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Superwoman (Kristen Wells) (DC Comics)

Superwoman

(Kristen Wells)


Context

DC has had — inevitably — a number of Superwoman characters. This specific one is the brainchild of great Superman writer Elliot S! Maggin.

Superwoman (Kristen Wells) appeared in a novel (Miracle Monday) and two Annual comic books during the early 1980s. She’s a time traveller.


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Background

  • Real Name: Kristen (sometimes “Kristin”) Wells.
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: Jimmy Olsen (ancestor), James Olsen VI (Great-Great-Grandfather), Unnamed Great-Grandmother (and James Olsens II-V, too, naturally).
  • Group Affiliation: None.
  • Base Of Operations: Columbia University, Metropolis, circa 2860 and “present-day” (for the Pre-Crisis Universe) Metropolis.
  • Height: 5’5” Weight: 112 lbs.
  • Eyes: Hazel Hair: Red


Powers and Abilities

Kristen, herself, is a favorite professor in Columbia’s history department . She displays an extraordinary knowledge of early superheroes.

She is an above-average dancer. Kristen also relies heavily on her force of personality to get her through many situations. Otherwise, she is a perfectly normal woman of her time.


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Opal beam amulet

As Superwoman, Kristen wears trinkets that are more or less common in her era, but grants her phenomenal abilities in the present day. Her Opal Beam Amulet allows her to :

  • Decorporealize herself and objects (in DC Heroes RPG terms, Dispersal).
  • Teleport through vast distances and times (Detect, Dimension Travel, Teleportation).
  • Retain herself or another in a special pocket of space (Energy Blast emitting from her chest, Spirit Travel).
  • Store vast quantities of historical data (INT, Postcognition, Precognition, Recall).

Her Gravity Redistribution Flight Belt allows her, of course, to fly. But it also allows her manipulate mass to either simulate super-strength (Gravity Decrease) or give her a mechanical advantage of sorts (Density Increase). It further contains a “five-dimensional hole-poker,” which allows her to bridge widely-separated points in space (Warp).


History

As a graduate student, Kristen Wells was fascinated with mysteries surrounding Superman’s past. To her it was an ancient age where men and women wore their greatness as easily as they wore their clothing or their names. An era where a strong arm and a quick wit could turn the tides of time.

On a foundation grant, she traveled back in time to learn the origin of the galaxy-wide holiday known as Miracle Monday.

Miracle Monday

However, working with Superman, Kristen got more than she bargained for. She not only discovered said origin, but figured prominently in the events themselves when she was possessed by a demon looking to destroy the universe.

Superman saved her and, thus, the universe. The memories of all beings (save Kristen and Superman) were purged of the event, leaving them only with a feeling of extreme serenity. That was the foundation of Miracle Monday [Miracle Monday novel, by Elliot S! Maggin]. The celebration of this day would be a tradition that would reach into the LXth century and beyond.

Again with the past

Years later, Kristen was as a seasoned history professor at Columbia University’s Metropolis campus, the Louis G. Cowan  building. She specialized in the period from 1763 to 2100.

Kristen was giving a lecture on the era’s superheroes when the conversation drifted to a personal hero of Kristen’s, Superwoman. Superwoman was the only hero whose true identity had been completely lost to history.

At the suggestion of her students, Kristen again went back in time to gain the help of Superman. Clark explained that he knew a Supergirl, but no Superwoman. Then, King Kosmos attacked, almost immediately injuring Clark, now in his identity as Superman.

Finding the Superwoman costume in Lois Lane’s closet, she confronted Clark’s fellow reporter seeking help for the hero. But Lois explained that it was for Linda Danvers—Supergirl—for a costume party that evening, sponsored by WGBS. Kristen tried contacting Superman’s cousin, but was unable to find her in Chicago.

As it turned out, Linda decided not to wear a costume at all to the party, leaving the Superwoman costume to the side in favor of a simple dress. As the party began, King Kosmos—extradimensional dictator in exile—actually did come to conquer the Earth, starting with Superman.

It’s a she-bird, it’s a she-plane, no it’s Superwoman

He paralyzed the occupants of the building save Kristen—whose futuristic technology protected her—but including both Superman and Supergirl.

As far as Kristen knew, this incident with King Kosmos was also the herald of the first appearance of Superwoman. But it seemed that there was nobody to take on the mantle.

The professor had brought the Superwoman costume to insure it would be on hand at the right moment. Realizing that Superwoman must be someone who was in reach of the costume and also one not paralyzed, Kristen donned the uniform to become her own hero, Superwoman.

On worldwide television, Superwoman confronted Kosmos, and thrilled Earth’s entire population…until the tyrant knocked her out with a single punch, and jettisoned her from his ship. Fortunately, though, that gave Superman enough time to rouse himself from paralysis and save her.

With some work, including some time travel and combat in the timestream, Superwoman helped Superman defeat Kosmos in her new identity. With that, Kristen returned home to report her research back to her class. [DC Comics Presents Annual #2]

Travel accident

In her native time, she also became a hero—but not the sort that she liked. Marshall of parades and generic celebrity face, Kristen tried hard to maintain her life. She became close to Dr. Barry Elkin, but soon realized that she couldn’t reap the rewards of a life she had not yet lived.

One more time, Kristen traveled back to the twentieth century. However, due to problems with transport (a chronosynclastic infundibulium—a kind of time vortex), all her memories other than her exploits in the twentieth century—including her own name—were scattered to the winds. These were not destined to arrive until long after she did.

Even in this amnesiac state, she managed to help Superman maintain order in city under siege by Lex Luthor. More importantly, at a critical juncture, she regained enough of her memory to realize the perfect way to defeat Luthor’s scheme. Kristen used the aforementioned Time Vortex to disrupt his plan to send Metropolis into a hostile dimension.

After the chaos subsided, Kristen decided to follow through with her plan. She had to follow the path history had chosen for Superwoman. For many years, she fought evil, both alongside Superman and alone. Then, just as Superman would some years afterward, Superwoman disappeared and faded into obscurity.

I want to retire, no longer required

She could have died…could have gone to another world…could have tried to come home and been lost in the folds of time…or, she could have finished her work and come home.

The last of which, in fact, is what she did. She came home to the arms of a lonely Barry Elkin to build yet another life. This one would be firm in the belief that she had done something to warrant her prestige.

Of course, not long afterward, in the “only time will tell” part of her career, in both her native time and in the twentieth century, Crisis on Infinite Earths apparently removed Superwoman from continuity. Thus we may never find exactly what those intervening adventures were, though indications are that :

  • She at least once would meet then-President Ronald Reagan , fight alongside the Green Lantern Corps… [DC Comics Presents Annual #4]
  • … and maybe—just maybe—joined with Captain Marvel and the remnants of the Justice League of America in the futile attempt to save Superman’s life when Brainiac tried to kill him at the Fortress of Solitude. [“Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” Superman #423, Action Comics #583.]

Joann Jamie

The prototype for Kristen is historian Joann Jamie, from the year 3475. Jamie had approximately Kristen’s “Miracle Monday” role in Superman #293, “The Miracle of Thirsty Thursday!”

History records an accident which causes a city-wide fear of water, and turns the scientist responsible into a rampaging monster. Moreover, history records this incident as a miracle. Unable to understand why, student Joann travels to learn what actually happened. She is flustered when everyone she encounters is also a far-future historian, there for the same purpose.


Description

Kristen dresses fairly “normally” for the locales she visits. The one exception in her last adventure, where she probably would have been well-dressed only for a biker bar of the day. She’s also a fairly pretty younger woman with shoulder-length red hair.

Apparently she looks a lot like Jill Hastings. Hastings is the Metropolis actress who would play Superwoman in the movies, opposite Gregory Reed’s portrayal of Superman.

The Superwoman costume is similar to Superman’s traditional outfit, primarily. The colors are reversed—that is, blue boots, red leggings, blue gloves, red sleeves, and a blue bathing suit piece (with the standard Superman symbol). The latter is cut by a golden belt which serves partially as a tunic, connecting to the blue cape and Flash-style cowl/mask.


Personality

Kristen is rather brash and headstrong (like many graduate students who get grants can be…).

Later, as a professor, she mellowed slightly, becoming a seasoned professional. Yet she still has quite a hero worship of the people she studies. She also has a certain amount of doubt lurking in the back of her mind as to whether she’s up to standing alongside the greatest heroes of the twentieth century.

Once she dons the Superwoman costume, though, most of her doubt vanishes as she realizes that *she* is the woman she has idolized all her life.

Since she’s from the future, and gets most of her information second-hand, Kristen is legally bound to uphold the time traveling cliché. Namely, occasionally getting the idioms wrong until she’s told otherwise. This is her least amusing aspect, of course.

Kristen is also bound by the laws of time travel in her era not to divulge any information that might change the future. Being brash and headstrong, though, she’ll bend this rule as much as she needs to, if it will save a life or keep history on track. Of course, in doing this, she invariably plays into her own destiny.


Quotes

“No, I can’t change history…No one can, as far as I know—and you only manage to make things worse for yourself when you try ! King Kosmos tried, and it made him insane ! So, the question remains, who was… IS… the Superwoman that history places in Metropolis in this time ? It isn’t Lois Lane… isn’t Lana Lang… isn’t even Kara, with all her powers ! I’ve figured out who it isn’t, and now I know who it is. I am Kristen Wells… I am Superwoman… and I have a job to do !”

“Let history bear witness that no American ever had to bow to a tyrant.”

“History says you’re wrong, Kosmos, and I’ll be happy to prove it to you !”


DC Universe History

Little of interest prevents injecting Superwoman into mainstream Post-Crisis DC continuity. Time travel may work differently from week to week, the story’s Supergirl/Linda Danvers clearly can no longer be Kryptonian, but otherwise the path is clear.

Her story can be transferred whole-cloth, perhaps by replacing Kara’s part with Wonder Woman or Donna Troy, if it even seems relevant.

As far as using Kristen in a campaign, she makes a good NPC/plot device, coming from the future to “observe” an event. In effect, that pushes the PCs into participating in the event. Something like that would fit quite well into the “predestination” basis of Kristen’s character.

Alternatively

Alternatively, you could bring her together with Kara and any other characters from before the Crisis and give them their own team…

In fact, I seem to recall reading that, at one point, DC was considering a book which would bring Kristen back (changing her time to the days just prior to the Legion of Superheroes), teaming her with Barry “Flash II” Allen, recently relocated to the same period to live his life with wife Iris) and a small group of other heroes of potentially the same era.

I like the idea. I suppose the Green Lantern known as Vidar, who would one day be known as Universo, would also be appropriate. And moving Kristen to that time would also permit her to have some of the Legionnaires as students.

Oh, and the Linear Men are probably mightily annoyed at her violations of what they believe the laws of time travel must be.


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Superwoman

Dex: 04 Str: 02 Bod: 03 Motivation: Responsibility of Power
Int: 08 Wil: 06 Min: 05 Occupation: History Professor, Columbia U.
Inf: 06 Aur: 05 Spi: 04 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 018 HP: 035

Powers:
Awareness: 08, Precognition: 08, Empathy: 03

Bonuses and Limitations:
All Powers are considered Skills:

  • Awareness and Precognition reflect Kristen’s knowledge of “future history.
  • Empathy simply reflects an intuitive understanding of humans.

Skills:
Artist (Dancer): 05, Scientist: 04

Advantages:
Popularity, Scholar (20th century history and superheroes, Time Travel).

Connections:
Superman (High), Daily Planet (Low), Columbia University (circa 2783, High).

Drawbacks:
SPI (memory loss in third adventure).

Equipment:

  • GRAVITY REDISTRIBUTION FLIGHT BELT [STR 08, BODY 10, Density Increase: 10, Flight: 20, Gravity Decrease: 08, Warp: 45, Warp requires physically tracing out the boundary of the “tunnel”.
    The Gravity Redistribution Flight Belt is a fascinating piece of technology which allows its wearer—as the name implies—alter the effects of gravity on herself and/or nearby objects, allowing for flight, added durability, or a good approximation of superstrength. In Kristen’s case, the belt also contains a “five-dimensional hole-poker,” which allows her to connect to disparate locations by tracing out the “hole” to be “poked”].
  • OPAL BEAM AMULET [BODY 08, INT 01, Detect (Home Time Period): 20, Dimension Travel: 08, Dispersal: 12, Energy Blast: 04, Spirit Travel (Self-Linked): 01, Teleportation: 13, Postcognition: 12, Precognition: 07, Recall: 12; Dimension Travel only works to and from the Time Stream ; both Dispersal and Spirit Travel may be used on a single, other individual, instead of the wearer; Precognition and Postcognition are future recordings of history texts].
    The Opal Beam Amulet is something of a “Swiss Army Knife” for time travellers. First and foremost, it allows for transportation to and from the Time Stream (see below), and makes it easier to traverse by providing a reference point—the traveller’s home time.
    It also provides the ability to project the wearer or a target to be projected “outside of time and space,” where that person (or object) can view what occurs (and can be viewed), but cannot interact with anything. The device also carries an onboard computer with files relevant to the time period.
    Inexplicably, the amulet also appears to have other abilities, some of which nearly duplicate the functions of the Gravity Redistribution Flight Belt (Dispersal and Teleportation)—and so may be simply errors in story editing—and others which are obviously there, but have no apparent purpose within the goals of the design (Energy Blast).

Design notes

Dimension Travel (and the discussion of the Timestream) is used instead of the standard Time Travel mechanics, as Superwoman actually functions in the Timestream when the action demands it.

Also, for consistency, I am ignoring the single instance when Superwoman uses Warp without tracing the circle (DCCP Ann#4). I claim that she traced the circle out with her hand.

Likewise, while I mention her brief appearances in Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow,I’m ignoring the fact that she was clearly portrayed as being in the same strength class as Superman and Captain Marvel (punching at a barrier she probably could have ignored, and then ripping open a vault door). Chalk it up to the artist using the wrong visual cue, I guess.


Previous statistics

Early in her career, Kristen carried no equipment and had only 20 Hero Points. She also had none of her 20th century Connections, and had the equivalent of the (argh !) Socially Inept Drawback while she tried to assimilate 20th century culture quirks.


The Time Stream

In the Pre-Crisis DC Universe, traveling through time is both easier and vastly more difficult than it is in the modern DCU. One key difference that makes it so is that time travel tended to involve literally traveling through the timestream.

The Timestream is an extradimensional space (Travel Value: 11), where one stands outside the flow of time. While a highly abstract and chaotic space, the human mind typically manages to make sense of it by imposing a metaphor of an actual stream, where the past lies in one direction, and the future in the other.

Inside the Timestream, those who know what to look for (either through experience or a scholar in Time Travel) can perceive hints of where along the “stream” they lie. These are fragmentary glimpses of major events, which can be distinguished by those who can understand them. In DCH terms, that’s an INT/WILL roll against the Travel Value, with the aforementioned Scholar adding to the roll.

In this way, the traveller can search the entire timestream at his leisure, looking for a precise moment of interest. Likewise, one who has no experience in these matters will be inexorably lost.

Making entry

Once the correct “entry point” has been located, the time traveller must roll. The AV/OV are equal to APs Dimension Travel, and the OV/RV are equal to the Travel Value minus the APs of Time the traveller is willing to lose on accuracy. Accurate jumps are harder to make.

If the roll fails, the traveller realizes that there is a problem, and typically has the opportunity to abort the jump. This is a good thing, too, as continuing with a failed jump results in highly unpredictable “landing” points, sometimes varying in centuries.

On a successful roll, RAPs determine how accurate the jump was. Higher RAPs being closer to the target time. It is the GM’s option whether the final result is before or after the intended destination.

Note that the technology of the Opal Beam Amulet allows Superwoman to use her home time as a solid reference point. In game terms, this means that she may add (via AP math) her APs of Detect (Home Time) to her AV in the second (returning) Dimension Travel rolls.


Time Travellers and the March of History

Technically, time travellers have a much more reliable ability than Precognition: Full knowledge of history. However, “sanctioned” time travellers are generally more tightly bound than a player might expect.

In particular, any traveller with official status may not, under any circumstances, change history or allow it to be changed. Thus, despite potentially knowing “everything” about the period in question, the traveller may only rarely act on that knowledge.

They’ll generally choose not to act (or induce others to act) until the last possible moment. Greater preparation leads to a greater chance of causing a larger disaster than could be predicted.

Additionally, simple knowledge of recorded history fails to keep the information in context, especially as the centuries pass. Only the event, itself, can do that. Thus, the further from the time of the event, the foggier is the understanding, again, making action on such knowledge rife with dangers.

In terms of DCH mechanics, both of these issues are handled by using the Precognition and Postcognition Powers. This is likely to supply the Character with greater detail on an event the closer in time she is to it.

By John Colagioia.

Helper(s): Michel Andre, Morgan Champion, David Johnston.

Source of Character: Pre-Crisis DCU (worth noting that Elliot S! Maggin wrote all three stories—four, if you count Joann Jamie).

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