by Bevan Thomas
So that’s what my “name game” is going to be. I have two universes, Universe-D and Universe-M. Universe-D uses DC names, Universe-M uses Marvel names. Every major character, organization, object, and location (besides those from our universe, of course) is named after something from the respective comic book universe, though I may turn a person in to an organization or an object, a location in to a person (so members of Iron Fist may be hunting for the Dormammu book under the orders of the entity Madripoor). Images of the old characters will be taken from the Internet, images of the new characters will be provided by the talented Reetta Linjama and other artists.
For this installment of the Name Game, I’ll showcase the defining character of each universe: the greatest hero of Universe-M and the greatest villain of Universe-D.
But “torch” can mean things beyond simply fire. We use torches to give us light and guidance, and of course one of the most defining images of the United States is the Statue of Liberty that stands in New York Harbour.
So a symbol of insight and guidance, and something that can be very American without sounding too jingoistic. For a little variety, let’s make the figure a woman, and to go with the Statue of Liberty, make her an immigrant, specifically a German Jew so that she’s got personal investment in leading her team of heroes against the Nazis.
With all of those ideas in place, here’s the new Human Torch:
Real Name: Katherine “Kate” Pryde
Katherine Pryde grew up a Jew in Germany in the 20s and 30s, but the increased persecution made her family decide to send her to America to stay with her aunt. Unfortunately, they had only enough money to send her, so she had to make the crossing alone, leaving behind everyone, including her twin sister Theresa. The first thing she saw when coming to America was the Statue of Liberty, an imposing figure that impressed her in its serene majesty.
Katherine kept up correspondence with her family in Germany, and through that gained some personal understanding of the horrors of the Nazis. Then eventually the letters stopped, and Katherine realized something terrible had happened to her family. She waited and waited as news of Hitler’s crimes increased, and the stress caused her nights to be filled with horrific nightmares in which she and her family were pursued by monsters formed of darkness. Then one night she dreamed that she was filled with a powerful light that banished the monsters and saved her family. When Katherine awoke, she found herself floating above her bed, bathed in the same light.
Soon the nights of New York were lit by a new figure, one of the first superheroes, a woman who shone bright as the sun and who sent criminals and monsters scurrying for the shadows. Calling herself the Human Torch in honour of the Statue of Liberty, and to provide a guiding light in these dark times, Katherine Pryde became a harbinger of things to come as soon as other superheroes appeared, following in her path.
Eventually she led a team of heroes, dubbed the Liberators, into Nazi-occupied Europe and to do battle with the Nazis own ubermensch, including the Human Torch’s greatest enemy, the villainess known as Nox, the Dweller in Darkness. However, though Katherine did rescue many people from the concentration camps, she was never able to find those of her family who had remained in Germany.
Soon after World War II, the Human Torch vanished, though when a new age of heroes dawned, she returned, not having aged a day. In the present time, she leads the Sentinels of Liberty with the same dedication that she once led the Liberators, and is the most respected and beloved of all heroes.
Powers: The Human Torch is filled with a mysterious force that she calls “the light of liberty,” and which she believes was imparted to her by the spirit of the Statue of Liberty, though others have theorized that it derives instead from mutant DNA. She can project this white light from her hands or eyes or surround herself in an aura of energy. This light can be used to affect the emotions of those around her, creating hope and courage in her allies and fear in her enemies. The light can also heal or blind, either temporarily or permanently, can be focused into a laser, and can be “hardened” so that it becomes a force field around the Human Torch that can be expanded to protect others as well. The Human Torch can also fly, leaving a trail of light behind her and can transform into “living light,” which makes her intangible.
Limitations: Though the Human Torch’s powers drive away the darkness, certain powerful forms of darkness can suffocate her light. Furthermore, her powers are tied to her faith in her abilities. If she loses hope, she can be overcome.
The Sun Emperor
Real Name: Solaris (alleged)
Few names are as feared across the galaxy as Emperor Solaris, the Tyrant Sun. No one knows where he came from: some say he was once human until he bargained that away for power, others that he is a sun that has somehow acquired sentience and a humanoid body. And a few insist that the Sun Emperor is a demon hungry for this universe. Whatever his origin, Solaris has warred across the heavens, conquering planets, solar systems, vast areas of space. He shattered the Star Tsar, conquered the Cosmic King, smashed the Saturn Queen, laid waste to all who opposed him. Now he has turned his eyes to Earth and leads his armada to conquer our realm. Though it is filled with champions, Solaris is confident that he will defeat them as he defeated all others. Is he not the Sun Emperor? The ruler of the heavens? Conqueror of more than half of the galaxy? He is coming. He is coming to claim everything.
The Sun Emperor’s most devoted slaves are known as the Sun-Eaters. He selects the best and brightest of those places he conquers, then feeds them on his own divine flame, filling their minds with loyalty and their bodies with power as they become addicted to his essence and worship him as their only god. They spread his gospel throughout the galaxy, adding their power to him as he adds his power to theirs.
The Sun Emperor is a being of primal flame who has total control over fire: able to create it, extinguish it, and transform it into various forms. He can also sheath himself in fire and fly, leaving a trail of flames behind him. Strange still, he can look through flames to view other places that are in the presence of a different fire, and can communicate through them. Because of that, he has his worshippers always keep lanterns and candles lit, so that he can view and converse with them whenever he wishes.
The Sun Emperor is nourished by loyalty. The more slaves the Sun Emperor has, the more powerful he becomes: his physical strength is increased and his flame burns brighter. With planets of individually fanning his fire, he is mightier than almost anyone else in existence.
The Sun Emperor is immortal. He is thousands of years old and can regenerate from most wounds. Even if he appears to be completely obliterated, as long as he has at least one faithful follower left, Solaris can manifest from that person. However, in doing so he must consume the follower’s body, turning that person to ash. The only way for him to be totally destroyed would be to convert or kill all his worshipers and then destroy his body.
The fire of the Sun Emperor is hypnotic, and he can use it to create fear and awe in those before him, so that they see him as an avenging god. But to create even greater loyalty, the Sun Emperor feeds people a piece of the flame that is his essence, converting them into Sun-Eaters. Sun-Eaters are filled with awe and fear for their lord and become addicted to the flame, so that they feel the need to have more and more, which binds them even further to Solaris. As Sun-Eaters, the beings have some of Solaris’ mastery over fire and have the ability to watch and communicate through flames, which is how they keep in touch across the heavens.
Perhaps the most terrible of the Sun Emperor’s powers is his ability to gain the memories, skills, and powers of those whose fire he’s “consumed.” That is one of the reasons for his obsessive conquest, and his fascination for Earth, to feast on the essence of those that dwell there, and add their power to his own. Among the abilities he has taken in such a fashion include the Saturn Queen’s mastery of gravity, the Cosmic King’s powerful psionics, and the Star Tsar’s mysterious quantum bursts.
It is said that a light lit in the mythical Green Lantern could wound the Sun Emperor. Green is the opposite of red, after all. That has never been tested, and most people assume the Green Lantern to be nothing more than a fairy tale.