This is just a project I’ve been working on in my spare time, since I enjoy worldbuilding and I have something of a vision for how superhero stories could look outside of Marvel and DC’s paradigms. Here’s some information about it, covering some major world features and the history of the world from 1932-2018.
(Also, if by some astronomically small chance anyone likes this enough to want to write anything in this world, get in touch with me and we’ll talk about it!)
The Crack: A 4-mile-long, hazardous hole in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Emanates powerful radiation, as well as more esoteric forms of energy that result in its being impossible to explore or study up close. Occasionally releases bodiless beings of pure mind, called Psionics, one of whom has become a beloved superhero.
Artificia: A region of 100,000 square miles in Patagonia, inhabited solely by artificial intelligences. Granted to the AI community by the Argentinian government as an act of philanthropy.
Ranomasina Ny Loza: a substantial area of the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar, populated by horrific sea monsters, that ships never dare to cross. Theorized to be caused by an interdimensional rift.
Fairyland: An invisible levitating city above southern Germany, populated by winged magical fairies who mostly seclude themselves from humankind (though they maintain and enjoy a robust knowledge of human culture).
Europa: A moon of Jupiter, home to an aquatic species of aliens known as the Lermacs.
October 1932: Mack Marten begins fighting petty crime on the streets of Detroit under the guise of Galahad.
February 1934: The mad scientist known as Doctor Peril unleashes a mind-control gas onto the citizens of Boston, but is thwarted by the boomerang-wielding vigilante Roundabout and her sidekick Ricochet.
March 1935: Galahad, Roundabout, and five other American vigilantes convene in St. Louis and form the Light Brigade.
May 1936: The diabolical sorcerer Mokurra attacks Washington, D.C. and nearly kills President Roosevelt before the Light Brigade is able to take him down.
June 1936: The Light Brigade is given official recognition as an independent law enforcement entity by the US Government.
November 1939: Doctor Peril creates the android Golemis, who rampages through Boston before being taken into custody by Ricochet, now operating on his own. Golemis is deactivated and put in a storage locker in the Smithsonian.
January 1942: The Light Brigade schisms over the question of whether to fight in World War II for the US, and permanently breaks up.
June 1944: Seeing black magic used by the Axis powers in the European theatre of the war, the US creates a Department of Mysticism to acquire and study magical artifacts and texts.
1946: Costumed vigilantes begin operating in various parts of Europe, including London’s Crusader and Athens’s Artemis.
March 1946: An accident at a nuclear research facility grants USSR citizen Klara Popov the ability to create powerful explosions by clapping her hands together. She becomes the state-sponsored hero Red Knight.
October 1946: Red Knight breaks her ties with the government, leaves for Sweden, and begins using the codename Blast. The term “superhero” is coined to describe Blast.
May 1949: A coven of benevolent witches in Greece makes itself known to the public, hoping to use their magic for public benefit. They are persecuted at home, but are granted asylum by the US, on the condition that they work for the Department of Mysticism and share the secrets of their work.
August 1950: Blast goes to Canada and defeats a monster from space colloquially known as the Bogey. Upon killing the beast, Blast is hailed as an international hero and receives a medal from the UN.
July 1952: Sanctioned by the UN, Blast forms a team of superheroes from across the globe known as the International Justice Force, based in Paris.
May 1955: An aged Doctor Peril and a young jewel thief bear a child, whom they name Olivia.
December 1955: The IJF travels to the moon Europa and encounters a race of aquatic aliens called the Lermacs. Though there is initial hostility, the IJF is able to establish a peaceful relationship and communications with Earth.
September 1957: The android Golemis is reactivated and released from custody, and he joins the IJF as the world’s first robot superhero.
June 1960: On another space mission, Blast is separated from the IJF and declared missing.
August 1961: The IJF disbands permanently.
March 1964: The British Dr. Mallory Partridge invents the world’s first working time machine, and uses it to bring her historian husband Thaddeus with her to search for the secret of Greek Fire during the Peloponnesian War.
May 1965: When Mokurra’s son Mokuna attempts to go back to the ancient past to make his family the rulers of the world, the Partridges team up with Golemis and a semi-retired Artemis to chase him across the timestream and bring him to justice. When they return to the present, a large radioactive crack has appeared in Australia.
April 1966: Golemis approaches his creator Doctor Peril, now on his deathbed, to ask him to create another android to be his companion. Doctor Peril refuses.
November 1966: A gynoid calling herself Galatea, secretly created by the young Olivia Peril, mysteriously appears and falls in love with Golemis. The two retreat to Europa to live together in peace.
1967-1969: Supervillain activity goes quiet around the world, and superheroes mostly become an irrelevant phenomenon.
October 1968: A young Japanese man named Kaito Yamamoto discovers a magical staff that belonged to his ancestors, and begins training with it alone in the wild.
September 1970: Blast, Golemis, and Galatea return to Earth on a Lermac ship, with Blast raving mad about an impending alien invasion. With most of the former IJF older than their prime, the UN attempts to gather a new crop of heroes. Among others, they discover Kaito Yamamoto, who is given the codename Ronin.
December 1970: Blast and Golemis lead the young heroes in a defense of Earth against beings calling themselves the Expansion. Ronin is able to cast a protective spell over the entire planet that buys humanity valuable time. Blast sacrifices herself to destroy their mothership, saving the world.
February 1971: A monument to Blast is erected on the Moon, engraved “A HERO BEYOND NATIONS.”
July 1971: Ronin and the other young heroes who fought the Expansion form a new superteam, rejecting the UN’s offer of funding and instead choosing to operate independently. They decide to call themselves the Global Rangers.
November 1971: Feeling threatened by the existence of an independent superteam, the UN recruits Golemis and Galatea as “peace operatives.”
June 1972: Galatea is hijacked by the teenage Olivia Peril, who sends the gynoid on a rampage through Seoul. The Global Rangers face off against both Galatea and Golemis, who has taken her side to protect his lover from being destroyed. Galatea is destroyed by the Global Rangers, and Golemis permanently deactivates himself out of grief.
1973: Pieces of Galatea’s circuitry begin circulating on the global weapons market, allowing amateurs to build their own robotic warriors.
March 1974: Communicating through hijacked landlines, the hundreds of artificial intelligences around the world coordinate to turn on their creators and escape to the island of St. Helena, which they seize from the UK and establish as their own nation. The Global Rangers are divided on whether the AIs need to be opposed or supported, and they ultimately elect to do nothing.
September 1974: Facing a war between the robotic St. Helena and the UK, the UN scrambles to find a humanitarian solution. The Argentinian government steps up, offering a section of Patagonia to be the new home for the AIs, as the sovereign nation of Artificia.
September 1975: The Partridges agree to work for the British government to establish a Ministry of Time, using their technology to do historical research and defending the timestream from those who would abuse it.
January 1976: Collaborating with Lermac researchers, an Indian research group invents a faster-than-light engine.
July 1976: Using the new Savitr Engine, whose workings are kept secret from other nations, India launches a space program with the aim of exploring other star systems.
December 1976: China demands India share the blueprints for the Savitr Engine with the world, claiming that it’s too important of a technology to be kept to one nation. When India refuses, China declares war.
June 1977: With the death toll of the Sino-Indian War racking up, the Global Rangers decide to intervene. They attack Chinese military bases, dismantling weaponry while avoiding taking any lives, then strong-arm India into releasing the Savitr Engine blueprints. An armistice is reached.
August 1977: The Global Rangers are placed on trial before the UN. Ronan defends his team by claiming superheroes have a moral responsibility that transcends any law. Fearing the wrath of the world public, who largely supported the Global Rangers’ actions, the UN allows the team to continue operating.
March 1978: Olivia Peril, now using the mononym of Olivia, detonates a nuclear bomb in Rome, killing a million civilians, along with a visiting Ronin and some minor superheroes. The Global Rangers vow to bring Olivia to justice, but are never able to find her.
1979-1982: The Global Rangers, without Ronin’s leadership, begin to take political action more and more often, assassinating third-world dictators and preemptively stopping military conflicts.
September 1982: Fearing that the Global Rangers will turn on them, the US government clandestinely reaches out to Olivia, offering to help her assassinate the team.
April 1983: The Global Rangers are given a fake mission to the Expansion’s homeworld, and their ship is blown up remotely by Olivia. All members die, and it is framed as an accident.
October 1983: A young AI living in Artificia stumbles onto inconsistencies in the purported narrative of the Global Rangers’ spaceship accident. She begins to investigate, and finds records suggesting the US had colluded with Olivia.
November 1983: The young AI, calling herself Galatea II, publishes her findings and calls for action against the US government, stating that the blood of the Global Rangers is on their hands.
1984: Anti-government riots pervade the US, with people who idolized the Global Rangers reading Galatea II’s findings and believing them.
March 1985: The US admits collusion with Olivia and culpability in the death of the Global Rangers. The officials involved are fired and tried before the UN, who also imposes trade sanctions on the US, causing the US to decline as an economic power.
July 1986: US researchers with the Department of Mysticism attempt to magically assassinate Galatea II. She is rescued by British Ministry of Time agents, who foresaw her assassination causing catastrophe. Galatea II is brought to sanctuary with the UN, who attempt to hire her like her namesake as a peace operative. Galatea II refuses, saying that her mission for the truth can’t be bound by an organization.
April 1987: Galatea II establishes a think tank in Greenland with prominent scientists, artists, and philosophers, dedicated to solving the world’s problems with ideas rather than violence. Galatea II titles this program the Foundation, after Asimov’s novels.
February 1988: Spurred by a prophecy painting her as a great hero, a young Chinese girl named Sun Shuang begins to study the secret art of controlling the four elements from masters around the globe.
May 1988: The Brazilian military launches an experimental technology known as Armadura, supposed to grant nigh-invincibility to soldiers. They search the public for test subjects. A teenage boy named Paulo Almeida volunteers for the treatment and becomes invincible, then deserts the military to become a superhero named Armadura (which was his plan from the beginning).
July 1989: Having mastered the four elements, 13-year-old Sun Shuang makes her public debut as the wunderkind superhero Tetra, stopping plane crashes and putting out fires in Shanghai.
October 1990: The Foundation observes discrepancies in the habits of several major world leaders, and comes to psychic interference as a likely cause. They recruit Armadura as a covert operative, and he eventually finds and defeats psychic beings originating from the Crack in Australia who have taken over the world leaders’ minds. Armadura is lauded as a worldwide hero, referred to by one paper as “the greatest since Ronin.”
September 1991: An MTV executive has a brilliant idea for a superhero reality show. The network recruits Tetra and Armadura, alongside four other teenage heroes, to form a new team called the Samurai Squad, whose missions are televised.
August 1992: A powerful alien creature, called the Slayer by the media, begins to slaughter superheroes across the globe one by one.
September 1992: The Samurai Squad, against the advice of their manager, decides to take on the Slayer. The fight is promoted as a grand live event. One by one, the Samurai Squad members are gored to death on live TV, until only Tetra, the shapeshifter Slinky, and Armadura remain. Armadura is able to destroy the Slayer with explosives, but is presumably (the body is never found) killed in the blast as well, leaving Tetra and Slinky as the only remaining members. Their show is cancelled.
December 1992: Tetra announces a hiatus from superhero activities, deciding to wander the globe anonymously in order to determine what truly matters.
February 1993: A Psion, one of the species of beings that controlled the world leaders, comes to Earth as an ambassador. They (singular; Psions have no concept of gender) begin fighting crime with their mental powers, and receive the codename of Psi from the media.
June 1993: The Foundation announces the Samurai Squad Superhero Scholarship, where young heroes across the globe are given funding and training to support their missions. Recipients include Holly Heracles, the strongest woman in the world, a wizard from Ethiopia specializing in teleportation calling himself Portal Master, and Galatea II’s own “daughter,” Lovelace.
December 1993: Tetra resurfaces and announces her intention to form a new team of superheroes in the model of Ronin’s Global Rangers. She further announces that she and Slinky are using their Samurai Squad royalties to finance the construction of a base on the moon. The new team is to be called the Shepherds.
April 1994: Tetra, Slinky, Holly Heracles, Portal Master, Lovelace, and Psi form the first lineup of the Shepherds. At their moon base is engraved a poem by William Blake (Lovelace’s idea):
“How sweet is the Shepherd’s sweet lot
From the morn to the evening he strays;
He shall follow his sheep all the day,
And his tongue shall be filled with praise.
For he hears the lamb’s innocent call,
And he hears the ewe’s tender reply;
He is watchful while they are in peace,
For they know when their Shepherd is nigh.”
November 1994: The Shepherds, faced with Tetra’s inexperience as a leader, decide to hire a new member who can provide tactical insight while still deferring to Tetra. Slinky finds a London vigilante named Rat King, of whom the others are skeptical, but whom Slinky insists is a brilliant tactician. He is recruited into the team.
1995-1998: Operating under Tetra and Rat King’s dual leadership, the Shepherds flourish, and gain more respect than any superhero team since the IJF.
July 1998: A US Department of Mysticism experiment backfires and summons hordes of demons to Kansas City. The Shepherds save the day, and later debate about whether the Department of Mysticism should be allowed to exist at all. After negotiations with the US, the Shepherds issue an ultimatum— both the US Department of Mysticism and the UK Ministry of Time must cease operations immediately, as both magic and time travel are too powerful for governments to handle.
1999: Political groups, many funded discreetly by world governments, begin to protest the Shepherds, saying that they intend to become autocrats and rule the entire world.
October 1999: Tetra gives a statement at the UN, saying that the Shepherds will continue putting pressure on dangerous governments, but giving her word that the team will never attempt to infringe upon individual citizens’ liberties or rights.
2000-2003: The world enjoys an unprecedented era of peace, thanks largely to the threat of the Shepherds cracking down on any would-be aggressive government.
May 2004: The Shepherds welcome three new members: the spacefaring photokinetic Sunbeam, the super-agile martial artist Acro, and the (secretly vampiric) scientist Doctor Dark.
August 2005: A dabbling mage finds a scroll by Mokurra, and invokes forces he cannot control. A chained elder demon named Kralak is freed and begins to take his wrath on the entire galaxy. The Shepherds travel to space to join forces with various galactic militaries, including the Expansion, and eventually defeat Kralak. The event is dubbed “The Calamity” by Earth’s media.
August 2005: While the Shepherds are off-world, Olivia covertly contacts seven other supervillains and forms an underground cabal dubbed the Spider. The eight masterminds begin plotting to destroy the Shepherds and establish a world hegemony.
2005-2010: With Earth grateful to the Shepherds for saving the universe, protests against the team die out, and the ten of them become objects of public adoration more than ever before.
September 2009: Galatea II deactivates herself, frustrated with the Foundation’s seeming irrelevance in the Shepherds’ world. Lovelace changes her name to Galatea III to honor her, and personally oversees the transition to a new leader of the Foundation.
2011-2017: With supervillain and monster activity at a low, the Shepherds begin to pour their energy and resources into social programs, establishing education, communications, and reliable food sources in underdeveloped areas. Sunbeam and Portal Master also focus on establishing diplomatic relationships with other planets, using the alliance from the Calamity as a starting point to build communications and trade channels with several extraterrestrial civilizations, and drafting a peace treaty with the Expansion.
October 2018: Statues to the Shepherds are erected by each of their home countries in concert, as a show of world unity and gratitude.