As noted above Charles, I have decided to take the liberty of beginning my series of commentaries regarding your recent posts with a subject I am somewhat better-equipped to address than the other - The Diabolic Dozen!
I've said it before and will say it again, I like what you've posted (and suspect that Grey Crusader will appreciate it also, although I'll leave him to compliment you in his own words!) but will incorporate only some of your ideas into my own versions of these characters because some of the former do not entirely match the latter (but then I suspect that you've seen ideas of mine that you like, but would not include in your own personal canon).
It strikes me that were we ever to put together an Age of Wonders sourcebook, there'd be a considerable amount of cautious negotiation going on behind the scenes as we settle the 'canon' versions of these characters!
Aggro's irritation with humanity is built around the fact that he hasn't exactly been treated all that pleasantly amongst 'civilized' humanity. The filth, cruelty, and overall RUDENESS of humanity lead him to believe he could do things better.
In fairness to Humanity they were at least POLITE to Aggro before he began to conceive an attitude towards Humanity roughly as loveable as Kipling's 'White Man's Burden' would be to a modern African or Asian or any nationality of Liberal; I also suspect that Aggro's opinion of humanity might well have taken a nosedive during his first period of imprisonment and due to the fact that it would not be his last (when most of your experience of individual humans takes place on the wrong side of The Law, you tend to conceive a jaundiced view of their society).
It didn't help that at one point he was the subject of repeated tests intended to help the lab boys work out how to create something similar to him out of their very own trained primates - something that has left a mark on his personality.
The fact that his efforts go unappreciated, in large part because of his "brutish" appearance (he actually is something of a nerd amongst his people--more Ray Palmer than Doc Savage) lead him to develop a rather peculiar form of misandry. In truth, the fact that he's developed himself to be a figure of terrifying brute force has its appeal to him.
It doesn't help that he's always been something of a genial bully; he prefers to wield his aura of superiority like a club rather than break arms, but he's resorted to the more direct approach when he felt it necessary (Atomicus in particular had a relationship with him that resembled that of a son with an overbearing father, with all the neuroses you might expect as the result - why do you think he joined The Octagon in the first place?).
Well, BULLY might be a bit too unfair a judgement, but Aggro IS overbearing to the last degree (Just ask Strongman or Atomicus).
He's been forced to act otherwise but, really, if not for these--no one would realize he exists.How many people has he personally murdered? He recently passed the five figure mark.
My take on Mr Pity is that he HAS slowly worked his way to this sort of body count, but that for him 'personally' means something a little different than you might expect - his methodology basically revolves around spying on communities which have suffered some tragedy (economic, military, supernatural or villain-induced) and finding individuals, groups or families that are suffering the consequences, then just ... watching until the time of crisis is past.
At this point he will approach the survivors and quite frankly after surviving all this, many welcome death - which is where Mr Pity comes in, usually experiencing a characteristic mixture of religious ecstasy and regret that things could not have turned out otherwise (not least because he has ensured an extraordinary, although crucially not QUITE artificial level of isolation). Mr King may not kill many through direct action (at least not outside self-defence), but he has indirectly killed far, far more than his personal bodycount might suggest by refusing to offer any help until it's all over.
Mister Pity is, quite bluntly, a fatalist and part of the reason he targets The Adventure Family is that they give the lie to his fundamentally nihilistic philosophy - not least by offering the sort of post-villain reconstruction that makes it very hard to find families, groups or individuals enduring the sort of dilemmas or trauma that leave behind the survivors whom he targets. On another level he also embraced the super-villain lifestyle as therapeutic - by his own, horrible standards a lot of what he does with The Diabolical Dozen is 'harmless fun or at most mere theatre'.
I am not sure if I have properly conveyed my take on the character, but I confess my mental image of Mr Pity hardened when I thought a bit about old Horror anthology hosts and wondered what sort of being could watch all these tragedies unfold and would do NOTHING to avert them - then I made him a serial killer and a supervillain (although almost never at the same time), as well as religiously devoted to what he does, yet somewhat conflicted about it to boot.
Doctor Oculus isn't actually all that interested in getting a new physical form, though he'x considered it. As deliberating as his condition is, he finds it has its advantages. Not the least being that his brain is better at learning than most adults as well as the fact that he is not especially tempted by thoughts of romance to distract him from SCIENCE.
Well, not any more at least; amusingly I rather imagined the younger Doctor Oculus as devoted to SCIENCE yet frequently side-tracked by his own curiosity about ROMANCE (mostly because he had never enjoyed any and probably never would, which just made him more curious), at least he WAS before meeting his own dear wife through the prison mail system - think Lex Luthor in Superman Returns
- before finding himself father to three children in short order.
To say the least that rather killed his appetite for ROMANCE, although unfortunately not for mischief (for added amusement value, think of him as a superannuated Neil Patrick Harris playing Dr Sivana, crossed with a little of Gene Hackman's Luthor - as opposed to The Professor's EVIL Steven Hawking played by Benedict Cumberbatch).
He's also a frequent foe of El Grande, having found a stable portal to Earth-0.
He knows he probably shouldn't, but there's something TOO satisfying on a fundamental level about matching wits with El Grande for him to resist (admittedly he'll have to share the existence of this portal with The Diabolical Dozen - they mostly work in the open as a team only when they can Nexus-trot these days; also they need to make sure The Octagon never get back to E-38 because they HATE those guys).
I honestly love your take on El Grande, Charles and the only element I would add is to suggest that while he LOVES being Super, he still feels a degree of guilt about being a villain that varies depending upon just what sort of wrongdoing he's been responsible for most recently.
I admit that a major part of my thinking concerning the elaboration of The Diabolical Dozen has been the intent to depict them as a sort of case study in the moral spectrum of super-villains in the way The Octagon never quite could be (being violent revolutionaries, terrorists and hardened scum to the last one thanks to their peregrinations and the ensuing counter-attacks).
Father Christmas falling to the Dark Side isn't actually an unprecedented event, actually. A life of charity, good will, and nobility forever and ever (and on nearly every world) is a hard thing to do. When a Father Christmas falls to the Dark Side, this results in them becoming a Black Peter.
This might actually work more neatly than the slightly-convoluted story I wrote up as part of Krampus' character arc - instead of killing The Spirit of Christmas, The Krampus and Mr Pity left him horribly corrupted, a figure of such terrifying ruthlessness as a scourge of evil (and naughtiness) that even Krampus is horrified by what he has wrought, to the point where his own chastisement might well be designed to scare the 'Naughty' list straight before Black Peter comes for them ...
As a result, the PREVIOUS Father Christmas has decided to track down and eliminate his doppleganger.
Instead of making this a PREVIOUS Father Christmas (which doesn't quite make sense for the version of the character I'd like to use on E-38), I would suggest that this individual is not 'a' Father Christmas but THE Father Christmas - the Fictional-turned-Aeon who goes where he is needed all across The Nexus and has inspired individuals on almost every one of the worlds he has visited to take up his mantle, in their own way.
For example there's the E-38 version, created and maintained through the Deep Magic of self-sacrifice (at least it was before The Dark Times), The E-86 friendly neighbourhood conspiracy of superheroes that does what it can to keep Hope alive (especially on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day), the Earth-Cabal legacy that did what they could to summon up the sort of psychic-supernatural positivity that toppled Tyrannus on Greenworld (yet tragically failed, though they banished many a demon in the process) and even a version on E-92 that remains just as kind-hearted as he is double-tough, as well as fearless to boot.
Ironically this last one comes closest to matching THE Father Christmas in power (probably because on E-92 hope doesn't have a lot to focus upon).
Which is a bit terrifying to the Krampus (who maintains a love of children and thus hasn't made the complete transition to becoming Black Peter).
It helps that he isn't QUITE a demon by nature, just through his own horrible self-centredness and a particularly nasty case of Greed - as a note Krampus quite likes the company of children in moderation, but he doesn't LOVE them or having to spend time with them on any terms but his own).
That's why he had so many weapons for some kids in the Land of the Lion. Speaking of which, he intends to make said Lion's brethren pay for harming that particular avatar.
I hope that my versions of The Celestial Lions met with your approval (although oddly it has occurred to me that The Great Lion may not have been a bone-fide Lion, but a more human-looking entity who adopted the identity through vaguely-shamanistic super-science armour).
Her relationship with the Doctor Occulus is strickly scientific. Crazy Amazon scientist warrior women is sadly lost on the boy.
Even in the Good Old Days before he was happily married Doc Occ. didn't much like the idea of getting a woman who could beat him like a hasty retreat hot and bothered - hence their mainly cordial relationship as lab partners and occasional partners in crime.
As for Lilliputia, a wheezing cross between a withered ancient and a weedy pre-adolescent really isn't her cup of tea; she prefers stronger game!
The true identity of the Eternal Empress would potentially shake the whole of creation.
I thoroughly enjoyed this section of your write-up Charles and I hope Grey Crusader will too (mind you, calling The Deceiver 'delightfully decent' during her career as a super-villain would be misleading - she didn't do Evil, but she had to do her share of bad things to stay alive before finding her way towards a better future). Not least because it helps explain why Dakki granted such a potent artefact of power to Ms. Trix and why The Nine-Tailed Fox has taken such an interest in her career (that personality of hers and THOSE legs help too).
On another note I suspect that Doctor Tao might be one of the few beings on E-38 with an inkling of who The Eternal Empress might be - which is why he stays a LONG way away from The Diabolical Dozen and even further away from the last known location of The Empress.
The villagers who drove her out wore quite impressive black clothing with buckles and muskets.
While I like the idea of Wither-Witch being effectively immortal (and being more than passingly-familiar with traditional hedge-magic of the less benevolent sort), I would prefer to depict her as having an origin in The Dust Bowl of the last century - partly because it allows me to imagine her as effectively Dorothy turning into The Wicked Witch, partly because it makes the point that the combination of agricultural depression, social victimisation and desperate scapegoating that led to The Witch Hunts can hardly be called unique to that place and time period, much as we'd like to think otherwise.
As a note, it occurred to me today that the continuing operations of The Wither-Witch might be fuelled in part by her determination to hunt down those that trigger witch-hunts (for example the likes of Senator McCarthy during the period of HUAC); it's one of her more sympathetic tendencies.
Though it doesn't mean it isn't true.
For the record I see Adventure Lass as a bone fide superheroes who lives and works by the motto "Do good by all beings, but remember to collect your fee afterwards" for better or worse (usually the former, as she's enough of a philanthropist and pragmatist to plough her takings back into the community).
She's not QUITE mercenary, but she IS almost alarmingly commercial.
Founder of H.E.R.O.I.C, Complimenter-in-Chief, Co-Arch Henchman to the Grin, Servant of the Hoff!
Rule Brittania! Praise the Hoff and the Grin!
Warning!: May cause Thread Drift.