The super soldier concept was one of the most popular tropes in superhero fiction. With a simple injection, anybody could attain peak physical performance and operate beyond normal human abilities. Just look at Captain America, Deathstroke, and Mockingbird.
Of course, you didn’t have to drink super soldier juice to become a super patriot. Maria Hill, Alex Danvers, Lyla Michaels, and Steve Trevor were all elite commandos too. They couldn’t jump out of an airplane without a parachute or outrun cars on the highway, but they all performed admirably on and off the battlefield.
Another super soldier who’s done pretty well for himself was Mack Bolan. Since 1969 (and in over 600 novels) he’s been waging his own personal War Everlasting. And unlike Steve Rogers and his progeny, Bolan’s been doing it without enhancements of any kind. “In the perilous world of black ops,” wrote the author, “Bolan was the best there was, bar none.” They didn’t call him the Executioner for nothing.
Tucked away in a remote facility somewhere deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains, a cutting edge biopharmaceutical company called Harkin Industries was working on a super-soldier serum of it’s own. Sanctioned by the U.S. Department of Defense, its goal was to produce the soldier of the future – to enhance natural ability to a level never before conceived. “Imagine, if you will,” said Lex Luthor Harkin, the company’s CEO, “soldiers five times as strong as they normally were. Soldiers who never tired, and who were impervious to pain. Super soldiers who would be next to invincible.”
But super-soldier serums were notoriously volatile. After all these years, no one in the Marvel Universe had been able to replicate it, and Harkin was having trouble too. His scientists wanted to produce a squadron of Captain Americas, but instead their bioenhancer created a virus that turned humans into mindless adrenaline-fueled Man-Things.
An outbreak of the virus puts the Harkin lab in lockdown, and it’s up to Bolan and his Stony Man agents to arrest the situation. As you’d expect, the novel contains lots of super solder vs. super soldier fireworks. But it also contains a lot of commentary about human nature at its worse. Call us a misanthrope, but that’s the part we liked best. It’s kind of like a superhero version of the Billy Wilder film, Ace in the Hole.
In the end, the virus was contained and the Harkin Industries lab was smashed. Bolan and his crew saved the day. The super soldier program was dead. Long live the super soldiers.
[Lockdown / By David Robbins based on characters created by Don Pendleton / First Printing: December 2004 / ISBN: 9780373643134]