Battlestone is a character created by Rob Liefeld for his Youngblood and Brigade teams.
John Stone was born in the 1920s. His father Michael had some peculiar ideas about the way ’real men’ should be raised, and encouraged violence between Johnny and his smaller brother Cabbot. Though this stance horrified their mother, Michael Stone thought it would make John an alpha male and toughen Cabbot up.
Apparently, the Stones were nu-gene bearers (mutants, in less trademark-friendly terms) ; Michael Stone would later become Quantum, the local equivalent of Magneto. The impact of the nu-gene on John and Cabbot is unrevealed, though it likely contributed to their massive physique and slowed ageing.
When the USA entered the second World War, Stone proved himself to be an exceptional soldier despite his youth. He was such a fantastic warrior that he ended up joining the main American group of superhuman soldiers, the Allies, which included such major figures as Supreme, Glory, Roman, Super-Patriot or Die Hard. Roman was the one who had requested that Stone join the team. The over-enthusiastic young man was given a code name (Battlestone), some sort of experimental laser pistol and a skintight blue costume. He later switched to a pair of handguns and a black combat uniform similar to the Marvel Universe’s S.H.I.E.L.D. jumpsuits.
Among the Allies, Stone was somewhat out of his depth - and smitten with Glory. His experience with the team seems to have generally been disappointing for all involved. His mentor Roman eventually left the group due to repeated conflicts with Super-Patriot.
After 1945, Stone became a paramilitary asset for the evolving American intelligence and counter-intelligence apparat. He came to work for Graves, the man who would much later command the Youngblood initiative - and later still be exposed as a demon. Much of Stone’s activities during the Cold War are undocumented, but apparently many operations involved strikes against the high-tech terrorist organisation Cybernet, one of the main covert menaces of those decades. During that time, the former young war hero evolved into a testosterone-dripping psychopath, but remained an invaluable asset. This is presumably during that time that he rose to the rank of colonel.
At some unclear point - perhaps in the 1950s - Stone was trained in combat by an expert named Cartwright.
1970s and early1980s
In the early 1970s, Battlestone clashed with his father, now calling himself Quantum and protecting nu-gene mutants — who were reviled and considered a menace. Back then Quantum was less powerful, and the hero Sentinel apparently stopped him several times during various crises.
When Battlestone and the original New Men clashed with Quantum it was a major event - though the details remain unrevealed. Early during this emergency, Mrs. Stone was killed. John blamed his father for this, though it would seem that the actual culprit was the Brotherhood of Man, an anti-mutants militia. As the conflict came to an end, father and son were sworn enemies, and Quantum was locked in stasis within a dedicated undersea prison.
In the 1980s, CIA director Jason Wynn assembled several covert teams composed of near-superhuman special forces troops, called Knightstrike teaMs. One such team was under the command of John Stone ; it included Al Simmons (who would later become Spawn), Bruce Stinson (aka Chapel), Dutch (apparently a future Youngblood operative) and a man called Duke. Cabbot Stone was also a Knighstrike operative, though it is unknown whether the two Stone brothers had any contact. Cabbot Stone was eventually killed, presumably during an operation, and his brother greenlighted Cabbot’s transfer to project Born Again — more on that later.
Wynn’s Knightstrike operatives served as a forerunner for the Youngblood project. However, Wynn was actually in league with Giger, the mysterious master of Cybernet ; Dutch was a Cybernet plant. During an anti-Cybernet mission under Philadelphia, Duke and Simmons were too seriously wounded to go on and Stone, Chapel and Dutch continued without them. A short time later Chapel was separated from the other two, and Dutch seized the occasion to unexpectedly shoot Stone in the head from behind.
Some factions within the Agency (presumably led by Graves) were determined to keep their pet uber-soldier. Stone’s corpse, probably recovered by Chapel, was sent to a top-secret project called Born Again. Born Again technology could potentially resurrect the dead, and this is exactly what happened with John Stone. He even gained superhuman strength and durability in the process, though his grey hair turned white and his skin gained a deathly, ivory complexion. His psychological stability also further degraded.
One early mission as a resurrected man was the murder of his former teacher Cartwright, perhaps ordered by Graves as a loyalty test. Stone was successful.
The undead super-commando was soon transferred to the successor project of Knightstrike, free of Cybernet infiltration and directed by Graves — the Youngblood initiative. Youngblood included a large number of super-powered and enhanced operatives, and Colonel Stone was heading one such team. It included old acquaintances Chapel and Die Hard, plus more recent operatives Riptide, Colonel Boggs, Raines, and Gamble. Stone’s dysfunctional tough-guy leadership was a problem, however. Half the team hated his guts, and many officers above Stone considered him a loose cannon and a disaster in the making. Still, Stone held a quite senior position in the Youngblood project - presumably because he was Graves’s creature.
In 1988, the US decided to covertly stop an Iraqi incursion in Kuwait. Since the situation was too big for a SEAL team, a Youngblood team had to be sent in, and Stone’s team was the only available one. With some hesitation, the President greenlighted the operation. Initially, it worked — the incursion was stopped, and Stone’s team started considering the mop-up and counter-strike.
It then went south. Boggs - who openly hated Stone and considered that he should be the one in charge of the team - disobeyed orders. He decided to clean up some enemy caches, along with Raines. Booby traps apparently blew both men up, and Gamble accused Battlestone of having let the two disobeying operatives go to their death just to be rid of them. In a fit of rage Stone struck Gamble, killing him. Die Hard reacted by beating Battlestone into a pulp, and Chapel arrested their unstable, undead CO.
Stone’s handlers decided not to court-martial him in order to avoid making waves, and he was quietly discharged. Stone claimed that the problem was with his operatives (especially after he learned that Boggs and Gamble were artificially-grown clones), but undermined his own credibility with his behaviour. The part where he ranted about reanimated and artificial soldiers being a grave mistake, and that the unliving would eventually gain power and rule the US and the world, did not help.
With Stone gone, the Youngblood directors selected a much more media-friendly leader, the archer whom they code-named Shaft.
Soon, Stone assembled a mercenary team of elite agents, most of whom he knew from his prior activities — Lethal, Kayo and Boone, plus occasionally Hacker. This group operated clandestinely, but in 1991 Battlestone tired of this and decided to make the team more high-profile. After they assassinated major Japanese crimelord Tatsu Soroyama, Stone used that hit to promote his team in the mercenary and superhuman worlds. This led to bigger contracts with their main employer, Jacob Marlowe. In particular, Marlowe told Stone he was looking for a special gem, which Graves was also after. Marlowe’s men had located the gem in a government installation in Virginia, Stone’s team was sent in to steal it.
This was a trap organised by Graves to determine who else was after the gem. Youngblood operatives Shaft, Die Hard, Vogue and Badrock pounced on Stone and his team, forcing them to retreat. Marlowe having warned Stone that this contract was do or die, Stone dismissed his team without explanations, creating bad blood with most of his operatives. Kayo stayed with him, though.
Battlestone still wanted to create a high-profile, independent, superhuman cadre — perhaps to steal Youngblood’s thunder. At this point, Kayo and Stone heard about the Barros brothers, who lost their father and gained super-human powers in a submarine accident. The Barros family was rich and famous, and Kayo and Stone realised that recruiting the brothers would be their ticket to accomplishing Stone’s goal — to offer superhuman fighters an alternative to governmental service as Youngblood agents. Convincing the Barros brothers to both join and fund his operation, Battlestone soon assembled a California-based super-team called Brigade. The Barros brothers were code-named Coldsnap and Seahawk, and the subsequent recruits were Atlas, Thermal and Stasis.
Though Brigade was supposed to be a big thing, it never really worked. One of their first missions, against an uninspired terrorist operation, did save the hostages but resulted in the uncontrolled demolition of a downtown high-rise after Brigade barged in without any intelligence of either kind.
Their exploits nevertheless attracted the attention of an alien warrior prince calling himself Genocide, who came to Earth to fight them. After major collateral damage, everybody was teleported to Genocide’s home planet. Brigade members took a while to extract themselves from this situation, and Atlas was killed in action. During the flight home, they spent months cramped together in a small spaceship, resulting in considerable friction.
As soon as they got home Stasis walked out on the team, but was immediately killed by the Bloodstrike operatives ambushing Brigade on governmental orders. Bloodstrike, led by a smirking Cabbot Stone, also grievously wounded the Barros brothers, and when Battlestone attempted to have Born Again facilities resurrect Stasis, they foiled him. This likely wasn’t the first time that the dysfunctional sibling rivalry led to the death of outsiders.
Battlestone hurriedly hired Boone and Lethal to come to the rescue and save the Barros brothers. Though they succeeded, Stone’s little brother’s onslaught had left the already dysfunctional team badly damaged. Furthermore, the authorities covertly considered him a threat, and that he and his operatives could survive a Bloodstrike hit reinforced that view.
Lethal left again, and Kayo left to attend personal business, but this time around Boone stayed. He had an excellent reason to - he was secretly blackmailed by US intelligence to be their plant close to John Stone.
After they licked their wounds, Brigade was recruited by Battlestone’s wartime mentor, Roman, to help bring an undersea threat under control. Brigade defended the aquatic city of Neuport against the forces of Worlok (or Worlock, depending on the page). This didn’t quite work either - Seahawk and Coldsnap were captured, and Battlestone had to be possessed by Roman’s sorcerer Trident in a desperate attempt to save the day. Trident in Battlestone’s body managed to repulse Worlok and his troops.
The universe was then rewritten for a short while to become a fusion between the early 1990s Valiant universe and the pre-split Image universe. In this continuity, Battlestone was the senior operative and combat instructor for the Harbingers Foundation, tasked by Toyo Harada with hunting down and terminating rogue Harbingers. In this reality, Harada’s main cadre of Eggbreakers had the same roster as Brigade before Atlas’s death. The original continuities soon snapped back into existence.
After twenty years in stasis, Quantum finally broke free from the base holding him, with greatly increased might. Having lost decades and still confused over what had happened, Quantum flew to meet with his son John in Brigade’s then current base in the Caribbean, and offered him a new alliance to protect nu-gene mutants. Battlestone rejected him and attacked. Quantum easily repelled Brigade and left.
The return of Battlestone’s father triggered a major crisis. The government had two of its teams, Team Youngblood (led by Sentinel) and Bloodstrike, prepare for an operation. At this point, Bloodstrike was led by Chapel, since Cabbot Stone had proven to be as unstable as his brother John. Chapel and Battlestone were willing to work with each other, and thus Brigade briefly allied with Bloodstrike. This new attempt at taking Quantum out didn’t work either, and the still-standing members of the three teams had to prepare for a third try. Several New Men also joined the effort, and Battlestone brokered a deal with a fanatical anti-nu-gene terrorist militia, the Brotherhood of Man.
The third try took place as Quantum was wrecking Washington, D.C.. During the operation, Battlestone realised that one Team Youngblood member was the man who had killed him years before - though Dutch said that he didn’t remember anything of that sort. Quantum was taken down thanks to a special gadget constructed by Sentinel, at the apparent cost of Cabbott Stone’s unlife.
In the wake of this, Brigade moved back to its Malibu base - presumably a deal had been brokered to allow them back in the US without pursuit from secretive government agencies. Crucible of the New Men, whom they encountered during the Quantum crisis, decided to join Brigade.
Learning that Kayo was being held captive in Japan, Brigade flew there to rescue him. His captors also held the alien gem which Jacob Marlowe had been hunting for years, and the WildCATs arrived nearly simultaneously. The two teams allied to accomplish their respective goals and then parted ways in good terMs. Lethal, who also was there for her own reasons, rejoined Brigade at the conclusion of the mission.
(At this point, for those of you who are understandably lost, Brigade’s roster was Battlestone, Seahawk, Coldsnap, Crucible, Boone, Thermal and Lethal).
The team started disintegrating again due to generally poor social skills of its members and Battlestone’s tough guy leadership. Thermal, who had infiltrated the team all along to write a journalistic report about them, decided not to publish her extensive exposé about Brigade and Battlestone.
However, Boone discovered the existence of Thermal’s report. He decided to break cover, stole her material and ran to his I.O. masters. Thermal was thrown into a Brigade cell, Battlestone went berserk and tried to kill Boone, and both Boone and Stone were seemingly killed in an explosion. Both men were actually taken away by I.O. agents, with Battlestone their prisoner and the CD with Thermal’s exposé in their hands.
Seahawk tried to keep the team together, but the morale was execrable and what little team dynamics may have existed were gone. Right at this point, Brigade was attacked by the demonic time-travelling assassin Crypt, who seemingly killed everyone save Seahawk — though Lethal was later revealed to actually have been time-displaced rather than killed.
While another team called Brigade would emerge thanks to Seahawk’s efforts, John Stone’s project had been destroyed.
A bubble of continuity chaos
What happened to Battlestone after his capture by I.O. director Miles Craven is unclear - especially since, at that point, the Image Universe had just split and IO had became a part of the WildStorm Universe whereas Battlestone was part of the Awesome universe. Apparently, he was thoroughly brainwashed so he could again serve as a Youngblood officer.
Battlestone now headed a Youngblood team composed of Die Hard, Vogue, Cougar and Combat, and had been turned so thoroughly that he had no compunction to personally head a killing strike against… Brigade. This was the result of a severe continuity clusterfudge — the Brigade members that Battlestone’s Youngblood team murdered had just been killed by Crypt. During this appearance, Battlestone seemed much more collected and professional - either the brainwashing rewrote most of his personality, or it wasn’t John Stone’s consciousness in there.
Generally, the grave continuity mistakes make it impossible to establish what occurred during this area.
Back to Youngblood
After this bubble of continuity chaos, by mid-1995, Battlestone appears to be in charge of the Youngblood project, with field team leaders Shaft and Sentinel reporting to him. This occurs in the wake of the destruction of Alexander Graves after the revelation that he was a demon — though even Shaft and Sentinel did not know how Battlestone ended up taking over Graves’s previous position, given his history.
Stone’s demeanour, intelligence and manner of speech were at that point very different - he seemed entirely in control and behaved much more like an experienced, hard-arsed corporate executive, military officer or senior public servant than his old self. Battlestone later commented that he had been “fixed” by a governmental agency.
The Graves fiasco had very nearly resulted in the demise of Youngblood, which chiefly survived due to Presidential support and over the reservations of many within the intelligence and military community.
Whilst the future of the agency was severely threatened, a hostage rescue mission was launched with Shaft as team leader but failed, with team member Dutch turning against the team to gun down the media mogul Youngblood was rescuing. This failure endangered Youngblood further, but also led several Youngblood members, especially Shaft, to suspect that something was rotten within Youngblood and that they had been set up to fail by Battlestone.
As part of the compromises and policy changes in the wake of the political struggle over Youngblood’s survival, the “Bloodpool” (an agency training superhuman youths to be the future Youngblood agents) was shut down and Battlestone started taking numerous measures to completely overhaul Youngblood, including demoting Shaft and associating with time travellers from the far future. Some Youngblood members later discovered that Battlestone was actually answering to a man in a new position above that of Director, called Mr. Dredd (though Battlestone occasionally referred to him as “Lord Dredd”). Originally a shadowy figure, Mr. Dredd became increasingly more active, especially when some of Battlestone’s operations went awry.
Aliens and men from the future
The next major crisis occurred with the return of The Keep, an extraterrestrial organisation that monitored planets with nu-gene-active individuals. The Keep invaded Earth within 24 hours, and harvested a number of nu-gene mutants, including Battlestone, his brother and his father. The prisoners escaped, and Battlestone assisted the coalition of heroes opposing the Keep ; at one point, thanks to Maximage he came to command a group that was a partially reconstituted Knightstrike unit including Chapel, Dutch and a reactivated Cabbot Stone.
Several members of the team, including Cabbot, were seemingly killed in the war against the Keep, but the war was ultimately won by Quantum, who took command of the Keep after defeating their leaders. Quantum left with his new charges for outer space, promising to leave Earth alone.
After that crisis, Dredd kept assuming an increasingly direct and heavy hand in leading Youngblood. Somehow still active despite his apparent death, Battlestone was now closer to Shaft’s and Sentinel’s level in terms of authority - though originally without a team to lead. The changes Dredd continued to make solidified Battlestone’s demotion to a team leader role, until he was charged with leading one of the three squads (Battlestone’s unit being Combat, Cougar, Brahma and Kia) whilst Die Hard and Shaft headed the other two.
Dredd accelerated his plots to break the will and morale of the core Youngblood members, since their suspicion about his agenda was rapidly increasing. Though Battlestone was not part of Dredd’s hit list, he came to realise that his mind had been significantly tampered with ever since Boone’s treason - a realisation that left him distraught and filled with uncharacteristic self-doubt.
Battlestone is a powerful, grimacing figure. His stark white hair is usually kept in a pony tail, with a miniature skull at the tip of his widow’s peak. His skin has a yellow jaundiced appearance marking his undead nature.
His costume is white and blue with the center line being white, and his arms and out side of his abdomen and legs being a navy blue.
John Stone has been raised in simplistic, over-the-top macho values that were transmitted in a downright toxic way. His entire life is about being the biggest, strongest, deadliest, most self-reliant, most unfeeling, most angry brute he knows. He’s a great warrior, but a poor soldier, since he’s far too undisciplined, self-centred, angry, impulsive and unconcerned with others to genuinely work with a team. Apparently, he was a hero early on, but has been pegged a psychopath for decades, perhaps since his resurrection. Battlestone just doesn’t care about anything except reacting toward frustration with extreme violence, and projecting a “cool”, brooding loner with a trenchcoat-mirrorshades-katana-and-enormous-chip-on-his-shoulder attitude.
He does not seem capable of normal human relationships, and treats everyone like crap. His leadership is awful, and mostly based on throwing his weight around and yelling vague, generic orders (usually to attack). I assume most people stuck with him and his “teams” because they saw him as their shot toward the big time - he’s very poor at relating, but he has a solid INF giving the impression that he’s a big-time player.
Battlestone is all about chest-beating, having an attitude that a young teenaged boy would think is the epitome of tough, killing the opposition dead, and beating people up because he can. He seems aware that something is wrong with him, but his solution seems to act even more like an amoral anti-hero tough guy who makes hard choices and makes his own rules and yadda yadda.
His demeanour as Director of the Youngblood agency was very different. Though he slowly reverted to something closer to his prior behaviour, he never became as dysfunctional as he had been, and seemed in fact to be generally serious and responsible, though unpleasant and self-centred.
Powers and Abilities
Battlestone possesses Nu-Gene DNA. This grants him superhuman strength, stamina and endurance. After he was resurrected by Project: Born Again, he was granted a high resistance to his injuries and an extreme pain threshold in addition to his previous powers.
Battlstone is a seasoned and experienced leader. He is also an adept unarmed combatant and is proficient with various firearms.