CAPE CITY NOIR: HEROES OF YESTERYEAR

Cape City has always been home to heroes. Here are details on a few of the golden age's greatest crimefighters.

GANGBUSTER: This hero fought crime with a Tommy-gun, mask, and guts. He had no super-powers, just a burning desire to fight the unstoppable machine of organized crime. Later, he moved on to fighting relatively low-powered super-villains like The Frog. As revealed in his autobiography Cape City Hero: The Secret Origins of Gangbuster, his real name was Vincent Centouri, a former gangster, who, overcome with horror and remorse at the crime-culture he had taken part of, faked his own death and moved to Cape City from Kansas City in the Twenties. He was active until WWII, when he retired, having grown too old to be effective in the fight on crime, and making way for a new generation of vastly more powerful heroes. He is considered one of the "founding heroes" of Cape City, and a monument in his honor was erected in Pavilion Park in the Seventies. No one knew anything about the real identity or secret history of Gangbuster until the release of his autobiography following his death in 2004.

SPEAKEASY SASQUATCH: Though primarily known as a Kansas City Hero, the Speakeasy Sasquatch was one of the first costumed vigilantes on record. He is known to have been an associate of Gangbuster, and together he, Gangbuster and the minor KC hero Fast Finger Freddy are said to be responsible for the death of Al Capone in the Bellerieve Hotel just prior to his indictment for tax evasion. A tall, powerful man who wore a fur coat and hood, the Sasquatch was, above all else, a teetotaller, and fully believed in Prohibition with all his heart. Unfortunately, when Prohibition was repealed and alcohol made legal again, he moved to Cape City and teamed up with his pal Gangbuster on a few adventures, but very soon therafter fell victim to the very demon rum he fought for most of his career. He died in an East Texas rest home in 1951, after drinking an entire bottle of engine coolant.

THE CRIMSON FIST: The Crimson Fist had a stellar career that spanned just over five decades, and is one of the first recorded heroes to actually possess "super" powers. He died of pancreatic cancer in the early Seventies. Unlike many heroes whose secret identities become public after death, the Crimson Fist's real name remains secret to this day. His powers consisted of super strength and endurance, as well as the ability to - quite literally - leap tall buildings in a single bound. His most famous power, however, was what early press reports referred to as the "power-pound," a single punch from his right hand that is confirmed to have the power to crack an engine block and undermine the foundations of skyscrapers, among other effects. The Crimson Fist began his career, in fact, in a Gangbuster-like funeral suit, with nothing but a simple, Lone Ranger-style mask and bright red glove to mark him as a super-hero. In the Forties, following his return from Europe, where he worked incognito for the U.S. State Department, the Fist donned his trademark red-and-black pointed executioner's hood and cape, which became his trademark until his death. In the fifties, he founded the Defenders, despite unwanted attention from the House Un-American Activities Committee, which, probably simply because of his name, accused him of being a Communist sympathiser. In truth, the Crimson Fist was quoted in early press reports (from the Twenties) as expressing admiration for the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, although he recanted in later years following his dealings with Stalin's secret service in WWII. His exploits are legendary and need not be recounted here; the one thing he was known for above all others is his refusal to kill an opponent, preferring instead to beat them into submission and leave them bound and helpless on the front steps of the CCPD headquarters. His final adventure came in 1974, when his old enemy Baron Khan staged his infamous "powersuit comeback" and destroyed the Farqwater Building, killing thousands. The Fist's crony and co-founder of the Defenders, The Rat, killed Baron Khan by disabling his powersuit and dropping him down a 60-story elevator shaft; it is said that despite the Baron's hideous crimes, the Crimson Fist considered the Rat's act to be murder, and the two men were estranged from that point forward, but rumor has it they were reconciled just before the Fist died of cancer. Though it is widely believed that Baron Khan actually injected cancer into the Fist during their final battle, there has never been any compelling evidence to confirm this rumor. A small memorial to his memory, erected in 1990, sits some 100 feet from the Gangbuster statue in Pavilion Park.

THE RAT: Perhaps the most mysterious of misunderstood of all Cape City heroes, the Rat began his career in 1957, when he appeared out of nowhere to terrorize Cape City's underground. His fearsome costume and vigilante tactics had some early press reports classifying him as a villain - and indeed, no one could ever be sure exactly whose side the Rat was on. He apparently had no moral qualms about outright killing, and was known to mete out horrific and ironic punishments such as the castration of rapists or, say, cutting off the hands of theives. It was never certain if the Rat actually possessed any super-powers; he was known to utilize gadgets extensively, including the fearsome "Ratmobile," which was witnessed being fully operational on land, sea, and air. He was either a chemist of no small ability or knew one, for he was known to have a large arsenal of mind-affecting gasses at his disposal (a minor villain known as the Claw reported having intense, soul-wracking nightmares for an entire year while languishing an a coma following an altercation with the Rat in 1964). Rumors that he possessed at least a small degree of psychic power over rats have never been confirmed. In late 1957, following his decapitation of the Atomic Ripper, he began an unlikely team-up with the Crimson Fist, and, under the elder hero's tutilegde, modified his tactics somewhat. Together, they founded the Defenders in 1958 - but by the late Sixties, the Rat had already left that organization, chafing under the ever-increasing government oversight the Defenders invited under the then-leadership of Helping Hand, to whom the Rat took an intense dislike. The Rat is, of course, most famous for being the man who killed Baron Khan - he disabled the Baron's powersuit and dropped him down an elevator shaft in 1974. He was actually charged by then-Cape County Prosecuting Attorney Miles Abernathy with First Degree Murder, and went underground. Several incidents between 1974 and 1977 where attributed to him, but the Rat went completely MIA following the Kratsky Resolution in 1977, and he has never been heard of since.

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