From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
FOR THE FUTURE!
African Athena is an amazon woman scientist from a small African country that created an atomic elixir that gave her immense size, strength, and invulnerability.
Part Marie Curie, part Tarzan, part She-Hulk and part Jessica Rabbit, African Athena is a Rhodes Scholar in addition to an adventurer- strongwoman. African Athena is the leader of the team of explorer-heroes, the Power Pantheon.
African Athena possesses titanic strength, able to bench press over 100 tons. She can flip over tanks, smash through walls, crush diamonds to powder, and stomp the ground with such force it creates a miniature earthquake. Her leg muscles are so strong she can leap a mile in a single jump. With her immense intelligence, African Athena can use her superstrength tactically in terrifying ways, able to figure out and smash weak points, defeat enemies with a flick of unconsciousness, and so forth.
African Athena is invulnerable and bulletproof, and can even shrug off armor-piercing tank shells. She is immune to extremes of heat and cold. She can go without oxygen for hours at a time.
Despite her size, African Athena's agility and speed are equal to Olympic-level athletes, and she is a skilled acrobat.
Because of the Solaris Elixir in her body chemistry, African Athena does not need to sleep, and she is mostly inexhaustible. Likewise, the Elixir means that African Athena no longer ages or grows older since she began to take it.
African Athena is "Type A," ambitious, overachieving, intense, assertive and hardworking to the point of workaholism. She is competitive, with the certainty of someone that's never lost at anything. She is a natural leader and gravitates to positions of leadership. She is passionate and prone to crazy extremes of emotion, and she is well known for her flashes of bad temper. She loves to brawl and enjoys using her titanic strength in battles and to break things, as well as to show off. Despite that, African Athena distrusts the military, and she has an absolute distaste for weapons.
Because the potion that gave African Athena her powers slows the aging process, Double-A is only young on the outside. On the inside, she's at the point in her life where she no longer cares what other people think about her; she's brassy, fearless, bold and has no problem speaking her mind and doesn't suffer fools gladly.
African Athena differs from the usual noble "team leader" hero type in one crucial way: there are certain things most just won't do. African Athena, on the other hand...under the right set of circumstances, if someone she loves is threatened...African Athena becomes like a lioness guarding her cubs, and becomes very scary. She will tear limbs off.
African Athena is extremely disciplined and prone to routines. This causes her to come off as anal retentive to people that don’t know her very well.
African Athena has a near catlike curiosity for anything even the slightest bit "alien" or technical and she prefers to think of herself as an explorer or scientific adventurer. She enjoys the company of fellow Science and Technology origin heroes most of all, who she sees as colleagues. She fundamentally believes in the power of reason. While she has nothing against individual magic heroes, she dislikes the idea of magic and superstition as a force in people’s lives.
Men are frequently intimidated by African Athena, though not because of her height and strength, but are scared off by her intelligence and assertive personality.
"Knowing is half the battle. The other half is violence."
(When asked about her male companions) "It's not that I've had a lot of lovers...it's that I've never tried to hide them."
"If I have to identify my philosophy as a superhero, it would be 'peace through superior firepower.' The better you fight, the less you have to. Knowledge is my most important weapon. When I first started as an adventurer back in the sixties, I thought reason, hope and idealism themselves were enough, and they're not: strength must be used to protect these qualities. Always be aggressive, assertive and confrontational with evil and never knuckle under, because humanity has a predator class that only understands force. Finally, no one or anything is absolutely evil, because we all have to fight our nasty urges as individuals and as a society. Our culture faces a choice between two possible futures: a hopeful one guided by intelligence and compassion, and a dark, superstitious one guided by fear."
African Athena is the battle-leader, chairwoman and founding member of the team of explorer heroes, Power Pantheon. African Athena was a member of the Freedom Phalanx in the 1960s, and remains a Reservist. She is also a close ally and science advisor of the All Star Teen Sentinels.
African Athena works closely as a scientific consultant to Vanguard. She is deeply troubled by corruption and secrecy within that organization, and she finds herself wondering if she is the latest in a long line of scientists that are pawns of the military.
Relations with Other Heroes
Because of her experience and lengthy career, African Athena is a "hero's hero," an elder stateswoman within the hero community. Her views - particularly on scientific and extradimensional threats - have a lot of weight.
African Athena is unable to have children, possibly due to the biochemical alteration to her physiology thanks to regular use of the solaris elixir. As a result, she often takes care of younger heroes as a mentor-figure, seeing them as an emotional replacement.
African Athena grew up in Zendia, West Africa, a small postcolonial country that is mostly jungle and rain forest, ruled by religious cultists of the Banished Pantheon that kept the country superstitious and primitive.
African Athena's father was a game warden that never went to college, and taught his daughter to read in defiance of the Banished Pantheon. When AA was very young, her younger brother accidentally shot himself with one of their father's guns. To this day, she has a distaste for guns and most weapons.
When she was young, African Athena was something of a "Lisa Simpson" type: she was brilliant, skeptical, concerned with social justice, and a big admirer of Western and American culture. She was the only girl in her jungle villiage that listened to American rock and roll records on a turntable. For this reason, she was identified as a troublemaker. When she openly opposed the Shamans and claimed they had no power over sickness, Zandia was no longer safe for her and she had to leave. She obtained a full scholarship from visiting Paragon City University scientists, who heard rumors of a "jungle girl genius."
African Athena's greatest contribution was a Nobel Prize for her work in Biochemistry in 1963.
African Athena's greatest achievement in the field of biochemistry was made that same year, when she invented the Solaris Elixir, an atomic serum that turned cellular mitochondria into miniature nuclear reactors. The Solaris Elixir only worked on her own unique metabolism; it is lethal to anyone else.
African Athena made her costume debut in 1963. She never attempted to hide her secret identity or wear a mask.
The Paragon City Observer proclaimed her "An African Athena for the Atomic Age, a Nubian giantess as beautiful as a black Venus, a wild wilderness-scientist from the jungles of the dark continent. It is this reporter's hope that the mighty explorer and lady genius would, in the days to come, lend her great strength to the cause of right." This editorial was the origin of her heroic name.
African Athena fought and encountered a variety of opponents in this period including the Russian spymaster known only as the Minotaur, out to steal her scientific secrets for Mother Russia; the Cockroach Man, a sympathetic, pitiable creature that was created by an atomic bomb test and came above ground because of his crushing loneliness; and Mushroom Man, a cowardly, sneaky mutant born with the ability to create and use fungus of all varieties.
One of her battles in this period was not reported by the popular media: when the pyrokinetic KKK supervillain and arsonist known as the White Knight set on fire a black church with three little girls, African Athena lost her temper, flew in a rage, and broke her code against killing and beat the Knight to death.
African Athena's first real loss was to the Inhumanoid, a 5th Column-created robot, who challenged her to a duel on top of the statue of Atlas. African Athena is a competitive, high-achieving "Type A" used to being the strongest, proud of her strength, who never in her life lost at anything...the defeat rattled her confidence and she considered giving up the heroic game entirely.
One man's advice convinced her not to retire: Martin Luther King, Jr. MLK told African Athena that she would, in the years to come, get knocked down, but she had to get up again for the struggle. She had to fight for the future. This was the origin of her battle cry, "For the Future!"
The Inhumanoid, the robot that defeated African Athena, featured a device called an Activitron, which programmed him to go berserk and kill. African Athena removed the Activitron, and discovered the Inhumanoid, far from a fierce killing machine, only had the mind of a two-year old child.
"Ma-ma." It said. "Ma-ma, I'm alive, just like you."
The Might for Right Act and the Lost Years
No hero was more of a supporter of the Might for Right Act than African Athena, who when she was young was very idealistic. When she started to learn that the Might for Right Act discriminated against minority heroes, and the abuses of power came to light, African Athena felt her trust was betrayed – and she was rattled to the core, the rightness of her actions as a heroine questioned for the first time.
Her rage was explosive and of epic scale. She charged Paragon City Hall to strike at those she felt were responsible. The heroes of Paragon City found themselves in the unpleasant position of having to stop one of their own, the superstrong and invulnerable African Athena. She was finally taken down by her own lover, the android Bastion (now called Citadel).
Afterwards, African Athena was labeled a “black radical” and a “Communist,” and as a Naturalized American Citizen, the authorities of the Might for Right Act decided on an overkill punishment: permanent deportation. African Athena was outraged by what she saw as the betrayal of her fellow heroes. She was kicked out of the country she thought, as a girl, represented reason and freedom. How could she fight for the future, when society was filled with greed, ignorance, backwardness, racism and sexism? She no longer believed human beings were capable of creating a utopian future, and worse, she didn’t feel human beings deserved it.
In short, African Athena lost faith in the future.
She stopped calling herself Athena – the goddess of wisdom and war, and became known as the Forgotten Woman. No matter where she went, she was still an adventurer, and for a decade she battled crime and performed research under that identity.
As the Forgotten Woman, African Athena was a solitary globetrotter and nomad, haunted by her own devastated idealism. Her more famous cases included an encounter with Zak the Floronic Man in a battle that destroyed several miles of the Great Wall of China, opposed the British gang led by the identical twins known as the Lion and the Unicorn, and through caves in Indonesia discovered the existence of the Igneous and Magma Lords long before they emerged in Paragon City.
Though she since recovered her faith in the possibility for human progress, she learned her lesson and has a more pragmatic attitude to it. African Athena returned to Paragon City in the beginning of the 1980s. Her citizenship was restored and a full pardon given by a city that regretted its actions towards her in the sixties.
African Athena, a skilled engineer, uses a variety of technological gadgetry, much of which is of her own design. She never uses weapons of any kind, and has an extreme distaste for guns as a result of a childhood accident involving her younger brother.
Her most famous device is her wrist-computer, which has the processing power of many supercomputers, and additionally has sensors that analyze powers, particularly those of her foes. In the 1960s, she used a similar device, but it weighed over 400 tons and required half the waters of Independence Port for coolant.
Athena uses a variety of transportation equipment. She wields a jump-jet and a Raptor Pack for transportation when her own super-jumps fail. She also sports a freeze-gun, and a phase-watch that allows her to move through solid objects.
In the sixties, African Athena used a chestplate projector that stored a minicomputer, hologram projector, ultraviolet light projector, and sonar. She also wore a pair of ear-receivers for police and radio signals. Both of these were not kept in her current costume, where as the Forgotten Woman she learned the importance of keeping things simple.
During the later sixties, African Athena used a vehicle known as the Omnicar, resembling a combination between a rocketship and a 1950s concept car. The Omnicar was designed to fly (atmospherically and in space), go underwater, and for a while even had a drill designed to burrow through the earth.
Early in her career, African Athena needed to take her Solaris Elixir every 24 hours or she'd lose her powers. In the ensuing decades, the formula has become such a part of her bodychemistry that her powers are now permanent.
African Athena is physically indestructible, but she is extremely vulnerable to mental and telepathic powers. She's learned to counter this with elusive mental techniques during the Rikti War, but she remains an easy target for telepaths.
Because of her invulnerability, African Athena cannot be operated on surgically in the traditional way or with traditional tools, which may spell dire consequences if she is seriously wounded.
By far, African Athena's greatest weakness is her temper. She does not yell or lose control: her temper is ice-cold. She gets quiet and intense, and in such a state is capable of terrifying violence, all the more frightening because she does not outwardly go berserk.
- As a result of the atomic Solaris potion, African Athena is physically as dense as Uranium; she weighs over 800 pounds.
- African Athena's nuclear physiogy requires her to consume over 21,000 calories per day.
- African Athena is partially Belgian-Congolese Tutsi through her Mother, and her father is Waziri (a minority ethnic group in Zendia).
- African Athena has six toes on both of her feet. This is a strange genetic quirk she refuses to get rid of surgically (even if it were possible to operate on her), as it gives her more uniqueness.
- Favorite Movies: CASABLANCA and Agnes Varda's LE PETIT AMOUR. Favorite Song: Billy Holliday's "Ghost of You."
- African Athena created the cocktail, "One Night in Mombasa." It is one part Vodka, three parts molten hot lava, and one part strichnine. It's strictly for invulnerable people.
- Because of the bionuclear reactions that happen as a result of the Solaris Elixir inside cells, African Athena gives off low-level radiation in the safe range. She glows bizarrely under blacklight.
- African Athena has two PhDs from Paragon City University: Biochemistry and Nuclear Physics. She has a Masters Degree in Geology and Mathematics, and her undergraduate degree was in Chemistry.
- African Athena is a well-known "cougar," with a taste for younger men.
Praetorian Earth Version
On the dystopian world of the Tyrant, African Athena's counterpart is "Commander Athena." She is a loyal citizen of her world's power structure, however, and is surprisingly honorable and not "evil" in the traditional sense. She is something like Colin Powell, a "good soldier" and loyal servant to people unworthy of that loyalty.
Because she is intelligent and rational enough to predict flaws in unworkable and overly optimistic plans, she is usually extremely unpopular among the top heroes of Praetorian Earth...especially when she's proven right.
Commander Athena was formerly the leader of the Praetorian Earth Rocket Legions, but she was demoted for speaking out publicly against several of Antimatter and Neuron's plans, as well as the Tyrant's military schemes. Commander Athena was made General of the ongoing war-effort in the Arctic Circle. To everyone's surprise, Commander Athena's tactical genius turned around the Arctic War, a conflict in danger of getting quagmire. Her popularity skyrocketed, and it is only for this reason the other Praetorian Earth heroes haven't tried outright assassination.
Though only barely possessing the scientific education of her other-earth counterpart, Commander Athena is her superior in tactics and military ability.
Now this is interesting: when I first created the character, I wanted the name "Black Athena," a reference to the popular historical book that argued that a lot of Greek culture originated with Egyptian and African sources. The name was taken, so I settled for African Athena, which has a great alliteration.
The kicker is, I recently found out that the author's original title for his book was "African Athena," but the publisher changed the name! So I suppose it all worked out...
Incidentally, African Athena's real name, Octavia Mugambi, comes from female African-American science fiction writer Octavia Butler.