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Zenith (Grant Morrison / 2000 AD) with his guitar

Zenith


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

Context

Zenith was an earlier comics series penned by Grant Morrison. It started in 2007, when central British genre comics institution 2000AD sought new talent.

Zenith was a more political and deconstrucitonist story. Early on, the titular superhuman protagonist is a miserable dackhead only interested in adulation as a cheap pop star.


Background

  • Real Name: Robert Neal Cassady McDowell.
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: Dr. Beat aka Warhead (father, deceased), White Heat (mother, deceased).
  • Group Affiliation: None.
  • Base Of Operations: Mobile.
  • Height: 5’10″ Weight: 140 lbs. Age: 19-21 years.
  • Eyes: Blue/White Hair: Black


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Powers and Abilities

Zenith’s main abilities are purely physical in nature. His strength makes him capable of destroying steel with his hands or punching straight through superhuman opponents. His speed is increased to metahuman levels and his toughness and endurance allow him to resist heavy military weapons.

His secondary powers are all mental. He can fly, project pyrotechnic effects and even communicate mentally. These mental abilities have hardly been practiced and he retains a very powerful potential for further mental powers.

Other than that, Zenith is a professional musician. But he’s riding more on his wave of popularity than his musical talent themselves.

His popularity is useful as long as people don’t really know him. His off-setting personality quickly destroys any respect or adoration they might have had for him.


History

Zenith inhabits a parallel Earth where the first superhumans appeared as a result of British and German scientists’ work in the 1920-1930s. Dr. Michael Payne was behind much of this research. During the WWII the Germans had their Masterman and the British their Maximan.

In the final confrontation between Masterman and Maximan, Masterman got the upper hand and would have destroyed Maximan. However, the Allies nuked Berlin at that point, destroying them both, and won the war.

Another difference was that Adolf Hitler had secretly been a novice member in a cult worshipping the dark gods named the Lloigor. The Lloigor are really the Lovecraftian Elder Gods.


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Summer of love

The next generation of superheroes were then in their 20s during the 1960s. They’d developed a wide array of metahuman abilities upon reaching adolescence, although they’d all fly. Dr. Payne was rewarded with the Nobel Prize in 1964.

These metahumans were trained by the British Army as a special task force, Task Force UK. Rebellious by nature they refused to serve in Việt Nam in 1965 for the Americans.

Later, in 1969, they formed their own super-club named the Cloud 9. All the members were internationally well-known and the media loved them. These super beings were, Mandala (Peter St. John), Volta (Ruby Fox), Red Dragon (Siadwel Rhys), White Heat (Jenny McDowell), Dr. Beat (Ridgeway), Spook (Penelope Moon) and Lux (David Cambridge Jr.).

Strange accidents followed. Lux exploded in a hotel room in Berlin. Dr. Beat and White Heat just disappeared (and later died in a car accident when attacked by CIA’s telepathic Shadowmen). Spook fell into a mirror and vanished. Volta, Mandala and Red Dragon got a strange, lethal disease that robbed them of their superhuman abilities.

Toward Zenith

As a result of this all experiments with metahumans genetics were banned.

As if part of some secret plan, Dr. Beat and White Heat had, before both their deaths, sired a child. They’d given the baby to their grandparents in France for raising. This child would grow up to become Zenith, the only member of the third generation of metahumans.

Zenith had gained the superhuman abilities of both his parents, but was working as an accomplished musician in London during the Margaret Thatcher era.

Return of Masterman

Another Masterman appeared in London, claiming to be the herald of the dark gods. He attacked Ruby Fox. Using her supposedly long-gone powers she survived the attempt and recruited the help of her old friends Peter St. John and Siadwel Rhys.

Zenith was persuaded by his agent to help stop the superpowered Nazi since it was good PR. Siadwel Rhys was killed by Masterman, but finally Peter St. John stopped him using his telepathic abilities. As a reward St. John was given the position of Defense Minister by Thatcher.

Two years later, in 1988, Zenith was attacked in his own apartment by a superpowered, metallic being named the Warhead. After a tough fight Zenith finally managed to stop him.

Warhead actually was the remains of Zenith’s own father Dr. Beat, and had been sent by old Dr. Payne himself. Payne was allied with a billionaire named Wallace. They intended to change the world by nuking London using a hacked nuclear submarine.

Dr. Payne

A member of the CIA, Phaedra Cale, came to Zenith’s place. She was investigating the apparent violation of the old ban against superhuman genetics. Zenith joined forces with Phaedra to go investigate Dr. Payne in Scotland. They broke into his laboratories, but were expected by Payne and Wallace. In the gloating that followed, Phaedra was shot dead.

Zenith found out their plans, but had to spend the night there; that night he met two super-women, Shockwave and Blaze. They were secretly clones of Ruby Fox and his own mother, Jenny. Payne delayed Zenith since on the next day, Payne’s calculations showed that Zenith’s biorhythm would be at its nadir, greatly diminishing his power.

However, Zenith’s official birth date was wrong. For PR reasons, it had been changed to pretend that Zenith shared a birthday with Elvis Presley. Thus, Zenith was powerful enough to stop the returning Warhead. Peter St. John then telepathically persuaded Wallace to stop the countdown. Dr. Payne was left in the facility.

Upon returning home, Zenith had a visitor. Chimaira was one of the 2nd generation of metahumans, born decades before. Being too dangerous,she had been imprisoned since birth in Payne’s facility. After a very weird discussion Chimaira turned into the ultimate superstructure of the universe, a pyramid.

Things get complicated

Following all this a complex affair began.

Ruby Fox had been contacted by her old friends Penelope Moon and David Cambridge (both though dead since the 1960s) to save the world. At Ayers Rock, Australia they met up with a group of anarchistic superheroes calling themselves the Black Flag. These were Domino, DJ Chill, Mantra and Robot Anarchist Archie the Acid Angel.

It was revealed that alternate realities were being aligned into a conjunction by evil gods the Lloigor. This would produce a suprahedral structure, called Omnihedron. This would destroy all of these realities, including Zenith’s Alternative 230 reality.

Lloigors had possessed the most prominent metahumans in those suitable realities in order to fulfill this plan. The Masterman seen two years prior had been the surviving twin of the original and possessed by one of the Lloigor, Iok-Sotot. Heroes from the different realities were now banding together to stop the threat of Lloigor.

They were all gathered by the blind Maximan of Alternative 23, where he’d survived the nuke in Berlin. Constructs called Einstein-Rosen Bridges were used for traveling to one reality to another.

Foilling the Lloigors

Robot Anarchist Archie was sent to recruit Zenith for this cause also, which he reluctantly agreed on. Every free, surviving metahuman gathered in Maximan’s Alternative 23. The status of various dimensions were clarified:

  • Alternative 20: Metamaid and some others escaped.
  • Alternative 23: World of the Maximan who’d gathered the heroes and survived the nuke of Berlin.
  • Alternative 257: In Alternative 257 the main hero and religious fanatic Hotspur had been possessed, and had murdered Smiley Sun. Black Flag originated from here also, but could do nothing and had to escape. Hotspur later showed up at the gathering after having freed himself from the influence of the Lloigor (the sole being ever to free himself). Lloigors had possessed Mr. Lion and Mr. Unicorn.
  • Alternative 230: Zenith’s et al’s reality. Only Masterman had been possessed so far.
  • Alternative 300: Zenith’s counterpart named Vertex had escaped the possessions.
  • Alternative 303: Dinosaurs still exists here, like the Tyrannosaurus Rex used by Robot Anarchist Archie. No metahumans in this reality.
  • Alternative 666: Miss Wonderstar, Mr. Why (possessed by the Lloigor that had possessed Masterman) and Griffin had been possessed by the Lloigor. The remaining rebellion consisted of Tiger Tom, Jimmy Quick, Tammy, Prince Mamba, Tommy Trident and Jock. The metahuman named Ben escaped to the gathering.

Maximan’s plan was to destroy Alternatives 257 and Alternative 666 in order to create a fault in the Omnihedron. This would prevent the destruction of the universes. Heroes were sent to completely annihilate them from creation using devices called a Chaos Structor.

United for the multiverse

Hotspur, Vertex, Mandala, Spook, Mantra, DJ Chill, Bowman, Jaxon, Electroman, Electrogirl, Streamline, Ace and Captain Miracle were sent to Alternative 257. Zenith was sent to Alternative 666 along Ben, Tanya, Metamaid, Catman, Dynamite Tom, Robot Anarchist Archie, Oakman, Blue Wizard, Steel Claw and Catgirl.

Many heroes were killed during these missions, but they did indeed succeed. The heroes regathered in Alternative 303. A dying Hotspur revealed to Ben, after a visit to the Lloigor’s dimension, that Maximan himself was a Lloigor. Zenith, Ben, Mandala and Mantra then telepathically found out that Lloigor had a spy within their ranks, namely Streamline.

Streamline was brutally interrogated and told them that they’d just destroyed two defects in the coming Omnihedron, that they had, in fact, worked for Lloigor themselves. There was only one remaining defect, Alternative 230, and Lloigor’s servants, the Servants of the Black Sun, had already placed a Chaos Structor there.

The battle for Alternative 230

Alternative 230 was Zenith’s, Mandala’s, Lux’s and Spook’s reality. Mandala and Mantra went to deal with Maximan. The rest of the survivors went to Alternative 230 to stop the bomb from detonating. The headquarters in Antarctic was guarded by previously Lloigor-captured Ace, Captain Miracle, Mr. Lion and Mr. Unicorn.

The group managed to defeat the opposition in Alternative 230. They then used the Einstein-Rosen Bridge of Ace, who’d thought to escape. They arrived in Alternative 23 just to face Maximan who was about to kill Mandala, and who’d already killed Mantra.

They were still unable to stop Maximan, who was summoning the Lloigor and starting Omnihedron anyway. But they used the Chaos Structor that they’d captured in Alternative 230 to destroy that reality. The few survivors gathered in Alternative 230 and the threat was finally finished; Lloigor could no longer attain Omnihedron.

People went back to their own realities (including Alternatives 20, 42 and 331) and Mandala, Spook, Lux, Volta, Zenith, Robot Anarchist Archie, DJ Chill and Domino remained in Zenith’s home reality. Complicated as it might have been, I personally loved all of it…


Description

Zenith is a young and radical pop-musician and superhero. He has short-cut black hair, blue (or, when using powers, full-white) eyes and a slender, fine built.

His performance clothing, which he wears on every-day basis, consists of lots of black leather, as a black leather vest with the letter Z on the back (complete with small metal pieces), leather trousers, leather boots and leather gloves. Under the vest is usually seen a white T-shirt.

When meeting up with important people he changes into a fine costume complete with tie and, as becomes the rich and famous, sunglasses. During his occasional superheroing he uses no particular costume, but instead is clad in whatever he was wearing before the opportunity arose.

Of course, if he knows that he’s going to fight a supervillain in a major city, and he has some minutes to spend before that, he will, for the sake of his cool image, change into his black leather stage clothing.


Personality

Zenith cares mostly about partying, dating babes, playing music and partying again. He’ll only play superhero when the world itself is threatened or when it’s an occasion for good PR. He often gets persuaded by his agent to go play the hero. Fellow superheroes are seen as jerks and idiots.

Speaking fairly about Zenith it could be said that he’s a sexist jerk, egoistical, cynical, has an irritating attitude, isn’t very helpful and isn’t very bright. Really, he’s rather dim.

Despite all this he’s a very playful individual. Unfortunately, he’s also a dangerous prankster; given that he has superpowers his innocent pranks could easily get people killed. He can be extremely lethal and dangerous when threatened, which often results in people getting killed.

His best sides are purely of the physical nature: he’s great combat senses and reflexes. When he starts acting his movements flow intuitively, without thoughts, and he always gets the powerful results he wants (spending Hero Points  on EV if need be).

Other traits

Be it either due to his unusual thick-headedness or his aptitude for mental abilities, but he’s extremely resistant to mental stress of any kind. Friends getting killed doesn’t bother him much (he killed his father after feeling a little reluctant). Nothing does, not even the end of the world. Despite feeling thus, he will try to save the world since it feels right to do so.

Despite the act he puts on, his heart is still in the right place when it really counts. And, yeah, he’s fond of Béatrice Dalle .

About Zenith’s musical career; He isn’t really an accomplished or radical musician – he’s a parody of the vacant, pretty-boy popstar exemplified in Zenith’s heyday by Bros  and today by Westlife . He can pose with a guitar, strum a few chords, and has a reasonably pleasant voice, but that’s it. Nevertheless, it appears to work.


Quotes

“Yes. Time’s up.” (punches straight through the heart of the supernazi Masterman)

“Anyway, cheer up. It’s only the end of the world.”

“Come on ! I’ve never seen so many complete idiots in the same place before. Well, not since the last Iron Maiden concert, anyway. All those pervy skintight suits. It’s brilliant. So what’s everyone doing ? Getting in a few drinks before the vice squad turn up to raid the place ?”

Dr. Payne: “Zenith ? Did you kill [your father] Warhead ?”
Zenith: “Yeah, and I haven’t forgot you tried tried to kill me, either. I’ll be back.”

“He’s totally mad ! And he’s got nothing on under that cape !”


DC Universe History

Zenith is from a world where very few superheroes exists. Thus every existing superhero there are very public figures, which isn’t the case in the DC Universe.

Fortunately, the first superhero on Zenith’s world was born in time to become a young soldier during the WWII. Inserting the rest of them, as England’s premier superhero team, into the DC Universe, would work fine as long as they were present in northern Scotland only (due to the Spear of Destiny) during the war.

Zenith would thus be a 2nd or 3rd generation superhero in modern times (he’s really active during Thatcher’s days in the comics) and thus reluctantly fitting with such gangs as Infinity Inc., The Titans etc. His ancestors would have been contemporary with the Justice Society of America, and would thus be the English equivalent of that group.


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Zenith

Dex: 08 Str: 15 Bod: 10 Motivation: Thrill of Adventure
Int: 05 Wil: 04 Min: 10 Occupation: Musician, Occasional Super-Hero
Inf: 06 Aur: 04 Spi: 08 Resources {or Wealth}: 007
Init: 021 HP: 070

Powers:
Flight: 06, Pyrokinesis: 04, Telepathy: 18

Note:
Zenith has lots of unused mental capacity; he often does, during an adventure, purchase a new power with an obvious link to Telepathy, permanently or as a Power Trick at reduced cost.

Skills:
Artist (Musician, Singer): 04, Charisma: 06

Advantages:
Lightning Reflexes.

Connections:
Music Industry (Low), Ruby Fox (High), Peter St. John (High).

Drawbacks:
Limelight, Public Identity, Loss Vulnerability (see below).


Zenith’s biorythm

One day per month, every 31 days actually, Zenith’s powerbound bio-rhythmic curve (which actually might be a fourth type of biorhythmic curve) reaches its’ nadir (lowest point). He then completely loses his Powers, and his Attributes become capped at 04.

Due to a deliberate issuance of misinformation, as a PR trick, to various sources in the media, Zenith’s true date of birth is unknown. But is officially believed to be the same as Elvis Presley’s day and month of birth. This makes it extremely difficult for Zenith’s enemies to accurately calculate the 24 hour period when he will be powerless.

By Peter S Piispanen aka The Angel.

Source of Character: Zenith series by Grant Morrison.

Helper(s): Vincent B., Phil Dixon.

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