Charles Franklin Hammerstein / Centipede Charlie is a minor character in the Gerosha universe of Dozerfleet Comics. He appears briefly in Ciem and Ciem: Vigilante Centipede, being is referred to by both Candi and Duke Arfaas at different times.
Charles Hammerstein began as a lowly kid from Joplin who only knew farm life and small town life. He couldn't understand what was so unique about being a Centhuen Prototype, or why his parents were always telling him to hide it from the world. He began as he got older to want to investigate what his centipede-like nature was, and was soon helping police catch purse snatchers and rum runners. This earned him both fame with the townsfolk and ire from his parents, who wanted to keep a secret the fact that Charles' father was subjected to Phaelite experiments.
He soon acquired a girlfriend in the form of Lacey Akawa, whose parents had fled Japan for a new life in the states. His own family didn't approve of the relationship; but wasn't about to stop him. He was visiting the Akawas one evening when Mr. Akawa's old business associate from Japan had inexplicably showed up at the door. The associate very quickly betrayed and murdered Mr. Akawa and his wife, compelling Charlie to hide Lacey and face the spy. It was a short chase and a short battle later, but Charlie managed to both defeat the spy and secure valuable information to the OSS.
It was to Charlie's horror, however, that the military captured Lacey and put her in an internment camp. An OSS officer that had ties with Phaelite scientists offered Charlie a chance to win her freedom, however: by becoming a soldier and help stop an operation on mainland Japan in which a band of Nazis had been lending aid to the Japanese. Charlie reluctantly agreed, and employed his Centhuen Prototype abilities frequently to infiltrate enemy territory.
Phaelite scientists wasted no opportunity to study and document Charlie at work, gaining for themselves a sense of just how useful their creation really was. Charlie's downfall, ultimately, came when the Hebbleskin Gang lent their aid and technology to the Nazi force to finally overwhelm Charlie and take him down for good. The Press wanted to make a big deal of Centipede Charlie; but the knowledge was ultimately passed on only to a few; including Tobey Flippo. Tobey seized the opportunity of Charlie's death to lobby for Lacey's release from internment camp, and eventually won Lacey her freedom.
Part of Candi's desire to lay low and perform her duties as Ciem on her own timetable came largely from the fact that she wanted a family; not to be recruited to an army. She would remind herself of Centipede Charlie as an example of the fate she didn't want.
Charlie knew that he'd be recruited for the war sooner or later; but was not entirely excited about going to war. He liked to investigate his centipede powers on his own timetable; not being rushed into anything because of it nor judged by the public for possessing it. He was always ignoring senseless put-downs on himself, but would get very angry and defensive towards anyone that bullied Lacey. It was the need to free Lacey from an internment camp that convinced him to join the war and fight the Japanese and their Nazi mercenaries.
However, he frequently reminded his comrades that only a moral America that treats women fairly and with respect would be an America worth fighting for. This position often affected his judgment on the field, as he'd specifically go after any man he saw abusing a woman on the battlefield. This earned him the ire of superiors who liked a man that only ever blindly followed orders, to the point that one commander schemed up a way to deliberately leave Charlie trapped behind enemy lines. That commander was later exposed and court martialed, but the damage had been done. Charlie felt betrayed by his own country; but knew he had to fight the enemy anyway if he ever hoped to see Lacey again. This despair is what ultimately clouded his judgment and led to his downfall in a Nazi-and-Hebbleskin-set trap.
Another commander that didn't like Charlie's bitter attitude tried to cover up the whole incident; but Phaelite scientists were offended and made sure Tobey Flippo would spread the word to anyone who needed to hear.
Centipede Charlie was originally just a background character, meant only to establish the fact that Candi was not the world's first Centhuen Prototype. He debuted in the 2006 version of Ciem, as Erin attempted to explain to Candi what her origins were. The exact clip of Charlie using his centilegs to take out a German soldier was re-used for the 2007 version.
It was in 2011, when there was time to flesh out his wiki article, that Charlie's origins and greater role to Gerosha mythology could be explored in any real detail. His World War II hero status was soon exploited to full effect, and he became a bit of a Captain America knock-off. This was soon changed to him being an anti-Cap; caring only minimally about his country enough not to betray it but caring more about his family and loved ones than about fighting bad guys. Since Cap's last name was Rodgers, Charlie's last name became Hammerstein.
Charlie's hometown being Joplin is a reference to the Dozerfleet founder's friend Abby, who is herself from Joplin.