Thursday, March 20, 2014

Happy Vernal Equinox!

What better way to celebrate the first day of spring then to launch a new series of posts profiling the characters of Stone Soldiers? And who better to focus on then the man once born on the Spring Equinox, Colonel Mark Kenslir--leader of Detachment 1039.


Part Doc Savage, Conan and Tarzan, Mark Kenslir is the typical 1930s, larger-than-life pulp-styled hero. A towering man of impressive physical strength and presence, smarter than most and capable of getting the job done through prowess and sheer determination. A Schwarzeneggerian character who’s a throwback to a different age of fiction.

Mark Kenslir offers an interesting contrast for the Stone Soldiers series, a character from a bygone era, who is remarkably different from modern action stars. But what about Kenslir? What is the character really all about?

First Appearance in Stone Soldiers:

Mark Kenslir’s over-the-top, super-pulp powers are just as complicated as the back story for Doc Savage. Born with the ability to negate magic and psychic abilities around him, he operated against dark forces during the Cold War. But in a pulpish turn of events, Kenslir died, his powers fading with him, only to be resurrected by the curse of a werewolf he had carried for several years, dormant and suppressed by his natural abilities. Resurrected, he then gains two more curses in rapid succession: petrification at the eyes of a basilisk and immersion in none other than the Fountain of Youth.

The end result is a man who is resistant to paranormal forces, yet is kept alive by them. A man possessing great strength and healing abilities, gained from his near-werewolf state. A man who’s flesh, when injured, succumbs to petrification and turns to stone—then is regenerated, becomes alive again and reverts to flesh.

Throw in decades of training—including an esoteric, mythical martial art—and you get a supercommando who can return from the grave, who never ages, and is almost as terrifying and unstoppable as the monsters he hunts.

Mark Kenslir is stronger and faster than any human. His strength is at least equivalent to that of a werewolf or vampire. He can leap great distances and run at speeds matching that of the fastest of animals. Locked in the same form he's had since the 1960s, Kenslir not only never has to shave, always regrows his hair in the same outdated flattop, but also almost never tires. 

When it comes to regeneration, the Colonel must replace lost tissue with something. Often this is water, the basic building block of human life. He's plunged a wrist into a pool of water and regrown a severed hand in moments. He's replaced muscle tissue withered away by fire by consuming gallons of water. But he's also prone to prepare for battle, drinking a vile concoction of protein and enzymes he refers to as a "Meat Shake", stocking up on the nutrients he might need to repair what would be fatal wounds for anyone else. 

Regeneration may heal damage, but it does take significantly greater trauma to do that damage than or a normal man. Kenslir's flesh and bones are denser than an ordinary man's--owing to his near-werewolf state. He also has the scent of a werewolf, as detected by those with heightened, superhuman senses. 

Smell isn't the only indicator of his cursed state. The Colonel has dark green, almost black eyes, marking the darkness his innate powers contain within him. The same powers that produce a visible green glow when paranormal energies come into contact with Kenslir's skin. This gives him the ability to not only negate the energy so many spells and curses require to function, but also to detect the presence of magic or psychic abilities aimed at him.

Finally, the Colonel's unique physical state, never changing, and fresh as the moment he stepped out of the Fountain of Youth, means that he has no scar tissue and no damage to any of his organs or senses. His enhanced, werewolf body operates at peak efficiency, shrugging off any damage, even on the molecular level, in seconds. This grants the Colonel senses surpassing that of the average man, including excellent hearing, a keen sense of smell, and perfect vision. 

Born on March 20, 1928, precisely at the Vernal Equinox, Mark Alexander Kenslir was the seventh son of Thomas Robert Kenslir, who was himself the seventh son of Robert Mark Kenslir. Mark Alexander’s birth was of the highest improbabilities: he was born on the equinox, in the Chinese Year of the Dragon, as the Moon was settling into a New Moon phase on the opposite side of the planet. Factor in that his father was a Titanic survivor and you see that Mark Kenslir is a man produced by an incredible, unbelievable string of fortunate events.

Growing up the youngest in a family with eight siblings (six brothers and two sisters), Kenslir grew up on a ranch in Montana, spending time with a Native American grandfather. Later accepted to West Point, he graduated in 1950 and was quickly discovered as being more than ordinary. Serving in Korea at the height of the Conflict there, he countered Communist supernatural threats. Years later, he went on to put his innate ability to cancel out paranormal energies to use to further the research of a scientist trying to create the perfect super soldier.

In 1962, after marrying the scientist he had protected for over a year, Dr. Maria Guerrero, Mark Kenslir was killed in an unfortunate accident in the bowels of Argon Tower, home of a variety of clandestine projects. Emerging from the ashes of that accident, he found himself turned into something else—a man frozen in that moment of time just after his resurrection, unable to age or change, and unable to stay dead.

Over the next fifty years, Kenslir operated in something called Detachment 1039, a Florida-based joint forces unit countering supernatural threats around the world. He rose through the ranks of the unit, eventually commanding it. By the twenty-first century, all of Kenslir’s former companions had succumbed to old age or died in combat. He found himself alone—the last of the Cold War supersoldiers and a man who had died for his country several times.

In 2008, Project Medusa succeeded in partially recreating the accident that gave Kenslir his own resistance to death and created the first Stone Soldier. After successful field tests, three more Stone Soldiers were created, and Kenslir led them in missions around the world.

In 2013, the team finally met their match in the form of a prehistoric shapeshifter, released into the modern world (Mythical). Kenslir and his team died. Only Kenslir came back—with most of his memories missing. After a quick recovery and the chance meeting of what could technically be termed his granddaughter, the Colonel resumed his place in command of Detachment 1039 and began creating a new generation of Stone Soldier. Still operating from Miami, he continues the fight against the darkness…

The character of Mark Kenslir, an 86 year old man in stuck in a body still in its prime, serves as a marked contrast to the rest of the team. While current events and even team members may change, the Colonel never does. He is a constant throwback to the way things once were, and a nod to pulp heroes like Doc Savage who didn't suffer from the modern character arc. 

Kenslir has his share of dilemmas in the twenty first century: a wife who was petrified for fifty years, only to return to life and suffer a complete lapse of any memory of Kenslir. A granddaughter of sorts (the daughter of a clone-son he never knew he had), replacing the family the elderly commando has surely lost by 2013. And the knowledge that unlike his many companions, he will always survive, burying the mortal companions around him. 

 Mostly though, having an Immortal main character holding the series together means never having to worry about the real passage of time, of the series becoming outdated, or the effects of aging limiting the efficiency of the protagonist. Like Dracula, Mark Kenslir is a timeless character who could be around for a very, very long time. 

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