The High Cost of Living
On July 1, 1998, Stephen Kennedy, the original Challenger, lay dying in a New York City hospital from cancer possibly caused by too many battles with radiation-using villains such as DeathGrip and the EMiR. After visiting the ailing hero, SuperSquad America received a visit of their own, from two members of the original SuperSquad: Roger Crane (Gauntlet) and Kyle Matthews (Professor Plasma). The two former heroes informed the Squad of a mysterious Dr. Clark Diefenbaker in Toronto, Canada, who apparently had some kind of cure for cancer. Deciding that any chance was better than doing nothing, SuperSquad America took off for Toronto.
In Toronto, our heroes visited the home/office of Dr. Diefenbaker and learned that the doctor was not home. Keeping the housekeeper busy, they searched the doctor's office and while they did not turn up any specific information on his cure, they did find medical records for seven cancer patients apparently cured by the doctor and learned that the doctor was spending the long weekend (July 1 being Canada Day, a national holiday) on Montclaire Island, one of the Thousand Islands. And so, they were off again.
As Crimson Fist carried the team towards Montclaire Island, Challenger noticed that there was some kind of field surrounding it. A closer examination revealed that the field was an imaging field to hide anything unusual that was going on the island. Passing through the field, the heroes were attacked by six supervillains (Fatso, Geriatrix, Shadow Wraith, Lust, Slumber, and Squirt) who soon incapacitated or captured most of the team. As the Squad was gathering its forces to make a counter-attack, a small man in a white lab coat appeared from the large house on the island and fired a blaster into the air, getting everyone's attention and halting the battle. He then announced "Greetings, SuperSquad America, I am Dr. Clark Diefenbaker, but perhaps you know me better as Dr. DNA. Now, I believe you had a favor to ask of me, concerning my old foe, Challenger."
Deciding that the best way to possibly get Dr. DNA's cure (if indeed, one existed) was to co-operate with him, the team surrendered and each member was stripped of his or her equipment and placed in a power suppression tube. Once in the tubes, the Squad was rendered unconscious by a powerful gas.
While unconscious, SuperSquad America found themselves on a strange cloud-like plane, where they met a mystical being in white robes who introduced himself as the White Shield and revealed that he used to be Brainstorm of the original SuperSquad. The White Shield informed the Squad that the battle for control of the Seventh Cycle was coming in the year 2000 and that forces on both sides of that battle were active in their current endeavor. Then, without further explanation, he vanished and a golden path appeared before the heroes.
Following the golden path, SuperSquad America came upon a large ornate wooden door. Opening the door revealed a room with seven smaller doors, numbered from one to seven. As the heroes opened each door, they found themselves in another place and time in the middle of a small adventure. When they completed an adventure, each of which required showing one of the seven virtues, they found themselves back in the room with the number on the door they had entered now replaced with the name of the virtue displayed. The clouds beneath them then parted to show highlights from the original Challenger's career in which he had displayed that virtue. After all seven virtues had been completed, the room around them vanished and the White Shield reappeared, declaring that they now understand the virtues that had driven Stephen Kennedy during his career and were prepared to make the decision that lay before them.
With that, SuperSquad America regained consciousness and found that several hours had passed. Still in the power suppression tubes, they noticed that the room now contained a large machine into which Stephen Kennedy had been strapped. Dr. DNA then proceeded to explain that his machine could restore Stephen Kennedy's full life force and cure him of the cancer that was killing him. All the process required was that another give his or her life to provide the life force needed to restore Kennedy. Of course, since Stephen Kennedy, was a superpowered being, another superpowered being must be the one to die. Thus, while David Kennedy, the current Challenger, was willing to die to let his father live him again, he could not, since unlike his dad, he was not superpowered. Dr. DNA also pointed out that he himself also had no powers and that he had sent away the supervillains who had attacked the team on their arrival. In other words, if they wanted to save the original Challenger, one of the seven superpowered members of SuperSquad America must die.
To everyone's surprise, Friction Lass volunteered to give her life. Dr. DNA freed her from the tube, but not before placing power suppression gauntlets on her hands. As he was leading her to the machine, she managed to overpower him and activated the control to open Whiz Kid's tube. Now free, with his full powers, Whiz Kid quickly opened all the tubes, freeing the rest of the team. Forethought then read Dr. DNA's mind to see if he was telling the truth about how his machine worked. While Forethought was sure that Dr. DNA was telling the truth, or at least deeply believed he was, the team still had doubts about using his machine or even if Stephen Kennedy would want to live, knowing that another had to die for him to do so. It was obvious that Stephen Kennedy did not have much time left, so the option of retrieving a superpowered criminal from death row to put in the machine was rejected. Realizing that Montclaire Island was in Canadian territory, Challenger quickly freed his father from the machine and had Crimson Fist fly the two of them to the American side of the St. Lawrence River, where the elder Kennedy passed away in his son's arms.
On the appropriate date of July 4, 1998, Stephen Kennedy, the world's first superhero, was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.
Originally Run: Origins 1996
Note: The date of the adventure was later changed from 1996 to 1998 when, for personal reasons, no SuperSquad America event was in either 1998 or 1999.