gaffney_donald-merchants-88194-suit-kneesup.jpgDONALD GAFFNEY

Real Name: Donald Gaffney

Identity/Class: Extradimensional/alternate reality (Earth-88194 / "Shadowline") human, conventional weapons user

Occupation: Covert military intelligence agent

Group Membership: US Navy; DSI (I don't know what that is)
    on detachment to Military Response and Covert Techniques Squadron ("

Affiliations: Merchants (Marvins, Major Preecit, General Franklin Retler;), Powerline (Lenore Castle, Victor Guillermos), Vice-President Dan Quayle and other unspecified US government officials;
    while not allied, he worked towards a common goal with Doctor Zero -- and
Gordon & Lenore Castle, Michael Devlin, Gregor Gerasimov, Victor Guillermos, John Nighthunter, Dirk Ravenscore, and Ripley Weaver-- against Dr. Henry Clerk and his group of Merchants (including the Gray Man (Frederick Gramon));
Dr. Henry Clerk

EnemiesDr. Henry Clerk and his loyal Merchants (including the Gray Man (Frederick Gramon)), Doctor Zero, others unspecified

Known Relatives: None

Aliases: None

Base of Operations: Unrevealed;
    formerly numerous, including:
        Mount Ranier (presumably Washington state, USA);
Mount Weather, aka the "Special Facility"; presumably Virginia, USA);
        US Naval SSBN Leviathan;
        an unspecified military aircraft, sometimes based in unspecified desert;

First AppearanceDoctor Zero#5 (December, 1988)

Powers/Abilities: Donald Gaffney is experienced in the evaluation of psychic and extra-normal abilities in humans.

    Highly intelligent and logical, Gaffney was able to analyze matters and educate others in his findings.

    Gaffney was something of a voice of reason; he was certainly loyal and followed the chain of command, but he wasn't blindly loyal, and he did speak out when he thought something was wrong. Though he did not wish to continue working with the Merchants after the first encounter with Zero, he followed orders and did so without complaint.

    He did not demonstrate combat proficiency.

    After his injury in the submarine, Gaffney used a cane until Zero healed his leg

Height: Unrevealed (approximately 5'9")
Weight: Unrevealed (approximately 160 lbs.)
Eyes: Apparently brown
Hair: Brown


(Doctor Zero#5 (fb) - BTS) - Military Response and Covert Techniques Squadron ("Merchants") commander General Franklin Retler arranged for Major Preecit to recruit DSI agent Donald Gaffney (borrowing him from US Naval Intelligence) to the Merchants. It was felt that his experience with the DSI's studies into psychic and extra-normal abilities in humans could help them answer some questions about Shadows, especially Doctor Zero.

(Doctor Zero#5) - Donald Gaffney -- though confused about the nature of the meeting -- met with Agent Preecit in the desert near a seeming sandstorm. Preecit asked if Gaffney had been with the DSI when the Virginia facility burned down, and Gaffney noted that that was after his assignment there. Identifying her organization, Preecit then had the fans causing the sandstorm to be shut down so they could approach the hidden Merchants' aircraft. Following Preecit's explanation of the fans' purpose, Gaffney remarked that only US satellites were good enough to require this level of blockage, and Preecit explained that they couldn't be too careful.

    As Retler explained to a group of Merchants the nature of the Powerline superhumans, he paused as Gaffney entered the room, introducing himself and telling Gaffney he was a welcome addition. When Gaffney expressed ongoing confusion, Preecit noted that Gaffney's experience with the DSI's extra-normal abilities could help them answer some questions. Gaffney continued that he failed to see how that applied to this operation, and Retler explained that they had a mandate to protect the USA from any threat, by any means; he elaborated on what the Merchants saw as the real threats, such as Doctor Zero. Retler also described Zero's dangerous power, which the Merchants intended to understand and possess. Still confused, Gaffney noted how Zero was considered a hero and idolized all over, but Retler repeated that they had a mandate, and they would pursue it by any means.gaffney_donald-merchants-88194-oblique-computer.jpg

(Doctor Zero#6) - Retler soon reported at a briefing that Zero was perhaps weaker than previously estimated due to his recent encounter with Merchants member Henry Clerk; queried by Retler, a nervous Gaffney assured Retler he would not let them down. They then discussed the means by which they would take possession of Zero's power; after considering how Zero attempted to stabilize worldwide tension points and ecological issues, they concluded that they needed a localized and contained environment they could control: Taking over a submarine.

(Doctor Zero#6 (fb) - BTS) - The Merchants took over US Naval SSBN Leviathan (a nuclear-powered submarine) and then sent out a mayday that their reactor was down and that they were dead in the water. Gaffney, Preecit, and multiple other agents were stationed on Leviathan.

    Doctor Zero heard the report and traveled to the submarine.

(Doctor Zero#6) - After Doctor Zero boarded the submarine, it was sealed and then dove. As Merchants agents engaged Zero violently, Gaffney advised the men avoid the auxiliary machinery, but Preecit instructed Gaffney he was only there to analyze. Nonetheless, Gaffney realized that Zero was manipulating the active sonar and told everyone to cover their ears as Zero transmitted an extremely loud noise.

    The Merchants forced Zero to expend his energy against their attacks, after which Preecit drew her gun, ignoring Gaffney's warning her of what a hole in the hull at that depth would do. Gaffney soon appreciated that a number of approaching structures were too small to be other submarines; these were dolphin, followed by killer whales, all summoned by Zero. The force of the killer whales' collision blew the safety tanks, as Gaffney appreciated, causing the submarine to surface, and Gaffney was shocked by overloading equipment as he tried to stop this. Getting Gaffney to safety (as he was needed to learn Zero's nature), Preecit then flooded the negative buoyancy tanks, causing an emergency dive and then shooting the equipment that could reverse that.

    As Gaffney exited the top of the submarine and Preecit followed, Zero confronted Preecit, who caught him unprepared by shooting him in the side. Preecit located Gaffney on the surface,  and they two met up with a Merchants helicopter, while the exhausted Zero entered an inert healing state and was pulled down in the diving submarine.

    Aboard the Hughes Glomar Explorer, Retler and Preecit supervised the recovery of the submarine fragments. After praising Preecit and Gaffney, Retler explained to Gaffney how the recovery device had been nicknamed Clementine (as it worked in a cavern, in a the miner and his daughter, Clementine, from the song).

    Gaffney was impressed that although his life signs were low, Zero had survived the pressures and the radiation; Retler assured Gaffney that they were in control now.gaffney_donald-merchants-88194-full-cane.jpg

(Doctor Zero#7) - Gaffney arrived at Mount Weather where Zero was being tested. Chastising agent Marvins in what he thought was a reckless setup where Zero was being held; he warned that they were disregarding safety by trying for quick results. Marvins countered that this was exactly how Retler preferred it, and he suggested Gaffney stop by the observation deck later so he could try to explain to him.

    Gaffney met with Preecit and Retler, the latter of whom was furious that Gaffney's instructions had been ignored. As they approached Mount Weather, he instructed Gaffney to pull the plug on Marvins before he got himself hurt.

(Doctor Zero#7) - As the alarms sounded, Retler, Preecit, and Gaffney rushed down to find the corpses of Marvins and his staff. Preecit then had Zero roughly taken out of the tank, thrown on a slab, and strapped down despite Gaffney's protests. Preecit instructed Gaffney to sedate Zero to prevent him from reviving again, but Gaffney noted that they weren't sure Zero had actually revived and that it hadn't just been a reflex action. When Gaffney noted that Zero's flesh was too tough to get a needle in, Preecit angrily rushed forward and stabbed the needle into a vein in Zero's forearm; she advised Gaffney that he had Zero until he learned how his powers worked, after which Zero was hers.

    Gaffney then studied Zero's costume and reports on his powers and activities before meeting with Retler, who thanked him for his hard work. Retler asked how his men were doing, and Gaffney noted that tensions were running high as people feared what had happened with Marvins. After addressing Gaffney's concerns over his men's status, noting that they were fearful following Marvins' death, Retler noted that he was going to move the Merchants to Ranier Mesa, but he nonetheless feared that they could not stop Zero.

(Doctor Zero#7 (fb) - BTS) - In the next six weeks at Ranier, Retler's people worked with minimal sleep and food in desperation to succeed.

(Doctor Zero#7 (fb) - BTS) - Gaffney and Retler worked out together every morning.

    Zero began subconsciously influencing everyone. He fused the connections on various pieces of equipment and re-routed the readings to show the Merchants what they wanted to see. Meanwhile he progressively absorbed the energy he needed to revive.

    Examining Zero, Gaffney noted that Zero's wound gave off periodic charges of static electricity while healing. Zero later touched Gaffney's dreams, making Gaffney realize that Zero was affecting everyone. He rushed down to Zero, opened his chamber, and tried to get him to leave, to no response.gaffney_donald-merchants-88194-saved-by-zero.jpg

(Doctor Zero#7) - After Retler's collapsed from exhaustion and was flown out to a specialist for treatment, Preecit announced to Gaffney that she was now in charge. Not liking the slow progress of Gaffney's passive research, she planned to test Zero's power against the simulated force of a low yield nuclear weapon.

    Gaffney noted to Preecit that Retler dealt in extremes because he believed he had to but that Preecit did it because she liked it. Preecit instead mocked his "Harvard-man psychoanalytic BS," assuring him she conducted herself as she always had, without deviation. As she walked away, Gaffney realized that Preecit was not holding the clipboard she had always carried. Considering this further, Gaffney appreciated that the ultra-efficient Merchants had become lax, and the physically fit Retler had collapsed; he concluded that Zero was manipulating them, and he discovered that Zero had fused the connectors and re-routed the readings to show the Merchants what they wanted to see.

    Realizing that everyone was in danger from Zero, Gaffney struck one of the Military Police, took his gun, and fired into the air to get everyone to flee. Preecit nonetheless conducted the test, but 16.5 milliseconds after the explosion, Zero destroyed the blast doors, and the Merchants at the end of the tunnel were torn apart.

    As Gaffney crawled on the ground, Zero reached down and healed his injured leg, leaving him giggling hysterically as Zero departed.

(Doctor Zero#7 - BTS) - Zero slew the fleeing Preecit.

(Critical Mass#1 (fb) - BTS) - Retler apparently suffered permanent damage to his left arm at Zero's hands. 

(Critical Mass#1 (fb) - BTS) - Gaffney submitted a request for release from his special assignment to the Merchants, but General Retler denied this.

(Critical Mass#1) - At an unnamed military base, Gaffney prepared things for a meeting between Retler and other government agents. 

(Critical Mass#1) - When Retler approached, questioning readiness and reminding Gaffney he wanted everything right for the men they were meeting, Gaffney assured Retler that they were almost there. 

    After Retler shared with Gaffney that his arm had been permanently damaged, he went to get the bureaucrats -- including the Secretary of..., director of (the CIA?), and the vice-President (Dan Quayle) and brought them in for the meeting. 

    After Retler discussed the findings on Zero, Gaffney  discussed the destruction of the Rainier Mesa facility and the 200 people who had perished there. They warned that Zero and other shadows, such as the Powerline youths, were a threat to them.

(Critical Mass#1 - BTS) - Dirk Ravenscore restored (and possibly enhanced) Henry Clerk's intelligence, and Clerk plotted anew to cause the world's nuclear power plants to meltdown so he could monitor radiation's progressive effects on humanity.

(Critical Mass#2/2) - Gaffney met with Clerk at the Pentagon, using fingerprints, blood tests, and retinal scans to confirm his identity.gaffney_donald-merchants-88194-picnic-with-clerk.jpg

(Critical Mass#2/2) - As Retler's helicopter approached the Pentagon, Gaffney cleared him for landing and then met Retler as he landed, confirming his positive testing of Clerk.

    Clerk met with Retler and Gaffney and discussed his plans to link all of the United States nuclear power sites via a grid that would enable the achievement of a safe, inexpensive, and virtually unlimited power source. In reality, the grid was to be a system of interlocking detonators waiting to be triggered by a massive discharge of radiation. Unaware of this secret goal, Retler approved Clerk's plan.

(Critical Mass#2/2 - BTS) - Clerk's agent Gramon began the process of murdering the other most intelligent nuclear physicists on the planet who might discover Clerk's true plans.

(Critical Mass#3) - Clerk called an emergency meeting of the MERCHANTS at a "Celebration of Chili" festival. He assured Retler and Gaffney of America's near-future energy self-reliance, but used his previous lies regarding Zero to convince the group that Zero was the greatest threat on the face of the planet.


    Gaffney asked why Clerk had to have a dozen men killed rather than simply locking them up, but Clerk argued that he was just stopping those who would oppose America's independence. Clerk convinced Retler to help distract Zero without risking his own men.

gaffney_donald-merchants-88194-orangeshirt-driving.jpg(Critical Mass#4/interlude) - Retler and Gaffney investigated Nixon's pyramid; upon learning of Clerk's actions, Retler dismissed the facility's C.O.(?) and instructed Gaffney to have the dimwit confined so that he couldn't tell anyone else what Clerk had done. When Retler admitted uncertainty and concern in Clerk's actions, Gaffney questioned what Clerk's energy program would need with such sensitive equipment. Upon Retler's instruction to learn what Clerk was really up to, Gaffney asked what would happen if he found something more than should be there; Retler assured him that Clerk knew of their mission statement to protect the USA from any threat, by any means.

(Critical Mass#6/2) <1345 hours> - Clerk, Gramon, and his other agents performed a complete takeover of Colorado's Ft. Vrean nuclear plant, which they then pushed aggressively towards meltdown.

(Critical Mass#6: Epilogue Two) - As Retler scrambled Merchant troops, Gaffney reported that they had pulled every available satellite off their normal stations and put them on the reactor sites. Gaffney then explained how Clerk had pulled a reactor out of the power grid and that Clerk's Merchant troops were active in the town; and that the reactor was getting hotter. 

(Critical Mass#7 (fb)) <1422 hours> - Retler's Merchant troops entered Ft. St. Vrean with the objective of retaking the town and the reactor; they blacked out media coverage.gaffney_donald-merchants-88194-zero-confront.jpg

(Critical Mass#7) - Gaffney reported the activities in Ft. St. Vrean. As the others headed out, Gaffney questioned whether they could really stop Zero if he wanted to be involved.

    However, neither man realized until too late that Zero had replaced one of his soldiers until Zero locked the door, trapping Retler and Gaffney in with him. After Zero subdued Retler, Gaffney went for an alarm, but Zero blasted Gaffney away before he could sound it, criticizing him as ungrateful. 

    When Zero told Gaffney he had come to collect his debt and demanded all the information he had on Clerk, Retler angrily asked Gaffney what Zero was talking about, but Zero gagged Retler with an energy field. Although Gaffney argued that he didn't ask for Zero to spare him or save his leg, Zero noted that he owed him nonetheless. When Zero demanded the information, Gaffney apologized to Retler before relating to Zero the limited information they had.

(Critical Mass#7 (fb) - BTS) - Gaffney told Retler how a single reactor's containment breach would lead to 6 million square miles contaminated, with 133,000 dead from exposure, and an additional 181,000 experiencing increased probability of cancers in 10 years, with property damage at 17 billion; and Clerk wanted to see this happen at upwards of 72 reactors, one after another.

(Critical Mass#7/2) - Gaffney reported that he had the material from Clerk's office, confirming their belief about Clerk's plans.When Gaffney brought up the encounter with Zero, Retler told Gaffney if he wanted to redeem himself, he should help take down Zero for good. Gaffney argued that Zero was a hero, but Retler countered that the public just wanted a hero, and that -- if the public survived the day -- they were going to use every trick they had to give the public two new heroes...gaffney_donald-merchants-88194-conclusion.jpg

(Critical Mass#7 - BTS) - Gordon & Lenore Castle, Michael Devlin, Doctor Zero, Gregor Gerasimov, Victor Guillermos, Nighthunter, and Ripley Weaver (with aid from Dirk Ravenscore) evacuated the civilians and then transported Ft. St. Vrean into space, thwarting Clerk's plan.

(Critical Mass#7/3) - After the united Shadows and their allies Outside the non-missing Ft. St. Vrean, Gaffney mumbled about protecting islands of the American way of life, but Retler mocked his mumbling and told him to let it rest as most of the civilians got out; Gaffney repeated, "most..."

    Retler advised that they would finish their study and then the corps of engineers could rebuild if that was what was decided. Gaffney noted by that time it would be too late and that it wouldn't matter that there was once a town there. Retler argued that what happened there must be remembered so that it never happened again. However, Gaffney countered that Retler was underestimating the power of bureaucracy, and asked who would do this remembering, and who was left to care.

(Critical Mass#7/2) - Retler subsequently had Gaffney leak information on Lenore Castle and Victor Guillermos, setting them up as the public's new heroes.

CommentsD.G. Chichester and Margaret Clark, Brett Ewins, and Steve Dillon.

    I don't know what DSI stands for...

    I know Military Response and Covert Techniques Squadron does not spell MERCHANTS. I think it is more a sound...MR-CTS...Murr--Sits...sort of...I don't know...I didn't write it.

    In case you're not familiar with the Shadowline, all the super-powered beings were Shadows...check out the properties of the Shadowline.

    Per Sebastien Andrivet:

Being on detachment means "that you are temporarily placed under the chain of command of a different unit. This is opposed to a posting, where you fully belong to this chain of command.

From the detached person's POV it means a number of administrative details regarding promotion rate, military justice (if something bad happens), pay rates, uniform regulations, etc... depending upon the specifics of the detached service under consideration.

From the POV of the unit, the attached persons may not be considered a part of their personnel (say, to determine whether they are at strength), budget, etc..

This is kinda like being sent to work in another country -- or, if detached to the Air Force, in a DMZ.

    I don't think we ever learned what Gaffney's rank was.

    Preecit called him "Harvard-man," but we don't know for sure whether he actually went to Harvard, or if that was just a descriptive term.

Profile by Snood.

Donald Gaffney
should be distinguished from:

images: (without ads)
Doctor Zero#5, pg. 3, panel 6 (face, oblique);
    #6, pg. 13, panel 5 (at submarine computer);
    #7, pg. 15, panel 2 (full, with cane);
       pg. 25, panel 6 (saved by Zero);
Critical Mass#2, pg. 41 (or, #2/2, pg. 5), panel 1 (white coat, shown from knees up);
    #3/1, pg. 3, panel 1 (at picnic table with Retler and Clerk);
    #4, pg. 36 (or interlude pg. 3), panel 2 (full body, orange shirt);
       panel 6 (face, driving);
    #7, pg. 5, panel 6 (confronted by Zero);
       pg. 78 (second to last page; or 7/3, pg. 27) panel 4 (face, with Retler, at conclusion)

Doctor Zero#5 (December, 1988) - D.G. Chichester and Margaret Clark (writers), Brett Ewins (penciler), Steve Dillon (inker), Steve Buccellato (associate editor), Archie Goodwin (editor-in-chief)
Doctor Zero#6 (February, 1989) - D.G. Chichester and Margaret Clark (writers), Dan Spiegle (artist), Steve Buccellato (associate editor), Archie Goodwin (editor-in-chief)
Doctor Zero#7 (April, 1989) - D.G. Chichester and Margaret Clark (writers), Dan Spiegle (artist), Steve Buccellato (associate editor), Archie Goodwin (editor-in-chief)
Critical Mass#1 (January, 1990) - D.G. Chichester & Margaret Clark (writers), Kevin O'Neil (pencils), Bill Sienkiewicz (inks), Marc McLaurin (managing editor), Carl Potts (executive editor)
Critical Mass#2/2 (February, 1990) - D.G. Chichester & Margaret Clark (writers), Mike Manley (artist), Marc McLaurin (managing editor), Carl Potts (executive editor)
Critical Mass#4/interlude (April, 1990) - D.G. Chichester & Margaret Clark (writers), Dan Spiegle (artist), Marc McLaurin (managing editor), Carl Potts (executive editor)
Critical Mass#6/2 (June, 1990) - D.G. Chichester & Margaret Clark (writers), Jorge Zaffino (artist), Marc McLaurin (managing editor), Carl Potts (executive editor)
Critical Mass#6: Epilogue Two (June, 1990) - D.G. Chichester & Margaret Clark (writers), James Sherman (artist), Marc McLaurin (managing editor), Carl Potts (executive editor)
Critical Mass#7 (July, 1990) - D.G. Chichester & Margaret Clark (writers), Mike Manley (artist), Marc McLaurin (managing editor), Carl Potts (executive editor)
Critical Mass#7/2 (July, 1990) - D.G. Chichester & Margaret Clark (writers), Gray Morrow (artist), Marc McLaurin (managing editor), Carl Potts (executive editor)
Critical Mass#7/3 (July, 1990) - D.G. Chichester & Margaret Clark (writers), Jorge Zaffino (artist), Marc McLaurin (managing editor), Carl Potts (executive editor)

First posted: 08/18/2018
Last updated08/18/2018

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