Artwork by Kerry Connell
Name: David Kennedy
Birth Date: February 18, 1971
Weight: 195 lbs.
Place of Birth: New York, NY
Growing up as the son of Stephen Kennedy, the original Challenger, wasn't easy and losing your mom at age three didn't help. You loved and admired your dad, but as president of Kennedy Industries and a superhero, he never found much time for you. You desperately tried to be like him: martial arts, weightlifting, gymnastics; but it wasn't enough to convince him to let you be his kid sidekick. But while you did not inherit his superpowers, you did inherit his strength of will and desire to do good. You knew that some day you would carry on his legacy.
In 1990, your father retired to serve as an advisor on a secret EAGLES' project. You wanted to take over as Challenger, but he refused. You were to continue your business studies at Harvard. Dad may have not wanted you to take over his superhero career, but he did want you to be a vice president at Kennedy Industries.
At Harvard, you met electronics genius Joey Diabello, an MIT drop-out who was intrigued by your superhero desires and began work on a physique-enhancing battlesuit. When you graduated with your masters in 1995, the suit was ready and it was time to prove to dad you too could be a hero. You were certainly more suited than that Rick Davies clown he was training. Donning the suit, you began your career, taking on muggers, bank robbers and low-level supervillains.
In August 1997, your friend Jeffrey Knox, head of EAGLES, asked you to lead a re-formed SuperSquad America, the team that your father led from 1966-76. You accepted immediately. Unfortunately, Rick Davies was to be your deputy leader.
In February 1998, your father told you that he was dying of cancer, the result of his many battles with DeathGrip, the EMiR, and other radiation-using villains. He asked you to take over as president of Kennedy Industries. In July of that year, a possible cure for your father's cancer put the team in the clutches of Dr. DNA. The evil doctor said he could cure the cancer, but it would require draining the life force of a superpowered member of the team. Because you had no innate powers, it was up to your teammates. Deciding that your father would rather die than have another hero give their life for him, the team refused DNA's cure. You're pretty sure they were right, but it would have been nice to have your father around for longer.
Before your dad died, he told you he was proud of you. While you felt better about your relationship with him, you were even more determined to prove you were worthy of the Challenger name. You also began to understand your father's feelings about superheroing being a dangerous career. Despite this, you began to fall in love with Dianne Armstrong, Bernie's mother and the team's administrative assistant, who had been a tremendous aid in dealing with your dad's death.
You and Dianne married in June 2001. After your marriage, you began to loosen up and became slightly more tolerant of your teammates' individual foibles. Rick still got on your nerves and you two still bickered about the best way to run the team, but it seemed he was growing up and you two might some day get along.
On January 1, 2002, the Squad fought Time Twister, a villainous version of Bernie from the future. You defeated Time Twister, but events surrounding the confrontation showed you things had to change. You'd need to keep a closer eye on Bernie to make sure he didn't yield to the stress and start conducting time travel experiments. To that end, you made sure that the problem of dealing with the Black Squad (Time Twister's perverted version of your Squad) was turned over to EAGLES. That was a mistake.
In July 2003, after an adventure that revealed your friend Jeffrey Knox to be a traitor (using the Black Squad and associated technology), left Forethought with no powers, and resulted in Crimson Fist's suicide, you decided to step down as leader. Rick, of course, agreed. But to your surprise, he turned down the position himself and instead suggested Silver Bow take over.
At first, not being leader was difficult but you learned to adjust. You felt guilty about Crimson Fist taking his life, but in June 2004, the team traveled to the Realm of Dead and returned Crimson Fist to the living after Karen agreed to give birth to the Guardian of the Afterlife as a human so he could understand human emotions. You didn't say anything to anyone, but you wished you could have stayed longer and visited your father's afterlife.
In September 2005, the Squad faced Red Fury and his nightmare creating Soviet era dream machine. Powering the machine was Red Fury's comatose father, the Soviet hero Champion, who turned out to also be Nightingale's father. The team freed Champion from his 24 year coma which had been caused by Zyzzaxx, the first known alien, who had gotten stuck in the Soviet hero's mind when he was sent to determine if his planet should invade Earth. After the Squad talked him into learning more about Earth before recommending its fate, all involved agreed to keep his existence secret. For his silence, Red Fury got a pardon and joined the Squad as Impact. After having to merge with a human body to survive, Zyzzaxx also joined as the Mysterious Mr. Z. They replaced Rick Davies and Swift Kick, who left to found the Remarkable Wrong-Righters (Rick had to have come up with that name).
On September 18 2006, DeathGrip murdered your wife Dianne in an attempt to get you and the Squad to kill him because he was dying of cancer. Despite the temptation, you refused and he was returned to prison, where he died five months later. But you had had enough and decided to retire as Challenger. However, with Bernie out there somewhere, seemingly intent on using time travel to change history and save Dianne, you may need to don the battlesuit one last time to defeat him. Perhaps then, you can begin to look for someone to carry on the Challenger legacy.
Note: This background is written in a second person style as it is the background provided to the player playing the character in the SuperSquad America event.
Character Update: Challenger came out of retirement briefly in March 2007 to help SuperSquad America deal with Bernie Armstrong's reappearance with Time Twister (Year 10: Let's Do the Time Twist Again). He returned to retirement, concentrating on running Kennedy Industries, until July 16, 2011 when, after the tragic events of Silver Bow's wedding, he decided to rejoin SuperSquad America on a full-time basis.