Pitch-a-Week part 27: Iron City

Concept: Desperate  men and women struggle for the soul of a dying city

Genre: Iron Age street-level apocalyptic superheroics

Overview: The gangs have always ruled Iron City.

The self-proclaimed “Toughest City in America,” Iron City has been a warzone of competing factions and cabals since the Twenties, when the city’s Chamber of Commerce hired a small army of thugs and gunsels to take on the bootlegger gangs running the streets. After the short, bloody street war, the mercenaries staged a palace coup and, declaring themselves The Chamber, took control of the city’s underworld and set up a shadow suzerainty over the established Iron City political machine.

The balance of power lasted until the late 1940s, when the Nighthawk started his one-man war on crime. The vigilante worked with the Iron City Police Department to fight the Chamber at every turn, destroying shipments of contraband and hospitalizing dozens of the organization’s soldiers. The increasingly desperate Chamber hired out-of-town talent to deal with the Nighthawk, drawing masked villains such as Vain, The Crooked Man and Jack Pumpkinhead into the fray with little success.

Ultimately, greed and deceit brought the Nighthawk down. Chamber agents offered to cut the police into the city’s action in exchange for the hero’s life, a bargain ultimately too good to pass by. The cops sold the Nighthawk out, toasting their truce with the Chamber over his cooling corpse.

The unsteady balance of power lasted for decades, punctuated by border skirmishes or rapidly-quashed rampages from one or another unaffiliated crews. That uneasy peace has been shaken to the core with the entry of new players on the scene. Christopher Saint, a scion of an infamous Southern crime family, was sent to the city with orders to create a street-crime syndicate as his “journeyman work: before being released to his own villainous devices. The Court of Last Resort, a vigilante group that recruits victims of street crime and disgruntled gang members to serve as its street arm, has racked up a major body count, fighting a terrorist war on crime that has hospitalized bystanders and criminals. The police and the Chamber have escalated their conflict, moving from behind-doors posturing to muscling in on long-sacrosanct rackets and pulling in out-of-town talent to fight their wars by proxy.

And now, as the sound of bullets and car bombs shatter the silence of the night, a few brave men and women work to stem the rising tide.

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