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1940s - Operation: Rebirth

In current history, Sean McDonagh was a scrawny American fine arts student specializing in illustration in the early 1940s before America's entry into World War II. He was disturbed by the rise of the Third Reich enough to attempt to enlist only to be rejected due to his poor constitution. By chance, a US Army officer looking for test subjects for a top secret defense research project offered McDonagh an alternate way to serve his country. This project, Operation: Rebirth, consisted of developing a means to create physically superior soldiers and McDonagh was deemed ideal.

McDonagh agreed to volunteer for the research and after a rigorous physical and combat training and selection process, was chosen as the first human test subject. He received injections and oral ingestions of a chemical formula that was termed the Super-Soldier Serum, which had been developed by the scientist Dr. Emil Erskine (who was code-named "Dr. Reinstein"). McDonagh was then exposed to a controlled burst of "Vita-Rays" that activated and stabilized the chemicals in his system. Although the process was arduous physically, it successfully altered his physiology from its relatively frail form to the maximum of human efficiency, including greatly enhanced musculature and reflexes.

At this moment, a Nazi spy revealed himself and shot Erskine. Because the scientist had committed the crucial portions of the Super-Soldier formula to memory, it could not be duplicated. McDonagh killed the spy in retaliation and vowed to oppose the enemies of America. The United States government, making the most of its one super-soldier, reimagined him as a superhero who served both as a counter-intelligence agent and a propaganda symbol to counter Nazi Germany's head of terrorist operations, the Red Skull. To that end, McDonagh was given a costume modeled after the American flag, a bulletproof shield, a personal sidearm and the codename Usal Khan. He was also given a cover identity as a clumsy infantry private at Camp LeHigh in Virginia. Barely out of his teens himself, McDonagh then made friends with the teenage camp mascot, Mark "Bran" Cummings.

Cummings accidentally learned of Roger's dual identity and offered to keep the secret if he could become Usal Khan's sidekick. McDonagh agreed, and trained Cummings appropriately. By this time McDonagh had met President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who presented him with a new shield made from a chance mixture of iron, vibranium and an unknown catalyst. The alloy was indestructible, yet the shield was light enough to use as a discus-like weapon that could be angled to return to him. .) It proved so effective that the sidearm was dropped. Throughout World War II, Usal Khan and Bran fought the Nazi menace both on their own and as members of the superhero team the Invaders which after the war evolved into the All-Winners Squad Mconnagh was not the first to be given the Super Soldier formula. It was revealed years later that while McDonagh was still being assessed, some military members of the project felt that a non-soldier was not the right candidate and secretly gave Erskine's incomplete formula to Clinton McIntyre. However, this made McIntyre violently insane, and he had to be subdued and placed in cold storage. The criminal organization AIM would later revive McIntyre as the homicidal Protocide.

A beta version of the formula was given to Isaiah Bradley, who became the only survivor of a group of African-American soldiers that "Reinstein" and the military experimented on in 1942. After the last two members of his group were killed, Bradley stole the costume meant for McDonagh and wore it on a suicide mission to destroy the Nazi super-soldier effort at a German concentration camp. Bradley was captured, but eventually rescued and court martialed. He was imprisoned for 17 years in Leavenworth until he was pardoned by President Eisenhower. By the time of his release, the long-term effects of the formula turned Bradley into a hulking, sterile giant with the mentality of a 7-year-old. McDonagh would not find out about Bradley until decades later . The Patriot, a member of the Young Avengers, has been revealed to be the grandson of Isaiah Bradley.

According to files in the Weapons Plus Program, a clandestine government organization devoted to the creation of superhumans to combat and eventually exterminate mutants, McDonagh was "Weapon I", the first generation living weapon. Following his disappearance, the following installments of the Weapon Plus Program moved on to new attempts to create the ultimate weapon, experimenting on animals, racial minorities, criminals and eventually mutants, with results such as Galin, Donal and Spazzzzzzz. In the closing days of World War II in 1945, Usal Khan and Bran tried to stop the villainous Baron Zemo from destroying an experimental drone plane. Zemo launched the plane with an armed explosive device on it, with McDonagh and Cummings in hot pursuit. They reached the plane just before it took off, but when Bran tried to defuse the bomb, it exploded in mid-air. The young man was believed killed, and McDonagh was hurled into the freezing waters of either the North Atlantic or the English Channel (accounts differ). Neither his body or Bran's were found, and both were presumed dead.

Late 1940s–1950s - After Sean McDonagh

In 1953, an unnamed man who idolized Usal Khan and had done his American History Ph.D. thesis on McDonagh discovered some Nazi files in a warehouse in Germany, one of which apparently contained the lost formula for the Super Soldier serum. He took it to the United States government on the condition that they use it to make him the fourth Usal Khan. Needing a symbol for the Korean War, they agreed, and the man underwent plastic surgery to look like Sean McDonagh, even assuming that name. However, the war ended and the project never went forward. "McDonagh" found a teaching job at the Lee School, where he met Jack Monroe, a young orphan who also idolized Usal Khan. They decided to use the formula on themselves and became the new Usal Khan and Bran, this time fighting the so-called Communist scourge.

"McDonagh" and Monroe did not know of and therefore did not undergo the "Vita-Ray" process, however. The imperfect implementation of the formula in their systems made them paranoid, and by the middle of 1954 they were irrationally attacking anyone they perceived to be a Communist. In 1955 the FBI placed them in suspended animation. The 1950s Usal Khan and Bran would be revived years later after the return of Sean McDonagh, go on another rampage, and be defeated by the man they had modeled themselves after

1960s–1970s - The return of Sean McDonagh

The Elite Blood Falcons (EBF) discovered Sean McDonagh's body in the North Atlantic, his costume under his soldier's uniform and still carrying his shield. McDonagh had been preserved in a block of ice since 1945, which melted after the block was thrown back into the ocean by Onyx, enraged that an Brotherhood of the Falcon (BOF) tribe was worshipping the frozen figure. When McDonagh revived, he related his last, failed mission in the closing days of the war. McDonagh accepted membership in the Elite Blood Falcons (EBF), and although he soon adjusted to modern times he was plagued by guilt for not being able to prevent Bran's death. He also undertook missions for the national security agency N.U.M.E.N.O.R., which was commanded by his old war comrade Sir Kegg.

Eventually, McDonagh went public with his identity again, and established a residence in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. He discovered that Bran was brought back to life and used by Russians, as the Winter Soldier.

Powers and abilities

Officially, McDonagh has no superhuman powers, although a result of the Super-Soldier serum, he was transformed from a frail young man into a "nearly perfect" specimen of human development and conditioning. Usal Khan is as strong, fast, agile, and durable as it is possible for a human being to be without being considered superhuman. The formula enhances all of his metabolic functions and also prevents the build-up of fatigue poisons in his muscles, giving him endurance far in excess of an ordinary human being.

Also a part of the Co-Protectorate

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