Doctor Solar, Podcast of the Atom: Transivac!

The October 1964 issue of Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom (# 9) features the debut of Transivac, a super-powerful computer capable of detroying the Man of the Atom! It’s so evil, in fact, that Nuro is forced to call upon the Man of the Atom for help! With the evil genius of Nuro working with the power of Solar, can even Transivac stand a chance? Plus: letters column fun!

Writing Stuff

Things have been pretty busy as usual around here – I’ve been writing the second Dark Society novel, which hopefully you’ll see eventually. There are three Straw-Man books that have to be published first, then Dark Society: Calavera, followed by Straw-Man volume 4, and THEN Dark Society: August Messenger. Once I’m finished with DS: AM, I’m not entirely sure what I’ll do next. I have the 15th volume of Lazarus Gray that I set aside awhile back — that one’s about halfway finished. Then again, I also have a few ideas for a third Dark Society book. The first two are novel-length tales but I think the third book will be a collection of short stories. It’s been fun moving into the supernatural superhero realm. I mean, my pulp stuff always flirted with the lines there but this erases that line completely. I always admired my friend Van Plexico for having his Sentinels series that was a love letter to Jim Starlin and Cosmic Marvel. Straw-Man and the Dark Society are my way of showing my appreciation for Bronze Age Marvel weirdness and such series as Tomb of Dracula, Man-Thing, etc. That’s my jam and I’ve enjoyed it — but working so far ahead does make it weird for me. None of you have met any of these characters yet–!

Someday.

In the meantime, folks, Happy Holidays!

Star Brand (Icons Writeup)

Star Brand
aka Ken Connell

Prowess 3
Coordination 4
Strength 7
Intellect 3
Awareness 2
Willpower 4

Stamina 11

Powers
*Energy Control 9 (Extras: Flight, Force Field, Dazzle, Transmutation, Absorption, Blast, Healing, Life Support, Immortality, Ability Boost – Strength)

Specialties
Technology – Auto Repair (Expert +2 bonus), Drive – Motorcycles (+1 bonus)

Qualities
*Narcissistic Personality
*I’m my own Grandpa
*Ladies Man

Background

I know what you’re thinking — the New Universe was crap. Well, yes and no. The execution was certainly lacking at times and some of the books should never have been started to begin with, but others had potential. Star Brand, for instance, has many parallels to Jim Shooter’s later work on Solar, Man of the Atom. Both stories are about a man who becomes a veritable god, and both Ken Connell and Phil Seleski were in some way responsible for the birth of heroes in their universes. Both were also responsible for numerous deaths, as Phil destroyed his entire universe and Ken blew up Pittsburgh… the biggest difference between Solar and Starbrand is that Ken was often a jerk, using one girl for sex and ignoring her feelings for him while he was also cheating on another woman.

While riding his dirt bike in the hills outside of Pittsburgh, auto mechanic Ken Connell came across a blasted circle of forest. Investigating, he was greeted by an old man who, after interviewing him for a few short minutes, gave him the most powerful weapon in the universe: the Star Brand. Ken passed out from the physical shock of this, and when he woke up, the Old Man was dead.

In fact, it appeared that he wasn’t even human, as when Ken found him, he appeared to be a sort of pink, fish-headed thing with loose skin. Burying the apparent alien, Ken went home to think about his new abilities, and confided in his old pal Myron, a psychologist who Ken trusted enough to talk about this bizarre occurrence. Though he didn’t believe the alien bit, he was still wowed by Ken’s ability to fly.

Though Myron tried to help him decide what to do, it took Ken about a year before he finally decided to help people with this amazing powers. During this time, he had various adventures across the earth, several of which involved the return of that Old Man, who tried to get Ken to give him the Star Brand back. Having gotten used to such power, however, Ken declined… violently.

Deciding at last to go public, he donned a costume made for him by his girlfriend, and Ken exposed his powers to the media in several spectacular ways. He was liked and adored by the public, which was what Ken always wanted, though this didn’t last. You see, he decided to attend a comic book convention as a guest of honor, and the creators of several comic books tore him apart.

After these folks pretty much insulted him for being stupid enough to fly about as a costumed ‘hero’, the Old Man again appeared to confront Ken, and this time, he killed him. Spectacularly. In fact, the explosion the Old Man used to achieve this flattened the complex, killing at least five thousand people in addition to Ken himself. Of course, Ken got better.

His body, for the first time, assumed that pinkish regenerative form, and Ken made his way to Myron’s place, who convinced him to get rid of the Star Brand once and for all. Feeling guilty about the deaths he had inadverdently caused, Ken didn’t want anything to do with the power anymore. As such, he grabbed an bent iron weight and flew into the skies.

Remembering things the Old Man had revealed to him, about the creation of the White Event, Ken was going to get far away in order to release the Star Brand’s power into the weight. Of course, he decided that ten miles up was probably good enough, and transferred the power over into that inanimate object. The resultant explosion ripped his body to shreds, and obliterated the city of Pittsburgh.

Again, however, this wasn’t enough to kill Ken. His body eventually pulled itself back together again, though he’d gone completely nuts after realizing what he’d done. Of course, he still had ten percent of the Star Brand’s power flowing within him, so this made him unbelievably dangerous to have around. His son realized this when he finally managed to track him down.

You see, Ken’s girlfriend discovered that she was pregnant several months before, and after the Pitt occurred, her son was violently born into the world. Trying to understand his place in the world, he tracked Ken down to get his help, but since the man was gibberingly insane, the so-called Star Child decided that he had to protect the world from Ken.

Given a choice of suffering permanent death or powerlessness, Ken chose powerlessness, and was returned to the earth without his portion of the Star Brand; his child was indeed powerful enough to take it from him. Of course, he was still crazy, and after he saw an apparition of his dead friend Myron, Ken accidentally drove his motorcycle off a cliff.

He didn’t die, however. You see, by this time, the Star Child had temporarily halted the process of death itself across the earth. Ken, though horribly burned and broken up by the wreckage of his bike, was still alive. In fact, he formed a sort of White Event cult in the ruins of Pittsburgh, and preached the gospel of his godhood until death returned to the earth, and he died yet again.

Once he died, Ken’s body finally had an opportunity to heal itself, and Ken awoke anew in his old body, this time with his sanity returned to him. Realizing the horrible things he’d done, Ken resolved to help fix matters somewhat, when the Star Child teleported him (and everybody else that’d ever used the Star Brand’s power) onto an asteroid in orbit around Jupiter.

He’d been delving into the origins of the Star Brand, you see, and discovered that it was spontaneously created at some indeterminate point when the universe folded in upon itself for a microsecond. As such, he resolved to trap the Star Brand in time before it’s continued existence destroyed the continuity of the universe as it was presently known.

In order to do this, however, he needed to absorb the energies of the Star Brand from those who currently wielded it (all three of the others), and then he needed to wedge Ken Connell himself into this time loop, since he was already there. You see, it was revealed that the Old Man was a much older version of himself, and that the Star Child was actually a younger version of Ken.

So, once he’d absorbed the Star Brand into himself, the Star Child took Ken and the Old man into time, altering their essences and minds until they fit into the places he needed them to be, so that this loop could be completed once and for all. While the Star Child’s essence became what would become Ken Connell, Ken Connell’s essence was transported into the past so he could become the Old Man.

And finally, the Old Man’s essence was imparted into Ken Connell’s baby while it was still within his girlfriend, Debbie. As such, Ken was finally able to atone for his horrible mistakes to some extent, as his sacrifice managed to heal the wounds the Star Brand inflicted upon the time stream, even if it meant he’d be doomed to repeat his actions over and over….

Vibe (Icons Writeup)

Vibe
aka Paco Ramon

Prowess 4
Coordination 5
Strength 3
Intellect 3
Awareness 3
Willpower 3

Stamina 6

Powers
*Sonic Shock Waves – Blast 6 (Extra: Burst)

Specialties
Athletics (+1 bonus), Leadership (+1 bonus), Performance – Breakdancing (Expert +2 bonus), Power – Sonic Shockwaves (+1 bonus), Sleight of Hand (+1 bonus)

Qualities
*“Word’s out on the street is chu guys are the Chustice League. I figure, guys like chu and me, we should be on the same crew.”
*Brashness hides deep-seated self-esteem issues.
*Breakdancing is his thing.

Background

The leader of the Detroit street gang Los Lobos, Paco Ramone had a secret asset: his mutant sonic powers. When the JLA moved to his hometown, he decided it was time to go after the big score. He asked to join under the name “Vibe”.

Steel and Vixen accepted him after witnessing his powers. However Aquaman, and to a lesser extend the Martian Manhunter, were understandably sceptical. Especially after Vibe managed to involve the JLA in a turf war in Detroit.

Vibe’s career in the JLA lasted for a few months. Over this time he gradually improved himself and became more and more efficient. He even played a vital role in defeating Despero. However, the “Legends” PR campaign by Darkseid then struck, and heroes became reviled.

Paco went back to the streets of Detroit as he couldn’t stomach the public’s reaction.

While he was far from the temporarily disbanded JLA, he was tracked down. Despite a valiant struggle, Vibe was killed by an android dispatched by Professor Ivo. He thus became the first JLA member to be killed in the line of duty. The JLA later arrested Ivo for murder.

One of Paco’s brothers later became a member of the Conglomerate with similar powers, under the name Reverb.

Though often reviled as the ‘breakdancing member of Justice League Detroit,’ Vibe had potential to be much more. His accent was far more pronounced when he was among outsiders and was a way that Paco ensured people underestimated him. At home around his family, his English was quite good.

Mad Jim Jaspers (Icons Writeup)

Jim Jaspers

Prowess 3
Coordination 3
Strength 3
Intellect 7
Awareness 5
Willpower 8

Stamina 11

Powers
*Jaspers Warp – Reality Manipulation 10

Specialties
Leadership (Expert +2 bonus)

Qualities
*The more power he taps into, the more insane he becomes.
*Prolonged use of the Jaspers Warp can cause mutations in people exposed to his powers (“Warpies”)
*Drawn to politics and an anti-superhero platform

Background

Sir James “Mad Jim” Jaspers is a powerful supervillain from Marvel Comics who was the archenemy of Captain Britain and Excalibur as well as a few other heroes. Despite his relative obscurity he is considered one of the most powerful mutants in existence. Two versions of him have existed and the most powerful one is the Earth-616 version (which is the mainstream Marvel Earth). His power can be summed up as so: the less powerful alternate-reality Jaspers was so dangerous his entire reality had to be erased to get rid of him. The more powerful mainstream Jaspers threat is so great that Merlyn has suggested he could become an omniversal threat (which means he could theoretically become dangerous enough to destroy/take over entire multiverses).

In the alternate reality of Earth-238, Jaspers led a criminal gang known as the “Crazy Gang”, inspired by Alice In Wonderland. He played the part of the Mad Hatter before he was a criminal. However, Jaspers was also a British politician to managed to outlaw superheroes, then proceeded to create a powerful being by the name of The Fury to exterminate any remaining superhuman beings on the planet. Within two years the world was almost barren of superhuman beings except Jaspers, who had programmed the Fury to not try and kill him. After Captain Britain arrived in this reality and foiled a bank robbery, Jaspers reactivated the Fury, which proceeded to kill both Captain Britain and Jackdaw,. However, Captain Britain was revived by Merlyn and return to Earth-616. The Fury detected this and adapted itself so as to travel across realities. However, when Jaspers unleashed the power of the Jaspers Warp Mandragon, it destroyed the entire Earth-238 reality out of fears of contamination. Presumably this event killed off this particular version of Jaspers.

Upon returning to mainstream reality, Captain Britain found that another Sir James Jaspers was leading an anti-superhero campaign, with the aid of Henry Peter Gyrich and Sebastian Shaw, members of the Hellfire Club (and strongly suggesting Jaspers is also a member of this organization).

Jaspers managed to win a landslide general election victory on his anti-superhero platform and became Prime Minister of Britain. Events began to mirror those of Earth-238 and Jaspers unleashed the force of the Jaspers Warp upon London, causing much chaos and devastation. However (and somewhat ironically) Jaspers found himself under attack from the reality-hopping Fury (which realized he was not the same Jaspers he was programmed not to kill) and the two engaged in a large-scale reality-warping battle in which Jaspers was ultimately killed by the Fury, who teleported him outside the universe. Since Jaspers no longer had any reality to control he was rendered powerless.

Wildcat (Icons Writeup)

Wildcat
aka Ted Grant

Prowess 6
Coordination 4
Strength 4
Intellect 3
Awareness 4
Willpower 4

Stamina 8

Powers
*Immortality 7 (Limit: The resurrection aspect of Immortality only works 7 more times. Each time Wildcat is revived from the dead, reduce his power by one. When it reaches zero, he will be unable to return to life after death).

Specialties
Athletics (Expert +2 bonus), Drive – Motorcyles (+1 bonus), Martial Arts – Boxing (Master +3 bonus), Weapons – Melee (+1 bonus), Wrestling (Expert +2 bonus)

Qualities
*Fight trainer for other heroes.
*Old-fashioned.
*Estranged relationship with his sons.

Background

Ted Grant grew up in the Great Depression with his father Henry. As a child, he participated in many sports at his father’s behest, and excelled at boxing. As an adult, Ted attempted to study medicine, but became a professional heavyweight boxer instead.

Early in his career, Ted became entangled in criminal plot crafted by his managers Flint and Skinner, who attempted to fix one of Ted’s matches by drugging Ted’s opponent “Socker” Smith. However, Flint and Skinner miscalculated the dosage, and “Socker” Smith died as a result. Not wanting to get caught, Flint and Skinner framed Ted for their crime.

After Ted was arrested, Flint and Skinner then arranged a hit on him to prevent the truth from coming out. Although Ted survived the assassination, the police officers who held him in custody were killed. Ted then fled the scene and was wrongly accused of murdering the officers. While on the run, he came across a boy who had been robbed of his Green Lantern comic. The boy described Green Lantern which inspired Ted to become a vigilante. He create a costume of a large black cat, called himself Wildcat, and vowed to clear his name. He forced Flint and Skinner to confess, and cleared himself of all charges. Ted then continued to fight against crime as Wildcat.

During World War II, Ted became a member of the Justice Society of America and the All-Star Squadron, and had a romantic relationship with a time-displaced Queen Hippolyta. In 1945, King Inferno and Zatara cursed Ted with nine lives, which allowed him to recover from fatal inquiries. In the 1950s, Ted impregnated his then girlfriend Irina, who gave birth to Ted’s eldest son Jake Grant. However, Jake was kidnapped by the Yellow Wasp, one of Ted’s sworn enemies. Although Ted searched for Jake and the Yellow Wasp for years, he was unable to locate either of them. As a result, his relationship with Irina disintegrated. However, Ted would have a one-night stand with Marilyn Bronson, who became the mother of his youngest son Thomas Bronson. Later, Ted was critically injured by an out-of-control Red Tornado, but his goddaughter Yolanda Montez became Wildcat in his place.

Eventually, Ted recovered and became Wildcat again after Yolanda was killed in action. He then joined the reformed Justice Society of America where he and his teammates regained prominence as the forefathers of the heroic community. He was one of the many combat instructors sought out by Bruce Wayne on his path towards becoming Batman, and he also taught Dinah Lance and Selina Kyle, becoming a father figure to the former and a lover to the latter.

World Beater (Icons Writeup)

Prowess 9
Coordination 9
Strength 10
Intellect 4
Awareness 3
Willpower 3

Stamina 13

Powers
*Light Control 8 (Extras: Infra-Red Energy Blast, Yellow Aura Generation, Dazzle)
*Ice Control 8 (Extras: Blast)
*Blast – Anti-Energy Blasts 10
*Weather Control – Storm Generation 9 (Extras: Lightning Blast)
*Teleportation 8
*Super-Speed 8 (Extras: Phasing)
*Damage Resistance – Robot Body 8

Specialties
None

Qualities
“That does it! I’ve beaten every superhero on Earth!”
“You certainly are fast, Flash! But so am I!”
Big man has big weaknesses – the GM should reward players for cleverly identifying weaknesses that someone with his powers might possess and manipulating World Beater into a situation where they can take effect.

Background

The evil-scientist Dr. Indrom has been capturing villains against their will for a truly diabolic plan. He plans to kill them all by disintegrating their atoms and have them re-formed into one robotic creature known as the World Beater. Upon completion, Dr. Indrom gives World Beater a test to go to Earth and defeat all the heroes there. Amazingly, he succeeds! World Beater defeats the Freedom Fighters, Plastic Man, the Teen Titans and many others off-panel and we witness him utterly humiliating the various members of the Super Friends. It falls to Wendy, Marvin, and Wonder Dog to try and stop him… and they manage to do so! World Beater’s one flaw is that he not only absorbed all the powers of the various villains that Indrom captured… but he also got their weaknesses! Anti-Man, a villain recently defeated by the Super Friends, had a weakness to x-rays… so Wendy and Marvin encase themselves in medieval suits of armor to make World Beater think he’s facing a new threat. The robot generates x-rays to see what sort of beings are inside the armor — and the x-rays cause him to shut down, as they were Anti-Man’s weakness!

World Beater is probably the most famous of all the villains introduced in the Super Friends comic. He’s wonderful to look at and he kicks butt. He probably has a lot more powers than the ones described in this writeup but this covers the abilities he displayed and it should make him more than a match for almost any roleplaying group. He beat Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, etc. without much trouble at all. Of course, he didn’t inherit any magical or mental powers that we saw so he does have some weaknesses if your group is mystically or telepathically strong. And, of course, there’s whatever weaknesses (besides x-rays) that he may have inherited from his unwilling donors.

Badrock (Icons Writeup)

Badrock
aka Thomas John McCall

Prowess 5
Coordination 5
Strength 9
Intellect 3
Awareness 4
Willpower 4

Stamina 13

Powers
*Damage Resistance 7
*Immortality 1
*Growth 1 (Limit: Always-On. Badrock is 8 feet tall)
*Regeneration 2

Specialties
Athletics (+1 bonus), Martial Arts (+1 bonus), Weapons (Expert +2 bonus)

Qualities
Impulsive – he’s a teenager in a body capable of mass destruction
Yabba-Dabba-Doom!!!
Celebrity Superhero

Background

Thomas John McCall was an average under-achieving 16-year-old teenager. When he swallowed a vial of top secret genetic material in his father’s lab, a startling transformation occurred and McCall’s body became a mass of granite-like organic rock. He is 8’0″ tall and weighs 1800 lbs. He possess super strength and a near invulnerable rock carapace. But inside this mountain-like hero is a gentle soul with a heart of gold. Badrock has a lot of power at his fingertips, but still is mentally immature. Later, Thomas assumed the identity of Badrock when he was recruited to join the high-profile government superteam, Youngblood. He is the super agent who gets paid big bucks and still answers to his parents.

Badrock is proficient with a number of weapons including the many guns and knives available to him in the Youngblood arsenal. Not one to hide behind gadgetry, Badrock often uses the incredible power of his fists to pummel opponents into submission.

Badrock is impulsive, having picked dangerous, property-damaging fights with the Savage Dragon and Mighty Man.

He also once visited Hell, confronting Spawn’s old enemy the Violator. This was after being named temporary security head of a scientific installation that was investigating the realm of hell. He was more responsible at this point, trying to protect the many innocent people who had unwittingly made the trip to Hell with him. He had to deal with the interference of heavenly and hellish agents and the unwillingness of some of the humans to actually obey his orders.

When Youngblood was discontinued after the death of Riptide, Badrock took some time off. It did not last long though and through a series of events, he became part of the fourth incarnation of Brigade.

In the year 3000, Badrock was still alive and returned for a brief period of time to get some help from Youngblood to stop the Katellans. The continued presence of the Katellans to get Combat back led to the destruction of Earth, Katella and Acura in Badrock’s timeline. Badrock had therefore returned to 1995 to prevent this from happening. The mission succeeded. What happened to Badrock after this is unknown.

Fury (Icons Writeup)

Fury

Prowess 5
Coordination 5
Strength 9
Intellect 4
Awareness 4
Willpower 4

Stamina 13

Powers
*Energy Blast 9
*Damage Resistance 8
*Regeneration 7
*Dimensional Travel 8 (Limit: Traveling between realities causes severe damage to Fury. An unsuccessful Willpower role means that Fury must regenerate upon arrival before he can do anything else – if it sustains more damage before it can regenerate, it may be permanently destroyed)
*Adaptability 8 – His scanners can analyze superhuman powers and modify his own defenses to combat them. At the GM’s discretion, Fury can gain any power listed in the Icons Assembled rulebook at level 8.

Specialties
None

Qualities
*Mute agent of destruction
*Adapts to the threats it faces
*Seriously scary cybiote

Background

The Fury is a deadly “cybiote” (presumably an android or cyborg) built by the reality-manipulating psychic, Mad Jim Jaspers of the parallel timeline of Earth-238, to destroy all superhumans but himself. It is physically powerful, capable of generating lethal energy blasts and of adapting and regenerating its mechanical body. Like most of Jim Jaspers’ other homicidal agents, the Fury was named for a minor character in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

The Fury slew all of Earth-238’s superheroes, with the exception of Captain UK, who fled to another world at the moment the Fury killed her husband, Rick. Most of the Fury’s victims on Earth-238 were based on British comic book characters from the 1950s-1970s. After succeeding in its mission, the Fury was deactivated until Captain Britain and his elf sidekick Jackdaw were sent to Earth-238 by the Captain’s mythic mentor, Merlyn. The Status Crew, enforcers working for the country’s oppressive regime, reactivate the Fury and send it to kill the hero. The Fury murdered Jackdaw and then killed Captain Britain himself.

The Captain was retrieved by Merlyn and revived in the alien magician’s home dimension, Otherworld. The Fury detected that its prey again lived, and began to adapt itself to interdimensional travel in order to hunt him down. Meanwhile, the temporal overseer Mandragon destroyed Earth-238 in order to kill Jaspers; the Fury survived, and soon developed the means to travel interdimensionally to Captain Britain’s native world, Earth-616.

The Fury paid a heavy price for its violation of realities. It arrived on Earth-616 severely damaged and in need of matter to repair itself. It killed a homeless woman named Mrs. McGeary and used her body to recreate itself. It also infected a homeless man named Sidney Crumb. It also killed and absorbed three dogs, two cats, one broken TV and one third of an abandoned motorcycle.

The Fury managed to kill several more of Captain Britain’s allies, but was defeated once again and was buried in the cave system where it absorbed the circuitry of the computer that covered the cave under Captain Britain mansion. After completing its repairs and making its way to Captain Britain, it finally confronted Earth-616’s counterpart of Mad Jim Jaspers, who was beginning to organize a program against his own world’s superhumans. The Fury determined that this Jaspers was not its creator, whom it wanted to kill but its programming prevented from doing so to which it found it to be frustrating, and therefore was not exempt from its directive to kill superhumans. The two fought, but the Fury won when it transported the pair to the empty void that had been Earth-238. Jaspers was unable to use his powers of reality manipulation in a universe where reality had been destroyed, and the Fury swiftly lobotomized him. The weakened Fury returned to Earth-616, where it was ambushed and torn apart by Captain UK, sustaining more damage in the process than it could regenerate.

Some years later, James Braddock Jr. created his own version of the Fury that had all the original powers but weaker and so it was destroyed by the X-Men.