Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ultimate American Chronology

1914: Tex Truman (his legal name) is born in west Texas.

1928: Tex is caught up in a fiery meteorite impact that leaves scorched earth for a radius of 150 feet. Miraculously, he is uninjured, though he will have flashbacks to the event for decades to come.

1932: Tex enrolls in the United States Military Academy at West Point following his graduation from high school.

1936: Tex enters service in the U.S. Army after graduation from West Point.

1937: Tex marries Anna Malone.

1939: Tex and Anna Truman have their only child, a son named Joseph ("Joe" for short).

1940: Having risen to the rank of captain, Tex Truman is chosen as the ideal candidate for the government's top secret Ultimate American Project. The Ultimate American, dubbed "the Faceless Defender of Democracy", is created to combat U.S. enemies at home and abroad and to inspire the American public.

1941: Tex, as Ultimate American, encounters his arch-foe the Masked Menace for the first time. The United States officially enters World War II later that year, after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7.

1945: World War II officially ends with victory for the Allies. Ultimate American is still the public face of the U.S. Armed Forces, but has privately grown disenchanted with his role in the military.

1946: Tex Truman officially leaves active duty with the Army, but continues his career as Ultimate American through the offices of the newly-formed C.H.I.E.F. (Command Headquarters, International Espionage Force).

1948: The Masked Menace apparently dies after being gunned down by his own gang during a battle with Ultimate American.

1949: Ultimate American vanishes for two weeks during a case which is still classified. When he is finally found, tests reveal that his body chemistry has been altered and his aging process greatly slowed. The practical result is that he will age approximately one year physically every 10 years.

1950: Tex Truman puts his Ultimate American identity into temporary semi-retirement to spend more time with his family.

1953: Ultimate American returns to full duty to battle the forces of Third World, which has became a major threat to U.S. security since its formation after WWII.

1954: The Masked Menace inexplicably reappears to challenge Ultimate American, despite being killed six years earlier.

1956: Joe Truman graduates from high school at the top of his class and enters the U.S. Military Academy.

1959: Ultimate American seemingly crushes the forces of Third World. In reality, he has only dealt the organization a setback, and it will return stronger than ever by 1965.

1960: Joe Truman graduates from West Point and enters the U.S. Army.

1966: Weary after 26 years of fighting, and his marriage becoming increasingly strained, Tex Truman passes the mantle of Ultimate American to his son Joe. Joe is reassigned to C.H.I.E.F. by the White House, where he will be supervised by his father.

1967: Joe Truman as Ultimate American II defeats King Zaur, emperor of the Reptile People, in an important triumph for the still-new hero.

1968: Tex Truman's "permanent" retirement as Ultimate American I is short-lived, as Ultimate American II is captured by the resurrected Masked Menace. Tex rescues Joe from the clutches of his old enemy, and the pair teams up to foil the Menace's latest scheme. Tex hangs up his costume afterward, but the younger Truman resents his father for "horning in" on his case.

1970: Citing irreconcilable differences, Anna Truman files for divorce. Tex does not contest it, and their marriage ends shortly afterward.

1971: Ultimate American II brings down the El Oceano branch of Third World, dealing a major blow to the subversive organization.

1973: Tex Truman is part of a contingent that uncovers a raft of Third World double agents in C.H.I.E.F.'s ranks. For meritorious service, Tex is promoted to director of the bureau when the previous director steps down.

1974: Becoming uncomfortable with the government's role in his career, Joe Truman resigns from C.H.I.E.F. and continues as Ultimate American II as a private citizen. His activities are tacitly approved so long as they do not run counter to the best interests of the United States.

1975: Tex and Joe Truman have a major falling out for still-undisclosed reasons. They will never speak to one another again.

1977: Ultimate American II and the Masked Menace meet in a "final" battle. The Menace accidentally stabs himself with his own knife and plummets from the top of the Mando Building. His body is not recovered.

1979: Having reverted to her maiden name, Anna Malone dies peacefully of natural causes at the age of 66. Her son Joe is by her side at the end. Tex pays his respects at the funeral, but father and son make a point to avoid each other.

1981: King Zaur is trapped in an iceberg off the coast of Antarctica during a showdown with Ultimate American II.

1983: Tex Truman steps down as director of C.H.I.E.F., and limits his services to that of consultant and liaison. For all intents and purposes, he has finally retired.

1984: The Masked Menace returns yet again, still claiming to be the original from 1941. Ultimate American II bests him in a savage duel to the death, and the Menace crumbles to dust after he expires. He has not returned to date.

1985: Internal C.H.I.E.F. reports indicate a renewed strengthening of Third World, but Joe ignores all attempts at communication from his father to report this development.

1986: Joe Truman, a.k.a. Ultimate American II, disappears under mysterious circumstances on March 22. He has not been seen or heard from since that date.


30 years ago: Tex Truman marries Gabrielle Fitzgerald, a C.H.I.E.F. codebreaker. She retires from active duty just prior to their wedding.

25 years ago: Tex and Gabrielle Truman have a son, Dean.

14 years ago: Tex and Gabrielle Truman have a daughter, Deborah ("Debbie").

7 years ago: Dean graduates from high school firmly in the middle of his class, and enrolls in El Oceano's Magnifica University.

4 years ago: After the public debut of Captain Satellite, Dean Truman quietly drops out of Magnifica and agrees to undergo training with C.H.I.E.F. to become the third Ultimate American.

3 years ago: Dean Truman as Ultimate American III makes his first appearance by assisting other heroes in stopping Third World's Macro Warrior attack on Major City. The Invincible Alliance is subsequently formed, and Ultimate American III is elected leader, despite having the least experience. Tex Truman is brought out of retirement to serve as liaison to C.H.I.E.F. for the group, due to his expertise with such matters and his personal stake in his son's career.

TODAY: Dean Truman has grown into the roles of both Ultimate American III and leader of the Invincible Alliance, though neither is ever easy. Tex continues to work with the Invincible Alliance, and helps his wife Gabrielle raise their teenage daughter Debbie. Joe Truman's fate is still unknown, but Ultimate American III has sworn to one day uncover the truth.

My Captain Satellite stories rarely, and I do mean rarely, get comments. But that's OK, because I do them for precisely one reason - I have a story to tell. Hopefully, at least a few people will eventually read them.

When I cooked up the backstory for my character Ultimate American, I made the point to attach real dates to certain events. I rarely do that in an effort to keep things "timeless", and I wasn't really sure it was a good idea. But, I had committed myself a bit more strongly than just a random date or name that could be changed in my write-up, so I chose to make the best of things.

I've had the idea that I'd like to supplement Ultimate American's story, but I couldn't decide on an approach that appealed to me. Then, the one and only Lewis Smith rekindled my interest in the old Marvel Universe Handbooks of the 1980s and 1990s. After reveling in those outdated but gloriously nostalgic tomes, I got the idea that I'd like to try, as Lewis put it, "doing my Peter Sanderson thing" and build an honest-to-goodness timeline for the Ultimate American characters. I mean, I've been doing a smarty-pants profiles for awhile, so it was only a hop, skip, and a stumble to something a little more straight-faced.

But only a little, mind you. Writing this was the best laugh I've had in a couple of weeks. It was a ton of fun to devise details and allude to stories that have never been written. I came away from it feeling like I knew all these characters a bit better, and wanting to play in this corner of my sandbox again someday.

I fudged on the latter half's dates, in the name of not tying the contemporary storyline down to specifics. You can fit those events into the regular chronology from today's perspective if you like, but they are subject to the famous "sliding timescale". Just so you know.

Will we learn more about the stories of the Ultimate Americans and their friends and foes? I guess we'll just have to see!

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