Columbia (Deathlok, Helix, Sunturion)
With a population of more than 700,000 residents, Columbia is the largest metro area in South Carolina. Despite that, only one of the three superheroes who operate in the immediate area have managed to capture the heart of the city. As the city’s most well-known hero, Sunturion often responds to police, fire and other emergency calls. The result is that he’s well-liked and respected by the local residents, and his exploits are reported with vigor by the local media.
Despite his local fame, he rarely ventures outside the Columbia area. As the result of his work in the city, Sunturion has been independently contacted by Iron Man, Captain America and Reed Richards, and all have failed in their efforts to encourage him to a greater role in the superhero community. Since he’s spurned them so often, most assume that he is a highly private individual. In fact, he has never sought assistance with his crime-fighting efforts, never submitted to the superhuman registration act or allowed his armor to be studied.
The truth of the matter is that Sunturion isn’t an individual, but a number of individuals donning the same armor that is actually corporately owned by the Roxxon Corp. The company deploys Sunturion covertly to protect its vast interests in Columbia, it’s home base, and purposefully hides Sunturion’s connection to the company. Though the Avengers, Defenders and Fantastic Four are aware there’s some sort of connection between Sunturion and Roxxon, it is intensely denied by Roxxon and the company has even put a bounty on the “stolen technology” to further the facade.
The group assigned to the Sunturion unit is comprised of ten individuals who can don the armor and deploy from their secret base in the city. While one is wearing the suit, the others follow in a security vehicles and work “clean up” to erase any physical evidence of his passing in a further effort to hide the armor from detection by the greater superhero community
By keeping the connection between Sunturion and Roxxon secret, the company has helped to cover up its own problems quickly and with little publicity. Further, they have seen how the Stark Enterprises-Iron Man connection has frequently damaged that company, something they don’t want considering their vast, global interests.
The cyborg known as Deathlok (shown below) also operates in the Columbia area, frequently appearing within the borders of Fort Jackson, the huge Army training base connected to the city, and often disrupting the operations of Roxxon, its subsidiaries and the Sunturion unit. The Sunturions have standing orders to destroy or detain the rogue cyborg, but have failed to do so on numerous occasions.
Despite these orders, the Sunturion unit and Deathlok often stumble on to the same emergency scenes, which often results in a battle between the two. As such, Deathlok has found it wise to avoid assisting at emergency scenes until absolutely necessary.
Because of this, Deathlok’s presence in Columbia is far less obvious to most of the city’s residents, although there are plenty of rumors about a “gun toting zombie” stalking the city.
Left to his own devices, Deathlok spends much of his time in Columbia targeting Roxxon’s labs, covertly assisting the Army from Fort Jackson (where Sunturion rarely appears) and tracking down any supervillians that sneak into the city.
The young hero known as Helix (shown at left) attends college in Columbia where he double-majors in music and business. Though most of his time is spent on his studies, he often rises to assist Sunturion when supervillains appear in the city. Unlike most heroes, Helix never goes on patrols and, due to the nature of his “reactive” superpowers, only appears after a threat has made itself known.
Notes: This is another one of those topsy-turvy entrys where the more well-known hero to MU readers isn’t exactly the most appropriate choice to be the city’s “mascot.” Further, instead of opting for a name-brand hero, I went with Sunturion, a hero that intentionally avoids gaining a national spotlight. That helps to further cement Deathlok’s below-the-radar image. As for Helix, well, he was just an addition to round out the cast. He isn’t seen too much any more.
Dubbed “America’s Sexiest City” by the travel guides, Charleston likewise is served by a trio of knockout superhumans. Most notably, it is the home-away-from-home for the adventuress known as Shanna the She-Devil (top and bottom of entry), who maintains all of her business and financial interests in a company based out of Charleston. As such, when she is not in Africa or the Savage Land, she spends her time in South Carolina.
Aside from the company that controls her fortune, she also has developed an exotic wildlife sanctuary on an island just off the coast. This facility has been set up to heal animals, aliens and monsters who have fallen ill or been injured — often as the result of contact with superhumans. At any one time, this menagerie can include dinosaurs, space beasts, mutated Earth animals along with a few intelligent, non-human species who seek her assistance. Those same animals have a tendency to get loose and rampage through the city, which Shanna and her compatriots are quick to respond.
Along with her from her work at preserving wildlife around the world and as a specialist veterinarian, she has also set up a small team of heroines to help combat threats to the Charleston area and the entire coastal area of South Carolina.
Her team includes Sharon Ventura, sometimes known as She-Thing and previously known as Ms. Marvel. Ventura has retained her rocky form and has cycled through numerous bouts of depression because of it. Still, she has a strong sense of right and wrong and serves the community well. Her time in South Carolina has also showed that she has been able to subtly manipulate her appearance, often depending on her mood, at the zenith of her “good days,” Ventura looks more like a living statue of a human than a female “Thing.” At her low points, she finds herself “devolving” back to her orange-plated appearance. Because of this, Ventura works intensely to keep up a positive attitude. This allows her to fight crime at full strength, and look good doing it.
While some might call Stunner (above right) a former supervillain, Shanna and Ventura know that Angelina Brancale was just a lost sole who stumbled upon a chance to be famous. Opting to reroute that enthusiasm, Stunner and all the virtual reality equipment that created her was shipped to Charleston and reassembled. From there, Shanna and Ventura began to rigorously train Stunner and her alter ego on how to do things right. Within months of her debut, Stunner managed to impress the local populace and even land some modeling jobs for the local media.
All three work together on a tight-knit basis — protecting the region, assisting at Shanna’s exotic clinic and considering themselves best friends. Without a doubt, any of the three would literally die for one another. This intense friendship goes through all levels of their life and the trio even share an apartment in downtown Charleston.
Notes: I bet you weren’t expecting Shanna to show up in the list, were you? Well, she is certainly a cool character, the problem was that we needed to figure out how she could operate as an adventurer. Shanna is just like so many other heroes who are constantly overshadowed by a massive NYC grouping in the real MU. Pushing her way out into the “boonies” lets her have her own story again.
Sharon Ventura, to me, is one of the more tragic heroes of the Marvel Universe. The problem is that she’s so tragic that she’s been really depressing to read about. Setting her up as a vital member of a team that’s also a lot like a family can help make her change for the better. Speaking of change, I advised a further adjustment to her power fluxes — the more depressed she gets, the more hideous she gets. It’s her friends job to keep her feeling great — and thereby looking great. When things go bad, she spins into a difficult spiral.
Greenville-Spartanburg (Shiver Man)
Many people think that the tales of the “zombie with a gun” roaming South Carolina are about just one “zombie with a gun,” but in fact there are two. While Deathlok sticks mainly to Columbia (though he often travels to other Roxxon facilities around the world), another similar creature has taken residence in the Greenville-Spartanburg metro area.
Known as the Shiver Man, this undead bounty-hunter and righter-of-wrongs, uses the South Carolina city as his home base while he tracks down his quarry across the globe. Though he often travels, the sinister agent for good manages to keep the Greenville-Spartanburg area clear of superhumans, often through intimidation, but sometimes by out-and-out exterminating anyone he considers a danger to the citizens of the area.
Fuurther, Shiver Man never seeks publicity or fame, so he allows the rumors of “zombie with a gun” to persist and willingly allows people to assume that he is Deathlok, the more well-known of the two.
Notes: Shiver Man. Who the heck is Shiver Man? Well, I had never heard of him either until I began research for this particular post. It turns out that he’s quite the interesting fellow. Placing him near Deathlok’s stomping grounds helps Deathlok’s mystique even more. Which “Zombie with a gun” are we talking about?
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