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 — we do know that by 2006, Rachel was dead but Nathaniel was still operating as Catalyst.
He aided the Ian Morris version of the Peregrine in dealing with the rise and fall of The Black Mass Barrier. 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 Logan Jenkins to assume the role.
Much of Logan’s past is still unknown but her mother – a Japanese witch named Kyoko – operated as a magical terrorist under the name of Lady Grimdark. While her mother was madly in love with a master villain named Lord Grimdark, she had gotten pregnant with Logan during a one-night stand — not only did this cause problems between the Gimdarks but it led to a lifelong resentment that Kyoko felt towards her daughter.
As Catalyst, Logan moved to Grove’s Folly where she opened a curiosity shop called Jenks (pronounced Jinx). She has become extremely close to the Straw-Man and, alongside him and several others, founded the team known as The Dark Society.
Qualities *Warrior of Heaven *The Ends Justify the Means *Overconfident
Seraph is an angelic warrior in service to Heaven. She has periodically been sent to Earth to destroy God’s enemies — in recent years, she was dispatched to Grove’s Folly to hunt down and kill the Straw-Man. Realizing that she was unfamiliar with the modern world, she found a human servant named Jim Phelps. Phelps had murdered his childhood abuser and Seraph covered it up in return for Phelps’ fealty. Unlike the angels found in popular culture, Seraph was not above killing innocents or embracing a sinner if it suited her ultimate goal. Unfortunately for her, the Straw-Man was a more capable foe than she expected: after severing one of her wings, the tatterdemalion slew her physical form, dispatching her immortal soul back to Heaven (Straw-Man Volume One). A couple of years later, she was part of Heaven’s invasion force when the gates to both Heaven and Hell were thrown open in Geneva, but she played a minor role in the overall event (Calavera Volume One). It seems likely that she will eventually cross paths with the Straw-Man again.
The 14th volume of Lazarus Gray has gone into the editing phase and I’ve started work on the fourth book in the Straw-Man series. As has become the norm with these books, it will be a collection of six short stories featuring the tatterdemalion and his allies. I’ve written about 30,000 words of Lazarus Gray 15 but I might set it aside and start over… it’s just not feeling right. Some of you may remember that I wrote an entire novel that would have been 14 before putting it to pasture and beginning again. The second version of 14 is without a doubt one of the best in the series… and, I’ll admit, I’ve even thought about ending the series there.
Powers *Dimensional Travel 8 (Limit: Only allows for travel to and from Deadworld) *Darkness Control 5 (Extras: Binding, Force Field) *Detect – Undead 8
Qualities Social Worker for the Dead Money Troubles Ally of the Straw-Man
Kiersten Patterson was a normal young woman, struggling to make ends meet, when she got an unusual new neighbor. This neighbor was eventually revealed to be the rejuvenated spirit of a witch — and when Kiersten got too close to the truth, she was targeted as the witch’s next victim. Thanks to the combined efforts of her uncle (the town sheriff) and the Straw-Man, the witch was defeated. Exposure to the supernatural elements triggered something within Kiersten, however, and she later learned that she had a series of unusual abilities — she was now able to journey back and forth to Deadworld, where spirits go before moving on to their chosen afterlife, and she was also able to manipulate darkness. As Ephemera, she now tries to help souls that have become trapped on the mortal plane, either through their ignorance or by their attempts to avoid their proper fate. She doesn’t see herself as a hero — in fact, she’d rather avoid anything even remotely resembling fisticuffs — but she does derive some pleasure from helping spirits find their eternal reward.
I’m approaching the end of the Calavera novel and overall I’m quite pleased with it. In the end, it’s a spiritual sequel to Götterdämmerung, my “crossover” novel that brought in almost all of my 1930s/1940s characters in one big adventure — this one does much the same for my modern-day characters. Some only get a mention but there are pretty big roles for Catalyst, the Straw-Man, Jupiter, and a few others. It also serves as the debut story for Calavera, who will be a major part of the Reese Unlimited universe going forward. This book is set after the first three Straw-Man books so you’ll have to wait to see all of those before you can get the crossover volume… but I know that volume one of the Straw-Man series has gone through the editing process so hopefully, that one will be out fairly soon.
Our image today shows Jupiter in an angry mood and is drawn by Gilbert Monsanto.
Qualities “I’m a better hero than I am a father.” Unusual family A man of action
Background: Mordecai Gray is the grandson of Lazarus Gray, the founder of Assistance Unlimited. Mordecai was trained from a young age to be a dangerous fighter and when he reached adulthood, he quickly became one of Assistance Unlimited’s most capable agents. To honor a close family friend – Jakob Sporrenberg, a former member of his grandfather’s team – he chose to use an identity and costume similar to that of a 1930s hero known as Eidolon. As Geist, Mordecai has spent most of his adult life battling villains all over the globe, though he has rarely been mentioned in the media. He tried in vain to keep his daughter Valerie from entering the family business and this caused a severe rift in their relationship. After her transformation into the hero known as Calavera, they have both made attempts to mend the wounds in their family. He’s middle-aged now and may have lost a step over the years but he’s still quite dangerous.
Powers *Cosmic Power 8 (Extras: Blast, Dazzle, Flight, Force Field, Life Support, Phasing, Transmutation)
Specialties Science – Physics (Expert +2)
Qualities Science is my religion Don’t call me a superhero I have three Master’s degrees and a PhD – but my mom thinks I’m a disappointment because I’m still single
Background: Gail Sanders was a scientist working at the Atom Valley Nuclear Power Facility when she witnessed something incredible: a being dressed in red entering her universe from another. He alternately referred to himself as Phil and as MOTA, telling her that he had traveled through hundreds of universes and in nearly all of them he was always drawn to variants of her. Sometimes she had different names or slightly different appearances but she was always brilliant, capable, and (in his eyes) beautiful. After exploring more of the universe, MOTA returned to say goodbye to her — he gave her a kiss, accidentally transferring a small amount of his essence to her. Shortly thereafter, Gail was at CERN when the Large Hadron Collider was used to open doorways into both Heaven and Hell. She was confronted by beings known as the Ophanim, who sensed a ‘spark of the Divine’ within her. She unwittingly tapped into the power given her by MOTA and used it to help a number of other heroes, including Catalyst, the Straw-Man, Jupiter, and Calavera, to save the world. Since then, she has occasionally used her powers to help protect the planet, though she prefers to avoid the limelight.
Qualities Sorceress Supreme I’d rather talk this out than have to fight you I don’t like to talk about my past
Background: The title of Catalyst is given to the most powerful magician in the world during each century. Logan received the role after her predecessor, Nathaniel Caine, finally passed away. She is still relatively new to the position but with time, she has the potential to surpass those that have come before her – in fact, her Magic rating of 8 is bound to increase before long. At the moment, her power levels reflect her inexperience more than anything else.
She runs a magic and curiosity shop called Jenks (pronounced “Jinx”) that’s based in Grove’s Folly, a small town that’s home to a surprising amount of supernatural activity. She is close to a number of other heroes, including the Straw-Man (she is romantically involved with him), the American Crusader, and Calavera. If there is anything of an occult nature threatening to the world, it’s safe to assume that Catalyst will end up taking an interest in it.