Sometimes, even a superhero has to get paid. Welcome to Ten Things: Ten Corporate-Sponsored Heroes!
Whooshman-Bicarbonate Films, in conjunction with An Amateur Comics Historian and Luke “Sweet Christmas” Cage, Presents:
TEN THINGS: TEN CORPORATE-SPONSORED HEROES!
10) THE N-FORCER
A founding member of the Honor Guard of Astro City, active for over half a century, little is known about this hero. First seen in 1959, his armored form has changed many times over the years, and it would seem that at least two different men have been inside the ball of energy that is his super-body, but whether that means a legacy situation or whether anyone could be the N-Forcer is unclear. Originally the walking corporate symbol of Nicholls-Royce Electronics, he now works for their modern mega-corporate incarnation, N.R.-Gistics Inc, wearing the company’s logo prominently on his armor.
With extensive cybernetic enhancements reverse-engineered from the future cyborg Deathlok, Colonel John Kelly was designed as a prototype for the soldier of the future and a one-man advertisement for Cybertek Systems (a division of Roxxon.) Kelly’s mind was deemed a threat by his on-board computer and electrocuted, but a digital copy of his mind was kept on file, operating as a second consciousness in a later cyborg built from the same specifications. Eventually, Kelly was transferred into another cyborg body and became a mercenary.
He was killed by an influx of zombies from another dimension… like ya do.
One of the foremost heroes employed by Capes, Inc., a top-flight superhuman temp agency, Bruce (last name unrevealed) uses his super-strength and nigh-invulnerability to not only save lives, but to look good doing it. He does what he does to support his family, and as such will always invoice the company for any potential heroic deeds. His alias is an in-joke, as he wanted to go by “Black Samson”, only to find the name taken, after which the publicists advised him that the most successful black heroes are always lightning-related. #Meta
Chosen specifically for his square-jawed All-American looks, Allen Powell is in truth a narcissistic, amoral, money-grubbing glory hound. What’s more, all his “super-missions” are completed by Agent Michael Gorsky, who greatly resents propping up such a two-dimensional patriotic facade. A-Pex’s handlers frankly couldn’t care less about either man, using their pet hero’s notoriety to increase the budgets of the NIA which, though a government agency, operates more like a corrupt corporation with the goal to keep the general public fat, happy and stupid…
It’s a remarkably relevant comic these days.
Created by the super-shady RevoCorp, Randall Butler is the cyborg man of the future whose skill and power are only matched by his charisma. Unfortunately, his employers’ history with the other heroes of his world leads to some conflict. Depending on the timeline involved (Sentinels of the Multiverse is incredibly complicated, and keep in mind that I’m a Legion fan), he either turns on RevoCorp, retires from the heroing biz entirely or the evil company gets bought out and he becomes a well-respected hero.
In any case, I love that visor.
5) LIGHTSPEED ESPER
Originally created as a mascot for Toshiba, the company that pioneered the laptop computer, Hikaru Azuma appeared in advertising starting in 1964. By 1967, he not only had his own manga series, but a TV show in which Lightspeed Esper fights evil with his jet pack, his robot parrot and a ton of chutzpah. His origins involve a hot air balloon being hit by a flying saucer, after which faceless aliens possessed the bodies of his dead parents, so you know it’s a wild ride. I’m particularly taken by his two-way communicator watch, which I’m pretty sure you can buy from Toshiba today.
With the ability to absorb and store kinetic energy, Emmit Sayers is one of the most powerful people in Steel Harbor. Though he’s not thrilled with his “work clothes”, his employers, Counterstrike Security love the image he projects. Sadly, Emmit’s first mission involved an encounter with a rogue super named Titan, who is essentially Superman, which led to mass chaos and destruction in his hometown. The Comics Greatest World line fell prey to the industry crash shortly after, leaving this interesting hero, full of potential, forever in limbo.
3) CAPTAIN IMPRESSIVE
Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings at a single bound! It’s Captain Impressive, strange visitor from a dinosaur neighborhood, with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal sauropods! Captain Impressive, who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands, and who, disguised as Earl Sinclair, ill-manned employee of the WESAYSO Corporation, fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the Pangaean way!
At least until a good shower cleaned off all the radioactive goop that gave him his powers.
2) WILD TIGER
A veteran hero who isn’t entirely sold on his colleagues’ focus on ratings, fame and hero points, Kotetsu T. Kaburagi has seen better days, but is nonetheless sponsored by several different companies. Though he seems like a goof, Tiger is a truly selfless hero who takes pride in his ability to help people and still feels the pain of his late wife’s untimely death. Things get more complicated when he is paired with rookie hero Bunny, as their world’s very first superhero team. Interestingly, all the heroes’ sponsors are real-world companies, avoiding the distraction of fake logos and made-up company names, but adding a new distraction when the characters move to different media and their logos change.
Employed by the OCP Corporation, who have purchased the police force of New Detroit circa the future of 1987, Officer Alex Murphy was brutally and methodically blown to bits by a gang of criminals led by the future Red Forman. Rebuilt without his consent, because “crapsack future”, Murphy’s human mind slowly overcomes his programming and the accompanying mutilation to bring down the big bad behind the gang that tried to kill him… a man who is also Robocop’s boss.
This week’s Ten Things topic, Ten Corporate-Sponsored Heroes, is all me, but feel free to follow along @MightyKingCobra for more Ten Things madness on Twitter (or check out the full Twitter archive here!) As with any set of like items, these aren’t meant to be hard and fast or absolutely complete, if only because the idea of corporate supers has been among the Next Big Things since at least 1986. Either way, the comments section is Below for just such an emergency, but, as always: Please, no wagering!