As genre fans are well aware, authors/creators sometimes like to experiment with alternate timelines, mirror universes, and the like. Marvel and DC Comics do this all the time. It allows them to explore “What if?” scenarios, where key events went differently in world history and/or in the lives of certain heroes and villains. Sometimes they give familiar characters different abilities or put them in a different location or time period. Or, sometimes the stories involve familiar surroundings or thematic parallels but with a whole new cast of characters. (“Familiar Names, Unfamiliar Heroes.”)
I would be willing to bet that a fair number of you have come up with ideas of this sort, and, of course, I am no different. Some time ago, I began developing ideas for three familiar-yet-very different teams of heroes, which I return to from time to time. Just as the Fantastic Four were inspired by Challengers of the Unknown, this first team — “Tetras” — is based on the Fantastic Four. Mostly. In a nutshell, it is a self-funded band of explorers/adventurers headquartered at an underground base below a mansion in upstate New York. If they sound a little familiar, it is because I mentioned them in a “From the Mind of Mr. Zeus” post.
The members are…
Civ. Name: Thomas Leonard Carrington IV, 39
Occup./Bkgrd: physicist (multiple sub-disciplines) and engineer
Eth./Ntnlty: British(/Russian) expatriate living in America
Ht./Wt.: 6’7″ – 8’2″, 470 – 900+ lbs. (6’7″ is his normal height; he was about 215 lbs. before the disease brought him down to about 130 lbs. (from slender to skeletal))
Powers/Skills: He possesses both a super-genius IQ and superhuman strength (press 5-10 tons). Due to his size and personality, he can also be quite intimidating in person, even when not exercising his abilities.
Comments: Carrington comes from a very “well-heeled” British family. His Russian mother died when he was 5, his father remarried (an Italian artist) when he was 14, and his half-brother came along shortly thereafter. He was incredibly smart & industrious, earning two doctorates by age 23, but socially immature (partly due to a superiority complex). By age 30, he had earned quite a bit of notoriety as a maverick physicist, and a handful of patents (for inventions made in his “off time”) increased his fortunes, paying for his private, subterranean lab (including a small supercollider). He then developed a degenerative disease, his body wasting away while his mind remained as lucid & brilliant as ever, resulting in the proud scientist becoming a recluse. Since the accident that transformed the members of Tetras, his already amazing IQ has increased, while his frail body has become large & muscular and looks somewhat like artistic renderings of what Neanderthal man may have looked like, but much bigger — think DC’s Blockbuster or Marvel’s Mr. Hyde. Under normal circumstances, he can pass for a taller-than-average bodybuilder. Under highly stressful conditions or when very angry or frustrated, he can mentally trigger a temporary growth spurt up to 8+ ft. tall and nearly 1/2 a ton, which also effectively doubles his already prodigious strength. Unfortunately, a side-effect of the physical and biochemical toll this transformation takes on his body is that it also dumbs him down to a “mere” 120 IQ while “hulked out”.
Civ. Name: Alethea “Allie” Brown, 29
Occup./Bkgrd: personal physician and research assistant to Dr. Thomas L. Carrington
Ht./Wt.: 5’9.5″, 135 lbs.
Powers/Skills: Allie’s ability to absorb and control large amounts of cosmic energy allows her to project this energy in blasts from her extremities, either offensively or to fly — or, with great effort & for a brief time, both. She was quite unsure of herself and her abilities when she first gained them, but her confidence has grown, and she now enjoys experimenting and testing her limits.
Comments: When Allie Brown first moved into the Carrington Estate to care for Thomas, she found the arrogant physicist to be both pitiful and maddening. Fortunately, she is a very patient and compassionate person. However, not only did she respect his incredible accomplishments, but over time she became fascinated with his towering intellect and the way he sometimes gained sudden insights, even into scientific disciplines where he did not specialize. She was surprised when he asked her to extend her responsibilities and become his research assistant. Since the failed experiment that mutated the four of them, giving them extraordinary superhuman abilities, Allie and Thomas have grown increasingly close. They have even developed romantic feelings toward one another, though neither would admit it.
Codename: Chameleon Kid
Civ. Name: Ramon “Ray” Alessandro Carrington (Thomas’s half-brother), 24
Ht./Wt.: 5’10”, 160 lbs.
Powers/Skills: Ray’s organo-crystalline body can be reconfigured into different shapes & textures. The diffraction of light around him which has a chameleon-like effect, allowing him to “blend” into his surroundings. He also possesses superhuman durability and the ability to absorb, “record”, and/or replay or redirect various frequencies on the electromagnetic spectrum.
Comments: A fun-loving, spoiled rich kid, Ray is bright, with a Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. But, he can’t keep a job, because he is irresponsible and tends to bore easily.
Civ. Name: Christopher Vassar Blake, 35
Occup./Bkgrd: ex-Army Ranger (Sgt.); ex-black ops; personal bodyguard for Dr. Thomas L. Carrington and head of security for the Carrington Estate (inc. the lab)
Eth./Ntnlty: American (caucasian) fr. South Carolina
Ht./Wt.: 6’2″, 215 lbs.
Powers/Skills: He has the ability to temporarily merge/phase(?) his body with nearby rock, soil, mud, and metals and exert control over them (like Image’s Grunge). While doing so, he can choose to maintain a human form or some other form (e.g., rockface, pool of mud, pile/layer of dirt, etc.) However, those elements are still subject to normal laws of physics (e.g., rock cannot bend, nor can he change his physical state without the regular requirements of temperature, pressure, etc.). He exerts some form of self-directed telekinesis to move in these forms. He possesses limited invulnerability to projectiles while merged, though some energies may cause him to melt or fuse. From his military and intelligence training, he has expertise with various firearms & demolitions, as well as intelligence-gathering and associated technologies. He has also reached first-level Expert (E1) rating in Krav Maga.
Comments: Blake was briefly part of an unnamed intelligence agency’s black-ops squad before being discharged for insubordination, then hired by Carrington. He has a slight temper problem, but it usually only surfaces when something goes badly due to poor intel or (what he considers) incompetence.
Civ. Name: Jasper Binghamton Wellesley, 40
Occup./Bkgrd: Originally hired as Carrington’s butler/chauffeur shortly before his disease manifested, Wellesley soon became Carrington’s personal assistant. They developed an odd friendship and Wellesley was eventually promoted to head of household staff.
Ht./Wt.: 5’9″, 150 lbs.
Powers/Skills: Trained as a 4th generation “gentleman’s gentleman” to British high-society, Wellesley has a wide range of training, including nursing, cooking, tailoring, defensive driving, as well as additional training in firearms, wilderness survival, and various emergency conditions. He is very efficient, thorough, and an effective manager of personnel.
Comments: Though not technically a member of the Tetras team (else they’d have to rename themselves “Pentas”), he is valued and well-liked by all, and his unofficial roles often include confidant and peacemaker. Ray Carrington insists on calling him “J.B.”, which annoys Wellesley, but he tolerates it. Essentially, the character is a cross between Batman’s Alfred and the Avengers’ Jarvis.
There ya go! Comments?
Not thrilled with the name “Tetras”, but it’ll do until I come up with something better. (Your suggestions are welcome.) I enjoyed doing a bit of mix-n-match with quasi-familiar powers & appearances. Throwing in a British “butler” as an unofficial fifth member was fun, too. I still need to flesh out my other two teams a bit, but I’ll introduce you to them down the road, eventually.
‘Til next week…
* All ideas copyright Christopher Harris, 2013-2016.