Catalyst, at least in the form of Nathaniel Caine, is one of my oldest characters. I created him way back in 1985 and he went through several permutations, popping up in various stories, comic book scripts, fanfiction and roleplaying campaigns over the years. When I finally became a professional writer, it was only a matter of time before Nathaniel would enter my Reese Unlimited universe. Why does he still linger, when so many of my other characters from my youth have fallen by the wayside? I’m not sure. He was the first creation of mine that I felt was worthy of saving… plus I always loved his green color scheme. Credit has to go to Cari Reese for taking my original (and very derivative) costume designs and merging them with the Kirby-esque Asgardian and New Gods looks that I desired. Other artists have depicted him since then but all of them have used her costume design.
So who or what is… The Catalyst?
The Gifted is the name given to humans that possess the natural ability to tap into the most primal forces in existence – the stuff that normal humans called Magic. The Catalyst is the High Mage of his era and generally there is only one per century, though their tenure sometimes varied in length and occasionally overlapped. They could be recognized not only by their power but by a peculiar uniform that went along with the responsibility of wielding that much magical ability… an emerald set of clothing that changed appearance with the times but always bore a similar look.
Historically, the first Catalyst that we’ve seen in my universe is actually Andre Thierry, the Catalyst of the 19th century. A creole sorcerer, Thierry’s first recorded activity involved brokering a peace between local farmers and a subterranean race of monsters known as The Shamblers. This treaty took place in 1853 and was mentioned in the story “It Wants To Kill You” that appeared in the eighth volume of The Adventures of Lazarus Gray. In 1903, Thierry died in mystical combat but he used a spell powered by his will to retain his corporeal nature. In this form, he remained on earth, combating evil into the 1930s. In 1937, he journeyed to Sovereign City and aided Lazarus Gray in defeating The Three Sisters (aka Selene, Fiona and Phoebe). These events are shown in “Immortals,” a story that appeared in The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume 5. In that same volume, he helped make sure that Lazarus and Kelly’s wedding went off without interruption by any of their enemies (“Wedding Bells”). Less than a year later, in 1938, Thierry’s time as Catalyst came to an end, as his spirit was destroyed during the events depicted in the novel Götterdämmerung.
With Thierry dead, the time was right for a new Catalyst to emerge.
Nathaniel Caine was a police officer in England during this time and he’d fallen into a deep depression following the murder of his girlfriend by a killer known as Tweedledum in 1936. Caine distrusted vigilantes due to the fact that Dan Daring had failed to stop the murder. By 1942, he was a frustrated man, ready to call it quits on his career. That was when he met The Peregrine and a young psychic named Rachel Winters, embarking on a bizarre adventure involving a Nazi experiment called The Un-Earth. Nathaniel and Rachel became lovers, he took on the role of Catalyst and Rachel became his partner, known to the public as Esper. All of this was depicted in “Catalyst,” which appears in The Peregrine Omnibus Volume One.
Nathaniel made his first visit to the United States in 1943 when he was contacted by members of Assistance Unlimited. Lazarus Gray was experiencing a spiritual crisis and the team needed Catalyst’s help in returning Gray to the dimension known as Dread Carcosa. After aiding Lazarus in this affair, Catalyst returned to England. These events are depicted in The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Twelve.
In 1944, Catalyst and Esper were recruited by The Peregrine into a strikeforce known The Claws of The Peregrine. Based out of Atlanta, Georgia, the group initially consisted of Catalyst, Esper, Revenant and Frankenstein’s Monster. As a team, they successfully took part in two adventures during this year – “The Diabolical Mr. Dee” and “A Plague of Wicked Men”, both of which are in The Peregrine Omnibus Volume Two.
The Claws of The Peregrine next appear in 1946’s “The Ivory Machine” which is also in The Peregrine Omnibus Volume Two. The group added several new members following this adventure but Catalyst and Esper remained key players in their activities.
It’s unknown how long the group remained active — by 2006, Rachel was dead but Nathaniel was still operating as Catalyst. In at least one possible timeline, he aided The Peregrine in dealing with the rise and fall of The Black Mass Barrier. In that same timeline, he also aided Babylon in dealing with a mystical assault in London in 2011. Shortly after 2012, he finally passed on, leaving the door open for a future Catalyst to emerge. These stories appear in The Second Book of Babylon, “The Black Mass” (The Peregrine Omnibus Volume One) and “The Four Rooks” (The Peregrine Omnibus Volume Two).
There are many adventures of Nathaniel (and other Catalysts!) still to be told. I’m sure I’ll be updating this list sometime in the future.