From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
Burnum is an Australian Aboriginal gifted with powers to be an avatar of the Rainbow Serpent of the Australian Dreamtime creation myth. As a concept, this is something of a tribute to a short-lived incarnation of the Incredible Hulk that appeared in the 'House of M' storyline of early 2006.
Burnum worked with the Reciprocators during the latter half of 2006 and was a founding member of the United Heroes of Earth in 2007.
From late 2007 through to the present, Burnum has been a member in good stead with the unconventional coalition of heroes led by the Hazard-Guard.
Generally quite affable and laid back, Burnum’s broad rural humor belies the aggression he brings to his role as a hero. In combat, he is a determined and at times aggressive opponent, often giving no quarter. It’s often he who remains in a fight long after many others may have fallen, just due to his own stubbornness. Otherwise, he’s not very worldly, missing references to modern culture. He’s also extremely respectful of older heroes and authority figures. Now that the Rainbow Serpent is the only personality, he too shows a broad sense of humor, though he is more eloquent and erudite than Tommy was. However, more mundane human attachments such as friendship or love seem beyond him, though he often says he loves everyone on Earth as he sees them as 'his children'.
Burnum’s powers come from the power of the Earth and the primordial forces which manifested him, and they typically follow a strength and invulnerability-related set of abilities. These are under his control, but have caused him problems in the past.
To say Burnum has extraordinary strength is an understatement. Capable of ripping concrete from a sidewalk to creating a shockwave by simply slamming his hands together, his strength seems to know few limits. At this stage of his career, Burnum is estimated to be capable of deadlifting on the order of one hundred and fifty tons.
Seemingly hand in hand with his prodigious strength, Burnum is noted as having near-invulnerability to nearly every form of harm, from temperature extremes to physical injury. Small arms fire reportedly feels ‘ticklish’ to him and higher energy weapons, such as Rikti blaster cannon cause him mild discomfort. These invulnerabilities are controllable by Burnum and he can revert to a ‘normal’, less durable state.
Anger of the Land
A full manifestation of his power, he can temporarily increase his strength, overall health and capacity to cause damage by tapping into what he calls the ‘Anger of the Land’, described to him as the desire of the Rainbow Serpent to punish ‘despoilers of the planet’. This is a physical manifestation of the Serpent's mythical depiction as a punisher of wrongdoers. This does however exhaust him after doing so and temporarily causes him to be more aggressive than usual.
Directly related to his strength, Burnum manifested the ability to leap steadily increasing distances as his strength has increased. As of this writing, Burnum is capable of covering distances from a dead stop of quarter of a mile.
Also related to his massive leg strength is his tremendous running speed, clocked currently at around 55 miles an hour. While not in the same category as someone with super-speed, this is still an impressive ability.
This has been cited as an outward expression of Burnum’s current power levels. Varying between blue and red hues of ionic flaring, these play over Burnum’s body continually when in ‘hero’ form.
Often seen on Australian Aboriginals for ceremonial purposes, Burnum’s distinctive white tattooing is part of an overall ability whereby he can physically transform his hair, skin and clothing between his ‘hero’, ‘war’ and civilian looks at will. This is a recent manifestation and seems to be directly related to his state of mind and emotions.
Weaknesses and Limitations
At this time, Burnum is particularly vulnerable to psionic, magical and energy-draining abilities. They have the overall effect of weakening or rapidly depleting his abilities to the point where they no longer function for a short time.
Born on the 15th of September, 1981, Thomas ‘Tommy’ Mundingbara was a normal young man living in the remote rural town of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory of Australia. His parents, Daisy and Daniel, were extremely happy to have their son, and Daisy was advised it would be unwise for her to have further children. But the community of the remote town functioned as an extended family and so Tommy never felt lacking in any particular fashion for family.
As time passed, Tommy was aware that he was larger than average for a boy of his age (medical records state he was six feet tall by his thirteenth birthday) and was quite strong. In a world with known superhumans, it was thought he could be a mutant of some kind, but nothing eventuated of this speculation. However, the local medicine man, who in Aboriginal culture is also a spiritual advisor, saw something in Tommy that others didn’t. So it was that he took the boy (with his parents’ consent) on a walkabout, a tradition for the Aboriginal people that is often a spiritual quest taken in the desert.
Burnum claims that, during his two weeks in the northern Simpson Desert, the creator being of Aboriginal myth, the Rainbow Serpent, appeared to him and told him that he was chosen to become the Burnum. Burnum was a legendary warrior-chief of Aboriginal mythology and a great leader. The Rainbow Serpent then proceeded to gift Burnum with the ‘strength and hardness of Uluru’, the largest free-standing rock structure in the world. This in turn manifested his ‘war paint’ and super-strength for the first time. On his return to Tennant Creek, Tommy was greeted warmly though with a large degree of surprise. He began learning about his abilities, as the Rainbow Serpent now began to directly inhabit his body and guide him in the use of his powers.
In 2004, in the aftermath of the first Rikti invasion, the Rainbow Serpent advised Burnum that Paragon City would be a focal point where the ancient spirits who wished to protect the Earth would gather against great forces who would seek to destroy it. The local community raised the money for Burnum to travel from Australia to Paragon City, where he was officially designated a ‘tanker’ and began working with local law enforcement authorities in mid-2006. It was here he began working with the Reciprocators, an arrangement that ended in early 2007 in an amicable fashion.
2007 also saw the rapid expansion of his burgeoning powers, which culminated in his becoming extremely aggressive at one point as he manifested his ‘Anger of the Land’ ability for the first time, which threatened to overwhelm him. This also saw him become one of the founding members of the fledgling United Heroes of Earth supergroup, though he also continued to work on his own.
His most notable accomplishments to date have been breaking a Circle of Thorns ongoing plot, and the possible defeat of Lord Nemesis himself, though this is yet to be confirmed.
In September 2007, he was also responsible for the arrest (one of many) of Countess Crey, during which time he himself was wanted for breaking into her property. This charge was dismissed when the Countess's crimes were revealed.
In late June of 2008, a significant change to the timeline, resulting in a divergent Earth where Burnum's nature was more aggressive and confrontational, was healed by Hazard Guard members Destiny Blinks and Universe Entire, but Burnum's mortal lifeforce was fatally damaged in the effort. Tommy Mundingbara was dying.
The Rainbow Serpent approached Rugiel, a merged Kheldian, and arranged for a Peacebringer Kheldian known as Eureka Phoenix to be the symbiote that would save Tommy's life in a reborn body. Universe Entire would facilitate the removal of Tommy's lifeforce to the newly-created body, the Rainbow Serpent's gift to the young hero. The culmination of events took place when members of the Hazard Guard with Burnum travelled to the ancient lands of Cimerora and confronted a potent being, which strained Burnum's power to the limit, and in order to defeat it, the Serpent was forced to manifest his full power.
In an emotional moment, Burnum 'died' in the arms of Universe Entire, witnessed by several of his close comrades, including Grul and Mio Matsuda.
'The moment has been prepared for,' Burnum's last words as a human being were said. With that, he was reborn in a body made of stone and earth, and now seeks to find a life for himself in the mortal realm, whilst being aware that his place as a force of change and nature heralds something more dire for the world which he helped shape.