From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
Last Updated: 10/10/2010
Last Updated: 10/10/2010
The cells of Rick's body are in a constant state of renewal, simultaneously destroying and reconstructing themselves from the inside out. As a result, he is effectively invulnerable; most damage done to him heals so quickly that it is as if it never occurred. While the nature of this power is regenerative, its practical application has led to his classification as an Invulnerable hero.
The cells of Rick's body regenerate to peak efficiency, which has reduced the effects of age on him by half his years and keeps him in excellent physical condition. It is not yet known whether he will age from this point or if his power will continue to keep him at his current apparent age, and if so for how long.
The more troubling side effect of Rick's cellular renewal is that the process releases tremendous amounts of heat throughout his body. The effect is not painful to him as even if his flesh ignites it will heal about as fast as it burns, but it prevents him from coming into physical contact with other people. The heat is sufficient to ignite most combustibles even as far as six feet from his body. He has no natural means of controlling this ability, and spent months quarantined while Whitley financed the development of the Falcon Filters.
The oversized gloves and boots worn by the Falcon Torch were originally designed as a means of mediating Rick's heat output. They act as heat sinks which draw the heat his cellular renewal generates away from his body, allowing him to maintain a more or less socially acceptable skin temperature of 106.4°. The first version of the hardware handled dissipation automatically. After Jefferson-Whitley convinced Rick to put his new abilities to use as the Falcon Torch, the Filters were redesigned with the help of D.A.T.A. to allow him to control the dispersion, to concentrate it to ignition. Positional sensors in the fingers and wrists allow him to control the energy's release in a variety of ways by issuing commands with gestures.
- Falcon Filters Mk I: The original design does not allow for much control over the dispersion of heat, but they are capable of withdrawing most of the excess heat from Rick's body, allowing him to wear normal clothing and live a relatively normal life. He is able to manually adjust them to allow flight, but his only combat option with these is to shut them off.
- Falcon Filters Mk II: These are less efficient as heat sinks than the Mk I Filters, having sacrificed much of the interior surface area in the design to allow the installation of a control and command interface, but the Mk IIs allow a great deal of control over the energy produced by Rick's renewal. For the safety of those around Rick, they must be worn with the Conduction Suit described below.
The Falcon Torch's costume is designed to help conduct the heat his body generates to the Mk II Falcon Filters. It also makes him more resistant to the effects of extremes of temperature.
The Falcon Torch's belt contains the small computer that stores the command system for the Filters and houses the wireless system that translates manual commands into directives sent to the gloves and boots. It also carries his own pack of cigarettes, as well as a few extra to hand out as samples to fellow heroes or rescuees, and a compartment filled with coupons for Falcon Cigarettes.
Weaknesses & Limitations
The Falcon Torch heals most superficial damage almost instantly, so much so that he seems invincible. However, he is impervious to nothing. While bruises, cuts, and other abrasions often vanish before the instrument of infliction is pulled away from the site of impact, and bullet wounds seal behind the bullet even as it is still ripping through his body (requiring later extraction if the bullet does not exit), structural damage can incapacitate him. A broken femur may regenerate and be healthy at the cellular level but, until the break is set so that the bone can reconnect, the leg will be useless to him.
An annoyance that, while relatively minor, makes Rick particularly irate is the fact that he cannot get the least bit inebriated. Any effect that alcohol could have on him is corrected in an instant by the cycle of renewal, making it impossible for him to get drunk.
The Falcon Torch can not control his secondary power without the aid of the Falcon Filters. Deprived of those, he and everything flammable within a six foot radius would ignite in seconds.
Rick tries his best to exude the gung-ho Golden Age spirit exemplified by his representation in the official Falcon Torch comic book. It's becoming harder for him to do that, however, as his growing mastery of his gifts allows him to take on more ominous threats to Paragon City and he sees the depths to which some villains will sink.
The project started as a marketing gimmick in which he dealt mainly with street crime and sought out photo ops, but as he became more capable and his contacts started to clue him in to bigger and bigger threats, Rick began to take what he's doing a lot more seriously.
While he remains loyal to Grover Whitley for saving his life, Rick is gradually coming to grips with the realization that The Falcon Torch can be a lot more than just a sales ploy. He finds this both exhilirating and terrifying, as his assignment gradually becomes his calling and he is forced to submit both his motives and his actual competence to serious self-examination.
The Falcon Torch campaign has proven both controversial and wildly successful for Jefferson-Whitley. Many watchdog groups, both herowatchers and tobacco industry critics, have issued statements or editorials on the subject of the Falcon Torch, lambasting J-W for its blatant attempt to market their products to children. Their usual defense on the subject is their insistence that the comic and upcoming cartoon are only intended for distribution in the greater Paragon City area (though the comic is available for online viewing through the J-W website), where Heroes are an integral part of day-to-day life and serve as role models to all citizens, young and old. They are also quick to list the Falcon Torch's accomplishments and hide behind testimonials of people whose lives he's saved. Though it puts them on the defensive, Jefferson-Whitley is thrilled with the way the campaign is going. Analysts expect Falcons to be the top-selling brand in Rhode Island within a matter of months.
Cigarette Tax Waived for Heroes
At participating retailers in Paragon City, anyone displaying their current and valid Hero Identification Card will have the state's cigarette tax waived, to be reimbursed to the retailer by Jefferson-Whitley Tobaccos. (Rhode Island has the second highest cigarette tax in the nation at $2.46 per pack.)
The Falcon Torch Comic Book
The comic book does not chronicle the Torch's actual crime-fighting escapades, and is entirely fictionalized. It is currently in its second volume.
- Volume One
- The comic was introduced as an 8-page pull-out advertising supplement in a wide variety of magazines, all with primarily adult reader demographics (critics are quick to point out that most of the publications were aimed at parents, which they suspect was to increase the likelihood that the comic would end up in the hands of children or teenagers). The main character was Rick Mars, a woodsman who, when he smokes Falcon Cigarettes, becomes the mighty Falcon Torch. In the comic book, the Falcon Torch is portrayed as invincible, and he fights crime only with his sword of flames or his fists. The real Falcon Torch's costume is based on the one designed for the comic book, which is why MacGruder wears a mask even though his identity is not secret. The awful writing, cheeseball fictional villains, Rick Mars' pet falcon "Torchy", and hokey treatment of the cigarettes as the spinach to the Torch's Popeye led the advertising supplement to be regarded as a total laughingstock by comic book aficionados, but it did garner enough attention to prepare the way for the arrival of the real Falcon Torch.
- Volume Two
- Once the real Falcon Torch took to the streets of Paragon City, J-W made a real investment in the comic book. They hired a team of experienced comic book creators to reinvent the fictional character and arranged for the publishing of an actual comic book. The second volume, now on its sixth issue and selling fairly well, is making a genuine effort to portray the Falcon Torch as a positive role model without glorifying his smoking, but also without downplaying or demonizing it. It has toned down the camp elements of its predecessor, and is garnering modest critical acclaim for its sardonic portrayal of a Golden Age hero fighting crime in the modern world. While the comic is still scorned for its origins, this version is beginning to garner a fanbase of mature readers.
The Hard Pack Adventures
This Saturday morning cartoon is planned to launch in concert with the official activation of the J-W-sponsored Supergroup, The Hard Pack. Most of the paperwork has been filed with the city and construction on a headquarters (nicknamed "The Carton of Justice" in internal memos) has begun.
- Originally conceived as "The Torch of Liberty" with Liberty Cigarettes, using the Torch chest icon. Unfortunately, all decent variations on that name were unavailable. After looking for a chest icon to replace the torch, I decided on the bird; with that came the idea for Falcon and the "Falconer" campaign.
- For whatever reason, I couldn't get the MacGruber sketch from Saturday Night Live out of my mind when I was thinking of the Torch's real name, so I flipped the b and went with MacGruder.
- "The Falconer" and "MacGruber" are both characters played by Will Forte on SNL. (Coincidence, not tribute.)
- Still considering a reroll into a fire/regen scrapper since it would technically be more appropriate to the concept, but I like the extra AoE in Tanker Fire Melee too much. Lately I've been thinking of reconcepting this toon into an alt build of Androgyne (wearing eir dropship armor and restricted from using eir Dark Miasma powers by the bulk of the gauntlets), and rerolling Falcon Torch as a scrapper, but I'm holding off since this is still my only tank of significant level and I like the classic feel of having a Tank at the helm of the Hard Pack, as little play as it sees.