- Markman Gold
Markman Gold is the self-professed "Agent to the Super-Legends".
He is the owner, CEO, and lead agent of the "Gold Standard Agency", a managerial business dedicated to molding the careers of young heroes to turn them into mega-star legends. Under his expert guidance, heroes are given maximum exposure in the media, with their every activity, public and private, covered through social networking services like Nitpik, and securing top-dollar corporate sponsorship. Using proven business practices, hero clients are transformed from one-of-a-thousand into one-of-the-best.
Or that is what his PR package professes.
Reality is much different.
Markman Poddar was born in India with a dream of greatness. After watching several Hindi films, he became aware that the most powerful people in Hindi Cinema are not the actors or directors or producers, but the agents. The agents were the ones that controlled who would perform in the films, how the film would progress, and how much the actors would get for their work. And, Markman realized, that the agent would get a piece of the action, no matter how well the film did at the box office.
Markman realized that he could do the same thing with heroes. He saw an opportunity in India with the young heroes to treat them just as film agents would with actors. The young heroes were inexperienced with how to handle fame, so Markman positioned himself as their “representative” to the media, providing “official statements” and claiming all rights to their exposure. He would then arrange for interviews, special appearances, photo-shoots, merchandising, and shopping around for a studio to film their “hero story”, all of which he would automatically deduct a third of any money received as “managerial fees”.
Eventually the heroes under his “umbrella” would question his authority to “represent” them. He would then publicly announce their “amicable separation” and then hit them with a sizable “termination fee”.
Markman was able to do this for several younger heroes until the more senior adventurers began to put pressure on him to leave India. But by this point he amassed enough money to relocate to what he called the “big leagues”… Millennium City!
With the help from certain backers, Markman changed his last name to “Gold”, dyed his hair blond, and started wearing expensive suits with gold ties. He used his fortune to create the "Gold Standard Agency" in Millennium City and quickly hired lawyers, website developers, and publicists.
And to protect himself, he made sure to be well-armed with custom-made weapons. Gold-plated, of course.
Markman Gold has had some modest success with new heroes, but then he was encouraged to set his sights on some of the more popular heroes.
Takeover of Galatea Future
In late 2011, Markman Gold made the bold step of "assimilating" Galatea Future, a relatively new hero to Millennium City whose popularity was just starting.
In his research, he discovered that Ms. Future simply "arrived" in Millennium City in July of 2011, supposedly from the far future. As such, she had no way to prove her identity. No driver's license, no Social Security number, no passport, and certainly no birth certificate.
This was perfect for Gold, because he knew anyone could assume Galatea's identity, which is precisely what he had his agency do.
Gold's people created a fictional story of Galatea's origins, based loosely on the story she provided WCOC. They then used it to rush a trademark of her name and likeness. With the trademark in hand, Gold then proclaimed that his agency now represented Galatea Future. The agency assumed control of her bank account and began making promises in her name to appear in several publications, including the risqué "Capes and Boots" magazine.
When Galatea returned from Canada in January of 2012, she discovered that her life was literally taken over by the Gold Standard Agency. Upon finding and confronting Gold, he asserted that he had every legal right to own her name and likeness, and thus "own her". He then gave her an ultimatum of either signing a legal representation agreement or being sued for trademark violation.
He was confident that Galatea would fold. He was surprised, then, to discover that she not only sued Gold and his agency for fraud, identity theft, and slavery, but that she "retired" from hero activity and retreated from all public appearances, thus cutting him off from any money he could have generated through an "appearance fee" during that time.
During the trial, Gold's arrogance would often get the better of him and his legal team. Quite often he relied on the assertion that the law could trump the rights of individuals. The depths of his arrogance was exposed when he first demanded that Galatea Future appear in court and then insisted on charging an "appearance fee" should she appear in public and adding it to the counter-suit demands. When she then appeared via teleconference in Canada, Gold's outburst cost him a $1000 fine, which he then tried to tack onto the counter-suit demands.
Not surprisingly, the court sided with Galatea Future and ruled that copyright and trademark laws do not override the U.S. Constitution, specifically the Thirteenth Amendment's prohibition of slavery. The final verdict was issued in January of 2013, and legal experts believe that Gold's antics made any kind of appeal impossible.
Not long after the legal loss, Markman Gold initiated a brief smear campaign against Galatea Future. While this initially began with manipulated criticism of Galatea's outfit, it quickly backfired when the campaign was picked up by Internet blogger Vox Populii and made into a severe case of online bullying.
Gold offered to help Galatea in dealing with the online bullies that were smearing her name, but she politely refused, turning instead to UNTIL's Major Cross for help in finding out Vox Populii's real name and then aiding in his eventual breakdown due to his already-unstable personality.
It is rumored that both Gold and his agency are being funded by another mysterious organization. Financial audits would reveal several donations from "investors" that could not be accounted for. Former Agency workers also reported him receiving calls from a person referred to as "Van Cleef". It is not known if "Van Cleef" is a real person or an alias.
When a mysterious telepath calling herself "Psyche" appeared in Millennium City, Gold wasted no time sending out his agents to "recruit" her, believing her connection to the "Sentinels of Love" book series and forthcoming movie deal would bring in billions. He was unaware that "Psyche" was really a split personality of Candace Sinclair after temporarily getting telepathic powers.
When "Psyche" became the malicious Malizia, he was lulled into accompanying her to the WCOC studios, where he announced to the cameras that he had signed on "Psyche" and was looking forward into claiming a portion of the book and movie sales. He was soon whisked away to safety by Starlett while Malizia was confronted by Galatea Future.
Although the studio was actually empty, the cameras were still rolling, and they recorded Gold's confession.
For months afterward, Gold was subjected to endless questions and audits by regulators and investigators. He escaped criminal charges only because he was being "controlled" by Malizia. But his business suffered. And a quiet act by Agent Wednesday wiped Gold's mind clean of any knowledge of another hero he had under his control, Starlett.
Markman Poddar was married when he first started his "hero agency" in India. This was an arranged marriage through their families made when Markman was a child. Very little is said about the relationship other than it ended early through mutual consent and a sizable sum was paid for compensation. There were no children involved in the relationship.
Not long after, his parents were killed in a mysterious auto accident. This occurred while he was being chased out of India, so it remains to be proven if he was responsible for the death of his parents or if their deaths were payback for something Markman did.
Since that time, Markman remained single. He makes it a point to not date his female clients or staff members.
Skills and Abilities
Markman Gold has no extra-normal abilities, although his "gift of gab" has sometimes been mistaken for a power.
He has taken some firearms training and has a "concealed arms" license to carry various firearms, all of which are gold-plated. And in the event of emergencies, he has special rocket-boots that will give him a quick escape.
His true weapons, though, are his employees and his contacts. His "Rolodex of Power" contains the addresses and phone numbers of movers and shakers. Lawyers, accountants, publicists, and image consultants all designed to aid him in his efforts to "maximize hero potential", as well as to cover his own behind. And when those fail... there's another "Rolodex" that he can turn to for help.
Markman is arrogant to a fault. He believes that laws and rules are mere "technicalities" to be exploited. He treats people as a means to his own end. Lessons, he claims, he picked up from his own upbringing and his arranged marriage.
Markman is fixated on not only power but money as well. Everything has a dollar value to him.