Cosmic Storm (1959): A powerful Origin Point that affected the people of Earth at the end of the 1950s, causing a large number of superhuman transformations. Although the term can technically apply to any focused burst of cosmic rays, it has come to be applied only to this event.
By the end of World War II, the world’s superhuman population had been brutally reduced. The Axis forces had a standing policy of eliminating potential superhuman resisters, which in practice meant all of them, and most of their own superhumans had been killed in the final desperate years after the Solstice Offensive. Barely more than a third of the superhumans who had lived before the conflict survived to see the end of it, causing their numbers to dwindle to just over three thousand individuals worldwide. With their rations down to just over one for every eight hundred thousand people, teams of superheroes vanished, and individual heroes and villains were co-opted by the growing Cold War, fading from the limelight to take part in various secretive experiments and plans that skirted the edge of the Geneva conventions. Many commentators speculated that the war had ended superhumanism, and that the age of incredible feats was fading, to be replaced by cold science.
Late in 1957, however, the famed astronomer Henry Markham discovered strange energy readings coming from the edge of his telescope’s range. As the year went on, he went public with his belief that a massive storm of cosmic energy was approaching the Earth, and that if not stopped, it would irradiate the planet to the point that life could no longer survive. Panic swept the world, as governments scrambled to find a solution to the problem. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they turned to their superhumans – conventional technology could barely get a man into space, let alone head off a storm of the suggested power. Superhumans around the world put aside their traditional feuds throughout 1958, as the storm approached.
The Storm Breaks
Early in 1959, a team of heroes and villains, led by the hero Pendragon and the villainous Rex Mundi, launched into space using a pseudotech-enhanced and Sayleen-constructed warship, boosting towards the storm. They intended to use Mundi’s Atlantean psitech alongside the power of Pendragon to shatter the storm’s approach, causing it to diffuse harmlessly across the system. Unfortunately for their plan, but fortunately for the world, fate intervened in the form of a mad Soviet scientist, Piotr Mironov. Mironov believed that he could reverse Mundi’s weapon, focusing the power of the storm entirely across the United States and destroying most of North America, while leaving the rest of the world intact. His plan was nearly successful – he infiltrated the team alongside true Soviet heroes, locked out the others, and triggered the narrowing effect – only to find that the storm, while focused into a devastating beam, had become millions of miles long, and would ravage most of the world.
Pendragon, desperate to stop the damage, left the ship and placed himself in the path of the storm, hoping to harness the mystical powers of his technomagical armor to diffuse its deadly power. He was only partially successful – the storm passed through him, nearly killing him, but in the process it was changed, taking on some fragment of his nature and powers. The team chased the storm back towards Earth, in time to see the leading edge dissipate harmlessly into the upper atmosphere.
Reassured, humanity was told that they would have several months of lightshows, but no long-term side effects. They were wrong. Here and there, beginning almost immediately and continuing for the entire duration of the storm, the sky would flare purple and blue, and light would cover an area. Anyone caught inside these stormfronts was changed, although none of them realized it at first. Over the next several months, they began to display new capabilities, super powers of all types and power tiers. In total, over a thousand people were empowered by the storm, and their powers nearly all bred true into the next generation of heroes.
The Cosmic Storm, along with the eventual results of government programs, led to the resurgence of superhumans in the early 1960s, and their continued growth throughout the 1970s, as the children of Cosmic heroes entered the fray. Many historians believe that without its influence, state-run superhuman programs would have dwindled away, and that Earth’s superhuman community would be a faint shadow of its former self today.