5713 in-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies

Josiah X from the Crew (Marvel Comics) with his Captain America vest

Josiah X aka Minister X


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

Context

Minister X was seen but briefly on 2003, in Marvel Comics’ The Crew. Thus, there is little material about this intriguing and charismatic character.

The entry thus includes guesses as to his stats and abilities. It also has some No-Prize Hypothesis  work, for instance about the timing and medical context of his birth. As with Isaiah Bradley’s entry, the historical references and hypotheses are explained in our potently parenthetical paragraphs of exposition.


Background

  • Real Name: Josiah al hajj Saddiq.
  • Other Aliases: Josiah Smith, “Jo-Jo”, Minister X.
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: Faith Bradley aka Faith Shabbaz (mother), Isaiah Bradley (father), Sarah Gail Bradley (sister), surrogate mother (name unrevealed). Josiah is genetically related to Isaiah Bradley’s descendants (including Elijah Bradley aka Patriot).
  • Group Affiliation: A mission in Little Mogadishu. Former member of the US Army, of the Black Panthers, and of unspecified mercenary outfits. Former member of the ad-hoc crew assembled by James Rhodes to fight the 66 Bridges.
  • Base Of Operations: Little Mogadishu, Brooklyn, New York City.
  • Height: 6’4” Weight: 260 lbs.
  • Eyes: Brown Hair: Bald


Powers and Abilities

Josiah X is gifted with near-superhuman strength, endurance, reflexes, and the like. He is roughly comparable to Captain America at his peak in terms of brawn and speed. Like Isaiah Bradley, he also ages very slowly – perhaps something like ⅙ ageing rate since he was 18 or 20.

He has extensive life experience, which includes years of combat experience in both the military and mercenary outfits. Saddiq is also a very smart and pragmatic man, and seems to have solidly educated himself in several areas.

He’s also wealthy. Presumably, he invested much of his wealth before his conversion to Islam.

Interestingly, Josiah X is not insane despite never having been exposed to “vita-rays”. Normally, exposure to the super-soldier serum without those results in steady mental (and possibly physical) degradation. This is likely due to having received the serum while still in the womb. And to be fair, whilst X is not insane, he’s not completely stable either.


History

In the late 1930s and early 1940s famously existed an American initiative to create a super-soldier. Project: Rebirth included a number of programs, among those Project: Super Soldier. This was the most successful one.

The various Rebirth projects were quite seminal. Several persons were enhanced by its products or variants thereof. Examples include the Nazi agent Master Man, or the ill-fated Captain America and Bucky (Jack Monroe) of the 1950s.

Josiah X (Marvel Comics) at the mosque

Eventually, Rebirth became the seed for the international project called Weapon Plus. Rebirth retroactively became Weapon I and would go through iterations including Weapon X (the iteration that produced Wolverine, among others) or Weapon XIII (the iteration that produced Fantomex). It also had offshoots such as the Fortress.

While most people assume that Project: Super Soldier only produced one trooper — the famous Captain America — the truth is more complicated. An irregular, early attempt resulted in Protocide, who was thought to have died shortly after treatment. And even earlier attempts were done using the soldiers from a so-called “Negro company” as Guinea pigs.

(See our Gravedigger character profile for historical notes about “Negro units”.)

Human sacrifice

Though most of the African-American soldiers died from the effects of the experimental serum they were unwittingly dosed with, a half-dozen survived the treatment. Almost all of them died in the war, but one of them survived.

This soldier, Isaiah Bradley, is even thought to have been the first man to wear the Captain America costume and wield the shield. According to most historical accounts Steve Rogers was just finishing his training when Bradley fielded the famous red, white and blue body armour.

Super Soldier research spent a fair bit of time focused on Bradley after the war. The procedure used to create Captain America had been destroyed by Nazi agents, and Bradley was one of the few sources of data available to reconstruct the serum. Bradley was kept unjustly imprisoned and could thus be studied. But little progress was made.

In vitro veritas (part 1)

It was proven that Bradley’s genetics included something that made it possible for him to survive the treatment. As a result, it was decided to study his children to understand what was at work.

Isaiah had had a daughter with his wife Faith before being exposed to the serum. An assay was designed to compare Sarah Gail Bradley to another baby treated in the womb with the super-soldier serum.

(It is likely that Project: Super Soldier didn’t make any progress during the 1940s. All the key work had been destroyed by Nazis just after the enhancement of Captain America. The information stolen by the agents of the Reich couldn’t be recovered before 1949 and the acquisition of the secrets held at Koch Chemicals, a German company.
The 1949 data presumably was what was needed to launch the program that resulted in the birth of Josiah X).

Producing another Bradley baby became possible in 1952. However, the super-soldier serum was damaging Isaiah Bradley’s body and mind. That was due to the lack of vita-rays treatment, which were pioneered with Steve Rogers. This damage had already made him sterile.

But Super Soldier researchers had harvested sperm cells from him before the experiments. In 1952, they arranged to have egg cells taken from Faith Bradley without her knowledge or consent. This was done when she had her appendix removed.

In vitro veritas (part 2)

This reproductive material was used along some early form of the super-soldier serum. The latter may have been a dose of the formula used on the Negro company, known for its lethality. Super Soldier scientists started pregnancies in dozens of paid surrogates.

These pregnancies all failed. From the chronology, one assumes that they spontaneously aborted within a month or two. Since this was the 1950s, one can assume that too little was known about in-vitro fertilisation by the doctors. In the real world, the exact role of Rh  was still a recent discovery, and IVFs were more than a quarter of a century in the future .

Super Soldier doctors soon decided to look for another surrogate. This woman would be as close a match for Faith Bradley’s physiology as they could find. This would reduce the odds of spontaneous abortion even if they didn’t quite understand the mechanics.

The pregnancy was entirely successful. A viable and enhanced baby was born, likely representing a number of world firsts in medicine. Comparing this new Guinea pig to Sarah Gail Bradley could shed light on the Bradley genome and the effects of this version of the serum. That’d work even if — as was presumably expected — the baby died in infancy.

Of course, things went wrong.

And then Jochebed, fearing Pharaoh would kill her son…

The surrogate mother read files that had been carelessly left near her. Presumably, the case officers assumed a young Black woman in 1953 would be illiterate. Thus, she obtained a rough understanding of what was going on. She fled from the Army base and reached Mount Vernon with the kid. The lass wanted to give the baby to whom she considered to be the real mother, Faith Bradley.

Mrs. Bradley swiftly deduced what was going on. Knowing that her house was under surveillance, she faked chasing the surrogate mother and her baby away. In actuality, she briefly took the infant in, naming him Josiah.

Yet, she knew that keeping him was impossible. She ended up placing him on a train bound for Boston. Her hope was that he would be found there without a way to determine who he was. Bradley left a card reading “My name is Josiah” with the baby.

The cradle of liberty

The baby was indeed rescued in Boston, without any way to determine his provenance. He was sent to an orphanage run by the Roman Catholic Church. Josiah was raised by the nuns, along with a number of local orphans.

Josiah X (Marvel Comics Crew) sweeping

(Josiah likely was at the Our Lady of Perpetual Help  basilica, aka the Mission Church, near Mission Hill. Few churches in Boston match the double steeple architecture seen in the comic).

Josiah was a restless child. He felt lost and directionless, and did not find solace in religion. Even in his early teens he followed the Civil Rights struggle raging around him. Josiah felt that he should somehow participate despite being a child.

He impulsively decided to flee. When he shook the bars at his window, Josiah was amazed by how he could easily bend them. One of the nuns, sister Irenia, barged in to see what was going on. She angered Josiah by thoughtlessly calling him “boy”. The furious 12-year old punched her out with but one blow.

Panicking as he erroneously thought that he killed the nun, Josiah demolished the remainder of the bars and ran away.

And so they put a rifle in my hands, sent me off to Việt Nam, to go and kill the yellow man

In 1968, aged barely 15, Josiah lied about his age and enlisted as “Josiah Smith” . Apparently this was a result of the guilt that had been eating at him since he was 12, over the supposed murder of sister Irenia.

Though Việt nam was the first war during which the US forces were nominally racially integrated, issues of racism and classism remained severe. Thus, Josiah found himself with a fire team where all soldiers “just happened” to be Black. This was presumably the doing of a racist CO  sneaking segregation back in.

When the team Joshua was with ended up pinned by enemy fire in the jungle, a colonel ordered an air strike without regard toward the patrol’s safety. He considered that (racial epithet deleted) were expendable. Less than half the patrol survived. When the colonel made fun of the incident in front of the troops, Josiah punched him out, likely sending him to the hospital.

Leavenworth

The young man ended up in Leavenworth for years, condemned to serve a disproportionate sentence. Routine medical tests attracted the attention of the Army. As a result, the now-aged Super Soldier researchers found Josiah in 1973.

Months of testing were performed on the young man, with vague promises of negotiating down his ludicrous sentence. Still guilt-ridden, he didn’t attempt to escape.

The Army found and brought back the surrogate mother for further genetic testing. She soon learned that the authorities planned to execute and dissect Josiah. That was because they couldn’t derive a super-soldier serum from him otherwise.

This time, she benefited from allies within the Army. These likely were African-American officers and soldiers who knew about Isaiah Bradley. The surrogate told Josiah what the first names of his parents were. Then Josiah escaped from the military prison.

Land, Bread, Housing, Education, Clothing, Justice and Peace

Josiah X soon joined the armed struggle and the Black Panthers . In 1978 his then-girlfriend, a fellow militant named Tammy, showed him some Black Panthers Party literature about the rumoured “Black Captain America”.

Though Josiah was dismissive of the Party’s propaganda, his mind clicked. Having been told that his father was named Isaiah, he checked the Black Panthers’ lists of Black soldiers allegedly sacrificed during Project: Rebirth. Days later, he was visiting the house of Faith Bradley (now Faith Shabbaz) in Mt. Vernon.

(Faith Bradley changed her name after converting to Islam, though it is unknown whether it is an actual name change or an alias. Specifically, the name “Shabbaz” is a reference to a Nation of Islam tale about a Black African Muslim nation. It was adopted as a family name by Malcolm X and a number of other African American Muslim activists and faithfuls.)

Josiah met with his mother, sister and father. Howbeit, Isaiah Bradley’s brain had been damaged by the serum over the years. He was now child-like in mind. Mrs. Shabbaz told Josiah that he couldn’t stay, the house still being under surveillance. Though Josiah knew at least about his parents, that did him little good since he couldn’t meaningfully contact them.

Mercenary man

Distraught, Josiah X spent the 1980s as a successful mercenary. He leveraged his formidable physical prowess and solid combat experience with the military. He killed for profit, and was one of the few who became rich off the process.

Josiah X (Marvel Comics) wielding the shield

This downward spiral was eventually stopped when he discovered Islam and converted, apparently in the early 1990s. Josiah changed his name to Josiah Saddiq, then to Josiah al hajj Saddiq after he performed his hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca. He then became a minister.

(“Saddiq” means “the one who is true”. It is one of the traditional 99 names of Allah. Choosing one such name is not unusual for converts.)

(Josiah likely being a Sunni  Muslim, his position as an imam is not part of any chain of command or even formal organisation. It’s more akin to a scholar and community leader who is considered as a religious coordinator by the local Muslim community.)

(That Josiah is Sunni is a guess mostly based on statistics. The vast majority of Muslims are, and the next largest group, the Shi’a, are geographically concentrated. Furthermore, given genre tropes about action/adventure mercenary stories in the 1980s, Josiah likely was a mercenary in African brushfire wars. As such he was more likely to encounter Sunni Islam.)

Shahada, Salah, Zakat, Sawm, Hajj

The imposing convert came back to the US and became a full-time imam and community organiser. He chiefly worked with Black faithfuls on the East Coast. During the mid-1990s he established himself as a community leader in the most desperate area of Brooklyn, called Little Mogadishu or “the Mog”.

There, he ran a mission. He also occasionally visited his parents in the Bronx. But he had to do so rarely and quickly because of the surveillance. During most such brief visits he played boardgames with his mentally childlike father.

Josiah Saddiq was still haunted by guilt over the supposed murder of sister Irenia 30 years before. This guilt drove him back to visit Boston and the church where he had been raised. He decided to ease his soul by confessing for the murder.

Through sheer coincidence, the confessor that day was sister Irenia. Despite the blood that had so impressed the 12-year Josiah, Irenia had not been seriously wounded, much less killed. Though the sister was confused by Josiah’s obviously Muslim garb and apparent youth, Josiah was elated. He returned to the Mog with a much lighter heart to resume his mission.

(That a nun was in the confessional is… unusual. From the context of the story it likely was the result of freak circumstances. Perhaps the priest was urgently and discreetly needed somewhere else and had to be replaced on the fly by the senior nun.)

Bridges to Mogadishu

Josiah X became an important man in the Mog. But the area was one of the home bases of the powerful, influential mob called the 66 Bridges. The 66 Bridges began to make indirect donations to Josiah’s mission.

Though the minister suspected that the money was dirty, he decided to accept it and use it to help the neighbourhood. In his view, fighting against the 66 Bridges would only lead to innocents being killed. And any gangster put out of commission would immediately be replaced by eager up-and-comers with even less to lose.

In 2002, Faith Shabbaz anonymously sent Josiah replicas of the body armour and shield once used by Isaiah Bradley. Though the dates do not quite match, this likely followed the visit of Captain America to the Bradley home.

Rogers had just discovered the existence of his predecessor. He located him after extensive investigation. Rogers gave Bradley the tattered remains of the armoured costume Isaiah had worn during World War II. The replica shield and costume sent to Josiah were likely based on the Bradley mementos Cap took from the military to hand back to the family.

Red, White and Black

As far as is known, Josiah X did not actually use the costume and shield. His sense of self was too conflicted to become somebody else and accept the role of a Captain America-like hero. But he took to wearing the chainmail coat under his shirt.

A few weeks later, he was confronted by James Rhodes. Rhodey was looking for allies in his war against the 66 Bridges. He already knew the minister, for Josiah had helped his sister Star back when she was a drug addict and prostitute in the Mog. But Rhodes also discovered that Josiah was taking money from the 66 Bridges.

The manipulative Rhodes played on Josiah X’s strong sense of shame. He spurred him into action and join the ad-hoc crew that was fighting against the 66 Bridges.

Though the minister was uneasy being in costume and fighting along relative strangers for the fate of the Mog, he revealed himself in action. Josiah X unhesitatingly risked his life to save children from collateral damage before anybody else could react.

Though Josiah X clearly established himself as a super-hero (albeit one without a code name), his further activities remain undocumented. When Patriot (Elijah Bradley) later went looking for Josiah X, he mentioned that the minister had been missing for a year. What happened, and Josiah’s current status, remains unrevealed.


Description

Like Isaiah Bradley, Josiah is a huge, bald Black man with Captain America-like near-superhuman physique. In his civvies he often wears a small pair of smoked glasses, patterned after the glasses that his childhood hero Malcolm X  used to wear. He also sports an African-style Muslim prayer hat.

Josiah X is a rich man. With his mercenary earnings he bought a literal mansion in a 1% neighbourhood with extensive private security. He spends most of his time in his ratty mosque in the Mog, but is always well-dressed in a high-end, urban African-American Muslim fashion style. Josiah seems to have a thing for heavy silk shirts.


Personality

Josiah X is a serious, deliberate, measured man. He’s used to being a community leader in a difficult and complex environment. In some ways he talks like a lawyer or negotiator – carefully measuring what he’s saying and choosing his words and information. He always gives the faint impression that he’s operating from a position of strength.

Though there were apparently periods of his life when he was amoral. But he considers that the love and light of Islam delivered him from Satan. He’s very concerned with his ministership and doing good for the weak, the powerless and the local faithful – though, again, in a pragmatic and deliberate manner.

Josiah X was shaped by his roots. He considered that his whole life only came with one fact – that he was found on a train. Thus, he had to invent everything else without ever being certain whether what he was doing was true.

He’s very concerned with truth, as his Muslim last name reflects. As a result, Rhodes found it easy to provoke him by stating that by hiding his costume under his civvies, Minister X was hiding and suppressing the truth.

Establishing contact with his parents was very important to him. But it did not dispel this preoccupation. Circumstances meant that he could spend very little time with them – and it came quite late in his life.

One of his main motivations for operating as a costumed hero is to reveal to the wider world the truth about the first Captain America.

Heroic

Despite his measured attitude and keen awareness of the complexity of life and community, Saddiq discovered that he was a born hero. He would unhesitatingly leap into action to save lives. Also, he cuts an impressive, powerful figure that inspires trust from those he helped. As a hero he just doesn’t talk much – he acts.

Despite the terrible treatment he received from successive US governments, his experience in the military and the tension faced by Muslim communities in much of America, Josiah X remains a patriot. He will occasionally fly the flag above the entrance to his mission, though some among the mission-goers do not think it appropriate.

His patriotism seems to be similar to Captain America’s. It is a belief in the dream and ideals, but not necessarily in any actual policy of the United States – though it is more understated. The star on his chest is, to him, at once a citation of the American flag, the star occasionally used as a symbol of Islam (a haykal) and a symbol of his father Isaiah.

Ministry

Minister X doesn’t talk that much about religion, and doesn’t like preachers. He comes across more like a community organiser and social worker than a cleric. His personal faith is the sort that inspires more questions than it brings answers.

He was only ever heard talking in religious terms to other Muslim faithfuls. And even then this was closer to general ethical considerations than theological references.

Racism and the Civil Rights struggle have played and continue to play an important role in Josiah X’s life. Despite looking in his late 20s he’s in his 60s, and his formative years took place during the thick of the Civil Rights movement. He’s also lived in the ghetto for much of his life, as a matter of choice.


Quotes

“Strangers found me on a train. That’s all I know of my entire life !”

Wa alaikum as salaam, brother Rashid.”

“The only thing keeping the various gang warlords in check is the certain knowledge that Triage will put a bullet in their ear if they cross him. Take Triage out — and it’s the Wild West. The dirty secret about this ‘war on crime’ is, we’re not actually prepared to win it.”

Josiah: “Except that the first Super-Soldier was a Black man.”
Rashid: “Oral tradition, urban myth. History is written by the dominant culture.”
Josiah (referring to his uniform’s chest emblem): “Yeah, but we know the truth. Maybe the star will inspire that.”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Josiah X

Dex: 08 Str: 06 Bod: 06 Motivation: Uphold Good
Int: 05 Wil: 04 Min: 04 Occupation: Mission leader
Inf: 05 Aur: 04 Spi: 05 Resources {or Wealth}: 007
Init: 020 HP: 025

Skills:
Military science: 05, Vehicles (Land): 05, Weaponry (Infantry weapons): 05

Advantages:
Area Knowledge (Brooklyn), Expertise (Muslim theology), Familiarity (Military equipment and protocols, Catholic theology), Headquarters (Expansive – his mansion), Language (Standard Arabic), Lightning Reflexes, Slowed Ageing.

Connections:
The Crew (Low), Street (Low).

Drawbacks:
Secret Identity, Dependents. For much of his life, Josiah had Guilt.

Equipment:
Josiah X wields two pieces of equipment based on those used by Isaiah Bradley:

  • SCALE MAIL VEST [BODY 06, Skin armour: 01, Drawback: Real armour, Limitation: Skin armour is not effective against blunt attacks, Partial Coverage (-1CS Trick Shot to Bypass)].
  • MEDIUM SHIELD [BODY (Hardened Defenses) 12, EV 03 (07 w/STR), Recommended STR 03, Note: OV/RV bonus when using the Block Manoeuvre is 2 APs, Note: the OV bonus for the Shield Cover Manoeuvre is 2 APs].

Sweet child of mine

The stats above are conservative estimates, solely based on what Josiah X was seen doing in primary sources. It is likely that his abilities are very similar to Issaiah Bradley’s, though. Possible adjustments are :

  • STR and BOD upped to 07.
  • Regeneration: 05 and Systemic Antidote: 01.
  • Perhaps one or two more APs of Mind and Spirit, since in comics these things tend to be hereditary.
  • DEX might be higher by one AP.

This would make him similar to Bradley, which was probably the intent. But again, that has not been demonstrated so far.


Game Stats — DC Adventures RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Minister X aka Josiah X — Averaged PL10

STR STA AGL DEX FGT INT AWE PRE
05 04 03 03 08 02 01 02

Powers

Shieldsman ● 3 points (Sustained, Easily removable – requires a shield) ● Descriptor: Skill
Enhanced Parry 1, Enhanced Dodge 1, Defensive Attack, Defensive Roll 1, Interpose

Devices

Double V shield ● 6 points (Noticeable, Easily removable, Sustained) ● Descriptor: Metallurgy
–> Reflexive blocking — Enhanced Parry 1, Enhanced Dodge 1, Improved Defence, Defensive Roll 1
–> Deliberate blocking — Impervious Toughness 8 (Limited 1 – to attacks blockable by a shield)
–> Shield bash — Strength-based Blunt Damage 1

A certain scale mail vest ● 3 points (Removable) ● Descriptor: Metallurgy
Protection 4

Combat Advantages

Close attack 5, Defensive Attack, Defensive Roll 2 (4), Improved Defense, Improved initiative, Interpose, Move-by Action, Ranged attack 4.

Other Advantages

Benefit 1 (Slowed ageing), Benefit 2 (Independently wealthy), Language (Standard Arabic).

Skills

Acrobatics 2 (+5), Athletics 5 (+10), Deception 2 (+4), Expertise (Brooklyn lore) 5 (+7), Expertise (Muslim theology) 6 (+8), Expertise (Catholic theology) 2 (+4), Expertise (Mercenary soldier) 6 (+8), Insight 3 (+4), Perception 4 (+5), Persuasion 1 (+3)

Offense

Initiative +7
Unarmed +13, Close, Damage 5
Shield bash +13, Close, Damage 6

Defence

Dodge 10/12** Fortitude 09
Parry 10/12** Toughness 04*/08/12***
Will 05

* Without Defensive Roll
** With shield
*** With Defensive Roll and vest

Complications

  • Secret identity
  • Dependants The mission-goers, his family, his friends.
  • I heard you was conflicted During much of his life, Josiah was adrift and guilt-ridden.

Powers Levels

  • Trade-off areas. Attack/Effect PL 10, Dodge/Toughness PL 12, Parry/Toughness PL 12, Fort/Will PL 7.
  • Points total 121. Abilities 56, Defences 18, Skills 18, Powers 3, Devices 9, Advantages 17. Equiv. PL 9.

Notes

The effects of the serum are directly rolled into his stats rather than modelled as a Power with Enhanced Attributes. This reflects his in vitro enhancements.

The stats above are conservative estimates, solely based on what Josiah X was seen doing in primary sources. It is likely that his abilities are very similar to Issaiah Bradley’s, though. Possible adjustments are :

  • One more Rank in STR and STA.
  • Regeneration: 04 and Enhanced Fortitude 1.
  • Perhaps one or two more Ranks in his Will save, since in comics these things tend to be hereditary.
  • Fighting and Agility might be 1-2 Ranks higher.

This would make him similar to Bradley, which was probably the intent. But again, that has not been demonstrated so far.

By Sébastien Andrivet and Roy Cowan.

Source of Character: The Crew (Marvel Universe).

Helper(s): Woodrow Hill, rpg.net’s BosTang community, Capita_Senyera, Darci, Gareth Lewis.

Writeup completed on the 28th of November, 2010.

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