DC Database

John Tower was a superhero and leader of his own family team. In later life, he became a power junkie, leading the Traffic Men to kidnap Bang Babies and siphon their powers.

The story of John Tower entails the heights of superheroic idealism and the depths of supervillain depravity. Under unrevealed circumstances, Tower gained superhuman powers and decided to use them along with his scientific brilliance to fight crime. John Tower burst on the scene in 1938 as the world's first public superhero, and his exploits made him a living legend almost overnight.[1] John's wife Linda and son Tommy had superpowers as well and soon joined him as the superhero team, the Tower Family. They established their headquarters, the Tower of Solitude, in Dakota City, putting the Midwestern city on the map.[1] Thanks to their greatly retarded aging, the Tower Family would fight various evils for several decades, inspiring generations of superheroes and enjoying the perks of their new found celebrity.[1][2]

The End of the Tower Family

The Tower Family's streak of victories came to a tragic end about 20 years ago. A fire erupted in St. Jude's Hospital on Paris Island and quickly swept through the building.[3] The Tower Family responded to the emergency, but by the time they arrived many of the hospital patients, including babies, were dead.[4] Though grief stricken over the tragic St. Jude's Fire, Dakota's citizens still assured the Tower Family that they had done their best. Nevertheless, the Towers were haunted by the fire, especially John Tower, whose photographic memory would not let him forget the faces of its victims.[4] Tragedy would strike closer home five years later when the Tower Family was killed in action during another life saving mission.[1]

The Tower's deaths were mourned worldwide, but it was especially felt by the people of Dakota City. In honor of their hometown heroes, they accepted a grant from the Alva Foundation to demolish the Tower of Solitude and replace it with the Tower Family Memorial Park.[1] It would not be until the debut of Icon that a Dakota superhero would be such an inspirational, positive force like John Tower and his family.[5]

Yet, John Tower's death was not the end of the story. Days after his demise, he came back to life much to his surprise and fully healed of his fatal injuries. Tower had accidentally discovered that he was capable of self-resurrection.[1] Elated over this, he waited for Linda and Tommy to resurrect, but soon realized that this power was unique to him alone. Tower could bear the loss of his wife and son and fell into a deep depression.[4] Unable to rejoin his family in death, Tower settled for the next best thing by letting the world believe he was dead. From that point on, the legendary hero lived in obscurity on Dakota's streets as an often drunk vagrant.[6]

Return in Modern Times

Tower's years of self-imposed exile ended in modern times when he was discovered drunk in the La Rosa flophouse by Solomon Santiago, aide to Dakota's mayor, Thomasina Jefferson.[6] Santiago got Tower a room at the Dakota Hilton, where mayoral staff shaved and washed up the hero. When he sobered up, Tower angrily demanded to be left alone.[4] Mayor Jefferson then arrived and asked for her staff to leave so she could speak with Tower privately. The mayor offered her condolences to Tower since she could empathize with losing a son. Tower already knew since he recognized her as a survivor of the St. Jude's Fire. He then apologized for not rescuing her baby from that tragedy.[4]

Now on common ground, Mayor Jefferson explained to Tower she had suspected that he was alive, but respected his privacy. However, she had now violated this privacy because of Holocaust, a Bang Baby gangster who had killed scores of people in his quest to rule Dakota. If Tower defeated this threat, the mayor promised to continue keeping the hero's survival a secret. Tower agreed to this deal.[4]

Unfortunately, Tower became an unwitting pawn in a dangerous game. The mayor did not mention that Holocaust's victims were primarily members of the Coalition, an alliance of Dakota's most powerful gangsters.[2][6] Hence, the only truly innocent victims were police officers caught in the crossfire of this gang war.[6] When Holocaust began winning the war, Coalition member Ryan Whittaker asked for Mayor Jefferson's aid in eliminating their foe.[2] If the mayor refused, Whittaker would leak to the press that her son not only survived St. Jude's Fire, but was in fact Holocaust.[3] Mayor Jefferson agreed to help Whittaker to maintain her public image and then looked for a solution to their mutual problem.[2] John Tower was that solution since his desire to remain "dead" would compel him to covertly deal with Holocaust.[4]

Battle with Holocaust

Unaware of all this, Tower donned his costume for the first time in years and began to reminisce on his family and crimefighting past.[4] Then, Mayor Jefferson received word that Holocaust had launched an attack on Whittaker's estate. Taking a police helicopter, Tower arrived on the scene, where his pilot ordered Holocaust and his accomplice Bad Betty to surrender.[4] An unimpressed Holocaust responded with a fiery blast that struck the helicopter, causing it to crash and explode. Tower emerged from the wreckage unharmed and mirandized Holocaust, who laughed in his face before trying to incinerate him with his pyrokinesis.[4][3] Again unaffected, Tower lost his patience and began beating Holocaust while berating him for believing that super powered individuals like themselves were special because of their powers. When Holocaust seemed defeated, Tower had a change of heart and offered him psychiatric help if he turned himself in peacefully. However, Holocaust was enraged by this act of charity and seized Tower in a vicious bear hug.[3] The gangster then unleashed his full power against Tower, who was burned beyond recognition. Despite this, Tower told Holocaust he forgave him before falling to the ground dead. Holocaust contemptuously kicked Tower's corpse before he and Betty moved on to confront Ryan Whittaker.[3]

Resurrection as a Super Villain

Days later, Tower returned to life, but still bore many of the scars from Holocaust's attack.[1] The realization that his regenerative powers had limits shook him out his years long depression and gave him a new purpose in life: finding a cure for his condition. To that end, Tower used the scientific resources of a secret underground complex beneath Tower Family Memorial Park that was once part of the Tower of Solitude.[7] Under unrevealed means, Tower determined that injecting himself with the blood of Bang Babies could heal his wounds.[1] As he used this cure, his body was not only restored to full health, but was slowly altered on a genetic level. This change enabled Tower to temporarily absorb the power of the Baby Bang whose blood he ingested.[1] As long as he had regular donations of Bang Baby blood, his power was practically limitless. This revelation had a drastic effect on Tower, who desired to gain this power by any means necessary. [1]

After further experimentation, Tower developed a process to distill Bang Baby blood into a serum that enabled his body to more easily absorb and retain the blood donor's powers.[1] He now plotted to capture all of Dakota's Bang Babies, a decision that made him like the very villains he once fought.[7] Tower rationalized his behavior by telling himself that the world owed him after all that he had sacrificed defending it.[8] Tower's sinister turn soon was reflected physically as his serum slowly altered his appearance so he looked like a ghoulish, living statue.[8] Perhaps realizing this, Tower began to wearing a hood and robes to conceal this transformation.[7]

Leader of the Traffic Men

Tower then organized an army of mercenaries dubbed Traffic Men to capture Dakota's Bang Babies. He equipped the Traffic Men with weapons called energy staves that could temporarily depower the Bang Babies they targeted.[9] Tower also gave them vials of his serum that would boost their physical abilities to superhuman levels. In time, the Traffic Men became physically addicted to the serum and would suffer excruciating even fatal withdrawal it deprived of it.[7] Hence, Tower need not fear disobedience or rebellion from the mercenaries who needed his serum to survive. Tower also modified the main chamber of his underground complex into an automated factory that kept captured Bang Babies sedated as it drained them of blood to be processed into serum.[1]

With his preparations complete, Tower unleashed his Traffic Men on the unsuspecting Bang Babies of Dakota.[9] The timing of this assault was fortuitous since Icon, Dakota's most powerful hero, was off in deep space on a vital mission. Hardware and the Heroes tried to stop the Bang Baby kidnappings, but were soundly beaten by the Traffic Men.[9] In a matter of months, the Traffic Men had captured 90 percent of the city's Bang Babies who were then imprisoned in Tower's complex for processing.[9] During their sweep, the Traffic Men also captured super powered individuals who were not Bang Babies. Tower did not consider this excessive as he began devising a means to absorb the powers of these captives as well.[8] He was disappointed that the Traffic Men had not caught Holocaust, whom he wanted to pay back for disfiguring him.[1] (Unknown to Tower, Holocaust died just a few months after their confrontation.)[10]

However, Tower's scheme for limitless power hit a snag when a squad of Traffic Men were defeated by their latest target, the teen superhero Static. Worse, during their hasty retreat, the Traffic Men left behind some energy staves and a vial of Bang Baby serum, which Static gave to Hardware for study. Thus, Hardware learned not only why the Bang Babies were kidnapped, but how to develop technology to protect them from the energy staves' depowering effect. This news displeased Tower who punished the Traffic Men squad by depriving them of the serum they needed to survive. Tower then recalled all available Traffic Men back to his complex, which would soon find itself under siege.[7]

Tower's Downfall

Soon enough, an ad hoc alliance of Dakota's superheroes launched a sneak attack on Tower's complex, whose location was given to them by Iron Butterfly of the Shadow Cabinet.[7][1] Though unable to depower the Bang Babies in the group, the Traffic Men's energy staves could still generate lethal energy blast and were thus a force to be reckoned with.[1]

During the battle, Static discovered the automated factory that draining and processing the blood of the captive Bang Babies and other super powered individuals.[1] With Blitzen's aid, Static tried to figure out how to safely free the captives. Now deciding to enter the fray, Tower donned a disguise resembling his pre-mutated form, entered the factory chamber through a secret entrance, and placed himself among his captives. As Tower hoped, Static and Blitzen thought Tower was another unfortunate prisoner and thus were easily ambushed by him.[1] Hardware dispatched a suit of remote-controlled armor to save his friends, but Tower easily destroyed the suit.[1] Static used this distraction to free the Bang Baby Wise Son, who tried to help his rescuer, but was still too weak from blood loss to stand against Tower.[8] Outmatched, Static fled the scene with Tower hot on his heels.

Static and Tower then engaged in a game of "cat and mouse" in the underground complex that ended in the Tower Family Trophy Room. Static tried to use the mementos in the room to remind Tower of the hero he once was. Tower dismissed Static's appeal to his better nature as naive, and reaffirmed his turn to villainy. This proved unwise since Static had drained all power from the automated serum factory while he was eluding Tower. By now, all of the captive super powered individuals had freed themselves and sought retribution against Tower, who could no longer renew his stolen powers. Worse for Tower, Static's allies had completely defeated his Traffic Men. Tower instinctively surrounded himself with a force field, but this proved a grave mistake since he could only use one power at a time. Thus, all Tower could do was wait for the inevitable as his force field eventually collapsed under his foes' relentless onslaught, leading to his defeat.[8]

Dakota's heroes then pondered what to do with Tower and the Traffic Men. The alien Gloria Mundi suggested adding them to her collective intelligence as the most practical means of imprisonment. With her fellow heroes' approval, Mundi absorbed the souls of Tower and his minions, leaving their bodies lifeless husks. Thus, Tower was now part of someone else's collection, a most ironic fate for the him and his minions. In spite of everything, Tower's captives and their rescuers agreed to not go public with Tower's recent actions in honor of his heroic past.[8]


Originally, John Tower possessed superhuman strength and stamina as well as a high degree of resistance to injury.

  • Decelerated Aging: Tower aged far more slowly than normal human beings do. Though he was nearly 90 years old, he physically resembled a man in his early forties.[1]
  • Total Recall: Tower's mental abilities were similarly enhanced, granting him a photographic memory.[4]
  • Resurrection: Despite his superhuman toughness, it was possible to kill John Tower. However, upon his death, Tower's body would begin to repair the fatal injury he suffered so that he would revive days later. There were limits to how much damage could be healed through this process. When Tower returned to life after being killed by Holocaust, he still bore the horrible scars from the crimelord's pyrokinetic attack.[1]

Unique Physiology: Prolonged exposure to Bang Baby blood altered John Tower body's so it was now composed of an organic marble-like substance. In this mutated form, he possessed the capacity for far more power than he did in his previous state.[8]

  • Power Absorption: Tower's mutated physiology enabled him to absorb the powers of any Bang Baby by ingesting his or her blood.[1][8] Tower later created a serum derived from this blood that enabled his body to more quickly and efficiently acquire the power of his victims.[1] John Tower demonstrated that through absorption he could possess the powers of several Bang Babies at once. No upper limit was determined for the number of Bang Babies whose powers he could retain simultaneously or the amount of power he could absorb. However, Tower could only employ one of his absorbed powers at a time.[8]


John Tower was a genius in a variety of scientific fields; his intellect may have been partly due to his photographic memory.[7] He developed the advanced technology used by the Tower Family and later the Traffic Men. Tower was also a natural leader, a brilliant strategist, and an exceptional hand-to-hand combatant.[7][1][3]


  • Power Limitation: As noted above, John Tower could only use one his absorbed powers at a time. Hence, if Tower generated a force field for protection, he could not employ any offensive abilities.[8]
  • Power Withdrawal: Tower needed to regularly ingest his Bang Baby blood serum to maintain the powers he absorbed. Otherwise, his body went into withdrawal and soon lost these extra powers.[8]


John Tower wielded a nightstick as his primary weapon during his crimefighting days.[3] As leader of the Tower Family, he had access to more advanced technology when needed.

  • In the Dakotaverse, John Tower is considered the world's first superhero only because he fought crime publicly from the very beginning. By contrast, Augustus Freeman was active for much longer, but performed his heroic deeds in secret until he became Icon.
  • John Tower is an homage of sorts to Superman. Like the Man of Steel, he debuted in 1938 and is the standard that other superheroes are judged against. Another similarity is his base of operations, the Tower of Solitude, whose name echoes that of Superman's Fortress of Solitude.