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Origin

Johnny Alpha is a mutant bounty hunter, a member of the Search / Destroy agency disparagingly known by norms as a "Strontium Dog."

Creation

Strontium Dog (starring Johnny Alpha) made its debut in the short-lived but innovative British comic 'Starlord' (published by IPC Magazines Ltd on 13th May 1978). The mutant bounty hunter was created and scripted by John Wagner and illustrated by Carlos Ezquerra (who continue to chronicle his adventures to this day).

When Starlord was cancelled after only 22 issues, Strontium Dog (along with Ro-Busters) joined 2000ad for the new merged line-up in Prog 86.

Character Development

Following an atomic war in the mid-22nd century, Johnny Kreelman was exposed to Strontium 90 radiation while still in his mother’s womb. His father, Nelson Bunker Kreelman, was a politician with strong anti-mutant policies and was disgusted at having a mutant for a son and hid Johnny from the public until his early teens.

Johnny escaped from his father and joined the Mutant Army, taking the alias Johnny Alpha, and became one of the Army's top lieutenants in the fight against the Government endorsed 'Kreelers' which were little more than thugs employed by his father to police the 'mutant menace'. During these years the Mutant Army grew and finally attacked the Government HQ, winning (at least nominally) their war for mutant equality. The mutants were given land to build ghetto's and were promised work. But all the leaders of the Mutant Army had to leave Earth and never return.

Johnny left Earth and, alongside other surviving mutant rebels such as his friend Middenface McNulty and the unscrupulous Weerd Brothers, joined the Search and Destroy Agency set up to give mutants work as bounty hunters. The SD soon become nicknamed Strontium Dogs by norms.

On a time travel mission to capture the mutant gang led by the murderous Max Bubba, Johnny befriended a Viking name Wulf Sternhammer, who subsequently inadvertently returned to the future with Johnny while assisting in Bubba's capture. Deciding to stay in this new era, Wulf became Johnny's partner, and the only non-mutant Strontium Dog. The pair worked together for years, subsequently befriending the alien Gronk, pursuing the rogue Strontium Dog Fly-Eyes Wagner into Hell itself, hunting down Johnny's now outlawed father, going back in time to arrest Adolf Shicklgrubber and to arrest time travelling crooks who had fled to Mega-City One (causing Johnny and Wulf to clash with Judge Dredd), and rescuing the temporally-kidnapped Ronald Reagan with the assistance of mutant vampire Durham Red.

After earning a particularly large bounty Johnny and Wulf semi-retired, setting up a homestead on a colony world, but Bubba and his gang escaped custody, tracked them down, and ambushed them. Bubba staked Wulf and Johnny out to die slowly from exposure; after several days, a weakened Wulf marshalled his remaining strength and broke free in a last ditch effort to attack his foes, but was gunned down by Bubba's gang in front of the helpless Johnny. Knowing Bubba would not depart until he too was dead, Johnny used a technique he had learned to reduce his heartbeat and vital signs almost to nothing, fooling the gang into thinking he had died. Bubba and company departed, and Johnny was found a few days later by neighbouring homesteaders. After burying Wulf and nursing himself back to strength, Johnny hunted down Bubba's gang, slaying them one by one before finally ending Bubba's life.

Johnny returned to bounty hunting, sometimes working solo, and other times in partnership with Durham or Middenface, as well as encountering fellow mutant Feral. He also travelled back in time to Judge Dredd's era once again, this time in pursuit of the Necromagus Sabbat; finding that Sabbat had unleashed armies of zombies against mega cities around the world, Alpha teamed up with a multi-city force of judges, including an antagonistic Dredd, to stop Sabbat.

However, when the murderous Lord Sagan sought to eliminate mutantkind on Earth by sending them through a magical portal to a hell-dimension, Johnny seemingly sacrificed his life to stop Sagan. Feral, one of only two witnesses to Johnny's fate and sought to revive him via the mystical powers of the alien Stone Wizards; however, when the wizards asked Feral if he were willing to give his own life in exchange for restoring Johnny, Feral declined and instead buried the body, and subsequently told everyone that Johnny's remains had been left behind in the hell-dimension.

Middenface and mutant reporter Precious Matson eventually learned the truth and recovered Johnny's preserved form. Unlike Feral, Middenface proved willing to pay the Stone Wizards' price; the wizards revived Johnny, but informed Middenface they had no desire to take his life in exchange, having only wanted to know if Middenface was willing to pay that price. Johnny returned to Earth to learn that anti-mutant forces had secretly been steralising mutant townships, and responded by initiating a new Mutant War.

Powers and abilities

Johnny's mutant power is to emit powerful Alpha rays from his eyes allowing him to see through rock and flesh and also into people's brains (where he can extract the truth and tell when people are lying).

He carries numerous weapons, many standard SD issue, including electronux (electrified knuckledusters), time bombs and dimension bombs (the former sending people back or forward in time by a day or so, by which time the planet they are on has moved on through space, leaving the victim to swiftly freeze in the vacuum of space, the latter sending people to other dimensions), and his favoured firearm, the Westinghouse Variable Cartridge Blaster.

N.B. Strontium 90 which gave Johnny his mutant powers is a radioactive isotope of strontium present in fallout from nuclear explosions. Strontium 90 can be biologically absorbed and may cause cancer and mutations in humans and animals.

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