Real Name: Nicholas Blake

Identity/Class: Human mutate;
    British citizen

Occupation: Superhero

Group Membership: Gemini (Balance/Debora Crovi, Front/Gabriel Caine, Grip/Brandon Blake, Mandala/Iman Dashire), S.H.I.E.L.D.;
   possibly EuroMind (see comments)

Affiliations: Edwig Caine, Lancelot;
   formerly Dr. Alma Zareth

Enemies: Alba Nera, Alma Matrix (Alma Zareth), Euroadaptoid, Nosferath, possessed Vera Croce security;
   formerly Voyager

Known Relatives: Brandon Blake (Grip, brother)

Aliases: "Human Torch" (sometimes mistaken for the American hero, which annoys him)

Base of Operations: Unrevealed;
Vera Croce (True Cross) Base, Northern Italy

First Appearance: Europa#0 (April 1996)

Powers/Abilities: A "quantum anomaly" likened to a little sun, Suede can either transform into living fire or coat himself in flame, allowing him to fly and to generate bolts of burning energy. He's effectively bulletproof when he does this, presumably because the projectiles melt harmlessly before they can connect. While on fire he can fly, leaving a rocket-like trail of flame behind him. He can ignite his whole body or only select parts, such as just his hands. It's unrevealed whether he is immune to all heat and flames, or only the ones he generates.

Height: 6'1" (by approximation)
Weight: 175 lbs. (by estimation)
Eyes: White (no visible iris or pupil)
Hair: Brown

(Europa#4 (fb)) - Eons ago an entity called Nosferath was imprisoned in a Hell dimension. Eventually, it found a means to escape, using an energy discharge as a key to unlock its prison and enter Earth's dimension incarnated in the body of a human child born in...

(Europa#2 (fb) - BTS) Segrate International Hospital in northern Italy.

(Europa#3 (fb) - The energy discharge caused by Nosferath's arrival was detected by Professor Edwig Caine.

(Europa#0 (fb) - BTS) - Fascinated by superhumans, Edwig Caine, a former MI5 secret agent, had studied them extensively for decades...

(Europa#1 (fb) - BTS) - searching for a reason for behind their existence of superhumans.

(Europa#4 (fb) - BTS) - Detecting what he dubbed the "Meta-impulse," he took an army unit with him to investigate.

(Europa#3 (fb)) - The Meta-impulse Nosferath had caused killed all the other infants in the hospital nursery, and horrifically mutated those adults not similarly slain. After fighting their way to the nursery, Caine and his men, including one who was video taping their progress, found the Nosferath...

(Europa#4 (fb)) - in the body of its infant host, floating in the air above the cribs, glowing with green energy. Caine communicated with the glowing infant, who explained the true nature of the Meta-impulse and itself. Though possessing almost infinite power, Nosferath was confused and unarmed in its infant body, which Caine dubbed Child One. Needing help, it struck a deal with Caine, agreeing to divide part of its power into some of the slain babies in return for Caine providing it with the assistance a human child needed. 

(Europa#3 (fb) - BTS) - At Caine's direction, ...

(Europa#4 (fb)) - the transfer of transformative energy from Child One revived five of the infants and healed their injuries. One of these was Nicholas Blake.

(Europa#3 (fb) - BTS) - Caine then placed Child One into a containment pod.

(Europa#4 (fb)) - However, Caine had no intention of honoring his end of the bargain, instead planning to keep Nosferath trapped in a child's body forever, keeping it unconscious and treating it like a guinea pig.

(Europa#2 (fb)) - An unidentified man attending the hospital had survived the explosion, but was drawn back inside by Nosferath's telepathic summons. Unnoticed by Caine or his soldiers, they witnessed Caine and his men flooding Child One's containment vessel with coolant, rapidly decreasing the temperature within and sending the infant into hibernation. Sensing it would lose consciousness imminently, Nosferath implanted instructions into the man's subconscious to make him eventually gather the surviving children and deliver them into Nosferath's hands, after which it imbued the man with a fraction of its power, giving him the ability to generate hallucinations; the man used this ability to become the stage magician Mr. Illusion, his dreams plagued by nightmares of the hospital incident.

(Europa#1 (fb) - BTS) - Caine hid the truth behind the disaster, locking it away within himself.

(Europa#2 (fb) - BTS) - Since the terrorist group Alba Nera (Black Dawn) had already been linked to a spate of bombings in Italy, they became convenient scapegoats for the incident at Segrate International Hospital.

(Europa#3 (fb) - BTS) - Members of Alba Nera were framed and imprisoned for the massacre.

(Europa#1 (fb) - BTS) - Though genuinely guilty of other atrocities, being blamed for one they had not caused in combination with their existing hatred of the Italian government left the group eager to clear their name.

(Europa#2 (fb) - BTS) - The official story became that only five newborns had survived the "massacre," in desperate condition, leaving Caine with no option but to risk flooding their bodies with "meta-impulses," giving life back to burned limbs and giving the infants a chance to survive. Those with surviving family were returned to them, and the others adopted.

(Europa#2 (fb) - BTS) - The children manifested superpowers as they grew, though the public were informed that Caine had not anticipated this development. Caine convinced all of them to take up his dream of forming a team of superheroes.  

(Europa#0 (fb) - BTS) - Edwig Caine gathered the five now-adult survivors at Vera Croce Base in northern Italy, and trained them to become superheroes. He named the group Gemini, after the zodiac sign all of them had been born under. Gabriel, able to control his own body's systems and generate energy boosting his capabilities, became Front, the team leader, armed with Revo, an AI built into a gun. Nicholas Blake, able to generate fire, became Suede, while his brother Brandon became Grip, Edwig's adoptive son Gabriel adopted the codename Front, Debora Crovi became Balance and Iman Dashire was Mandala.

(Europa#3 (fb) - BTS) - Suede developed an unrequited interest in Mandala.

(Europa#0 (fb) - BTS) - Caine's assistant, Dr. Alma Zareth, a world expert on artificial intelligence, created a virtual reality training program for their EuroMind series supercomputer, enabling them to practice their combat techniques safely against simulated opponents; accessing the cerebral areas that generated dreams, those inside the simulation believed themselves to be in genuine combat and real danger, thus ensuring realistic responses. Eager to obtain S.H.I.E.L.D. backing for the team, Caine arranged for the team to be officially evaluated, and programmed their simulation with a standard training program sent to them by S.H.I.E.L.D.

(Europa#0) - When American S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Lancelot arrived at Vera Croce to carry out the evaluation, the team were already in the training program. After Caine and Zareth greeted the new arrival, Lancelot and Caine monitored the simulation using interface helmets, effectively electronic ghosts watching the action from inside the battle. Lancelot witnessed as one by one the team members took down opponents with overly brutal efficiency, watching as Grip used his energy claws to rip into Venom and Carnage; however, the symbiotes easily withstood the attack, then knocked Grip to the ground and advanced intending to finish him off. Before they could, Suede swooped by, engulfed in flame. The momentary distraction provided Grip with just enough respite to rally, and he threw his energy claws like daggers to take down Carnage, while Suede simultaneously incinerated Venom's back. Lancelot noted the worrying combination of efficiency and unnecessary lethality.

   Telepathically sensing that Lancelot had concluded that Gemini was not ready Balance mentally attacked the agent, pulling him fully into the simulation and forcing him to briefly fight for his life before releasing him back into the real world.  Declining Caine's invitation to stay for dinner, Lancelot left, deciding to ask S.H.I.E.L.D. for more tests and to obstruct Caine's project by any means. Back at Vera Croce, Caine chastised the Gemini members for failing to impress Lancelot.

(Europa#1) - Alba Nera seized control of a military base near the town of Monfalcone and took hostages. Seeing an opportunity to prove Gemini's worth, Caine sent the team into the base.

(Europa#1 - BTS) - Front told the team they had to emulate the Avengers, which meant no killing if possible, and so the members planning to use guns loaded their "ultra-tech" weapons with anesthetic capsules.

(Europa#1) - Upon seeing the intruders, the terrorists used hostages as shields and tried to shoot, but Balance telekinetically blocked their barrels while she and Grip returned fire, though Grip decried their use of non-lethal ammunition, and when Balance reminded him of Front's orders, he teased her for being in love. Annoyed, Balance told him to stay focused, just before he took out several terrorists while executing a cartwheel. However, he came to stop in front of three more terrorists he and Balance had overlooked. Before they could open fire, black energy discs appeared behind them and Mandala emerged from one, swiftly shocking the terrorists into unconsciousness with lightning-like blasts from the discs. Burning, Suede swooped down on yet more of the terrorists, who mistook him for the Human Torch. Correcting them, he blew up their guns. A terrorist hiding in the shadows took aim at the back of the unsuspecting Mandala, but Grip used his mind-influencing powers to make the man turn the gun on himself. Before Grip could force the terrorist to shoot himself, Balance knocked the man out, angrily reminding Grip yet again of Front's orders.

   Elsewhere within the base Front took down a terrorist who had accessed a laser disc containing video footage of Caine at Segrate International Hospital, and thus learned the truth about the Gemini members' origins, shattering his trust for Edwig Caine. With all the terrorists neutralized, the team returned to Vera Croce. In the aftermath Caine evaluated the mission, judging it a success, but as he reviewed video surveillance tapes from Monfalcone, he witnessed Front taking the laser disc, and concluded that Front now knew that what he had been told of his origin was a lie. Caine realized Front would soon come to confront him over this deception, demanding explanations Caine was still unwilling to provide.

(Europa#2 (fb) - BTS) - Believing that the best way to protect Gemini from Front revealing what he had learned lay in discrediting Front's credibility, Caine convinced Lancelot to lend him a S.H.I.E.L.D. Life Model Decoy android to stand in for him during the imminent confrontation.

(Europa#1) - When Front arrived, the fake Caine was waiting with a gun drawn, and Front was forced to shoot him...

(Europa#2 (fb) - BTS) - immediately learning of the substitution as the bullets damaged the LMD's flesh covering. Knowing that Front destroying a robotic doppelganger would not be sufficient to turn the rest of Gemini against their leader, Caine told Lancelot to maintain the deception, letting the team and the world believe him truly dead.

(Europa#2 (fb) - BTS) - Front fled to Milan, wanting to tell his teammates the truth, but fearing they would be disinclined to listen since they would believe he had murdered Caine. With Caine's seeming demise, S.H.I.E.L.D. stepped in and took charge of Gemini. By chance, apparently unconnected to other events, around the same time a dissident faction of A.I.M. that believed high-tech random terrorist incidents bolstered their unspecified ultimate cause, decided to target the busy Milan subway and inflict multiple civilian casualties. Front was nearby when the Euroadaptoid activated and trapped a young child in its body, using her nervous system to boost its own. Front was forced to activate his gun's A.I., Revo, to fight it. Alerted by this, Gemini raced towards his location.

(Europa#2) - Balance found Front trying to deal with the captured child's distraught mother, with the Euroadaptoid temporarily elsewhere. Mistakenly thinking the woman to be Front's hostage, Balance demanded he let her go, ignoring his request to help evacuate the remaining bystanders from the area as she informed him that she needed to hand him over to S.H.I.E.L.D. and berated him for killing Caine. Front again tried to appeal to her to help get everyone to safety, but she reiterated her demand he surrender, declaring him a murderer. As she did so, the rest of Gemini arrived and surrounded their former leader. Grip angrily concluded that Front was using civilians to protect himself, openly wondering if he had always been a traitor and demanded to know who had paid him to kill Caine. The revelation that his former teammates had apparently already judged and condemned him horrified Front, but Mandala assumed Revo was calculating their next moves. She warned the others that Front would not hesitate to kill them, prompting Suede to suggest they all attack him simultaneously. Front dodged as Mandala unleashed a blast from her energy discs, while Suede realized he could not activate his powers in the enclosed space of the subway for fear of burning up all the oxygen. Mandala shouted to Grip to stop Front, but as Grip moved to attack, Front noticed the Euroadaptoid sneaking up behind Balance and shouted a warning. Grip derided this as a childish attempt to distract him until Balance screamed; deeming Balance a better host than the child, the robot absorbed her into its framework.

   While the terrified but now freed child fled to its mother's arms, the robot decided the Gemini members were threats and turned its attention towards them, snatching them up with metal tentacles. Front grabbed at Suede as he began to ignite, warning him that damaging the robot would hurt Balance, but Suede mistook this for him defending the robot. Losing his cool at his former teammates' bull-headedness, Front angrily ordered them to only hit peripheral parts and stick to defensive hits, then began snapping the tentacles holding them, hoping that doing so would not cause Balance irreparable damage. Declaring him the main target, the robot knocked him to the ground, then returned to its extermination protocol. With the civilians all gone now, it opened fire on Mandala, but Front tackled her out of the way, taking a hit to the shoulder as he did so. As he got painfully back to his feet, Mandala pleaded with him not to attack the Euroadaptoid, fearful it would kill him, but he threw this back at her, asking her if that wasn't just what she wanted anyway. Rushing towards the robot, Front asked Revo if it could upload a virus into it, and Revo confirmed it might be able to, but only if it used Front's brain nerves as an interface. Analyzing Front as he attacked, the Euroadaptoid concluded that he was bursting with "A-class superenergy" and it would be unable to defeat him in a direct fight, so it switched to adapting to him instead. Front let himself be caught, despite Revo's pleading not to risk himself, and as he was absorbed, Balance was released, collapsing to the ground stunned. While the Euroadaptoid struggled to assimilate Front, Grip suggested his teammates seize their chance and attack it, but Mandala vehemently rejected this, pointing out that Front was fighting the machine on their behalf. Grip and Suede were both dismissive, still sure he had murdered Caine and betrayed them, but Mandala pointed out that he had saved both her and Balance's life, sacrificing himself for the latter when he could have run. Grip remained unconvinced, reminding Mandala that they had orders to capture Front, but he was interrupted as the Euroadaptoid announced that contact had failed and Front screamed. As they watched, the robot declared a system error and overloaded. Front ripped himself free from the dying machine, then crushed the robot's head, but as he declared the Euroadaptoid's threat ended, he was shot in the face by the newly arrived Lancelot. Screaming in agony as his face burned, Front fled. Lancelot prepared to shoot him in the back, but Balance knocked his gun arm to spoil his shot. Lancelot angrily instructed the other three Gemini members to pursue Front, but they defiantly ignored his order.

   The rest of the team returned to Vera Croce to recuperate, but unknown to them Dr. Zareth decided to tap into Child One's full power using a microchip salvaged from the Euroadaptoid to enter Child One's dreams and communicate with it.

(Europa#3 (fb) - BTS) - Caine apparently revealed he was still alive to the Gemini team members (see comments).

(Europa#3 - BTS) - Zareth's experiment woke Child One, who took over the scientist and transformed her into its newest minion, Alma Matrix. She then used her new power to control technology to take over both the Vera Croce base, and the base's security guards via their armor's cybernetic interfaces, killing them and piloting their corpses remotely (see comments). Sensing something wrong, Suede headed towards his female teammates' quarters, concerned for Mandala's safety. Meanwhile Grip and Lancelot remained in the base's control room, fighting the possessed guards. Confronted by Alma Matrix and Child One, Grip fought a rearguard action while Lancelot escaped.

(Europa#3) - Balance and Mandala were deep in conversation when they were interrupted by a scream nearby, but before they could investigate the ground in their room erupted as a technological serpent of cables and flooring rose to attack them. The pair fled into the corridor to see Suede battling the security guards. He took them down with an explosion, and tried to reassure Mandala and Balance, who were unsure whether he or the guards were the threat. As the ground began shaking, Suede urged them that they needed to leave, fast, but his plea came too late, as the entire building lifted off into the air.

   Suede, Mandala and Balance fought their way through the base, overpowering more security guards and discovering to their horror that the men inside the armor were dead, slain and then piloted by cables which had extruded from the helmets (not dissimilar to how the Euroadaptoid had worked). They continued on, painfully aware that the base might soon reach outer space, hoping to recover Caine, Grip, Lancelot and any other survivors and then evacuate to hanger and escape in one of the base's aircraft. Reaching the main control area, the trio blasted the door open, and were momentarily relieved to see Grip standing amidst the swirling smoke...until he collapsed. Behind him was Alma Matrix, carrying Child One.

(Europa#4 (fb) - BTS) - Alma Matrix and Child One captured the remaining members of Gemini and Caine.

(Europa#4) - On the orbiting Vera Croce base, Alma taunted her captives, telling the Gemini members that they were, and always had been, cursed, and she recounted the details of Caine's pact with Nosferath and how it pertained to their true origin.

   Meanwhile on Earth, Front had been found by Lancelot, who had escaped Vera Croce by means of high altitude skydive, and though Front distrusted the agent he put this aside upon hearing of Gemini's plight. Using the agent's S.H.I.E.L.D. aircraft Front and Lancelot returned to Vera Croce, unknowingly accompanied by a cloaked Mr. Illusion. Upon boarding the orbiting base, Mr. Illusion tried unsuccessfully to deceive the pair with fake versions of Caine and Balance, both seemingly fine and happy to see them, but his deception failed and the truth was revealed once Mr. Illusion was knocked out. The facade they had been seeing dropped away, revealing Gemini and Caine trapped by organic-looking growths protruding from the walls, and in the center Alma Matrix and the floating form of Child One. Desperate to be free of Nosferath's nightmarish influence, Mr. Illusion proclaimed that he had brought his lord the final child, and the entity happily acknowledged that he had served his slave purpose well, including slaying its "Earthling mother." Now ready to reclaim its energies, Child One turned to Alma Matrix and, ignoring her protests and screams, drained her lifeforce, initiating its transformation into its true form. Seizing this momentary distraction, Front hastily shot his teammates free, and they began attacking Nosferath, but the entity taunted them, noting that their powers were part of it and so their attacks merely fed it. Declaring the games to be over, Nosferath began draining the five Gemini members and Mr. Illusion, all of whom collapsed helpless as it extracted their energies. Just as all seemed lost, a wall exploded and a strange figure entered, the Voyager, an agent of order intent on returning Nosferath to its prison. The entity instantly regressed to its infant form as Voyager began binding its power, and it began protesting helplessly, desperately switching between pleading to Caine, seemingly slain by Voyager's explosive arrival, then berating the barely conscious Gemini members. Child One screamed that Voyager would not only destroy it, but also Earth, but Voyager told it to shut up and accept its imprisonment, then opened a portal that sucked Child One through into its prison dimension.

   Voyager declared that with Nosferath now recaptured, the explosion sequence could be stopped, but only after the humans infected by Nosferath had been eliminated. Lancelot made a futile attempt to stop Voyager, but though he only managed to distract the cosmic entity for scant moments, it was enough for Front to climb painfully to his feet. Trying to get a clean shot, the Gemini leader told Lancelot to get out the way, and Voyager paused, reconsidering its next move. Apparently impressed by their resolve, Voyager decided that justice would not be served if it destroyed them, and departed without a word, much to Lancelot and Front's surprise.

   Lancelot returned with the injured Gemini members to Earth, where the media coverage of their return attributed the loss of Vera Croce base, Caine and Zareth to another terrorist attack. Though seriously injured, the Gemini members were expected to full recover, having retained their super-human metabolisms. Watching this report, Paci wondered what to do next, knowing that he could create a scandal that would destroy Gemini if he released the hospital video footage that Front had given him. Not sure what to do, Paci decided to put aside the decision for today.

 Comments: Created by Giorgio Lavagna, Francesco Mio, Luca Poli and Carmine Di Giandomenico.
   Poli and Di Giandomenico did the character designs for the Gemini characters, while
Fabrizio Ugolini and Giampaolo Frizzi drew and inked the actual series.

   A news report in Europa#3 identifies Grip as being English, despite his having been born in Italy. Presumably his brother Suede is therefore likewise English, and a UK citizen. Though Suede and Grip are stated to be brothers, they have visibly different skin colors. This might be down to their respective mutations (maybe Suede looks darker because he's constantly heavily tanned as a side effect of his powers), or, since we are told that some of the group were orphaned and adopted, perhaps they are adoptive brothers, not blood related. If they are blood related, then since they were born on the same day, they would be twins.

   Why is his codename a type of soft leather when he has fire-based powers? I mean, the rest of his teammates have codenames that could be seen to tie into their powers or personalities, albeit only with a bit of effort - Grip's powers are tied to his hands, Mandala is of Indian descent, Front is the team leader, and Balance...well, I guess telepathic powers could be seen as requiring some kind of mental stability. But Suede? Your guess is as good as mine.

   In Europa#3, when Mandala, Suede and Balance are fighting their way through the armor-controlled guards, Suede mentions that they need to find Caine. Since the other two don't respond with an incredulous "Huh?" this presumably means all three know Caine is alive by this point, something they didn't seem to know when they confronted Front in the previous issue. So either they figured out that his death was faked, or else he told them - since Caine himself said at the end of the second issue that it was time to stop lying, I'm guessing the latter.

Profile by Loki, with invaluable aid from comic translator Angelo Mammone.

Suede has no known connections to:

images: (without ads)
Europa#0, p12, pan1 (main image)
Europa#2, p14, pan4 (headshot, igniting only one hand)
Europa#1, p4, pan1 (costume)
Europa#1, p11, pan1-2 (melting bullets and projecting flame)
Europa#3, p14, pan5 (flying into battle)

Europa#0-5 (April-October, 1996) - Giorgio Lavagna and Francesco Mio (writers), Fabrizio Ugolini (pencils), Giampaolo Frizzi (inks), Enrico Fornaroli; Marco M. Lupoi; Miguel Carrasco (editors)

First Posted: 10/18/2022
Last updated:

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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