Outside of Freedom City, Bay City and New York, most American cities generally have only a few heroes. (The upside of this is that they also have fewer villains.) While the Statesman project of the late 70s was able to recruit one superhero local to each of the fifty states, many of these men and women are now quite happily retired. However, others have followed in their footsteps. The expansion of the Freedom League has led to many of these formerly independent heroes, even those who had developed local teams of their own, being added to its roster, and noted as local experts. Generally, they'll only be called in for Freedom League missions that have some relevance to their region, or in situations of national (or global) peril. The three heroes that follow are examples of such local experts.
The Empress (Las Vegas)
Liz Ashe would have prefered to go by the name "Queen of Hearts", but there's a rather frightening person already using the name. Frankly, going by any "Queen" name relating to cards might have been an invitation to trouble that she really didn't want. So she went for a tarot image instead. The only downsides of that are that she has to really dress up when she's on the job, by wearing an outfit inspired by the Empress card of the Rider-Waite tarot. And on top of that, people expect her to be some sort of mystical expert.
Okay, so she's not crazy, she knows magic is real, and she's managed to pick up a bit of the lingo. But it is so
annoying that people keep expecting her to be some sort of crystal waving, incense snorting, "wouldn't it be nice if everyone were nice" type. Her powers are straight-up mutations, not anything "weird". She manipulates probabilities, making the unlikely more likely -- or certain.
Liz has never talked a lot about her background. She once said that her father was a cop and that her mother was a showgirl, but she may have been kidding. She's lived in Vegas all of her life, and honestly couldn't imagine living anywhere else. She doesn't exactly have a secret identity, but she keeps a pretty low profile when she's not on the job.
Fighting crime in Vegas is an ... interesting job, given the casinos. While the mob doesn't run most of them any more, the new breed of owners still aren't exactly the nicest people on the planet, and if they aren't wiseguys themselves, they're certainly, shall we say, "wiseguy-positive"? On the other hand, Card Shark and his crew make the lot of them look like saints.
While that sort of "lesser of two evils" thinking would get her in trouble in most places, it may be absolutely necessary in Vegas. It also allowed her to survive team ups with Cyclone on a few occasions (the first one, not this new guy -- he's just nuts). She first joined forces with the Freedom League when she helped the Raven and Lady Liberty deal with Orion and Wildcard, in Vegas to make an alliance between the Crime League and the Card Shark mob.
Since then, she's had a few unpleasant encounters with Clover, the Freedom League's other
probability manipulator. Clover thinks that Liz is too blatant in her probability manipulation, which makes the Empress laugh her head off, given that Clover is famous for making bullets that "just missed" her form the shape of a four-leaf clover behind her. Liz just thinks Clover is a snob.
Mr. Yagami (Hawaii)
While not the most famous of Hawaii's heroes (that would be Eddie) Soichiro Yagami is perhaps the most enduring. In his late 50s, he still retains quite a bit of the strength and martial skill of his youth, to which has been added decades of experience as a street-smart detective.
The son of a World War II veteran, Soichiro Yagami was often in trouble in his youth. Bullied by fellow classmates, he eventually decided that he would have to learn the martial arts so as to be able to defeat his opressors. So he traveled to a distant, mysterious land -- specifically, the bad side of Honolulu. There, he studied under the masters of Kajukenbo, the streetfighting art developed in Hawaii that synthesized karate, judo and jujutsu, kempo and boxing.
He only wanted to learn enough to protect himself, but he fell in love with the discipline of the art, and its emphasis on family and faith. Rather than just defeating his oppressors, and then following in their footsteps, he followed a path of justice by teaching the arts to others so that they too could become strong. In the process, he found himself fighting against foes he didn't expect, both to protect his students and the Islands in general.
His association with the Freedom League dates from the Grue Invasion. While mostly retired from teaching, he has never been able to retire from poking his nose where it doesn't belong. This has led him to discover the recent expansion of SHADOW activities in the islands, and he has worked with AEGIS to combat it. While he hasn't yet managed to defeat the mysterious Cheng Gui, he has every confidence that it's going to happen soon.
Just one warning -- don't call him Moustachio. He HATES that.
Easily as mysterious as Lantern Jack, but far more corporeal, the being who calls himself Horrorshow has been making a good-natured pest of himself in Maine since the mid 70s. (There are records that suggest that he was around in California in the 50s, and he's indicated that he spent quite a bit of time in Massachusetts in the 20s.) He resembles an animated corpse, but apparently isn't one of the undead. Just what he is has never been fully explained, but it does seem clear that he's one of the good guys, if a bit creepy.
Horrorshow's power is that of illusion -- but his illusions are so powerful, so real
that they can inflict actual injury on those affected by them. He always creates horrific and terrifying illusions, often looking into his victims minds, seeing what they most fear, and making it manifest. Despite how villainous this might sound, it should be noted that Horrorshow never causes lethal injury with his illusions.
In fact, he strictly reserves the damaging elements of his illusions for those whom he observes in the commission of crimes. Such people might think
they're going to die, but no matter how badly scared they are, they won't be seriously injured. They might be unconscious when they're deposited in front of the police station, but they will be alive, and probably in a mood to confess when they wake up.
That's the key to understanding Horrorshow's behavior. He wants people to confront their fears, and by doing so become stronger, happier and more moral individuals. And they can't do any of that if they're dead! So he never kills anyone, and will even risk his life to protect people from their own folly.
Horrorshow first met with the Freedom League in 1980, when he was causing havoc in Bangor by creating illusions drawn from the published works of a well-known horror writer who grew up there, and the Freedom League attempted to arrest him. Eventually, it was revealed that Horrorshow was trying to protect that writer from a deranged stalker who was bent on killing him, rather than just causing havoc for the fun of it. He came to the assistance of Freedom City during the Terminus Invasion, and also helped in the defense of Earth during the Grue Invasion. ("What fascinating terrors these Grue have ...")
[Stats for these three stalwarts can be found here