- Per Degaton is an agent of no man or nation but himself!
- — Per Degaton src
Per Degaton has been obsessed with Time Travel ever since he was an assistant to the Time Trust, a group of scientists developing a time ray in order to go to the future and acquire an effective bombing defense for use during World War II. In 1942, the Justice Society of America is sent 500 years into the future to retrieve such a defense, and acquire a formula that produces a bomb-proof shield. Nazis attempt to steal the formula, but are foiled by the JSA. In a fit of jealousy, Per Degaton sabotages the formula and leaves the Time Trust soon after. Later in 1942 he is employed at Project M, another secret scientific group. During this time he meets the time traveling robot Mekanique, who enlists his aid in her war against the All-Star Squadron. In exchange for his help, Mekanique promises to give him the secrets of time travel. They fail in their attack on the All-Stars, and Mekanique's body is destroyed, but Degaton salvages her head. He keeps her head by his side for the next five years, and they fall in love.
By 1947 Degaton is assisting Professor Malachi Zee, a former member of the Time Trust. Zee is able to finish a time machine with the help of Degaton and Mekanique. Degaton plans to take the machine for himself, and shoots Zee, who unexpectedly falls into it, sending him 40 years into the future. Mekanique suggests that the two of them simply wait four decades for the machine to reappear, but this idea drives Degaton into a lunatic rage. He buries Mekanique's head, and makes new plans for himself. Per Degaton begins a short career as an evil para-military commander and joins the Injustice Society of the World. He leads an army of prison escapees in an assault on Washington D.C. but is defeated by the JSA and spends the next 30 years in prison.
After his release, Degaton roams the streets as a derelict until his old ally Brain Wave finds him and temporarily gives him what amounts to a new, younger body. Together they attack the JSA, but are unsuccessful. Degaton returns to prison, but is paroled ten years later due to advanced age.
Free at last, Degaton reconstructs Mekanique and the pair battle Infinity, Inc. at the site of arrival of Zee's time machine. When it reappears it contains not only the dying Zee, but a 1947 version of Degaton himself (a 'chronal duplicate' - see below). When Degaton lunged at the machine as it had disappeared in 1947, the machine's energies created two Degatons, one who lives a normal life and one who is carried along with the time machine. The older Degaton disintegrates instantly due to the paradoxical existence of two Degatons at one moment. Mekanique kills the younger Degaton as well as herself, fearing this Degaton would end up betraying her once more. (It should be noted that originally, in the pre-Crisis continuity, the time machine still reappears in the 1980s, but only the mortally-wounded Prof. Zee is inside. He names Degaton as his killer before dying, and the aged Degaton, surrounded by the arriving JSA - and with no Mekanique to aid him - commits suicide rather than go back to prison. The Infinity, Inc. story is the retcon of this story).
Several times prior to his death in the Infinity, Inc adventure, the 1947 Degaton chronal duplicate tries without success to alter the course of history for his own benefit, including thwarting the course of ancient historical events like the Battle of Arbela between Greece and Persia in 331 B.C. The Justice Society undoes his historical changes, and by so-doing, it is as if they had never occurred, resulting in the Degaton chronal duplicate being returned to 1947, and the memories of the events erased from all involved. Similar results are achieved by members of the-then fledgling All-Star Squadron who thwart the Degaton chronal duplicates attempt to change the circumstances of the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor, which did prevent the JSA from being able to intercept the attacking Japanese forces, and also results in Danette Reilly attaining her fire-based powers and becoming the second Firebrand (this is a distinct change to the formula of having all of his actions in past times erased, though everyone involved still forgets his involvement).
In addition to these 1947 "resets," another standard feature is that, prior to each new time-travel attempt, Degaton remembers all prior attempts, usually in the form of a dream that happens the night before Prof. Zee finishes the time-machine and is ready to test it (linking all of his attempts to alter time back to this one moment in a kind of Möbius strip). These memories stay with the chronal duplicate for the duration of each new attempt to change history he makes, though it is unclear if the older Degaton retains these memories also.
The Degaton chronal duplicate remains a foe of the Justice Society, continually trying to alter history to his will. During one of the annual pre-Crisis meetings between the JLA of Earth-One and the JSA of Earth-Two in 1982, the Degaton chronal duplicate almost succeeds in blackmailing Earth-Two's surrender after stealing nuclear warheads (with the help of Earth-Three's Crime Syndicate of America) from the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 on Earth-Prime and bringing them back in time to Earth-Two's 1942; he is beaten by the combined forces of these heroes with some help from members of the wartime All-Star Squadron. With his changes undone, he is again returned to 1947 with no memory of the events, while everyone else involved likewise lose their memories of events, and are returned to their proper times/worlds (it should be noted that the term 'chronal duplicate' is a descriptive term being used here to help differentiate and reconcile the actions of a youthful Degaton from 1947 manipulating historical events while an older Degaton lives out his life from 1947-onward, aging normally up to the Infinity, Inc. story - this term was used only in the context of that story. Also, as a result of the character's time-jumps, chronological order for his activities is difficult to determine with absolute certainty since at any time it could be revealed that one, or more, additional attempts were made from the same starting point in 1947. It can be assumed, however, that as long as a youthful Degaton is time-traveling in a story, it will have to be the 'chronal duplicate' prior to his appearance with his older-self in the Infinity, Inc. story since neither survive that encounter, and to-date, there have been no time-travel stories with a definitively post-1947 Degaton. He has no personal realization that he is a duplicate, nor do his opponents who, if anything, simply view him as just the 1947-version).
Degaton (the chronal duplicate), frustrated for not being able to harm the JSA chronologically in their last encounter, uses his time-traveling abilities to "watch life hurting [his enemies]." Sequentially confronting all the current JSA members (as of 2004), he tells them that he saw them die, and reveals some hints on their final moments. For example, he provides the revelation of the gruesome punishment that Atom Smasher will suffer at the hands of the Spectre, the breaking down of the relation between Stargirl and Captain Marvel, and it is only due to the intervention of Daniel Hall that the Degaton chronol-duplicate doesn't tell Hector Hall details of his eventual passing.
Now equipped with a time disc, the Degaton chronal duplicate has the ability to live "between seconds", apparently ageless in an intangible state, from which he can only be forced with the concentrated tachyons found in the hourglass of Hourman.
After sending his genetically enhanced agents from the future (the "Red Morgue") to kill all relatives of Stargirl, he causes the JSA's temporary 1950s dissolution to become permanent, and disgraces all the masked crime-fighters as traitors, thus erasing from history all subsequent superheroes. The Degaton chronal duplicate is eventually stopped by the early-2000's JSA, and beaten to a bloody pulp by Atom Smasher (whose hands were soaked with the concentrated tachyons of the hourglass). The timeline is restored so that the duplicate's changes never occurred. However (in a major break from the established story-formula), the Degaton chronal duplicate retreats into the time-stream with his memories intact rather than being forced back to 1947 with his memories wiped, renewing his commitment to watching his enemies' deaths across time.
Due to the events of the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Per Degaton was reformatted to the New Earth to be an almost immortal wraith-like being who is out of time sync who can see the future to a limited degree, but still seeks to rule the world despite his largely immaterial form.
- Time Vision: Per Degaton possesses a limited "time vision," allowing him to know what will happen in the near future.
- Intangibility: He is out of phase with normal time, which renders him intangible.
- Time Distortion: Hourman's tachyon-filled hourglass has been shown to blur his time vision and allow anyone possessing it to hit Degaton.
- Megalomania: Degaton is consistently undone by his own hubris, underestimating his enemies and pushing his criminal allies into betraying him.
- Time Disc: Degaton used small time discs which can be thrown. Upon contact with a person, it speeds up metabolism. The speed varies; Hourman was sped up an hour until his powers ran out whereas the Atom was sped up to the point where his atomic physiology could explode.
- Although this character was originally introduced during DC's Earth-Two era of publication, their existence following the events of the 1985–86 limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths remains intact. However, some elements of the character's Pre-Crisis history may have been altered or removed for Post-Crisis New Earth continuity, and no longer apply.
- Per Degaton intends to destroy the newly formed JSA by altering the past. Using his men he calls the Red Morgue, and sending them back in time to kill the original JSA. Degaton failed due to the heroic actions of the present-day JSAers who went back in time to stop Degaton.
- The man who would be Prime Degaton appears to be the future and older version of Per Degaton. He appeared in several timeline and universe where Per Degaton appeared and apparently absorbing/eliminating all of his younger version from history and the Multiverse in order to become omnipotent.
- 66 Appearances of Per Degaton (New Earth)
- 20 Images featuring Per Degaton (New Earth)
- 5 Quotations by or about Per Degaton (New Earth)
- Character Gallery: Per Degaton (New Earth)
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