This week, comic readers will be re-introduced to the Great Ten, DC's Chinese superteam, with a 10-issue mini-series by writer Tony Bedard.
The Great Ten characters first appeared during the weekly series 52. The brainchild of Grant Morrison, the 10 superpowered characters have names that are a little different because they're literally translated from Chinese. And instead of being called "superheroes," they are referred to as "super-functionaries," since their communist government prefers a more humble moniker.
The new, 10-issue mini-series by Bedard and artist Scott McDaniel will tell the story of how the official "super-functionaries" of the People's Republic of China make difficult choices in the face of ancient enemies. Featuring a battle with the old gods of China, the mini-series promises to "redraw the map of the DCU."
To help readers make sense of who's who in the Great Ten and what all those names mean, Newsarama is doing a series of re-introductions to the 10 characters who make up the team, talking to Bedard to find out more about his upcoming mini-series.
This week, we focus on August General in Iron and Ghost Fox Killer.
August General in Iron
Real Name: Fan Zhifu.
Power: August General in Iron has been reshaped by Durlan bio-technology, giving him a biometal hide. He carries a special energy staff.
What Makes the Character Unique: "August General in Iron is China's 'Captain America' figure – the super-soldier who personally embodies the strength, resilience and pride of his country," Bedard explained. "In fact, he started out as a Captain named Fang Zhifu in the People's Liberation Army. He was in the special unit sent to check out a crashed alien spaceship in a remote section of the country. The ensuing 'war of the worlds' costs Fang his entire squad and his own humanity as an alien infection morphs his skin into a suit of living armor. But the alien technology captured by Captain Fang forms the basis for China's super-soldier program and the next generation of civil defense in the metahuman arms race. August General in Iron is dutiful and noble, but he's also a tragic figure, a man trapped and cut off from human warmth and intimacy by his own power. Ironically, his armor is what allows him to form a relationship with Ghost Fox Killer, whose touch means instant death for any ordinary man."
His Personality: "August General in Iron is the field commander of the Great Ten and he is deadly serious about carrying out his duty," said Bedard. "He wants the Great Ten to function with military precision, and he has little patience for teammates like Accomplished Perfect Physician who flaunt rules and put their individuality over the group's needs. He's a symbol of the self-sacrifice and desire for order that is a major theme in Chinese culture. But there's a flesh-and-blood man within his rusty iron exterior, a good and decent man trying to make sense of a national crisis and do the right thing."
What Part the Character Plays in the Great Ten mini-series: "The General is central to our saga," Bedard said. "He and the Accomplished Perfect Physician are the complimentary opposites, the Yin and Yang of the Great Ten. The tension between those two drives the Ten's efforts to combat the gods of ancient China and uncover the hidden truth behind their return."
Added info from Tony Bedard: "The August General has one of my favorite visual designs in the Great Ten. He's like a living statue or one of those terra-cotta soldiers from the tomb of the first Emperor come to life. He has a palpable dignity, despite the fact that his exterior is all pitted and rusty. Or maybe it's because he has that texture that he seems like a living monument."
Ghost Fox Killer
Real Name: Unknown, although she is referred to as a Hu Li Jing, the fox-spirits of Chinese mythology.
Power: Ghost Fox Killer's touch causes instant death. She is from a city that is powered by the souls of evil men, and can control the ghosts of men she's killed.
What Makes the Character Unique: "Ghost Fox Killer comes across like one of those 1930s pulp heroes like the Shadow, Green Hornet or Doc Savage," Bedard said. "She has a dark, mysterious appeal, a femme fatale nature that further evokes that film noir era. She haunts an old art deco building in Hong Kong and she preys upon evil men across the city. She hails from an otherworldly land of Ghost Fox Women that is fading away from reality and she must spill the blood of evil men and capture their souls in order to keep her incredible world from vanishing altogether. Thanks to her efforts over the years, Hong Kong is the world's most haunted city, watched over by an army of phantom criminals who now answer only to Ghost Fox Killer."
Her Personality: "Not quite human, Ghost Fox Killer is one of the most dangerous, least predictable members of the Great Ten," Bedard explained. "She has her own agenda beyond her missions with the Ten, and she kills without hesitation, but her relationship with the August General in Iron keeps her interests aligned with those of the Ten. Ghost Fox is cocky and sardonic, and you get the impression that she looks down on everybody she meets, a mocking tone in her voice no matter what she says. But she's also stunningly beautiful and charismatic, so men are drawn to her like moths to the flame."
What Part the Character Plays in the Great Ten mini-series: Ghost Fox will take on Chu Jiang, the God of Death, on the streets of Hong Kong. In fact, Issues #6 and 7 are a two-part clash in Kong Kong that changes the whole direction of the mini-series. She also doesn't care much for Accomplished Perfect Physician, and there's always tension when those two meet."
Added info from Tony Bedard: "Ghost Fox has tons of weird, ghostly technology and weapons. She even has a car with a spectral chauffer!"
Check back with Newsarama for the next two installments of our Great Ten series as we look at Seven Deadly Brothers, Shaolin Robot, Mother of Champions and Red Socialist Guardsman.