Saturday, April 16, 2016

Dogwood City A to Z: The Nature Family

Despite my declaration of gritty, grounded heroes as a key inspiration for the Dogwood City setting, I'm finding it harder and harder to ignore some pretty fantastic characters as the month and the alphabet move forward.  Today, I'll look at a group that I've really taken a liking to...the Nature Family, as headlined by Nature Boy:

Nature Boy has an outstanding pedigree, being created by Jerry Siegel and John Buscema.  His first appearance is dated March 1956, so he came along before Barry Allen sped onto the scene (see what I did there?) and reinvigorated the superhero genre.  Overall, Nature Boy would only appear in three books, all self-titled.

His origin is pretty interesting.  As a child, after mysteriously surviving a plane crash at sea, he's given the ability to control the elements, becoming a "Master of Wind, Rain, and Fire."

It's almost like he's an updated Captain Marvel, only drawing on a slightly more natural mysticism.  Slightly.  After all, it's still gods and goddesses he's dealing with...

As compared to the Marvel Family, though, there's just something about the approach...and the name...that makes Nature Boy seem like Shazam made more modern and...I dunno, groovier.  I mean, check out this villain he faces:

Why, yes, that is a being from Jupiter playing Pied Piper with the citizens of Centerville.  And if that didn't hit on your inner beatnik enough, at the end of the issue, Nature Boy goes full-on proto-hippie:

Ah, but there's a Nature Family, right?  Yes, in the issue of Nature Boy's first appearance, we also get to meet the similarly themed Nature Man:

Strangely, we never know how the two characters are connected.  Are they related?  The same person at different points in time?  Who knows?

Of course, a couple of issues later, we see a one-page story featuring Nature Girl!  In it, she...ah, heck, here's the whole story:

And...that's all we know about her!  (I do like that this story seems to be a tasteful tribute to the jungle girl stories of the preceding decades.)

Nature Boy can be found on both Wikipedia and the Public Domain Super Heroes wiki.  I highly recommend checking out this groovy cat and his way-out family.

Nature Boy
Real name:  David Crandall
Level 15
11 Hero Dice
Defense 16

2 lighting bolts (melee or ranged) +11 (2D damage)

Nature Boy can fly using the power of the wind, can control the elements with a successful saving throw, and occasionally exhibits weird powers you'd never suspect (like an ability to seek out the source of "sorrow-vibrations").

Nature Man
Real name:  Hmm.  Maybe David Crandall?
(Um...okay, Nature Man might just have the same stats as Nature Boy.)

Nature Girl
Real name:  Ah, who the heck knows.  Let's just give her the same attributes as the rest of the family for now.  Except for her name.  She probably has a different name.