Continuing from before, here is more extracurricular reading on the history of the world of Origin from the Roaring Twenties to the first superheroes and the beginning of World War II. It’s not required to understand the story, but it does fill out the world a bit. Who knows, there might even be clues to events yet to come…
World and U.S. History
The Great War is over. Boom times are here to stay as long as your name ain’t Germany. Science and Industry explode as superhuman minds are utilized as never before. Ancient ruins are unearthed in Egypt and elsewhere that show new evidence of superhuman activity across history. The world is an endless horizon and with flight now common, superhumans embark on pulp style adventures around the globe. But the good times won’t last forever.
1920- The Wall Street Bombing kills thirty people and injures hundreds more. It is believed that anarchists are to blame for the attack, but the case is never solved. East Coast intelligentsia fear that anarchism will overtake the world if nothing is done to stop it.
1921- Superhuman pilot Harold Sterling breaks the record for highest altitude flight in an open cockpit airplane, motivating other adventurers and heroes to make names for themselves by breaking barriers and reaching new heights both literal and metaphorical. Unsatisfied with their inactive lives, superhuman war veterans begin traveling the world in search of adventure as well as uncovering the secrets of the past, looking for answers to the superhuman condition. In Tulsa Oklahoma, race riots destroy what was dubbed the Black Wall Street after a young black man is accused of inappropriate groping of a white girl.
1922- The Teapot Dome Scandal, the biggest scandal in American History, is first uncovered by a Wyoming Oil operator. The scandal would rock the Harding administration and drag on in court for years. Scottish inventor John Logie Baird broadcasts television signals short distances and the Pioneer Instrument Company releases their perfected Earth inductor compass for general public use. In Egypt, Howard Carter discovers King Tut’s tomb, sparking Egyptomania in America.
1923- The G.I. Bill fails miserably and superhuman war vets feel even more alienated than before. Lacking funds, scores of them decide to take up treasure hunting and vigilantism. By now there are over two thousand known superhumans worldwide, up from their numbers after WWI. Four hundred of them are of Mexican descent, two hundred are American, and the rest come from all parts of the world. Some suspect the number of superhumans is much greater than being reported by various governments.
1924- Calvin Coolidge is elected President of the United States. He restores public confidence in the White House after the damage wrought by President Harding and Teapot Dome and even manages to secure aid for superhumans and war vets alike, stabilizing relations. The economy grows quickly under Coolidge’s watchful eye and the country experiences a boom like it’s never seen. Coolidge’s image is helped greatly by public relations guru and propaganda pioneer, Edward Bernays.
1925- The Great Race of Mercy, in which a team of superpowered huskies delivers vital diphtheria antitoxin to Nome, Alaska from Nenana in two and a half days, staving off an epidemic. This draws much attention to the nascent art of hyperbreeding and soon exotic pets of all kinds are being bred for the rich while super beasts of burden are made for the working class. The anemic and underfunded Bureau of Mystical Inquiry, under the Department of Justice, assumes jurisdiction of investigating magical relics from the Bureau of Investigation.
1926- A primitive punch card computer is developed by April LaRue. What is more remarkable is that she is only twelve years old when she does it. She becomes a sensation in Europe and is given invitations to many prestigious universities. Famed escape artist Harry Houdini dies after a university student punches him in the stomach, rupturing his appendix. The student had been trying to replicate Houdini’s steel stomach trick and didn’t know Houdini had to prepare his stomach muscles for the trick to work. What the public didn’t know was that the student had been sent by a magical secret society in order to end Houdini’s life as example to other “skeptics” of the magical artes.
1927- A 55 year old school board treasurer named Andrew Kehoe detonates a bomb which destroys the Bath Consolidated School in Bath Township, Michigan, killing one hundred and two people and injuring sixty more. Kehoe then blows himself up in his truck near where the survivors are gathered, killing a dozen more. What is recovered of the devices shows that it was designed by a brilliant scientific mind, which Kehoe did not reportedly possess. Was he aided in his attacks, or had he begun to exhibit a superhuman intellect? These questions are forever left unanswered. Super intelligence is more heavily scrutinized and genius level superhumans are kept under suspicious watch by authorities the world over.
1928- The stock market crashes and the worst economic downturn in history begins. The smartest minds in the world gather and try to figure a way out of the mess, but for all their prognostication, they are unprepared for the consequences of their actions, which in fact started them toward the road to economic collapse in the first place. As the Depression worsens, people turn to superhumans for inspiration and guidance for the first time in a decade, though anti-intellectualism hits an all-time high in response to so called “brainy” superhumans for their part in crashing the economy.
1929- Al Capone orders the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre. Three months later, he is arrested for “concealing deadly weapons” while in a court of law. The National Crime Syndicate is founded in Atlantic City and is made up of a multi-ethnic confederation of mobs and gangs from across the U.S.
The British Empire is failing and young dynamic powers smell blood in the water. Japan, Germany and America fuel their Imperial ambitions even as Depression roils world economies with instability. New alliances are struck as old powers are overthrown by energetic and idealistic political ideologies including Fascism and National Socialism. The world erupts into war once more despite the best efforts of diplomats and negotiators. The power hungry would not be denied. By decade’s end, Europe would be aflame with destruction and death while Asia silently suffered under the growing sphere of Japanese influence. The superheroes appear, combining the masked vigilantism of old with bright and colorful symbols which stand for truth and justice. Many become willing tools of propaganda in the war effort. Before long they are recognized as very effective weapons.
1930- Tobias Brighton invites three superhuman individuals to his Manhattan office to discuss the future of world events and what measures must be taken to protect the Status Quo. There are now upwards of ten thousand superhumans worldwide and the compass needle of the future is starting to wobble due to their influence.
1931- The Crime Lord War comes to a bloody end and Joey “Parcheesi” Salvatore becomes the undisputed Big Boss of all crime in America. He is quickly deposed a month later and the Five Families are established. Organized crime blossoms like never before under this new corporate structure.
1932- Charles Fort publishes his seminal work, Wild Talents. Superhumanity is seen through a new lens and Dr. Valencia updates the Valencia Super-Ability Index to reflect the change. Thanks to seed money donated by Tobias Brighton and others, pulp magazines and newly minted “Hero” strips flood the public imagination with tales of brave superhumans fighting evil with their wits and fists. A year later, paper salesman Max Gaines basically invents the comic book and the first “Hero” comics hit the market soon after, planting the seeds of super-heroics in the nation’s youth.
1933- After years of drought, many families are forced to move out of the heartland of America. Later remembered as the Dust Bowl, sandstorms hit with impunity and fallow fields are blown away in the wind. Many blame hyperbred animals for being too efficient in agricultural work and stressing the capacity of America’s farms to feed the country. Mass starvation becomes a very real possibility. The Prohibition of alcohol also ends this year, though the prohibition of magical artifacts and “strange devices” continues.
1934- The Business Plot, a coup against Roosevelt and the United States government planned by bankers and other assorted billionaires, fails spectacularly when a key figure of the plot, Marine General Smedley Butler, testifies before Congress against the plotters. Most of those involved in the coup deny the allegations or disappear from public view, but a select few rush ahead with the plan and an army five thousand strong descends on the nation’s capitol. The U.S. army manages to drive them back and the truth of the plot becomes undeniable. General Butler dies a year later under suspicious circumstances.
1935- April LaRue becomes the youngest Nobel Laureate in history when she wins the Nobel Prize for Medicine at 21 for her LaRue Respirator, a low cost version of an iron lung. Her continued advances in Computer Science and Engineering make her a sought after commodity but her native France guards her jealously.
1936- The Summer Olympics are held in Berlin. With the eyes of the world on Germany, Hitler mandates that the entire German State make every effort to appear idyllic and utopian to visiting athletes and press. Sometime later, Hitler orders Goering to implement a Four Year Plan to have Germany ready for war before the decade is out. Goering begins a massive civil operation which results in the gathering of every superhuman identified within Germany’s borders and pressing them into military or government service, a practice later copied by many other nations across Europe with varying degrees of success. In December, Italy declares an Axis with Germany.
1937- Frank Whittle ground tests the first jet engine for use in aircraft in Rugby, England. France hosts its last International Exposition. Dr. April LaRue’s grand computational engines are showcased next to art displays, architecture and technological achievements from all across the world.
1938- Andy Johnson dons a costume and becomes the first Superhero when he stops a robber’s getaway car with his bare hands. Growing up on pulp mags and “Hero” comics, he decides to call himself Right Cross and dedicates his life to fighting crime. Dozens soon follow in his wake.
1939-World War II begins in earnest with Germany’s invasion of Poland. The Wehrmacht’s decisive strategy of Blitzkrieg und Ubermenschlichen Streik, combining speed and effective use of superpowered beings, allows the swift subjugation of the neighboring country.
1940- Harold Sterling flies to Germany and joins up with the Wehrmacht in the hopes of fighting Communist Russia. The German occupation of France begins. Dr. LaRue’s lab is ransacked by the SS hoping to steal her secrets, but the doctor and much of her research are gone by the time they arrive. In America, Plucky the Kid Bandit becomes the first sidekick to fight alongside a superhero, starting a trend that will last for years.
Local History of Jet City and the Pacific Northwest
1920- The Grand Army of the Republic, veterans of the Civil War, start a campaign to rename Mount Rainier, Mount Lincoln in honor of the President.
1921- After being flatly rejected by the city of Everett, Abraham Brighton looks inland to set up his airplane company. He finally settles on Jetty since they don’t care what he does in their town as long as he minds his own business. He forms the Brighton Aeroplane and Motor Company, locally known as BAMCO, and opens a factory as well as a flight school. In December, a Snohomish River flood wrecks a trestle in the Interurban Railway. The line is never rebuilt and soon abandoned.
1922- Inspired by Harold Sterling’s amazing flying feats, many people buy airplanes and sign up for flight school which allows Abraham to open several more flight schools in neighboring cities. Abraham’s brother Tobias founds the Club for Metahuman Relations and Sanctuary, or Meta Club for short, in Seattle, Washington. The club is dedicated to bridging the gap between powered and non-powered people and provides support and safe haven to anyone who asks.
1923- Boeing and Brighton enter direct competition for a U.S. Army Air Service contract. Boeing narrowly beats them out.
1924- Meta Club membership spikes after Howard Carter’s tour of America following his discovery of King Tut’s tomb in ’22. The club quickly grows into a worldwide organization, attracting many adventurers, men and women of varying nationalities and ethnicities from across the world.
1926- The first Daffodil Festival is held in Pierce County, Washington. The Bridge of the Gods, named after the geological formation of Native legend and located over the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington, is officially opened.
1928- Mt. Etna’s eruption attracts the attention of Meta Club members in the Northwest when word reaches them of the appearance of monsters. The club members discover that Typhon, the father of monsters, is roused from his slumber. Thus begins a nearly decade long conflict between the Meta Club and the progeny of long sleeping Typhon and the Meta Club’s Pacific Northwest lodges gain a reputation as renowned monster hunters.
1929- Brighton starts a small airline, Brighton Air, in an attempt to stay afloat and relevant in the competitive airplane market. The airline services regional airports in both private and commercial capacities.
1930- Hotel magnate Jonathan Trent falls ill and dies, leaving his business to his estranged son, John Trent.
1934- The Air Mail Act of 1934 is passed, preventing airlines and manufacturers from operating under the same corporate umbrella, putting the final nail in the coffin for Brighton and his company.
1935- The Great Depression has taken its toll and Jetty’s population tumbles. Brighton’s airplane company officially shuts its doors and Abraham fades into obscurity.
1936- The Dorado railroad is ripped out and highway construction begins near Jetty.
1938- Tacoma Field, an airfield, is officially transferred to the federal government. It will later be called McChord Field and play a prominent role in WWII and the Cold War as part of McChord Air Force base.
1939- The Navy establishes an auxiliary air station near Jetty when it leases an airstrip from the town to supplement training facilities in Seattle.
Harold Sterling- Daredevil pilot and enterprising adventurer, Sterling epitomized the pulp hero stereotype that many would attribute to the superhumans of the 20’s and 30’s. Dashing, debonair and a tad anti-Semitic, Sterling would make a name for himself by breaking world flight records and plundering virgin archeological sites the world over. His exploits landed him quite the fortune.
Right Cross- Idolizing the strong men of his favorite pulp adventure stories, Andy Johnson grew up with a strong sense of justice and pledged his life to protecting the innocent. He is recognized as the first true superhero because he chose to fight criminals while dressed in a brightly colored costume. Many followed his example and before long superheroes are a common sight in cities across America.
April LaRue- Child genius who revolutionized the Computer Science and Engineering fields. Her work in the medical field, while less known, is responsible for saving countless lives.
Abraham Brighton- Founder of the Brighton Aeroplane and Motor Company, Abraham had a hand in changing Jetty from a provincial backwater to an industrial town. While his ultimate fate is unknown, his company’s legacy will have a great impact on the town’s future.
Tobias Brighton- Brother to Abraham, Tobias was an eccentric individual whose work with superhumans would culminate in the Meta Club, a network of powered and non-powered humans that would grow to one day wield worldwide influence. Members of the club operate in far flung corners of the world aiding and supporting superhumans and studying the superhuman condition. Members come from all walks of life and Meta Club lodges range from the fanciest of high rise lofts to simple shacks in the middle of nowhere. Tobias worked non-stop to bridge the worlds of human and superhuman and the fruits of his efforts can still be felt today.
Jonathan Trent- A hotel tycoon and real estate mogul who invested in and developed many properties inside and out of Jetty. The town grew dramatically as a result.
John Trent- Son of Jonathan and heir to the Trent fortune. But money wasn’t the only thing John inherited from his father. He also got his father’s Social Darwinist view of life and Capitalist philosophy.