I have been thinking of ways to update some of the cool Public Domain Superheroes that are out there. Below is an email to a friend that I sent describing the relationship between Dan Garret (The Golden Age Blue Beetle) and his scientist friend Dr. Franz.
In these Golden Age comic books they don’t really go too in depth with some of the characters motivations as to why they do what they do. What do we really know about Dr. Franz? He created the ‘Vitamin 2x’ serum and (possibly) the ‘cellulose chainmail’ Dan wears. Why would a druggist (old school pharmacist) know how to make chainmail out of plant fibers? Why would he help Dan? Well, I think I came up with a solution.
Dr. Franz (no first name known, yet) is Dan’s great uncle. We don’t know much about Dan’s parents other than his father was gunned down by a mobster and his mother died of the flu when he was a boy. In my version Dr. Franz is Dan’s mother’s uncle. Her parents were killed when she was a little girl and it was up to Franz to raise her. When she grew up, she met a nice rookie police man by the name of Michael Garret, fell in love, married and had a son they named Daniel. While Dan was still young his mother died which devastated both his father and Dr. Franz. More the latter because he was a solitary man, never took a wife and never expected to have children but he adored Dan’s mother more than life itself. The two grew apart and didn’t see much of each other.
Growing up, Dan idolized his father, now a detective who was investigating Chick Alonzo. Dr. Franz, a geneticist, went on to be a scientist and researcher for ‘Big Pharma’. He developed a serum, tied into a persons genetic structure, that would heal disease, and be able to ‘double themselves’. It was derisively referred to as ‘Vitamin 2x’ by his colleagues. Of course ‘Big Pharma’ didn’t want this to get public because there’s no profit in it and it gets shelved. Years go by, Dan grows up and joins the police force, his father gets murdered by Chick Alonzo and he creates the ‘Blue Beetle’ persona to go after him. This is the era I refer to as ‘Phase 1’ due to the pulp like plain clothes outfit. Dan and Dr. Franz reconnect at his fathers funeral. They both realize they are the only family they have now.
When Dan has his final confrontation with Chick Alonzo, he gets shot up pretty badly. While in a coma, Dr. Franz, frantic because he can’t lose another family member, goes to the hospital and takes a sample of Dan’s blood. He returns to his lab and keys the Vitamin 2x to Dan’s genetic structure. He returns to the hospital and discreetly injects it into Dan. Dan, of course, under goes a miraculous healing process and finds his strength and endurance effectively doubled. It’s almost like Marvel’s super soldier serum. This is the start of Phase 2, which I refer to him getting his armor and being a little more in the public eye. Also, it would start a whole other story line wherein the unscrupulous powers that be of ‘Big Pharma’ start enhancing their own subjects but without Franz’ help. And without Franz’ genius and morality to guide them, they really screw up.
I hope this makes a little more sense and have better motivation than ‘Hey, I’m just a kooky old scientist that’s going to help the hero’.