Ephesus Lecture Series - History Of Titan City Overview
Titan City began as a collection of small settlements situated on both sides of Steward’s Bay, beginning in the early 1600s. Achieving an unusual rapport with the local Native Americans, these settlements flourished. This of course reduced the amount of land and resources available to each town, and they soon became rivals. Gradually, two “blocs” coalesced, centered around Bradford in the north and Charleston in the south.
The nineteenth century also marked the debut of the first officially recognized costumed superpowered hero: James Duncan, or as you probably know him better, American Star. In 1887, he somehow gained control of a mysterious sword and piece of armor. He soon began using their powers to fight crime in and around his native Bradford.
In 1908, the region was rocked by two separate yet devastating fires on the same night. The fire on the northern half of the bay started in an unused warehouse belonging to Sinclair Ship Works, and the southern fire started shortly thereafter in a small house in Ironport. Taking a full three days to extinguish, the fire utterly destroyed much of the area. Were it not for the actions of a number of superhuman rescuers in the area, the death toll would have been catastrophic.
Ultimately, the fire’s devastation led to the region’s rebirth. In December 1908, Oswald Lawrence delivered a speech in what would become one of the defining moments of the city's history:
"I foresee a time, in years to come, when our city will stand as an inspiration. When its shining spires rise from this desolation! When this city of titans will be a beacon of opportunity for the world!"
His words inspired the people of all the settlements pulled together in a way no one could have expected, and ultimately, their efforts led the once-rival cities around the bay to unite to become Titan City.
The first decades of Titan City’s life as a united metropolis brought booms in construction and investment, blunting even the effects of the Great Depression. At the same time, costumed heroes and criminals became more and more prominent. Soon, American Star had dozens, then hundreds, of peers. It seemed that the gates of science and even so-called “magic” had opened and let loose a flood of the amazing on the city. During World War II, many of these superpowered adventurers served abroad (sometimes battling against Axis superweapons), while others defended the homefront.
In the wake of World War II and the shock of the nation over the depth of Nazi atrocities, Titan City settled into a quieter period, due at least in part to the massive proliferation of costumed vigilantes during this era. Entire teams of superpowered crimefighters arose, most notably American Star’s Paragons. During this period, Titan City experienced an economic boom, as many of the manufacturing facilities from the war were converted into commercial factories and refineries. The founding of the Northeastern Research District in the early 1960s further cemented the city's status as an economic power by introducing a surge of scientific development. This period of colorful light-hearted prosperity would, however, culminate in the acclaimed triumph and personal tragedy of Operation Anvil.
As superpowered heroes became an accepted, even popular, feature of Titan City life, so did super-crime. By the later 20th century, organized crime syndicates, such as the Black Rose and the Five Dragons, struggled for control of Titan City’s underworld. Backed by superpowered criminals, these organizations rapidly became widely feared. In response, in 1985, D.A. Yousef Amir initiated Operation Anvil. This was a joint effort among the local police, FBI and a handful of locally known heroes.The operation succeeded wildly, resulting in 513 total convictions. However, tragedy marred its conclusion when Amir was assassinated.
Operation Anvil’s successes turned out to be a false dawn. Many on the police force resented the fact that Amir received the credit for their work, while others in city government showed a new interest in manipulating public opinion. Corruption grew rife, stretching from the mayor’s office down to day to day government. People lost faith in authority figures, and that included superpowered heroes. Meanwhile, the superpowered community itself changed. The appearance of grim, dark vigilantes who regularly blurred the line between heroism and villainy confused and troubled the public. By the late 1990’s, the newly coarsened superpowered community had turned inward, focusing on its own rivalries and concerns.
Hurricane Atlas changed all that.
Most of you will remember the hurricane that devastated Titan City in 1998. The hurricane was originally a natural occurrence, but the villain Cumulus Rex exacerbated the problem. He meant to hold the city for ransom, using machinery to turn the ordinary hurricane into a supremely destructive storm from which he grew stronger. The city’s heroes rose to the occasion, protecting lives and property across Titan City. Meanwhile, a force of heroes, some who until that moment had been villains, challenged Cumulus Rex in his lair. We know them today as the “Atlas 33”; those who held the line the longest against the murderous Rex. That battle resulted in the death of Titan City’s favorite son, American Star, after more than a century of crimefighting.
American Star’s former protege, Harriet E. Ross, took up his sword and carried on his mantle as the heroine Anthem. She soon founded a new team of Paragons, carrying this hallowed name into the new century. At present, the superpowered community is larger, more varied, and more diverse than ever. Hundreds of crimefighters, criminals, and other superbeings of every imaginable description still operate here, and their numbers only continue to increase. The superpowered community seems to have adopted Lawrence’s words for its own: anyone can make it in Titan City.