Arkady Gregorivich Rossovich (Omega Red)

The Icebox prison in Deadpool 2 was definitely full of mutants, and it’s no surprise that many of them turned out to be cameos from the comics… but this one is definitely one we didn’t see coming: Omega Red, one of the most popular and notorious among Wolverine‘s enemies. The Russian super-soldier was supposed to appear in X-Men: The Last Stand portrayed by kick-boxer Vince Murdocco, but the character was later cut from the script. In Deadpool 2 he only appeared as a background character, portrayed by Dakoda Shapley, but since one of the scenes of the new uncut version is titled Chess with Omega Red, we can expect to see more of him. Waiting to see what the new version of the film will bring to us (and who are the other mutants revealed to be in the prison by makeup artist Bill Corso (I have a couple of ideas for at least three of them, but let’s wait for the official confirmation), let’s meet together one of the baddest and toughest mutants ever.

Arkady Gregorivich Rossovich was born in the Soviet Union, an albino who became an agent of Spetnaz somewhere in the 1960s. Arkady, however, was also a serial killer, with the disturbing hobby of raping and killing young girls whenever the occasion presented itself. He couldn’t go on forever without being caught, and he eventually got arrested by Sean Cassidy, an agent of Interpol, who turned him over to the KGB. Back in Russia, Arkady was trialed and sentenced to death… but at the moment of the execution, his X-Gene activated, and he escaped death by releasing lethal spores. KGB saw in this a sign of destiny, and forcefully recruited Rossovich in their own version of the Super Soldier Project, a program aimed to create the Soviet counterpart to Captain America. For years, Arkady Rossovich was kept in a secret lab, tortured and experimented on, provided with cybernetic implants and also with an experimental alloy created by Russian scientist, named Carbonadium, an attempt to recreate the Adamantium that the Canadian Department H had used on their Weapon X. Carbonadium was only slightly less durable than Adamantium, but it was also much more malleable, a characteristic that allowed the scientists to create a couple of retractable whips to be equipped to Rossovich’s armor… unfortunately, the alloy was also radioactive, and it poisoned its user. Arkady’s powers, however, could come in handy, as they allowed him to siphon other people’s life force to replenish his own, healing from potentially lethal wounds and even from the radiation poisoning he was continuously exposed to. There was a way to stabilize his condition, though: the Carbonadium Synthesizer, the same device that had forged his tentacles… and that had been stolen by Team X, during their attempt to save double agent Janice Hollenbeck. At the end of the process, the criminal Arkady Rossovich had been transformed into the Soviet super-soldier Omega Red, and his first mission was simple: to retrieve the Synthesizer from the three agents who had stolen it, Wolverine, Maverick and Sabretooth.

The mission didn’t exactly turned out as planned, as the three mutant super-agents were seasoned and experienced enough to match Omega Red, and eventually hid the Synthesizer where he would have never found it. The test in itself, however, was a success, so Omega was deployed by the KGB as an operative. In Berlin, Omega fought another Canadian super-spy, John Wraith, and nearly killed him. Then, the USSR sent him against some Interpol agents who were interfering with the intelligence’s work, and he killed one of them, Magrite Deveraux. Doing this, however, made Omega Red become the target of Deveraux’s partner, Sean Cassidy (the same one who had arrested him years before), and of Erik Lensherr. Being all three of them mutants, the battle that followed was unlike anything the KGB could have possibly foreseen, and Omega Red released such an amount of deadly spores that he killed dozens of civilian bystanders. He was eventually shot and subdued by Cassidy, and later returned to the USSR authorities, who played coy about their involvement with what they pretended to be a rogue agent. Deemed too dangerous and unpredictable, Omega Red was put in suspended animation for the time being, hibernated until the scientists found a way to effectively control him. This took longer than expected, and actually never came to fruition. The Soviet Union fell, and the secret lab Omega Red was kept in was abandoned and eventually forgotten. The super-soldier was found by The Hand, the ninja cult at the time led by Matsu’o Tsurayaba. The Hand reanimated Omega Red, and recruited him as a new assassin for their cult: their interest aligned as they both shared a grudge against Wolverine, who was now a member of the X-Men. Omega Red did join the Hand to get a chance at slicing the throat of his old enemy and learn the location of the lost Carbonadium Synthesizer, but his loyalty to the group wasn’t greater than his one to the fallen Soviet Union, something that the Hand would have soon learnt the hard way…

Arkady Rossovich is a brutal and sadistic man, a predator born with a taste for killing, who has no loyalty but to himself (certainly not to some scientists and spies who took a serial killer, empowered him and then pretended he was a soldier). As Omega Red, his mutant powers, renamed Death Factor, allow him to create and release lethal pheromones and spores capable of killing anyone in the immediate vicinity, spores that he’s forced to expel or otherwise they’ll consume his own body; he’s superhumanly strong, agile, durable and fast, and he’s a superb hand-to-hand combatant; his Death Factor summed to his nearly indestructible Carbonadium tentacles allow him to siphon the energy of other living beings, using it to heal himself even from lethal damage, with his constant self-poisoning forcing him to a vampiric existence. A super-assassin designed to kill in the most effective way possible, Omega Red is a masterpiece of the Cold War, the perfect death-bringer who’s extremely professional in his task… unfortunately, he enjoys it a little bit too much for being anywhere near controllable.

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Angel of Death

There’s been a little gender-swap in Preacher this week, and quite ironically is exactly the same one we saw in Lucifer. In The Tombs, the Saint of Killers obtains the meeting with Satan he’s been asking for, but he’s greeted with a harsh punishment for his latest escape, as the Devil orders the Angel of Death to whip him good… and she does, by ripping away the flesh from his back until the spine is visible. Yes, “she”, as the Angel of Death is portrayed by Erinn Ruth, while in the comics she’s a very muscular and manly “he”. Strangely enough, she’s portrayed as some sort of secretary to the Devil, while there’s no reason for it: even in the comics, the two are just old pals, sharing an eternity of boredom. Let’s see together.

We often hear phrases like “My life was perfect, until…” Well, in the case of the Angel of Death, this is to be taken literally, as he indeed knew perfection in his life, until everything transformed into a neverending routine that he deeply loathed. At the beginning, he was one of millions angels part of the Angelic Host, and his life was as close as it could be to the very source of perfection, God. Then, God got bored of being worshiped and adored by angels only, and created humankind, with the purpose of making someone born with free will to love Him. Humans, however, were mortals, so death entered the universe… and the universe now needed someone taking care of it. With humans, the angels were given tasks and roles, and one of many angels suddenly became the Angel of Death, the one tasked with collecting the souls of mortals and to bring them either to Heaven or to Hell, depending on their behavior on Earth. This was an exhausting task per se, but it became unbearable, as not only humans were very good in dying of natural causes, but they became increasingly more and more creative in inventing new methods of killing each other: with the proceeding of centuries, the Angel of Death ran from battlefield to battlefield, from execution chamber to execution chamber, from bar to bar, collecting the souls of the fallen ones, and every day was worse than the previous one. During centuries, he became friends with the only other creature in the universe who shared his frustrated view on the task he’d been assigned with, the Devil, and he often went down to Hell to have a chat or play cards with “Nick“, as he called him. When the Angel of Death saw God’s plans for the XX Century and realized the amount of extra work he was about to be forced to, he lost all hopes, and started questioning even the sanity of his master and creator. Then, he found hope in the least probable place of all.

While he was in Hell, beating the Devil at poker as usual, something appeared to be amiss. At first believing that his adversary was just trying to avoid paying him what he had to, the Angel of Death had to agree that something was clearly wrong as he realized it was unnaturally cold, especially considering he was in Hell. The source of the temperature drop was a mortal soul, one he had recently brought to Hell, and who was still feeling all the hatred he felt when he was alive. The Devil tried to purge the hatred from him with torture, but everything was useless, and even Satan got depressed, believing his reputation and his kingdom to be ruined forever (with the ice blocking the doors, the souls couldn’t enter Hell anymore). The Angel of Death, however, had the perfect solution for all parties: the Devil wanted to reignite the fires, he wanted to leave his job to someone else, and the mortal only wanted to kill. The Angel of Death offered his position to the mortal, telling him that he would have been allowed to exact his vengeance on the people who had wronged him in the town of Ratwater, Texas, and then would have become the new collector of souls, answering directly to God. The mortal accepted. The Devil proceeded to mend his flesh, and the Angel of Death had his mystic sword melted into a pair of guns, to be better usable by their new master. Finally, the newly appointed Saint of Killers left Hell, that returned to its original status, and the Angel of Death was finally free from his burden… but then Satan had the bad idea to offend the Saint, who used his new guns to kill him on the spot. Terrified for his life for the first time in his immortal existence, the (former) Angel of Death started weeping and begging for his life… and he was spared, unexpectedly. Left alone in Hell, the angel now faced an unprecedented chaos, with the Devil dead and his realm without a leader for the first time in eons. Maybe, his idea wasn’t so brilliant after all…

The Angel of Death, real name unknown, is a deeply wise, intelligent and thoughtful creature… but also a deeply depressed one, crushed by an unbearable burden that will never end until the end of times itself. As all angels he’s immortal, and his wings allow him to fly and to cross dimensions, but he’s much stronger and more durable than any other angel, and his divine sword can kill anything and anyone, even angels, demons and, potentially, God Himself. One of the most powerful beings in existence, the Angel of Death is also one of the saddest ones, doomed for all eternity to babysit a species that has nothing better to do than to conceive new methods to kill itself. Quite a waste of time and resources.

Reeva Payge (Black Queen)

New images for the upcoming tv season are surfacing, and one of those comes from the second season of The Gifted, the acclaimed mutant-themed series. The pic shows Polaris in labor, with some women assisting her: at the far left, there’s Reeva Payge, portrayed by Grace Byers. Reeva will be a member of the Hellfire Club, and she’s described as a charming and elegant woman, who fiercely defends her vision and her people. In the comics, she’s a (very) secondary character, who only appears in one issue of X-Men Annual, and who’s never seen again after an initial, burning defeat. She is indeed a member of the Hellfire Club, but not of the original one. Let’s see together.

Almost nothing is known about Reeva Payge’s past, apart from the things we can deduce from her current position. She was American, most likely born or at least leaving in the area of Manhattan, New York City. She was most certainly born in a family of ancient wealth and of social prestige, an origin that allowed her a certain distinction in society. Reeva wasn’t just some wealthy socialite though, she was also a mutant: with adulthood, she developed the ability to emit a high-pitched note, not audible from human ears, that affected the brain’s neurochemistry and distorted one’s sense of reality. Her power, along with her initial situation, helped her to become quite influential, enough to be noted by Shinobi Shaw, another wealthy and powerful man. Shinobi believed that his father, Sebastian Shaw, was dead, and had taken for himself both the title of Black King and the leadership of the New York branch of the Hellfire Club. A Black King alone couldn’t do much, especially if he wanted to match his father’s former power, so Shinobi Shaw started building his own Inner Circle. Reeva Payge was among the mutants contacted by Shaw, and she accepted his offer, becoming the Black Queen of the new Club. She joined the White King Benedict Kine and the White Queen Benazir Kaur, ready to recruit others to her cause and to bring the Hellfire Club back to its original, undisputed power.

The new Black Queen fit herself quite well in her position, and helped Shinobi Shaw in examining and testing the probational members, such as Cordelia Frost and Archangel (the latter eventually turned down the offer). There was one person that Shinobi absolutely wanted for his Inner Circle, the X-Man Storm, and he drugged her into allying with him. As Shaw presented Storm to the other members of the Inner Circle, two other X-Men, Gambit and Bishop, intervened to save her. The Black Queen showed to be not someone to shy away from a battle, and she used her sonic powers to disorient and confuse the attackers, leaving them defenseless. She had, however, tragically underestimated Gambit’s acrobatic skills, honed with the Thieves Guild and mastered to perfection: even if dizzy, Gambit managed to charge a coin with kinetic energy, and to throw it with absolute precision at Reeva, stunning her with the small resulting explosion. At the same time, Storm broke Shaw’s control on her, and she defeated what remained of the new Inner Circle, later rejoining her teammates and leaving. After that defeat, the new Inner Circle didn’t last long, especially because the original Black King Sebastian Shaw turned out to be alive and well, and ready to resume power: he claimed back his title and position, and formed a new Inner Circle to replace his son’s one. The brief reign of Reeva Payge as the Black Queen was already over.

Reeva Payge is an overly ambitious woman, ready to embrace violence and manipulation to get to her goals. As the Black Queen, she possesses the mutant ability to create with her vocal cords a note inaudible to the human ear, but capable of distorting balance and reality perception by messing with the brain’s chemistry. A woman with all the wealth, influence and power needed to obtain whatever she wants, Reeva Payge is more than willing to put all her resources at use to climb the ladder… and as many steps she has to make, she has enough skill to make it to the top.

Elizabeth Sherman

With Emy H we meet today the girlfriend and later wife of Hellboy, at least in the movie continuity: Elizabeth “Liz” Sherman, portrayed by Selma Blair. In the first movie, she’s a retired B.P.R.D. agent deadly afraid of her own pyrokinetic abilities, as she can’t control them and constantly risks to burn everyone around her to ashes (something that turns out pretty useful, as she pulverizes the ever-resurrecting Sammael). She’s manipulated by Rasputin to come back to action, as she’s one of the keys to resurrect the Ogdru-Jahad. In Hellboy II: The Golden Army, she got married with Hellboy after years of courting, and she’s even expecting baby twins from him, in the promise of a family tainted by an obscure prophecy of the Angel of Death, and that would have been deepened in a never realized third and final chapter. In the comics, she’s indeed a powerful incendiary, but she doesn’t have romantic ties with Hellboy, and she’s quite older than her movie counterpart. Let’s see together.

Elizabeth Sherman was born in Kansas City, Kansas, on April 15, 1962. She was raised in a Catholic family, and it’s mainly because of this that, when she was ten and her pyrokinesis started to manifest with small fires, she believed they were the results of her sins, and tried to keep them secret. With sheer force of will and a lot of prayer, Liz kept her growing powers under control, until she believed to have made them disappear for good. This turned out to be tragically wrong in June 1973: she was attending to a neighbor’s birthday, along with her parents and her little brother. Among the kids at the party, there was one who was particularly annoying, and who kept pulling her ponytails… until he pulled too hard, and Liz unconsciously answered to the pain with a massive burst of fire, that destroyed an entire city block and killed thirty-two people, including her family. When the firefighters intervened, they found only the eleven-years old girl, “miraculously” unarmed, in the midst of ashes, burnt skeletons and what little remained of the houses. Also the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense was there, and asked to take custody of the girl, perfectly understanding what she was and what she was capable of, but Liz’s extended family didn’t believe in paranormal phenomena, and they obtained custody instead. The decision wasn’t the best one, as Liz grew more and more depressed, as she caused fires unwillingly, and her relatives moved her from one to another constantly. Eventually, in May 1974, even her relatives gave up and, afraid of her destructive abilities and overall convinced of their reality, delivered her to the B.P.R.D., under condition that her well-being was preserved. The B.P.R.D. scientists took her in and studied her powers, but the girl was kept in constant isolation, with only researchers in fire-proof suits being allowed to approach her. She wasn’t allowed physical contact, and barely had snippets of conversation once a week. Understandably, she grew more and more depressed, believing herself to be a curse to the world. Then she knew Hellboy.

Hellboy was a large red demon who seemed to come directly out of Liz’s imagination of Hell… but he was also the kindest man she had met in the B.P.R.D. yet, and he came to her offering a lollipop, just to break the ice. The two became friends, and Hellboy helped her in accepting herself and into adjusting to her new life, so that she came out of her depression and started to open up also with the scientists, who in the following years helped her in learning how to control her abilities. Hellboy became some sort of a big brother for her, and everytime he came back from a mission, he always visited her to tell her the story. Hellboy wanted Liz to come out of the Bureau and see some world, and Professor Bruttenholm finally agreed to that, bringing the girl along with himself to a mission in Massachusetts, in 1976. The two had been called to exorcise the spirit of a woman who had been executed centuries before as a witch, and Liz ended up empathizing with her, not believing she was guilty. Unfortunately, the woman had indeed been a witch, and she tried to possess Liz to exact her revenge. Bruttenholm and the local priest managed to exorcise the witch, saving Liz and the village, and Liz came back home with a little more experience of what it meant being an agent for the Bureau… as well as with a romantic story behind her back, as she had formed a close bond with a local boy, Teddy, and shared with him her first kiss. Back to the Bureau, she committed herself even more in learning how to control her powers, and she finally forgave herself (almost) for killing her family and all those other people. She even re-embraced her lost faith, and started wearing her cross again. Finally, in 1980, upon reaching legal adulthood, she chose to remain in the Bureau, and she became a full agent… but she still tended to lose control in stressful situation, putting at risk the lives of her colleagues. This policy frustrated her, and she left the B.P.R.D.. Then she returned. And left again. Then she returned. Between 1980 and 1994, she quit and came back for a total of twelve times. No matter how much she fought with her superiors and the other agents: apparently, she had finally found a new family she didn’t want to stay without.

Liz Sherman is a broken woman who’s slowly and laboriously putting her pieces back together, trying to forgive herself for what she is and for what she’s (unwillingly) done, and to start her life anew, albeit with all the frailty and the unbalance she’ll always carry along. She’s an extremely powerful pyrokinetic, able to create and control flames, to wrap herself in a protective fiery cocoon, to fly using fire and, after an intense training with monks who taught her how to control her abilities through meditation, even to turn her entire body into living flames; she’s also an extremely skilled hand-to-hand combatant, having been trained as an operative since she was eleven. Just as powerful as she is volatile, Liz Sherman lives her powers as a curse, a force she can barely control which determines her life and her own nature… but it’s only by embracing them fully that she can finally start that new life she’s been looking for for so long.

Deacon Frost

With Emy H we move to Blade, meeting the movie’s big bad: Deacon Frost, the arrogant, young vampire portrayed by Stephen Dorff. In the movie, he’s an ambitious vampire who seeks to break all the rules of cohabitation with humans and use people as cattle for blood-suckers, and means to do that by fusing with the ancient vampire god La Magra. He kills the ruling House of Erebus and accomplishes the fusion, but he’s killed by his unwilling creation… Blade, of course. In the comics, he’s indeed the one responsible for Blade’s vampirism, as well as a ruler-wannabe who moves against the top of the vampire chain of command, but he’s much older in appearance, and has quite a unique characteristic that differentiates him from all other vampires; he even becomes a god, but very different from La Magra. Let’s see together.

Deacon Frost was born in Lindau, Germany, in the first years of the XIX Century. He studied chemistry all his life, and became a respected and renowned scientist, but the limits of his time’s science deeply disturbed him, as he felt that, with the right researches, man could obtain the key to immortality. Like a modern Faust, Frost studied forbidden fields and even the ones that could be ascribed to magic rather than to science, but this interest for occultism eventually repaid him: he discovered the existence of vampires, a cursed breed of humans who were in fact immortal, albeit with a number of counter-effects. In 1863, when he was already an elderly man, Frost finally put his hands on something he had been looking for: the blood of a recently deceased vampire, to be used in his experiments. Rushing things, being so close to the solution he’d been seeking for so many years, Frost kidnapped a girl, one Ilsa, and dragged her to his lab, with the intention of injecting her with the vampire blood and see what happened (if, that is, he managed to turn somebody into a vampire with all the ups and none of the downs). Things didn’t go exactly as planned, though, as Ilsa had a boyfriend who wasn’t happy at all that his beloved was being used for the progression of science. The young man broke into the lab and attacked Frost, and during their struggle it was the scientist the one who ended up with a syringe in his arm. The vampire blood did change him, but he was a one of a kind vampire, as he soon realized: he had inherited all the race’s weaknesses, such as sunlight, silver, holy symbols, wooden stakes and, of course, the crippling blood-thirst, but he had one weird power to sum up to the many ones of a regular vampire. Every time he bit someone, in fact, he created a doppelganger of the victim, a mindless soldier he could telepathically control. The potentiality was infinite: with this power, he could have created an army to challenge Dracula himself for the title of Vendaaga, the Lord of Vampires.

During the following decades, Deacon Frost built his power to move war on Dracula, obviously gaining a number of enemies in the process: not only he had to face other vampires who were loyal to Dracula, but also human vampire hunters, in particular the shady Order of Tyrana. Still making his experiments with vampirism, Frost summed duty with pleasure in 1929 as he took his revenge on one of the Order’s most prominent members, Lucas Cross, by assaulting his wife, Tara Brooks, biting her as she was in labor. Once again, the effects of this “experiment” were totally unpredictable, as the baby was born as a human-vampire hybrid, a Dhampir. Frost tried to kill the baby, but he was sent away right before he managed: he had, however, killed Tara, exacting revenge on his enemy. The baby, Eric, grew up to become one of his most formidable enemies, but he wouldn’t have been alone in hunting for him: years later Eric, now the vampire-hunter known as Blade, joined forces with Hannibal King, a former private eye whom Frost had bitten and turned into a vampire. The two were quite deadly together, but Deacon Frost found a way to use the situation to his own advantage, as Blade and King had moved against Dracula as well. During one of the Vendaaga’s gatherings, Frost used two of his Blade and King doppelgangers to crush the party, making everyone believe they were the original ones. He assisted from the crowd to the battle, enjoying the moment when the fake Blade stabbed Dracula in the back… but the Lord of Vampires didn’t flinch, as he mocked the copy’s inferior abilities to the original, and slew him. With his attack failed and his cards seen, Deacon Frost escaped, and laid low for a while; he even created doppelgangers of himself to distract the attention of the ones pursuing him, a tactic that actually succeeded, as Blade and Hannibal King killed a clone, while Dracula killed yet another one. Soon, of course, the real one would have popped up once again, ready to resume his old ways…

Deacon Frost is a brilliant yet evil man, a scientific genius and a magic practitioner obsessed with reaching immortality, and disposed to kill any number of innocents he deems necessary (and that’s quite a lot…) to achieve his goal. As a vampire, he possesses superhuman strength, speed, durability, agility and stamina, enhanced senses, immortality, an accelerated healing factor (as long as he’s not wounded by silver or impaled with a wooden stick), as well as the ability so shapeshift in bat, wolf or mist and to hypnotize people; unlike all other vampires, he creates a doppelganger anytime he bites a victim, a clone that instantly becomes his mindless servant; he’s also a skilled swordsman, and for a short time he received demonic powers from the demon Nezaral. An ambitious assassin who (literally) wants to bite on more than he can chew, Deacon Frost declared war to his kin and humans alike, a war that he truly thinks he can win… and he may have some chance, actually.

Langdon Everett Caul/Abraham Sapien

Emy H wants to celebrate Guillermo Del Toro‘s victory at this year’s Oscar Night (quite late, but we don’t mind), so in the next days we’ll deal with the two franchises he’s worked with: Blade for Marvel and Hellboy for Dark Horse. You can already find some of the characters by clicking on the respective categories, but there are many remaining: let’s start with a co-protagonist in Hellboy and Hellboy II: The Golden Army, the amphibious Abraham “Abe” Sapien, portrayed by the great Doug Jones (and voiced in the first one by David Hyde Pierce). In the movie, he’s an esteemed agent of B.P.R.D., who risks his life dealing with the demon Sammael. In the second one, he’s deepened a bit, as he falls in love with the Elf Princess Nuala, and ends up helping his evil brother Nuada to have her life saved. One of the best characters in the movies, he’s also one of the best in the comics, albeit quite different (to say one thing, his body is not surely “a temple” as in the films, as he shares with Hellboy his passion for cigars). Let’s see together.

Abe was born Langdon Everett Caul, and was born in the first half of the XIX Century. He lived in Littleport, Rhode Island, along with his wife Edith Howard. Langdon was a passionate scientist, a genius who wanted to know the mysteries of the world, and for this he often neglected Edith, who was emotionally unstable and fell in regular depressions. Caul’s studies brought him to the Oannes Society, a group of mystics, scientists and historians who believed that all knowledge had come from the sea in ancient times, and that it was the sea that would have given them all the answers they sought. Caul joined them, and with them he discovered an underwater temple, that contained a jellyfish-like living being, some sort of minor deity from primeval times. The deity had curled into itself in the shape of an egg, in some kind of self-hibernation, and it was found like this by the members of the Society, who decided to use it for one of their rituals. Caul brought the egg to the Society’s headquarters, in Washington D.C., under St. Trinian’s Hospital. Here, things didn’t go exactly as planned, as it wasn’t enlightenment the thing that was waiting for Caul: he was holding the egg in his hand during the ceremony, and it crumbled to dust in the middle of it. In that moment, the man witnessed a monstrous creature staring at him in the hall, but it was invisible to anyone but him: he believed it to be an evil spirit come to punish him for what he had done, but it was actually his future self’s spirit visiting his own, forgotten past. As soon as he spotted the creature, Caul started to change, as his body mutated into something different, something old: a man-fish hybrid, still in a larval state. The other scientists believed him to be Oannes, the fishman sent by the gods to deliver knowledge to humans. They locked him in a tube of water, in the lab, waiting for his body to complete its evolution. It was 1864, and the American Civil War was at its end. The Oannes Society, apparently, got involved in the murder of President Lincoln, and they had to abandon the site as they were on the run. The creature, which they named Ichtyo Sapien, remained in the underground lab for more than a century.

It was November 1978 when the water tube with the creature inside was found by a group of plumbers, still hidden beneath St. Trinian’s Hospital. The body was by then fully developed, but the workmen clearly had no idea of what they were looking at: there was just a label reading “Ichtyo Sapien. April 14, 1865“. The discovery was soon covered by the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, and the creature was taken into the organization’s lab. Uniting the last name of the creature’s species and the date reported on the label (the same of Lincoln’s assassination), Caul’s was renamed Abraham Sapien: he was still comatose, and completely unresponsive to any attempt of awakening him, so that the B.P.R.D. scientists weren’t even sure he was a sentient being. While studying him, they were about to vivisect him… luckily, with a proper dose of electroshock, Abe Sapien finally woke up. He didn’t remember anything of his past life, and didn’t even know where he came from, but he actually had memories of the time he was unconscious, discussions about his vivisection included. The experiments didn’t stop because he was vigilant, quite the opposite, they continued for a period of time that Abe would have remembered as a “nightmare”. The experiments did stop the moment one of the operative agents, Hellboy, stepped in, and ordered them to stop, feeling empathetic with the creature. Abe Sapien was let out of his tube, quite disoriented… and surprised everybody with speaking a perfectly fluent English, apparently remembering the language rather than learning it anew. Abe Sapien stayed in the Bureau, and he immediately befriended his savior, Hellboy. It was the latter who, some time later, managed to convince Professor Bruttenholm to allow Abe to accompany him and Liz Sherman in field operations, so that he could see the world outside; by June 1979, Abe Sapien had showed his prowess enough to convince Bruttenholm to make him an operative at all effects, becoming Hellboy’s usual partner. Seeing the world, Abe realized he was different from all the other people around, and he started concealing his appearance behind a large hat, sunglasses and a fake beard… but all the disguises in the world would have never answered the question about his true origins, that kept haunting him.

The late (sort of) Langdon Everett Caul is a man (sort of) with the intellect of a genius and a heart of gold, curious about everything, with an extensive knowledge about pretty much any topic, terribly insecure about his own appearance (albeit this trait gradually disappeared). As Abe Sapien, the only known Ichtyo Sapien, he’s amphibian, being able to breathe both on land and underwater, though he needs to come back in water every week; he’s a superb swimmer, as well as an excellent marksman and hand-to-hand fighter; it’s likely that his new body is simply incapable of dying, as he’s been declared dead for mortal wounds at least twice, but always healed and came back to life, and he apparently doesn’t age. Once obsessed with learning who he was before being found by B.P.R.D., the more Abe Sapien discovers about Langdon Caul, the more he thinks he’s happy being who he is now: a monster, maybe, but one with friends who love him for who he is, and with a life worth living, in which he constantly has the chance to help others.

Frederick Christopher Freeman (Captain Marvel Jr.)

At last, after long waiting, we have our first official pic from the upcoming Shazam!, and it features the titular hero having a soda with his best buddy Freddy Freeman. Freddy, portrayed by Jack Dylan Grazer, will be a comicbook geek who becomes Billy Batson‘s best friend in his new foster home, as well as the only one to know that he’s secretly Captain Marvel. In the comics, Freddy is much more than Billy’s friend, as he eventually becomes his partner in crime as Captain Marvel Jr., one of the founding members of the Marvel Family. He’s been present in every incarnation of the hero, but as usual, the one that follows is his bio from New Earth.

Freddy Freeman was born in a small fishing village in New England, the son of David and Rebecca Freeman. He grew up with his foster brother, Timothy Karnes, but unbeknownst to him he had yet another brother, Christopher, who for some unspecified reason grew up far away from home. When he was still a kid, both David and Rebecca drowned during a storm, and Freddy was entrusted to his paternal grandfather, Jacob, who took him in in his house in Fawcett City (Timothy, on the other side, was reinserted in the fostering program and sent away). As grumpy as he may have been, Jacob Freeman became a father figure for Freddy, and the boy was dearly attached to his grandpa. Then, Freddy grew up, and as a teenager he attended the Binder School. Here, the boy blossomed, and became a school superstar: not only he had top grades, he was also a star athlete and one of the most popular students in the entire school. He was friends with Billy Batson, a boy reporter for WHIZ Radio, and he had a crush on Billy’s sister, Mary Bromfield. His life was simply great… until he and his grandfather decided to take a moment for themselves and go fishing in the Fawcett Bay, just like they did back in the old days in the village. This didn’t turned out to be a great idea: that day, the local superheroes Captain Marvel and Mary Marvel were facing one of their most powerful enemies, Captain Nazi, and the battle moved to the Bay. Marvel knocked Nazi in the lake with a punch, but the two fishermen, seeing a caped figure falling in the waters, mistook him for the hero, and attempted to rescue him. Not grateful at all, Captain Nazi attacked them both, killing Jacob and severely wounding Freddy. Captain Marvel, fearing for his friend, rushed him to a hospital, letting Captain Nazi escape. The doctors didn’t give the hero many hopes: Freddy’s leg was shattered, and his spine was gravely damaged. He would have never walked again.

Freddy Freeman’s life as a star athlete was just vanishing, but Captain and Mary Marvel had one last solution to try out: they flew their friend to the Rock of Eternity, asking for the wizard Shazam‘s help. The wizard couldn’t do anything to restore the boy’s health, but he suggested Captain Marvel to share his power with him; Billy did just that, and as soon as Freddy spelled the words “Captain Marvel” he turned into a younger and less powerful version of the hero, who became known as Captain Marvel Jr. (not that he liked the “junior” thing much). As Freddy Freeman, he would have never been able to walk again, but as Captain Marvel Jr. he was perfectly able to move… even to fly. The excitement for the new powers faded immediately, as he realized that his beloved grandpa was dead. In a fit of rage, the newborn Captain Marvel Jr. left the Rock of Eternity, and started a manhunt to find Captain Nazi. Caught by surprise, the villain was defeated by Freddy, and only Mary Marvel’s intervention prevented the boy from killing him. Captain Marvel Jr. (who, soon after, started to be called CM3 in order not to trigger his transformation during battles, being left helpless) became an integral part of the Marvel Family, and accompanied Captain Marvel (CM1) and Mary Marvel (CM2) in many of their adventures… but then his crush on Mary resurfaced, and he insistently tried to make a move on her. This attitude eventually created conflict with Captain Marvel, and the trio broke up. Freddy left Fawcett City altogether, and he moved to New York City, trying to start anew. Here, he didn’t stop being a hero, quite the opposite, and he ended up saving Supergirl and Fringe from the mysterious alien race known as the Veil. By doing this, he teamed up with the new Teen Titans, who offered him membership. His relationship with the team was good, and he even started a half-romance with teammate Argent, but his roots were elsewhere, and he knew it well. Maybe it was finally time to come back to Fawcett and make amends with his best friend…

Freddy Freeman is pretty much the stereotypical jock, a young man who feels like the whole world is his to play with, and who tries to find the funny thing about everything (usually annoying anyone around him). As Captain Marvel Jr., speaking the words “Captain Marvel” he obtains a fraction of the hero’s powers: the wisdom of Solomon, that grants him extensive knowledge of languages, science and history; the strength of Hercules; the endurance of Atlas, that makes him virtually invulnerable; the power of Zeus, that grants him mastership over lightning and immunity from magic; the courage of Achilles, that also bestows upon him the hero’s fighting skills; and the speed of Mercury, that allows him to move faster than light and to fly. An immensely powerful hero who hides behind his cape a terribly fragile boy, Captain Marvel Jr. has all the arrogance and impetuousness of youth, but he knows weakness and exclusion first-handedly, thus he quells his strength with a compassion second to no one.