The Costumed Heroes of AmericaA few of you already know this, but for those that don't... I am attempting (with unfortunately sad results) to start a webcomic. Unfortunately, because I lack the qualifying artistic talents to draw it myself, it has not yet gone any further than a few pages of production notes that I wrote to keep myself reminded of peoples, places, events, and dates. I would like to share these notes with you because, as it stands, it doesn't look as though my little project will ever get off the ground. Please keep in mind that it is a satirical homage to the American superhero comic-book. If something seems stupidly cliched, that's because I want it that way. Also, remember that these are only notes. This isn't the most well-written thing in the world, I am aware. They were written to keep record of important events and were never really intended for other people's eyes. Please enjoy it as best you can and, for God's sake, if you know someone that draws in a western (not anime) style and is suitably skilled, help me out and get them to contact me.
Due to my renewed interest in the project I will be updating these notes as new ideas come to me.
The Costumed Heroes of America
© [An Illustrator] and Kurtis Wrighte 200X
Boomsday and the Aftermath
It is the year 2035 and one of the United States’ multitudinous foreign enemies has detonated a powerful dirty bomb within the center of New York City. The impact was, as to be expected, astronomical (a dirty bomb is a radiological weapon designed to disperse radioactive materials by way of a chemical explosion). Though dirty bombs are not as immediately destructive as their more potently explosive counterparts, they are not meant to be. A dirty bomb’s purpose is not to kill but to terrify. The New York bomb did its job all too well; thousands fled the city to escape the radioactive fallout and millions perished of radiation poisoning. As a result of ‘Boomsday’ the entire state of New York was evacuated and quarantined. Deprived of such a powerful business sector and crippled by feelings of hopelessness and loss, the United States’ economy all but collapsed. Blaming himself for the catastrophe former President John Francis Gates resigned in disgrace, ultimately committing suicide in the winter of 2037. Fearful of brutal retaliation, no nation ever took credit for the bombing.
For thirty long years (~2065) the United States of America struggled to hold itself together, coming close to total annihilation on several occasions. Eventually, though, things quieted down. Though New York was still an empty, irradiated wasteland (and would remain so for several thousand generations) the myriad peoples of the United States mustered enough courage to bring their country to a semblance of what it had been. Other cities began to fill in for the gap left by NYC and the economy climbed, first to former levels and then, surprisingly, higher. One city on particular grew so much that it became the new largest city of the United States and, after becoming larger even than NYC had been, was renamed ‘Paradise City’ in 2079. It seemed as though the United States herself was determined to show the world that she wasn’t yet licked, no sir! Despite the terrifying loss of life and thirty-year chaos things were finally starting to look normal again for the U.S.A.
Until 2082, of course, when Patricia Cale, a college student from Atlanta, Georgia, discovered that she was capable of unaided flight. She became an instantaneous media sensation and used her amazing ability to star in commercials and on film. She died in the summer of 2088, killed by a jealous mob that became enraged after she refused to fly for them. After Cale had gone public with her power, others followed suit; a man from Memphis could bend steel with his bare hands. A woman from Bangor could breathe underwater. A sixteen year old girl from Annapolis could move things with her mind. Some people blamed these abilities on government experimentation or alien visits. Most, however, blamed the bomb and the impact that its radiation had had on the genetics of those that had been caught in the nuclear radius. Patricia Cale’s grandmother, for example, had been a survivor. It should be noted that none of the original victims of the bombing developed anything more unusual than radiation poisoning and cancer; only their descendants were blessed with superhuman abilities and only then after they reached puberty and certain hormonal conditions were met within their bodies.
Taking their cue from comic books and movies several of these powered people began to ‘fight crime’ in their neighborhoods. Fashioning crude costumes and beating up thugs, these early ‘superheroes’ were more destructive than helpful and caused thousands upon thousands of dollars of property damage. Compounding this issue were those that chose to walk a darker path, using their powers for personal gain and profit. The U.S government had a situation on its hands and that was before non-powered individuals decided to use technology and their own natural talents to jump on the superhero bandwagon. Something had to be done. In the spring of 2089 Congress passed the Meta-Human Enlistment Act; a series of laws the required all meta-humans to register their names, aliases, and powers with the United States government. Unregistered people were thus considered to be either unregistered meta-humans which commonly turn out to be ‘supervillains’ (super-powered people that use their abilities for less than legal pursuits), ‘vigilantes’ (those un-powered persons that think that they might be able to fight crime illegally, with varying success) or ‘normals’ (the regular, powerless human beings that make up the vast majority of the world’s population). Registered heroes automatically receive a job with the government in fighting super-powered threats, though not all serve on the front lines. A new government agency was created solely to deal with the registration, assignment and regulation of superheroes: the C.H.A: the Costumed Heroes of America.
Though the bureaucracy behind the C.H.A is just as complex as any other government agency, there are some well-known patterns as to its operation:
• Everyone with a meta-human ability, no matter how seemingly mundane, must register with the C.H.A. Failure to do so results in being labeled a supervillian.
• Most of the major cities of the United States have one team of C.H.A agents, called a ‘Department’ situated in a C.H.A City Headquarters. These teams are composed of only four superheroes. This number is carefully calculated to put the team at the maximum of cost-effectiveness. It is theorized that a lesser number of agents would be unable to deal with the larger threats to their cities and that a higher number might very well be accidentally responsible for the destruction of the very cities that they are trying to save.
• The government decides the team’s composition based on a very shrewd and complicated system that is designed to maximize the team’s effectiveness. Should one or more agents be unable to work together with the others that team will be temporarily disbanded as the dissenters are assigned to new teams and their position given to willing replacements. Quarrelling superheroes is not something that the government is willing to tolerate.
• Upon the unfortunate event of an agent’s death, the government will assign a replacement as soon as it possibly can. Remaining agents are expected to continue working as best as they can; there is no time to grieve.
(People, Places and Things
Note that this section is constantly expanding)
Character Information Breakdown
Alias (if applicable): The official moniker of the character
Name: The legal name of the character
Powers and Abilities (if applicable): The special abilities of the character, arranged in order of strongest to weakness in accordance to the following chart:
• Light(ly) – above normal human standards by around 1-100 percent above normal human ability.
• Moderate(ly) – well above normal human standards by about 101-200 percent above normal human ability.
• Great(ly) – amazingly far above normal human standards by about 201-300 percent above normal human ability.
• Supreme(ly) – the stuff of legends. Though the ‘Supreme’ ranking begins at 301 percent above normal human ability, it continues on indefinitely. A hero with any Supreme power is one worthy of great respect. An enemy in possession of a Supreme power is a dangerous foe indeed.
• Miscellaneous – any power or ability that cannot be quantified by the aforementioned chart will be listed at the end.
Costumed Heroes of America: Paradise Department
Name: Brandon Burns
Powers and Abilities: Greatly enhanced strength and endurance; moderately enhanced speed and agility; moderate healing factor; flight
Origin and Superfluous Information: Brandon Burns was a man to whom life was kind. Handsome, well-built and intelligent, Burns was everyone’s friend due to his charming nature and endearing wit. His father, a wealthy insurance broker, made sure that Brandon got the best education and, after his graduation at age 22, a posh job in architecture and construction, a field in which he had some talent. One day, while inspecting the partially-contracted roof of a skyscraper that his firm had been contracted to design, disaster struck. Everyone on the roof was supposed to wear a safety harness but, as he was young and as such in possession of a youth’s feeling of invincibility, he was not. A strong wind blew Burns from his tentative footing on the scaffold and he plummeted 105 stories to the ground; the crater that resulted from his impact was a two feet deep. Much to everyone’s surprise, the man that should have been gook drug himself from the crater, groaned, and walked himself to a nearby hospital. Over the course of the next few weeks his self-experimentation revealed the rest of his powers: he was strong enough to manipulate steel like putty, fast enough to outrun a train and agile enough to dodge bullets. And he could fly. Complying with the MHEA, he registered with the C.H.A and took the alias “Overman”. Due to the extreme balance of abilities that his powers bestowed on him, he was placed in charge of the Paradise City Department and has lived there ever since.
Writer’s Notes: Obviously a homage to Superman, sans the eye- and breath-based powers like heat-vision and ice-breath. He is also not nearly as powerful as Superman, to make him more believable as a team player. I never really saw the point of having Superman in the Justice League. He’s Superman; he can play billiards with planets! Overman is obviously based on the Nazi Aryan ‘Master Race’ nonsense and his alias is a direct translation of the German uebermensch, or ‘overman’. This will be all the more meaningful when a certain facet of his person is revealed.
Alias: The Streak
Name: Sandra Summers
Powers and Abilities: Greatly enhanced speed; moderate knowledge of martial arts
Origin and Superfluous Information: Sandra ‘Speedy’ Summers first discovered her amazing power when she was 16 years old. The star runner in Middletown High’s track program, Sandra was in the 100-meter dash against the best runners from five other schools. At the blow of the staring whistle Sandra ran as fast as she could. The audience was stunned: the girl had gone 100 meters before any of the others had taken their second steps. Because of her unfair advantage she was not allowed to win the race, but that didn’t matter to her any more. She took “The Streak” as her alias and registered with the C.H.A. The government allowed her to finish her education before assigning her to the Paradise City Department. During college Sandra underwent martial arts training and is now capable of delivering jujitsu at 300-plus miles an hour. She is the second fastest person in the world, surpassed only by Chicago’s Whiplash, with whom she has attempted to outrace on numerous occasions. She has yet to succeed.
Writer’s Notes: The Streak is based on the flash, obviously, down the colors of her costume, as well as a few other ‘speed-based’ characters. Her inability to outrace Whiplash, a white male, will be used to explore the themes of gender- and race-relations in the workplace.
Alias: Ms. Tech
Name: Allison Lloyd
Powers and Abilities: Technological genius (technokinesis?); armor grants moderately enhanced strength and endurance; flight
Origin and Superfluous Information: Allison first discovered her technological prowess at the tender age of 13, when she built a fully-functional car using parts that she salvaged from the dump. The truly amazing thing about this event was that the car ran on a homemade chemical as though it were fossil fuel. That particular invention won her the Nobel Prize and enough money to live in quiet luxury for the rest of her life. Unfortunately, no one can buy their way out of joining the C.H.A, which discovered her mechanical genius and demanded that she register the moment that she finished college, which she did. Not one for theatrics, Lloyd took the alias “Miss Technology” which, to her consternation, is all too often abbreviated, and constructed a suit of high-tech battle armor in which she would fight crime. Whether or not her affinity with technology is an actual superpower is often disputed, as it is possible that it is nothing more than an incredible, though natural, talent. The government must think that it’s close enough to a power because they assigned her to the Paradise City Department, where she engaged in a mutually loving relationship with the unpredictable Wild Thing which lasted up until his unfortunate death.
Writer’s Notes: Ms. Tech is based on Iron Man and all of the other power-armor superheroes. She is the story’s tragic figure, having lost her love at the very beginning and being unwilling to move on, and I plan to exploit that as fully as I can. Ms. Tech is an intellectual to the extreme, and understands mechanics far better than she understands people. Without Wild Thing to act as her voice, she has lapsed into a brooding silence, which is something that I can use to spread discontent throughout the group.
Alias: Wild Thing
Name: Peter Prince
Powers and Abilities: greatly enhanced agility; moderately enhanced speed; lightly enhanced strength; minor healing factor
Age: 26 (deceased)
Origin and Superfluous Information: Peter Price was different from the moment he emerged from his mother’s womb. Born with light tawny skin and a thin coating of fur, his peers called him Wild Thing due to his strange appearance and unpredictable, quirky personality. His powers, which manifested when he was 13, befit his animalistic appearance: he can leap amazingly high, run cheetah-fast and brawl without much fear of permanent injury. He immediately registered with the C.H.A and, taking his old nickname as his alias, joined up after high school, having chosen to forgo a higher education. Wild Thing quickly became friends with Allison Lloyd (Ms. Tech) when she was assigned to the Paradise City Department of the C.H.A and their friendship eventually blossomed into love. Though Allison does not know it, he had planned to propose to her on the very day of his unfortunate death.
Writer’s Notes: Based on Spider-Man and Daredevil, Wild Thing was put into the story for the sole purpose of having him die, thus giving Ms. Tech that layer of angst and allowing the inclusion of Ersatz. In the short time that Wild Thing is alive, he will be shown as a wisecracker and a goofball, the perfect counterbalance to Ms. Tech’s mechanical precision.
Name: Nicholas Alset
Powers and Abilities: shape-shifting (physical mimicry); moderate knowledge of martial arts; utility belt contains a variety of useful gadgets; suit grants night-vision and lightly enhanced endurance
Origin and Superfluous Information: One of the best and brightest of this new generation of Superheroes, the man that would be Ersatz began life as a ward of the state, abandoned by his parents into the care of a local orphanage. Determined to make himself someone of eventual importance, the young Nicholas Alset threw himself into self-improvement through both intellectual and athletic means. He studied a variety of subjects obsessively and, when he was not studying, he was perfecting his body though a combination of different exercises personally chosen to keep his body strong but lean. When his power developed at the age of 19 he registered himself with the C.H.A and, upon his graduation from an Ivy League school (he was valedictorian) he was immediately assigned to the Paradise City Department to fill the void left by the recently deceased Wild Thing. His ability to instantly become someone else, down to their articles of clothing, makes him the perfect scout and infiltration agent. His customized, form-fitting suit provides him a modest amount of enhanced endurance without restricting his movement and his eerie visor enables him to see in several different frequencies. The many pockets of his belt are filled with any gizmos and gadgets that might be of use on his missions. He generally carries several small audio bugs and a compact, electrically powered grapple-gun.
Writer’s Notes: Based on Batman and his tendency to go undercover as Matches Malone, Ersatz, like Batman, is a modern ninja without the cape and cowl. His power, being basically non-combat-oriented, means that he needs to be a bit more careful when going into battle with heavier threats. His purpose on the group, then, is to infiltrate the enemy hangouts and take out the goons, leaving the big villains to his teammates. I’ve added a small Spider-Man influence to him through his use of the grapple-gun.
Powers and Abilities: Technological genius (technokinesis?), primarily in the field of experimental robotics; other powers, if any, are unknown; it is presumed that his armor grants him his greatly enhanced strength, endurance, speed and agility; master of several martial arts; master of ranged and close-combat weaponry; cybernetic link to an army of robot killing machines
Age: Unknown (20s?)
Gender: Unknown (male?)
Origin and Superfluous Information: Very little is known about this criminal mastermind, other than that he is a technological prodigy whose skill dwarfs that of Allison Lloyd (Ms. Tech), a fact that is a consistent zone of contention for the young Superheroine. His armor grants him abilities beyond that of any mortal man and his personal army of robot soldiers makes him all but invincible. Mechanicus is very fond of employing robotic duplicates of himself to confuse his enemies. It was one of these duplicates, leading a squadron of robots against the CHPCB (Costumed Heroes Paradise City Department) that killed Wild Thing when it self-destructed upon its defeat. For that instance alone, despite all other things, Mechanicus is considered the CHPCB’s greatest enemy. Ms. Tech has sworn to bring him to justice, no matter the cost.
Writer’s Notes: Doctor Doom, plain and simple. Mechanicus is the big bad guy of the story; the incredibly wealthy, incredibly powerful villain that could have already conquered the world with ease if it weren’t for those meddling superheroes. He rarely enters combat himself, preferring to rely on his robotic minions, but when the heroes finally engage him face to face… it will be a battle of epic proportions. I have big things planned for this character.
Name: Unknown (many pseudonyms, any one of which could be real)
Powers and Abilities: Moderately enhanced agility; lightly enhanced strength; moderate knowledge of martial arts; competent user of firearms and explosive devices; “super-sanity”
Age: Mid 20s
Origin and Superfluous Information: Laughingstock is the worst kind of Supervillian in that he has no desire to rule the world, or even to destroy it: he wants only to make it a horrible place in which to live. One the surface Laughingstock is a terrorist; nothing more than a cackling madman with a gun and a suitcase full of bombs. If one were to look deeper down, though, one discovers that he is a satirist. He sees the corruption of the world, the mindless violence and the futility of the fight against it, and becomes a grotesque parody of that which makes life miserable. A serial murderer that collects the hair of his victims, he kills people with the intent of making them realize, with their last desperate gasps, that nothing matters beyond survival.
Writer’s Notes: A mixture of the Joker, Harley Quinn and the Creeper, he’s the grinning, maniacal, homicidal goofball that everyone wishes they could be in moments of extreme duress. A strong believer in ‘survival of the fittest’, he attempts to prove the futility of civilization by killing with little provocation and even less pattern. Searching for a way of making him more ‘creepy’, I decided to have him collect trophies from his victims in the form of their hair, which he bleaches white and adds to his horrific cape. People will accuse this character of being incredibly unoriginal, and they will be absolutely right.
More characters are forthcoming, as well as some rudimentary costume designs made with the useful tool that is HeroMachine 2.0.
Here are the basic appearances of the characters that I have created so far. Some influences are obvious, but that's the point.
*gets to work on Mechanicus and Laughingstock*
That story has real potential, and I was very impressed.
A few questions:
Is the government agency seeking to regulate heroes corrupt?
Are their good people who have been labeled super villains simply because they don't wish to work with the government?
Would the comic be based in Paradise City?
Who would be most in the spotlight?
Anyways, its really good. Seems to me like a cross between Marvel Civil War and Heroes. Which is a compliment in my book.
I can't wait to see it, Necro!
1. All government agencies are corrupt in one way or another. If I say more than that I'll end up ruining a story-arc that I have planned.
2. Yes, there are good meta-humans that have refused to register with the government. The government assumes that these people remain unregistered because they're up to no good and, to be fair, that's the vast majority. However, there are a few unregistered meta-humans that simply value their privacy. The government does not distinguish between the two.
3. Yes, the comic is based in Paradise City. As you can tell, there will be a lot of allusions to music and musicians.
4. There is no main character, really. Instead, I hope to focus the story on the group as a single entity, though that won't stop me from showing the characters in greater depth should the need arise.
Also, check the first post. I've added some Writer's Notes to the character bios, and I've cleaned up some meaning, especially in the area that talks about registering with the government.
Just out of curiosity, did you get 'Overman' from Nietzsche's ideal human being?
I mean, he also uses the term Superman too, so I kinda figured...
V: Oi... Sorry, missed that. ><
Yes. I mention in my Writer's Notes that 'Overman' is just 'Uebermensch' translated into English.
Take another look at the character bios for the Writer's Notes.
Take me down to the Paradise City where the grass is green and the girls are pretty. Take me home!
Good Ideas! Now I have about 100 superhero ideas in my head right now. I wish I'd thought of this idea.
Out of curiosity, have you ever seen the movie Mystery Men?
Actually, it is one of my favorite movies.
I'd put it at number... oh, 30 in a list of 100.
I never thought that it got the attention that it should have, but that's because they didn't include the Flaming Carrot.
That's it? No more comments?
Or has everything been said that can be?
I don't really have too much to say, other than I would like to see the comic version once its made....
I think I commented on this in its original thread, actually.