Pitch-a-Week Part 29: Central City

Note: This is an effort to create a traditional, Baghdad-by-the-Hudson Superhero City with the illusion of continuity. It’s got room for just about everything and justification for huge, gaping holes in the landscape. All it needs is the right hero…


For a major metropolitan area with a population of more than a million people, Central City has only recently come into its own as a superheroic mecca.

That’s just how its previous masters liked it.

In 1928, the leaders of the ruthlessly mercantile Brotherhood of Opportunity, the expansionist Knights of the Golden Circle and the warmongering Order of Ares met on the top floor of the Central City Club and decided to join forces in order to establish an American empire based on their ideals… and, of course, one that would benefit their goals. The three groups dissolved, making the collapse of the country’s economic structure the maiden voyage of the newly formed Secret Empire.

The Secret Empire clashed with heroes around the world, but only found scattered opposition at home only. Multidisciplinary genius and adventurer Melchior Onyx made it his mission to eliminate the Secret Empire, disappearing during a battle with the Empire’s Praetor Maximus in 1939. The darknight detective known as The Sentinel clashed with some of the tendrils of the Empire in the 1950s, but his focus on corruption and vice (and his personal crises) made him easy to distract.

Aside from that, the city’s few heroes focused on street crime, allowing the Secret Empire to use Central City as a gladiator academy and training ground for its own ranks of superbi. Learning from the lessons of Doc Onyx and The Sentinel, the Secret Empire made sure to give industrious or clever heroes more appetizing targets in other cities or to quietly eliminate them before they became an issue.

The conspiracy’s most implacable foe came from within its ranks. The mysterious superspy known as Everyman was one of the Empire’s Arcani, and used misdirection, sabotage and an amazing ability to infiltrate and destabilize organizations to bedevil the Secret Empire after his defection in November 1963 until his disappearance on New Year’s Eve, 1999. Everyman leaked a full breakdown of all of the Empire’s activities since its inception to uncompromised world leaders, law enforcement agencies and superheroes before the Empire’s planned takeover of the U.S. government under the guise of a Y2K emergency. The organization was brought to light, its leaders imprisoned and its minions jailed or scattered to the four winds.

In the decade following the Secret Empire’s fall, Central City has boomed. The previous mayor and Chief of Police were ousted when their complicity with the Empire was brought to light, and new blood has come in to make a clean sweep of the city. With the fall of the Empire, criminals of all stripes have moved in as well to take advantage of the power vacuum and make their mark.

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