DC Database

Quote1 There has to be a better way. Quote2
The High src

The High was a mysterious hero of the 20th Century, next to nothing is known about John Cumberland except from the few people who knew him. As the adventurer Axel Brass stated, "Most people thought him a myth, or a trick of the light."


The High was brought across from a parallel America at war on a parallel Earth by a shiftship in 1910.[1] He was found and raised by American farmers (Mr. and Mrs. Cumberland). Thus he was adopted and raised as an American from this planet in which his idea of what America was framed by them. As such, he grew thinking that America cared and that it was great and good.

By the year 1938 he was a grown man and entered into a life of super-heroism in which he faced against corrupt landlords, Nazi Bunds, and munition tycoons, and averting natural disasters.[2] The government convinced most people that he didn't exist, that the sight of him finding both "bunds and corrupt isolationists" was mass hysteria.[3] During his early career as a superhero, Cumberland became a member of "The Big Three," consisting of himself, Mr. Majestic, and Maximum Man, and was acquainted with Century Babies Jenny Sparks, Axel Brass, and Elijah Snow of Planetary.[4] He was also the archenemy of Doctor Archimedes Sin.[5] Despite adventuring an incredible life, his superhero career was only three years long before he became disillusioned and quit.[1] During his time in semi-retirement he would resurface in times of political unrest, but mainly he went around the world talking to people of different cultures and nations to gain an understanding of ideas.[3]

He was an utter idealist, the ultimate Boy Scout, but after years detached from society (including a decade spent seated atop a throne of stone in the Rocky Mountains, contemplating his plan) he was left with a somewhat naïve apprehension of others, their motives and ability shrinking in the face of his noble plan. He was overly trusting of his cohorts, quick to mistrust anyone who stepped in their way, and eager to force the world to change and be done with it—and he ultimately learned, as Jenny Sparks said, that people only want change on their own terms.

Change or Die

In modern times The High formed and led a group of superpowered beings, the Changers, to seek making the world a paradise free from authority. Knowing that Stormwatch would try to stop them, Cumberland had Malcolm King (a.k.a. Strafe, a former member of Stormwatch) interrogated for all information on his organization in order to gain the operating codes to Skywatch and thereby trapping Stormwatch on their station. But unknown to Cumberland and the others, his comrade Blind chose to torture Malcolm and attempting to kill Jenny Sparks under the belief that Jenny would be the very person who would convince The High to abandoning his plans.

Stormwatch's Weatherman, Henry Bendix, deemed Cumberland and the Changers a threat to his plans for the world in which he arranged all Stormwatch field officers except Jenny Sparks to attack the Changers' Paraguayan headquarters. Most of the Changers were killed from a Hammerstrike Deep Sanction Missile (a biowar payload and tailored acid bomb) ordered by Bendix. Only Cumberland survived and, enraged by the loss of his friends, attempted to destroy Skywatch and kill Bendix while unaware the Weatherman had long abandoned the station. Jenny Sparks was present on Skywatch and, unable to contact Cumberland, reluctantly ordered the activation of the Storm Door to prevent Cumberland from killing the hundreds of people stationed on board; Cumberland gruesomely died in colliding into Skywatch's shields.[3]

John Cumberland's death was later acknowledged by Elijah Snow, who informed his death to Axel Brass.[6]

Number of the Beast

 Main article: Number of the Beast

High Reaper

A Reaper about to battle Nemesis as shown in Wildstorm: Revelations #6.

Unknown to everyone, The High in reality survived the collision, albeit as a liquefied mass of his former self. Despite giving The High a hero's funeral as strongly insisted by Jenny Sparks, his remains was passed around and studied by I.O. then Department PSI, and was used by the American government as the base material to produce superhuman clones, all of which have so far repeated the phrases "Change or Die" and "Reap What you Sow" over and over, known as Reapers.[7]

Cumberland's remains were taken to the top secret U.S. Military Bunker 1, the foremost site of the Number of the Beast program where it imprisoned countless heroes and villains in a Daemonite virtual reality prison to fight the Apocalypse.[8] While in a stasis tube his body reconstituted itself and he later succeeded in freeing all the heroes and villains. He then vowed to make whomever was in charge pay and flew off to the Skywatch station again, and this time throwing a nuclear bomb at the Halo shield and then comets, and attempting to push the station into the sun or force its shield down. Weatherman Jackson King conceded to a talk with Cumberland.[9]

Cumberland and King later learned the Number of the Beast's intentions and the Reaper Initiative, in which Cumberland sensed his clones being activated and used to kill the escaped superhumans from the NOTB Bunker 1.[7] The High, on advice from Jackson, broke into the Pentagon and demanded General Somerset, the founder of the Reaper Initiative, to stop the clones. However, Cumberland learned from the Daemonite scientist Slyxx, a collaborator of NOTB, that there was nothing to deactivate the Reapers since their original programming was compromised from entering the Bleed, and they were intent on destroying every superhuman on Earth with the cost of harming the planet. After swearing to Somerset that he and others involved with Number of the Beast will pay for their crimes, Cumberland attempted to stop his clones that were encircling Earth's orbit and preparing to create a massive explosion via self-detonation. His efforts were ultimately in vain; the clones simultaneously exploded in which the blast thrown the planet off its axis and rendering much of the entire surface devastated.[10]

World's End

 Main article: World's End Trilogy

Following Armageddon, Cumberland spent his time helping Earth's remaining survivors by escorting them to Finland, one of the very few havens that remained unscathed. On one of his escorts, he confessed to a little girl named Ava that he felt alone and guilty, but finally gains purpose and self-fulfillment by pushing himself hard to help as many people as he can.[11] Before leaving Cumberland was discretely given a note from Ava with the message: "help us". Perturbed and suspicious of what's happening behind Finland's Masking Wall, Cumberland returned to his old home in the Rocky Mountains where he rendered himself temporarily human by exposing himself to the Purple Haze - a Bleedscape, non-sentient metagenic variform - in order for him to bypass the Masking Wall.[12]

Once inside Finland, Cumberland discovered the country under the subjugation of a Kherubim military force led by the Knights of Khera, who planned to conquer Earth by terraforming the planet that will kill everyone outside the Masking Wall. The High quickly escaped with his life to Skywatch and alerted Jackson King and Stormwatch about the new threat. However, the Knights of Khera soon launched an preemptive attack on Stormwatch, in which the latter retaliated by damaging the Kheran's warship The Red Blade at the cost of severely damaging Skywatch. Cumberland later offered Stormwatch temporarily refuge at his Rocky Mountain home.[13]

Due to being partially depowered, Cumberland discovered that he is slowly dying.[14] At some point he adopted River Baldwin, a Century Baby who can control information, as some sort of penance for failing to help the world. He and River left Earth on the Authority's Carrier. During the journey, Cumberland kept his presence unknown to everyone on board until he helped the Authority in pacifying the panicked refugees and helping River defending the Carrier from Daemonite warships.[15]

When the Carrier was threaten by stowaway vampires of the Night Tribes, Christine Trelane convinced The High into becoming a hero once again, in which he allowed her to reactivate his powers.[16] Following the eradication of the vampires, Cumberland learned from Christine that after regaining his powers he is no longer dying. Because of Cumberland's actions, he gained the unexpected attraction of the sentient Carrier.[17]

When the Carrier came upon a ship graveyard, Cumberland investigated the wreckage and rescued a comatose Aegean. However, this was a trap in which the Aegean was being used as a puppet host by a predatory entity known as Mondregon, which is composed of the destroyed spaceships that 'feed' on other spaceships, to attack the Carrier. The Authority were unable to kill Mondregon, in which Cumberland decided to solely distract Mondregon and allow the Carrier to escape. Before sacrificing his life, he asked Christine to take care of River. The High collided Mondregon, and in the process creating a blinding flash of light.[18]

Cumberland was feared to be dead, but in reality he was alive. He hid from Mondregon right after hitting the creature for a week in space before he was found and regrouped with the Authority. Cumberland reassured Jack Hawksmoor that their entire journey was not a waste after the team rid the evil Karibna and saved over a billion lives despite not finding anything that could help Earth.[19] Cumberland and the others returned to Earth, where they witnessed all the planet's heroes helped calm the Century Baby Gaia Rothstein.[20]


  • Flight: Through an act of will, the High can fly without the aid of wings or other navigational devices. He can fly beyond supersonic speeds.
  • Genetic Reconstruction: This ability allows his body to rebuild itself back together from its most basic building blocks. It is not likely he can be killed as his body can be deconstructed and then reconstruct itself.
  • Immortality: The High hasn't aged a day from the 1930's, he maintains the physical and mental abilities he has always had well into the present day.
  • Invulnerability: The High possesses high resistance to physical injury. He is nigh invulnerable and can survive bullets, explosions, lasers and the like without any injury. This is demonstrated by his ability to survive within the vacuum of space for extended periods of time.
  • Self-Sustenance: He can survive in anaerobic environments indefinitely (he flies in space, possibly even all the way to the moon and into deep space), by the simple method of not breathing. He also does not require food or drink, though he apparently enjoys both.
  • Enhanced Senses: The ability to see in a spectrum far beyond what normal humans can see.
    • Enhanced Vision
      • Plasma Vision: The High is capable of controlling the output of his energy blasts to generate an extreme amount of energy in the form of heat, essentially producing plasma vision.
  • Superhuman Speed: The High is unbelievably fast. Able to travel far faster than a stealth jet plane, he's outraced them and reached his destinations even before their missiles did. It is unknown exactly how fast he is.
  • Superhuman Strength: The High is incredibly powerful, being able to easily lift well in excess of 100,000 tons effortlessly.



  • Vulnerability to Bleed Gas: The High is weak against a substance known as "Purple Haze", which is connected to the Bleed somehow, and whose effects range from short-duration physical mutations (for short exposures) to the total loss of his powers (for longer exposures).
  • Vulnerability to Highnium (Formerly): The High was once fatally allergic by a substance called Highnium, though he claims to have found a cure for Highnium irradiation in 1975.[21]

  • The High's emblem was five arrows in a circle, much like the symbol for recycling—he wore this on his costume's belt and on a t-shirt he wore when out of costume.
  • Cumberland clarifies that he likely got his moniker from the public for being always seen in the air, and not after the idiom for being intoxicated in marijuana. He in fact did not smoked marijuana until the 1950s.[22]



Superman Red and Blue Vol 1 6 Textless
DC Rebirth Logo

Superman Family member
This character is or was an incarnation of or an ally of Superman, and a member of the Superman Family. This template will categorize articles that include it into the "Superman Family members" category.

The Authority Vol 1 20 Textless
Authority member
DC Rebirth Logo

This character is or was a member of The Authority, a team of superheroes initially appearing in WildStorm Comics who declared themselves beyond the government, taking justice into their own hands.
This template will automatically categorize articles that include it into the "Authority members" category.