Iron Cross (deceased)
Helmut Gruler is a normal human - physically, at least - who is capable of tremendous potential thanks to the mechanized suit of battle armor he wears. Though he himself didn't build it, he seems to have the means to maintain and repair it - although the V-Battalion handles these minor details of late, now that he's a leader in that organization of heroes.
Limitations / Enhancements:
Iron Cross Battle Armor, Mark II: after the end of World War II, Helmut seems to have had a moment of clarity, and now repents for the actions he performed in the service of Nazi Germany (though a patriot, he had no great love of the Nazi party). Seeing this, the V-Battalion offered him a chance to make good on his new feelings, and gave him new armor with these capabilities:
* Ability Enhancement: the Iron Cross Battle Armor, in addition to its impressive attack and defense capabilities, has the ability to boost the inherent physical abilities of its pilot. The armor enhances a body's statistics by adding a +2 CS to his Endurance (with a maximum rank of Remarkable (30)) and +3 CS to his Strength (with a maximum rank of Incredible (40)).
* Armor Endurance: the Mark II Iron Cross Battle Armor has been greatly refined, with most of the kinks worked out by the V-Battalion. The suit as an Armor Endurance rank of Remarkable (30), and if the armor takes more damage than this, it may lose the use of certain systems. While the Mark I was particularly vulnerable to fire and heat, the Mark II no longer has this limitation.
* Body Armor: being a suit of armor (with most of the original's flaws ironed out), the Iron Cross Armor offers significant protection from injury to its pilot. This protection is Remarkable (30) in rank, which is resolved as follows:
Rm 30 / Gd 10 / Pr 4 / Sh 0 / Sh 0
* Environmental Independence: the Mark II Iron Cross Battle Armor has added a self-sealing function to the suit, so that it can function for long periods of time under water or in space, if necessary. Working at Unearthly (100) rank, the suit can reprocess air for repeated use for just over four days on a single 'charge', assuming it has power to operate.
* Fire Extinguishers: the Iron Cross suit is armed with special foam emitters that act to douse flames, such as those utilized by the Human Torch and the Blazing Skull. This foam works at Remarkable (30) rank, instantly dousing flames of equal or lesser rank, and lowering the intensity of more powerful flames by this rank number.
* Power Gauntlets: the Iron Cross Battle Armor's primary assault mechanism is its power gauntlets. These energy emitting weapons can fire potent blasts of either electricity or cold - both of which inflict Remarkable (30) Energy damage per blast, with a three area range. Both gauntlets can generate each of these energies.
* Rocket Thrusters: these boot-mounted rockets allow Helmut (or anybody else in the Iron Cross armor) to fly, despite the great bulk of the suit. In essence, this power works at Typical (6) airspeed, allowing it to move at about ninety miles per hour. This is all Helmut really needs, though, for the V-Battalion usually serves as long-range transport while 'on the job'.
* Sleeping Gas: these vapors, emitted from various gas ports in the Iron Cross Battle Armor, will knock anyone who breathes them unconscious for 1d10 turns, unless they can pass an Endurance FEAT roll against Excellent (20) rank. The armor can project these vapors with a one area range, making them effective against large numbers of opponents.
Martial Arts type B: though he has very little useful knowledge or combat ability, Helmut himself is nonetheless quite adept in the use of hand-to-hand combat techniques. As such, he can make unarmed melee attacks (in or out of his Iron Cross armor) as if his Fighting score was +1 CS in rank. This can be any punch, kick, head butt, or other physical attack.
Having rejected all that he used to be and do in the service of Evil, Helmut has few people he can rely upon for assistance - at least, outside the V-Battalion. Having been taken in by that group, he has rose to a leadership position within their ranks, and has proven that his rehabilitation is sincere time and time again during the last fifty or so years.
While in action against various enemies of freedom, Helmut is always inside his advanced, Iron Cross battle armor. This is a bulky, gray-colored steel armor, with little real decoration on it, save for the red and black iron cross on the chest. And the spikes. Of course, it does have blue gauntlets, and a blue helmet, and of course, the helmet has a gray face plate with bolts on it - and a big spike on top.
Helmut used to be a creep. His patriotism led him to blindly follow the Nazi party even though he didn't even like them - all for the greater glory of Germany. Having seen the light after his nation's utter ruination, Helmut is trying desperately to atone for his past sins, and has worked for half a century to do so, attempting this by fighting evil and mentoring the V-Battalion's young operatives.
Real Name: Helmut Gruler
Occupation: armored operative of the Nazi regime
Legal Status: German citizen wanted for war crimes in various nations, legally deceased
Marital Status: unknown
Alias(es), if any: none
Group Affiliation: the V-Battalion
Height: 6' 2"
Hair: black, later bald
Weight: 180 lbs
Other Distinguishing Characteristics: none
Helmut Gruler was a man who, after World War 1, was totally angered and disgusted with the destitute state of his country and its peoples. That's why he supported Hitler and his National Socialists' party in its rise to power, though he wasn't totally happy with its ideals. In fact, after a falling out with Hitler, Gruler fled to America, seeking out an old friend: Franz Schneider.
Traveling to his childhood friend's home (a friend who had also fled to America during the Nazi's rise to power), Helmut found a powerful suit of armor in Franz's private laboratory: the Iron Cross battle suit. Though Schneider had hoped an anti-Nazi German patriot would don the suit and use it against Hitler, Franz didn't quite fit that bill: despite his scuffle with Hitler, he would do whatever the Germans told him.
As such, he had to track down Schneider, as the suit had certain imperfections, like a vulnerability to heat attacks. Though Schneider was being protected by Miss America, Helmut defeated her with the armor, and tried to carry Schneider off. However, the rest of the Liberty Legion (sans the Whizzer) arrived to back up Miss America, and he had to defeat them, as well, before he got away with his old pal.
Of course, the Whizzer arrived in time to follow Helmut to a waiting U-boat, at which point he contacted the heroic Invaders. Once they arrived, the collected heroes attacked Helmut while the boat was out to sea, and during the fight, the Human Torch's heat had shorted out the Iron Cross armor. Helmut then promptly fell overboard, supposedly sinking to the bottom of the sea.
Though he presumably died in this encounter, the Iron Cross appeared again months later, involved in a plot to destroy various strategic locations in America and England with special Buzz-Bombs, bombs that would home in on a specific targets thanks to a special device: the V-3. These homing beacons, once activated, would attract the Buzz-Bombs with unearthly precision (for 1940s weaponry, at least).
Unfortunately for Helmut, several Allied heroes interfered with this plot, namely the Blazing Skull, the Mighty Destroyer, and the second Union Jack. These super-heroes managed to track the Iron Cross back to his launch base in Schreckstadt and totally dismantle the Buzz-Bomb project, though one of the bombs managed to take off for New York before the heroes could stop it.
However, the Destroyer had reprogrammed some of the V-3 homing units, and the Blazing Skull managed to attach one of them to the Iron Cross as the two heroes made their escape from the villain's compound. This, of course, caused the one Buzz-Bomb that launched towards America to instead redirect itself towards the Iron Cross himself, and it seemingly destroyed the villain... a lot.
Avoiding certain doom yet again, Helmut returned to action once more, though the exact nature of his further, Golden Age exploits remain to be seen. You see, the man eventually reformed (sort of), getting involved with the vigilante V-Battalion after the War; by the time the century had turned, Helmut had ascended to the leadership of this body of golden age vigilantes, its so-called Penance Council.
In this capacity, Helmet wound up getting into something of a scrap with the Thunderbolts, who were looking to help a friend, Citizen V, that had gotten on the Battalion's bad side. This fight was eventually ended by one of the Thunderbolts, who then got the Penance Council (Helmut included) to help them defeat the villainous Sandman, since he was rampaging in the tiny country of Symkaria.
Later, to stop a plot to take over the entire world involving nano-probes of some sort, Helmut wound up being forced to choose between saving the world and saving himself. Having lived for over a hundred years, Helmut made the only choice he felt could finally redeem himself in the eyes of his peers, and allowed himself to die to have enough power to stop the satellites controlling said probes.
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