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Real Name: Russell (last name unrevealed)

Identity/Class: Human technology user (pre-modern era)

Occupation: Adventurer;
    former engineer

Group Membership: First Line (Black Fox/Robert William Paine, Blackjack, Doctor Mime, Firefall, Frank, Katyusha/Anya, Liberty Girl/Beverly, Major Mercury/Makkari, Mr. Justice/Timothy "Tim" Carney, Morph, Nightingale, Oxbow, Pixie, Positron/Veronica, Rapunzel, Rebound, Reflex, Squire, Templar, Vulcan, Walkabout/William Carmody, Yankee Clipper/Patrick "Pat" Carney, Yeti)

Affiliations: Mary Carmody, Jim Fitzpatrick, Gadfly (T. Ruth MacRae), Princess Khadijah, Cassandra Locke, Mako, Riot-Act

Enemies: Scimitar, Skrull invasion forces, Princess Zafina

Known Relatives: Alma (wife), Russell Jr., Joey and unidentified twin brother (sons)

Aliases: None

Base of Operations: Unrevealed,
    formerly Carmody Institute, New England;
    formerly Detroit, Michigan;
    formerly an unrevealed town in West Texas, Texas;

First Appearance: Marvel: The Lost Generation#12 (March 2000)

Powers/Abilities: Russell possessed no known superhuman powers. He was an engineer gifted enough to create the high-end one-man combat armor he called Flatiron in his basement workshop.

    The exact and full specifications of the Flatiron suit remain unrevealed. It possesses a variety of offensive weaponry, such as Gatling guns and miniature rockets containing gas and explosives. Flatiron could move at great speeds using a pair of rocket-powered roller skates he could deploy from his boots. Not only could he use it to cover distances quickly, it also turned him into a makeshift battering ram. The armor was durable enough to withstand the impact of these collisions without hurting Russell himself. The armor also contained dataports and an internal CPU sophisticated enough to interact with most computer systems of the day, including that of the CIA and the Carmody Institute.

    Russell was a caring, loving family man who wanted the best for his children, while at the same time being eager to prove their father was indeed a hero. Without the aid of the Flatiron suit, Russell possessed the strength of a man his size and build who got very little regular exercise and was distinctly overweight. A Texas native, he spoke with a distinct Texan accent.

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Height: 5'7" (by approximation)
Weight: 170 lbs. (by approximation)
Eyes: Brown
Hair: Bald

(Marvel: The Lost Generation#7 - BTS) - Texas-born engineer Russell decided his three boys would have better chances in life if they grew up in a more prosperous part of the country--that's why he and his wife, Alma, moved the family from west Texas to a suburb of Detroit, Michigan, where Russell took a government job as an engineer. While his twin boys excelled in class, his oldest son, Russell Jr., found it difficult to find steady employment. In his off hours, Russell puttered in his basement workshop, where he dreamed up plans for a suit of combat armor he called Flatiron. Over time, he slowly put together the suit, keeping its existence a closely guarded secret that even his family didn't know about.

(Marvel: The Lost Generation#7) - Around 1973, Russell returned home after a busy day at work to see his three boys sitting in the backyard. His youngest son, Joey, cheerfully greeted him with the news he and his brother had both gotten A's on their tests, which meant they could go play mini-golf that weekend. However, his oldest son, Russell Jr., disdainfully asked if he had a good day "working for the man". Slightly perturbed by this greeting, Russell went in to ask his wife Alma what was going on; she revealed Russell Jr. had been fired from his job at fast food chain Mickey-D's. Russell promised to have a talk with his boy after dinner, before going down to his workshop. Rolling up his sleeves and undoing the numerous locks he'd put on the space, he proudly looked at the Flatiron suit, thinking to himself his son was wrong for calling him a tool. After all, no mere government "tool" could have created Flatiron. Determined to show his children their old man could still show them a trick or two, Russell continued his work on the combat armor.

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(Marvel: The Lost Generation#9 - BTS) - At some point in the mid to late-1970s, Russell donned the Flatiron armor and became a superhero and eventually joined the by-then undercover superhero team known as the First Line.

(Marvel: The Lost Generation#9) - In the late-1970s, Flatiron was one of the First Line members who agreed to go to Halwan to rescue Mr. Justice, who had been taken captive after his jet was shot down. Copying data supplied by the CIA to his own systems, Flatiron was nonetheless unaware that the First Line's presence in Halwan was actually meant as a diversion (so that CIA agent Nick Fury and a team of covert agents could carry out Operation: Clean Sweep, intended to free a number of diplomats being held hostage, which was the reason Mr. Justice was there in the first place). After the First Line gained access to the Halwani royal palace, Flatiron cheerfully faced the palace guards, running them over courtesy of his jet-powered skates. While Flatiron was fighting Halwani grunts, his fellow First Liner Blackjack was killed by Scimitar. The conflict ended when it became clear Mr. Justice had already freed himself. Flatiron and the others quickly left Halwan to rendezvous with Mr. Justice in Israel, where he was being treated at Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion medical center. Flatiron waited patiently while Nightingale and the newly defected Halwan doctor Khadijah tended to the severely injured Justice.

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(Marvel: The Lost Generation#12 - BTS) - Flatiron continued his career as a superhero in spite of the Halwani tragedy. As the years went by, he encountered several super-powered beings on his own--one of them was the potty-mouthed malcontent Riot-Act.

(Marvel: The Lost Generation#12 - BTS) - Flatiron recruited Riot-Act to aid the First Line when it became obvious a Skrull invasion force was heading for Earth. The group of heroes went into space to combat the aliens head on.

(Marvel: The Lost Generation#12) - The First Line proved no match for the Skrull forces, as the heroes slowly, but surely, started losing despite their best efforts. Incensed and outraged to see so many fellow humans fall, Riot-Act cursed out the Skrulls while dodging their fire in midair. Flatiron interrupted her tirade to remind Riot-Act she couldn't actually curse their enemies to death. Before the words left his mouth, the Skrulls overloaded his battle armor. This resulted in an explosion that killed Russell, Riot-Act and their Skrull assailants in the process. Their demise was witnessed by the time-traveling historian Cassandra Locke, who was on the scene as well, trying to avoid getting hit.

Comments: Created by Roger Stern (writer), John Byrne (pencils), Al Milgrom (inks).

    Flatiron really was a wonderfully fleshed out character if you consider he received very little attention in the three issues he appeared in. It's a great hook: having a dedicated family man become a hero despite his "boring" government job and anything-but-athletic physique... simply by building himself one. Sure, you can label him a bargain basement Iron Man (and yes, the suit *was* created in a basement), but that would be more than a little unfair. Flatiron was one of the few heroes of color that graced the ranks of the First Line over the years. While having him hail from Detroit, the motor city, might be a bit on the nose for a hero driving a mechanical contraption, it is a nice nod to the time when America used to build things. It's a little unlikely Russell survived the final fight against the Skrulls, but I've always thought it would be child's play to revive the character by having his oldest son Russell Jr. discover a spare version of the Flatiron suit in his father's workspace. Having the First Line back in action again would be a cinch. After all, the Yankee Clipper is still around in the modern era, the durable Morph might have survived the vacuum of space, just as Pixie and Makkari... And with wayward members like the enigmatic Dr. Mime and Yeti still unaccounted for, the gang could be back together again in no time at all. Make it happen, Marvel! 

    That's an awesome proposal and sentiment...I challenge a writer to make it happen! Of course, the teenage (and old enough to work...that was 16 for me in the 1980s...) Russell Jr. from 1973 would be 58 years old and aging as of Marvel's sliding timescale when I edited/uploaded this profile in 2014. Probably a bit less problematic to make it Russell III, who, as he matured, came to respect what his father had done...
    The biggest obstacle to the First Line resurgence is certain editors who didn't like the series in the first place. Maybe the 20 year anniversary will be something significant, like for Marvel UK!!!!?
    If you want to see more of the First Line, in the pre-Marvel era or survivors, successors, etc. in the modern era, tell Marvel!

Profile by Norvo.

Flatiron should not be confused with




    Russell's wife, Alma, was a stay-at-home mom who took care of their three boys. While the twins were doing well in school, Alma was more than a little concerned about her firstborn, Russell Jr. Ever since the family moved from West-Texas to Detroit, the teenager was having difficulties fitting in and finding gainful employment. At one point in 1973, after Russell Jr. was fired from his latest job at Mickey-D's, she asked her husband to have a talk with the disillusioned, slightly cynical teenager.

-- Marvel: The Lost Generation#7

Russell Jr. and his siblings

    Russell Jr. was the oldest son of Flatiron creator, Russell, and his wife Alma. After being forced to move from West-Texas to a suburb of Detroit, Michigan, he had trouble finding steady work. The ongoing process of getting hired and fired gradually embittered him, turning the once upbeat and positive child his parents knew into a cynical youth who developed a distinct disdain for his father and his government job.

    Russell Jr.'s preteen siblings on the other hand, adored their father and did their best to make him proud. They cheerfully announced they'd both gotten A's on their math tests, which they knew ensured their dad would take them for a game of mini-golf on the weekend.

-- Marvel: The Lost Generation#7

images: (without ads)
Marvel The Lost Generation#7, p15, pan2&3 (main image)
Marvel The Lost Generation#7, p14, pan4 (closeup)
Marvel The Lost Generation#9, p18, pan3 (in action)
Marvel The Lost Generation#12, p16, pan2 (dies)
Marvel The Lost Generation#7, p14, pan3 (Alma)
Marvel The Lost Generation#7, p14, pan2 (Russel Jr. & the twins)

Marvel: The Lost Generation#12 (March 2000) - Roger Stern (writer), John Byrne (pencils), Al Milgrom (inks), Ralph Macchio (editor)
Marvel: The Lost Generation#9 (June 2000) - Roger Stern (writer), John Byrne (pencils), Al Milgrom (inks), Ralph Macchio (editor)
Marvel: The Lost Generation#7 (August 2000) - Roger Stern (writer), John Byrne (pencils), Al Milgrom (inks), Ralph Macchio (editor)

First Posted: 03/10/2014
Last updated: 05/11/2014

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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