[ASH] First Heroic Age Sourcebook
Dave Van Domelen
dvandom at haven.eyrie.org
Mon Oct 8 10:17:31 PDT 2007
Cover shows various First Age heroes and villains flying or running
towards the reader, same basic look as the Second Age Sourcebook.
.|, COHERENT An ASHistory Series
'|` SUPER STORIES First Heroic Age Sourcebook
copyright 2007 by Dave Van Domelen
Latest Update: 10/8/07
In the same vein as the Second Heroic Age Sourcebook, this document
started as a private reference and slowly got banged into shape for public
consumption. Like that file, this is divided into General Topics (groups,
places, concepts, etc), Characters and Timeline.
It should be noted that the tack taken in telling stories of the First
Age has varied. The Beacon miniseries shifted style each issue, trying to
convey more of a pulp feel and later a golden age feel. On the other hand,
tales from Coherent Super Stories set in this Age are meant to evoke the
1970s revisionism seen in Marvel's Invaders title, and later seen in the
1970s and 1980s with DC's All-Star Squadron.
List: The First Heroic Age, Aliens, Anchor, Bakajin, Division 13, Edison
Project, Freedom Alliance, Knights of the Thule, Mad Science, Manhattan
Project, MTO, Mysteryman, OSS, Paranormal/ Supernormal, Pentagon, Second
Squad, Teams, Tesla Index, Ubermenschen, Zeroth Heroic Age
The First Heroic Age: 1938-1947, the first era of significant superhuman
activity in modern times. The Second Heroic Age ran from 1967 to 1976, the
third from 1986-1998, and the Fourth started in 2022. The science hero
Beacon had been active in the 1920s and early 1930s, first going "costumed"
in 1928, but it wasn't until Minuteman and the Second Squad came onto the
scene in 1938 that the Age was considered to be underway. Most of the
"Mysterymen" of the First Age either lacked powers or had only minor
enhancements, and most of the more effective ones relied on special devices.
It was not known during this age what the common link between superhumans
was, and many superhumans claimed origins later revealed to be delusional or
outright fabrications. For instance, the Nazi Zukunftmench claimed to have
come from the future, when he actually made use of supertech created by
either him or one of the other "mad scientists" in Nazi employ.
This age was marked by a wild sense of possibility, when you could pass
off any crazy story as your origin and have half a chance of being believed,
since a lot of the crazy stuff was true. Prior to the outbreak of actual
war, the activities of Mysterymen tended for focus on crimebusting and
fighting saboteurs, but during the war a sort of secondary "theater of
operations" seemed to open up to accomodate the battles of Allied and Axis
It should be noted that the First Heroic Age was never referred to as
such until after the Second Heroic Age was well underway. It was sometimes
called just "the Heroic Age" during the years 1947-1968.
The remaining entries are in alphabetical order.
Aliens: While some supernormals claimed to have been empowered by
extraterrestrials, there was no actual contact with other worlds during this
Age. In 1947, a Scytharian trade ship was discovered in Libya by those who
were in the process of founding Khadam, but they had no idea at the time who
had once owned the ship.
Anchor: This term was unknown to any but the mysterious Conclave and a
select few others during this age (Division 13 was aware of it). With very
few people really aware of the nature of superhuman abilities, there was no
real reason to think that there was a consistent way to counter them. A few
exorcists and other holy persons with Anchor abilties used their talent
against demonic possession and evil magic, however.
Due to the general level of "normalcy" following the spiritualism of the
Victorian Age (as evidenced by the ease with which Houdini, a non-Anchor,
debunked mediums), Anchors were not born in large quantities and were
therefore fairly uncommon during the First Age. Even families with
historically strong Anchor tendencies birthed normals in this time.
Bakajin: See Ubermenschen. These were Japanese superhumans created
using German research, late in the war. Bakajin was not their official
title, but rather a derogatory nickname given them by Allied Mysterymen. It
means, roughly, "idiot people". Not that Bakajin were generally mentally
defective (although some were), rather that the process tended to be fatal
within a month of completion, making one a fool to want to undergo it.
Bogatyr: A Soviet Mysteryman, after the term for medieval Russian
heroes. It is thought that Stalinist purges in the 1930s were a major reason
the Bogatyr were never significant in numbers or individual power. Lysenko's
efforts to create Bogatyr were spectacularly unsuccessful, even when using
stolen Ubermensch program data.
Division 13: An arm of the Office of Strategic Services tasked with
investigating the supernatural. Beacon became a member in late 1939, and
Johnny Angel joined on an intermittent basis in 1940. Led by the mage John
Doe, and occasionally assisted by the enigmatic Wanderer, they preferred to
remain behind the scenes (something that Johnny Angel wasn't so good at).
Officially, Division 13 does not exist, because officially, the paranormal
does not exist.
Edison Project: A sort of weird sister to the Manhattan Project, this
group was initially tasked with figuring out how to make Nikola Tesla's
"death ray" work, but when they stumbled on his notes about the Magene they
were attached to Division 13. They made little progress with either their
original task or the Magene during the war, but when the OSS was dissolved at
the end of the war, most of Division 13's personnel were transferred to the
Edison Project, which became an autonomous bureau.
Freedom Alliance: The only major supernormal team to be organized in the
United States. Membership tended to shift some, but the core members were
Lady Lawful I, Centurion, the Gauntlet, Minuteman and Johnny Angel. Lack of
strong leadership and the fact that they were largely a publicity exercise
kept the team from ever being very effective outside of a few engagements,
and the heroes mainly operated solo or with other groups, such as the Second
Squad or Division 13.
Knights of the Thule: Nazi occultists, one of several branches of the SS
that was concerned with amassing mystical power. They went rogue in 1940
while courting the goddess Nyx, and the organization's survivors were heavily
purged in the wake of this event. Afterwards, they were more of an
information gathering and treasure hunting group, lacking the raw mystic
power or political independence to partake in direct action.
Mad Science: A primary expression of the magene in the First Heroic Age
was through scientific achievement that was at best irreproducible and at
worst outright insane. Many frustrated geniuses swore revenge on the fools
that laughed at them when it turned out that no one could replicate their
results. Due to the fragile sanity of many practitioners, there was
something of a stigma attached to those practicing science beyond the
borders, and many with the talent for mad science hid it, or tried to pass
their more outlandish results off as alien technology or even magical
Many Mysterymen owed their powers or equipment to the fruits of mad
Manhattan Project: This progressed much as it did in the real world.
The contributions of "mad science" averaged out to zero, since for every
genius who advanced the work, there was a paranormal whose inventions
wouldn't work properly for others. By 1942, most of the paranormal types had
been moved to the Edison Project, as it was starting to become apparent that
mad science and regular science might not always be compatible.
MTO: "Mysterymen Theater of Operations", an informal term that referred
to how the battles between Allied and Axis superhumans tended to take place
in their own sphere, rarely impacting or impacted by regular army or navy
actions. The higher mobility of many Mysterymen meant that many MTO
engagements took place deep into the home territory of one of the sides,
usually Allied. Just as the air war was largely a sideshow in WWI with some
tactical and strategic benefit, the MTO was splashy and got attention while
only having minor effects on the outcome of WWII.
ETO and PTO refer to the European and Pacific Theaters of Operation,
Mysteryman: Anyone who put on a costume to fight crime or the Axis.
Later came to be applied to Axis superhumans as well, and was a general term
used to refer to superhumans, even though some Mysterymen lacked powers.
However, given the lack of knowledge on what constituted the boundary between
powered and normal, a number of otherwise normal Mysterymen were able to
convince people they had some sort of knack or power.
OSS: The Office of Strategic Services, an umbrella organization that
brought together the somewhat scattered U.S. intelligence assets such as the
Army's Signals Intelligence Service and the Navy's OP-20-G. It also revived
assets lost when the State Department's MI-8 was disbanded in 1929. In the
real world, the OSS was formed in 1942 in response to comments made to
Roosevelt by Canadian spymaster William Stephenson.
However, in the ASH Universe, the various paranormal threats that arose
in the 1930s accelerated the creation of the organization. Most importantly,
the growing power of the Knights of the Thule convinced John Doe and others
that a centralized group was needed to coordinate response to threats that
were too small-scale for the military to deal with but too powerful for the
police. In 1939, Roosevelt signed orders forming the OSS, and secret orders
forming Division 13 of the OSS.
Paranormal/Supernormal: Terms not really in use during this age.
"Mysteryman" was used instead.
Pentagon: The home of the War Department was built for mystical reasons
as much as practical ones. The shape was intended to be the focus for
powerful anti-scrying spells, to keep the Knights of the Thule from magically
spying on war planning. Division 13 played a large role in its construction,
and moved its headquarters to a secret bunker under the center of the
Pentagon in late 1942, a few months ahead of the official completion (January
Second Squad, the: A group of enhanced humans who aided Minuteman and
sometimes undertook missions of their own. Supposedly the subjects of a
refined version of the Minuteman process, less powerful but also with a lower
mortality rate. In truth, the process was inevitably fatal when applied to
anyone over the age of three months, and members of the Second Squad rarely
lived more than two years after induction. However, their missions were of
such a risky nature, especially after America entered the war, that they
tended to die in action instead of from the genetic tampering.
Members of the Second Squad concealed their identities in large part to
let their successors pass themselves off as the same men. Prior to the end
of the war, official news sources only reported the deaths of five members,
all due to enemy action. In truth, over twenty Squadders died before the
program was retired in 1945.
Teams: There weren't a lot of teams, in part because the density of
Mysterymen was rarely high enough in any one area to warrant it. The Freedom
Alliance was created mostly as a propaganda tool and to face the occasional
serious supernormal threat. The Second Squad was Minuteman's support team,
more akin to sidekicks than a regular superhero team, and Division 13 was as
covert as it could manage to be. Axis teams tended to be short-lived, and
also more an exercise in propaganda than an actual strategic asset.
Tesla Index: This scale was not invented until after the end of the
First Heroic Age.
Ubermenschen: Overmen, supermen, what have you. Various products of
Nazi super-science as they attempted to create superhumans. These soldiers
tended to be even shorter-lived than members of the Second Squad, and their
powers varied erratically...even within an individual, who might be very
powerful on one day and little better than a well-trained normal the next.
This research was later transferred to the Japanese, although it didn't
work as well on non-Aryans. The so-called Bakajin were even more unstable
and shorter lived than their German cousins.
"Zeroeth Heroic Age": Not coined until during the Second Heroic Age,
this unofficial term refers to the very limited activity seen between 1900
and 1938, largely behind-the-scenes struggles of a mystical nature. It is
known that the Wanderer and Doctor Huang Sheng were both active during this
time, as was Beacon. Sometimes also called the "Pulp Age" after the popular
media of the day. It has also sometimes been stretched to include the
occultism of the earlier Victorian years and postbellum America.
These will be presented alphabetically by codename where there is one,
or by last name when there isn't a codename. When the post-First-Age
activities of the character are known, they'll be lumped into the final
paragraph of the background. Following the list of more detailed entries
will be shorter entries for characters who haven't been developed as much
yet, or who are more accurately part of a different Heroic Age.
http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/ASH/gallery/firstage.html has art for
some of these characters.
Full entries: Beacon, Centurion, The Gauntlet, Johnny Angel, Minuteman
(Public), Minuteman (True), Nyx, Z-Man.
Short entries: Silvio Archangeli, John Doe, Dragon Samurai, Extortion
Racquet, Doctor Cosmo Kirby, Lady Lawful I, Malscripto, Doctor Huang Sheng,
AKA: Harry Parker
Role: Detective, Science Adventurer, Superhero
Died: Unrevealed, but after 1946.
Appearance: Slender build, legs partially withered. Brown hair and eyes,
graying by 1940. During the 1930s wore a suit of red, white and blue
armor with external coils that granted him limited mobility. Armed
with various light-based weaponry, such as the Magnalux and the Light
Powers: Super-scientist, later light-based powers.
A soldier in World War I, Harry was crippled and lost the use of his
legs. Turning to academia after the war, he found a talent for experimental
optical physics and developed a number of inventions later recognized to be
similar to later lasers. Trouble seemed to follow him, though, and he became
a consulting detective in the 1920s, a sort of scientific Sherlock Holmes,
clashing with various criminals and cultists. Notable foes included the
serial killer Midnight and several groups of Nyx cultists.
In the 1930s, he refined his devices into a suit of armor that gave him
the ability to walk, albeit jerkily, and a more portable laser weapon he
called his Light Lance. As the first "costumed hero", his activities largely
predated the official onset of the First Heroic Age in 1938. During the
early pre-war days he worked with Division 13 to hunt down Nyx cultists and
other occult threats, finally discovering that what he had thought was
advanced science on his part was more akin to magic. The realization caused
a crisis of faith, and his exoskeletal armor ceased to work properly for him,
so he turned to laboratory work. He developed most of the gear worn by The
Gauntlet, patterned in part after his own Beacon armor.
After the post-war dissolution of Division 13, he joined the Edison
Project along with many of his coworkers.
AKA: Rico Calvano, Bert Calvano, Tony Russo, Tony Calvano, Joey Calvano,
Born: Variable, between 1917 and 1923
Died: 1941 (three times), 1944, 1945
Appearance: Curly black hair, brown eyes, swarthy complexion. Height
varies between 5'10" and 6'1". Wears armor based on that of a Roman
Centurion, but with steel plates under the linen armor of the chest.
On the eve of WWII, the Calvano brothers of Little Italy in Manhattan
wanted to serve their country, but they had a little problem. Namely,
cousins fairly high up in the Mussolini government, which brought them under
suspicion even among the Italian-American community. Rico, the eldest, was
inspired by the exploits of Minuteman and the Second Squad to become a
Mysteryman himself, crafting a suitably Italian (but non-Fascist) costumed
identity from a Halloween costume and some boiler plates. His career was
splashy and rather short, as he was shot in the head by a criminal in late
His brother Bert picked up the sword, improved the armor and charged
into action, creating and fostering the myth that the Centurion was immortal
and could recover from even fatal injuries. He lasted about five months
before meeting his end in a car wreck on the way to a crime scene. Bert was
quickly replaced by his cousin Tony Russo, who was tragically underprepared
and died on his first outing. Tony Calvano, who learned from his cousin's
mistakes, spent several months honing his skills before doing anything more
dangerous than publicity appearances, and managed to last longer than any of
the Centurions. However, in joining the Freedom Alliance, he was vaulted
into the world of the superhuman, and even his training and experience was
insufficient, leading to his death in 1944 at the hands of one of the
Bakajin. Joey Calvano replaced him for several months before retiring to
marry his childhood sweetheart. Sal Russo was the last Centurion, dying in
the Pacific Theater on a mission with the Freedom Alliance. Joey came out of
retirement a few times for bond rallies and the like before the war ended,
but never went into actual danger again. In 1954, Joey wrote "The Heroic
Century" about his time as the Centurion and as a biography of his brothers
and cousins. One of Tony's old enemies came looking for vengeance in the
wake of this revelation, but was stopped by Lady Lawful I.
The Third Age hero Centurion (AKA the original Strafe) had no ties to
the Calvanos or Russos, but may have been subconsciously influenced by them
when his supernatural powers erupted in 1990.
AKA: Kevin Bakker
Appearance: 5'11" and bulky, like a linebacker, with brown hair and blue
eyes. Typically wore green and brown armor and a gold-colored device
strapped to his right forearm. A modified "soup pot" helmet, mask
and goggles conceal his face.
Powers: Electrical generation, Gauntlet weapon
Kevin was a big boy, fast-growing and a little awkward. He tended to
get teased in school because he looked like a much older child who had been
held back, despite being slightly smarter than normal for his age, although
the teasing slacked off when he started playing football. When Pearl Harbor
was attacked, he tried to sign up for the Army despite being only 14 years
old, and since he looked like an adult he got past the initial screening.
However, when his parents came looking for him, the truth came out, and he
was gently told to come back in a few years.
Before he could start to get over this, Kevin was contacted by John Doe
of Division 13, who suspected the young man might be a superhuman. Testing
showed that in addition to his unnaturally quick maturation and impressive
strength, he could generate powerful electric currents within his body.
Unfortunately, he couldn't really release them in any practical way.
Looking to replace Beacon as a field agent, Doe had Harry Parker design
a modified Light Lance that drew power directly from Kevin's body via a
surgically implanted socket. With this "Gauntlet" and a modified set of
Beacon's old armor, Kevin became The Gauntlet, supposedly given his
technology by an alien race devoted to fighting oppression and promoting
civilization throughout the universe. This was partly for propaganda
reasons, but also in order to deflect attention from the possibility that the
power resided within Kevin himself.
Thanks to his nearly superhuman strength, Kevin was able to carry a
heavier weight of armor than Beacon had, which saved his life on several
occasions. The Gauntlet itself underwent modifications over the years,
gaining additional offensive and defensive capabilities. It initially had a
Light Lance, an electrical stunner and a magnetic field generator, and kept
those capabilities throughout the war. Later additions included strobes,
grappling lines, pneumatic air-blasters and even a flamethrower.
By the end of the war, Kevin was only 19 but looked like he was
approaching middle age. He retired from active duty and worked with Project
Edison to try to understand his powers and halt his rapid aging, but it has
not been revealed if they were successful.
AKA: John Travers, Hellbound
Died: 1939 (supposedly), 1945 (banished), 1998 (finally)
Appearance: 5'6", slender, with blond hair and blue eyes, a general "kid
next door" look. Wore a pale blue aviator's jacket with gray pants
and a blue domino mask.
Powers: Enhanced agility, teleportation (later replaced by flame control)
In 1939, John Travers was a pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps who was
considering mustering out and joining a foreign air force just to see some
action when a mechanical problem with his fighter led to a fatal crash.
However, Johnny found himself alive and in a diner some unknown distance
away. When he tried to get back to his plane, he found he had suddenly
translocated there, and decided he must have died. Passing out from the
stress, he dreamed that the waitress from the diner (named Angel) had given
him a mission to earn his wings as an angel-in-training.
Calling himself Johnny Angel, John set out working to earn those wings.
He soon came to the attention of Division 13, who hired him as an occasional
agent, although he pointed out that he already had a job and a boss. Still,
he figured the guy upstairs worked in mysterious ways, and probably intended
Division 13 to help point him at stuff that needed doing. Not to mention,
since he wasn't a full angel yet, he still needed to eat and sleep, so having
a little money in his pocket couldn't hurt.
Of course, John was really a supernormal teleporter who had
instinctively teleported to safety during the crash, but it would be years
before he truly believed that. Tragically, shortly after that acceptance, he
was banished to a hellscape dimension by a sorceror while helping the time-
traveling ASH of 1990 prevent a demonic apocalypse. His already damaged
faith was strongly tested by 45 years of torment and combat against the
native demons before he was freed by ASH. With powers gained during his
exile, he became the flame-wielding Hellbound. He left ASH in 1992, and
presumably vanished in 1998 with all other paranormals.
AKA: Charles Grey
Died: Not established
Appearance: Light brown hair, blue eyes, movie star good looks. Wears an
olive green bodysuit with black gloves and boots, and black helmet.
Powers: Minor physical enhancement.
In 1936, a strange green meteor fell in Alaska, where it was recovered
by government scientists who noticed that gases emanating from it had caused
mutations in the local wildlife. Refining the chemicals, they created a
formula that could give a man nearly superhuman physical abilities...or kill
him. Several men volunteered to serve their country, and one survived to
become the Minuteman! A weakened version of the chemicals was then used to
create his helpers, the Second Squad.
This, of course, is all a lie. The true origin of the Minuteman can be
When Dr. Huang Sheng offered his son Chieng as a superhuman agent in the
fight against Japan in 1938, it was clear that there were many reasons
Chieng's identity could not be revealed. After crafting the Minuteman
identity, the U.S. government found a convincing actor to play the role in
public appearances, and subjected him to a much-weakened version of the
process that created the Second Squad. Charles Grey was that actor,
classically trained and a decent acrobat to boot, skills that were further
honed so that he could put on a good show at rallies. And he was an almost
exact match for the dimensions Chieng presented while in his padded uniform
and elevator boots.
AKA: Chieng (Jiang) Sheng
Died: 1998 (sort of)
Appearance: Slender and muscular Chinese man, wearing a padded olive green
uniform with black boots, gloves and all-concealing helmet to make him
appear two inches taller and more "beefy". The costume never comes
off in public.
Powers: "Perfected" human, longevity
See Second Age Sourcebook for general details. Unknown to the public,
and even to Chieng's later allies in the Second Age, he was the true man in
the Minuteman costume during World War II and the leadup to it. Still
obedient to his father at this time, he played the part of patriotic American
hero to better fight the Japanese, and was mostly active on the Pacific Rim.
Due to the fact that Doctor Sheng's genetic perfection formula could not be
made to work non-fatally on adults, it was impossible to give those abilities
to someone "acceptable" and Chieng was placed in a fully concealing costume
to be the lead Mysteryman of the government.
He was assisted by the Second Squad, adults subjected to later versions
of the genetic processes that had created him, at the cost of vastly
shortened lifespans. Charles Gray played his public face. It is likely that
his time as Minuteman helped plant the seeds of rebellion that bloomed at the
dawn of the Second Heroic Age.
There is no evidence that Chieng ever resented being asked to hide his
true face, even in later years. When the truth came out in the mid-1980s, he
modestly withdrew from the public eye until the furor died down. With the
isolation of DNA in the 1950s, Doctor Sheng was finally able to devise a less
fatal version of the process, but did not match his successes with Chieng
until the 1980s.
AKA: Nox (Roman)
Role: Goddess of Darkness
Appearance: Whatever she desires, usually a feminine shadow.
Powers: Fullblood Mage, with vast powers over time and space. Her specific
portfolio is darkness. She rarely acts directly, due to the need to
focus most of her attention on the ongoing wars of the gods, acting
through avatars and worshippers.
Born of Chaos, wife and sister of Erebus (Darkness) and mother of Momus
(blame), Ponos (toil), Moros (fate), Thanatos (death), Hypnos (sleep), the
Oneiroi (tribe of dreams), the Fates, Eris (strife) and many others, a mostly
unpleasant brood. While not the most prominent of the Greek pantheon, even
Zeus fears her wrath, suggesting her powers are greater than would be
suggested by the mere accumulation of worshippers.
In the early part of the 20th Century, Nyx started courting worshippers
and cults in various parts of the world, empowering worshippers such as the
killer known as Midnight, the Blue Mound cult in Wisconsin, and the Knight of
the Thule known as Ritternacht (Night Knight). She was repeatedly opposed by
AKA: Zukunftmensch, Hermann Richter
Role: Nazi "Superhero"
Born: 1946 (claimed), 1916 (true)
Appearance: Blond haired, blue-eyed Aryan specimen, 6'0" tall and well-
muscled. Tended to dress in a mix of anachronistic fashions, such as
bell-bottom jeans, disco shirts and tie-dyed headbands.
In 1939, a strange thing happened. A number of Panzer units vanished
during the invasion of Poland, only to return just as mysteriously a few days
later. They claimed to have visited the future, one in which Germany lost
the war but seemed to be doing fairly well for itself in the peace, despite
decades of troubles. While they had no hard proof of any of this, mesmerists
were able to extract a number of interesting details, and the few "mad
scientists" Hitler could trust were tasked with attempting to replicate the
technology the tank crews had seen.
Hermann Richter was far from the most talented of that group, but he had
a flash of inspiration. Much of the information gleaned from the "lost
Panzers" was useless trivia, but it could be used to fabricate a convincing
case that one had traveled back in time. Suggesting this to his superiors,
he was assigned the job of crafting such an identity, and hence "Futureman"
As Zukunftmench, or Z-Man, Hermann uses the trappings of the future to
bolster his claims to be from a future in which the Reich won the war. His
actual technology is contemporary mad science, but he peppers his
descriptions with future-jargon and claims to have brought the devices with
him or built them from plans he brought. He doesn't always do so in a
sensible way, though, talking about things like "transistor-powered
strength". He has designed some of his own gear, but it is mostly built by
more capable (but less photogenic) colleagues.
The following characters are, as yet, not important enough to merit full
entries, or they have entries in the Second Age Sourcebook and need only a
few notes here to add a detail or two. Or they simply haven't been nailed
down yet. :)
Archangeli, Silvio: A member of the Army's Signals Intelligence Service
and founding agent of Division 13. Unlike his infamous grandson Pino and
great-grandson Lorenzo, Silvio was either not an Anchor at all, or such a
minor one that it never became apparent. Worked with John Doe during the mid
to late 1930s, and was attached to the Minuteman project.
Doe, John: A mage whose talents mainly extended to the realm of scrying,
he was a natural spy and rose quickly through America's disorganized
intelligence services during the 1930s. When the Office of Strategic
Services was formed in 1939 (in large part due to his behind the scenes
efforts), he was named head of its "Division 13", concerned with mystic
threats. Doe joined the Edison Project when Division 13 was dissolved after
World War II, his fate after that is unknown. A master of disguise, it's an
ironic quirk of fate that John Doe is his real name, since everyone assumed
it was an alias.
Dragon Samurai: A man born too late, he would have been far more
comfortable during Shogunate Japan instead of the Meiji era of his birth.
Versed in secret ki-manipulation techniques, he could wield a katana better
than any man alive, and was even rumored to be able to deflect bullets with
his blade. In the 1930s, despite being well into middle age, he became an
agent of the Imperial Japanese Army, mostly for propaganda purposes, but also
useful on covert missions in enemy territory, where a swift blade was more
subtle than a gun. He clashed with the Freedom Alliance on several
occasions, later backed by "Bakajin". Prior to the end of the war he escaped
an assassination attempt sent by his own superiors, who feared he might try
to take control amid the rising chaos, and fled to Southeast Asia. Crafting
a new identity for himself there, he would later pass his secrets on to Chuck
Morse, the "Weapons Master" of the Second Heroic Age.
Extortion Racquet: A gimmick criminal and occasional foe of Centurion's,
he used tennis-themed devices and plans. A bored socialite who'd stolen from
friends a few times during the Depression, he found he liked the thrill of
it, and got deeper and deeper into crime for psychological reasons, not out
of need. When Mysterymen started popping up, he decided he needed a costume
as well, and became the Extortion Racquet.
Kirby, Doctor Cosmo: A so-called "mad scientist" who created the
Enhancement Belt used by Lady Lawful. While creating his second belt, he was
driven insane and became a mad scientist in fact as well as in name.
Lady Lawful I: See the Second Age Sourcebook. She was 18 when she got
the Enhancement Belt in 1941, and quickly became one of the more visible
Mysterymen. She was also the only female Mysteryman of note, although there
were a few others who came and went without leaving much of an impression.
Malscripto: Frustrated playwright who came into possession of a pot of
magical ink that let him rewrite reality. Clashed repeatedly with Lady
Lawful I. He didn't always have access to a supply of his magical ink,
instead relying on hired goons and "gimmick crimes," so his power level
varied drastically through his career. The Second Age villain "The Hack"
inherited the formula for Malscripto's ink, and in turn passed it on
(willingly or not) to the Third Age villainess "Scriptalicious".
Sheng, Doctor Huang: See the Second Age Sourcebook. He lent his
scientific expertise and the services of his son to the United States to aid
in the fight against the Japanese, who Huang detested. Primarily acted deep
behind the scenes in this era.
The Wanderer: See the Second Age Sourcebook. Worked with Division 13 on
occasion, but was not officially or even unofficially on their payroll.
- Prior to 1938 -
Harry Parker has a career as a consulting detective in the 1920s,
followed by a costumed adventuring career as Beacon in the 1930s.
John Doe works for both the Army and Navy signals intelligence branches
as well as the Secret Service, all under different identities, and
manipulates events to ensure the early creation of the OSS.
- 1938 -
The First Heroic Age is considered to start with the introduction of
Minuteman. The Sino-Japanese War is well underway, but the state of Europe
is still guarded, with Hitler taking territory without overt fighting.
July 4: Minuteman and the Second Squad are introduced to the public.
- 1939 -
World War II starts. The Office of Strategic Services is formed. The
Knights of the Thule are approached by the goddess Nyx, and start to drift
away from their loyalties to Germany.
September 1: Germany invades Poland, "officially" starting WWII. A
number of Panzer units fall through a crack in time to 2026, returning a few
October 13: John Travers goes down on a training flight and is listed as
MIA, as no body is found. Johnny Angel starts his activities on the West
- 1940 -
The war heats up, with the Axis powers making large strides. Some Axis
Mysterymen appear, but mainly seem to be propaganda tools.
April 12: Centurion first spotted in action.
September 13: Ritternacht is created in Macedonia and defeated. The
Knights of the Thule are heavily purged in the aftermath of this.
October 2: Z-Man's first appearance in the skies over London.
- 1941 -
The United States enters the war at year's end. Mysterymen appear in
growing numbers during this year, although most are simply talented normals a
few have genuine powers.
April 1: Centurion dies of a gunshot to the face.
April 9: Centurion returns to action. In reality, it's not the
original man, but the replacement pretends to be the original, fostering the
myth of Centurion's immortality.
May 2: June Hartworth obtains the Enhancement Belt, which will turn her
into Lady Lawful.
May 23: Lady Lawful first appears in public.
November 21: The second Centurion dies in a car accident, but the public
does not know that he was Centurion.
December 6: The third Centurion vanishes on his first mission, presumed
dead. The news is buried by events of the next day.
December 7: Japan bombs Pearl Harbor.
December 8: The United States enters WWII.
- 1942 -
The Centurion spends most of his time the first several months of this
year training, making public appearances at war bond rallies and the like,
but not actually fighting crime or saboteurs. The war starts to show signs
ot turning around.
May 10: The Gauntlet makes his first public appearance, apparently
arriving from space and landing in the middle of a Brooklyn Dodgers game.
May 14: The Centurion stops Agent K from blowing up the Manhattan
September 28: Division 13 moves into their new headquarters under the
still incomplete Pentagon.
- 1943 -
The Freedom Alliance is formed. Lady Lawful, Centurion, The Gauntlet,
Johnny Angel and Minuteman are charter members. The Italian front is opened,
and Japanese expansion in the Pacific is reversed.
January 15: The Pentagon is dedicated. With War Department operations
moved there, planning is significantly shielded against mystic scrying,
denying the Axis a major intelligence asset.
- 1944 -
The war is going against the Axis in all theaters and on all fronts, but
desperation breeds invention. Japan starts to use the fearsome Bakajin, and
Nazi Ubermenschen acquire greater powers but greater insanity.
March 13: The fourth Centurion dies in the Pacific Theater, fighting
Dragon Samurai and a squad of Bakajin.
June 6: The D-Day invasion at Normandy.
- 1945 -
Germany and Japan seem determined to go down fighting, and mad science
gives both powers the potential to wreak horrible vengeance as they fall.
For every superweapon the public hears about, there's ten that are nipped in
the bud by the actions of the Freedom Alliance and other Mysterymen.
January 1: The fourth Centurion retires, quietly passing the sword on to
March 21: The Freedom Alliance and the time-traveling Academy of
Super-Heroes (from 1990) prevent a major demonic invasion centered on
Chicago. Out of spite, the thwarted sorcerer behind the attempt banishes
Johnny Angel to a hellish realm, where he remains trapped for 45 years.
April 2: The Centurion is killed during action in the Home Islands of
Japan, preventing the Japanese from developing a nuclear weapon. The fourth
Centurion agrees to put the costume back on for publicity purposes, but
refuses to go back into action, as he has married and has a son on the way.
April 23: The Freedom Alliance has their final combat mission. Their
roster and the details of this mission have yet to be revealed.
May 7/8: VE Day. The war in Europe is over.
August 14/15: VJ Day. The war in Asia is over.
September 2: The official surrender terms are signed by the Japanese on
board the USS Missouri. Minuteman and the remaining members of the Second
Squad are on hand.
September 3: Chieng Sheng is recalled to China by his father, leaving
behind the costume. Charles Grey continues to appear in public, with one or
another of the Second Squadders wearing the costume for serious missions.
October 1: The Freedom Alliance is disbanded.
- 1946 -
With the war over, Division 13 is dissolved and integrated into Project
Edison. Centurion publicly retires. The Gauntlet ceases making public
appearances but does not officially retire. Minuteman shifts his activities
to fighting Communist agents, but the program is largely shut down. No
further volunteers are subjected to the lethal enhancement process.
- 1947 -
The last surviving member of the Second Squad dies of the effects of his
enhancement. Minuteman officially retires, ending the Second Heroic Age. By
this point, the only Mysteryman still active is Lady Lawful, although the
Gauntlet does some behind the scenes work with the Edison Project. Lady
Lawful "inherits" a number of surviving mad scientists and other villains
from retired or dead Mysterymen, enough to keep her active until the Second
A bit sparser on the timeline than the Second Age Sourcebook, but I'm
releasing this after only a single Mega-Sized issue, so that's going to
I was inspired to get into this in part by Eric Burns's "Home Front"
stories, posted to his Banter Latte site, although the forces have been
building for a while now. There's a definite move in comics to look back to
the Golden Age...December's supposed to see two separate "mining the obscure
Golden Age publishers for material" series, one from Marvel and one from
Dynamite Entertainment, for instance.
One of these days, I should get around to doing something like this for
the Fourth Age. When I have a spare year to spend doing nothing else on
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and more, go to http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/ASH !
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