Background/History: A star athlete (his skill in the batter’s box was the stuff of legend, not to mention his prowess on the gridiron), Mark Silversmith was also one of the University of Chicago’s top students, especially in the fields of engineering and mathematics. This combination brought him to the attention of Polish physicist Professor Ryzard Halwic, who recruited Mark to be his lab assistant. Together, the two were able to develop and perfect Professor Halwic’s latest creation, the etheric energy transducer. Once complete, Halwic informed Mark of the transducer’s purpose—to infuse a human test subject with etheric energy, which should (theoretically) grant them powers and abilities far beyond those of normal men. Mark, it turned out, was to be said test subject, for as Halwic explained, only he had a metabolism sufficiently rugged enough to accept the process. Mark, intrigued by the Professor’s theories, not to mention swayed by Halwic’s arguments about needing to find a way to combat the growing Nazi menace, agreed.
Once exposed to the etheric transducer’s strange energies, Mark was astonished to discover Professor Halwic’s experiment had succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. The infusion process hadn’t simply made Mark into a super athlete (or soldier), it had turned him into a true superhuman. He possessed seemingly immeasurable strength, invulnerability, and the power of unaided flight. In an effort to field test the limits of his new powers, Mark began to patrol the skies over Chicago, doing his best to save those in danger, assist in disasters, and right wrongs. Buoyed by his successes, it didn’t take long for Mark to decide to become like some of the other masked (and caped) crimefighters active in America, and assume the identity of Mister America—protector of democracy, champion of freedom, and defender of the oppressed.
Personality/Motivation: Growing up on the baseball diamond and the football field has imbued Mark with a strong sense of fair play. Even before he become Mister America, Mark felt it wasn’t who you were that mattered, but how well you could play the sport (or in the case of academics, pass the test). Thus he’s somewhat colorblind to concepts of race, and feels everyone should get their chance to prove himself. Radical concepts for 1940s America, to be sure, and ones he realizes he must be careful not to espouse when in public.
At the same time, Mark feels he can’t stop being what he is—a symbol of hope in hard times. Professor Halwic’s transducer has given him incredible gifts, which must not be wasted. Thus, Mark feels that if he is to be accepted as a symbol of America, then he must hold himself to a higher standard. This has led him to not shirk the press, but embrace it, allowing him to get his thoughts and ideas out not only to the people of Chicago, but the rest of the United States.
Quote: “It’s as Lincoln said, ‘a house divided against itself cannot stand.’ We must work together—all of us—or the Axis has already won.”
Powers/Tactics: Professor Ryzard Halwic’s etheric energy transducer has given Mark almost immeasurable strength (Mark still hasn’t found something he can’t lift), invulnerability to most conventional weapons, the ability to fly unaided, and an expanded range of vision. The only drawback to the transducer is the effect isn’t permanent. Mark must undergo weekly treatments or his powers will slowly fade away and he’ll return the physical capabilities he used to have before the initial experiment. Professor Halwic still hasn’t determined how to improve the process, which is the main reason no one else has undergone the procedure.
Mark’s sense of fair-play extends even to the field of battle. He’ll normally give his foe a chance to surrender (unless he knows who he’s dealing with and how they typically act), and if that tactic doesn’t work, he try and restrain them as opposed to simply hitting them. However, against superhuman villains known for their toughness, robots, death machines, and the like, he’ll go all out, using his strength to full effect.
Appearance: Mark Silversmith is a poster boy for the All-American Athlete. He stands a little over 6’4” and weighs around 225 lbs, with a muscular build, blue eyes, blond hair, and strong white teeth. When dressed as Mister America, he wears a bodysuit, fold-over boots, gloves, and cape done up in the colors red, white, and blue.
Designer's Notes: Mister America was directly inspired by the counter titled “Yank,” found in the first set of superhero-themed Cardboard Heroes from Steve Jackson Games. I modified the costume a bit (swapping the original’s Peter Pan-like slippers for fold-over ‘buccaneer’ boots) and gave him the ‘generic’ superhero power set of flight, invulnerability, strength, and speed (what PS238 calls a ‘FISS’). This means that Mister American is Superman to Force Majure’s Ultra Boy.
At 440 points, Mister American might be a bit expensive for a Golden Age supers game, but you can easily trim down his Characteristics and Powers to the desired power level. Making him more powerful is equally simple. I’d start with a series of Brick Tricks (such as Super Strength Smash-Through and The Big Wrap-Up), increase his CSLs to all Hand-To-Hand combat, and make all of his Science Skills 11-. You could also consider additional Etheric Energy powers, such as an Energy Blast, Aid (defined as passing the energy along to someone else), Telekinesis and so on. For real fun, have some additional test subjects, thus allowing for a variety of characters, all with a common origin.
Mister America’s personal nemesis should be someone who’s undergone the same process he has. This person could have been a former assistant of Professor Halwic’s, a current assistant who uses his powers for personal gain, or even an Axis agent, created by someone attempting to duplicate the Professor’s invention.
(Character sheet created by Michael Surbrook)