Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Iron Age

The return of unregulated superheroes brought with it a change in traditional Superheroics. Influenced by over a decade of military service established heroes returned to the streets with costumes and attitudes that reflected their time as soldiers. Iron Age heroes were characterized by their heightened use of weapons, armored costumes, an abundance of equipment pouches and a grittier more lethal attitude. These heroes were also accustomed to a regular paycheck, leading many to form partnerships and endorsement deals with large corporations and research firms. As with most of the ages that preceded it Emerald City heroic response to the Iron Age was a direct contrast to the rest of the country. While Freedom City found itself protected by bombastic anti-heroes Emerald City experienced an emergence of young plain clothes heroes that rebelled against government oppression and corporate influence. With battle cries like “Corporate heroes suck!” and “Heroic is the last thing I wanted to be." This superhero movement referred to itself simply as the Norm or the Normal for Emerald City at the very least. It took less than a decade for Norm heroes to gain in popularity nationally, expose the overindulgence of other Iron Age heroes and implode under the pressure of their own success. The Norm membership included:

• ERSATZ (Krist Werner): A local Emerald City trust fund recipient who identified so strongly with the Norm movement he spent his fortune paying mad Canadian superscientist Professor Draimanis Zed to grant him superpowers. The results were successful but incredibly unstable. Krist was now able to replace his own form with that of a warped extra dimensional version of any superhuman he shared the same vicinity with. Krist began a solo career using his powers to highlight the absurdity of other Iron Age Heroes. Influenced by conspiracy theories and instabilities brought on by his own powers Ersatz eventually cross the line from Norm hero to mad supervillain. Krist was ultimately driven completely and incurably insane. Today Ersatz remains an unhinged challenge for the heroes of Emerald City.

Easily the most well known supergroup in the Norm movement, the new Thrillseekers went from unknown street heroes to global media darlings to disenfranchised casualties in less than five years. While they paid a heavy cost for their fame, the message of the Thrillseekers remains an influence on Emerald City to this day. To most of the citizens of Emerald City corporate heroes still suck. The New Thrillseekers membership included:

• CAPTAIN NEVERMIND (Christian Novascotia): A penniless street kid from Hookville, Christian gained impressive psychic powers after discovering the existence of long forgotten Viridian Stones. These stones, that he fashioned into a crude necklace, granted him empathic powers, heightened senses and the ability to cause mass confusion. The world was rocked in 1995 when news broke that the Captain took his own life after a long battle with paranoia and depression. His necklace has since gone missing.
• ONE ZERO (Vedda Blaylocke): It was believed at the time that Vedda was a teenager that found a highly advanced super suit of armor and used it to protect and protest against corporate corruption but today it is understood that One Zero was a crimefighting duo. The suit was itself a mechanical entity that covered Vedda's usually naked body so the two of them could fight together as one. Although retired both Vedda and the One Zero suit, now officially recognized as it own person, are the only surviving members left of the New Thrillseekers.

• THE SUPERUNKNOWN (Hiro Hosato): The grandson of the original Golden Age hero #1017 Hiro instead adopted the persona and tactics of his grandfather’s teammate, the Unknown. Using skill and disguise Hiro sought to expose corruption and hypocrisy in superheroics. It was Hiro who was quoted as saying the famous line “Heroic is the last thing I wanted to be." Frustrated with the Thrillseekers rapid rise in fame, Hiro quit the team at the height of their popularity. He was shot and killed in 1998 in an attempted break in at Majestic 20’s HQ. Hiro’s last words were reportedly “Expose the chamber.”

• DIRTMAN (Layne Mastain): A teenager whose body was made up entirely of animated soil, Layne blamed local tech giant Kessler Industrial Technology for polluting Emerald City and triggering his mutation. An outspoken critic of Iron Age heroes, Dirtman was known for several feuds with other Superhumans. Never accepting the suicide of Captain Nevermind, Layne became obsessed with finding his true killer. Dirtman spent the later 90s labeled as a supervillain after he began serial killing superheroes and villains he delusionally believed were involved in the conspiracy to murder his friend Christian. in 1999 Dirtman was apprehended and sentenced to Bethlehem Heights Psychiatric Hospital where he remains to this day.
• CORE (Robert Young): A victim of superpowered gang violence at an early age, Robert Young was saved by a mysterious mystic benefactor that linked the boy’s health with the heart of the nearby volcanic Mount Forge. Blessed with super human strength, invulnerability and explosive powers he called ‘eruption blasts’ Core was easily the most powerful member of the New Thrillseekers if not one of the most powerful superbeings on the planet. Unfortunately what appeared to be the beginning of a long career of heroism was cut short by a massive heroin overdose. Robert Young is now a brain dead patient of ECU Medical Center trapped in a body that refuses to die.

An important if generally overlooked part of the Norm movement in Emerald City was the rise of homeless and disenfranchised superhumans that populated the Undercity. Usually scarred victims of illegal genetic experiments, inadvertent mutation caused by super pollution or evidence of extra-dimensional visitation this unseen subterranean population collectively called itself the Changed. Generally left alone and small in number the Changed of the Undercity, like the Cryptids in the Elysian Forest and Visitors in the Atlas Mountains, remain ignored to this day by everyone except Majestic 20.

• LAWNMOWER AND STREAM (Yantek Killjoy and Albert Mondo):  Two of the best known of the Changed were the homeless crimefighting duo of Lawnmower and Stream. Highly active in the mid to late Nineties the two often acted as spokepersons for the Changed. Yantek “Lawnmower” Killjoy was a drug dealing runaway who could vibrate his body at extreme speeds due to exposure to tainted super street drugs. Albert “Stream” Mondo was an overweight homeless teen who unlocked latent precognitive powers after discovering a helmet once possessed by Copernicus “Big Brain” Oliver. Now generally considered has-beens to the Emerald City of today the unpolished partnership of Lawnmower and Stream did manage to shine a light on an otherwise invisible minority for a brief moment in time.

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