Martin Langstrom made his fortune in the South Florida real estate market, with the occasional help of his contacts in the Mayor’s Office and the Miami Mob. He had everything: vast wealth, good health, and a beautiful young wife. Unfortunately, all of his money and luck couldn’t prevent Elizabeth from developing an aggressive brain cancer.

He began funnelling his vast riches into numerous medical ventures, from the mundane to the alternative, among them cryogenics and brain preservation beyond death. He was desperate; his beloved wife suffered from brain cancer and only had a few years left. Langstrom met a young visionary in brain function and health, Alexander Stansford, who was on the run from the law and desperately needed money and a place to stay. Langstrom set him with his own lab, and via his underworld contacts, with a new identity, Stephen Bowen. The older man soon became the supportive, even loving, father figure Alex had never had.

The relationship became complicated, however. Langstrom’s drive to cure his wife ironically took him away from her for extended periods of time, as he sought more money and more fringe technology. Alex and Elizabeth grew close, and fell in love. It was never consummated, and perhaps because of that it was all the more intense.

Langstrom helped Stansford find test subjects, mostly homeless people whom no one would ever miss, and the occasional poor slob who couldn’t pay his mob debts. Six more people died before one survived the process, an accountant named Barry Levin who’d been keeping books for a mid-level mobster who now needed him dead. The process greatly increased the electrical activity in his brain, and the areas using it. His intellect quadrupled, his appetite for further knowledge and sensory experience grew along with it. Alexander kept meticulous notes over the next thirty days, and learned nothing from Barry as to why he survived the process when nobody else had. So Alex quietly killed him and performed an autopsy.

There he found his answer: gene mutation. Barry’s DNA contained an extra X-chromosome that was inactive, or had been inactive; Alex’s process had activated it. It began to activate itself in other genes throughout Barry’s brain, which enabled his cells to accept and thrive on the process.

Alex immediately tested his own DNA, and found that he too carried a dormant extra chromosome. Fine-tuning his formula, he became the next test subject, and came away with tremendous mental powers.

Revealing his discovery and his new powers to Langstrom, Alex was dubbed Brain. Alex suddenly noticed that what he’d seen as love before his enhancement was condescension. Langstrom was mocking him, reveling in his station as a hanger-on, as a dependent, obviously bitter at the hidden truth of Alex’ love for his wife.

And then, just as a hurricane approached the Atlantic Coast, Elizabeth died.

Both men distraught, they lashed out at each other. Stansford used his new abilities to order Langstrom into the cryo-chamber he’d been perfecting for Elizabeth. He activated it and started to flee, sure that the untested contraption would kill him. But it didn’t. The hurricane chose that moment to slam into Stansford’s lab. He was knocked unconscious by debris, which ironically served to protect him from further harm as the storm raged. The facility was wiped out.

But Martin Langstrom had somehow survived. Not only survived, but the combination of the hurricane’s power and the cryo-chamber in which he was trapped had somehow given him powers.

Rather than lash out with his new power and kill Langstrom outright, Stansford changed his mind. He erased all knowledge of their previous fight, resuming their loving relationship. But he began using his powers discretely, guiding Langstrom’s decisions and slowly driving him insane. This culminated in Maelstrom’s threatening Indianapolis with a massive tornado, demanding to be named Governor of Indiana. There, he was double-crossed by Simon LeBaron, lost his hand, and was arrested and convicted of mass murder.

Langstrom was rotting away in Stronghold until The Gap.

Several issues from earlier incarnations of the gaming group.

Issue 32 – The Revengers


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