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Reuben Flagg (Chaykin comics)

Reuben Flagg


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

Someone’s gotta put it all back together… Reuben Flagg just might be the man !


Context

Howard Chaykin’s American Flagg! was a 1983-89 satire sci-fi comic with an early, and pretty good indie publisher – First Comics. It could be considered a cyberpunk  story.

Dystopic future ? Check. Drama ? Check. Action ? Check. Conspiracy ? Check. Sci-fi elements ? Check. Original story elements ? Check. Influence on future works ? Check. Howard Chaykin ? Check.

Yes, it has all the ingredients of great storytelling ! And, indeed, the story is greatly entertaining !


Background

  • Real Name: Reuben Flagg.
  • Other Aliases: Mark Thrust – Sexus Ranger, Peter Zarustica (of the Four World Industries Security), Ranger Flagg.
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: Axel Flagg (American father), Rebecca Flagg (Russian mother).
  • Group Affiliation: Plexus Rangers.
  • Base Of Operations: Chicago.
  • Height: 6’1” Weight: 200 lbs Age: 30+
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Brown


Powers and Abilities

Flag is used to Martian diet and has a different metabolism. This enables him to see the subliminal messages the ASLC has implanted in video programming, even though they are invisible to almost everyone else.

An old actor, he is also an accomplished disguise artist. He does, in fact, regularly use the undercover identity of Peter Zarustica to get information. He will put ’a little pomade on the comb, and do a paradigm shift in tailoring‘ to do the trick when anonymity is needed.


Additional context

By popular demand – the show is on !

All media is really big business and television is the opiate of the masses. Television is vital to Plex plans for maintaining order on Earth. Through a broadcasting center on Gagaringrad, Luna, Plex-Net is the primary link to Earth’s leaders-in-absentia on Mars (although the Plex hasn’t forwarded anything from Mars lately).

The Plex has an official monopoly on all Earth video programming.

Watch it at your own risk, though, because it happens that programs have each frame jammed with hypnotics, hallucinates and subliminal commands. All courtesy of the PlexUSA, with its mass-com-technology and cosa nostra morality, of course. It appears that only Reuben Flagg can see through all of these subliminal messages.

There is, in fact, a larger media conspiracy going on due to political intrigues on many levels.

Television, the drug of a nation

The most popular show on TV is probably Firefight all Night Live. There are about 75 registered paramilitary poli-clubs in Chicage. The famous ones are the Gotterdammercrats, the Geopragmacrats, the Blackstone Rangers, the Glow Boys, the Irish Republican Army, the Jewish Offense Brigadiers, the Moroccan Popular Front, the Polish Popular Front and the Shabbos Goys.

The Plex supplies them with conventional weapons, vidunits and American plexpress cards.

The clubs are legal combatants for their own ’political‘ agendas. But there are strict rules to follow: no aircraft, no nukes, no combat in commercial zones and no suburban adventurism. The Plex, in return, film various firefights, and thus hold the highest rated vidshow on three planets. The Plex makes a fortune in ad revenues, and the poli-clubs get to be on TV. It’s a fair exchange.

Furthermore, the message of violence prevents order in society and the reinstitution of social rights. This all works to destabilize the USA in favor of the Plex conspiracy.

Tromplo killed the porno stars

Reuben Flagg was the megastar in his own show on Mars, The New Adventures of Mark Thrust – Sexus Ranger: The provocative adventures of the fearless vice cop. It was about walking the streets of an unnamed, untamed and sexually transmitted disease riddled sector of a great urban metroplex.

Reuben Flagg fighting a gunman

But he was cancelled and his role exchanged with digital technology, tromplography. As a result, he moved to Earth and became a real Plexus Ranger instead.

Flagg is recognized around the world, and in particularly in the USA and in Cuba, as Mark Thrust. This sometimes works to his advantage and other times not. The show is advertised still with large billboards: “Reuben Flagg is Mark Thrust!” and the like.

He is often greeted with “I loved your show” and “You were adorable as Mark Thrust”. In DC Heroes RPG terms, he has the Local Hero Advantage with these fans. His heroic antics are now regularly reported on the official news program Fasfax.

When you’re threatened by mob violence…

Another popular show is Bob Violence, brought to you by Jerry Rigg… Custom Firearms. The commercial makes the aim group apparent: “When you’re threatened by mob violence, get a hold of Bob Violence!”. The Bob Violence show stars a hologram and is filled with subliminals for death, murder, sex, anxiety, doubt, dread and fear.

Another popular show is Nuclear Family, a newslike documentary of the famous and hot. Old media is rare and sought after in this society of media junkies. For instance, old episodes of Amanda by night and Twilight Zone can be used as commodity or as bribes.

The biggest shows on the Plex network are: Custom Firearms, No Quarter, I’d rather be dead, 500,000 credit crapshoot, Doormat of Desire, Interspecies Romance, Press the Meat, White sluts on dope, Vice Commandos, Fantax, Kiss and tell!, Public Humiliator and Love Junkies.

Airwaves pirates

The pirate broadcasting station Q-USA knows the truth about the large Plex conspiracy. It does its best to curb the rampant corruption and violence in society, and reveal the truth before it’s too late. This agenda continued once Flagg took over the operations, and the existence of a counter-movement named the American Survivalist Labor Committee was made public.

Flagg even managed to get his ownership and broadcasting legalized.

The station’s most popular show is pirate basketball (and Flagg happens to be friends with the leader, Jules “Deathwish” Folquet, of the Skokie Skullcrushers, a major team that work extra as mercenaries), “Blackmarket Basketball” (sports is outlawed), followed by old, outlawed shows like Preholocaust Theater and Midnight Creep.

Organisations aplenty

A few political, economic and non-profit organizations deserve mention.

ASLC

First, the American Survivalist Labor Committee. A few days before the banks collapsed along with the rest of society in 1996, rumor has it almost two million Americans went underground. According to research prepared by the Witnesses, ASLC was a reactionary wing of the Democratic Party. They are pro-nuclear, anti-Semitic, anti-Italian, anti-British.

In 2031, the ASLC surfaced with a plan to discredit Reuben Flagg, gas Chicago and make it a home for the more than one million ASLC‘ers living in caves and shacks outside the city. ASLC has forged an alliance with the above-ground neo-Nazi political organization known as the Gotterdammercrats.

The ASLC’s leader is a man referred to only as Decker, based in Peoria. Whether he participated in a mass suicide among members in Peoria after the defeat in Chicago remains to be seen.

Four World

Then we have the company of 4 World Industries International. Chaired by Antonio de la Cristo, Four World is one of the most powerful industrial interests on Earth. Under the helm of Antonio’s later sister, Ester Maria, it came close to buying Illinois and anything it wanted of Indiana.

But the Plex seemed ready to back out of the deal when Flagg frustrated her plans. First, by strictly obeying Plex law forbidding aliens, such as de la Cristo, to enter Chicago. Then by allowing her documents of the sale to blow up as he rescued her from ASLC kidnappers, who also killed her administrative assistant, the B.U.A.’s (Brasilian Union of America) Klein-Hernandez.

Ester de la Cristo died in a struggle with “Gretchen Holstrum” who was distraught over the death of Klein-Hernandez, her lover, and over de la Cristo’s plans to have Flagg killed.

The Witnesses

Every authoritarian society has its underground, and the Plex is no exception. The Witnesses are a group of old-time hippies, yippies!, Bohemians, Democrats and other fringe-types who have banded together. They sell Chicagoans such subversive services as non-combat education and information retrieval.

Led by Harris Angrilli, they maintain archives of pre-Plex commercial television program (since outlawed) and a computerized news file. One of the younger Witnesses is William Windsor-Jones, whose claim to be the rightful King of England has been taken seriously in many parts. The Witnesses used the Chatterbox bar on Division Street as a front… until it was destroyed in a battle with the ASLC minions.

Angrilli and his colleagues were a natural choice to take over the pirate TV station Q-USA. That occurred when Flagg realized he couldn’t run the station while serving as Chicago’s chief Plexus Ranger.

Video Rangers

The Video Rangers are a group of former criminals and gang members that got recruited by Flagg to work as a sort of auxiliary Plex Rangers. The most prominent members are probably Jules “Deathwish” Folquet, of the former illegal basketball team “Skokie Skullcrushers” and Cyril Farid-Khan of the former “Genetic Warlords”.

Don’t expect these former toughs to behave, but they get the job done well. When they are not having protection rackets on the side, that is…


Description

Reuben Flagg is a reasonably athletic, attractive male usually seen in his colorful Plex uniform (see illos).

As to Raul, his cat, he is an intelligent, talking orange tabby housecat. With the exception of his intelligence and his ability to speak (an ability whose origin is never explained), he appears to be otherwise a normal house pet. However, he has a customized set of cybernetic gloves, designed by Mandy Krieger. These give him opposable thumbs.


Personality

Being from Mars, which has a small population, Flagg is impressed by really big cities. He is surprised by the hatred of Yankees and Plex-members abroad. Corruption in the big city was quite a demoralizing and disillusioning blow at first, but he struck back. He fought for the right thing and succeeded.

Once he realized that there was a huge conspiracy going on he started looking for progressive alternatives. He has problems relating well with the Gotterdammercrats, who really are neo-Nazis. He prefers radical democratic movements, such as American Survivalist Labor Committee.

Communism is the big thing everywhere in the world except the States. Flagg, judging others by their actions and not their beliefs, has little problem with this. That is, until the old authorities, People’s Range Riders, show up in Plex-controlled areas with a reluctance to relinquish authority and the performing of protection rackets and harassment.

His hobbies seem to listen to 1930s jazz music or 1960s rock music.

Sex and violence

Flagg has, from his movie star past, the reputation of a sexual alpha male. Thus, he will often bed ladies, fans and co-workers alike. That seems to be as natural to him as breathing. But he will not knowingly fool around with other men’s wives, or so he says.

Reuben Flagg face closeup

As a Plexus Ranger he is a regular action hero, doing amazing stunts every day. He fights for justice, decency and liberty. Coming from “out there” he soon became rather iconic. But wherever popularity ain’t a good thing he will go by his alter ego, “Peter Zarustika”. As such he’ll pose as a security officer or other befitting occupation.

Flagg is Jewish. His parents “undesirably bohemian” attitudes, by Marsplex standards, have given him an idealistic view of the United States that runs contrary to the Plex. He has a desire to set things right again, and through inhering Q-USA, begins to set on that path. He had a problem with the rampant corruption in Chicago from his first day there.

He is the man to clean up the mess. First Chicago, and then America have to be restored!

Two-fisted, possibly more

Flagg has quite the gentleman thing going on. He will always try to reason with opponents first. He is opposed to killing, and, being forced do so so in the line of duty is problematic. He will often find better alternatives when his hand is forced. Though, he has no trouble pummeling them unconscious or put them in other troublesome situations.

Because of this he has been described as cruel, but fair. His Plex cross-index describes him as resourceful and calculating. He will also question his own actions if it appears that he might not be doing the just thing. Personal ethics, morals and integrity are very important to him, which is perhaps surprising given his occupational background. He has given lessons in ethics more than once.

He would, of course, never take a bribe as the law cannot be trifled with. But make no mistake, he is not squeamish and when the going gets tough, he gets tougher still.


Quotes

“Not a bad night. A job well done… yessir, not bad at all. Even without the raw sex. Probably should have stuck with Mandy… she wouldn’t have passed out. But she left early. Her loss. Heh heh. Yeah — a pretty good night. Commendation from Mayor Blitz… Damn – even Krieger was gracious. Maybe he’s not the ratsass I thought he was.”

“Someone’s got to stop the decline… or try. The U.S.A.’s gonna be 300 years old in ’76. I’d like to do my bit to make it a happier birthday.”

“My name is Reuben Flagg — and you’re under arrest in the name of the Plex.”

“You certainly took your sweet time getting here — I didn’t detox you and your bunch of guerilla junkies so that you could strut around like hitter peacocks.”

“Sorry I was so disappointing, Bullets… people seem to expect a lot from an idol of millions.”

(Paying for the trip) “You’ll take six. I’ll keep the rest. In lieu of beating the crap out of you for that ‘Yanqui dog’-crack. Go, or the beating starts now.”

(An ambusher’s shot near-misses Flagg) “Jesus H. Christ ! You lousy son of a bitch ! I’ve been threatened, beaten up, and shot at, and I have had it up to here !” (punches ambusher) “Now – either you tell me what’s going on – or I’ll see that you spend the rest of your life physically, as well as morally crippled !” (interrogation begins)


DC Universe History

There can be no doubt that the Plex is a future branch of Lexcorp. In the years 2031-2032, Lex Luthor could easily still be alive, and be the mastermind behind the whole conspiracy.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Reuben Flagg

Dex: 06 Str: 04 Bod: 04 Motivation: Responsibility of Power
Int: 05 Wil: 06 Min: 05 Occupation: Ex-video star, Plexus Ranger, Buccaneer Broadcaster
Inf: 05 Aur: 06 Spi: 05 Resources {or Wealth}: 005
Init: 018 HP: 050

Powers:
Truesight: 06

Bonuses and Limitations:
Truesight is a Skilled Power.

Skills:
Acrobatics: 04, Animal Handling (Riding): 04, Artist (Actor, Singer): 04, Charisma: 05, Detective: 05, Martial Artist: 05, Vehicles (Air, Land): 06, Weaponry: 06

Advantages:
Attractive, Credentials (Plexus Ranger, Low), Credentials (Q-USA, High, earlier only), Language (Russian), Local Hero (known as Mark Thrust to some ’enthusiasts’), Pet (Raul the talking cat).

Connections:
Charles Keenan Blitz – Mayor of Chicago (High), Luther Ironheart – the robot Plexus Ranger (High), Sam Luis Obispo the conman (High), The Plexus Rangers (Low), The Q-USA pirate TV station (High, earlier only), The Skokie Skullcrushers, later the Video Rangers (High), The Witnesses (Low). After moving to Russia, his Plexus Ranger Connection would instead work with the Russians.

Drawbacks:
Public Identity.

Equipment:
See below.


Mister President

During his time as the President of the United States, Flagg also has a High Level Connection to the White House, and High Level Credentials to the same. His Wealth would also be increased during this time.


Plexus ranger vehicles and weaponry

Ranger Flagg uses standard issue Plex-only weaponry and vehicles. The common land vehicle is the Battlevan®. This is a recreational tank, four-wheeled-drive optional. It’s so simple even a cat can control it – almost.

Aerial travel is often done using the Plex Hicycle®. This is a one-person helicopter, with an optional sidecar. Basically a flying motorcycle equipped with the latest in machine guns, a Hicycle® will get you where you have to go – and get you there in style.

Another aerial option is the Plex Ironwolf®. This is a two-seat, heavily armored fighter-copter, perfect for trips through the seedier parts of town.

Flagg will carry a number of Plex weapons on his body, depending on expected opposition, and those always available are listed below.

Note that despite the hype, the vehicles do not have Hardened Defense. Serious anti-vehicular fire will quickly blow them up.

  • Plex Battlevan® [BODY 10 STR 06, Flash: 02, Projectile Weapons (Autofire): 07, Running: 07, Sealed Systems: 08, R#2, Notes: Most likely also carries heavier ordnance, such as a SAM. It has room for at least three protected passengers.]
  • Plex Hicycle® [BODY 05 STR 03, Flight: 06, Projectile Weapons (Autofire): 07, R#2, Note: Room for one unprotected passenger.]
  • Plex Ironwolf® [BODY 10 STR 04, Flight: 06, Projectile Weapons (Autofire): 07, Sealed Systems: 08, R#2, It likely also carries a couple of more powerful air-to-surface and/or air-to-air missiles, Note: Room for two protected passengers.]
  • .666 Magrum revolver® [BODY 04, Projectile Weapon: 05, Ammo: 06, R#2, Note: this is the official weapon of the Plexus Rangers (note the odd spelling). The one they use when they’re playing for keeps. The weapon is also called the Anti-Christ Automatic],
  • Heavy Ordnance Rifle® [BODY 04, Projectile Weapons: 06, Range: 05, Ammo: 10, R#2, Limitation: Projectile weapon has No Range, use the listed Range instead, Note: This is a powerful, futuristic-looking heavy rifle].
  • Plexus shield® [BODY 08, EV 02 (05 w/STR), Note: this is a hand-carried riot shield good both for defense and knocking heads in].
  • Plexus buzzknucks® [BODY 02, EV 06 (07 w/STR), R#2, Notes: this is an electronic buzzknuck effective in melee combat. It is activated by using an Automatic Action, sounding ’zzz‘ while active].
  • Plexus kruncheon® [BODY 04, EV 07 (08 w/STR), R#2, Notes: This nightstick-like weapon is a more powerful version of the Plexus buzzknucks®. Used to put the unruly mo off your hands and on their backs where they belong. It is activated by using an Automatic Action, sounding ’shaaa‘ while active].
  • Snowball 99 Gun® aka Caligari’s Equalizer® [BODY 04, Sleep: 06, Range: 03, Ammo 04, Bonus: Area Effect, R#2, Limitation: Sleep has No Range – use the listed Range instead, Notes: the weapon fires a frozen globe (’snowball‘) of an industrial strength recreational barbiturate halluciongen, Somnambutol®, that puts a crowd to sleep and thus serves as crows control].
  • Explosive grenade (x1) [BODY 03, Bomb: 06, Note: Grenade Drawback. It looks like a red lighter and can either be thrown or shot by a launcher (for greater Range).
  • Nachtmacher grenades® (x2) [BODY 03, Darkness: 08, Bonus: Area Effect, Notes: Grenade Drawback. The weapon is developed by Kruppwest Fourtreich Technologies. It looks like a black lighter and can either be thrown or shot by a launcher (for extra Range; such a Nachtmacher® laucher will have a BODY score of 04 APs, and a Range of 7 APs).
    The grenade generates instantaneous jet black over a large area, immediately disorienting enemy combatants by obscuring their vision. The effect will reside in an outdoor area for at least 5 turns, depending on wind conditions, but indoors up to a optimum of 7 APs of time.]
  • Gas Mask [BODY 03, Systemic Antidote: 06, Ultra Vision: 08, Limitation: Systemic antidote only vs. respiratory toxins, R#2, Note: Usually carried by a Plexus Ranger when ready to use the Nachtmacher grenades].

By Dr. Peter S Piispanen.

Source of Character: Howard Chaykin’s American Flagg by First Comics.

Helper(s): Sébastien Andrivet.

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