John 'Caestus Pax' Carter
Echter Name: John Carter
John Carter was born Dec. 25, 1958, in Calvary, a small town in rural Kentucky. His family lived on the family farm, where 5 generations of Carter had grown up. The most remarkable thing about his family was their long, honorable history of distinguished military service. His father had earned a Congressional Medal of Honor at Normandy in WWII. His grandfather lied about his age to become a flying ace in WWI. Back in the Civil War, his family had decorated soldiers and officers on both sides of the conflict. All the way back to his family's patriarch who served with distinction in the Colonial Army in the Revolution.
John was a 'change of life baby' for his parents. His brother and both sisters were all at least 10 years older then him. He was also born noticeably smaller then his older siblings. However, his family never hated or despised him for being weak, or small. In fact, they felt sorry for him in that he'd never measure up to the family's history. His older brother was always willing to take over the chores for him around the farm. At age 4, his parents had another son: this one was just as big as their older siblings, if not bigger.
John's younger brother: "All this just seemed to drive John to try even harder. He was always more gung-ho then anyone else. He'd always try to push himself harder then anyone else when he worked around the farm. At school, he was always the most competitive in gym class, but never made any of the sports teams. It's like he just kept pushing himself to the breaking point." Things just got worse as John got older. His continued desire to be the best kept getting him into problems.
A childhood friend of Caestus Pax: "Well, John always had to be the best, the most fearless. It's like he always had something to prove. I guess he just felt like he had to keep proving that he was worthy of his family's history. This kept getting him into trouble.
For instance, there was the "parachuting" incident. We were jumping out of the hayloft, into a pile of hay. John had to jump higher, and farther then anyone else. He finally jumped too far, overshot the haystack, and hit hard. He broke his leg. Luckily, his brother was home and we got him to the doctor right away. They got his leg set, and the doc said he'd be fine. Problem was "Too Tough" John just wouldn't sit still for anything. He kept trying to walk around without the crutches. I guess he just couldn't be weak or helpless, even from a broken leg. Unfortunately, the leg never quite healed properly because of that and he was left with a pronounced limp.
"Like I said, John just had to be the best. It's like he had to be superhuman or something. He just couldn't be an ordinary person." As he grew, he also developed serious asthma as the result of a severe case of pneumonia. However, no matter what happened, John would never give up.
Former schoolteacher of Caestus Pax: "John always tried harder then anyone else. After he hurt his leg, he refused to use his cane to walk. After he developed the asthma, he often 'forgot' his inhaler. He also frequently picked fights with bullies and older kids in school.. He'd always lose, but that never stopped him from trying. Even after, maybe especially after he'd picked a fight with a group of boys several years older then him, and was saved by his younger brother.
"As John got older, he continued to get teased at school for his small size, his name and especially for his attitude. I remember, he seemed to get angrier and more withdrawn. He always wanted to do things and kept feeling held back. He watched as his older brother and several older cousins volunteered for military service during Vietnam. He also watched several years later as his older brother was brought home and buried at Arlington Cemetery, next to all their other relatives.
"I remember that day like it was yesterday. John rode home with the case of our brother's medals in his lap. Helicopter pilot, all those 'above and beyond the Call of Duty' citations, medals, awards, ribbons, etc. Killed while trying to extract a group of Marine's pinned down by enemy fire. He and his crew wound up drawing the enemy fire long enough to allow other choppers to evacuate the marines. They were taken down by a rocket launcher as they tried to fall back. I can remember the look on John's face. I heard him talking to himself. He vowed then and there he'd find a way to join up. He'd be the hero our brother had been."
After high school, his father was able to call a few old friends and managed to get John a shot at West Point. He studied and trained 'til he dropped. When the day came, he managed to pass, barely. Rumor had it, his father's old friend got him a bit of leeway, but there has never been any proof of any tampering.
Former instructor at West Point: "John was a good kid. He tried very hard at all his courses. I remember he'd always be studying, always up late before a test. He never would ask for help, though. He had to make it on his own. Even when I knew he was having trouble in my class, he wouldn't accept any special help, or tutoring. "I know he was also disappointed about his performance in sports here. John was always hoping to make one of the more... physical sports. You know, football, basketball: something more rough-and-tumble. However, the only team he was able to make was the Riflery Team. He did rather well on the team. Never made Captain, but that was probably just his attitude was a bit too rough for the rest of the team. He was a great shot. They did win a lot of competitions while he was on the team. By the time he graduated though, he'd done well enough that he was in the top 25% of his class and had a string of marksmanship trophies."
By that time, however, Vietnam was long over, and John was looking at a long career in a desk job. He got assigned to a general's staff and pushed papers for the next 10 years. "I first meet Major Carter when he was assigned to work with the Joint Chiefs. We worked together for several years. He was an excellent administrator. He seemed to have a real gift for logistics. Unfortunately, he always wanted to get a field command. We talked about it a few times, especially when Operation Desert Shield was being put together. He petitioned had to get a field command. Unfortunately, they felt his talents were best used in coordinating forces and supply lines from Washington. He served well. A lot of lives were probably saved by his work. He made sure people and materials got moved where they needed to be, when they needed to be there. I guess he just never saw how important his work really was. Afterwards, he did get his promotion to full Colonel, in recognition for his efforts.
"I was sad to hear he decided to resign his commission after that. He told me once that he'd just had it. He thought his work was pointless. I guess he wanted to be a big war hero. He mentioned his brother to me once. I believe he was a helicopter pilot in Vietnam that died saving a group of Marines. John was very proud of him and felt he needed to live up to that heroic image." After realizing he would never get to be the big war hero, now Col. Carter retired from the Army with full honors. However, he still felt he'd let his family down, that he'd never get to live up to his family's glorious history. He went back to take over the family farm, and gave up on his dreams of fame and glory. At least until Fate stepped in to lend him a big helping hand.
"We all remember what we were doing on March 23, 1998. I was watching my old High School's baseball team make their play for the State Championship. It was a beautiful afternoon, and I was really enjoying the game. It looked like the team might finally break their twelve-year losing streak. I was feeling... content. Even the news of the Galatea's explosion several hours earlier seemed like a different world, not something I needed to worry about.
"Suddenly, the sky darkened and a hideously familiar wind kicked up. Less then a mile away, a twister suddenly dropped down from what had been a clear sky moments before. I'll tell you, I was terrified. My heart raced, the blood pounded in my ears, and I felt a cold sweat break out all over. I couldn't move fast enough to get away, none of us could. We were all going to die. All these people would die. If only someone was there to swoop in and save us all, the way my brother had held off the enemy to let those marine's escape. Where was the hero to save the day ? Why couldn't I ever be that hero ?
"We've all heard novas try to describe eruption. No matter how often you hear it, you'll never understand unless you go through it. The pain is just something that really defies description. I guess you could say it was a blinding headache struck me like a red-hot poker. However, the pain couldn't stop me. I guess I just stopped thinking. I reacted and threw myself screaming at the twister. I found myself shooting across the distance in a blink of an eye. I just charged the twister. Remembering my old science classes, I tried to counter-rotate the funnel. I flew into it, trying reverse the wind. I could feel the air around me twisting back on itself."
Pitcher for 1998 Calvary High Baseball Team: "I remember that demon twister baring down on us. I kinda froze and watched it screaming down at us. Suddenly there was this blue glow coming from some guy in the stands. Suddenly he was moving too fast to really be seen, diving into that twister. We all just waited and watched. I don't think anyone was breathing. Suddenly the twister slowed its advance, flattered, and then pulled back up into the sky. As the sky cleared as quickly as it had darkened, this guy flew down onto the field, to make sure everyone was alright. I guess we are still too stunned to say anything. I remember just staring at him, and that bright glow of his. I was thinking, so this is an angel."
Thanks to his heroic efforts, no one was killed, and only a few people had been injured in the initial panic. The people just stood there and watched him in stunned awe. It took a while for it to sink into John just what had happened. His blinding headache returned and he flew back home, before the crowd could get to him.
A local news crew caught it all on tape, and by that evening, it was all over the news, right along with the footage of Randal Portman. It was picked up by the networks and spread nationwide by the next morning. By evening, his hometown was flooded by reporters looking for the hero who had saved the day. Looking for John Carter. We've all seen what has happened since then. It seems not a day goes by that we don't see another story of the selfless dedication and hard work of this simple country boy from Kentucky. In the end, he refused to let go of his dream of being a hero, and that dream brought him to where he is today. Beloved hero, savior of thousands, media icon, Leader of the greatest collection of heroes the world has ever known. A man whose name has come to mean honor, integrity, and selfless aid to others.
Parallelen zum DC Comic-Universum
Caestus Pax is intended to serve as the Aberrant version of Superman - in the DC Universe, he would be far more of a governmental/establishment "yes man." He needs a team and he needs to be in charge - he might also serve as a replacement for Captain Atom during the period where Captain Atom was unwillingly stooging for the U.S. government in the Giffen-era Justice League.