Word-Building 1#: The Supervillainy-verse

Hey folks,

I’ve decided to do something cool and that’s do articles on my various universes. World-building is the key to making my novels work and sharing background information about what goes into the settins is something I thought my fans would enjoy. Each article will go into discussion about one of the worlds and its history as well as how they are currently set up. My long history of being a tabletop roleplaying gamer was a big infuence on my writing style and a lot of that depended on the awesome supplements people did.

I’m going to start with, unsurprisingly, The Supervillainy-verse that is my most popular work.

The Setting

The Supervillainy-verse is my homage to comic books everywhere and meant to be the kind of place that combines dozens of different genres together. It is a place where there is fantasy, science fiction, crime, horror, and more going on at any given time. Much like the comic book universes of Marvel and DC comics, it is a place where literally anything can happen and frequently does.

The funny thing is that, despite being a comedy series, I try to keep the world consistent and serious. It’s a parody of superhero settings but the best kind of parodies are also good examples of the work in question. I may poke fun at some of the weirdness that goes onto your typical comic book universe but I also try to keep it at least vaguely plausible. A world can have any rules you like but once you establish those rules, you have to follow them.

The Supervillainy-verse is set in what I term to be “The Twilight of the Superheroes.” Superheroes have existed for almost a century in the setting and have fought off countless evils threatening the people of Earth-A (Gary’s planet in the multiverse). However, Gary has the misfortune of becoming Merciless as the system is sort of breaking down.

Weirdly, it’s a bit similar to Red Dead Redemption with the idea of John Marsden coming back to the Old West right as the age of cowboys and gunslingers is ending. In Gary’s case, he’s a supervillain when the public has become sick of both heroes as well as villains. The never-ending conflict between good and evil has worn thin. There is a reckoning coming and how its going to settle down is anyone’s guess. Gary as the Wild Card between supervillains, humans, and superheroes makes him uniquely able to slip things one way or the other.

Or so he thinks.

The ‘Double Anarchy’ seal of Merciless.

History

The Supervillainy-verse was created by beings called the Primals in the early distant epoches of the Multiverse. Fragments of a greater creator being, the eight beings of Creation, Destruction, Chaos, Order, Death, Life, Conflict, and Balance. They are beyond omnipotent and have created the multiverse as it’s known to both amuse themselves as well as explore their concepts. Opposing them are the Great Beasts, seven (or more) beings made of concepts banned from reality in order to give physical laws substance. Zul-Barbas is the most famous of these things, inspiring many culture’s concept of the Devil and H.P. Lovecraft’s idea of the Great Old Ones.

The first race to evolve would be the god-like Ultranians (or “Firstborn”) who would exist for billions of years, bestowing superpowers on various races and creating the celestial networks of magic. The Ultranians themselves strongly resembled human beings despite being made of energy and would influence many cultures’ ideas of gods and goddesses. They also revered the Ultra-Force, that was the physical manifestation of the greater universe.

Much of Earth’s history remains the same with sorcerers, monsters, gods, and heroes being background noise for the greater conflicts of the world. New nations were born, hidden cultures, and things were slightly different in places (like the occasional cowboy vs. ninjas plot) but things didn’t really change forever until the arrival of Ultragod.

Moses Anders, an African American astronomer, was chosen by the Primals to merge with the Ultra-Force and became Ultragod. It bestowed upon him immense reality-bending powers that he chose to present to the world as similar to recently published comics of the time. Meanwhile, ex-cop Lancel Warren studied magic after the death of his wife and child and became the Nightwalker. Other heroes during this time were Aquarius, the Americommando (later the Prismatic Commando), Gold Medalist, Tank Man (later Android John), and Guinevere.

WW2 would go dramatically differently as Ultragod would attempt to stop it in its tracks by capturing Stalin and Hitler both. The Third Reich was instead taken over by the Supreme Phantom and a cabal of supervillains who were even more dangerous. The Soviet Union would be ruled by a council that proved more effective than Stalin, eventually headed by the Red Star for decades to come.

Before the defeat of the Nazis, Tom Terror and other high-ranking Axis superhumans would create P.H.A.N.T.O.M as a way to preserve their power as well as research into both the occult as well as super-science. The organization had also attempted to sell the Earth to the Thran Empire, explaining how they held out against the Allies for so long.

After the defeat of the Nazis, the United Governments (or U.G.) would rise to power and create the Foundation for World Harmony to hunt down superhuman terrorists and P.H.A.N.T.O.M. Countless brushfire conflicts would be fought between superhuman dictators, superpowered terrorist organizations, and even the occasional unexpected alien invasion.

The Society of Superheroes (S.O.S) would be fully formed in the 1960s in response to the first incursion by the Thran reptile men and Tsavong shapeshifters. The Vietnam War would be fought in three parts with the third one resulting in an international treaty banning the use of superhumans in wartime. It was during this time that Aquarius became King of Atlantis and ended that underwater kingdom’s belligerence against the surface.

The 1980s saw a massive spike in the number of the world’s superhumans with magical and superhuman abilities appearing naturally among the populace. This resulted in the creation of the Texas Guardians who masterminded the first “boot camp” and “prestige academy” for superhumans. It also resulted in the appearance of Ultragoddess, the daughter of Ultragod, who was the icon for the next generation of heroes even as a child. It also resulted in the label Supers as a distinct ethnic group that many regular humans (“Mundanes”) saw as threatening.

The 1990s proved a disaster for superheroes as sinister luchadore Diabloman killed multiple members of the Texas Guardians, forced the universe to be rebooted, and exposed heroes as vulnerable. Insane SWAT officer Theodore Whitman a.k.a. Shoot-Em-Up went on a multiple state killing spree against retired or paroled supervillains, inspiring numerous copycats until he was killed by an unknown assailent (actually 14-year-old Gary Karkofsky in order to avenge his brother).

Ruthless murder-happy antiheroes emerged like the Extreme! and Bloodscream the Retributive that the public initially embraced then rejected when it turned out some were white supremecists or outright supervillains themselves. The end of the Dark Age of Superheroes was official with the election of Android John as President, the country’s first superhuman president. Android John was the world’s first artificial being and his election sparked their acceptance as people as a matter of course.

The 21st century has proven a decline for superheroes as the War on Terror proved the governments of the world no longer wanted superhumans involved in global conflicts. The exception would be the Ultragoddess founded the Shadow Seven. The Shadow Seven incorporated semi-reformed supervillains and minor superheroes in covert ops against the worst of humanity against international law. Its illegality and the potential for blowback helped convince Ultragoddess to end her engagement to her fiance Gary Karkofsky.

The only supervillain to ever destroy reality. It got better.

The construction of powered armor, cybernetic enhancements, and artificial Supers became a major concern. Omega Corporation rose to power in this time, reverse engineering superhuman power and technology for the public. Running on a campaign of anti-Super vitriol and promises of a new America, Charles Omega became President of the United States. Rumors of mind-control, voter fraud, and threats dogged his campaign. The Society of Superheroes worked delicately around him even as he privately prepared to build a country without superheroes.

But it all came to a head when the Nightwalker, over a hundred years old, finally died.

Cities

Like DC comics, there are many fictional cities in the setting that have the unique advantage of being places you can blow up and turn to zombie-filled hellholes without affecting the real deals.

Atlas City: Atlas City is a metropolis located in central Florida that is considered to be the City of Tomorrow Today. It was originally a relatively minor city in the 1930s, being little more than a small town, when Ultragod’s influence attracted millions of citizens to come live there. It is now an epicenter of technological development, interstellar trade, and space exploration. The city has a dark side despite being the source of the United States’ pan-stellar wealth. It is home to massive slums of refugees, aliens unwanted in the rest of the country, and Supers. Crime has been on the rise due to its protectors being unable to regulate it and there is a conflict with P.H.A.N.T.O.M based hate groups. The most recognizable landmark of the city is the Observatory, which is Ultragod’s alien-built fortress where he and his daughter take time to rest their minds.

Falconcrest City: A city along the Canadian border and Lake Falconcrest, Falconcrest City is literally cursed. It is a city founded in the 17th century by French fur trappers who slaughtered a cult of Satan-worshiping Englishmen with the help of Native American tribesmen. Unfortunately, the trappers built a city over their twisted labyrinth base that would affect the metropolis for centuries to come. The city has art deco skyscrapers, gargoyles on every building, huge towering cathedrals, and slums where insanity seems infectious. The city’s colorful criminals are empowerd by eldrtich energies and terrible ceremonies are performed by the Brotherhood of Infamy every month. The Nightwalker kept the worst of these villains in check but his death due to old age threatens to change everything.

The second Nightwalker.

New Angeles: Gary’s old stomping grounds, New Angeles was constructed on the ruins of Los Angeles after Atlanteans attacked the city during World War 2. New Angeles is every bit as rich, glamorous, and gritty as its predecessor city would have been. Much of the city has been rebuilt with Atlantean reparations, though, and there is a decided marine feel to many parts of it. It is also one of the few cities with a good chunk of it underwater (and thriving). The city has a unique relationship with its supervillains as they tend to be considered local folk heroes as often as enemies of the public.

As such, there’s the “Villains Code” where they attempt to minimize collateral damage and keep out the worst of their kind. The city is protected by the Silver Medalist and Bronze Medalist, a pair of superheroes that were among the first queer superheroes to come out. While some criticized their former mentor-sidekick relationship, they are generally beloved by the public.

New Avalon: One of humanity’s greatest achievements, New Avalon is a city built on the surface of the moon and serves as a city of twenty thousand people living in artificial gravity as well as an artificial environment under the Society of Superheroes’ protection. It is also, unfortunately, home to the world’s most terrible prisoners that the Earth has effectively exiled to the prison here. Lunarians are disproportionately Supers and it is expected that many immigrate there in hopes of escaping the persecution on Earth.

Random Factoids

* Superhero comics are mostly historical in the setting. DC and Marvel comics have long since taken to publishing romance, pirate, fantasy, and Western comics instead. Yes, I stole this from Watchmen.

* Pop culture is largely unchanged despite the fact superheroes are almost completely absent. This doesn’t make any sense due to the influence of sequential art on other mediums but happened anyway.

* Soda still uses real sugar. Artificial sweeteners are a product of other realities.

* Earth is considered the equivalent of Afghanistan in the rest of the galaxy. Empires invade this small blue dot and get their asses kicked.

* Magic is known to exist but only a handful of people can learn more than to light matches with their mind. Frauds are every bit as common.

* Despite having a space port or two on the planet, very few aliens other than refugees and criminals come to Earth. It is too remote and disliked.

* The Tsavong have a colony on Venus despite its horrific atmosphere. They are on semi-good terms with Earth.

* Supervillain rap is a popular style of music.

* The Supervillainy-verse is part of a multiverse than includes my other universes.

* Technology is slightly more advanced in this world with the general public but getting its biggest advances approved is an ongoing legal slog.

* Dinosaurs are no longer extinct due to the discovery of the Hollow Earth and many zoos now feature them.

* Time travel has made reality somewhat flexible and sometimes the ages of people change as well as events. It hasn’t broken the universe yet. Yet.

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