Coulrophobia is a Florida-based psychologist and clown-themed hero. Though he doesn't have superpowers, he uses his combination of explosives and armor, combined with his talent and knowledge of mind games and trickery, to take command of his battles.
Born in Orlando, Peter Mullins is the youngest child of his family. What he lacked in physical stature, though, he made up in with his fast thinking and perception of the habits of others. Out of all his siblings, he was able to do the best in school, which quickly won over the favor of his parents. Having easily gotten his way through high school, he quickly moved on to higher education, successfully enrolling in Duke University. It was there that Peter picked up his interest in the study of psychology. Having naturally had a slant towards seeking to understand others and their actions, it was the only natural field of study to focus on for him. He selected his major by the end of his first semester, and never regretted it.
Peter had no issues in College, either. Without much incident, he was able to score high grades in a great number of his classes. Of course, during all this, he also found enough time to make for other hobbies. In his case, he began to hone what seemed to be another one of his natural talents - dexterity. By his second year, he began to pick up on practicing juggling, unicycling, and tightrope walking. In truth, he spent much more time practicing these new tricks rather than focusing on his studies, all while still graduating with highest honors. Peter left Duke University with a Masters Degree in Psychology, having done his thesis on the mechanisms, causes, and a proposed treatment method of phobias.
Despite his success in academia, Peter still had a rough time attempting to find work. Back at his Orlando home, the call for lucrative psychologist jobs was clearly not vigorous, and he spent several months back at his home without anything to do. While this did give him ample time to practice his more unusual stuntwork, and even while his father suggested he put those talents to use, Peter was uncomfortable really showing them off - he, himself, actually had a bad case of Performance Anxiety.
Instead, in the summer of 1986, Peter signed up for the University of Miami's graduate program. Once again, Peter was in comfortable grounds, using his knowledge and talent of his field to quickly and easily maintain good standing in weekly discussions. Peter's natural talent could only carry him so far, though. As his studies got more and more involved, he began to lose touch with his other hobbies. 2 years later, he emerged with his degree - and then promptly returned to the university to become a professor. Considering the positive feedback he had gotten while working as a teaching assistant, the university was quick to take him up on the offer. Dr. Mullins began teaching and researching Psychology around the US - in his 20 years of teaching, while he often would go to other Universities to give guest lectures or do specialized research, his home and general climate always centered around Miami, Florida.
Despite having already spent a better part of his life learning, and having obtained employment and respect in his field, Peter still felt unfulfilled and bored. Seeking something else to do, he soon found the time to rediscover his passion for stunts and tricks - in a happenstance way, as it would turn out. A circus-trick workshop had actually been set up at the University one summer in 1993. After Dr. Mullins attended one session, he picked up his old hobby once again. Though substantially older and a bit frailer, it was clear he still had the coordination and skill. Ever since, he has been a bit happier and more assured than usual. It was even through this new resurgence that he found his wife, Anna Danon - a fellow Psychology professor, who focused on parapsychology and research of telepathics.
Shortly after getting married, Peter and Anna decided to move to Vibora Bay - largely at the behest of Anna, who made the paranormal city a center of her research. Peter instead found the move an opportunity to expand his teaching credentials, signing up to make several guest lectures at the local university. After finding out about the city's extensive performance-arts talent, as well as perhaps receiving a bit of stage-fright counseling with the aid of Anna, Peter made the decision to permanently move in, practicing both as a Professor, and a minor stunt performer in the Vibora Bay circus company, The South Winds. Peter would perform his juggling and unicycling acts as a masked clown over the summer. He performed the safer variants of his practiced skills, alongside some other various street and magician tricks he had picked up.
Anna's research became the target of some enmity, however. Traveling supervillain Foxbat kidnapped the psychologist and interrogated her for information. Anna quickly talked, giving him the information he sought, but he was not done yet. In his usual, over-dramatic self, Foxbat hanged the psychologist from her feet within the tent of South Winds before an evening show. Being hanged by a weak rope and dangling a full 70 feet above hard ground, Anna was in great danger. While the audience and circus company were distracted by this development, Foxbat silently made his escape, using the knowledge he had accrued for more villainous deeds.
As luck would have it, every other major stunt performer was out for the night. Nobody was available to climb, balance, swing, or jump to save her from plummeting to her death, and the Circus did not have any sort of rescue equipment on hand. Peter, while never having performed any of his balancing tricks over a fall of 3 feet, let alone in front of a crowd of hundreds, made his move. His company got a tightrope set up for the rookie performer as quickly as they could, as well as a rudimentary safety net. Peter made his way across to his wife, quickly and successfully, albeit a bit recklessly. Now the issue that remained was how he would untie her and get her down - or how the tightrope would support both their weights.
As soon as Peter was able to untie Anna, the rope that they were upon snapped at an end, and proceeded to fall. Peter, with his quick thinking, was able to grab Anna and the rope in the nick of time, making a swing downwards. While he was able to successfully throw Anna into a rough recovery roll onto the net, Peter, in the moment of chaos, forgot to let go of the rope and ended up smashing face-first into the support post that the tightrope was still connected to. Anna was safe, but Peter had suffered several cracked ribs and a broken arm.
After getting bandaged up in the hospital, Anna and Peter were able to reconvene about what had happened. The two were quick to place the blames upon themselves, Peter reflecting about how he had not been fast or watchful enough to protect her in the first place, and Anna regretting the decision to move to Vibora. However, when Anna made the decision that they should move out of Vibora and back to Miami, Peter swiftly refused - aside from the injuries he had sustained, and the danger his wife had been put through, he loved the rush of adrenaline he had felt in that moment. The fear he had felt over all those years, when he had felt apprehensive about performing in public, was no longer a cause for fear - it was that which had pushed him to make that heroic act that night. He felt as if he could take on anything now. Anna (perhaps sensibly) thinking that his husband had gone slightly off the deep end, decided it would be best if they part ways. Anna headed to Roosevelt City - where parapsychology had begun to pick up, and the overall security was much higher. Peter remained in Vibora. After he recovered in the fall season, he returned to his teaching. He was back to his quiet, reserved self - the self he showed while he was at work as a professor. In the back of his mind, though, he knew that Vibora was a place that would need to be prepared and protected against - especially if he wanted Anna to come back any time soon.
Researchers in Vibora eventually made a huge advance in personal protection, developing the technique of micromeshing - weaving microscopic fibers of metal to make a lightweight, protective layer of padding. The prototype of this armoring technique was first developed using Kendrium, making a padding of strength above that of bulletproof vests, and substantially lighter. When Peter came to the engineers behind the project and suggested using it as protection for stuntmen in local circus troupes, they initially said it would be a gross misuse of resources - then reconsidered, deciding it might be a good way to test its tensile limitations. With that, Dr. Mullins was lent the first suit of Kendrium micromesh.
Mullins' obtaining of the micromesh became the grassroots beginning of his work as a superhero. Indeed, he put the suit to use during his new and more extreme stunts - where they served quite well to protect him in the times he would do more dangerous tricks. However, Mullins also performed more traditional tests on the armor, seeing exactly what limits it could be put through with extensive stress, usually by aiming circus explosives, including fireworks, cannons, dragonbreath rounds, and straight-up TNT, against the suit. A few suits were quite badly damaged, but the research that the micromesh engineers had gathered from Mullins' data proved invaluable for forwarding the project.
Eventually, Mullins straight-up weaponized the resources he had received from the circus, with the aid of Chemistry professors at the University of Vibora. Finally, at the end of the school year, Mullins put his hard work to use - the first appearance of Coulrophobia was reported in the summer of 2011. While the coincidence of the clown hero's equipment and Mullins' tests were noted by the Vibora Univseristy professors, they did nothing to impede him. The rest of the general public took little notice, and soon, the clown hero was lauded for his effectiveness at both appearing friendly and helpful to citizens, as well as being a surprisingly effective hero - true to his name, he also has been able to use his clown guise to frighten criminals. While the public was initially doubtful, even fearful, by the appearance of this Clown hero, Mullins was able to skillfully use his knowledge of psychological phenomenon and personal presentation to always make the right impression.
Since having become a hero, Coulrophobia has gone to other cities, including Millennium City, Roosevelt City, and even out west to Los Angeles, to showcase his impressive wits and equipment, and lend a hand with his true and tested explosives, agility, and armor.
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An adventurer and risktaker by nature, Coulrophobia has little to no fear of what difficulties might stand in his way. This is not to say he's foolhardy, though - he is aware, even accepting, of his shortcomings, and as soon as a problem might show up, he begins planning out a course of action to solve it. He is also a very empathic person, having a deep understanding, both consciously and passively, of a person's mental state and comfort, and is able to adjust his behavior to suit the situation. True to being a clown, Coulrophobia's sense of humor is also quite well-trained, and uses elements such as slapstick or betrayed expectations to both amuse citizens and onlookers, as well as to throw villains and criminals off-guard.
Coulrophobia's quick wits for humor, though, is a bit more than just a guise for his clown persona, but also his general shyness. He can get a bit uncomfortable when forced to speak publicly without any prior warning, and while he does show refinement in how he communicates with others, he honestly isn't very big on it. Though generally friendly, he gets a bit irritated if some aspect of his work or heroism is interrupted, and his general tolerance for distractions is very low.
Physically, Coulrophobia's capabilities are fairly insubstantial. While his practice in doing stunts has made him limber, and quite fit for his age, he is realistically no stronger or hardier than most people. While his aerobic system is fairly well kept up, his running speed isn't impressive. He usually relies on implements such as bikes, unicycles, and even bright rubber balls to ride or run on for in-combat movement. When needing to get to a destination quickly, he usually relies on his Clownobile - A repurposed, armored and upgraded mini-car with a deceptive amount of storage space for his other equipment.
That said, Coulrophobia's biggest advantage is his arsenal. Both varied and powerful, his specialty is explosives, using weapons such as Concussive Firecrackers and Cherry Bombs to throw enemies off guard and pack a massive punch. His biggest and most powerful weapon, though, is his Fireworks Launcher - upgraded and heavily modified, this weapon works much like a rocket launcher, and fires dazzling blasts at enemies, both dealing impressive damage and blinding them.
A new tool that Coulrophobia has been experimenting with are his Automatic Toys - Armies of tiny automatons that mob and strike at enemies. Equipped with smaller versions of his own arsenal, as well as fitted with a nice, powdery, volatile center, the automatons have, so far, performed admirably in battle, and can even give off a blast when destroyed by an enemy.
Despite the weaponry, Coulrophobia is all about safety, both personal and public. His outfit is padded with micromesh, which gives him great resistance to damage from blows, bullets, and some fire. His tactics also are a big factor, and he is not afraid to dip out of the battle if things begin to go sour. His deceptive approach, and ability to strike fear into his enemies with alternate masks, allows him to demoralize his enemies and gain the biggest edge in battle he can.
- The concept for this character came out of the desire to make a clown-based character that wasn't insane or necessarily evil in any way.
- Ingame use of explosives is a bit underplayed - he's a bit more like a weird clown batman in actual execution, what with boomerangs being stupidly powerful.