DecathlonDECATHLON

Real Name: Unrevealed

Identity/Class: Human mutate; citizen of Soviet Russia (see comments); illegal alien residing in the United States

Occupation: Fugitive; former forced laborer; former Olympic athlete

Group Membership: None; formerly an Olympic team

Affiliations: Possibly SHIELD I (see comments); formerly "corrupt government officials and doctors" of his country; formerly other athletes

Enemies: Government of Soviet Russia

Known Relatives: None

Aliases: "young Olympiad"

Base of Operations: Somewhere in Alaska, United States;
   formerly frozen tundras of Russia;
   formerly labor camp in Russia;
   formerly the site of an Olympic event (see comments);
   formerly a gym in Russia

First Appearance: [(mentioned) Marvel Age I#15 (June, 1984)], (depicted) Marvel Age I#16 (July, 1984)

Powers/Abilities: Decathlon was originally an Olympic-level athlete (literally). After being injected with a top secret serum, he gained somewhere between peak and enhanced physical abilities (strength, speed and endurance ten times normal human?) that enabled him to run, jump and throw much better than an average Olympic decathlon athlete.

   He demonstrated superior resistance to cold weather.

   He is likely proficient in the use of the discus, the javelin, and the shot put.

History: (Marvel Age I#16 (fb) - BTS) - The young athlete who would become Decathlon was presumably born in Russia. Through his natural physical abilities, he secured the decathlon runner position for a then-upcoming Olympic event.

(Marvel Age I#16) - As he trained in a gym, the young athlete was approached by a group of corrupt Russian government officials and doctors. They informed him of their desire to win a gold medal in the forthcoming Olympics... at any cost! Though the young athlete wanted to win honestly, he decided to go along with their plan to secretly enhance him.

   After being taken to a small medical laboratory, the young athlete was injected with "a hush-hush serum," which succeeded in enhancing his physical prowess. The officials gave the athlete explicit instructions to win his events, but to not reveal his superhuman status "for fear of a scandal".

   The young athlete went to the site of the Olympic event with his team. When the day of the decathlon arrived, he became so intoxicated by his power that he won his events by unheard-of margins, handily blowing his secret. When he returned to Russia, he was sent to a remote labor camp.

   At some point, SHIELD began monitoring the activities of the former athlete.

   The young man used his powers to escape the labor camp. He evidently traversed the frozen tundra on foot, eventually crossing the Bering Strait into Alaska. Once in the United States, he attempted to hide himself, surmising that the Russian government would come after him.

   His assumption was proven correct as his government started to hunt for him. However, SHIELD - seeking him out for his powers and whatever information he might have - also began to look for him.

   His final fate is unrevealed.

Comments: Created by Mark Lerer (original concept), Jim Shooter (co-developer), and Ron Wilson (artist).

Okay, some big explanations for this guy. According to Marvel Age#15-16, Mark Lerer, the assistant editor of the book, was trying to break in as a real writer at Marvel. To this end, he wrote a story synopsis featuring Decathlon and presented it to Jim Shooter, the Editor in Chief at the time. Lerer and Shooter apparently thought the development process of the story idea made for a good Marvel Age article, as it ended up in their New Talent Department section across two issues. According to the script page in MA#16, the unpublished story of Decathlon's origin was called... "The Origin Of Decathlon".

The original story outline (Marvel Age#15) called for Decathlon to attack Captain America as he was signing autographs, trying to prove his worth in battle to join the Avengers - Shooter put the kibosh on this idea outright, telling Lerer it was too cliche a plot device and to rework it. The original outline then had Decathlon somehow come into contact with Nick Fury, who offered to try and get him Avengers membership in exchange for information. Decathlon pretended to not know what Fury was talking about, but eventually admitted his true identity by ripping off his mask (which, in the only image of him, he does not have). The original plotline went on to reveal that Decathlon became employed by SHIELD and "discovered the man who was responsible for his trouble and got revenge". The initial synopsis did not mention anyone doing Decathlon wrong, so it's hard to say who this would have been - it's a moot point, anyway.

"A week later," Lerer came back to Shooter with the revised plot, eliminating most of the first story outline. This second outline was approved by Shooter, who paid Lerer for it and put it in the Marvel story inventory. This version is what the profile is based on.

The illustration of Decathlon by Ron Wilson features a 1984 Marvel Comics Group copyright; thus, Decathlon is the property of Marvel, even though his story was never published. However, since the end of the revised story wasn't revealed in the Marvel Age article, we have no idea what finally became of Decathlon.

That we don't know the full details of his story is, really, where a lot of this guy's trouble is. I didn't refer to him as Decathlon in the body of the profile because there was no logical point in the story as we know of it for him to adopt that identity. It wouldn't make sense for him to be sent to a labor camp wearing that costume - even if he had been, he would have froze to death in it, especially when he crossed the tundra on foot(!).

It's not impossible that his story ended similarly to the first synopsis. Maybe SHIELD found him, granted him amnesty, and he was allowed to work for them in exchange for them examining him. Not like they couldn't use a super-agent who isn't secretly a villain.

Neither synopsis actually refers to Decathlon as being of Russian origin. However, the obscured portion of a script page displayed in the second article has the word "Sov-" and mentions hammers and sickles. That there's labor camps near tundras is also a pretty good indication. This brings up just how the story would fit into Marvel's sliding timescale: I don't think modern Russia is wild about the gulag concept. Given the timing of the script - the rewrite was apparently finished 12/83, despite the articles appearing in 1984 - I feel certain that Decathlon's story was originally written to tie into the 1984 Olympics. The problem, of course, is that Russia boycotted them.

This brings up two possibilities: either Decathlon participated in the 1988 Olympics - or, with a little bit of retconning, maybe his story occurred during and after the 1980 Olympics, placing his activities before the start of the modern era. I don't know how that works with SHIELD's timeframe, of course, and the idea's invalidated if the plot had him meeting any other modern characters. But, well, since we don't KNOW...
    Fury was involved with Project: SHIELD back in the 1980s, well before the modern era and thus well before SHIELD was formed, so it's possible.
--Snood

The serum that was used to empower Decathlon seems like a version of the Super Soldier Serum. Maybe a Russian variant? Very odd that they didn't use it on - say - soldiers. That it made him ten times stronger than a normal man is a wild assumption on my part and may be inaccurate.

According to dictionary.com, a decathlon consists of "the 100-meter, 400-meter, and 1,500-meter runs; the 110-meter high hurdles; the discus and javelin throws; the shot put; the pole vault; the high jump; and the long jump".

Profile by Monzo

Clarifications:

Decathlon should not be confused with:


images:
(Marvel Age #16) (I) #16, p27


Last updated: 03/19/05

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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