inside.
The kitchen has been torn apart, bits of broken furniture and appliances everywhere. And there are bits of something else, too. It’s what’s left, James slowly, horrifically, of Elena’s parents. He gets a particularly clear look at her stepfather’s corpse, which seems to be burned in several places… except that the burns are tinged green, instead of black. Confused, terrified, and sick, James comes around to the front of the house just in time to see Elena being put in one of the vans by guys in S.W.A.T. team-esque uniforms. She may see him (he’s not sure), but then the doors close. James slips away, headed back to his house.
There are black vans parked outside of his house now, too, and James watches as they load his parents into one of them. He’s thinking about attacking the vans, using his super powers to fight off as many of the mysterious soldiers as possible, when he’s discovered by a young guy who’s searching the area. The young guy pulls a gun on James, but holsters it when he finds out who he is. They talk briefly, and the young guy reveals that he and the others are representatives of a government agency, and that they’re going to take his parents somewhere where they can receive medical attention. He lets him know that other members of his family are mutating, and asks James whether he and his family were recently exposed to large amounts of radiation. James realizes that he caused all of this, and admits this to the young agent. The agent mulls this over for a moment, and then tells James to get out of here. When James says he should go wherever his family’s going, the agent tells him he has a better chance of living a normal life if he doesn’t. At first James doesn’t think he has anything to live for, but then remembers that his brother is still out here somewhere, alone. The agent lets him leave, a moment before another agent comes around the corner of the house and asks him if the area is secure, calling him “Sampson.”
James finds Alex hiding out somewhere nearby, and the brothers decide that they’ll have to rely on each other to survive. Alex reveals that he’s developed powers as well – optic lasers, much like James. They run away to the City, and live on the streets. They avoid shelters because DSS is probably looking for them, and they’re worried that if they go back on the grid the men in black will show up and haul them off to whatever Area-51-ass place their parents are. However, their relationship starts to become strained as James is forced to realize some unpleasant things about Alex’s mental state he’d been able to avoid before. They spend most of their days apart – James using his powers to shoplift (and, occasionally, stop a crime), with Alex apparently guarding their few belongings back at wherever they’ve camped down for the day. One day James comes back and finds their stuff gone, and Alex nowhere to be found. Alex comes back a few minutes later, but won’t tell James where he’s been. The next day, James secretly follows him, and finds Alex using a roll of money James didn’t know he had (he’s been mugging people with his powers) to solicit a prostitute. But as soon as they’re off the street, Alex attacks the girl, threatening her with his powers when she tries to run away. James steps in, interrupting them. He and Alex get into a fierce argument. Alex says that their powers mean they should be able to do whatever they want, and suggests that they kill the girl together so that she can’t tell the police about them. When James refuses, Alex prepares to do it himself, causing James to shoot him through the arm. The girl escapes and James, sickened, leaves Alex bleeding and cursing. He calls 911 and tells them where to find his brother.
In August-September 1998, James gets involved in some shenanigans involving the City’s various levels of crime.
The City Story
This would have been a big, ensemble novel, set in August and September of 1998, in the City. The point would have been to delve into the City’s criminal world, explore some of the social issues that make that crime possible, and to provide a sort of “origin story” for why the City is the way it is by the time of the Justice League stories we all wrote. One of my goals was to fit in as many cameos as possible and, as you’ll see from my notes, I would have succeeded.
When this story starts, in August 1998, James has been living on the street on his own for a while. He’s started doing his little low-level hustle in the alleys of “Rainbow Row,” the nickname of the main strip that runs through a vibrant gay neighborhood in the northern extremes of South Side, making enough money to buy alcohol. He sleeps under overpasses, in vacant warehouses, and occasionally shelters (which he hates). He gets most of his food from soup kitchens and “meals on wheels” kind of things. He isn’t doing much crime fighting at this point; although he does use his powers to protect himself and others he may encounter who need help.
James, however, is just one of the primary characters. Ian and Silent Jim were supposed to play relatively large roles, but I’m not going to summarize their subplots here. Suffice it to say that they run away from home in Maine and go to the City in order to become New Jersey drug dealers like Jay and Silent Bob. Only instead of selling pot in suburbia, they end up working for people selling crack and heroin in the inner city.
Another major character is Tara McCairn, the current scion of the McCairn crime family. Her father is the patriarch, although the family has lost much of its influence in the City in recent decades. Traditionally, power is passed down to the eldest son (always named Padraig), but in this case, the Padraig died shortly after birth from SIDS. Tara does have an older brother, Mac, but he’s an inveterate fuck-up and a not-so-closeted homosexual. So Tara seems poised to take the reins, if she can convince her father. When we first meet her, however, she has other concerns: namely her first day as a freshman at Campion University. Some guy harasses her in public, and later Tara has two of her goons break the guy’s fingers while she watches. Tara is, in many ways, the protagonist of the novel – despite the fact that she’s ruthless and scheming, she’s also intelligent, ambitious, and likeable.
Meanwhile, in South Side, a drug war is raging in the Bottom (the southernmost, and most blighted, area of majority-African-American South Side) between two major dealers – Buster (Ian and Silent Jim’s employer) and Duke. Bodies are falling at a rapid pace, and Homicide detectives Jeremiah Staley and his younger partner David Price are struggling to stay on top of the violence. Things are made even more complicated by the presence of Surge, a super-powered thug running around South Side robbing drug dealers with his lightning powers. He wears a disguise, but rumor is that he’s Clifford Brooks, the older brother of one of Buster’s dealers, a teenager who calls himself The Game.
Anyway, events really get kicked off by a mysterious murder in South Side. Staley and Price (who is the detective from the Julian arc, by the way) find a MoonnCorp scientist shot dead in his car in a dangerous neighborhood and, even more mysteriously, there’s a charred corpse in a vacant rowhouse nearby… with no other traces of a fire. Tara McCairn eventually finds out (through her father’s network) that the scientist was carrying a briefcase containing samples of a top-secret serum that MoonnCorp was developing. It’s not in the car when the cops arrive, meaning that it was stolen beforehand. She approaches Crescent, who is on the city council, and offers to help her get it back before Bo Powers gets it for himself (Tara, of course, intends to do the same thing). Crescent agrees, because this is extremely important: it’s the first viable super soldier serum anyone’s made in years.
Well, kind of viable. It’s also highly addictive and eventually kills you. This is a problem both for the obvious reasons and because Crescent was specifically devising this serum in order to sell to Magic Finger, in exchange for a connection to his cocaine lines (he needs the serum to help him use his weaponized-hand enhancements). Unbeknownst to Tara, Crescent had intended to have her scientist sell the serum to a drug dealer, so she could secretly use inner-city drug addicts as guinea pigs to see how the serum affected humans. Stolen samples start getting out and, as noted above, it gives people super powers, makes them extremely hooked, and then kills them.
At some point, Tara meets James, after he saves her from revenge at the hands of the guy she had her thugs beat up at the beginning of the story. Realizing he’d be a useful person to have with her as she ventures into South Side (where her family doesn’t have a lot of connections), she takes him on as a bodyguard. Sparks fly between them, especially after James comes to a party at Campion with Tara (cleaning up first, of course), and they have sex. Being James, he develops some actual feelings for her. She might as well, but sidelines them in favor of her ambition.
Most of the book would have been about the drug war between Buster and Duke, the search for the serum, and Tara’s power games as she tries to reestablish the McCairns’ place in the City’s underworld. Duke eventually kills Buster and takes over. Tara gets some soldiers in the form of a gay outlaw biker gang (arranged by her brother). It all would have culminated in a huge battle in the courtyard of the Alexander Townsend Homes, the projects where Ian, Silent Jim, and The Game work. Detective Staley would get killed, as would Duke (who really would have emerged as the main villain of the piece). In the end, James and Tara go their separate ways, following James struggling the entire story with whether or not he can work for a criminal (even a hot one). He recognizes some of the goodness in her, however, and in a particularly cutting moment tells her that she’ll never make it in the crime world because she’s “a human being.” Tara goes back to school, defeated, but more determined than ever to restore the McCairns. James meets Jessie (the girl Alex eventually kills, and whose death really prompts him to become a super hero).
Obviously, this was huge and complex and way too convoluted for its own good. So here’s a few major takeaways, relevant to the Justice League overall:
1) We eventually learn that super-powered stick-up boy Surge isn’t The Game’s older brother… he’s The Game. The charred body in the rowhouse mentioned earlier is The Game’s brother, Clifford Brooks. He had been exploiting The Game’s powers and taking the credit. They rob and kill the MoonnCorp scientist, but then get into a fight and The Game kills his brother (don’t get too upset, Clifford was a piece of crap). At the end, The Game reveals who he really is, kills Duke as revenge for Buster, and probably turns the tide of the entire battle. He takes over the remnants of Duke and Buster’s organizations, becoming the top dealer in the Bottom. A few years later he’s arrested and imprisoned at Stilwell. We won’t see him again until the Sentinels stories.
2) In the end we also learn that Bo already stole a sample of Crescent’s serum, and used it to patch some holes in his own serum (the “quick juice” that Penny Lane uses). He and the Head Honcho then contact Magic Finger, and get his coke connect, giving them a leg-up in the City drug trade. This is the beginning of Magic Finger’s relationship with the Head Honcho’s organization. This is why, when he comes to the City a few years from now (after the first time the Justice League defeats him), he joins forces with Bo and the Head Honcho.
3) During a scene with Crescent at a city council meeting, we find out that the City agreed to let Studmuffin start his super hero team there because of the amount of tourism money it would bring in (new Mayor Shameeka Williams inherited a lot of debt from her predecessor, Mayor Jennings). We also learn that his initial proposal to have it in the City were rejected due to zoning laws, safety concerns, and good old NIMBYism.
4) As I said before, there would be a lot of cameos. James would run into Rick Degen (Julian’s father), Marvin Cringle, Hank Chavez (bartender at the Cargo Hold), and his old girlfriend Thalia (we see him get kicked out of her apartment at the very beginning… we also learn his side of the story, since we’ve only really ever heard hers). We’d also see Phil of Phil’s Antiques, Fat Tony, several other members of Don Longino’s Mafia (and relatives of the other crime families), Ronnie Rosewater, Cambodian gangster Akumsok “Sok” Huoy (then just a kid), Hondo Martinez (the kid who killed Frank Seppanen… remember that story arc?), Gregor Rhubarb (a prosecutor for the DA and a confidante of Bo Powers’, he prosecuted Scarlett’s trial), ADA Arthur Grant (the second Gauntlet’s father), most of the cops I’ve mentioned before, like Diane Bradley (future commissioner and warden of Stilwell) and Bill Costello (future commissioner), and X-y’s cousin Seraphina Braddock (a student at Campion along with Tara). At some point, Detectives Staley and Price would run into Aaron Alston, a hillbilly and heroin addict running with a stick-up crew in South Side. They’ll hit him up for information right after Alston has bought a handgun (Staley points out how stupid he is – he’s only registering the gun so that cops can’t use an unregistered weapon as an excuse to bring him in, but that also means that now they can trace shootings back to him). A few years later, after the debut of the Justice League, Alston will start dressing up as a pirate and calling himself the Buccaneer. He’ll be quickly defeated and, shortly afterwards, commit suicide. His costume and weapon are put on display in the Justice League’s trophy room. Years later, Julian Firestone will steal that gun from the display case and use it to murder Detective David Price. The best part of all of this is that if you go back and look at the last Julian post, when they realize where the gun came from, it’s mentioned that Alston registered it in 1998. It’s almost like I plan this stuff!
The Second Super Hero Era
The Early Days of the Justice League
X-Raytor’s origin probably would have covered the October he spent with Jessie a bit more thoroughly, but I feel like you all already know as much of that story as you really need to. Besides, now we’re finally getting into stuff involving other peoples’ characters! Hooray! Suffice it to say that between October of 1998 and summer 1999 he begins a super hero career, mostly relegated to the City’s eastern docks. At some point during November of 1998, he and Pinzz team up to bust an Oreo-smuggling ring and, well, you know what happens. When X-Raytor (because he’s adopted the name by this point) wakes up with no memory of the entire weekend, he finally decides to go into rehab, and starts going to AA meetings. He actually has a number of friends from this time period who I never really got to come up with, but I imagine he got back in touch with them after the Justice League disbanded (or maybe not… they probably could have prevented him from falling off the wagon).
The Justice League was founded on August 2, 1999. We’ve already seen the initial meeting, attended by founding members Studmuffin, Rosma Galak, Oreo Avenger, X-Raytor, Scarlett Fyre, Pinzz, Superdude, Sticky Spectre, and Insipid Justice. Each of them had enjoyed a solo career before (Rosma, Oreo, X-Raytor, and Pinzz in or around the City, Sticky Spectre in Philadelphia, Scarlett in Alabama, Superdude in New York, Studmuffin in California, Insipid Justice in Connecticut), and most actually received their invitation letters on July 25, the same night that Captain Destructo was killed. At this point all they had was a relatively small property on the grounds that would become the Hall of Justice, a van, and Studmuffin’s scummy agent, Johnny Avalon. On August 19 they did a major press conference, announcing their team-up to the public (this is when that famous picture was taken).
They were an immediate sensation. With the new millennium just around the corner, people were ready for a bold, fresh start, and the Justice League seemed to be just that. It also inspired a number of other super-powered individuals to come forward and join them. Raven joined up immediately, literally on the day of the press conference. She was followed swiftly by Isomorphix, Violet Princess, Xiao, Eric, DragonGirl, and OMEGA (in that order, in fact). They all begin to train together, build more additions to the Hall and figure out team dynamics. There’s an immediate flirtation between X-Raytor and Sticky Spectre, as well as between Rosma and Studmuffin. Superdude and X-Raytor become good friends and, after she joins, Superdude develops a massive crush on DragonGirl. They are somewhat annoyed by Johnny Avalon constantly pushing for more merchandising and trying to enforce changes to their costumes (most of which involve the girls showing more cleavage), but generally spirits are running high. They hold a Victorian Christmas party in the late fall (at which X-Raytor and Sticky hook up for the first time), and when Christmas comes around they use the merchandising money that Johnny Avalon has brought in to buy the Justice Jet.
On New Year’s Eve, they perform their first act of heroism as a team. A super villain dressed up as a nun and calling herself (himself?) Sister Sinister attacks Liberty Square, which is packed with New Year’s revelers. The Justice league defeats Sister Sinister, and are officially big-time super heroes!
Things really pick up in 2000. They meet and battle super villains like Paper Kut, the Spelunker, the Buccaneer, Black Coal, and Mosnar. A few notable adventures:
When Iso investigates a drug war in South Side (possibly between the Game’s organization and whoever the HH/Bo Power’s street boss is) he discovers that the drug cartel pumping the most cocaine into the City is run by a super villain – Magic Finger. A former enforcer for the Chicago mob, Charlie Manos eventually became a mercenary in South America. He rose through the ranks of a Colombian drug cartel until he became a trusted lieutenant to the boss (who also had his hands replaced by a miniature weapons system, turning him into a walking arsenal). And then he killed his boss, and his boss’ entire family (after gaining the support of most of the cartel’s soldiers, of course). There was only one problem: the first time he used his weaponized hands (killing his boss), the recoil shattered his arm. He tried various ways of reinforcing his arm, but was only able to use his finger-pistols without injuring himself. So he got in touch with Crescent Moonn and offered his drug connect in exchange for some human enhancement serum he’d heard she was developing, which will make his bones, muscles, and skin tough enough to use his weaponized hands. The Justice League decides to stop him. They fly to Colombia in the Justice Jet (cooperating with the Colombian government, assumedly), battle Magic Finger and his army, and defeat him. They leave him tied up over his own shark tank, awaiting the Colombian authorities (there was possibly also some moral ambiguity here, with their contacts in the Colombian government being connected to a rival cartel).
Another was Black Coal. His real name was Cole Connor, and he dressed up as a miner. His powers included flight (achieved by a coal-powered jet pack), an energy pick, and a miner’s cap that could fire blinding beams from its lamp. He was defeated originally in an explosive mid-air battle with Oreo Avenger and Studmuffin in the summer of 2000.
And then there was Mosnar (who was originally supposed to be mentioned in the post “Ghosts,” but got cut). A frightening psychopath, wore a strange, smiling theater mask and regular clothes. His big thing was kidnapping; not for the money, but for the thrill of seeing the hostage’s loved ones plea on TV, and the media attention it got him. He would take pictures of the hostage tied up, sometimes giving them a black eye or ripping a piece of clothing, and letting the hostage’s families use their imaginations to figure out what was going on. Eventually, he’d drop the hostage off, unharmed. In the final case, however, the first group of pictures was more brutal than any first set had been before, indicating that this crime was different. Isomorphix tracked Mosnar down to his lair, and found that the hostage had been killed in some indescribably gruesome way, and Mosnar was in the process of taking pictures of it. Isomorphix executed him with a katana blade through the forehead. His real name was never discovered.
At some point, X-Raytor and DragonGirl hook up (I don’t know the whole story behind this), which damages his friendship with Superdude. X-Raytor and Sticky also have an on-again, off-again thing. In April 2000, X-y, Oreo, and Sticky fail to stop a mentally-disturbed liquor store robber from killing himself in an alley somewhere around the eastern docks (we saw this in the post “Wake Up”). This event has a profound impact on Sticky Spectre, and she really starts to question the usefulness of what they’re doing.
In late 2000, one of X-Raytor’s friends from high school, Link, is murdered, burned alive. X-Raytor goes to the funeral and sees some of his old friends, though he dodges questions about where he’s been. Later that night, while he’s alone on a train platform, X-Raytor is attacked by his old classmate Greg Kimmel, who apparently has super powers. X-Raytor realizes that he’s the one who killed Link (one of several people, including James, who used to torment Greg), and finds some evidence that he’s murdered his parents, as well. He knows he’s going to have to stop him, but can’t seem to find him. In January 2001, he and Insipid Justice are hanging around the Hall of Justice when they get a call about a super villain holding Hugo Danner High School hostage. X-Raytor knows it’s Greg, and they head out to Geauga County. Greg proves to be too powerful for them to take on head-to-head. Eventually, Insipid Justice sacrifices himself to defeat Greg and save the school (he can’t feel pain so he’s able to get close enough to Greg to beat him down, despite being mortally wounded by Greg’s energy attacks). Somehow, Greg seems to lose his powers, and is sent to prison. Insipid Justice dies, making him the first member that the Justice League loses.
At this point, there’s been growing tension between the Justice League and Johnny Avalon. He’s constantly trying to turn the Justice League into a merchandising empire, and attempting to get them to do advertising. The Justice Flying Pretzel is actually an example of this – the owner of a major snack food company donated it to the Justice League so that they could act as a flying advertisement. When the Justice League shot this idea down (Avalon, of course, didn’t tell them about the deal until it was already done), the guy who donated it refused to take it back because (surprise) he didn’t have any use for a giant flying pretzel. They were especially annoyed by his most recent publicity stunt, convincing them to hire a “Junior Justice League” of three young members (yes, I know many of the current members were pretty young themselves, but just ignore that… Johnny Avalon did). I don’t know who they all are, honestly. One was a teenage girl named Know-It-All, who had mental implants that granted her encyclopedic knowledge. Another was a teenage guy with some sort of incredible power (made even more powerful because it seemed to be evolving). And a third person, I guess. Anyway, they’ve barely held the press conference when the news is overshadowed by the revelation that Earth is under attack by an alien race called the Yeerks (yep, it’s May 2001). Which leads us to…
Justice League: Invasion
While the main battlefield seems to be in California, the Justice League are ordered to Washington, D.C., where a second prong of the Yeerk attack is trying to seize control of the American government. As they’re flying there in the Justice Jet, they confront a Blade Ship on the outskirts of D.C. and engage in a dogfight. In the middle of the battle, however, both aircraft are knocked out of the sky as a giant force field suddenly envelops the entire city. They’re able to crash land the Justice Jet safely, but the Blade Ship crashes into a house. When they go to check it out, the house is empty except for a kid, who is injured but not seriously so. Since the city is a warzone and no one can get out, they decide to take the kid with them.
The Justice League starts to realize something is wrong when the number of Yeerk forces in the city is a lot less than it was supposed to be. In fact, they can see Yeerk ships outside of the force field, trying to get it. Eventually they discover that the force field was set up by a rogue Yeerk force, separate from the invasion fleet. This force is led by the former Visser Five, who deserted the Yeerk Empire early in the invasion of Earth, convincing his superiors that he was going deep undercover to research indigenous replacements for Kandrona (branching from the oatmeal breakthrough). In reality, he had far loftier goals. The Yeerk known as Visser Five had always been spiritual, with enlightenment as his highest aim. When he first attached to his host body, however, a wealthy CEO and a voluntary Controller, he went totally off the deep end after experiencing the man’s memories of hippie life in the Sixties. He eventually defected from the Yeerks and joined a commune in Vermont, where he participated in making a decent, if not spectacular, goat cheese for sale to tourists. He had several loyal Yeerks whom he had already converted to his spiritual quest. They continued their Kandrona replacement research (this was his primary responsibility on Earth, as dictated by the Council of Thirteen), and discovered that by administering a certain drug to the goats, they could make them produce a dairy product which replaces the needs for Kandrona. Visser Five saw this as a divine sign, and the making of this goat cheese as holy work. Many of his Yeerks volunteered to become goat Controllers, as a means of spiritual growth (like the horse Controllers in #14, they can speak Galard with goat mouths). He began to spread his goat cheese out into the larger Yeerk community on Earth, gaining more adherents (it’s psychologically, though not physically, addictive) and built a small army for himself. He kept himself abreast of the invasion plans, and when Operation 9466 goes into effect, he saw his chance to strike. He and his forces invaded Washington, D.C., and cordoned it off from both Yeerk and human military forces with the force field, intending on turning it into a sovereign state for himself and his believers. Considering how this isn’t a plan that could be maintained for long, I think it’s possible that Visser Five was planning some sort of mass suicide/“conversion” thing.
Anyway, he doesn’t get to enact whatever his final plan was because that Blade Ship that crashed within the force field was carrying an old rival, Visser Eight (we’d see a bit of their relationship through flashbacks, which would include a few scenes with the Visser high command, meaning we’d get to see Vissers 1 through 9 all in the same room together). The Justice League knew Visser Eight was on the Blade Ship because Iso looked through the computers (however, the fact that he was a Hork-Bajir Controller and that there were a handful of dead Hork-Bajir on the ship indicate that he’s dead). After they’ve infiltrated the Capitol Building (where Visser Five is holed up), the Justice League discover that Visser Eight has been with them the whole time… in the head of the little kid they saved. They discover this too late, and Visser Eight is able to infest the aforementioned extremely-powerful member of the Junior Justice League. He defeats the rest of the Justice League and Visser Five’s forces single-handedly. When he kills Visser Five’s goat Controller honor guard, Visser Five snaps and becomes a trembling, sobbing mess. Visser Eight executes him. We learn that Visser Eight is a bit more of a loyalist than Visser Five – he intends to use his new body to take over the planet for the Yeerk Empire, and become Visser One. He believes in the Yeerk equivalent of the White Man’s Burden, the idea that the Yeerks have to conquer other species because they’re too backwards and uncivilized to take care of themselves.
Just when all seems lost, the Junior Justice League members is able to regain some control and battle Visser Eight for control of his own body (this is connected to the fact that his powers are constantly evolving). Eventually he’s able to gain control again, but knows it’s only temporary – Visser Eight is smart and directly linked to his brain, meaning it’s only a matter of time before he figures out how to keep up with the changing powers. He’s alone with Sticky Spectre, who’s been his mentor this entire time, and begs her to kill him. She hesitates, and then does it (with the little blade things attached to her wristbands). There’s barely any time to mourn, however, as the Justice League has to shut down the force field and join the battle against the invasion force outside.
Afterwards they’re lauded as heroes (not as much as the Animorphs, obviously), but no one’s terribly happy. Know-It-All and the other Junior Justice Leaguer quit, and the Justice League fires Johnny Avalon when he suggests using the one guy’s “heroic” death as a merchandising opportunity. They don’t have another agent until Boyd Billeh.
Sticky Spectre’s Betrayal
Killing the Junior Justice Leaguer pushes Sticky Spectre into a depression that even X-Raytor can’t seem to alleviate. She begins to nighthawk on her own a lot more, disappearing for days on end. When X-Raytor tries to talk to her, she’s evasive. In June, 2001, she seems to get a bit better, and she and X-Raytor start their relationship again. She tells him that she’s starting to feel like she finally has a sense of purpose. They spend the entire day of June 7 together, and X-Raytor starts to think that maybe this is going somewhere serious. And then, on the night of June 8, everything goes to hell.
A slumlord-owned tenement building in the Bottom is blown up, killing sixty people (including a number of children). A few members of the Justice League are called in (because who blows up a low-income apartment building with a bomb?), and they discover some evidence that Sticky Spectre was there. They call back to the Hall to find out if she knows anything, and OMEGA goes to get her (already sensing something is wrong). Sticky has packed all of her stuff and is about to leave the Hall. She tells him that she blew up the building, and tells him that he needs to trust that she had her reasons. OMEGA realizes he needs to make sure she doesn’t leave, but before he can try to convince her to come downstairs with the others she attacks him. She defeats him, but he’s able to use his telekinesis to stop her from leaving the building through her window, and then trips the Hall’s emergency system, locking the entire building down. Sticky makes her way through the Hall, fighting her teammates, until she’s finally able to get out through a hole that Studmuffin makes in the wall. X-Raytor catches up with her on the roof, and they have a stand-off. She tells him that if he wants to stop her, he’ll have to shoot her. As she swings away he does shoot at her, and misses. He’ll always wonder whether or not he missed on purpose. Sticky disappears, despite a hunt that lasts several months.
One last story from the Justice League’s early days: I always imagined that the September 11th attacks had a major impact on the team. In the first “Man of Tomorrow” post, Sampson alleges that the Justice League’s failure to do anything to prevent the attacks irreparably damaged the public’s perception of them, creating a lingering doubt and bitterness that served as the foundation for all of the dissatisfactions of the future. I can imagine that the team had something of an identity crisis at this point as well. And adding this to other recent tragedies like Insipid Justice’s death, the Yeerk invasion of D.C., and Sticky’s betrayal, they may have even considered disbanding. But in the end, they decided that, if anything, these attacks just meant that the world needed them more than it ever had before. So they decided to do their jobs until they couldn’t anymore.
Justice League: City Invincible
So now we jump a bit. There are a number of stories I wanted to do during the main run of the Justice League (which, of course, is the whole point of putting together these summaries). Most of them I’ve either moved up to the time after the JL gets back together following their disbandment, or changed so much that they barely resemble the original idea (the best example of this being the original Sticky Spectre arc, which you can find at the very end of this document). But there was one that only made sense if it took place at a specific time (that being early 2004, shortly after the Awakening/the Second Social), and it was called City Invincible. The idea originally came when I realized that not only was I represented in these stories by X-Raytor, but that two of my best friends from high school also had JL avatars (Right Wing Man and Super Shibes). It just made sense to get them all together in a story at some point.
It’s March 2004, and Right Wing Man is flying… the Justice Jet, that is. Despite the fact that he’s on an unspoken list of people who are not allowed to pilot the Justice Jet (there’s a spoken list, too: Violet, Eric, and temporarily X-Raytor, following what he did to the first Justice Jet at the Second Battle of Albuquerque), Right Wing Man has commandeered the jet in the pursuit of justice! … Sort of. While diligently nighthawking in South Side, he stopped into a fast food place (in civilian clothes) to get some food. While there, he observed a young Latino man walk in and engage in a quick Spanish conversation with one of the cashiers. Right Wing Man is already suspicious because this is America, and in America we speak English. He gets even more suspicious when the young guy goes into the bathroom for about thirty seconds, and then heads out carrying a bulky take-out bag. Suspecting a drug deal, Right Wing Man follows the man outside and slips a Drew-designed tracer onto his car while the guy is distracted by some locals. Right Wing Man gets into his SUV and follows the guy until he leaves the City. With gas in his SUV (predictably) running low, Right Wing Man decides to make a detour to the Hall of Justice and pick up the Justice Jet.
Continuing to follow the tracer, he pursues the guy from the air south through New Jersey. The guy finally gets off of the Turnpike and heads into a city on the Delaware River called Camden. Right Wing Man is hardly surprised – having grown up in the Philadelphia suburbs, he grew up hearing nightmare tales about Camden, which was allegedly a lawless land of crime and villainy. He starts to fantasize about single-handedly cleaning up the city, and how his Justice League teammates will gain new respect for him (and how Oreo will suddenly realize that she’s madly in love with him)… until he’s rudely interrupted by X-Raytor, who walks in from the back of the Jet. Apparently, X-Raytor got on board the Jet earlier in the night because no one would give him the privacy required to watch his naughty movies, and he ended up dozing off. Right Wing Man explains what’s going on, and X-Raytor decides to roll with it, because they might as well do some super hero stuff, right?
They follow the young guy to a house in the North Camden ghetto, where it’s revealed that he was only bringing down a week’s worth of a certain type of chicken wing that he and his friends love. Annoyed, X-Raytor tells Right Wing Man that they’re going home, but before they can get back on the Jet (cloaked and circling on autopilot), they’re confronted… by Super Shibes.
Super Shibes is none-too-pleased to see them, and growls that this is his turf. After a tense stand-off in which X-Raytor realizes he’s the only sane person present, Super Shibes tells them that he’s investigating some real evildoing and, reluctantly, allows them to help. We then get a flashback of Super Shibes trying to pick up girls on the waterfront, only to have them ignore him (or, well, his mild-mannered alter ego Eric Schaible) in favor of some Philadelphia frat boys. Immediately assuming they’re up to no good, Super Shibes decides to follow them (pretty much the same as how Right Wing Man’s night began). The frat boys drove around North Camden, dropping by houses and drug corners and collecting money (which is pretty damn suspicious), until he was distracted by the Justice Jet cruising by overhead. X-Raytor figures that, if they’re already all the way down here, they might as well stop some crimes.
They catch up with the frat boys’ car and watch them collecting money from a pimp. When the frat boys start to hassle some of the prostitutes, the three super heroes step in. They’re surprised, however, when one of the frat boys displays super powers (not sure what yet) and attacks them. A clumsy fight ensues, which mostly results in X-Raytor getting hurt a lot. Eventually the super heroes prevail and are able to snag the money that the frat boys have been collecting. The frat boys manage to pile into their car and escape, however.
Suddenly, the cops show up. Apparently, Camden has a law that only registered super heroes may fight crime in the city (a law they created solely because of Super Shibes). Super Shibes wants to fight the police, but X-Raytor says that the Justice League doesn’t need any more bad press. They allow themselves to be arrested.
Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, the frat boys drive to an upscale office building in Center City and ride the elevator up to the top. They meet with a slick business CEO whom Super Shibes mentioned before as being his deadliest enemy… The Man! The frat boys are notably nervous about how he’s going to react to them losing the money, but The Man shrugs it off. He’s far more interested in the opportunities that these two new super heroes might provide… and in the chance to rid himself of Super Shibes once and for all!
This part was even more loosely sketched out. X-Raytor, Right Wing Man, and Super Shibes are in a Camden precinct house lock-up, arguing about what to do. Right Wing Man and Super Shibes want to break out and go after the frat boys. X-Raytor doesn’t, but he’s also unwilling to call the Hall of Justice because he’s worried about what the girls will do to him. Meanwhile, the super-powered frat boy is on his way to the precinct house, planning to kill the three of them while they’re locked up. He’s confronted by the desk officer and attacks him. Hearing the commotion, X-Raytor relents and lets Right Wing Man break them out of their cell (there aren’t any power dampeners).
I’m not sure what happens from there. The Man obviously has some evil plot that they’d have to foil. Part 2 involves some action in Camden (the “city invincible,” as Walt Whitman said), but also shifts to Philadelphia. SuperNova definitely makes a cameo at some point (perhaps hunting our heroes), and it’s revealed that Right Wing Man had a crush on her when he was a teenager. I imagine this entire story would flesh out both Right Wing Man and Super Shibes’ pasts, and go some ways towards explaining why they are the way they are. X-Raytor would probably grow in empathy for both of them, while still finding them unbearable and insane. Right Wing Man’s crush on Oreo Avenger would probably come up (making X-Raytor uncomfortable), and Super Shibes would reveal that he had crushes on Twisk and Xiao during his time on the Justice League (the two fulfilling his basic requirements of blond or “shady”).
The final battle would probably take place on the Ben Franklin Bridge (which connects Philly and Camden), with Super Shibes defeating The Man and Right Wing Man and X-Raytor fighting other super villains (X-Raytor probably fights the first super-powered frat boy, and Right Wing Man probably has to battle a gang member with super-strength or something). In the end, Super Shibes tells them that they weren’t entirely useless, and X-Raytor and Right Wing Man return to the City. On the flight back, X-Raytor (feeling a bit guilty) tries to assure Right Wing Man that the rest of the team are on their way to accepting him as a member. Right Wing Man says something convoluted and X-Raytor decides to just concentrate on flying. But in his heart of hearts, Right Wing Man finally feels like a big-time super hero.
The story probably ends with a coda of Super Shibes tying up some final loose end (capturing a frat boy who got away, or going back to get the pimp who showed up earlier).
Because I’m planning this thing in hindsight, I also like to imagine that there would be some foreshadowing to Right Wing Man’s eventual transformation into Captain Justice, and his relationships in that identity with X-Raytor and SuperNova.
M.O.R.P.H.Z. was created after World War II, under the somewhat nebulous charter of protecting America from “extraordinary threats.” While the nature of these threats has always been left open-ended (so that the agency never narrows its focus), M.O.R.P.H.Z.’s creation certainly had something to do with the debut of the first Captain Justice. At first it was a relatively small division of military intelligence, run out of a Pentagon sub-basement. So small, in fact, that it only comprised of six members. Indeed, the name M.O.R.P.H.Z. itself originally came from the last names of its founders – Bob Morgan, Mark O’Donnell, Charlie Rosewater, Vincent Petruzziello, Roscoe Hillmann, and Brian Zajac. No official explanation of the anagram has ever been given in order to protect the identities of the original founders (if you go onto M.O.R.P.H.Z.’s government page, for instance, it wouldn’t be spelled out anywhere). Agents enjoy getting creative with alternatives (for example, Ruskey’s “Military Organization Representing the Powers-that-be and Have Zap-guns. They didn’t even think zap-guns were possible when M.O.R.P.H.Z. was created). Also, as an additional note, Agent Rachel Morgan-Wall is a descendent of founder Bob Morgan, and TV host Ronnie Rosewater is probably somehow related to Charlie Rosewater.
The organization grew in size and influence after Captain Justice (II) debuted and offered his services to the United States government. M.O.R.P.H.Z. had been involved in trying to create super humans since its inception (the first Captain Justice planted the idea of super-soldiers and began the super-human arms race), so they took the lead in attempting to discover why he had his powers in the first place, and whether it would be possible to replicate them. While they didn’t succeed, this did lay the foundations for the current super-soldier program. Despite the Super-Human Test Ban Treaty of 1973, M.O.R.P.H.Z. continued their research in secret. Even so, most of the higher-ups (including Colonel Roger Sampson, who became director in the late 1970’s) assumed that the “extraordinary threats” of the near future would end up being alien invaders. While they were right, to an extent (though they totally missed the Yeerks), by the end of the Eighties, most people in M.O.R.P.H.Z. realized that super humans were going to be the nation’s biggest problem as it approached the Twenty-First Century.
In order to really tell the story of M.O.R.P.H.Z. as we know it, however, we need to tell the story of the man who made it what it is today: General Jeff Sampson.
Jeff Sampson was born in Houston, Texas on September 16, 1968. An Army brat, his father, Jack Sampson, served with distinction in Korea, and retired with a Congressional Medal of Honor. From a young age, Sampson was instilled with a strong sense of duty and a belief that the national good surpassed all others. Also raised in privilege (his mother was an heiress of the Harrisburg Pentwythe dynasty), Sampson learned the delicate art of circumventing the rules. When he was twelve, Sampson’s parents died in a plane crash. Without their influence, he spent most of his high school years carousing and exploiting his privilege to the furthest limit. He sobered up after getting a stern talking to by his paternal uncle, Roger (a career military man like his father, holding the rank of colonel and now installed in a somewhat vague government job), and limited his college years to study and ROTC. After graduation he began his military career, serving in the Persian Gulf. While there, he was part of a team that stumbled upon the results of Saddam’s earliest super soldier experiments (horrors inflicted upon Kurdish political prisoners). After returning from the mission he was scooped off of the field by federal agents and returned, confused and angry, to Washington. He was received by his uncle, who explained that he was the current and inaugural head of a new branch of military intelligence, designed for global peacekeeping, strategic reassessment, and the preservation of America in a rapidly changing world. When asked what he meant by “changing,” Roger replied: “The gods have stepped down from their storm clouds and mountains and are walking among us.” More plainly: Roger was the head of the United States’ new attempt to win the super human arms race. When Captain Justice and his super powered antecedents appeared during World War II, the entire paradigm of the world shifted. Once people started gaining super powers by accident, as opposed to genetics, the next logical step would be to replicate those processes and intentionally give people powers… effectively making super powers tomorrow’s atomic bomb. The first tests began in the later years of World War II, and escalated during the Cold War. It culminated when the UN, full to the teeth with its inspectors reporting monstrous crimes to humanity in America, the USSR, and Southeast Asia, enacted in the name of creating a super soldier serum, passed the Superhuman Test Ban Treaty of 1973 (countries which notably did not sign this treaty were Iran, North Korea, and China). Of course, after signing the treaty, the United States went right back to working on a super solider serum, just pushing it further and further underground. Sampson was introduced to the program’s head scientist, Dr. Eugene Fallow, who explained that the real starting point of the super soldier program was the second Captain Justice, a Korea veteran like Sampson’s father and uncle, who (by nature) displayed the ideal powers any America super soldier would have. All future efforts were centered around trying to recreate those powers (Captain Justice II’s powers were, of course, genetic; scientists at the time, including Fallow, regarded this as a genetic anomaly, while Sampson, when he took over M.O.R.P.H.Z. instead posited that perhaps there was a common genetic factor in all natural powers, beginning the research division that would eventually lead M.O.R.P.H.Z. back to the Seekers and their masters). Sampson began as a field agent, working domestically in several capacities, including being the commanding officer present for the apprehension of the mutated Jansen family (he spoke to X-Raytor that night, offering some words of encouragement, and setting up their future relationship). He also spent some time abroad, doing secret agent work in Somalia, the Balkans, and the Middle East. By 2001, and the 9/11 attacks, the two Sampsons had essentially solidified M.O.R.P.H.Z. into its current form, and begun more intensive work on a secret super soldier program (including drawing up a five year plan involving a government-funded super hero team). During this time, Jeff went from being a field agent to an administrative officer within the agency, making several important calls such as sending Dr. Fallow to the Dakota facility and nixing plans to approach the Justice League with an offer for government support (he wanted to work out the kinks of the five year plan first… also, he believed that the Justice League would work as an experiment in what a successful super hero team should and should not do). Construction of the Main Base began in 2002. This same year, Colonel Roger Sampson was assassinated by certain concerned parties within the United States military. In 2003, Jeff Sampson became the director of M.O.R.P.H.Z. (being promoted to Colonel, and then quickly to General). He struck quickly against the forces who had killed his uncle, making sure that their seditious and anti-American actions were publicly known before sending them to jail forever. Everything else flows from there.
Interesting notes on Sampson’s psychology include his initial longing for a father, which was fulfilled by his uncle, until his death. By this point, however, Sampson felt as if he had dealt with that issue; at the same time, he does display a good deal of paternal instincts towards X-Raytor (his experiences dealing with the loss of his own parents also informs much of the advice that he gives X-Raytor about life).
The Super Soldier Program
As noted above, the super soldier program really began after Captain Justice (II) appeared. After World War II it made sense to assume that Captain Justice (I)’s powers might have been an anomaly, but the emergence of the second hero proved that nature could recreate this phenomenon. And any phenomenon that could be recreated by nature, theoretically, could be recreated by humanity. And so, the governments of the world set about trying to create the first homemade superman. Their efforts were emboldened, of course, by the debut of heroes in the First Super Hero Era who had gained their powers accidentally, through scientific gaffs. The testing, however, led to many human rights abuses, and eventually the UN decided to pass the Superhuman Test Ban Treaty of 1973. The United States signed the agreement, while quietly pushing its super soldier initiative into the shadowy hands of M.O.R.P.H.Z. (many of the other nations that signed did the same thing). While Roger Sampson made some headway in the effort to create a workable super soldier serum, it was Jeff who really cracked the problem during his term as director. By the time the Justice League Underground/Sentinels stories roll around, the government has finally gotten its hands on a viable super soldier serum. Summarized below are the major milestones that brought them to this point.
On the way to discovery, of course, there are many dead ends – this is one of them. They probably wouldn’t actually be called “x-particles” in the story, but the idea is that after X-Raytor mutated his family, M.O.R.P.H.Z. scientists discovered that the reason for the mutations was that X-Raytor’s power had caused a very specific genetic shift in each person. In essence, he created a new type of gene, or a new type of genetic particle, which mutated people in different ways. This was M.O.R.P.H.Z.’s first lead on Sampson’s genetic origins of super powers theory, and they worked on isolating and then reproducing these “x-particles.” Dr. Fallow had a few successes, but the majority of test subjects were reduced to barely-human gargoyles (like X-Raytor’s parents, and most of his family). The success rate is roughly 30%, with only ten of the thirty-three people that underwent this shift actually gaining super powers (X-Raytor, Alex, Bubba, X-y’s Aunt Martha, cousins Tom, Nuala, and David, and three of the girls from his school – Elena DeSantos, Ashlee Markland, and Grace de la Croix). Due to the enormous failure rate, M.O.R.P.H.Z. ultimately decided that the x-particles were not a reliable method for their super soldier program, and abandoned the research. This led to a split between Sampson, who made this decision, and Fallow, who believed that his successes with x-particles should count more than his failures. He requested Sampson’s permission to continue testing x-particles in his North Dakota facility, which Sampson allowed (mostly because Fallow had always been unstable, and he was looking for ways to shut him out of the emerging research in Seeker DNA).
Plant No. 6
Early on, Sampson knew that in order to create a super soldier serum, he’d need to have access to the cutting-edge of pharmaceutical research and laboratories. M.O.R.P.H.Z. provided a pretty nice set-up with Dr. Fallow, but the problem was that it came with Dr. Fallow. Sampson found a replacement in Bo Powers, CEO of PowersCorp. While Bo wasn’t necessarily more trustworthy than Fallow, he was at least motivated by money (and a promise from M.O.R.P.H.Z. to turn a blind eye to most of his criminal dealings) instead of an obsessive, amoral desire for invention, like Fallow. Bo immediately went to work, centering his research in secret laboratories beneath PowersCorp Plant No. 6 in Lowell County (this is something I’ve had planned since high school – it’s right there on the City map!).
Bo certainly had some successes. He succeeded in creating a serum that enhanced the strength, speed, and durability of lab rats (and probably would have worked on humans), with the only drawback being that it killed them after a few days. At the same time, M.O.R.P.H.Z. approached Crescent Moonn (CEO of MoonnCorp and head of the Moonn crime family) with a similar offer, and she began working on her own serum. In order to rush right to the human testing stage without being bogged down by pesky things like “ethics,” Crescent begins to distribute small samples of her serum in heroin being sold in South Side in the mid-Nineties. Because who cares about poor people? As a side note, she’s helped in this endeavor by her lover, Jordan Vance, and his business partner, Robert “Bubba” Adamski (who later uses some of the serum to allow him to change to and from his Green Penguin form at will). Crescent’s serum improves, despite the fact that it’s highly addictive and eventually kills you. At this point, however, Bo has learned that Crescent is working on a serum (maybe through M.O.R.P.H.Z., in fact) and stolen a sample. He uses her work to patch up the holes in his own, and ta daaa! He has a working human enhancement serum that increases one’s strength, speed, and agility, while only producing a mild addiction. He uses this serum to secure Magic Finger’s cocaine connection and to secure an exclusive contract with M.O.R.P.H.Z. His first human test subjects are his enforcers, notably She-Man, the Ferret, and Sixtus (later, this same serum was used to enhance Horus, of the Legion of Legends). It works well enough, but it has two major drawbacks: first, the fact that it’s mildly addictive, and second, the fact that the effects aren’t long lasting, requiring multiple doses (this wouldn’t be useful for super soldiers in the field… not to mention that it’s absurdly expensive). The Seeker DNA pretty much knocks his serum out of the running, because it gives powers permanently. Bo, however, continues to contribute to this research, and his scientists have been responsible for several major breakthroughs. Loud Mouth and the Silencer, Penny Lane, and Julian are also products of Bo’s experiments. Loud Mouth and the Silencer are straight-up accidents – they both fell into a vat of some experimental mixture while breaking into Plant No. 6 one night (probably for some unimaginably stupid reason). Penny Lane stole a sample of the serum while on a high school field trip to PowersCorp Plant No. 6 (it was an earlier version, already obsolete, so Bo was showing it off as an “energy supplement”) and eventually learned how to make more for herself. Julian’s mother, Beth Firestone, was a completely different story. She was on the janitorial staff at Plant No. 6, and agreed to be a human research subject in one of the early (real early – mid-eighties) human enhancement serum trials for a rather large bonus. She didn’t develop super powers, but she did develop a strange disease that ate away at her mind and which PowersCorp-paid doctors diagnosed as Parkinson’s (despite the fact that it didn’t look anything like Parkinson’s). Julian did develop super powers, however, although it wasn’t until adolescence. PowersCorp remains blissfully unaware of this development (although M.O.R.P.H.Z. may have figured it out, depending on how much they’ve studied Julian while he’s been in custody).
Of course, Bo has his side projects as well. While he’s working on M.O.R.P.H.Z.’s serum, he’s also been taking the breakthroughs he’s making for them and turning them to his own advantage in a secret facility in the jungles of Myanmar. He intends on perfecting a super soldier serum there, outside of M.O.R.P.H.Z.’s grip, and then using it to play M.O.R.P.H.Z. and the Head Honcho (who is generally clueless about this whole thing – any of Bo’s research that he does know about he assumes is small and isolated, just a way of building stronger thugs) against each other, so that he can come out on top. At the moment he’s beholden to both forces, and he isn’t pleased with this situation. However, Bo is also working on something that even M.O.R.P.H.Z. hasn’t shown an interest in yet: an anti-powers serum. A serum that removes super powers, leaving those who receive it as normal people. This would make a fortune in and of itself, but we could also speculate that Bo is hoping that by making super powers something that can be cured, he can rid the world of as many super heroes as possible (one more step in his endless revenge for the death of his fiancée). So far he isn’t having much success, since a significant number of the Burmese test subjects died. A number did receive powers, however, and attempted to rebel, causing the scientists and guards that that facility to kill them all (except one, a teenage girl named Nu Than). Due to this debacle, Bo had at least one of the Myanmar facilities destroyed.
Now, let’s bring it all together. SH-ANNON is the blanket term for M.O.R.P.H.Z.’s super soldier initiative (the SH stands for Super Human – I based the name on MK-ULTRA, the CIA’s old attempts to create a method of mind control). This is what Jake (of Animorphs fame) referred to when he visited X-Raytor drunk that one time and asked him if he knew anyone named Shannon. In that scene, X-Raytor pretty much had the biggest clue in the series dropped in his lap, but had absolutely no idea what to do with it (even as leader of the Sentinels, it wouldn’t be until towards the end of those stories that he’d be able to put the pieces together). While this name has been used to refer to the program in its various forms over the past few decades, it currently refers almost exclusively to reproducing and manipulating Seeker DNA.
As noted above, Sampson always theorized that natural super powers had to have some common genetic origin. When M.O.R.P.H.Z. sent Psychonauts to covertly investigate what the deal was with Studmuffin after the Awakening, they discovered what that origin was – after plucking from Studmuffin’s mind the fact that biological powers were descended from a race of alien warriors. Since M.O.R.P.H.Z. was in custody of the Seekers’ bodies anyway, they immediately began picking them apart, learning everything they could about their alien genetics. Surprisingly, they found results rather quickly – by 2004 (when Sticky Spectre broke into the Pentagon in one of Iso’s posts… remember that?) they had already drawn a link between Seeker DNA and the DNA of some biological powers. They immediately began to play with Seeker DNA. Unfortunately for Sampson, this method hasn’t produced great results. It temporarily gives subjects incredible powers, but quickly eats them up and destroys them. Even extremely physically fit subjects (volunteers from the military) weren’t strong enough to survive the treatment. Eventually, M.O.R.P.H.Z. approached the Patriot (formerly Right Wing Man) to ask for his help. Knowing he was already practically invincible, they figured he might have a better shot of surviving. The Patriot agreed, and began to undergo increasingly-intense treatments of a serum based on Bo’s work and Seeker DNA (while taking part in several strategic missions in the Middle East to test his progress – this was when that whole “peace ambassador” thing was made up). This initiative was code named Project Icon. Not only did he survive the treatments, but he displayed spectacular results: after about a year of treatments, the Patriot was totally invincible, stronger than they could have possibly imagined and – best of all for him – able to fly. Rechristened Captain Justice (III), he remains their only success. Unfortunately, even this victory may have dire consequences, since Captain Justice has begun to hear multi-colored voices…
The Legion of Legends and the Sentinels tie into SH-ANNON, obviously. The most direct example is Horus, who was enhanced using Bo’s serum (and then given a falsified biography… he’s also supposed to be keeping an eye on the Legion for M.O.R.P.H.Z.). But the overall initiative was meant to garner public support for government-supported super heroes. The Legion of Legends was meant to be the initial introduction to the idea – look how awesome a federally-backed super hero team can be, as opposed to all of those messy, ineffective, privately-run teams we have now! There’s a ten-year plan (starting in 2005), which would begin with the Legion of Legends and then slowly begin to reinstate smaller teams around the country (just with more accountability and oversight than they had in the past). The Legion of Legends would transition into facing external threats, while these teams would deal with internal threats. The Sentinels, obviously, were the pilot program for the domestic initiative, and were also meant to fill the space vacated by the Justice League, so that they couldn’t reform as the same entity they used to be once the government started allowing more super hero teams. Then, as the American public’s attitude towards super heroes becomes more favorable (and, arguably, for good reason if the oversight was as good in practice as it promised to be on paper), and the international community becomes more accustomed to the Legion of Legends intervening in conflicts away from American soil (always linked to national security interests, of course), M.O.R.P.H.Z. would start to push for a reform of the Superhuman Test Ban Treaty. By this point, the Legion of Legends’ expanded role would have prompted other nations (notably members of the EU, China, and possibly Russia) to have their national teams take more action on a global level. So you would already have super soldiers, technically, but without military training and standards. And isn’t this the sort of thing that would be much better under the aegis of the military? The end goal would be legalizing super soldier initiatives, allowing M.O.R.P.H.Z. to pump all of its secret research into the mainstream and putting the American military light years ahead of the rest of the world.
This is obviously a controversial plan, even within M.O.R.P.H.Z. In fact, some members of the organization became so concerned that they split off and created a splinter faction, dedicated to disrupting the super soldier program. I’ll get into them later, since they figure into Firehop’s backstory and the Sentinels’ adventures.
This is a completely separate matter from the super soldier program, but this seems like as good a place as any to describe it. The Tesseract was mentioned a few times in some of X-Raytor’s posts (from the one where he falls off the wagon onwards), and it would have appeared in an unwritten John, Lord of Darkness (Dum Dum Duuuuuum!) saga entitled The Return of Dark Shadow. In this story, set in September 2005 (so only shortly after the Organized Vigilantism Disbandment Act (OVDA) was passed) M.O.R.P.H.Z. arrests John LoD and puts him on trial for his various crimes, with Dark Shadow acting as their key witness. X-Raytor is called in to testify, although he’s a bit reluctant since he and John became friends in JohnWorld 3006, and he believes that he’s mostly harmless. Regardless, Sampson takes the opportunity to show X-Raytor around some of M.O.R.P.H.Z.’s newest projects (later we’d realize this is part of his grooming for leadership of the Sentinels). The most important of those projects is the Tesseract.
The Tesseract is a new type of M.O.R.P.H.Z. base, built in the fourth dimension. When M.O.R.P.H.Z. used its experimental Sario Rip generator for the first and only time in JohnWorld 3006, it left a pocket of fourth dimensional space that they could access. They built the Tesseract there, a meta-building that can access different points in space… and, theoretically, time. This is why whenever John is taken out of the Tesseract, he’s somewhere else: there are portals to the Tesseract in M.O.R.P.H.Z. facilities all over the country. M.O.R.P.H.Z. is doing a lot of their really top secret work here, including some stuff involving the super soldier program (though Sampson doesn’t tell X-Raytor about this). One place they visit is called the Continuity Department, a group of mildly-insane scientists who are looking into various paradoxes in the JLoD/Tri-Leader/JL universe (i.e. how Animorphs and So Weird are fictional works, but also historical realities, and more importantly, why no one realizes this… also, Captain Continuity might work there). X-Raytor is so freaked out by this place that he actually asks to have his memories of the fifteen minutes he spent in there erased.
It also houses M.O.R.P.H.Z.’s super villain prison, which
leads to some unpleasantness later on when Dark Shadow commandeers the base for
his own nefarious purposes and releases all of the Oscar villains, Julian, and
the Green Penguin to delay X-Raytor and M.O.R.P.H.Z. During this encounter, X-Raytor finally gets to give the Green
Penguin the epic beat down he so richly deserves. In the end, the station is shut down and destroyed, because
Sampson recognizes that it’s just too damn dangerous. The villains are moved somewhere else (to the M.O.R.P.H.Z. Main
Base, in fact). They do, however,
continue to play around with displacing space, as evidenced by the portal that
X-Raytor and Sampson use to go from the City to Thailand during their lunch
meeting in that one post. The
experience made X-Raytor more wary than ever of Sampson, and, indeed, almost
severed their relationship entirely (when he sees Sampson after the prison
riot, X-Raytor implies that he had some choice words for Sampson following the
Tesseract incident). This actually was
one of the things that recommended X-Raytor for co-leadership of the Sentinels:
Sampson wanted someone who would question him every now and then. At the same time, he knows that X-Raytor
trusts him on a basic level, so he’ll never oppose him too much.
The Third Super Hero Era
The Third Super Hero Era began in 2005, with the passing of the Organized Vigilantism Disbandment Act (OVDA). The actual timeline for the stories I planned on writing would have been between then and 2010 (when the Justice League is back together and on their way to a press conference). Obviously we already started writing stories set in this era, but that was just the beginning. I wrote two arcs that roughly alternated posts: “The Comeback Kid,” about X-Raytor hitting bottom, getting arrested, and then becoming the leader of the Sentinels, and “Man of Tomorrow,” which established that Right Wing Man was the new Captain Justice and set up all of the Legions of Legends stuff that will be discussed below. I kind of imagine this era as being three different, but related, comic books. For example, when Marvel does a big event, like Civil War, you’ve got separate story arcs going on in Avengers, X-Men, and Fantastic Four that still tie in to the overall arc. Only in our case, the three series would be Justice League Underground, The Sentinels, and The Legion of Legends. In the actual writing of these stories, of course, most of the Legion of Legends action would happen in Sentinel stories (with the occasional one-off post that just featured them – like the one where they fight the Iron Chef, or where Silver Falcon and SuperNova chat at a party about getting rid of Captain Justice). So while X-Raytor, Violet, and Raven are having adventures that may have little-to-no bearing on the rest of the Justice Leaguers, it’s all connected and woven together. The main arc for the Sentinels is their cohesion as a team (paralleling X-Raytor’s personal growth as a leader), delving into the pasts of each of the members, and eventually determining whether they or the Justice League is a better way of being a super hero team. The Legion of Legends’ stories would have been about their dysfunctional group dynamics, Silver Falcon’s personal struggles, and Captain Justice slowly becoming the One. As for the Justice League Underground, that would be up to y’all, although I would assume that it would involve the JLU growing as more and more past members join (they’ve already grown significantly from Pinzz’s initial recruitment up to the Xiao/Fred novel), and becoming bolder, eventually leading to a direct confrontation with the Legion of Legends and the Sentinels. I also like the idea of the Believer becoming a new major villain, perhaps forming a super villain gang that operates under the radar, making them a problem that the JLU would have an easier time handling than the Sentinels might. Below are a quick summary of everything we know about the Justice League Underground (JLU) so far, and then a breakdown of each story arc I had planned for this time period:
Justice League Underground
As of the Xiao/Fred novel (which I think takes place in mid-2007), the JLU’s confirmed membership is: Pinzz, Rosma, Scarlett, Crystal, Netic, Twisk, Jo Surf, and Drew. Mac Attack is assumedly with them as well (since Scarlett and Jo are there), but he isn’t seen or mentioned. Eric briefly appears, but is removed by Captain Continuity. This actually works, however, because Eric does join the JLU – he’s recruited by the others while he’s out and about one day, and agrees to spy on the Sentinels for them. However Eric is pretty much the worst undercover agent ever, so he’s constantly in danger of exposing himself (and the others) to X-Raytor and M.O.R.P.H.Z. Oreo Avenger knows about the JLU, but hasn’t decided whether or not she’ll join (though assumedly she would at some point). Studmuffin will also join later, after the JLU rescues him, and Midnight Chatter joins their ranks after he’s “resurrected.”
Pinzz is the leader of the JLU, with Rosma acting as a balancing force against her and Crystal’s more radical inclinations. They get a lot of information from Fat Domino, “the gang boss with a heart.” An old contact of Isomorphix’s, Fat Domino is providing them with information in exchange for the JLU laying off of his non-violent criminal enterprises. The JLU may even occasionally meet in his sleazy bar. Pinzz (and several others) obviously consider X-Raytor a traitor (Violet and Raven too, but not as much as X-y) and see the Sentinels as being just as bad as the Legion of Legends. The two teams don’t actually fight, however, until their final two confrontations. Eventually, the JLU is literally forced underground, once X-Raytor learns about their existence.
A note on Studmuffin. I wrote a post (never actually posted, apparently), about Studmuffin in his M.O.R.P.H.Z. holding cell. He’s pretty much gone insane, but is brought back to himself by the sudden appearance of Jarhead in his cell. No one else (“no one” being the M.O.R.P.H.Z. guards and a psychologist) can see him, and there’s some evidence that he might actually be a hallucination. Jarhead tries to prove otherwise by slapping Studmuffin around a little bit, although he admits that Studmuffin could just be doing that to himself using his Chi powers. Jarhead says it isn’t important if Studmuffin thinks he’s real, just that he listens – there’s big trouble coming, and he’s going to have to be ready if he wants to stop it. This idea was pretty much a rip-off of Number Six from the new Battlestar, and the same questions would apply: Is Jarhead a hallucination? Or something else? There’s a moment in the scene Margie wrote where the JLU breaks Studmuffin out, where he looks at an empty spot of the cell and says, “Took you long enough.” I like to think that he actually addressed that line to Jarhead, who was talking to him throughout that scene. Anyway, the way I saw this playing out was that Jarhead had, somehow, managed to actually get back to Studmuffin, escaping from Fred. Not sure how, but it happened. In his disembodied state, he was able to listen in on the Intellects’ psychic conversations like never before, and discovered that they were moving ahead with their plans by selecting another One (Captain Justice/RWM). He also realized the full extent of their contempt for all other lifeforms, including Seekers. This, and the unexpected friendship that had been forming between Studmuffin and the Seekers in his head before Fred ate them, causes Jarhead to betray his former masters and enlist Studmuffin in thwarting their plans. More on this in the summary of the final arc, “Heroes.”
As noted above, I like the idea of the Believer being a major opponent of the JLU. They’d probably also have to deal with Saph and maybe some allies of Sticky Spectre who show up causing trouble. They’ll probably also run into Nu Than, the Burmese girl who escaped from Bo’s super human experiment facility. According to Holly, she eventually gets to Thailand and spends some time as a thief, working out of a brothel. Eventually she comes to the States and meets everyone else. Maybe she ends up on the team at some point? Whatever works. I’ll leave it to you guys to plan out their story arcs, and just handle the Sentinels here.
“Sentinels” – It’s late 2007, and twelve recruits arrive at M.O.R.P.H.Z. One of them is Galen Grant, a teenager modeling himself after the classic hero, Gauntlet. We begin with a flashback to how he got his powers—visiting the original Gauntlet, recreating the accident, and then waking up with super powers… right after OVDA has been passed. In the present, he meets the Great Incanto, Sparks (the new Shocker), and another super heroine (who will not make the final cut). All three are somewhat dismayed when they see Violet and Raven are among the group, thinking they must be shoe-ins. Arriving at the base, they are informed by X-Raytor and Firehop that they will be tested in order to see who will be hired for the six open spots on the Sentinels. Gauntlet is inspired when he sees Violet and Raven working together during a difficult physical test, and gets the Great Incanto ("Inky"), Sparks, and Daydreamer to help them out. The test is revealed to have been about teamwork, so the six named above make the final cut for the team (X-y, Firehop, and Sampson really wanted this team combination anyway, so they're pleased with the results). At a press conference revealing the new Sentinels, the other six recruits attack, calling themselves the Replacements. The Sentinels beat them, and look awesome. They move into the Hall of Justice, which is renamed the Watchtower (they also get all of the JL’s vehicles, which were confiscated after OVDA – it’s in one of Lori’s posts!). We meet Col. Emma Webb, who is M.O.R.P.H.Z.'s Director of Operations, and Sampson's second-in-command. We also meet Chief of Agents Lucas Ritter, the top M.O.R.P.H.Z. agent (who we've met before, under the alias of Agent Steve Fulloschitz).
For reference, here’s the entire team roster:
X-Raytor – X-ray vision and optic blasts.
Firehop – Ability to control fire.
Violet Princess – Illusion-casting and super human intuition. Using the alias “Valerie Ryan,” and passing herself off as a second Violet Princess.
Raven – Intangibility.
Gauntlet (II) – Galen Grant, a teenager from a wealthy family. His father was the City’s ADA, before he was mysteriously murdered a few years back. He received his powers from the original Gauntlet – the ability to project blue energy from his hands, and to fly. Determined, a bit cocky, and a ladies’ man – essentially a younger X-Raytor.
The Great Incanto (Inky) – George Trismegistus, a young sorcerer with magical powers. He can alter reality to some extent, although he mostly uses it to make things appear and disappear. He has allergies, and his powers tend to backfire when he sneezes.
Sparks – Bridget Farrell, girlfriend of Ryan Walton, the original Shocker who was murdered by Magic Finger before he could join the Justice League. Like Ryan, she can absorb electricity and then manipulate it. She can also turn into electricity and travel through power lines.
Daydreamer – Chaz Phitsanulok was a prodigy growing up in South Side’s Little Cambodia neighborhood. He designed his Thinking Cap from scratch, an incredible device that allows him to cast “hard light” projections of anything he can think of – making his imagination come to life, essentially.
“Saints & Sinners” – Early 2008, right after the Sentinels have made their official debut. As the team starts to gel, they face their first big challenge: rounding the up the villains (the Sinners) and heroes (the Apostles) who escaped from the Row. The Apostles help them defeat the Sinners, and X-y decides to give them a break and doesn't bring them in. However, he doesn't know that the Apostles are planning a major terrorist attack against M.O.R.P.H.Z., and even though the Sentinels foil their plan, X-y's mistake almost costs him his job. Sampson tells him he has to decide where he stands on OVDA, and asks what he would do if his old friends from the Justice League got back together (this is called foreshadowing). Also, Firehop and X-Raytor's flirtation reaches critical mass. They agree to cut off their impending failed relationship before it happens. All kinds of other stuff happens that I don’t want to get into because I’m hoping to write this as a NaNo: one of the Apostles is an old friend of Violet’s, one of them is also a traitor, the Game abandons the Sinners before the final showdown, and X-Raytor is still working his way through the 12 Steps, being particularly stuck on the whole “higher power” thing. We also get to meet two new members of the Sentinels’ support team: Know-It-All (Natalie, one of those “Junior Justice Leaguers” from Invasion) and Adrian, a twenty-something telepath (Claire mentioned him in that post where X-y fails to apologize to Oreo, he was at grad school with her).
“The Game” - The Game, a super villain and the only one of the Sinners who doesn't get caught in the previous arc, returns to South Side in order to rebuild his drug empire. This story brings the Sentinels face-to-face with the reality of poverty in the inner-city (as well as the fact that super heroes only ever go to South Side to beat someone up or arrest someone, as opposed to helping to address the root problems). It turns out that M.O.R.P.H.Z. (as well as the FBI and City Narcotics) actually wanted the Game to return to South Side – OVDA makes it a lot easier to set up surveillance on people with super powers, so they’d be able to get information on his drug suppliers and other dealers in the City). There would be something that would prompt the Sentinels to get involved, though – not sure what, but, hey, details. The big questions of the arc are: Is "fighting crime" the only thing super heroes should be doing? Could they also be trying to create a world where crime isn't necessary? And how the hell would they do that? We delve a bit into Chaz’ childhood in South Side, and get the sense that it was a lot darker than his enthusiastic demeanor would lead us to believe. This story also ties into something that happened during X-y's solo career, back in the summer of 1998.
“Raven” - A story where we delve into Raven's origins. After dealing with a rash on her shoulder blades for the last several story arcs (which originally showed up way back at the beginning of the RPG), Raven suddenly grows huge, black raven wings in front of her teammates. Her explanation: “Um… I’m not exactly from around here.” We (and they) learn that, after the Justice League disbanded, Raven returned to Charitable Xilio, the sideshow proprietor with whom she had originally worked (his sideshow actually functions as an undercover super hero team). She started getting the rashes and eventually sprouted wings, and Xilio revealed her true origins to her: Raven is from another universe (obviously one where people have wings), and was the daughter of that universe’s evil overlords, equivalents of John, Lord of Darkness (Dum Dum Duuuuuum!) and Ebony. She was actually a princess in that universe, which is part of why she was so addicted to PM2. Eventually she rejected her parents’ evil ways, however, and used her powers to cross not just through physical boundaries, but through those of time and space, entering into a completely different universe! Now, she lost a lot (including her memories and the constant presence of her wings, obviously), but was able to start a new life for herself pretty easily (she was just a kid, maybe three years old – three year olds are a lot more competent in the Wingiverse, apparently). Charitable Xilio, who is also from her universe (and has a pair of thick pigeon wings he can deploy) was sent to watch over her by Ebony, which he did, from a distance. Meanwhile, in the Wingiverse, J LoD and Ebony were locked in battle with their greatest rival, Ehbit Foreboding. He eventually succeeded in killing them, but was also flung out of the Wingiverse before he could usurp their thrones. He ended up in our universe as well. When Raven’s powers manifested, both Xilio and Ehbit approached her about joining them. Raven eventually joined Xilio, and after gaining experience with him joined the Justice League. After he revealed her origins to her, Raven was contacted by X-Raytor about the Sentinels. Xilio encouraged her to join, so she did. The actual story arc would have involved Ehbit Foreboding coming after her for some reason – probably so he could use her to get back to the Wingiverse and take over. It would be a very strange story, as you can imagine. Dr. Lansky also may have been involved. In the end, Raven is able to control the ability to deploy her wings, and everyone is thoroughly confused. Also, Daydreamer has a crush on Raven, so that probably would have come into play.
“Sparks” – Sparks should get a story about both the chemicals that gave her powers and her vendetta against Magic Finger. Obviously I’ve wanted to bring Magic Finger back for some time anyway – I liked the idea of him trying to live a straight life and eventually losing his patience, getting a new weaponized hand (a prosthetic now, of course) and returning to a life of crime (maybe showing up somewhere crowded with his rivals and opening fire, killing several civilians). He’s in Colombia, so he’s going to be the Legion of Legends’ responsibility, but Sparks wants a shot at him so she makes a special request to Webb. Webb says she’ll make a deal with her – she’ll let her go on the mission if Sparks lets M.O.R.P.H.Z. scientists run some tests on her blood, and try to figure out what the deal is with her powers. She participates in a few of the experiments, showing how the powers didn’t manifest until after she (and Ryan) had been shocked. This changes her powers somehow, seemingly making her more powerful. She, X-Raytor, and Firehop (who both have experience fighting Magic Finger… Raven isn’t selected because Magic Finger particularly wants to kill her for destroying his hand, and because M.O.R.P.H.Z. still isn’t entirely sure they can trust her, after learning her origins) go with the Legion of Legends to Colombia and confront Magic Finger. Sparks attempts to electrocute him to death, but ends up accidentally giving him lightning powers. Magic Finger becomes more powerful than ever, defeats the entire team singlehanded, and captures them, with only Sparks, Botany Boy, and Horus escaping. The three have to work together to save their teammates. During this time we’d probably learn about Botany Boy’s past as a Vegemorph and discover that Horus is a product of the super soldier program. They eventually succeed. Sparks and Magic Finger face off and she defeats him, but doesn’t kill him. She does probably blow up his new hand, though. There’s also most likely a B story about Gauntlet and Violet being the temporary leaders of the Sentinels (this would probably just be little snippets, and played for comic relief – like, they have to fight the Masked Monkey or something).
"In the Darkness" - We explore M.O.R.P.H.Z.'s paranormal division, the Midnight Department, under the leadership of Col. John Gaunt. Inky's history with his former mentor, an evil sorcerer who was the original Great Incanto, comes into play. This may also tie into Fred escaping, or taking over the M.O.R.P.H.Z. Main Base or something. In that case, the Sentinels would really play second fiddle to whatever story Ili wanted to tell (if, indeed, she even wants Fred to escape!). It would be cool if this was based on horror stories - everyone's trapped in the Main Base with the power out, Fred making their nightmares come to life, that kind of thing. If nightmares are coming to life, by the way, we'll also get some more hints at Firehop's back story. This is the arc where Inky will really get his time to shine, and we’ll flesh out his background (including his relationship with the original Great Incanto) more. Fred may even actually free Incanto from Inky’s bag, forcing Inky to face off against his former mentor again. X-Raytor's discomfort about the supernatural comes into play. Also, Inky has been secretly reporting to M.O.R.P.H.Z. about X-Raytor and Firehop's leadership, and that will probably be revealed in this arc (to the readers, at least – maybe Inky won’t actually be revealed until the Sticky Spectre arc, when he calls in the cavalry). Something else important to note is that Firehop and Xiao/Fred have some history. When Firehop first joined the JL, she and Xiao partnered a bit. She was very impressed when she first met Fred, and Fred somewhat-jokingly tried to get Xiao to drain her life force and give it to him (and when I say “somewhat-jokingly,” I mean… yeah). Shortly afterwards, Xiao drained three criminals Firehop had defeated and cornered, revealing her ability to “feed” Fred to Firehop. Firehop didn’t say anything about it. Firehop was with the group that saved Xiao from Magic Finger (which is where X-Raytor gave her and Netic his inspirational speech, of course). It’s possible that these experiences have something to do with why she left the JL in the first place. Also, this may be when X-Raytor and/or other members of the Sentinels realize that Captain Justice is RWM. Raven might actually be the first to notice (maybe in her story arc, in fact?), since she did spend a decent amount of time with him as his date to the second social and all. Originally I imagined this story being the end of the Fred/Xiao story, but I think it might be better if the two are just reunited and disappear, so that Fred/Xiao can be one of the major villains after the Justice League reunites.
“The Return of Midnight Chatter” – In classic super hero resurrection form, Midnight Chatter rises from the dead! At some point between the JL’s eviction from the Hall of Justice and its repurposing as the Watchtower, exiled Chicago mob boss Tony Del’Copa (the guy who killed MC's uncle and is responsible for his powers) visits Midnight Chatter’s grave with some henchmen. He wants to run tests on MC's body to see how the serum effected it. They dig the coffin up, and are surprised to find that not only has Midnight Chatter not decomposed, but his hair and nails have continued growing. Del’Copa injects him with more of the serum, and Midnight Chatter comes back to life, albeit with no memories. Del’Copa tells him a fake story about how he was betrayed by his friends, who attempted to kill him, and that Del’Copa is actually his uncle, here to help him get revenge. Midnight Chatter’s full powers (including that fledgling telekinesis he demonstrated early in the RPG) are revealed as he helps Del’Copa eliminate several Chicago rivals. Del'Copa leaves a subordinate in charge in Chicago, and turns his attention to a much bigger prize: the Head Honcho's criminal empire! (Del'Copa, by the way, was an associate member of the crime syndicate - I tried a few times to do a post where we see him meeting with Bo, the HH, et al., but it never happened). The Sentinels and the Justice League Underground get involved in trying to stop him, and his interactions with Oreo and Scarlett eventually help him to regain all of his memories – from his time with the Justice League and before (he’s been getting little snatches throughout the story – and beginning to suspect that Del’Copa is lying to him). He defeats Del’Copa, but doesn’t kill him, turning him over to the Feds, instead. Then he joins the JLU. This is one of several times - maybe the first - when the Sentinels and JLU come into contact, but don't quite fight. I'm also assuming that at this point (or right after this) the JLU goes into hiding, since X-y/M.O.R.P.H.Z. know their identities.
“SHANNON” – A splinter faction of M.O.R.P.H.Z., who are concerned about their super soldier programs and imperialist tactics, attempt to destroy the program, causing Sampson to call in the Sentinels. This means letting them know more about the program than they’ve ever known before, including the revelation that it’s the “SHANNON” that Jake was talking about. However, this reawakens X-Raytor’s distrust of M.O.R.P.H.Z. and makes his relationship with Sampson more tense (for good reason, too – Sampson doesn’t tell him anywhere near the whole story). Firehop also has a personal tie to this because her mother helped to found the splinter faction, and she knows most of the people in it (including the leader, and his daughter, who is her age). The secrets of Firehop’s past finally come to light.
Chief among those secrets: her mother, Lauren Beckal, was a M.O.R.P.H.Z. agent, which is why she moved around so much as a kid. Firehop was the product of her mother’s illicit affair with Roger Sampson, Jeff’s uncle and, at that time, the director of M.O.R.P.H.Z. When she started to demand that Roger leave his wife, he transferred her away from the main M.O.R.P.H.Z. hub, limiting their contact. Repentant, she volunteered for assignments within the super soldier program, desperately trying to get back into Roger’s good graces. On one of her missions her team recovered an experimental serum that another country was developing. She delivered it personally to Roger, thinking it would heal the breaches in their relationship. Instead, Roger shot her down, because the serum had proven to be 99% ineffective during its initial trials (in Bosnia or wherever they found it). Desperate, Lauren knew she needed results. She originally intended to use it on herself, but the intel M.O.R.P.H.Z. had indicated that it worked better on younger subjects. And so she injected the serum into her own baby daughter. Nothing happened, aside from Firehop’s eyes being discolored so that they became red. Lauren Beckal lapsed into a deep depression, began to drink heavily, and was eventually discharged from the agency. Firehop grew up under this shadow, dealing with her mother’s constant drunkenness and frequent explosions of physical violence. She grew up as a positive, optimistic youth almost in spite of her mother, trying to invest her entire emotional life into her friends at school and the gymnastics team, so there would be nothing left when she went home. This was what she ran away from at seventeen, when she joined the Justice League (her mother has since died of alcohol poisoning). When Firehop was younger, however, her mother got involved with the splinter faction mentioned above. She helped to found it, although Firehop suspects that the current leader mostly manipulated her bitterness at Roger’s rejection in order to draw upon her considerable knowledge of M.O.R.P.H.Z.’s inner workings.
Which brings us back to the present. The splinter faction tell X-Raytor and Firehop more about M.O.R.P.H.Z.’s program – about their deals with criminals like Bo and the Head Honcho, and several human rights abuses in other countries. While they think that it’s all bullshit (and defeat the splinter), X-Raytor is still troubled. At the end, we see that the Head Honcho and Bo have finally created a viable super soldier serum for mass production. But instead of selling it to M.O.R.P.H.Z. as originally planned, the HH is going to use it to build his own empire, and get rid of M.O.R.P.H.Z. by exposing their secrets, which he’s recently learned either from Blake or from the faction (this isn’t all stated – he probably just says something sinister like, “No, I have a much better idea.”)
“Troy” – I originally wrote this story arc down because I was going to do something with the Trojan Powers, a rival branch of Bo's family. Then I realized this wasn't medieval Europe. However, this could still be the name of the arc where M.O.R.P.H.Z. has Bo has Iso assassinate the Head Honcho! Vivian Bournheim and her wealthy, kingmaker European family will come into play, as some of the parties interested in HH's information auction (so will Dr. Fear’s kids). Bo would have to deal with Crescent Moonn (CEO of MoonnCorp, and JLoD/the Tri-Leaders paternal aunt) and Ichiro Yubari (the Yakuza head) trying to take over, after the HH dies (Yubari might get whacked, too... Crescent will probably cut a deal to save herself, even though she and Bo are more bitter rivals than either of them are with Yubari). Tara McCairn, the young scion of the mostly-defunct McCairn crime family and an acquaintance of X-Raytor's, may make an appearance (maybe she gets the Sentinels involved to some degree - in the aftermath, probably, since they wouldn't know about the assassination plans). Again, this relies heavily on Umar and Holly's plans, so the Sentinels would really play second fiddle to Iso, Blake, etc. Sampson and Bo would have some good stuff to do, though! If the Sentinels do have their own storyline, it would probably involve Crescent Moonn (who had Gauntlet’s father killed – maybe they’re forced to protect her, and Gauntlet’s pissed about it) and Tara McCairn. Iso kills the HH in a particularly gruesome way, while getting all of the information out of him that he needs. He cuts off pieces of him, tying off the wounds to prevent him from bleeding out. At the end, he makes him offer Iso anything he wants – money, power, his entire empire, anything to spare his life. And then Iso shoves his katana through the HH’s throat, looking him straight in the eye as he dies. Since the fake Ewan McGregor is part of the HH’s organization, maybe he can show up and be reckoned with as well (unless he’s Saph).
“Fear” – Really a Legion of Legends arc. As his trial approaches, Dr. Fear unleashes a horrific plan from prison. In 2007 he was defeated and imprisoned after a titanic battle above Washington, D.C., and was incarcerated in a M.O.R.P.H.Z. facility. However, this was all part of his master plan, letting him get inside and close to M.O.R.P.H.Z.’s good stuff. Assisted by his children, super-powered twins Deimos and Phobos (Demian and Phoebe), a robotic army, and a super virus called ENYO, he breaks out and wages war on the US. The Legion of Legends and the Sentinels battle him and his forces. He eventually gets his hands on some of M.O.R.P.H.Z.’s Seeker-derived super soldier serum and uses it to enhance himself, making him extremely powerful. He battles Captain Justice, and for a time has the upper hand. But then Captain Justice taps into a previously-unrealized source of strength, and defeats him. He kills him by crushing his head between his hands (at the prompting of the Voices) and absorbs his soul. This arc would delve into how Captain Justice’s mental health has been deteriorating, thanks to the Voices and a physical relationship with SuperNova (which is part of her and Silver Falcon’s plan to get rid of him). Captain Justice’s faith has been shaken by his new powers, when he thought that they’d only strengthen them, and his relationship with SuperNova (who he used to fantasize about as a Philadelphia-area teenager) doesn’t make him feel better about the fact that Oreo Avenger still won’t give him the time of day. In fact, it makes him feel worse. But he can’t indulge in his artsy, romantic impulses because being Captain Justice means keeping up a certain façade at all times. He’s starting to crack, and killing Dr. Fear pushes him over the edge. We’d also see Silver Falcon becoming uncomfortable with the plan, while still becoming angrier and angrier with Captain Justice and M.O.R.P.H.Z. His relationship with Agent Vasquez (his former date/undercover bodyguard for public events, who he has a crush on) might be deepening as well.
"Sticky Spectre" - There are a rash of attempted and successful assassinations of noted anti-powers figures in the City. An audience member at the Ronnie Rosewater show murders him on the air with super powers. Margo Westfall’s roommate, Brittany Roarke (who showed up way back in the day) suddenly attacks her in their apartment, with super powers of her own. Another villain attacks George White on the street or wherever he’s working. Both Margo and George survive thanks to the Sentinels’ intervention (Margo’s rescued by Firehop and Violet, George by Raven, Inky, and probably Fitey), the heroes having been deployed to protect possible targets immediately after the Rosewater killing. X-Raytor and Gauntlet are sent to Dr. Lansky’s office. Lansky’s secretary, Barbara, tells them that he’s been in his office for the last hour or so, and while Gauntlet goes to secure the area, X-Raytor goes to warn Lansky. When he walks into the office he finds him slumped over his desk in a pool of arterial blood. And at the window stands the Wraith. He talks pleasantly with X-Raytor, and says that Sticky Spectre sends her regards. He seems to have some knowledge of their relationship, which X-Raytor pretends doesn’t bother him. The Wraith shows him that he’s wearing one of Sticky Spectre’s tape launchers. They’ve been modified to carry a spring-loaded blade, which the Wraith used to slit Lansky’s throat. He also notes that Sticky Spectre has adopted a new nome de guerre: “And just for reference? The boss likes to be called ‘the Specter.’ Nothing sticky about it.” As they’re talking (X-Raytor knows he can teleport and is trying to keep him in the room as long as possible), X-y notices that there’s a camera on a tripod set up, videotaping the conversation. When X-Raytor asks who’s watching, the Wraith grins and says: “Everyone.” He teleports away just as X-Raytor attempts to stun him with a pair of lasers. The camera, it’s revealed, was using Bluetooth to stream the video live, and in a matter of hours it’s all over the Internet. What they see: Lansky’s murder, the Wraith’s message that Sticky Spectre is still out there and ready to rain down hell, and X-Raytor completely failing at stopping him. People are very, very scared. Sampson assembles the Sentinels and gives them a new mission: they need to find Sticky Spectre and take her down before she can spring whatever master plan she’s been plotting. They want the Wraith captured, since their intel suggests that he has about as good a knowledge of Sticky’s network as she might (assumedly being her right-hand-man), but Sampson makes it clear that Sticky isn’t to be taken alive. X-Raytor struggles with this, but eventually accepts that it’s what has to be done. The Sentinels start following leads (with the Legion of Legends following up on rumors of Sticky’s international activity), and eventually get somewhere when they track down Curtis Wilkins, Sticky’s old support man in Philly. He reveals that he has kept in touch with her, a little, over the years, but he hasn’t heard from her in over six months. However, he’s able to tell them where she was six months ago. X-Raytor senses that Curtis is hiding something more, and has M.O.R.P.H.Z. put Curtis, his partner, and their adopted daughter under watch, ostensibly to protect them but really to make sure he doesn’t warn Sticky. They go to a place in Ohio that, based on Curtis’ statement and other evidence, seems to be Sticky’s hideout. When they bust in, however, the place is empty. The Sentinels search, finding nothing… and then suddenly, they’re under attack. The Sentinels find themselves confronted by all of the villains from the Oscars, the Green Penguin, the Sinners, upgraded Xiao, and even the Seekers. It doesn’t make any sense, but X-Raytor barely has time to think about it before he starts getting the crap beaten out of him. The other Sentinels are similarly beaten down, unable to defend themselves against the sudden onslaught. X-Raytor tries to get himself together, tries to organize his team, looks for some kind of way out… and then he sees Daydreamer. Daydreamer, who is standing, untouched, in the middle of the chaos. Smiling. This is the last thing X-Raytor sees before he’s knocked out.
The Sentinels wake up on their repurposed Justice Jet, restrained. Daydreamer is walking around free, of course, and has apparently programmed the jet’s autopilot to take them to Sticky’s real secret headquarters, in California. He explains that the villains who attacked them were projections from his Thinking Cap, and that he’s been lying to them about the extent of his powers. He’s actually a powerful psychic, which is why he’s been able to produce peoples’ greatest fears from his cap (how else would he know them?). He’s been part of Sticky Spectre’s organization for some time now (although it’s implied that he’s actually younger than he claimed to be – closer to fourteen), and was hand-picked by the Wraith to infiltrate the Sentinels. Back in “The Game” arc he told them that his rough upbringing in South Side just made him stronger – now he reveals that all it did was make him angry. And Sticky Spectre’s organization is going to give him the opportunity to take his anger out on the entire world. They eventually reach the hideout and find Sticky’s terrorist cell, preparing for war. The Wraith is there, of course, and congratulates Daydreamer on his good work. The other assassins from earlier in the arc are there as well, Deadly Nightshade (getting paid), and (surprisingly) Swift. The captive Sentinels are paraded around a bit, which gives Raven a chance to interact briefly with Swift. The Sentinels are imprisoned in a single room, lined with power dampeners, to await a broadcasted execution. As they try to figure out what to do, they’re surprised by the appearance of another prisoner… Sticky Spectre. Violet immediately attacks her, but Sticky is fast and strong and easily deflects her, without really hurting her. The Sentinels suspect this is some kind of a mind game, but X-Raytor (at least) is convinced when he notices that Sticky is demonstrating some of the symptoms of long-term exposure to power dampeners (he saw several people with similar reactions on the Row). The others are convinced when Sticky offers to just let them kill her; that’s what they’re here for, right? Finally, they all calm down and we find out what Sticky has really been up to all this time.
Sticky reminds X-Raytor, Violet, and Raven that, in the months before she bombed that tenement building, she’d been spending a lot of time nighthawking on her own in South Side. While investigating a drug dealer with connections to Bo Powers’ organization, she discovered something horrifying: a slumlord-owned tenement building was being used as a mini-laboratory for an experimental super-human serum. Many of the tenants were addicts, prostitutes, or children, and almost all had been subjected to various treatments. Some had died, some had been hideously deformed, and the rest had simply become addicted and a bit stronger than the average person. Pushed beyond her limit, Sticky bombed the building the next time the serum was delivered, killing sixty people, including the suppliers, the slumlord and his people, and many of the residents (which she considered mercy). After escaping from the Justice League, the enormity of what she had done came crashing down on her, and she contemplated suicide. And then, something happened to change her mind. She’s evasive about what, exactly, but she says that it got her to think about things differently. Who had she really saved by blowing up that building? Who did she actually protect? She realized that she had made a horrible mistake, and decided to make up for it with different methods. She got a group of powers together, and they began going around the world and stopping abuses against super people (most of them being illegal and inhuman experiments in the race to create super soldiers). M.O.R.P.H.Z. was aware of their activities, but didn’t interfere because they were knocking out the competition. Sticky, of course, always planned to eventually take on the US super soldier program, but knew that her army would have to be a lot stronger and have a lot more information. At some point, the Wraith joined up. There was an immediate connection between the two and they even had a brief fling. What Sticky didn’t know is that the Wraith was only trying to gain her trust and find out all of her secrets, so he could get some leverage. The Sentinels discover that the Wraith is now in charge, using Sticky’s cult of personality for his own ends while secretly keeping her locked away. He’s the Specter. He wants to move things in a much more terrorist-y direction, which Sticky has never wanted (since the night of the tenement bombing). But she’s been collecting information and building an army for him. As much as X-Raytor feels somewhat vindicated knowing that she wasn’t actually a psychotic killer, he’s also pissed at her. People have already died because of the Wraith, and hundreds more will if he puts his plans into action. She’s going to sacrifice all of those people just to save her own life? Sticky tells him that she’s not helping the Wraith because he threatened her. X-Raytor demands to know why, then, and Sticky says it’s the same reason she didn’t kill herself. She has a daughter. Right after the tenement bombing, she discovered she was pregnant, and that’s what convinced her not to commit suicide. And X-Raytor suddenly realizes that if she was pregnant in summer of 2001… that means that he’s the father. Sticky confirms this, and tells him that she named the girl Jane, in partial homage to X-y’s mother (she also always liked the name). Knowing her chosen profession was too dangerous for a baby – hell, her existence was too dangerous for a baby – Sticky gave Jane to Curtis Wilkins, who has been raising Jane along with his partner. X-Raytor suddenly realizes that he met her when he was at Wilkins’ house earlier in the story, and that that’s what he was really hiding.
With all of this information in hand, Inky says that it’s time to go. If he hasn’t already revealed that M.O.R.P.H.Z. planted him in the Sentinels, then he will at this point. He’ll also reveal that he has an implant in his head that allows him to get in contact with the M.O.R.P.H.Z. Main Base whenever he needs to… and that magic isn’t something power dampeners really have any control over. Since the Wraith has undoubtedly been monitoring their conversation, he tells the Sentinels to get ready to fight and then pops every dampener in the room. The Sentinels break out and attack Sticky’s forces, benefiting from the element of surprise. The terrorists are even more confused when Sticky Spectre joins the fight on the Sentinels’ side, heading straight for the Wraith, who almost lazily teleports just out of her reach. As the fight rages, Sticky tells Inky to call the cavalry on his implant and to tell them to bomb the crap out of the place. X-Raytor doesn’t want to do it, now that he knows Sticky isn’t really a terrorist, but she tells him it’s the only way. Raven is able to get everyone together and make them intangible just as M.O.R.P.H.Z. bombers blow apart the facility, destroying everything. When the Sentinels become tangible again, they’re surrounded by a smoldering crater, and body parts. It seems that all of the terrorists were killed. X-Raytor lingers for a moment, picking up a stray, burnt piece of tape from the ground, and then the team heads to the waiting M.O.R.P.H.Z. transports.
Later, X-Raytor and Firehop talk about Sticky, and his daughter, although X-Raytor isn’t sure he can bring himself to visit her or reveal who he is. He’s miserable, but Firehop assures him that, despite the sacrifices they made today, at least they saved the world from the threat that the Wraith posed. However, it is revealed afterwards that the Wraith was able to teleport Sticky, Daydreamer, Swift, Deadly Nightshade, and a number of others to safety before the bombs hit. They’re in what I guess is an even more secret headquarters, where we discover that the Wraith/Specter’s army is a lot bigger than we originally thought. He considers killing Sticky for her betrayal, but decides that she’s still useful as a figurehead, and has her imprisoned instead. He tells Daydreamer that this is all just a minor setback, and that their ultimate plan is still running right on schedule…
"Heroes" – In the ultimate arc of the “Third Super Hero Era,” all of the shit hits the fan at once. After the JLU rescues Studmuffin from M.O.R.P.H.Z.’s top-secret Arizona facility, Sampson finally orders the Sentinels to bring them in. With the battle lines finally drawn, X-Raytor, Violet, and Raven decide to stay loyal to the Sentinels. Meanwhile, Captain Justice finally succumbs to the influence of the Intellects and becomes the One (this is possibly exacerbated by SuperNova and Silver Falcon trying to get him killed). I’m not sure, but he might murder most of the Legion of Legends and then go AWOL (Silver Falcon would probably survive). Jarhead gets Studmuffin to ditch the JLU and deal with this problem (Oreo might be involved in this, too, although I think I’d rather have Oreo involved in the Sentinel/JLU fight, because that’ll make it even more difficult for X-y, and I love to make his life difficult). And at the same time, the Wraith’s organization is preparing to make its big move against M.O.R.P.H.Z., hoping to profit from the chaos of the Legion of Legends’ dissolution and the Sentinels fighting the JLU (we’d also find out the details of the Wraith’s story in this arc, although I don’t know exactly what they are). The JLU is lured into a trap when X-Raytor tells Eric false information (at this point he’s discovered that Eric has been spying on the Sentinels for the JLU… Eric’s literally the worst undercover agent ever). The teams fight, and it doesn’t go well for the Justice League. X-Raytor, of course, knows all of his former teammates’ weaknesses and exploits them, allowing the Sentinels to win the first fight. The JLU is imprisoned by M.O.R.P.H.Z. They’re imprisoned on the same cell block as the villains in M.O.R.P.H.Z. custody, including the Green Penguin, the Ferret… and Julian Firestone. Julian, a few years older and just as surly as ever, has a few choice words for his former teammates, which make Pinzz, Netic, and Drew all individually try to throttle him at different points. Meanwhile, the Intellects force Captain Justice to blow up a city in the Middle East and absorb the life forces of the people there, energizing him further. Studmuffin confronts him, with strength loaned by Jarhead, but is defeated and left for dead (with the Intellects telling him this is his punishment).
The JLU finds a way to break out of M.O.R.P.H.Z.’s prison (Mac Attack will probably be instrumental in this, cementing him as an essential team member). This coincides with Isomorphix (who’s been working on his own) playing his trump card – somehow exposing M.O.R.P.H.Z.’s super soldier program and dealings with Bo Powers and the Head Honcho to the world. Before Sampson even has time to deal with this shitstorm, the JLU breaks out and confronts the Sentinels. This time, the Justice League works together, helping each other to deflect the Sentinels’ use of their weaknesses. It’s a pretty evenly-matched fight, although the JLU definitely has numbers in its favor (although some of them are occupied fighting M.O.R.P.H.Z. agents). Before the fight can be settled definitively, however, the Wraith makes his move. Teleporting into the Main Base, he frees Julian, and tells him a location in the building. Julian goes up towards the top… and uses his powers. The top of the base explodes. In the resulting chaos, the Wraith uses his powers to teleport his entire army onto the base, and they attack M.O.R.P.H.Z., the Sentinels, and the JLU. We would have found out earlier in the story that the Wraith has Sticky and X-y’s daughter, Jane, and her adoptive parents held hostage, and is forcing Sticky to lead the assault. The Sentinels and JLU are forced to work together.
Meanwhile, Captain Justice, now adequately charged, is making his way to Antarctica (the Intellects are using a similar trick to what they did on Studmuffin, convincing the furious Captain Justice to destroy them so that he’ll inadvertently free them). With Jarhead’s help, Studmuffin pulls himself back from the brink of death and flies off in pursuit. He tries to convince Captain Justice that he’s being manipulated, but Mattias is half-mad with anger and confusion, and the two fight again.
The battle continues to rage at the M.O.R.P.H.Z. Main Base. Julian survived the explosion and plans on detonating next to a very powerful piece of M.O.R.P.H.Z. equipment, wiping out the entire facility (and killing everyone… this is part of the Wraith’s plan, although he meant for it to happen after the battle was won, and he could safely teleport away… Julian doesn’t care who dies). He’s confronted by Netic, but it’s Drew who ultimately defeats him. Raven defeats Swift. Inky is killed saving someone, possibly from Daydreamer. Speaking of Daydreamer, he confronts his former teammates, notably Gauntlet, Raven, and Sparks, and fights them, using their fears against them. At some point, however, he pisses Sparks off enough that she sends a bolt of electricity straight into his head, causing his Thinking Cap to explode, killing him (this would be a major part of Sparks’ arc, as well – she’s very shaken by the killing, but she also shows herself to be stronger than many in M.O.R.P.H.Z. thought she could be). X-Raytor and Sticky Spectre face off, and she tells him that the Wraith has their daughter. Firehop, Silver Falcon (who, as noted before, survived Captain Justice’s murderous rampage in Legion Hall and joins the fight), and some others break away from the fight and use M.O.R.P.H.Z. technology (aided by Sampson) to teleport to the West Coast and rescue Jane, Curtis, and his partner. Once X-Raytor gets word that they’re safe, he and Sticky go straight for the Wraith. At this point the battle is starting to go in the good guys’ favor, mostly because of the Justice League. The Wraith is enraged, but is still able to evade X-y and Sticky pretty well, although X-y gets one good hit in. Eventually, Sticky puts herself in a vulnerable position, and when the Wraith gets close enough to strike, she shoves one of the blades from her tape launcher right into his stomach. The Wraith makes a few erratic, short-distance jumps and then stops, and falls. He bleeds out on the ground, staring at the sky, trying to figure out what just happened. The Justice League, M.O.R.P.H.Z., and the remaining Sentinels defeat the remaining terrorists.
But the trouble isn’t over. Adrian (the Sentinels’ resident psychic – remember him? If I was actually writing these stories, he would have done a lot more than it looks like here, him, Natalie, and Kevan) informs them that they’re all dead anyway, because Captain Justice is about to destroy Antarctica. He says Studmuffin is fighting him, but he’s losing. Rosma and Oreo take the Justice Jet (or whatever’s available) and head down there. Studmuffin is, indeed, losing, unable to fight the full power of the Intellects. Captain Justice wants to stop, but he’s completely become the One now, and has lost all control. Rosma and Oreo arrive, and maybe Oreo snaps Captain Justice out of it the same way Rosma saved Studmuffin (or something like that… I leave it to you all to build upon or totally reject these ideas). Captain Justice is able to break the Intellects’ hold on him. But instead of leaving like last time, Jarhead tells Studmuffin that he and Captain Justice have to actually destroy the Intellects, so they can’t try something like this again. Somehow, doing this will also destroy Jarhead, but he’s willing to make the sacrifice. They walk down into the entrance to the Intellects’ Cityship, preparing for the final confrontation.
Back in the City, things are getting cleaned up. Webb informs Sampson that, after this is all over, they’re still going to need a scapegoat due to Isomorphix revealing the super soldier program, and that Sampson is going to be the easiest target. She says she hopes he’ll cooperate, so that M.O.R.P.H.Z. doesn’t lose everything else it’s worked to build. Sampson reluctantly agrees, but Webb puts two M.O.R.P.H.Z. guards on him, just in case. Webb also thanks the Justice League for their assistance, and offers them a full pardon. Pinzz tells her that they only want a pardon if everyone gets a pardon – that is, if OVDA is repealed. Webb agrees to a compromise – they’ll modify the law so that super powers and super hero teams are no longer outlawed, but keep a stipulation that anyone who wants to be on a team or officially fight crime has to register, so that there’s accountability. The Justice League agrees, and although Webb thinks it’ll take until at least early next year (2010) for the changes to go into effect, she informally reinstates them. Meanwhile, X-Raytor talks to a severely wounded Sticky Spectre, as M.O.R.P.H.Z. agents hover just nearby. She tells X-Raytor that it’s probably better this way, and asks him to make sure their daughter is taken care of. X-Raytor promises that he will, but otherwise he’s at a loss for words, not knowing how to wrap up all of the lost years, the lost opportunities, the happier life that could have been if they’d made some unidentifiable right turn somewhere in the distant past. Sticky closes her eyes, ready. There’s silence for a few moments. Then she opens them again, and looks at her wounds. “Um… I don’t think I’m actually dying,” she says. She’s immediately scooped up by M.O.R.P.H.Z. agents and taken to sickbay/custody. Firehop, who’s recently returned from saving X-y and Sticky’s daughter (who I’m just going to refer to as Jane from now on, okay? Is that cool?), talks briefly with Sampson, about his shit luck and Sticky’s. Even though M.O.R.P.H.Z. knows Sticky’s telling the truth about not planning any terrorist attacks against the US, Sampson says that she’s become a national boogie man, and they’ll pretty much have to execute her, or lock her in Guantanamo for life. Then again, Sampson says, he’ll probably be there too, so at least she’ll be in good company. Firehop thinks about this for a bit, and then says she thinks she might have a plan…
Studmuffin and Captain Justice go down into the Intellects’ buried ships, and find them, frozen and childlike. They look so small and vulnerable that for a moment the two begin to waver. But Jarhead reminds them of exactly how much damage they can do, and they prepare to destroy the ship… when Oreo appears at the entrance and suggests another way. A few moments later, they’re crushing up Oreos and putting them into the feeding tubes hooked up to the Intellects, despite the aliens’ vicious psychic objections. And suddenly, the Intellects have been replaced by a number of pissed off, but relatively harmless, penguins. They drop them outside while Studmuffin and Captain Justice destroy the ship. Then the four super heroes get on the Justice Jet and return to the City, leaving the penguIntellects quacking angrily behind them.
Back in the City, the JLU and the Sentinels are treated for their injuries at the Main Base. X-Raytor has an awkward conversation with the Justice Leaguers where he apologizes for exploiting their weaknesses as ruthlessly as he did, but also stands up for himself, and argues that the Sentinels were a good thing. Pinzz is angry and rubs it in his face, but X-Raytor convinces himself not to rise to the bait, somehow (mostly because he’s too fucking tired). He talks to the remaining Sentinels, and they mourn Inky, and even Daydreamer, a little. Suddenly, there’s a huge commotion, and it’s revealed that Sampson has gotten away from his guards and is standing on a ledge outside of the building, over a very steep drop. Calm and pleasant as always, Sampson says he’s not interested in a trial, wishes Webb all of the luck in the world as Director of M.O.R.P.H.Z., winks at X-Raytor, and then steps off into thin air. When they rush to the edge, however, he’s vanished. Someone mentions that Sampson had commissioned a personal teleportation device, but that it was still a prototype and that he hadn’t had it on his person. Webb at first suspects that Chief of Agents Lukas Ritter (with whom Sampson was having an affair) slipped it to him, but Ritter’s been in the sickbay the whole time being treated for a serious injury. X-Raytor notices Firehop looking a little funny, but before he can ask her what’s up, there’s another commotion. Sticky Spectre has vanished as well, while her guards were distracted by Sampson’s escape. “They need to work on security around here,” Firehop says, and that’s when X-Raytor knows for sure. She made a deal with Sampson – she slipped him the personal teleporter, and he used it to escape… with Sticky.
Days pass, funerals are held, and people recover. Captain Justice probably has to go into hiding, but I don’t know what, exactly, he’d do. I guess it depends on how much he’s changed (my original plan was to kill him off, but since that hasn’t happened I’m kind of at a loss, here). At some point, Chief of Agents Ritter disappears, and Agent Morgan-Wall is promoted to his old job. Webb informs X-Raytor that the Sentinels are being disbanded – there’s too much bad press, with Iso’s revelation. They’re free to join other teams if they want to. “You should check out these Justice League folks, I hear they’re hiring.”
The Justice League pulls itself together, and starts moving back into the Hall of Justice, preparing for their official reunion. Studmuffin finds a body for Jarhead, and the Seeker becomes a human (albeit a super powered one). He probably goes to live in England, and maybe even right some wrongs. Violet and Raven are welcomed back into the fold, and Violet convinces Iso to join them as well. Huge chunks of this entire arc, of course, would involve whatever all y’all had your characters doing throughout the Sentinels arcs. So you could tie up loose ends here, et cetera. Maybe Netic and Drew get together. Just saying.
X-Raytor remains in the temporary housing that M.O.R.P.H.Z. set up for him and the rest of the Sentinels, even as everyone else starts to wander away. Silver Falcon is retiring and returning to Chicago, accompanied by Agent Vasquez, hopeful about what his future might hold. Kevan and X.Voodoo return to the West Coast, to join the newly reinstated West Coast Justice League, although Kevan says that the two Leagues should work together more now. Sparks is returning to Maine, at least for a little while, to spend some time with her family. Gauntlet is doing the same, although he also mentions that he’ll be spending some time with the Cheerleader (one of the Apostles who he had a connection with). Both are interested in joining whatever team X-Raytor and Firehop end up on. Soon it’s just him and Firehop, like it was in the beginning. Neither are sure the Justice League would take them, if they tried to join. X-Raytor says maybe it’s time to retire. Firehop reminds him that he was secretly miserable in retirement, but X-Raytor is still ambivalent. He also mentions having to make sure Sticky and their daughter are okay (using coded language, of course – M.O.R.P.H.Z. is most likely listening in). Although Firehop is secretly worried that he and Sticky are going to get back together, X-Raytor tells her that meeting her is, quite literally, the best thing that came out of this whole mess, and he loves her. So they’re officially together now.
In Philadelphia, a black-haired woman who looks only vaguely like Sticky Spectre meets a girl named Jane and introduces herself as her mother. In Maine, Sparks visits Ryan Walton’s grave. In Chicago, Billy Borek (Silver Falcon), a substitute teacher hoping to get his certification, proudly watches his kindergarten class at recess, and smiles at Vasquez as she rolls by in a Chicago Police car. In his penthouse suite, Mayor Bo Powers marvels at the amount of power ruling the City’s crime syndicate has brought him, and considers a senatorial bid. In the woods behind the Hall of Justice, Isomorphix meditates, and finds himself baffled by the peace he finds within. On a beach in Thailand, Jeff Sampson sips a mai tai, and chats with Lukas Ritter, the two men tanned and relaxed. And X-Raytor walks up to the door of the Hall of Justice, rings the doorbell, and asks if he can join, like so many others before him. It’s Oreo who answers the door. She smiles, and steps aside to let them in.
We finish in 2010, as the reunited Justice League makes its first official public appearance.
The NEW Justice League!
So, we’ve officially passed beyond the point where I really had anything planned. From comments I saw on the message board, I think some of you folks had ideas for after the Justice League got back together, so feel free to add them here! I have a few seeds of ideas that I’ll put down here, but they’re pretty vague, with only a few major points mapped out.
Justice League United!
I’m sure all of our characters would have to adjust to the JL’s reinstatement, and the new status quo. I think the full team roster would be:
Jo Surf (at least temporarily, since he might retire to surf)
There might also be new folks who you guys dreamed up as members of the JLU. Maybe Nu Than’s a member? Maybe Claire joins, or acts in a support capacity? Adrian or Know-It-All might do something similar, if only because I want to see the friction between Claire and Adrian and between Drew and Know-It-All. Adjusting to the team would be tough for all of the Sentinels. I imagine that X-y’s arc, right after the team gets back together, would be dealing with suddenly being an outsider among his former teammates, and trying to find his place in the JL again. He was obviously changed significantly by his time on the Sentinels, and exactly how much probably remains to be seen. He’s more confident as a leader now, so he and Pinzz might butt heads (Studmuffin might also want to lead as well, since this will probably be his longest sustained time on the Justice League since the RPG began). One idea is that the team would eventually be split into two different nighthawking groups (which they’ve done in the past, and makes the unwieldy size a bit more manageable), with Pinzz leading one and X-Raytor leading another. I feel like this would initially be more divisive than anything else, but eventually they’d figure out a way to all work together. Gauntlet and Sparks would feel awkward on the team, but would probably bond pretty easily with Mac Attack and some of the other, younger members. Firehop would get a pretty frosty reception, and feel that she constantly had to prove herself (X-Raytor wanting to stick up for her wouldn’t help much, either). Eventually, though, they’d work through all of the crap and become a functioning unit again. In fact, I think the thing that really pulls them back together isn’t a common enemy, or long deep conversations about how OVDA affected them… it’s the opportunity to do something fun together. Thus, Rosma, Mac Attack, and some of the others engineer the Third Justice League Social, which is an event momentous enough to get some capital letters. They might go back to their roots and have it as a Sadie Hawkins style dance (especially because there are eight guys and twelve girls and even a new and improved Iso isn’t going to ask anyone). Everyone shares food and laughs while Mac Attack DJ’s. Romance? Pranks? The now almost-traditional accidental witnessing of a Rosma/Studmuffin hook-up? Anything’s possible! And in the end it function a lot like Hurley’s golf course in the first season of Lost – it distracts everyone from all of the stressful stuff going on and gives them some perspective, allowing them to better deal with that stressful stuff afterwards.
As noted above, I was originally thinking about having “In the Darkness” be the end of the Fred/Xiao story. But it just seems like too big of a story to shoehorn into the Sentinels/JLU’s stories (and besides, in the flash forward scene that Margie wrote, the Justice Leaguers imply that the Fred/Xiao situation hadn’t been resolved by the time they got back together). I like the idea of Fred and Xiao being major villains after the Justice League comes back together, and that they’d clash multiple times. I think this would open up a lot of story possibilities (one, a super hero staple, would be to have some of the JLers somehow transported to a future where FRED IS KING!!!!!), and it would give Xiao a nice, long redemptive arc. Eventually, I’d also like X-Raytor and Sadiss to run into each other again, especially because I don’t think Sadiss ever officially gave X-Raytor the gift he was promised waaaaay back when they first met (this will either be an unexpectedly good thing or a horrifically awful thing, nothing in between). In the end, depending on what Lawren wants, I figure Xiao would be the one who ultimately defeats Fred, using her knowledge of his power and the power he’s given her to destroy him permanently. And then she’s either redeemed by the power of love or dies in the process. I imagine that Typho would be instrumental in convincing Xiao to fight back against Fred, and also prevents her from killing herself out of shame for everything she’s done. If Xiao lives after defeating Fred she would be powerless, and maybe she’ll retire with George.
Holly wanted Bo to run for senator at some point, which would have been wonderful. I like the idea that he hasn’t been able to because the two senate seats are currently occupied by Senator Henry Evans (Oreo’s grandfather), who is his political ally and business associate, and a younger, popular incumbent who shows no sign of leaving office. Bo might have him killed (or, if all else fails, maybe he’d have Oreo’s grandfather killed). This would also be time for Blake to shine, depending on what Holly would want to do with her. I don’t know how far we’d let Bo climb the ladder of power, but eventually he’d be taken down. I always liked the idea that, once Bo knew his career was at an end and that he was going to jail, that he’d sell out every other criminal in the City and the surrounding area for a lighter sentence (or at least a cushier jail). I also would have liked to see a bit more of Bo’s time as mayor (which would have played into the JLU stories, I’m sure). I’m currently creating some high-ranking members of the police department who Bo appointed, who would serve as secondary villains. Bo’s kind of like Visser Three – I don’t want him to get killed off, I’d rather see him locked up somewhere. What do you think?
Scarlett and Saph
Eventually, Scarlett and Saph would have had a final conflict, and one of them would have died (although who is unknown). It also may have been revealed that Fake Ewan was Saph in disguise.
Oreo Goes to the Dark Side!
Laura mentioned a potential story where Oreo briefly became a villain (she’s certainly toed that line in the past), but was eventually redeemed by the power of love (while that song from Sailor Moon played in the background). Whether that love would have come from Captain Justice/RWM or a semi-normal human being is unknown.
There’s a character I’ve had in my head for a while, and never had a chance to use: Dr. Eugene Fallow, former head of M.O.R.P.H.Z.’s super soldier program. He’s brilliant, witty, and utterly insane. As noted above, he believed that the “x-particles” created by X-Raytor’s powers were the best route to replicating super powers, and Sampson kind of exiled him to that North/South Dakota facility where all of the people X-Raytor mutated are being kept. He’s secretly been using it to build his own (small) super human army, with an eye towards world domination (because why not?). Among his troops: X-Raytor’s Aunt Martha Jansen (55), who has the power to drain life energy from people, and can briefly replicate other peoples’ powers. Also, his cousin Tom Braddock (31), older brother of Seraphina Braddock (who is the city desk editor at The Sentinel now, by the way), who can sprout and fire spikes from his forearm. Another cousin, Nuala O’Hagarty (22), who has a slightly lower-quality version of X-Raytor’s x-ray vision (it’s more like infrared vision, really). And a final cousin, David Jansen (14), who was a baby when he was mutated, has grown up in Fallow’s facility, and whose powers I haven’t figured out yet. Another important person would be Ashlee Markland, a former classmate and ex-girlfriend of X-Raytor’s. She actually didn’t get any powers from the radiation, just a brain tumor the size of a lemon. Fallow operated on her, however and, using psychic brain matter from the late, great Molesto Manifesto (provided by Bo Powers), turned her into a powerful psychic. She’s most in line with Fallow’s plans, and acts as his right hand (it was the two of them we saw drinking wine and promising blood at the end of that one Sentinels post). She would have been a wonderful villain, I think – Ashlee, along with Fallow, the Wraith, Tara McCairn, and the Sentinels, is my favorite character I never got to write. Some others might show up (I always meant for X-Raytor’s ex, Elena, to show up as a character called Vendetta, although I imagine she wouldn’t follow Fallow for long), although I haven’t thought through all of the details yet. Fallow might also be a recurring villain, although I imagine once his plan gets rolling it’s all or nothing. He confronts the West Coast Justice League and has Tom kill vampire Molly X. It’s revealed that he actually created X.Voodoo, during a later-rejected super soldier experiment attempting to generate “voodoo” super powers in order to create the perfect assassin (theoretically, he’d be able to use his voodoo powers to kill someone from far away, without any evidence that would trace back to him). It was called the Voudon Project, and Fallow considers it an embarrassment, though useful. He says a pass code that puts X.Voodoo under his control, and leaves with him. Obviously, X-Raytor would have a specific bone to pick with Fallow, seeing as how he’s been messing with his family, but he’d become an adversary of the entire Justice League, as well. Sera and the Green Penguin would get involved. In the end, I like the idea that a defeated Fallow injects himself with a serum based on x-particles, thinking it will give him powers so he can defeat the Justice League, only to have it turn him into a gibbering mutant mess like X-Raytor’s parents. This would tie up any loose ends involving X-Raytor’s family, with the exception of Alex and the Green Penguin. Also, Sera would get married to X-Raytor’s best friend from high school, Bill, at some point.
Another big part of this story is that, at some point, Pinzz would get killed. This would obviously be a huge blow to the team (and Crystal, personally), and it would take a long time for them to recover from it.
At some point I wanted Greg Kimmel’s powers to return while he was under the power dampeners, allowing him to break out. Then he’d become the new Captain Destructo. And then… I don’t know. Wreak havoc. Seek his revenge. I feel like this story would also be a chance to tell the original Captain Destructo’s story, as well, and provide some humanity for both of them. Still, Greg’s so angry that I can’t imagine him taking an offered chance at redemption. He’ll probably either kill himself, or be killed.
Alex would have to be reckoned with at some point. I like the idea that M.O.R.P.H.Z. has known where he was this whole time – indeed, in some of my brainstorming sessions, I think that they actually have him, and have been using him as an assassin on a super-secret black ops team. Either way, eventually he comes back into X-Raytor’s life, probably kills at least one person who’s important to him, and X-y has to deal with him. X-Raytor’s been planning on killing him this whole time, whether he admitted it to himself or not. But during this arc, things would change – he wouldn’t necessarily come to a point of forgiving Alex, but he would be able to come to terms with his anger enough to realize that murdering his brother isn’t the only answer. During their final showdown, X-Raytor would incapacitate Alex by shooting him through the elbows and knees, and then knocking him out. Afterwards, he’d be incarcerated, in order to get as much psychological help as possible, and probably have his powers removed.
This isn’t actually an idea for the new Justice League, but I didn’t know where else to put it. Shortly after my good friend Matthias Wasser joined our RPG and created Right Wing Man, he came up with a story arc in which the Justice League goes to Hollow Earth… that being the alternate universe within the Earth’s core that the Nazis believed in (he was researching it at the time). While the idea doesn’t really work with the world as we’ve established it, there are a lot of interesting ideas, so I figured I’d provide the highlights.
In Hollow Earth, everything is a dark mirror of the outside world. The United States is replaced by the Confederate States of America. There’s an alternate Justice League, called the Conflagration for the Justification of Disassociation, who are terrorists. Alternate versions of the villains are heroes, on a team called the Legion of Light. It should be noted that the “heroes” are protectors of a racist feudal state, but they do appear more noble (possibly just because of their aristocratic backgrounds) than the terrorist JL-equivalents. The Conflagration for the Justification of Disassociation’s goal is utter chaos, and they use whatever means they can, usually the most violent. I’ve outlined the major players below, based on Matthias’ notes (and a few additions of character where I felt inspired – Blake, for example, obviously didn’t exist when Matthias came up with this stuff). Although, to be fair, he came up with the names of the Tri-Leader-equivalents and, my personal favorite, Johanne, der Luchtenfuhrer.
The arc would have been sparked by Awkward Silence coming to the outside world and killing Midnight Chatter. The Justice League would have followed him back to Hollow Earth, and then had adventures there. The main villains, in the end, would have been a number of Seekers from the cityship buried in Antarctica, who broke off from the main group centuries ago and have been living down here ever since, dressing themselves as Norse gods.
Confederate States of America (CSA)
· Economic System: Feudal
· Population breakdown (thanks to economists and eugenicists): 5% gentry, 20% (mostly white) freemen, 10% military, and 65% (black) slaves and serfs
· Government is in hands of slave-owning gentry
o Aristocracy – pageantry, patrilineal honors, styles like “duke” or “lord”
o Formal titles of a republic are still in effect (president, governor)
o Elections are held, although only a very small percentage of the population is in the electorate
o Freemen are about half middle-class (burghers) and half laborers
§ Slaves/serfs can still formally buy or be given their freedom, meaning there is a small population of black freemen
§ However, slavecatcher laws are still on the books – if a serf escapes, any black you can catch will do. Also, freed serfs tend to be put back into slavery for petty offenses.
o A HUGE domestic military is required to keep down slave rebellions
Conflagration for the Justification of Disassociation (JL equivalent – terrorist group whose goal is chaos) - Neopolis
· Hot Cakes (Studmuffin) - Leader
· Verda Stellak (Rosma) – Made of blindingly bright light
· G-Raytor (X-Raytor) – Invisibility, almost asexual
· Joe/Maunty Halfiger (Eric) – Covered in clothes, each with a different enchantment (denim jeans of speed, glove of strength, ten-gallon hat of invulnerability, yamukle of true sight, etc.) – No socks
· Left Wing Man (RWM) – Super-strength, same costume but with different symbolism (camo for Sadinistas, US flag because they tried to end slavery), openly bisexual and active but doesn’t get much satisfaction from it because he’s too committed to the cause (no regrets utilitarian), Matthieu (French for water)
o Gives an “Honor is treason against humanity” speech at some point
· Aquamarine Iyce (Scarlett) – Ice powers activated by giving speeches, no sense of romance
· Awkward Silence (Midnight Chatter) – Can blanket out the sound in the area surrounding him, was originally supposed to kill MC which would have sparked the arc
· “Clark Kent” (Typho) – Not literally Clark Kent, but in spirit: a smart super hero pretending to be a dumb reporter. He literally does have the power of being a badass. Works at The Gladiator.
· Violent Princess (Violet) – Magery, she claims to be from Transmagmia (the outside world), but no one believes her – this is supposed to be Violet’s cousin, which would have been a story point.
· Turpin’ Tude (Superdude) – Slow, but dressed in armor and virtually unstoppable, knows the ancient fighting style of Tetsudo
· alpha (OMEGA) – Psychic with a long, long story that he always tries to tell but never gets to finish, born with light blue eyes but they turned orange
· Polymorphix (Iso) – Cheerful, pacifist fighter who nevertheless has excellent super powers. Hopelessly in love with Violent Princess, who ignores him
· Ruby Burn (Crystal) - Fire
· (Sticky Spectre)
· (Insipid Justice)
· (Oreo Avenger, Pinzz, and Raven died at the Oscars-equivalent)
· Jewish, Gypsy, etc. prisoners that were used as preliminary test subjects for super soldier experiments
· Of the small percentage that developed superpowers, they made a jail run, with about half surviving
o Loose ties with Pandiasporic Bunde (Pandas) – jointed Jewish/Palestinian resistance
· Leader is probably an equivalent of Sampson – Geoff Delilas? A version of the Wraith is probably there, too.
· Johanne, der Luchtenfuhrer
o “Fat, jolly being of light”
o Generally believed to be the manifestation of the power of the Centerlamp (the sun of Hollow Earth)
o Only appears in times of great national crisis for Esperantino
§ Le Esperantino is West and Eastern Europe – Nazis – managerial (having a planned (Soviet-style) economy)
· Ruled by the Intellects (another ship crashed at the North Pole, giving them access) – they think they’re on the outer world, and have been slowly changing society into their intended formations
· Jean-Marie le Pen, le Rîkduko de Esperantino
o Elected fuhrer by accident – opponents in le Konkilo Norso split each others’ votes
· Lots of Ubermenschen police, and Seekers dressed up as Norse gods
· Society of Thule – Magician’s guild
· Le Triumviratino (Tri-Leaders) – rule a hollowed-out asteroid called Luna – rivals of the CSA – the War of Ontarian Secession in Canada has functioned as a proxy war between CSA and Triumviratarian Luna (with Luna behind Ontario – Canada is a client state of the CSA, ruled by dictator and Thulean-trained alchemist Mikhail Crawford)
o Medusina (Roseidous – woman)
o Verdo (Roses - man)
o Anno (Ann - man)
· LeTriumviratino Juviento
o Missle Toe (drives really well)
o Sonic (male, both he and Missle Toe love freedom and defer to Joeseph)
The Legion of Light
· Mo Humble (Bo Powers) – Kindly advisor to the group
· The Pink Condor (Green Penguin)
o Confederate Knight
o Teetotaler against heroin and other intravenous drugs
o Hides a dark secret: his arch-nemesis, G-Raytor, is also his nephew!
· TechToe (Magic Finger)
· Macho-Man (She-Man)
· White Vengeance (Blake Mercier)
· Crimson Iyce (Saph)
· The Weasel
· Rok Smash (Paper Kut)
· The Doubter (The Believer) – makes anyone doubt the righteousness of their cause
The Bottom Rung (Head Honcho) – unattractive flunky, gets
As for the further future, I know even less. I’ve got a few ideas for some of my characters, but I won’t presume to guess for all of you guys. Feel free to jot down ideas here and share.
X-Raytor will probably stay a super hero for a good, long time. I’ve been thinking about what he would do if he retired for years now, and I still can’t come up with anything good (his lack of a job after the JL was disbanded is evidence of this). I don’t know if a super hero is the only thing he could be, but I feel like it’s what he was forced to be, and by this point it’s all he knows. Eventually, however, he will retire (probably sooner than he thinks), and his cousin Nuala will take on the name X-Raytor. Nuala wears a modified version of X-y’s Sentinels costume – black spandex with red gloves and boots, and a red X on her chest. She probably joins the Justice League after Dr. Fallow is defeated (at least kind of) and is mentored by X-y.
Eventually he’ll propose to Firehop and they’ll get married. My own bachelor party is next weekend (as of this writing), so I was thinking about X-Raytor’s, and who his groomsmen would be. I think Bill Naumann, his best friend since elementary school, would be his best man, followed by Kevan, Galen (Gauntlet), and possibly John, Lord of Darkness (Dum Dum Duuuuuum!). Believe it or not, X-Raytor doesn’t really have that many close male friends (and most of the ones he does have only popped up post-OVDA). He and John have an odd relationship, obviously, but I imagine their friendship growing as the years go by. Indeed, X-Raytor ends up being the godfather for one of John’s kids (see below). X-y’s bachelor party would be a relatively tame affair since there wouldn’t be any alcohol, but remember that “tame” is a very relative term when all of the current male Justice Leaguers and John, Lord of Darkness (Dum Dum Duuuuuum!) are in attendance. I think, as a prank, Bill and Kevan hire strippers from a super hero themed strip club (“Capes,” it appears in X-Raytor’s origin) to come dressed as Oreo, Pinzz, and Sticky Spectre, much to X-y’s utter embarrassment. Not sure who Firehop’s bridesmaids would be yet, except that Bridget (Sparks) would be one of them, as would Violet Princess and possibly Raven. Sera might get asked because she’s the closest thing X-Raytor has to a sister, but in that case I’d have to think of a guy friend of Firehop’s to be one of X-y’s groomsmen, to make it fair.
X-Raytor and Firehop have three kids. I haven’t officially decided on their names yet, but it’ll be two boys and one girl, and one of the boys will be named Jeff (since Sampson was very important and, believe it or not, positive in both X-y and Firehop’s lives… plus, he’s Firehop’s cousin, as revealed above). I was thinking about naming the girl after one of the many important women in X-Raytor’s life, and then I realized he’s slept with most of them, and Firehop might not be a fan. Maybe the other kids would be named after Justice Leaguers who died later on down the line. Yeah, you heard me: if you want X-Raytor to name his kids after your characters, you need to kill them off first. When I was writing this same kind of section in my John, Lord of Darkness (Dum Dum Duuuuuum!) summaries, I noted that John and his eventual wife, Johanna, Lady of Darkness (dramatic reverb) asked X-Raytor to be the godfather of their third child, Fiona (born in 2014). This choice was mostly because A) Johanna wants the kids to have godparents, and B) they picked people who were close to them, regardless of their actual piety (Fiona’s godmother is Ili, it should be noted).
With that in mind, I imagine that X-Raytor does soften from his hard-line atheism as life goes on. In “Saints & Sinners” I imagine that he’s stuck on the Twelve Steps because he has trouble with the idea of a higher power (he found a way to make it work when he was a teenager, but his ideas of a higher power from back then just seem embarrassing now). Eventually he does grasp onto a vague idea of who God is for him, at least insofar as the recovery process is concerned. I imagine this might grow into something more, even if it’s not full out devotion (I can’t imagine him ever going to Mass every Sunday). But as the years go by, I do think he would start thinking that, yeah, maybe there is something bigger going on here, and maybe life is tinged with the sacred as well as the tragic.
At least one of X-Raytor and Firehop’s kids would develop super powers and serve on a future incarnation of the Justice League. I’ll keep thinking about that…
It’s possible that Nick Jansen from Turducken is one of their descendents – his red hair was introduced into the gene pool by Firehop, and he demonstrates X-Raytor’s lechery and his family’s vulnerability to alcohol. But, then again, that might be a totally different universe, so maybe not.
Sticky, I hope, would be able to retire pretty quietly and get to know her daughter (X-Raytor would get to know her as well, eventually). She’d probably be involved in future adventures, but never full-time. Jane (whose birthday is February 23, 2002, by the way) would definitely have super powers, although I don’t know what yet, and would serve on a future version of the Justice League. I like the idea that X-Raytor’s cousin (and Jane’s second cousin, I guess) Nuala, who becomes the new X-Raytor, would be her mentor.
I imagine that Sampson would pop back into the action from time to time. However, the more he stayed involved in the action, the more inevitable it would be that he’d eventually get killed. And, personally, I’m a bigger fan of him and Ritter growing old in Thailand together, so I hope that’s what happens.
Gauntlet, I think, would eventually end up leading his own super hero team (maybe even a slightly later version of the Justice League, before the one described below). He does start dating the Cheerleader (a former member of the Apostles), but I don’t know if they end up together in the long run. Something that would have popped up a lot in the Sentinels stories is that Gauntlet almost pathologically cheats on whatever girl he’s currently dating, so hopefully he’d grow up and stop doing that eventually. Later in life, I can see him hanging up his costume and becoming a lawyer and a family man.
I think Sparks would get better and better at being a super hero after she joined the Justice League. However, I also think she would retire earlier than anyone else – eventually she’d weigh how much being a super hero was something she really wanted to do, and how much of it was a debt she felt she owed to Ryan. Fortunately, I think she also has strengths in other areas, and would transition into a fulfilling career (in what? Haven’t decided yet).
The Green Penguin
Eventually X-Raytor and the Green Penguin would have had to finally settle their scores. I’ve had several ideas for a story in which this happens, but none of them has ever been totally satisfactory. So for now, I’m just going to leave it a mystery.
Another big idea I have – and the one I’m most excited about – is that as the original Justice Leaguers start to pull back and let their younger counterparts handle the day-to-day super heroics, they’d open up a government-approved school for young super heroes, providing both greater accountability and preparedness for people who want to be crime fighters. It would be named for a fallen JLer – maybe Ryan Walton (the Shocker), or maybe Pinzz (although “The Neary Djordje School” doesn’t have much of a ring to it). Rosma would be the headmaster/principal/whatever, and X-Raytor would definitely be one of the teachers (and I honestly think he’d do a great job – he’s always been good with mentoring younger heroes). Firehop would teach, too, and a bunch of the others. I say we start a new RPG based entirely in this setting. Who’s in?
The Future Justice League
From the above paragraphs, I think you can tell that I’m interested in a future version of the Justice League, which would include some totally new members and some kids of our characters. Nuala (as X-Raytor), Jane, and one of X-y and Firehop’s kids would be on it, I know that for sure, and maybe Nu Than. They fight new villains, have new adventures, throw new socials, all of that good stuff. I don’t particularly want to think of any stories for these characters, but I think the real appeal, for me at least, is the idea that the Justice League story goes on, even after we’ve stopped writing.