"I am the voice of the people! I say it and millions agree with me! I am what's hip, what's hot, and what's happening in the world."
- Internet Gossip Writer Vox Populii
Vox Populii is the name of an Internet-based gossip writer in Millennium City.
If there was ever a model for the stereotypical "wimpy kid", Wilfred Douglas was it. Abandoned by his parents pretty much from birth and forced to be raised by his grandmother, Wilfred was brought up in a structurally "idealized" version of childhood that was several decades behind the times.
Naturally, Wilfred was the favorite target of bullying by the other children. Everything from his plaid slacks to his oversized glasses to the slicked hair (by petroleum jelly no less) were the targets of wrath by children eager to ridicule him and boost their own self-esteem. School officials rarely took action on the blatant mental and even physical assaults inflicted on the young child, often citing his grandmother's criticisms of a "male-dominated system".
Wilfred's only solace was in computers. The school computer lab and the emergence of the Internet gave him the opportunity to learn more about the world around him and to escape the torment of his many bullies.
Not long after he turned eighteen, Wilfred's grandmother passed away in her sleep. She left no will, and it turned out she also refused to pay property taxes on the house he grew up in, so the city took the home and sold it, leaving Wilfred with nothing and no family members willing to assist him.
Using government assistance, Wilfred managed to get a job doing data entry. This afforded him enough to get his own place, but again he found that he was mocked for his choice of clothing and his very effeminate behavior (a byproduct of having to watch non-stop feminist-themed cable channels with his grandmother).
He would spend his nights continuing to watch women's TV channels, but also going online to entertainment-centered websites to get all of the latest scandals from Hollywood. During this time he came across a news story that told of how some celebrities would use social media to make themselves more popular than they really were. Wilfred decided that this would be the perfect way to compensate for his tormented childhood, by using this same social media to make himself into a superstar.
Getting his hands on a bot-virus network that was recently abandoned following a federal arrest of an overseas hacker ring, Wilfred began using the network of covertly-ensnared computers, laptops, tablets, and cellphones to hype up a character named "Vox Populii".
An Internet Star Is Born
Although the gossip website was operating with modest success, Vox Populii really started gaining in "popularity" with the release of the micro-message network system Nitpik to the general public. Using a modest piece of code that he slipped into his "bot network", Wilfred was able to come up with a way to have his Nitpik posts "okay-ed" and "re-posted" through the Nitpik network.
Since popularity was measured in Nitpik by the number of "okay-ed" and "re-post" messages, Vox Populii became one of the most popular personalities, bringing in over six million "followers".
Rise and Fall
Vox Populii's rise was helped with online sponsorship, which allowed Wilfred to quit his job and concentrate on his "new life".
Corporate sponsors "encouraged" Vox to hype up certain health, beauty, and fashion trends. National networks would "encourage" Vox to hype up their new shows. With each "encouragement", people would support or reject certain products simply because it "appeared" to be trendy. Nobody knew that the secret to his "success" was because of a bot network.
Vox was also responsible for the rise and fall of several entertainers and even a few heroes. One rumor suggests that Vox was responsible for Gloria Root keeping her job after wearing a very revealing blouse on-air, although WCOC executives have dismissed such a connection. Another rumor suggests that Sapphire's pop song "We Are Champions" would not have been such a success if not for Vox sharing online links through Nitpik. On the other hand, several heroes have credited Vox with their sudden popularity.
Unfortunately this "helpful" persona also has a dangerous dark side.
Whispered about in newsgroups are the rumors that Vox has a vicious mean streak to him. While he does not engage in physical violence, Vox has been known to bully others to do his bidding, using verbal intimidation and the fear of online harassment. Certainly critics of his websites know the sting of his wrath and the strength of his "network", often losing sponsors, patrons, and support.
Former child star Nikki Lee was probably the best example of the dangerous side of Vox and his "network". Lee befriended Vox in hopes of him being able to help re-launch her career. But when she spurned his advances, finding him "the least bit attractive", Vox not only refused to help her, but she found herself the target of numerous vicious and anonymous rumors concerning her life. Her time in rehab was the subject of wild rumors, as well as accusations that she was still using drugs. She lost her fiancée and eventually returned to rehab after attempting suicide.
Vox's fall, however came after he decided to go after Galatea Future, a superhero with renewed popularity. For reasons that have yet to be determined, Vox decided to follow a PR attack to pick apart Galatea's recent costume change. Taking ammunition from a scathing condemnation linked to a well-known hero tailor, Vox used his network to set up vicious rumors about Galatea Future, calling her "fat", "ugly", "smelly", and a "slut". The "anonymous rumors" also included derogatory comments about Harmon Industries CEO James Harmon IV being romantically-linked to Galatea Future.
When Nitpik and Bot-Swarm attacks were not enough, Vox tried direct verbal confrontations with Galatea, only to be callously brushed off. This only infuriated him even further.
The suspending of his Nitpik accounts followed by the backlash of users resulted in Vox suffering a nervous breakdown. He was admitted to the psychiatric wing of Mercy Hospital where he was put on suicide watch.
Afterward, a cellphone-recorded clip of his nervous breakdown in the Renaissance Center began to appear online, and his proclamation of "I OWN NITPIK" became a new Internet meme.
Death and Rebirth
Not long after his mental breakdown, a mysterious sponsor paid for Wilfred's medical treatment and recovery, and also provided the legal services that quietly settled his lawsuits.
A week after the legal settlement, a strange message made the rounds in NitPik:
VOX POPULII IS DEAD.
The various online and entertainment circles cheered and breathed a sigh of relief, believing that they would never again have to deal with the likes of him.
But while "Vox Populii" was "dead", Wilfred was still very much alive, albeit now with a stutter due to the damage inflicted from his breakdown.
A few years later, Wilfred was helping Pedro Duarte in the smear campaign against "legacy hero" John Battle, providing false and slanderous material from the Marsh Foundation. He also encouraging a young bully who called himself the Hometown Hero to target Battle personally.
While the smear campaign failed, his sponsor approved of his new role as a behind-the-scenes digital saboteur. When congradulated as "Vox Populii", Wilfred said that he was no longer that person. He was better and smarter. He called himself VoxPop 2.0.
Powers and Abilities
Vox Populii has no physical abilities. He is extremely thin and wiry. His chief ability rests with his networking skills.
His best weapon is his "Connection Belt", which is a portable relay center built into the belt buckle. This allows Vox to make on-the-spot Nitpik posts that are uploaded to his primary account and then automatically "okay-ed" and "re-posted" through his bot network.
Vox Populii is effeminate in nature, but beneath that seemingly "harmless" personality is a passive-aggressive monster.
Vox Populii is first seen in Issue #3 of "Future's Guardian".