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Triumph #3, artist Mike S. Miller
|First appearance||Justice League America #92 (September 1994)|
|Created by||Mark Waid & Brian Augustyn (writers)
Howard Porter (artist)
|Alter ego||William MacIntyre|
|Team affiliations||Justice League
Justice League Task Force
|Abilities||Ability to control the electromagnetic spectrum|
Triumph is a fictional character, a former superhero in the DC Comics universe who first appeared in Justice League America #92 (September 1994), and was created by Brian Augustyn, Mark Waid and Howard Porter, though the character is primarily associated with writer Christopher Priest. He is not to be confused with fellow DC Comics property, the Golden Age hero Captain Triumph.
Priest would reveal years later that Triumph was partially based on Neal Pozner, DC's Director of Creative Services: "His shtick was: Triumph was always right... it was what made him so annoying to his fellow heroes. ... Neal, write this down someplace, was always right. He was. At the end of the day, Neal would be proven right. That fact, more than anything else, annoyed many staffers beyond reason."
The character Triumph (real name: William MacIntyre, sometimes spelled William McIntyre) was portrayed as a hot-headed, arrogant, and self-righteous individual who felt he was "denied his destiny" to become one of Earth's greatest heroes. Via a retcon in a three part story running through Justice League America #92, Justice League Task Force #16, and Justice League International (vol. 2) #68, he was revealed to have been the founding member of the Justice League, serving as their leader. On his first mission with the fledgling Justice League, Triumph seemingly "saved the world", but was teleported into a dimensional limbo that also affected the timestream, resulting in no one having any memory of him and his original peers now being veterans.
DC Comics fans initially disliked the character; Christopher Priest and editor Brian Augustyn decided to play to this by having the characters dislike him as well.
Return from limbo
One of Triumph's motivations for becoming a superhero was that his father was a low-ranking henchman for supervillains, a life that worried his mother. The young Triumph, however, misinterpreted her concern as a sign that his father was abusive, and his henchman outfit to mean that his father had been a major supervillain. Another motivation was a visit by Hourman, whom the child would grow up idolizing (and who had arrested his father).
When he first returned from the dimensional limbo to the modern era, Triumph's meeting with Justice League International quickly devolved into a violent confrontation. He ended up starring in a significant portion of the Justice League Task Force comic (issues #0 and 16–37), alongside regulars the Ray and Gypsy; he would develop a strong relationship with Ray and saved Gypsy's life, though he later claimed he had almost let her die out of fear of dying himself and thought it would "look bad" if he did not save her. Dissatisfied with the infrequency of JLTF missions, he also founded a second team of his own to target perpetrators of violent crime and completely dismantle their organizations.
His attitude would ultimately result in his expulsion from the Justice League Task Force. Alternatively, it could be seen that J'onn J'onzz fired Triumph because of Triumph regularly not consulting J'onn.
In JLTF #30, Triumph receives a carved black demon candle from Neron, which could give him his lost decade back in exchange for his soul. In JLTF #37, the final issue, Triumph tried to make amends with J'onn and admits to his anger at the League Christmas party – only to blow up and storm out when he was not let back into the group. He considered lighting the candle, despondent and weary with his failed career, but Gypsy came after him and, without knowing, convinced him to leave the candle by pointing out he had saved her life. Triumph decided his life might have meaning and went back to talk to J'onn, but the Ray and Gypsy unwittingly lit his candle for a memorial. Triumph gained his lost decade after all but found the League was the same and Gypsy was still alive even without his presence.
Writer Christopher Priest has stated that Triumph's lost soul explains his future appearances as an evil character.
Fall from grace
Later during DC's 1990s resurrection of the JLA ongoing series, Triumph was destitute and a failure, resorting to selling stolen League items to supervillains to pay his rent. Because of this, he came under the influence of an evil 5th dimensional imp named Lkz similar to the one possessed by golden age Justice Society member Johnny Thunder. Triumph mind-controlled his former Justice League Task Force teammates Gypsy and the Ray, striking at the newly reformed JLA. He believed he was using Lkz to fake a disaster that would overwhelm the current JLA so that 'his' team could step in, while Lkz simply intended to destroy the world. The combined forces of the JSA and JLA were required to stop the rampaging Thunderbolt and subdue Triumph, culminating in Johnny Thunder's Thunderbolt merging with Lkz to become a new purple Thunderbolt (now summoned by the phrase "So Cool").
Throughout his attack, Triumph expressed disgruntlement with the League's alleged elitism, accusing the League of ignoring his team after the "headliners" came back, and claiming (in JLA #30) that Aquaman (who had been teammates with Gypsy in the "Detroit" League) had not cared about Gypsy and happily ignored her and "the old days" "once he made the dream". To Triumph's ultimate shock, Superman told him that he had been "a fine Leaguer" and would have been "welcomed any time" if he had simply asked.
At the end of this arc, the Spectre transformed Triumph into ice and prepared to smash him with a hammer, but was stopped by a compassionate plea by the angel Zauriel. His ice form was stored in the Justice League headquarters, marked "Founding Member of the J.L.A" as a memorial. Grant Morrison, the writer of this story, later destroyed the headquarters, but forgot to remove Triumph; he was confirmed as deceased a few years later.
Several years after Triumph's death, it was revealed that he had unknowingly sired a son named Jonathan. During a college protest against the construction of a nuclear reactor, the deranged teenager manifested superhuman abilities similar to those of his father. After going on a rampage and killing nineteen people (including his girlfriend Christie), Jonathan was confronted by Supergirl and Raven of the Teen Titans. The two used Raven's abilities to enter Jonathan's mind, where they learned that he had been driven insane by fractured visions of Triumph's removal from history and subsequent return, as well as the changes in history caused by Superboy-Prime's actions during Infinite Crisis. Raven was ultimately able to defeat Jonathan by conjuring an image of Triumph, who persuaded his son to stop his murderous actions. Jonathan then disappeared in a blinding flash of light, and exactly what became of him after this is unknown.
Triumph was briefly mentioned by Doctor Light during his battle with Kimiyo Hoshi in Blackest Night. He was mockingly used as an example of once-prominent heroes who were quickly forgotten after their deaths, a fate that Light claimed was in store for Kimiyo.
In the 2009 series Trinity, Triumph is revealed as alive in the warped reality created by the forceful extraction of the Trinity formed by Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. There, he is a member of Justice Society International and had camaraderie with fellow hero and Trinity stand-in Tomorrow Woman. Both were informed by Hawkman that according to a scroll detailing the true timeline, they were supposed to be dead, but Triumph still fought to restore the timeline.
In the end, he took an attack meant for Tomorrow Woman and saved her life at the cost of his own. He died in her arms, a true hero at last.
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Though not fully elaborated, Triumph's powers were said to be control over the electromagnetic spectrum. This power gives Triumph what he calls "360 degree hyper senses," or what could be described as a form of electromagnetic psychometry, which allowed him to perceive and to interpret the entire electromagnetic spectrum. With this ability Triumph could "hear" TV and radio signals and decode satellite transmissions. Triumph also displayed advanced electromagnetic energy manipulation; Superman even remarked that Triumph could kill Superman himself by cutting off the solar energy from Superman's cells to the rest of his body.
Triumph can bend the electromagnetic energy around him for offensive purposes. For instance, he can store energy in his hands and send it through metallic wiring as a powerful electric current. He can project powerful electric blasts from his eyes capable of melting thick plastic or rubber objects, or even shredding through steel alloys like confetti.
Other uses of Triumph's electromagnetic powers include creating a force field around his body granting him invulnerability as long as he is actively thinking about creating one. He has the ability to change the density of matter using his electromagnetic powers, e.g., changing water into a solid ramp. He can absorb and channel energy directed at him, such as fire. Triumph can also use his electromagnetic powers to triple the g-force inside a magnetic field while pressurizing the field to several atmospheres creating a stasis field, essentially freezing everyone inside the field.
Triumph may also possess high-level physical strength, speed, and invulnerability—on at least one occasion he engaged in hand-to-hand combat with Superman, and claimed "I'm as strong as you, I'm as fast as you, I have powers you don't even have names for..."
Triumph only possesses superhuman powers when he has a connection to the electromagnetic spectrum; without that source he has no powers.
Christopher Priest has since revealed that Triumph was written as gay, though it was never officially stated in comics because he "didn’t have an appropriate storyline to deal sensitively with that issue, but that was my subtext for his emotional center: how out of place and out of sync Triumph was with the DC Universe."
- Priest: "Triumph, the hero you love to hate" (Wayback Machine)
- Triumph #4 (September 1995)
- Justice League Task Force #32 (February 1996)
- Justice League Task Force #37 (August 1996)
- Triumph #1 (June 1995)
- Trinity #32 (January 2009)
- The Brave and the Bold (vol. 3) #17–18 (November–December 2008)
- Justice League of America (vol. 2) #40 (February 2010)
- Trinity #22 (October 2008)
- Trinity #41 (March 2009)
- JLA #28
- JLA #31
- Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #26! – Triumph