All-Star Squadron

While researching material for my War Heroes book, I ended up getting a really good deal on the entire run of Roy Thomas's All-Star Squadron.  Although it was first published in 1981, the comic is set during World War II, and featured many Golden Age superheroes, including: Atom, Commander Steel, Firebrand, Hawkgirl, Johnny Quick, Liberty Belle, Robotman and the Shining Knight.

I plan on eventually writing-up most of these All-Star characters using the Mighty Protectors rules, but first up to the plate is Al Pratt -- the original Atom.

1. Atom (PDF)


At this point in his super-heroic career, the Atom has no true super powers -- he's athletic and has been trained in boxing by a world-class ex-boxing champ. He's a sophomore in college but at some point he joins the Army and becomes a tank driver. Because he's basically a normal guy with no real super-abilities I am treating him as a Low Power character, built on 100 total CPs.




2. Commander Steel


There is an excellent write-up of Steel's origin at comicvine. Alternatively, you can just read the comic book panels below, taken from All-Star Squadron #8.


Stats


Hank Heywood is one of those typical golden age characters who is drawn as tall, handsome, and very athletic. So I gave him base physical stats to reflect that. But he's also a Princeton college student who helped Professor Giles invent the "bioretardent" formula, so he's also really smart.

Abilities


Originally Steel, whose name is changed to "Commander Steel" in issue #8, was said to be able to lift "1000" pounds. Later, in the All-Star Squadron, he is described as having "super strength" and is shown crushing a pistol into so much junk. I assumed he would need to be able to average at least 9 points of damage to break a pistol, so I gave him enough strength to do that (the average of 2d8 is 9).

Steel wears a "steel-mesh" suit, that provides him with protection from at least small arms fire (pistols, rifles, etc.). But the suit is incredibly heavy, slowing him down and even heavy enough to put cracks into a concrete surface that he is standing upon. Thus, I built his Armor the way I did. Without his suit, he is subject to being damaged by bullets, as he is in issue #9 when he is knocked unconscious by Nazi guards.

He carries a "flare pistol" capable of blinding his opponents. I built it using Flash Control B, with range, gear, and charges modifiers.

At one point, in issue #8 I believe, he talks about how he can push his micro-motors to achieve a speed of 50 mph. Thus, I gave him the  Speed ability. Note that even while slowed down by his heavy steel-mesh armored suit, he can run at a top speed of 29 mph, or 58 mph if he "pushes".

The Heightened Expertise and the Weakness of having a reduced sense of Touch round out his character and put him at exactly 150 CPs.

Commander Steel (PDF)



 3. Firebrand (PDF)


In Roy Thomas's retconned version of these Golden-Age heroes, it is Danette Reilly who becomes the second hero to use the name Firebrand. Her brother, Rod Reilly, was the original Firebrand. In Danette's case, she gained her powers (in Mighty Protectors terms) as a result of a Mystical Accident.


4. Hawkgirl (PDF)


In the retroactive continuity of Roy Thomas’s All-Star Squadron, Shiera Sanders is already Hawkgirl and is also the fiancĂ©e of Carter Hall. In issue #5, she is awaiting him in Merida, Mexico. But unknown to Mr. Hall is the fact that she has been kidnapped by the Nazis and being held prisoner in a jail cell of an ancient Mayan temple, located somewhere in the Yucatan peninsula. She is to be sacrificed by Kukulkan, a supervillain in league with the Germans.

Hawkman and his fellow All-Star Squadron companions (including: Atom, Dr. Mid-Nite, Firebrand, Johnny Quick, Liberty Belle, Robotman, and Shining Knight) don their civilian identities and fly down to Mexico (on a commercial plane). Once in Merida, they quickly learn that Shiera is not at the hotel. They suspect foul-play and in a short amount of time discover the Nazi plot. They track down the location of the Mayan temple, fight against Nazi guards, but are knocked-out by the big, bad super-villain named Kukulkan.

In issue #6, the All-Stars escape from their Nazi captors and prevent Kukulkan from sacrificing Shiera, who quickly dons her Hawkgirl costume and helps her fellow heroes thwart the villains’ plans.

Shiera and the rest of the All-Star Squadron members return to the United States. Carter Hall then takes his leave of the team as he has joined the Army Air-Corp. Shiera, as Hawkgirl, takes his place, joining the All-Star Squadron.


5. Johnny Quick (PDF)


It is December 7th, 1941 and in issue #1 of the All-Star Squadron, the reader learns that the members of the Justice Society of America have all been defeated by the various super-powered minions of Per Degaton. The various soon-to-be All-Stars make their way to Washington, D.C. (if they aren’t already there*) because they have been summoned there by President Roosevelt.

Johnny Chambers, a.k.a. Johnny Quick, literally turns around a corner in D.C. and runs into Libby Lawrence, a.k.a. Liberty Belle. Both make their introductions to each other and then try to enter the White House grounds, only to be rebuffed by a soldier. Thwarted in their secret identities, the two heroes don their superhero costumes. Johnny Quick then picks-up Liberty Belle and uses his super-speed to run past the guards, who mistake the speedster for the Flash, and into the White House.

The two heroes go on to meet the other superheroes as well as the President who informs all of them about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He also asks all of them, except for Plastic Man, to form the All-Star Squadron. The President tells Plastic Man that he will serve as the F.B.I. liaison.

The President then asks the heroes to fly out to the West Coast, to San Francisco, and to be ready in case of another Japanese sneak attack.

Johnny is the proto-typical speedster hero, i.e., he can run super-fast, has superhuman agility, and can perform other “tricks” using his powers. Using his Super Speed ability, his running tops out at 1536″ per Round, or about 524 mph. His various tricks include: running so fast he can’t be seen (invisibility), running up the sides of buildings (wall-crawling), creating artificial updrafts (AE TK), and the ability to do hundreds of mundane things instantaneously** — like when he repairs the crumbling Statue of Liberty or disassembles in seconds an airborne Japanese fighter plane.

All of his super-speed abilities are predicated upon him uttering the secret phrase “3X2(9YZ)4A.” This is modeled in the Mighty Protectors rules by using the Linked modifier: it takes 1″ of his movement to utter the phrase thereby turning on his super-speed abilities.
*  The Atom, Dr. Mid-Nite, and Robotman are already in Washington D.C. watching a football game.

** Click here to see nlmcdonald’s write-up of “Super Speed B”


6. Liberty Belle


Libby Lawrence was a famous radio news reporter in the late 1930’s. When Poland is invaded by the Nazis in September 1939, her father is killed by an exploding bomb that was dropped by a Luftwaffe fighter. She becomes a fierce opponent of the Nazis, using her radio news broadcasts to inform the world of their atrocities. At one point, she is trapped by the Nazis in France, but she manages to escape their grasp by swimming the English Channel all the way back to England.

Once back in the United States, she meets with and befriends Tom Revere, the guard at the Philadelphia Courthouse where the Liberty Bell is kept. He gives her a tiny replica of the bell which she clips onto her belt.  Later she learns that when the bell is rung, she gains a rush of strength and speed.

She describes her origin in the comic panels below:



In All-Star Squadron #46, she gains a new super ability: a sort of sonic telekinesis. You can see her using her newfound ability against the Nazi supervillain Baron Blitzkrieg below:



Liberty Belle is not terribly powerful. As such, I’ve constructed her stats and abilities using a “Low Power” level, with a total of 100 CPs.

Liberty Belle Character Sheet (PDF)



Liberty Belle Notes


Libby Lawrence was created by Jack Kirby and first appeared December 1st, 1942 in issue #1 of Boy Commandos.

I gave Belle the Companion ability to simulate her friendship with Tom Revere, who is basically just there to ring the Liberty Bell when she needs her “adrenal” powers activated.

Libby only gains her sonic abilities after her friend Tom Revere is killed. So if you want to give her the optional Telekinesis/Sonic Blast multi-ability, you should also get rid of her Companion. Similarly, she no longer requires the Liberty Bell to be rung to activate her “Adrenal” powers… so get rid of the “Special Requirement” modifier and replace it with the Linked modifier.

7. Robotman


Dr. Robert Crane was a brilliant scientist who, along with his skilled assistant Chuck Grayson, had created a metallic humanoid robot and the means to transfer a living human brain into the robot’s body.

When armed hoodlums arrived at his estate they thought they could steal one or more “gadgets” that would be worth thousands. Instead, all they found was the inert body of the robot, which they thought was worthless junk. When Dr. Crane tried to stop them he was shot. The hoods quickly ran away but the damage was done and Robert Crane was dying. Chuck Grayson then hit on the idea to transfer Dr. Crane’s still-living brain into the robot.

The hoodlums, fearing that Grayson would finger them for the murder of Dr. Grayson, called the police and told them that Chuck Grayson had killed his boss. When the police showed-up, they found the lifeless, and brainless, body of Dr. Crane. Grayson feared that if he told the officers the truth about what happened they would examine the robot and possibly kill Dr. Grayson’s brain. So he said nothing and went quietly with the police who take him away.

Dr. Crane eventually wakes-up in his new robot body. After marveling at his new powers, he retrieves the newspaper from his front porch. He is shocked when he reads the headline “Young scientist Dr. Robert Crane murdered by his assistant, Chuck Grayson.”

Using his newfound super-abilities, he tracks down one of the hoodlums who shot him. He threatens to harm the thug, who eventually relents and agrees to testify. Robotman takes the hoodlum to the Governor’s mansion where he tells the truth about what happened. The Governor then agrees to pardon Chuck Grayson.

After clearing his friend’s name he decides that with his new powers he can do a great deal of good by fighting crime. He first joins the Justice Society of America and then later joins the All-Star Squadron.


Robotman Character Sheet (PDF)



Robotman Ability Notes


Robotman is strong (he hauls in a Nazi U-boat in one issue) but he doesn’t have super leap. He has other abilities one would attribute to a robot, such as adaptation and armor. I model his vulnerability to head strikes (due to his human brain) with the Vulnerability weakness. I model his hidden chest compartment with a made-up Trivial ability; he often hides his disguises in this space.

In his origin issue, Robotman talks about how his senses are better than human: he can hear people talking inside their cars, he can see in the infrared spectrum and at telescopic range with his “photo-electric” eyes. In an early All-Star Squadron issue, he catches up to a cab, thus the Speed ability. In the comics it is stated that he weighs 500 lbs., thus I gave him a modified version of Density Increase so that it is always on.

Lastly, Robotman is extremely good at disguising his robot frame, so good that he easily fools people into thinking that he is lawyer “Paul Dennis.” Thus, I gave him the Knowledge ability of disguise.

Additional Robotman Notes


Robotman originally appeared in Star-Spangled Comics #7-82 from 1942-48 and Detective Comics #138-202 (except #155) from 1948-53. He appears in various issues of All-Star Squadron #1-67 from 1981 to 1987.

This Robotman is no relation to Cliff Steele of the old Doom Patrol and he also never met the Paul Dennis/Robotman of Earth-One.

8a. Shining Knight (PDF)


Sir Justin, who later comes to be known as the Shining Knight, was once a member of the Knights of the Round Table in King Arthur’s Court. He was one of many knights who witnessed the death of Sir Fallon, Queen Guinevere’s cousin, at the hands of an ogre named Blunderbore. Sir Justin then vowed to avenge Sir Fallon’s death and began a quest to hunt down the ogre.

While on his quest  he came across the wizard Merlin who was trapped in a tree by a witch. Sir Justin freed the wizard who then thanked the knight by casting various enchantments. His rusty armor and weapons were turned golden and made “invulnerable.” His sword was made so powerful it could “cut through anything” as well as remove any magical enchantment. Merlin then enchanted Sir Justin’s horse Victory, so that it grew giant feathered wings, enabling him to fly.

Sir Justin left Merlin and continued on his quest to the northern lands. He eventually locates Blunderbore — and defeats the monster in combat. Before dying, however, the ogre caused an avalanche that buried himself, Sir Justin,  and his horse Winged Victory. Neither Sir Justin nor his steed were killed, however. Instead, they spent the next 1500 years in suspended animation, only being discovered and re-awakened by a museum curator in the year 1941.

Realizing that he must now live in the modern age, Sir Justin decides to use his knightly skills and enchanted abilities to become a crime-fighter. He eventually meets heroes like the Crimson Avenger and Vigilante and others who form the Seven Soldiers of Victory. Later, he is invited to join the All-Star Squadron.




8b. Shining Knight Companion (PDF)



Shining Knight Notes


Sir Justin’s enchanted suit of chain mail has some protection against damage, but it also has Invulnerability to the Sharp Kinetic damage type. Arrows, swords, bullets, or any other sharp kinetic damage is reduced to 1/4 of its total after armor protection is applied. His Heightened Defense ability is how I am representing is unbreakable shield. It is not gear, per se, as it cannot be broken, but it requires some room to use and it can be taken from him. Likewise, his enchanted sword has the Not Gear modifier, making it unbreakable (but it can be taken away). His sword also has the Negation ability, able to negate almost any ability as long as that ability is magical in nature.

Atom, Commander Steel, Hawkgirl, Johnny Quick, Liberty Belle, Firebrand, Robotman, Shining Knight and their images are trademarks of DC Comics.

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