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Jess Bright of the Suicide Squad (DC Comics)

Jess Bright aka Koshchei the Deathless

(aka Jeff Bright)


Power Level: ,
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

Jess Bright is a member of the 1959 version of the Suicide Squad, from DC Comics. This article assumes that you have just read the Suicide Squad (Mission X version) article. Said article describes all the context, the history, etc.

Dr. Evans and Jess Bright are often switched – to be fair they were interchangeable. Here we stick to the original Brave and the Bold story as to whom has the pipe and whom has the glasses.


Background

  • Real Name: Jeffrey Jesse Bright.
  • Note: Bright has been called both Jess bright and Jeff Bright, so we’ve assumed the usual robertbrucebannerisation  in the name above.
  • Other Aliases: Yen Wang, King of the Devils, Koshchei the Deathless.
  • Marital Status: Unrevealed.
  • Known Relatives: None.
  • Group Affiliation: At various times the U.S. Army ; Mission X’s Suicide Squad ; Task Force X ; An unspecified PRC government agency ; KGB ; Jihad ; Koshchei’s death squad.
  • Base Of Operations: Mobile.
  • Height: 5’7” Weight: 150 lbs.
  • Eyes: Brown Hair: Brown


Powers and Abilities

Bright is presented as a physicist, without specifics. But like his friend Dr. Evans he’s a Silver Age  comic book scientist, excelling at any hard science. Bright seems to be less of a font of scientific knowledge and mathematician than Evans, but he has better engineering skills and a more hands-on approach.

Bright might be the youngest Squad member. The fact he’s not addressed as “Doctor” might be because he’s too young to have completed his PhD yet, as his work interferes with his studies. He does look young – almost baby-faced. Thus, Bright may have been a teenaged science prodigy.

Bright is the second most physically-adept Squad member. That’s probably because he’s the youngest and has formal combat training as an infantry private.


History

See the matching Suicide Squad article.

Jess Bright has but one bit of known background before joining the Squad. It was a terrible accident during a nuclear test, after which his colleagues urged him and his mentor Dr. Evans to carry on in their stead as they died.

In the original (pre-Crisis Earth-1) timeline this accident was likely meant to occur during, or shortly after, the Manhattan Project. Since similar moments for Flag and Grace take place late during World War Two.

In our proposed merged timeline, this would likely have occurred during the catastrophic Castle Bravo atomic test  on Bikini. Castle Bravo left several islands uninhabitable even today.

In the post-Crisis revised timeline, it might have been the comic book version of the 1970 Operation Emery  series of nuclear weapon tests. If so, the Baneberry test would have gone wrong and releasing a large radioactive plume.

The land of the tranquil morning

During the war in Korea Bright, then a young soldier, met with Rick Flag, Sr.. The wartime Suicide Squad had been re-formed in 1950 to operate there. Flag and his men, true to their monicker, parachuted in the middle of an artillery bombardment to launch a crazy airborne raid.

Flag himself nearly landed on top of private Bright. Bright was trapped under the artillery barrage, desperate and waiting for death. Though he judged him harshly as a soldier, the older Flag told Bright to follow them, which is how Bright survived his predicament.

This incident presumably happened in 1951. Flag Sr. and his men were in Korea from the summer of 1950 until early- or mid-1952. This means that Bright was born around 1934, as he seems slightly underage during this flashback.

Holding back the years

In the merged timeline, this works fine. Jess Bright is born in 1934, lies about his age when war in Korea erupts in 1950, is saved by Flag Sr. in 1951, and is discharged soon after.

Though he has yet to study for a doctorate he’s a science prodigy. This attracts the attention of Dr. Evans, who hire him as his apprentice in 1952. The two men narrowly escape alive from a comic book version of the Bikini Atoll disaster in 1954, and are recruited by Mission X in 1958 or 1959.

(In the official DC timeline, the flashback to the encounter in Korea means that Bright would have been in his late 40s when the Mission X Suicide Squad was active, circa 1980. See the main Mission X Suicide Squad article for comparisons of timelines).

On a slow boat to China

Bright apparently died during the last mission of the Squad in Cambodia.

As he and Evans were trying to hold off a yeti with gunfire, the ice under them shattered. They fell into a huge crevasse. Evans landed on a rock and died. But Bright lucked out and landed on the dead yeti. Both Bright and Evans were declared KIA, since Flag and Grace had no way to check the crevasse for unlikely survivors.

The Silver Age Suicide Squad from the Who's Who

The scientist lacked the skills and equipment to survive the extreme cold, but was determined not to die. He gutted the dead yeti and found refuge inside. Several days later, he was found and rescued by Chinese soldiers. The damage from frostbite had been severe. Bright had lost his fingers, both feet and much of his face.

At this point the mainland Chinese government was starting its efforts to develop metahumans of its own. Having identified Bright and knowing of his skills, they strong-armed him into collaborating in exchange for special medical care. Irrationally feeling betrayed by his companions, Bright took the deal.

King of devils

He started working with a Chinese scientist named Deng Zho-zhi. Bright quickly developed superior skills in genetics – these were the crux of Deng’s work to develop metahumans. Deng renamed Bright “Yen Wang” (“King of devils”). He considered that the metahumans the government wanted to create were a bad thing, and that he and Bright would be responsible for them.

Dr. Deng was a brilliant scientist, but not very good at politics. During one of the political sea changes in troubled China, he was declared a traitor and arrested. Bright — then operating in a wheelchair, masked with a hood and without working hands — thus lost his only political protection. He was thrown into jail as a suspected foreign spy.

(In our proposed timeline the Cambodia mission takes place circa 1964. This naturally means that Deng Zho-zhi was arrested during the Cultural Revolution – perhaps in 1968).

The Deathless

The Soviet spymaster, Zastrow, learned of this. Though Zastrow was much younger back then, he was already a master of his trade. Thus, he managed to identify Bright, locate him, assess his condition and negotiate with the Chinese to have the foreigner released in the hands of the Soviet. He further had Soviet engineers develop prostheses for Bright’s fingers, feet and face.

The Suicide Squad in its Silver Age version

Bright received a new code name – Koshchei the Deathless. This referred to a Russian folk tale about a magician  who hides his soul in an egg so he won’t ever die.

Indifferent about what was going on, he just started working for the Soviets until the early 1980s. One panel showed him maintaining and improving the Rocket Red battlesuits. These were partially based on alien technology provided by the Green Lantern Kilowog. That only could have happened after 1987, so the flashback likely was out of sequence.

The Jihad

The Soviets later lent Koshchei to Qurac, where the Jihad — a project to create a terrorist/mercenary super-group — was underway. The project had complicated international backing. For instance it is known that factions within the US intelligence community considered that the Jihad was the right approach to developing a metahuman fighting force. They saw it as a test for their own future initiatives.

It is likely that Soviet factions likewise felt constrained about the dominant national policies about superhumans. Thus, they sent their best abroad. This way, he could work unfettered and bring back the goods for when the USSR would again develop a metahuman force.

Koshchei created Jihad members Manticore (probably both of them), Jaculi (at least the female one and probably both) and Djinn (presumably both versions). However, when Amanda Waller’s Suicide Squad raided and demolished the Jihad’s base, Bright was killed by an explosion just as he spotted the hated Rick Flag.

The Deathless reanimated

Koshchei had recently developed a strange techno-zombie technology. Quraci researchers used his prototypes to essentially resurrect him as an undead being.

The now-inhuman Koshchei wanted to avenge his death. He eventually convinced the leadership behind the Jihad to launch a terror raid on Manhattan. Bright hoped that it would trigger a response from the Suicide Squad and thus give him an opportunity to kill Flag and his team.

Jeff Bright as Koschei the Deathless

Koshchei was present in Manhattan with a new version of the Jihad team. This international strike force included Badb, Agni, Ravan (a survivor of the first team), a new Jaculi, a new Ifrit (based on deceased Suicide Squad member Mindboggler), a new Manticore and team leader Rustam.

While in the field, Koshchei wasn’t a front-line operative.  What he did was to have the others put zombie electronic discs on the corpses of their victims until they ran out.

Koshchei’s zombie squad was stopped by an alien, Shade the Changing Man. Shade disrupted the discs en masse. This hit Koshchei with feedback. But Shade never even saw Bright, only deducing that the zombies’s controller wasn’t far by estimating the range of the discs.

Showdown

Koshchei returned to Qurac. But it would take a while for the Jihad to rebuild a team of operatives. Determined to end his vendetta, he assembled his own team of zombies, reanimating deceased Jihad and Suicide Squad members to serve as his “death squad”.

He and his zombies went to kidnap the hidden son of Rick Flag and Karin Grace. He then demanded that Flag come to them alone. Bright fully expected some Squad backup to show up. Thus, he rigged the area with explosives to kill everyone and be done with it.

What he did not know was that Rick Flag was thought dead by his team mates. He had been apparently killed months before, during the raid on the Jihad base where Bright had died. Undeterred, Amanda Waller convinced her former ally Nemesis to impersonate Flag to buy time. A small team composed of volunteers and Captain Boomerang, personally led by Waller, was assembled to save Rick and Karin’s son.

Bright might have succeeded in killing everyone off. But Nemesis revealed that the real Flag was dead and appealed to Bright’s decency and love for Karin Grace. Reluctantly, the zombie let go of Karin’s son. He then told Nemesis that the main bombs about to go off.

The Squad narrowly made it off with the kid. But Koshchei apparently remained on the site thinking of Karin and waiting for the bombs to explode and destroy him.


Description

Bright used to constantly smoke a pipe. Perhaps it was an attempt to make himself look older. After Cambodia he had clunky, obvious prostheses over his forearms and hands (with cybernetic fingers). He also had cybernetic feet, and a sort of plate over his nose and neighbouring areas.

After he died he was clearly a sort of mummy. He looked pale, ragged and with minor signs of decomposition. He still had prosthetic hand and feet, but the faceplate had fallen off and he didn’t bother replacing it. He no longer needed it since what little was left of his nose was gone.


Personality

Bright was a good-guy, serious scientist with a pipe. Like all Suicide Squad (Mission X) members he was brave and dedicated to the point of self-sacrifice. He was determined to serve even though that eventually meant death. And like all Squad members he was a calm, competent thinker who works well under pressure and faces enormous odds without flinching.

However, like all Squad members, his strength stemmed from his losses. Thus, it rested on some serious neuroses. While they weren’t apparent on a day-to-day basis, when the fetid waters of guilt and resentment finally broke it was a disaster.

Deathless

Bright might have suffered minor brain damage when he seemed to die. He then went through a severe shock as he discovered how badly he’d been crippled. This triggered a paranoid reaction building up on his survivor’s guilt and associated issues. He irrationally grew convinced that Flag and Grace had deliberately disposed of Evans and him so they could elope.

After that his mental state just kept deteriorating. He no longer cared about anything but his work – and destroying Rick Flag and everything associated with him. He wasn’t proactive about his obsession with killing Flag. But every few years he’d grow agitated and want to do something, checking whether a credible opportunity existed.

Bright was proud of his work, even though it was obviously problematic.

Deep down, Bright remained a decent man. It didn’t take that much to convince him not to pull the trigger. He remembered owing his life to Flag’s father, Flag helping him numerous times, he wanted to honour Karin Grace’s memory once he was told that she had died, etc. Underneath Koshchei he remained Jess Bright of the Suicide Squad, a determined hero facing death to protect others.


Quotes

“We’ve adjusted air pressure to minus 459.72 degree Farenheit !”

“I know it sounds crazy — but they use ordinary salt to lower the freezing point of snow and ice !”

“Our job is to plot a course for Rick from the Sun to the Earth ! The slightest deviation — and we’ll miss Earth by thousands of miles !”

“Perhaps they went underground to escape the deadly cold ! Perhaps — this is the last of the dinosaurs !”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Jeff Bright

Dex: 04 Str: 03 Bod: 04 Motivation: Responsibility
Int: 05 Wil: 05 Min: 05 Occupation: Mission X agent
Inf: 04 Aur: 04 Spi: 05 Resources {or Wealth}: 005
Init: 013 HP: 035

Skills:
Acrobatics (Climbing): 04, Animal handling (Horses): 04, Gadgetry: 05, Military science (Demolition): 05, Scientist: 07, Vehicles: 04, Weaponry (Exotic, Firearms): 05

Advantages:
Credentials (US Military, High ; NASA, High ; US Intelligence, Medium ; NATO militaries, Medium), Dream Team (with Karin Grace, Doc Evans and Rick Flag, Jr.), Expertise (Parachuting, SCUBA diving), Familiarity (Military equipment and protocols), Schtick (Brainstorming (Scientist ; Doc Evans)).

Connections:
Mission X (High) plus those derived from his Credentials.

Drawbacks:
Minor Psychological Instability.

Equipment:
See the corresponding Suicide Squad article.


Koshchei the Deathless

Here’s what could be witnessed about Bright’s abilities as the Deathless :

  • Enhanced scientific skills from experience and exposure to new sorts of work. A possible suite is Genius, Medicine: 03, Medicine (Enhancement): 10, Gadgetry being upped to 06 and perhaps a new Expertise or two.
  • A Distinct Appearance and a MPR (normally be a SPR, but the permanent protheses moderate that). The Appearance escalates to Strange after he’s made a zombie.
  • Bright is at this point insane – he has a Serious Psychological Instability, his Motivation becomes Psychopath, wants to kill Flag and anything associated with him (but not to the point of an IA – he’ll plot, wait for opportunities, etc.) and sees himself as amoral and murderous. However he can be reasoned with, still has his memories, and deep down he remains a decent man with some subconscious awareness that he’s deluding himself and that no-one is to blame for his condition.

Zombie discs

During the mid-1980s Bright develops a strange technology – a disc that can be affixed on the back of the neck of a cadaver to turn into a zombie. This doesn’t turn the corpse into a meat puppet – the dead person still the skills, powers, memories, personality, etc. they had in life. After he’s killed, Koshchei is reanimated using such a disk and resumes his work and obsession. Observed facts about this technology :

  • The zombies animated by Koshchei’s technology were quite dangerous. Ordinary persons turned into zombies had DEX 04 STR 05 BODY 07. Bright himself seemed to have about DEX 06 STR 06 BODY 08 as a zombie. Note that all Koshchei-animated zombies can be shut down by destroying the BODY 01 disc at the base of their neck – a Trick Shot, if one knows what to aim at.
  • As a guess the zombies had Self-Link (Animate dead): 08, possibly meaning that no score for a Deathless zombie could exceed 08. All zombies looked drained, bloodless and desiccated – which may be a hint that his zombie disc replaces the blood with something else. Koshchei ’zombies’ are actually closer to being mummies without wrappings.
  • Koshchei could remotely monitor and give orders to an unknown number of zombies – at least a dozen. The information was presumably conveyed over Radio Communications (Encrypted): 06. There was no interface per se. Bright used cybernetics in his skull to do it. At least originally, it meant that it was possible to inflict cyber-feedback upon him through the radio link with the zombie discs.
  • Corpses recognisable among his “death squad” were Mindboggler, Manticore, Ravan, Jaculi II (tentatively) and another, plus a cadre composed of Shrike, Psi, the Weasel, Mister 104 and Jaculi I.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: DC Universe.

Helper(s): Ethan Roe, Darci.

Writeup completed on the 22nd of August, 2011.

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