John William Domeck / Gray Champion is a proto-superhero first appearing in a short story made as part of an American Literature class high school assignment in the fall of 2001. This makes this version of the character the oldest component to exist of early Gerosha mythos, even pre-dating Stan and Shalia Flippo.
Powers, skills, weaknesses, and accessories
- Phantom essence
- Being bond to the Marlquaan gives him certain abilities to construct semi-physical manifests, similar to those of Cherinob.
- Seduction immunity
- Gray is virtually incorruptible
- Marlquaan depedency
- If his bond to the Marlquaan is ever broken completely, his spirit will pass on from the material plane permanently - eliminating his powers in the process.
- His sword
- Modeled after the George Washington cuttoe first forged in Fishkill, NY, John carries a trusty sword throughout his adventures. In later incarnations, this sword would be dubbed "Fishkiller."
Little is known about the early life of this iteration of John. However, he became a literal ghost trapped in the Marlquaan. It is suspected he was the Gray Champion that Hawthorne wrote about. He later appears to a young woman named Chastity on the American plains.
Unlike the description of him given initially by Hawthorne, this returned version wore an outfit that merged his Pilgrim / Puritan look with a Confederate soldier look. He also wore a black mask with rectangular yellow eyepieces, dubbed the "Eyes of Judgment." This led to a rough sketch for Domeck's redesign, which became the "Confederate Hybrid" look that has remained one of his staple costumes in Dozerfleet Comics since.
The next story set to happen after this encounter with Chastity was going to involve a hypnotic, green-cloaked monster from Saudi Arabia named "Verdabbin" that Gray had to protect his friends and loved ones from. This was also intended to be a direct tie-in to events surrounding 9/11.
John would battle Verdabbin in Grand Rapids, as that area was more familiar in days before there was routine access to Google Maps to study Boston's streets with.
- This is the only time that the Gray Champion is a literal ghost inside the Marlquaan. Marlquaan mythos was since retconned to have him be a man bound to the Marlquaan gaining ghost mimicry abilities.
- Creed's song "Freedom Fighter" was envisioned as a perfect soundtrack for a montage of John adopting the Gray Champion moniker under Heeshwa's guidance. It wouldn't be the last time the character has been associated with that song.
- Arguably, John in this version was supposed to be the original Puritan ghost from Hawthorne's vision.
- John's Confederate Hybrid look from fall of 2001 has defined his appearance in Dozerfleet media ever since.
- In that year, the Dozerfleet founder was taking American Literature class at Holt Lutheran High School (called St. Matthew Lutheran High at the time.) The instructor, Traci Backus, had the class read Hawthorne's original short story "The Gray Champion" as a part of a class assignment.
- This was followed up by everyone in class getting to write their own short stories about "The Champion's Return." Everyone's take was a little different, but some were cheap knock-offs of The Patriot.
- The Dozerfleet founder's initial short story on this subject matter may not have survived to the present day, but it was the first depiction to indicate that the apparition's appearance had been updated slightly.
- The general concept of Hawthorne's Gray Champion was visually interpreted many ways. This is the first incarnation to introduce a black mask with rectangular yellow jewel eyepieces, dubbed the "Eyes of Judgment."
- In the class short story, the Champion's role was a tiny bit more active than in Hawthorne's tale.
- John's world was not exclusive to him. Hester Prynne and other characters from The Scarlet Letter also existed in this world; albeit, heavily reinterpreted from the original source material.
- Several drawing panels depicted a conceptualization of what The Scarlet Letter may have looked like if drawn during the Disney Renaissance Era.
Gray's black mask and rectangular yellow eye pieces were designed specifically to give him an "authoritative" look of "judgment upon evil," but also to make him readily recognizable as an icon. His cape was ruled "a must" for his appearance, as it harkened back to the Puritan look of his namesake. This was the same reason for him receiving the hat that he wears, even though the hat's color scheme was altered from the typical "Pilgrim hat" color of black.
Lack of visual reference when he was first drawn became the reason for his coat to resemble a Confederate soldier look more so than a true Puritan uniform. It was decided that this artistic view would be run with rather than corrected. Since Hawthorne described his Gray Champion as "slightly anachronistically dressed," it was reasoned that the Champion's appearance would modify slightly over the years. However, the rule of thumb would always be that no matter how much the Champion's appearance updated, he would always have a gray color scheme and would always appear anachronistic in his time period. The blue tint to his boots and gloves also served a purpose: to ensure that he had a little extra color besides being all black, gray, gold, and yellow. This blue was also added to the inside of his cape. Having John's beard appear through a slit in his mask also became part of the icon. It sent the clear message that he was an older gentleman, not "some kid."
John's Gray Champion form is symbolic of virtues and values that are in need of preservation for a nation to have the blessing of God; of values that are best symbolized by a uniform, usually worn by someone who had those values in an era not too terribly long ago from the present. Therefore, the original apparition dressed as a full Puritan in 18th-century colonial Massachusetts. Other alleged sightings during the Civil War would have been of a hero of the Texan War. In the World Wars, an apparition would resemble a hero in the Mexican War. Likewise, John Domeck looks slightly like a Civil War solider as opposed to a 21st-century hero. At Dozerfleet, this would later become the rule for all Gray Champions descended from the Order of the Oraphim.