Suppressed Transmission

Crisis on Alternate Earths

"Now you know what I've been doing the last few weeks, Wally! I've been experimenting with time travel by use of super-speed!"
-- The Flash, in "The Conquerors of Time"

Do all superheroic stories begin with a rocketship landing in Kansas in 1938? I'm not talking about cheap dodges like The Iliad, I'm talking about superheroes -- powers, cliches, costumes, and all. If you look in the four-color world of my youth, sadly, aside from a few lame tokens, superheroic tales have to be modern ones. Well, not in my games, and, one hopes, not in yours, either. Herewith, five elseworlds, alternate Earths where things are just a little more -- super.

"Fire is the test of gold, adversity the test of heroes."
-- Seneca, On Providence

Rome under Domitian Caesar is the capital of the world. Its fountains, monuments, aqueducts, stadiums -- everything is the greatest. And it's only to be expected that a city upon which the gods smile so brightly is a city where men become heroes. Indeed, the superbi have surpassed not only the lowborn gladiators but even the haughty charioteers in the mob's esteem. The Pythagoreans (in whom the four elements are reified) are special favorites, with their flying chariot designed, like the city's lights and hot water system, by Fabulus Calamus (whose body and mind flow like water). Gaius Tempestas (whose body can become flame), his sister Sylvia (invisible mistress of air), and Antaeus Earth-Born round out the quintet. The strength . . .

This article originally appeared in the second volume of Pyramid. See the current Pyramid website for more information.

Article publication date: August 13, 1999

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