Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Vile Menagerie: TRIUMPH

Real Name: William MacIntyre
Occupation: Sculpture; former student and investor
Group Affiliation: None, formerly Justice League Task Force
Base of Operations: JLA Trophy Room, Earth's Moon
First Appearance: Justice League International #67 (August, 1994)
Height: Estimated between 6'0" and 6'2"
Weight: Approximatly 210-225 lbs.
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Grey, formerly blonde

James "Jimmy Mac" MacIntyre was one of the best "wheelmen," or getaway drivers, in the super-villain business. He wasn't a metahuman himself, but he worked as a costumed henchman, and his family paid the price. One day, MacIntyre's son "Billy Mac" found his costume, and put together why the family always moved from place to place, never setting down roots. Billy's mother told him his father was in the merchant marines, and he pretended to believe her to protect her. Billy never let anyone get close, sacrificing any chance at healthy bonds for the good of his three member family. On Billy's birthday, Jimmy Mac broke his final promise to take his son to the circus. Instead, Jimmy Mac was driving his boss, Dr. Cobalt, along a mountain road, where they stashed a box of ill-gotten gains in an abandoned bomb shelter under a house scheduled for demolition. Perhaps Jimmy Mac and Dr. Cobalt would have evaded a police blockade if they hadn't made that stop, and perhaps Dr. Cobalt's powers would have overcome it if his regular foe Hourman were not also present. Finally, if Jimmy Mac had not knocked out Dr. Cobalt rather than allow him to kill Hourman, they both might not have ended up in prison.

In an attempt to keep his son Billy Mac on the straight and narrow, Jimmy asked Hourman to visit him on the night after his "third-strike" sentencing. Already a loner, the visit made Billy Mac dive even deeper into himself. He decided he wanted to become the polar opposite of his father, a super-hero, and began training both mind and body at an early age. By seventeen, he had a body-builder's physique, martial arts degrees, and working knowledge of science and criminology. He eventually developed powers as a byproduct of his father's career. Learning of an alien threat, he studied them, gathered equipment, and meticulously planned his strike. He also studied the new heroes of his time, learning their weaknesses, so he could command them in battle.

In short, Triumph was obsessed, more concerned with his own stature and gratification than helping his fellow man. He was egotistical, overbearing, aggressive, and reckless. He gathered together for the first time the heroes that would later form the Justice League, but would have sacrificed the lives of The Flash and Aquaman for his own glory. When the Manhunter stood in his way, he attacked his teammate, and set off a temporal explosion that thrust him ten years into the future. As it was happening, he was deciding on his heroic code-name.

Returning to reality during Zero Hour, he sought aid from what was left of the Justice League in defending the world against the aliens that started his career. His claims were met with ridicule, so he decided to punch the Tasmanian Devil through a window to show he meant business. While L-Ron/Despero erected a telepathic shield to protect bystanders from falling teammates and debris, Triumph fought Crimson Fox, Elongated Man, and Fire for no good reason. This attracted the attention of the ancient Atlantean sorcerer Arion, who broke things up. While the rest of the JLI decided to give Triumph the benefit of the doubt by heading to Washington D.C., Fire stayed behind. When The Manhunter returned, she informed him of the return of the JLA's founding member. "I've never met anyone named 'Triumph.'"

When Triumph spotted the Capitol Dome, which had been destroyed by the aliens in his past, he realized the time/space drive that kicked him into the future had also wiped the battle from the world's memory. That included J'Onn J'Onzz, who had traced his teammates' course. After receiving a telepathic status report from L-Ron/Despero, he delivered a well-deserved beating to the pompous Triumph. Having received a therapeutic kiss from an easily impressed Crimson Fox, a concussed Triumph remembered that the aliens' weakness was sonics. Finally heeding Manhunter's decade old advice to attempt peaceful communications with the aliens, Triumph successfully called for an end to hostilities.

Turned down by seventy-seven university grad programs upon his return, Triumph joined the Justice League Task Force instead, and immediately began undermining the Manhunter's authority on the team. He feigned a dispute with the Ray to cover their covertly exploring the headquarters of Vandal Savage during a mission. They were immediately detected, and the move only served to embarrass Manhunter. Later, Triumph bungled a break-in at one of Savage's offices, setting off a bomb which blew up one floor of the skyscraper. Later still, he and his team were trapped on Savage's island headquarters, with the place is set to explode. Powerless, Triumph stood watching Savage, waiting for him to open some secret escape route. While the rest of his team saved their lives, Triumph did nothing except expect a last-minute save that didn't exist. Savage believed Triumph was fascinated by his Machiavellian scheming, and wished to emulate the immortal. His continued actions would bare that out.

Eddie X, Wilma, Fang & Father Rocco

As luck would have it, an old associate of MacIntyre's, Russell "Rusty" Wells, saw him on television and got in touch. While still in college, MacIntyre had been convinced to invest in what became the Home Bargain Channel, and was now filthy rich. In his time away from the Task Force, MacIntyre bought out an investigation company that had been acting as a sort of vigilante "revenge squad" for victims of crime. The members were bonded by the negative impact of the underworld on their lives, and Triumph employed them as his specialized support staff while financing and leading their expanded operations. Among the group was the reckless Latino gunman Eddie X (whose identity was lost to him by amnesia,) African-American communications oracle Wilma (Lester Holmes,) and the Caucasians: dentist/pilot (Meredith) Fang and bulletproof priest Father Rocco (Reverend Douglas Haeffner.)

Triumph was notable for his extreme vetting and due diligence; thoroughly coordinating with federal, state and local authorities in the safe apprehension of criminals in a way that made everyone look good. Eddie X proved to be too unpredictable, throwing off MacIntyre's intricate plans. When he was fired, the group attempted to walk out on MacIntyre, but Eddie urged them to stick with the best gig they'd ever had. Regardless, his departure stirred discord within the group. The youthful Fang's "post adolescent Oedipal dysfunction" generating attraction for the closeted MacIntyre was an additional complication. These divisions were exploited by a new Dr. Cobalt, but his machinations ultimately brought "The Machine" closer together, as they finally revealed their true identities to one another. MacIntyre was also briefly reunited with his father, who was broken out of prison by Dr. Cobalt for one last job. "Jimmy Mac" had a terminal cancer diagnosis, and was allowed to escape in an old Chevy pick-up truck with $10,000 of recovered loot after Dr. Cobalt was apprehended. A major consequence of the episode was Triumph's near-death episode after a traumatic encounter with Doctor Cobalt left him with multiple broken vertebrae.

Even after numerous warnings, Triumph continues to go behind Manhunter's back for his own ends. Once, believing he had deduced the Manhunter's secret identity, he led the team in formulating a practical joke against MM's presumed alias. Instead, two members nearly died at the hands of a telepath named Von Mauler. After The Ray quit the JLTF, he needed help in dealing with his nemesis, Death Masque. Without consulting J'Onn J'Onzz, Triumph refused to provide assistance in the team's name, leading Ray to accept Vandal Savage's aid.

This was the final straw. On learning the truth, the very angry Martian Manhunter beat Triumph like a red-headed stepchild, then fired him from the team. Unbeknownst to Manhunter, Triumph had suffered a spinal injury on a solo mission, and nearly died from the extra trauma inflicted by J'Onzz. After a self-serving attempt to patch things up with Ray, he returned to JLTF like a stray puppy. While his membership was not actually restored, he tagged along on a mission to save L-Ron, which led to a battle in Skartaris.

Triumph was given a candle by the demonic entity called Neron. Should he light it, the ten years he lost in time would be returned to him, at the cost of his soul. Later, he saved Gypsy's life in outer space, but not out of any concern for her safety. "I was too scared to go after you--I thought better you than me...[but] I knew it would look bad if I didn't! ...I weighed the pros and cons of saving you--then I let you believe I was some kind of hero!!" At a Christmas party, Triumph made peace with his fellow heroes, but was still turned down for League membership. After starting a brawl, he left, then debated lighting Neron's candle. Triumph decided against it, but it is accidentally lit by The Ray. That's when continuity got weird.

It is revealed that the pre-Justice League Triumph gathered opted not to stay together, so he didn't get the credit he longed for there. Billy MacIntyre's powers were stolen by Amazo, never to return, and parts of his anatomy were left reduced by a shrink ray. Apparantly, Triumph was still a member of the JLTF, but as a loser also-ran instead of as a rookie. At some point, MacIntyre swiped some souvenirs from the JLA trophy room, including a pen containing a 5th Dimensional Imp named LKZ. Down on his luck, MacIntyre tried to sell these items to a two-bit supervillain, who decided to just kill Billy Mac for kicks. Tempted by LKZ (pronounced "look-o's"), Triumph freed the imp, who killed his captors. The Imp restored Triumph's powers, then wrecked havok in Keystone City. Triumph contacted Ray and Gypsy, taking mental control of his friends, and directing them in invading the JLA's Watchtower. "Let's go live on the moon now."

After ironically taking out the android version of Hourman with an electromagnetc pulse, Triumph sat in Superman's meeting room chair. "After all these years...the throne's mine. This is the way it should have happened ten years ago." Steel disagreed, and ended up with his armor ripped off his body. John Henry Irons narrowly managed to escape into a vent shaft. Triumph's plan was to allow LKZ to defeat the combined might of the JLA and JSA, then ride in with his League to save the day. Pretty weak plan, especially after Batman learned of it, and took down the controlled Ray. Triumph retaliated successfully, beating both Batman and Superman. That is, until Steel turned the Watchtower's security system on Billy Mac. The Spectre finished the job, turning Triumph into a statue made of ice. It is unknown whether Triumph survived the destruction of the Watchtower a bit afterward, but he has not been seen since.

Originally, Triumph drew power from Earth's magnetic field. He could manipulate electromagnetic energy, allowing him to fly, create forcefields, "read" electronic messages, trace energy signatures, emit energy pulses, manipulate objects, enhance his strength, and other formidable abilities. He could levitate other people, as well as create a stasis field within which no normal human could move. Triumph and his agents in the Machine wore energy-dampening suits which absorbed kinetic impact, allowing them to brush off hails of gunfire and major impacts with minimal injury. When empowered by 5th dimensional energies, he could mentally control people, had 360º "hyper-senses," super-speed, and could mentally siphon energy. Triumph claimed to be Superman's superior at this level, while slowly killing the Man of Steel by draining his solar cells. It is unknown if Triumph retained these powers after LKZ's imprisonment.

Vulnerable to microwave radiation.

Quote: "See, you and Ray were my League, Gypsy, the losers nobody remembered or cared about when the headliners climbed back on stage like it was a Beatles reunion."

Created by Ruben Diaz, Brian Augustyn, Mark Waid, Christopher Priest and Howard Porter.


Anonymous said...

I think the explosion of the Watchtower propelled Triumph, the hero nobody remembered, into the Marvel Universe, where he changed his name to Sentry.

Luke said...

I see what you mean about "honorary Heywood." Oddly enough I just saw him while rereading Zero Hour and had no idea who he was, so it was a surprise!

What are Triumph's main appearances?

Diabolu Frank said...

Not a bad theory t-toyz, except Triumph was the incompetent hero who tried to do everything and failed, while Sentry is the omnipotent hero who avoids doing anything and succeeds. He's more like Bizarro Triumph.

Luke, Triumph appeared regularly in JLTF from about #16 onward, and irregularly in his buddy The Ray's solo title. Additional key appearances include JLA-related Zero Hour tie-ins (especially JLAmerica #92,) his four-issue solo mini-series, and the Morrison JLA story "Crisis Times Five" (reprinted in the "Justice For All" trade.)

Anonymous said...

while Sentry is the omnipotent hero who avoids doing anything and succeeds.

In other words, Earth-616's Forrest Gump.

Luke said...

I saw Justice For All at my comic shop, and it looks like a great sampling of the Morrison League in addition to the Triumph stuff. I will have to pick it up!

Diabolu Frank said...

"Justice For All" is not a book for continuity nit-pickers, and the last couple stories by Waid and Grayson are not strong. However, I dug the Ultramarine Corps and the insanity of "Crisis Times Five," so I figure it's a fun read overall.