GENERAL FRANKLIN RETLER
Real Name: Franklin Retler
Identity/Class: Extradimensional/alternate reality (Earth-88194 / "Shadowline") human, conventional weapons user
Occupation: Covert military intelligence agent
Group Membership: Military Response and Covert Techniques
Squadron ("Merchants"; including agent Exorcist, Marvins, Major Preecit)
Affiliations: General John Edward Getzer, Donald Gaffney, Greek resistance (including Atropos), Order of St. George (especially Father Abbott), 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));
formerly Dr. Henry Clerk
Enemies: Dr. Henry Clerk and his loyal Merchants (including the Gray Man (Frederick Gramon)), Doctor Zero, Nazis, others unspecified
Known Relatives: None
Aliases: Control Rod;
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 Appearance: Doctor Zero#5 (December, 1988)
Powers/Abilities: Retler is a highly experienced combat and espionage leader.
He was a skilled strategist and a veteran combatant, although age may have limited his effectiveness.
He had limited function in one arm following an injury at Rainier Mesa.
His cigar smoking may or may not
have significantly affected his endurance, etc., depending on the
frequency of his smoking.
Height: Unrevealed (perhaps 6')
Weight: Unrevealed (perhaps 180 lbs.)
Eyes: Unrevealed, possibly light blue.
Hair: Gray with beard (occasionally shown as white; art error vs. dying)
(Doctor Zero#7 (fb) - BTS) - During World War II, Franklin Retler was part of an American group that went to Meteora, Greece for intelligence. Working with the Monks of the Order of St. George, including Father Abbott, the Americans aided members of the Greek resistance (including Atropos), returning Greek soil to the Greeks. Retler taught Atropos to speak English.
(Saint George#5 (fb) - BTS / Doctor Zero#6 (fb) - BTS) - Father Abbot of the Order of Saint George was an old friend of General Franklin Retler.(Doctor Zero#5 (fb) - BTS) - The Military Response and Covert Techniques Squadron (MRCTS) were allegedly one of the groups established by the Department of Defense right after "Desert One" (the staging base used in the failed 1980 Operation Eagle Claw, an aborted mission intended to rescue US hostages from Iran).
(Doctor Zero#5 - BTS) - Agent Preecit met with Gaffney and brought him into the MRCTS craft.
(Doctor Zero#5) - 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 noted that he failed to see how that applied to this operation, and Retler explained that the MRCTS had 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, naming his as responsible for the loss of MRCTS' Henry Clerk, US Navy submarine Captain Paul Obsitnik, and the Arctic weapons site the Toy Factory. Retler also identified Zero as having ties to the Soviet government, and 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 their mandate.
(Saint George#5 - BTS) - With Michael Devlin having parted ways with the Order of Saint George, Father Abbott sought to keep the Order's ancient enemy, the Draghignazzo (Doctor Zero), in check. To this end, he sent a file to his old friend General Franklin Retler about Doctor Zero's powers having been diminished following an Arctic conflict with Henry Clerk.
(Doctor Zero#6) - Agent Exorcist warned a commercial airliner away from restricted Merchants airspace. Exorcist then informed Oversight that they were clear.
Retler considered that they had become Oversight, an organization lost among a mass of bureaucratic paperwork; he determined that being overlooked and secretly preserving the USA made them good, pure, and right.
Major Preecit then informed General Retler that they were secure and they were ready to continue the briefing; she also informed him that the commercial flight crew had already been slated for sanction by their ground units. He shared that he had received new information on Doctor Zero, but when Preecit offered to check the source, Father Abbott, Retler assured her that Abbott always did right.
Retler soon reported at the briefing that Zero was perhaps weaker than previously estimated, and he asked Gaffney if he wouldn't let them down in studying Zero; 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; they considered how Zero attempted to stabilize worldwide tension points and ecological issues. Preecit's proposal was accepted: They needed to have 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.
Doctor Zero heard the report and -- despite the cost of energy to him -- traveled to the submarine to avert further ecological damage
Zero#6 - BTS) - When Doctor Zero arrived, XO Tony Milano led him down into
the submarine, which then sealed and dove. Ultimately,
Preecit's efforts sufficiently exhausted Zero's energies so that when
she finally shot him he entered an inert healing state and was trapped
in the diving sub, while Preecit and Gaffney, at least, escaped.
(Doctor Zero#6) - Aboard the Hughes Glomar Explorerer, Retler and Preecit supervised the recovery of the submarine fragments. Retler praised Preecit and Gaffney, and Preecit noted that their losses had been within acceptable levels. Retler explained to Gaffney how the recovery device had been nicknamed Clementine (as it worked in a cavern, in a canyon...like the miner and his daughter, Clementine, from the song).
Gaffney was impressed that Zero had survived the pressures and the radiation; Retler assured Gaffney that they were in control now.
(fb) - BTS) - Retler sent a memo to General John Edward Getzer at the
Strategic Air Command that, as part of operation MINUS273.15C and under
the authority of presidential order 700/JB, the MRCTS were taking over
the operation of the Rainier Mesa Facility, effective immediately. All
SAC personnel were hereby ordered to vacate the facility.
Zero#7 (fb) - BTS) - Zero was kept in a sensory deprivation tank at
Mount Weather, a hollowed out mountain fortress the US government put
together in the 1950s to act as an alternate capital, a place for the
government to relocate if needed. Zero was subjected to selective
stimuli to garner reactions.
Retler warned researcher Marvins "if he tied to pull any of his prima donna bull, he would have Marvins for breakfast."
(Doctor Zero#7) - At Mount Weather, Gaffney told Marvins that they were disregarding safety by trying for quick results with Zero. Marvins countered that this was exactly how Retler preferred it.
Gaffney met with Preecit and Retler, informing them of Marvins' activities. Retler was furious that Gaffney's instructions, noting his previous warning to Marvins. 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.
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. Retler noted that he was going to move the Merchants to Ranier Mesa, but he nonetheless was concerned that they could not stop Zero.
(Doctor Zero#7 (fb) - BTS) - In the next six weeks at Ranier, Retler did not mention this concern again, but his people worked with minimal sleep and food in desperation to succeed; they lived off of coffee and sugar, and perhaps whatever super-spy stamina training they'd picked up in Merchants' school. Nonetheless, they became progressively fatigued.
(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.
(Doctor Zero#7 (fb) - BTS) - Influenced by Zero, Retler collapsed from exhaustion.
Zero#7 - BTS) - Telling Gaffney of Retler's collapse, Preecit arranged to
have Retler flown out to a specialist for treatment, and she took charge.
Gaffney noted that Retler dealt in extremes because he believed he had
to but that Preecit did it because she liked it.
Zero escaped containment and departed, but not before killing Preecit.
(Critical Mass#1 (fb) - BTS) - Retler apparently suffered permanent damage to his left arm at Zero's hands.
(Critical Mass#1 (fb) - BTS) - Donald 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 damanged, 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.
Retler discussed the findings on Zero, including the destruction of the Arctic Toy Factory weapons research facility, in which Dr. Henry Clerk was believed to have perished. Gaffney then 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) - Clerk contacted General Retler, informing him that he was still alive.
(Critical Mass#2/2) - Gaffney met with Clerk at the Pentagon, using fingerprints, blood tests, and retinal scans to confirm his identity.
(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. Retler wondered why Clerk had taken to long to get back in touch with him.
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.
Retler noted his appreciation, but reminded Clerk of MRCTS' security, prompting Clerk to explain his encounter with Zero and his resultant absence, although he arranged the details to make himself appear the loyal and innocent victim. Retler confirmed his mutual trust and loyalty to Clerk with a handshake.
(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.
Mass#2/2 - BTS) - Influenced by the MRCTS, an unidentified inspector
ruled Smyth's death as suicide, ignoring evidence of his murder.
Investigating, Dr. Zero forced the inspector to reveal his orders had
come from the government.
(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 while 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.
Though Retler refused to put his men at risk again via direct conflict with Zero, Clerk convinced him to coordinate the areas of greatest potential effect on Zero, so they could distract and otherwise occupy him to prevent Zero from discovering his recovery.
(Critical Mass#4) - Clerk initiated the process of secretly disabling the sensors that would otherwise alert the staff of the elevating levels of radiation leakage he would need to institute his plan.
(Critical Mass#4/interlude (fb) - BTS) - Alongside a Merchants crew (perhaps including Gramon), Clerk visited "Nixon's Pyramid" -- a billion dollar anti-ballistic missile facility designed to detect and take out Soviet nuclear missiles, which President Nixon had negotiated to deactivate -- and took most of the sensors, allegedly including some of the ones that didn't work. Clerk told the base's commanding officer (?) they were to going to repair the sensors.
(Critical Mass#4/interlude) - Retler and Gaffney
investigated Nixon's pyramid; upon learning that Clerk had taken most of the sensors, Retler
dismissed the facility's C.O.(?). He then instructed Gaffney to have the
dimwit confined so that he couldn't tell anyone else what Clerk had
done, noting that he didn't think being cut off from society would be
much of a stretch for the man. Retler then admitted that he didn't
know what was going on, though Clerk had never given him reason to
question him before.
Gaffney questioned what Clerk's energy program would need with such sensitive equipment (which could, per Retler, "pick up the proverbial mouse fart"). Though he had cut Clerk a lot of slack because of their past, Clerk's sudden reappearance and this plan to revamp the nuclear industry worried him; he told Gaffney he wanted to know what Clerk was really up to. When 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#4/2 - BTS) - Ripley Weaver and Victor Guillermos, via a meeting arranged by Ripley's civil servant (and fellow shadow) Murray, told General Johnny Getzer what they had learned about Clerk.
(Critical Mass#4/2) - General Getzer then contacted Retler aboard his ship. After engaging their scrambler, a secure Merchants comm-link was activated, and Getzer, who was on a first name basis with Retler, informed him of this encounter, figuring he should know about the people looking into Clerk. Thanking Johnny, Retler then instructed a lieutenant to get him all of the information they had on "these Powerline brats."
Wishing to clean his own house, Retler considered that the power and prestige of Castle and Guillermos might be of use in taking down Doctor Zero.
(Critical Mass#4/2 - BTS) - Intercepting the transmission between Generals Getzer and Retler, Clerk considered that as long as he remained ignorant of the true nature of his experiment, Retler remained a useful source of information.
(Critical Mass#5/2 - BTS) - Clerk initiated his plans at the Idaho Falls SL-1 reactor facility, having the control rods pulled from the reactor, leading to a nuclear explosion.(Critical Mass#6/2 - BTS) <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. As Retler became outraged at Clerk's actions, especially his use of Retler's men, Gaffney further reported that the reactor was getting hotter.
Via apparent presidential order, Retler usurped control of General Johnny Getzer (confirmed as Johnny, at least)'s military base, telling him they were going to war.
(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.
(Critical Mass#7) - As Gaffney reported the activities in Ft. St. Vrean, Retler advised that they refer to it only as a war zone. Retler further advised everyone present that they were not only responsible for their sections but also for keeping a watch out for Dr. Zero and preventing his interference. As the others headed out, Gaffney questioned whether they could really stop Zero if he wanted to be involved. Retler noted that, with their increased understanding of Zero, they should be able to keep him out of the way long enough to finish business with Clerk, although a confrontation with Zero would be disastrous.
However, Retler did not realize until too late that Zero had replaced
one of his soldiers until Zero locked the door, trapping Retler and
Gaffney in with him. Retler pulled his gun, but Zero swiftly disrmed
him and knocked him back with an energy blast while mocking Retler for
not being able to keep him out of the way.
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, noting he had not given Retler permission to speak, gagged him 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 telling Zero the limited information they had.
(Critical Mass#7 (fb) - BTS) - Gordon & Lenore Castle, Michael Devlin, Doctor Zero, Gregor Gerasimov, Victor Guillermos, Nighthunter, and Ripley Weaver joined forces and flew a helicopter into Ft. St. Vrean.
Mass#7/2) - Merchants jammed transmission of videos of the facility and
Dr. Zero's approach taken by Adam Neushuk's cameraman. One of the
Merchants asked Retler if he wanted to blow Neushuk's helicopter out of
the sky, but Retler replied, "Not yet." Gaffney then reported that he
had the material from Clerk's office, confirming their belief about
Clerk having rigged a network among the US' commercial reactors, which
would lead to a chain reaction of meltdowns.
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 argued 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...
(Critical Mass#7) - As the reactor released its radiation, Zero threw Clerk back into the reactor; Clerk was apparently consumed in the explosion, although Gordon Castle -- whose powers were amplified by Dirk Ravenscore via energies channeled by Lenore and Victor -- transported the reactor and surrounding land into space, preventing the other reactors from sensing the radiation and following Clerk's plan.
(Critical Mass#7/3) - 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.
Comments: Created by D.G. Chichester, Margaret Clark, Brett Ewins, and Steve Dillon.
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.
I had the Merchants as appearing in St. George#6, but I don't see them in there. Henry Clerk was there, so maybe that's why I had them listed...
In the mission against Clerk in Ft. St. Vrean, at least, Retler was designated "Control Rod."
Retler smoked cigarettes.
Profile by Snood.
Retler should be distinguished from:
images: (without ads)
Doctor Zero#5, pg. 3, panel 7 (face, no hat, with crop);
#6, pg. 5, panel 4 (face, no hat, hands crossed);
Critical Mass#2/2 pg. 4, pg. 6 (removing glasses, whiter beard);
#4, interlude, pg.3, panel 2 (full) and 4 (face, right oblique, with hat);
#6, epilogue, pg. 1, panel 4 (face, with top secret files);
#7, pg. 5, panel 1 (immobilized by Zero) and 2 (gagged by Zero)
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)
Saint George#5 (February, 1989) - D.G. Chichester and Margaret Clark (writers), Klaus Janson (artist), 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)
Saint George#7 (June, 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 and Margaret Clark (writers), Klaus Janson, Kevin O'Neill, Bill Sienkiewicz, Gray Morrow (artists), Marc McLaurin (managaing editor), Carl Potts (executive editor, Epic Comics)
Critical Mass#2 (February, 1990) - D.G. Chichester and Margaret Clark (writers), Kyle Baker, Mark Texiera, Mike Manley (artists), Marc McLaurin (managaing editor), Carl Potts (executive editor, Epic Comics)
Critical Mass#3 (March, 1990) - D.G. Chichester and Margaret Clark (writers), Ron Randall, Stan Drake, Grey Morrow, John Ridgway, Denys Cowan, Kent Williams (artists), Marc McLaurin (managaing editor), Carl Potts (executive editor, Epic Comics)
Critical Mass#4 (April, 1990) - D.G. Chichester and Margaret Clark (writers), Jim Lee, Mike Manley, Dan Spiegle, Grey Morrow (artists), Marc McLaurin (managaing editor), Carl Potts (executive editor, Epic Comics)
Critical Mass#5 (May, 1990) - D.G. Chichester and Margaret Clark (writers), Brett Blevins, Mike Manley, John Ridgway, Jorge Zaffino (artists), Marc McLaurin (managaing editor), Carl Potts (executive editor, Epic Comics)
Critical Mass#6 (June, 1990) - D.G. Chichester and Margaret Clark (writers), Grey Morrow, John Ridgway, Jorge Zaffino, Dan Lawlis, Al Williamson, & James Sherman (artists), Marc McLaurin (managaing editor), Carl Potts (executive editor, Epic Comics)
Critical Mass#7 (July, 1990) - D.G. Chichester and Margaret Clark (writers), Grey Morrow, John Ridgway, Jorge Zaffino, Dan Lawlis, Al Williamson, & James Sherman (artists), Marc McLaurin (editor), Carl Potts (executive editor, Epic Comics)
First posted: 07/26/2018
Last updated: 07/26/2018
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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