Alexander Timmons, like his biological sire, is clearly a man with Ambition to spare as well as the genius and the willpower necessary to make his ambitions far more than a mere pipe-dream (given enough time, money and willing helpers): thankfully, like his adoptive father and unlike Kenneth Kane, the second Black-Wing's ambition is for the betterment of Mankind both in theory AND in practice.
Unfortunately Alex's Ambition remains so immense that it can easily be noticed by anyone who happens to find themselves on the same planet with him for any length of time, so immense that it sometimes smothers his best-laid plans under it’s sheer mass - so immense, in fact, that it recently struck Alex that he simply cannot achieve all that he desires with only those Allies available to him at the present time.
Yes, that's right, the man who masterminds the operations of one of the most powerful corporations in Human History (Raven Enterprises), a man who has both The Patriots AND the Tomorrow Society on speed-dial decided that he needed a few more good men and women.
In all honesty, this time Alex has an even better point than even his wilder ideas usually do: while The Patriots and The Tomorrow Society do all they can, The Patriots aren't so numerous as they once were (even with reserve members added, their numbers peak well shy of two dozen these days), what the Tomorrow Society makes up for in numbers they lack in party discipline and Raven Industries employees are just relatively ordinary folk trying to make a living for the most part, not superheroes.
There's also the small problem that every single one of these organisations (even the Tomorrow Society, whose air of intense privacy attracts investigative journalists like a moth to a flame) is at the present time far, far too public to take into account.
Not that Alex hates publicity (there are a numbers of reasons he's managed to acquire what might well be the worlds first Open Secret Identity and stopping to smile for the cameras is just the first), but he's noticed recently that it has been far, far too long since all those conspiracies gnawing at the woodwork of Heroic Earth saw the shadows they habitually lurk in as a potential source of dreadful risk, as well as useful concealment.
In truth, since the sequence of unfortunate choices which led to the Justicars becoming public enemies #7 - #14 the Villains of Heroic Earth have been able to see every team of superheroes (or superhuman vigilantes) coming and going - not that the villains have always been able to enjoy the view, but quite frankly their ability to keep their activities concealed and the apparent inability of any team of superheroes to match their stealth is a strategic advantage Alexander Timmons in reluctant to concede them.
There also remains the fact that Alex has been looking for some means of distracting all those sneaking supervillains from their latest plans to attack Raven Enterprises for some while now, as well as the recent revival of his interest in running a team of his very own creation to consider (he has fond hopes that these agents will be more at his beck and call than the Patriots, but he's more than willing to be realistic if you’re firm enough with him).
In all honesty Alexander has been riding his latest brainwave for a long while, but with the recent surge of optimism generated by successes of his most recently-recruited sidekick and the almost equally newly-minted Liberteens to keep adding fuel to the fire of his optimism, Alex has finally decided to share this particular brainwave with the World (or at least certain elements amongst the costumed, crime-fighting inhabitants thereof): The Costumed Crime-Fighters Society Reborn!
The surviving Black-Wings of the World could be heard crying "But we're not dead yet, you young whippersnapper!" with one voice the minute Alex shared the idea.
On a more serious note, these aging veterans were quite eager to adopt the idea of their old collaboration renewed, re-organised and with an expanded membership - all under their firm, yet STERN guidance behind the scenes as Senior Partners and with young Alex acting as their top field agent.
Alex loved their enthusiasm, but wasn't quite so keen on playing Junior Partner to anyone: however it must be remembered that this particular bunch of old heroes are sneaky, SCARY men and Alex is (in fact) only human. Also George Timmons threatened to become involved if Black-Wing II continued to support such a promising, so Alex decided to concede the senior role in the organisation to the Old Guard with good grace before they made him re-assume the mantle of Dawn-Wing.
At the moment it may be more accurate to call Black-Wings International an inspiration, rather than an organisation, but that won't be the truth for long if the surviving Black-Wings of the World have anything to say about it (and they do: most are only taciturn in public): these formidable old men have already formed an inner circle, setting themselves the task of acquiring the support from governments, law enforcement agencies and the Foundation so vital to the success of any modern Superhero organisation.
Given that the Black-Wings of the world tend to have ... interesting relationships with the Authorities and that the Inner Circle are firmly intent on playing their cards close to their chest (all the better to keep the advantage of surprise so often crucial to those who fight crime under the cowl), they're facing an uphill struggle, quite probably against impossible odds. Given that these fellows don't know any other kind they're in good spirits and making solid progress.
Black-Wing II and the second Winter Watchman, their premier field agents (at this point their ONLY field agents, officially at least) have been kept busy trotting across the Globe (much to the amusement of Aliaksiej, who considers himself something of a stay-at-Home superhero) seeking out old friends, striking up working relationships with newfound allies and generally chasing down any potential candidate who shows the right mix of skill, dedication or simply seems to show the proper promise.
They're having an interesting time of things, to say the least, since trying to decide which of the bewildering array of street-savvy superheroes and blatant vigilantes they've variously feuded with and fought alongside, befriended and barely met will make up the roster of Black-Wings International is the least of their problems (thanks to the curiously-inevitable routine of 'meet, misunderstand, make up, team up!' which seems to comprise the vast majority of first encounters between superheroes as properly paranoid as Black-Wing emulators often are).
As Winter Watchman puts it "If we can survive the set-up, the punch line shouldn't be a problem since we'll have had enough pugilistic practice to win the championship belt - or just run out of teeth to lose!" El Libertador (Argentina)
Oscar Martin Estevez has led an interesting life since before even the day of his birth: when you're the son of a heroic couple who declined to let a little thing like pregnancy keep them from their life's work of bringing an end to the 'Dirty War' which saw so many disappear into captivity and probable death on the authority of the ruling Junta - not to mention bring down the Junta itself, struggling against their tyranny and against the odds - you're destined to live in interesting times, although not necessarily for very long, one way or the other.
As it turned out the Estevez family were lucky - Argentina went to the polls, the first display of the newly-restored democracy at work in the land, just in time for Martin's fifth birthday. By the time he was twenty-four it was his turn to take a hand in the work of helping tackle the problems, criminal, political and social which beset his native land. Somewhat surprisingly he decided to do so by assuming the colourful style of a superhero and the mantle of the great Liberators of South America: like San Martin, Bolivar, O' Higgins, de Miranda, great men one and all, not to mention colourful adventurers and freedom fighters in their own right!
His parents, downright pacifistic by comparison, more cerebral and much less enamoured of the spotlight, still haven't quite worked out how their son went from energetic idealist to military academy to costumed superhero and advocate for the unification of South America, but they suspect that meeting with Black-Wing at an impressionable age (twice over, in fact!) coupled with a dual fascination with both gaucho culture and the colourful history of the Wars of the Liberators probably helped (or didn't, depending on your perspective!).
Martin agrees - and while he loves his parents, he intends to make his own way in life even as he is proud to follow in their footsteps! Barrack (Australia)
Being a former professional athlete, it's perhaps unsurprising that the adventurer formerly known as Bushranger* was rather eager to become a team player again, eagerly anticipating the prospect of some globe-trotting adventures alongside some exotic partners and (best of all) the expressions on the faces of those blasted Bushranger Gangsters when they realise that this time HE gets to be the one who springs unanticipated reinforcements on the unsuspecting!
Black-Wing II regards Greg as amongst the more promising potential recruits to the banner of Black-Wings International but does think that Barrack could probably do with having a few gentle hints dropped that on certain occasions it's probably better to go AROUND villains, rather than straight through them - although he admits that, given Barrack's remarkable ability to SURVIVE the process of throwing himself head-first into the lion's mouth and tearing his way out through it's internal organs (metaphorically-speaking, of course, since Greg would NEVER indulge in cruelty to animals - he's actually had a few attacks of Irwin-Hagrid syndrome in his time, to be honest) he might do better to become the one ASKING for a few pointers, for once.
Well, except when it comes to those wonderful toys so beloved of a certain type of costumed vigilante, since Greg tends to see them as more of a charming novelty than a stark necessity - a few more months on the job ought to cure him of that, given that they're the best method of avoiding ACCIDENTAL lasting injury known to the caped crusader community (DELIBERATELY-inflicted lasting injury, on the other hand, is somewhat trickier to avoid).
o Jaguar Preto (Brazil)
*He has yet to flinch from the prospect of a never-ending battle with the Bushranger Gang, but decided to change his name after the umpteenth time someone asked why he was fighting his own mob - Greg can stand a state of near-constant skirmishes, attempted assassination and slanging-matches, but poor branding is just too much for him to tolerate!
In the wake of the Psychotic Coup, Brazil scrambled to create a countermeasure capable of deterring - or eliminating - any similar threat or potential threats to the sovereign rights of their government from within the superhuman population, finally freed of the need to pursue those efforts in stultifying secrecy by the defeat of the Psychotic 7 and finally free to make real progress as a result (who had taken so dim a view of Government-sponsored superhumans that they had effectively strangled every super-soldier programme could find, often before they'd even started - and not always to the benefit of the public, since for all the damage they did to Project Icarus, they would have happily inflicted equal damage on more noble efforts to produce National Champions - and did).
Given that Brazil was and remains a country with extensive territories to guard, possessed additionally of a large population, it was decided that it would require an entire team of heroes to cover all their bases. With that resolution (and the lessons of the Iron Age firmly in mind) the Brazilian Government incepted the ambitious plan to create or recruit and train a team which would combine the 'shock and awe' efficiency of the former Psychotic 7 with the more steadfast nobility of the Patriots (and hopefully greater political loyalty to their nation than even the latter).
Having effectively been created as a fusion of the disparate likes of The Patriots and The Psychotic 7, it's perhaps unsurprising that the record of The Guardioes da Independencia has to date been somewhat mixed, albeit generally positive - mostly because the individual heroes are themselves highly efficient when working solo or in pairs, but find working as a team more difficult (due to disagreements or blatant philosophical clashes over just how far each individual happens to favour the style of The Patriots over that of the Psychotic 7 - or vice versa).
No greater proof exists of this than Tito Arduino Desiderio Di Pasqua-Turchi alias The Black Jaguar, a former member of the Polícia Militar do Estado do Espírito Santo (the local formation of military police in his native state) and currently a national hero of Brazil in good standing. Having been recruited after a streak of heroic feats, far above and beyond the call of duty, Tito was called up for a course of additional specialised training, excelled during it and was therefore granted the mantle which his government hoped would become their equivalent of Black-Wing.
Having distinguished himself through continuing displays of utter fearlessness and a relentless willingness to cut through red tape, and then strangle crime to death with it, Tito has played a significant part in the lowering rates of crime across what were once some of the most murderous areas of Brazil. He has also come perilously close to becoming the dictator of any district he operates in, directing operations there with a fine disdain for everything except the very best results.
Recognising his competence - and high-handed attitude - the Alex Timmons swiftly set out to recruit the fastest-rising star of Brazil's superhero scene, with the pious hope that he could teach Tito how to continue getting results without continuing to race headlong towards a Revolution. Wuming (China)
While Black-Wings around the world tend to wrap themselves in enigma the way that other warriors clad themselves in armour; even by the standards the so-called Black-Wing of China is a riddle, wrapped in an enigma, wrapped in a conundrum. He seldom wears the same costume twice running, he changes methods and equipment with every operation (even more so than most Black-Wings), he doesn't even use a consistent codename, quite effectively muddying the waters in a welter of sheer confusion.
That would be because I'm talking about a 'They' rather than a 'He'.
Given that China is a very large and very populous nation, there's a lot of crime and given that the government can politely be called dictatorial even at its best the chances of a vigilante (especially an effective vigilante) being permitted to continue operating in the manner to which they are best suited - i.e. independently - is vanishingly slim. To do what the Government would never allow to be done, a network was founded - probably in Hong Kong, although no-one's certain - and has proceeded to work it's way into the Chinese Underworld, doing what it can to help those whom the Government cannot even as it's members work to help and cover each other, in the field and out of it.
Ironically China doesn't really require the services of Black-Wings International since it seems to have produced such an organisation in it's own right - but the Nameless Black-Wings of China need all the help they can get (if only so they can bring more recruits under their banner). Resplendent Tigress (India)
Having moved all the way across India to Mumbai (all the better to become a STAR! well, at the moment a playback singer - the person who sings the star's lines so that august personage can lip-sync and focus on their dancing), Indu Rachana Ray* has changed her life but thankfully hasn't changed her stripes.
Having gone from grimy obscurity to glorious FAME (although not financial fortune, although that will come, especially if her fingers stay charmingly-sticky instead of blatantly criminal), in large part thanks to the eccentric efforts of The Black Dragon** Indu remains just as devoted to helping others as she is to herself (if not more so), one of the major reasons she remains outside the bars of a cell, despite her habit of letting little treasures remain stuck to her fingers after battles in a variety of Supervillain lairs.
Also she's got moxie and Alex Timmons admires that in a dame - besides, Eugene would probably do horrible, horrible things to him if he tried taking the Resplendent Tigress to task and Alexander 'Robot Dinosaur' Timmons really isn't the man to get away with taking issue with those who pick up souvenirs in their line of work (at least not with a straight face).
As one of the most public potential recruits, Indu has taken upon herself the role of PR-Agent-in-chief of Black-Wings International, undaunted by the fact that the Senior Circle intend for that particular organisation to operate in secret for the first years of its existence. The Tigress knows how to keep her mouth shut and more importantly can take advantage of this semi-voluntary silence to plan the Mother, Father and Grandmother of publicity stunts, all the better to take the public's breath away when BWI goes public in the end.
Besides, she STILL gets to help her fellow Black-Wings polish up their public image!
Somewhere, somehow, a handful of cynical, misanthropic or just plain surly vigilantes sense the constructive chaos and sheer good cheer coming to reach out to them and shiver.
*No, it's not the name she grew up with, but she likes the sound of this one better: so does Bollywood, although not quite to the same degree.
**He'd remind her of this salient fact at every turn, if it weren't for the fact that she keeps avoiding meetings with him. Yes, she's so good at being sneaky she can even avoid The Unavoidable.
Setiawan, Son of Kuwat and Ikraam*, was inspired by the example of Aquarius to become a superhero but obliged by his lack of any innate ability to breath underwater to emulate the likes of Black-Wing and Jolly Roger to do so. He is at the present time very probably the finest sea-faring superhero in the world that does not happen to have either gills or the capacity to hold his breath for a very, very long time (although the latest heirs of Pierre Dupuis WILL debate this, since they're good people, but not saints).
*Surnames are not a custom native to Indonesia or at least not to the family Setiawan hails from.
Having adopted the name of a local maritime divinity (which also happens to be the name of a rather well-known ship of the Indonesian Navy) as his codename and made any number of enemies in the course of his rather successful attempts to minimise the damage caused to his Homeland by domestic terrorists and social unrest, Setiawan has decided to take the opportunity offered by a recent peace process and political reforms to expand his sphere of operations a bit.
He's currently cruising towards the seas surrounding the Horn of Africa because he wants to (a) be able to say he's hunted pirates and (b) make the pilgrimage to Mecca before he dies. Given that he lives fast and suspects that he'll die young, he intends to keep his schedule as full as possible before he goes.
Black-Wings International intend to help him with this resolution, but felt obliged to warn him that they'll probably feel obliged to save his life on a consistent basis, should he find it imperilled.
Setiawan says can live with that. Mexico
Mexico has yet to see her representative take a place amid the nascent ranks of Black-Wings International, less due to the absence of any candidates and more due to the fact that an embarrassment of potential members have presented themselves (keen as a knife to prove that the spiritual homeland of masked do-gooders still produces the very best of the breed): few of them are inclined to accept 'No' for an answer with any grace and quite a few of them aren't inclined to accept it at all - especially when it comes from a WASP-ish American like Alexander Timmons.
Black-Wing II has correspondingly dispatched Gray-Wing II south of the border to act as arbitrator - Miss Sanchez has firmly resolved to ensure that the various candidates either start seeing sense or start seeing stars on a regular basis (if only by virtue of the fact they finally do the decent thing expected of any unlikely combination of costumed champions and form a super-team all their own). Batin (Saudi Arabia) and Lavi (Israel)
There are certain secrets that the 'Black-Wing of Palestine' keeps even closer to his chest than others - foremost amongst them is the fact that Basit Riad ibn abd al-Munir al-Rashid (to give a respectable portion of his full name, since the entire thing would take up at least a sentence all it's own!) is actually the product of a wealthy Saudi Arabian family, rather than a native Palestinian by origin and happens to be the guiding light of a network which already spans the Middle East to boot (with agents moving into North Africa and the Mediterranean as we speak).
Given that certain parties would probably start firing great guns into the political minefield of Palestine if they caught even the faintest hint of Basit's past and the extent of his organisation (however do-Gooding it might be), it's perhaps unsurprising that he prefers to pass as an individual Palestinian vigilante-rogue when he cannot avoid detection entirely.
Despite the potential political controversy, Winter Watchman happily tapped Batin for service with Black-Wings International alongside the extra-violent Israeli vigilante Lavi (the budding anti-hero he's originally targeted for recruitment and a certain amount of gently-intimidating mentoring), all the better to nudge the latter towards the heroic, rather than anti-heroic path. As he put it "You beat up the b-------. He helps to guide the good. Together you two half-wits make up a more perfect whole. So stop bickering like politicians and get into the business of being a good example.
At the moment Batin, with his tactical acumen and organisational gifts, is acting as mission control and conscience while Lavi (with his knack for high explosives and low cunning) busies himself with beating -------- down and blowing ---- up. As partners in crime-fighting go, they make a fine pair (even if discussions about who gets to be SENIOR partner loom in the near future).
As Winter Watchman suspected, making two rivals work together makes them work all the harder to prove themselves - and, after all, if the dynamic worked out for the best with Alex and Aliaksiej, it can work with ANYONE. Rooivalk (South Africa)
Kevin Kemp alias the second Rooivalk (technically Marion Kevin Kemp, but like his father he never uses his first name*), known better in his former London patrol area as 'Harrier' and freshly returned to his native land in the wake of his father's near-fatal accident, remains determined to redeem his codename in South Africa and thereby give the old man something to be proud of again before death takes him.
However he faces something that best be described more as a battle to the death with an avalanche on Mount Everest rather than a mere uphill struggle; even in Johannesburg, his father's former base of operations and therefore somewhat more inclined to treat his memory with courtesy than much of the country, even in Johannesburg the mantle he bears remains hated. Not disliked, HATED.
Still, Kemp will not quit. He loves his father and remains determined to bring back honour to his codename, though he recognises how difficult it will be to bring this happier state of affairs about - this only encourages him to redouble his crime-fighting efforts and avoid just about every other South African superhero (except in the event of danger to Human Life).
He has, in fact, reached the conclusion that the best way to achieve some level of acceptance in South Africa will be to make peace with the memory of Stone Ghost - to this end he has begun to lay plans for an infiltration of Zimbabwe which he intends to culminate in the recovery of the old heroes remains and the discovery of just how he was met his end, if possible bringing the one who murdered him to Justice.
With his acceptance as an operative of Black-Wings International, this mission might even be possible, rather than suicidal.
Black Eagle (South Korea)
*Amusingly his father's middle name was actually Leslie, but even that's better than Otis!
Hong Gil-Dong (not his real name, being the Korean equivalent of 'John Doe' but in his line of work anonymity is valuable even to the notorious) has seen a great many interesting things in his eventful life to date and even more trouble, but has in his own opinion never had an adventure and is keen to embark on a number of them before he dies.
This is rather remarkable in a man of sixty-four, but then Mr. Hong is a remarkable man - having simultaneously been a freelance agent in the service of South Korea for over thirty years, devotedly (if covertly) working towards the creation of a participatory democracy in the Republic of Korea for almost as long.
Having seen his dream come to fruition (and having taken care to stick around just long enough past retirement age to make sure no-one turned it into a nightmare), finding himself growing old enough to start looking forward to the quiet life, Mr. Hong decided that it was time for the adventure he'd been postponing for so long.
Having decided that, it only remained for Mr. Hong to decide what form that adventure would take: in short, he would become as much of a nightmare to Korean crime as he had been to her foreign foes and a sequence of her domestic dictators. He would become a Black-Wing!
Or rather, being willing to acknowledge his debt of inspiration to that noted American crime-fighter but not lazy, he would become the Black Eagle, scourge of the underworld and no friend to villains who happened to lurk anywhere else either. Approaching the Senior Circle of nascent Black-Wings International (why speak with the son if you can speak with the Patriarch?), he submitted himself for membership of the organisation as its man in the Korean Peninsula.
Rumour has it that those Grand Old Men granted him membership based solely on the look on Alex Timmons face when he found out what had happened, but that's not entirely true - The Black Eagle HAD tracked down some of the most secretive do-gooders on the planet, nearly single-handed.
Alex's consternation was just a bonus - although an admittedly-delightful one. Mighty Wingman (Turkey)
Mahzun Yilmaz, the senior officer of the Blackwing Brigade, is a man with any number of missions, but has stated his willingness to add a few from Black-Wings International to his score - quite frankly the man's a workaholic and quite eager to attract whatever international help he can get because for all Turkey's relatively modest domestic superhuman scene, Istanbul threatens to become a nightmare.
A former operative of the Foundation, Mahzun knows better than most the strategic and geopolitical value of the city formerly known as Constantinople and so do the Black Hand, as well as PHANTOM (amongst others) - and there are a lot of secrets that have been buried under it's stones over the millennia to boot. The fact that Dracula's hatred of Turkey and the Turks has not noticeably dwindled over the centuries doesn't help.
Quite frankly he'll take all the help he can get, but is too smart to go begging when the majority of his worst opponents can smell blood in the water from a mile away - literally. He's hoping that his new friends, coupled with his old friends from the Van Helsing family and his subordinates in the Blackwing Brigade will finally be able to pulls the Impaler Prince's teeth once and for all.
Founder of H.E.R.O.I.C, Complimenter-in-Chief, Co-Arch Henchman to the Grin, Servant of the Hoff!
Rule Brittania! Praise the Hoff and the Grin!
Warning!: May cause Thread Drift.