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Patriotic superhero who works for the US government. The result of Project Perseus.


In the late Sixties, with public anger over Vietnam heating up and patriotic feelings at their lowest ebb ever, concerned officials in the Pentagon decided they needed someone to serve as a powerful, easily-recognized symbol of American patriotism, American virtues, and the strength and honor of the United States military. Looking around for a way to create this symbol, they hit upon some experiments being performed by an Army scientist named Herman Olafson. Doctor Olafson was the head of Project Perseus, an offshoot of the Haynesville Project and the latest in the military’s long line of efforts to create “superhuman soldiers.” He’d reached the stage where, through drug and radiation treatments, he could augment some human beings’ natural physical and mental capabilities significantly. But he hadn’t yet achieved the breakthroughs necessary to induce superhuman level augmentations, much less true superhuman abilities. The concerned officials decided Perseus was good enough for their purposes — in fact, maybe the Perseus subjects would make better symbols for America, since they’d be more like “the common man.” They ordered Olafson to suspend work and turn over all his data to them. After they reviewed his work, including detailed background and psychological profiles of all of his subjects, they chose Gerald Thomaston to be their symbol — the man they were going to call “the All-American.” Reluctant at first, Thomaston soon warmed to the role. The concerned officials presented him with a red, white, and blue costume, complete with weapons: razor-sharp throwing stars; tangle grenades; and special gauntlets that allowed him to deliver a “rocket-powered punch” several times a day. And they trained him to use his Perseus given physique and mental acumen. Within just a few months, the All-American was presented to the media as a new symbol for America. Thomaston spent several years in his new role, fighting crime, helping American soldiers with missions, and rescuing disaster victims. A crippling injury removed him from the superhero game, so the concerned officials had to find a replacement. After reviewing thousands of military personnel files, they selected another candidate, got him to agree to the Perseus treatments, and awarded him the mantle of the All-American. Since then, four more men and one woman have worn the costume and carried the legacy of the All-American. Now recognized by the American public, and the world, as “America’s official superhero,” the All American has come to represent heroic patriotism just the way the concerned officials had hoped he would. Despite the sometime-cynical motivations and manipulative efforts of the men in charge of the All-American program, the All-American has been a true hero, not simply a soldier following commands. More than one person who wore the costume was fired from the job for refusing to take orders he considered wrong. The latest in this long line of heroes is Jack Tiptree, the son of a South Dakota car salesman. After he joined the Marines in 1989, he was selected to become the All-American when his physical showed him to be perfectly suited for Perseus treatments. Jumping at the chance to serve his country in such a prominent role, Tiptree soon found himself garbed in the All-American’s familiar stars-and-stripes costume. Over a decade later, he’s still serving his country, having held onto the job longer than any of his predecessors. Though some things about the job concern him from time to time, usually he just gets to be a hero, and that’s more than enough incentive to keep the mask.


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