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Reckoners in General
The only normal humans still fighting the Epics. They work in secret, using a variety of cells, because if an Epic finds out about them they'll be completely wiped out in one blow.
- Badass Normal: A prerequisite to join, unless you want to run ops.
- Cape Busters: Their job (and their only job, Prof asserts), is to kill Epics.
- Empowered Badass Normal: Technically, yes. For all the stuff they say about killing Epics, they're not squeamish about using weaponry and gear derived from Epics (Abe's various BFGs, the gauss gun, tensors, Reckoner jackets, the spyril) to fight Epics. Which is understandable, seeing as most Epics of any consequence can withstand a full magazine from a rifle or just consider it a minor annoyance.
- Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Val killing the Epic named Knoxx in Firefight. While the reaction started off rather understandable, it crossed into this when she shot him while completely brushing off David's idea to interrogate him, which probably would have explained a lot. In fact, it could have explained where Epics come from and the true nature of Calamity. But it didn't and David got shot in the leg.
- Knight Templar: It becomes apparent in Firefight that their focus on killing Epics is not just restricted to the most dangerous of High Epics, as David thought, but extends to any Epic they see as dangerous to their mission, to the point of Fantastic Racism. David's refusal to kill Megan just for being an Epic gets him put on probation and nearly kicked out of the Reckoners.
- La Résistance: Moreso after David joins.
- Not So Different: As is expounded upon in Firefight, they can be just as destructive as the Epics, both through inaction and inability to see Epics as people who can be even potentially good. Granted, the last one is somewhat understandable, but it that doesn't make their actions in Firefight any less Knight Templar-ish, or their killing of Knoxx, the Epic that Megan and David captured, any less shortsighted.
- Serial-Killer Killer: Of a sort, the entire organization is this, through fighting Epics.
- Admiring the Abomination: David is at once an Epic-killing Reckoner and a massive Epic fanboy, frequently gushing over how cool some Epic's powers are while plotting how to assassinate him. At one point, he enthusiastically compliments an Epic on her abilities while they're fighting each other to the death, and shortly thereafter tops that by asking her for an autograph. She's... nonplussed.Loophole: "What is wrong with you?"
- Adorkable: With his comments while working and his... interesting analogies, he comes across as this. This is even mentioned up front in the second book numerous times.
- Amazon Chaser: Megan's badassery seems to be a significant part of why David finds her attractive.“She can shoot like a dream and she carries tiny grenades in her top, a bit of my addled mind thought. I think I might be in love.”
- Ascended Fanboy: Spent his adolescence studying and revering the Reckoners, then became one of them.
- At the end of Calamity, David becomes a member of the other group/category of people he's spent the series geeking out over: Epics.
- Awesomeness by Analysis: David has taken his dedication to studying the Epics very seriously. As such he is extremely effective in analyzing the situations around him.
- Badass Boast:
- His go-to boast appears to be "I'll kill you too!" after asserting that he did, indeed, kill Steelheart to some other Epic. He even makes that boast while he's being choked by Obliteration.
- Messes up making these sometimes, like when he declared that he is a rhinocerous astronaut.Tia: Oh sparks. You're going delusional.
- Badass Normal: Like the other Reckoners except Prof and Megan.
- Battle Couple: With Megan as of the end of Firefight, after growing over the course of the book.
- Book Dumb: Though he has a lot of research, he doesn't know the difference between a simile (what he actually is bad at) and a metaphor (what he calls the similes). Megan instructs him on the difference in the epilogue to Firefight.
- Crippling Overspecialization/Sacrificed Basic Skill for Awesome Training: A social and mental variant. By his own desire, he's something of a savant when it comes to Epics, and possibly one of the most knowledgeable Epic researchers in North America. However, this comes at the cost of a grasp of various social mores, and leaving him a little... developmentally stunted. It can be hard to see him as nineteen years old in the first book, but he's matured greatly by Firefight.
- Dating Catwoman: His relationship with Megan in Firefight.
- Defector from Decadence: In Firefight, he essentially quits on the Reckoners as led by Prof in order to fight criminal Epics, rather than fighting Epics for the fact they are Epics.
- Determinator: Spent most of his life dedicated to goals that the world at large believed (and not without reason) were utterly impossible (killing Steelheart, curing Epics of their corruption, destroying Calamity) and never even considered giving up.
- Did You Just Slay Steelheart?: Yes, he did. And he'll kill you, too.
- Almost no Epic he faces afterward believes it though, due to their massive arrogance. And those that do treat him as if he was an Epic himself.
- Dissimile: Has a tendency to come up with very... creative analogies.
- Dork Knight: David has survived going toe to toe with some of the most feared Epics in North America... but don't ask him to mingle at a party or chat with politicians.
- The Dreaded: Played With for other Epics after becoming Steelslayer. Most don't believe him, while some simply take interest in him.
- Embarrassing Nickname: "Knees", courtesy of Megan.
- Empowered Badass Normal: When he assumes the powers of Steelheart that he was given by Calamity in Calamity.
- Famed In-Story: After the events of the first book, David gains renown as the man who killed Steelheart.
- Full-Frontal Assault: Subverted. He immediately finds something to wear after Obliteration burns away his clothes.
- Guile Hero: His ways of dealing with Epics tend to involve a lot of manipulation. Considering he's a Badass Normal, he has to do this.
- Gun Nut: Admits to being very obsessive about his guns.
- Hope Bringer: The reason why he allows Epics to remain normal around him is that he inspires them to be brave, and bravery is the mechanism behind resisting Calamity's influence. However, this is also a Deconstructed Trope, as the hope he instills in Prof leads him to begin using his powers for small, unnecessary tasks as tests, leading to a slippery slope that he recognizes and calls David out on.
- The Idealist: Despite the Crapsack World he's grown up in, David has a lot of faith in humanity and a strong sense of wonder.
- Indy Ploy: He is very good at adapting to new situations and coming up with creative solutions to problems (much to Megan's chagrin).
- Irony: Intentionally invoked by Regalia and Calamity. When forcing David to become an Epic, Regalia promises that his new powers will be "thematically appropriate". It turns out, David received Steelheart's powerset. In another touch of irony, in another dimension where David's father lived, he became Steelheart (albeit a heroic version).
- It Makes Sense in Context: Whenever he tries to explain his latest analogy. 'Brick made of porridge' for example.
- It's Personal: In addition to his obvious feelings towards Steelheart, a number of Epics target him specifically due to his tendency of discovering their weaknesses. Even after Nightwielder's weakness is made (relatively) public, he zeroes in on David for being the one to figure it out.
- Knight Templar: Averted. As soon as he finds out that The Corruption wears off over time, he's all for exploiting Epic weaknesses to make them unable to use their powers long enough for them to become sane. Further asserts that the only Epics that should be killed are those that didn't bother to resist the corruption at all.David: We don't kill Epics.
David: We kill criminals, Mizzy.
- Meaningful Name: The story of David and Goliath parallels his struggle against the Epics.
- Mid-Season Upgrade: At the beginning of Firefight, his old rifle is destroyed in a fight with Sourcefield. He gets a new updated model from Abraham shortly thereafter.
- Nerd Action Hero: He's an excellent shot with a rifle and isn't against killing, but his main boon to the Reckoners is his massive collection of notes and knowledge on various Epics and how to learn about them. Cody outright tells him he needs to get out more.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Less so within the story itself, but growing up he always struggled to hide how intelligent he was, in order to prevent himself from being taken to work for Steelheart.
- Red Baron: After the events of Steelheart, he becomes known as Steelslayer.
- Science Hero: As much as research on Epics can be considered science. It's not his bad analogies or marksmanship that's the biggest advantage to the Reckoners, it's his knowledge of Epics.
- Took a Level in Badass: Over the course of the series, he goes from someone who just has a lot of research and no way to actually use it to a notorious Epic-hunter.
- You Kill It, You Bought It: When Calamity makes him an Epic, he gives him Steelheart's powers.
"I joined the Reckoners to kill Epics that deserved it."One of the Reckoners, a beautiful young woman who helps gather information for the team. She's actually the Epic Firefight, one of Steelheart's inner circle, sent to infiltrate the Reckoners and feed him intel. Things get complicated when she finds that her sociopathy subsides the less she uses her powers.
- Action Girl: She's one of the team's frontline fighters. Before David joined, she was the point woman in Prof's primary team.
- Alternate Self:
- Her power lets her bring images of alternate realities into her own. Firefight is a Mirror Universe version of her, male where she is female, with fire powers rather than a weakness to fire.
- She's terrified that her resurrection ability is just grabbing an identical Megan from another universe who didn't die. David advises her not to think about it.
- Battle Couple: With David as of the end of Firefight, after growing over the course of the book.
- Big Good: David considers her to be this now after Prof's unwilling Face–Heel Turn.David: I'd been right to have faith in the Epics. I'd just chosen the wrong one.
- Blessed with Suck: Sees her ability to respawn as this, as she considers it to be the worst possible prime invincibility. Her reasoning? Dying hurts.
- Brought Down to Badass: When she's avoiding using her powers to conceal her identity and/or maintain her sanity, she's still remarkably skilled in mundane fighting and stealth techniques.
- Came Back Strong: She faces her fear of fire trying to save David from a burning building that he's not even in. But since fire was her worst fear and she successfully conquered it (with the help of some bullets to avoid permanent death from actually being killed by the fire), she became immune to the corruption caused by the use of Epic powers—meaning she can use them with abandon without any fear of performing an unwilling Face–Heel Turn. This makes her the first confirmed truly good Epic (there are indications that Conflux and Dawnslight may have done this, which would make her third overall), and allows her to use her powers with abandon when fighting Prof after his own unwilling Face–Heel Turn to incredible effect.
- Came Back Wrong: Sometimes believes that when she resurrects, she is just an Alternate Universe version of herself that lived up to the point briefly before her death, and isn't truly her. David tells her that doesn't matter, since she has all of her memories and everything about her to that point, so why bother to think that way?
- Character Title: Of the second book, as Firefight.
- Dating Catwoman: Is the "Catwoman" to David's "Batman" in Firefight.
- Death-Activated Superpower: Of a sort. Her full Reality Warper potential is only activated shortly after her resurrection, and quickly fades back to illusions.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: To David. To wit, she goes from barely tolerating him for much of Steelheart, to actually liking him as a friend, to admitting he's her boyfriend by the time of Firefight.
- Deuteragonist: Of Firefight, albeit without a viewpoint. Her attempts to work with David and subvert the will of Regalia serve as a large part of the plot, as do her struggles with her powers.
- Heel–Face Turn: Goes through this during Steelheart, due to the unknowing influence of David, and solidified in the end of Firefight when she overcomes her fear of fire.
- Full-Frontal Assault: The result of having both Naked on Revival and Death-Activated Superpower.
- Invisibility: Her powers allow for a version of this, with her summoning up an identical situation in an Alternate Universe, just with her (and potentially others) not having been present in the area.
- Last-Name Basis: After being revealed to be The Mole, she calls Prof exclusively by his last name.
- Love Interest: To David.
- That Man Is Dead: She, like most Epics, sees no worth in her human name. Which, ironically, is why Megan used her real name when infiltrating the Reckoners. Why wouldn't she? It was meaningless to her.
- Master of Illusion: David determines that this is Firefight's actual power. It's actually more complicated than that; see Reality Warper.
- The Mole: Her powers let her spy on and subvert various groups of Epics trying to fight against Steelheart, and the Reckoners. She's actually a Reverse Mole in the end, not only working against either of the teams, but primarily on David's side against Calamity.
- Naked on Revival: Her Prime Invincibility works this way. See Resurrective Immortality.
- Playing with Fire: Firefight's fire based powers seem to include turning himself into fire, throwing fire from his hands, manipulating existing fire and generating a projected shield of heat that can melt incoming bullets. Except David determines Firefight is actually a powerful illusionist with no fire manipulation powers whatsoever. In the second book we find out that Megan isn't an illusionist, either; she can bring pieces of other possible universes into her own. Firefight is a male version of herself with fire powers.
- The Power of Love: Hates this trope. She's worried that her ability to resist The Corruption and the key to getting permanent good-aligned Epics is this trope. While it may have helped her resist small doses of the corruption, it's not the key to becoming immune to it completely, fortunately for her. That's facing your worst fear. Finally becomes this, in a way, when she expresses her doubts to David of her insecurities of whether she's still the same Megan or if her repeated dying and reviving means a different Megan is there instead. David, in a incredibly rare moment of actually giving brilliant, awesome and heartwarming analogies, likens her to a sunrise after he recalls often seeing them with his dad every morning in his childhood. He explains she's constantly changing like he and everyone else is and that he is grateful for that as he has found a future beyond vengeance and hatred and has now come to hope for real heroes. Finally he finishes by saying that he hopes she continues to change and grow as a person and tells her she'll be beautiful to him no matter how many times it happens. Brought to tears, Megan kisses him right before David messes up the moment by saying a characteristically weird analogy. This conversation eventually convinces Megan to accept her powers and truly claim them from Calamity, and in addition to continually facing her fear and weakness of fire, is freed from the corrupting influence forever, and even gains control of her powers to the point of being able to do pretty much anything with themDavid: You’re a sunrise. I spent ten years without sunrises, but I always remembered what they looked like. Back before we lost our home, and Dad still had a job, a friend would let us come up to the observation deck of a skyscraper in the morning. It had a dramatic view of the city and lake. We’d watch the sun come up. I would watch the sun rise, and wish I could capture the moment. I never could. Pictures didn’t work—the sunrises never looked as spectacular on film. And eventually I realized, a sunrise isn’t a moment. It’s an event. You can’t capture a sunrise because it changes constantly—between eyeblinks the sun moves, the clouds swirl. It’s continually something new. We’re not moments, Megan, you and me. We’re events. You say you might not be the same person you were a year ago? Well, who is? I’m sure not. We change, like swirling clouds and a rising sun. The cells in me have died, and new ones were born. My mind has changed, and I don’t feel the thrill of killing Epics I once did. Im not the same David. Yet I am. I’m glad you’re not the same Megan. I don’t want you to be the same. My Megan is a sunrise, always changing, but beautiful the entire time.
- Pro-Human Transhuman: For most of her years as an Epic, she was just in it for herself, but eventually she becomes one of these. She would object to the implication that she isn't still a human.
- Reality Warper: Her actual power is to bring images of other possible universes into this one, which, as she notes, is basically a really complicated way of making illusions. Right after she resurrects, she's temporarily strong enough to make these images completely real, making her a full-on Reality Warper strong enough to fight a High Epic on an even level and use his own abilities against him, but this fades quickly. Skip the "fades quickly" part after she claims the powers completely from Calamity. She keeps this effect in addition to having a Voice of the Legion, becoming not unlike a full power Elizabeth.
- Resurrective Immortality: Her form of Prime Invincibility. She says that this is the worst form of invincibility to have, since she still feels pain and has no other defensive abilities, and she has to rely on an audio file of the events just before her death in order to remember what happened.
- Resurrection Sickness: When she revives, she suffers from amnesia and her body is still affected by the stress and fear of whatever circumstances caused her death, making the experience profoundly disorienting and frightening. Just after reviving is also when her powers are strongest. This is a dangerous combination.
- Stock Superpowers: Firefight has a classic, if incredibly strong, suite of fire-based powers. Part of what gives away his powers as fake; they're too stock. Every Epic has quirks and oddities, but Firefight is just a fire Epic. Period. Of course, since there actually is an Epic called Firefight (albeit from a different universe), apparently sometimes stock powersets just happen, or she didn't bother to use his other abilities.
- Token Heroic Orc: By facing her fears of fire (and thus her weakness) in an attempt to save David, the corrupting influence of her Epic powers breaks, but she keeps the powers themselves.
- Took a Level in Kindness: In Firefight, she's a lot nicer than in Steelheart, and even apologizes for her behavior. According to her, it's because while using her powers don't tend to make her completely homicidal, they do make her irritable.
- Tsundere: Which confuses David to no end. It eventually turns out that the reason for her seemingly random personality switches is because she doesn't think Steelheart should actually be assassinated. And she's an Epic, so every time she uses her powers she becomes sociopathic.
- Walking Spoiler: Firefight's actually a Master of Illusion (sort of). And a girl. And Megan.
- Weak to Fire: Her weakness, along with her nightmare, is fire. Her shadows break in fire's light, and she instinctively knows that if she burns to death, she won't be coming back. This is why she used Firefight as her disguise; who would attack a fire Epic with fire?
Jonathan "Prof" Phaedrus
"This isn't just about revenge or payback. It's about the survival of our race. It's about men being the masters of their own destiny. I choose suffering and uncertainty over becoming a lapdog."The leader of this cell of the Reckoners, and (as we eventually learn) the founder of the entire Reckoner organization. Ironically, he's an Epic himself who only keeps himself sane through transferring his powers to others. Though he has heroic goals, and the people he's fighting are far worse, he's not exactly a squeaky-clean figure himself...
- Afraid of Their Own Strength: Oh God yes. It's not unjustified, given the risk of insanity if he uses his powers too much, which it's implied that he's experienced directly in the past. He has a great deal of strength to fear; when using his powers, he's able to go toe-to-toe with Steelheart, often suggested to be the most dangerous Epic in the U.S next to Obliteration... and based on what we see in Firefight and Calamity, that was him holding back.
- Anti-Hero: It's driven home in Firefight. While he does have genuinely heroic goals, he's still a broken, self-loathing, insecure man whose fears and regrets in relation to his own experiences as an Epic (somewhat understandably) blind him to any possibility that Epics (aside from gifters such as himself and Edmund) could be anything other than irredeemably evil, which winds up seriously limiting his ability to effect meaningful change in the world.
- The Atoner: One possible interpretation of his activity in the Reckoners.
- Ascended Demon: He's an Epic who makes certain not to use his powers for himself so he remains in control of himself. As shown when he does, this is extremely difficult for him to control, but he does anyway. Falls again when he succumbs to the corruption in Firefight.
- Badass Grandpa: When we finally see him fight, it's rather impressive. And terrifying, since he's barely keeping himself from going to be like the other Epics, and the mere prospect of using his powers unrestrained leads him to terrified anger. Given his age, it's even more impressive.
- Badass in Charge: Of the Reckoners.
- Badass Longcoat: Specifically the labcoat variant. It's sometimes described as fluttering dramatically at appropriate moments, particularly after he goes full Epic and starts flying and hovering on a regular basis.
- Beware the Superman: Counts even more than other Epics. Megan and David discuss this in Firefight, with David pointing out that Prof has two prime invincibilities, (Force fields and Healing Factor) making him incredibly powerful even by High Epic standards. When he succumbs to the corruption at the end of Firefight and assumes the typical megalomaniacal High Epic mindset, he has no inhibitions against using the full extent of his power, the same ambition and strategic skill that made him an effective leader, and greater knowledge of the Reckoners' resources, identities, and methods than anyone else alive except Tia, making him possibly the most terrifying opponent the Reckoners have ever faced.
- Big Good: Since he's the founder and leader the Reckoners, the only known resistance to the Epics' rule. Subverted in Firefight with him showing a lot more prejudice, and firmly averted when he has a Face–Heel Turn.
- Boomerang Bigot: As expounded on in Firefight, he's extremely prejudiced against all Epics, seeing killing them as putting down a rabid dog. This is in spite of the fact that he has proven through empirical evidence that by gifting his powers to others, he can stave off the corruptive influence and use the powers to help people.
- Climax Boss: After three books of buildup, from the start of his beginning to use his powers openly again, to his With Great Power Comes Great Insanity Face–Heel Turn, to his attempt to destroy the Reckoners once and for all, Prof has a very climactic battle with first Cody, then the combined forces of David and Megan, culminating in a heart-wrenching Talking the Monster to Death.
- The Cynic: He doesn't believe in the idea of good Epics at all, after his attempt to form a Super Team with Abigail and his other friends led to disaster.
- Cynicism Catalyst: His seems to have been the failure of the Super Team he tried to make, which led him to believe there is no such thing as good Epics.
- Deadpan Snarker: Can at times be bitterly sarcastic, mostly around the idea of either not understanding something a team member says, or being exasperated with a situation.
- Deflector Shields: One of his Epic abilities, which he disguises as the Reckoner jackets.
- Determinator: When he fights, he fights to win. This is especially prominent when he fights Steelheart so effectively and persistently that he even gets Baddie Flattery from him.
- Face–Heel Turn: In Firefight, he pushes himself far too hard, and becomes a willing High Epic due to not resolving his weakness.
- Fights Like a Normal: Out of necessity, since With Great Power Comes Great Insanity. He shares his powers with the team in small amounts, but if he uses them himself, he runs the risk of being Driven to Madness. After becoming a true High Epic, he abandons this, going instead to Powers Do the Fighting.
- Glad He's on Our Side: A rare example where this turns out to be foreshadowing. David and Megan discuss this and realize that he's incredibly powerful, with two prime invincibilities and unparalleled disintegration powers.
- Green Lantern Ring: His forcefields turn out to work a lot like this. In addition to shielding, he can seal doors, conjure a kind of floating disk to fly on, and literally crush his enemies in them.
- Healing Hands/Healing Factor: One of his Epic abilities is to heal very quickly. As a Gifter, he can transfer this healing ability to others, acting as a healer as well. He disguises this ability as the harmsway.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: In the final fight against Megan and David in Firefight, he tries to crush them with his forcefields. However, Megan keeps changing reality so that Prof is inside the forcefields, and he almost kills himself twice. This is also his weakness. He is terrified of failing, especially with his powers, so if he is forced to face someone who he has gifted with his abilities, he can't regenerate the wounds they leave.
- Hunter of His Own Kind: As an Epic hunting Epics.
- I Cannot Self-Terminate: He and Tia agreed long ago that if he ever lost himself to his powers, she would kill him.
- The Leader: Of the "Mastermind" subtype, with shades of "Levelheaded".
- Loophole Abuse: How he keeps himself from giving in to the madness. It's the power that drives an Epic crazy, so he can't be crazy if he gives it away. Unfortunately, compared to the Face Your Fears method that Edmund and Megan undertook, it's very much a half measure because Prof could lose his mind any time. And does.
- Magic from Technology: He invented the tensors, harmsway, and jackets. Except not really, because it's more like magic from magic with vaguely technological trappings like diodes and wires. He just gives others the abilities by sharing his own Epic powers.
- Mentor Occupational Hazard: He doesn't die, but his succumbing to the corruption plays essentially the same narrative role in forcing David to stand on his own and assume new responsibilities during the final book.
- Multilayer Façade: While using Limelight as cover for the Reckoners, he's an Epic pretending be a human scientist pretending to be an Epic. It's not until Firefight that the reader really appreciates how much he was holding back in order to maintain his cover as a Muggle.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Almost certainly had one in the past related to being an Epic. And, judging by his hatred of his own powers, he seems to exist in a near-constant state of this. Another one when Tia gets shot on his own orders. Not enough to turn him back, unfortunately... though he seems to have a significant amount of guilt over it when he frees himself of Calamity's corruption.
- Never My Fault: His fear is not his powers: it's failure. The powers are just a representation of how if he does not use them to their fullest, he is not required to take responsibility for his actions and their potential failures.David: The powers are a part of it, but not the whole story. Why do you fear them?
Megan: Because if you are so powerful, if you have all of these resources, then you don't have any excuses left for failing.
- Nigh-Invulnerability: He has not one but two prime invincibilities (his shields and his regeneration).
- Nom de Guerre: The nickname "Prof" has practically become his name; only Tia and a couple of other old friends use his given name with any regularity. Notably, he acquired his nickname before the formation of the Reckoners.
- Not So Different: Regalia calls him out (to David) on being not unlike every other Epic, what with his Underwater Base (in Babilar), his nickname, and his choice of "costume" (his lab coat and goggles in the pocket). Even David seems to admit she has a point.
- Only Flesh Is Safe: His tensor power cannot affect living matter.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Prof is usually calm and collected and treats his subordinates with respect. When he's used his powers recently, he becomes tense, aggressive, and contemptuous. This is due to a combination of the personality-altering effect of Epic powers, the strain of resisting that effect, and the fact that he hates being an Epic in the first place.
- Powers Do the Fighting: After becoming a full High Epic, he does this instead of Fights Like a Normal.
- Pro-Human Transhuman: He's a High Epic whose goal in life is to preserve the autonomy of ordinary humans.
- The Professor: The other Reckoners see him as this, hence his nickname. Subverted in that, although he is a highly intelligent man who does much of the planning and strategizing for the group, he was never a literal professor or scientist and the miraculous devices he supposedly invented are actually manifestations of his Epic powers.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Lets David tell his story and make his case for killing Steelheart despite his own skepticism and generally seems willing to discuss things and hear out dissenting opinions from the other Reckoners. In Firefight, when Prof's personal issues start coming into play, David begins to find him rather more difficult to reason with.
- Shoot the Dog: He says that he views killing Epics as like putting down rabid dogs. He also regards his intent to kill Regalia as this, and thinks that her challenging him may be her asking him to do this.
- Staking the Loved One: He killed his friend and fellow would-be superhero, Amala, after she succumbed to the corruption.
- The Strategist: His main role in the day-to-day operations of the primary team.
- Super Empowering: This ability allows him to use his powers, albeit in a limited and indirect way, to help his fellow Reckoners without compromising his sanity.
- Super Strength: Appears to have this, if the strength with which he grabbed David in Firefight is any indication.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: He's a little too insistent that there's no pattern in the Kryptonite Factor that Epics have. Since he's an Epic himself, this may be because he doesn't want even his allies to identify a pattern they could use to figure out his weakness.
- Team Dad: He's a stern, serious leader who cares deeply for the people under his command, to the point that he's willing to use his powers - which, to him, constitutes risking a Fate Worse Than Death - to rescue them in emergencies. Even his manipulation of David in Firefight, from his perspective, is partly for David’s own good; he wants to save David from what he assumes is Megan’s manipulation. It's also strongly implied that David, who is the youngest member of the primary team and who lost his biological father early in life, sees Prof as a father figure.
- That Man Is Dead: After he loses control of himself, many of his former allies and followers consider this to be the case.
- Token Heroic Orc: He's the only known Epic who works directly for the benefit of mankind in the first book, without being forced to do evil. Subverted when he becomes a fully corrupted Epic.
- Walking Spoiler: On account of him being an Epic.
- Willfully Weak: Then again, the alternative is go mad with power.
"I took an oath. Serve and protect. I ain't going to stop that because some thugs with magic powers start shoving everybody around."The Reckoners' odd-job man on Prof's primary team, a southerner who utterly tries (and fails) to be a True Scotsman.
- Friendly Sniper: Cody's the team's sharpshooter, and he's a very friendly guy.
- The Gadfly: Especially to Tia.
- Hidden Depths: He was a police officer in Nashville who refused to Turn in Your Badge on order of the resident Epic, nor be a part of the force under said Epic's control.
- The Munchausen: He loves making up outrageous stories about 'the Homeland'.
- Nice Guy: Though he is also something of a troll.
- Plucky Comic Relief: To a degree. He does lighten the mood a lot of the time.
- Sad Clown: Underneath his joking exterior, he's lost a lot.
"I manage things; I make the pieces fit together."Resident scholar, Mission Control, and medic for Prof's primary team.
- Accidental Murder: She's accidentally killed by Prof in his duel against his Alternate Self in Calamity.
- The Medic: She provides medical assistance to her teammates when Prof and his healing powers aren't available.
- Mission Control: This is usually her role during assassinations and other dangerous operations. She avoids going into the field herself because her knowledge is too valuable to risk her being killed or captured.
- Number Two: Although the Reckoners don't have much of a formal rank structure, she's essentially this for the team Prof personally leads and for the Reckoner organization as a whole.
- Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Before Calamity, Tia used to be a rocket scientist, working for NASA. However, she also knows enough about medicine to act as the team's medic and perform impromptu surgery on heavily injured teammates.
- Secret Keeper: Tia is Prof's secret keeper on several levels:
- She and Prof are the only ones who know the locations and activities of all of the Reckoner cells, to prevent others from giving away vital information if captured.
- Prior to the end of Steelheart, she's the only member of the primary team (and probably the Reckoners in general) who knows that Prof is an Epic.
- She's the only person to whom Prof ever willingly revealed his weakness.
- Support Party Member: She's the only member of the team who doesn't perform a combat role, although she seems to be capable of defending herself in an emergency.
- The Smart Girl: She does the research for the team.
- Trademark Favorite Food: She constantly drinks a particular brand of soda. This actually becomes a plot point in Calamity, when both David and Prof are able to locate her in hiding by tracking the soda she unthinkingly asked her hosts to procure for her.
"People rarely want to kill, David. It's not basic to the makeup of the healthy human mind. In most situations they will go to great lengths to avoid killing. Remember that, and it will help you."The Reckoners' heavy-weapons man and mechanic on Prof's primary team.
- The Big Guy: One of his jobs.
- BFG: He loves them.
- French Jerk: Completely averted.
- The Idealist: As his quote shows, he believes that humans are peaceful by nature. As a member of the Faithful, he also believes that Calamity and the evil Epics are a test from God that humanity can overcome.
- Mr. Fixit: His other job.
- Nice Guy: Much straighter than Cody, Abraham is always reasonable, calm, and soft-spoken.
- Straight Man: To Cody.
Val/ValentineThe Mission Control and leader for the Babilar Reckoners team, Val is a terse, all-business woman.
- Action Girl: Has some elements of this, though she prefers to take a backseat to the fighting.
- Character Death: She's the first victim of Prof's High Epic rampage. He generates a forcefield around her, then shrinks it down to the size of a basketball, crushing her.
- Inspector Javert: Acts like this toward David towards the second half of the book.
- Knight Templar: "The only good Epic is a dead Epic."
- Mission Control: Had this job, though she cedes it to Tia when Prof's team comes to Babilar.
"Every organization needs good chefs and good morticians. The two great constants of life. Food and death."A Babilar Reckoner and former mortician pre-Calamity, he operates as the Reckoner's intelligence officer, often working at a radio in their base to pick up local gossip.
- Big Fun: As though his name being pronounced X.L. weren't enough indication.
- Big Eater: He is pretty fat.
- Busman's Vocabulary: Talks a lot about death and corpses, more than David is comfortable with.
- Character Death: Killed by Prof at the end of Firefight in the same way as Val.
- The Charmer: He's a very likeable guy, which is how he gathers his intel.
- Hidden Depths: He's a former CIA contact.
Missouri "Mizzy" WilliamsDemolitions Expert on the Babilar Reckoners team, Mizzy is a very cheerful young woman who constantly wants to prove herself.
- Action Girl: David at one point tries to take her on hand-to-hand, (quite correctly) thinking she's smaller and lighter than him, so he should win. Mizzy promptly hands him his ass.
- Badass Adorable: Extremely cute in how she speaks. Also a capable close-combat combatant.
- Buffy Speak: Prone to this. For example, the "streambeam" on the spyril.
- Demolitions Expert: Her primary use on the Babilar team.
- Empowered Badass Normal: Received an Epic power during the final showdown with Calamity, though we don't know what it was.
- Genki Girl: Extremely cheerful for someone who's grown up After the End. She chocks it up to growing up in a relatively good district of the old New York City.
- The Knights Who Say "Squee!": Mizzy is a competent, if undisciplined, Reckoner, meaning she's a certified Badass Normal. She gets fannishly nervous/excited about meeting Prof, the organization's founder, and David, who killed one of the world's most powerful Epics.
- Nice Girl: Barring her hatred of Firefight, which itself is justified.
- Plucky Girl: Her upbeat attitude is so up front that David has no idea how she keeps managing it in the wake of all that happens around her. She does anyway.
- Sole Survivor: With Sam shot dead by Megan and Val and Exel killed by Prof in his Epic madness, she is the last surviving member of the Babilar team from before Firefight arrived in the city.
- Verbal Tic: She has a habit of drawing out words. For example, she frequently goes "yeeeaahh" or "riiiight".
- Wrench Wench: She's in charge of the vast majority of the high tech equipment the Babilar team has.
Epics in general
Superhumans who began manifesting powers following the appearance of Calamity in the sky, every single Epic is completely sociopathic, with zero empathy for other human beings. The US Government passed the Capitulation Act shortly after they appeared, decreeing that they could do whatever they wished, and that normal humans should not even try to stop them.
- Always Chaotic Evil: No matter what your previous personality, use of Epic powers instantly turns you into an evil sociopath. Subverted for Epics who overcome their weaknesses - since those are actually the connection to Calamity, doing so cures the mental effects.
- Beware the Superman: Every single Epic that uses his powers on himself or does not transfer them to someone else is a sociopath until the weakness of that Epic is resolved.
- Combo Platter Powers: The powersets that High Epics get are... interesting, rarely bearing any thematic parallels to each other. Steelheart's invulnerable body and ability to transform non-living matter to steel are thematically parallel, but what about his wind control and energy beams? Or Conflux's electricity powers and his transference ability? Or Prof's disintegration abilities, Healing Factor, and transference power?
- Differently Powered Individuals: Called "Epics" here.
- Face Your Fears: The only way to either refuse the transformation into an Epic or remove its sociopathic tendencies is to face the weakness of said Epic head on and conquer the fear of it. It is unclear if a fully awakened Epic (such as Regalia, Obliteration, Nightwielder, or Steelheart) can do this. Though Obliteration just might be trying at it.
- It's All About Me: The usual Epic is only capable of seeing baseline humans as something more than amusement or background noise unless either a), said baseline humans have something to offer such as a BFG, stability to the kingdom, or valuable research, or b), said baseline humans start killing other Epics. According to Megan, this is literally how it works - being an Epic is a combination of being tired, irritable, and unable to think of a solution that doesn't involve murdering others.
- Kryptonite Factor: All Epics have a single, seemingly random, weakness that can negate their powers. However they may also have more mundane limitations that can be exploited just as well. For example, an invisibility Epic may be unable to remain invisible whenever they hear a trombone but perhaps they can also be found by someone using a thermal scanner. It's revealed in Firefight that Epic weaknesses are derived from something the person feared before becoming an Epic. For example, Megan's weakness is fire because she had a traumatic experience involving a house fire when she was a child. Steelheart, a former high-school bully who attained power and status by intimidating others, could only be harmed by someone who was not afraid of him.
- Meaningful Rename: Seemingly all Epics take on a new 'superhero/villain' name, one which is usually descriptive or evocative of their powers. Interestingly, the three known Epics that possess some degree of humanity all tend to use their human name, not their Epic one.
- Nigh Invulnerable: High Epics are those who have a power that makes them invulnerable to conventional methods of assassination, what David calls a "Prime Invincibility".
- No-Sell: A "Prime Invincibility" allows an Epic to do this to conventional attacks and sometimes to the powers of lesser Epics (for example, Deathpoint's power, which disintegrated ordinary people, didn't do much more than leave a small burn mark on Steelheart's shirt). An Epic with one is considered a "High Epic".
- Older Than They Look: Epics tend to age more slowly than regular people. Since they've only been around for about thirteen years, it's unknown whether they have significantly longer lifespans.
- Powered by a Forsaken Child: Epic-derived technology is not actually derived from Epics in research, but literally from their corpses. The "motivators" of the devices are specially treated mitochondrial DNA that allow for the control of the devices.
- Reality Warper: Epic powers rarely seem to work according to recognizable laws of physics.
- Squishy Wizard: Regular Epics (i.e., those without a Prime Invincibility), are this, and it's quite possible to take them out without ever learning their weakness.
- Traumatic Superpower Awakening: "The Rending", as described by Regalia, is what happens when Calamity first makes an Epic. Namely, it results in "an overwhelming sensation driving you to destroy, to break", and drives the sociopathy of Epics.
- Weaksauce Weakness: An Epic's Kryptonite Factor is often something very common and easy to obtain or deploy, so they kill anyone who finds out to prevent the knowledge of what it is specifically from spreading.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: All Epics are villainous, but it is unknown whether only evil people gain powers, or if the amount of power they wield just makes being selfish too easy an option. The truth is that using their powers literally, and instantly, changes the way they think. If they are able to resist using their power for a length of time, then their minds will return to normal.
- Your Worst Nightmare: This is revealed to be the thing that decides what a select Epic's weakness will be. If they don't have any major fears, then something minor will be magnified into a full-blown phobia.
Steelheart/Paul JacksonThe main villain of the first book. Steelheart is a powerful Epic who has claimed the position of Emperor of Newcago.
- Antagonist Title: Of the first book.
- Big Bad: Of the first book.
- The Cape: Deliberately subverted. His introduction makes it seem like he's a typical example, right down to the lack of a mask and the cape itself, but he almost immediately shows himself to be the exact opposite.
- The Dreaded: Makes a deliberate point of terrifying his citizens and potential enemies.
- Flying Brick: Invulnerability, Flight, Super Strength, and Energy Blasts
- Hand Blast: One of his powers.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Is a fan of killing people with their own guns. This backfires on him, quite literally, when firing David's gun sets off a detonator within it, ending up killing ''himself'' instead due to not being afraid of himself.
- I'm Not Afraid of You: He can only be harmed by someone who isn't afraid of him. Unfortunately, thanks to his campaign of terror and propaganda, there is now only one person alive who fits that description.
- Kryptonite Factor: The main thrust of the plot is figuring out what it is. He's only vulnerable to people who aren't afraid of him.
- Repressive but Efficient: The only reason he's sometimes considered the lesser of the Fractured States' evils. However, this is in a world where 'leaving a complete wasteland where Portland, Oregon used to be' is an adequate comparison for responsible Epics, so make of that what you will. By today's standards, Newcago would be a hellhole.
- Scars Are Forever: He has one scar, the one David's father gave him by accident.
- Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up: As revealed in Firefight, he used to be a bully and track star. Then, as shown in the first book, he got much worse. Hence why he's only affected by people not afraid of him.
NightwielderOne of Steelheart's inner circle. It is his power that keeps Newcago in perpetual darkness.
- Casting a Shadow: Using his powers he has kept the sun from Newcago for ten years and is able to control a dark mist which he uses as a weapon.
- Combat Tentacles: He forms his mist into these to stab at his enemies.
- Dark Is Evil: Given his allegiance to Steelheart.
- Flight: See Required Secondary Powers.
- Intangible Man: Whenever he is seen in public he always has this power engaged, rendering him impervious to harm.
- Required Secondary Powers: In order that he not fall into the center of the planet whenever he turns himself intangible, he also has the secondary power of flight. David mentions that this is a common secondary ability for intangible Epics (presumably those that don't have it can be found stuck in the Earth's core).
- Tele-Frag: Averted. David was curious as to what would happen were Nightwielder to be made solid while phasing through a solid object, but luckily for Nightwielder he is simply forced out of the object.
- Weakened by the Light: His personal Kryptonite Factor is daylight, or more accurately ultraviolet light. It forces him into tangibility, weakens his ability to fly, and also destroys his dark mist tentacles. This comes from his past as a skin cancer survivor.
Conflux/Edmund SenseA mysterious Epic who provides electrical power to Newcago. Initially believed to be the chief of Enforcement, Conflux is eventually revealed to be a prisoner to Steelheart. After Steelheart's death, he continues to provide power for the city in exchange for protection.
- Accidental Murder: Not long after Calamity, he accidentally electrocuted his wife to death by electrifying a metal countertop when trying to make himself some food.
- Achievements in Ignorance: He explains in Calamity that he accidentally destroyed his weakness and lost his sociopathy.
- Captured Super-Entity: He isn't as strong as Steelheart, but he is still this for the entirety of Newcago.
- Living Battery: Generates the majority of the power for the city.
- Loophole Abuse: It's hinted in the first book that this is how he keeps himself from going insane - he gives away his power, and it's not there to drive him crazy. This is partly true, but it's not the whole truth - he implicitly and unknowingly faced his fear, conquered it, and lost his potential to be evil.
- Made a Slave: Apparently has been one to various powerful Epics since a month after Epics started appearing.
- Meaningful Rename: Inverted. The fact that he prefers his human name to his Epic name is one of the signs of his My Species Doth Protest Too Much status.
- My Species Doth Protest Too Much: One of three known Epics with some degree of humanity. Also the first Epic to openly serve humanity instead of trying to rule them, when in Mitosis he takes up the job of Newcago Reserve Power Generator.
- Nice Guy: As David notes, the most dangerous thing about him is he might accidentally hit you with one of his hands while he's waving them around as he speaks.
- Psycho Electro: Averted, in comparison to all the other Epics. He's happy to donate power, read books, and have calm and reasonable discussions with David.
- Super Empowering: As a Transference Epic, he gives energy generation powers to Enforcement members.
- Token Good Teammate: To Steelheart's regime, and Epics in general. A conversation with David implies this is because he unknowingly managed to overcome his weakness and thus the corruption.
DeathpointAn extremely dangerous Epic seen only in the Prologue.
- Boom, Headshot: How David's father kills him.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: He points at people, and they die. He acknowledges that it's not very imaginative, but he still likes it.
- Faux Affably Evil: Very courteous and even chats with the tellers at the bank... as he kills random people along the way.
- Glass Cannon: He appears to have no defensive powers whatsoever, only offensive ones.
- In the Back: After his primary power is shown to be ineffective on Steelheart, he attempts to use an unknown secondary power on him when his back is turned.
- Stab the Scorpion: Killed this way by David's father. The fact that this shot also hurt Steelheart kicks off the plot.
- Stripped to the Bone: By simply pointing at a person he is able to instantly dissolve them into dust, leaving only their bones whole.
- Would Hurt a Child: Vaporizes a baby in his/her mother's arms.
FortuityA precognitive Epic, low-to-middling in the ranks of Steelheart's organization.
- Combat Precognition: The reason he's considered a High Epic. He can foresee any attempt to hurt or kill him enough in advance to avoid it.
- Distracted by the Sexy: His danger sense doesn't work on people he's sexually attracted to.
- Serial Killer: With at least a hundred murders to his name.
- Starter Villain: The first High Epic David is known to be involved in killing, and the source of his inclusion with the Reckoners.
- Super Reflexes: His secondary ability, which David admits is pretty useful for a precognitive Epic.
- Whatevermancy: He likes to practice Extispicy - with human entrails. Whether it works or it's just sadism (Given that he's an Epic, it could go either way) is never answered.
Curveball/Donny HarrisonA very minor Epic, his only power is that any handgun he uses never runs out of bullets.
- Bottomless Magazines: His power. Word of God says that it was intentionally added as a Shout-Out to action films.
- Gangsta Style: Wields his handgun this way, regardless of aiming difficulties. Due to having Bottomless Magazines, this isn't much of a problem, as he's probably going to eventually hit someone.
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Has horrible aim. David blames this on his using handguns, which he thinks are so inaccurate they are completely useless except at close range, and his use of Gangsta Style.
LimelightA fictional Epic created gradually by the Reckoners as part of David's plan to take out Steelheart.
- Becoming the Mask: In Calamity, Prof has incidentally decided to take this name full time after his being Driven to Madness.
- Fake Ultimate Villain: He doesn't actually exist.
- Secret Identity: The real person behind the identity of "Limelight" is not consistent. In the Reckoners' plan to trick Steelheart, Cody was originally intended to play the role of Limelight and use a powerful energy gun to simulate having Epic powers. After that plan falls apart, Prof salvages the ruse by appearing as Limelight and using his actual Epic powers. Prof takes up the name Limelight again after he succumbs to his Epic madness, but at that point, it's ambiguous which identity he would consider to be his "true" one.
Mitosis/Lawrence RobertAn Epic who appears in Newcago after the events of Steelheart in the short story Mitosis.
- Antagonist Title: Of his own novelette.
- Conservation of Ninjutsu: His clones are weaker the more of them there are. Not because of Clone Degradation, every single clone becomes weaker as each new one is born.
- Dreadful Musician: He was the only competent musician in a rock band called Weaponized Cupcake. His weakness is their music.
- A God Am I: He constantly refers to Epics as gods.
- Hive Mind: It's not clear to what level, but enough that he knows when one of his copies is killed, and can thereafter identify the killer on sight.
- Me's a Crowd: His power is to make copies of himself. There's no "prime" copy, and any copy can make more with no difficulty.
Regalia/Abigail ReedThe leader of Babylon Restored/Babilar, and an old acquaintance of Prof. Serves as the Big Bad of Firefight.
- The Bad Guy Wins: She got exactly what she wanted: Prof as a High Epic to take her place.
- Big Bad: Of Firefight.
- Bigger Bad: In Calamity, her influence is still felt, and it's her plan (taken up by Prof) that drives most of the plot.
- Big Brother Is Watching: As she can see through any surface of water touching air, and she submerged most of her area of reign, Regalia essentially causes this.
- The Chessmaster: Even with several setbacks during Firefight, well... see The Bad Guy Wins. Her plotting continues in Calamity, where Prof in full Epic mode tries to execute it. It fails, but not for any reason she could have foreseen.
- Combat Tentacles: Tends to make water-based tentacles to fight.
- The Dragon: Appears to be this to Calamity. She's actually The Starscream, as she wanted to overthrow Calamity, as revealed in Calamity.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Doubtful due to her bringing Obliteration to Babilar.David: You brought Obliteration here? Calamity! What is wrong with you?
- Evil Cripple: She's actually bedridden with cancer.
- Evil Former Friend: To Prof and Tia.
- Fighting a Shadow: Often makes water-based duplicates of herself that can also mimic color in order to fool assassins. She has to, since she is actually bedridden with cancer.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: David kills her by impaling her with Obliteration's dropped sword in revenge for her corruption of Prof and the resultant deaths of Val and Exel.
- Making a Splash: A highly proficient water manipulation Epic, including manipulation of both water and water level.
- Manipulative Bastard: Prof admits that while Steelheart is likely the strongest of the Epics they had known of to that point, Regalia was definitely the most wily.
- Playing with Syringes: Much like other Epic-derived technology, she cuts pieces out of Epics, living ones, to replicate their abilities. Case in point, she made Obliteration's abilities into a more-controllable bomb.
- Squishy Wizard: She's not technically a High Epic despite her massive power, since she has no special form of invincibility. Therefore, killing her revolves around not finding her weakness, but rather finding where she's hiding her real body. In the end, David kills her without ever figuring out what her weakness is.
- The Starscream: Her plan was to make motivators out of Obliteration's teleportation and Larcener's power-stealing powers to overthrow Calamity
- Take Up My Sword: A dark version. She's dying, so she manipulates Prof into becoming a High Epic to take her place as leader of Babilar.
- This Is Unforgivable!: Not she herself, but everyone on the heroic side of Firefight deems her necessary to execute due to willingly bringing Obliteration to Babilar.
- Villainous Breakdown: A relatively minor one after Calamity fails to turn David into an Epic. Or David refused Calamity's gifting. Or when he figured out the secret of Epic weaknesses. Whichever it was, Regalia freaked out about it since that was her plan to neutralize David and make him into a new lackey. Her freakout was very justified since Calamity has never failed to turn someone into an Epic before.
- You Monster!: On the receiving end of this from David for causing Prof's Face–Heel Turn.
- You See, I'm Dying: She's bedridden with cancer and has only weeks to live when Prof's team comes to Babilar.
"Help me."A comatose Epic who gained his powers whilst in a coma to begin with, Dawnslight is the reason for the greenery around Babylon Restored.
- Big Damn Heroes: When Regalia was about to crush David with water near the end of his fight with Newton, he conjured many plants to suck up all of the water she was using.
- Captured Super-Entity: Regalia is holding his body.
- Dream Weaver: An interesting example. He creates food and light for people based upon his own dreams, and doesn't seem to realize if he's in a dream or not when he's doing so. This is because, as a comatose man, he literally can't tell at all, and is truly forming his powers out of his dreams.
- Green Thumb: He's why Babilar is full of food.
- Light 'em Up: Combines this with his Green Thumb powers to create glowing fruit, which he sometimes can blink in order to signal people for help.
- The Man Behind the Curtain: He's very powerful, but he's also not even awake, as David realizes when he finally sees him.
- Nice Guy: One of the nicest Epics in the series, up there with Edmund Sense.
- Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: He doesn't seem to realize how creepy it is that he's having conversations with someone through fortune cookies.
- Personality Powers: As the nicest guy in Firefight, his powers are Green Thumb and Light 'em Up.
- Spanner in the Works: Tries really hard at this, managing to save both David and Mizzy, but still doesn't manage to stop Regalia's plan.
Newton/Yunmi ParkLeader of a gang in Babilar, Regalia has forced her into her service. She has the power to reverse the vector of an attack.
- Attack Reflector: Her primary power and the reason why she is a High Epic. She can reverse the vector of any attack aimed at her.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: David kills her in one when he figures out her weakness just as she tries to attack him, stopping her attack cold. He then proceeds to unload on her back when she tries to run.
- Dark Action Girl: A gang leader and female Epic on Regalia's side.
- Katanas Are Just Better: Her primary weapon. She sometimes carries a backup one as well.
- Super Speed: Her power beside her Attack Reflector.
- Weaksauce Weakness: Arguably the best example of this trope in the series thus far. She's weak to compliments.
- "Well Done, Daughter" Girl: A Defied Trope. As David realizes, she probably was afraid of actually living up to her parents' expectations, which led to compliments becoming her weakness.
ObliterationA High Epic who is working alongside Regalia.
- As the Good Book Says...: He read John the Evangenlist's account dozens of time before vaporizing Houston, and he commonly quotes from it whenever he fights.
- Ax-Crazy: Stands out as this even among other Epics.
- Badass Longcoat: Never seen without his black trenchcoat.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: About half of what he says is quotes from John The Evangelist, making him one of the most unnerving characters in the entire series.
- Cool Sword: Regularly carries a sword with him, despite likely not needing it. This just adds to his Sadist potential.
- Deus Exit Machina: When he has a conversation with David about his nightmares near the end of the books, he thanks David for giving him an answer to the secret, and disappears for the remainder of the book. Fitting, since nobody had figured out his weakness to that point.
- The Dreaded: Being a High Epic with no known weakness means he already fits the profile. Vaporizing Houston, Albuquerque and San Diego cemented him as one. Even other High Epics fear him; his bio states that he melted a supposedly invulnerable Epic named Endless Dreams by generating a temperature said to match that of the sun.
- Evil Counterpart: Sees himself as on the same mission as the Reckoners... But his method is to kill everyone who could be an Epic. Given his modus operandi, this effectively makes him a counterpart to Prof.
- Exit Villain Stage Left: After learning his weakness is connected to his nightmares, Obliteration lets David live and leaves for the remainder of Firefight. This is also how he exits the series as a whole; after promising We Will Meet Again, he leaves David and Megan after the defeat of Calamity.
- Fantastic Nuke: He basically is one, as he sets himself up in a city and stores sunlight until he has enough power to melt the entire thing. He's done this at least three times.
- Faux Affably Evil: Talks like a kindly preacher who is just tending to and teaching his flock, but he's psycho enough to have a ball and chain on hand to attach to David to ensure he sinks into the waters of Babylon Restored.
- Four Eyes, Zero Soul: He's nearsighted, and needs to wear glasses, but he's a monster.
- Holy Hitman: Commonly quotes John the Evangelist in combat. It doesn't make him any less of a monster.
- Hunter of His Own Kind: Though unlike Prof, he's not a Reckoner. He just kills Epics for (possibly religious) reasons that are known only to him.
- Karma Houdini: In the end of Calamity, he notes he overcame his weakness five years ago and leaves David and Megan, promising We Will Meet Again. The implication is that he is to be the first post-Calamity Super Villain.
- Kill It with Fire: His main ability is to draw heat from his surroundings (freezing them in the process) and then expel the stored heat in powerful blasts.
- Mysterious Past: As of Firefight, anyway. It's implied that something drove him over the edge and made him melt Houston and Albequerque, then start melting Epics for no discernible reason.
- Not Brainwashed: David assumes that Obliteration's murderous obsession is a product of Calamity's influence. After Calamity is banished, it is revealed that Obliteration actually confronted his weakness years ago and all his evil deeds since were committed of his own free will. This is foreshadowed throughout Firefight and Calamity - Obliteration sees himself as a servant of a higher power rather than being purely selfish like a typical corrupted Epic.
- Omnicidal Maniac: He believes that he's an instrument of divine retribution and that it's his job to hasten the end of the world.
- Person of Mass Destruction: The only suitable defense from Obliteration is not to be in the same city or even state as him. As of him getting access to Regalia's bombs made from his powers, even that isn't a definite thing. He'll just gather power in the bomb and blow it up with most none the wiser to prevent people from escaping his blast radius.
- Power of the Sun: He can absorb the heat of the sun and store up power. After a period of seven days, he can release it in one burst to vaporize entire cities. He did this to Houston, and two cities after that.
- Spider-Sense: Combined with his reactive teleportation power, it makes it near-impossible to kill him.
- Spot the Imposter: It may be a part of his Spider-Sense, but he can see straight through Megan's shadow illusions.
- Touch of Death: His ability to drain heat works on living things, meaning he has this. It says something about his power level that it never comes up.
- Villain Teleportation: He can teleport to any place he can think of within his line of sight. The power is combined with his danger sense to make him nearly impossible to kill.
- Worthy Opponent: Appears to think of David this way, especially in their confrontation near the end of Firefight.
CalamityInitially believed to be a satellite around Earth, Calamity is an incredibly powerful Epic who creates other Epics on a whim.
- Alien Non-Interference Clause: Appears to be banned by some kind of rule among his kind from interfering with humanity except by providing us with Epic powers. Actually, he's not supposed to even be in humanity's dimension anymore, and should have left after giving the powers.
- Alien Sky: Calamity is it. The first sign that something horrible was about to happen was twelve years before the start of Steelheart, when Calamity rose into the sky like a second, dimmer sun.
- A Form You Are Comfortable With: Played with. We are unclear on what exactly Calamity really looks like, but judging from the fact that he considered existence in our dimension to be horrifying, it's likely we cannot fathom his real form. Instead, he takes on the body of a teenaged boy.
- Greater-Scope Villain: To the entire series. The Epics carve out their little fiefdoms, while he plays games with the whole world.
- Heel Realization: After he is convinced to look into a universe where he let powers develop on their own-and it's a classic comic book world where even Steelheart became The Cape.
- Human Aliens: Subverted Trope. Calamity is from another dimension, but had taken a human form when assigned to Earth.
- Humans Are Bastards: Firmly believes this. He holds humanity in disdain, feeling that they will inevitably destroy themselves with the powers that he has granted them.
- God Was My Copilot: While not a god, per se, Calamity is pretty close to one. He hides in plain sight as the Epic Larcener, the ruler of Ildithia. He spends much of the third book lazing around the Reckoners' base, right in front of their noses the whole time.
- Manchild: Despite looking like a teenager, he acts like a spoiled, sullen child. He's extremely lazy and self-centered, preferring to let other people do the work for him.
- No-Sell: A bomb created from part of Obliteration's body that would have destroyed a city has no effect on him because he can easily cancel the effects of the powers that he's gifted.
- Not Afraid of You Anymore: If someone takes ownership of their powers, claiming them to be their own and resolving their weakness, he can no longer control their powers or steal them back. Even Prof, who had been Brought Down to Normal, manages to get his powers back by doing this, completely dumbfounding Calamity.
- Our Angels Are Different: He's identified as an angel by both Obliteration and Regalia. The former calls him an archangel, and the latter calls him either "the Destroying Angel" or "the Angel of the Apocalypse". His fiery wings give the impression of a Seraph.
- Played with in appearance: he's actually humanoid, albeit brilliantly bright. The fiery wings are the solar panels of the international space station, which he transmuted to glass.
- Physical God: He has all Epic powers, and on top of that implies he has complete control over how others use them. His power level is more or less incomprehensible. Though David flat out tells him that clearly Godlike Powers don't make you a God.
- Planet Looters: Of a sort. He mentions that his species has destroyed countless worlds by empowering Epics among their populations.
- Red Sky, Take Warning: A variant. The red light of Calamity is definitely not for good.
- Sensory Overload: Calamity comes from another dimension, one that lacks the extreme stimuli found in David's world. This makes it difficult for Calamity to adjust to the stimuli that most people would take for granted. Ceiling lights are blinding to him, while normal speech sounds like booming shouts to him. He spends much of his time wearing noise-canceling headphones, with his eyes closed, to deal with the constant assault to his senses.
- Super Empowering: Calamity creates Epics by giving them powers that will be "thematically appropriate," along with weaknesses based on their nightmares. David wonders if he is just an insanely powerful Transference Epic, and all the other "Epics" merely normal people playing with his toys. Every Transference Epic can use the powers they gift to other people. This would mean that if David's right, Calamity would have every single power seen in the series so far. He is.
- That's No Moon!: No, it's a person.
- Walking Spoiler: So much that even naming his entry is a spoiler itself.
- Winged Humanoid: Creates this impression, with what David believes to be fiery wings. The "wings" turn out to be the panels of the international space station, which his power has turned to glass. He chose to live there because it is "closest to his home."
DiamondAn arms dealer who works with many people, and moves around the Fractured States.
Blain CharlestonA single father raising his son after his wife died. He is noted to be calm, soft-spoken, and a hard worker, who strongly believed that good Epics would come to fight the bad ones. He firmly believed Steelheart was one, to the point of killing Deathpoint in order to save him.
- Heroic Bystander: Acts as this in the prologue of the first book, shooting Deathpoint to save Steelheart, saying that sometimes, people had to "help the heroes along" before they arrived.
- I'm Not Afraid of You: A variant. It's not that he wasn't afraid of Steelheart because he was defiant or brave, he was just utterly convinced that Steelheart was a hero, and thus saw no reason to be afraid of him. But this still let him hurt Steelheart.
- Posthumous Character: Dies in the prologue of the first book.
- Rousseau Was Right: Believed in the idea that the good Epics would come, no matter what.
In Book III, Calamity, an alternate Blain Charleston is glimpsed through Megan's powers as that world's Steelheart.
- The Cape: Literally wears a cape, along with a certain symbol of the most triumphant example of this trope.
- Flying Brick: Has identical powers to Paul Jackson's Steelheart
- For Want of a Nail: Not a clear cut example, as there were other differences, but was essentially the result of David dying in the bank instead of him.
- Good Counterpart: To Steelheart. He has an identical powerset and the same codename, but is a genuine hero as opposed to a callous dictator.
- Like Father, Like Son: Is a cape nerd, like his son. When David embraces Steelheart's powers, it means that they also gain the same powers
- My Greatest Failure: In his world, David was the one to die in the bank, which caused Blain to manifest Epic powers.
RoyAn old friend of David's who is working with Enforcement in order to eke out a living.
- Bully Hunter: Protected the younger kids at the Havendark Factory from bullying.
- Mook–Face Turn: After the events of Steelheart, he's still in Enforcement, which is working for the Newcago provisional government and the Reckoners.
- Punch-Clock Villain: He works to uphold Steelheart's tyrannical regime, but he's not a genuinely devoted follower to the Epic; he's simply resigned to the world as it is and trying to survive within it. After Steelheart is killed, he seems quite content to help the Newcago provisional government maintain order.
Dean KnighthawkHead of the Knighthawk Foundry, the only supplier of communication technology and Epic-derived devices in the Fractured States, and a former friend of Prof and Tia.
- Big Brother Is Watching: As the continent's sole supplier of mobile technology, he can hack and track any functioning mobile.
- Crazy-Prepared: He knows people can come for his gear at any time. That's why he leaves several fake motivators easy to find, has a huge army of droids to defend his base, and has a backup safehouse in case his base gets compromised.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Disabled Snarker: Although his paralysis and his snark don’t have an obvious cause-and-effect relationship.
- Do Not Call Me "Paul": "Knighthawk" is a name he chose for himself; he discarded his original surname because "it was stupid".
- Genius Cripple: He’s quadriplegic due to a genetic problem, and he’s a pioneering scientist.
- Forgiven, but Not Forgotten: This seems to be his attitude towards Prof, who killed Knighthawk’s wife after she became a corrupted Epic. He mentions having struggled to convince himself that Prof did the right thing, and he speaks of the man with a strange mixture of admiration and resentment.
- Mad Scientist: Downplayed, but he does have a Mad Scientist Laboratory, complete with bodyparts, and David at one point calls him 'not entirely sane'.
- Not So Different: He tells David that they share a dangerous fascination with Epics.
- Robot Master: He uses an army of droids to defend himself.
- Sour Supporter: Provides the Reckoners with information and technological assistance several times throughout Calamity, all the while proclaiming that their plans are foolish and they’re probably going to get themselves (and possibly him) killed.
- The Smart Guy: While he isn't a real member of the team, with Tia benched and later killed, Knighthawk fills this role (albeit in a different fashion).